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Crystal Clear

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Today’s Bible reading: Judges 11-12:15; John 1:1-28; Psalm 101:1-8; Proverbs 14:13-14 

We continue reading about the judges in Israel today with the story of Jephthah. Jephthah was an outcast in his own family (Judges 11:2) because his mother was not the mother of his brothers. Here we see that the sin of Jephthah’s father – sleeping with a prostitute – had terrible consequences on his descendants. Sin doesn’t just hurt the persons directly involved. It hurts others too.

Jephthah was a good warrior and when trouble arises between Gilead and the Ammonites the people of Gilead request help from Jephthah (Judges 11:4-5). Jephthah reviews the situation and wisely concludes that this is not really a battle between human armies but that it is a spiritual battle between the real God and the false-god of Ammon, known as Chemosh (Judges 11:14-27). God had given the land to Israel when Israel defeated the Amorites (who had won the land from the Ammonites at some point previously).

Jephthah’s response to the king of Ammon is simply: “Let your god fight for the land if you are entitled to it”. But the king doesn’t listen. It is always best to try to resolve issues with other people with logic and reason. But they aren’t always willing to do so. Since fighting isn’t really an acceptable solution to our modern-day interpersonal problems, we sometimes have to just take the high road and know that we did all we could to resolve an issue.

In Judges 11:29 the Spirt of the Lord comes upon Jephthah. Before Christ’s death on the cross the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers permanently. Instead the Holy Spirit came upon people in certain situations. Here we see one of those situations.

The Holy Spirit was the true source of Jephthah’s courage. As with all the godly people we meet in the Bible, Jephthah makes a big mistake though. He had the Holy Spirit and therefore did not need anything else to ensure victory. But apparently he does not have enough faith in God for victory because he makes a vow – a foolish vow at that – in an attempt to win favor from God.

We never have to negotiate with God to get Him to be on our side. God is always for us. He always wants us to be victorious in anything He asks us to do. What we really need is to align ourselves with Him and do things His way. But Jephthah apparently doesn’t understand that and vows to offer whatever comes out of his house to meet him as an offering to the Lord (Judges 11:30-31) in order to coerce God to help him.

God takes vows very seriously and, as we have read several times this year, He warns us not to make foolish vows that we really don’t want to keep because He will expect us to keep them. Honesty and integrity are extremely important characteristics in God’s people. So Jephthah is devastated when his daughter runs out of the house to greet him upon his return from battle (Judges 11:35).

Nevertheless both Jephthah and his daughter accept the reality that the vow must be fulfilled. Jephthah had vowed to make a “burnt offering”. But human sacrifice was illegal so it appears that instead his daughter was “set aside” for service to God in the tabernacle. In this way she would never be married which was a cause of much dismay (Judges 11:37).

In Judges 12 the tribe of Ephraim complains that they did not get to help Jephthah in battle (Judges 12:1). God will use who He will use. It is not for us to complain. Jephthah apparently had asked for their help (Judges 12:2) but they declined. Now they want to complain. There are always people who will not help when asked but will criticize after the fact.

Jephthah responds by attacking Ephraim without much resistance (Judges 12:4). By the way, the method used by Jephthah to determine if a person was from Ephraim (Judges 12:5-6) gives us our modern day word of “shibboleth” which means “something which distinguishes a group of people” or “acid test”.

We begin the Gospel according to John today. Four different writers wrote about Jesus’ life, each from a different perspective. The goal of John’s gospel is to show that Jesus was God and to convince people to believe and therefore have eternal life in heaven. He states this at the end of the book (John 20:31). As we read through John pay attention to how many references Jesus makes to 1) being God and 2) that heaven is achieved through belief and not works.

John’s gospel starts with a prologue referencing “the Word” (John 1:1-5). This terminology is a reference to the part of the Trinity known as the Son. The “Word” of God (what we know as the Old Testament) points directly to Jesus. The Old Testament was all about the Son.

Notice that the Son existed before time began. Notice how the Son is God and was with God (John 1:1). Although the Father and the Son are God they are each their own person. The Son created everything (John 1:2) and gave life to everything (John 1:4).

Before the Son came to earth (as Jesus) John the Baptist appeared on the scene to announce the arrival of the Messiah (John 1:8). Notice that only those who believe the Son and accept Him are called “children of God” (John 1:11). Many people believe, incorrectly, that every human being is one of God’s children. This is not true. The Bible (i.e. God) does not teach that. As we will see as we read through John, believers are “adopted” into God’s family and inherit the same rights and privileges as God’s only true child, the Son (aka Jesus).

These people who become children of God do not do so because of their physical birth, but as a result of a spiritual birth, called being “born-again” (John 1:13). Some people think because they are physically born into a family that follows a certain religion that they get to go to heaven automatically. Not so. Heaven is attained by belief as John will make crystal clear as we read his gospel.

Jesus, the Word of God in the flesh (John 1:14) revealed an unseen God to humanity (John 1:18). When we look at what Jesus stood for we can know God better. Jesus demonstrates the exact nature and personality of God Himself.

In Psalm 101:2-5 the author vows to life a clean life. This is very hard to do. No one can truly accomplish this on their own. So how can someone do this? Well, the author tells us in verse 6: by surrounding himself with other people who have the same goal.

We are born sinners and we will all have a sinner’s nature as long as we exist in these bodies. But we can do a much better job of resisting temptation and not sinning if we align ourselves with others who want to live a godly life. Certainly, if we hang out with those who don’t recognize the need to do this we will fall into temptation in the blink of an eye. If we hang out with people who don’t know God and don’t want to know God we can never know God either.

We can try to cover up our grief with distractions. But that won’t remove the grief. It will only cover it up temporarily (Proverbs 14:13). Grief needs to be dealt with or else it will linger in our lives for as long as we are alive.

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

People Don’t Change

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Today’s Bible reading: Judges 9:22-10:18; Luke 24:13-53; Psalm 100:1-5; Proverbs 14:11-12

The story of Abimelech, son of Gideon, concludes in our reading in Judges today. Apparently Abimelech ruled Israel peacefully for three years despite his bloody and unlawful rise to power. After that time God began to judge Abimelech for his actions. We see here that even though things might be going well in life, and we think God has “forgotten” our sin or maybe has even blessed it, nothing could be further from the truth.

God is very patient. He doesn’t enjoy sending judgement our way. If we honestly and truly repent (which Abimelech did not do) then we will be forgiven. Otherwise, we can expect some form of discipline which will (hopefully) bring us to repentance.

