Category: Pauline epistles–BibleTrekToday

Sunday rest and reflection

March 3, 2023

Greetings!  Hopefully, you are spending part of this day with God’s family in a place of worship!  God redeemed us from slavery to sin to lead a life of worship!  We are to worship personally and corporately.  We come together to meet with God and His family and prepare ourselves for a week of ministry and witness. We come together to hear the Word of God preached and taught by those with gifts of teaching and preaching.  We use our gifts to encourage other believers and pray. The gifts in the body help us to become equipped to do the work God has for each person and the church family.  (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Moses is one of my favorite Old Testament characters.  He was strong and vigorous at 120 years of age.  Evidently the manna and water diet kept him healthy and strong!  Moses was greatly concerned for the next generation.  He wanted them to be blessed and and take by faith all that the Lord had promised as their inheritance.  He clearly understood how their sinful human nature was a danger to them.  He shared that nature and because of his own anger and dishonoring of God would not be able to go into the promised land himself.  Deuteronomy is the record of his last messages preached to this next generation before he died.

God chose the preaching of His Word to be the vehicle of teaching and inspiring this next generation. (1st Corinthians 1:21)  Faith comes by hearing God’s Word!  (Romans 10:17)  Faith also works by love and God calls them to love Him and love each other! (Galatians 5:6) Love is not a feeling, but a commitment to act for the highest good of another.  God’s promises show His love and our faith and obedience show our love in return!  God’s love hasn’t changed!  He is still using preaching to reach people and inspire faith in them. (Romans 10:14-15)  He still desires faith and obedience as a show of our love for Him.   (1st John 5:2-4)  When we walk in faith and obedience and love Him, His face shines on us! (Number 6:22-27)   Have a great day of rest and reflection! In His Love, Pastor John

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Sin tolerated is deadly!

Scripture reading for February 27: Deuteronomy 21-26

One of the most difficult things to do is to change.  We are by nature procrastinators and easily get comfortable with sin and evil in our lives and culture.  We blame others for our bad habits and use the victim mentality to justify our own rebellion.  We easily judge others who are “worse than us” and can see their need to change.  Looking in the mirror and admitting that I need to change is another story.  Through Moses’ sermon to the younger generation, we can gain insight about the radical methods God prescribed under the Old Testament Law to remove sin and guilt from our lives and community. Moses repeated many times: “purge evil from among you”.

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, then his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious.  He will not obey us.  He is a profligate and a drunkard.”  Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death.  You must purge evil from among you. All Israel will hear it and be afraid.”  (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

According to this passage, one form of evil is dishonoring and rebelling against your God-given authority. This was a breaking of God’s law in Moses’ day, the only true source of knowing good and evil for the nation of Israel.   A son who refused to listen and be corrected by his parents exhibited rebellion.  Evil cannot be negotiated with or excused.  Discipline was to be used to remove it or drive it out of one’s home or life.  If excused, evil will affect community and nation.  It is more than a personal matter. 

Now, don’t jump to the conclusion that we should stone our children today.  This law was for God’s family under the old covenant.  It is teaching us principles of parenting and community involvement in setting standards for evil and its removal.  If we tolerate evil, it always spreads.  A lack of swift justice or discipline allows evil to grow.  A swift punishment instills a holy fear of God’s Word and reinforces the seriousness of evil as a source of death.  Notice the elders were involved here.  Those with wisdom and maturity helped the family deal with the rebellious child.  Their goal was removing evil from the midst of the community and promoting order and peace.  They cared about all the children and the future.

The general lesson for us is our need for a clear definition of good and evil in community and support for parents disciplining their children (Ephesians 6:1-4). Do you think that our culture understands disrespect of parents or authority to be sin or evil? What results when a culture tolerates evil or excuses it? Pray today for our parents and those in authority.

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Sunday rest and reflection: Moses and Christ

When we started our journey through the Bible, I began with Luke 24.  The resurrected Jesus taught his disciples on the road to Emmaus and again in the room in Jerusalem everything concerning Himself in the Law and the Prophets.  (Luke 24:27, 44) The Law refers to these Books of Moses that we have been reading.  As we take time to rest today, let’s think about these Books in relation to what they reveal about Jesus Christ.

