Friday, November 30, 2018

Absolute Truth

John 18:33-38

The world we live in today finds the concept of absolute truth difficult to accept.  We frequently hear that truth is relative, and that whatever one believes is their personal truth.  That my truth might not be your truth, and vice versa. There are a few things that everyone accepts as truth, such as that the sun is hot.  However other things, especially moral issues such as adultery, lying, cheating, etc, many consider debatable, without a firm right and wrong. In our Scripture passage today from the Gospel of John, Jesus proclaims that there is absolute truth, things that are true regardless of popular opinion, and that He is the source of truth.

As our passage opens the Jewish leaders have brought Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, wishing him to bring sentence of execution on Jesus. With the nation under the rule of the Roman Empire they do not have the authority to execute prisoners, so they brought Jesus to him. Pilate did not believe that Jesus was deserving of death, and several times told the Jewish religious leaders such.

Before making any official sentence one way or another, Pilate takes Jesus into his chambers to question Him.  He had heard that one of the charges that the Jewish leaders have brought against Jesus is that the people have been calling Him the “King of the Jews”.  Pilate asks Him if this is true (vs. 33). Jesus does not deny that He is a king, but clearly states that His kingdom is not of this world (vs. 36). Jesus’s kingdom is not connected to earthly political and national entities.  It does not have its origin in the evil world system that rebels against God. Jesus will conquer the world system at His second coming, but now He seeks to conquer sin in our lives. One day Jesus will return to set up His kingdom here, ruling over all nations.  Until then, His kingdom is focused on redeeming the hearts and souls of the lost.

Jesus then gives a challenge to both Pontius Pilate and to all of us. Jesus states that the reason He came into the world was to bear witness to the truth, and that everyone who is of truth will hear His voice (vs. 37).  If we wish to accept the truth, we will accept Jesus as the Truth, and as our Savior.

Pontius Pilate knew that Jesus was not worthy of being put to death, and he made several attempts to set Jesus free.  First he told the Jewish religious leaders that he didn’t wish to pass sentence on Him, and for them to judge Him according to their laws, (which could not include execution, by Roman decree). (John 18:31). The religious leaders were adamant that Pilate put Jesus to death. Then Pilate tried to find a way of escape to release Jesus, so resorted to an old custom of releasing a prisoner during the Passover festival (John 18:39). He felt that since the only other prisoner at the time was a murderer, they would accept Jesus being released, but he was mistaken. The religious leaders would rather have a murderer than Jesus! Then Pilate compromised by having Jesus flogged, and then would release Him (John 19:1-3).  Flogging was brutal and sometimes would kill the prisoner. Despite this punishment the religious leaders were insistent on death. Even Pilate’s appeal to their sympathy brought angry responses (John 19:4-15). He finally relented to their pressure.

Pontius Pilate knew what was right, what the truth was in this whole case brought before him, yet he was not able to take a stand for the truth.  He let fear and pressure make him back down. He couldn’t stand up for the truth. Pilate recognized the truth of what Jesus was saying, but due to pressure from others he chose to reject it (vs. 36-37).

It is tragic if we fail to recognize the truth, and even more tragic to recognize the truth and then not heed it.  Truth is not relative. It is not what the majority of people agree on, or whatever advances our power and goals. Jesus and His Word are the standard for truth and moral behavior.  Are we willing to take a stand for the truth in this world today, or will we capitulate to pressure from others and give in like Pontius Pilate did?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Who Is Jesus?

Revelation 1:1-8

If asked to give a description of Jesus, what would you say?  There are many words and characteristics we could come up with to describe Him.  In our Scripture passage today from the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John gives us a few unique descriptions of Jesus, ones that would not apply to anyone else. Tradition says that the Apostle John was the only one of the twelve Apostles who did not suffer a martyr’s death. However, he did suffer much for the Lord. John was exiled on the island of Patmos, in the Aegean Sea, when he had several apocalyptic visions which are recorded in the Book of Revelation.

Our passage comes from the introduction of this book of recorded visions which was sent to the early churches throughout Asia Minor. These visions came to him from the Lord God, and it is here in the introduction that John gives us some descriptions of Jesus. Let us take a look at them and see what new aspects of Jesus’s character we can learn.

John first describes Jesus as “the One who is, who was, and who is to come” (vs. 4).  Jesus is everlasting, both from eternity past and forever into the future. He is the Second Person of the Trinity, always existing with the Father.  Jesus was with the Father and partook in creation (Colossians 1:17). He is coming again to judge the living and the dead, and to establish His kingdom here on earth, which is described later in this book.

John further describes Jesus as the “faithful witness” (vs 5).  Jesus came to earth to be the sacrifice for our sins, and also to show us the Father (John 14:7-11).  The words He spoke were from the Father, and were truth (John 8:40-47; John 18:37). We can trust every word that Jesus has said to be the truth.  He is a faithful witness.

The next description given of Jesus in our passage is “the firstborn from the dead” (vs 5).  There were a handful of people who had been raised from the dead mentioned in the Bible (Lazarus in John 11:1-44, and Dorcas in Acts 9:36-41 are two examples).  These people, though, all had to die again sometime later. Jesus was raised with an imperishable body, never to die again. He was the firstborn from the dead.  His resurrection from the dead gives us a living hope that we, too, will live with Him for eternity.

John tells us that Jesus is the “ruler over the kings of the earth” (vs. 5).  So many rulers, both in the past and today, are in opposition to God, oppress their people, and are corrupt.  Jesus is coming again, and at that time He will set up His rule over all the kingdoms of this earth. At this time every knee will bow to Him (Philippians 2:9-11), including the kings of the earth.

Next John describes Jesus as one who “loves us and washed us from our sins with His Blood”.  Jesus is the almighty God, living in heaven, with all of creation at His fingertips, yet He gave all of that up to come to earth to die for our sins, so that we could also enjoy heaven with Him.  If that doesn’t show that He loves us, then I don’t know what does! Love brought Jesus out of heaven, and love for us nailed Him to the cross.

We skip down to verse 8 where we read that John calls Jesus the “Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End”.  Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. He is the first, last, and everything in between. He is the whole dictionary, the whole encyclopedia. Jesus is the supreme sovereign. Nothing is outside of His knowledge.  His power is supreme over everything. Jesus is the eternal Lord and Ruler of past, present, and future. He is the beginning and the end of all existence, wisdom, and power.