God caused the people of Shechem to lose their confidence in Abimelech. Through a series of deceptive and violent events Abimelech is finally killed (Judges 9:53). All of this happened because of human pride. At this time in Israel’s history God was raising up leaders (aka “judges”) as He saw fit. He chose the person. He chose the time and place. But that wasn’t good enough for Abimelech. He wanted to rule over Israel even though God had not chosen him to do so. Here we see an example of someone not willing to take the role that God gives Him.

We can all relate to this in some way. There are plenty of things that I would like to do in my life but to which I know God is not calling me. Hopefully I will never go to the extreme that Abimelech did to get my way. Its better to follow God’s plan. Praying to Him about our desires and any difficulty we have reconciling our desires to His plan will bring peace to our hearts.

We also need to keep our eyes and ears open to God when He warns us about impending danger. Back in the beginning of Judges 9 God sent the only surviving son of Gideon, Jotham (the rest had been killed by Abimelech), to warn the men of Shechem not to follow Abimelech (Judges 9:5-20). God’s warnings are serious. He means what He says. I truly believe that the fate that fell upon Israel and the pagan nations in the Old Testament are a warning to us living today.

The United States has for the past 50 years chased other “gods” and has turned its back on the true God who granted us such amazing blessings. Over the past few decades God has sent us warning signs in an attempt to get us back on track. But He will not force His will upon us. That is not how God works. Love does not force itself. Its up to us to choose to restore our broken relationship with God. He is willing to do so. Are we?

In Judges 10 we meet a couple of minor judges that we aren’t told much about although we see in Jair someone who amassed vast wealth and used it for prideful purposes (Judges 10:3-5).

The real problem Israel had (and we all have) is turning to false gods. God wants us to be dedicated to Him. We are not to “commit adultery” with other gods. Yet Israel worshipped Baal (god of agriculture) and Ashtoreth (goddess of fertility). Essentially Israel was worshipping money (a healthy harvest equates to more revenue) and sex. Sounds just like the United States in 2013, doesn’t it? People don’t change.

God’s response was to give Israel what they wanted (Judges 10:7). But that didn’t go very well (it never does) as Israel was enslaved for 18 years to the Philistines and Ammonites (Judges 10:8). What Israel thought would bring them wealth and freedom brought them bondage. We think we know what is good for us, but we don’t.

Finally Israel repents and cries out to God and turns from these false gods (Judges 10:15-16). The second part of Judges 10:16 is one of the most amazing verses in the Bible, in my opinion. “He [God] was grieved by their misery”. God isn’t happy when we are not happy. He hates to see us sad or miserable. Our God is a God who loves us and wants to provide great and wonderful things for us. But He won’t do it against our will. Its very humbling to think that we can grieve God by allowing ourselves to be miserable. We can alleviate our misery simply having a relationship with God and allowing Him to do the amazing things He wants to do in our life.

In our reading in Luke today the resurrected Jesus appears to two men walking down a road while discussing the events of Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus is God and therefore knows everything so when we see Him ask a question we know that He doesn’t do so to learn something. He does it so we can learn something about ourselves. When I pray God almost always asks me questions. Questions cause us to look inside ourselves to find answers and thereby understand what is in our own hearts.

Its interesting to read what the two men knew about Jesus (Luke 24:19-20). They knew He was a prophet, a teacher and that He was crucified. These are pretty much the same things people today know. But there was so much more that these men, and those unbelievers living today, do not know. But Jesus is about to reveal it all to them.

The men “had hoped” Jesus was the Messiah who has come to rescue Israel (Luke 24:21). From reading this text we see that they were disappointed in this hope and now don’t think He was the Messiah. Actually, Jesus did rescue Israel but in a way that far exceeded their, or anyone’s expectations. He didn’t conquer Rome. He conquered sin which was (and is) a much more devastating enemy. God is the master as giving more than we thought we needed or wanted.

Notice that the two men use the testimony of women to report that Jesus’ tomb was empty (Luke 24:22). As I wrote yesterday, anyone who was writing this story 2,000 years ago never would have allowed women to be the main witnesses if he wanted people to believe his story. This one verse provides amazing evidence that the Bible is not made up. If it were, it would never have survived to this day.

As they walk along Jesus teaches them everything about Himself from the Old Testament (Luke 24:25-27). Jesus is willing to walk beside us today as well. And even though we live under the New Testament, the Old Testament provides some very important information that is useful to us today. Namely the prophecies that speak about Jesus’ first and second comings to earth. These Old Testament prophecies that have come true prove the Bible is authored by God. It is therefore very important for us to know what the Old Testament says.

Eventually Jesus opens the eyes of these men as well as the disciples back in Jerusalem and explains to them everything that they didn’t understand (Luke 24:31-46). God wants us to understand. He is willing to share information with us if we are willing to hear it.

In Luke 24:47 Jesus tells us “there is forgiveness of sins for all who repent”. Logically then, there is no forgiveness of sins for those who do not repent. The price to be paid for sin is eternal separation from God. We call that hell. Anyone who dies with their sins unforgiven will have to pay the price for them him/herself. But anyone who repents of their sins while alive on this earth will have those sins paid for by the death of Jesus on the cross.

Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to these believers (Luke 24:49). We’ll see that take place when we get to the book of Acts in a couple of weeks.

God made us. We belong to Him (Psalm 100:3). Everyone wants to belong to someone or something. We want to belong to a family. Or we want to belong to a cause. It is nice to belong to these things. But it is wonderful to belong to God because belonging to God is permanent and His love never fails us (Psalm 100:5). Just like a shepherd takes care of his sheep, God will take care of us (Psalm 100:3). For this reason we should give thanks and praise to Him (Psalm 100:4).

Proverbs 14:11 is interesting. Notice that the godly live in tents but the wicked live in houses. Those who reject Jesus (i.e. the wicked) attempt to build a permanent life on this earth. But all that they build will be destroyed. On the other hand those who accept Jesus (i.e. the godly) accumulate temporary wealth on this earth and yet will be given much more in eternity.

We think the decisions we make are right but they are really sin (Proverbs 14:12). It seems “right” for two people of the same gender to get married. It seems “right” to have an abortion. It seems “right” to borrow endless amounts of money. It seems “right” to bully someone weaker. But this is all sin. The end result will be a spiritual death (i.e. eternity in hell) that will be more horrible than anyone can imagine.

