“Are you trying to make minimum payments on sin?” February 9

 

Are you trying to make minimum payments on sin? - 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 ...Are you trying to make minimum payments on sin?

 

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 …

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 29 & Exodus 30
Psalm 20.6-9
Proverbs 7.6-23
Matthew 25.1-30

 

“Are you trying to make minimum payments on sin?”

 

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The Final Sacrifice

 

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

“The Second Death & A Righteous Judge” December 22

 

The Second Death & a Righteous Judge - Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He's sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s OK. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge. In reality, that driver would be worthy of death. But would a death sentence be the worst that could happen? Is there actually more than one kind of death?Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He’s sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s OK. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge. 

In reality, that driver would be worthy of death. But would a death sentence be the worst that could happen? Is there actually more than one kind of death?

 

Today’s Readings:
Nahum 1-3
Psalm 145.17-21
Proverbs 30.16
Revelation 12.1-17

 

The Second Death & a Righteous Judge

 

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Patient, Merciful & Righteous

 

Chapter 1.3, 7 sum up this book:

3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.

7 The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.

God is patient and merciful (“slow to anger”). His desire is that all would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.4).

But He can’t be good and be a liar. He can’t be a righteous judge and give evil a pass (“acquit the wicked”). There is a debt to be paid for sin in the court of heaven. For those who put their faith and trust in what Christ did on the cross, it has been paid in full, but for those who reject the truth, the penalty is death.

But physical death is not the end. We will all live forever. The question is … “Where?”

Death is separation. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden they were separated from God. They no longer had the spirit to Spirit communion with Him they had enjoyed. They didn’t die physically, at least not immediately, though they would since they were, also, barred from eating from the tree of life.

As their children, we are all born spiritually dead and unless Jesus returns before then, we will die physically.

But there is a second death (Rev. 2.11), Continue reading

“Is believing ‘in’ God enough?” November 21

 

Is believing in God enough? - Is believing in God enough to save us? If so, why would James say, "even the demons believe--and tremble"?Is believing in God enough to save us? If so, why would James say, “even the demons believe–and tremble”?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 33 & 34
Psalm 130.5-8
Proverbs 29.1
James 2.1-26

 

Is believing “in” God enough?

 

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Orthodox Demons?

 

Watching, Warning & Orthodox Demons

Verse 19, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!”

John MacArthur says that demons, while they seek to deceive others about the truths of God and while they chose to follow Satan, are orthodox in their theology. They know who Christ is, they know they are under His authority, and they know that one day they will be cast into the lake of fire (Mk. 5.6-10).

But just believing in God isn’t enough.

Do you know someone who claims to believe in God, but without any evidence of saving faith? This is a great verse to memorize and share. Believing in God does not save us, that is, merely, believing that He exists. It’s belief in the gospel that saves (Mk. 1.15; Rom. 1.16). It’s believing He is who He says He is and believing what He says is true.

Instead, many have some general idea of God as some kind of a benevolent Father. They often expect that He will weigh the good and the bad things we have done and since most of us think we’re really not that bad (Prov. 20.6), hope the good will outweigh the bad.

But the gospel is the truth that we are sinners dead in our trespasses and sins and unable to save ourselves. We cannot be saved by good works (Jn. 3.10, 3.23, 6.23; Eph. 2.8-9), nor through any amount of religion (going to church, being baptized, taking sacraments, etc.).

God sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins. He died on the cross, was buried, and was raised again. We are saved by His grace when we admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior and by putting our faith in Him and Him alone to save us. It’s Jesus who saves us, but we must “receive,” choose to believe, the truth.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

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Watching & Warning

 

1 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand” (ch. 33.1-6).

Ezekiel was called to be a “watchman” to the people of His day. He was to warn the people of their need to repent and turn from their sin and idolatry. We, too, are “watchman” called to share the gospel with those around us. Matthew 28.19-20 says:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

If we are faithful to share God’s truth, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient, we are free from guilt. But if we refuse, God says “their blood is on our hands.” Continue reading

“Truth & Lies” October 21

 

False ProphetsJesus called Satan the father of lies and He warned the religious leaders of His day that they were listening to the wrong voice. In the garden Satan sold Eve a bill of goods and in Jeremiah’s day, he spoke through false prophets who told the people that the consequences of their sin wouldn’t be so bad. False teachers and false prophets are saying much the same thing today. Others may propagate lies because they are misinformed and listening to the wrong voice.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 27 & 28
Psalm 119.33-40
Proverbs 27.18
2 Thessalonians 3.1-18

 

Truth & Lies

 

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False prophets

In the garden the serpent told Eve, “You will not surely die!” In other words, your disobedience won’t result in painful consequences.

