“Judging God” March 31

 

Judging God - Too often as we read the Old Testament, we're tempted to judge God by our human standards. Yet God, who is love and who is good, is also perfectly holy and righteous in all His judgments.

Too often as we read the Old Testament, we’re tempted to judge God by our human standards. Yet God, who is love and who is good, is also perfectly holy and righteous in all His judgments.

When you read certain portions of Scripture, are you tempted to judge God’s goodness or the truth of Scripture?

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 23 & 24
Psalm 39.1-6
Proverbs 13.1-3
Luke 5.17-39

 

Judging God

 

Deuteronomy 23 & Deuteronomy 24:

God’s Holy Standard

 

Oh, thank God that we live in an age of grace! Think about it, everything we have read in the law, even the parts that are hard to understand or hard to justify by our human standards and understanding, were intended to point us to our need for His grace. As I said yesterday, the law was intended to help us see our complete inability to keep God’s standard, so that we would see our need for a Savior!

It seems harsh in today’s world to say that a person who was born illegitimately could not go into the temple (Deut. 23.2). Oh, that God would help us understand that He is holy. In Isaiah’s vision the seraphim cried out, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”

The only way any of us can come to that throne in heaven, which was represented by the Mercy Seat inside the Holy of Holies in the temple, is through the blood of Christ which takes away our sins. God had to help the people understand His holiness. He wants to help us understand His holiness, too, as we read these Old Testament passages.

God did not hold a child responsible for his parents’ sins. This same section of the law says, “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin” (Deut. 24.16). Neither the circumstances of our birth, our childhood, where we were born, nor anything else can keep us from God, unless we allow it to do so. God desires everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.4).

But look at the other end of the spectrum. Look where society is today. Nothing is shameful. Girls proudly go to school pregnant. People live together and start families without God’s covenant of marriage. Marriages break up with no regard for what God says. We abort babies we don’t want, sleep with whomever we desire, and then toss people aside when we tire of them. Do we really think all this is better?

I’m not preaching condemnation.

Romans 8.1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”

There is no sin too big or too small for the blood of Christ to cover if we humbly turn to Him and trust Him for our salvation, but we should see sin for what it is, a reproach against a Holy God! And turning to Him and trusting Him also means turning away from our sin. We can’t have it both ways.

 

Judging God

 

We simply cannot come to the Word and judge God by our standards. Think about it. How presumptuous of us to think we have a right to judge God! As Isaiah said:  Continue reading

“Murder, Rape, Rebellious Children & Your Neighbor’s Ox” March 30

 

Murder, Rape, Rebellious Children & Your Neighbor's Ox - Does the Old Testament mean anything to us as New Testament believers? If so, how can we say some Old Testament laws are still valid and others are not? And if Jesus paid the price for all of our sins, does that mean that we are free to live any way we choose?Does the Old Testament mean anything to us as New Testament believers? If so, how can we say some Old Testament laws are still valid and others are not? And if Jesus paid the price for all of our sins, does that mean that we are free to live any way we choose?

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 21 & Deuteronomy 22
Psalm 38.9-22
Proverbs 12.26-28
Luke 5.1-16

 

Murder, Rape, Rebellious Children & Your Neighbor’s Ox

 

Deuteronomy 21 & Deuteronomy 22:

3 Kinds of Law

 

What attention to all the details of life we find here in the Old Testament law—everything from the jurisdiction in a murder case (Deut. 21.1-9) to “Good Samaritan” laws (Deut. 22.1-4) to rape and adultery (Deut. 22.22-30).

But why would God care about different kinds of seeds being sown together (Deut 22.9) or whether different materials were blended into one fabric (Deut. 22.11). Bible passages like these raise the question, “How can we say some Old Testament laws are still valid and others are not?”

Sowing seeds and blending fabrics may not seem like hot topics, but the question raised by these passages carries over into more relevant topics like homosexuality and transgender issues.

Continue reading

“What Could Cost Us Our Freedom?” March 29

 

What Could Cost Us Our Freedom? - Edmund Burke said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites … men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters."Edmund Burke said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites … men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 19 & Deuteronomy 20
Psalm 38.1-8
Proverbs 12.23-25
Luke 4.31-44

 

What Could Cost Us Our Freedom?

 

Deuteronomy 19 & Deuteronomy 20:

The Size of Our God

 

In chapter 20.1-4 the Israelites were told:

“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt … Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

Like the Israelites, no matter what the battle or the enemy, we are not to look at the size of the enemy, but at the size of our God!

 

What Could Cost Us Our Freedom?