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

Cultivated Purposely

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Today’s Bible reading: Judges 8:18-9:21; Luke 23:44-24:12; Psalm 99:1-9; Proverbs 14:9-10

The story of Gideon continues and concludes today. A couple of days ago God called a humble and timid Gideon to lead Israel in battle against the Midians who were suppressing God’s people. At that time Gideon saw himself as anything but a warrior. Today we will see success go to his head.

In Judges 8:22 Gideon rightly declines to be Israel’s ruler. Instead, he points out, God is to rule over the nation. This was a correct response by Gideon. However, his subsequent request is inappropriate. His actions did not line up with his words.

He asks each of the Israelites to give him a golden earring. While some reward for leading the victorious battles against Midian might be understandable, God never asked Gideon to do this. The fallout was that it made Gideon very wealthy – more wealthy than anyone else in Israel. This would have set him apart from his brethren which is never a good thing.

Gideon then makes an ephod out of the gold (Judges 8:27). The Bible does not tell us why he did this but perhaps it was a way of getting back at the tribe of Ephraim in whose territory the tabernacle was located (at Shiloh). No matter what the reason, this was another bad idea as the people began to worship this man-made item.

Art can be beautiful. I love to go to museums and view great art. I love to look at architecture and other man-made designs. But these things have a way of capturing our attention far beyond what is healthy. God knows this and that is why he commanded the construction of altars to be of uncut stone (Exodus 20:25). Man should not get the glory. Only God should get the glory.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, we read in Judges 8:30 that Gideon took many wives as well as a concubine and he fathered 70 children. Polygamy was never God’s plan so that in itself is sin. But having a huge harem is also sinful in that it calls attention to oneself by essentially declaring how much wealth a man had. The more wealth, the more women/children he could support. By choosing this lifestyle Gideon is being very prideful and selfish.

But the real trouble starts after Gideon dies (Judges 8:32-33). Despite his faults Gideon was apparently able to keep Israel focused on God for the most part. But without him in the picture, and with no judge ruling Israel at this time, the nation forgets God and falls back into worshipping false gods.

We see how important it is for a patriarch or matriarch (or better yet, both) to raise their children and grandchildren in the ways of God. It doesn’t take long before subsequent generations forget about God. We can see that in our nation today. My generation grew up believing in “freedom of thought” and “open mindedness” and we raised our kids without God because we wanted them to “make up their own minds”. We now see what that leads to: a nation of atheists who make decisions based on human intellect rather than God’s loving purpose. When people are not taught about God from an early age, they will certainly make up their own minds. But not in a good way.

Children inherit the characteristics of their parents and we see that happen in Judges 9 when Gideon’s son by his concubine, Abimelech, kills all but one of his step brothers and assumes power over Israel. It is so important for us as adults to walk closely with God so that we can demonstrate godly characteristics to our children. Godly characteristics are not inherent in human nature. They must be cultivated purposely.

We’ll see the end of this story tomorrow.

Jesus’s death is recorded in Luke 23. At the moment Jesus died the veil in the Temple that separated the most holy place (the Holy of Holies) from the rest of the Temple was torn in two supernaturally (Luke 23:45). This event signifies that now everyone has access to God all the time (not just a high priest once a year) because sin had been forgiven.

One of the Roman officers believed as a result of the events he witnessed (Luke 23:47). Roman soldiers were ruthless killers. But God’s truth can overpower even the hardest heart.

Once Jesus died “the crowd” went home sad (Luke 23:48). There were many, just like today, that were curious about Jesus but wanted to see some spectacular sign from Him (as if what He had done up to that point wasn’t enough). They wanted Him to overthrow Rome and probably held out hope this would happen as long as He was breathing. But once Jesus was dead He was of no use to them.

But there was a smaller group of people, “Jesus’ friends” (Luke 23:49), that kept watching. They seemingly weren’t willing to let death be the end of their belief.

On the Friday of Jesus’ death some women prepare spices for Jesus’ body in Luke 23:56 but since the Sabbath had started (it started at sundown) they had to wait until Sunday before they could get to the tomb. When they get there the stone in front of the tomb had been rolled away, exposing the inside of the tomb (Luke 24:2). The stone wasn’t rolled away to let Jesus out. The stone was rolled away so the people could see inside and see that He was not there.

The angels tell the women something very interesting in Luke 24:7. They remind the women of Jesus’ words about His death and resurrection and they say that these things “must” happen. Jesus’ crucifixion was not optional. It was mandatory. But so was His resurrection. Both had to happen for God’s plan to be fulfilled. Without either of them there is no access to heaven for anyone of us.

The story of the women being the first to discover Jesus’ missing body and reporting it to the men was a big influence on me when I was an atheist. It was because of this story, among other things, that caused me to believe the Bible was true. Back then women were not considered credible witnesses. They would not give testimony in court.

So anyone writing these events back then, who wished to be taken seriously, would never have thought of making up a story in which women are the primary witnesses. Such a story would never have been believed. If this were a made-up story, the author would have written to appeal to his audience. The fact that women are recorded as the first witnesses raised the credibility of the Bible to a new level in my view 21 years ago. As I like to say, the Bible is so incredulous that it is credible.

Psalm 99 declares that God is king over all the earth. For that reason we should praise Him (Psalm 99:3). God also acts with justice towards all people. Its interesting that the author of the Psalm states that God had acted righteously “throughout Israel” (Psalm 99:4). God had blessed Israel and had judged Israel. According to this Psalm, both were warranted.

We all want to think God is doing a good job when He blesses us. But we don’t want to think the same thing when He sends discipline our way. That is understandable. But nevertheless, we get what we deserve from a God who loves us and who does everything for our benefit. As we’ve read numerous times in Proverbs this year, we need to learn to love discipline because it has the power to change us for the better in a way that success never can.

How true is Psalm 14:9. It is foolish not to take one’s sins and mistakes seriously. I used to be someone who thought that my faults were everyone else’s problem. I took no responsibility for them. “After all, aren’t we all just victims of everyone else’s shortcomings?” I thought. That was back when I did not acknowledge God. Now I realize that I need to be accountable for my sins to God, myself, and others.

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

Unlikely Underdogs

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Today’s Bible reading: Judges 7-8:17; Luke 23:13-43; Psalm 97-98:9; Proverbs 14:7-8

Old Testament

Our story of Gideon continues today in Judges 7. Yesterday we saw God call Gideon to lead Israel against the Midianites who had been oppressing Israel for many years.

