Live it! Blog

Tuesday, 01 June 2021 00:41

Exodus 21:1-36

   The news has been relating stories of passenger’s bad behavior on planes. Fist fights, ugly words, and disrespect abound. Other violent behaviors seem to shock our nation. What violent acts have shocked or dismayed you. Lester Holt stated on the evening news: “Roots of behavioral change are not easily legislated.” God is not surprised by man’s sinful choices. God knew the Israelites would need a code of conduct to direct their behavior just as we need Holy Spirit behavior modification in our lives.

    Justice is the practical outworking of the righteousness of God in human history. “The Lord loves righteousness and justice, the earth is full of his unfailing love.” (Psalm 33:5)  Our world may be filled with injustice, but the time will come when God will judge the world in righteousness. “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31) How does God’s justice impact you?

   As far as the criminal courts are concerned, the goal is to free the innocent and condemn the guilty, but when it comes to our relationship to God, there are no innocent people. (Romans 3:23)  But in His grace, because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, God can declare righteous any guilty sinner who believes on Jesus.  The code of conduct laid out for the Israelites is no longer our judge. Men are by nature slaves of sin. Charles Spurgeon said, “If you are resolved to be the slave of your passions, then your passions will indeed enslave you.” Have you or others you know become enslaved?

   We should not be shocked to hear about the bad behaviors and ways that people are enslaved around us, it is to be expected in a world infected with sin. Jesus has set us free from sin’s bondage. In Exodus 21:5-6, we read of a freed servant, “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.” A painful piercing marked this servant for life. Our Savior also loved us and demonstrated his commitment to us as he was willingly pierced. “But he was pierced for our transgressions…by his wounds we are healed.” (Psalm 53:5) We are God’s servants for life. Is our heart pierced with the permanency of our relationship with Jesus?  The freed servant who chose to have his ear pierced was marked for life as belonging to his master. How are you marked as a Christ follower? What defines those who are a part of WLGBC family? How is God calling you to be marked as his follower?

lkb

Monday, 31 May 2021 10:58

Exodus 20:12-26​​

Last week we considered the Ten Commandments as God's "rules for relationships, notingthat rules are like fences; they are for our protection.

As Anne Graham Lotz wrote, “God is the one who designed life in the first place. He knows how it functions best and has given practical directions for us to achieve the fullest possible extent of joy and happiness. His directions are like the road markings on a highway.

You and I can push the boundaries that God has established, but we do so at our own peril. If we go outside His ‘road markings,’ the likelihood is that we will get hurt, as well as hurt other people. At the very least, we will experience life on a lower level than He intended. The alternative is to take God at His word, stay within His boundaries, and trust Him to know what’s best for us.”

Have they been the rules you live by? Why or Why not?

In the New Testament, Jesus summarized the ten with just two positive commands: Love God and love your neighbors. So, let’s look at them again from a positive perspective, and note, also some further explanation adapted from A.G. Lotz.

A Positive Perspective

Further Explanation

Worship Yahweh alone.

Other gods—such as money, fame, sex, pleasure, power—will enslave you.

Worship Yahweh in the way that he requires.

Behind other gods are d e monic forces who will weaken you, deceive you, and suck you into attitudes, words, actions, and thoughts you had no idea you were capable of.

Honor the name of Yahweh in your words and conduct.

Unless you reverence God, you will not have even the beginning of wisdom to live by.

Set apart a special day for rest. 

A lifestyle of setting aside one day a week to focus on God will keep your faith anchored.

Honor your parents.

Doing so will lead to a richer, fuller, life.

Respect and protect human life.

Human life has a high value. Yours and others.

Respect and protect marriage and sexuality.

Sexual betrayal destroys a marriage bond and cracks a nation’s foundation.

Respect and protect other people’s property.

Without mutual trust we cannot have safe, healthy relationships.

Respect and protect the truth and the way you treat others.

Integrity is foundational to a successful life and a strong society.

Be content with what God gives to you.

The danger of never being content is being dominated by greed that demands more and more.

When Jesus taught on some of the commandments in his Sermon on the Mount, he wasn’t adding more laws; he was offering the true and proper interpretation of the law as God originally intended it.

Today’s text tells us that “when the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. Moses said, “Do not be afraid,” but notice what follows: “God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” Get that? What can be the greatest deterrent to our inclination to sin? The fear of God!

Since we live in the age of grace,we are secure in God’s love if we have trusted Jesus and acknowledged him as lord of our lives. But sin, does have its consequences—even for the Christian, so we need to be growing in grace and becoming more and more like Jesus.

How are you growing in grace?​​​​​​​

jbd & gmd

Friday, 28 May 2021 00:00

1 John 4:7-21

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord 

And we pray that our unity will one day be restored

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love

Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Interestingly enough, this song was cause for an uprising in our Christian high school. Some parents thought the song was too contemporary and ungodly, so they pulled their students out and sent them to a more conservative school.

