“The Danger of Cultural Christianity” April 17

 

 

The Danger of Cultural Christianity - Yesterday was Easter. If you attended church, you probably sang about the blood of Christ that was shed for your sins, but the singing didn't stop there. You, probably, sang about the Resurrection, too. You rejoiced that the tomb is empty and Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, having overcome death, hell, and the grave.  But as church goers in America there is a certain danger in the familiarity of all that. We aren't faced with the choice of committing to Christ and facing persecution, even death, or remaining what our culture says we are, at least in name, whether Muslim or Hindu or some other religion. So instead, we run the risk of being cultural Christians, what our family or our tradition says we are ... Christians in name only.Yesterday was Easter. If you attended church, you probably sang about the blood of Christ that was shed for your sins, but the singing didn’t stop there. You, probably, sang about the Resurrection, too. You rejoiced that the tomb is empty and Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, having overcome death, hell, and the grave.

But as church goers in America there is a certain danger in the familiarity of all that. We aren’t faced with the choice of committing to Christ and facing persecution, even death, or remaining what our culture says we are, at least in name, whether Muslim or Hindu or some other religion. So instead, we run the risk of being cultural Christians, what our family or our tradition says we are … Christians in name only.

When an observer in Jesus’ time asked, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” He warned that the gate is narrow. And when the people of Joshua’s day claimed that they would serve the Lord, he told them not to take that commitment lightly. Are there many today who have failed to heed those warnings? Are there many who are basing their relationship with God on something besides the true Gospel?

That should be heart-breaking for those of us who truly understand the Gospel, because it is the most incredible GOOD NEWS ever! Today’s post includes a link to a video that could shake your understanding of what the good news of the Gospel really is!

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 23 & 24
Psalm 47.1-9
Proverbs 14.14
Luke 13.23-35

 

The Danger of Cultural Christianity

 

Joshua 23 & 24:

You Choose … Whether to Serve the Lord or Something Else

 

What a rich portion of Scripture! Joshua is coming to the end of his life and he wants to leave everything in order. He takes time to remind the people about all God has done for them and encourages them to remember how He has been faithful to His Word.

In 23.12-13 he warns them about intermarrying with unbelievers. This is still true today. If you are single and considering marriage or if you do in the future, remember, we are free to marry only in the Lord! (1 Cor. 7.39) – that is to another believer.

Then Joshua calls them to make a choice as to whom they will serve:

“…. choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (v. 24.15).

And when they are quick to say, “We also will serve the Lord,” he challenges them that this is no flippant profession, this is serious business and they should count the cost and mean what they say.

 

Is He Lord?

 

Today many talk about “cheap grace.” If you want to go to heaven, just ask Jesus to come into your heart and He’ll forgive you for your sins and you’ll have your ticket to heaven.

It is true that we can do nothing to deserve salvation and nothing to save ourselves. It is by grace alone through faith alone. But Jesus didn’t imply that it was “cheap.” First of all, it wasn’t cheap for Him. He paid the ultimate price.

Part of coming to Him in faith means we recognize our desperate need for Him and that we are sinners with no ability to fix ourselves. There is to be repentance (a change of heart and mind leading to change in the direction of our lives) and a willingness to acknowledge Him as Lord (Rom. 10.9-10; Acts 2.36). Lord … Master, God, the One who has the right to tell us what is right and wrong and how to live our lives!

Have you truly put your faith and trust in Him for your salvation?

Jesus gave an even stronger warning in today’s New Testament reading.

 

Luke 13.23-35:

The Narrow Gate

 

Jesus warned that the gate is narrow (v. 24) and that many who think they have entered, have not. Verses 23-27:

23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”

And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’”

What a terrifying thing, to think you’re assured a place in heaven, yet hear those words, “I do not know you.”

The striving Jesus talked about is not our good works or self-efforts. In fact, we can’t get to heaven based on our own righteousness, because we don’t have any of our own (Rom. 3.10-12).

Today the gate is open (Heb. 3.15). God desires that all men be saved (1 Tim. 2.4), but we must believe and receive the Gospel.

11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (1 Jn. 1.11-13).