There was only one problem: Gideon had too many men. About 32,000 men had joined Gideon to fight Midian. If they had fought with all these men then Israel would have taken credit for their victory. But God wanted to get credit for the victory. Not because He is egotistical. But because people would believe in Him if Gideon was victorious with a vastly inferior army. God does everything for our benefit. His goal is to make Himself known to all the world so that people will believe in Him and be saved from hell. Lopsided victories from unlikely underdogs is one way He does that.

Eventually Gideon’s army is reduced by 99% but God promises victory against the vastly numerous Midianites (Judges 7:7). With God’s power on our side we can defeat any enemy in our life no matter how much stronger it appears to be.

As we read yesterday, Gideon lacked confidence. In today’s reading God continues to boost Gideon’s confidence. He allows him to overhear a conversation between two Midianite solders in which they state that they are confident they will lose (Judges 7:14). So often we think that our problems are too big for us. Little do we realize that we already have victory over them. All we have to do is act.

Gideon and his army attack Midian causing the Midianites to actually fight against themselves and to run away (Judges 7:22).

As Gideon pursues the enemy they are denied assistance from the cities of Succoth and Peniel. These towns were not asked to fight but to simply provide food for Gideon’s army. But they wanted to wait and see which side won. They didn’t want to help the losing side for fear that the victors would seek revenge on them. So many people want to sit on the sidelines of the spiritual battle that is happening on this earth. They don’t want to get involved for fear of choosing the wrong side. But as God has told us already in our readings: there is no middle ground. We are either for Him or against Him. And since we already know that God will win its kind of silly not to join Him.


New Testament

Its hard to imagine how the crowd could turn on Jesus the way they do today in Luke 23:18. Just a few days before they were cheering Him as He entered Jerusalem. But even back then, it seems, people liked to tear down their own heros. Perhaps they did this because Jesus didn’t meet their expectations. Instead of overthrowing Rome He was arrested. Maybe the crowd thought that He was therefore a fraud. But Jesus being arrested and crucified was always part of God’s plan from way back in Genesis 3. The people and religious leaders just didn’t know it because they didn’t read their Bible. If we read our Bibles then nothing will come a surprise.

Luke doesn’t give as many details as the other Gospel writers regarding Jesus’s crucifixion. But we know from those other accounts that Jesus was whipped as was the custom before someone was crucified. He was therefore too weak to carry the crossbar that He would be nailed to. So someone else was forced to carry it (Luke 23:26).

Even as He is walking through the streets naked and in shock on His way to die, Jesus is thinking of others. Notice how He tells the grief-stricken people following Him not to cry for Him but to cry for those who are killing Him (Luke 23:28). Even when He is hanging on the cross He asks God to forgive those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34).

While on the cross in incredible physical pain, Jesus has to endure emotional pain by being mocked (Luke 23:35-39). Jesus could have easily come down from the cross. Nails did not keep Him there. He had demonstrated power over leprosy, demon, blindness, and even death. Surely He had power over nails. What kept Jesus on the cross was love. His love for us was so strong that He chose to endure the pain and humiliation of crucifixion so that a path to heaven could be opened. Without Jesus’s death on the cross everyone who ever lived would be banished to hell. Jesus, who was God, didn’t want that to happen. He wants us in heaven with Him. So He stayed on that cross.

One of the criminals who was crucified with Jesus gets to go to heaven based on his faith. Notice this criminal recognized Jesus for who He was, knew that he was a sinner himself, and believed Jesus was who He said He was (Luke 23:40-42). This criminal had done nothing to earn salvation in heaven. He was about to die and had no good works to point to. Yet he went to heaven (Luke 23:43) because of his faith and nothing else.


Psalms

Psalm 97 tells us that God is king over all the earth and will rescue and protect all people who belong to Him. For this reason we should gladly rejoice and praise Him.

Psalm 98:9 reminds us that someday God is going to judge all the earth. He will do so fairly. I know so many people who claim they are going to tell God off when they come face-to-face with Him after they die. First, why have that attitude? Why not just humble yourself before Him now? Second, I don’t think telling God off will be an option. When God pronounces judgement on people I think they will know that they are being judged fairly. Sadly, they will have all of eternity in hell to ponder their life sentence.


Proverbs

We need to choose who we hang out with carefully. That is the lesson I get from Proverbs 14:7-8. We can surround ourselves with fools, who may seem like fun, but who really do nothing more than make us stupid. They can’t lead us anywhere worth going. But a wise person knows where he/she is going in life and can help us get to a worthwhile destination.

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

Follow Closely

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Today’s Bible reading: Judges 6:1-40; Luke 22:54-23:12; Psalm 95-96:13; Proverbs 14:5-6

Once again Israel does evil in the sight of God today (Judges 6:1). God sees everything. There is nothing that He does not see even though we think He doesn’t.

Notice the way God reacts. He give the enemies of Israel power over them (Judges 6:2). As the United States does more and more evil in the sight of God He will continue to allow our enemies to have victories over us. So-called “experts” on news programs can ponder all day long about why someone would set off bombs in Boston. The Bible already tells us the reason: because we separate ourselves from God. I don’t think it is any coincidence that just 9 months before the bombings Boston Mayor Tom Menino proudly touted his own pride and the pride of the gay community in any angry anything-but-leadership letter to Dan Cathy, President of Chik-fil-A. We will pay a heavy price in this country for refusing to swallow our pride.

In response to the terror of the Midianites Israel hid from them (Judges 6:2). How humiliating, not to mention unpractical. They allowed their lives to be completely ruined. Rather than relying on the God who had protected them and their ancestors so many times before, Israel hides like cowards. They had the omnipotent power at their disposal and didn’t even realize it.

Gideon becomes the next judge of Israel in our reading today. When we first meet him he is threshing wheat in a winepress so the Midianites would not see his grain (Judges 6:11). Normally wheat was threshed in the open air so that the chaff would fly away. But Gideon is afraid the Midianites would steal his grain so he threshes in a very unlikely place. This shows the fear that Gideon had.

An angel of the Lord comes to Gideon (Judges 6:11). This angel is a pre-incarnate Jesus. His greeting to Gideon is surprising. He calls Gideon a “mighty hero” (Judges 6:12). Certainly Gideon is not acting like a hero and probably does not consider himself to be a hero. But God does. God sees our potential long before we do. He knows what we can be. Jesus also tells Gideon that God is with him.

