(Exodus 20) The 10 Suggestions

I have seen in my lifetime the gradual, and not so gradual, rejection of God’s Laws. The inevitable result can be seen on the news every day. We can remove the Ten Commandments from our walls, re-write them to be politically correct, but the end will be lawlessness, immortality, violence, disrespect, and a Me First society that is more about the perceived rights of individuals than what is right.

Are we to take these Ten Commandments literally, and obey them to the letter? Absolutely. Why would anyone think life wouldn’t be better if we did?

I am reminded God gave these instructions to Israel AFTER He saved them from slavery in Egypt. They are not conditions for salvation, but rather behaviors that honor our Savior.

I believe if Christians were the only ones taking these commandments seriously, our nation and our world would not look like it does today. Sadly, many Christians make choices to disobey every day. No wonder we are witnessing such a decline.

Common sense tells me if these commandments were followed by all, believers and non-believers, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in. I challenge you to point out one of the ten that would make matters worse if it was obeyed.

You are not responsible for how your neighbor obey’s God. You are responsible for how you obey, however. Read them. Memorize them. Live by them to the letter and in the spirit of them.

They are not The Ten Suggestions.

(Exodus 5-12) What About The Plagues?

My goal this year is to cement in my mind exactly what I believe, and why. I don’t want to be satisfied with “that’s what I’ve always believed,” or “that’s what I was taught.” I want my faith in God to be intentional, defined, and based solely on God’s Word. I think God wants that of me, too, so that I am able to convey the Truth to others in a clear and confident way.

So today, as I read these chapters in Exodus, I ask myself what I really believe about these plagues. I’d like to share the questions I believe God laid on my heart, and the answers he pointed me to.

WERE THESE PLAGUES SOMETHING GOD COMMANDED WITH A WORD, OR DID GOD USE NATURAL OCCURANCES TO BRING ABOUT HIS PLAN? MIRACLE OR NATURE? There appears to be a natural order of things in the first six plagues. Bloody water would understandably cause frogs to go crazy and flee the banks of the river, dead frogs would draw gnats and flies, tainted food from those insects would cause animals to die, and also to spread disease to humans. I believe God set each plague in motion with a word, and that the orderly progression demonstrates He is the God of order. I believe it’s an example of God using, if not manipulating, His creation to exact punishment, and to reveal Himself as the God of creation. Is it a matter of miracles or nature? Or miracles and nature? Either way, this is a picture of God, not the plagues.

DID PHAROAH’S WISE MEN PERFORM MIRACLES? No. The term “occult practices” indicates a deception. In the original text the term is actually “by their flames.” Like a modern-day magician who throws flash paper to distract the audience, these OT magicians probably used their tricks to distract, then exchange their staves for snakes, or to throw chemicals into water to turn it blood red, or to release captive frogs so it looked like they brought them up from the river. Remember, they were magicians. Not miracle workers. And with magicians there is always illusion.

IF ALL THE EGYPTIAN LIVESTOCK DIED IN 9:6, WHAT ANIMALS ARE LEFT TO SUFFER FROM DISEASE AND HAIL? How many days was it between the first plague and the tenth? We know Moses was 80 when he first spoke to Pharaoh. But we don’t know exactly how old he was when the Exodus began. Did the plagues take ten days? Ten months? Longer? Common sense tells me that if Egypt was without livestock because of a plague, Pharaoh wouldn’t sit around feeling sorry for himself. Wouldn’t he replenish what he’d lost? I’m very sure he would. Often, if necessary. The fact that more livestock showed up before the sixth plague doesn’t mean that what we read in 9:6 isn’t true. I believe it indicates a period of time passed between those plagues.

DID GOD HARDEN PHARAOH’S HEART AGAINST PHARAOH’S WILL? What do you think? Scripture is clear that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. But did God harden a believing heart? I am fully convinced it was Pharaoh’s own pride, his own rejection of God that caused the hardening. And that is a warning to all of us. With every rejection of God your heart – and mine -will become harder and harder toward God. Rejecting Him becomes easier and easier. Until the final, devastating moment when His hammer of judgment comes crashing down. God is very clear that He hardens hearts of those who reject Him.

