Walking Through The Word

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Easter

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Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 16-17:20; Luke 9:7-27; Psalm 72:1-20; Proverbs 12:8-9

Today is Easter. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from hell, where He went after dying on the cross. Jesus spent 3 days in hell to pay the penalty for the sins of those who cast their sins upon Him. He was a sacrifice. He was our substitute.

Today in Deuteronomy 16 Moses reminds the people to celebrate Passover and what it meant to them. Passover is now Easter. When Jesus died on the cross the Passover festival was fulfilled for it looked forward to the day that a perfect human being, rather than a lamb, would be slain once and for all for the sins of mankind. Jesus was that perfect human being. Since He was God in a human body He was able to live a life without sin.

Israel left Egypt in such a hurry that they did not have time to make bread with yeast in it. Yeast (and leavened bread) became a symbol of sin. Just like a little yeast affects a whole bunch of dough, a little sin affects a whole bunch of people. Yeast also “puffs up” and so is symbolic of pride and arrogance which is the root of all sin.

Notice that the Festival of Unleavened Bread follows the Festival of Passover. This is because we cannot walk sinless lives until there has been a blood sacrifice to pay for those sins. All the festivals that God gave Israel point to Jesus and have been (or will be) fulfilled by Him. I wrote about this earlier in the year.

The Festival of Harvest (Deuteronomy 16:9-12) was fulfilled at Pentacost when God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell (or live in) the bodies of believers at that time. Today, at the moment a person is born-again, the Holy Spirit lives in a person. I don’t know how this works exactly but I can tell you first-hand that it is true. On that Tuesday night in June 1992 when I had my born-again experience something in me changed. I didn’t know about the Holy Spirit at that point – I learned a few days laters. But that night I could tell that something inside me had changed. It was very noticeable and obvious.

Notice that there was no sacrifice during the Feast of Harvest. It was a time of celebration – just like the joy one has when you give your life to Christ as I did in June 1992. This festival is the last fulfilled festival. We are now living in the “time of harvest” during which people are becoming believers. God is “harvesting” the world.

At the end of Israel’s harvest season was the Festival of Shelters. Notice that this festival begins and ends with a day of rest. In between is a week of celebration. This festival looks forward to the rest believers will have in the future in heaven once the “time of harvest” on earth is over.

God instructs Israel not to recognize any false religions once they are in the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 16:21). Their leaders were to keep people focused on the true God. Otherwise the people might start to believe in false gods and be lead astray from the God who created them, loved them, and would die for them. Sadly our society has crossed the point of no return on this issue. We are so tolerant of the worship of false gods that the true God is all but non-existent in the minds of Americans.

God does not accept defective offerings (Deuteronomy 16:1). Giving something that is less than perfect really isn’t a sacrifice.

Four hundred years in the future Israel will demand a king and we see here in Deuteronomy God give rules for how a king should be have. Sadly the kings of Israel will let power go to their heads and will break these commands.

One of the commands was for the king to write the entire law, by hand (they had no keyboards back then) and read it daily (Deuteronomy 16:8). What a great way to get God’s word into your head. One of the reasons I started this blog was for this very reason. Being in the Bible everyday and having to think about it so I can write about it has really changed my life. And we’re only on day 90. I can’t imagine how much more growth I will go through over the next 9 months.

Other things we can do today is to listen to God’s word daily. Today with portable music players and podcasts this is quite simple. Rather than listening to music in our cars or at work, we can listen to messages from pastors all over the world. I do this as well while I sit at my desk at work.

There so many subtleties in the Bible. Back in Luke 9:1 Jesus sent out His “disciples” which means “learners”. When they return here in Luke 9:10 the are called “apostles” which means “hose sent with authority and a message”. Isn’t that interesting? These teenagers had grown and matured during this experience.

We see the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 today. Although there were 5,000 men the total crowd was certainly at least 3 times that. Notice that when we place all we have, which may be very litte, in Jesus’s hands He can work miracles. All God is asking is that we offer Him what we are and what we have (Luke 9:13).

Jesus supplied more than enough for everyone there. There was no excuse for anyone who left hungry. Today Jesus is still offering more than enough to all of us. If anyone leaves this world “hungry” he has no one to blame but himself.

In Luke 9:21 Jesus tells the disciples that He must suffer and be killed. Notice that the suffering wasn’t optional. It was part of God’s plan and was foretold by the prophets in the Old Testament. That must have shocked the disciples. But it gets worse. Jesus then tells them that they must stop thinking of themselves and take up their own cross. This is clearly a reference to dying to oneself. Today the cross is a religious symbol that people wear around their necks. But the true meaning of the cross is death and the disciples would have understood this.

It does nothing to live for self (Luke 9:24). Everything we gain on this earth is temporary anyway. We only truly gain life by giving up our own and living for others.

Even kings (and presidents) need God’s help to do their job the right way (Psalms 72:2-4). Notice that leaders should provide refreshment. Their burden should not be heavy. No one should feel tired and worn out by following the orders from a leader.

As I read Proverbs 12:8 today it seemed to me that just the opposite is true in our culture. Sensible people, like those who advocate fiscal restraint and morality are despised and ridiculed by the majority – the vast majority. But those people with a warped sense of values including promoting abortion and celebrating homosexuality, are considered heros. What a mess we are in.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

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Just As You Are

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Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 13-15:23; Luke 8:40-9:6; Psalm 71:1-24; Proverbs 12:5-7

Israel is warned about spiritual deception in Deuteronomy 13 today. These same sorts of practices exist today: tarot card reading, psychics, etc. We see that these types of powers exist, but only as tests of our devotion to God (Deuteronomy 13:3). We should only listen to God and no one else (Deuteronomy 13:4). He is the only one who has our best interests in mind.

Anyone who tries to lead someone else away from God was to be put to death (Deuteronomy 13:5-18). All of us are eternal creatures. Our bodies will die one day but we will continue to live in spirit either in heaven or hell. Therefore, it was very serious for someone to “kill” someone spiritually (that is, cause them to go to hell). Anyone who did that needed to die or else they would continue to do the same to other people. This is one example of God trying to protect us because He wants us to be in heaven with Him.

