Saturday, August 31, 2013

Responsible Salvation


Josh. 24:22  “You are accountable for this decision,” Joshua said.  “You have chosen to serve the LORD.”

You are accountable for your decision to follow the Lord, with salvation comes responsibility. We must be more than talkers of faith; we must be doers of it as well. Anyone can claim to be a child of God, but not everyone who does is saved. Salvation requires of us a life of change. We must strive to not sin and we must strive to seek after the Lord. Our desire must always be to please the Lord. We must want to live up to His standards. We must embrace His character. We must be willing to be different from the world and be more concerned about what the Lord thinks than what others think.

God knows what is going on. He is watching you and will hold you accountable for how you live and not just what you believe about Him. It is easy to hide behind grace and not take faith seriously. Faith is not just a shield that protects us from hell. It changes who we are. We no longer are in bondage to sin and its desires. We become bound by Christ’s righteousness and its desires. It does not mean we won’t sin, because we do. But, it does mean that we desire not to sin. Our sin troubles us and we seek the Lord’s forgiveness when we do. We think and feel differently about sin than do those who are not in Christ.

A true child of God thinks like it, feels like it, and acts like it. He is accountable for his behavior before God.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Are you able to serve the Lord?

Josh. 24:19-20  Then Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy and jealous God.  He will not forgive your rebelliousness and sins.  If you forsake the LORD and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.”

Are you able to serve the Lord?  Or, does your independent spirit and sins keep you away from God?  Because He is holy, God will not let you draw near to Him if you are not living humbly before Him.  If you have other things in life you are going after other than God, He will let you go.  He will turn His back on all who would forsake Him.

In fact, He will turn against you if you turn against Him.  The Lord is jealous and will not share His love and devotion with anyone or anything.  He desires all of your love and devotion.  If you are not willing to give it to Him, you just need to know that the Lord will not be in your corner.  He will not bless you.  Unless you repent and give Him His rightful place in your life, He will bring you down.  Guaranteed.

Notice that Joshua told the people that if they forsook the Lord and chased after other gods that the Lord would not forgive their rebelliousness and sins.  A god would be anything that takes the place of God in one’s life.  Anything or anyone we value more than God becomes a god to us.  God will not tolerate such behavior.  There is no hope of salvation for anyone who forsakes God and chasing after other gods.  The Lord will not share our loyalties.  Until Jesus has all of our heart, we are not able to serve Him.  God must be Lord of our hearts.

Are you able to serve the Lord?  Have you settled the issue as to who is Lord of your life?  Can you honestly say that Jesus is your all consuming desire, that you live for Him alone?  If Jesus is not Lord of your heart, God will turn His back on you unless you repent.  Destruction is certain for all who forsake the Lord and chase after other gods.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Choose the Lord

Josh. 24:14-15  “So honor the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly.  Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River in Egypt.  Serve the LORD alone.  But if you are unwilling to serve the             LORD, then choose today whom you will serve.  Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates?  Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live?  But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”

Let me ask you today, “Are you honoring the Lord in the way you are living?  Are you serving Him with your whole heart?”  The Lord deserves our very best efforts to please Him.  Sadly, He usually doesn’t get it.  We are prone to half-heartedly live for Him.  We tend to think that it is good enough.  But, is it?  Read what God has to say about what our level of commitment needs to be.  We are to love Him wholeheartedly and give Him our very best.  We are to serve the Lord alone.  We are to do away with everything that hinders us from giving Him our best.

I wonder how many of us can honestly say we are doing it.  When we pursue God wholeheartedly our lives are radically different than most.  We spend our lives invested in the pursuit of God and understanding His ways as revealed in His Word.  We are more interested in God’s glory than we are our own.  We are actively seizing opportunities to serve Him.

We must choose what role we will allow the Lord to play in our lives.  If we make the wrong choice and fail to allow Him to indeed be the Lord of our lives, we will have to stand before God someday and pay the piper.  There will be no excuses.  We will be given what we deserve.  It’s your call.  “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Serve God at Home

Josh. 24:15c “¦..But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.”

