Sunday, March 31, 2013

Power, Sex, and Money

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Sunday, March 31, 2013:  Deuteronomy 16:1-17:20

15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you ...  16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself ...  17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.  Deuteronomy 17:15-17 (NKJV)

18 “ ...  he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes.  Deuteronomy 17:18-19 (NKJV)

The kings of Israel were given three warnings and one instruction.  These were expressions of the wisdom of God to guide them against failure and direct them toward success.  These instructions reach beyond Hebrew royalty and speak to us about living at a higher level.  They are principles of leadership that apply to everyone but particularly speak to men.  

First, we will look at the three temptations.  God says that the king "shall not multiply horses for himself." Horses represent military might.  The key phrase here is "for himself."  The king is told to not build up a personal army.  He is told to not use his position to gather a military structure to enhance his personal POWER.  God also says that the king shall not "multiply wives for himself."  This is more than a prohibition against polygamy.  This has to do with the fidelity of marriage and the honoring of godly home life.  The violation of this is to engage in multiplied sexual relationships -- the danger and damage of SEXUAL SIN.  Finally, God says that the king shall not "greatly multiply silver and gold for himself."  This involves the temptation to use position and power for the purpose of personal gain -- the lure of MONEY.

Much has been written and much should yet be said about these three areas of danger for every man.  It was Lord Acton who said, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  One of the salient characteristics of fallen man is his inability to handle unchecked power.  Therefore all of us need to have a clear place of accountability before God.  

The increasingingly sexualized culture in which we live demands that everyone, not just leaders, surround themselves with safeguards.  Whether it be internet, inter-office, or entertainment, every man should be vigilant to not allow the siren song of sexual fantasy lead him down the path to ruin.  

The corrupting lust for money is well documented.  Greed is everywhere and lures us to cut corners, to make compromises, and to cut bad deals.  Financial integrity is important to spiritual health.  

It is sobering to realize that it was in these three areas that Saul, David, Solomon, and all of the future kings of God's people so often failed.

So, what were they to do?  How could these men avoid the pitfalls of leadership?  God gave them one simple instruction:  READ THE WORD.  In verse 19, God tells them to keep the Word of God at the center of their daily lives.  Read it every day.  This may sound too simple, but it resounds throughout Scripture.  "How can a young man cleanse his way?  By taking heed according to Your word....Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You."  (Psalm 119:9,11)  Hear this today: the Word of God will strengthen you, will build you up, will carry you to life at a higher level.  That is part of what is means to live as a son of the King.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Do We Keep All of the Law LITERALLY?

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, March 29, 2013:  Deuteronomy 11:1-12:32

18 “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.  Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NKJV)

As we read through the Old Testament, we find a myriad of comandments, statutes, regulations, and laws.  The question is often raised, "How much of these are we required to do today?"  It is obvious that many moral laws still have importance today -- laws about lying, stealing, adultery, and such as that.  Most people would agree that we are called today to LITERALLY keep these commandments.

Then we come across a passage that says, "Write these laws on your hand.  Place them on your forehead.  Take a pen and write them on the doorfacings of your house."  Are we to LITERALLY keep these instructions, or are they figurative?  

Let's look at this a bit closer.  Three times in the Old Testament (Ex. 13:9,16;  Dt. 6:6-9; Dt. 11:18-21) we are told to do exactly the same thing:  1) keep God's Word on your hearts, 2) bind them as a sign upon your hands, 3) place them "as frontlets between your eyes" and 4) write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.  All Scripture is important and should be heeded, but when God repeats Himself it is always for emphasis!  We need to pay close attention to what He says.  

So, once again, are these instructions to be kept LITERALLY.  It is obvious that such an instruction is impossible.  Here's why.  First off, Deuteronomy 6:6 defines WHAT should be bound on the hand and placed as a frontlet.  There we find that God is referring to "these words which I command you today..."  God is referring to the entire Old Testament law!  Most folks agree that this means the first five books of the Bible (commonly called the Torah).  So, is God telling every male in Israel to write the entire Torah on their hands, place them in a small box (frontlet) attached to their forehead, and write them on their door facings?  That is imposible.  Therefore, this must be FIGURATIVE.

With respect to the "frontlets between your eyes", this is actually where the Jewish practice called tefillin comes from.  Tefillin is translated into the Greek word phylacteries, and means "portions of Scripture that are written on long, thin strips of paper to represent the whole law." These tefillin were placed in a small pillbox stapped to the man's forehead. Jesus referred to this practice in Matt. 23:5 in an indictment against the Pharisees.  Because they could not literally fulfil this law, they sought the next best thing.  They established TOKEN OBEDIENCE or REPRESENTATIVE OBEDIENCE.  This is the very essence of RELIGION instead of RELATIONSHIP.