So often in hard times we don’t think God is with us. Considering the tough times Israel is going through Gideon thinks this very thing (Judges 6:13). He thinks God has abandoned them. But in reality God never abandons anyone. It was Israel who abandoned God. In Much the same way the Unites States has turned its back on God yet when trouble hits the very first question on the minds of atheists is “Where is God in this tragedy?”. God is right where we put Him – outside of our lives.

I found it interesting that Jesus doesn’t even reply to Gideon’s question. Instead He commands Gideon to rescue Israel (Judges 6:14). Again, God sees the potential in us even when we don’t see it ourselves.

Gideon ends up obeying God but still has fears and doubts. He destroys his father’s altar to Baal and Asherah pole but he does so at night because he was afraid to be seen (Judges 6:27). Here we see that we can do the work of God even though we are afraid of men. There will always be those who criticize us. But we need to do what God asks us to do anyway.

Peter’s behavior in Luke 22 is very interesting. Not only did he follow Jesus at a distance (Luke 22:54) but he also tried to blend in with the non-believers (Luke 22:55). We cannot serve God in either of these situations. We need to follow Jesus closely and not shrink back to the point of not being noticed.

Beginning in Luke 22:66 the elders and priests gather for a second time to put Jesus on trial. The reason for this was the first trial, held at the home of the high priest (Luke 22:54), was illegal and they knew it. According to Jewish law trials:

  • had to be held in the daylight
  • could only be held in an official court, not someone’s home
  • could not end with a guilty verdict on the same day of the trial

Jesus is then taken before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor. Pilate, who history shows was ruthless, actually does the right thing and declares Jesus innocent (Luke 22:4). Pilate sends Jesus to Herod who had jurisdiction over Galilee, where Jesus is from.

Psalm 95 is interesting. It starts off with a joyful command to praise the Lord because of how great He is. But then it turns into a dire warning for those who will not listen to Him or turn their hearts to Him. Using Israel as an analogy, those who refuse to put their trust in God will not enter God’s eternal rest (i.e. heaven) just like the Israelites who did not enter the Promised Land.

Someone who mocks will never be able to truly find wisdom. But those who understand how to learn will gain knowledge. Such is what Proverbs 14:6 tells us. Certainly I have found this to be true in my life.

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

All We Have To Do

XToday’s Bible reading: Judges 4-5:31; Luke 22:35-53; Psalm 94:1-23; Proverbs 14:3-4

Israel continues its habit of falling into sin in Judges 4. In today’s reading we see that they did evil in God’s sight – their sinning was not hidden from God even though they may have thought so. The consequence of this behavior was that God allowed them to be oppressed by a foreign military leader for 20 years.

One of the most important words in this chapter is a common four-letter word that we use everyday and might be tempted to just ignore in our bible reading. But notice in Judges 4:3 God tells us “then” Israel cried out for help. After 20 years, Israel finally asked God for help. The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly, but I would guess that up until that time Israel had either been resigned to being mistreated and/or had tried to rectify their situation in their own power.

How often do we do the same thing when we are in trouble? Rather than turning to God immediately we try to change things on our own (which almost always fails) or we just give up and live with it. But God doesn’t want us to live in misery. He wants to rescue us. All we have to do is cry out to Him.

We meet Deborah today. Some people find it unusual that God would raise up a female leader. But we’ve already met Miriam (Moses’s sister) who was a prophetess and we’ll meet more women used by God throughout our readings this year (including another one today). God uses men and women as He sees fit. There is nothing in the Bible about women not being eligible to be leaders within the church. The only limitation is that final authority should rest with a male.

Barak refuses to go fight the Canaanite leader, Sisera, alone insisting that Deborah go with him (Judges 4:8). She agrees but lets him know that he will not get to be the one who personally defeats Sisera. Instead Sisera will fall by the hand of a woman (Judges 4:9). Later Sisera is killed by Jael, a woman, just as Deborah as prophesied.

Shortly before Jesus is arrested in Luke 22 He gives some final instructions to the disciples who will soon be without their leader. Up until now life with Jesus has been relatively peaceful. But from this point forward the disciples will face a world hostile to Jesus (Luke 22:36-37).

We learn some things about prayer from Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. First, we learn that prayer can keep us from temptation. When we are communication with God we are less likely to be focused on sinful things.

Despite the fact that He is going to be taken away to be crucified in just a matter of minutes, Jesus is focused on God’s will (Matthew 26:42). Jesus, being in a human body, didn’t want to go to the cross. But nevertheless He is willing to do what God wants because He knows that in the long-term it will be beneficial.

Notice too that Jesus prayed alone. I think it is always important to get away by oneself to pray. Those of us with families have a hard time doing this but it is certainly the best way to go when possible. Our primary relationship is to be with God and therefore we all need “alone” time with Him.

As Jesus is being arrested one of His disciples (we learn it was Peter in John 18:10) slices off an ear of one of the soldiers. But Jesus heals him immediately. Now I would think that this would have sent a clear sign to these soldiers that they were out of their league and that maybe they would have forgone their assignment. But its interesting that Jesus heals the ear of one of His enemies. God loves everyone, even those who hate Him and who treat Him poorly.

Psalm 94 is a plea to God to bring justice to those on this earth who are against Him and who crush His people. When we see people get away with evil we wonder if God is aware. Of course He is aware. He knows everything (Psalm 94:10). He isn’t going to leave His children alone forever (Psalm 94:14).

Its normal to have doubts under these circumstances (Psalm 94:19). I have been praying for quite some time to God about a few things that are very important to me. I don’t know when, or if, God will answer my prayers. But if things don’t go the way I’d like I do know that God is in control.

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

Reminding Ourselves

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Today’s Bible reading: Judges 2:10-3:31; Luke 22:14-34; Psalm 92-93:5; Proverbs 14:1-2

For the past few weeks we’ve been reading about how God created the nation of Israel and took care of them culminating in their taking possession of the Promised Land. All along the way God had been telling Israel the consequences they would face if they abandoned Him. Although Israel made mistakes during this time, which is understandable as human beings are not perfect, they always repented and returned to God.

In today’s reading, however, we see Israel take a turn for the worst and begin to do things that will eventually separate them from God for a very long time.

Our story picks up in Judges 2:10 after those who had entered the Promised Land had died. Now their children are in the land but these children do not know God. Apparently their parents had not taught their children properly.

Notice that it only took one generation for Israel to go from being blessed to being cursed. That is not a long time. It doesn’t take long for sin to take over.

