The Least (Polite) of These

August 31, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Matthew, The Flood | Leave a comment
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There is some debate about exactly to whom Jesus was referring when He emphasized the responsibility of His disciples to minister to “the least of these.” However, most Bible scholars agree that the list He gave was both specific and illustrative, counting as a summation of those who are the most helpless and neglected in worldly society.

As 21st Century Christians we are prone to romanticize the notion of “the least of these” and picture ourselves taking in a doe-eyed orphan with smudged but pudgy cheeks. Or perhaps we see ourselves caring for a kindly old grandfather, abandoned by His Gen-X children who are too busy with their own lives to benefit from his homespun wisdom and sage advice. Jesus did not, however, limit His description of the needy and the outcasts to those to whom we might find it easier – for sentimental reasons – to minister.

For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

Matthew 25:42-45

What our family found out during the recent flooding in our parish, which affected the rich and poor alike, is that the person who comes into your home during a catastrophe, needing food, water, clothing, and shelter, may be the “the most irritating of these.”

He might be a person who makes all his phone calls on speaker-phone, yelling at the top of his lungs and broadcasting the other person’s (who has not been told he’s on speaker) personal business to everyone within earshot.

He might be a person who comes in drenched with sweat, mold, flood water, and Chinese drywall, and, declining your desperate offer of a shower, plops himself right down on your couch pillows and puts his feet up.

He might be a person who is super touchy about everyone else’s failure to appreciate his plight, while also being hypocritically hypercritical of others who are worse off than him.

He might be the person who picks skin off his feet and flicks it on your carpet.

He might be the person who stands uncomfortably close to your wife, peering over her shoulder at the pot she is stirring on the stove while pompously offering suggestions about how to cook green beans to the best green bean cooker in the known world.

He might be the person who would rather sit up til late at night in the living room, spurning the comfortable guest bed you’ve offered him, while belching loudly 56 times in a row in front of your high school aged daughters.

It might be the person who, after four days of living with your family, has still not bothered to learn a single one of their names.

He might be all of these things and more, but, as a servant of the King, it is tough to rationalize away your duty to care for “the least of these” even when the category includes those with the least manners and common courtesy.

Tim Challies: When You S.W.I.M. Downstream

August 29, 2016 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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… young women today are convinced that their bodies are all their own, that they can hook up with whomever they want whenever they want without emotional scars. What is tragic is that they think this is their own idea, that they are the revolutionaries. What they don’t see is that they are swimming downstream from someone else’s sewage. Like a city that pumps waste into a river and watches it disappear around the bend on its way to the next place, [Helen Gurley] Brown created moral sewage, and a whole generation — several generations — are mucking around in it, bearing all the consequences. And in some way we are all downstream from the revolutionary sinners, the ones who create new categories for sin, who create new and shocking ways to sin, and who so often eventually step back to watch us flounder in their mess.

Tim Challies, “Downstream in the Moral Sewage

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.

Micah 2:1

The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flattereth himself in his own eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful. The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he hath left off to be wise, and to do good. He deviseth mischief upon his bed; he setteth himself in a way that is not good; he abhorreth not evil.

Psalm 36:1-4

A Diet of Distinction (Part 3)

August 25, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In Part One, we considered God’s dietary laws under the Old Testament and their fulfillment/abolition under the New Testament. In Part Two I tried to expound upon some of the reasons for the Old Covenant prohibition against eating unclean animals, and to apply, not the letter of the Law, but the principles, to God’s people today. God’s people were/are to be:

A. Clean Cut, meaning they were to be separate from their pagan neighbors in their devotion to the One True God, and in how they lived their daily lives, including what they ate. (Leviticus 11:44; II Corinthians 6:14-18). They were/are to be:

1. Distinct in calling and conduct (I Corinthians 10:31)
2. Distinct in conscience (Psalm 139:7-12)
3. Distinct in creeds (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
4. Distinct in communication (Colossians 3:8; Proverbs 14:9)

Now we will see that God’s people were/are to have a:

B. Clean Consistency

When it came to quadrupeds, the clean animals were animals that met two criteria:

Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.

