Thursday Truth: Three Great Articles To Lead You into Truth 09-20-18

“If I speak what is false, I must answer for it; if truth, it will answer for me.” ~ Thomas Fuller

Thursday Truth: Three Articles To Lead You into Truth 09-20-18

If God Doesn’t Need Anything, Then Why Does He Command Us to Serve Him?

by Mark Altrogge

God doesn’t need our work.  

He doesn’t need our money, either. God can get everything done without a heavenly Kickstarter campaign. He didn’t ask for any help when he created the galaxies. He can get along just fine without our peewee contributions to the universe. Continue Reading


If the Holy Spirit Lives in Us, Why Can’t We Live Perfect Lives?

by R.C. Sproul

Let me suggest to you that we can live perfect lives. Now that may sound like the most outrageous thing you have ever heard, because one of the few things you’ll get both Christian and non-Christian to agree on is that nobody is perfect! Continue Reading


Lift High the Name of Jesus

Free Hymn of the Month from Getty Music & Blue Letter Bible

Each month Blue Letter Bible offers a free hymn from Getty Music.

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:15 ESV)

Download the powerful hymn and read the story behind it:

Lift High the Name of Jesus

“BLB is very blessed to partner with Getty Music and offer you these wonderful modern hymns, which promote sincere, Bible-based worship in the hearts of God’s people.”


“Jesus Christ Himself is the final exegesis of all truth. He is all that we need to know about God, and He is all that we need to know about man.” ~ Major Ian Thomas

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DEUTERONOMY ~ Dipping Our Toes into the Book of Deuteronomy

DEUTERONOMY - Dip your toes into the book of Deuteronomy. A Super-Short Summary and Less-Than-Super-Short Summary (Welcome to the Bible series) via www.JeanWilund.com

Book #5 ~ DEUTERONOMY

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV


Super Short Summary:

In Deuteronomy, God prepares Israel for entering the Promised Land and, through Moses’ final words, gives a picture of what the Christian life should look like.

Less Than Super Short Summary:

The curtain opens on Deuteronomy at the end of Moses’ life and the beginning of Israel’s new life in the Promised Land, the land of Canaan.

In Exodus, God had brought Israel out of slavery to Egypt, which gave us a picture of Jesus setting sinners free from slavery to sin.

In Numbers, Israel wandered the wilderness because of their unbelief. Even though God had promised to give them a land and His blessings to enjoy, they’d refused to believe Him.

Through Israel’s unbelief, God gave us a picture of Christians who’ve trusted Jesus to save them from sin and give them eternal life but refuse to trust Him for today’s challenges. Their fears and selfish pride keep them in a barren, wilderness-type life.

They never enjoy the full freedom Jesus promises to Christians who walk by His Spirit rather than by human effort. Bondage to fear and unbelief (often expressed by the less convicting word “doubt”) send them stumbling into sin and discouragement.

God provided for Israel in the wilderness, but He didn’t design the wilderness to be their permanent residence.

He brought them (us) out of slavery to Egypt (sin) for the purpose of bringing them into the Promised Land. There they could enjoy the fruit of His blessings (victorious Christian living).

All who refused to trust Him suffered loss. And Christians do, too. They will be saved from an eternity in hell separated from God, but they’ll miss out on God’s blessings in this life – the blessings of unshakable peace, joy in Christ, and much more.

Moses’ Final Words

In Numbers, God had told Moses he wouldn’t enter the Promised Land with the Israelites because he didn’t honor the Lord before the Israelites at the life-giving rock (Numbers 20:10-13).

In Deuteronomy, Moses was now 120 years old, but his eyesight hadn’t weakened, nor had his strength given out (Deuteronomy 34:7). Regardless, Moses’ apprentice Joshua would lead Israel into the Promised Land, not Moses (Deuteronomy 31:1-3).

But first, Moses had some final words for Israel – words they must always remember and never forget.

(The Hebrew name for Deuteronomy, Debarim, means the words.)

Always Remember, Never Forget

Moses began by reviewing Israel’s past since the time they’d left Mt. Sinai 40 years earlier. He reminded them of their rebellion and the painful consequences.

The rebels, however, weren’t Moses’ audience. Their children were. Their defiant parents had died.

But God’s promises lived on. Faithful to His Word, God was going to give the Promised Land to the children.