One thing the Book of Revelation makes clear is that Jesus is coming back to earth again.  At His return He will be victorious, and visible to all (vs. 7).  All people will see it, including those who had been responsible for His death, and they will know that He is Jesus.  Are we ready for that day? Do you know Him as your Savior? If not, do not hesitate one more day. Do not be late and unprepared for the Day of His return.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Mightier Than The Waterfalls

Psalm 93

Psalm 93 is a short, little psalm, but one which tells a great truth about our great God.  Yahweh, the one true God, reigns over all creation. He reigns over the earth (vs 1-2) and over the sea (vs 3-4). This brief psalm concludes with verifying the Lord’s authoritative revelation in His Word (vs. 5).

In the pagan religions there were multitudes of gods and goddesses, each with their own specialty that they were the god or goddess of. For example, the pagan Greeks believed that Ares was the god of war, Demeter the goddess of agriculture and harvest, Aphrodite the goddess of love, and Poseidon the god of the seas, floods, and earthquakes. The list goes on and on.  Demeter wouldn’t be invoked for war, nor Ares involved with the oceans. This was the same with pagan religions the world over. Our psalmist today, knowing that the pagan gods and goddesses are all false, proclaims that Yahweh, the only true God, is God over all, the earth, the oceans, and everything in them.  He isn’t a limited god, with minimal powers. He is the one, only, all-powerful, true God.

Our psalmist describes in verse 1 the royal majesty of God as King. Many of you may have seen pictures or videos of the Queen or other royal monarchs in their royal robes and crown, either at their coronation, opening of Parliament, or other state functions.  For most monarchs around the world, their position is mostly ceremonial, and they have no real ruling power. That is not the case with the Lord God. He reigns with power, strength, and majesty. His throne is established from time past, and through all eternity (vs. 2).

When I was a child, I went to Niagara Falls.  I remember how extremely loud the waterfalls are.  I also remember how wet we got when riding the Maid of the Mist boat close to the falls.  The Lord God is mightier than those waterfalls, or any other great waterfalls around the world (vs. 3-4).  In the last several years there have been a number of very powerful hurricanes, with their strong winds and surging waves.  People are warned to keep away from the oceans and beaches when there is a powerful storm. Our Lord is more mighty and powerful than these storms.

Yahweh is not a weak god with failings and flaws, like the pagan gods had.  He is perfect in His moral character (vs 5). God will never do anything that is not morally perfect.  Our only suitable response to a holy God should be a desire to be holy, as well. God says for us to be holy, as He is holy (Leviticus 19:1-2; I Peter 1:15-16).

There are some days when we might feel like we are on a small boat or raft, drifting down the river towards those powerful and dangerous waterfalls.  We can hear the roar of the waves, maybe even see the waterfalls in the distance as we drift closer and closer. We are in danger, but we have no way to get safely to the shore before we go over the falls.  God is a mighty God, not just in power and majesty as described in our psalm, but also mighty in His love for us, and power to save us. When we call upon the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, He rescues us from the power of Satan and sin, and eternal damnation.  When we call upon God for help with the trials and problems of our life, some of them as distressing and serious as a looming waterfall, He is there to help us with His mighty power, as well.

As God’s rule over the earth is stable, so His revelation given through Scripture is trustworthy.  Nothing is more powerful than the Lord. Nothing is more steadfast than His reign. Nothing is more sure than His revelation.  Let us trust in our powerful and mighty Savior.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

When Facing Lions

Daniel 6:1-28

Jealousy in the workplace is a common occurrence.  One worker does a good job on a project and the boss rewards him with a bonus or a promotion.  Then some other coworkers get all tied in knots over this. Daniel experienced this in a very serious way in our passage today.  His faith and trust in the Lord was also put to the test, whether he would compromise his beliefs or not. Daniel came through his test strong and true.  Let’s take a look at this Scripture account.

At the time of the events in chapter 6, Daniel was a very elderly gentleman, over the age of 80.  Due to his administrative skills, leadership ability, godly wisdom, and honesty, he had served in high ranking positions under several rulers in the Babylonian and now the Medo-Persian empires.  He served under King Nebuchadnezzar, and now King Darius (vs 1-3). Many of the other governmental officials were now very jealous of Daniel. He had risen from being one of the youth taken captive when Nebuchadnezzar overran the Kingdom of Judah to now being second to King Darius.  They did not like him, as he was a good and honest worker. Daniel’s enemies wanted to bring him down, and they kept an eye on him to see if he would do anything that they could report to the king on, and have him arrested, or at the very least demoted (vs 4). Daniel conducted his life above reproach, with nothing to hide.

With nothing else to attack him with, his enemies attacked Daniel through his faith in Yahweh (vs 5).  Knowing that Darius really liked Daniel, these other politicians knew that they would have to come up with a subtle plot.  Darius was a king with a strong ego, so they used that to work against Daniel, and wrote up a temporary law, that no one could pray to any god other than the king for a month, under penalty of death (vs 6-9).  Once enacted, the Med0-Persian law could not be changed by anyone, including the king. These men knew that Daniel was a devout follower of Yahweh, and would not keep this law, so unless he would suddenly give up worshipping God, they had him!

Just as they knew would happen, Daniel was not going to change his pattern of prayer to the living God (vs 10).  He made no attempt to either change his prayer routine or to hide it. He followed the Old Testament pattern of praying towards Jerusalem (I Kings 8:44-45). Daniel also prayed three times a day (Psalm 55:16-17). God did not get the crumbs of Daniel’s time, even though he was a very busy man with a high-ranking government position.  Though he knew this might cost him his life, Daniel was not afraid or ashamed of his faith in God.

Right away the other government officials caught Daniel praying, arrested him, and went straight to the king with their report. “Daniel was praying to Yahweh! Throw him to the lions!” (vs. 11-13). The king had no choice. He knew he had been tricked into signing this law, all due to his ego and their jealousy.  Though the king was very distraught over this situation, Daniel was thrown into the lions pit.

Daniel must have spoken to Darius about the Lord God over the years he was a government official close to the king, as King Darius had some hope that Daniel’s God would be able to help him (vs. 16). First thing in the morning, Darius raced to the opening of the lion’s pit and called out to Daniel. He had some hope that God would save Daniel (vs 19-20). Yes, Daniel was alive and unharmed. God openly honored Daniel’s faith, and showed His glory to Darius and the kingdom (vs 21-23).  And to show that this was a miracle done to save Daniel, and not just that the lions weren’t hungry or had no teeth, the men who had plotted against him were thrown in, and immediately eaten (vs 24).