Leviticus 11:3

They had to have both: a cloven hoof and a multi-chambered stomach. Some animals had one or the other, and these would be unclean. For example, the camel:

Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you.

Leviticus 11:4

This is a picture of some Christians. They “chew the cud.” They enjoy chewing over the Word of God. They love to learn Scripture and Bible doctrine. But there is a problem with their “hooves” – their feet – the way they walk. It doesn’t match up to what they are learning. They are hearers but not doers.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22

They are ever learning but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

II Timothy 3:4-7

For in truth doctrine is never divorced from duty. We study Scripture in order to know God, and when we meet God, He tells us to “go.”

There is an opposite example, too, though: the pig.

And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you.

Leviticus 11:7

He appears to be okay in his walk, but he’s not really clean. Some church people are like this, too. They appear to be walking with God, but they don’t want to be equipped. They don’t want to invest the time or the patience to hear what is truly pleasing to God. They think they will stay busy and please God their own way. Don’t get too busy – or think you’re too advanced – to humble yourself under the preaching and the teaching of the Word of God.

A true pig has a pig-like nature. He can never stop wallowing on his own filth. He needs to be changed from a pig to a man by the miraculous power of God.

Post-Flood Church Services

August 23, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails, The Flood | Leave a comment
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It didn’t take long. The good feelings and perceived unity generated when people of various skin colors, ethnic backgrounds, political persuasions, and economic classes put their differences aside and came together to help each other survive and rebuild after a catastrophic flood, started eroding faster than the banks of the tributaries and bayous around the Amite River – beginning on the following Sunday morning.

It seems that some local churches, despite doing everything they could to help their church members (our first obligation) and neighbors, and despite devastation to their own buildings, managed to clean out enough debris, and to dry out the mold-producing moisture just enough, to have a worship service to thank the Lord for sparing us from what we truly deserved (greater damage and destruction) and to praise Him for Who He is.

Some of the complaints sounded like this:
“I can’t believe they are having a church service while people are hurting and need help!”
“People need their homes cleaned out, while these so-called ‘Christians’ are singing and praying!”
“Jesus would be helping people. He wouldn’t be attending church after a disaster!”

I will admit that the church I attend was one of the ones that did have a Sunday morning church service on the Sunday after the flood. We did not have one on the Sunday of the flood, because on that Sunday our church building was in the middle of a newly-formed lake roughly the size of our whole parish, and because our church building had several feet of water inside it! Before the flood waters had even finished rising our church members were out rescuing people and trying to help. Two of our pastors and our church secretary lost their homes and most of their possessions, along with about 75% of the residents in our parish, including many of our church members and families. Those of us who barely stayed dry began to provide shelter, food, and clothing, and began the time-consuming and costly process of debris removal and salvage for those without flood insurance. A huge percentage of the homes affected were in “non-flood” zones, and therefore did not have flood insurance. And, yes, many of us worked hard on our church building, too, since it is our ministry headquarters, and since we believe that, as good stewards of the property that God has given us to manage, we owe a duty to protect it so it can be used for future ministry – including the most important part of ministry: the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We also needed the property to be a staging area for the distribution of food, clothing, and other necessities.

That Sunday morning service was special. People with dire physical needs came and were helped. They also received comfort and were helped spiritually. For this we do not apologize.

Many of our church members went right back to work that same day, helping each other and others in our community. Anyone who would begrudge us ninety minutes of prayer, singing, preaching, and worship after one of the busiest and most traumatic weeks of our lives, has greatly misunderstood what the Bible teaches about the purpose of the Church.

He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:10-12

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

As for this idea that, by trying to preserve our church building and by having a church service while others were working on their homes, we were doing what Jesus would not have done, let me remind you to be very careful playing the “WWJD” card that has become so fashionable in “Pop Christianity.” People tend to be very selective and biased in claiming to know what Jesus “would” do, when, in reality, we are far better off looking in the Bible and seeing what Jesus actually did do.