Israel gave up the God who had treated them so wonderfully in exchange for the false god Baal, the god of weather and agriculture, and Ashtoeth, the goddess of sex (Judges 2:11,13). Basically, the Israelites began to worship money and sex. Sounds very much like the modern-day United States, doesn’t it? Sadly I see the same thing happening to the U.S. as happened to Israel – our enemies are starting to take control over us because God is no longer on our side (Judges 2:14-15).

Throughout the Bible God compares our relationship with Him to a marriage. When we worship other gods it is analogous to committing adultery. But God sees all that we do. (Judges 2:11). So when we are”cheating” on God He sees it just as if we committed adultery in front of our spouse. How hideous!

When I read these passages I think about my own generation and the one after me. I was taken to church as a child and also went to classes during the week. Although I rejected the Bible as a teenager I eventually came back to it. But my generation has done a terrible job of teaching our children who seem to know nothing about God. We’ve taught our kids to be “open minded” and “accepting” of other beliefs. While we should certainly accept the fact that not everyone will believe in the true God of the Bible, we’ve decided the way to teach this “open mindedness” was to not teach our kids the truth at all. The end result is we’ve created a wayward generation that not only has no ability to find its way, it doesn’t even know what its destination is.

There was no single leader among Israel at this time because now that Israel was in the land God had promised them He was to be their leader. But as the people sinned against Him He raised up leaders at certain times. These leaders are known as “judges” (but not in the modern sense of the word). The rest of the book of Judges will recount some of these judges and the events that took place.

In Judges 2:21-22 we learn why God allowed some of the Canaanites to live. He did this in order to use them to test Israel’s faithfulness. Sometimes we wonder why God allows bad things to happen to us. We know now that God does this to give us a test. Our faith can only be developed and strengthened during stressful times. Just like we can’t learn patience apart of a situation that requires patience, we can’t learn faith from a situation that doesn’t require faith.

One of the problems Israel had was they intermarried with the pagan of the land (Judges 3:6). When we are married we want to please our spouse. But it would be wrong to worship the false god of our spouse. Yet this is exactly what Israel does. That is why a Christian should only marry someone who is also a Christian. Otherwise the non-Christian spouse will lead the Christian spouse away from God.

The pattern we will see during this time of Israel’s history is: Israel sins; God empowers Israel’s enemies; Israel cries out to God; God raises up a leader to save them (Judges 3:7-9).

Isn’t it interesting that Othniel was Israel’s first judge? Othniel was the nephew of Caleb who we’ve already learned had tremendous faith in God. Here we see an example of a family which raised their children properly.

Ehud was the second judge of Israel who God raised after King Eglon had persecuted Israel for 18 years. Ehud kills Eglon while Eglon is “taking care of business” in his bathroom. Notice that Ehud was left-handed. It would have been unexpected for someone to reach for a weapon with his left hand. So in two senses, Eglon was caught off-guard.

The third judge of Israel was Shamgar (Judges 3:31). Not much is said about Shamgar other than he killed 600 Philistines with an ox goad. An ox goad was a long stick used to prod animals while plowing. Here we see that we don’t need any special tools or talents to do God’s work. We just need what we have and what we are. To write this blog, for instance, I don’t need anything other than a computer which is found in every home nowadays.

Jesus and His disciples celebrate the Passover meal together in Luke 22 today. The purpose of this meal was to usher in a new covenant (aka New Testament) by His blood which was to be poured out (Luke 22:20) just like the first covenant (aka Old Testament) began with the spilling of  blood (Exodus 24:8).

Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper in verses 17-20. He uses the imagery of broken bread and wine to indicate that His body is to be broken and His blood will be spilled for us. The church I attend performs this ceremony once a month. During it we all take a piece of bread and a small cup of grape juice and eat and drink together. It is very moving and humbling to be in a room of dozens of people reminding ourselves of what Jesus went through to set us free from sin.

Despite knowing the horror that He was going to have to endure in just a few hours Jesus had the frame of mind to “give thanks” to God (verse 17. One of the toughest things to do is to acknowledge God for all He has given while in the midst of trouble. Instead we normally just pray for the situation to be over.

In Luke 22:24 the disciples again argue amongst themselves about which of them will have the most important position in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus probably thought “Didn’t we already have this discussion?” because this is the same argument the disciples had back in Luke 9. But Jesus is patient with them and explains it all over again. Human beings are forgetful creatures. And we need to keep in mind that the disciples were very young (probably teenagers).

Psalm 92 reminds us that it is good to praise God (Psalm 92:1). This is true for many reasons. God deserves such praise. Praising God also feeds our own soul as we praise. It also encourages others to do the same. We praise God because His works make us glad (Psalm 92:4) and praise is the natural response to such happiness. The works of God are varied and include creation, the daily blessings that He bestows upon us, and, of course, forgiveness and redemption.

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

Love Looks Into The Future

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Today’s Bible reading: Judges 1-2:9; Luke 21:29-22:13; Psalm 90-91:16; Proverbs 13:24-25

Today we start the book of Judges. This book records the events of Israel after the death of Joshua, notably Israel’s tendency to forget the true God who had treated them so well in favor of the false-gods of the people of the land they were now occupying. Through the use of various judges, Israel’s sin is dealt with.

The book of Judges begins with a review of Israel’s situation. Joshua had died (Judges 1:1) and there was no leader to take his place. God was to be there leader now that they were in the Promised Land. During this time God raises up temporary leaders (called “judges” in this book) at various times to deal with certain situations.

The recurring theme we see in this chapter is that the tribes of Israel fail to drive out all the people of the land. Perhaps they got tired of fighting. Perhaps they saw value in keeping some of the people alive to be used as servants. Maybe they decided to settle for “good enough”. No matter what the reason, it was disobedience to God and will have terrible consequences as time goes by.

In Judges 2 we see a pre-Bethlehem incarnation of Jesus. Jesus existed before the universe began and made some appearances in the Old Testament. We know this is Jesus because He declares that He is the one who brought Israel out of Egypt. We’ve already learned that God did this. We also know that God the Father is not visible. And since we know that Jesus is God, we can conclude that the angel in this passage is Jesus Himself.

Here Jesus lovingly reprimands the people of Israel for their disobedience. Israel made treaties with the sinful people living in the land (Judges 2:2) and didn’t destroy their religious sites (Judges 2:3). As always, disobedience has its consequences. God had already told Israel what would happen if they disobeyed (Numbers 33:55, for example). Yet they chose to ignore God’s warnings.