 

In What Have You Placed Your Hope of Heaven?

 

Is it your church membership or the fact you were born into a Christian family? Is it your good works? Is it simply that you believe in God? Is it that you once prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, or got baptized?

Those are all good things and may take place as part of our salvation experience. But none of them, in and of themselves, can save you! We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone (Eph. 2.8-9). His grace, received through our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Jesus said, ““The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1.15).

 

So What is the Gospel?

 

If you have any doubts about whether or not you have believed the Gospel, I would encourage you to watch this video by Dr. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary. It’s a little long, but you can’t listen to Dr. Horton’s explanation and not realize what incredibly GOOD NEWS the Gospel really is!  Continue reading

“How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions?” April 14

Aside

 

How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions? - What’s going on in your heart and mind? Is there peace and trust? Or worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety or other negative emotions threaten to have their way?

Even if you haven’t followed along lately, I hope you’ll take the time to read this post. Our thinking is so important and learning to think biblically makes all the difference in our emotional condition.

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 17 & 18
Psalm 45.6-17
Proverbs 14.6
Luke 12.1-31

 

How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions?

 

Luke 12.1-31:

How Our Thinking Controls Our Emotions

 

Verses 22-31 repeat much of what we read a couple of months ago in Matthew 6 about worry and trust in God, but we can never hear these things often enough. Verses 29-31:

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

I especially like verse 29, “And do not … have an anxious mind.” Why are we so often anxious? What, generally, controls our emotions?

Philippians 4 says:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 

Have you ever prayed and given some situation to God, only to find yourself worried about it a hour later? Why do we find it so hard to leave our troubles with God?

I believe the answer is in verse 8.

When it comes to worry and anxiety, it’s not enough to pray and then go back to thinking about it, trying to figure out how God’s going to solve the issue, or as we often do, fretting about what we should do to fix the problem. We need to change our thinking.

It’s no accident that verse 8 follows 6 and 7. “Finally …” after you’ve prayed about it, “meditate on these things”! Think about them deeply.

What is it we’re to think about deeply?

We’re to focus on what’s true, not the what if’s and maybe’s. We’re to think about the greater truths. It may be true that your husband has lost his job, but the greater truth is that God is your Provider (2 Cor. 9.8; Phil. 4.19).

We’re to think about what’s noble and lovely. Believe the best of others. Don’t see them in the worst possible light. See them as God sees them. And remember no one is too hard for God (Prov. 21.1).

Think of the good, those things for which you can be thankful. Think about how God has taken care of you in the past and how You have seen Him work in the Bible and in the lives of people you know.

2 Corinthians 10.4-5 says:

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Notice the words “arguments”, “knowledge” and “thoughts.” These strongholds have to do with our thinking and patterns of thinking. We take our thoughts captive by replacing them with God-honoring, God-filtered ones.

When we’re tempted to worry and be anxious, we must remind ourselves that if the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want. We won’t lack anything we need. But, as I heard someone say, Psalm 23.1 may be the best known and least believed verse in the Bible.

How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions? - What's going on in your heart and mind? Is there peace and trust? Or worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety or other negative emotions threaten to have their way? Even if you haven't followed along lately, I hope you'll take the time to read this post. Our thinking is so important and learning to think biblically makes all the difference in our emotional condition.When we start to wonder if our spouse will ever change, we must remind ourselves that our job is to first take the logs out of our own eyes (Matt. 7.5), that we overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.21) and that doing good to the other person will be the most likely way to bring conviction (Rom. 12.20).

When we start fretting about our children, we must remember that God only asks us to be faithful (1 Cor. 4.2) to teach and train them using godly principles (Eph. 6.4), not to unnecessarily frustrate them (Col. 3.21) or provoke them to anger (Eph. 6.4), and to leave the results in His hands (Prov. 22.6).

But in order to take our thoughts captive to these truths and others, we must first put God’s word in our hearts and minds. Romans 12.2 tells us:

“… be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

And Psalm 119.9-11 (NASB) says:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.

10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.

11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

So when we’re feeling anxious or worried or a host of other negative emotions, let’s stop and take an inventory of our thoughts.