No offense, but the family who lost literally every worldly possession they had in the flood, but who live in 21st Century Livingston Parish, Louisiana, is still far better off than a Jewish family, under Roman occupation, in 1st Century Nazareth on their very best day. Yet:

And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Luke 2:43-36

He was “in the temple.” Not helping other families carry their belongings, not providing food and water. In the temple.

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

Matthew 26:6-11

Jesus did not condemn those who gave their resources to be used in worshiping Him, even though there were always poor people who could be helped with material and physical needs.

People read about Jesus healing on the Sabbath and going about the countryside helping and miraculously feeding people, and they somehow get the idea that Jesus would be opposed to church attendance, but:

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

Matthew 4:23

Jesus did both. He attended worship services and He ministered throughout the land. Do you think there were people who were not hungry, who did not need help, while He was teaching and preaching? Of course there were! It is a peculiar brand of legalism which condemns Christians for focusing on church when a disaster strikes, but gives the critics a pass when things are normal. If you are tempted to criticize our church for having worship services during a flood recovery effort, you also need to be just as hard on yourself for preparing for a Spartan race or taking a family vacation while there are homeless people living under bridges in Baton Rouge and beggars on every street corner in New Orleans. Self-righteous hypocrisy can cut both ways, can’t it? I would not condemn those who skipped church that Sunday morning, under these exceptional circumstances, so they could bless people in need, but neither would I criticize those who assembled to worship.

Finally, as our Pastor pointed out on that first Sunday morning after the flood, we do have something of a Biblical precedent. Noah, upon exiting the ark with his family and the surviving animals – before he began rebuilding and even before they began repopulating – made a point of stopping to worship:

And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him: Every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds, went forth out of the ark. And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Genesis 8:18-21

The Louisiana Flood of 2016

August 18, 2016 at 2:16 pm | Posted in The Flood | 2 Comments
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I don’t know if, after a few months or a few years, the title of this post will be the official name of the flooding event that took place in South Central Louisiana on the weekend of August 13 or 14, 2016, or not. I don’t even know if it will have an official name. Many people (not including me) are already angry that the national news media – neither while it was happening, nor up til now – has given it the attention that these types of weather catastrophes usually garner (for reasons I may cover in a different post later).

Regardless, though, of whether the event ever enters or remains in the national consciousness, I doubt it will ever be forgotten by my neighbors. Apparently, the house in which the Lord allows my family to live sits on something of an imperceptibly elevated ledge, but our neighbors suffered massive flooding in their homes, and many had to be evacuated – some in boats, some in huge National Guard trucks with giant tires, and some in Blackhawk or Red Cross helicopters! The local news media is reporting that 90% of the homes in my parish (the equivalent of a “county” elsewhere) suffered flood damage. Not us, thankfully. While the water spilled across the highway in front of our house, and while it became a rapidly rising lake on the road behind us, and while it filled my next door neighbor’s home with a foot of water, my old Sunday School teacher, now a pastor, John Wilkerson, called to check on me. He lives in Indiana now, and, with AT&T cell service completely down, he somehow still had my landline number. As he prayed with me on the phone, asking the Lord to “honor His servant” (John 12:26), and to stop the encroaching waters, I became immensely humbled. I know that I belong to Christ, and that He shed His blood for me and saved me, but I also know for sure that I am not worthy of any honor! I am a faulty and neglectful servant at best, and much, if not most, of the time, the term “servant” itself could scarcely be applied to me due to my selfishness and impiety. However, after we finished the call, I walked outside to check. Thirty feet from my house the water appeared to have stopped, and maybe even receded a couple of inches. We were spared.

I want to thank and praise the Lord for protecting my wife and children, and the home that He allows me to manage. The next few weeks and months will be busy. We have already begun to tear out and clean out the damaged parts of the church building where our family meets, worships, and ministers, along with many of our church families’ and neighbors’ homes. There will be great opportunities to minister and to share the Gospel. The love of Christ, by His grace, will be made manifest, the Word will be proclaimed, and my prayer is that souls will be eternally saved.

