The Old Testament sacrificial system only provided a temporary covering for sin, like making minimum payments on our sin debt. Even though we no longer sacrifice bulls or lambs, many of us live much the same way, thinking a good deed here or showing up at church once in a while will keep the Creditor off our backs. Only to have the interest, the guilt and consequences of sin, pile up. But there is good news …
Imagine … this Sunday morning before going in to worship, you have to stop outside the church and sacrifice a bull, then take some of the blood and put it on the altar with your finger and pour the rest of it on the altar. Afterwards you take the fat that covers the intestines, the fatty part of the liver, and the two kidneys and burn them. Then you take the bull’s waste, the skin, and the rest of the flesh out in the parking lot to be burned! All this after baking bread, having oil poured on your head, and taking a ritual bath! (And you thought just getting the family out of the house was hard!)
It’s a funny picture, but a serious subject. Why would God require all of that? And why would He want us to understand? Continue reading →
God clearly commands us, even as adults, to honor and respect our parents. Yet, many of us grew up in homes that were less than perfect. How do we honor parents when we believe they failed us in some way?
Verse 23, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”
Matthew 13.45-46 says:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
We should be willing to get God’s truth no matter what the cost and once we have gotten it, we should not be willing to give it up, not for wealth or fame or popularity or anything else.
Properly Honoring Parents as Adults
“Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old” (v. 22).
“Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice” (v. 25).
As a counselor, some of the most frequent problems I see in marriages involve a failure to properly “leave and cleave.” Spouses fail to make their husbands and wives the primary human relationship. They run first to their parents when there is a problem instead of communicating biblically with their spouses. This hinders the one-flesh relationship God intended.
They may continue to support their parents financially against their spouse’s wishes or neglect their own family unit in other ways.
But just as serious is a failure to properly honor parents as these two verses command. This often comes as a result of actual or perceived parental failures.
Getting Over an Imperfect Childhood
We live in a fallen world. I don’t know anyone who grew up in a perfect home. I know I made mistakes, many of them, when raising my children. So did my parents and your parents.
I also know many adult children who refuse to see their childhood through God’s eyes. Instead, often because of unforgiveness and bitterness, they continue to view their childhood through a childish lens. As children, we all have a narrow understanding of the world. We only know how decisions and circumstances affected us. We don’t usually see the big picture.
Children may blame a single mom for leaving a marriage and destroying their home without ever knowing that the father was an adulterer or an abuser, sometimes because their mother didn’t want to destroy their relationship with their father.
Children in blended families sometimes resent a step-parent without ever appreciating the difficulties, financial strains, and sacrifice parents and step-parents make. All they can see is that this person was NOT their biological parent. That thinking breeds resentment and rebellion in childhood and a lack of grace and thankfulness in adulthood. They may only see what they perceived as unfairness without considering their own difficult, rebellious attitudes and how that complicated the relationship.
One of the biggest issues is favoritism and perceived favoritism. Certainly, parents need to avoid sinfully favoring or comparing one child to another. Parents are not blameless in this. Continue reading →
We have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and look at the consequences! It has affected education, politics, business, family life and more. Like a handful of faithful men and women did in the first century, how can you turn your world upside down?
What a beautiful picture of God’s mercy with His people and the fact that He will, eventually, redeem the true church and the nation of Israel.
Verse 3.1, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.’ ”
But that does not mean that there are not consequences for sinful behavior.
It’s impossible not to see some of the parallels between our nation and the church of God in America to rebellious Israel. We have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and loved a lover, a god, of our own making—one who allows us to live however we desire. Look at some of the phrases in chapter 4:
“…no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land … swearing and lying … killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint … bloodshed upon bloodshed … you have rejected knowledge … forgotten the law of your God … they set their heart on iniquity.”
No truth or knowledge of God: He’s been “kicked out” of our schools, our government and the public arena.
Swearing and lying: In politics, in business (whatever it takes to make a buck), and the list goes on.
Killing and stealing: Just turn on the nightly news.
Chapter 16.1-8 gives us a beautiful picture that is true of not only the nation of Israel, but of us. It pictures an unwanted baby left to die, yet God loved her and nursed her back to health. And the story doesn’t end there. Verse 8 says:
8 “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord GOD.
God chose to love me and you, not because of anything desirable or good in us, but because of His character. He found us “in our own blood” of drunkenness, immorality, worldliness, fear, self-pity, rejection, abuse or the dozens of other ungodly choices and situations we find ourselves in, either because of our sin or the sinful choices of others. Then He spread His wings over us, loved us, and made us His bride. What amazing love! Continue reading →
Guilt and anxiety can be God’s early warning system to keep us from hardening our hearts and doing things that can harm ourselves or others. But when we refuse to heed those warnings, they can morph into paranoia and a continued downward spiral of sin.
What a sweet testimony to the faithfulness of God! When the city was defeated, Nebuchadnezzar gave orders that Jeremiah was not just to be spared, but to be given a ration and told he was free to go anywhere he wanted to go!
We get so concerned about how the economy or some political change will affect us. Instead of standing firm for truth in the face of adversity and evil, we compromise, worry, and put our trust in other gods, like government, to save us. Instead of voting for candidates who are morally right we vote our pocketbooks (who promises me the most?). We lie to get unemployment benefits. Or we compromise our values in the work place, the classroom and the marketplace. Continue reading →
Our friend Job is on quite a roller coaster. In yesterday’s reading he had some of the most incredible revelation from God and in today’s reading He thinks God has totally abandoned him.
Isn’t that a picture of the roller coaster of emotions we can all experience when we’re going through a test or trial? The important thing to remember is that even though the feelings are there, they’re real and they’re often strong, we don’t have to be controlled by our emotions. By that I mean, we don’t have to let them determine the way we act and respond!
In spite of all his roller coaster feelings, Job stayed faithful to God. Remember what his wife said at the beginning, “Why don’t you just curse God and die!” (my paraphrase). But Job didn’t waver from his faith in God, even though he didn’t understand why God was allowing all this calamity.
In spite of all his miseries Job could still say, “For I know that my Redeemer lives …” That should put most of us to shame! He went on to say, “… I shall see God.” So no matter what, he was sure of his eternal destiny.
We will hear His voice
What a strong encouragement to us that as we “worship and bow down” and recognize that “He is our God,” that if He is truly the God who sits on the throne of our hearts, we “will hear His voice” and do what He asks us to do! Continue reading →