 

But we must remember that this passage follows closely behind the passages we read yesterday where God was giving instructions for choosing leaders and the behavior of those leaders. When the people or their leaders acted presumptuously, repeatedly disobeyed His commands, or followed other gods and put their trust in them, God frequently let them be defeated in battle. Sometimes even allowing them to be taken into captivity, as he did with Babylon.

America has enjoyed years of relative protection from God. We have been blessed with freedoms, resources, and favor on an enormous scale. But we should not think God cannot or will not allow defeat for our nation if we continue to move further and further from Him and His standards.

Edmund Burke said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites … men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters."

The great British statesman Edmund Burke said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites…in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

So what could cost us our freedom? Continue reading

“Politics, Choices & Trusting God” March 28

 

Politics, Choices & Trusting God - God's Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God's people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.God’s Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God’s people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.

Also, in what are you trusting? Our government, living in America, your own resources? What do choices have to do with trust?


Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 17 & 18
Psalm 37.37-40
Proverbs 12.20-22
Luke 4.1-30

 

Politics, Choices & Trusting God

 

Deuteronomy 17 & 18:

God & Government

 

Chapter 17.14-20:

14 “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ 17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

18 “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

God’s Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God’s people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.

God, Government & Our ChoisesLeaders should be those “whom the LORD your God chooses.” In a nation like ours where we choose our leaders, they should not be chosen on the basis of political expediency or personal gain. Instead, we should pray, seek godly counsel, and search God’s Word for the characteristics of godly men.

“You may not set a foreigner over you.” Certainly, this has national implications, but more important are the spiritual ones. Look again at verses 18-19, “he shall write for himself a copy of this law … he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes…”

Of course, this was written directly to the nation of Israel. God intended the nation to be a theocracy, led by God Himself through His chosen leaders. Instead, they would demand a king like the nations around them. And while there would be consequences, God still provided wisdom for living under the authority of kings and other leaders. And there is much we can learn from His instructions about living under our government today.

Our most important consideration when choosing leaders should be, Continue reading

“When to Help and When to Get Out of the Way” March 27

 

When to Help & When to Get Out of the Way - It happens to us all. Maybe he's standing on the street corner with a cardboard sign. Maybe it's a friend or a co-worker. Maybe it's a grown son or daughter. They need a loan. Or another loan. Or just a little help. Maybe it doesn't seem right, but there's the guilt. You wonder ... what is the right thing to do?It happens to us all. Maybe he’s standing on the street corner with a cardboard sign. Maybe it’s a friend or a co-worker. Maybe it’s a grown son or daughter. They need a loan. Or another loan. Or just a little help. Maybe it doesn’t seem right, but there’s the guilt. You wonder … what is the right thing to do?

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 15 & Deuteronomy 16
Psalm 37.30-36
Proverbs 12.17-19
Luke 3.1-38

 

When to Help and When to Get Out of the Way

 

Deuteronomy 15 & Deuteronomy 16:

Giving, Lending, Welfare & the Church

 

In today’s reading we see a great picture of God’s attitude toward giving and caring for one another. God commanded the nation of Israel “open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need (v. 15.8). Then every seven years there was to be a release of debts and a release of servants from their bondage.

One definition of biblical love is “a sacrificial action for the benefit of another and the glory of God without expecting anything in return.” That’s the kind of love we’re to have for one another—not a love based on feelings, but a love that is active and rooted in our love for God.

 

Does that Mean Believers Should Always Lend or Give to Anyone Who Asks?

 

I believe one of the greatest tragedies of our nation’s system of welfare and all the other programs we offer is that these things are not in the hands of the church. That’s partly because the church has not done what she should have. By the church, I mean us—you and me. Imagine what churches could do if everyone tithed and gave to the work of God! Instead, only a fraction of God’s people give faithfully.

God intended for us to care for one another in the context of the church family. That requires knowing one another, knowing the issues, knowing the struggles, knowing the circumstances, knowing what is really needed, knowing when to help and when NOT to help.

Because programs are not administered by people who know the one seeking help, our system has left room for fraud and abuse and often does more harm than good.

 

When to Help and When to Get Out of the Way

 

There are times when we can get in the way of what God is doing by constantly bailing others out of their difficulties. This is especially true with our own children!  Continue reading

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 “RESPECT” + LINKUP

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 "RESPECT" - RESPECT: It's a word that comes up often in counseling rooms. It's tossed out in the midst of arguments. Some demand it and can make you pay if you don't give it. We all want it, but most of us have trouble giving it.RESPECT: It’s a word that comes up often in counseling rooms. It’s tossed out in the midst of arguments. Some demand it and can make you pay if you don’t give it. We all want it, but most of us have trouble giving it.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Marriage: Made in Heaven? Part 11 “RESPECT”

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It’s hard to see the word with out thinking about the old Aretha Franklin song (although I may just be showing my age). Aretha sang, “All I’m askin’ is for a little respect … just a little bit.”