According to Wikipedia: 

"We Are One in the Spirit" is a Christian hymn written in the 1960s by a then-Catholic priest, the late Fr. Peter Scholtes. It is inspired by John 13:35. The title of the hymn, “They'll Know We Are Christians By Our Love,” originates in a phrase that non-believers used to describe Christian believers of early Church: "Behold, how they love one another." 

Maybe the parents knew it was written by a Catholic. (This is not a commentary on ecumenicalism.) The 1960s were characterized by love statements: love child, love-in. You name it, it was all about love. The 60’s revolution was about making love, not war.

What’s love got to do with it, anyway? 1 John 4 sheds light on the subject of love. Verse 19 is one we learned as children: We love him because he first loved us (KJV). We now know the verse should read, We love because he first loved us. Verse 16 says God is love. The point is, our love is rooted in God’s love because he is the author of love. We love because God introduced us to love. 

But man’s love is twisted if it isn’t based on God’s love. His love brings unity. His love casts out fear. John says in verse 7, love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Man’s love is imperfect if we say we love God, but then we hate our brother.

Now comes God and the perfect model of love. God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life. God’s love gives. God’s love gives sacrificially to the point of giving us his best—his one and only—not so that he can benefit, but so that we can have life eternal in heaven when we deserve hell. Now that’s love – unselfish, beautiful, perfect love.

Life Application Questions

  • What do you think about the lyrics of that song?
  • Do they convey the truths John was teaching in this passage?

 

jlh

Thursday, 27 May 2021 00:00

Luke 10:25–37; Mark 12:28–34

Have you noticed that simple and familiar things can also be mysterious?

Take my spouse for example...  No, better not go down that track.  😊

How about this verse: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.”

I’ll bet you’ve heard that one before...a lot of times.  After all, it is the “greatest command.”  It’s Christianity 101.  If you miss it, you kind of miss everything.    

But what does it mean to love God? 

Is it a feeling?  Is it a choice?  How do I know when I’m doing it?  

What is the difference between “heart,” “soul,” and “mind” anyway?

When do I exert energy loving God? 

The more questions I ask, the more perplexed I become.  

OK, take a deep breath.  Step back.  Look at the whole sentence.  What is the big idea?  What’s the main point?  

With our entire being—all of who we are—we should love God.  With our will, our emotions, our intellect, and our activity, we are to pursue and delight in God.  

Jesus put it this way: Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).  In another place, John wrote: “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands” (1 John 5.3).  In other words, God’s “love language” is obedience.  

To love God by obeying His Spirit moment-by-moment through a single day demands my entire concentration.  It requires all kinds of choices.  It takes self-control and self-discipline.  It calls for remembering God’s goodness.  It depends on finding joy in Jesus.  In other words, it only happens when I’m “all in” with my heart, soul, strength, and mind.

Are you “all in” today?  Let’s love God with our whole being—heart, mind, soul, and strength.  

It will be worth it.

  

Wednesday, 26 May 2021 00:00

Deuteronomy 10:1–22

Moses asked the Israelites an interesting question: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?”

The answer to the question, of course, is: “Nothing.”  

God doesn’t ask for anything else, because he’s already asked for EVERYTHING.  What more could you ask for than complete and unreserved fear, obedience, love, and service?  What’s left after that?  

That might seem like a big ask, if it weren’t for the last phrase: “for your own good.”

We’re tempted to think that God asks us to obey His commands for His own good...

...as if God needed our obedience.

...as if God were on a power trip, throwing his weight around.

...as if God were dependent on us.

...as if God got a kick out of giving orders and being obeyed.

No, God gives us his commands for our good.  Moses follows up this question by giving some reasons why fearing, obeying, loving, and serving God are for our own good (and just make sense).

1) God is the Creator, and we are part of His creation.  He made us, so it follows that He knows what is best for us. (v. 14).

2) God chose us to belong to Him, not because we deserved it but because He loved us.  Such a God can be trusted.  (v. 15)

3) God isn’t like the other so-called “gods,” whom you can bribe or manipulate to your will.  The one, true God is all powerful and will judge impartially.  It’s far better to submit to His ways. (vv. 16-17)

4) God is good.  He is just and kind.  Like Him, His commands are good, just, and kind.  His commands reveal who He is.  He doesn’t ask us to do anything He hasn’t already done.  (vv. 18 – 19)

5)  God saved us from bondage and gave us freedom.  His commands don’t make us a slave again.  They keep us free.  They lead to life.  (vv. 20-22)

We live in a culture that considers the greatest evil to be any restrictions or limitations on the right of the individual to express what he or she feels.  The fancy word for such thinking is antinomian (Greek anti, “against”; nomos, “law”).  The antinomian believes that resistance to all social, religious, and moral norms is for our own good.  

Except it never turns out that way.

Saying “Yes” to all our desires is easy, but it lands us in slavery.  It’s not for our own good. 

Saying “Yes” to God’s commands is often the harder choice, but it leads to freedom.  It’s for our own good.

May God give us grace by His Spirit to choose His ways for our own good. 

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