I believe tha these commandments about frontlets and doorposts and signs on your hands point us clearly toward the New Testament (Covenant).  God is not after our outward religious practices as much as He is after our hearts!  This is what Jeremiah meant when he wrote:  "Behold, the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel...not according to the covenant I made with their fathers... I will PUT MY LAWS IN THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE IT ON THEIR HEARTS."  (Jer. 31:31-33)

When Israel was told to "bind them (the law) as a sign on your hands" that was NOT literal.  It as saying, "Let the work of your hands be a reflection of the Word of God."  When Israel is told to place God's law as "frontlets between you eyes" that does not mean where a pillbox on your forehead!  It means, "Let the Word of God form and direct your THINKING."  The same can be said about the doorposts of your house.  There are few things stronger than a household ordered and directed by the Word of God!

So, in closing, the objective of God has always been to INTERNALIZE His Word in our lives.  The temptation is always to resort to outward performances when all along God is after the heart.  In this respect, may we be always obedient from the heart.  The law is now IN MY HEART.  The Sabbath is IN MY HEART.

If we fixate on the LETTER OF THE LAW, far too often we miss the SPIRIT OF THE LAW.  In Christ, summation of it all is Love God with all your heart and Love one another out of a pure heart.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Impossible and the Possible

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Thursday, March 28, 2013:  Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22

“Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven."  Deuteronomy 9:1 (NKJV)

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?  Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (NKJV)

God sets each of us up for an awesome life of faith complete with miraculous intervention and impossible situations.  This may seem a bit dramatic, but it is exactly what happened with Israel, and they are a pattern for us (see I Co. 10:1-13).

First, He gives you an IMPOSSIBLE ASSIGNMENT. He sends you into battle against "nations greater and mightier than yourself" (9:1).  It seems that God regularly leads us into challenges.  These are not meant to discourage us or turn us back, but instead to build us into a mighty people.  God's best promises for you are always CONTESTED TERRITORY.

That's the way God operates.  He sends young, small David against a giant named Goliath.  He sends a young woman named Esther to stand against an entire empire.  He uses an uneducated, rag-tag mix of fishermen, mis-fits, and tax collectors to change the world!

Second, He gives you a POSSIBLE LIFESTYLE.  It sounds like this: fear Me, walk with Me, love Me, serve Me, keep My instructions.  I have heard countless people over the years say that they just can't live the way God requires.  My response is, "Of course you can't IN YOUR OWN POWER."  But, God never calls you to live in a way that He will not give you the power to fulfil it!

When we think of becoming the person God wants us to be too often we can think of it in grandiose terms of extreme devotion.  Instead, it is really as simple as loving God and doing what He says right this moment.  Don't worry about tomorrow, just determine that "this is the day that The Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118:24)

You and I are called to a journey that is both beyond possible and impossible.  It is a life of faith and trust in a God who loves us.  Welcome to the adventure!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Old Testament Extermination vs. New Testament Evangelisation

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Wednesday, March 27, 2013:  Deuteronomy 7:1-8:20

Also you shall destroy all the peoples whom the Lord your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.  Deuteronomy 7:16 (NKJV)

There are numerous ways that God's instructions CHANGED as we move from Old Testament to New.  God NEVER changes, but His instructions to us DO!  It is a marvellous and wonderful study to see all the ways God has shifted His expectations of us as His plan found fulfilment in Jesus.  

One of the most controversial ways things changed is with respect to the pagan nations.  In the Old Testament, we find God telling Israel to KILL THEM ALL!  In the New Testament we find God telling the Church to WIN THEM ALL.  In the Old Testament we find EXTERMINATION.  In the New Testament we find EVANGELISATION.

This is so dramatic that some have thought that the "Old Testament God" is totally different from the "New Testament God".  According to this view, the Old Testament God is a blood-thirsty monster who practiced genocide on the scale of an Adolf Hitler or a Joseph Stalin.  He practiced ethnic cleansing and advocated the eradication of entire nations.  By contrast, the New Testament God is the embodiment of tolerance, acceptance, and love for all people.  Such caricatures force us to look closer at what really happened in the transition from Old Testament to New.