The Sovereign God who watches over all the details of life is watching over us. He knows what we need. Our focus is to be on doing the things that advance His kingdom. But if we’re not purposefully thinking and meditating on those things, our default modes of worry, anxiety, anger, other sinful thought patterns will take over.

 

How Journaling Can Help

 

When I’m counseling people struggling with emotional issues, I often ask them to keep a journal. It’s often very revealing for them to slow down and ask themselves a series of questions.  Continue reading

“Parenting from the Foot of the Cross” April 10

 

Parenting from the Foot of the Cross - The Bible has so much to say about parenting, and we have many great resources today to help us understand and apply its teachings. It's also an area where we need to apply the gospel, both to ourselves and in the grace we give our children.

The Bible has so much to say about parenting, and we have many great resources today to help us understand and apply its teachings. It’s also an area where we need to apply the gospel, both to ourselves and in the grace we give our children. Check out this great list of resources for parenting kids from toddlers to teens.

 

Today’s Readings:

Joshua 9 & 10
Psalm 44.1-3
Proverbs 13.24-25
Luke 10.1-24

 

Parenting from the Foot of the Cross

 

Proverbs 13.24-25:

The Bible on Parenting

 

Verse 24, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

There is so much advice about parenting out there, much of which contradicts this truth. But we have to decide who we are going to believe—God or man!

This is a subject that deserves so much more space than I can give here, but there are many good parenting books out there written from a biblical perspective. Some good ones are: Give Them Grace by Elyse Fitzpatrick, Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp, Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman and Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting by Paul Tripp (especially good for parents of teens and pre-teens). Another good one for parenting teens is Get Outta My Face!: How to Reach Angry, Unmotivated Teens with Biblical Counsel by Rick Horne.

If you are dealing with children who are angry, two of my go-to resources in counseling are: The Heart of Anger: Practical Help for the Prevention and Cure of Anger in Chldren and Getting a Grip: The Heart of Anger Handbook for Teens, both by Lou Priolo.

The Heart of Anger is written to parents and includes journals and other helps to work with your children. But it first helps parents better understand what they may be doing to contribute to their children’s anger.

As parents we are warned in Ephesians 6.4:

… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

So before Lou delves into the child’s behavior, he helps parents evaluate their own heart attitudes and behavior. His list of 25 ways parents provoke their children to anger is worth the price of the book.

25 Ways That Parents Provoke Their Children to Anger*  Continue reading

“Risky Faith” April 8

 

Risky Faith - Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee you won't be hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise.Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee you won’t be hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise.

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 5 & 6
Psalm 42.6-11
Proverbs 13.19-21
Luke 9.18-36

 

Risky Faith

 

Joshua 5 & 6:

A Hill of Foreskins

 

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins (5.2-3).

I imagine all the men reading this portion of Scripture cringed a little when they read about flint knives, circumcision, and “the hill of foreskins.” I can’t help thinking the men in Joshua’s time, probably, felt the same way.

 

Their Parents Disobedience

 

The fact that this second generation had not been circumcised was another symptom of their parents disobedience. But now, before they could go in and take the land God had given them, this covenant sign had to be performed. This must have been a memorable (after all, the hill was named after it) and solemn ceremony.

It was, also, a huge step of faith, since this mass circumcision made them vulnerable to attack. In Genesis 34 we read about an angry brother who convinced a whole village to get circumcised by promising to allow his sister to marry her rapist.  While they were weak and in pain, he killed them all in revenge.

 

Risky Faith

 

God watched over them, but humanly speaking, it was a risky decision. Risk is, often, a reality when you step out in faith.

When you forgive and turn the other cheek, you risk being struck again (Matt. 5.39). When you stand up for the truth, you risk being persecuted (Matt. 23:34-36). When you do what’s right, some people are not going to like it. The world does not like the light. Sometimes you’ll, even, be targeted for your faith.

Just ask Barronelle Stutzman. In case you aren’t familiar with her story, Barronelle is a 72-year old grandmother, a florist, and a follower of Christ. She has been targeted by the State of Washington and people on the left for declining to make flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

Since then her case has worked it’s way to the Washington Supreme Court where she lost in a 9-0 decision. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the decision, it could cost Barronelle her livelihood and all her assets.

