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Archive for October, 2009

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. Deuteronomy 24:16

Two Applications

The first application is a literal–we are responsible for the messes we make and we cannot position our sinful burdens on our relatives. Nor can we take the sinful load off someone else’s shoulders. Individuals are, and always will be accountable towards their own transgressions. I suspect that most would agree with that view. But I submit to you that there is a spiritual truth being established [here] that is far greater than the obvious literalism and that bursts with significance eternal—the verse destroys false doctrines regarding our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

What the Naysayers Say

The naysayers believe they are on to something when they read Deuteronomy 24:16.

“Isn’t it true that God the ‘Father’ sent His ‘Son’ to die for our sins?” they announce, believing they have stumbled upon a biblical contradiction, “God broke His own rules!”

They stumbled all right–directly into the Divine veracity of our Lord. God has not violated His own mandate, for to do so would make Him a liar. What the naysayer has stumbled onto is the dual reality of the passage.

…In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began… Titus 1:2

Reality Check

The twofold reality is that Jesus died for our sins ~and~ He is not a created being; therefore there is no violation of the Father’s directive. The Deuteronomy 24:16 mandate applies to created beings. Simultaneously, it points to what Jesus would ultimately do on the cross, completely demonstrating that in light of God’s decree, no created being could ever have accomplished the feat. Our Savior was not fashioned (as angels are) and, although He was born of a woman, He remains the only man without a birthday, for Jesus always was.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1, 2, 14

The truth of the matter is that when the Father sent His Son to die for our sin, He actually sent Himself. I know for some the notion of Jesus and God being one-and-the-same is difficult to grasp, but the truth of His Word cannot be denied. If John’s Gospel and description of Jesus’ deity is too abstract, then consider the words of the Prophet Isaiah who clearly declares Christ’s Oneness with the Father.

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

To deny scripture; to proclaim it erroneous; to maintain that Jesus is not God and that He was created, is to call God a liar. To randomly edit or revise His Word is for all intents and purposes to proclaim deity unto your self. Don’t do that. Take God at His word—He loves you and He cannot lie.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9


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Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you. Deuteronomy 23:12-14

When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Go

There are critical issues being addressed in this seemingly insignificant passage. The first revolves around the matter of privacy and/or those things we do that we think God knows nothing about. God knows. What better way to drive that fact home by His addressing this particular subject. Our God is omniscient–all knowing, omnipotent–all powerful, and like it or not, omnipresent–always in attendance. The biblical application is not that we merely cover-over the refuse of our lives, but we bury it as if it were worthless and as if it were dead.

It is in our gratitude and reverence of Him we clean-up after ourselves, reckoning our old man dead and buried. He is in our midst; therefore we should not subject Him to an untidy home, filthy language, and/or inappropriate television programming. And that’s just the short list. If our Lord is concerned with our basest functions (and He is), is it not safe to assume He cares deeply about purity in all these other areas of our lives.

But it Doesn’t Make Any Sense

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, ” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

To the Jews of this day, the idea of going outside the camp in order to do one’s business, and then burying it, was ludicrous. Today, we see the wisdom, but to Israel [then] it made no sense whatsoever. This passage demonstrates, as do so many others, that although we may not understand the reasoning behind our Father’s mandates, it is still a wise thing to execute them.

Consider for example the mom signaling her child from the road because she sees the truck barreling closer. She perceives the eminent danger, but in the time it might take to explain the circumstances, the child would be exposed to a great danger. Similarly, and with greatest accuracy, God sees down a much bigger road and the dangers that loom ahead for all humanity. God provides direction that may seem illogical in the present, but will be proved righteous in the passing of all time. Sometimes, God does take the time to explain, but when He does not we must trust His counsel.

Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; The righteous walk in them, But transgressors stumble in them. Hosea 14:9


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Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying: ’What man is there who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. Also what man is there who has planted a vineyard and has not eaten of it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man eat of it. And what man is there who is betrothed to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man marry her.’ The officers shall speak further to the people, and say, ’What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’ And so it shall be, when the officers have finished speaking to the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people. Deuteronomy 19:5-9

Attending to Jesus

Do not be confused by the passage. While it is true that our Father is instructing those with distractions to go take care of those things, He is not asserting that any of these things take priority over Him. If we are not focused on the spiritual battles before us; if our primary focus is on our home, our work, or our family, someone is going to get hurt. In other words, God is saying that if we cannot put Him first and trust Him to provide in all these areas, then go home—you are of no use on the battle field.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

