Don’t be an Abusive, Angry, Absent, or Addicted Parent

September 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Don’t be an abusive parent. The goal of parenting is to train up disciples of Christ by trying to utterly convince the children that God has placed into our trust of His absolute supremacy, as we nurture them and teach them His Word. This lofty goal involves corporal discipline, but discipline is not punishment, and it is certainly not abuse. A parent who sinfully – whether physically or mentally – injures a child out of spite or loss of control is attacking God Himself, and this is a dangerous prospect to say the least.

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Matthew 18:6

Don’t be an angry parent. As Christian parents, we ourselves are the children of our Heavenly Father. He is angry with the wicked every day, but He is not angry at His Own children.

And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Our job is to prevent our children from feeling and practicing the sort of sinful wrath that God hates to see in His creatures.

Don’t be an absent parent.

My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

Proverbs 23:26

We have to be present if our children are going to observe our ways. Too many parents spend so much time working that they rarely see their children, leaving them in the care of nurseries, daycare facilities, nannies, babysitters, and school systems. This is not God’s plan for child-rearing. Dads, especially, however, are even prone to being absent-while-present. Tuning in to a ball game on television and ignoring the kids elsewhere in the house (or right there in the room!), going hunting, fishing, golfing, remodeling old cars out in the garage, are all ways in which fathers unwind from the stress of their occupations while forgetting the important principle of being actively present in their children’s lives during crucial formative years.

Don’t be an addicted parent (unless it is an addiction to ministry that includes ministering along with your children!) Addictions to sinful activities – and addictions that are sinful not because of the object of the addiction, but because of the time, energy, money, and affection given to them – are closely akin to idolatry.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

I Corinthians 6:12

Our children will not be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of the true God if we worship multiple gods.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Exodus 20:12

In a pagan land like America today, the failure of Christian parents to transfer a belief in the One True God will lead to the destruction of society and to the loss of God’s blessings on His people.

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Reverence as a Warning Against Idolatry

January 30, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Posted in Exodus | 5 Comments
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When the people received the Decalogue – these “words” from God – they were not curious, amused, or entertained. They were not joyful, peaceful, or excited. They were terrified – scared to death!

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

Exodus 20:18-21

They were afraid the Word of God would kill them. I don’t think we need to be superstitious, nor even reluctant, to get our Bibles out, but we do need to approach the Bible with reverence. “What is God saying to me in this Book?” is a relevant question. “Do I need to take this seriously?” is not. Taking it seriously is a given. We need to “fear” the Word of the Lord, too.

We may see the Words of the Decalogue as regular guidelines for how we would expect to see Christians living, going along with what Moses said in Exodus 20:20, that God will use these to “test” His people. Obedience to these commands is what should be “normal” for true Christians.

The next section of the Law is sometimes called the “Covenant Code.” It probably begins in Exodus 20:22, although many scholars think it begins in 21:1.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

Exodus 20:22-23

This is the first reminder that God impresses upon Moses to warn them about, although it was abundantly clear before, because this would be their first big temptation. It is precisely what they would soon be doing with the golden calf.

An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

Exodus 20:24-25

A material altar would be necessary for sacrificial worship, but, in contrast to the heathen practices, it would not be elaborate or ornate – or man-made. They would use God’s materials and keep it simple – partly because it couldn’t be permanent for people on the move – but also to illustrate that their works were not impressive to God. His works are superior, and He is more interested in the condition of our hearts than our man-made surroundings.

However, this did not mean that worship of Yahweh was to be less reverential than pagan worship. It was to be more so.

Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

Exodus 20:26

Almost all pagan worship was sexually-charged and immoral. Yahweh-worship was to be chaste and modest – in the extreme – to highlight the difference and the comparative purity.