Joshua made a very bold statement. This was not done lightly. He understood what he was going on record to do. He declared before the whole nation of Israel that he was going to be the spiritual leader of his home. He wanted everyone to know that he was not going to be one person in public and another one at home. He understood the importance of being consistent in his walk with God.

It is easy to be one thing in public and another thing at home. At home, we are seen for who we really are. Our family sees us in our weaknesses more than our strengths. They are not fooled by how we appear in public.

It takes a lot of guts to go on record and take responsibility for the spiritual life of our home. Not only will people be watching us, but our families will also. In order to pull it off, we must first take personal responsibility for our own relationship with the Lord. We must seek the Lord passionately. We must grow in our love for Him to the point where He is the number one priority of our lives. We must desire Him to the point where everything else in life falls in line behind Him.

It is easy to hide who we are behind what others see of us. But, we can’t hide from ourselves or our families. We are exposed, warts and all. It would be interesting to take a survey of the families of spiritual leaders and seek to find out how consistent they are in their walk with the Lord. Would they be declared righteous? Why is it that so many children of pastors and other church leaders wander away from faith and the church? Do they see enough of what others don’t to turn them away?

What about you? Are you living well enough at home to encourage and inspire your family to live for the Lord? We can’t control the decisions that our loved ones make for the Lord, but we certainly can influence their decisions by the way we live with them. Do you love the Lord and your family enough to take responsibility for the spiritual environment of your home? Are you a godly example to be followed, or are you an example to be spurned?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Unchanging Holiness

Josh. 24:19-20  Then Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy and jealous God.  He will not forgive your rebellion and sins.  If you forsake the LORD and serve other gods, he will turn against you and destroy you, even though he has been so good to you.”

Has the Lord changed?  Is He any less holy or jealous than He was when Joshua penned these words?  Is He more tolerant of sin today than He was in the past?  He either is the same as He always has been or He isn’t God. 

When we live in sin, we disqualify ourselves from serving the Lord.  When we give little regard for living holy lives, we are not able to serve the Lord.  What we do becomes a stench in God’s nostrils.  God is not sin tolerant.  He blesses and uses those who are pure in heart, those who desire not to sin and refuse to let sin remain in the heart when they do sin.

It is sobering, but it is true.  God will not forgive those who rebel against Him and live in sin.  If we forsake Him and give our hearts to other things, we have nothing to look forward to but His wrath.  When we spite the Lord by treating lightly His kindness and goodness to us, we can expect nothing less.  God loves us and freely gives grace to all who would receive it, but He does not force feed it to us.

There can be no forgiveness or acceptance for those who refuse to acknowledge and deal with the sin in their lives.  Are you able to serve the Lord today?  Do you take the holiness of God seriously?  Are you committed to Him, and Him alone? 

Monday, August 26, 2013

God's Promises

Josh. 23:14  “Soon I will die going the way of all the earth.  Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the LORD your God has come true.  Not a single one has failed!”

Joshua is about ready to die.  He had lived a long and fruitful life.  He was reminding the people of Israel about God’s faithfulness to His Word.  It is a reminder we would do well to never forget.  Every promise God had given to His people had come true.  God was true to the nation of Israel and had brought them to the Promised Land just as He had said He would.  God had first made His promise to Abraham and then passed it on to many generations.  And the life they now lived was a direct result of God keeping His Word.

What God has promised to us, His people today, will certainly come true.  God has not changed and cannot lie.  If He says He will do something, He will do it.  It behooves us to learn what God promises to do and then rest in His doing it.

However, be careful that you do not claim a promise God meant for a particular people in a particular time and place as your own without knowing for sure He meant it for you as well.  Study His Word and let Him point out to you those promises you can claim.  He will not give you what He never intended for you to have.  If you build your faith on uncertain or false promises, your faith will not hold you up in the storms of life.

It is so easy and tempting to pull out of context a promise of God and make a case for it in life.  We want the good things of life and sometimes make the Word say to us what God never intended it to say.  Weigh carefully God’s Word before you seek to apply it.  Be sure that what you are claiming to be true for you was intended for you.  God always keeps His Word as He proclaimed it, not necessarily as we interpret it or apply it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Careful how you walk.

