“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

“Why does the Bible talk so much about blood?” February 24

 

Animal sacrifices, circumcision, murder, the blood of Christ ... why does the Bible talk so much about BLOOD?Animal sacrifices, circumcision, murder, the blood of Christ … why does the Bible talk so much about BLOOD?

What about the different kinds of laws? Leviticus talks a great deal about the ceremonial laws including the blood sacrifices, but what about the moral laws having to do with sexual sin covered in chapter 18? Why is it one set of laws still applies and another doesn’t?

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 17 & 18
Psalm 27.1-3
Proverbs 10.9
Mark 4.21-41

 

Why does the Bible talk so much about blood?

 

Leviticus 17 & 18:

The Sacrificial Law

 

Blood … blood … blood … why does the Bible talk so much about blood?

When Adam and Eve sinned against Him, God Himself shed the blood of animals and symbolically covered their sins by covering their nakedness with the skins (Gen. 3.21).

When God confronted Cain for murdering his brother, He said, the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” (Ex. 4.10).

God commanded animal sacrifices to cover the people’s sins and we see here in chapter 17 that He took it very seriously when that blood was offered to demonic gods (vv. 3-4, 7).

God commanded the men of Israel to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant they had with Him (Gen. 17.9-14) … more blood. And not everyone understood; in Exodus 4 Moses’ wife called him a “bloody husband” when her son was circumcised (Ex. 4.25-26).

Then there were commands not to eat meat with the blood, commands to sprinkle blood, and just before the exodus, blood was applied to the frame of the door to protect God’s people (Ex. 12.7, 22).

And the New Testament is full of references to the blood of Christ and its significance. Continue reading

“The Danger of ‘Small’ Things” January 17

 

The Danger of "Small" Things - How many, seemingly, small decisions and compromises do we all make that can have huge consequences? In our marriages? In our parenting? In our thinking?

What can we learn from the small decisions and compromises that people in the Bible made and what happened as a result?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 33 & 34
Psalm 9.1-5
Proverbs 3.21-26
Matthew 12.1-21

 

The Danger of “Small” Things

 

Genesis 33 & Genesis 34:

Big Consequences

 

Have you ever thought about how “small things” can set the course of our lives, sometimes in ways we never intended.

James, in talking about the tongue, said, it is a small member—a little part of our body, but he went on to say that it’s like the rudder on a ship. It sets the course of our lives (Jas. 3.4-5).

What about other “small things”? What about small decisions, small compromises, small indulgences, small thoughts, “small” sins? How do they affect our lives and the lives of those we love?

In chapter 33 Jacob, now called Israel, continued on toward home after the reunion with his brother Esau after twenty plus years. But on his way, Jacob set up temporary homes first in Succoth and then in Shechem.

Genesis 34 contains a very sad story. Jacob’s daughter Dinah had decided to go into town “to see the daughters of the land.” She ended up being raped, which in turn, lead to the brutal slaughter of all the men in the city of Shechem. Even though Shechem, the young man who raped her, professed his love for and desire to marry her afterwards, it didn’t change what was done.

Dinah, possibly 15 or 16 at the time, appears to be Jacob’s only daughter. Was she the apple of everyone’s eye, especially her mother’s? While it is possible she left the camp without her father knowing, it is unlikely she did so without her mother’s knowledge.

The text says she wanted to see the daughters of the land. Maybe to see what was in fashion, how they dressed, how they wore their hair. Maybe she didn’t just go “to see,” but to be seen. How did she end up unsupervised in a pagan city? Was she spoiled?Did her parents have trouble saying “no”?

Shechem was apparently, the son of the city’s founder. Verse 19 says, “He was more honorable than all the household of his father.” The word “honorable” is translated “respected” in the NASB. It comes from a root word meaning “to be heavy, weighty or burdensome.”

It doesn’t mean he was honorable or respected in the best sense of the word, but that he was influential. Daddy’s boy carried a lot of clout! That would explain how he could talk the other young men into being circumcised (34.13-17), the condition Dinah’s brothers gave before they would allow Dinah to marry Shechem.

Was he, perhaps, an ancient version of the “affluenza” teen we read so much about a year or so ago? Look at what he said to his father after the rape, “Get me this young woman as a wife.” He sounds like a son who was accustomed to getting what he wanted. What may have seemed like “small” indulgences to his father had huge consequences.

