Psalm 119:23

Psalm 119:23

“Even though princes sit plotting against me, your servant will meditate on your statutes.”

The fear of man lays a snare (Proverbs 29:25). The Psalmist here stands firm in His trust of the Lord’s protection. His confidence is not in earthly protection though. Christians are not any more specially protected from death than anyone else.

So often verses like this one are used to stir up feelings of comfort that simply aren’t there. The Lord could very well call us home to be with Him today. The idea that the Lord specially blesses believers by extending their life here on earth is simply not true. Some of the most faithful saints were called home to be with the Lord after a very short life.

So, the spiritually mature thing to do when in trouble, is to meditate on the Lord’s statutes, and maintain an eternal perspective. This world is not our home.

Ecclesiastes 7-12

Ecclesiastes 7-12…A short life.

Death is certain for all. Ecclesiastes 9:5 says, “The living know that they will die.” For some of us that day is closer than we think. The sensible person faces up to the fact of death and makes provision for this final episode of his earthly life.

There’s only one way to prepare for eternity — trusting Christ as Savior. Those who come to God through Him will enter heaven when they have drawn their last breath. But for unbelievers, that fateful moment will seal their never-ending doom.

Are you ready for the inevitable? Jesus said, “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (Jn. 5:24). Live today with an eternal perspective, and store up treasures in heaven. The earthly things that occupy our affections are fool’s gold, but God is our lasting treasure, and loving Him is so much more satisfying.

Exodus 14-16

Exodus 14-16…The Lord parts the Red Sea, the song of Moses and Miriam is sung, and the Lord sends manna and quail for the Israelites in the desert.

Three observations about these chapters:

1) God’s judgement is certain for those who disobey.

The Lord delivers the Israelites by parting the Red Sea and destroying the Egyptians. Just like the Egyptians, we have a certain, pending doom if we don’t repent and believe. This should motivate us to share the gospel with friends and family who do not believe. They will face an eternal judgement far worse being drown by the Red Sea. If we love them, we need to not only tell them with our words, but also show them with our actions, that there is great power in the gospel to redeem.

2) A right response to understanding His judgement involves being laid low before Him.

Notice the end of Exodus 14 (verses 30-31), which leads into a prayer of praise to God.

“That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.”

If we’re to truly place our faith in the Lord, we must understand His power and wrath against our sin. The Israelites did, and in Chapter 15, Moses and Miriam lead the people in a song about how great and powerful He is. This is what turning to the Lord in authentic faith looks like. Being laid low, rightly grasping our nothingness, then proclaiming our desperate need for Him.

3) Like the Israelites, we grumble and complain because of our unbelief, yet God continues to extend us mercy.

Despite this initial burst of faith, the Israelites become lukewarm. They distrust the Lord’s goodness, and quickly forget His mercy and grace. Yet, He is faithful, slow to anger and abounding in love. He blesses them because of an intercessor; Moses communicates with the Lord on their behalf, which is a picture of what Christ does for us. Moses was interceding on a micro level in Exodus 16, whereas Christ intercedes in the most important way possible. His perfect life is what the Lord sees when He looks upon us.

Genesis 24-26

Genesis 24-26…Isaac marries Rebekah, Abraham dies, Jacob and Esau are born to Isaac and Rebekah, and Isaac interacts with King Abimelech.

Abraham sends his senior servant out to find a wife for Isaac. He gives specific instructions, and the servant demonstrates a model of prayer encouraged throughout the Bible. Since it was unknown what the will of the Lord was with regard to the specific person Isaac should marry, Abraham’s servant prays this prayer in Genesis 24:42:

“Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come.”

This is exactly how we’re instructed to pray in James 4:13-17, particularly when we don’t know what the Lord’s will is:

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

The Lord answers the prayer of the servant, and Rebekah is brought back to marry Isaac.

Abraham dies in chapter 25, and then Rebekah and Isaac have twin sons; Jacob and Esau. The doctrine of election is revealed in Genesis 25:23, where the Lord says to Rebekah:

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the elder will serve the younger.”

God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. The doctrine of election is true, and good, and is often resisted and/or denied because it puts into perspective how small and helpless we are to save ourselves. Based on what we’ve seen so far in Genesis, it shouldn’t surprise us that election is resisted by humans. We like to think we’re ok, and that we don’t need to be rescued. However, a right view of the human condition, allows for a right view of the doctrine of election. This teaching is abundantly clear throughout scripture, and Paul further explains in Romans 9:10-13:

“Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls – she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'”

It’s important to note that the elect will repent and believe in Christ and produce spiritual fruit, and that is how we know who is saved. Praying the sinner’s prayer, responding to an alter call, and/or being baptized means absolutely nothing unless there is a change. There is nothing magical about any of those things, and we need to be sure we’re not relying upon them for assurance of our salvation.