Josh. 22:5  “But be very careful to obey all the commands and the law that Moses gave to you.  Love the LORD your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, be faithful to him, and serve him with all your heart and soul.”

How careful are you to obey what you know of God’s law and commands?  Be honest.  How often do you reflect on God’s Word before you jump into life?  Maybe you don’t know much, but what are you doing with what you do know?

Love the Lord your God.  Love is an action word.  It is living close to God.  It is acting in such a way that others can see God in you.  Walk in all His ways.  Not only by what you know, but always strive to learn more.  Study His Word, listen to it spoken, and seek ways to apply it to life.  Obey His commands.   Don’t make excuses, just do it.  Be faithful to Him.  Don’t live as if you weren’t a Christian and expect Him to treat you like one.  Serve Him with all your heart and soul.  Put your heart into it.

He who half-heartedly serves the Lord cannot say that he really loves Him.  The same is true of one’s walk with the Lord.  True lovers of God walk in all His ways, they strive to obey Him, they are faithful to Him in all they do and say.  Half-hearted efforts to live for Christ are repulsive to Him and will be judged by Him as unworthy of the Kingdom of God.

Whatever you do for the Lord do it because you want to and not because you or someone else thinks you have to.  If you serve the Lord begrudgingly, you might as well not serve Him at all.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pray Before You Decide

Josh. 9:14  …..So the Israelite leaders examined their bread, but they did not consult the LORD.

A group of Gideonites had come to the leaders of Israel and had pretended to be from a land far away when they in fact lived close by.  The Israelites were in the process of conquering the land God had promised them and the Gideonites tricked them into making a peace treaty so that they would not be overcome by them.  As it turned out because the Israelite leaders failed to first seek God’s council, they were unable to completely conquer the land the Lord had promised to them and commanded them to take.

We are faced with decisions to make.  Seek the Lord first and you can be assured that you will have a much better chance of making right decisions.  Ask the Lord for wisdom and the perceptions you need before you decide what you are going to do.  Don’t be a fool and think that you are smarter than God.  Bad decisions can be avoided if we stop, pray, and listen to God before we plunge ahead.

We can’t see beyond the moment.  We don’t know what might happen as a result of the decisions we make.  We don’t know how our decisions might affect ourselves and others.  We need to trust the eyes that can see all things of the past, present and future.  Seek the wisdom of God and He will give it to you.  And when you sense peace in the decisions you make, trust the Lord with them.  We don’t always understand why certain decisions must be made, but God does and that is good enough.   He works out for good all things that are entrusted to Him.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hidden Sins

Josh. 7:10-11 But the LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this? Israel has sinned and broken my covenant. They have stolen the things that I commanded to be set apart for me. And they have not only stolen them; they have also lied about it and hidden the things among their belonging.”

You can’t hide anything from God. You may think you have gotten away with things in your life, but the Lord knows what you have done. You may bury things out of the sight of others, but the Lord sees it all and will not ignore it. He still holds you accountable for your sins, unless they have been turned over to Christ and you have been forgiven. All of us have done shameful things we wish we had not done, things we have buried and perhaps even forgotten about. All of us are in need of Christ’s forgiveness and cleansing. Without it, every sin will be brought into the light and exposed before God.

You may even be doing things today in your life that are breaking the covenant you have made with God. When we confess our sins and proclaim in our hearts our allegiance with Christ, we are entering into a covenant relationship with God. We are declaring before Him that we are not going to continue to live a life of sin. We are vowing to go and sin no more. Don’t think for a moment that you can continue to sin and it doesn’t matter because you are under grace and not the Law. It matters a great deal because God sees what you are doing and will hold you responsible for your actions. Sin affects our relationship with God. It drives us farther and farther away from God.  It also affects our relationships with others since when we drift from God we no longer have the ability to treat others with the kind of love and respect that God enables us to do.  When we are miserable, we make those around us miserable too.

Hidden sin can also cause us health problems.  We are very complex and all of the parts of our bodies work together to keep us healthy and whole.  When we allow sin to fester and grow in our hearts, our emotions and minds are directly affected.  How we think and feel about ourselves affect our ability to function in life.  When we are not at our best, the rest of the body suffers and soon is damaged.