In Deuteronomy 14:2 we see the reason why God forbade Israel from doing the things that the pagans were doing. They were to be separate to show they belonged to God. Christians today need to do the same things. We should not be having sex without being married to someone of the opposite sex. We should not be chasing after money or material possessions. We should not be spending hours each night watching TV. We need to stand out to a broken world. Everyone notices something or someone that is different. By behaving differently than the world we will show people that there is more to life than what the world has to offer.

We live in a country where we try to take care of the poor. Unfortunately, we do a terrible job of this because we have given responsibility to the government for taking care of poor people. That was never God’s plan as we see in Deuteronomy 15. Some people might go through a bad period financially, but under God’s plan they had the opportunity to rebuild their lives. No one was to be living in chronic poverty.

I’ve always believed that rather than the government taking care of those less fortunate, the local church should do so. The church should take care of those in the surrounding community. If the church did this — and if the government let the church do this — there would be far fewer poor people in this country. And there would be a lot more people going to heaven as a result of being blessed through the church.

In Luke 8 a Jewish synagogue leader, Jairus, comes to Jesus to ask Him to heal his dying daughter. While other Jewish religious doubted Jesus, Jairus puts his faith in Him. While Jairus has faith, he doesn’t have complete faith or understanding as he believes Jesus must come to his home for his daughter to be healed. We know from other passages that Jesus does not need to be present to heal someone. Yet, Jesus goes to Jairus’s house. God doesn’t require full understanding or complete faith to answer our prayers. God can do amazing things with just a little faith.

On the way to Jairus’ home Jesus passes through a mob of people including a woman who has been suffering for 12 years. No doctors could cure her. Due to her condition she was not clean and had to live apart from the rest of society. This must have been as bad, if not worse, than the condition itself. She was probably very lonely, not to mention poor. She, too, had faith that Jesus could heal her. But since she was not supposed to be in a crowd of people she attempts to get healed in secret. She doesn’t ask Jesus face-to-face as Jairus did but simply touches Jesus’s garment. When she does so she is immediately healed.

In Luke 8:45 Jesus asks the question “Who touched my robe?”. Those who don’t believe Jesus was God point to this verse as “proof” that Jesus wasn’t God. Jesus was not asking this because He didn’t know. Of course He knew. If you are a parent you know about this type of question first-hand. Have you ever caught your child doing something he wasn’t supposed to and asked “What are you doing?”. Do you not know what he is doing? Of course you do — you’re looking right at him. You don’t ask because you don’t know. You ask because you do know and you want him to know that you know. Jesus asked this question aloud, so the crowd could be taught a lesson.

Think about this… Jesus was in a crowd of people. Lots of people were touching Him. Peter even make such a comment in Luke 8:45. There were so many people around Him it was (humanly) impossible to know who exactly had touched Him. But Jesus wanted to use this event to teach to the crowd. He wanted them to know that this woman had been healed. And He wanted them (and her) to know that it was her faith that had healed her (Luke 8:48). I also think Jesus wanted the crowd to know that this woman took a big risk coming to Him. If she had been spotted (she was probably disguised) she would have been arrested. Doesn’t Jesus want us to take risks for Him today? I think He does. We should not fear governments, or authorities, or those who oppose Jesus. We should be bold in our faith and not back down from the truth. We benefit (as did this woman) but also those who see our boldness (like the crowd in this story) will learn something about Jesus and faith when we do.

Meanwhile, Jairus is probably sweating bullets because his daughter is near death and Jesus is stopping for this unclean woman. But, as we’ve learned all year long, Jesus (who was God) is always in control.

Notice Jesus tells Him not to be afraid and to believe. You can’t be afraid and believe at the same time. Its one or the other.

Once in Jairus’s house the people there mocked Him. In the original Greek the verb “mocked” is in the imperfect tense indicating that they didn’t just do it once. They did it repeatedly. Jesus dismisses the mockers who don’t know what they are talking about. They are full of doubt so they have to leave. Jesus brings the girl back to life and everyone was amazed. Jesus shows further understanding and concern for her by saying she needs to eat. She had been very sick and now dead for sometime. She needed nutrition. Jesus never stops caring.

In these two events we see Jesus answer the prayers of the wealthy and the poor. The well-connected and the outcast. One with a lot of faith, one with a bit less. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are at in life… Jesus wants you just as you are. All you need to do is come to him as Jairus and this unnamed woman did. Then He will show you things you never thought possible.

Did you know that God has cared for you since before you were born? It’s true. Psalm 71:6 tells us so. This is one more reason why abortion is so horrid. All life exists because God wanted it to exist. You exist because God wanted someone just like you to be with Him forever. And that is a perfect reason to praise God (Psalm 71:6). God has, and will always be, our source of strength and protection (Psalm 71:7).

Proverbs 12:6 tells us today that the godly have wisdom that can save lives. The Bible is talking about spiritual life here. Those of us who know Jesus have the information that can give someone eternal life in heaven. On the other hand, the words of those who do not know Jesus are a trap. Those people are going to lead unsuspecting people to their (spiritual) death.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

The Hero Of Our Story

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Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 11-12:32; Luke 8:22-39; Psalm 70:1-5; Proverbs 12:4

God reminds Israel of all the great and wonderful things He has done for them over the past few decades in Deuteronomy 11 today. How often we forget what God has done in our own lives. I am as guilty of this as anyone, if not more. I think a wise thing for us to do would be to set aside time every week or so to remind ourselves of the things God has done in our lives. Perhaps write them down and review them regularly.

In Deuteronomy 11:8 we see why it is good to do this: we will gain strength to overcome the challenges in our lives. The more we review and remind ourselves of God’s great work in our lives, the more confidence we will have. Not confidence in ourselves, but confidence in Him.

God always has something better for us than where we have been as He says in Deuteronomy 11:10-12. The land in Egypt where Israel were slaves did not get much rain and had to be irrigated artificially. But the land that God was giving to Israel had hills and valleys – natural irrigation systems. God was planning on blessing Israel in this way.

God warns Israel though not to let the prosperity they will enjoy turn them away from Him (Deuteronomy 11:16). How easy it is for individuals and nations to do this. When things go well we take the credit and forget about God. We start to worship material things and other “gods”. This is exactly where the United States is today. We’ve let our wealth and success on the world stage draw us away from the God who gave us that wealth to begin with. And as a result our society has begun to crumble. We’ve condoned and even encourage sinful behaviors like abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. We’ve stopped teaching our kids about God. It will be very difficult for us to regain our success. Nothing is harder than returning to a God who we do not acknowledge.

