Tag Archives: commands

Zechariah 9-11; 1 John 5

Periodically I hear people criticize Christianity because they say it’s just a bunch of rules you have to follow. And the Apostle John sort of agrees with them in this passage. And yet in the middle of these verses you find an astounding statement. See if you can find it.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—sour faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5 [ESV])

Did you find it? I think the second sentence in verse three is astounding, “And his commandments are not burdensome.” I am reminded of some of the world class athletes we know. Michael Jordan never complained about the rules in basketball. He never complained because the basket rim was at 10 feet. He never complained about the 3 second rule or the length of the court. He was world class while playing within those constraints and excelled.

The rules and commands we find in the Bible are for our good. They protect us and give us freedom. They are not there to control but to bring freedom to our lives. They are not oppressive but freeing.

How bout you? What command are you having trouble with? Have you thought about the fact that obeying that command will bring you freedom. Try it and see if it works.

Oh and by the way. By keeping these commands in no way gets us into heaven. The Apostle John addresses that later in the chapter and takes all the guess work out about the heaven thing. Read below:

13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13 [ESV])

So he gives us that answer right there in the statement. We enter into an eternal relationship with God by putting our trust in Him alone for our salvation. Simple believe in what He has done for us on the cross.

So where are you in all this today? Are you believing in Jesus alone for your salvation? Do you understand that it isn’t a bunch of rule keeping that gets us there? But on the other hand do you realize how freeing it is to live by the rules and commands God has given us? Think on these things today.

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Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Uncategorized, Zechariah

Deuteronomy 32; Psalm 119:121-144; Isaiah 59; Matthew 7

“Take to heart all the words of warning I have given you today. Pass them on as a command to your children so they will obey every word of these instructions. 47 These instructions are not empty words—they are your life!” Deuteronomy 32:46-47a NLT.

I am your servant; deal with me in unfailing love,
    and teach me your decrees.
125 Give discernment to me, your servant;
    then I will understand your laws. Psalm 119:124-125 NLT

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:24 NLT

It’s been a muggy, humid, summer week. A soffit reaches over the window flower boxes, preventing my petunias from getting rain. So I go out with a hose and put the nozzle on the mist setting to water the plants. My youngest likes to follow me around–she eagerly watches all the things I do–and stands nearby as I water the flowers. The mist spray blows in the breeze and showers her too with tiny ice-like shards of cold water. She loves it, and laughs and dances under the spray, reaching out for more. Now that I think of it, she’s around me like a little satellite–my company in the garden, a kitchen companion while I’m baking (and she gets to lick the spoon!), my shadow as I reach into the freezer to break off a cold piece of chocolate (and she gets a piece too). She learns a lot following me around–the good, and the not-s0-good.

When Moses speaks to the people and says to pass these words on to their children, what follows is arresting:

These instructions are not empty words—they are your life!

When I read of God’s teaching falling like rain, a gentle shower–it reads like summer and his teaching refreshes and quenches me in the heat, so I can grow. It underscores to me how important it is to keep his word a steady part of my life–to be connected to him daily to learn. I want this for myself (certainly!), and I want it for my kids. I want them to see faith worked out in real life–from taking hold of the log in my eye, to the asking-seeking-knocking of the Lord, and so much more.

Father God, I pray to you:

133 Guide my steps by your word,
    so I will not be overcome by evil.

135 Look upon me with love;
    teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:133, 135

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan

Deuteronomy 20, Deuteronomy 21, Deuteronomy 22, Luke 6:1-26

Read at: www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Dt%2020,21,22;%20Luke%206:1-26&version=NKJV

Warfare and Healing

Deuteronomy and Luke present different facets of the same theme:

Principles Governing Warfare

In Deuteronomy 20 God gives orders of how to go to battle against your enemies.         “Do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” … If there “is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.”

            Living under Christ’s command requires going into the difficult places in my heart, life, and in those of others; Being open to God’s Word and obeying His commands. Not being faint hearted but stalwart because the Lord Jesus Christ goes with me to set me and other captives free. Sometimes the territory gets Very large and the enemy seems Very fierce. The fainthearted near me debilitates me because he is without God’s vision. If I don’t wear the Word of God over my eyes and ears 24/7/365 I am UNempowered.  

