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?
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 he heard it. 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 His faithful people, the Church! But one day … Continue reading →
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?’”
Our Old Testament reading gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with. So, where does pride show up in your life? Check Dr. Scott’s list of the manifestations of pride. You might be surprised.
“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.
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.
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.
Remember, it’s not a matter of “Do you or I have it?” but, “Where is it?” and “How much of it do I have?” So, it’s important that we learn to recognize it, confess it, and learn to go God’s way.
Today’s reading in 2 Chronicles gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with … Continue reading →
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!
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.
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 owndid 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).
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 →
Satan, the accuser of the brethren, seldom rests. He accuses us about the past. He accuses us about the present. He accuses us about our future. He’ll even accuse us when it comes to serving God, reading the Bible, praying or anything else we do for God. Is there any refuge from his accusations?
Chapter 20 talks about the cities of refuge where someone accused of murder or manslaughter could run for safety until a judge could decide his or her fate. Otherwise their accuser might decide to take justice into his own hands.
Our next reading, Psalm 46, reminds us that God Himself is our Refuge from Satan, our accuser (Rev. 12.10). Revelation 12 tells us that he accuses us day and night, sometimes in the throne room of God, as he did with Job. He accuses us about the past. He accuses us about the present. He accuses us about our future. He’ll even accuse us about serving God, reading the Bible, praying or anything else we do for God by telling us that our efforts are inadequate or what we have done in the past is too bad and God will never use us.
Either way, we have an Advocate. 1 John 1.7-9, 2.1-2:
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
And Hebrews 7.25 says, “… He always lives to make intercession for us.”
If we have been regenerated, born again by the Spirit of God, then Christ has paid the price for our sins and Jesus, our Divine Attorney, is our Defender.
TODAY’S OTHER READINGS:
God is our Refuge
This beautiful psalm should remind us from where true peace and stability come. The answer is not from government; even the greatest can fail. It’s not in our finances or our intelligence or anything else on earth. Only God is the “refuge and strength” that will never fail. If we fear God, we don’t need to fear anything else! Continue reading →
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.
Joshua 9 & 10
Parenting from the Foot of the Cross
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!
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.
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?
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.
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 →
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?
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.
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.
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 →
Jesus 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.
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,9 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).
The 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.