“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

“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

“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

“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

“Wives, are you rotten?” March 20

 

Wives, are you rotten?

 

Rotten: It means something that is decaying or infected.

Ladies, our Proverbs passage tells us we can be like rotten fruit to our husbands! But we have a choice. We can, also, choose to be like crowns bringing them honor through our lives. Which one are you?

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 1 & 2
Psalm 36.1-6
Proverbs 12.4-6
Mark 16.1-20

 

Wives, are you rotten?

 

Proverbs 12.4-6:

Excellent or Rotten?

 

Verse 4 says, “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who causes shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

Wives, do you do things which cause your husband shame? The way you talk? The way you dress? The way you criticize him in front of others? Does he consider you a “crown” to him or more like rotten fruit?

Are you an excellent wife? Proverbs 31 talks a lot about what it means to be an excellent wife. Among other things, she is trustworthy in all her behavior. She’s industrious, not lazy. She’s generous. She seeks to be organized and prepares for the future. She cares about her appearance, but she understand that inner beauty is the most important part of becoming the woman God wants her to be.

She’s faithful with her responsibilities and that frees her husband to be who God wants him to be. She is faithful to grow in her understanding of God’s Word and it’s reflected in her speech and character. She values her testimony. She wants others to see the light of Christ in her life.

Now a question for you husbands. Do you value what God values in a wife? What are you doing to help her become that “excellent wife”? Continue reading

“Vows, Authority & Soul Winning” March 16

 

What does God say about our vows?

How does the ancient “Law of Vows” apply to us today? And what does it have to do with a right view of authority?

 

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 29 & 30
Psalm 34.15-22
Proverbs 11.30-31
Mark 14.27-54

 

Vows, Authority & Soul Winning

 

Numbers 29 & 30:

The “Law of Vows” & a Right View of Authority

 

Chapter 30 covers the “Law of Vows.” God takes truth and honoring our word seriously. Jesus said, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” (Matt. 5.37a”]).

God not only takes truth seriously, but He also takes authority seriously. Part of the “Law of Vows” addressed that fact. It said if a woman still lived in her father’s house or if she was married, her father or husband could overrule what she vowed.

Authority is still very important to God whether in our marriages, in the workplace, or in other areas of life.

We need to teach our children the importance of respect for authority, too. That means teaching them to respect their teachers, the police and other civil authorities, and even the other parent where divorce has taken place.

We should teach them both by instruction and by example. That means we must show respect to our spouses (& ex-spouses), their teachers and school officials, civil authorities, and our bosses.

Authority, however, stops when the other person asks us to sin. Sin would include Continue reading