Why would Holy God order the destruction of entire groups of people?  The answer lies in two basic truths:

1.  The Nature of the Old Testament.  The Old Testament is basically DEFENSIVE.  The aim is the preservation of a precarious holiness.  By contrast, the New Testament is OFFENSIVE; it is aggressive.  In so many ways, the Old Testament centered on "touch not, taste not."  By contrast, the New Testament is a picture of positive holiness that drives out impurity.  

2.  The Aim of the Old Testament.  God can see the future.  He sees what compromise will produce.  Old Testament history focuses on one and only one objective:  the Messiah!  All of the Old Testament balances on the thin line of purity whereby a SAVIOUR could arrive on Planet Earth. Therefore, all threats to this precarious holiness had to be wiped out.  The Canaanite people were given to bestiality, incest, and child sacrifice.  God wanted no compromise in a people who would deliver Jesus.  He knew the destructive results of intermarriage and the acceptance of pagan practices.

In the New Testament, we find these words, "For God so loved THE WORLD that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."(John 3:16)  Even though He ordered the destruction of pagan nations, yet even then His heart of redemption was at work.  ANYONE who would repent and throw themselves on the mercy of God could be saved.  We find this in the story of a pagan prostitute named Rahab in Joshua 2.  

Our God is by nature a Redeemer.  He is by nature full of compassion.  Then and now, He hears the cry of those who call out to Him for mercy.  When it is all said and done, history will declare the goodness of God -- even though at times His judgment has been severe.  He does all things well!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Rightful Use of God's Law

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, March 26, 2013:  Deuteronomy 5:1-6:25

And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your  hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them."  Deuteronomy 5:1 (NKJV)

Thus begins the re-telling of the Ten Commandments.  Moses, standing on the east banks of Jordan, recalls the "10 Words" God had given nearly 40 years before.  Today, 3,500 years later, those "10 Words" are just as provocative as the day they were given.  Questions will always surround the law of God.  Why did God give the law?  What role does the law play in the life of a New Testament believer?  What place does the Ten Commandments have in our society?  Is the law for today or has it passed away?

These are IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.  The answers will lead us to face many man-made misunderstandings of the truth.  The Word of God seems to attract controversy.  For years now controversy has swirled around the posting of the Ten Commandments in public places.  On a personal level, some folks hold that the law is no longer in effect at all, having been totally fulfilled by Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection.  At the other end of the spectrum are those who hold that the law is the measure of righteousness today just as they believe it was in the days of Moses.  Some say that the law is EVERYTHING.  Others say it is NOTHING.

What does the New Testament say about the Old Testament law?  It is ONLY in the Bible itself that these questions can be answered.  There we find an interesting truth.  At times the law is described as good, but at othr times, not so good.

Some passages describe the law in glowing terms.  Romans 7:12 affirms that "the law is holy, and the commandment holy, righteous, and good."  Paul says at one point, "In my inner being I delight in God's law" (Rom. 7:22).  James speaks of "the royal law" (Jas. 2:8).  In other passages, the law is spoken of as negative.  Paul says that he "died to the law so that he might live unto God" (Gal. 2:19).  He often states that he is no longer "under the law, but under grace" (Rom. 6:14) and has been "delivered/released from the law" (Rom. 7:6).

How do these differing views fit together?  Paul brings clarity when he writes in I Timothy 1:8, "But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully."  IF ONE USES IT LAWFULLY!  The law is good is we use the law in the way God intended.  But, this implies that the law becomes evil if we use it for that which God never intended.  To use a modern illustration, the law is like a GUN.  Guns are good, if guns are used lawfully!  They only become bad if used UNLAWFULLY.  The issue is not the gun, it is the heart of man.  In similar fashion, God's law is good.  It only does damage when we seek to apply it in ways God never intended.

The law is a reflection of the perfections of our God.  The law is a guideline for a moral and good life.  The law is a school teacher to drive us to the Saviour.  In this respect, the law is always good.  If, however, the law becomes the standard and measurement of my personal righteousness, it becomes my enemy.  It will always condemn me because I can never be good enough.

Like David, we should love the law of God (Ps. 119:97).  We love the law for its rightful place in salvation by grace -- for its rightful place in our life in the blessing of God.  We LIVE as people of the Word of God.  Therefore, we can say with Paul, "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law ... that the blessing of Abraham might come on us" (Gal. 3:13-14).

Monday, March 25, 2013

No Idols!

