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As I'd Like It

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Perhaps it was because yesterday was such an extremely windy day here in southern Ontario, that these lines from As You Like It repeated themselves over and over in my head all day:

Blow, blow, thou winter wind, Thou art not so unkind as man's ingratitude...

I confess I don't remember even studying Shakespeare's play in which these words appear, but the lines are engraved in my brain nonetheless.

I wonder if Jesus ever felt what William tried hard to express?

He lived among an ungrateful people. Their ingratitude was, at least in part, why He had come to dwell among men in the first place. As the sinless Lamb of God, sin repelled Him. But it also drew Him toward sinners so that He could deal with that sin and restore fellowship between His Father and all of us who had rejected His loving favour to follow other gods.

But those to whom Jesus came rejected Him as well.

Despite that He tells His disciples in Luke 6: "...Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bl…

I'm Inadequate—Thank the Lord!

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It's been busy. Jesus is in high demand—both by His friends and by His enemies. The disciples have just returned from an extensive missions trip and have reported all that took place while they were on the road.

"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest'" (Mark 6:30, 31).

We all know how that worked out!

Even though they found themselves a lonely spot, the crowds pursued Jesus and the lonely place wasn't lonely anymore. But Jesus, being Who He was, didn't feel resentment or dismay or indulge in a pity party. Mark says, "...he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things" (vs. 34).

The day passed. The disciples came to Jesus to point out where the big hand and the l…

The Joy of Jesus

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My desk is piled high with books—and I ordered a few more. The quest? It's all in the name of research for an upcoming project. I even found, on one of my Bible apps, a week-long study on the subject I am researching. Last night that took me to Philippians 1:3-11. Here it is:

"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best a…

Because You Say So

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Last night Marilyn and I were watching the baseball game. A commercial appeared, one that included a snippet of a song that contained that oldie, but goodie, that says when someone says "jump," the correct response is to ask, "How high?" I turned to Marilyn and told her that in the past I have sometimes gotten myself into trouble when someone told me to "jump" (to do something just because he or she said so). My response has often not been, "How high?" but "Why?"

So this morning as I was reading Luke 5, I remembered our conversation of the night before. In the first eleven verses of the chapter, the story is told of Jesus borrowing a fisherman's boat so that He could more comfortably teach the crowd of people who had gathered to hear Him. At the end of His discourse the Scriptures tell us: "When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, 'Put out into the deep water and let down the nets for a catch'" (5:4).

Tha…

The Least is the Most

I can’t say that John the Baptist was exactly the most welcoming of preachers. He was your “fire-and-brimstone” kind of guy.

Imagine him standing by the shores of the Jordan, fiery, penetrating glance scanning the crowd that gathered. Many were curious. Who wouldn’t be? This crazy-looking self-proclaimed prophet appears from the desert regions dressed in camel hair. Weird enough, but then they find out about his diet…well, that would have sent a few people running!

Apparently there were enough among the people who came to hear him that responded to his message to attract the notice of the authorities, both political and religious. The message? “…a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” writes Luke in his Gospel (3:3). There were tax collectors and pious Jews, soldiers and the common folk, who came to hear what he had to say—and John had plenty to share! When asked, he informed each segment of his immediate society exactly what was required of them (Luke 3:10-14).

But he was…

At Ease In The Land Of Giants

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Over the last several months I’ve been a participant in a missions coaching course. Now, as we get to the nitty-gritty and think about what the possibilities and opportunities might be for our church to be more effective in reaching those who have yet to hear the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the task looks daunting—at least as far as the big picture, the need around the world, is concerned. The specific interest rising to the surface in our discussion seems to be to reach those people who are the most difficult (even dangerous) of all to reach, and those who live in countries to which we have limited, or no, access.

Throwing in the towel and concentrating on something easier seems to be an option here. Who are we to think we can make much of a difference under such challenging circumstances? Then Numbers 13 came up on the schedule for this morning’s Scripture reading.

Ever have that moment when the Lord taps you on the shoulder to remind you of something important? Here it …

On Complaints and Concerns

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Now the people complained…” (Numbers 11:1).

There is always something we can find to complain about, isn’t there? The classic complaint is usually about too much winter. Then, when summer comes, it’s too hot! For the Hebrews the issue was hardship. Perhaps packing and unpacking their tents was getting on their nerves. For that, (and it was something I hadn’t paid any attention to before) “…fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.

Not having learned the lesson, the next complaint was about the food (11:4). Now that has a familiar ring! They were getting bored with the manna that the Lord provided for them. They wanted something to chew, not something that dissolved to mush in their mouths.

Even Moses seems to have gotten caught up in the vicious circle of “why, me?” Why hardship? Why can’t life be easier? Why can’t I eat what I really want instead of what I have? For Moses the complaint became: “Why do I have to get stuck with these complaine…