Notice that God isn’t looking for a stoic, obligatory love. He wants a relationship with us (Deuteronomy 11:22). He wants us to walk with Him and cling to Him. When I read that I thought of a child holding the hand of a parent.

God makes it clear that what kind of relationship He wants with us. But He gives us the choice (Deuteronomy 11:26) between receiving His blessing or not. God will not force us into a relationship with Him. That would not be love. That would be control. That is not God’s game plan. He wants a real relationship with every single person He created.

God wanted all the places of worship that existed in the land of Canaan destroyed (Deuteronomy 12:2) so that new buildings could be built. There were to be no reminders of the past, sinful worship of these false gods. God wants us to do the very same thing today. He wants us to clean out our hearts of those things that distract us from Him: television, career, etc.

Notice that God wants us to worship His way – not our own way (Deuteronomy 12:4-7). God is trying to build structure and order into our lives. If we are left to decide for ourselves we will soon develop behaviors that we think are worship of God but are really entertainment for our own benefit. I can’t tell you how many churches I have been in over the past few years that seem to be more interested in pleasing the congregation instead of pleasing God. It is getting harder to find a really good church.

We are also not to inquire about the gods of other people, otherwise we may get dragged away from the true God (Deuteronomy 12:30-32). I remember once trying to witness to a person of a different faith and I thought a good way to start the conversation would be ask about his gods (he had many). But that backfired because he thought I was truly interested in his religion and ended up bringing me a lot of information about it a few days later. Now my strategy is simply to let God shine in my life and soon others will be asking me about my God.

Have you ever seen a movie where the hero is in some sort of mortal danger about 30 minutes in? Obviously he can’t die because he’s the hero and the movie just started. So you can relax and not get caught up in the drama. This is exactly what happens in Luke 8: 22-25. In the middle of a storm the disciples are terrified that they will drown. But that wasn’t going to happen. The boat was going to sink – Jesus was on board. He has said “Let’s go to the other side of the lake” not “Let’s go to the middle of the lake”.  Jesus is the hero of our story. He isn’t going anywhere until its time. The disciples didn’t quite grasp that.

Jesus confronts and heals a demon-possessed man in Luke 8:26-39. Notice how the demons knew exactly who Jesus was. Make no mistake – Satan and his demons are very real and they know the Bible better than we do. That is how they can distort truth as we saw Satan do to Adam and Eve.

Even after witnessing the amazing healing power of Jesus the people ask Him to leave. And He does. If someone doesn’t want Jesus in their life He won’t force Himself in. As we read earlier today – the choice is ours.

Are there people who take delight when things go wrong in your life? I have such people in my life. They are not believers and are quick to jump at the chance to tell me there is no God when the slightest little thing goes wrong. Apparently David has similar people in his life (Psalm 70:2-3). The answer is to be filled with joy and recognize that “God is great” even when things don’t go our way (Psalm 70:4-5). That is the greatest witness we can give to such people.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

More Understanding

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Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 9-10:22; Luke 8:4-21; Psalm 69:19-36; Proverbs 12:2-3

Through Moses’s words God reminds Israel that what they are about to do is humanly impossible (Deuteronomy 9:1-2). But they need not fear because God will actually be doing the heavy lifting (Deuteronomy 9:3). He will be the reason they will be victorious. But not because Israel deserves it. The reason God is doing this is because of the wickedness of the current occupants of the land (Deuteronomy 9:4-6).

For the remainder of Deuteronomy 9 God reminds Israel of their past. Being reminded of our prior sin is not God’s way of keeping us down or making us feel defeated (Deuteronomy 9:7). It is God’s way of making us realize how weak we really are. When we forget our sins or explain them away, we fail to trust God in the future. We give ourselves more credit than we deserve.

Even when we do mess up, God is still willing to lead us on our journey through life as we see in Deuteronomy 10:11. God did not forget Israel after the golden calf incident. Once they had repented it was time to put the past behind them and resume the journey. The same is true for us today. Sin can stall our walk with God. But it doesn’t end it. At least not from God’s perspective. He understands. He is patient. And He is ready to keep going when we are.

In Deuteronomy 10:12-13we see what God required of Israel. Certainly these are the same things God requires of us today. God wants us to fear Him. This is not a fear that paralyzes us. Rather it is a reverential fear that keeps us on our toes. God requires that our behavior and thoughts match His plan for our lives, not our own. God requires that we love Him and that all we do, say, and think be for His glory, not our own. And God requires that we keep His commands. This shows respect for God. It also is for our own good. God’s commands are not burdensome. We feel the weight of this life when we reject God and attempt to live according to our own strength.

Jesus tells us that truth (like a lamp) is useless if it is hidden (Luke 8:16). Truth must be placed where everyone can see it. Our lives, as believers in Christ, must shine truth like a lamp shines light. We need to be spreaders of God’s truth to the world.

When we listen to and pay attention to God’s word He will give us more understanding (Luke 8:18). This implies an effort on our part to understand in the first place. I can say that since I decided to do this blog I have received more understanding about God and His word than ever before. But notice that those who don’t even listen will not get any understanding. Clearly it is incumbent upon us to actively pursue knowledge of God’s word and wisdom through it. Those who do not may think they know what they are knowledgeble and have the answers the world needs . But they don’t.

Luke 8:21 is an eye-opening kind of verse. Through it we see the power of obedience. When we obey God’s word we draw closer to Jesus. In fact we draw so close that we are closer to Him than His own family.

Psalm 69 informs us that God is more pleased with praise than sacrifice. We are to praise God for all the great and wonderful things He has done. When He rescues us from a difficult situation, for example. We also saw earlier in the year that we are to praise God for all the promises that He has made that have yet to come true. Doing so shows a tremendous amount of trust in Him. God definitely hears the cries of those in need (Psalm 69:33)

We’ve all heard of some famous person who keeps getting to trouble. Proverbs 12:3 tells us that is because when our minds are bent towards evil we have no stability in life. We move from one bad situation to another. But those who seek good have deep roots – they are stable. That stability comes from having a foundation built on Jesus.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

Remember To Remember

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Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 7-8:20; Luke 7:36-8:3; Psalm 69:1-18; Proverbs 12:1

Moses continues to prepare the people for entering the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 7. God will always prepare us for what He has planned. Notice too that Moses speaks with certainty. He says “when the Lord your God…” in both verses 1 and 2. God will do what He promises. He will never go back on His word. Certainly we can interfere with that – as we saw the previous generation of Israel do. But God is always willing to give us what He promised when we are ready to accept it.