As if to make His point that the devil is a liar, God recorded pages and pages of genealogy and after each name it says, “… and he died and was buried with his fathers.”

In Jeremiah’s day, false prophets told the people that the consequences of their sin wouldn’t be so bad, but it too, was a lie.

Today, the false prophets may not look as obvious, but they’re out there. They’re preachers and teachers. They’re counselors, psychologists and therapists. They’re teachers and university professors. They’re politicians and judges and activists and Planned Parenthood employees.

 

They Prophesy Falsely …

They prophesy falsely when they say, “The Bible isn’t all true. It’s just a book of myths.”

But God says:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1.20-21).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3.16).

Or, when they say “Jesus was a good man, but not God.”

But Jesus said “I and My Father are one (Jn. 10.30).”

He can’t be both a good man and a liar.

Or, “Jesus loves everyone just the way you are. There’s no need to change.”

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

They prophesy falsely every time they say to an unrepentant sinner, “You don’t need to feel guilty. You need to do what’s right for you.”

Guilt is not always a bad thing. Apart from Christ we’re all guilty, so guilty that the only remedy was for Jesus to die in our place! Often the guilt and consequences are the very things God uses to draw people to Himself.

2 Corinthians 7.9-10 says:

9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

They prophesy falsely every time they say to a young woman, “You won’t suffer any problems as a result of this abortion.”

But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good (Rom. 2.8-10).

Or “Just accept who you are. You were born that way.”

We were all born sinners though we’re inclined to sin in different ways, but that’s precisely why we need a Savior.

And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Cor. 5.15).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5.17).

Or when they question God by asking, “What kind of a God let’s all these bad things happen?” As if God is obligated to bless a people who have denied His right to rule them!

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2.10).

Or, even, when they say, “Just ask Jesus into your heart” without talking about the need to repent and turn away from sin.

Joel 2.12 says, “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

And Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Lk. 26.20).

And Acts 26.20 says, “… and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”

It’s not that it’s wrong to pray a prayer of salvation, but it isn’t a “magic formula.” Each person needs to first understand and accept the gospel: that Jesus died for guilty sinners, that He rose from the dead so that we can have new life, and that He is Lord not just Savior (Rom. 10.9-10).

prayerThe acceptance of that truth may be expressed in a prayer. It may happen in a church pew, at an altar, in a home, an alley, or a hospital bed. It may happen as the Word is preached, as the gospel is shared one on one, or as the Spirit of God brings gospel truth to remembrance. It may look very different from one life to the next, but in some way an understanding of our inability to redeem ourselves (Rom. 3.10-12, 23, 6.23), that Christ died the death we deserved (Rom. 5.8), and that He offers us salvation as a free gift (Rom. 6.23; Eph. 2.8-9) must come alive.

If you’re reading this and that truth is coming alive in your heart, talk to God. No fancy words are required. Admit you’re a sinner and ask Him to forgive you, accept what He did for you and ask for His help to live a life that’s pleasing to Him. It’s that simple.

 

As for the False Teachers …

And as for the false teachers … there will come a time when some will hear what Hananiah heard at the end of 28.15-17:  Continue reading

“If you died tonight …?” August 20

 

If you died tonight ...? - If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don't leave your eternity to chance!st 20" >If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 31 & 32
Psalm 98.1-3
Proverbs 23.17-18
1 Corinthians 2.1-16

 

If you died tonight …?

 

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The Power of the Gospel

 

Verses 1-2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

That is something we all need to remember as we witness to our friends and loved ones. We can’t “talk them into anything.” The power lies in the gospel and in God’s Word. We need to share the truth with them by pointing them to the Scripture.

bible johnst 20" >Martha Peace, who wrote The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective, said that before she got saved her friends had told her to read the book of John, and to keep reading it until it made sense to her. She was depressed and pretty messed up, but she did. And one night after reading it a number of times, faith came alive in her heart!