I’ve heard that same plea across the counseling desk many times, especially, when husbands don’t keep their eyes where they belong, when they flirt with other women, or when a wife doesn’t feel her husband is showing her the proper honor in some other way.

We all know what it’s like to feel disrespected.

Those are real concerns. A husband should honor his wife in the way he interacts with her and with others.

But, wives are not the only ones who are disrespected. In fact, if we’re honest, there is a lack of disrespect toward husbands and fathers, in general, today. Maybe it started during the women’s movement. You know, “I am woman, hear me roar.” Often, the implication was, I can handle things. Get out of my way. I don’t need a man.

Think about the typical family show in the 50s and 60s: Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, Leave It to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show. Fathers held a place of honor. They were wise. Their wives and children showed them respect.

Now think about the typical family sitcom today. Often, the father is the bumbling idiot and the butt of the jokes. Wives are out conquering the world or rolling their eyes over their husbands’ actions. Children are anything but respectful.

While husbands, wives, and children should all show respect for one another, God has specifically commanded wives to respect their husbands and children to honor their fathers and mothers.

Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Eph. 5.33).

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth” (Eph. 6.1-3).

I’ve been doing a series on God’s design for marriage. If you haven’t read the previous posts in this series, you can read them here. Today we’re going to focus on the importance of respect in the wife’s attitude toward her husband.

 

I’ll Respect My Husband When He Deserves It!

 

Someone is thinking. You don’t know my husband. He doesn’t deserve my respect. You don’t know what he has done. He’s not a believer. He’s a drunk … a womanizer … lazy … you pick the adjective. He doesn’t care about me. He never shows me respect. I’ll show him respect when he deserves it and he shows me respect. Continue reading

“Fortune Tellers, the Heart & the Wise” March 26

 

Fortune Tellers, the Heart & the Wise -

The future, it’s full of promise, but often mixed with uncertainty. Should I marry this person? Does he or she really love me? Is this the right job? Could my spouse be cheating on me? The temptation to want to know what the future holds can be huge. But what does God say about knowing the future or seeking information about things God has not revealed?

And what about your heart? Do you have a wise heart? Are you teachable? Do you listen to godly counsel? Or do you first make up your own mind and then look for justification to believe and do what you desire? What does it means, “What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies”? See today’s Proverbs reading.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 13 & 14
Psalm 37.23-29
Proverbs 12.15-16
Luke 2.25-52

 

Fortune Tellers, the Heart & the Wise

 

Deuteronomy 13 & 14:

Fortune Tellers, Palm Readers, and Other False Prophets

 

Chapter 13, verses 1-4 talk about the false prophets who predict things that come to pass. So many people assume that such a person must be from God, even though he or she says and does things that contradict biblical truth. Verse 3 says:

“… you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

There are still people out there today, claiming they can predict the future or they can tell you if your husband is cheating or give you a message from a deceased family member. They may even claim to believe in God. James 2.19 says, “… Even the demons believe—and tremble!” And in Matthew 8 when Jesus met two demon possessed men, the demons cried out, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

You can believe in God and not be of God. We are told to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5.11). And Deuteronomy 18.10-12 says:

10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.

God is still testing our hearts today.  Continue reading

“Don’t lose heart, cave in or give up!” March 25

 

Don't lose heart, cave in or give up! - Do you feel discouraged in some area? Feel like caving in or giving up? Don't lose heart! God is faithful. Wait on Him.Do you feel discouraged in some area? Feel like caving in or giving up? Don’t lose heart! God is faithful. Wait on Him.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 11 & 12
Psalm 37.18-22
Proverbs 12.12
Luke 2.1-24

 

Don’t lose heart, cave in or give up!

 

Deuteronomy 11 & 12:

Don’t Lose Heart

 

There is so much worth commenting on in these two chapters but let’s focus on 11.16 which says, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them.” Maybe you’re feeling discouraged about something, maybe even thinking about giving up.

Maybe you have been trying to walk with the Lord, trying to read your Bible, trying to grow and be the husband or wife, father or mother God has called you to be. Maybe you have been waiting for your husband, your wife, or someone else to come to know the Lord. Maybe you have been waiting for God to answer some other prayer. Continue reading

“Self-Righteousness, ‘The Shack’ & Cosmic Over-Reactions” March 24

 

Self-Righteousness & "The Shack" & Cosmic Over-Reactions" - Self-Righteousness, 'The Shack' & Cosmic Over-Reactions: What on earth do they have to do with one another? Why should those of us who know Christ be concerned about something that is "just a movie"?Self-Righteousness, ‘The Shack’ & Cosmic Over-Reactions: What on earth do they have to do with one another? Why should those of us who know Christ be concerned about something that is “just a movie”?