The people wept at this news (Judges 2:4) which makes it seem like they were sorry. But tears don’t explain the reason behind the sorrow. Were the people truly repentant or were they crying because they were selfishly afraid? Tears evaporate. True change is within when we modify our behavior in response to the realization that we have erred.

In our New Testament readings today Jesus continues discussing the signs of His future return that He began in yesterday’s reading. Yesterday He taught us about certain events that will signal His return. When we see these events taking place, we will know that His return is near just like when we see buds on a tree we know that summer is near (Luke 21:30-31).

During these times we should stay alert and not be caught up in the concerns of life (Luke 21:34). Instead, we should prepare for that day. One way we can prepare is to tell others that this day is coming. So when they are left behind after God takes away believers during the Rapture they will be able to understand. It is important to tell others how to get to heaven through a relationship with Jesus. But we also know that most people will not believe what we say. Since we are clearly living in the last days of the Gentile generation, we need to also tell them about the Rapture so that if it happens in their lifetime they will understand and may be saved during the Tribulation.

Notice in Luke 22:2 that the religious leaders of Israel had more fear of the people than they did of God. That sounds just like our leaders today. They want to do follow the course of action that wins over the most people without having any regard for what God thinks. Is there any wonder why we are in trouble as a country?

The motives of Judas Iscariot are never mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps He was disillusioned with Jesus once he realized that Jesus was not going to conquer Rome and set Israel free. Whatever the reasons, he decided to follow Satan rather than to continue to follow Jesus. As we’ve learned this year, all people are followers of either of these two. We may not intentionally decide to follow Satan, but God makes it clear — anyone who does not follow Him is doing just that.

Jesus has his disciples prepare for the Passover meal (Luke 22:7). He tells them that in Jerusalem they will find a man carrying a pitcher of water (Luke 22:10). This would have been an unusual sight as it was normally women who went to the well to draw water to bring back to their homes. We see that, despite knowing that He had about 24 hours to live, Jesus was still focused on the details and was still in complete control of what was going on.

I really like Psalm 90:12. The more we realize just how short life is, the more likely we to use the time we have left to gain wisdom. Wise people recognize life as being precious and want to make the most of it.

I also likeed Psalm 90:14. We should recognize each day as being a gift from God that demonstrates His love for us. Knowing that we have been intentionally created should be completely satisfying.

God should be our only source of protection in this life. When we have trouble we should run to Him. Not to alcohol or drugs or sex. He is the only thing that we can trust to truly get us through the storms of life (Psalm 91:2)

The modern methods we use to raise our children are doomed to failure.  I spend a lot of time around high school kids and when I first started doing so I was shocked to witness some of their behavior and language. Many times this was when the kids were right in front of authority figures including their own parents. But they know that no one is going to stop them or discipline them. And that shows a lack of love for these kids (Proverbs 13:24). The kids don’t realize the consequences that await them as they develop these personality traits.

The parents think they are being “open”. But they are really being selfish because they don’t want to deal with the situation. Love looks into the future and takes the necessary steps in the present to ensure that future will be bright.

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

Be Resolute

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Today’s Bible reading: Joshua 24:1-33; Luke 21:1-28; Psalm 89:38-52; Proverbs 13:20-23

We finish up the book of Joshua today. This year is going by really fast.

Joshua dies in Joshua 24 but before doing so he recounts the history of Israel to this point. An interesting piece of information is revealed in Joshua 24:2. Here we read that Abraham’s family did not recognize the true God; they worshipped false gods. Somehow Abraham came to faith in God even though the rest of his family did not. After reading this I have even more respect for Abraham as his decision to recognize and obey God must have certainly resulted in his being ridiculed by his family.

Notice that Joshua’s review of Israel’s history (Joshua 24:2-13) leaves out all of Israel’s sin. God chooses not to remember our sins and failures. This is great news! God isn’t going to hold the past of His children against them. There are a couple of take aways from this. First, we should not hold our past against us either. So often we get stuck in life because our past failures or mistakes haunt us. If God doesn’t dwell on our past why should we? Second, we should not remind other people of their past. So often I see parents who remind their kids of the things they did wrong. But this does nothing to help their children and, in fact, only limits their future. Third, and most importantly, we can have no fear of approaching God. He isn’t going to whack us over the head with reminders of what we did wrong. God’s goal isn’t to limit our future but to unleash it. We can have no fear of letting Him into our lives.

So many non-believers think that God isn’t interested in them because of what they have done. That is completely untrue. That is just a lie that Satan puts in the heads of people to deceive them. Don’t believe what is in your head. Believe what God tells us in the Bible.

Human beings want to think that we are more than we think we are. But in reality we are low-level creatures whose lives are in servitude to someone or something else. We can choose who we serve (Joshua 24:14-15). We all serve someone. Either God (hopefully) or false-gods.

You can just about hear the determination in Joshua’s voice in the famous last line of Joshua 24:15 “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”. Joshua was a great leader and his statement is a great lesson for anyone who is a leader of a family, business, or organization. Don’t go along with the crowd. Be resolute to stand up for God and serve Him even when (not if) the world around you is not.

Joshua dies in 24:29 and in 24:31 we read that the people of Israel served God throughout Joshua’s lifetime as well as the lifetime of the elders who had experienced first-hand all that God had done for them. Its a testimony to the leadership of Joshua that the people he lead continued to do the right things after his death. But when I read this I couldn’t help but feel a sense of foreshadowing. Perhaps because I’ve read the Bible before, but these words are quite ominous for what they appear to say without saying it. Sure enough, as we will read, things go downhill for Israel.

Joshua 24:32 is almost an aside, but it fulfills Genesis 50:25 in which Joseph made Israel swear an oath that they would bury his bones in the Promised Land. Joseph was a few generations removed from those that would enter the Promised Land but he had faith enough in God to know that someday Israel would be in the land, according to God’s promise. Israel had been carrying Joseph’s bones around for over 40 years.

We learn a lesson about giving today in Luke 21:1-4. Its not the amount of money that we give, it is the spirit with which we give. The poor widow gave all she had. No one gives all they have unless they truly believe that money can be put to better us than on themselves. This woman certainly could have used the money. But she thought it was more important to see the money used to glorify God.  I think we can extrapolate this to not only money but the giving of our time. A pastor I used to know liked to say that we can see what people value by looking at how they spend their time and how they spend their money. How true.

