Gethsemane isn’t the end, but it sure can feel like it.
Every fibre of his being wanted to run. He wouldn’t last twenty-four hours if he stayed. Grief, anxiety, debilitating distress was killing him.
One of his friends had turned traitor, agreeing to hand him to his enemies (26:20). His other friends didn’t understand, asleep while he faced the dark night of the soul. Though he felt like running for his life, Jesus spent his last moments of freedom facing his Father.
When I’m depressed or distressed, the Psalms advise me to hope in God … my Saviour and my God (Psalms 42:5, 11; 43:5). We’ve heard that nothing is impossible with God. Facedown in the dirt in abject submission, Jesus prayed, My Father, if it’s possible, let the cup pass me by (Matthew 26:39).
Why was God handing him a deadly chalice? It was tearing him apart as he prayed, If it’s what you want, I’ll take it.
Continue reading “Dark night without answers (Matthew 26:36-46)”
What did Jesus mean by giving us keys to bind and loose?
Attend a Pentecostal prayer meeting, and you may hear someone using the language of binding and loosing. They’re talking about believers taking authority over the devil. Some churches have a prayer team on this task when they meet, to bind evil spirits from interfering.
The language comes from Jesus’ statement:
Matthew 16 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. (NIV)
Catholics think Jesus meant forgiving sins or excommunicating people. Charismatics think Jesus was talking about binding and loosing demons. The Reformers thought it was the gospel message that looses people or leaves them bound. What do you think?
Continue reading “Binding and loosing (Matthew 16:19)”
Communication matters. Did you see Sam Mendes’ movie, 1917? Two soldiers were tasked with carrying a message across enemy lines, a message that could save the lives of many compatriots. Technology has come a long way in the last 100 years, but the movie reminds us how crucial communication is for saving lives. Continue reading “Staying in touch with our king (Ephesians 6:18-20)”
Honest prayer lifts us to the one who can help.
There was a time when people turned to God in disasters. “How can God allow this?” they asked, sometimes in anger. Now technology lets us recognize the wave before it hits, so people place their trust in medicine and governments to save us. Technology is useful, but it isn’t our security.
Let’s encourage each other to look higher: Continue reading “Lament and hope: when life feels patchy”
You might be sick of hearing about a tiny virus threatening our way of life: health, economy, sport, travel, theatres, cafes, pubs, even churches.
How do you find peace in troubled times? Continue reading “Peace in troubled times”
The Lord’s Prayer. Free evening course in Perth, Western Australia
Update 2021-02-07: old links removed.
Want to be intentional about prayer? Want to pray in partnership with what God wants?
Join me for six Monday evenings here in Perth, as we learn from Jesus how to pray. Continue reading “Developing your prayer life”
The noise of our world makes it hard for us to hear what Jesus was saying. Even in the most familiar bits, we miss his message.
Here’s an example of from a best-selling author:
Continue reading “The Lord’s Prayer as Jesus’ kingdom vision”
When God doesn’t do what you expect.
Open Matthew 11:1-6.
Matthew 11:2-3 (my translation)
2 In prison, John heard what the Messiah was doing and sent his followers 3 to ask him, “Are you the one to come, or do we wait for another?”
Last year I was in a Masters-level class on the kingdom of God. Dr Tidball asked us, “So why did John the Baptist doubt if Jesus was the Messiah?” How could the greatest of all prophets — the one privileged to announce the arrival of the Messiah — doubt if Jesus was the Messiah? Continue reading “Disillusioned with Jesus? (Matthew 11:1-6)”
Why does Jesus invite us to call God our Father?
Jesus’ favourite word of God isn’t YHWH. It’s Father. That’s new. Why?
Continue reading “Why call God “Father”?”
Christians in evangelical traditions kneel much less than we used to. Have we lost something?
Open Matthew 8:2.
As Jesus stepped down from this inaugural address on the kingdom, an outcast with a disease that prevented him being part of the community came and knelt before Jesus with a request. Why did he kneel? Should we kneel? What does it mean? Why do we rarely kneel anymore? Continue reading “Why kneel?”
Jesus said ordinary people like us can invite God’s kingship to earth. Shall we?
Open Matthew 7:7-11.
The first lie ever told about God was that he was holding out on us (Genesis 3:5). The sovereign had honoured his creatures by inviting them into his palace garden, giving them access to everything he provided. He reserved for himself the right to decide good and evil for his creatures. Instead of respecting our sovereign, humans grasped at the power in his hands, acting as if we were gods. All the murder, all the social devastation, all the violence in the world flows from people grasping power that should be in God’s hands.
What difference would it make if people asked God to rule over us again? What would happen if together we sought his kingship? What if we knocked on heaven’s door and invited our sovereign to reign over earth again? Ask. Seek. Knock. According to Jesus, our true ruler would respond to such an invitation (7:7). Continue reading “Knocking on heaven’s door (Matthew 7:7-11)”
Jesus’ entire kingdom vision is encapsulated in this prayer.
Open Matthew 6:9-15.
“Our Father…” We’ve recited it, heard it taught, and used it as a pattern for prayer. But for Jesus it was more. In 57 words, he pulled together everything he was working for. It’s a kingdom manifesto. We pray to God as king, for the community he governs (his kingdom). Continue reading “The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-15)”
Jesus authorized you to approach the throne of the great king
Open Matthew 6:5-8.
Why was Daniel thrown into the lion’s den? Did that strike you as an excessive penalty for … praying?
Sure, it was a political ploy to bring Daniel down, but how could Darius’ advisors have convinced him to enact such a law? We need to understand how they thought about prayer in the ancient world. Continue reading “What is prayer? (Matthew 6:5-8)”
Jacob was petrified of facing Esau, until he found he had a bigger fight on his hands.
I hope that reading the Bible as the story of the God’s kingdom is helping unfold its core message to you. It really does make a huge difference. Even those who write commentaries on the Bible have difficulty making sense of the text if they miss this perspective. Continue reading “Discovering God’s army (Genesis 32:1-12)”
When the people on your team cause a problem for others, whose side do you take? Which matters more: loyalty or justice? There may be a hint in the way God handles us.
We’re reading Genesis as the story of the kingdom of God. As people rebelled against God’s kingship they grasped power for themselves, turning violent. The heavenly sovereign permitted earthly government to avoid anarchy, resulting in nations. To bring the nations back under his authority, God established his own nation through Abraham. But he still takes responsibility for the nations: we just saw him act against the injustice of Sodom, and now we see it again as he acts against a Philistine king. Continue reading “God stands with his flawed people (Genesis 20)”
What is prayer? Does it make any sense to try to change God’s mind?
What do you do when you’re mistreated? Things get nasty when people take matters into their own hands to enforce their own justice (Genesis 4:23-24). It’s better to appeal to our sovereign’s authority (Genesis 4:26). But that only works if the king does something about the injustice.
Continue reading “Arguing with God (Genesis 18:22-33)”
The month of Ramadan has begun. For the next 30 days, Muslims throughout the world will be fasting during daylight hours, and seeking God.
Would you join with me in praying for them? Continue reading “Praying for Muslims during Ramadan”