Notice also that God doesn’t sugarcoat the facts. He tells Israel that there are seven nations currently in the land and they are greater and mightier than Israel (Deuteronomy 7:1). Israel alone has no chance of victory. But these nations are not greater and mightier than God. God plus no one is a majority. With God on their side Israel is assured of victory because God is the one who will defeat them.

But that doesn’t mean that Israel has no part in the plan. God always gives us something to do also. God fights for us but He also fights with us. In this case Israel had to completely destroy these nations. They were to show them no mercy. This may seem harsh and many unbelievers point to these types of verses to “prove” that the God of the Bible is full of hate. Actually, just the opposite is true. God is full of love. He is full of love for Israel. So much so that He wants to see them (Israel) free from the sins that were consuming these seven nations. Similarly, God wants to completely destroy the sin that is in our lives today. He knows what it is doing to us. He knows what we could be if we were truly free from it. God doesn’t hate you. He hates the sin that is in you and is destroying you.

But additionally, God loved these seven nations and if they had just repented and turned to Him He would have spared them. But they didn’t. The choice was theirs all along. God judges nations just like He judges individuals. When a nation (such as the United States) completely turns its back on Him and loves its sinful culture more than it loves Him – watch out. As we see here (and as we’ll see later when God judges Israel for its sin) God will send enemies against that nation to bring it down (Deuteronomy 7:10)

I found Deuteronomy 7:17-21 interesting. Sometimes we wonder how we are going to get through a difficult time. The answer is to remember all that God has done for us in the past and to remember that God is with us. He is fighting the battle. Sometimes the toughest thing to remember is to remember.

When we go through tough times we need to be aware that God may be trying to humble us and test us (Deuteronomy 8:2). God doesn’t test us so He can find out where our heart is at. He tests us so we can find out where our heart is at. Usually it isn’t in a good place. And that is humbling.

Notice how God took care of the people while they were in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:4). When we are in a tough place in life God is with us taken care of us in ways we don’t realize.

Of course it is easier to turn to God when our lives are in shambles. It is much more difficult to think of Him when things are going well (Deuteronomy 8:11). Prosperity requires attentiveness. Otherwise we become proud (Deuteronomy 8:14) and forget God. Sounds like the United States to me. God took us from being nothing to being the most powerful, wealthy, and influential nation in the world. Then we decided that all that was the result of our own efforts (Deuteronomy 8:17) and we didn’t need to obey Him any more. So we made it illegal to pray in schools. We declared that pornography and abortion are legitimate businesses. And we will soon recognize same-sex marriage in the name of “openness” and “freedom”.

The result for us will be the same as the result for the Hittites, Canannites, Perizzites, and Israel. He will destroy us (Deuteronomy 8:19). There is no doubt about that.

Jesus was (and is) willing to be part of anyone’s life as we see in Luke 7:36 when He dines with a Pharisee. During the dinner a very sinful woman (probably a prostitute) comes to the Pharisee’s house. This would have taken a lot of courage as Pharisees didn’t associate with sinners, as we have seen. Yet she doesn’t care what people will think of her. We need to be this bold as well. The world needs to know that Jesus is the answer. We cannot be afraid to tell them.

As expected, the Pharisee is beside himself. He can’t believe that Jesus would allow this “sinner” to touch Him if He really knew who she was. But not only did Jesus know the woman, He knew the Pharisee. She was being honest about herself as evidenced by her humbly anointing Jesus’s feet with expensive perfume. The Pharisee, on the other hand, did not know himself at all. He didn’t realize that he, too, was a sinner in need of forgiveness. That is really the world simply stated.

We label people all sorts in myriad ways: by gender, age, religion, race, sexual preference, income, etc. But God only sees two classes of people: those who know they need Jesus and those who don’t.

Notice in Luke 8:2-3 that Jesus taught women. This would have been unheard of in Jewish society at this time. Here is more evidence that the Bible is not made up. Anyone writing this who wished that his readers believe what he wrote would never have made this up.

Notice too that Mary Magdalene had been demon-possessed. That is really all we know about her. But somehow, over time, many myths have grown about her including that she was a prostitute and that she married Jesus. There is no evidence to support any of this. Just more tactics by Satan to throw us off-course.

Did you ever notice that Jesus’s enemies were men? There is not one recorded enemy of Jesus that is female. I’m not sure if that means anything. But I just noticed that today.

I found it interesting that not only were these women willing to support Jesus’s ministry from their own resources, but Jesus was willing to accept it (Luke 8:3). Certainly Jesus didn’t need anyone’s help. But He humbled Himself to the point of being able to take assistance from others. Too often we are too proud to allow others to help us. But this passage shows that ministry is a team effort. Not everyone can go around teaching. Someone has to help pay for it. Those who contribute behind the scenes are just as important in modern-day ministry as those out on the front lines (e.g. missionaries).

Psalm 69 is a plea from David for God to rescue him from a desperate situation. His enemies outnumber him (Psalm 69:4) and he is in obvious distress. Not only were these enemies against David, they were against God. He faced ridicule for his faith (Psalm 69:7-12). This is certainly a tough place to be at in life but certainly not one that God cannot handle. In fact when people mock us we are actually being blessed by God (Matthew 5:11-12).

Proverbs 12:1 tells us to gain in knowledge we have to be open to discipline. Life will kick us around sometimes. We have to learn from it and grow from it. That is the only wise way to live. Anyone who is unwilling to fail or to be wrong will never learn anything.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

Very Scary

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Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 5-6:25; Luke 7:11-35; Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 11:29-31

In Deuteronomy 5 Moses reminds the people of the covenant (agreement) God made with them at Mount Sinai. Like any agreement, both parties (in this case God and Israel) promised to do certain things. This agreement was not made with the people who were currently alive but with their ancestors. Nevertheless, God’s promises were still binding and He would continue to fulfill them with this current generation and subsequent generations (Deuteronomy 5:3).

The Ten Commandments are repeated in this chapter after having been originally given in Exodus 20.

