Welcome to my little garden where I intend to plant gospel seeds – blog by blog – through short, readable commentaries of select Bible texts with the hope that it will flourish and bear much spiritual fruit in the lives of my readers (that’s you!).
The name Seed Notes comes from a story Jesus told about a farmer who scatters his seeds far and wide, with wildly divergent results. “The seed,” Jesus says (Luke 8:11), “is the word of God.”
To many, the Bible seems like a dense forest of moral laws, genealogies, poetry, ancient history, prophecies, and personal letters to long-dead churches. But actually it’s the living word of God that tells one compelling story about Jesus.
I hope the Seed Notes sown here will serve as a useful guide for you, to taste and see the sweetness and fullness of God’s spiritual blessings in the unique and amazing collection of books we call the Bible.
(You can find out a bit more about me and my background here.)
*Note: You may read the following posts as a supplement to your individual study or devotion, or use them as discussion points with your friends, whether Christian or non-Christian. Included are a few questions to facilitate your personal reflection or group discussions.
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 15:35-58
Big Idea: Death is not an immutable fact of nature. On the contrary, nature itself hints at the possibility of resurrection – a new life to emerge from death – for those with spiritual eyes to see. Latent within each human body is the potential for everlasting life that only Jesus can unlock. This future hope is what sustains Christian life in the present, no matter how hard.
What would it take to convince you of the impossible?
Continue reading “Death is Not a Fact of Nature, Life is”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 15:20-34
Big Idea: The reality of Jesus’ bodily resurrection should profoundly influence our lifestyles today. The Corinthian church lived like pagans because they believed what the world believed, that Jesus did not rise again from the dead.
Shabby second-hand clothes. Regular meals at a local charity. Hoarding and selling junk scavenged from neighbourhood bins. No one who’d met Joe would ever mistake him for a rich man. Joe Temeczko, a spry 86-year-old Polish immigrant with no family, eked out a living doing odd jobs as a handyman in Minneapolis. Imagine everyone’s surprise when Joe bequeathed $1.4 million to the City of New York when he died in October 2001.1
Continue reading “Living Like Christian Atheists”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 15:1-19
Big Idea: The bodily resurrection of Jesus is a foundational fact that all other claims, commands, and promises of Christianity are built upon. Without a risen Jesus, the Christian religion as a whole is false and utterly useless.
Man did not land on the moon. Jews were not murdered en masse in Nazi Germany. Obama was not born in America. Global warming is a hoax. AIDS is not caused by a virus. Continue reading “Jesus Risen is Not Fake News”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 14
Big Idea: Spiritual gifts that build up the church are of greater value than those used only for the personal benefit of the individual. When a church gathers together to worship, gifts should be used in an orderly way to clearly portray the person and gospel of Christ.
From the tragic aftermath of two world wars, many countries realised that talking was better than fighting. Hence the United Nations was formed. But all talk is futile if nobody understands what’s said. That’s why multi-lingual interpreters are indispensable to this august body.
Continue reading “Jesus Lost in Translation”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 13
Big Idea: Spiritual gifts, no matter how impressive, are worthless to the church unless practised in Christian love. Powers from Christ are best wielded by those with the character of Christ.
Along with John 3:16 and Psalm 23, Paul’s ‘love poem’ in chapter 13 is probably one of the best known verses in the Bible today. British Prime Minister Tony Blair read it at Princess Diana’s funeral service. President Obama quoted from it at his first inauguration address. It has also been cited in pop songs, movies, weddings, and greeting cards.
Continue reading “Without Love, We Are Nothing”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 12
Big Idea: God’s Spirit is most evident when His many spiritual gifts are used to unite and build God’s people up. Gifts of the Spirit don’t show who is more favoured by God. All gifts are necessary for the health of Christ’s body, the church.
What would it look like if God showed up at your church? Thunder and lightning? Miraculous healings? Spontaneous outbursts of tongue-speaking? How can you tell which are genuine manifestations of God’s Spirit?
How we assess what’s authentic depends a lot on what we expect to see.
Continue reading “When God Shows Up”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Big Idea: Form should follow content in Christian worship. How we sing, eat, and pray together in public worship communicate to the watching world who Jesus really is.
Dinner with the Queen is not the same as dinner at home. There is proper etiquette to follow.
Continue reading “Jesus-body Language”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 11:1-16
Big Idea: How we worship should appropriately reflect the God we worship. Many Christians tend to unconsciously mimic the common practices of our surrounding culture and norms. By doing so, we stumble believers and blur the distinctive truths of Jesus’ gospel to unbelievers.
Would you wear a swimsuit to the mosque or a tuxedo to the beach?
Continue reading “What Your Clothes Say About Jesus”
A Clash Of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 10
Big Idea: Truly mature believers are mature not because they can recite all the right doctrines and comply with all the religious rules. Christian maturity is not measured by our self-reliance. It is measured by how much we rely on what God revealed in “his-story” to live our daily lives.
Say the word “history” to a classroom of kids, “boring” would probably be their reply. To most people, studying history means memorizing an endless list of names, dates, and events from long ago. Who cares about Tutankhamun? Or that a German monk in 1517 nailed a list of protests to a door? How can the Treaty of Versailles help in real life?
Continue reading “Don’t Be Chronological Snobs”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 9
Big Idea: For mature Christians, the rights of the whole community trumps the personal rights of the individual. It is right for a gospel worker to be paid for their work. It is also right for the gospel worker to choose not to be paid, so that the gospel is not compromised.
What’s free is not always good. That’s what advertisers often want us to believe. Price is a measure of quality. The more we pay, the better it is. Want Adele to sing at your wedding? Or former president Clinton to speak at your conference? Show them the money!
Continue reading “Not Everything Cheap is Worthless”