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A man reaps what he sows

The saying is instantly recognisable as religious.  Even if few people know where it comes from, most will assume it’s biblical.  And they’ll assume that they know what it means. It’s about cause and effect right?  It’s saying: ‘What goes around, comes around.’  ‘If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned.’  ‘Everyone gets […]

The letter of the law

—  The fat-cat who exploits every tax loop-hole imaginable… —  The hospital which lets pedantic box-ticking get in the way of patient-care… —  The cricketer whose legal ploy is nonetheless “not cricket” (New Zealanders know what I’m talking about)… In all these cases we’d say they obeyed the letter of the law but not the […]

O wretched man that I am!

It was Jesus who coined the phrase “the Spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.”  It was Paul who explored the idea in chapter after chapter. According to the Apostle Paul there are three tenses of salvation.  There is the past tense: “According to God’s mercy He saved us.”  (Titus 3:5) There is the present […]

A law unto themselves

He’s his own man.  A ‘loose canon’, a ‘live wire’, ‘off the radar’.  Or in other words “a law unto himself.”  That’s the way we tend to use the phrase nowadays. Question: What would God prefer us to be?  Would He rather we lived ‘under the law’ or would He rather we be ‘a law […]

Strait and narrow

“He used to be a junky, now he’s on the straight and narrow” we say.  And by that we mean that he’s cleaned up his act.  Now he’s behaving. When Jesus coined the phrase “strait and narrow” He didn’t quite mean it like that. This is what He said: “Enter ye in at the strait […]

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Here is a famous phrase from the bible.  Yet it’s not in the bible.  Not in as many words anyway.  Here’s how the King James Bible renders it: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  (Matthew 7:12) […]

Every jot and tittle

We might say “He dotted every i and crossed every t“.  A Hebrew speaker would say “He swished every jot and swirled every tittle.” “Jot” was the smallest Hebrew letter (the letter yod).  “Tittle” was the smallest stroke of a pen – a tiny flourish that was the only distinguishing mark between the two most similar […]

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

According to Matthew, Jesus comes as King to bring the true end to exile (Matthew 1:1-17).   He is named as “Saviour” and “God with us” (Matthew 1:18-25).  He is the desire of all nations (Matthew 2:1-12) who is also the true Israel – going down into Egypt and rising back up again (Matthew 2:13-23).  He […]

Kiss of death

We can’t credit the Authorized Version with this one.  But it is from the bible. And it goes back a lot further than people think.  Its origins don’t lie with Mafia bosses, nor even with Judas but with Moses.  Here’s how it happened… Moses has finished the last of his Deuteronomy sermons to the Israelites.  […]

Wilderness Years

The journey from slavery to the promised land should have been straightforward.  If they’d kept the Mediterranean on their left they could have arrived within a fortnight. The LORD took them a different route – through the Red Sea.  The LORD gained great glory by saving them through adversity.  This was some of the reason […]