But make no mistake about it, God does not want us to go home. In establishing the policy in this manner, the Father attempts to provoke us to jealousy; after all, who wouldn’t want to go and serve the Lord–it is His hope that we might see, understand, and believe that Christ alone is number one and it is He who sets our priorities. By faith, when we can trust this certainty of God, then we are best suited to take up our spiritual battle stations.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

Faith is the criteria by which spiritual leaders are made and fear is the cancer that seeks to destroy that which we believe. The therapy for the fainthearted is to make use of the lingering faith that remains. Having little faith is no disadvantage, not using what we already have is what leads to weakness. The faith muscle is strengthened by exercise and cannot be overused. Its potency is enhanced by trusting in the One who provided it to you in the first place. This trust is founded in memory; the remembrance of that which God has done, is doing, and will continue to do.

Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth… 1 Chronicles 16:12


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At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the Lord’s release. Deuteronomy 15:1-2Timeout, But No Jubilee

Every seven years God ordained that His people take a break. His land would rest, His people would take it easy, and the bill collectors would take a break and in so doing, everyone would have the opportunity to catch-up. When the eighth year rolled around, everything would pick-up where it left off in year six. Therefore, the release of debts spoken of here (I believe) is not a forgiveness of a person’s obligation, but rather a twelve month sabbatical towards any debt owed. True release (or forgiveness) of debts came in the fiftieth year, or the Year of Jubilee.

Not so Good News

The bad news is that there is no historical record whatsoever of Israel (or any other people group for that matter) ever having celebrated the Year of Jubilee and exercising God’s directive to forgive debt. How come—why didn’t Israel do as God told them to do? For the same reason we probably wouldn’t—it doesn’t make any sense; it’s not good business; it’s too costly a venture to practice and there’s always the ‘what if’ factor, “What if I forgive you your debt, but my debtors don’t forgive me mine?” Faith and obedience always suffer when we factor in the world.

God’s Acceptable Year

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, Because the Lord has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord… Isaiah 61:1-2

When Isaiah referred to the acceptable year of the Lord, it was an allusion to the Year of Jubilee, that festive commemoration that Israel perpetually failed to celebrate. In essence Isaiah’s prophecy was pronouncing that which man has fouled will be fulfilled by Jesus Christ—forgiveness and salvation for all who would believe.

Our Jubilee: Jesus Christ

And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:17-21

Lovingly, Jesus told the crowd that they failed. Mercifully He proclaimed that He would not. The acceptable year of the Lord had arrived; the imprisoned would have their freedom, the blind would have their sight, and the hopeless would have their forgiveness. Jesus is our triumphant Jubilee and the resolution towards any man’s debt. Only Jesus could be the Good News for He alone is good.


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Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known. Deuteronomy 11:26-28No Joke

Patient: “Doctor, it hurts when I do this.”

Doctor: “Then don’t do that!”

We Have a Choice

Henny Youngman borrowed the concept. Our Father in Heaven made it incredibly simple—two choices—that’s it. No gray area, no muddy water, nothing to guess at: with God you get black or you get white. How come? Because He loves us too much to make life more difficult than it ought to be. So when we say, “God, it hurts when I do this, ” He can effortlessly point to the singular solution.

Turning Aside

The passage from Deuteronomy illustrates a significant doctrine. God does not regulate the gush of blessing; His fount is always on full bore. It is when we choose to turn aside we curse ourselves–when we pursue ungodly things, we have elected to move away from the spout where the blessings pour out. This is the issue if you or I are not feeling blessed today. Strength comes to those who go to the gym, nourishment comes to those who go to the fridge, and cleanliness comes to those who go take a bath, but none of those places will change because we’re not there.

The Remedy

God’s prescription: believe Him, love Him, follow Him, obey Him, and the result is blessing prolifico. Deny Him, hate him, disobey Him and experience spiritual famine, weakness, and failure. God does not curse us because we refuse the cure, we curse ourselves.

And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. Deuteronomy 11:13-14

 

 

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So I made an ark of acacia wood, hewed two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain, having the two tablets in my hand. And He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which the Lord had spoken to you in the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly; and the Lord gave them to me. Deuteronomy 10:3-4

God and His Word Never ChangeMoses goes up Mount Sinai and returns with the Ten Commandments. Upon his return and in response to Israel’s depravity, Moses smashes the tablets, a stunning representation of what breaking the law truly looks like. And what was God’s response? “Moses, lets try that again.”

