“The Christian Two-Step” May 12

 

Christian Two-Step - The Christian two-step: one step forward, two steps back. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.The Christian two-step: one step forward, two steps back. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 26 & 27
Psalm 60.6-12
Proverbs 16.4-5
John 2.1-25

 

The Christian Two-Step

 

1 Samuel 26 & 27:

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

 

In yesterday’s reading, Saul was repentant and had given up trying to kill David. But now in chapter 26 he’s at it again. David, on the other hand, in spite of God’s continuing faithfulness, started to believe the worse. Instead of being encouraged, he decided that sooner or later Saul will probably kill him. So he resorts to his own foolish solution, going into enemy territory where he knows Saul won’t go. But as the story unfolds we’ll see that this only leads to more problems. One step forward, two steps back.

Have you ever felt like that’s the story of your life? I know I have. We may know intellectually that God’s way is the right way, but when it goes against our feelings, feelings often win out. We could call it the Christian two-step!

We know Matthew 5.23-24 says we aren’t to hypocritically worship God, while we ignore unresolved issues with family and our brothers and sisters-in-Christ. But instead of seeking reconciliation, we avoid people, move to a different church, gossip, or pretend things are fine.

We know we’re playing with fire when we flirt with a co-worker or scan the internet for that old “friend,” but we’re so tired of feeling unappreciated and it seems so harmless, and besides, we think, “I can handle it!”

We’re heard our share of teaching about confronting a sinning brother or sister, but it’s just too hard! And besides, “Who am I to judge?”

We hear a good sermon on discipleship or prayer or growing in the Word and we decide, “I’m going to read my Bible more,” or “I’m going to spend more time praying,” or “I’m going to finish that Bible study I started.” Then the alarm goes off and another 30 minutes of sleep wins out.

One-step forward, two steps back.

 

Dancing to a New Beat

 

Like David, when the struggles keep coming or when we think we’ve failed God again, we’re often tempted to give up and think things will never change or we’re never going to get it.

But it doesn’t matter how many times we have fallen or how difficult the circumstances, Continue reading

“When You Let God Down” May 4

 

When You Let God Down - The Disciples still didn't get it! While Jesus was preparing Himself for the reality of the cross they were squabbling about their future positions in the kingdom, bragging about how they would never let Him down, and sleeping when He asked them to pray. Do you ever feel like you have let God down? You promised to never again fall into some old habit. You promised you'd be faithful to the end. Instead, you found yourself arguing with your husband, yelling at your kids, missing your quiet time, and giving up in discouragement.The Disciples still didn’t get it! While Jesus was preparing Himself for the reality of the cross they were squabbling about their future positions in the kingdom, bragging about how they would never let Him down, and sleeping when He asked them to pray.

Do you ever feel like you have let God down? You promised to never again fall into some old habit. You promised you’d be faithful to the end. Instead, you found yourself arguing with your husband, yelling at your kids, missing your quiet time, and giving up in discouragement.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 10 & 11
Psalm 55.16-23
Proverbs 15.18-20
Luke 22.24-46

 

When You Let God Down

 

Luke 22.24-46:

Squabbling, Bragging, & Sleeping

 

Do you ever feel you’ve messed up too badly for God to use you? Maybe it’s your “before Christ” past that haunts you. Maybe it’s something you did as a Christian. Sometimes it’s easier to accept God’s grace for those B.C. (before Christ) sins than those we commit as believers.

Here in Luke 22 as the events leading up to the crucifixion unfold, Jesus spends His last hours with His disciples. He has spent three years teaching and preparing them.

Yet now, with the reality of the cross looming, they were squabbling over their future positions in the kingdom (v. 24), bragging about how they would never let Him down (v. 33) and falling asleep when He asked them to pray (vv. 45-46). But just as He does with us when we fail, He lovingly corrected them, warned them of the dangers to come, and prayed for them that ultimately they would come out the other side.

 

Do you feel like you have let Him down? Run to Him not away from Him. Pray and ask for His forgiveness. Remember that He is praying for you and receive His forgiveness and help to change. It is for this that Christ died!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

1 Samuel 10 & 11:

By the Way … Bless Me!

 

prayer womanNow Israel has her king and God has confirmed His choice through military victory, but that doesn’t mean it was God’s best for the nation. I believe there are times when God allows political events to bring about His holy, just and righteous purposes. Often, if not always, those purposes include revealing the hearts of the people involved. The Israelites wanted to be like all the other nations. They didn’t want God to be their King. Instead, they wanted Him to bless their choice to live like everyone else.