              I need bold hearted men and women around me, especially at this time of my life. Prayer warriors who pray for God’s Word to be done. People of God’s Righteousness for God to live through them for the eternal benefit of everyone around them. For words of encouragement and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ Who IS the Victor!! I yearn to see and hear God’s Glory when I see so much carnage. I know it’s all so temporary, but I want God’s justice to turn people’s hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ! I am grateful to be that way, but I can grow weary in the battle. I am grateful for the bold hearted ones with me. I rejoice that Jesus has already won the War.

           Israel is about to be engaged in war. Iran will be sending missiles to our shores. People will die, but where will they go? To Heaven or hell? Who will tell them the Gospel before their time is up? Lord send me!

             Is it really that simple? Am I not to be despondent or to despair over what is coming? No, the Lord Jesus Christ says. The enemy will want me to feel “I am in charge”. What a proud arrogant lie! I rejoice in that Truth (that it is a Lie)!! Yippee!! I am free from the bondage of the responsibility for souls. But what AM I in charge of? Just being God’s daughter and following and loving the Lord Jesus Christ with my life each day. Step by step Jesus will show me His Great Adventure that I join. Whew!! Got through that One! May I live it another day by the Holy Spirit’s power! 

In Deuteronomy 21-22, the Lord addressed laws regarding unsolved murder, female captives, firstborn inheritance rights, rebellions sons, immorality, sins deserving of death as well as commands to helping your fellow man and woman and not being unequally yoked. All of these deal with sin, captives of sin, and how justice and God’s righteousness can be executed well for His Glory.

In Luke 6:1-26 Jesus said, “The Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” – Jesus declared Himself God and boldly chose to heal on that day, setting a captive free.  Later on, Jesus “went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He … chose twelve whom He also named apostles.” The Lord Jesus chose the men for His army.

            Jesus continued setting people free: “He came down with them … a great multitude of people who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases … who were tormented with unclean spirits. And they were healed. … for power went out from Him and healed them all.”

             In the Be-Attitudes, Jesus the set the priorities for God’s people who win in the Kingdom of God: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. … Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep.”

              I fit right in. I look forward to when the Righteousness is Full and I can no longer mourn over the pain and suffering of people which is caused by sinful, wicked choices.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.  Luke 19:10

For Further Reading – Matthew 11:28-30; John 3:5-21; John 15:3-11; Psalm 51; Romans 10:9-13; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Joel 2:28-29 

Crystal (PsalmThirty4)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Deuteronomy, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Uncategorized

2 Kings 12; 2 Timothy 2; Hosea 3,4; Psalm 119:121-144

121I have done what is just and right;
do not leave me to my oppressors.
122Give your servant a pledge of good;
let not the insolent oppress me.
123My eyes long for your salvation
and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.
124Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love,
and teach me your statutes.
125I am your servant; give me understanding,
that I may know your testimonies!
126It is time for the LORD to act,
for your law has been broken.
127Therefore I love your commandments
above gold, above fine gold.
128Therefore I consider all your precepts to be right;
I hate every false way.

Psalm 119

I usually read a passage of scripture with the question “What does this say about God?” at the forefront of my mind.  Reading the later portions of Psalm 119, I instead find myself struck by what this passage says about the psalmist.

  • The psalmist places his request for God to “Teach me your statutes” third only behind requests for God not to leave him to his oppressors and for God to deal with him according to His steadfast love.
  • The violation of God’s law (not a chance at some personal benefit) causes him to call on the LORD to act.
  • He places his love for God’s commandments above gold.
  • He axiomatically considers all of God’s precepts right, and harbors a hatred for every other way.

 129Your testimonies are wonderful;
therefore my soul keeps them.
130The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
131I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.
132 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your way with those who love your name.
133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.
134 Redeem me from man’s oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
135 Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
136My eyes shed streams of tears,
because people do not keep your law.

