A substitute is someone who takes the place of or acts instead of another. In education substitute teachers stand before a class usually taught by someone else. In the game of baseball a substitute hitter or runner is commonly used to take another player's place. What is true in the classroom and sports is also true in our relationship with the living God.
The path of humanity is littered with the trash of depravity. Instead of being shining examples of beauty, righteousness, and perfection, we have darkened the world with hostility, hatred, and unrest. War and brutality score the history of humankind. Deceit and wickedness make up our story. Even our best—courageous warriors, heroes of humanity, graceful artists—fall embarrassingly short of perfection.
Instead of obeying the clear warnings of their Creator, Adam and Eve deliberately and willfully chose to rebel. And we’ve been living with the consequences ever since—humanity is mentally confused, emotionally afraid, and spiritually dead. However, the good news is God didn’t abandon us in our rebellion. In mercy and grace He provided the way out of our self-made mess through His Son, Jesus Christ.
“I believe in the Holy Ghost….” These are familiar words to those who have ever attended a church where the Apostles’ Creed is recited during the service. Six words commonly heard yet seldom thought through. What, exactly, do they mean?
God’s desire is that we, His people, fully enjoy our freedom in Christ. However, there must be self-imposed boundaries or we will become self-serving, independent-minded, and careless rebels with no regard for others. The last 11 verses of Romans 14 address this issue.
Because of the weak believer’s human tendency to judge those who don’t embrace his or her customs and convictions and also because of the strong believer’s decision to discount judgments passed by those who find fault in his or her expressions of freedom, conflict emerges and persists. The solution? Put grace into action.
No one wants to look back at the end of the year and see wasted time. No one hopes to drift aimlessly through life, doing things without at least some lasting value. The difficulty lies in the fact many of us simply don’t know what we need to do to give life purpose. Well, Jesus has three answers—three “musts”—for each of us.
There are days when it’s wise for us to stop and look and listen. We scrutinize our lives, examine Scripture, and spend extended time in prayer as we gain a clearer sense of what God is doing in our lives and what He has for us in the future. As the new year rolls around, take some time for reflection and renewal. Start today.
Boredom is the real danger we face when we approach the Christmas story. It’s so familiar, our minds just hit the highlights, because we think we’ve already plumbed the depths of every detail. But if we could approach the nativity as if we’ve never read it before, we’d discover something new and exciting—we’d discover the birth of Jesus is a gift too wonderful for words.
If you aren’t Jewish, then you’re what the Bible calls a “Gentile.” Most folks who follow the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, are just that—Gentiles. And as Gentiles, most of us don’t always understand Jewish Scripture, the Old Testament. This is particularly true when it comes to reading the prophetic books of the Bible. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the Old Testament makes the first announcements of Messiah’s coming and ministry. And few prophetic books have more prophecies about Messiah Jesus than the book of Isaiah.