November 10 “Religious addiction?” & LINKUP

addiction[1]Can religion be an addiction? Can it offer an escape from reality? And if so, what would a religious addiction look like?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 11 & 12
Psalm 22.1-5
Proverbs 28.17-18
Hebrews 6.1-20

 

Ezekiel 11 & 12:

He said … we said

The Israelites thought they were in charge of their own lives. They frequently decided they had a better idea of what they needed and where they would find the answers to their problems than God did!

So instead of seeking God, they followed after idols. Instead of trusting God for their provision, they pleaded with fertility gods, even participating in sexual immorality as part of their pagan worship. When God said, if you continue going this way, I’m going to allow you to go into captivity, they said, we can avoid the consequences of our actions by relying on own clever schemes. We can cover our sins instead of repenting from them, align ourselves with pagan nations when we come under attack, and only listen to the “prophets” who tell us what we want to hear.

Sound familiar? It should.

God said, marriage is a covenant and should not be broken except in the case of sexual immorality (Matt. 5.32). We said, we’ll make “no fault” divorce the law of the land.

God said, don’t have sex outside of marriage (Gal. 5.19). We said, we’ll use condoms and birth control pills and we won’t have to suffer the consequences of pregnancy and AIDS.

God said life is precious; I created it and knew you even before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Ps. 139). We said it’s not a baby and we can abort it any time we like.

God said, don’t covet (Ex. 20.17). We said, we’ve got to keep up with the Jones.

God said, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph. 6.1). We said, “It’s my life. I can do whatever I want!”

Mankind has not changed, but neither has God; His answers are still the same—turn from evil and from going our own way, seek God and obey Him, and receive His grace and forgiveness.

But as we’ll see in our Psalms reading, sometimes we can look good in all those obvious areas, and just be a different kind of idolater. Continue reading

November 9 “Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity?”

books clock time knowledgeDoes salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? If not, what does it take?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 9 & 10
Psalm 121.1-8
Proverbs 28.16
Hebrews 5.1-14

 

Ezekiel 9 & 10:

Marked by God

Even as God prepared to bring His judgment on the people, He commanded an angel to go out and put a mark on every person who loved and worshipped Him and who grieved over the spiritual condition of the nation, just as He did before the death angel passed over in Egypt.

The same is true today. All those who belong to Him, those who are born again by the Spirit of God, have His mark. Ephesians 1.13-14:

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

There will be a day of judgment for everyone. But sadly, there are many who look good on the outside, but because they don’t have a genuine relationship with the Lord are not sealed with the Holy Spirit. Matthew 7.21-23:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

Our church’s founding pastor, John Morgan, once said he believed the church is one of the greatest mission fields. Coming to church, leaving behind some things like drinking and foul language, perhaps even getting involved and hanging around Christians can appease the conscience without any real heart change. As Paul warned some of the Corinthians:

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Cor. 13.5).

And the psalmist prayed:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Continue reading