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Monday, March 25: Deuteronomy 4:1-49

23 Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.  Deuteronomy 4:23-24 (NKJV)

When we think of idol worship, images come to mind of golden calves or gyrating dancers circling a hideous statue.  I have been in regions of the world in which true idol worship was obvious on every street corner.  This was a major reality in the world of the Bible (and in portions of our world today).

God addressed this when He gave the second commandment.  There He says, "You shall not make for yourselves a carved image .... you shall not bow down to them nor serve the, for I, the Lord you God, am a jealous God..."  (Exodus 20:4-5).  It's clear:  NO IDOL WORSHIP! 

The Western mindset can easily say that this applies only to pagan societies with golden images set up before incensed altars.  But, should Western society be concerned about a different kind of idol worship?  I say, "Yes."  Our idols may not look like the stereotype of Shiva or Ganesh in India, but they are nonetheless just as real. 

Someone once said that our problem is America is not METAL GODS but rather MENTAL GODS.   We want to remake God in our own image.  We tend to figure out for ourselves the way we want God to be and then demand that He meet our expectations.  We no longer serve Him, but instead expect Him to serve us.  God becomes our Heavenly Butler.

J.I. Packer, in his classic book Knowing God, speaks to this when he writes, "To follow the imagination of one's heart in the realm of theology is the way to remain ignorant of God, and to become an idol-worshipper -- the idol is this case being a false mental image of God, made by one's own speculation and imagination."  We fashion a god after our OWN MIND instead of taking God at His Word and believe Him as He displays Himself in the Bible.   

Isaiah 40:18 echoes this when it says: "To whom then will you liken God?  Or what likeness will you compare to Him?"  It is humorous at times to hear someone say, "I like to think of God as a Wind or as a Fire... or as a Lion or a Lamb."  All of these things can be mildly helpful in humanizing our transcendent God.  But remember that our God is higher and bigger, grander and more awesome.  Does it really matter how we like to view God.  LET GOD BE GOD!

Which brings us to the very definition of an idol.  It is not really a "false god."  (That's what the first commandment dealt with -- "no other gods before me")  An idol is something WE MAKE to represent the God we can't see. It's something we invent.  Scripture says that in the beginning "God created man, in the image of God He created him" (Gen. 1:27).  Ever since then, fallen man has been trying to create God in our own image!

This leads to a simple prayer:  God, I want to know You are You really are!  I don't want to worship my idea of who You are, I want to KNOW you. 

If you and I will pray that prayer, I know that God Almighty will come and show new vistas of Himself that will thrill our hearts.  There is nothing better that simply knowing the true and living God.

INDESTRUCTIBLE: "Indestructible Joy"

Here are the notes from yesterday's message at New Life Community Church.  Third message in the series INDESTRUCTIBLE entitled "Indestructible Joy".  If you wouldl like to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless!

Indestructible, Part 3                                                                         Sunday, March 24, 2013
 “Indestructible Joy”

15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.  Hebrews 7:15-16 (NASB)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

How do you face pain?  I remember when I was a kid, the worst words I could hear were “Just wait until your father gets home.” 

What would you be thinking if you were facing death by torture tomorrow?

Let’s look at Jesus.

31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  John 16:31-33 (NKJV)

16 Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
17 At this, some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” 18 They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We don’t understand what he is saying.”
19 Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’?

20 Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.  John 16:20-21 (NIV)
Illustration:  Pain and Joy of Childbirth
22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. 23 In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.  John 16:22-24 (NIV)

1.     Joy is built on what you SEE.

34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.  Hebrews 10:34-36 (ESV)

A Mighty Fortress in Our God

            Let goods and kindred go,
            this mortal life also;
            the body they may kill;
            God's truth abideth still;
            his kingdom is forever.


Example:  Matthew 14:22-33.  Jesus walking on the water and Peter coming to Him also walking on the water.  “Be of good cheer.  It is I; do not be afraid.” (vs. 27)

  Cross references:

  1. Hebrews 10:34 : [ch. 13:3; Matt. 25:36; 2 Tim. 1:16]
  2. Hebrews 10:34 : See Matt. 5:12
  3. Hebrews 10:34 : 1 Pet. 1:4
  4. Hebrews 10:35 : ch. 2:2; 11:26
  5. Hebrews 10:36 : ch. 12:1-7; Luke 21:19; Rom. 2:7; 12:12; See Matt. 10:22
  6. Hebrews 10:36 : ch. 13:21; [1 John 2:17]
  7. Hebrews 10:36 : ch. 11:39

2.     Joy brings BENEFIT to everyone.

17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.  Hebrews 13:17 (NIV)

3.     Joy releases POWER.

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:10 (ESV)

Cross references:

  1. Nehemiah 8:10 : Esth. 9:19, 22

Matthew Henry:  “The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.”

