“Contagious Sins” February 21

 

Contagious Sins - Sin is disfiguring and highly contagious. Paul warned that we can catch it from others and that it's better to be thrown into the sea with a weight around our necks than to be a carrier spreading it to others. Have you exposed yourself to some contagious sins? Are you guilty of spreading some sin to others?Sin is disfiguring and highly contagious. Paul warned that we can catch it from others and that it’s better to be thrown into the sea with a weight around our necks than to be a carrier spreading it to others.

Have you exposed yourself to some contagious sins? Are you guilty of spreading some sin to others?

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 13
Psalm 25.16-22
Proverbs 10.4-5
Mark 3.1-19

 

Contagious Sins

 

Leviticus 13

Unclean! Unclean!

 

Leprosy! What could God possibly have for us in all the discussion of bright skin, white skin, scales and scabs?

Notice that God called this leprosy an uncleanness, not a disease. It was not the same disease we refer to today as leprosy (Hansen’s Disease). It is said that Pharaoh (of Moses fame) was infected with it and may have died from it. So it may have been associated with the plagues that God brought on the Egyptians. Even in the New Testament, when Jesus came in contact with lepers, it says He cleansed them, not that He healed them.

Leprosy in the Bible is a type, or a picture of, sin. When God delivered the nation of Israel from Egypt, he told them:

“If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you” (Ex. 15.26).

God used leprosy as an immediate judgment on sin numerous times in the Bible. When we get to the book of Numbers we will see Moses’ sister Miriam was struck with leprosy when she murmured against her brother. She was cleansed when Moses prayed for her.

We know that the Israelites frequently disobeyed God’s commands by involving themselves with the pagan culture around them, so at times, it may have been a judgment on sin, either in the individual’s life or on the nation, as a whole.

 

Contagious & Disfiguring

 

sin

What does this picture for us? As with sin, leprosy didn’t kill outright in most cases, but it greatly disfigured its victims. And like leprosy, sin is extremely contagious! Paul said

“Do not be deceived. ‘Bad company corrupts good morals'” (1 Cor. 15.33).

Not only can we catch sin from those we associate with, but we’re warned not be carriers!

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea” (Mk. 9.42).

Sins like anger, bitterness and gossip, as well as others, are highly contagious.

Just as leprosy resulted in separation from the rest of the people, sin separates us from others! First and foremost, It separates us from God. In the case of unbelievers, sin separates them from the life of God here and from spending eternity with Him. If we are truly believers we don’t lose our salvation, but it hinders our fellowship with Him when our hearts are clouded by sin.

There are, also, times when we are commanded to put sinners, even our brothers and sisters in Christ, outside the fellowship, or “camp,” where God alone deals with them (1 Cor. 5).  Continue reading

“Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye!” February 19

 

telephone pole“Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye and you’re worried about that speak of sawdust in your brother’s eye! You might wanna get rid of that pole and things might clear up a bit!”

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 9 & 10
Psalm 25.1-7
Proverbs 9.13-18
Mark 1.23-45

 

Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye!

 

Leviticus 9 & 10

Logs & Specks

 

The tabernacle is ready, the priests’ have been consecrated …

“And Moses said to Aaron, ‘Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people. Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the LORD commanded’ ” (9.7).

The next verse says …

“Aaron therefore went to the altar and killed the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself.”

As I mentioned yesterday, Aaron had to first deal with his own sin before God.

1 Peter 2.9 says about us:

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

We, too, as God’s holy priesthood, must deal with our own sin before we can see clearly to help anyone else—including our husbands and our children. Matthew 7.5 says:

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Jesus knew how to draw a word picture.

My paraphrase is, “Excuse me, there’s a telephone pole in your eye and you’re worried about that speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye! You might wanna get rid of that pole and things might clear up a bit!”

We all know what happens when we get something in our eye – our eyes water and it’s hard to see anything. Jesus said we must first see the sin in our lives, up close and personal and deal with it, or we are never going to see clearly to minister truth to anyone else.

 

Profane Fire

 

In chapter 10 we have a startling event in the midst of the newly begun temple worship. Nadab and Abihu do something so grievous to God that they are struck dead.  Continue reading

“How are you at defending your faith?” February 16

 

How are you at defending your faith? - How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you're not a believer because it's inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a "personal thing" when you had an opportunity to "give a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.How are you at defending the faith and what you say you believe? Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to “give a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3.15)? Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.

 

Today’s Readings:

Leviticus 3 & 4
Psalm 23
Proverbs 9.1-6
Matthew 27.55-66

 

How are you at defending your faith?