Do you have sin in your heart that you are trying to hide? Don’t wait another moment, confess it to Jesus and let him take it away from you once and for all. You will be glad you did.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Key to Being an Overcomer

Josh. 7:4  So approximately three thousand warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai chased the Israelites from the city gates as far as the quarries and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events and their courage melted away.

God was merciful to Israel. If all the soldiers had gone to Ai and fought the battle, they would have all died. Ai was the second city on the agenda of the Israelites to conquer the Promised Land. God had given the Israelites specific instructions on what they were to do and not do at Jericho. Achan disobeyed God and took some plunder that was forbidden for his own. Because of his sin, God did not help the Israelites when they fought the city of Ai. Instead, He caused the Israelites to suffer defeat. They had no chance at all for victory. But, they were so confident of themselves after the victory at Jericho that they sent only a small army to fight against Ai. No matter how big of an army had gone into battle that day, they would have been defeated.

There is a very important lesson for us to learn from Israel’s defeat at Ai. Whenever we try to contend with Satan on our own and with sin in our hearts, we will lose. There is no victory over sin when sin is in our hearts. Sin breeds sin. We cannot expect God to come to our aide when we aren’t willing to obey Him and keep from sinning. The Lord helps those who help themselves by obeying Him.

We are overcomers only when we take sin seriously. When we intentionally sin against God, His protective cover over us is withdrawn and we become vulnerable to even more sin. It is imperative that we not allow sin to linger in our hearts. When we sin, and we all do, we must flee to Christ and seek His forgiveness. We will only aggravate our problem if we deny our sin, hide it, or pretend it doesn’t exist.

Victory only comes to those whose heart is right with God and obeys Him in all things. Take sin seriously, because God does.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Be Strong and Courageous


Josh. 1:9   “I command you---be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

How strong and courageous are you? Do you face life boldly and with confidence, or are you afraid and discouraged? Isn’t it interesting that God commanded the Israelites to be strong and courageous as they prepared to go into battle? He expected them to not be a bunch of wimps, but to be mighty warriors. He expected them to not be hesitant as they faced their enemies. He expected them to fight with purpose and zeal.

We ought to be strong and courageous as we live out our lives for the Lord. We ought to live like we were soldiers in war instead of spoiled citizens living in comfort. A soldier is always on alert, ready to face his enemy in a life or death struggle. He is aware of the dangers of battle and refuses to give in to his fears. He is well-trained and prepared to face whatever he may face.

Most of us live like we are spoiled citizens of the Kingdom. We like our comforts. We don’t want to live like we were soldiers. We try to ignore the fact that we are at war with Satan. We would rather cozy up to the darkness that surrounds us than be lights that shine in it. We would rather run, hide, or cave in when confronted by Satan than stand up and fight.

The Lord wants you to be strong and courageous today. He wants you to not cower in fear or let Satan discourage you. The Lord wants you to live like you know He is with you each step of the way. He wants you to have some guts and resist Satan. The Lord has already won the war you are in! The little skirmishes we face are but a futile attempt by Satan to keep us from claiming the victory that is ours in Christ. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Let us act like it today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reading God's Word

Josh. 1:8  Study this Book of the Law continually.  Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it.  Only then will you succeed.

For the most part, we are not very familiar with our Bibles.  We have a hard time finding passages that we are encouraged to look up.  We have a hard time understanding a lot of the basic truths of the Bible.  We often are clueless as to what some of the basic concepts of the Bible mean, let alone how to apply them to our lives.  We try to live like we think God wants us to live, but are clueless as to a lot of the things we are to do.  Why are we the way we are?  I believe the answer is in today’s verse.

We do not spend much time in God’s Word.  We are prone to grab a quick couple of verses a day, say a brief prayer, and jump into our day thinking that we have done well.  We spend very little time studying or meditating.  We convince ourselves that we don’t have the time.  We pay our pastors to do that for us.  We don’t live godly lives because we don’t invest our lives in pursuing knowledge and understanding of God’s Word like we should and need to.