The point of God’s commands for us is not so He can control us. He could control us by His inherent power if He wanted to. No, God’s commands for us are for our benefit (Deuteronomy 5:29, 6:3). If we follow them things will go well for us. If we don’t, then they won’t. It’s pretty simple in concept. The hard part is keeping God’s commands. We don’t because we are sinful. That is why we need a savior.

God tells Israel the way to keep the commands He has given them is to repeat them over and over (Deuteronomy 5:7-9). The word “repeat” is bit vague here and I think that is intentional. Repeat can mean to either tell them to ourselves over and over in our mind or aloud. But it can also mean to do them over and over in practice. I think both are necessary. We need to meditate on God’s word (this is a common theme throughout the Bible) but we also have to intentionally do the things God tells us. They aren’t going to just happen. These are things that go against our sinful nature. We have to make them happen.

Notice too that we are to teach them to our children. I spend a lot of time around high school kids. From what I can tell it seems that the values God has tried to teach us have all but been extinguished in this generation. Although I was an atheist at their age I can recall that back then at least there was some attempt by most people to live lives that adhered to God’s values even if the values themselves were not attributed to God. But now, just one generation later, these values are almost nowhere to be found and are even mocked. It’s very scary how fast our society has crumbled.

When asked what the most important commandment was Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heat, all your soul, and all your strength”.

God knows the future and He knows how frail our will power is and how strong is the sin that is within us. So He is constantly warning us and Deuteronomy 6:14 is a good example. He knew that it would be tempting for Israel to worship the gods of the people they were conquering. Sure enough, as we will see, Israel gives in to these temptations and falls away from the true God. We need to see God’s commands as warnings from a loving, caring Father and not as nagging demands from someone who is a control-freak.

Jesus shows His compassion for us human beings and our struggles on this earth in Luke 7:12-15. The only son of a widow had died. This put the woman in a very troublesome situation as, without a husband or a son to take care of her, her future would be nothing but poverty. So Jesus raised the boyfrom the dead and gave him back to his mother. God is not just interested in our eternity. He is also interested in what is happening here on earth. After all, earth is just as much a part of our existence as is eternity. We are eternal beings and may spend much less time here on earth. But that doesn’t make our present circumstances any less important to God.

When we are in discouraging situations it is easy to lose sight of Jesus. This precisely what happened to John the Baptist in Luke 7:18-23. John was in prison at this time and was apparently doubting that Jesus was the Messiah. But our circumstances never change who God is.

Yet John the Baptist was correct about Jesus all along even though he may now have doubts. John was given a very special place in history. He is the only prophet who was prophesied about. This was in Malachi 3:1 which Jesus quotes in Luke 7:27. But the Pharisees, who should have known the Old Testament better than anyone, had rejected John’s message. So Jesus compares them to selfish children who want others to behave according to their expectations (Luke 7:31-32). The religious leaders didn’t approve of John (Luke 7:33) nor Jesus (Luke 7:34). But Jesus confirms that what is right is verified by the changed lives of those who are followers of Him (Luke 7:35).

Psalm 68 continues today. This Psalm celebrates the victories that God gives us in our lives. It is God who bears our burdens (Psalm 68:19) and rescues us from being consumed by our enemies (Psalm 68:20). Note that this Psalm refers to human enemies of Israel at the time but today can refer to any enemy whether human or spiritual.

God is always on the side of the weak being oppressed by the strong. When the weak cry out to God He will hear and come to their rescue and in the process humble the oppressors (Psalm 68:28-31). For this reason we should praise Him and tell everyone how awesome He is (Psalm 68:33-35).

Proverbs 11:29 tells us that someone who creates trouble in their own family will inherit the wind (i.e. nothing). But someone who lives a life according to God’s will (as best he or she can) will create future generations of wise people (Proverbs 11:30) who are filled with life.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

Everyone Is Welcome

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Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-49; Luke 6:39-7:10; Psalm 68:1-18; Proverbs 11:28

In preparation for entering the Promised Land and fighting off an enemy who was larger than they were, Moses reminds Israel of their need to obey God and the past evidence of what happens when they don’t. God was going to lead them into battle and He promised them victory. But they had to follow His instruction. They were not to “add” or “subtract” from anything He told them to do. This had a spiritual implication for Israel and it has one or us as well. Many man-made religions “add” things, such as rituals, to God’s word or “subtract” things by ignoring passages in the Bible they don’t like (e.g. laws against homosexuality). By doing this they are attempting to make themselves equal to God.

By obeying God in battle as well in life, Israel would have demonstrated to surrounding nations just how great their God was (Deuteronomy 4:6). This would cause these nations to question the existence of their own gods. Again, this is something that God wants to accomplish today. The world’s gods are money, fame, sex, power, etc. These are false gods than can do nothing for a person. They cannot save a person from their sins which is the one thing we all need. Only God can do that. Christians are to live life in such a way that others question the way they are living their own lives.

God warns Israel against worshipping false gods (Deuteronomy 6:25) but, as we’ll see, this is exactly what they will do. In response God will remove them from the land He gave them (Deuteronomy 6:27). Existing as a nation is a privilege from God. It is not a right. We exist, both individually and corporately, to bring glory to God. If we reject that responsibility and decide to live for ourselves God will remove us from our land. As I read the Old Testament this year I see many parallels between Israel and the United States. Both were nations truly blessed beyond measure by God. But both turned their backs on Him. Israel was later conquered. I fear the fate of the United States will be the same. Although God promised to restore Israel He makes no such promise to other nations who ignore or mock Him. Israel is unique in human history as it is the only nation to be wiped off the earth and then come back into existence. This is more proof that the Bible is the word of the true God.

Jesus teaches us today that it is of no use to follow someone who knows no more than we do (Luke 6:39). He also warns against not seeing what is wrong with ourselves before concerning ourselves with what is wrong with others. Certainly we all are flawed. But it is easier to see the flaws in others and not so easy to see the flaws in ourselves. Its all well and good to help others overcome their sin – we are commanded to do that – but first we have to recognize our own sinfulness. Then we can help, but only through Jesus who has overcome all sin.

The status of our heart determines what kind of “fruit” we will produce in our lives (Luke 6:43-45). Our heart is the core of who we are which is why Jesus’s words aim right for our hearts. He wants to change us from being the evil, selfish people we are born as into new creatures with good hearts.

