Tag Archives: the law

Choose Who and How Today (Joshua 22-24)

Choose today who you will serve.

My mother underlined Joshua 22:5 in her Bible. This is what it says:

But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you; to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

We can choose to serve God, but we have to understand that we cannot serve Him on our own terms, by what makes us feel good, or what is easy. If we choose to serve God, we must also choose how we serve him. Because God does not accept unauthorized fire. (Leviticus 10)

According to Joshua, choosing to serve God means choosing to:

  1. Love God. Jesus Himself said this is the greatest commandment.
  2. Walk in His ways. Makes me think about the fruit of the spirit. Do I walk in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? It also reminds me that walking in the footsteps of Jesus means taking sin very seriously, in my life and in the lives of those around me.
  3. Obey His commands. The Ten Commandments are still the measure of holiness God expects of all of us. Yes, we are incapable of obeying not only the letter of the law, but also the spirit of the law. Yet we are commanded to obey. To do otherwise is to sin.
  4. Hold fast to Him. As a Christian, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. But I must realize that my distance from Him is determined by sin in my life. If I want to hold fast to God, I need to recognize sin and repent of it.
  5. Serve Him with all our hearts and all our souls. God isn’t interested in servants that simply go through the motions, servants who are faithful on Sunday yet ignore Him on Monday. You can’t serve God if your loyalties are divided. When He says “all” our hearts and souls, He means it. 100%.

So with Joshua I am asking us to choose today who we will serve. Ourselves? Our families? A religion? A career? Or will we choose to serve God today?

Then, I am asking us all to consider how we will serve? Are you all in? Am I? I pray we can all answer that with a resounding YES!


Deuteronomy 30-34; The Law and Grace

What is your definition of grace? When you think of God’s grace, what comes to mind? Jesus? The cross? Forgiveness? Eternal life? What about, the Law?

I’ve heard religion criticized for being a list of rules, of “don’ts.” And actually, Moses reminds us it is. The Law is a very big part of this thing we call Christianity. Even though we know the Law is powerless to forgive sin.

The Law reveals sin, though. And in doing so, it points us to our Savior.

I guess God could have left us to our own devices, not defined sin for us, then sat back and watched us unknowingly crash and burn. Like a cop who knows the speed limit sign is missing, then pulls over unsuspecting drivers and tickets them for driving too fast.  Sorry, boys, not knowing the speed limit doesn’t change the speed limit.

Not knowing what sin is doesn’t change what sin is.

But God is full of grace. In Romans 7:7, Paul tells us he would not have known what sin even was if it had not been for the Law. I wouldn’t know what light was except for the darkness, what health was if it weren’t for sickness, what joy was but for sorrow. I wouldn’t know what forgiveness was if I didn’t know I needed to be forgiven.

Deuteronomy 33:3 tells us God loved the people, He held them in His hand, they worshiped Him, and God gave them the Law as a possession, an inheritance. God gave them the Law as something precious, not because they deserved it, but because He graciously wanted them to know their boundaries so they wouldn’t cross over them. Then He could bless them, like He longed to do.

The Law is still in effect today. Those boundaries are still in place. Idol worship is still a sin. Adultery, lying, dishonoring parents are still sins. And because the wages of every sin is death, God wanted to spell it all out so we would not be caught unawares.

He wanted to give us life instead of death. A life, as sinners, we don’t deserve. That’s grace. And in a very real way, the Law plays a big role in God’s grace.

Grace greater than all our sin.

God, thank you for letting me see your Law as an act of grace. You want us to know what sin is so that we are quick to repent of it, to accept what Jesus did on our behalf, and to enjoy unbroken fellowship with you. That’s grace. Thank you for grace that is even greater than my sin.

November 24 – Not Good Enough

Galatians 1-3

Paul tells us God gave us the Law because people chose disobedience over obedience, and God wanted to be very clear what that looked like. The Law was not given as a means of salvation. It was never intended to be a list of rules to follow in order to earn God’s acceptance.

Paul says the Law is our tutor, teaching us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. All of us are sinners in need of a Savior. We are saved by faith in Jesus. Period.

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law…” (3:13)

“… for if by righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly…” (3:21)

Friend, you will never be good enough to save yourself from hell. You’ll never be sincere enough to pay the price for your sins. You’ll never be kind enough, generous enough, thoughtful enough to erase even one of your sins.

Only Jesus can forgive your sins through His own precious blood. I pray that you have put your faith in the Savior. He’s more than good enough!

November 3 – You Are Not the Judge Of Me. And I Am Not The Judge Of You.

Mark 11; John 12

The speed limit is clearly marked 70 MPH. If you pass me going 90, do I judge you if I say you’ve broken the law? Do I judge you when I call you a thief, if you break into my home and take my TV? If you have sex with your neighbor’s wife, am I judging you if I tell you you are guilty of adultery?

Jesus says, in John 12:47, “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” Does that mean we are not to identify sin in ourselves and others? After all, if Jesus Himself didn’t come to judge them, who do we think we are?

Jesus didn’t stop with verse 47. Verse 48 says, “He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.”