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 9 & 10
Psalm 37.12-17
Proverbs 12.11
Luke 1.57-80

 

Self-Righteousness, ‘The Shack’ & Cosmic Over-Reactions

 

Deuteronomy 9 & 10:

Righteousness versus Self-Righteousness

 

In today’s reading, God, through Moses, emphasized that He would bless the Israelites, not because of their righteousness, not because they deserved it, but because of His mercy.

C.J. Mahaney says in his book, The Cross Centered Life:

“Everything in the Old Testament points toward Jesus Christ and enriches our understanding of the cross (see Luke 24.27). The drama of redemption begins in the Garden in Genesis 3 and continues to unfold throughout the Old Testament until it reaches its climax at the cross. All along the way the Divine Author prepares us for Calvary. The symbolism of the sacrificial system, the strictness of the law, the repeated failures of man, the steadfast faithfulness of God—all this and more deepens our amazement at the cross.”

 

Thankfully, like the Israelites, our position with God does not depend upon our own righteousness. As Paul Tripp says, in his book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, we cannot boast in our righteousness because we don’t have any (Phil. 3.9)! We are all sinners saved by grace alone (Eph. 2.8-9) and have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3.21-23). His righteousness was imputed to us on the basis of His sacrificial death on the cross on our behalf.

But like the Israelites we need to remind ourselves of that fact, because in our pride and self-sufficiency, we see ourselves as basically good (Prov. 20.6). If we are basically good, perhaps with some minor character flaws, then, as someone has said, the cross was “a cosmic over-reaction for a people who only had a case of spiritual sniffles.” That kind of thinking is not only wrong, but it keeps many from seeing their need for Christ.

Many people expect to spend eternity in heaven because they don’t believe they’re all that bad. They have some vague idea that God will weigh their misdeeds against all the good things they’ve done and they’ll manage to “get in.”

A friend told me last night about a quote he’d read. The writer said that Adam and Eve’s sin was basically “petty theft.” Of course, we know they weren’t condemned because they stole fruit. They were condemned because of their disobedience. They broke God’s law, His direct command. But the Apostle John said, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness (1 Jn. 3.4).

I grew up believing that pretty much everyone went to heaven. We believed “in” God, but sadly, a god of our own creation, like those in the popular book and movie The Shack, who loves everyone and who wouldn’t let anyone go to hell.

Perhaps you say, come on, Donna, it’s just a movie! That’s true. But how many of us who grew up watching the movie The 10 Commandments would admit that our conception of those events has been colored by images from the movie or that watching The Passion of the Christ impacted our understanding of the events of the crucifixion.  Continue reading

“Cats, Dogs & Animal Rights” March 23

 

Cats, Dogs & Animal Rights - Whether we're dog people or cat people, most of us love our animals. But what does the Bible say about our pets? What about animal rights? And what about humans, are we just higher forms of animals? How should a Christian view his or her animals? See our Proverbs reading.

We hear a lot about “animal rights” these days. It has become a cause for celebrities and others—almost a religion with some. But what does the Bible say about our animals.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 7 & 8
Psalm 37.5-11
Proverbs 12.9-10
Luke 1.39-56

 

Cats, Dogs & Animal Rights

 

Proverbs 12.9-10:

Love Your Cats & Dogs, But …

 

We hear a lot about “animal rights” these days. It has become a cause for celebrities and others—almost a religion with some.

Animal rights written on yellow road sign over blue sky.

Animals certainly are a part of God’s creation. And as verse 10 says, “A righteous man regards the life of his animal …” A righteous man will treat his animals well, but animals are not on an equal par with people! We are not just higher forms of animals. We were made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1.26-27) and He breathed His Spirit into us (Gen. 2.7) giving us an eternal soul.

1 Corinthians 15.39 says, “All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.”

So love you cat or dog, your hamster or gerbil and take good care of them as part of God’s creation. Enjoy them, but keep your affection and regard for them in the right place.

 

TODAY’S OTHER READINGS:

 

Deuteronomy 7 & 8:

Remember … Remember … Remember!

 

Remember … remember … remember! This seems to be the theme of much of today’s Old Testament reading.

When you’re afraid of your enemies, remember what I did to Egypt when they tried to keep you in bondage. When you’re afraid the task is too big for you, remember what I did for you in the wilderness. And when you have experienced success, remember Who enabled you to be where you are!

And God reminds us … Continue reading