Daniel’s faith was a testimony to God, and led to the conversion of Darius (vs. 25-27), as it had to Nebuchadnezzar years earlier (Daniel 4:1-3, 34-37).  Daniel wasn’t intent on being popular. He was committed to doing right in the eyes of God. God wants us to have an unshakable faith. If trials, tests, and suffering are what it takes for us to have that, then He will allow them.  Trust God even in the face of lions!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Be Alert!

Mark 13:31-37

I remember as a little girl in grade school, back in the mid-1960’s, often when the teacher had to step out of the classroom for a few minutes, some of the boys in the class would like to pull some pranks in the classroom.  They would do things like putting the clock ahead 15 minutes, hide the chalk, toss the blackboard erasers around, etc. Before they would pull these pranks, the boys would always have one stand watch at the door to notify the room if the teacher was on her way back.  At home, if we were going to sneak a snack or read late at night after “lights out” we had to be careful to watch for the parents. Even at work, when the boss or supervisors are out, some workers like to slack off a bit, but they need to watch out for when the supervisor returns.  No one wants to get caught unprepared. In our reading today from the Gospel of Mark, Jesus warns us that we, too, need to be always on the alert.

Earlier in the chapter Jesus was talking to His disciples about the signs of the end times and signs of when He will return as King in glory.  The disciples were eager to know exactly when this would happen.  Would this happen in a few years?  Within their lifetime? People have been wondering this ever since then. There have been many dozens of predictions made, where specific dates have been given for the return of Jesus.  What did Jesus actually say when asked about dates for His return? In verse 32, He told us that no one knows the day or hour of His return.  The angels don’t, and no person or preacher knows. He even said that He, the Son of God, didn’t know.  Only the Father knows. When Jesus became a man, He temporarily gave up the unlimited use of His divine attributes (Philippians 2:6-8).  Jesus voluntarily restricted His divine omniscience to only those things God wanted Him to know during His days as a man on earth. If someone says they know an exact date, you can be sure they are wrong.  Instead of spending time trying to calculate when it will be, we should be spending our time being prepared for His return, as it could be at any time.

Just as a teacher gives us assignments to work on when they need to step out, and bosses do the same at work, so God has given each us our own work to do for His kingdom, and expects us to faithfully do it.  We are to remain vigilant and watch for His return (vs 34-35). Those boys in my classroom as a child did not want to be caught goofing off, so they were careful and watching. God has warned us repeatedly to be alert and watchful.  Jesus gave the example of head of a wealthy household who was leaving for an indeterminate time, giving each servant an assignment. They didn’t want to be caught not doing what they were supposed to be doing when the master returned.  Jesus warns the same for us.

How are we to act as we wait for Jesus’s return?  Earlier in this chapter Jesus told us some things.  We are not be misled by false claims of what will happen in the end times (Mark 13:5-6).  We are to be bold in telling others about Jesus (Mark 13:9-11). We are to stand firm in our faith (Mark 13:13).  We are to be morally alert and obedient to all of God’s Word.

The unsaved world often mocks the idea of Jesus returning, saying that if it was true, where is He?  People mocked Noah the same way. God had told him to build the ark because it would rain. There had never been rain before, and the people laughed and mocked.  They did not take his warning, and they all drowned. People mock us in the same way for believing Jesus will return (II Peter 3:3-11). We can trust that God’s Word is true.  He said He would return, and He will (vs. 31). Even when the earth passes away, the truth of God’s Words will never be changed or abolished. It is impossible for His Word to be altered or destroyed in any way.  God and His Word are the only sure things.

Watch and pray (vs. 37).  Be awake and alert, looking for His approaching return.  Be alert and vigilant for the Master will return.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Falling Into Apostasy

Hebrews 10:31-39

How do we react when things get difficult in our lives?  Do we fold up under pressure? Do trials and tribulations bring on a panic?  Do persecutions make us want to quit, or do they draw us closer to the Lord instead, and make us determined to carry on with His strength? This is a question that is addressed in our passage today from the Book of Hebrews.

The Book of Hebrews was written primarily to Christians who were from a Jewish or Hebrew background.  When they became believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Messiah, many of them faced very strong hostility and often persecution from other Jews, which at times included their own families. There was a lot of pressure by former friends and family to return to following the Law of Moses and the Jewish faith, and some of them were doing just that. This epistle to the Hebrews was written to counter this growing apostasy, and is addressed in today’s reading.

This is still a problem today, whether we come from a Jewish background or not.  When we turn to Jesus, and claim Him as our Savior, very often our family and friends do not understand, and there can be antagonism towards us and our new faith.  Sometimes it is nothing more than teasing and wisecracks. Sometimes friends or co-workers try to lure us back into some wild and crazy behavior we have given up since coming to the Lord.  In other cases the persecution may be much stronger, such as our family completely disowning us. In some countries one can lose their job, be arrested, or worse.

In our passage today the author encourages the believers to whom he’s writing to that they persevere in their faith and conduct, especially when facing persecution and pressure (vs 32-36).  After these Hebrew Christians became enlightened with the truth they started to suffer because of it. Some became offended and started to fall away. They became a “spectacle” to others, an allusion to the theater.  They are observed by everyone, and exposed to disgrace and ridicule. It wasn’t easy for these people to endure what they were going through, and often it’s not for us, today, either.

When Satan attacks us, it can be harsh and brutal, and not easy to stand up to. He tries to get us to doubt God’s promises (vs 35 - 36). He will also try to prevent us from doing God’s will, and receiving our reward.  Rather than giving up during times of great stress, if we instead turn to God, we may feel His presence more clearly. Jesus is with us in our sufferings.  We need to be faithful to God. Obedience will bring His blessings.

Do not abandon your faith in times of persecution.  Many of the Hebrews this author was writing to had done just that, going back to their old beliefs, and more were being tempted to.  They were tempted to run away and give up their faith in Jesus. They were tempted to throw away all outward identification with Jesus and apostatize.  We may feel the same temptation. If following Jesus only brings us ridicule from family, friends, and co-workers, many are tempted to give it up. We stop attending church, praying, and reading our Bible. Our author encourages us to not give up.  Don’t give up because our eternal reward is closer than ever.

