Tag Archives: rules

February 8; Rules

Exodus 19-21

We come to the part where God lays down the law. Verse after verse of rules and regulations for EVERYTHING. Some of the punishments for breaking the rules are harsh – like the death penalty for cursing your parents. Many include some sort of retribution.

In fact, in regard to injuring a pregnant woman we read, “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” (21:23-25)

In regard to your neighbor’s bull, you break it, you buy it.

Now  I am aware we live under grace. But does that mean we should throw out the rules? Does God’s grace negate consequences?

A while back I was talking to the 3-5 graders in our Good News Club about rules, and asked them what our club would be like if there were no rules. It was an interesting, lively conversation. After trying to picture what a club with no rules would look like, we decided rules aren’t such a bad thing after all.

Rules are boundaries that make life better.

But we live in a society that’s nibbling at the rules. In fact, we are encouraged to live by our own rules. Can a society survive without rules, or with an infinite number of rule-sets? Can you picture what that would look like?

Oh yeah. I saw it on the news last night.

God gave the rules we read here in Exodus for a reason, so that the Jewish people would enjoy a safe, and caring lifestyle. God’s rules made life better for them.

And they still do for us. I don’t have a bull, or a slave. But if I read these rules God specified, and apply the principles to my life and in my dealings with people, my life and theirs would be better.

Rules are not meant to be broken, but rather followed, and taught. Without them, our world would be nothing but chaos. Without rules, our society will crumble.

Thank God for rules.

Playing the Part

In Judges 17 we read about Micah’s mother who dedicated money to the Lord. She called on the Lord to bless her son. Then she turned around and had an idol made.

Micah knew about the Lord and he wanted the Lord to bless him. So he hired some random Levite as his personal priest and set up a shrine for his household idols.

The men of Dan wanted the Lord to help them win a battle so they stole Micah’s shrine and hired his priest to be their priest.

All of these people were religious. But they didn’t really know the Lord. They may have sounded like believers, they might even have considered themselves believers, but they were not.

People who are religious, who follow rules and say the right things aren’t necessarily Christians. Saying it, or living a good life doesn’t automatically make one a believer in Jesus. You can look like a Christian, act like a Christian, quote Scripture and sing hymns. But if you haven’t confessed your sins before a holy God and asked him to forgive you, if you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Savior, you are not a Christian.

It’s a heart thing. Not a part in a play.

Even Satan can quote Scripture. A Buddhist can walk around all day with a smile on his face and talk about peace. A person can meditate, and evoke an aura of spirituality. But they will go to hell without Jesus.

Christianity is more than a religion. It’s more than rules and church attendance. It’s a relationship with the living Lord, the Creator God, his precious Son Jesus Christ. 

Do you know him? Have you experienced his grace provided by Jesus’ work on the cross? Have you repented of your sins and accepted the Savior? Remember, it doesn’t matter how religious you are. It matters how forgiven you are and whether or not you’ve chosen to let Jesus into your heart.

Dear Jesus, I thank you for salvation. I thank you for dying on the cross so that I can enjoy a relationship with you right here on planet earth. Forgive us if we go through the motions, play the part of “Christian”, without first bowing before you, humbling ourselves and repenting of the sin in our lives. May we forget about looking religious and nurture that sweet relationship with you. May we walk with you today.

July 13

Isaiah 29-32

My sister had dinner with some old friends from high school last night. It had been years since she had seen some of them and it provided a time to reminisce and catch up on each other’s lives.

One of the women told my sister she has no use for organized religion. She said she goes to God on her terms. That makes me sad.

The problem with organized religion, according to Isaiah, is the rules. “The Lord says; These people come near to me with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men” (29:13)

Churches can get caught up in rules. Women must never wear slacks. Their heads must always be covered. You have to be baptized as an infant. You have to be baptized as an adult. You must be sprinkled. You must be dunked. You must take Communion every Sunday. You must not eat meat on Fridays. You must repeat a prayer ten times. You must not use electricity or drive a car. You must worship on Saturday. You must worship on Sunday. You must not go to movies. You must not drink alcohol. You must not dance.

I could go on. I’m not saying rules are unnecessary. However, God is much more interested in our hearts in his spiritual kingdom.

I think organized religion is a good thing. It is intended to provide a community of believers with teaching and encouragement. It should offer a place where believers go to prepare to share Jesus with their neighbors and friends. It should be a place where God is exalted and worshiped, where Jesus is proclaimed as God in the flesh, and where the Holy Spirit is free to work in the hearts of those who attend. It should not be a place where godless people feel comfortable.

I love attending my church where our denominational identity is in its name. You can know where we stand before you enter our doors. So I think organized religion is a good thing. But let’s not allow the rules to overshadow the real reason we gather. Let’s not make our churches a place where following rules is more important than our hearts’ condition.

Because our hearts’ condition is what God is most interested in. When we meet Jesus face to face he isn’t going to ask us how often we had Communion. He’s going to ask us if we know him as our Savior and Lord. 

I’m praying for my sister’s friend. The Bible is clear that you can’t go to God on any terms but his. There is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved. And that is Jesus. 

I’m praying for you, too. I pray that each of us will attach ourselves to a Bible-believing body of Christians who worship God in spirit and truth. I pray that our churches will provide the teaching and encouragement we need to share our faith with lost souls. May we enjoy the best of what organized religion has to offer and use it to further God’s kingdom.