Notice that we are to study the Word continuously.  Meditating on what God has to say is not just a Sunday thing.  We need to open our Bibles us every day and seek guidance from it.  God does not withhold from us guidance on how to live.  He gives us both the time and opportunity we need.  We just need to get our priorities straight and do it.

We fail to grow into maturity of faith because we have such a warped perception of our need for greater faith.  We are content with little when we need so much more.  It should concern us when we are not wanting more time with the Lord and in His Word.  The more time we spend in the Word and digesting it, the healthier our souls will be.

There is no better time to turn things around than right now.  Make a commitment to become a student of God’s Word.  You will be glad you did.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Life's Choices

Deut. 30:19 Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live!

God does not force his way into any heart. He lovingly makes himself known to us and then lets us choose whether or not we want Him in our lives. We are in control of the choices we make, but with control comes responsibility and accountability. The choices we make about our relationship with God are a matter of life and death. We choose whether or not we let God control us and influence the choices we make and enjoy the good life He has promised. We can choose to let Him have partial control and only partially enjoy the life He offers us. Or, we can choose to not let Him have any control over our lives and suffer the consequences of spiritual death. Each of us chooses which option we live with.

The only option that makes life worth living is to choose to let God have complete control of our living. The second option is a slow death, and the third option is a living death. We have no one to blame but ourselves when we are denied God’s blessings and are plagued with life’s curses. The Lord promises to be with us and help us when we live in Him, but without Him we are on our own. Jesus is our protector from the curse of sin. He gives us the power and desire to overcome sin. He gives us calmness and strength in the storms of life. He enables us to withstand the attacks of Satan on our souls.

Choosing to let Jesus be our Savior is a good choice to make.  But, at some point in our walk with Him we must choose whether or not to let Him be our Lord.  He cannot be just our Savior and nothing more if we are going to enjoy the joys of salvation.  Heaven’s best are reserved for those who give the Lord their very best.  The Christian life can be very frustrating and difficult when we withhold from Him His rightful place as Lord of our lives. 

Oh, but that we would choose life and not death, blessings and not curses! Today you have a choice to make. You must choose whether or not you are going to let Jesus be your Savior and Lord, or whether you are going to try to wing it on your own.  Blessed are those who let Jesus be their Lord.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Life and Death

Deut. 30:15-16  “Now listen!  I am giving you a choice between prosperity and disaster, between life and death.  I have commanded you today to love the LORD your God and to keep his commandments, laws, and regulations by walking in his ways……”

Bottom line is that we choose the quality of life we live.  We choose whether or not we allow the Lord to influence the way we live.  If you are a Christian and you are not enjoying life, I would suspect it has a lot to do with how much you allow the Lord to have a part in your living.

We need to daily worship the Lord.  We need to daily seek His guidance and favor.  We need to daily seize opportunities to serve and be a witness for Him.  We need to daily meditate on God’s greatness and goodness.  We need to tell Him often from the depths of our hearts that we love and adore Him.  In other words, you and I must make a conscious investment of our time and energy in developing an intimate relationship with our Lord.  If we choose to do it, the Lord will bless us with His presence and give us all we need to cope with life victoriously.  We have no one to blame but ourselves if we settle for anything less in our lives.

You must make a choice.  God does not make anyone love and serve Him.  You will either choose to live in an intimate relationship with Christ and live life to the fullest, or you will choose to live life without Him and live a slow and miserable death.  If you choose to not live in Christ, you are playing Russian roulette with your soul.  You may not have another chance to choose Christ.  By not choosing Christ you are choosing death over life.

A true child of God loves Him, obeys Him, and walks with Him in all his ways.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Mystery of God

Deut. 29:29 There are secret things that belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we may obey these words of the law.

There is something very important in today’s verse for us to know: God never tells it all. There are things about God, life, and the future that we will never know. No matter how hard you may try or how well connected to the Lord you may be, there is a mystery about God we will never unravel this side of heaven.