It’s important to understand that Barronelle wasn’t trying to discriminate against the men. She had provided flowers for them on numerous occasions over a 9-year period, but when one of them asked her to provide flowers for their wedding, she declined because of her religious convictions. Instead, she recommended some other florists.

tree rootsSometimes, persecution, pain, and rejection come from our own families and those closest to us. That can hurt even more deeply. But we must be quick to forgive and keep our eyes on the Lord no matter who mistreats us. Otherwise that hurt can be the seed that grows up into a root of bitterness.

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many (Heb. 12.14-15 , NLT).

But, as believers, we shouldn’t go looking for persecution. We need to be wise and prayerful. Rod Dreher, in his book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, says:  Continue reading

“Facing the Storms of Life” April 5

 

Facing the Storms of Life - Are you facing a storm in your life? Are wind and waves threatening to sink you boat? Are you worried about our nation, the economy or something else? Remember when you're facing the storms of life, He still rebukes the wind and waves.Are you facing a storm in your life? Are wind and waves threatening to sink you boat? Are you worried about our nation, the economy or something else? Remember when you’re facing the storms of life, He still rebukes the wind and waves.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 33 & 34
Psalm 40.13-17
Proverbs 13.13-14
Luke 8.1-25

 

Facing the Storms of Life

 

Luke 8.1-25:

Faithful Women

 

 

I was reminded again here in Luke 8 of just how many women were followers of Christ from the beginning (vv. 2-3). Not only did they follow, but many of them went with Him all the way to the cross.

 

Wind, Waves & Wonder

 

But let’s look at verses 22-25 again:

22 Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

He went to sleep! And … He stayed asleep through the storm! He wasn’t wringing His hands wondering if they’d really get to the other side.

He hasn’t changed! He’s still in control of everything. He still rebukes the wind and the waves. He isn’t wringing His hands about the economy or who’s in office or who seems to be winning the cultural debate. He’s on the throne and those of us who stay in the boat with Him will get to the other side.  Continue reading

“Fear not! He is there!” April 4

 

FEAR NOT! HE IS THERE! - Whether it's a bad report at the doctor's, a wayward child, or a difficult marriage ... fear not! He is there!Whether it’s a bad report at the doctor’s, a wayward child, or a difficult marriage … fear not! He is there!

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 31 & 32
Psalm 40.6-12
Proverbs 13.11-12
Luke 7.31-50

 

Fear not! He is there!

 

Deuteronomy 31 & 32:

He Goes with Us

 

Repeatedly God tells us:

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (31.6).

Think about that, when we go for that doctor’s visit or procedure, He goes with us! When we go for that job interview or to share our testimony or all those other situations that tempt us to be afraid, He goes with us! When our children walk away from God or our spouse walks out, He is there.

When we’re tempted to worry about how we’ll pay the bills, live with the loss, handle caring for an aging parent or another baby … He is with us! He will not leave us or forsake us!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 40.6-12:

Delighting in Him

 

Verse 8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 37.4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

The more we write His law on our hearts and get to know Him, the better able we are to really “delight” in Him. Then the more we delight in Him, the more He fills our hearts with His righteous desires, which He in turn works out in our lives.  Continue reading

“The Downward Spiral of Sin” April 2

 

The Downward Spiral - God offers full disclosure. He allows us to make our own choices, but we should not think we can disobey God and somehow be in control of where it ends. Today's reading in Deuteronomy gives us a stark picture of total depravity and where the downward spiral of sin can lead.God offers full disclosure. He allows us to make our own choices, but we should not think we can disobey God and somehow be in control of where it ends. Today’s reading in Deuteronomy gives us a stark picture of total depravity and where the downward spiral of sin can lead, including cannibalism and things that could be taken from today’s headlines.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 27 & 28
Psalm 39.12-13
Proverbs 13.7-8
Luke 6.27-49

 

The Downward Spiral of Sin

 

Deuteronomy 27 & 28:

Memorials and the Ten Commandments

 

Chapter 27.2-3, “… you shall set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. You shall write on them all the words of this law, when you have crossed over, that you may enter the land which the LORD your God is giving you, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ just as the LORD God of your fathers promised you.”