In Genesis 26, Isaac does the exact same thing his forefathers did; he lies because of his fear of man, and his unbelief. He tells King Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister, and the King banishes him from Gerar. What happens next is truly remarkable, and shows once again what God is like. Genesis 26:23-24 tells us:

“From there he went up to Beersheba. That night the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.’”

God is unbelievably patient with His people. He has been patient with us too, consistently pulling us back to Himself, and preserving us for the day in which we will see Him face to face. One way to grow in godliness, is to approach our relationships with this perspective: Since God is patient with us, and since our own offenses against Him are far worse than those against us from others, we should exercise patience and humility with those offending us.

Genesis 15-17

Genesis 15-17…God establishes his covenant with Abram, Hagar and Ishmael become part of the narrative as a result of sin, and the covenant of circumcision between God and Abraham is put in place.

We’re only 17 chapters into the first book of the Bible, and the pattern of interaction between God and man is well-established. God creates and blesses His people. He wants fellowship with them, and they consistently turn to their own selfish wants and needs. Prideful unbelief and selfishness mark all people from Adam to us. But, despite this stiff-necked opposition to our Creator, He consistently shows grace and mercy.

In chapter 15, we see exactly what God wants from us. Genesis 15:1 says:

“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

He wants us to believe in Him, and to find contentment in Him. He is our reward, and our interests should align with His. We should pursue righteousness if we love God, because He loves righteousness. This text is married beautifully to Romans 4. We have to have a savior, and we must have righteousness come from outside ourselves, because we cannot be righteous enough. God’s covenant with Abram requires faith in return for righteousness. And so it is for us as well. We cannot be justified by works, but need the works of one who was without sin. Our faith in Christ and repentance from sin is the only way to be shielded from God’s wrath, because He is both perfectly holy and perfectly just.

Genesis 16 outlines a pattern of human unbelief and pride which marks our own lives. Abram’s wife, Sarai, does not believe that God will bless her with children. She convinces Abram to sleep with her servant, Hagar, and he gets Hagar pregnant. This is the same Abram who had just been miraculously saved by the Lord in the previous chapters. Sarai is then upset by the outcome, which is not surprising. However, this is exactly what we do. We don’t like God’s timing and/or word, so we take matters into our own hands. We sin, choosing to somehow please ourselves and find happiness. The outcome of our sin is usually not great, then we are upset with the circumstances that we put ourselves in by not obeying God in the first place. This cycle of prideful unbelief marks all of our lives, but it can be broken. We have to first recognize that we are in desperate need of a savior because of our sin. Through repentance and faith we can be changed. This is what true conversion looks like.

God’s interaction with Abraham in Genesis 17 follows the same course. He promises to bless Abraham with a son, and Abraham laughs at him. But God, being abundantly patient and merciful, blesses Abraham anyway. He is a loving father, and exercises this same patience with us. He wants our hearts, and desires that we put down the trinkets and toys that we worship. Those idols we try to find contentment in will not be in heaven. Are you looking forward to heaven for the right reward? Because if you a longing for eternity with something other than God, you aren’t going to like heaven.

Genesis 9-11

Genesis 9-11…God establishes his covenant with Noah, the genealogy of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth is recorded, the Tower of Babel incident leads to various human languages, and the family line from Shem to Abram is laid out.

God’s covenant with Noah, symbolized by the rainbow, stands to this day because God always keeps His promises. The rainbow is the reflection of the beams of the sun shining upon or through the drops of rain. All the glory of the seals of the covenant are derived from Christ, the Sun of righteousness. And he will shed glory on the tears of his people. A bow speaks terror, but this has neither string nor arrow; and a bow alone will do little harm. It is a bow, but it is directed upward, not toward the earth; for the seals of the covenant were intended to comfort, not to terrify. As God looks upon the bow, remembering the covenant, so should we, being mindful of the covenant with faith and thankfulness.

And yet, in Genesis 10, not long after God has destroyed the entire earth and offered peace, men go back to wanting to bring themselves glory. In Genesis 4:11, we see the true condition of our own sinful hearts: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” When we live for ourselves, and make much of ourselves, we do foolish things. Notice also that these men were worried that the Lord wouldn’t take care of them. This is exactly what we’re like, and similarly, we are quick to forget what God is like.

Chapter 11 connects the dots from Adam (implied from Adam to Noah to Shem) to Christ (implied through Abram). Noah was a Christ-type, in that he symbolized many of the characteristics of Christ, but was a sinner like all other men, and needed a savior. As we’ll see in the upcoming chapters, Abram was a Christ-type as well, but the ultimate Savior, the second Adam, would be without sin, and yet would lay down His own life for our sake. God’s amazing and unlikely rescue plan would include Him humbling Himself, becoming a human, and living the perfect life without sin that we couldn’t live.

