Advance! Advance in Favor

When I was in my early 20s, one of my friends had a sudden experience of spiritual growth and enthusiasm. Suddenly, he had a new fervor for the Lord and a fresh desire to serve him. He began using new words and imaginative phrases to describe his relationship with God and his longing to live for his glory. One of these was “audience of One.” “I don’t care what other people think of me,” he said. “I’m just going to …

Advance! Advance in Stature

How big is God? This is the kind of question most children ask at one time or another. They know that they are weak and that God is strong, they know that they are tiny and that the universe is immense, and so they naturally wonder, “Just how big is this God, anyway?” And in some way, their parents explain that God is spiritual, not physical, infinite, not limited, with no form and therefore no size. God is neither big …

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Advance! Advance in Wisdom

Since 2004, Dove has been promoting their products with the Real Beauty campaign. Several years ago, they released a video titled “Real Beauty Sketches,” and it quickly went viral. In this video, they had a number of women describe themselves to a hidden forensic sketch artist. He listened to them and created a drawing based on their description of their physical characteristics. Then the subject left the room, and a second person entered who had met the woman only the …

Advance! One Key Pursuit for Young Christians

Imagine for a moment that you have been charged with coming up with a life plan for the most important person in all of human history. The Messiah, the Son of God, will soon come to earth and will remain here for just over 30 years. He will be fully man, so you will need to plan accordingly, giving him time to grow from infancy to maturity, ensuring he has times of devotion to refresh his soul and of sleep …

Who Is the Greatest?

It’s fun to laugh at the disciples sometimes, isn’t it? Read the gospels and you’ll find them providing us plenty of opportunity. Like in Mark 9 when they have arrived in Capernaum and have settled into a home for a meal and a rest. Jesus asks a simple question: “What were you discussing on the way?” They had obviously been in deep debate during that long walk and Jesus is interested to know what it was all about. But there …

The Incomparable Christ

All across the world today, Christians are gathering to worship. They worship Jesus Christ. Why? This great little quote (published as “The Incomparable Christ”) tells us: More than nineteen hundred years ago, there was a Man born contrary to the laws of life. This Man lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. He did not travel extensively. Only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which He lived; that was during His exile in childhood. He …

The True Hero

The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10 is one of those accounts from the life of Jesus that is in danger of becoming cliché. And it will become that if we fail to see the true hero of the story. Luke sets up a contrast between two sisters: Mary and Martha. Jesus has come to visit, and he has brought a crowd with him. Martha is likely the older sister here and the owner of the home. The …

Why We Know So Little About Jesus’ Birth

We know so little about Jesus’ birth. While it has been the subject of billions of dramatizations and endless speculations, the historian Luke gives it all of one sentence: “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” It is almost frustrating, isn’t it? If I had been writing the story of Jesus’ life, I would have written paragraphs …

No Low Too Low

No one expected that the Messiah would come how he came. Yes, the people knew that at some point God would send a Savior, but they could hardly have expected that he would be born to unknown parents and that he would enter this world in a barn. They would hardly have expected that their Messiah would be born in the lowest possible circumstances. Why was it important to God’s purpose that Jesus be born so low? There are many …

If Dead Men Don’t Rise

Almost 2,000 years ago, a Christian named Paul wrote a letter to a group of people in Corinth, a city in Greece. People in that city had at one time been enthusiastic about the Christian faith, but had then begun to have some second thoughts. They had written a letter to Paul to ask something like, “You told us that this man Jesus died and then came back to life. We’re pretty sure you don’t actually expect us to believe …