The psalmist continues:

  • His soul keeps God’s testimonies because he considers them wonderful.
  • He recognizes God’s words as the source of light and understanding.
  • His longing for God’s commandments drives him to pant.
  • He asks to be redeemed from the oppression of men not for personal liberty but that he might keep God’s precepts.
  • Tears constantly pour from his eyes because other people fail to keep God’s law.

 137 Righteous are you, O LORD,
and right are your rules.
138You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.
139My zeal consumes me,
because my foes forget your words.
140Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.
141I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts.
142Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and your law is true.
143Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
144Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.

The list goes on:

  • The psalmist is consumed by his own zeal when, of all things, his foes forget God’s words.
  • He loves God’s promises.
  • He considers himself insignificant and despised, but it seems that he couldn’t care less about that because he’s managed to remember God’s precepts.
  • So great is his delight in God’s commandments that he is all but impervious to trouble and anguish.  This is definitely not someone who sees God’s rules as a burden!
  • He equates the understanding of God’s testimonies with his very ability to live.

This psalmist is something.  I take him at his word that all of these statements are absolutely true, even if poetic.  I’m sorry to say I’m having difficulty finding shared ground with him.  I wish I could say I fully shared his views, but of course I don’t.  I could say that I want to share the depth of his passion for God’s words and commands, but that too would be a lie, as ashamed as I am to admit it.

What if I take this one step lower?  I wish that I wanted to have such an honestly passionate view of God’s words and precepts.  Yes, I can say that in truth.

Dear Lord, forgive me for not being able to honestly echo the words of this psalmist.  Have mercy upon me for harboring in some as-yet unclean corner of my heart a lack of desire to master your Word and your law as this psalmist has.  Give me a pure and authentic passion to study your Word and obsessively pursue Your truth as aggressively as described here.  Lead me to the point where I’m inconsolable at the very idea of failing to follow you with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind with all my strength.  Amen.

Michael  (mmattix)

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Filed under M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Old Testament, Psalms

Exodus 3; Luke 6; Job 20; I Corinthians 7

I have a love/hate attitude toward ‘Bible stories’.  I like them because of how they so easily introduce young children to the power, imagination, and the goodness of their Creator. On the other hand, as an adult I’ve discovered great and (in hindsight) possibly obvious truths I’d been numbed to because I considered some passages of scripture so familiar from my childhood that I neglected to reexamine them from an adult’s perspective. Jesus’ ‘Wise and Foolish Builders’ metaphor is but the latest example.

 

46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”  Luke 6:46-49

 

I’ve long been impacted by Luke 6:46.  What I’ve never noticed before is that it immediately precedes the wise and foolish builders.  Jesus points out the striking irrationality of recognizing Him as Lord, but declining to obey Him.  Then He offers the story of the wise and foolish builders as a motivation for our obedience.  Jesus paints a picture explaining that God’s commands protect us from the calamity that would otherwise come with the storms of life that arise from time to time.

I found myself caught off guard as I read the passage this time. I notice that Jesus isn’t saying “Obey me because it is right, obey me because I deserve it, obey me because I am God.” He would be justified in saying any of that, and all of it is true. What does He instead choose to say? “Obey me because my commands are a means through which I protect you.”

 

John 14:21 immediately came to mind.

21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.

It says that:

Obedience to His Commands = Our Love for Him

This relationship is not new to me.  However, what I’m seeing in Luke 6 for the first time is that this has a reciprocal equation.  As a dad, protecting my family is one of the ways I express my love for them.  Therefore, I’m seeing in Jesus’ words:

His Commands = His Love for Us.

(You know you’re an engineer when you can turn Bible verses into equations.)

 

His commands provide us an outlet for our love for Him, and they are a practical means through which He protects and blesses us.  In His demand for our obedience, He’s actually inviting us to let Him love us.  Even as He requires from me the obedience He deserves, He’s offering me something I could never deserve.

Dear God, thank you for your commands. Thank you for your protection. Thank you for your love!

mmattix

 

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Filed under Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Uncategorized