John Piper:  “I know of no other way to triumph over sin long-term than to gain a distaste for it because of a superior satisfaction in God.”
Check out the internet concerning “The Joy of ….”
The joy of math
The joy of chocolate
The joy of cooking
The joy of gluten-free, sugar-free baking
The joy of sex
The joy of painting
The joy of pickling
The joy of working
The joy of not working
The joy of socks
The joy of hate

24 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.  Hebrews 11:24-26 (ESV)

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.  I Peter 1:8-9 (NIV)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

When Eleven Days Turns into Forty Years

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Saturday, March 23, 2013:  Numbers 36:1-Deuteronomy 1:46

"It is eleven days' journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea.  Now it came to pass in the fortieth year in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the Lord had given as commandments to them."  Dt. 1:2-3 (NKJV)

The distance from Mt. Sinai (also called Mt. Horeb) to the edge of the Promised Land was only an 11 days' journey.  Yet, it took the children of Israel 40 years of wandering around in the wilderness before they finally arrived again at the borders of Canaan. 

The Christian life is far more than "OUT OF."  It is also "INTO."  It took relatively little time for the children of Israel to come OUT OF Egypt.  It took 40 years for them to get ready to go INTO the Promised Land.  They could have completed the journey in under two weeks.  Instead it took a lifetime.

I can identify with Israel.  It was not hard for God to get Israel OUT OF Egypt.  It took 40 years to get Egypt OUT OF Israel.  This is the process we are now undergoing.  We have experienced a "relocation."  We have gotten a new citizenship -- a new identity.  Yet we still tend to go back to the old ways.  We tend to revert to our old citizenship. 

Our God is FAITHFUL!  He has determined to bless us.  He will not relent.  It can take you 11 days or 40 years.  Regardless, you will ultimately come into fullness.  God has brought you OUT, in order that He might bring you IN.  He will complete what He has begun.

Sins of Omission and Sins of Commission

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Saturday, March 23, 2013:  Numbers 36:1-Deuteronomy 1:46

26 “Nevertheless you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 1:26 (NKJV)

43 So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the Lord, and presumptuously went up into the mountain.  Deuteronomy 1:43 (NKJV)

First, God said to Israel, "Go up and possess the land."  And they refused.  They rebelled.  Therefore, God severely rebuked them.

Then, Israel said that they would now do what God had originally instructed them to do.  They had seen the err of their ways, and now they would go up into Canaan.  But, God said, "It's too late.  DO NOT GO UP."  Israel rebelled a second time by going up when God said not to.  

Herein constitutes the two major ways we disobey God.  We refuse to do that which He clearly tells us to do, and then we headlong DO that which He says "Don't do."

These are called SINS OF COMMISSION and SINS OF OMISSION.  Israel balked when God told them WHAT TO DO.  And then preceded to charge ahead when God told them what NOT to do it.

This is the human predicament and it hits us in the face every day.  Paul echoes this in Romans 7 when he says, "For the good that I want to do, I do not do, and the evil that I don't want, that I do!"  (Rom. 7:19).  Sins of OMISSION and sins of COMMISSION.  

We are all guilty when it comes to this.  We fail to fully do what God clearly tells us to do, and then we do those things that He forbids.  This points me to Jesus!  We can agree with Paul when he says, "O wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I THANK GOD -- THROUGH CHRIST OUR LORD!!! ...  There is therefore NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus!" (Rom. 7:24-8:1).

Herein is the wonder and glory and beauty of a life lived IN CHRIST.  He is our sufficiency.  He is our life.  He is our righteousness.  But for the grace of God, we would be utter failures.  We could never measure up.  But, by His sufficiency, we are more than conquerors.  In that light I can learn to live my life according to His Word.  And that is the best life!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Drive Out the Enemy

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Friday, March 22, 2013:  Numbers 33:40-35:34

55 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. 56 Moreover it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them.’” Number 33:55-56 (NKJV)

The story of the journey from Egypt to Canaan serves two purposes.  It is first off the accurate HISTORY of how God led His Israel out of slavery into possession of the Promised Land.  Secondly, it is a LESSON for us today concerning our journey out of the bondage of sin and into our divine destiny.  I Corinthians 10:1-13 states this.  There we find these words written by the hand of the Apostle Paul:  "Now all these things happened to them (Israel) as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (I Co. 10:11).