It is good for us to give frequent thought to the mystery of God. We need to consider how incomprehensible the mind of God is and how powerful He is. The Bible tells us that God conceived in His mind all that exists and He put everything in its place by the mere utterance of His word. He not only put it all together, He holds it all together. Everything He has created has its place and purpose in creation, no matter how small or large it is. We don’t see it all, and never will. No matter how hard we try, there is always more to discover and see. We may not understand why some things exist, but God created them for his purposes and they are necessary.

There are secret things about the future that only God knows. We have no ability at all to see into the future and declare what is going to happen and when. The Lord has told us some things that are going to happen, but when and how it’s all going to come together, we have no clue.

There are secret things about who God is that we will never know in the flesh. We know that He is perfect in every way, but we are not able to understand that perfection due to our sinful nature. When we get to heaven and see the Lord face-to-face, we will bow before Him in awe and worship Him in ways we can’t even imagine of doing now, because then we will understand just how worthy He truly is to be worshipped. When we see Him, we won’t want to know what we don’t know now about Him because just to be with Him will be enough for us.

It is okay to not know all things. It is a good thing we don’t the secret things of God. If we knew the things we don’t know, we would lose our desire to know Him better. We also would not be able to handle what we don’t know. Let us marvel in what God has chosen to let us know, and let us marvel in that which we don’t know. Let the mystery of God inspire us on to even greater faith and worship.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Heed the Word of God


Deut. 17:18-20a When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy these laws on a scroll for himself in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep this copy of the law with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the LORD his God by obeying all the terms of this law. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens.

God gave Moses clear instructions on how any future king who may rule over Israel should act. It was required of a king to be a student of God’s Word. They were to know it and live by it. They were to know how to fear God. God’s Word would keep them from ruling from their sinful nature. It would keep them humble before God and help them to rule justly.

History shows us that the kings of Israel failed miserably in this regard. Most of those who would later rule over Israel and Judah were controlled by their sinfulness. It got so bad that the Word of God was lost somewhere in the Temple and no longer influenced the kings at all. King after king did what was evil in his own eyes and the judgment of God followed. Occasionally a king rose up who followed God, but they were the exceptions and not the rule.

We must take very careful measures to protect God’s Word in us. If we are not consistently in the Word and seeking to live by its standards, we too will fall into our sinfulness. It doesn’t take long for us to sin when we neglect God’s Word. We must commit ourselves to the study and application of what God has given to us to govern our lives. We have no one to blame but ourselves when we fail to do so and then fall into sin.

We cannot pick and chose what we want to live out either. We must take all of the Scriptures to heart and let them govern our lives. The Spirit of God teaches us how to apply the Word through grace. Our obedience is an act of love and not duty.

Do you love the Lord enough to submit to the authority of His Word over you? Our failure to obey Him is the true indicator of our love for Him. If we love Him, we will respect Him enough to obey Him.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Lord's Discipline

Deut. 8:5 So you should realize that just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you to help you.

Discipline is a necessary part of the learning curve. It promotes retention of those things we need to know. It is a deterrent to wrong beliefs and behavior. It teaches us submission to the authorities that rule over us. It keeps us humble so we don’t become a god unto ourselves. Discipline helps to develop character.

Without discipline there is no restraint on evil. We are prone by nature to indulge our sinful nature and without discipline we will not resist the desires to do evil. We will develop cold and hardened hearts. We will live for self and self alone.

To be disciplined is to be loved. Even as a parent who loves his child will discipline him to help him in life, so God disciplines us. God punishes sin to keep us from sinning. He holds us accountable for sin so that we don’t harm ourselves by sinning. All sin is punishable by separation from God and God loves us too much to let us wander away from Him. He cannot, and will not, allow sin in His presence. He lovingly deals with us, sometimes harshly, in order to get us back on track. He does whatever he can to lead us back to the protective blood of Jesus. As long as we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ, we are okay and God disciplines us so we will not wander away from Him.

God fits our discipline to our individual needs and personalities.   He knows how to deal with us.  He knows how to get our attention and keep it.  He knows the best way to teach us what we need to know.  Discipline is a good thing.  Thank the Lord today for loving you so much that He will not let you get away with sin and get away from Him.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Keep God First

Deut. 11:16, 17a  But do not let your heart turn away from the LORD to worship other gods.  If you do, the LORD’s anger will burn against you.