We certainly don’t want to beat people over the head with the Bible, but we must realize that it is the Scriptures that contain the power of God for salvation!

 

If you died tonight?

 

What about you? Are you are reading this and wondering, “Would I go to heaven?” Please don’t push that thought away. Seek God about it. Pull out your Bible or get one. Begin reading the book of John. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. You can read more about the gospel and salvation here.

Or maybe you have been in church for a long time or you went when you were younger. Maybe you “prayed a prayer” once, joined a church, got baptized … but you still have doubts. The aging Apostle John said this about why God had him write the book of 1 John:

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 Jn. 5.13).

Did you notice that phrase? “…that you may KNOW”! God wants us to have confidence and peace in knowing that we belong to Him. He wants us to understand eternal security. Read more here. We can have eternal security, but it is not based on what we do, rather it is a faith transaction.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2.8-9).

Leave me a comment and I will put you in touch with a solid biblical church in your area if you would like to talk to someone about your eternal destiny (I won’t publish it, if you prefer). Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

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If … if … if

 

Job ends his defense in chapter 31 with a series of “ifs.” If I had looked on a woman lustfully (), if I had not been generous (), if I had treated my employees unfairly (), if I had trusted in wealth rather than God (), if I had hidden my sin (), if I had stolen (), etc., then I could understand all this.

We are often a lot like Job. We think if we keep the law (at least our interpretation of it), God is obligated to bless us.

After Job and his three friends had stopped speaking, a younger friend, Elihu, says in effect, I can’t keep quiet any longer. I think you’re all wrong!

But soon … God will begin to speak and answer all of them. Continue reading

“7 Ways to Avoid a Roller Coaster of Emotions” August 19

 

roller coaster of emotionsst 19" >When we go through tests and trials, there is often a roller coaster of emotions. But we don’t have to let our emotions run the show! As believers, how can we learn to live by something besides our feelings and emotions?

Also read about the meanings of God’s name, how joy follows loving discipline, and how the truths of the Gospel contain the power of God.

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 29 & 30
Psalm 97.7-12
Proverbs 23.15-16
I Corinthians 1.1-31

 

7 Way to Avoid a Roller Coaster of Emotions

 

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Don’t let emotions run the show!

 

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 are 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.

So how can we avoid letting emotions run the show in our own lives?

 

7 Ways to Avoid a Roller Coaster of Emotions: 

Continue reading

“Contagious Sins: Could You Be at Risk?” August 10

 

Contagious Sins: Could you be at risk? - We take every precaution with deadly diseases like ebola or zika, but there are diseases of the soul that are just as deadly. How are you protecting yourself from contagious sins?st 10" >We take every precaution with deadly diseases like ebola or zika, but there are diseases of the soul that are just as deadly. How are you protecting yourself from contagious sins?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 11 & 12
Psalm 94.1-11
Proverbs 22.24-25
Romans 10.1-21

 

Contagious Sins

 

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Could you be at risk?

 

Certain sins are easily caught from others. Could there be people in your life whose friendship is a danger to your walk with God?

“Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul” (vss. 24-25).

Anger is one; so are gossip, cursing, and other sins, especially those of the tongue. If you hang around people who practice those things, you will become less and less bothered by them and eventually begin to join in.

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’ ” (1 Cor. 15.33).

Jesus said we’re to live in the world, but not be of it (Jn. 17.14-15). And the Apostle Paul warned us about being closely associated with unbelievers.

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? (2 Cor. 6.14).

So while we are to have relationships with people outside the faith and use those opportunities to be salt and light, they should not be our closest friends and partners.

But it can be just as dangerous, maybe more so, to hang around with professing believers who act like the world!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

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Love Believes the Best

 

Now it’s Zophar’s turn to speak to Job about his troubles. He can’t believe what he is hearing. He is sure that Job is guilty of some serious sin, so he rebukes him sharply.