How like us they were! Too often, instead of seeking God’s will in a given situation through prayer and wise counsel, we make our own choices and then, almost as an afterthought, we ask Him to bless our decision. I wonder how different things would be if we got on His agenda, instead of always expecting Him to come bless ours! Continue reading

“Responding to Persecution, Criticism & Rejection” May 1

 

How to Respond to PersecutionPersecution, mistreatment, and rejection will come.

Sometimes it comes, not in ways that threaten our lives, but from our own family members and friends. It hurts to be left out of family events or called self-righteous.

Yes … persecution and mistreatment will come. How can we be sure that God will give us the grace, ability and right words to say when we’re faced with it?

First, we shouldn’t be surprised by it! Instead, let’s see it as an occasion for sharing our testimonies and the truth about God. Let’s see it as an opportunity to walk in love and leave justice in the hands of God.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 4 & 5
Psalm 54.1-7
Proverbs 15.12-13
Luke 21.1-19

 

Responding to Persecution, Criticism & Mistreatment

 

1 Samuel 4 & 5:

God is Always at Work

 

Here we have another sad time in Israel’s history where God withdrew His immediate presence and protection from them because of their willful disobedience and idolatry. But this narrative leaves no doubt that even when people may not make the connection, God is always at work in the affairs of men.

That is true today, as well as, in Old Testament times. I once read that the word “history” actually means “His-story” and I certainly believe that’s true. So the question is, “What is God doing today?” How does everything that’s happening in our world—whether politics, wars, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or other world events, play into His plan and purpose?

He is there in the blessing and protection, but also in the withdrawing of blessing and protection.

That leads right into our Luke passage, so we’ll go there next.

 

Luke 21.1-19:

He Is Coming

 

pointing to heaven

 

This portion of Scripture, like Matthew 24, Mark 13 and other passages, talks about many of the events that point to Christ’s eminent return. Many of these things appear to be happening today, pointing to the possibility that He’ll be coming back soon. So,  what can we expect and what did Jesus say we should be doing if that’s true?

 

 

A Time of Testing & Persecution

 

Verses 12-13, “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, … But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.”

We should expect to be persecuted, do not be surprised by it! Instead of being upset or complaining, we should see it as an occasion for sharing our testimony and the truth about God.

13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed (1 Pet. 3.13-16).

If that sounds scary and you think, “I don’t know enough” or “I might mess it up,” remember verses 14 and 15:

“Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist.”

That should be comforting and extremely encouraging.

Expect opposition even from your own family:  Continue reading

“How God Uses Imperfect People” April 25

 

How God Uses Imperfect People - Have you ever wondered how God could use some of the people in the Bible? David with his adultery and scheming? Gideon with his fear and weaknesses? Jonah with his rebellion? Sampson with his pride and womanizing? Do you ever wonder if He could possibly use you?Have you ever wondered how God could use some of the people in the Bible? David with his adultery and scheming? Gideon with his fear and weaknesses? Jonah with his rebellion? Sampson with his pride and womanizing? Do you ever wonder if He could possibly use you?

Also:

How do you respond when you’re confronted with sin in your life? Are you defensive or do you humbly admit and confess as David did in Psalm 51?

What are you doing to be prepared to help the poor? Are you a wise steward or do you spend every penny you get, making it impossible for you to meet a need when you see one? Are you prepared to share the gospel with unbelievers or do you avoid it because of indifference or a lack of preparation?

Are you persistent in prayer? Do you trust God and wait on His timing? Or do you quickly give up?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 15 & 16
Psalm 51.1-6
Proverbs 14.31-32
Luke 18.1-23

 

How Uses Imperfect People

 

Judges 15 & 16:

Sampson, Judge of Israel & Womanizer

 

Have you ever wondered how God could use some of the people in the Bible? David with his adultery and scheming? Gideon with his fear and weaknesses? Jonah with his rebellion? The list is much longer than the who’s who in Hebrews 11.

Here in Judges 13-16 we have Sampson’s story. Talk about using imperfect people! That He could use Sampson with his pride and womanizing!

As we come to the end of his story, Sampson has been judging Israel for 20 years. And nothing much has changed. When he goes to visit a harlot in Gaza (v. 1), the Gazites lay a trap for him, but God delivers him, in spite of his sin and rebellion.

Next the text says, “he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.” You have to wonder if this had anything to do with love, more likely, lust.

