Tertius-Servant Behind the Scenes

Tom Bartha

READ : Romans 16:17-29 “He’s a quiet saint.” Or, “She’s a behind-the-scenes sort of person,” we say of people who serve quietly, often unheralded for their efforts. Flowers are planted. Letters are sent. A church kitchen is cleaned. Transportation is provided. Coffee is made. Tasks are performed. Only later do we wonder who might have been responsible. God’s kingdom is full of such faithful servants, whose names are known to few, but whose lives yield good fruit. Paul did not …

Jabez: Praying About Our Pain

Tom Bartha

READ : 1 Chronicles 4:5-10 We have been looking at the remarkable prayer of Jabez, another obscure partner in God’s great plan. The name Jabez means “pain,” given him by his mother in the pains of childbirth. In adulthood Jabez asks God to keep him free from pain. Scripture is clear that faith will not isolate us from the crunch and pinch of life’s unpleasant surprises. God daily invites us to call to him in our pain, in every troubling …

Jabez: a Prayer for Real Estate

Tom Bartha

READ : 1 Chronicles 4:5-10 A passer-by observed a fellow on a park bench reading a telephone directory. He scanned each page as one might read a novel. Finally the observer questioned the man about his reading. “The plot isn’t much,” came the reply, “but, man, what a cast of characters!” Today’s reading seems like an obscure cast of characters. Then suddenly a short note about Jabez interrupts the list of Jewish names. He is introduced as “more honorable than …

Philip and the Eunuch

Tom Bartha

READ : Acts 8:26-39 Students preparing for the ministry often study the Greek and Hebrew languages. On my first day of class in seminary, we students opened our Greek New Testaments to a page of confusion. Most of us had no idea of how to make heads or tails of this unfamiliar type of writing. Had someone asked that day, “Do you understand what you are reading?” we would have looked up in confusion. Yet, as the patient professor taught …

Zacchaeus-A Seeker Is Found

Tom Bartha

READ : Luke 19:1-10 He was among the least popular people in town. Tax collectors were viewed as traitors to the public trust. Zacchaeus was the chief one. He may have been wealthy, but would have traded his money in a minute for friends. Zacchaeus was short physically, but more, he was short of friends, integrity and reputation. Tax collectors and sinners were lumped into the same pot. Few wanted anything to do with them . . . except Jesus. …

Making Room for Holiness

Tom Bartha

READ : 2 Kings 4:8-37 You probably know someone like this woman. She is organized, secure, level-headed. When something needs doing, she sees that it is done. She is self-sufficient, generous, kind, observant. This woman from Shunem noted that Elisha, God’s prophet, often came to her village. So, she persuaded her husband to add a small room to their home so the holy man would have a place to stay. When we make room for holiness, things are going to …