How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I don’t want to believe I would even deny being a Christian, but I know there have been times when I have kept quiet when I should have shared my faith and times when I was too busy with my own agenda to see an open door. How about you?
Leviticus 3 & 4
Do You Defend the Faith?
Are You Willing and Are You Prepared?
In this passage, we find three of the women who followed Jesus there at the cross “looking on from afar.” It’s interesting to note that there is no record of any of the women who had followed Jesus leaving Him or denying Him in those last hours when most of the men fled in fear.
What about you and me?
Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to defend and talk about what you believe?” Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.
Maybe we’re afraid someone won’t like us? Or of jeopardizing something we want? Or we’re afraid of the consequences?
Certainly, we need to be wise in the workplace, but, at times, we keep silent more because it’s uncomfortable. Other times, we don’t speak up because we don’t really know how to defend our faith and we’re afraid we’ll sound foolish or mess it up.
Yet look at what the Apostle Peter told an earlier generation of believers–people who lived in almost constant danger of persecution or worse:
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).
What do you need to do to be better prepared to “defend the faith”? Do you need to get involved in a discipleship class or Bible study so you can learn the basics of the Christian faith? Do you need to pray for boldness or freedom from fear? Do you just need to step out in faith?
You might want to check out Fundamentals of the Faith: 13 Lessons to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Today’s Other Readings:
Leviticus 3 & 4:
The Messy Business of Sin
The primary theme in Leviticus is holiness. God is holy and He has commanded us to be holy just as He is (1 Pet. 1.14-16).
The need for holiness is attested to by the complicated systems of sacrifices and offerings. The animal sacrifices made temporary atonement for the sins of the priests and the people.
And what a “messy” and costly business the sacrificial system really was.
But then, I’m reminded that sin itself is “messy” business! Think of all the messes we make in our lives: our friendships, our marriages, our families, our finances, and every area of life. It’s not always “pretty” and the only remedy is Christ.
When we see our complete failure to be holy and come to understand that He died as the perfect Sacrifice for all who believe, we can exchange our sin for His holiness.
But sometimes, before that can happen, God has to allow our choices in life to bring about their natural consequences (Gal. 6.7-8). You can read my testimony about how God did that in my life.
Even as believers, he allows a certain amount of hardship in our lives. Not because He’s spiteful or unloving, but because He is our Father and we are His children. Like any good father, He trains and disciplines His children precisely because He loves us!
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights” (Prov. 3.11-12).
Did you notice that word “delights”? That same passage is quoted in Hebrews 12 when the writer says if He does not correct us, then we are not really His children. He goes on:
“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12.11).
So if you are going through a difficult time, don’t forget God is there? Ask Him to search your heart as the psalmist did in Psalm 139.23-24. Is there sin from which you need to repent? Is He merely pruning so you will bear more fruit (Jn. 15)? Most importantly, trust Him:
“… knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1.3-5).
The Shepherd’s Psalm
What a beautiful psalm! If you have never committed it to memory, I would encourage you to do so. But whether or not you already know it or it’s only vaguely familiar, take some time and think about the words. Here it is from the New Living Translation:
1 Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!
2-3 He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most.
4 Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.
5 You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!
6 Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.
The Wisdom of God
Wisdom continues to call to us, but not just any wisdom, the wisdom of the One who created us. And it’s available to us as we pray and study His Word looking for it.
Father, help us to not deny You, to not flee when the going gets tough. Help us, Lord, to stand up for what’s right and to always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in us, yet help us to do so with gentleness and reverence. As we do, help us to not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2.24-26).
In the coming days, we’ll talk about the need to get the logs out of our eyes, how Islam intends to conquer the West largely through cultural invasion, and about the contagious nature of many sins. We’ll also pose the question, “Could you be raising little hypocrites?” and talk about what it means to preach the gospel to yourself and why it’s so important.
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Today’s Featured Resources:
“On Sunday mornings at Grace Community Church, small groups of people gather together in Fundamentals of the Faith classes to use this manual of thirteen lessons, which blends basic biblical truths with personal obedience and service. Many young believers take these classes to grow in their understanding of biblical truths.” Now Fundamentals of the Faith is available to you. With topics ranging from “God: His Character and Attributes” to “The Church: Fellowship and Worship,” this study is ideal to disciple new believers or to realize afresh what it means to believe in Jesus.
Each lesson is loaded with learning tools to help you engage Scripture. There are also links to 13 free downloadable messages by John MacArthur himself, study questions, memory verses, and suggestions for practical application.
If you are a new believer or know someone who is or just want to be better equipped to defend the faith, Fundamentals of the Faith is the perfect resource for establishing a solid biblical foundation for the Christian life.
How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur
The Bible is the Word of life. As such, studying the Bible is crucial to the life and growth of every believer. In this revised work, John MacArthur examines various Scripture passages in the Old and New Testament to answer both the “why” and the “how” questions of Bible study.
How to Study the Bible can be used alongside or apart from the audio series available from Grace to You in either a personal or group study.
- Corresponds with the audio message series available from Grace to You
- Features revised content and study questions
- For personal or group study use