I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.

Psalm 32:5-6

Resurrection Witnesses

August 10, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Posted in Matthew | Leave a comment
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In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Matthew 28:1

We might ask why were only the women performing this thankless and grief-laden task of caring for the post-Crucifixion body of Jesus. Where were the men? Were they hiding and scared while the women were doing the hard work? We might also ask what these women thought they were going to do about the stone that sealed the entrance to the sepulchre (Mark 16:3). They were carrying perfume and spices to care for a body they weren’t going to be able to access. Perhaps their love and their grief overcame their common sense.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

Matthew 28:2

There is a certain humor in the thought of the angel sitting atop the very stone that had been intended to keep the followers of Jesus from getting into the tomb. However, during the night before, there had been nothing humorous to the guards about his appearance.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Matthew 28:3-4

This was a very holy and frightening angel. Roman soldiers weren’t easily frightened by mere men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:5-6

“As He said” was a gentle, though perhaps chiding, rebuke, referring to one of his least palatable prophecies:

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 16:21

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

Matthew 17:22-23

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Matthew 20:17-19

 

But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

Matthew 26:32

The testimony of Jesus Himself, the testimony of the angel, and the empty tomb all bore witness to Jesus’s Resurrection.

 

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:7

Note how the angel used the words “from the dead,” reinforcing the truth that Jesus had actually died.

 

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Matthew 28:8

It is a difficult combination to explain, but it is true that fear and joy can go together. God created them both, and there is great joy in having a fear of the Lord. Some of the greatest blessings you will ever experience are when you are facing, and overcoming, a terrifying challenge. The women who saw the empty tomb and heard the words of the angel were afraid, and they ran, but it was not an occasion of “fight or flight.” It was an occasion of “fright and flight.” They ran to bring “word,” and we need to always be running to bring the Word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 28:9

Whenever you are running to do something in obedience to Him, no matter how fast you run, He is already there before you. The struggle to exercise patience, and to overcome procrastination, is a battle that almost every Christian fights. Impatience is unbelief when you don’t know God’s will, but procrastination is unbelief when you DO know God’s will.

The Disciples grabbed Jesus’s feet – His physical resurrected body – demonstrating His humanity. They also worshiped Him, demonstrating His Deity.

Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

Matthew 28:10-12

The soldiers went to the Jewish leaders first. They could have been killed by their Roman authorities for for allowing the body to be stolen. The Jewish leaders bribed them, but they also promised to protect them.

Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

Matthew 28:13-14

Beware of Satan’s techniques. First he plays on your fears. Then he sends someone to help you make up a lie. Then he sweetens the deal with money. Then he gives you a false security and makes you think God will not mind your sin all that much.

So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Matthew 28:15

Each lie that denies the Resurrection has had its day, and come and gone: the swooning lie, the imposter on the Cross lie, the hallucination lie, the conspiracy lie. None are convincing. Only those who hate the Truth can voluntarily blind themselves to it. The Bible bears witness, 500 witnesses saw Him, the martyrdom of the Disciples bears witness, the empty tomb still bears witness, the Church meeting today still bears witness. If they could have produced a body, all of history would be different. Christianity wouldn’t exist. His Spirit bears witness with our spirits. There is more credible evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus than there is for the for the existence of Plato.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Matthew 28:16-18

Buried Treasure

August 4, 2016 at 10:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Isaiah 53:9

The prophecy that Christ would be buried with the rich was fulfilled by the actions of Joseph of Arimathaea. Jesus’s death and Resurrection are integral parts of the Gospel, but so is His burial.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, [how can a dead man with no children have descendants? he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The Lord Jesus bore our sin to the Cross, but it is not the weight of that sin that crushed (“bruised”) Him; it was the weight of God’s wrath. Jesus was childless in the biological sense, and, furthermore, the prophecy describes a dead man “seeing his seed.” How could this be? It was fulfilled in Jesus’s Resurrection and the spiritual children He would regenerate and adopt.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11

