“The Word of God … Cafeteria Style” December 9

 

The Word of God ... Cafeteria StyleHow do you view the Word of God? As the commands and revelation of the Creator of heaven and earth or is it merely “interesting” to you … one more opinion in a list of options for making decisions and solving life’s problems? Or is it the standard by which you weigh everything?

Before you answer … you might ask yourself if, when talking about some Biblical command or principle, you’ve ever said:

  • I tried that, it just didn’t work.
  • Well, I just believe …
  • I know what the Bible says, but …
  • This is almost 2017.
  • We live in a different world.

As my husband says, “Amen” or “Oh! Me!”

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 9 & 10
Psalm 139.13-16
Proverbs 29.21
3 John 1-14

 

The Word of God … Cafeteria Style

 

Hosea 9 & 10:

Rejecting the Revelation of God

 

Even though Scripture tells us that everyone has enough revelation of God through His creation to recognize there is a Creator and to cry out to know Him (Rom. 1.18-23), many people live in ignorance of the written Word of God.

Sadder still, is to be given the amount of special revelation Israel was given as a nation, and to ignore or reject it.

“I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing” (8.12).

God so desired to reach the heart of His people that He gave them prophets to proclaim the truth to them, but instead of heeding God’s warning, they ridiculed them, calling them fools … insane (9.7).

Little has changed, even though, we live in a day when the Word of God has free reign. He has revealed Himself to us through His Word and the prophets who wrote it. And He has blessed us with pastors and teachers and others who can help us understand His written Word.

 

Divine suggestions?

 

does being good matterThere is such an abundance of good spiritual resources available and, yet, so few take advantage of them. Most people are content to come to church on Sundays thinking they have their ticket punched for heaven and to live life their own way the rest of the time.

The Word of God is “interesting” to them and they like hearing a nice message, but they don’t acknowledge it as God’s written revelation and command to them. It’s optional, depending on whether or not they “agree with it”! They take the Word of God as a suggestion, not the Word of a Holy Sovereign God.  Continue reading

“What can a Christian expect?” November 8

 

What can a Christian expect?What can a Christian expect when he or she comes to God in prayer? Are we to expect judgment and begrudging answers? Or are we to expect something quite different?

And what is it about God’s Word? Why is it so challenging and why does it have the ability to pierce our hearts in a way nothing else can?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 7 & 8
Psalm 120.1-7
Proverbs 28.15
Hebrews 4.1-16

 

What can a Christian expect?

 

Hebrews 4.1-16:

The Living, Powerful Word

 

bible church

Verse 12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Bible is no ordinary book; it is the living, breathing Word of God. It has the power to speak to our hearts in a way human words do not.

That’s important to remember even when teaching and training our children. It’s important to explain things using God’s Word whenever possible. It’s His Word which doesn’t return void (Is. 55.11) and His Word that has the power to change lives (Rom. 1.16).

 

What can Christians expect when they pray?

 

Prayer

And verses 15-16:

15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

A throne speaks of authority, but this is a throne of grace. I like what Matthew Henry says about these verses:

“In all our approaches to this throne of grace for mercy, we should come with a humble freedom and boldness, with a liberty of spirit and a liberty of speech we should ask in faith, nothing doubting we should come with a Spirit of adoption, as children to a reconciled God and Father. We are indeed to come with reverence and godly fear, but not with terror and amazement not as if we were dragged before the tribunal of justice, but kindly invited to the mercy-seat, where grace reigns, and loves to exert and exalt itself towards us,” Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible, Heb. 4.

Of course, we come, not based on our own goodness, but because of our High Priest and Mediator, our Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.

And what can we expect? “… 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.

And when do we receive? “in time of need.” This is not tomorrow’s grace, but today’s grace, for today’s problems, in whatever measure we need, so we can handle them without sinning (1 Cor. 10.13; Matt. 6.34).

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezekiel 7 & 8:

The Time of God’s Judgment

 

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 Him as the One True God, they were actively worshiping false gods of every sort. Even their spiritual leaders were involved in a secret society which worshiped demons (8.7-12)!

But even in judgment, God’s purpose was loving and good.

“… Then they shall know that I am the Lord!” (7.27b).