The only thing worth building our lives upon is Jesus. He is a solid foundation that is capable of withstanding any and all trouble in life. Anyone who builds their life on anything else will not be able to stand against the storms of life (Luke 6:47-49)

The Roman centurion in Luke 7 is an interesting person. Under Roman law a slave could be killed if he became too injured to work. Yet this centurion didn’t do this. He liked his slave and probably treated him well so instead he sought out Jesus. This man was not only a Gentile but a suppressor of Israel – God’s people. He perhaps thought Jesus would reject him and so he sends Jewish elders to find Jesus and ask Him to heal the slave. He seems to think that Jesus only allows certain people into his presence. Some religions teach this very same thing. Catholicism, for example, teaches that only priests can talk to God. That is why Catholics have “confession” where the people confess their sins to a priest who then takes them to God. Of course, all this is completely against what God says. Anyone can come to directly to Him. Everyone is welcome. Putting barriers between people and God is pure arrogance and sin. It is “adding” to God’s word and making human rules equal with God’s.

The centurion also knows that Jesus’s power to heal comes from God and is not some sort of magic ritual (Luke 7:7). This was more than the Jewish leaders knew.

In Luke 7:9 we read that Jesus was amazed. Jesus was God, who is all knowing. Yet Jesus was God in a human body which we know has limitations. We don’t know everything and can’t read each other’s minds. So when I read this verse today I wondered whether God allowed Jesus to “discover” things. We all know how much fun it is to be surprised and to find out something we didn’t know before. Perhaps at times He (God) withheld information from Jesus just so Jesus could have the fun of discovering it.

In Psalm 68 David praises the goodness of God and how glad and joyful we should be (Psalm 68:3). But those who reject God will not succeed in the long run (Psalm 68:1-2). God takes care of those in need (Psalm 68:5). In our society being fatherless or without a husband isn’t a burden. But back when these words were written it was very difficult for a woman to live without a husband as she had no means to support herself. Yet God will take care of those who follow Him. The world may make life difficult on us. But God never will. He is always near to overcome the pain of life.

Proverbs 11:28 is pretty direct. Trusting in money will never work. The only one we can trust in is God. If we trust in Him our lives will be as fresh and vibrant as new-born leaves in spring.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

The Most Loving Thing We Can Do

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Today’s Bible reading: Deuteronomy 2-3:29; Luke 6:12-38; Psalm 67:1-7; Proverbs 11:27

Moses continues his speech recalling the events in the wilderness in Deuteronomy today. Its interesting that, even though Israel had refused to have faith in God 38 years before, God has been with them the entire time (Deuteronomy 2:2). This is a good reminder that God will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He is always willing to guide us if we will just let Him, even when we are rebellious.

We see a couple of instances where God orders Israel not to bother certain people because He had given them land too. For example, in Deuteronomy 2:5 God tells Israel not to bother the Edomites who were the descendants of Esau (Genesis 36:8) whom God had promised to bless.

God also tells Israel not to bother the Moabites who were descendants of Lot (Deuteronomy 2:9). All of these nations were weaker than Israel and could have easily been conquered by God’s people. But God wasn’t giving their land to Israel – He was giving the land of Canaan to them. So He wanted Israel to behave in a way that showed respect to God by following His commands. That is really what obedience is. Our society promotes freedom and despises the thought of anyone being “obedient” to another. But what we are really saying is that we don’t respect others.

In Deuteronomy 3 we continue to see the victories of Israel, notably one against King Og who was a giant (his bed was 14 feet long (Deuteronomy 3:11)). The prior generation was too afraid of these giants but we see here that the people of these lands were no match for Israel. The fears of the original Israelite refugees from Egypt were unfounded. They could have spent the last decades of their lives in the Promised Land. But instead, due to their lack of faith, they spent that time wandering around going nowhere. The same thing is true today. Our lives can be so fulfilled if we just trust God to lead us where He wants us to go. He has great things planned for us (Jeremiah 29:11). But so often we are too afraid of change and end up living lives in which we just wander without joy.

Moses asks God to let Him cross the Jordan into the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 3:25 but God says “no”. It is easy to sympathize with Moses here. He has spent 40 years in Egypt, many of those as a slave. He then spent 40 years in his own wilderness, being humbled by God. He then worked very hard for 40 years leading God’s people out of Egypt. But he had ruined a good work that God wanted to do at the rock in Meribah.

The incident at Meribah (Numbers 20) was meant to be a picture of Jesus. God ordered Moses to strike the rock once, not twice. Jesus was “struck” once. His death was all that was needed to provide salvation to those who believed. Additionally, Moses spoke harsh words to the people when He should have spoken words of faith. It is through faith we are saved, through Jesus. By his disobedient acts (remember, disobedience is lack of respect) Moses ruined the lesson God was trying to teach Israel. Although he had done a lot of great things, that didn’t matter. Leaders and teachers are held to a higher standard.

Even though he was not going to go with Israel into the Promised Land, Moses still had to train, encourage, and strengthen his successor, Joshua (Deuteronomy 3:28). Even though we may not get to do the things in life we want, we need to prepare others to do them if we can. We need not be concerned about our glory. We need to let God use who He will use. It is all for His glory. Even though Moses wasn’t going to lead his people across the Jordan, he had a very important work to do in preparing Joshua for doing that. Even when we are not the center of attention we can do something for God.

Luke 6 opens with the story of Jesus praying all night, apparently for guidance in choosing the 12 disciples. This shows us that Jesus can relate to us as human beings – even He needed to pray. Despite being God in a human body, Jesus was subject to some of the same limitations that we are. This allowed Him to be able to say that He knows exactly what we have to go through. Life isn’t easy for us and God knows that.

We’ve already seen that 11 of the disciples were teenagers (Peter was not). So they certainly had their own attitude and immaturity problems. But they were moldable. Jesus was looking for people He could train – people that weren’t so set in their ways that they were unwilling to change. Notice too that Jesus made some interesting choices. For example, Matthew was a tax-collector who worked for Rome. But Simon (not Peter) was a zealot – one who was vehemently against the Roman occupation of Israel. I’m sure this created an interesting dynamic.

Jesus gives a sermon in Luke 6:20-38. Notice how His words are directed not at the people, but at the disciples. The disciples had left everything to follow Jesus. They had become poor. Therefore the Kingdom of God “is” (present tense) theirs. Jesus also promises that in the future (“will be”) those who are hungry and sad will be blessed. God rewards those who make sacrifices on His behalf. Maybe not immediately, but someday.