The Horizontal Words

January 7, 2015 at 10:25 am | Posted in Exodus | 9 Comments
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The first four “Words” of the Decalogue are the so-called “vertical” words or commandments. They deal with the relationship between God and man. Starting with number five, the commandments are “horizontal.” They deal with our relationships with each other. Remember the summation of the Decalogue: Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength – and your neighbor as yourself.

The horizontal words begin with the relationship between children and parents.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Exodus 20:12

The provision, “that thy days may be long upon the earth,” is not really a promise that if you obey your parents you will live longer. It’s really more of a reference to “the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee,” meaning Canaan, the promised land. It expresses the idea that, if the elderly are not honored and respected, then in three or four generations the nation will lose the blessing that God gives it. It is also a reference to caring for the elderly.

Thou shalt not kill.

Exodus 20:13

The “killing” that is prohibited in this Word is unjustified killing, so that, depending upon circumstances, war, capital punishment within government-sanctioned laws, and self-defense are still permissible.

Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Exodus 20:14

Notice that adultery is listed right after murder. It is a sin that is a reflection of the loyalty to God that His people are supposed to have. It is the most extreme kind of unfaithfulness. It is worse than talking bad about your spouse, insulting your spouse in public, refusing to provide food and shelter for your spouse, even worse than physical abuse – everything but killing your spouse. Sex is only for married people, and it is only to be done within a one man-one woman marriage relationship.

Thou shalt not steal.

Exodus 20:15

The eighth Word highlights God’s endorsement of private property – which would have held special significance for former slaves such as the Israelites.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Exodus 20:16

The ninth Word prohibits perjury, but, by extension, all other forms or lying or deceit as well. In the Bible, a “neighbor” is more than the person who lives next door to you. It is anyone with whom you deal. The commandment also prohibits spreading lies about others to damage their reputation.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

Exodus 20:17

The examples in the commandment against coveting are intended as an illustrative, not an exclusive, list of things not to covet. Covetousness is a desire to have for myself what God has given to another. It includes the sins of greed, dissatisfaction, discontentment, ingratitude, scheming, and envy. It is the only “word” that is unenforceable by the government, but it is not listed last because it is a lesser sin. It is listed last to highlight the idea that it is the sin that can cause us to break all the others. The greatest remedy to covetousness is contentment, and the only way to true contentment is faith that God really does know what is best.

A Fourth Word about God: His Rest

December 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Exodus | 4 Comments
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The first Word of the Decalogue prohibits the attitude of idolatry.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:3

The second Word of the Decalogue prohibits the “practice” of idolatry.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;

Exodus 20:4-5

Is this fair, that the descendants of idolators get punished for the crimes of their ancestors? What the Lord was describing was not the imputation of guilt. Rather, it was the (accurate) prediction of the outworking of sin through generations of sinners.

The next verse expresses God’s heart of love in the matter.

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:6

The first three Words of the Decalogue are negative commands (thou shalt not). The fourth is the first positive command (thou shalt).

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Exodus 20:8

This helps us to see it as more than just a command to stop working. In fact, it is followed by a specific command to work – on the other six days of the week.

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

Exodus 20:9-10

In other words, the Sabbath was a day set aside specifically for serving God, and not for the normal activity of serving God along with serving self.

Work could not be shifted off onto children, servants, or even animals. This was something the people were used to (or should have been) from their dealings with the manna (no gathering on the Sabbath, but gathering enough on the second-to-last day of the week to last two days). Why was the 4th Commandment such an important law?

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Exodus 20:11

The Hebrew word for “days” is yom, the same word used in the creation account, lending more evidence to show that creation took place in six literal 24-hour days. Then on the seventh day, God rested. Why did He rest? Not because He was tired, but because He was finished. And in order to show that everything that was made needs to stop – at least once a week for a whole day – in acknowledgment of Him. Everything needs to “glorify” Him for our existence. The Lord Himself had already blessed this special day. He had hallowed it – made it holy or separate – and decreed that it was dedicated to Him. It was not intended as a day for making money or a day dedicated to having worldly fun (unless it is fun that glorifies Him). It does benefit us physically to rest one day per week, but that is not the primary function of the Sabbath day. It was also a picture of our spiritual rest, which is Christ Himself, and so it is often said to have been fulfilled, making the Fourth Commandment the only word of the Decalogue no longer applicable in the New Testament, although this has been greatly debated and much disputed. Also, in the New Testament, we do observe the first day of the week as “the Lord’s Day,” and some if not all of the same principles apply.