I am not posting this in order to convince you to believe what I believe on these subjects. I am posting this to encourage you to think for yourself, to read God’s Word and allow Him to teach you. I challenge you to ask yourself hard questions, and to answer them according to Scripture, and to anticipate being asked the hard questions of those who are seeking.

Did you read something I wrote and say, “Now wait a minute?” Good! That means you are asking some questions yourself. Look to God for the answers.

This post is about what I am learning, about me putting into words what I believe so that I can share it with others. If you agree or disagree with me it doesn’t really matter, although I’d love to hear your thoughts. What matters is, do you know WHY you agree or disagree?

Let’s determine to study to show ourselves approved, fully equipped to share the Gospel of Jesus with a world that desperately needs Him.

(Exodus 1-4) Even Moses

Did God really want to kill Moses? 4:24 tells us He really did. Why? Wasn’t Moses going back to Egypt because God told him to? Hadn’t God said Moses would deliver the Israelites out of bondage? It seems odd that God would decide to kill this man.

If you read 4:21-26 you read the Gospel. Yes, Moses was going through the motions of obedience, but the fact remained he hadn’t been circumcised. That was disobedience. That was sin. And sin comes with a death penalty, no matter who you are, no matter how much you might appear to others to be following God.

It wasn’t until Moses was circumcised, until blood had been spilt, that God let him go. The same requirement is in effect today. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. (Hebrews 9:22)

After Jesus, His is the blood that brings salvation. No one needs to be circumcised or cut or killed in order for sins to be forgiven. But make no mistake, blood needs to be applied in order for God to pardon a death sentence.

And that’s the Gospel.

Our bodies don’t need to be circumcised, but our hearts do. That involves a true repentance, an acceptance of God’s will. Forgiveness doesn’t happen until the blood of Jesus is applied to a surrendered heart. Then, and only then, will God “let (us) go” as He did Moses here in Exodus 4.

You can do all the religious stuff, and go through the motions of obedience like Moses did. But even Moses had to address his sin.

And so do you and I.

(Genesis 26-30) What is Bible Prophesy?

Did God arrange the circumstances surrounding Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob so that His prophesy concerning the elder son serving the younger son would come true?

If you believe that, you are saying God caused Rebekah and Jacob to deceive Isaac. You are saying God caused them to sin in order to fulfill prophesy.

And you would be wrong.

Bible prophesies are not predictions of things to come in the future. Bible prophesies are reports of what happened in the future – past tense. God, who exists outside of time, has already seen the end. He knows what will happen in our future as a result of our choices. Our future. Not His.

Bible prophesy demonstrates that God is who He claims to be. He does not orchestrate life on earth. We are not puppets. This is not a video game He’s playing. God doesn’t manipulate your or me or the Presidential election.

But He knows what happened in our future because He is already there.

There are certainly times when He intervenes, when answers to prayer defeat Satan, when our obedience results in blessing instead of judgment. And God can tell us what those results will be because He saw them happen before we experienced them. There are times when Scripture tells us things happened so that prophesy would be fulfilled. Or, these things happened so that we would make the connection between these things that happened, and the Sovereign God who told us it would happen.

When we read about, or see in our lifetime, Bible prophesy fulfilled, let’s let it cause us to fall on our faces before our Sovereign God who is not bound by time. Let it encourage us to know that He is with us, and will be with us all the way. Let’s realize that nothing happens that will surprise Him because He’s already seen it happen.

Bible prophesy is a gift. It allows us to get a glimpse of God as He was, is, and always will be. Then, to think this awesome God loves us enough to die for us so that we can be with Him is beyond amazing.

I pray we will read Bible prophesy with the intent of knowing God better instead of trying to put circumstances on a timeline. It’s not about the prophesy. It’s about the God who has already been there, done that.

Bible prophesy is all about God.

(Genesis 20-25) Not Harsh Enough

We question Sarah’s treatment of Hagar and think she was too harsh when she sent Hagar and Ishmael away. We see Abraham having other children after Sarah died, and he sent those children away as well. What’s up with that?

Sarah’s words spoke to me today:

Drive out the slave with her son, for the son of this slave will not be a coheir with my son Isaac. (21:10)

Are we that protective of that which we hold dear, of the very promise of God?