That statement was repeated over 60 times in this book, but the people had so hardened their hearts that only pain and suffering could reach them. Psalm 32: Continue reading

“Are you under God’s umbrella of protection?” October 28

 

Are you under God's umbrella of protection? - What is God’s "umbrella of protection" and how do we stay under it? How, also, do we put ourselves outside His protective authority? And how does the Church itself act as an umbrella of protection for its members?What is God’s “umbrella of protection” and how do we stay under it? How, also, do we put ourselves outside His protective authority? And how does the Church itself act as an umbrella of protection for its members?

How does this apply:

  • Within the Family
  • In the Church
  • In Our Nation

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 41 & 42
Psalm 119.89-96
Proverbs 28.2
2 Timothy 1.1-18

 

Are you under God’s umbrella of protection?

 

Jeremiah 41 & 42 & Proverbs 28.2:

Umbrella of Protection for a Nation

Interestingly our verse in Proverbs today is 28.2:

“Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes; but by a man of understanding and knowledge right will be prolonged.”

John MacArthur says, “Unrighteousness in a nation produces political instability with many vying for power …,” on the other hand, “Wisdom promotes social order and long rule.”

We see that truth in operation here in Jeremiah 41 and 42, and in the following chapter. Ishmael sees an opportunity to seize control and is shortly overturned himself by Johanan. But, because he lacked righteousness and trust in God, Johanan soon leads the people to ruin.

There is also a beautiful picture of God’s willingness to protect His people in chapter 42. When the people were in a desperate situation, they turned to God, asking Jeremiah to intercede for them and seek His wisdom. But when He provided it, they were unwilling to listen.

The place of protection was where God had placed them and commanded them to stay. But since it didn’t make sense to them, they left and went their own way, only to be destroyed as we’ll see in the next chapter.

Remember 9-11? After that horrible tragedy people flocked to churches, but few actually made the life changes they needed so they could truly live under God’s protective authority. And as a nation, we have totally rejected the spiritual lessons we should have learned.

What can we do today? If you remember much of our reading in the historical Bible books, God would often show mercy on the whole nation because of a godly leader or one who turned to Him in times of trouble. In a democratic republic like ours, let’s pray He gives us the wisdom to make the wisest choice possible and that we listen.

But what about on a personal level, how do we either stay under God’s protective authority or leave and go to Egypt? Continue reading

“The Rapture & Uncle Levi” October 17

 

The RaptureImagine your family sitting around the dinner table one night and there is a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Levi,” whose funeral you had attended a few years before? And imagine what it will it be like a few seconds after the Rapture of the Church? What do those two scenarios have to do with each other?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 19 & 20
Psalm 119.1-8
Proverbs 27.13
1 Thessalonians 4.1-18

 

The Rapture & Uncle Levi

 

1 Thessalonians 4.1-18:

The Rapture

The Rapture

Verses 15-18 speak of what is called the Rapture of the Church.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The word “rapture” means to be “caught up.” Paul said those who have died in Christ will rise first. So when Christ returns for His church, the bodies of believers who died previously, whose spirits are already in heaven, will be resurrected and changed. And those of us who are alive will be caught up and our bodies will be changed, as well.

There was a foretaste of this event right after Christ’s death in Matthew 27:

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

So even though these resurrected believers would die again, it was a preview of what is to come in the future.

Can you just imagine what it must have been like—the family is sitting around having dinner and there’s a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Levi or Cousin Benjamin” who had died a few years before!

Now imagine what it will be like when the Rapture happens. The graves of the dead believers will be opened, but this time they’ll be gone, along with believers who were alive at the time of the Rapture!

I would imagine there will be more than a few family members who had rejected what their husbands and wives and mommas and brothers were telling them, who fall to their knees and cry out to God. It won’t be too late for them to be saved, but it will be too late for them to escape the Tribulation, seven years of famine, disease, earthquakes, disasters, and persecution the likes of which the world has never seen. We’ll talk more about this when we get to the book of Revelation.

Let’s pray and stand up for the truth now while there is still time for those who may listen.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Jeremiah 19 & 20:

Is the Word like fire in your bones?

Rather than believe the truth, the leaders of Jerusalem tried to intimidate Jeremiah into silence. Have you turned on the news lately? Sound familiar?