 

Matthew 27.55-66

Are you prepared?

 

bible study

In this passage, we find three of the women who followed Jesus there at the cross “looking on from afar.” It’s interesting to note that there is no record of any of the women who had followed Jesus leaving Him or denying Him in those last hours, when most of the men fled in fear.

What about you and me?

Do you ever pretend you’re not a believer because it’s inconvenient or embarrassing? Have you ever said my faith is a “personal thing” when you had an opportunity to defend and talk about what you believe?” Do you ever hold back when it would mean taking a stand or speaking up? I know I have.

Maybe we’re afraid someone won’t like us? Or of jeopardizing something we want? Or we’re afraid of the consequences?

Certainly, we need to be wise in the work place, but, at times, we keep silent more because it’s uncomfortable. Other times, we don’t speak up because we don’t really know how to defend our faith and we’re afraid we’ll sound foolish or mess it up.

Yet look at what the Apostle Peter told a earlier generation of believers–people who lived in almost constant danger of persecution or worse:

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. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).

What do you need to do to be better prepared to “defend the faith”? Do you need to get involved in a discipleship class or Bible study so you can learn the basics of the Christian faith? Do you need to pray for boldness or freedom from fear? Do you just need to step out in faith?

Leave me a comment at the bottom of this post if you would like more information about discipleship or check out Fundamentals of the Faith: 13 Lessons to Grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Leviticus 3 & 4

The Messy Business of Sin

 

The primary theme in Leviticus is holiness. God is holy and He has commanded us to be holy just as He is (1 Pet. 1.14-16).

The need for holiness is attested to by the complicated systems of sacrifices and offerings. The animal sacrifices made temporary atonement for the sins of the priests and the people.

And what a “messy” and costly business the sacrificial system really was.

But then, I’m reminded that sin itself is “messy” business! Think of all the messes we make in our lives: our friendships, our marriages, our families, our finances, and every area of life. It’s not always “pretty” and the only remedy is Christ.

When we see our complete failure to be holy and come to understand that He died as the perfect Sacrifice for all who believe, we can exchange our sin for His holiness.

But sometimes, before that can happen, Continue reading

“When You’re Whining” February 2

 

grumbling and complainingI hope I’m not the only one who falls so easily into the trap of grumbling and complaining. After all, it seems like such a little thing! Yet, in reality, we’re not just complaining about our circumstances or other people, but against our Sovereign God. We’re called to shine the light into a dark world, but it’s hard to be shining when you’re whining!

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 15 & 16
Psalm 18.20-27
Proverbs 6.12-15
Matthew 21.23-46

 

When You’re Whining

 

Exodus 15 & 16:

Grumbling & Complaining

 

The children of Israel had just watched God deliver them in a powerful way. He had parted the Red Sea and allowed them to cross over on dry land and then completely destroyed their enemies. What a celebration that must have been! God had gloriously and miraculously delivered the Israelites from the powerful armies of Egypt, a world power at that time. There was singing and dancing. The whole congregation glorifying God!

But then … three days later … three days! Their concern over their physical needs caused them to grumble against Moses. The text in verse 25 of chapter 15 says that God was testing them.

Again God worked miraculously by making the water drinkable. In fact, He did exceeding abundantly above all they could ask or think, as He so often does for us (Eph. 3:20), by leading them to Elim where there were “twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees” (15.27).

Then a few verses and a month later we read:

“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’ ” (16:2-3).

Again it was all about physical needs.

From our vantage point, it seems so foolish of them, after all God had done, to so quickly throw aside their trust in Him. But … before we get too critical, what about us? Continue reading

“It’s not fair!” January 30

 

It's not fair!It’s not fair! Have you ever looked around at the lives of others and thought just that?

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 9 & 10
Psalm 17.8-15
Proverbs 5.21-23
Matthew 20.1-16

 

It’s not fair!

 

Matthew 20.1-16:

Unfair Labor Practices?

 

In “The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard,” a businessman hires workers at various times throughout the day. At the end of the day, he pays the same wage to those who were hired just before quitting time as to those who worked all day. Some of them said, in effect, “It’s not fair!”

Have you ever felt like those laborers who were hired early in the morning? Perhaps, on the job or, possibly, in your spiritual life?

Maybe you were raised in church. Or maybe you were the “good” son or daughter, the one who didn’t rebel against your parents or your Christian upbringing. Or maybe you’ve been a believer for a long time, faithfully serving Him and there are things you’ve prayed about that haven’t happened.

Maybe you got a diagnosis you didn’t want or your spouse walked out on you? Then you see some new believer all excited because God has done something great for her!