Before they entered, Moses made sure they remembered, through vivid recollections, how easily and often their parents had made empty promises to trust and obey God.

He then commanded this generation to remain faithful and obedient to God rather than to idols – worthless scraps of metal or wood, or anything they’d place over God.

He reminded them of God’s rules, regulations, and commandments (Deuteronomy 5), which were designed to lead them into right living and allow them to dwell safely in God’s presence.

The Shema

God then gave a command that later became a daily prayer for Israelites known as the Shema.

The word shema means to hear and listen in such a way as to elicit a response.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ESV

The Shema is still prayed today by orthodox Jews.

Jesus quoted it when asked what was the greatest commandment.

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” ~ Mark 12:29-30 ESV

Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” ~ Mark 12:29-30 ESV

Warfare

To further prepare Israel for entering the Promised Land, Moses taught Israel how they must handle warfare.

They were to treat the people of the Promised Land (Canaan) differently than those outside it. The hearts of the people in Canaan overflowed with sin, making them ripe for judgment. God commanded they be devoted to destruction (Deuteronomy 9:4).

But those outside the Promised Land were to be shown mercy.

It can be hard to understand how a loving God could order entire cities to be devoted to destruction until you understand the depth of those nation’s sin and the mercy they could’ve enjoyed had they bowed to the Lord rather than raising their swords against Israel.

God is a righteous judge. The wonder isn’t how God could order Canaan’s destruction, but rather how He could have offered anyone extravagant grace and mercy.

Guard Your Heart

Toward the end of Deuteronomy, Moses addressed the condition of the Israelites’ hearts and alerted them to the many ways they’d be tempted to sin.

And he warned them that God would test them.

God would allow prophecies made by false prophets to come to pass in order to expose the true condition of the Israelites’ hearts. They needed to see for themselves when they saw their signs and wonders that they’d run after the false prophets’ idols rather than stay true to the one true God.

Everyone would see they didn’t want a true King. They wanted a Burger King. (Have it your way! Have it your way!

Blessing and Curses, Life or Death

Moses detailed the blessings God would pour out on them if they obeyed Him.

Astounding blessings! Surely Israel would faithfully obey so they could enjoy the many undeserved blessings the rest of their lives. (They didn’t!)

Moses also detailed the curses God would reign down on them if they disobeyed.

Terrifying curses! Certainly, they’d never risk forfeiting the great blessings by disobeying God and thus suffering the horrific curses. (They did!)

Regrettably, we’re not much different – if different at all. Too often we’d rather be our own god than serve the one true God.

Moses stood before Israel and commanded they choose. Life or death. Blessings or curses. (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Life and blessings were the obvious choices, but – Spoiler Alert – Israel often chose shocking sin over life-giving blessings. (Just wait until we get to the book of Judges! Oh my!)

God predicted Israel’s rebellion. He gave Moses a song to teach Israel which would stand as a witness against them that they’d been warned (Deuteronomy 32).

Moses then pronounced a blessing on each tribe of Israel (Deuteronomy 33). God’s grace in action.

Farewell, Moses

As the book of Deuteronomy closes we see Moses, the leader and prophet God called His friend, walking up to the top of Mount Pisgah. There the Lord showed him the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 34:1-4)

Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died (Deuteronomy 34:5). He entered his rest and reward.

Hello, Joshua

Israel’s leadership passed to Joshua, who may have penned the final verses in Deuteronomy and this beautiful testimony to Moses:

“And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and wonders that the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).

 

 

 




Why Can’t God’s Highest Purpose Be My Comfort Instead of His Glory?

God's Glory is His Highest Purpose-not our comfort-and that's good news for us! (Jean Wilund via www.inspireafire.com)

Aha!

Ever had an “Aha moment?” Like when you discovered coffee is amazing. Or that you needed reading glasses.

We’ll probably experience lots of aha moments in heaven. For now, we have lots of head-scratching and wondering moments.

Jesus’ disciples had one. . . Read More


Read the rest of this post at InspireAFire.com. I’m blogging over there today!