I believe the Church has become a wishy-washy, bleeding hearts club where we are so concerned about offending, we’ve allowed anything and anyone into our midst. In fact, we have the idea we need to be inviting non-believers into our fellowship. We’ve been told to think we will rub off on them, but I wonder if the opposite isn’t true.

We’ve fashioned our worship service so it’s attractive to non-believers. We’ve watered down our sermons so as not to step on toes of non-believers, because we don’t want them to stop attending and giving to our worthless ministry.

Yes, worthless.

Because the Bible is clear. The purity of the Truth, the Gospel of Jesus and the Holiness of God must be protected. There are no co-heirs with God’s Promise. The Church must drive out any hint of compromise or threat of compromise in order to retain its purity.

You might think that’s harsh. I think it’s not harsh enough.

(Genesis) A Challenge For The New Year

So many people read the Bible in order to prove it wrong. They assume that because there is no evidence some people named in Scripture ever existed, that there are certain cities mentioned in the Bible which can’t be traced, that dates on a timeline don’t add up to their satisfaction, that means the Bible isn’t true. They rationalize Old Testament prophecy by saying someone must have added the prophecy after the fact because it’s impossible for things to occur hundreds of years after the prophecy exactly as the prophet foretold.

Yet archaeologists and historians continue to uncover tangible evidence that – guess what – the Bible was right all along.

Rather than reading Scripture, assuming it’s wrong, why not give it a chance? Why not read it assuming it’s true, that the author is God, that He inspired men to write down His Words so that you can know Him?

We are so quick to believe CNN, or FOX, or Facebook, professors, authors, politicians, and influencers. And most of us don’t even try to discern the truth from what we hear from them.

I want to challenge you to pull out a copy of God’s Word and read it this year. Ask God to reveal Himself to you in those pages, and assume He will. I’ve had people tell me they read the Bible and it meant nothing. Let’s just say, I doubt they sincerely asked God to give them understanding. Jeremiah 29:13 says:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

That means you, dear one. Start today. Ask God to draw you to Himself. If you don’t want to start in the Old Testament, read the New. Seek God with all your heart…

Then buckle up. You are in for the ride of your life. And you will be forever changed.

(Genesis 3-5) Because I Love You

I never considered God’s judgment on Adam and Eve an act of love before. Had He allowed them to continue to live in the Garden, and had they eaten from the Tree of Life, they would have been forced to live forever in their sin, struggling in this sinful world century after century, millennium after millennium. They would have had no hope of heaven, because they would not have died.

Yes, they were doomed to a difficult existence during life on earth. They were to experience sickness, loss, heartache, enemies, and death. Sin does that to a person.

But God, even as He sent them away, promised the Savior. God did not leave them without hope.

The writer of Hebrews, and Psalm 3:12 tell us:

the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.

God always punishes sin because He loves us. He wants us to turn from sin so that we can enjoy a relationship with Him in this life, and forever. We can’t do that if we hold on to sin. He is holy. Holiness and sin do not exist together. God wants us to exist together.

God didn’t wash His hands of Adam and Eve when they sinned. When He threw them out of the Garden, He didn’t turn off the sun, or destroy creation to teach them a lesson They still enjoyed sunsets, smelled the flowers, tasted the food. God didn’t stop blessing them. I’m sure they laughed again, were excited about the births of their children, enjoyed a romantic get-away to the mountains occasionally. (Well, I’m not sure of that last one, really. I’m a bit of a romantic.)

I think they even enjoyed a relationship with God eventually, although much different than the one they knew before sin separated them. God still was involved in their lives as seen in His conversation with Cain, giving Cain a chance to repent. (4:6-7)

I’ve gone through times of discipline because of sin in my life. Our world experiences the judgment of God because of sin. And often our natural response is to ask, “Why?”

“Why is life so hard?” “What did I do to deserve this illness, or this loss, or this hardship?”

“WHY ME?”

And I hear God answer:

Because I love you.

(Genesis 1-2) A New Year, A New Study of God’s Word

For some time now I’ve had the conviction that having faith, being a follower of Jesus is not enough. Oh, it’s enough to get me into heaven. But it’s not enough to be obedient. I believe we all need to study to show ourselves ready to do God’s work, to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus.