And the lords of the Philistines came up to her and said to her, “Entice him, and find out where his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him, that we may bind him to afflict him; and every one of us will give you eleven hundred pieces of silver.”

So Delilah said to Samson, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.”

You might think Sampson would see that request as a red flag concerning her character, but she probably wasn’t much different from many others who had attracted his attention. Instead, he made up an answer to appease her.

And Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

So the lords of the Philistines brought up to her seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, and she bound him with them. Now men were lying in wait, staying with her in the room. And she said to him, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” But he broke the bowstrings as a strand of yarn breaks when it touches fire. So the secret of his strength was not known.

10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “Look, you have mocked me and told me lies. Now, please tell me what you may be bound with.”

Another red flag. And another lie. And another.

15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and have not told me where your great strength lies.16 And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, 17 that he told her all his heart, and said to her, “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.”

Not only did he take her questions lightly, but now he presumed on God’s grace.

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, “Come up once more, for he has told me all his heart.” So the lords of the Philistines came up to her and brought the money in their hand. 19 Then she lulled him to sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his head. Then she began to torment him, and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.

21 Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison.

Later, during a religious festival honoring their god, “when their hearts were merry, that they said, ‘Call for Samson, that he may perform for us.'”

Through the years Sampson had used the strength God had given him for his own selfish purposes, lived immorally, and taken lightly the things of God. Now it had cost him his eyes, his freedom and turned him into a cheap carnival act. Such is the deceitfulness of sin. It never delivers what it promises!

But God was at work, in spite of him, and his hair, the symbol of his strength, had been growing.

26 Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, “Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them.” 27 Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there—about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed.

28 Then Samson called to the Lord, saying, “O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” 29 And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left. 30 Then Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life.

Remember God’s purpose in all of this was that Sampson would “begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13.5). And even in his death, God accomplished that purpose.

In the process, God blessed Manoah and his wife with the child they desired and other children, as well (v. 16.31). Although, it must have been a great grief to them to see this son with so much potential waste his gifts and talents as he did. Could it have been a consequence of coddling and catering to him in his youth (see yesterday’s reading)?

Even so, Sampson, like all of us, was responsible for his own personal choices. It seems to me that he was the one who found the least satisfaction in all of this. In the area of his personal relationships, he continually ran after whatever appealed to him. His motives were selfish and he sought to fulfill them in ungodly ways. Consequently, they never brought him any lasting joy, peace or satisfaction.

Talk about using imperfect people!

 

But What About Us?

 

Romans 15.4 tells us that:

“… whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

What in Sampson’s story can we apply to our lives? Certainly, it should give us hope that God can and will use us. But could we be wasting God’s good gifts, getting involved in relationships God can’t bless, or seeking satisfaction in things other than God Himself? Let’s pray that we learn from his example and repent of those tendencies.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 51.1-6:

David’s Psalm of Repentance

 

prayer repentance

What a great psalm to go to when we realize we have sinned and fallen short of God’s best in our lives! If that is you, you might want to pray this psalm as a prayer. It begins:

¹ Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

 

Proverbs 14.31-32:

The Poor and the Poor in Spirit

 

Verse 31, “He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy.”

As believers we should have mercy on the poor, but not just the poor physically, also those who are poor spiritually. By learning to share the gospel we can offer that which is the most valuable of all—that is, spiritual riches.

 

Luke 18.1-23:

Persistence in Prayer

 

prayer

Verse 1 is one of my favorites:

“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”

The parable that follows can be a great encouragement to stay faithful in prayer. God is not saying He is like the unjust judge, but contrasting the two by saying, if even an unjust judge will finally give in and respond to constant requests, how much more will God who is perfect respond to us when we are faithful to pray and wait on Him.

 

What about you?

How do you respond when you are confronted with sin in your life? Are you defensive or do you humbly admit and confess as David did in Psalm 51?

What are you doing to be prepared to help the poor? Are you a wise steward or do you spend every penny you get, making it impossible for you to meet a need when you see one? Are you prepared to share the gospel with unbelievers or do you avoid it because of indifference or a lack of preparation?

Are you persistent in prayer? Do you trust God and wait on His timing? Or do you quickly give up? Are you tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness?

What did you take away from Sampson’s story?

Have a blessed day,
Donna

 


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“Are you bored with God’s Word?” April 20

 

bored Are you bored with God’s Word? Do you allow God’s Word and God’s wisdom to affect your heart intensely or is it too often “Ho, Hum, I’ve heard that before”? Sometimes our familiarity with the Word or with certain passages can keep us from benefiting from our Bible reading. Are there some simple steps to assure we “listen” to God’s voice more attentively?