A perfect example of this is Luke 6:23. The disciples will face all kinds of hate and ridicule for following Jesus. Yet they should be happy because a reward will be given to them in heaven. This should encourage all of us to stand up for Jesus in this life. Many people will reject us. They will laugh at us. I know — I was one of those mockers. But now when I am on the receiving end of such ridicule and hate I can take comfort in the fact that I will get a reward in heaven. And, hopefully too, the seeds I plant in the minds of such people will take root and grow. If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone.

The world’s values are not God’s values. We see that in Luke 6:24-26. Those on earth who think they have all they need now will someday realize the flaw in their thinking. Sadly that day will happen after they die and then it will be too late. There is nothing in this life that goes with us to the next. So it is all temporary. Nothing on this earth can provide any long-term security.

Jesus just addressed people who were not going to listen to Him. Now He addresses those who will (Luke 6:37). We are to love our enemies. We are to do good to those those who hurt us with their words (“curse”), abuse (“slap”), or actions (“takes”). That certainly is not a worldly way to live. But it is God’s way. God loves even those who curse Him or don’t believe in Him. Followers of Christ should imitate God in this way. Clearly Jesus’s teachings are not easy to follow. But they make a lot of sense. They set a new standard for living.

Luke 6:37 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible. Even unbelievers have memorized it, though they misapply it. We are called to “judge” or “evaluate” our own behavior and that of others. But we are not to go so far as to condem. We should forgive. What is there to forgive if there first wasn’t judgment? When we see people acting in a way that indicates that they don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ then the most loving thing we can do is help them create such a relationship.

God blesses those who praise Him (Psalms 67:5-7). When we turn our back on God we can be sure of one thing – life will get much more difficult. God wants us to have the best. Only He is capable of giving that to us.

Proverbs 11:27 reminds us that we get what we seek in life. Some people go through life looking for trouble. In that case trouble will find them. There is plenty of trouble to go around. But if we go through life looking for good we will find God’s favor. A heart that earnestly seeks God will not be disappointed.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

How To Make More Money

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Today’s Bible reading: Numbers 36:1-13; Deuteronomy 1:1-46; Luke 5:29-6:11; Psalm 66:1-20; Proverbs 11:24-26

Today we finish our fourth Old Testament book and start the fifth. The year is going by so fast.

In Numbers 36 we revisit an issue that came up a few days ago. A family of daughters, with no brothers, was given an inheritance in the Promised Land. But that brought up another issue – if they married outside their tribe then the tribe they married into would get the land. God solves the problem but notice the bigger concept. The actions of individuals can, and often will, affect a larger group such as a family, company, or country. We live in a society where everyone has “freedom” to do what they want. What we don’t realize is that freedom doesn’t mean without consequences. Our actions affect other people and we need to think about that beforehand.

This brings us to the end of Numbers. At this point God has taken His people from having a slave mentality to having trust in Him. It took 40 years to bring them to this point. God wants to do the same thing in the life of every believer. He wants to change you from being a slave to sin to being able to rest in Him. How long that takes is up to each one of us. It depends on how much faith we are willing to put in God versus how much we want to cling to our past. This is something I battle every day. Some days I feel like I am making great progress. Other days, I feel like going back to Egypt.

In Deuteronomy 1:22 we get more insight into what happened 40 years earlier. It wasn’t God’s idea to send scouts into Canaan. It was the people’s idea. And Moses agreed with them.  Apparently no one asked God because it turned out to be a bad idea. God never shows us the future ahead of time. He wants us to trust Him sight-unseen. If God showed us the path to where He wants to take us, none of us would want to go. We’d all settle for “good enough”.

Notice the overreaction of the people in Deuteronomy 1:27-28. They say some crazy things. “God hates us.” God is handing us over to be slaughtered.” “There are walls as high as the sky.” None of these things were true. But the people let their imaginations run wild. Actually, this was clearly spiritual warfare. These lies sound very similar to the lies Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden. We must always remember that we are in a spiritual battle of our minds. Satan is lying. God is telling the truth. We need to decide who we will believe.

Due to his faithfulness 40 years earlier Caleb will get “some of the very best land” in Canaan (Deuteronomy 1:36). God will reward those who are faithful to him. Those rewards will come in heaven.

In Luke 5 we read about Levi (aka Matthew) who brought Jesus to his home after deciding to follow Him. Matthew was Jewish. He was a tax collector which meant that he worked for Rome – the enemy occupying Israel. This is not something that many people would do. Something had gone wrong in Matthew’s life earlier for him to decide to turn his back on his own people and embarrass his family this way. But at this point in his life he knew that he was going nowhere. He had probably seen, or at least heard of Jesus before Jesus invited him to follow Him. When the opportunity came to do something with his life, he jumped at the chance.

Jesus responds to criticism in Luke 5:32. He tells the Pharisees that He didn’t come for those that are well (or think they are) but rather for those that are sick (and know they are). This reminds of me of a phrase that a pastor used years ago when I first started attending church. He said “A church should be a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints”. As a recently converted atheist I remember hearing that and being blown away. That comments solidified my decision to leave my life behind and follow Jesus.

Jesus’s compares Himself to new wine in Luke 5:39. New wine needs to be put into new wine skins, not old wine skins. But a new wine skin will cost money. So some people won’t bother. They’ll just stick with the old wine. Jesus is offering a new way of life, one that is better than the old way. But it will cost something. Sadly, most people will stick with their current life because they are too lazy or afraid to change the old for the better.

Man made religions, such as Catholicism, focus almost solely on rituals as a way of getting closer to God. Jesus debunked this many times, including here in Luke 6 Here we see that human needs are more important than adhering to a man-made ritual. The ritual is useless and counts for nothing with God. What God wants is a merciful heart – one that considers others needs ahead of one’s own.

We another example of religion’s intolerance in the next story of the man with the withered hand. Keeping the ritual would have pleased these religious leaders but it would have left the man in his current state. That is not mercy. So Jesus heals the man. Notice that the man had to do the impossible to be healed – he had to stretch out his hand. Healing comes through faith. And while God doesn’t promise to heal us physically in this life He does promise to heal us spiritually – which is more important. But first we have to exercise faith. We have to go first.

Psalms 66 is a call for all the world to praise God. Even though God may send trials into our lives (Psalms 66:10-11) He does so only to test and purify us on the way to something much better (Psalms 66:12).