Three Words about God: His Supremacy, His Image, and His Name

November 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Exodus | 20 Comments
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Exodus 20 contains one of the most well-known passages in the Bible. We usually refer to it as “The Ten Commandments.” Theologians call it “The Decalogue,” or “The Ten Words.”

The word “commandments” isn’t even used until Verse 6, but there is certainly nothing wrong with calling them the “Ten Commandments,” although they might be more properly thought of as the “sanctions” section of the Mosaic (Old) Covenant, which was in the form of a suzerainty treaty.

A suzerain is a greater king or overlord who enters into a covenant or agreement with a “lesser” king or nation, known as the “prince” or “lord” or “vassal.” A suzerainty treaty is a treaty – an agreement containing terms or conditions – between a greater king and a lesser king, ruler, nation, or group. The Decalogue itself is not a suzerainty treaty, but it is part of the suzerainty treaty that we call the Old Covenant. The Decalogue is similar to the U.S. Constitution, and the other 600 or so laws in the Old Covenant are similar to America’s federal statutes.

The Decalogue may also be thought of as a broad overview – a comprehensive survey – of the two greatest commandments or laws: Love God with everything within you, and love your neighbor as yourself.

The first Word of the Decalogue is:

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Exodus 20:1-3

This prohibits idolatry. It does not mean that there are other divine beings, with God being the greatest one. It means that human beings are forbidden from thinking of any created thing or being, as being above, or equal to, God. “Before Me” doesn’t mean that God is number one, with some other god as number two. It means not to place anyone or anything (even anything fictitious) “in opposition to God” or to worship anything other than Him “in His presence” (which is everywhere).

The worship of any other being, or the ascription to any entity other than God of a status greater than or equal to God, would be considered by Him to be disloyalty, treachery, and an attack on His glory and His name.

We tend to think of the First Commandment as having a different application today from the application it had for Moses and the Israelites, but, actually, it applied to people in the ancient world in a very similar way. The little g gods that people worshiped in the ancient world were typically representations of their perceived needs or pleasures – their life-sustaining activities and their “fun” or distracting activities. In the First Commandment, God reminded them and us that He created us, and that He obviously “owns” us, but also that our activities, our joys, even our very thought processes, are to be exclusively centered around Him. If you are a parent, your two greatest responsibilities might be the clear teaching of the Gospel (which includes Who Christ is) to your children, and helping them to be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of God.

The second Word of the Decalogue is definitely referential to the first, but it is also definitely a separate Word:

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20:4-6

An overly literal, out-of-context reading of this commandment would seem to prohibit the representation of any creature. In that case, it would be sinful to have a toy fluffy pony or an army man or even a sculpture of a tree. However, when we recognize that the Second Commandment is tied to the idea of “worship” and therefore idolatry, then we get a truer perspective. The worship of false gods in ancient times always involved imagery – figures that in those days were “graven.” This is still being prohibited by the Second Word, but the command goes even further, as it prohibits us from making a making a mental image of God as being so loving as to be unjust, or as being so kind as to not really have wrath. In other words, we break the Second Commandment any time that we make up a god in our minds that is not revealed in Scripture. This happens frequently when professing Christians claim that God rewards the “good works” of unconverted sinners by counting them as righteous based on their deeds.

Additionally, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses (and liberal seminary students) are flagrant violators of Word number two. They concoct a false “Jesus,” or they profess to believe something about God based on what they “feel” He is like.