Now, I am not an intellectual. I am not a deep thinker. There is more to this life that I don’t understand than do. But I bought a Christian Standard Apologetics Study Bible, and I intend to dig in this year.

My prayer is that as I look at God’s Word in light of opposing views, and with the help of men who have studied much more than I, I will be able to defend what I know to be true. I don’t want to be satisfied with merely believing, I want to be able to express why I believe in a clear and factual manner. I think God wants that of me.

Did God create the universe with a word? Is the earth thousands or billions of years old? Was Adam a physical man, or a symbol for humankind? Is there Truth, morality, a standard of right and wrong? Is God real?

I don’t intend to write an apologetic study guide this year. I won’t be posting my thoughts every day. And I seriously doubt I’ll finish my study by this time next year. But I will touch base every now and then to let you know what I’m learning. Pray for me.

As with any commentary, I will listen to what these people have researched. But I will let God’s Word be the final authority. I want nothing more than to know God as He is, and to be able to share Him with people who don’t.

I pray you will be reading the Bible every day in 2021. I pray that you will ask God to challenge and encourage you, to reveal Himself to you more and more, and equip you to be the obedient servant He intends for you to be.

It’s a new year. Let’s make it a year to grow in grace and knowledge of our dear Savior. One day at a time.

Tears (Revelation 18-22)

My heart is heavy on this last day of 2020. Why not, right? This has been a very difficult year, unlike any I have seen in my lifetime. But I’m sitting here broken-hearted, not because of COVID, or isolation, or the loss of freedom. My tears are not for myself, but for a former student, the daughter of a co-worker and friend, who is facing life this morning without her nine-year-old daughter.

What started out as a fun road trip to California with extended family ended in a horrific accident which took the life of this precious child. Her mom and dad took the first flight out of Texas where they live, to rush to their daughter’s side in a California hospital, only to be met with the news their child had died. I can’t even think about what that was like for them.

Many of us have faced similar circumstances, and although we can’t know exactly how this young couple is feeling, we can remember how we felt when we received devastating news. Hearing what happened this morning brings back the feelings of the day we lost my nephew Geoff. It’s a pain I wish no one ever had to experience.

Yet Payton’s family is in that same heart stopping, suffocating, crushing pain this morning, and will continue to be for a very, very long time.

The last verse Mom underlined in her Bible is Revelation 21:4. Listen to what John had to say about what God has in store:

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Personally, I’m ready to see that day come.

But let me say something to you in love. That day is reserved only for God’s children. There is another existence for people who reject God, who don’t accept the grace God gives to those who surrender to Him. It is a place where there will only be weeping and gnashing of teeth, no reprieve, no comfort. Forever.

Oh dear one, none of us is guaranteed another second in this life. Not if you are 90 – or 9. Please don’t wait another moment to give your life to Jesus. If you never have asked Him to forgive your sins and be your Savior, do it now while you still have time. You might not see 2021. Payton didn’t.

Would you pray with me for the Osmond/Veigel families? They are hurting right now in an unspeakable grief. May God be their strength and comfort.

And may you know the assurance of an eternity where there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. A place where God Himself will wipe away your tears.

He Will Not Win (The Revelation of John)

God allowed John to see the big picture. He showed him the Church, our role in the world, our blessings for obedience, and God’s judgment for disobedience. John saw God’s enemy at work, and the fact Satan only has power given him by God.

I think we miss the point of John’s revelation when we try to fit it into a material box, or try to place events on a timeline. John’s vision is both an encouragement for us, and a warning we need to heed.

The fact is, there is a war going on, and all of us must choose a side. The enemy is clever. He uses both force and subtleties, to bring people to his side. He is cunning, and a pretty good imitator of God.

But he is not God.

And while Satan tries to cloud the Truth that is Jesus, while he tries to put up a smoke screen against the Gospel, he cannot and will not change the Truth. God will be reckoned with. And only we who are on God’s side will escape God’s wrath.

Oh, Satan has and will continue to enjoy certain victories along the way. God’s Church will be beat up, persecuted, and ignored.

But take heart, dear one. Satan will not win this war!