Or maybe you’ve had a hard time accepting the fact that your “n’er-do-well” brother-in-law got saved after years of drug use and wild living and now everyone acts like he’s the golden boy! It hardly seems fair.

We can be so like the older brother in the story of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15.11-32). He was mad because his father forgave his wild younger brother and even threw a party when he came home (more about that when we get there).

But, if we’re honest, we might look back and admit that though we may not have “run off” into riotous living like the prodigal, there have been many times when our hearts were far from God, times we harbored bitterness and unforgiveness, times when we were selfish, manipulative, unkind and unloving. Instead of being upset over God’s grace in the lives of others, we need to get down on our knees and thank Him for His grace in ours.

And no matter what … even when it doesn’t seem fair to us, we can trust in the goodness of our sovereign God. A great book to help you understand His goodness and sovereignty in the midst of difficulty is the book It’s Not Fair! by Wayne Mack.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Exodus 9 & 10:

On Dogs & Sows

 

God is about to deliver His people from Israel, but so far Pharaoh has refused to let his cheap labor force leave Egypt.

Over and over he agrees to allow them to go, only to harden his heart when the “crisis” of each plague is over and the “pain” is not so intense (see Jan. 29 post, “Sleeping with Frogs”). Don’t we often do the same?  Continue reading

“Biology or Sin?” January 16

 

Gentlemen, excuse me for a minute while I talk to the ladies. Ladies, have you been guilty of using biology as an excuse to disobey the second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as you love yourself?

Rachel had stolen from her father and when he came looking for his property, she used the fact that it was “that time of the month” to cover her sin! Is it possible we do much the same thing in various ways?

Also, what was Jacob’s wrestling with God all about? Did Jacob “win” that wrestling match, why did he go away with a permanent limp, and what does it all mean? Why does God allow us to wrestle with Him in prayer sometimes?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 31 & 32
Psalm 8.6-9
Proverbs 3.19-20
Matthew 11.1-30

 

Biology or Sin?

 

Genesis 31 & Genesis 32:

Traditions & Unburned Bridges

 

Today we’ll talk about Jacob and his divine wrestling match, but first, I want to comment on a couple of other passages.

Jacob has decided to take his two wives and his children and head home.

In 31.16-20 and 31.35 we see these two sisters, Jacob’s wives, express belief in God, “… whatever God has said to you, do it.”

The next thing we know Rachel has stolen her father’s household gods before they head off (31.19)!

It seems so ridiculous that once she knew the truth she could think there was any power in something made by man’s hands! And yet, don’t we come up with our own man made solutions instead of waiting on and trusting God?

Maybe, she “kind of believed.” How else could she explain how Jacob prospered in spite Laban’s schemes?

Maybe she found it hard to leave behind her family “traditions”? Remember many of the pagan people believed in many gods, not just one. Maybe she didn’t want to “burn any bridges” with those other “gods.”

Again, what about us? Do we say we trust God on the one hand, but “not burn our bridges” on the other? What are you hanging on to “just in case”?

 

The Manner of Women

 

And this one’s for us, ladies:

Jacob had left without telling Laban. Now Laban returns home and finds Jacob and his daughters gone, along with his household god.  Continue reading

“Did God really say …?” January 2

 

Did God really say ...? - It started in the garden. The serpent tempted Eve first with a thought, "Did God really say ...?" The first step in his deception was to get her to doubt God and he's still whispering the same question today.It started in the garden. The serpent tempted Eve first with a thought, “Did God really say …?” The first step in his deception was to get her to doubt God and he’s still whispering the same question today.

Also read about the danger of thinking we’re smarter than God, the importance of honoring parents and some examples of fulfilled prophecy.

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 3 & 4
Psalm 2.1-6
Proverbs 1.8-9
Matthew 2.1-23

 

Did God really say …?

 

Genesis 3 & 4:

Another Voice

 

God had created the man and the woman and placed them in the garden to tend and keep it (2.15). He left them with just one commandment:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2.16-17).

But sadly, they would listen to another voice:

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’” (v. 3.1)

The New Living Translation says, “’Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?’”

Nothing much has changed. The devil is still whispering the same questions today, trying to get us to doubt God’s Word, to believe He’s withholding something good from us, and get us to think we can decide what is right and wrong.

“Did God really say … that homosexuality is wrong?”

“Did God really say … that you should submit to your husband in everything? What if Continue reading

“The Second Death & A Righteous Judge” December 22

 

The Second Death & a Righteous Judge - Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He's sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s OK. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge. In reality, that driver would be worthy of death. But would a death sentence be the worst that could happen? Is there actually more than one kind of death?Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He’s sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s OK. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge. 

