The Formula for Success All Great Leaders Follow

We begin as servants and, if we are faithful, we become leaders. You find this pattern illustrated throughout Scripture. [Read more…]

Do Your Sermons Make Your Congregation Think You’re Angry?

By Matthew Kim, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

There is a temptation in every preacher to begin and end every sermon with correction. Didn’t Paul tell us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”? Yes, he did say that. So we follow suit and begin and end every sermon with correction, rebuke, and training in righteousness because it’s good for our listeners. Their apathy needs to be shaken up a bit with some scolding, we say to ourselves. [Read more…]

Are We Trying to ‘Cast Out Demons without Prayer’?

By Ben Patterson, adapted from Deepening Your Conversation With God. This book and dozens more resources are up to 40% off this month only.

We pray because we are in a spiritual struggle—that we must take personally. We must pray for another reason: the work of the Church is God’s work, not ours. Jesus made that fact clear from the very inception of the Church. He asked his disciples who people were saying he was. They gave the report: some were saying he was John the Baptist, others were saying he perhaps was Jeremiah or Elijah or another one of the prophets. Then he asked the biggest question God ever asks anyone: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter shot his hand up to answer that one. He said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Pay close attention to what Jesus said in response to this first confession of faith in him. He first clarified how Peter came upon this momentous discovery. He let him know that it was not a conclusion that Peter arrived at on his own. He didn’t figure it out because he had spent so much time with Jesus, listening to what he said, watching his miracles. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven” (italics mine).

Merely to have spent a lot of time with Jesus, up close and personal, as great as that must have been, was not sufficient for Peter to apprehend who Jesus was. It required a supernatural event, a divine revelation. God’s work begins with God, not humankind.

And so his work continues, for Jesus added, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Matt 16:13–18, italics mine). Of course we must pray! If God is the builder and we are his servants in the building of his Church, it is presumptuous to build without prayer.

And completely ineffective. Jesus came down the Mount of Transfiguration to an argument his disciples were having with the teachers of the law. They were unable to heal a demonized boy, a pathetic child who was periodically seized by an evil spirit and thrown to the ground, foaming at the mouth. When Jesus was told what the brouhaha was about, he said something he must often feel when he looks at his prayerless church: “O unbelieving generation . . . how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me” (Mark 9:19). Then he healed the boy.

When the excitement died down enough for them to ask the question, his disciples said, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” Jesus’ answer is as devastating as it is brief. He said, “This kind can come out only by prayer” (Mark 9:29). They had to pray to drive the demon out! What on earth were they doing before Jesus walked up? Whatever it was, clearly they weren’t praying. They were trying to cast out demons without prayer!

So we must pray, because the work of the Church is God’s work, not ours! We must also pray because prayer actually gets God’s work done.

***

Save up to 40% on Deepening Your Conversation With God and hundreds more resources in the July Monthly Sale.

The author’s views do not necessarily represent those of Faithlife. The title is the addition of the editor.

Why It Would Be Worse If God Wasn’t Angry

Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well by Angelica Kauffman, 1796.

By Walter C. Kaiser Jr., with Tiberius Rata, adapted from Walking the Ancient Paths: A Commentary on Jeremiah.

Probably more than in most other biblical books, Jeremiah presents God as one having deep feelings, emotions, and passions (pathos). Yahweh shows his love and affection for Israel and the peoples of the earth, but he also shows his deep anger and wrath for all the moral degradation and flaunting of his law. This is hard for many contemporaries to understand, for we have forgotten that it is a matter of evil to stand in the presence of wickedness or sin and not be moved to hate that evil with a passion. [Read more…]

The Disease of Modern Preaching That Will Kill Its Power

By Scott M. Gibson, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

Charles Gore, formerly bishop of Worcester, Birmingham, and finally Oxford, wrote more than a century ago, “The disease of modern preaching is its search after popularity.” [Read more…]

All the Best Commentaries, Most 50% Off

For a limited time, save up to 50% on the top five commentaries as ranked on BestCommentaries.com.

This is the perfect opportunity to get that commentary you need for your upcoming sermon series or class, or to enrich your library with resources that help you get more out of your Bible studies. [Read more…]

Throw Yourself on the Written Word of God

By Walter C. Kaiser Jr., adapted from I Will Lift My Eyes Unto the Hills: Learning from the Great Prayers of the Old Testament

In Daniel 9:1–27, we are told that Daniel opened his windows toward Jerusalem three times daily in order to pray to God (Dan 6:10). And we have no reason to doubt that just as often he opened the Scriptures to know the will of God, for it was from his understanding of “the word of the Lord given [earlier] to Jeremiah the prophet” (Dan 9:2) that he knew how to pray. Daniel may have carried a scroll of the prophet Jeremiah with him from his homeland, or he used one that was in the possession of the exiles. This high regard for the Scriptures is likewise very evident when we hear Daniel praying, for he does so in a series of subtly woven quotations from what we today call the Old Testament. [Read more…]

3 Days, 21 Libraries, Thousands of Books

The Logos library expansion sale is a scholar’s dream, and it ends in three days.

It features 21 library expansions of four sizes each, so you can find just the right addition to your own library. [Read more…]

Why Archaeology Makes Faith Less ‘Blind’

Biblical archaeology is archaeology focused on the ancient Near East. It includes places like modern-day Israel, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran from 1,400 BC through the first century AD. 

And though students of the Bible often overlook archaeology, it’s one of our most significant partners in Bible study—a witness to the events, culture, and people in the Bible’s stories.  [Read more…]

God Lives Well—and That’s Good News

There is no shortage of writings on the nature of human wisdom.1

But what of divine wisdom, the wisdom that is unique and specific to the triune life of God?  [Read more…]