In chapters 31 and 32 God continues to speak to Egypt, perhaps more as a warning to His people that they could no longer turn to worldly powers like Egypt for help and protection. In chapter 31 He compared Egypt to a great tree under which many had taken refuge, but which was about to be broken and destroyed.
Egypt is also a picture of the world and the world’s system. As a nation, we have attempted to live under that system. We have tried to legislate morality, tolerance, and equality. We have expected the government to provide for every need or imagined need, but our system, too, is broken.
The problem is the world’s version of morality, tolerance and equality is not one based on God’s Word and His standard. We are expected to “tolerate” things that are contrary to biblical morality. Equality is no longer about equal opportunity to work hard and make your way in the world, it’s about taking from one and giving to another. And morality is a morality that turns biblical morality on its ear.
No matter how much we “tinker” with our broken system, as long as it’s based on a faulty foundation, it will never have the ability to fix what is wrong in our nation. As believers we must look to God in our own lives and pray for genuine heart change in the lives of others. Continue reading →
Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? If not, where does is come from? From years of church membership? From learning how to use Bible software or getting 10 devotionals in your in-box? Does it come with a degree in theology? Or from attending Bible studies week after week? If not, what does it take?
Does it happen simply because we show up for church week after week? Or get baptized, learn how to use Bible software or start serving in church? Does it come from attending Bible studies or displaying a Christian bumper sticker?
It’s not to say any of those things are wrong or that they can’t happen as a result of spiritual maturity, but in themselves they don’t make a mature disciple of Christ. In fact, James 1 says if we’re hearers of the word and not doers, we delude ourselves (Jas. 1.22-25). Often that delusion concerns our own maturity and level of obedience. We think we’re “OK” because we do Christian things.
Going back to our Hebrews 5 passage, let’s read it in the New Living Translation:
11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen.12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right.14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
The writer of Hebrews was addressing those who “ought to be teaching others” because of their exposure to the Word and Christian experience. Instead they were still babies and needed milk.
But solid food, food that is fit for those who are spiritually mature, is for those who have trained themselves or practiced doing what God says. Spiritual maturity comes as a result of obeying the Word on a regular basis.
But before you can grow spiritually, you must be born spiritually (Jn. 3.3). Do you need to examine yourself to see if you are “in the faith” (2 Cor. 13.5)? Do you struggle with doubts about the genuineness of your relationship with God? Make sure you understand the gospel. Don’t let another day pass without having the assurance that you belong to Him.
If you know you belong to Him, could there be some area of life where you are blinded by hearing and not doing? We all need to pray regularly for God to help us avoid spiritual blind spots and if there is some area where you know you’ve not obeyed God, repent and ask for His forgiveness and grace. Then step out in obedience.
Even as God prepared to bring His judgment on the people, He commanded an angel to go out and put a mark on every person who loved and worshiped Him and who grieved over the spiritual condition of the nation, just as He did before the death angel passed over in Egypt.
The same is true today. All those who belong to Him, those who are born again by the Spirit of God, have His mark. Ephesians 1.13-14:
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
There will be a day of judgment for everyone. But sadly, there are many who look good on the outside, but because they don’t have a genuine relationship with the Lord are not sealed with the Holy Spirit. Continue reading →
This week’s question: “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16.15).
The author offers some great thoughts on leadership from this question and last week’s, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” He says, there are basically two kinds of leaders: those who lead by public opinion and those who lead by their personal convictions.
As he points out, those who lead by public opinion wait to see which way the wind blows. In politics they may ask themselves: What do the polls say? What is popular? What will get me re-elected?
This kind of leadership is not limited to politics. Many parents tend to lead by consensus. It is the reason there are so many “child-centered homes.” Not a good thing! Our homes are to have Christ at the center, not our children, not even ourselves. Lou Priolo, in his book The Heart of Anger, says this is, actually, one of the ways we provoke our children to anger (Eph. 6.4).
Churches, too, are often lead by consensus.
Jesus confronted His Disciples with the same issue. “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” What do the polls say? What do people think of me? What is the consensus?
Then He turned their attention the most important question, “Who do you say that I am?” What do you believe about me? Before they could lead others well, they needed to know what they believed.