The Third Word is:

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Exodus 20:7

Why would God not hold guiltless those that take His name in vain? Why is this such a serious crime? Because vanity is emptiness masquerading as fullness, and God’s name has great weight. It is empty of neither holiness, nor authority. Taking something “in vain” is ascribing negligible value to it. If there is anything in this universe that’s not vain, it is the Lord our God, and His name is a great gift and a great blessing, because it is a great revelation. God is providing the very air and breath that people are using to mock or to even curse His name.

This is one of the reasons why we shouldn’t flippantly exclaim, “Oh my G–,” or even say or type “OMG” or “gosh” or whatever else fills in for His name. Don’t say Jesus’s name like a curse word. One of the proofs of the depravity of man is the ubiquity of blasphemy and the complete absence of epithets such as “Adolf Hitler!” or “Muhammadd- – n!” or “Buddhad- – n!” I teach my kids not to use God’s name unless we are talking to, or about, God.

Catechism Question 2

February 26, 2014 at 11:21 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Exodus | 5 Comments
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Question 1: Who made you?
Answer: God made me.
Prove it.

Genesis 1:27

Question 2: Who made everything else?
Answer: God made everything.
Prove it.

For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Exodus 20:11

This is a good place to teach children that the “days” are literal days, and not “eras” or “epochs” or “ages” or million-year-long periods of time. It is also a good opportunity to remind them that God “rested,” not because He was tired, but in order to demonstrate the completion of the work of ex nihilo creation, and to establish a principle of spiritual rest and a pattern of physical rest for believers.

Other verses to consider:

By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Psalm 33:6-9

This would answer a question a child might have: “If God made everything, how did He do it?” Answer: “He did it by His Word.”

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

Hebrews 11:3

The Trap of Lapsing into Laziness

March 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Traps of Lawless Living | 8 Comments
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The Biblical hero Samson was consecrated from his birth, and was blessed by God as he grew to adulthood.

And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the LORD blessed him.

Judges 13:24

God’s calling upon his life was that he deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines (Judges 13:5). However, as Samson reached adulthood, we might wonder how much self-motivation he had when it came to performing this honorable task.

And the Spirit of the LORD began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Judges 13:25 (emphasis added)

The Hebrew word translated “to move” in this verse has a connotation of violent persistence. It is almost as if the Holy Spirit had to beat Samson into action, so that he could begin to accomplish his purpose in life.

We tend to think of Samson as a “man of action,” with all his exploits – single-handedly slaying large numbers of Philistines, rounding up animals and setting them on fire, carrying off the doors of a city’s gate, fighting a lion, carousing with loose women, making up riddles, and generally causing mischief. However, the fact is, Samson was something of a sluggard when it came to getting down to the Lord’s business. For in addition to his battles, he is also seen wandering off the path into a vineyard, lounging about at a feast, dwelling idly atop a mountain, and dozing on Delilah’s lap while God’s enemies plotted his capture just outside. In fact, once, after avenging himself of a personal insult, he decided to simply call it quits.

And Samson said unto them, Though ye have done this, yet will I be avenged of you, and after that I will cease.

Judges 15:7 (emphasis added)

You may have head the old expression, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” God made man to work and be productive. Even the plain revelation of His Law highlighted this fact:

Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

Exodus 20:9

The Bible contains numerous warnings against idleness and laziness.

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and [hath] nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

Proverbs 13:4

The principle of hard work is highlighted as a Christian ethic in the New Testament as well.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

As Christians we have divine callings upon our lives, every bit as much as Samson did, although certainly not the same one. Staying busy accomplishes a multifaceted purpose: It keeps us from lapsing into sin through inactivity; it brings blessings into our lives; and it glorifies the Lord.

The Last but Not the Least – Part 1

August 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 25 Comments
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Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:11-13

To covet is to have a sinful desire directed toward what someone else has. Is it a sin? Yes (“Thou shalt not covet“), but let’s be honest – how many of us have coveted at least once this past week? Most, if not all.

