“Self-Righteousness, ‘The Shack’ & Cosmic Over-Reactions” March 24

 

Self-Righteousness & "The Shack" & Cosmic Over-Reactions" - Self-Righteousness, 'The Shack' & Cosmic Over-Reactions: What on earth do they have to do with one another? Why should those of us who know Christ be concerned about something that is "just a movie"?Self-Righteousness, ‘The Shack’ & Cosmic Over-Reactions: What on earth do they have to do with one another? Why should those of us who know Christ be concerned about something that is “just a movie”?

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 9 & 10
Psalm 37.12-17
Proverbs 12.11
Luke 1.57-80

 

Self-Righteousness, ‘The Shack’ & Cosmic Over-Reactions

 

Deuteronomy 9 & 10:

Righteousness versus Self-Righteousness

 

In today’s reading, God, through Moses, emphasized that He would bless the Israelites, not because of their righteousness, not because they deserved it, but because of His mercy.

C.J. Mahaney says in his book, The Cross Centered Life:

“Everything in the Old Testament points toward Jesus Christ and enriches our understanding of the cross (see Luke 24.27). The drama of redemption begins in the Garden in Genesis 3 and continues to unfold throughout the Old Testament until it reaches its climax at the cross. All along the way the Divine Author prepares us for Calvary. The symbolism of the sacrificial system, the strictness of the law, the repeated failures of man, the steadfast faithfulness of God—all this and more deepens our amazement at the cross.”

 

Thankfully, like the Israelites, our position with God does not depend upon our own righteousness. As Paul Tripp says, in his book Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands, we cannot boast in our righteousness because we don’t have any (Phil. 3.9)! We are all sinners saved by grace alone (Eph. 2.8-9) and have been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3.21-23). His righteousness was imputed to us on the basis of His sacrificial death on the cross on our behalf.

But like the Israelites we need to remind ourselves of that fact, because in our pride and self-sufficiency, we see ourselves as basically good (Prov. 20.6). If we are basically good, perhaps with some minor character flaws, then, as someone has said, the cross was “a cosmic over-reaction for a people who only had a case of spiritual sniffles.” That kind of thinking is not only wrong, but it keeps many from seeing their need for Christ.

Many people expect to spend eternity in heaven because they don’t believe they’re all that bad. They have some vague idea that God will weigh their misdeeds against all the good things they’ve done and they’ll manage to “get in.”

A friend told me last night about a quote he’d read. The writer said that Adam and Eve’s sin was basically “petty theft.” Of course, we know they weren’t condemned because they stole fruit. They were condemned because of their disobedience. They broke God’s law, His direct command. But the Apostle John said, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness (1 Jn. 3.4).

I grew up believing that pretty much everyone went to heaven. We believed “in” God, but sadly, a god of our own creation, like those in the popular book and movie The Shack, who loves everyone and who wouldn’t let anyone go to hell.

Perhaps you say, come on, Donna, it’s just a movie! That’s true. But how many of us who grew up watching the movie The 10 Commandments would admit that our conception of those events has been colored by images from the movie or that watching The Passion of the Christ impacted our understanding of the events of the crucifixion.  Continue reading

“Jellyfish, Pain and Heartache” October 6

 

Jellyfish, Pain & Heartache - God says He’ll complete the work He has begun in us (Phil. 1.6), but we often suffer unnecessarily in the process. Like Nemo and Dorie in the movie Finding Nemo, we ignore God’s instructions and end up "swimming through schools of jellyfish." Like the fishy pair, we survive, but not without getting stung and suffering a great deal of pain and heartache!God says He’ll complete the work He has begun in us (Phil. 1.6), but we often suffer unnecessarily in the process. Like Nemo and Dorie in the movie Finding Nemo, we ignore God’s instructions and end up “swimming through schools of jellyfish.” Like the fishy pair, we survive, but not without getting stung and suffering a great deal of pain and heartache!

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 63 & 64
Psalm 115.14-18
Proverbs 26.27
Philippians 1.1-30

 

Jellyfish, Pain and Heartache

 

Philippians 1.1-30:

Ignoring His counsel

stop gesture

Verse 1.6 is one of my favorite verses. It gives me great hope when it says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Isn’t it good to know that He is the one who will complete His work in us? And … He never gives up! But I wonder how often we make His work harder … on us!

Someone gave me a great illustration of this. I was explaining this passage and she told me it reminded her of the scene in Finding Nemo where Nemo and Dorie have been told not to try to go around or over the gap, but through it. When they get there, that just doesn’t seem right to them; so they decide to swim over it. They end up running into a huge school of jellyfish! They survive it, but not without getting stung and suffering a great deal of pain! How like our attempts to figure things out for ourselves, often ignoring what God says, and doing what seems right to us! (Prov. 14:12)

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 63 & 64:

Filthy Rags

Human hand in glove holding dirty rag, isolated on whiteChapter 64 contains the following passage:

4 For since the beginning of the world
Men have not heard nor perceived by the ear,
Nor has the eye seen any God besides You,
Who acts for the one who waits for Him.
5 You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness,
Who remembers You in Your ways.
You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—
In these ways we continue;
And we need to be saved.
6 But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.

This passage speaks of the greatness of our God and our universal need for salvation. We are like an “unclean thing.” All our righteousness, all our good deeds, all our attempts at trying to save ourselves or earn God’s approval are like filthy rags. We are unclean by nature, sinners from the womb.