The reason Jesus didn’t come to judge the world was that He had already laid down the Law, and clearly said Law-breakers are guilty. Their own actions demand a guilty verdict.

As Christians, we should not refrain from identifying sin in ourselves and others. Jesus said He knew that God’s commandment is eternal life. The opposite of that is true, too. Breaking God’s commandment, rejecting Jesus, is eternal hell.

It’s that serious. We who know the truth need to be telling it. When Jesus said people will be judged “at the last day,” He was giving us fair warning. Shouldn’t we be doing the same for our friends and loved ones who are living their lives as though there was no Judge?

God, Your children have buckled under the pressure of Satan’s lies. Your children have all too often adopted the “Don’t judge” mantra as meaning we should step back and let people do what they want. Forgive us. Humble us. Give us courage to stand up for the Truth of Your Word, to recognize sin, to speak up. Otherwise, how will people even know they need a Savior?

March 19 – Blurred Lines

Deuteronomy 24-27

Moses told the Israelites that when they entered the Promised Land they were to get large stones, coat them in lime, then write the law distinctly on the rocks. Then they were to build an altar.

I don’t know how many times the Law, or part of it, are repeated in Scripture. I don’t know how many times Moses himself reminded the people about the laws God had given him for the Jews to obey.

But reading the Old Testament certainly emphasizes the importance God places on obedience. And God’s Laws are black and white.

Sadly, we live in a grey world. People have mistaken God’s grace as a softening of the rules He laid out to Moses there on the mountain. In fact, the opposite is true.

Jesus fulfilled the Law, and offers forgiveness for us because we are unable to keep the Law. But beyond that, Jesus said we sin if we even think about it. Who can measure up to that standard?

Moses told the people to write the law distinctly, clearly so there would be no question. God, as He inspired men to write His Words in Scripture did the same.

There need be no question concerning sin. The lines are drawn. And they are anything but blurred.

The Bible and Truth

If you read Psalm 119, you have to admit that the psalmist sure loved Scripture. Just in verses 41-48 we see him say God’s Word is his salvation, his answers, his hope, his liberty, and his testimony. Scripture means everything to the psalmist.

In Jeremiah 29-30 we hear the prophet telling us we need to recognize God’s voice apart from the lies, and obey it. He says God punishes the liars and those who believe the lies. And God delights in blessing His obedient children.

Paul, in his letter to Timothy, tells the young preacher that the law is good, if it is used lawfully. Then he goes on to list the sins that the Law addresses and condemns. These, he says, are contrary to the glorious gospel of Christ. (from I Timothy 1)

There are a lot of opinions being thrown out there these days concerning right and wrong, concerning God among other gods. But there can be only one Truth.

Do you know it when you hear it? We’ve got to be reading the Bible. We’ve got to pray for understanding. We’ve got to think about it, memorize it, talk about it, use it, and love it.

It’s God’s Word to us. It’s personal. It’s relevant. And it’s True.

Dear Father, my prayer today is for all of the busy people reading this blog who feel they don’t have time to spend in Your Word. I pray that you would put a burden on their hearts that can only be lessened by opening their Bibles and hearing what you want to say to them. Give us all a hunger to know you better through the words you inspired men to write for our benefit. Help us to be so familiar with Scripture that we can recognize Satan’s lies, and stand for the Truth. Help us to look forward to spending time in the pages of our Bibles every day. May it be as natural and as necessary as breathing.

That Makes Me Happy

Some people get caught up in what Paul says in Romans 7 about divorce, and miss the point of what God wants us to know. This is not a mandate about marriage. It is, however, an example of marriage to show what happens when we accept Jesus as Savior. We bind ourselves to God, keeping ourselves only to God, as long as we live.

If I begin to worship anyone or anything else (in other words, if I put anything before God on my priority list) I am like an adulteress.

Paul is saying we were once married to the law. The Old Testament Jews were bound to the law, and found forgiveness through the Law of Moses and blood sacrifices. But when Jesus died, the Law died, too. We are now free to bind ourselves to another husband, to God through faith in Jesus.

“… we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

I love this analogy of marriage here in Romans. I don’t follow a religion. I have a relationship, as loving and intimate as a marriage, to God Himself! I choose to love Jesus. I choose to worship him only.

I am bound by love. And that makes me happy.


The Israelites heard the instructions from God: Bread will rain down from heaven in the morning. Go and collect what you need for today. Fix it however you want, but eat it all or throw away the leftovers. DO NOT STORE ANY OF IT OVER NIGHT. (Exodus 16)

Clear instructions, easily followed. Yet some decided for themselves that saving just a little until morning couldn’t hurt. They were wrong. The next morning they were greeted with crawling worms and a repulsive smell.

I wonder if some of us aren’t still holding on to some act of disobedience, believing it won’t stink in the morning. I mean, hasn’t God spelled out plainly what is expected of his children? Doesn’t Jesus say in no uncertain terms that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one goes to the Father except through him? Doesn’t God tell us to be holy, set apart, fleeing youthful lust, loving our neighbor, treating everyone honestly? Don’t we know that to lie, to commit adultery even in our hearts, to hate are sins? Doesn’t Scripture plainly tell us what sin is, that we all sin, and that forgiveness is required and freely given only by grace through the blood of Jesus?