Moses himself was a picture of Christ.  Moses was a prophet, a priest, a servant, a shepherd, a mediator, and a deliverer.  We find that Jesus is the final Word from God and holds the office of prophet and priest, as well as king (which Moses was not).  Jesus was a servant, (Matthew 12:18) the Good Shepherd, (John 10:11-14) the only mediator between God and man (1Timothy 2:5) , and our deliverer (1Thessalonians 1:10) In his character description, Moses was the meekest of men. (Numbers 12:3)  Jesus was humble of heart as well. (Matthew 11:28-30)  Moses was faithful and obedient as was Jesus Christ.  Like Christ, Moses was powerful in word and deed (Acts 7:22)!

In the account of Moses’ early life, he was a baby in Egypt and had to escape Pharaoh’s murder attempt.  Jesus, as a baby, was taken to Egypt to escape Herod’s murder attempt.  Both were providentially cared for by God to survive and fulfill their mission of deliverance!  Moses was rejected by his brothers and as a result obtained a Gentile bride while on the back side of the desert.  Jesus was rejected by His brothers and also has a Gentile bride, the Church!  Moses delivered God’s people from the death angel by the blood of a Passover lamb.  Jesus delivered God’s people from death by His own blood spilled on the cross! Moses was eventually accepted by his brothers.  Jesus will be when He comes again!  Moses led the people and fed the people and mediated their concerns.   Jesus Christ is our King, Provider and Intercessor!

Take time today to think of some other aspects of our Lord that he has revealed to you as you have read these Books of Moses!  May your heart burn with love for Jesus!  Have a blessed day!  Pastor John

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The “scapegoat”

Scripture reading for February 6: Leviticus 16-17

Man is always looking for someone to blame for sin. It was the “woman you gave me” for Adam.  Eve became his “scapegoat”!  It was the “serpent” for Eve that became her “scapegoat”.  God Himself was blamed by both of them as the ultimate problem.  Amazingly, God had already planned to provide a “scapegoat”!

God loves man and worked out a picture of salvation from sin which is recorded in these chapters of Leviticus.  God set apart one day a year when the High Priest could go behind the curtain of the Holy of Holies in the Tent of Meeting.  That day was called the Day of Atonement.  The term “atonement” simply means a “covering”. On this day, the Israelites could have a yearly “covering” for their sins.

First, a bull was killed and the blood sprinkled for the High Priest as a sacrifice for his sins.  Then two goats were brought before the Tent and lots were cast.  One of the goats was sacrificed and the blood sprinkled by the High Priest behind the curtain for the sins of the people.  Everyone waited outside to see if God would accept the sacrifice for sins committed.  They were relieved when the High Priest came out. (Leviticus 16:6-19)

The second goat was then brought forward and the High Priest laid his hands on it and confessed the sins and rebellion of the Israelites.  This goat was then led out away from the camp into the wilderness to a solitary place and left there.  As the Israelites watched the goat bearing their sins disappear in the distance, they were reminded of the sacrifice necessary to bring a covering for their sins.  God provided a “scapegoat” who would take the blame for them! (Leviticus 16:20-28)

Jesus Christ came as God’s designated “Scapegoat”!  He offered Himself on the cross to make “atonement” for our sins.  He shed His own blood to pay the penalty for our sins, once for all time!  (Hebrews 9:11-14) He bore our sins and carried them away into a place of God’s forgetfulness, never to be remembered again!  (Hebrews 10:17)

Have you ever blamed someone else for you own misdeed? Have you ever had someone who willingly took the blame for your misdeed so you could go free? Thank God for His provision for you today!

1st Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake, He made Him to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

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Fatal attraction?

Scripture reading for February 3th: Leviticus 8-10

Preacher’s kids are sometimes a mess! (Not mine of course!)  The sons of Aaron and nephews of Moses had experienced the miraculous deliverance from the plagues and seen God act in power at the Red Sea when the Egyptian army was drowned.  They had witnessed the miraculous events of the journey, eaten the “manna” and heard God’s voice on the mountain.  They were dressed, instructed, and anointed for ministry along with their father and other brothers.  They were sprinkled with the blood of sacrifice.  (Leviticus 8)  You would think that they knew enough to take seriously God’s power and presence!  But sometimes, those in ministry or close to it, become complacent.  Worse yet, they behaved disrespectfully towards God in front of others who were looking to them for spiritual leadership!