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 5 & 6
Psalm 49.1
Proverbs 14.20-21
Luke 15.1-10

 

Are you bored with God’s Word?

 

Judges 5 & 6:

A Familiar Story

 

Probably one of the most familiar stories in Judges is the story of Gideon. Those of you who were brought up in Sunday school have probably heard the story many times.

But God doesn’t want us to come to His Word, going “ho-hum, heard that one before.” His Word is “quick” as the old King James Version says. That means it’s “alive.” Think of the “quick” under your fingernails—very much “alive,” as you know, if you’ve ever gotten a splinter under there!

We should come to our Bible reading expecting God to speak to us in a fresh way. It’s not that we’re free to put our own spin on God’s Word, but there is so much in every passage that we couldn’t mine it all in a lifetime.

Remember our questions from yesterday and how we can use them to dialog with the Lord. What are You trying to tell me through this passage? Is there a promise here I can claim? Is there a command I should obey? Is there a principle I need to put to work in my life? Is there an example I should follow? And I would add, has my familiarity with this passage caused me to miss something you want me to see?

So what can we learn from this familiar story?  Continue reading

“Where Do You Park Your Carriage?” April 9

 

Where do you park your carriage? -

The Israelites had just had a great victory at Jericho. Next on the battle plan was Ai, a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died because of one man’s sin. Could you or I be experiencing defeat because of sinful attitudes or actions? What did one pastor mean when he warned about where we park our carriages?

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 7 & 8
Psalm 43.1-5
Proverbs 13.22-23
Luke 9.37-62

 

Where Do You Park Your Carriage?

 

Joshua 7 & 8:

Little Town, Big Message

 

In chapter 7 the Nation of Israel had just had a great victory at Jericho. But something happened between there and the town of Ai. Ai was a small town that should have been easily defeated. Instead, they were routed and 36 men died, all because of one man’s greed.

¹ But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.

So about three thousand men went up there from the people, but they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai struck down about thirty-six men, for they chased them from before the gate as far as Shebarim, and struck them down on the descent; therefore the hearts of the people melted and became like water.

Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads. And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord God, why have You brought this people over the Jordan at all—to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us?

10 So the Lord said to Joshua: “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? 11 Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff. 

So often, we think our sins are no big deal. We minimize, justify, or explain them away. Perhaps Achan was no different. I wonder how he justified taking what God had forbidden. Because it was going to be destroyed anyway? Because he thought he deserved it? Because no one would know?

And, like Achan, we think our sins only affect us. But, just as then, they affect others, often those closest to us. His whole family died and the society as a whole suffered. Remember 36 men died in the battle.

Is there something you need to see, not just as a minor problem, but as sin in your own life? If so, take it to God, confess it as sin, humbly ask for His help and make a plan to change your thinking and behavior in the future. Make yourself accountable to someone.

 

Plan to Obey God

 

Start with a plan to change your thinking by renewing your mind. Make time to study and meditate on what God’s Word has to say about that area of your life. Take Him at His Word, believe He’s right and you’re wrong if your thinking is not in line with His Word (Is. 55.8-9; Rom. 12.1-2; Eph. 4.23).

Then make an action plan. How are you going to respond to that temptation in the future? When the thoughts come, what verse of Scripture will be your “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6.17)? What do you need to do to “make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13.14)? “Burn your bridges” where sin is concerned. Don’t hang on to things you shouldn’t. Don’t keep mementos and reminders.

If you are tempted by an inappropriate relationship, don’t deceive yourself by thinking you can “just be friends.” Stop having any contact with that person! Don’t keep that phone number—just in case! Again, make yourself accountable to someone.  Continue reading

“A Fool for God” April 1

 

I'd rather be a fool (or called one) for God than foolishly live like the devil.Today is April Fool’s Day, a day to have fun and play practical jokes. I’ve carried out a few and been the recipient of even more … all in fun.

But being a true fool is no laughing matter. Biblically, a fool is a man who fails to heed God’s warnings or refuses to live according to God’s wise principles.

Ironically, some who don’t know the Lord believe the opposite. They call us foolish for forgiving those who have hurt us, keeping God’s moral laws, and refusing to lie, cheat, or steal. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be called a fool for God than foolishly living in ways that will be displeasing to God and bring about His discipline.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 25 & 26
Psalm 39.7-11
Proverbs 13.4-6
Luke 6.1-26

 

Well, we are one fourth of the way through the Bible. If you are reading with us regularly, I would love to know how you’re doing.