The judgment of verse 31 is for those who reject God’s mercy.  For those who have accepted Jesus and His salvation, the coming judgment is no worry.  We have nothing to fear, so don’t turn back. It is faith which pleases God (vs 38). Those who draw back from the knowledge of the Gospel and faith will prove his apostasy. “Perdition” (vs. 39) is everlasting punishment or judgment of unbelievers.

In the face of whatever type of persecution we may go through, let us show by our endurance that our faith is real.  Faith is resting in what Christ has done for us in the past. It also means trusting Him for what He will do in the present and in the future.  Jesus will return one day to put an end to all of our suffering.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Don't Be A Fool

Psalm 14

A 2012 Pew Research study in the U.S. stated that the percentage of Americans who followed no religion - either atheists, agnostics, or humanists, stood at about 20%.  In the age group of 18-29, (Millennials) the percentage was at about 33%. While some countries are more religious, other countries have rates as high as 90% who follow no religion.  What does the Bible say about this? In Psalm 14 we read about those who do not believe in God. Let’s see what God said through the pen of King David.

Right from the start, King David pulls no punches and states quite unequivocally that one who states that there is no God is a fool (vs 1). To not believe in God is both foolish and wicked (vs 1-3). They are foolish to not acknowledge or to ignore the many evidences of God in the world.  They are wicked because they refuse to live by God’s truths. These people are strongly in defiance against God, speaking foolishly and boldly against Him.

Our psalm continues on to proclaim that no one is sinless (vs. 3). The Apostle Paul quotes from this psalm in his letter to the Romans. Both David and Paul state that we all stand guilty before God (Romans 3:23).  The whole human race has turned away from God (Romans 3:10-12). No matter how many “good deeds” we may perform we cannot boast before God and His standards.  God is an absolute holy and pure God, and when we try to measure up to His holy standards, we fall dreadfully short. In His sight all of our so-called righteousness are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

Because we fall short, we must turn to Jesus to save us (Romans 10:9-10). When we have called upon Jesus as our Savior, we become a member of God’s family.  In our psalm God says He is in the company of the righteous (vs 5). David warns that those who attack believers may be attacking God, as well. That is something which is very foolish!

In our psalm David makes a clear distinction between those who worship God and those who refuse to worship Him.  Can others see a difference in us? Do our actions, our speech, and our behavior show which side we are on? Some who say there is no God, may never pick up a Bible to read its saving message. They may never come near a church to hear the Gospel of Jesus, nor listen to a salvation message on TV or the radio. The only “Bible” they will ever see or “read” is our life and testimony. Are we being a light for the Lord Jesus by how we live?

A preacher I once knew said that Christians can be “practical atheists”.  When questioned further as to what he meant, he said that a believer can be just like an atheist if they won’t believe that God will answer prayers, and won’t take care of them.  If they are living in worry and fear they are just like an atheist. Believers become just like atheists in practice when we rely more on ourselves than on God. Let’s be sure that if we proclaim that we believe in God, and have put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, that we aren’t being that “practical atheist”, not truly having faith that God is who He says in His Word that He is. Let’s be sure that we are not fools!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

They Would Not Bow

Daniel 3:1-30

Today’s Scripture is one that many will know, having learned of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as a child in Sunday School.  The account of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is not just a Bible story for young children, as there are many good truths and lessons we also can learn.  Let’s see what we can glean from their example today.

These three young men were among the first group of Hebrews that the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, had taken captive and brought back to Babylon when he conquered the Kingdom of Judah. They, along with their companion Daniel, were godly believers in Yahweh, and had determined they would not forsake Him, even though they were in a foreign, pagan, idol worshipping land. It wasn’t long before their commitment to the Lord God would be put to the test.

Nebuchadnezzar was a proud and powerful king of the world’s largest empire to date.  In order to show his power, and to promote submission to his authority he set up a large golden statue of himself, which was 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide.  No one could miss seeing this. Nebuchadnezzar gave orders that at the sound of the music everyone was to bow down and worship the idol (vs 1-7). Those who failed to do so were to be arrested and thrown into a fiery furnace.

Immediately it was noted that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were refusing to bow and worship the idol.  They were taken into custody and brought before the king (vs 8-12). He gave them one more chance to change their mind and bow, but they didn’t need to ponder or consider how they would answer.  They served the one and only living God, and would not bow to idols (vs 8-18). Now they faced the fiery furnace. This would have been a huge, industrial type furnace, and was so hot that it killed the soldiers who brought them to it.  They were bound hand and foot, and thrown into the furnace (vs 19-23).

Why didn’t they bow and then tell God they didn’t mean it?  They were steadfast and committed in their beliefs. They would not bow, would not bend. They didn’t know if they would be delivered from the furnace. Either way, they would stay true to Yahweh.  Standing for God will make us stand out. They trusted God, and were determined to be faithful regardless of the consequences.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not know whether God would deliver them or not. They knew that He could, not whether He would. Either way, they were determined to serve Him.

While in the furnace, the king notices that the men who were thrown in were not immediately burned to death.  In fact, they are walking around in the furnace, and there is an additional Person walking with them. He exclaimed that the fourth person looks like the Son of God (vs 24-25).  This was possibly a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, a Christophany. God did not leave them alone in their time of need. He joined and protected them in flames. They wouldn't bend, they wouldn't bow, they would not burn.  God remains with us in our trials, even ones as seemingly hopeless as this furnace. Even if our suffering doesn’t end, God is always trustworthy and good, and He will always be with us. When they came out of the furnace they were completely untouched by the fire (vs 26-27).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had faith in the only true God, and knew the right thing to do.  It may not be easy to fight for what is right, but God will reward those who stand up for Him and refuse to yield to evil.  If God always rescued believers from any trial, Christians would not need faith. We should be faithful to serve God whether He intervenes for us or not.  Our eternal reward is worth any suffering we may have to endure.

Trust God in every situation.  He has His reasons for every trial. Thankfully our destiny is in His hands.  We need to cling to God, even if we aren’t healed, even if we don’t find a job, even if we are persecuted.  Sometimes God rescues us from our trials, and sometimes He doesn’t. As the three testified, “The God we serve is able” (vs 17-18).  He loves us, and He will be with us in every fiery trial.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Examining Our Motives

Mark 12:38-44

Motives are important.  The reason we do things are important to God, and they should be important to us, as well.  In our Gospel reading for this week, we read of how Jesus warns us to be watchful of our motives, and why we perform acts of piety.  Jesus contrasted two totally different people, one a scribe, and the other a poor widow. Let’s see what we can learn from this passage of Scripture.