Nadab and Abihu had witnessed Moses and Aaron going into the Tent of Meeting and the visible Glory of the Lord appearing to the people. (Leviticus 9:23-24.)  Fire came from the Lord and consumed the sacrifice.  All the people shouted for joy and fell face down.  Evidently, Nadab and Abihu were fascinated with the Tent of Meeting.  They decided to go in there themselves and experience God.  They took “strange” fire with them and God took their lives right on the spot. 

It appears that these boys might have been drinking or possibly drunk.  In Leviticus 10:8-11, Aaron warns his other sons not to drink wine or any other fermented drink when they went into the Tent of Meeting!  Paul the Apostle also gives the same warning to believers: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery, instead be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) God is not mocked and holds those with more responsibility accountable for their conduct!  Alcohol affects our ability to reason and think clearly. It lowers our inhibitions and brings out fleshly behaviors that can lead to destruction or death.

Has alcohol or drugs caused difficulty in your home or family? Why do children of those in God’s service sometimes have a problem with proper respect for God? Pray for those you know who struggle with this.

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Being intentional with unintentional sins

Scripture Reading for February 2rd: Leviticus 4-7

Leviticus 4:27-29 “”If anyone of the common people sins unintentionally in doing any one of the things that by the Lord’s commandments ought not to be done, and realizes his guilt, or the sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has committed. And he shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering in the place of the burnt offering.””

What is the difference between an “intentional” sin and an “unintentional” sin?  Does ignorance excuse us?  How does God look at the person who doesn’t know anything about God’s law?  Is there really such a person who is totally ignorant of God’s basic laws?  If after we “ignorantly” sin, someone informs us that what we “ignorantly” did was a sin in God’s eyes and reads us God’s view from the Bible, are we thereafter guilty of an “intentional” sin?   Is there any sacrifice for a willfully defiant sin?  These questions come to my mind as I read these chapters of Leviticus. (See Leviticus 4:1, 13, 22, 27.)

God has made his basic laws known to all men through the conscience.  Each person has a conscience and it must be trained to know and recognize sin. (Romans 2:12-16)  Each person will be judged by God according to the light he has.  The conscience can be seared by repeated sin.  We are to keep a “clear” conscience by walking in love towards others. (1st Peter 3:16)  Deacons must hold the deep truths of the faith with a “clear” or “pure” conscience. (1st Timothy 3:9)  The conscience is the elementary voice of God that acts like a stoplight, letting us know when to stop and when to go and when to be cautious! All have sinned and sin must be confessed and turned away from to be covered by Christ’s sacrifice.

“If we confess our sins, , He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9) 

Our priest, Jesus Christ, has already made the blood sacrifice for us.  He offered his own blood as atonement for our sins and bore them on the Cross!  We can “intentionally” be made clean from our “unintentional sins”!  Praise the Lord!  What amazing love! 

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Holy fear and clear vision

Scripture reading for January 24: Exodus 19-20

God carried the whole nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt with a display of His power in the plagues.  The Israelites were protected and experienced God’s deliverance as they walked out of Egypt, laden down with silver and gold and other valuables.  God’s presence guided them in the Pillar of Fire and in the Cloud.  God was in their midst and provided miraculously for them again and again in sending the manna and quail and then providing water from the Rock.  They knew God’s mercy, but lacked a healthy fear or respect. This holy fear or respect is a foundation for wisdom and life.  (Proverbs 1:7)

To help His people with holy fear, God led the children of Israel to Mt. Sinai where He gave instructions through Moses to the people.  They were to refrain from sexual relations, wash their clothes, and consecrate themselves to hear God’s voice speaking to them.  (Exodus 19:10-16)  On the morning of the third day, there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud, and a loud trumpet blast.  When the trumpet sounded, everyone in the camp trembled with fear!  (Exodus 20:18-19) God’s voice speaking His law revealed His holiness.