Whether you are up to date, whether you have fallen behind a time or two, or even if you are a newcomer or occasional visitor, let me know? I’d love to know about your progress. Remember, any time we read God’s Word, it has the power to change our lives.

As a reformed perfectionist there have been so many times in my life that I have not done something because I couldn’t do it perfectly or because I had not started at the beginning, or … (you fill in the blank).

Maybe you’ve found yourself saying, “I’m too far behind. I’ll start over again next year.” But next year is the same. The enemy will see to it. There are always reasons, excuses really, to give up or not start. As the Nike slogan says, “JUST DO IT!” So even if today is your first visit … jump in!

On to His Word …

 

A Fool for God

 

Proverbs 13.4-6:

Wise or Foolish

 

Proverbs is a study in contrasts. The fool or the one who is acting foolishly is contrasted with the wise man.

In verse 4 the character qualities compared are the foolish man’s laziness and the diligence of the wise man or woman. Verse 5 compares foolish liars and those who love truth.

open bible mineFew of us really want to be fools, but we will be foolish by default if we don’t seek to know and understand God’s truth.

Where does wisdom start? Psalm 111.10 says:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

So wisdom starts with the “fear” of the Lord. This is not a cowering fear, but a reverential respect for the God of the universe and creator of all things.

One way we live out the fear of the Lord is found in the middle of that verse, “a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.”

Hebrews 5.14 says, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

“Solid food,” the deeper things of God, the wisdom of God, belongs to those who have matured by “reason of use.” The NASB says “practice.” By practicing what we know to do, obeying the commandments as Psalm 111 said, we gain the ability to “discern good and evil”—that is to obtain wisdom.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Deuteronomy 25 & Deuteronomy 26:

Law of the Kinsman Redeemer

 

Deuteronomy 25.5-10 covers the “Law of the Kinsman Redeemer.” The kinsman-redeemer was a male relative who would act on behalf of a widowed woman, usually by marrying her and providing an heir for the deceased.

If you have read the book of Ruth, you see this law lived out in the marriage of Boaz and Ruth. Their beautiful story is part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Also, if you remember reading about Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38, you will recall that Judah had promised his youngest son would marry twice widowed Tamar when he was old enough, so this was apparently a common practice even before the law was instituted.

According to Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary, this was done partly out of  Continue reading

“What Could Cost Us Our Freedom?” March 29

 

What Could Cost Us Our Freedom? - Edmund Burke said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites … men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters."Edmund Burke said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites … men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 19 & Deuteronomy 20
Psalm 38.1-8
Proverbs 12.23-25
Luke 4.31-44

 

What Could Cost Us Our Freedom?

 

Deuteronomy 19 & Deuteronomy 20:

The Size of Our God

 

In chapter 20.1-4 the Israelites were told:

“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up from the land of Egypt … Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

Like the Israelites, no matter what the battle or the enemy, we are not to look at the size of the enemy, but at the size of our God!

 

What Could Cost Us Our Freedom?

 

But we must remember that this passage follows closely behind the passages we read yesterday where God was giving instructions for choosing leaders and the behavior of those leaders. When the people or their leaders acted presumptuously, repeatedly disobeyed His commands, or followed other gods and put their trust in them, God frequently let them be defeated in battle. Sometimes even allowing them to be taken into captivity, as he did with Babylon.

America has enjoyed years of relative protection from God. We have been blessed with freedoms, resources, and favor on an enormous scale. But we should not think God cannot or will not allow defeat for our nation if we continue to move further and further from Him and His standards.

Edmund Burke said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites … men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters."

The great British statesman Edmund Burke said, “Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites…in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

So what could cost us our freedom? Continue reading

“Have we ‘polluted our land,’ socially & spiritually?” March 19

 

"Have we polluted our land?" Have you ever wondered about the basis for our criminal justice system? It appears our founders relied a great deal on God's Word, in spite of what we're told to the contrary. And what about the condition of our nation today, have we "polluted the land" because of our failure to follow God's laws in these areas?

Have you ever wondered about the basis for our criminal justice system? It appears our founders relied a great deal on God’s Word, in spite of what we’re told to the contrary. And what about the condition of our nation today, have we “polluted the land” because of our failure to follow God’s laws in these areas?

 

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 35 & 36
Psalm 35.17-28
Proverbs 12.3
Mark 15.25-47

 

Have we ‘polluted our land,’ socially & spiritually?