Then why do we think one little lie is no big deal? Why do we think a peek at pornography doesn’t hurt anyone? How can we hold a grudge, gossip, treat someone unfairly, and think that doesn’t stink to God?

Can we believe all religions have merit, that all lifestyles are acceptable if the people practicing these things are nice people? Surely God didn’t really mean good people might be going to hell, right?

Well, what does Scripture say? Either it’s true, or it’s not. There can be no, “what if’s”. The lesson here is, if we hold on to sin… even a little… we’ll wake up in the morning with an odor that disgusts our Lord, perhaps like a wet dog sprayed by a skunk. Like manna the day after, we’ll stink, plain and simple.

I want to be a fragrance that pleases my Savior. I want my life to be lived under the blood of Jesus, praying, sharing the Gospel, making choices that please and honor him. May I be quick to recognize sin and confess it, may I never hold on to what I might think is no big deal if Scripture says it is.

I guess I would like to challenge us all to check our stink.

Figure What Out?

It seems some people think God gave us the law just to trip us up, to prevent us from having fun, to condemn us, or to test us. I was reading Romans 2-4 this morning and heard Paul tell us God gave us the law because he loves us.

My sister is a science teacher. God has gifted her with the ability to help the students in this small Christian school experience God’s creation, not just learn about it. She has been a successful teacher for over 20 years and has touched the lives of thousands of people.

Recently, her principal gave her a new assignment: Teach church history. There is no curriculum for you to use, and I don’t want you to teach it the way you normally teach. I want you to teach it the way I would teach it, but that’s all the help you are getting from me. I know you studied science, not Bible. I know you never had a class on church history. Figure it out. Oh, and by the way, I am basing my evaluation of you as a teacher on how well I think you handle this assignment.

I wish I was exaggerating, but I’m not. This assignment is neither fair, nor loving.

Thankfully, God hasn’t done that to us. He gave us an assignment: Be holy as I am holy. Then he spelled it out in words we can understand, and prompted Moses to write it down. He gave us the curriculum, so to speak, so we can refer to it at any time.

Next he showed us examples of obedience and disobedience in the lives of the Jewish people. He blessed and punished, and prompted men to write it down, again so we can refer to it any time.

Then he sent Jesus to live with us. Jesus demonstrated holiness, he spoke about sin, the law, obedience, forgiveness. Then he went to the cross and showed us with his own blood what the penalty of disobedience looks like. And God prompted men to record the life of Jesus on paper so we can read it for ourselves two thousand years later.

He also inspired the likes of Paul, and Peter, and John, and others to teach us through their letters how to be the people God would have us be.

And he has been demonstrating this every day since creation.

Why the law? God didn’t make up some random rules after he got Adam and Eve in the Garden. God is Truth, and he is Holy, so those things have been around as long as he has. What he did by giving us the law, was to put it all out there. He is as honest with us as he wants us to be with him. These are my rules, he says. Let me help you obey them so we can have fellowship now and in eternity.

My sister’s job depends on how she handles her assignment. Friend, our lives depend on how well we handle the assignment God has placed before us. Holiness? Me?

Read God’s curriculum and see that he offers his own holiness to us. He is willing to place his righteousness on our shoulders. And he’s able to do that because he’s already paid the price our sins require. I’m not going to give you chapter and verse because I want to challenge you to read it all. Spend time in God’s word. Let him tell you how much he loves you, what he expects of you, and what he has already done on your behalf.

You don’t have to figure it out on your own. It’s right here in black and white.

October 5

Mark 3:1-19; Matthew 12:9-21, 4:23-50; Luke 6:6-16

I am so glad God inspired Matthew to record Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. There is something for us in every sentence. Do you want to be blessed by God? Jesus tells us how.

Be humble, meek, merciful, hunger for righteousness. Be a peacemaker. And rejoice when you are persecuted for Jesus’ sake. God blesses his children with all we need… comfort, mercy, eternal life.

Jesus tells us we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Do you realize your value? As God’s children we have the privilege of representing him and pointing lost souls to the Savior. Nothing is more important in this life time. And nothing more precious to our Lord.

Although Jesus was very careful to hide his true identity to the masses, he began to explain his ministry here in Matthew 5:17-20. God gave the law to Moses centuries before and Jesus wants us to know that law is still in effect. The bar was set and remains too high for us to reach. Holiness is still God’s standard and his demand. But Jesus explains that it is his job to fulfill all the requirements of the law for you and me. 

You see, he can reach the bar!

And what he is going to do will enable us to stand before God with a righteousness that exceeds that of the Pharisees. We will be able to wear Jesus’ righteousness.

Dear one, as we read Jesus’ words, know that they were said with you in mind. Let Jesus speak to you as we revisit the Sermon on the Mount. Let him share his heart with each of us. And may we be encouraged in our walk with the Savior.