Often, “small choices,” if not filtered through God’s principles, can lead to an attitude of entitlement. Many of our children today think they are entitled to the latest video games, the latest cell phones, etc.  Continue reading

“When It’s Time to Go” January 10

 

When It's Time to Go - While we're not of this world, we are to live in it. But there are times when we may need to remove ourselves and our families from certain environments, whether that is a workplace, a school system, a circle of friends, or a city. Let's pray for God's wisdom and grace to know how can we stay strong enough in the Lord to be salt & light, yet discerning enough to know when it's time to go. And what about in a marriage? Is there ever a time to go?While we’re not of this world, we are to live in it. But there are times when we may need to remove ourselves and our families from certain environments, whether that is a workplace, a school system, a circle of friends, or a city. Let’s pray for God’s wisdom and grace to know how to stay strong enough in the Lord to be salt and light, yet discerning enough to know when it’s time to go. And what about in a marriage? Is there ever a time to go?

Also, read about God’s view of authority in “Respect for Authority = Great Faith,” His “Mercy in Our Weakness,” and the importance of allowing God’s Word to control our inner attitudes, as well as, our outward actions in “Mercy & Truth Inside & Out.”

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 19 & 20
Psalm 6.1-5
Proverbs 3.1-4
Matthew 8.1-17

 

When It’s Time to Go

 

Genesis 19 & 20:

Justify, Justify, Justify …

 

As I read and meditated on this portion of Scripture, I was reminded of Romans 15.4 which says:

“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

I love the book of Genesis, because it does instruct us, but it often does so by allowing us to see truth through the lives of very real people.

Here in Chapter 19 we see through the lives of Lot and his family how easy it is, even though we may be believers, to compromise and “live” in places and situations where we shouldn’t. 2 Peter 2.7 calls Lot “righteous.” That doesn’t mean everything he did was righteous. He was righteous by faith—faith in the One True God—just as we are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.

Yet he chose to live in a city so wicked that God destroyed it!

He had apparently tried to do some good there. When the men of the city came to, basically, gang rape the angels, thinking they were travelers, they said: Continue reading

Homosexuality: 10 Ways to Love Biblically

 

Homosexuality: 10 Ways to Love Biblically

 

A month or so ago I started a series of posts on homosexuality and transgender issues. Now that the holidays are over I want to pick up where I left off. Last year I attended the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors annual conference where homosexuality was the main theme. Much of what I’ll share comes from my conference notes. I’ll endeavor to give specific credit wherever I can.

In the first post, Homosexuality: What set the stage?, I discussed the cultural changes that got us here.

In the second post, Homosexuality: Many Voices, I talked about the various view points on homosexuality and why biblical Christianity and the relevance of God’s Word are at stake.

In this post I want to discuss 10 practical ways we as Christians can love biblically when it comes to our transgender and homosexual friends and family members.

Matthew 22 in the New Living Translation says this:

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

We are called to love our spouses, to love our neighbors, and to love our friends and family members. We are even called to love our enemies. While we don’t want to confuse love with acceptance in the area of lifestyle, it doesn’t matter where on that continuum someone is, we are called to love.

One of the most powerful testimonies at the conference was that of Rosaria Butterfield. Rosaria is a former tenured professor of English at Syracuse University. In spite of what she termed a normal childhood and adolescence, she became a feminist and lesbian, even more, a vocal spokesperson for that agenda. Continue reading

Homosexuality: “Many Voices”

 

Homosexuality: Many Voices

There are many voices talking about this issue of homosexuality: secular, so-called Christian, and biblical. How do you know what is right and what is wrong?

We are living in a world that continues to spiral out of control when it comes to morality, especially in the area of homosexuality and transgender issues.

As I said in the first post in this series, what was once condemned is now celebrated as good and right and anyone who disagrees is attacked and condemned.

In that post I, also, talked about the changes that took place to set the stage for the moral revolution we are now experiencing. If you missed it you can read it here.

Much of the information for this series comes from a conference I attended recently put on by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors where homosexuality and transgender were the main themes. But the bigger theme of the conference was how to minister to people who are struggling with these issues in ways that are biblically appropriate and full of God’s grace. I’ll endeavor to give specific credit wherever I can.

In this post I’ll be talking about the battleground of ideas and what is at stake. This is an issue that is not going away and each of us needs to learn what the Bible says, what other voices are saying, and how to minister the truth as God gives us opportunities. Continue reading

Homosexuality: What set the stage?

 

Homosexuality: Setting the Stage for a Moral RevolutionIt’s easy to condemn and criticize out of hand what is now accepted, condoned, even mandated, especially when it comes to homosexuality, trans-gender issues, and sexual immorality, in general. And as believers we should be concerned about the changes in morality in our nation and the world.