Scribes at the time of Jesus were well educated individuals, and had vast knowledge of both religious and secular laws.  They often assisted in handling legal matters, drafting legal documents. They also would make copies of the Scriptures in the days before the printing press, when everything had to be written by hand.  Many of the scribes were also part of the religious group of the Pharisees.

It is very easy to get puffed up and full of oneself when one has a certain amount of education and a respected position in society. Unfortunately this includes those in the realm of religion. Though not every scribe or Pharisee was proud or sought out acclaim from people, very many were.  This is something that Jesus addressed and brought to the attention of His audience (vs 38-40). Jesus exposed the religious leaders impure motives. They exploited people, cheating the poor out of their money, “devouring widows’ houses”. They took advantage of the rich, and all done under a religious pretext. By their hypocritical pious actions, they hoped to gain status, recognition, and respect. They prayed long, showy prayers, probably filled with a lot of big theological words.  They wanted to be noticed and applauded wherever they went.

We see a lot of this today.  Many so-called religious leaders try, through twisting of Scripture, to get money from their followers. “Give money and God will bless you. Give and He will answer your prayers.”, thus cheating people out of their money.  They want the best time slots on TV, the best seats on planes, and in restaurants and hotels. They want recognition and glory thrown their way. Jesus warns against trying to make a good impression on others by hypocritical religious behavior. They have no true love for God. A true follower of God should not be known for showy spirituality. When we pray in public, go through any religious rituals, or read our Bible, are we doing it to be noticed and honored? What we do should be done strictly for Jesus, whether anyone else notices or not.

The scribes and Pharisees in the past had a responsibility to shape the faith of the people.  If their behavior was inconsistent of a servant of God, their punishment would be severe (vs. 40).  Those leaders would often lay heavy burdens on others with their petty rules, while they lived greedily and deceitfully.  They oppressed and misled the people that they were supposed to be leading to God.

Jesus then proceeds to observe the people as they put offerings into the Temple offering box (vs 41-44).  Again, there were people who made a big show of putting in large sums. They wouldn’t quietly deposit their offering into the box.  No, they wanted to be seen and acknowledged for their generosity. We see many like that today. When the offering plate is passed at church, they lay their offering right on top, face up, so everyone can see what they gave.  Jesus pointed out the poor widow to His disciples. Though her offering amounted to just a couple of cents, in God’s eyes it was more valuable than the hundreds of dollars the rich gave. The widow gave all that she had to live on.  She would not be able to eat until somehow she could earn some more money. In those days that would be difficult, as women could not just go out and get a job like they can today. Without a husband or son to support her, a widow could very easily starve to death.

The value of a gift is not determined by the amount, but by the spirit with which it is given.  A gift given with a grudging spirit, or one given in order to be seen or recognised, loses its value.  One given out of gratitude to God and a spirit of generosity is of value to Him. Let’s examine our hearts to see what our motives are like.  Are we looking around to see if people notice what we put in the offering plate? Do we look to see if they notice how big of a Bible we carry, how often we come to church, or what activities we take part in at church?  Is what we are doing motivated by a desire of praise and acceptance by others, or by our love for God?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Blood Of Jesus

Hebrews 9:24-28

Our passage today from the Lectionary continues with readings from the Book of Hebrews, continuing with the theme of how Jesus is superior to the Old Testament Jewish religious system. Today's passage focuses on how Jesus is superior to any Old Testament sacrifice.

After Moses led the Israelite people out from slavery in Egypt, he led them to the base of Mt. Sinai, where he received the law from God. In addition to giving him the Law, God also gave Moses copies or blueprints of how he was supposed to construct the tabernacle, where sacrifices for sin were to be made, and where the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies would be. This was a copy of what is in heaven. This was where the priests would go to make sacrifices for the people's sins. Here at the tabernacle, and later the Temple, (which followed the same blueprint), the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement to make sacrifices for sin.

Jesus became our sacrifice for sin when He died on the cross to make atonement for our sins. Just as the High Priest brought the blood of the sacrificed animals into the Holy of Holies, to the Ark of the Covenant, so Jesus entered heaven with His own Blood to atone for our sins (vs 24).  He didn't enter a man made place, which was a copy of the original, He entered heaven itself. The tabernacle, and later the Temple, were only copies of the true one in heaven. God did not always dwell in them or have His presence there always. His glory came and went on occasion. After Jesus died, He went to His true dwelling place in heaven and into the real presence of God for us.

We don't need a high priest to make atonement for our sins, year after year. Jesus's substitutionary death on our behalf for our sins lifts the burden we bear for our sins. His Blood was all-sufficient to atone for our sins, and only needed to be done once, not year after year (vs 25-26). The animal sacrifices were not all-sufficient, and thus they were repeated over and over again.  It is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away our sins (Hebrews 10:4). However, the Blood of Jesus can wash away every spot and stain of sin!

As our author continues, in verse 27 we read that everyone must one day die (unless we are alive when Jesus returns).  We will all have to answer to God for how we lived. There will be nothing we can say in our own defense. The only question will be whether we trusted Jesus to be our Savior and forgive our sins, or whether we have chosen to pay our sin debt on our own, to our eternal condemnation. No man is capable of atoning for their sins. No amount of good deeds is capable. Our righteousness is as filthy rags in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6).

We need a mediator, someone who will come to God on our behalf, since there is no way we can appear before His all-holy presence on our own. Every other person has their own sins to deal with, including the high priests. We do have a Mediator, though, one who can be the go-between, and that is Jesus (I Timothy 2:5).  Jesus is our Mediator, appearing in God's presence on our behalf (vs 24).

