“Risky Faith” April 8

 

Risky Faith - Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee you won't be hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise.Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee you won’t be hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise.

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 5 & 6
Psalm 42.6-11
Proverbs 13.19-21
Luke 9.18-36

 

Risky Faith

 

Joshua 5 & 6:

A Hill of Foreskins

 

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins (5.2-3).

I imagine all the men reading this portion of Scripture cringed a little when they read about flint knives, circumcision, and “the hill of foreskins.” I can’t help thinking the men in Joshua’s time, probably, felt the same way.

 

Their Parents Disobedience

 

The fact that this second generation had not been circumcised was another symptom of their parents disobedience. But now, before they could go in and take the land God had given them, this covenant sign had to be performed. This must have been a memorable (after all, the hill was named after it) and solemn ceremony.

It was, also, a huge step of faith, since this mass circumcision made them vulnerable to attack. In Genesis 34 we read about an angry brother who convinced a whole village to get circumcised by promising to allow his sister to marry her rapist.  While they were weak and in pain, he killed them all in revenge.

 

Risky Faith

 

God watched over them, but humanly speaking, it was a risky decision. Risk is, often, a reality when you step out in faith.

When you forgive and turn the other cheek, you risk being struck again (Matt. 5.39). When you stand up for the truth, you risk being persecuted (Matt. 23:34-36). When you do what’s right, some people are not going to like it. The world does not like the light. Sometimes you’ll, even, be targeted for your faith.

Just ask Barronelle Stutzman. In case you aren’t familiar with her story, Barronelle is a 72-year old grandmother, a florist, and a follower of Christ. She has been targeted by the State of Washington and people on the left for declining to make flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

Since then her case has worked it’s way to the Washington Supreme Court where she lost in a 9-0 decision. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the decision, it could cost Barronelle her livelihood and all her assets.

It’s important to understand that Barronelle wasn’t trying to discriminate against the men. She had provided flowers for them on numerous occasions over a 9-year period, but when one of them asked her to provide flowers for their wedding, she declined because of her religious convictions. Instead, she recommended some other florists.

tree rootsSometimes, persecution, pain, and rejection come from our own families and those closest to us. That can hurt even more deeply. But we must be quick to forgive and keep our eyes on the Lord no matter who mistreats us. Otherwise that hurt can be the seed that grows up into a root of bitterness.

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many (Heb. 12.14-15 , NLT).

But, as believers, we shouldn’t go looking for persecution. We need to be wise and prayerful. Rod Dreher, in his book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, says:  Continue reading

“How would you fill in the blank?” March 14

 

How would you fill in the blank? - Fill in the blanks: "I won't be happy until ____________." "I must have ___________." What do your answers have to do with your worship?Fill in the blanks: “I won’t be happy until ____________.” “I must have ___________.” What do your answers have to do with your worship?

 

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 25 & 26
Psalm 34.1-7
Proverbs 11.28
Mark 13.21-37

 

How would you fill in the blank?

 

Numbers 25 & 26:

Modern Day Idolaters

 

As we see God’s swift and strong judgment on sin in the Old Testament, we need to remember a couple of things. First, He was protecting the people and the bloodline through which He was going to bring forth the Messiah.

But second, though God is patient and merciful with us in our sin and idolatry, it doesn’t mean He’s changed His mind about sin! It’s only the blood of Christ that keeps us from a similar fate and it was the mercy and love of God that made provision for our salvation. And how great a salvation it is!

We tend to write off the idea that we, too, are idolaters. We may or may not bow down to carved images, but we are frequently guilty of having other things on the throne of our hearts besides God Himself. Things like: I must have a spouse to be happy; I must have a godly husband; I must have a wife who respects me, I must have obedient children; or some other, “I must ..” Even good things can become idols if they are the focal point of our lives in the place of God.

Ask yourself, “Is there something or someone I think I cannot be happy without?”

Our idols can become so important that they blind us (Ezek. 14.1-8). In our blindness we can begin to justify sin or even refuse to see that it exists. We murmur and complain like the children of Israel in the wilderness. We compromise our moral standards, resort to sinful anger, or give in to fear.

When we do, it is sin—pure and simple. No amount of sugar coating will change it, but the answer is just as simple Continue reading

“The Importance of Preaching the Gospel to Yourself” February 18

 

Preach the Gospel to Yourself Everyday

When do we need the Gospel? Is it a one-time thing? Does it have anything to do with our ongoing walk with God? Could focusing on it help us love God more?

Also, are we responsible for our own spiritual growth or is that the responsibility of our pastors and teachers.

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 7 & 8
Psalm 24.7-10
Proverbs 9.10-12
Mark 1.1-22

 

The Importance of Preaching the Gospel to Yourself

 

Leviticus 7 & 8:

Walking in the Truth of the Gospel

 

We’ve been reading about all the offerings under the Levitical system. Notice that a sin offering had to be made for Aaron and his sons just like all the rest of the people (8.14).

Even those God has placed in the ministry as leaders today are imperfect men and women. They are neither sinless nor infallible.

All of us must walk constantly in the truth of the Gospel. You might think, “Well, I accepted the Gospel once so that has nothing to do with me any longer.” It is true that when we accept the Gospel (the free gift of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, His forgiveness and cleansing, and are made His sons and daughters), it’s a one-time decision. But it is, also, true that until we get to heaven, we will have the pull of sin constantly at work in us (Rom. 7.13-25).

We need to run back to the cross and remember that it’s only by His grace that we are able to walk in obedience, rather than any inherent goodness in us. The Apostle Paul said:

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Rom. 7.18).

When we realize we have sinned, we can run back to the cross. The same grace that saved us is available to help us live the Christian life. God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sin (1 Jn. 1.9).

Some have called this “preaching the Gospel to yourself.”  We need to remind ourselves that He died for all of our sins: past, present, and future.

The more we contemplate that and understand His goodness, mercy, and grace, rather than giving us a license to sin, it should give us a greater desire to please Him in return.

 For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk.7.47 NASB).

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 24.7-10

The King of Glory

 

Verse 7, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.”

According to Matthew Henry in his Commentary on the Whole Bible, this pictures Christ’s ascension into heaven after His death and resurrection, and the welcome He received there. He paid the price with His blood for entry, not just for Himself, but for us, also, so that we can enter in with Him! What good news!

 

Proverbs 9.10-12

Truth & Lies, Wisdom & Scoffing

 

Dollarphotoclub hands over ears

Verse 12 says, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”

We are constantly reminded in Scripture that we alone are responsible for our acceptance or rejection of truth (Ezek. 18.20; 2 Cor. 5.10). We can’t blame our pastors or our teachers or our family. The Word and the wisdom that goes with it are there for all to see and to accept or reject.

That, also, means we are responsible for our own spiritual growth and for whether or not we are hearing solid biblical teaching. No matter where we attend church or whose teaching we sit under, we must be good Bereans.  Continue reading