This is rich with meaning for us today!  The story of Israel's journey is a parable to us about our journey.  Paul gives several illustrations in I Corinthians 10 about how this  parallel works, and it is well worth our time to study each one.  

In the light of this, Numbers 33 comes alive to us.  Israel is poised on the east bank of the Jordan ready to go into Canaan and conquer.  They are given some very exacting instructions.  They are told to "drive out all the inhabitants of the land" (Num. 33:52).  A succession of powerful and dramatic words are used by God in His instructions concerning driving out these inhabitants.  Words like "destroy", "demolish", and "dispossess".  

How in the world does this apply to us today?  What is the parallel?  In II Corinthians 7:1 we read these words, "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."  It is clear that as we move into our destiny in Christ, there are "old ways" that we have to lay down.  Just as there is new territory we have to possess, there are also old ways that we must leave behind.

Out of Numbers 33, God gives us a warning.  The age-old challenge to God's people has been PARTIAL OBEDIENCE.  From Adam and Eve to King Saul, COMPROMISE and partial obedience have always served to bring a stumbling block.  God tells Israel in Numbers 33 to thoroughly drive out the pagan inhabitants of the land.  It isn't because He hates them; it's because He wants His people  to learn a new way of living.

Here's the warning: God says that failure to follow through will bring irritation and pain.  Most people who have come to Christ have brought a whole pile of "old ways" with them.  It may be anger or greed.  It may be "flesh patterns" of carnality.  Most people have two or three major life-long battles that have accompanied their path.  God says, "DECLARE WAR!"  Drive these enemies out of your land.  If you allow them to stay, they will be irritants in your eyes.  They will blur your vision so that you will find it at times hard to see the path ahead.  They will be thorns in your side.  Just as you begin to gain momentm, they will bend you over again in pain.

God has given you new life in Christ.  He has brought you on a great journey toward destiny.  We can learn great lessons from the story of Israel about how to take the next steps.  Here are a few questions:

Are there any areas in your life that regularly bring you defeat and that stop your progress?

Have you allowed the enemy to remain active in certain areas of your life despite your repeated attempts toward obedience?

Have you accepted an unbiblical idea or practice to remain in your life because you simply couldn't defeat it?

If the answer to any of these is YES, then perhaps it's time to DECLARE WAR. By the power of the Holy Spirit and in the Name of Jesus, declare that there will be a new day of advance toward your God-given destiny.  No more compromise.  No more partial obedience.  No more acceptance of intruders on your territory.  This is the good battle.  This is destiny.

Monday, March 18, 2013

INDESTRUCTIBLE: "Indestructible Faith"

Here are the notes from the message at New Life Community Church yesterday, March 17, 2013.  This is the second message in the series INDESTRUCTIBLE, and is entitled "Indestructible Faith."  If you would like to listen to this message you may do so by going to our website at  God bless.

Indestructible, Part 2                                                                         Sunday, March 17, 2013
 “Indestructible Faith”

Have you ever felt like life was tearing you apart?  Have you ever felt like you were a bit fragile, and breakable?

We even have phrases that describe this condition:

I went to pieces.
Things fell apart.
I’m wasted.
That took me down.

We live in a world that it seems is bent on destruction.

John 10:10

11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.  Hebrews 7:11-14 (NASB)
15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.  Hebrews 7:15-16 (NASB)
Have you ever wanted to have super-hero powers?

"faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound"

X-ray vision, super-breath,

Definition:  incapable of being destroyed, ruined, or rendered ineffective


  1. <diamonds are widely considered to be indestructible because they are one of the hardest known substances>


probably from Late Latin indestructibilis, from Latin in- + destructus, past participle of destruere to tear down — more at destroy
First Known Use: 1667
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  II Corinthians 4:7-9 (NIV)

10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.  II Corinthians 4:10-12 (NIV)

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.  II Corinthians 4:13-14 (NIV)

We have the same spirit of faith.  SPIRIT OF FAITH.

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. I John 5:4 (NKJV)

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  II Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2 (Amplified)

Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:3 (NIV)

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.  Luke 9:51 (NIV)

Three Faith-Testers:
1.     PEOPLE
3.     PAIN

Three ways people test you:
1.      They can let you down
2.      They can betray you
3.      They can unjustly accuse you

And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.”  Luke 23:2 (ESV)

43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  Luke 22:43-44 (ESV)

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  I Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)