The same is true in our lives. We won’t be able to train up our children in the way they should go if we don’t first know what we believe and why we believe it.
If our nation is to ever be strong again, we need politicians who are principle oriented and will lead based on what God says is right, whether or not it benefits them personally.
The Church needs pastors and elders who will search the Scriptures and lead God’s people into His truth and who stand up for that truth, whether or not the world agrees.
Families need husbands and mothers and fathers who will lead based on God’s Word, whether or not it makes everyone happy at the moment.
But it doesn’t stop there. We are all leading others by what we say and what we do, though we live in a world that is much more concerned about what people think than what God thinks.
Now Jesus’ question was personal and direct: “Who do you say that I am?” In the language of the New Testament, the “you” is emphatic: its placement at the front of the sentence gives it significance and weight. Had we been there listening to our Lord that evening, Jesus’ question would have sounded more like this: “What about you, you and you only, you and no one else, you and you alone— who do you say that I am?” How an individual answers this question has eternal implications, and this is the question each person who walks on this planet must ultimately answer. Is Jesus who He said He was when He declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14: 6)? He is still asking, “Who do you say that I am?
In our pluralistic culture, to say that Christ is the one and only way to heaven is akin to waving a red cape in front of a raging bull. People today are far more interested in what men say than in what God says, and we set ourselves up as a target for attack when we state the truth that Jesus is indeed the one and only way to heaven.
He goes on:
When we, based on our personal convictions, insist that Christ is the only way to eternal life, we are accused of being narrow-minded … But all truth is narrow. Mathematical truth is narrow: two plus two equals four, not three, not five. That is narrow. Scientific truth is narrow: water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, not 35 or 36 degrees. Geographical truth is narrow: on the northern border of Texas is the Red River, not the Sabine River. Historical truth is narrow: John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln in the Ford Theatre in Washington. Booth didn’t stab Lincoln in the back in the Bowery in lower Manhattan. So why should we be surprised that theological truth is narrow? Jesus Himself invited potential followers to “enter by the narrow gate” (Matthew 7: 13).
Look again at Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” Notice that little word “say.” What will you say about Jesus to a lost and dying world. What will the example ofyour lives and mine be? Will we stand up and be counted and do we have the courage to lead by our convictions when it counts?
Next week’s question: “Who is this?” (Matthew 21.10).
Last week’s question:“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16.13). Read it here.
I have been pulling a few thoughts out of each chapter, but I cannot cover all the nuggets Hawkins shares in this little gem of a book. I hope these excerpts whet your appetite to purchase the book for yourself. Just click on one of the links below.
You can get a copy of The Jesus Code and follow along with these 52 vital questions. The chapters are short and can easily be read in one sitting. If you do, I’d love your feedback. Click here to get the book or HERE for Kindle.
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We are invited to come to God’s throne of grace in prayer. And what do we receive? “… grace to help in time of need.” If we will but go to that throne of grace, He will give us all the grace we need for any situation.
Even though God had blessed the nation of Israel and had shown them mercy over and over, they had continued to go their own way. Now it was time for God’s judgment.
Not only were the people living ungodly lives and refusing to acknowledge God as the One True God, but they were actively worshipping false gods of every sort. Even their spiritual leaders were involved in a secret society which worshipped demons (8:7-12)!
But even in judgment, God’s purpose is loving and good.
“… Then they shall know that I am the Lord!” (7.27b).
That statement was repeated over 60 times in this book. The people had so hardened their hearts that only pain and suffering could reach them. Psalm 32:
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.9 Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding,Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle,Else they will not come near you. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked;But he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him.
Run to Him
Verse 1, “In my distress I cried to the LORD, and He heard me.”
So often when we are in trouble we try everything we can think of before we turn to Him. Let’s run to Him first. He is faithful and trustworthy!
“Like a roaring lion and a charging bear is a wicked ruler over poor people.”
A ruler who takes advantage of the weakest under his rule is compared to a wild beast who devours whatever he desires. This doesn’t just apply to world or national leaders, it’s for all of us in all kinds of leadership and at all levels. Leadership is a responsibility as much as a privilege and we should be good stewards of it.
“Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites” (Eph. 6.9).