Moses Ten Commandments Stones Isolated on White Background.Some people think it’s foolish to make such a big deal about things like having the “Ten Commandments” posted in schools and other public places. But, apparently, God thinks it’s a pretty good idea to have reminders of the truth! We see God telling His people to set up memorials and reminders over and over in the Scriptures.

The Scriptures themselves are reminders, too, and we should be faithful to read and meditate on them so we can remember His love, remember His promises, and remember His faithfulness.

 

The Downward Spiral of Sin

 

Now to chapter 28. It’s hard to read some of this:

45 “So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever.

49 “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, 50 a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.

“…your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you … You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters … he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat …The tender and delicate woman … will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, her placenta … she will eat them secretly …” (Deut. 28.51-57). Continue reading

“A Fool for God” April 1

 

I'd rather be a fool (or called one) for God than foolishly live like the devil.Today is April Fool’s Day, a day to have fun and play practical jokes. I’ve carried out a few and been the recipient of even more … all in fun.

But being a true fool is no laughing matter. Biblically, a fool is a man who fails to heed God’s warnings or refuses to live according to God’s wise principles.

Ironically, some who don’t know the Lord believe the opposite. They call us foolish for forgiving those who have hurt us, keeping God’s moral laws, and refusing to lie, cheat, or steal. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be called a fool for God than foolishly living in ways that will be displeasing to God and bring about His discipline.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 25 & 26
Psalm 39.7-11
Proverbs 13.4-6
Luke 6.1-26

 

Well, we are one fourth of the way through the Bible. If you are reading with us regularly, I would love to know how you’re doing.

Whether you are up to date, whether you have fallen behind a time or two, or even if you are a newcomer or occasional visitor, let me know? I’d love to know about your progress. Remember, any time we read God’s Word, it has the power to change our lives.

As a reformed perfectionist there have been so many times in my life that I have not done something because I couldn’t do it perfectly or because I had not started at the beginning, or … (you fill in the blank).

Maybe you’ve found yourself saying, “I’m too far behind. I’ll start over again next year.” But next year is the same. The enemy will see to it. There are always reasons, excuses really, to give up or not start. As the Nike slogan says, “JUST DO IT!” So even if today is your first visit … jump in!

On to His Word …

 

A Fool for God

 

Proverbs 13.4-6:

Wise or Foolish

 

Proverbs is a study in contrasts. The fool or the one who is acting foolishly is contrasted with the wise man.

In verse 4 the character qualities compared are the foolish man’s laziness and the diligence of the wise man or woman. Verse 5 compares foolish liars and those who love truth.

open bible mineFew of us really want to be fools, but we will be foolish by default if we don’t seek to know and understand God’s truth.

Where does wisdom start? Psalm 111.10 says:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

So wisdom starts with the “fear” of the Lord. This is not a cowering fear, but a reverential respect for the God of the universe and creator of all things.

One way we live out the fear of the Lord is found in the middle of that verse, “a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.”

Hebrews 5.14 says, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

“Solid food,” the deeper things of God, the wisdom of God, belongs to those who have matured by “reason of use.” The NASB says “practice.” By practicing what we know to do, obeying the commandments as Psalm 111 said, we gain the ability to “discern good and evil”—that is to obtain wisdom.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Deuteronomy 25 & Deuteronomy 26:

Law of the Kinsman Redeemer

 

Deuteronomy 25.5-10 covers the “Law of the Kinsman Redeemer.” The kinsman-redeemer was a male relative who would act on behalf of a widowed woman, usually by marrying her and providing an heir for the deceased.

If you have read the book of Ruth, you see this law lived out in the marriage of Boaz and Ruth. Their beautiful story is part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Also, if you remember reading about Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38, you will recall that Judah had promised his youngest son would marry twice widowed Tamar when he was old enough, so this was apparently a common practice even before the law was instituted.

According to Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary, this was done partly out of  Continue reading

“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