God's Glory is His Highest Purpose-not our comfort-and that's good news for us! (Jean Wilund via www.inspireafire.com)




A Cross, Not a Stone Because Jesus Came to Set Us Free, Not Be Set Free

Easter Tuesday ~ Everything could've been different, but God required a Cross, Not a Stone ~ Jesus Came to Set us Free, Not to be Set Free (Featuring "Freedom" by Michael W. Smith)

A Cross or a Stone?

Everything could’ve been different—horribly tragically different—if God hadn’t intervened. 

Whew!

One of the first lessons we learn in church is that Jesus came to set us free from sin and He accomplished it through His death on the cross. 

But did you know God chose the time, place and manner of Jesus’ death before the foundations of the world? 

And that man tried to change it with some stones?

For years, I never stopped to think about all the complex orchestration and maneuvering Christ’s crucifixion required. 

As man moved, God moved because He required a cross, not a stone, and Jesus came to set us free, not to be set free. 

Let’s consider just a few of the main events God had to coordinate.

But first, for your listening pleasure, hit the play button on Michael W. Smith’s song “Freedom” from his Freedom album. It could be the soundtrack to Jesus’ life.

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.comStone Him!

A short time before the week leading up to the cross, Christ enraged the Jewish leaders.

He claimed equality with God. 

Them’s fightin’ words by Jewish law. Stoning words, to be exact. 

“anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them…”
~ Leviticus 24:16a

The Jewish leaders declared utmost loyalty to the Law of Moses. Moses was The Man to them.

But even with their devotion to God’s laws passed down to Moses, the hardness of their hearts blinded them to the truth standing before them.

They refused to see Jesus, the Christ, for who He really is—God in the flesh. Messiah, come to save them from sin.

Thus, those loyal leaders faced Jesus and bowed low to the ground—but not to worship—to pick up stones. 

“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
~ John 10:33

But God Required a Cross, Not a Stone

God had already predetermined that Jesus would be crucified on the cross, even before Roman crucifixion was a thing. Even before being Roman was a thing. 

Long ago, through their hero Moses, God had pointed to Christ on the cross. 

“The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”
~ Numbers 21:8 

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;”
~ John 3:14

Through the prophet Zechariah, God had revealed how Christ would die.

“…they will look on Me whom they have pierced…”
~ Zechariah 12:10

The leaders picked up stones and set out to kill Jesus, but fortunately, God is not hindered by man’s plans.

“…they tried to seize Him, but He escaped their grasp.”
~ John 10:39

Not even a crowd can hold onto one man if that one man is the Son of Man. 

Two other times Jesus slipped away from those who wanted to kill Him before His appointed time, place, and manner. (John 7:30, Luke 4:30)

No one could lay a hand on Jesus at that time because God required a cross, not a stone.

Jesus Came to Set Us Free, Not Be Set Free

The Jewish leaders had tried to kill Jesus before His hour had come. 

The Roman Governor, Pilate, tried to do the opposite. He tried to set Jesus free.

So Pilate said to Him [Jesus], “You do not speak to me?
Do You not know that I have authority to release You,
and I have authority to crucify You?”

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me,
unless it had been given you from above . . .”
As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him . . .
~ John 19:10-12a

Jesus’ words transformed Pilate from speaking with boldness and arrogance about his great authority to quaking in his Roman sandals.

Pilate had set out to put Jesus in His place. Jesus showed Pilate that His place is above all earthly rulers.

It seems Pilate grasped this truth enough to make “efforts to release Him.” 

When you’re one of the heads of the government in Jerusalem, that shouldn’t be too difficult, unless the Head over All intervenes.

God moved because Jesus came to set us free, not to be set free. 

Christ Had an Appointment With The Cross He Couldn’t Miss

God wouldn’t allow Pilate to cancel Jesus’ appointment with the cross even though Pilate was right. Jesus wasn’t guilty of any wrong.

Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”
~ Luke 23:4

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

And Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him.
~ Luke 23:14

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

And he [Pilate] said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”
~ Luke 23:22

All through the last week of Christ’s life, God moved each of the players into place so our relationship with Him could be restored. 

If Jesus had been killed before the appointed time, place, or manner, or if He’d been set free and not crucified, we’d be lost today.

Everything would be different.

We’d be without our Savior, and we’d have a God who wasn’t able to save us. 

We’d be without hope. 

But God is able, and we do have a Savior—a crucified and risen Savior.