God the Father was not “satisfied” in the sense of taking delight in Jesus’s suffering, but His righteousness, law, holiness, and justice were satisfied by payment in full for the entire sin debt of His people.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12

Jesus on the Cross made intercession for transgressors, and He’s still doing that today.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:17

Let us esteem Jesus Christ better today than men did when He came to die for us. Let us look at what they esteemed instead of Him, and ask ourselves if we esteem those things more than Him today. He was poor. Do we esteem wealth? He was an outcast among the religious establishment. Do we esteem popularity and acceptance? People lied about Him and said vile things. Do we fight for our good reputation with plans and schemes to get even, and with our own get-back-at-you gossip? Which do we care about more – that we look good to men, or that God looks great to men? He came to serve and to die. Do we dare to try to get ourselves in the position of being served by someone else? He suffered hardship and discomfort and a life of hard work. Will we dare to pamper ourselves?

Jesus is rejected so much today, for so many of the same reasons He was rejected back then – He represents everything that carnal men hate. He is worthy, and that’s an thing easy to sing, but do our activities and attitudes and awe prove that He’s our Treasure?

Arraignment and Prosecution

August 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm | Posted in Hosea | Leave a comment
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The first three chapters of the Book of Hosea deal with the sins of idolatry, ingratitude, and hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is more than just saying one thing and doing another; it’s wrongfully applying the time and energy given to us by God to further the cause of something or someone else besides God. One example of this is parenting. The children that God has given me bear my last name, but they really belong to God. As an entrusted manager or steward over them, I have a responsibility to control they way they behave, so that they glorify their true Owner, God. Discipline is not easy, but if I don’t do it, I’m being a hypocrite. I’m focusing on my peace and my ideas instead of shaping what
God has given me for His purpose. In essence, I’m committing idolatry and I’m committing a form of spiritual “adultery” against God.

Hosea Chapters 4-8 deal with God’s response to His people as they are compared to adulterous spouses or disobedient children.

Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

Hosea 4:1

The Lord’s “controversy” in this context is comparable to a legal claim – as if God is bringing charges or a lawsuit against the people.

The specific charges are listed in the next verse:

By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

Hosea 4:2

The Lord also presents evidence of their idolatry:

My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

Hosea 4:12-13

The people are given no opportunity to mount a “defense,” for this is pointless with an omniscient, omnipresent God. They didn’t even have enough knowledge to present a defense – they were forced to “plead the Fifth.”

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Hosea 4:6

They had no “knowledge” of God. They did not “know” Him. They had no intimate relationship with Him.

Exodus: Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

July 29, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Posted in Exodus | Leave a comment
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Key Themes in the Book of Exodus:

1. The Lord sets His people free. (Exodus 5:1)
SIGN: The actual “exiting” from Egypt (Exodus 12:51)
SEAL: The plagues – especially the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12:29)
DELIVERANCE: The destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea (Exodus 14:27) [If you are a Christian, the Lord has set you free and He has destroyed the power of your enemies.]

2. The freedom which the Lord grants comes with the responsibility of obedience. (Exodus 15:26)
SIGN: The Decalogue and the Covenant Code (Exodus 20:1)
SEAL: The splashing of blood (Exodus 24:6-8)
DELIVERANCE: A true system of worship (Exodus 20:23-24)

3. The Lord allows trials and tests to strengthen faith. (Exodus 14:3-4)
SIGNS: Trapped at the Red Sea; Amalekite attack; lack of water and food (Exodus 14:10, 17:8-9, 16:2-4, 17:1-3)
SEALS: Red Sea parted (Exodus 14:21-22); water and manna provided (Exodus 15:25, 16:13-15)
DELIVERANCE: Promise of a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8)