In reality, that driver would be worthy of death. But would a death sentence be the worst that could happen? Is there actually more than one kind of death?

 

Today’s Readings:
Nahum 1-3
Psalm 145.17-21
Proverbs 30.16
Revelation 12.1-17

 

The Second Death & a Righteous Judge

 

Nahum 1-3:

Patient, Merciful & Righteous

 

Chapter 1.3, 7 sum up this book:

3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.

7 The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.

God is patient and merciful (“slow to anger”). His desire is that all would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.4).

But He can’t be good and be a liar. He can’t be a righteous judge and give evil a pass (“acquit the wicked”). There is a debt to be paid for sin in the court of heaven. For those who put their faith and trust in what Christ did on the cross, it has been paid in full, but for those who reject the truth, the penalty is death.

But physical death is not the end. We will all live forever. The question is … “Where?”

Death is separation. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden they were separated from God. They no longer had the spirit to Spirit communion with Him they had enjoyed. They didn’t die physically, at least not immediately, though they would since they were, also, barred from eating from the tree of life.

As their children, we are all born spiritually dead and unless Jesus returns before then, we will die physically.

But there is a second death (Rev. 2.11), Continue reading

“Your Thoughts Run Your Life” October 22

 

your thoughts run your lifeWhat do you think about? What hurts are you nursing? What disappointments? What cares? Will you let Jesus come into those broken places or will you let your thoughts run your life?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 29 & 30
Psalm 119.41-48
Proverbs 27.19
1 Timothy 1.1-20

 

Your Thoughts Run Your Life

 

Proverbs 27.19:

Are wrong thoughts running your life?

“As in water face reflects face, so a man’s heart reveals the man.”

The heart is mentioned 830 times in Scripture, referring to the inner man. It’s who we are—our mind, our will, our emotions, our intellect.

Proverbs 4.23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life.”

And the NASB says:

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

But the NCV says it even plainer:

“Be careful what you think, your thoughts run your life.”

What are you allowing into your heart? What thoughts are you allowing to simmer there? What video tapes are you replaying for yourself, instead of thinking as God wants you to think?

Thoughts are not harmless. What we read and watch is not harmless. Guard your heart with all diligence!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Jeremiah 29 & 30:

An Incurable Affliction

Chapter 30 contains one of the most descriptive pictures of the spiritual condition of the nation of Israel, followed by God’s amazing promise. It’s also a picture of our spiritual condition apart from Christ and the redemption He purchased for us at the cross. Think about each phrase as you reread it: Continue reading

“Follow Your Heart … Not!” October 14

 

Follow Your Heart

The world says, “follow your heart.” But the Bible has something entirely different to say about the heart. Also read about God’s discipline of His children, godly friendship, and how Paul handled the need to offer constructive criticism.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 13 & 14
Psalm 118.15-20
Proverbs 27.9
1 Thessalonians 1.1-10

 

Follow Your Heart … Not!

 

Jeremiah 13 & 14:

Profitable for Nothing

In chapter 13 God used an object lesson to illustrate the filthy spiritual condition of the people. He had the prophet bury a dirty sash (probably an undergarment) in a hole instead of washing it. He was instructed to leave it there until it began to rot. Then in verse 10 God said:

“This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing.”

Their sin and rebellion had rendered them useless to God!

These people thought since they were God’s people, that they could live any way they wanted. They could “follow the dictates of their own hearts.”

Today, one message the world sends is “follow your heart,” but another passage in Jeremiah says:

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jer. 17.9 NLT).

So our wicked hearts tell us we are OK with God because we had some experience, prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, got baptized, or became the member of a certain church. Our ticket to heaven has been punched. So we …

… act selfishly at home with our spouses and children.

… make work or friends or children or a hundred other things a higher priority than our personal relationship with God.

… drink to excess, feel justified in our anger, refuse to forgive, or dozens of other things that God says are sin.

When we do, we, too, become just like Jeremiah’s sash—“profitable for nothing”! We negate our testimonies, especially in the eyes of the people closest to us. “Following the dictates of our own heart” is our own undoing!

As I read back through this passage and thought about this post, I remembered a comment that Michele Morin made last year about Elisabeth Elliot. I tried to find the quote, but I didn’t succeed. Maybe Michele will remember and share it with us. 🙂 It had to do with being able to trust our own hearts more as we matured in Christ.

I believe that lines up with Psalm 37.4 which says God will give us the desires of our hearts. This verse is often misunderstood to mean God gives us whatever we want. But let’s look at it in context:  Continue reading