Even though Jeremiah was tempted to keep quiet, he said, “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (19.9).

Is that you? Are you so full of God’s Word that it’s like fire in your bones? So much so that you would risk mistreatment, persecution or death, as Jeremiah did?

 

Psalm 119.1-8:

Mind, Will, and Emotions

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an acrostic psalm. As it was written in the original Hebrew, it contains a literary device to drive home the truths contained in it—something like what we do when we say “A is for apple; B is for ball; … or when we use an acronym to help us remember the name of an organization.

While it’s long, it contains some of the greatest truths about God and His Word, beginning with verses 1-2: Continue reading

December 9 “The Word of God … cafeteria style”

Word of God

How to you view the Word of God? As the commands and revelation of the Creator of heaven and earth or as a divine cafeteria where you get to choose the entrees you find tasty?

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 9 & 10
Psalm 139.13-16
Proverbs 29.21
3 John 1-14

 

Hosea 9 & 10:

Rejecting the revelation of God

Even though Scripture tells us that everyone has enough revelation of God through His creation to recognize there is a Creator and to cry out to know Him (Rom. 1.18-23), many people live in ignorance of the Word of God.

Sadder still, is to be given the amount of special revelation Israel was given as a nation, and to ignore or reject it.

“I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing” (8.12).

God so desired to reach the heart of His people that He gave them prophets to proclaim the truth to them, but instead of heeding God’s warning, they ridiculed them, calling them fools … insane (9.7).

Little has changed. We live in a day when the Word of God has free reign. He has revealed Himself to us through the His Word and the prophets who wrote it. And He has blessed us with pastors and teachers and others who can help us understand His written Word.

The Word of God … divine suggestions?

There is such an abundance of good spiritual resources available and, yet, so few take advantage of them. Most people are content to come to church on Sundays thinking they have their ticket punched for heaven and to live life their own way the rest of the time.

The Word of God is “interesting” to them and they like hearing a nice message, but they don’t acknowledge it as God’s written revelation and command to them. It’s optional, depending on whether or not they “agree with it”! They take the Word of God as a suggestion, not the Word of a Holy Sovereign God.

We don’t get to decide whether or not we “agree” with God. Do we really understand what it means in Romans 10 when it says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (v. 9)? It is the person who confesses that Jesus is “Lord” who is truly saved! Lord, means “Master”—the One who has the right to tell us how to live—what is right and what is wrong! His Word is to be the sole authority in our lives!

Mature woman making stop gesture signAnd yet, too often, I hear people say in regard to a passage of Scripture, “I just don’t agree with that.” Or in the context of counseling, “I tried that, but it didn’t work.”

God’s Word is true, if it’s not “working” for us, we better go back and look at our Continue reading

December 1 “The party’s over: handwriting on the wall” + LINKUP

handwriting on the wallHandwriting on the wall: Can you imagine the scene at the company Christmas party if a disjointed man’s hand suddenly appeared and began to write on the wall? That was the scene at Belshazzar’s bash! God was letting him know “the party was over”!

Today’s Readings:
Daniel 5 & 6
Psalm 136.10-26
Proverbs 29.12-13
2 Peter 2.1-22

 

Daniel 5 & 6:

The handwriting on the wall: the party’s over!

Every chapter of Daniel is packed with excitement greater than any action movie. Can you imagine the scene at your company Christmas party if a disjointed man’s hand suddenly appeared and began to write on the wall? That was the scene at Belshazzar’s bash!

Belshazzar had thrown a huge party for his lords, wives, and concubines? (Ladies, how would you like it if your husband brought a few of his mistresses to his next party?)

Besides the drunkenness and immorality, he had the arrogance to bring out the temple instruments and drink from them. God used this party with all these people present to let Belshazzar know that the party was over!

He thought he was safe inside his castle and his city walls and was free to live any way he pleased. History tells us that very night his kingdom fell to the Medes and Persians and Belshazzar was killed.

Sadly, that is much like it will be when Jesus comes back. People will be eating and drinking and living life as they please.