If you are not covetous, what are you? What is the opposite? To not be covetous is to be content. It is to be satisfied with what God has given you and done for you.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11 (emphasis added)

In the Old Testament, priests and Jewish scholars, and those serious about obeying God, bound the Word of God on their arms, on their foreheads, on their chests. It might be good for us to put Philippians 4:11 on our refrigerators, on the dashboards of our cars, on your coffeemakers, on our bathroom mirrors, on our alarm clocks, on the covers of our Bibles.

What is the opposite of contentment? It’s covetousness. Covetousness is a sin. It’s not one of the 10 Suggestions; it’s one of the 10 Commandments. It’s number 10. It comes after commandments like, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Most people won’t voluntarily admit it if they commit adultery – or murder – but if you ask a group of people, “Come on, how many of you have coveted this week?” most will be willing to raise their hands. We consider covetousness to be, not only the last of the 10 Commandments, but also the least – thus the title of this message: “The Last but Not the Least.”

Is it really that bad to covet? Let’s look at a few places in the Bible and see how God looks at the “little” sin of covetousness:

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Mark 7:21-23 (emphasis added)

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

Romans 1:28-31 (emphasis added)

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

Ephesians 5:3 (emphasis added)

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

I Corinthians 5:11 (emphasis added)

How does God classify the sin of covetousness? He classifies it along with murder and fornication and theft and extortion and adultery and all the worse types of behaviors that sinful man can dream up in his sinful heart. “Thou shalt not covet” is not the 10th Commandment because it’s the 10th in importance. It’s the 10th Commandment because it is the sin that leads men to break all the nine other ones. It’s the last, but not the least.

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Treat it as a command. BE content. We’ve been led astray by psychology. We’ve been taught to think we have no control over our feelings or our emotions. So we say, I either am content, or I’m not – I can’t just make myself ‘be’ content.”

But we can:

… bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:5

“Let” in that verse means “make” or “cause.”

Being content brings generosity.

Jesus Christ had the right to act like God – to take control and enjoy everything He owned. But He took on the form of a Servant and He was content. There is a freedom that comes with wanting good things for others, and not for ourselves. Children think they will be happy if they win the fight they are having over who will get the front seat of the van, or who will get to use a toy over the exclusion of his brother or sister, but that type of squabbling really enslaves them and makes them miserable. The world says that if you do not covet – that if you don’t make sure you get what’s coming to you – you won’t get anything good. But as Christians, we don’t want “what we have coming to us,” anyway. We don’t want what we deserve. God gave His Son for me. How freeing it is to remember that, and to try to be like Him – to get excited about giving instead of getting. There are bumper stickers that say, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but that’s not true. Life is not a race to see how much we can get. It’s a race to see how much we can give. It’s not, “He who gets the most, wins.” It’s, “He who gives the most, wins.”

Life is for living, not for making.
Life is for giving, not for taking.

(Couplet I made up, which proves I stink at writing poetry, but which helps me to remember a Bible principle)

Being content brings generosity, but being covetous brings greed.

How many sermons have you heard about supposed solutions for the problem of how “empty” we are? I said earlier that Christ Jesus took on the form of a Servant, and was more of a giver than a taker – and yet, according to Scripture, He was not empty. Up until the days when He was preparing to go to the Cross, He was full. He was constantly full. I’m not one of those “prosperity” preachers, but from what I can see in Scripture, the Lord wants us to be continually full. We are to be like Christ. Why are we so empty, and always trying to get more things, and always wanting more and better? Why are we not full? It’s not because we don’t have enough. It’s because we have too much: too much vanity.

Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

Jeremiah 2:5

The Lord is telling these people that their fathers became vain because they walked after vanity. Jesus was never empty because He never walked after emptiness. His meat was to do the will of His Father. (John 4:31-34) When I am vain – when I am empty – it’s because I’ve been walking after vanity – after emptiness. When I am walking after the things of God, I am content – I am full. And when I am full, I not only have the ability to bless others, but I am reminded to be grateful to God. This point will be developed more in Part 2.