Isaiah 40:27

Isaiah 40:27…”Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God?'” God asks this question here, because He actually knows all, and is omnipresent. When people are big and God is small, its easy to assume that an unanswered prayer means He doesn’t care or isn’t paying attention, or that we just didn’t believe hard enough or didn’t use the right words. Of course we cannot control God like a puppet, so there are no magical words, and He is glorified simply by our going to Him in utter dependence. So, the purpose of prayer, mainly, is for us to depend completely on our Father. It’s about our humbling ourselves and petitioning Him for help. Our prayers should regularly consist of praise and thanksgiving for our salvation in Christ, like in Ephesians 1:3; “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” If we’ve been saved, then He knew us before He spoke creation into existence (Ephesians 1:4), so our way has never been hidden, and we’re not disregarded at all.

Ephesians 1:4
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”

Isaiah 40:17

Isaiah 40:17…”Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.” This magnifies God’s love to the world. Although it is of such small account and value with him, for the redemption of it, he gave his only-begotten Son, John 3:16. Since we are to have the same mindset as that of Christ, we need to be careful to not focus our minds and hearts on worldly things. This is especially true of our relationships. Each person in our lives has been put there strategically by the Lord. We need to continually grow in our interest in the spiritual well-being of those around us. Do you care if those around you are growing in holiness? Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth includes a command from God to do this with our fellow church members:

1 Corinthians 5:10-11
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Titus 1:3

Titus 1:3…”And which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.” What has been brought to light? Based on verses 1-2, he’s speaking specifically about faith, truth, and hope. The accuracy of these three is extremely important, and depending on who’s preaching to you, it can vary quite a bit. But, according to this verse, preaching is one of the primary ways we learn about what God is like. This is scary given how many times (23 to be exact) the bible warns about false teachers. With that said, here are 7 traits of false teachers:

1. Different Source—Where does the message come from?

Peter says, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:16). And then he says the false teachers exploit you “with stories they have made up” (2:3). So the true teacher sources what he says from the Bible. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message.

2. Different Message—What is the substance of the message?

For the true teacher, Jesus Christ is central. “We have everything we need for life and godliness in Him” (1:3). For the false teacher, Jesus is at the margins: “They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them” (2:1).

Notice the word secretly. It’s rare for someone in church to openly deny Jesus. Movement away from the centrality of Christ is subtle. The false teacher will speak about how other people can help change your life, but if you listen carefully to what he is saying, you will see that Jesus Christ is not essential to his message.

3. Different Position—In what position will the message leave you?

The true Christian “escapes the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (1:4). Listen to how Peter describes the counterfeit Christian: “They promise . . . freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity, for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2:19). The true believer is escaping corruption, while the counterfeit believer is mastered by it.

4. Different Character—What kind of people does the message produce?

The true believer pursues goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brother kindness, and love (1:5). The counterfeit Christian is marked by arrogance and slander (2:10). They are “experts in greed” and “their eyes are full of adultery” (2:14). They also “despise authority” (2:10). This is a general characteristic of a counterfeit believer.

5. Different Appeal—Why should you listen to the message?

The true teacher appeals to Scripture. “We have the word of the prophets made more certain and you will do well to pay attention to it” (1:19). God has spoken, and the true teacher appeals to his Word.

The false teacher makes a rather different appeal: “By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error” (2:18). So the true teacher asks, “What has God said in his Word?” The false teacher asks, “What do people want to hear? What will appeal to their flesh?”

6. Different Fruit—What result does the message have in people’s lives?

The true believer is effective and productive in his or her knowledge of Jesus Christ (1:8). The counterfeit is “like a spring without water” (2:17). This is an extraordinary picture! They promise much but produce little.

7. Different End—Where does the message ultimately lead you?

Here we find the most disturbing contrast of all. The true believer will receive “a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:11). The false believer will experience “swift destruction” (2:1). “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2:3).

Jesus tells us that there will be many who have been involved in ministry in his name, to whom he will say, “Depart from me; I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21).

Titus 1:2

Titus 1:2…”In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time.” God promised us eternal life in eternity past. Election (or predestination) is implied in this verse, and is throughout the bible in addition to all the clear, explicit teachings on this doctrine (Titus 1:1 for example). For the elect, He has always known us, set His affection on us in eternity past, changed our hearts in rescuing us in Christ, and will sanctify us until we’re glorified. We should rejoice in this, knowing that although we have to battle every day, the war has already been won, and the fruit we see is assurance of our salvation! However, this can be a hard teaching if we try to limit God’s attributes and power according to our own finite knowledge, understanding, and abilities. Interestingly, we’ll get in a car or on a plane not fully understanding how everything works and believe that we’ll get to our destination. Our trust in these simple actions demonstrates that we’ll put our hope in something we don’t fully understand. We show our intellectual inconsistency with spiritual things when we treat God and His word differently. The doctrine of election is true because the bible says it is. And, according to this verse, God does not lie.