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 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.
Notes to Self: Applying gospel truths to my own heart
“This January it will be different,” I tell myself. “I will definitely exercise more.” Plus, “I will also be less selfish and a better person.” But if this year is anything like past years, by around March, all my best efforts will grind to a halt.
Why? Experts say we tend to make one of two mistakes:
Either our resolutions are too general, or they are too numerous.
Continue reading “Do Less, Be More”
Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 3:15-25
Big Idea: God’s laws in the Old Testament are not God’s most important revelation. To read the Bible with an emphasis on how God expects us to behave is to misread the Bible completely. God’s most important revelation is the gospel – God’s gracious promise to Abraham fulfilled by Jesus – that sinful people can be loved by a holy God for all eternity.
Everyone is born with an appendix – a small worm-like pouch dangling from the end of our large intestines. But no one would seriously miss it if it’s gone. So why do we have it at all? Biologists say it’s probably a remnant of our human past. (Hint: google “human vestigiality.”) It was very important ages ago, but not anymore.
Continue reading “Christians Need the Law as Much as Humans Need an Appendix?”
Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 3:1-14
Big Idea: Many say they believe the gospel but actually live like legalists. Paul says it has to be one or the other. Believe the gospel or keep the law. It can never be both. To say that Christians need both is foolishness and denies God’s consistent purpose throughout history.
What are you really depending on to get you through each day? Jesus’ free grace, or your own religious performance? For most of us, likely a bit of both.
To that, the Apostle Paul says, “You fools!”
Continue reading “When Good Works Don’t Work”
Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 2:11-21
Big Idea: Right beliefs don’t always lead to right behaviour. Peer pressure – our desire for acceptance and approval by others – can lead even the most mature Christians astray. We resist such pressures by trusting in God’s approval and acceptance through Jesus.
Bogota, with a population of over seven million, has some of the worst traffic problems in the world.1
Over 1,300 people die every year from road accidents in Columbia’s capital city. Many involve jaywalkers hit by speeding cars that routinely ignore red lights. Traffic police wasn’t much help either, with a notorious reputation for corruption.
Who can solve this intractable problem?
Continue reading “Even Apostles Succumb to Peer Pressure”
Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 2:1-10
Big Idea: The gospel of Jesus is not tied to any single race or culture. To impose the racial norms of one group onto all other believers distorts, rather than preserves, the gospel message. Legalists tend to disguise cultural norms as religious obligations to pressure others to conform.
What does religious freedom look like?
Continue reading “The Gospel is Not African, British, or Chinese”
Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 1:11-24
Big Idea: Paul did not create the gospel message from his own imagination, nor did he learn it from anyone else. What he preached – hard as it was to believe – came directly from God. His own transformed life was proof of the gospel’s truth.
How do you convince someone of the truth when the truth seems unbelievable? Continue reading “When Truth is Too Incredible to Believe”
Counterfeit Christianity ~ Galatians 1:1-10
Big Idea: All people need rescue from sin; no one can save themselves. That’s why the Christian gospel has a laser-like focus on Jesus’ cross and resurrection. Any additions to this will dilute or distort God’s true message to humanity. All counterfeits are worthless imitations, undermining our faith in the genuine gospel.
Fake money can cause serious damage to a country. It creates confusion and undermines the value of the real thing. That’s why the Secret Service was first founded in 1865 – not so much to protect the President, but to restore confidence in the U.S. currency.1 Counterfeiters are just as dangerous as assassins in destroying a government.
Fake gospel can likewise do just as much damage to Jesus’ church. Continue reading “Beware of Counterfeit Gospels!”
Fake goods are big business today, worth more than $460 billion a year.1 The most popular faked brands are Rolex, Nike, Ray Ban, and Louis Vuitton. This makes sense. After all, who would counterfeit a worthless thing that nobody wants? The same is true for religion too.
Continue reading “Counterfeit Christianity: Seed Notes on Galatians”
Notes to Self: Applying gospel truths to my own heart
Death is always a sad and tragic loss. Our sense of loss, though, is often inversely related to how long that person lived. While every loss is mourned, we respond differently to news of a lady who dies peacefully, aged 128,1 compared to a child who dies horribly, aged 7.2
This is what makes Paul Kalanithi’s memoir When Breath Becomes Air so poignant. In March 2015, Paul succumbed to lung cancer, aged 36. Up to that point, Paul wrote, “My life had been about building potential.” And what potential it was! The letters behind his name say it all.
Continue reading “Missing Heaven”
A Clash of Cultures ~ 1 Corinthians 16
Big Idea: Our local church is not the only congregation that matters to God. It is part of a larger, global community of believers. Unity within, and between, local churches is a compelling testimony to the transformative power of the gospel.
Climate change. Pandemic disease. Terrorism. Many problems today are way too large for any one country to solve, let alone one individual. What happens in faraway places will invariably affect how we live in where we are today. A war in Arabia or a famine in China can send household bills skyrocketing in Malaysia. No one is immune.
But this is not necessarily bad news. Why? Continue reading “Your Church is Bigger Than You Think”