Have you accepted Jesus as your Mediator, as your Savior?  We will all stand before God in judgment, and we need His Blood to wash away our sins. Be sure that on that day you are washed in the Blood of the Lamb, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Guarding Our Lips And Heart

Psalm 141

King David, one of our great heroes in the Bible, had many enemies. He spent many years fleeing from them, and praying that God would deliver him from their evil plots.  In our psalm today we see David not only beseeching God for safety and deliverance from his enemies, but he also prayed that he would not fall into their wicked ways, that he not become like them.  Often when we have enemies attacking us, whether it’s in the workplace, people in the neighborhood, relatives causing problems, or like in David’s case, people out to actually harm us, it’s easy to stoop to their level.  David did not want to descend to wicked and sinful ways in any attempt to get back at them. Here is his prayer that God would both protect him from danger and from sin.

As we look at this psalm together, one of the first things we read is David asking God that his prayers be like incense coming before Him (vs 2).  God loves to hear our prayers. In Revelation 5:8, we read that our prayers are like bowls of incense, rising up before Him as a scented aroma. Jesus wants us to talk with Him and to pray constantly (I Thessalonians 5:17).  We can pray about everything in our lives (Philippians 4:6). Jesus cares about everything in our lives, whether they are large concerns or small ones. He wants us to bring everything before God in prayer. Jesus treasures our prayers.  They are precious to Him.

The next thing that King David prays is that God would set a guard before his mouth, for him to watch what he speaks (vs 3).  David entreats God to keep him from speaking evil. It is so easy to lash out with strong and angry words when someone comes against us, words that are a poor testimony, and ones we often later regret. When Jesus was being attacked by the Jewish religious leaders He kept silent before these accusers (Matthew 26:63), which is a good example to follow.  The tongue is small but powerful (James 3:5-6). Not only should we watch out against speaking angry words, we also need to be careful against lies. The more in-tune we are with God, the more truth we will speak. If we are only speaking truth, there is no room for lies. This verse is a good prayer to start each day with, and also when an argument threatens to erupt. We need to ask God to guide what we say so that our words bring honor to His Name.

In addition to watching over our mouth, we also need to ask God to guard our heart (vs 4).  Evil acts begin with evil desires in our heart. It is not enough to ask God to keep us away from temptation, we need to be changed on the inside, where our desires come from. Jesus clearly taught us that our sinful acts and behavior comes from what is in our heart (Matthew 15:18-20). King David prayed that he would not learn the ways of the wicked. He wanted his heart protected from their evil examples.

David proceeds to pray that he will take the criticisms and rebukes of the righteous with a good spirit (vs 5).  Nobody likes criticism, but we can benefit from it when it is given wisely and taken humbly. David tells us to not refuse criticism, but instead to consider it a kindness.  When good and godly people correct us when we are wrong we should be willing to accept their correction with grace. In addition, if we ever need to give godly criticism or correction to another it should be given with love, like honey, and not like vinegar.

No believer should ever want to follow the example of their enemies and that of the wicked.  We should follow David’s prayer and ask the Lord to guard our lips and our heart, and to be willing to take godly counsel and correction.  God wants our prayers to come before Him just like the smoke of incense which continually rises.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Scraping The Bottom Of The Barrel

I Kings 17:8-16

The refrigerator is empty.  The pantry is, as well. You look in your bank account and all you see are double zeros.  You have no job, and no one is hiring. The country’s economy is in the pits. Have you ever been there?  For some of us, this is a familiar scenario. The scraping sound at the bottom of the barrel is a sad, dismal one, especially when there are hungry mouths dependant on you. Where do you turn? Who will help you? This is where we find the woman in our Scripture passage today.

When we begin our reading, Elijah, the great prophet of the Lord God, has been hiding from King Ahab.  In the verses just prior to our passage he had proclaimed to that evil, pagan, idol worshipping king that God was sending a massive drought because of the country’s sins.  Ahab put a price on Elijah’s head, so he went into hiding. True to the prophet’s word, no rain fell, the crops were failing, and people were starving to death. Not only in Israel, but also in surrounding countries, as well.  After a couple of years of drought and famine, God brings Elijah out from hiding, and directs him to go into Gentile territory, to the town of Zarephath. Zarephath was a town along the coast of the Mediterranean, about 7 miles south of the major city of Sidon.  It was in territory ruled by Ahab’s father-in-law, King Ethbaal, Jezebel’s father. Elijah showed the power of God in the heart of this area where the pagan god, Baal was worshipped.

Our passage opens with a very dismal scene.  A poor widow woman is out gathering sticks in order to make one last bite of food to eat for her and her son.  She has no more hope. She is a widow with no husband to support and take care of her, and she has a young son to feed and care for.  The country is in the middle of a drought and famine, and she is down to the very last of her provisions. When Elijah comes to her and asks for a drink of water and a bite to eat, she tells him that she has nothing, only enough to make a last meal for her and her child, and then they will lie down and die (vs 10-12). That’s quite dismal and hopeless! Many of us have felt like we’ve been there. We have nothing, and nowhere to turn. Why wasn’t Baal helping her? This was showing that he was nothing, just an empty idol of stone.

The widow was probably a bit surprised, maybe taken aback, at Elijah’s bold request for her to make him something to eat when she had just told him that she was going to make her and her son their last meal before they died of starvation! (vs 13).  However, she went and did as he asked. Why? Elijah gave her something to grab on to and hope for. He told her that neither the flour in the barrel nor the oil in the jug would run out until Yahweh, the one true God, would bring rain (vs 14). The widow was down to her last ounce of hope, and Elijah brought her the Word of God, something she could cling to.  She trusted Elijah and gave all she had in a small, simple act of faith. God multiplied it many times over, and she was fed, along with her son and Elijah.

God never asks us for what we don’t have.  This widow had very little, just a handful of flour, which she was afraid to share with this stranger.  God asks us for what we want to keep for ourselves. Elijah rebuked the fear in this woman, and told her to give what she had. Elijah asked for the thing she felt she could not spare. The widow had nothing, but took a risk to trust God, the God of Israel.  In return, God supplied what she needed until the drought passed.

Every miracle begins with an act of obedience.  We may not see the solution until we take the first step of faith, as this woman did.  Are we confident that God is in charge, and trusting Him to work out the best plan for us?  Do we fear that our jar of flour will be empty, and our jug of oil will run out? Don’t fear!  If we are trusting the Lord Yahweh, His grace and mercy will last through all of our necessities. It is better to have God as our supplier than the largest Swiss Bank account. We can never exhaust the infinite mercies of God.  He does hear when we are scraping the bottom of the barrel!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Love God And Love Our Neighbor

Mark 12:28-34

If someone were to ask you, before reading this passage in Mark, what you felt was the most important commandment, what would you answer?  Perhaps some might say that not committing murder was the most important. Some married couples might answer not committing adultery. A shopkeeper might bring up the commandment of not stealing.   In our Gospel passage today, which echoes the passage we looked at earlier this week from Deuteronomy, a scribe came to Jesus and asked Him this question. Let’s look at the Biblical text and see what He answered.