4. The Lord wants intimate worship. (Exodus 6:7)
SIGN: The appointment of Moses as mediator and intercessor (Exodus 19:3, 32:11-14)
SEAL: The instruction to build a tabernacle in the midst of the people (Exodus 25:8)
DELIVERANCE: The continuing office of priests (Exodus 40:15)

5. The Lord wants sacrificial worship from His people. (Exodus 3:18)
SIGN: Offerings would be integral to worship (Exodus 13:15)
SEAL: The acceptance of shed blood for the remission of sins (Exodus 29:10-22)
DELIVERANCE: The provision by God of the things to be sacrificed, as opposed to Pharaoh’s cruel order that they find their own straw (Exodus 12:22-23, 5:10-12)

6. The Lord wants to abide permanently with His people. (Exodus 19:5-6)
SIGN: The promise of the Lord to be their national and personal God (Exodus 33:12-17)
SEAL: A detailed, intricate, specific, yet mobile, tabernacle, as opposed to pilgrimages to a holy place (Exodus 25:9)
DELIVERANCE: The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34)

Links to lessons in the Exodus category:

1. God’s People in the World (Exodus 1)
2. Moses as a Type of Christ (Exodus 1-2)
3. How God Prepares Leaders (Exodus 2-3)
4. When It’s Time to Cut Loose (Exodus 2, 4:21-26)
5. What Is God Like? (Exodus 3, 15:11)
6. Don’t Beat around the Bush (Exodus 3-4)
7. Spiritual Arteriosclerosis (Exodus 4, 7-11, 14)
8. This Is Not a Negotiation (Exodus 5, 7, 8, 10, 14)
9. Beware False Finger-Pointing (Exodus 5)
10. The Manager Who Thought He Was an Owner (Exodus 7:5; Luke 20:9-16)
11. Knowing that He Is the Lord (Exodus 7, 8, 14)
12. Smiting the Gods (Exodus 7-8)
13. Outer Darkness and Inner Darkness (Exodus 10)
14. Evil Angels (Exodus 11-12)
15. The Passover: Killing, Purging, and Eating (Exodus 12)
16. The Lambs that Were Silenced but Still Speak Today (Exodus 12)
17. Remembering the Garlic (Exodus 12-13; Numbers 11:4-10)
18. The Why behind the What and the How (Exodus 13)
19. A Three-Item To-Do List before Leaving Egypt Behind (Exodus 13)
20. Two Miracles: A Parted Sea and a Hardened Heart (Exodus 14)
21. Delaying Dutifully During Deliverance (Exodus 14)
22. Poetry, Dancing, and the Wondrous Fear of God (Exodus 15)
23. When the Lord Becomes Your Song (Exodus 15)
24. Omniscience, Obstacles, Opportunities, and Overruling Oversight (Exodus 15-16)
25. The Bookends of Faith (Part 1) (Exodus 3:13-14, 16; John 6:26-51)
26. How to Raise Your Hand During a Test (Exodus 17)
27. A Busy Time-Out (Exodus 18-19)
28. Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Revelatory) (Exodus 20)
29. Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Restrictive) (Exodus 20)
30. Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Reflective) (Exodus 20)
31. Three Words about God: His Supremacy, His Image, and His Name (Exodus 20:1-7)
32. A Fourth Word about God: His Rest (Exodus 20:3-11)
33. Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments to Children (Exodus 20:7-8) *
34. Catechism Question 2 (Exodus 20:11)
35. The Horizontal Words (Exodus 20:12-17)
36. Frightening Words (Exodus 20:18-20)
37. Reverence as a Warning Against Idolatry (Exodus 20:18-26)
38. A Justice Sandwich (Exodus 21)
39. Properly Promoting the Principle of Personal Property (Exodus 22)
40. A Revelation of a Violation against Revilation (Exodus 22:28)
41. Peer Pressure and Robin Hood Theology Exposed (Exodus 23:2-3)
42. The Forbidden Recipe and the Special Angel (Exodus 23:19-21, 20:22-23)
43. A Bloody Confirmation and Covenant (Exodus 23-24)
44. Restriction and Freedom in Worship (Exodus 24-25)
45. Worship Is about Sacrifice (Exodus 26-28)
46. Oh be Careful, Little Ears, Thumbs, and Toes (Exodus 29)
47. The True Consecration (Exodus 29-31)
48. Why We Can, and Cannot, Have Nice Things (Exodus 31-32)
49. Syncretism and Sexual Sin (Exodus 32:5-6)
50. Corrupt Curving off Course (Exodus 32:7-9)
51. The Intercessory Prayer of Moses (Exodus 32:10-13)
52. The Personality of God (Exodus 32, 14:12)
53. When the Word of God Crashes the Party (Exodus 32:15-20)
54. The Consequences of Partying Naked (Exodus 32:21-25)
55. The Great Peradventure (Exodus 32:26-30)
56. God’s Unassisted Bookkeeping (Exodus 32:31-35)
57. What Moses Really Wanted from God (Exodus 33)
58. Catechism Question 13 (Exodus 33:20)
59. The Relief and Terror of God’s Presence (Exodus 34)
60. Unveiled Glory and Unguarded Giving (Exodus 34-35; II Corinthians 3:7-18)
61. Up to Spec (Exodus 35-38)
62. Command-Fulfillment Pattern (Exodus 35-40)
63. The Tabernacle Completed, Inspected, and Turned over to the Owner (Exodus 40)