And it is already happening on an individual level every day just like the parable Jesus told in Luke 12:

16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying. “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 18 So he said, ‘I will do this. I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Riches can be a huge trap which keeps people from seeking God, and causes them to think they can handle anything. Like Belshazzar it can lead them to believe they are protected from the consequences of their actions. So can man-centered education that causes us to think we are smarter and more enlightened than others.

Today our society has taken it a step further. In our arrogance we have begun to demand protection from consequences for every kind of sinful behavior. We demand our right to live any way we choose as if making something legal or intimidating people into silence will somehow protect us from the judgment of a Holy God.

But just as it was in Belshazzar’s life, the hand writing is on the wall. Romans 6.23 says, “The wages of sin is death …” But for those who repent and turn to God, “… the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus.” Continue reading

November 8 “All the grace we need”

prayerWe 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.

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 7 & 8
Psalm 120.1-7
Proverbs 28.15
Hebrews 4.1-16

 

Ezekiel 7 & 8:

The time of God’s judgment

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:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. 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.

 

Running run joggingPsalm 120.1-7:

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!

 

big lion roaringProverbs 28.15:

Ungodly leadership

“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).

 

Continue reading

October 30 “In the last days”

time running out midnightThe stage is set … “… in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3.1-5a).

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 45 & 46
Psalm 119.105-112
Proverbs 28.4
2 Timothy 3.1-17

 

Jeremiah 45 & 46:

Trusting God’s sovereign plan

In chapter 45 God speaks to Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe or secretary. Baruch was depressed and discouraged because of all the disaster God was about to bring on his nation.

Baruch hung out with Jeremiah. He knew what Jeremiah knew. He understand the what and why of God’s dealings with His people. And yet, he was struggling with his feelings.

And just because we understand truths like Romans 8.28-29, 1 Corinthians 10.13, and other similar passages, doesn’t mean we enjoy the trial when it affects us! Perhaps, Baruch was asking “Why me? Why did I have to be born at this time in history? Why couldn’t God have sent me somewhere else until all this was over?” Perhaps, he was reminding God that he had served Him faithfully and didn’t deserve this. Continue reading

October 29 “Instead of asking ‘Why me?'”

why me conceptAre you asking the question, “Why me?” What should you be asking instead?

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 43 & 44
Psalm 119.97-104
Proverbs 28.3
2 Timothy 2.1-26

 

Jeremiah 43 & 44:

Sinning against ourselves

Chapter 44.7, “Now therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel. ‘Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves …’”

Sin is, first and foremost, against God. Second, it is sin against other people either directly or indirectly. And, ultimately, it is committing evil against ourselves, because sin has consequences! God will allow us to choose to sin, but, as I’ve said before, we do not get to choose the consequences!

 

Psalm 119.97-104:

Why me?

Verse 97, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.”

Often, when we choose to sin it is because we are dissatisfied with what God has allowed in our lives. Instead of meditating on God’s law, we meditate on the unfairness of it. “Why me?” is our constant question. Why isn’t God answering my prayer? Why is God allowing “so and so” to get away with something? Why does He seem to be blessing everyone but me? Why? Why? Why? Continue reading

October 17 “The Rapture & Uncle Benjamin”

ancient wooden doorImagine your family sitting around the dinner table one night and there is a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Benjamin” whose funeral you had attended a few years before? And imagine what it will it be like a few seconds after the Rapture of the Church? What do those two scenarios have to do with each other?

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 19 & 20
Psalm 119.1-8
Proverbs 27.13
1 Thessalonians 4.1-18

 

Jeremiah 19 & 20:

Is the Word like fire in your bones?

Rather than believe the truth, the leaders of Jerusalem tried to intimidate Jeremiah into silence. Have you turned on the news lately? Sound familiar?

Even though Jeremiah was tempted to keep quiet, he said, “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (19.9).

Is that you? Are you so full of God’s Word that it’s like fire in your bones? So much so that you would risk mistreatment, persecution or death, as Jeremiah did?

 

thoughtful riverPsalm 119.1-8:

Mind, will, and emotions

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an acrostic psalm. As it was written in the original Hebrew, it contains a literary device to drive home the truths contained in it—something like what we do when we say “A is for apple; B if for ball; … or when we use an acronym to help us remember the name of an organization.

While it is long, it contains some of the greatest truths about God and His Word, beginning with verses 1-2: Continue reading