But what is our responsibility? How should we respond to those we meet who are struggling with these issues? How should we respond to those who don’t seem to be struggling at all, but instead, are “in our face” about what they consider our unloving, even hateful, attitudes?

What set the stage for the moral revolution that is taking place in our world today? Does all the responsibility lie with the LGBT community and other non-believers or do we bear some of it?

I recently attended the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky where homosexuality and transgender were the main themes. The conference was incredibly helpful and informative and I want to share some of the information with you in a new series of posts. Much of what I’ll share comes from my conference notes. I’ll endeavor to give specific credit wherever I can. Continue reading

September 7 “Calling evil good”

imagesCA33UMYH

God has strong words to say to any nation found calling evil good. Yet … we have decided to call homosexuality another lifestyle option and abortion just a choice. We justify the wicked for a bribe and call it politics and speaking up for the truth intolerant. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 5 & 6
Psalm 105.23-36
Proverbs 24.28-29
1 Corinthians 15.29-58

wolf in sheep's clothingIsaiah 5 & 6:

Calling evil good

Even though these passages are specifically about the nation of Israel, there is much universal truth contained in them.

I commented on some of this yesterday, but think about our nation as you read the following verses 5.20-24:

20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!
22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away justice from the righteous man!
24 Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble,
And the flame consumes the chaff,
So their root will be as rottenness,
And their blossom will ascend like dust;
Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

bribeWe call evil (abortion, homosexuality, etc.) good.
We call speaking up for the truth on those and other subjects “intolerant” and considered by many to be evil.
We put forth darkness (all kinds of sin and immorality) as being “enlightened”—intellectual.
We rail against the backward narrow minded Christians who supposedly want to “impose” their views on everyone.
We justify the wicked for a bribe and call it politics.
We take away the justice from the righteous man.

Then we are outraged when the flame of a bad economy consumes our retirement plans and our stock portfolios and our jobs disappear like blossoms gone by and turned to dust.

We want to blame past presidential administrations, immigrants, the middle class, the rich, the poor, or corporate America. But the real problem is we “have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel”!

Continue reading

July 30 “The dangerous spiral of sin”

imagesCAC72NT4 A lack of willingness to accept and believe the truth can start an individual or a society as a whole on a downward spiral of sin. But sadly, it’s not a lack of truth, rather a suppressing of the truth, not that most people don’t know the truth, but because they just don’t want to hear it.

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 12 & 13
Psalm 89.30-37
Proverbs 22.3-4
Romans 1.1-32

Well, here we are finishing up the book of Nehemiah. Do you realize we have finished well over half of the Old Testament, 16 books in total and a good portion of Psalms and Proverbs? We’ve finished the four gospels and the book of Acts, the historical books of the New Testament.

Now we are starting the Epistles of Paul in the New Testament, beginning with the book of Romans and tomorrow we’ll start the book of Esther in the Old Testament. It’s exciting to see the progress we’re making.

Romans, Bible If you have gotten behind, jump back in here with Romans. It’s an incredible book with so much to teach us, as does all the Bible. 2 Timothy 3.16-17 says:

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Well, on to the word … Continue reading

May 15 “Responding to imperfect authority”

How should we respond to imperfect authority? Are we to obey no matter what? Are we to refuse? And, if so, is there a right way and a wrong way?

imperfect authority

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 1 & 2
Psalm 62.1-4
Proverbs 16.10-12
John 4.1-30

2 Samuel 1 & 2:

Well, we have passed another milestone, another Old Testament book under our belts. Now we are on to 2 Samuel.

Proper respect for authority

In chapter 1 David mourns the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, especially Jonathan with whom David had a special covenant relationship. I believe it was Jonathan’s faith in God and sensitivity to what God was doing that led him to make a covenant with David.

We also see Jonathan’s loyalty to his father, although he didn’t allow that loyalty to cause him to sin. He kept his covenant to protect David. He warned David of the threat against him while speaking the truth to Saul, telling him what he was doing was wrong. But in the end he refused to desert his father, even though it cost him his life.

What a beautiful picture of how we should respond to those God has placed in authority over us.

All of us are under authority. Wives are under their husbands’ authority. Children under their parents. Students are under the authority of teachers and administrators. Employees under their bosses and supervisors. We are all under the civil authorities: policemen and women, judges, governors, all three branches of our federal government and others. Christians are under the authority of their pastors and elders. And we are all under God’s authority.

The only perfect authority is God’s.

All other authority is imperfect.

That doesn’t let us off the hook. Continue reading