We’ve been set free because Jesus wasn’t.

for truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.
~ Acts 4:27-28

If God Can Orchestrate Christ’s Life, He Can Orchestrate Yours

At times, it looked like God’s plan was falling apart. But He never lost control.

God worked all things out perfectly for our good and His glory.

But sometimes even God’s perfect plan involves pain and heartache for a good purpose that we, unfortunately, don’t always get to understand this side of heaven.

Let’s not lose heart when we feel like the plan for our life must be falling apart.

Pray and trust God to work in His time.

Look to Him for your next step.

God never fails. 

The Red Thread of Jesus via JeanWilund.com

Share this post with your friends and family and join me tomorrow as we move through Easter week to Resurrection Day. 

God required a #cross, not a stone, & Jesus came to set us free, not to be set free. #Easter Click To Tweet

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Click to view music video: "The Only Name" by Big Daddy Weave ~ Philippians 2:9

Click to view music video: “The Only Name” by Big Daddy Weave ~ Philippians 2:9

Click to view music video: Monday Music ~ "And All The People Said Amen!" by Matt Maher. (via Jeanwilund.com)

Click to view music video: Monday Music ~ “And All The People Said Amen!” by Matt Maher.




Monday Music ~ 3 Truths To Remember In the EYE OF THE STORM

Always remember, God is always in control. Watch Ryan Stevenson's music video Eye of the Storm as part of our "Storm Training."

The Eye of the Storm

Ah, the eye of the storm.

That happy, calm place after Armageddon seems to have broken loose and before it’s about to get all crazy again.

A storm may have knocked us upside down for the moment, and we’re thinking “ain’t nobody got time for that.” But God hasn’t been knocked anywhere, especially off His throne.

If you’re feeling all alone in the eye of a storm, remember these three truths:

1. When no one is around to remind you God is in control, God is and He will.

We’re not alone. God’s always with us and always in control.

And this isn’t our battle. It’s God’s.

He’s working in us, drawing and empowering us to trust Him before, during and after the battle.

Philippians 2:13 tells us God will give us the desire and the power to do what pleases Him. Hebrews 11:6 tells us we can’t please God without faith.

Thus, it seems clear He’s the one who’ll give us the faith we need in all stages of the storm. But we have to walk in the faith He gives. He won’t do that part for us. 

Faith is only useful when it’s used.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13 NLT).

2. When no one you know is praying for you, Jesus can and He is.

After I placed my faith in Christ, I spent a few years far from Him. Since I was raised in a non-Christian home, my parents neither noticed nor cared whether I followed Christ or not.

They weren’t praying for me, but Christ was interceding. And He drew me back by His grace and love.

Every time I’ve struggled or rebelled, He’s interceded and drawn me back. 

Other times, when I didn’t give in to the temptations or frustrations, I know it’s because His prayers anchored me in truth, and I chose to stay put, surrounded by His love rather than setting sail for other shores.

And when my heart is broken over my child or another loved one, I know Christ is interceding, even if no one else is. 

“Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 NASB).

3. When no one can comfort you, the Holy Spirit can and He will.

Always remember these 3 truth when you're in the eye of the storm. And watch Ryan Stevenson's music video Eye of the StormI was having a particularly hard “I miss my girls” day last week since one left for Hawaii and the other for college. I was at the grocery store and didn’t want anyone to see me weepy.

Why the grocery store?! I don’t know. I probably saw one of their old favorite foods.

The situation isn’t changing anytime soon, and that can be depressing.

But then the Holy Spirit reached through my sadness. He comforted me, reminding me Christ’s compassionate love is enough to hold me through my deepest hurts. And it was — and is.

He guards our soul with His power and Truth.

“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26 NASB).

Ryan Stevenson’s Eye of the Storm

In his song Eye of the StormRyan Stevenson reminds us of the truths we need to remember about God when the storm hits.

Sound a little like what we’ve been talking about lately?

A Storm is Coming: What You Absolutely Need to Know Before Your World Explodes (Training — Part 1)

Train in the Calm Before the Storm so You’ll be Calm in the Storm (Training — Part 2)

Yeah, I thought so, too.

3 Truths to Remember in the #EyeOfTheStorm @ryansmusic #GodIsInControl Click To Tweet

The Never-ending List of the Character Traits of God is coming up next. Seriously.