Notice too that unconfessed sin can, and does, affect our prayers (Psalms 66:18). We cannot knowingly and willingly be living a sinful life and expect God to listen to us. Certainly we all sin at times. God understands that. But habitual sin is a rejection of God and, hence, renders our prayers void.

How do you get more money? By giving it away! That is what Proverbs 11:24 teaches us. It may seem counter-intuitive. But if you hold onto something too tightly you will lose it. This is another instance where our faith has to “go first”. You don’t become more generous and then give money away. You give money away and then become more generous. And the more generous you are the more money God will bless you with. Try it. It works.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

Good Friends

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Today’s Bible reading: Numbers 33:40-35:34; Luke 5:12-28; Psalm 65:1-13; Proverbs 11:23

As I read through the final verses in Numbers 33 today I couldn’t help but think of God as the “landlord” of all the earth. He owns it all but He gives us the privilege to live on it. If we abuse that privilege, He will evict us and give the land to new tenants. That is precisely why God was giving the land of Canaan to Israel to occupy. The previous tenants had no respect or recognition of God. They worshipped pagan gods that were associated with detestable acts including child sacrifices. So, while on the verge of entering the Promised Land, God reminds Israel to drive all the people out of there (Numbers 33:52). The word “all” means “all”. It means 100%.

But God also gives Israel a warning in Numbers 33:55. If Israel fails to drive out all the people those that reamin will be like “splinters in [Israel’s] eyes”. Ouch. That is not pleasant. Sadly, as we will see, this is exactly what happens. Israel does not obey God’s wise advice and they do not clear the land of all the pagan-god worshippers. This causes all kinds of problems for Israel going forward.

Based on these passages, does the United States have any hope of surviving? I honestly don’t think so. I think our days are numbered. I think God will send our enemies against us if we do not turn away from our pride and selfish acts and return to Him.

I find it ironic, not to mention sad, that there are people in our world today (including some I know) who avidly follow their horoscopes or seek advice from psychics. These things have absolutely no value to our society beyond curiosity (and even that is debatable). Yet these same people willingly and admittedly ignore God who knows everything and who is willing and able to guide us into the future. God wants you to have a great life. We’re less than 25% of the way through the Bible so far this year yet we have seen dozens of examples where God wants His people to have the absolute best. Yet we ignore Him and seek our own avenues to happiness.

In Numbers 34 God makes it clear that Israel is entering Canaan not because they earned it. They did not. The land is an inheritance (Numbers 34:2). It was a gift from God.

Notice how God wants the land assigned to the various tribes while still on the east side of the Jordan. Like any inheritance, the division of the land could be a divisive issue. God wanted the assignments made before everyone had a chance to see the land and develop any attachments to it. So He appoints the two most respected leaders, Eleazar and Joshua, to parcel the land among the 9 1/2 tribes.

In Numbers 35 we see God’s plan regarding the Levites. This tribe was assigned to be priests among the people back in Exodus. Here God does not give them one single block of land but rather He gives them cities dispersed among the other tribes so they can be an influence to the entire nation.

In Luke 5 we see Jesus heal a leper. Its interesting that the leper asks Jesus to both “heal” him and make him “clean”. This man not only wanted the physical aspect of leprosy to go away, he also wanted the consequences to go away. People with leprosy were shunned from society because they were “unclean”. They would have had very difficult, solitary lives. This man wants his life back.

Jesus was willing to help. Jesus never turned anyone away who truly wanted help. That is part of His character. And since He is still alive (having risen from the dead) we can say that He is still willing to help us today. Jesus wants to “heal” our sin so we can have the life that God planned for us from the beginning. Sin takes away life. Jesus restores it.

Touching this man would have gone a long way to healing this man’s emotions and feelings of emptiness. No one touched a leper back then. Except for Jesus, that is. Jesus did not have to touch him to make the leprosy go away. But He does so in order to show the man that he (the man) is not an outcast. I remember back in the 80s and 90s when AIDS was still a new and mysterious disease. People were afraid to be near someone inflicted with it. People with AIDS were made to feel like lepers – outcasts in their own society. A hug from another person would have done wonders to restore such a person’s sense of value. That is exactly what Jesus is accomplishing by touching the leper.

A paralytic man is brought to Jesus through the roof of a house in Luke 5:19. His friends must have had 100% faith in Jesus because I’m sure they didn’t want to pull him back up — they wanted him to walk out the front door. What good friends these men were.  They went through a lot of logistical and physical trouble to bring their friend to Jesus. I wonder how much trouble we are willing to go to in order to introduce our friends and family to Jesus.

But not being able to walk was not this man’s greatest need. As bad as AIDS is, it is not the worst problem a person can face. Neither is cancer. The most serious condition is one we all suffer from: sin. We all have the disease of sin for which the only cure is forgiveness from God. Without curing this problem before we die we end up separated from God for all eternity in a place we call hell. I’m not trying to minimalize cancer or AIDS — we should do what we can to cure diseases and help people afflicted with them. But the reality is we all are going to die one way or another, sooner or later. If we die without having our sins forgiven we end up in hell. That is a much more tragic situation than any earthly disease or condition.

Jesus knows this so He forgives the man’s sins even though everyone was expecting Him to cure the man’s paralysis. As we read on we can see that He did this to each everyone something. Jesus often used His miraculous powers to teach. In the end the man gets a two-for-one deal. His sins were forgiven and he is able to walk. Jesus always gives us more than we expect.

In Psalm 65 David praises God because He forgives all sins (remember, “all” mean “all”) even those sins that are weighing us down (Psalm 65:3). The only requirement is that we must come to God in prayer to seek forgiveness (verse 2). God will often answer prayer with “awesome” deeds (Psalm 65:5). The word “awesome” is ubiquitous in our culture today. We use it all the time. But it is not new: the word is used many times in the Bible to describe God.  Note also that God’s forgiveness and blessings will produce abundance in our lives as described in verses 9-13.

Did you know that God is going to give out rewards in heaven? We’ll see the details of these rewards when we get to Paul’s writings in the New Testament. But Proverbs 11: 23 confirms this. The reward is not just heaven itself. The rewards will be in addition to heaven. They will be permanent, everlasting gifts from God for the life lived here on earth as a believer. Those who reject Jesus will get no such rewards. They will only get God’s judgment. This will not be a good thing.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

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