God’s stated purpose was to instill in them the “fear of God to keep them from sinning.” (Exodus 20:20)  You might say He wanted them to have ’20:20 vision’ and understanding that sin brings death.  The ten commandments that Moses received revealed sin in the heart of man.  They are the mirror of our soul showing our need of mercy and forgiveness.  They drive us to God for mercy through His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is only by grace that we are saved from the penalty of sin. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

How has God instilled a holy respect in your life? Would you say that your vision of God is more of love and mercy that awe and respect? How does a healthy respect for the Lord keep us from sinning?

“Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid.  God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” Exodus 20:20

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Unequally yoked!

Scripture Reading for January 11–Genesis 27-31

“Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women.  If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”  Genesis 27:46

Abraham sent his servant to find a bride for Isaac from believing family to insure the godly line would be continued.  Isaac and Rebekah had the twins Jacob and Esau.  But Esau had a taste for these Hittite women,  not just one, but two wives at the same time!  It seems that Esau was oblivious to the grief he caused his godly parents.  He went right ahead in spite of their personal marriage story and probably their godly training and advice.  

God asks us to walk by faith and in obedience to His Word.  He has placed those in authority over us to help us learn how to live and please the Lord.  Choosing a mate is one of the most important choices we make in life.  Parents know their children and should give godly instruction to marry only believers.  We should help them by setting an example of a godly marriage and home. We should be praying for God’s helpmate for our children and instructing them to wait on God. (2nd Corinthians 6:14-15.) God desires godly offspring and parents work and pray to see faith passed on!  

Are you married and praying for your children? Have you taught your children to pick godly mates who are believers? Take time to pray for our nation and the need for returning to godly marriage principles.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what have righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”  2nd Corinthians 6:14-15

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God’s Word speeds onward!

Scripture reading for November 23rd: 2nd Thessalonians 3, Psalms 84, Proverbs 17

2nd Thessalonians 3: 1-5 “Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”

As Paul closed out this letter to his friends in Thessalonica, he asked for prayer. His request was that God’s Word would be spread quickly by believers and his own ministry and that it would be honored by many more trusting in Jesus Christ. He asked for deliverance from evil and wicked men who because of no faith were under Satan’s deception. He knew that God was faithful and would answer prayers that aligned with His will. Paul prophetically declared his confidence in God concerning the believers in Thessalonica. He was confident in their faithfulness to apply God’s Word and pray. Paul prayed for them that God would direct their hearts deeper into His Love and the steadfastness of Christ Jesus, Who is eternally Faithful and True. All who trust in the Lord will walk in light and God’s Shield of Christ’s love!

Psalm 84:11-12 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You.”

Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your amazing faithfulness and that of Jesus Christ, our Example and Paul, the Apostle. Thank You for the privilege of prayer and answering prayer. Cover my sins today and protect me from the evil one. May Your Word speed forth to every person You direct me to today through my attitude, actions and words. I declare my trust in You today as my Sun and Shield!

Proverbs 17:9 “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

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Satan is behind the lawless one

Scripture reading for November 22nd: 2nd Thessalonians 2, Psalm 83, Proverbs 16

2nd Thessalonians 2: 7-12 “And you know what is restraining him (the man of lawlessness) now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of His mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Paul carefully explains a final lawless ruler who will come on the world scene after the restraining influence of God through His Spirit-filled church is removed. Lawlessness is the mark of this leader and all that follow him. This is because Satan is the ultimate rebel and that evil spirit will be allowed to raise up a lawless leader. The mystery of lawlessness was already at work in Paul’s day! (How much more today!) But believers are not to live in fear because God has everything under His control. The Lord Jesus will destroy this ‘lawless one’ with the breath of His mouth at the glory of His return! Paul warns the church not to succumb to the false signs and wonders of this lawless one. Satan is a deceiver and only the Truth of Jesus Christ and God’s eternal Word will keep people from deception. Those deceived by this false leader will end up eternally punished because they refused the Good News of grace through Jesus.

Psalm 83:17-18 “Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever, let them perish in disgrace, that they may know that You Alone, Whose Name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth.”

Prayer: Father God, it is comforting to know that You already know how Your plans will work out. Although You want none to perish, You have allowed the wicked to choose the day of destruction. Fill me with the Holy Spirit today in all wisdom and discernment. Empower me to avoid deception and to share the Good News with those in the grips of Satan and the lawlessness filling our world in this last time.

Proverbs 16:4 “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.”

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