In Biblical times, a scribe was a man who was especially learned in the Mosaic Law and other sacred writings.  They examined difficult and subtle questions of the Law, and were often members of the Sanhedrin, which was the important rabbinical court and ruling body, with the High Priest as the chief officer.  By the time of Jesus, the Jewish rabbis had accumulated hundreds of laws, over 613 of them. Some Jews felt they could be divided into major and minor laws. One day, shortly before the Last Supper and Jesus’s crucifixion, a scribe asked Him which He felt was the most important, perhaps trying to trip Him up, and make Him say something that could get Him into trouble with the Sanhedrin (vs. 28).

In verses 29 - 31, Jesus proceeds to answer by quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which states that we are to love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  We are to love Him completely, with everything that is in us. Jesus then immediately follows that with quoting Leviticus 19:18, saying that we also are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

If we love truly God and love others as we do ourselves, we will be fulfilling all of the Ten Commandments.  These two commands summarize all of God’s laws. If we love our neighbor as we do ourselves we won’t be wanting to do them any harm.  We won’t steal from them, or lie to them. We won’t take their spouse, nor do them any bodily harm. When we also love God with everything in us, seeking to please Him with everything we do, we will be fulfilling all of His commands.

Loving others doesn’t mean just admiring them.  We are to treat them as we would want to be treated ourselves (Matthew 7:12).  We are commanded to deny ourselves, and treat others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3-4; Matthew 16:24).  Loving our neighbor includes loving all those in our community.  This might, and often does include loving our enemy, because they are often our neighbors in the community (Matthew 5:43-45).   To obey these commands one must stop thinking only of themselves, and focus on God first and then others.

The response that this scribe gave to the Lord Jesus in verses 32 - 33 showed that he understood that moral concerns took precedence over ceremonial practices.  He knew that these two commands were more important to God than any of the laws regarding sacrifices and other ceremonial laws. If we are loving God and others, we are obeying all of God’s laws.

In response to the scribe’s statement, Jesus told him that he was not far from the Kingdom of God (vs. 34).  He didn’t say that the man’s statement brought him into the Kingdom, or that keeping any laws would, either. True obedience to God comes from the heart. All of the Old Testament laws  lead and point to Jesus, so this scribe’s next step should be faith in the Lord Jesus as Messiah.

Did this scribe ever take that step?  We don’t know, as the Bible never mentions it.  You can know for yourself, though. Are you trying to work your way into heaven by keeping various laws and commandments, by doing good and trying to live a righteous life? We can never be good enough to measure up to an all-holy and righteous God’s standards. All of our efforts are in vain. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, came to pay our sin-debt with His sacrificial death on the cross.  Admit you are a sinner, and accept that Jesus shed His Blood on your behalf. Call upon Him as your Savior today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Jesus, Our Great High Priest

Hebrews 7:23-28

As we follow the Book of Common Prayer’s Lectionary this week, we continue in the Book of Hebrews. Our passage today continues with the theme of how Jesus is better than the Old Testament religious system, and illustrates how Jesus is superior to the high priests.  The priests in the Old Testament were mediators between the people and God. A mediator is a go-between, a negotiator, a peacemaker. Mankind needs a mediator with God because of our sin.

Whenever someone sinned in the Old Testament, they would come to the priests with a lamb or goat, and the priest would offer that on their behalf for the forgiveness of their sins.  Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would come into the Holy of Holies bringing blood of sacrificed animals for an atonement for the people’s sins. These sacrifices for sin needed to be performed day after day, as we all sin daily.  And the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement was done every year. Moreover, the priests, including the High Priest, needed to make sacrifice and atonement for their own sins as well. Also, the High Priest would eventually die, and a new one would have to step into that position.

The new covenant that Jesus, the Messiah, brought is a better covenant because it allows us to go directly to God through Jesus Christ.  We no longer need to rely on sacrificed animals or the mediation of the Jewish priests to get forgiveness (vs 23-24). He is our advocate, a mediator between us and God.

These human priests were both sinful, as we all are, and they would die.  Jesus lives forever. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice we needed for the forgiveness of our sins.  He completes the work of redemption. Unlike the human priests of the Old Testament, Jesus is holy, harmless, and undefiled (vs 26).  He is holy as He has piety without pollution. He is harmless, without evil or malice. Jesus is also undefiled, free from all contamination of sin.  He is separate from sinners as He has no sin nature, the source of any act of sin.

Jesus is our perfect High Priest.  He did not need to offer sacrifices for Himself. He didn’t need to atone for Himself, so He could fully atone for us. His own Blood was offered once for all for atonement for our sins.  He did this when He laid down His life, an atonement for sin.  Jesus went into the presence of God with His own Blood to obtain forgiveness for all who come to Him in faith. Since He was sinless, Jesus also only needed to do this once, as it was an all-sufficient atonement. We don’t have to look for another way to have our sins forgiven.  Jesus was the final sacrifice, as the Old Testament sacrifices were no longer necessary, and would not be accepted by God any more.

What does it mean that Jesus saves to the “uttermost”? (vs 25). Jesus saves completely.  He saves perfectly.  Jesus forgives us all of our sins - past, present, and future.  He is with the Father as a sign that our sins are forgiven.  He paid the price for our sins once and for all. Jesus is our only true intercessor  We don’t need anyone else. He is the sinless Son of God. He is always able to come before God on our behalf.

There is also one other wonderful thing that is spoken of in these verses, and that is that Jesus lives to make intercession for us (vs 25).  That was one thing that the priests would do for the people, but unfortunately they would eventually die. Jesus lives forever. He is today in the presence of the Father making intercession for us.  He is always before God praying for us, reminding the Father that He paid for our sins with His Blood. Through the storms and clouds of our life He is praying for us. He is praying for us and we should praise Him.  Don’t worry, Jesus is going to the Father on our behalf!