* most-viewed post in category

A Diet of Distinction (Part Two)

July 27, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In Part One we saw that the Old Testament dietary laws are no longer binding on New Testament Christians (Acts 10:9-16). They were perfectly kept, and, in a sense, fulfilled in Christ (Colossians 2:16- 22). Only the Old Testament moral laws, reiterated as the Law of Christ, are considered binding under the New Covenant.

One of the purposes of the Old Covenant dietary laws was that God wanted His people to be “holy.” The Hebrew word translated as “holy” in the Bible has a connotation of “cutting” (setting apart from other people) and “culling” (setting apart unto a dedicated purpose). God’s people are supposed to be “cut off” from sin, and “cut out of” this world’s system. God has always wanted His people to be distinct and different.

For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Leviticus 11:44

The Jewish people were commanded to be unmingled with the world – not trapped in the sins associated with unbelievers. They were to be associated with the Lord’s name, not in name only, but in behavior and in every area of life. This was important partly in order to prevent His people from being influenced into moral sin, and partly to maintain the purity of the bloodline of the coming Messiah. The promised redeemer would have to be a descendant of Abraham in order to fulfill God’s promises.

New Testament Christians know that the Messiah has already come, but the principle concerning the danger of sinful influences still applies:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

An Old Testament Israelite could not eat with or stay in the home of a Canaanite because of the unclean foods and other unclean practices, so it would be very difficult to form relationships that would lead to intermarriages and procreation.

It would affect the witness and testimony of God’s people if they became intertwined in the lifestyle of pagan people groups.

A. God’s people should be distinct in their calling and conduct.

Our calling is to glorify God. Therefore our conduct – the way we behave – must bring glory to Him.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10:31

God’s Old Testament people were supposed to conduct themselves in a way that let people know they truly believed that their God was real. We must do the same, but we can’t do that without being different from unbelievers, and without speaking His name and being identified openly with Him.

B. God’s people should be distinct in their conscience.

We need to have an awareness of God watching us in the smallest details of our lives.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

Psalm 139:7-12

We must also have an awareness of God loving us and being willing and able to help us please in Him in every detail of our lives.

C. God’s people should be distinct their creeds.

We need to be able to articulate what we believe, and why we believe it. We need to be ready to cite Scripture to back it up.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

D. God’s people should be distinct in their communication.

We should not use unclean language.

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

Colossians 3:8

We should not jest about sin.

Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour.

Proverbs 14:9

We should not use God’s name in vain, and we should not use imprecise language which undermines sound theology, such as saying we are “proud” or “lucky.”

Next time, in Part Three, we will see how God’s dietary laws teach us to have a clean consistency.

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