But God …

Do you realize that the Bible is all one big “but God”? But God who is rich in mercy, who knows what we are, chose to die in our place!  Continue reading

“Virgins, Self-Righteousness & Parental Guarantees” July 31

 

Virgins, Self-Righteousness & Parental Guarantees - Most of us are familiar with the proverb: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” But we all know kids who were raised in church and, yet, have walked away from God. What went wrong? Did their parents miss something? Did God fail to keep His Word? Do we have a guarantee that our children will continue to walk with God?

 

Most of us are familiar with the proverb: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” But we all know kids who were raised in church and, yet, have walked away from God. What went wrong? Did their parents miss something? Did God fail to keep His Word? Do we have a guarantee that our children will continue to walk with God?

We’ll also read about:

Esther, what God was up to, and the un-fairytale like ending for the other young virgins taken as “potential queen for a night.”

And the danger of judgment and self-righteousness Paul warns us about in Romans 2.

 

Today’s Readings:
Esther 1 & 2
Psalm 89.38-45
Proverbs 22.5-6
Romans 2.1-29

 

Virgins, Self-Righteousness & Parental Guarantees

 

Esther 1 & 2:

Young Virgins & a Selfish King

 

The book of Esther takes place sometime between the time the Jews began to return to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel and the second return under Ezra. It’s quite an interesting book. Though the name of God is not mentioned at all, He is seen everywhere, and is in control of the events of this book in a grand way!—as He is in all the events of history and the world (even our election cycle).

The book starts out with a party and what a party it is—7 days, free flowing wine, everyone is invited (the men, at least!), golden goblets, entertainment … wine, women (probably the entertainment) and song, as the saying goes.

Finally, the drunken king decides to show off his wife and she refuses to come. The men were faced with a problem. If word got around that the queen didn’t obey the king, all the women would refuse to obey their husbands! So, at the other men’s urging, he strips away her crown.

But when the king sobered up Continue reading

July 31 “The goodness of God & repentance”

LeadsYoutoRepentance[1]

“… in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Rom. 2.1)—strong words that should cause us to examine our own hearts and lives and to remember that it’s the goodness of God that leads us and others to repentance.

Today’s Readings:
Esther 1 & 2
Psalm 89.38-45
Proverbs 22.5-6
Romans 2.1-29

Esther 1 & 2:

Young virgins & a selfish king

The book of Esther takes place sometime between the time the Jews began to return to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel and the second return under Ezra. It’s quite an interesting book. Though the name of God is not mentioned at all in the book, He’s seen everywhere, and is in control of the events of this book in a grand way!—as He is in all the events of history and the world.

The book starts out with a party and what a party it is—7 days, free flowing wine, everyone is invited (the men, at least!), golden goblets, entertainment … wine, women (probably the entertainment) and song, as the saying goes.

Finally, the drunken king decides to show off his wife and she refuses to come. The men were faced with a problem. If word got around that the queen didn’t obey the king, all the women would refuse to obey their husbands! So, at the other men’s urging, she lost her position as queen. Continue reading

June 9 “On eternal security, apostasy & cannibalism” & LINKUP

Oh, the depths to which human beings can sink without a relationship with the One True God! And His faithfulness to keep those who belong to Him!

eternal security

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 5 & 6
Psalm 72.1-7
Proverbs 18.10-11
John 18.1-18

2 Kings 5 & 6:

Serving God no matter where you are

Chapter 5.2-3 really amazes me and has a great message for us.

“And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.'”

Here’s a young girl who had been ripped away from her family and life as she knew it, forced to work as a slave, and yet, look at her heart attitude—one of loyalty and concern for the people under whose authority God had placed her.

Why would God allow that to happen to her in the first place? For the same reason He allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and carried off to a foreign land—to fulfill His plans and purposes AND to bless those He was using. We need to remember that our good and His glory are always connected.

As a result of this little servant girl, Naaman would come to know the One True God.

Continue reading

March 24 “Self-righteousness & other oxymorons”

According to Merriam-Webster, an oxymoron is: a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings or something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements. Such is any idea of our self-righteousness.

Oxymorons

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 9 & 10
Psalm 37.12-17
Proverbs 12.11
Luke 1.57-80

Deuteronomy 9 & 10:

Self-righteousness & other oxymorons

God, through Moses, emphasized that He would bless the Israelites not because of their righteousness—that is because they deserved it—but because of God and His mercy.

C.J. Mahaney says in his book, The Cross Centered Life, “Everything in the Old Testament points toward Jesus Christ and enriches our understanding of the cross (see Luke 24.27). The drama of redemption begins in the Garden in Genesis 3 and continues to unfold throughout the Old Testament until it reaches its climax at the cross. All along the way the Divine Author prepares us for Calvary. The symbolism of the sacrificial system, the strictness of the law, the repeated failures of man, the steadfast faithfulness of God—all this and more deepens our amazement at the cross.” Continue reading

January 20 “Private temptations, sin & accountability”

high contrast love

Like Joseph and Judah, all of us are tested and tried, sometimes through private temptations, sometimes by the sins of others, and other times by having to wait on God. And, like the psalmist, we sometimes feel like God is far off at those times.

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 39 & 40
Psalm 10.1-11
Proverbs 4.1-6
Matthew 13.31-58

Genesis 39 & 40:

Private temptations

What a contrast between Genesis 38 and Genesis 39! In 38 we saw Judah’s private immorality, followed by his initial public self-righteousness as he condemned his daughter-in-law to death.

In 39 we see Joseph’s righteous behavior even when tempted in private. How easy it would have been for him to say, “What’s the use? Look what doing good has gotten me so far!” And talk about temptation! Here’s this woman throwing herself at him, but he shows honor to his master even in his speech (a proper attitude about authority, ladies!). And, most important, he says, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Our sins can create major problems in our lives (Gal. 6.7-8; Heb. 12.7-11), Continue reading