 

Numbers 35 & 36:

Crime & Punishment

 

Chapter 35.9-34 lays down laws about murder, manslaughter and other civil matters? You can see the basis for our criminal justice system in these passages and others in the Bible.

The cities of refuge were a kind of protective custody (vss. 11-15) and the manslaughter law recognized that even though the person may not have intended to do harm, there needed to be consequences for being irresponsible (vss. 22-28).

Capitol punishment (vss. 16-21, 30-31) was an important part of the law and God said they were not to “pollute the land” (vss. 33-34) by not dealing with these serious crimes.

Not only can you see the basis of our criminal justice system, but if you look at the condition of our nation and the lack of respect for authority, you have to wonder if we have “polluted our land” by not dealing with serious crimes and not carrying out justice in a reasonable amount of time. Instead, we have excused, justified and minimized sin.

Notice, though, that the avenger was not free to become a vigilante. He was to respect the legal process. The accused was protected while awaiting judgment—we call it “innocent until proven guilty” (vss. 15, 24) and, if not a capital crime, the person was free to go back to his inheritance once his debt to society was paid, here determined by the death of the high priest (v. 28).

The Apostle Paul reinforced the fact in the New Testament that we are not to take the law into our own hands. Instead we should show respect for those in authority over us, including policemen, judges and others. Continue reading

“Reading through the Bible … Why start now?” March 18

 

Reading through the Bible ... Why start now? - Have you thought about reading through the Bible, but just never have? Maybe you thought, "I'll start at the beginning of 2017 and here we are in March." So why start now? Why today? Well ... why not? Twice in the book of Hebrews God said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”Have you thought about reading through the Bible, but just never have? Maybe you thought, “I’ll start at the beginning of 2017 and here we are in March.”

So why start now? Why today? Well … why not?

Twice in the book of Hebrews God said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”

You can follow along here or just find a reading plan that fits your life. But don’t think “a reading plan that fits your life” means it won’t take effort and some time.

If you follow along with me here at Soul Survival, I’ll add some practical commentary to help you get more out of your reading. Simply sign up here.

You can either jump in where we are or if you can’t bear not to start at the beginning, you can go back to January 1 and start there. But don’t overburden yourself by thinking you can “catch up.” It’s not a race. Our goal is to know God better and to understand His plan for our lives.

And for those of you who have been reading along with me for a while or perhaps dropping in occasionally, I know it can be challenging some mornings sticking to the commitment to read your the Bible. But as long as you say “maybe next year,” it just doesn’t happen, not until you say “no, this is the year I’m doing it!”

Even if it gets done with some fits and starts, even if you miss a few days or more than a few, I encourage you to stick with it. The reward is a deeper relationship with Jesus and it’s sweeter than you can imagine!

On to the Word …

 

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 33 & 34
Psalm 35.9-16
Proverbs 12.2
Mark 15.1-24

 

“Reading through the Bible …  Why start now?

 

Numbers 33 & 34:

Gods without Heads or Hands

 

false god

In chapter 33 Moses recounts the journeys of the Nation of Israel beginning with their departure from Egypt. Talking about the judgment God had brought on the Egyptians, 33.4 says, “… Also on their gods the LORD had executed judgments.” God not only punished the Egyptians for their treatment of His people, but destroyed and discredited, the false gods they relied on.

We see another time when God brought
judgment on a symbol of pagan worship in 1 Samuel 5.1-5. The Philistines had captured the ark of the covenant from the Israelites. They took it and put it in the temple of their pagan god Dagon and set it by the idol. In the morning the statue of Dagon had fallen on its face before the ark. Verse 3:

“So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it.”

What a picture of the futility of “worshiping” anything other than the true God. Anything else is without reason (the head) or ability (the hands) to bring any real help. And yet, just like the pagans in Bible times, we continue to look to our false gods by relying on ourselves, our money, our jobs, our relationships, and the list goes on, to bring us peace, joy and satisfaction and to meet our needs. God never intended for those things to replace Him.

If that’s you, ask for His forgiveness and turn to Him in a fresh way today.

 

Psalm 35.9-16:

He Delivers Those Who Understand Their Poverty

 

Dollarphotoclub prayer woman

Verse 10, “All my bones shall say, ‘LORD, who is like You, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?'”

When Paul cried out to have his “thorn in the flesh” removed, God said:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Paul’s response was:

“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Sometimes we are in the most danger when we think we are strong. But when we know we are poor (weak), we are more likely to rely on God. 1 Corinthians 10.12 says:  Continue reading