Monday, November 5, 2018

God's Word Is Settled In Heaven

Psalm 119:89-104

Lies.  They seem to be all around us these days.  We get them from the politicians who are trying to get reelected.  We hear them from the advertisers on the TV and radio. Sometimes bosses even want their workers to lie in order to make a sale or to cover up something they don’t want leaked out.  Lies come from leaders, neighbors, teachers, parents, children, spouses. We even have to often question the veracity of the newspapers and the evening news on TV. Who can you trust?  Our psalm reading this week is a portion of the longest psalm in the Bible. We can find an answer to that question in our passage, so let’s take a look.

In our opening verse our psalmist declares that God’s Word is settled in heaven (vs 89).  It is firmly established in heaven, so we can rely on it as being the truth. God’s Word, the Bible, is true from cover to cover.  His Word does not lie, like we see many people do. Today we see that some people aren’t even hesitant to lie under oath. Giving “one’s word” doesn’t mean anything anymore.  That is not the case with God. His Word is His bond. We can trust that God will not lie. He is not just truthful, He is Truth.  Thus we can completely rest on His Word, the Bible, as being completely truthful.  It is anchored in heaven. If we have a circumstance or problem that is in direct opposition to God’s Word, agree with God and believe His Word.  If our emotions tell us something different than what God says, believe His Word. It is the truth.

Acting solely on emotions or feelings puts a person at the mercy of Satan.  He uses deception and half truths to trap victims into sin. In contrast to that, wise people will seek God’s truth to guide them through life.  It is important to be able to discern between the truth and Satan’s twisted version. As we have seen, the Scriptures are the only sure, dependable source of truth.

All throughout Scripture, we read of how important it is to gain godly wisdom and understanding, and to strive to be a wise person. Our section of Psalm 119 tells us that reading and studying God’s Word is the one sure way to gain wisdom and understanding (vs. 98 - 100).  God’s Word makes us wiser than our enemies (vs 98). When they come against us, if we trust Him and His Word, God will bring us deliverance. God’s Word will also make us wiser than our teachers if they are ignoring or discarding His truth (vs 99).  The same is true of people older than ourselves. It is right and correct that we should always show due and proper respect to our elders, if for no other reason than that they have gained more life experience than we have, and should know more. However, if they do not hold to, follow, or believe God’s Word, than we are wiser than they are (vs 100).  True wisdom is more than just gaining knowledge and book learning. It is applying the knowledge we gain to all of our life. Just because one has various university degrees doesn’t make one wise. True wisdom comes from allowing what God teaches us to guide us throughout our life.

We also read in this passage how God’s Word is sweet, sweeter than honey to us (vs 103).  Honey is a true, natural sweetener. There is nothing artificial about it. It is also very nutritious, and also has healing attributes.  Throughout history it has been very desirable. God’s Word and its truth are even more desirable than honey was to people in the past.

Do we want the truth?  Do we want wisdom and understanding?  Do we want something sweet and wholesome in our life?  I’m sure we all do. Look to God’s Word, the Bible, for He will never lie.  We can depend on Him.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Greatest Commandment

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Our Old Testament reading today takes us to the Book of Deuteronomy.  This book is a reiteration of the Law given by God to Moses. Right before the people of Israel were to enter into the Promised Land, Moses repeated God’s laws to them one more time, which is contained in the Book of Deuteronomy.  Our passage today contains one of the most familiar verses from this Old Testament book.

This is an important passage to the Jewish people, both in Biblical days, and also today.  Devout Jews will recite these verses everyday. Several days prior to the crucifixion, an expert in the Jewish law came to Jesus, and trying to test Him, asked Him which was the greatest commandment in the law (Matthew 22:35-40).  Jesus responded by quoting verse 5 of our passage. This command, along with loving one’s neighbor (Leviticus 19:18) encompasses all of the Old Testament law. Since He believed this was the most important command of God, it is well worth looking into.

The Hebrew people were unique in that they only believed and worshipped one God, Yahweh, the only true God.  At the time that Moses wrote Deuteronomy they were shortly going to be entering into the land of Canaan, among a people who worshipped a multitude of gods.  They had recently come out of servitude to the Egyptians who also had worshipped a great many gods, as well. Moses wanted to reiterate in their minds that Yahweh was the one, only, true God, and not be lured by the false gods of these foreign people.  Unfortunately the Israelites failed miserably in that, and they quickly started to worship these false gods.  Many of them completely forsook the Lord God, while some combined the worship of Yahweh with these idols.

Verse 5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”, is the central and most important commandment of all.  When we love God first and foremost, obeying Him will be natural, and not seem like a chore. Jesus said in John 14:15 that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.  The Apostle John repeats the same thing in I John 5:3. Believers show their love for God, not by bowing and burning incense to stone or wooden idols, but instead by obeying His Word.

Moses goes on to instruct the people that they need to keep these words in their hearts, and to teach them to their children (vs. 6-9). They are to speak of God’s Word to each other all through the day, every day. God is not to be relegated to only Sundays, and possibly an additional night of the week.  Many people are just “Sunday Christians”, and once they leave the church Sunday morning, that’s it for God until next week. Our passage today said that this should not be the case.  If we are truly His children, then He is to be a part of our life every moment of every day. We need to read and meditate on His Word daily, and be in communication with Him all the time. Make God a part of everything you do. That doesn’t mean we are literally on our knees praying every waking moment. Instead, we should weave God into our whole lives, having Him as our constant companion.

Another thing Moses strongly stressed to the people is their responsibility to teach their children about the Lord (vs 7). Parents can’t leave that task to the Sunday School teachers, and the pastors or priests.  They can’t leave it to some religious program or DVD they put on TV. Though it is important to take them to Sunday School, it is the parent’s responsibility to teach their children all about Jesus and His Word, the Bible.  Again, Moses stresses, not just at church on Sunday, but every day, when you’re in your house, when you’re driving in the car, when you wake up, when you go to bed. Moses said, life with God is a 24 hour a day life, every moment of every day. If parents leave off this responsibility, then it may end up being too late. Their children grow up, and they have no room for Jesus in their fast-paced life. They may face eternity separated from God. As a parent, I can’t even think of a worse prospect then knowing that.

Do we love the Lord God with all of our heart, soul, and strength?  Is He number one in our life? If He isn’t, then we have set up some other idol in the place that rightly belongs to Him.  Let’s be sure we keep the Lord God on the throne in our life, and be sure we are teaching our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, any children that are in our life, all about the Lord Jesus.