“4 Ways to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal” February 27

 

4 Way to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal - How's your spiritual curb appeal? How do you look from the outside? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of the One who's living in you? If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we come up short, how do we change that? Here are 4 ways to improve your spiritual curb appeal.

How’s your spiritual curb appeal? How do you look from the outside? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of the One who’s living in you? If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we would come up short, how do we change that? Here are 4 ways to improve your spiritual curb appeal.

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 23 & 24
Psalm 28.1-5
Proverbs 10.17-18
Mark 6.1-29

 

4 Ways to Improve Your Spiritual Curb Appeal

 

Leviticus 23 & 24:

 

Does He really “occupy” your life?

 

As we continue reading through the book of Leviticus, I’m reminded that not only is “all Scripture” profitable to our everyday lives (1 Tim. 3.16-17), but we can begin reading anywhere and glean great, practical truths.

Leviticus 23 gives instructions concerning the feasts that Israel was to celebrate. These feasts acknowledged and helped them remember God’s sovereign work in their lives, just as Easter and Christmas should do for us.

That’s part of the tragedy with the commercialization of those holidays. Easter has become more about bunnies and eggs and less about Christ’s resurrection. Christmas is more about “what will I get” than remembering that the Creator of the Universe humbled Himself to be born in a stable, to be a little baby with dirty diapers, to grow to be a boy who respected and obeyed His parents, and finally, to be a man who was willing to be beaten, stripped and crucified for me and you!

Here in chapter 23, notice the feasts and the sacrifices involved food: meat and grain, oil and wine, things used in the preparation of a meal.

Remember that God repeatedly told His people He desired to dwell with them. In Revelation 3.20 Jesus said:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”

1 Corinthians 6.19 says that we are the “temple of the Holy Spirit.” And in John 1.14 it says that Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Old Testament feasts and sacrifices, in part, reminded them that the Creator God wanted to dwell with them.

That word “dwell” comes from a root word meaning “to tent or encamp, to occupy (as a mansion) or to reside as God did in the Tabernacle of old.”

His dwelling with us speaks of protection and communion.

The word “occupy” stood out to me. Does He really “occupy” your life? Have you allowed him to take over the whole mansion or is He expected to stay in the back room most of the time? Maybe He’s only with you on Sundays? Or maybe you’d say “no, He’s here all the time! I’m always talking about God and church!”

 

Spiritual Curb Appeal

 

Then the question becomes, how are you doing at living your life in a way that makes Him pleased to be there? Are you going places, watching things, reading things, listening to things or saying things that grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in you?

And how does His residence look to others? Real estate agents talk about curb appeal, how a home (or mansion) looks from the street. How do you look to others? How is your spiritual curb appeal? Do you live in a way that gives others the right opinion of God?

God wants a relationship with His people. He wants to live in us and through us so we can be salt and light to the world. What a privilege and what a responsibility! If some spiritual real estate agent evaluated your life and mine, how would we do? And if we came up short, how can we change that? Continue reading

“Why doesn’t God deal with that?” November 7

 

Why doesn't God deal with that?Abuse, rejection, abandonment, criticism … when we’re the victim of such things, we often wonder “Why doesn’t God deal with that?”

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 5 & 6
Psalm 119.169-176
Proverbs 28.14
Hebrews 3.1-19

 

Why doesn’t God deal with that?

 

Ezekiel 5 & 6:

Getting Away with Sin

 

God works very hard to help us understand His truths. In the New Testament Jesus told parables, used illustrations from the agricultural world, and told stories like that of the prodigal son to help explain the Word.

Here God instructed the prophet Ezekiel to act out many of his prophecies. In these verses he was to cut his hair and use it as a picture of the nation of Israel: burning a portion of it, chopping a portion with the sword, scattering a portion to the wind, and binding a small “remnant” in his clothing to protect it. This was an illustrated warning of the coming judgment along with God’s promise to protect His faithful remnant.

God is good, but He is also holy and righteous, and although, His patience and mercy cause Him to hold back the hand of judgment, there will be a time when it must be carried out.

On a personal level, we often look at someone else’s life, especially if they’ve sinned against us, and ask “Why doesn’t God deal with that?”

But when it’s us, we want mercy and cry foul when we suffer the consequences of our actions.

The reality is, we must trust in the sovereignty and wisdom of God in every situation whether in our own lives or the lives of others, knowing that God is faithful to His Word in His own perfect timing.

If we’re experiencing God’s discipline, we need to know it’s because of His love for us. Hebrews 12.5b-6:

5 … “My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the LORD loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

And when we are sinned against we need to remember Romans 12.17-21:

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And finally, Galatians 6.7-10 reminds us:

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap,” and “’Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.” In reality, no one “gets away with anything.” God knows everything that is going on both externally and in our hearts. There will be a day of accounting for those who never surrender to the Lord. Even for believers, God disciplines His children. God will not be mocked, but because He has perfect wisdom, He knows the exact balance of justice and mercy required in every situation.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 119.169-176:

I Have Gone Astray

 

I have gone astray.

Verse 176 says, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commandments.”

After extolling the wisdom and virtues of the Word and his love for it … for 176 verses … the psalmist still recognized his own sinful nature, “I have gone astray …” and understood that he needed God to keep seeking him!  Continue reading

“Headlines: Our Courts Oppose the Righteous!” October 4

 

Our courts oppose the righteous!

Wow! As I reread today’s passage, it occurred to me that it could be a series in today’s newspapers!

Headlines: “Our courts oppose the righteous,” “Justice is nowhere to be found,” “Truth stumbles in the streets,” “Honesty has been outlawed,” “Truth is gone,” and “Anyone who renounces evil is attacked” (Is. 59.14-15). Though God is patient and long suffering, one day soon …

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 59 & 60
Psalm 115.1-8
Proverbs 26.23
Ephesians 5.17-33

 

Headlines: Our Courts Oppose the Righteous!

 

Isaiah 59 & 60:

Our Courts Oppose the Righteous

Look at chapter 59.13-15 in the NLT:

13 We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD.
We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14 Our courts oppose the righteous,
and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.

Verse 13 reminds us that all sin is first and foremost against the Lord. Notice it says, “We have turned our backs on our God.” When we deny and turn our backs on the Lord we are expressing contempt for Him, in effect, saying that we are dissatisfied with His blessings, that He is not good, that we want and deserve something better than what He has given us.

This passage says we sin willingly, knowingly, “We know we have rebelled … we know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.”

When the believers in a nation begin to compromise and live like the rest of the world, all of society suffers. Look at the list in verses 14 & 15 again: Continue reading

November 7 “Balancing justice and mercy”

gavel justice mercy verdictAbuse, rejection, abandonment, criticism … why does it seem that those who do such things sometimes get away with it?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 5 & 6
Psalm 119.169-176
Proverbs 28.14
Hebrews 3.1-19

 

Ezekiel 5 & 6:

Balancing justice & mercy

God works very hard to help us understand His truths. In the New Testament Jesus told parables, used illustrations from the agricultural world, and told stories like that of the prodigal son to help explain the Word.

Here God instructed the prophet Ezekiel to act out many of his prophecies. In these verses he was to cut his hair and use it as a picture of the nation of Israel, burning a portion of it, chopping a portion with the sword, scattering a portion to the wind, and binding a small “remnant” in his clothing to protect it. This was an illustrated warning of the coming judgment along with God’s promise to protect His faithful remnant.

God is good, but He is also holy and righteous, and although, His patience and mercy causes Him to hold back the hand of judgment, there will be a time when it must be carried out.

Sometimes we look at someone else’s life, especially if they have sinned against us, and ask “Why did God let them get away with that?” Continue reading