While Job agrees with Zophar’s assessment of God’s wisdom, power and sovereignty and he doesn’t claim to be perfect, he strongly condemns his simplistic conclusion.  Continue reading

“Could you be left behind?” July 19

 

left behind

Two people will be working together. One will disappear and the other will be left behind.  Men and women will be eating and sleeping and going about their business. Some will be gone in an instant and others left behind. How about you? Would you go or could you be left behind?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 34-36
Psalm 86.1-5
Proverbs 21.13-14
Acts 21.1-17

 

Could you be left behind?

 

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Mercy … but Then Judgment

 

In chapter 34 Josiah had become king at the ripe old age of 8, but what a king he was! Verse 3 says that he began to seek the Lord in the eighth year of his reign. He would have been just 16 years old. By the age of 20 he was putting a stop to idolatry. Next he began clearing out the temple and getting ready to reinstate the proper temple worship. In the process Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord.

Several things struck me about all of this. First, the Word of God was not being taught. People were just doing whatever seemed right to them. The second thing was Josiah’s response to the Word when it was read to him. He tore his clothes, a statement of intense mourning and repentance. He was repenting, not just for himself, but for the nation as a whole, because he realized just how far they had departed from the truth. He understood that they were under God’s judgment because of it.

So he sent Hilkiah and a group of men to meet with a prophetess named Huldah to seek further direction from the Lord. She reassured him that God had seen his righteous response to all of this and his willingness to humble himself and obey. So while judgment was coming, He would grant the nation a reprieve. In fact, it wouldn’t happen in Josiah’s lifetime. But after his death and by the close of 2 Chronicles, Jerusalem would be destroyed and the remaining people carried off to Babylon where they would remain in captivity for 70 years.

 

God is Withholding His Judgment Today

 

Today, much like in Josiah’s time, God is withholding His final judgment from the earth because of the presence of His faithful people, the Church! But one day …  Continue reading

“Pride … Me?” July 15

 

Pride ... Me? - Stuart Scott says, "Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God's sight" (Prov. 16.5). He adds, "We all have pride ... The question is not 'Do I have it?' but, 'Where is it?' and 'How much of it do I have?'” So where does pride show up in your life?Stuart Scott says, “Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride … The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’” So where does pride show up in your life?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 25-27
Psalm 84.1-7
Proverbs 21.4-5
Acts 19.1-20

 

Pride … Me?

 

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A PROUD HEART

 

Verse 4, “A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin.”

Over and over the Bible warns against the dangers of pride.

Stuart Scott in his powerful little booklet From Pride to Humility says:

“It is probably safe to say that humility is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be. We cannot come to God without it. We cannot love God supremely without it.”

He goes on to say we can’t be an effective witness, love and serve others, lead, communicate properly, or resist sin without it (Eph. 4.1-2).

“You cannot have humility where pride exists. Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”

He lists some of the manifestations of pride as:

1. Complaining against or passing judgment on God.
2. A lack of gratitude in general.
3. Anger.
4. Seeing yourself as better than others.
5. Having an inflated view of your importance, gifts, and abilities.
6. Being focused on your lack of gifts and abilities.
7. Perfectionism.
8. Talking too much.
9. Talking too much about yourself.
10. Seeking independence or control.
11. Being consumed by what others think.
12. Being devastated or angered by criticism.
13. Being unteachable.
14. Being sarcastic, hurtful, or degrading.
15. A lack of service.
16. A lack of compassion.
17. Being defensive or blame-shifting.
18. A lack of admitting when you are wrong.
19. A lack of asking forgiveness.
20. A lack of biblical prayer.
21. Resisting authority or being disrespectful.
22. Voicing preferences or opinions when not asked.
23. Minimizing you own sin and shortcomings.
24. Maximizing others’ sin and shortcomings.
25. Being impatient or irritable with others.
26. Being jealous or envious.
27. Using others.
28. Being deceitful by covering up sins, faults, and mistakes.
29. Using attention-getting tactics.
30. Not having close relationships.

Some of those may have surprised you, as pride can be very subtle, masquerading as something else.

Today’s reading in 2 Chronicles gives us a great illustration of what pride can do …  Continue reading

“The Few, the Narrow Gate & the Gospel” April 17

 

"The Few the Narrow Gate & the Gospel" - 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 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!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 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

 

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The few, the narrow gate & the Gospel

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 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 Continue reading