I believe this is a universal command from God for all His people.  The Lord is a jealous God and He will not share His glory with anything or anyone else.  The Lord commands us to put Him in His rightful place at the very core of our lives.  He is not just the Savior of man, He is our Lord.  He commands all of our love first and foremost.  If we don’t love Him first with all of our capability to love, we will never know how to love others.  You cannot put anything before the Lord in your life and make it work.

An idol is anything that commands more of our attention or affection than God does.  What idols do you have in your life that must go?  Only you can keep your heart from turning away from the Lord.   We make choices every day about our relationship with God.  We choose how much time we spend with Him in worship.  We choose how much we allow Him to affect our living.  We choose how much we allow our interests in life to crowd Him out.  We choose how much time we spend serving Him.  We choose how much influence we allow sin to have on us.

Do not let your heart turn away from God.  Deliberately seek Him and love Him.  Do not let anything crowd Him out of your heart and mind.  Do not give God just cause to burn with anger against you.  We must choose daily what role we will allow God to have in our hearts.  Our actions and conversations reflect the choice we make.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Taking God Seriously

Deut. 10:12-13  “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you?  He requires you to fear him, to live according to his will, to love and worship him with all your heart and soul, and to obey the LORD’s commands and laws that I am giving you today for your own good."

What does the Lord require of us?  Simple.  We are to take seriously God and our relationship with Him.  I fear most who profess faith in Him don’t.  Let’s be honest with ourselves.  If took God seriously, we would take seriously His command to live holy lives before Him.  We would be serious about how portray Him to the world.  We would genuinely care for one another and strive to help each other instead of, as is so often the case, being a hindrance to one another.  We would be serious about going into the world with the Gospel message that others may be saved.  We would read our Bibles and pray more.  We would attend church services more.  There are a lot of things we would do differently if we were to really take God seriously in our lives.

How much of your heart is really into God?  Are you seriously wanting to know His will for you so with the intent of doing it?  Is your heart in it when you tell Him you love Him?  Is your heart into it when you worship Him, whether privately or in church gatherings?  We say we love Him and that we live for Him, but I wonder just how much that really is the case.

It is for our good that we take God seriously.  We can never enjoy the blessings of heaven until we do.  God gives those who sincerely seek Him and live for Him a peace of heart that can be found nowhere else.  He instills within them a love that is unlike any other form of love known to man.  He gives purpose and meaning to life.  He gives His children a confident and enduring hope that holds the soul steady in the storms of life.  He keeps those who love Him from falling into the clutches of Satan who is out to destroy them.

Do you really take God seriously?  If you do, He will never stop changing you and conforming you into His likeness.  He will never leave you alone and will always lead you into a holier life.  He will be the passion of your heart.  He will affect everything you do and say.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Anger Over Sin

Deut. 9:17-18  “…..So I raised the stone tablets and dashed them to the ground.  I smashed them before your very eyes.  Then for forty days and nights I lay prostrate before the LORD neither eating bread nor drinking water.  I did this because you had sinned by doing what the LORD hated, thus making him very angry.”

I am struck by the concern Moses had for his people.  He knew they had sinned against God and that they were going to pay the price for it.  He knew that you do not mess with God and get away with it.  He was heavily burdened for their lives.

Moses felt so strongly about the sin of the Israelites that he destroyed the stone tablets that contained the Word of God.  Wow!  He was so distraught that all he could do at the moment was to react violently to show his anger.  He could not let them get away with it! 

Why is it that we don’t seem to care too much when one another sins against God?  We don’t seem to get too bothered about what might happen as a result of it.  We don’t seem to think sinning against God is that big of a deal anymore.  But, isn’t it?  Is it okay to tolerate sin, whether it’s our own or others?  Should we not get angry over sin too?

Has God changed?  Moses knew that sin made God angry.  He had heard about it and seen it happen.  God hates sin and will not let it go unpunished.  God is as passionate against sin today as He has always been.  It often drove Moses to his knees.  He prayed for his own sins and the sins of others.  He has set a good example for us to follow.  Sin does matter to God and it had better matter to us as well.