You could say that Moses and Israel got a do-over. What we cannot say is that God changed the rules. God did not express the ‘original’ was too tough and therefore needed a rewrite, nor did He adapt it to conform to the worldly culture Israel had become entangled. God’s action affirms that conformity is our burden, not His. And Jesus later tags, “These burdens are light.” (paraphrase mine)

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

God could have changed the Law if He wanted to, but He didn’t. That leaves us to ask the question of ourselves, “Where do we get off believing that we can change the Law, or any other part of the Bible for that matter?” The answer is of course we cannot. Oh, we can go ahead and say our behavior is not sinful, but that does not change God’s Word. We can move forward and add requirements to our religion making it burdensome, but that doesn’t change His truth. We can do whatever we want to, but God remains the same.

For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Our efforts to modify the truth are really nothing more than attempts to placate man. Many Christians have caved-in to a culture that abhors what man has done to religion and therefore have removed the very word religion from the Christian vocabulary. How about we change our hearts instead of our vocabulary. How about we conform to what God wants us to be rather than conform to what the world wants us to be. After all, who are we called to please, God or man? Lest we become spiritual chameleons, we ought to do it all God’s way.


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Giving Faith ‘Another’ Bad Name

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

It’s Not a Religion!

Yes it is.

I’ll explain. In the original Greek, the word religion is ‘threskeia’ and it refers primarily to an external worship of our Lord that consists of ceremonies such as baptism, communion, holy matrimony, discipleship, not to mention the internal aspect of our faith as well. The Greek root (threskos) for our word ‘religion’ means to fear or worship God.

The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. You who fear the Lord, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. Psalm 19:9; 22:23; 25:14

Why We Say, “It’s Not a Religion, It’s a Relationship”

What do you think of when I say the word gay? There’s your answer. Christians don’t use the word religion (properly) for the same reason we don’t use other words. Through the years certain words have become defiled and man has taken it upon himself, without any authority, to change the definitions. And rather than reclaim the language; rather than redeem the words; we toss them aside and create new ones. As a result if you choose to use the religious (or gay) designation, you will be erroneously labeled and cast aside as well.

The Other Reason…

The other reason we have tossed aside the ‘R’ word is because of the ‘seeker-friendly church’ movement whose major theme essentially is to not offend people and, as we are painfully aware, people are offended by what the word religion has become. So instead of discipling these new-believers, bringing about understanding through clarification, we tossed our hands in the air and proclaimed, “You’re right! Religion is a four-letter word, but we’re not about religion here, we’re about relationship!”

Liars

“Oh, you’re not about external worship of our Lord that consists of, but is not limited to ceremonies such as baptism, communion, holy matrimony, discipleship, etc.”

“Oh no, ” we tell the newbies, “We’re all about that stuff, we just don’t call it ‘religion’ anymore because; well you’re not going to believe this, but sinful man messed up the word.”

And they continue…

“And we know that you probably know a religious person who sinned and gave the word a bad name, so we don’t call it religion anymore, we call it a ‘relationship.’ ”

“So you’re all ‘relationists’ now?”

“No!?! Actually, we’re all followers of Jesus Christ!”

“Oh, Ok, you’re Christians”

“Umm…Well you see, we don’t really use the word Christian any longer. Some of us still do, but that word is on the way out.”

“Why?”

“Pretty much the same reason why we don’t use the word ‘religion’ anymore. In fact, we’re already working on a new word because we have noticed that there are some people giving ‘followers of Christ’ a bad name.”

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. 1 Corinthians 11:1-2

I Know Tiger Woods and You’re No Tiger Woods

If you ever saw me play golf you could rightly say that what I was doing was not golf. The fact of the matter is that if you were somehow able to observe all golfers, you could proclaim of at least ninety percent of them that what they were doing was not golf either. However, what you could not declare based on your observations is that because most people have given golf a bad name, “We’re no longer golfers—we are now called, ‘followers of a funny looking ball.’ ”

That’s absurdity and that’s exactly what we’re doing now. Yesterday we tossed out the word religion and soon we will toss aside the label Christian (people have already begun doing it), and trust me, as soon as we give ‘followers of Jesus’ a bad name we will toss that tag aside as well. It’s time to stop the lunacy.

I am proud to say that I ascribe to a religion that worships my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Aside from ‘belief’, there is nothing within the bounds of my religion that I have to do, but praise the Lord, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that I get to do. If my being religious offends you, then you have likely accredited a worldly definition to a most wonderful word.

The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25


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