Honest to God

 

How do you relate to money and things in the world around you? Do you own things, or do they own you? Exodus 20:15 commands you not to steal, but behind that commandment lies a way of looking at yourself, those around you, the world, and, above all, God.

God has given you dominion. God has delegated authority. He alone is sovereign, Exodus 9:29; Psalm 50:9-12. He made you in his image. Therefore you have dominion, Genesis 1:26-28. Though dominion is abused, God has still given you the world to use. You hold the office of king, serving the King of kings. That puts perspective even on what seems to be mundane work. Salvation in Christ restores the image and the proper use of dominion. God’s delegated authority includes that which he has given to the state to prevent and punish theft. The protection of property is part of its God-given function. The sin of theft (and the greed from which it arises) reverses roles, and makes you controlled by things. Continue reading

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Glorifying God in an X-rated Culture

 

We may think of our culture as saturated with temptation—but Israel entering the promised land, faced a similar situation. Exodus 20:14 was part of what God equipped his people with to encourage them to be faithful to him.

Be aware of the danger around you. Listen as God’s Word speaks to your life. You may be told that God’s standards are “old-fashioned.” “Everybody is doing it today.” Don’t believe it! It is not that the Bible needs to be made relevant. Rather, we need to listen to what it has been saying all along. Note how God’s Word transcends cultural and temporal barriers, 1 Corinthians 10:8-13. Like Israel in Joshua’s day you live in a culture that often seems obsessed with sex. Like Israel you need to learn to live pure, clean lives in an X-rated generation. Continue reading

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The Sanctity of Life

 

We live in a country that allows the taking of lives of unborn children whose existence is inconvenient. Our state allows physician assisted suicide, and our legislature is considering loosening restrictions on the practice. We are involved in wars that have taken thousands of lives of those serving in our armed forces as well as many more in other countries. What does the Sixth Commandment, Exodus 20:13 say about this? How do God’s instructions after the flood (Genesis 6) underline the sacredness of human life? And what does Jesus tell you about this commandment (Matthew 5:21ff.)? Continue reading

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For They Were Afraid

How do you respond to the news that the tomb is empty, that Jesus has risen? With joy? Why does Mark 16:1-8 emphasize fear? Do rejoice! But even so, don’t forget the element of fear he describes.

God reassures you that Jesus of Nazareth has risen! The tomb stands empty. The women were followers of Christ, who now were completing the burial process. They had witnessed Christ’s death and burial, Mark 15:40-47. Now, after the Sabbath, they had purchased spices and early Sunday, had come to anoint him. Their coming shows that they had forgotten Christ’s promised resurrection. As these first witnesses approach, they find the heavy stone rolled back and on entering the carved out tomb, see a young man dressed in white. Continue reading

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Silence!

 

Have you had someone refuse to speak with you–just keep silent, no matter what you say? Silence can be a powerful weapon. Isaiah 53:7 describes the Servant suffering silently in your place as he does his Father’s will. But in that silence hear judgment as well. And finally, listen to the words that are framed by that silence.

Remember that Christ suffered silently in your place. He is the sacrificial lamb. Isaiah 53:7-8 is the passage that puzzled the Ethiopian official until Philip explained it, Acts 8:26-40. This is the part of Christ’s work that the world cannot and will not, in its own wisdom, understand. The world can see something beautiful in the birth of the Baby in Bethlehem. It can see value in at least some of his teaching. It can admire the death of a martyr. But the silence of the Lamb of God is beyond its comprehension. The death of Christ, the foot of the cross, is a place full of mystery and awe. If Moses had to remove his sandals at the presence of the Lord in the mysterious burning bush, we need to stand before the cross in at least equal awe. Isaiah wrote of the Messiah who would suffer on behalf of his people. His work was to be vicarious. We are like sheep going astray—he is the sacrificial sheep offered in our place. He is the one John the Baptist proclaimed as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Continue reading

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