Jesus accurately predicts the fall of Jerusalem in Luke 21:6. Forty years after this conversation the Romans suppressed a Jewish uprising and in the process destroyed the Temple. A fire melted all the gold in the Temple and it flowed down between the stones at the bottom of the building which had been erected without mortar. Roman soldiers dismantled the entire Temple stone by stone in order to retrieve the gold. Isn’t that an interesting way for Jesus’s prophecy to come true?

Jesus gives further warnings about the future, including the appearance of false messiahs, wars, natural disasters, and persecution of Christians (Luke 21:8-13). Certainly all of these have come true.

Notice that “Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles until the period of the Gentiles comes to an end” (Luke 21:24). Once the period of the Gentiles ends (at the Rapture) Jerusalem will no longer be in conflict and will be truly be the city of peace, which is what its name means.

Its sometimes hard to reconcile unexpected defeats in life with God’s promises. Psalm 89 was written under these circumstances. God had made a promise to David but military defeats have called His promises into question. In this final section of the Psalm the psalmist asks God how much longer will Israel continue to live in defeat (Psalm 89:46). When viewed from our perspective of our short life-span on earth difficulty appears to take up a disproportionate amount of our life. But that does not mean that God’s plans are not unfolding.

If you want to develop certain characteristics you should hang around people with those characteristics. That is the essence of Proverbs 14:20. We can’t become wise by hanging around immature people. We can only become wise by hanging around wise people.

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

Become An Expert

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Today’s Bible reading: Joshua 22:21-23:16; Luke 20:27-47; Psalm 89:14-37; Proverbs 13:17-19

We conclude the story that began yesterday of the controversy between the tribes of Israel on the west side of the Jordan River and the tribes on east side. The tribes from the east side were heading home after helping their kinsmen take the land God had given them. On their way home they set up an altar on the west side of the river.

After being confronted by the tribes from the west the tribes from the east appeal to God (Joshua 22:22). God knows everything that is in our hearts. He knows more about our intentions than we do. When we are accused of wrongdoing and we are not aware of it we should ask God to show us if there is any sin in our behavior.

The eastern tribes explain that they have built the altar not as a substitute place of worship but as a memorial so that future generations will remember that those on both sides of the Jordan are one nation (Joshua 22:24-29).

This explanation satisfies the leaders of the west (Joshua 22:30) and the two sides part amicably. It is understandable that people will misunderstand each other. But when that happens we would be wise to follow the pattern we saw in these events:

  • Investigate before drawing conclusions
  • Respond out of concern for the other party
  • Seek to understand the other side’s point of view

In Joshua 23 Joshua prepares to die and gives a farewell address to his leadership team. Notice that Joshua does not take any credit for what he has accomplished. He gives all the credit to God (Joshua 23:3).

Joshua also gives them a recipe for success: follow God’s instructions without deviating from it in the slightest. God is on our side. He wants us to be victorious. He isn’t going to give us bad information.

Israel should also not associate with the pagan people who are still in the land (Joshua 23:7). They should not have anything to do with the false-gods of Canaan otherwise they might be lead astray. Rather they should focus solely on God (Joshua 23:8). This is a good lesson for us today. While I respect those Christians who attempt to learn about false religions in order to lead people to Christ, there is a danger in that as we read here. Its better to become an expert in Jesus Christ and be able to explain the Bible to those who are lost, as that is the only thing that can save them.

Joshua reminds the nation (through the leaders) that God has not failed on even one of His promises (Joshua 23:14).

The Sadducees approach Jesus and present Him with a very sarcastic question. The Sadducees were very wealthy and influential. They did not believe in an after-life; the believed that life on earth was all there was. Sounds very much like people today. I think the fact that the Sadducees were very wealthy was a stumbling block for them. When a person has much wealth they don’t feel the need to look for anything more besides what earth has to offer. We saw this same principle a few days ago when the rich, young ruler approached Jesus.

The Sadducees also only recognized the first five books of the Old Testament. They propose a “what if” scenario to Jesus about marriage and life after death, hoping to trip Him up. But Jesus points out that their understanding is tremendously flawed and while doing so even confirms that there are angels in heaven (Matthew 22:30) and confirming that there is life after death (Matthew 22:31).

Notice too that there will be no marriage in heaven (Luke 20:34) and so we can conclude that there will not reproduction either. Our eternal bodies will not have sexual capabilities. We are males or females only while on this earth. Isn’t that interesting? From this we can see that sex should not be all that important to us because it is a temporary thing only. Eternal things, by definition, are more important that temporary things.

Even today we need to be careful of those who think they “know” about God and the Bible but who don’t like these Sadducees. The Bible teaches that there will be many false teachers. How do we know who is right and who is not? By reading and studying the Bible for ourselves. Verify everything someone tells you against God’s word to know if it is true or not. We also need to be ready to correct people when they are wrong. This should be done in a gentle and loving way, without arrogance or disdain for anyone. If someone gets mad at us for speaking the truth, that is their choice. We are all responsible for our own emotions. But we are not to prod anyone to anger in any way.

Jesus stumps these religious leaders who should have known the Scriptures (the Old Testament, which is all they had) and should have known that Jesus was the Messiah that was prophesied about. In a Psalm David called the Messiah Lord, yet everyone knew that the Messiah had to be a descendant of David. “How is this possible?”, Jesus asked. It is possible because the Messiah was going to be God who placed Himself in the womb of a woman (Mary) who was a descendant of David. Hence the Messiah would be born into the line of David while at the same time being God. Isn’t that cool?

God is giving God who loves to bless His children. It pleases Him to make us strong (Psalm 89:17). God doesn’t want to see us defeated. He wants to protect us (Psalm 89:18).

God had raised up David to be king (we’ll read about that later this year) and made a promise to him (Psalm 89:33). That promise was that his (David’s) dynasty would go on forever. This was fulfilled when Jesus was born from Mary. Jesus, a descendant of David who was also God as we just saw, will rule forever just like God promised David.

Bill Gates famously said “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” This is exactly what God tells us in Proverbs 13:18. We need to be able to accept criticism because it will help us improve. I realize that oftentimes criticism is delivered in an inappropriate way, but we need to look past that and use the feedback we get from others to learn how to do things better. This is especially true of the feedback God gives us.

God’s goal for us to become like Jesus. In order to do that two things must happen. 1) God needs to correct us when we do things incorrectly and 2) we need to hear, accept, and follow God’s advice.

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

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