Teaching the 3rd and 4th Commandments to Children

July 12, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Exodus | 14 Comments
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Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Exodus 20:7

The Bible has many negative things to say about vanity, and Commandment No. 3 is a good starting point for teaching children what it means. “Vanity” refers to things which might mean something to people here on earth now, but will not mean anything one day in Heaven. When we take God’s name “in vain,” we make it seem like God is not important to us. That’s one reason why we don’t want to say things like “Oh God” or “Oh my God” in a casual way. Even terms like “gosh” can be a form of taking God’s name in vain. A good rule for children to remember is to only say God’s name when you are actually talking about God.

Here are some names for God in the Bible that most children can easily understand, or may know already:
1. GOD
2. JESUS
3. HOLY SPIRIT
4. HOLY GHOST
5. LORD
6. FATHER
7. ALMIGHTY
8. REDEEMER
9. SAVIOR
10. MESSIAH
11. CHRIST

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Exodus 20:8

Here, under the 4th Commandment, it is important to teach children the reason why God rested. He did not “rest” because He was tired. He rested to show that He was finished with the initial work of creation, and to set an example for us. He also rested in order to set apart a special day – and some things – as special to Him. God wants us to show that we care more about Him than making money.

The Founding Father

October 21, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Posted in Genesis | 12 Comments
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Since Genesis is the first book of the Bible, it makes sense that it would lay the foundation for the great doctrines of God revealed later in Scripture.

In Genesis we learn that God founds. He creates.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Genesis 1:1-2

In Genesis we also learn that God forms.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

Genesis 1:6

In Genesis we also learn that God fills.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

Genesis 1:20

Genesis is a Book of “firsts.” It contains the record of the first rest.

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

Genesis 2:2

Genesis also contains the record of the first residence.

And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

Genesis 2:8

Genesis also contains the record of the first relationships (covenant and marriage).

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:16-18

Our modern world uses belief in the literal truth of the events recorded in Genesis as a test for a person’s sanity. I heard a commentator once say that America was divided into states where people believe in billions of years of evolution, and states where people believe that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church. I freely admit that I believe that the animals that we know today as “dinosaurs” were alive in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, and, before sin entered the world, Adam had dominion over these animals, so he might very well have ridden them to whatever form of worship (or “church”) which he and Eve practiced. Call me crazy if you like, but the Bible describes a relatively young Earth (approximately 6000 years old). And it does no good to say that the six days of creation might have really been “epochs” or “ages” or “periods of time” consisting of millions or billions of years each. The Hebrew word for a literal “day” – yowm or yom – is the same word used in Exodus 20:9-10: “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:” No one can honestly argue that these “days” in Exodus are anything but literal “days.”

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

We see the wisdom of God in creating for Adam a “helper.” My wife says that this proves Eve was smarter than Adam, because a “helper” is someone who is able to do things that you couldn’t do on your own.

Notice that Eve was not taken from Adam’s head or foot, but from his side. This signifies equality, protection, and proximity to his “heart.” Eve was really a gift for Adam from God.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

Genesis 1:20

The birds (flying) and the fish (breathing under water) could do things Adam couldn’t do, but that was good.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Genesis 1:21

God also declared the land animals to be good, but He brought them before Adam to be named.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:19-20

Adam could do most of the things the land animals could do, but they were doing something in pairs that Adam couldn’t do alone – and that was not good. This seems to have been a motivation for God to make Eve.

It is important to remember that Adam was not a brute, a savage, or a cave man. He was probably the smartest man in the history of the world – hardwired straight from the mind of God. He named all the animals and got married in one day. He did not have a mother-in-law, but he had the best Father-in-law of all time. Those of us who have Christian wives need to remember that our wives are daughters of God.

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