Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 24 Feb 18:
1. Leviticus 18:3-5 — “You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.” Christians live as strangers in foreign lands, and though we must respect the laws of the earthly kingdoms, we are ultimately subject to a higher authority, the KING, the LORD. What is ‘legal’ to others is not legal to Christians. Much like military personnel live by a different standard, so Christians live by a different standard than the non-believers – “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” (2 Timothy 2:4) Christians must never confuse man’s definitions of righteousness and justice with God’s definitions. In today’s readings from Leviticus, we see that God condemns abortion, adultery, homosexuality, and mysticism; these practices were considered abominable and detestable, and worthy of death. Of course, our society has ‘legalized’ all of these evils. Yet, God says to His people, “keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 18:30) God’s standard is that if anyone within the body practices such things, “the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people.” (Leviticus 18:29) Paul said, “Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5) Romans, chapter one also tells us that we must never approve of these practices either, even under the banner of “choice.” While we live by God’s standard in an ungodly land, we also must not remain silent (silence is consent). Leviticus tells us: “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:17) We must reason “frankly” with those outside of God’s law, with love, treating them as we would want to be treated. We must serve as Ambassadors for Christ. We must not allow ourselves become influenced and defiled in the process; this is what happened to Lot’s family. As we serve our tour of duty in a foreign land, we must also live very cautiously, knowing that sin defiles the land, leading to the destruction of the people. (Leviticus 18:27, 28) No nation, regardless of what they believe, will escape the consequences of disobedience to God’s laws. Christians who live in ungodly lands are also subject to those consequences as Lot discovered.
2. Leviticus 18:22, 23 – “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.” God gives specific rules concerning sexual activity. He forbids homosexuality, an abomination not far removed from having sex with an animal. The prohibition against homosexuality is repeated throughout the Bible. Our nation’s laws have recently been changed to fully endorse homosexuality, but God’s laws have not changed. Which will you support? Beyond national laws, if you oppose homosexuality, you will be labelled a bigot and a hater, a danger to society – are you ready for that, or will you play it safe and remain silent? (See Romans 1)
3. Leviticus 18:26-30 – “But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you…. For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the Lord your God.” God’s rules apply to everyone, whether or not they are believers.
4. Leviticus 19:17 — “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him.” Another version of the verse above is, “Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.” Proverbs says that we have been given God’s word so that we may “know what is right and true,” and that we “may give a true answer” to those around us (Proverbs 22:21). Again, God’s Laws apply to everyone on earth, whether they choose to worship God or not (Leviticus 18:24-30). We have an obligation before God to “testify to the truth.” If we fail to do so, we are a party to sin. The dictum of the law is “Silence is consent.” The sexual revolution in our nation, eluded to above, has been a slow erosion, resulting primarily from a disobedient church that has failed to remain holy and to be salt and light. The church has been more influenced than influencing as occurred in Nazi Germany. John the Baptist, who Jesus declared the “greatest man born of woman,” lost his head because he publicly challenged Herod’s adultery. Many Christians say, “What someone else chooses to do with their life is none of my business.” The Bible says otherwise. Note that in today’s readings, rebuking our neighbors is among a list of basic personal responsibilities dealing with righteous treatment of others for their benefit (see Leviticus 19:10-18). Compare this with Romans 13:9, 10 – “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Sin always harms your neighbor (whether they are currently “happy” in their sin or not). Fulfillment of the law brings life to your neighbor. If you truly love others, you will speak out, with tact and humility, against all sin.
– John 18:37, 38 — “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate.
5. Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” When God commands us to love others as we love ourselves, He reminds us that He is the Lord. In other words, you have better understand how serious it is to disobey this command and thus commit cosmic treason against the Almighty King.
6. Leviticus 19 – Her are some statutes from this chapter: No fortune telling (v26); some haircut practices were forbidden (likely those practiced by the pagans around them); no tattoos (v28); no prostitution (v29); no psychics (v31); honor and respect the elderly (v32); take care of strangers and travelers (v33, 34); no cheating.
7. Proverbs 24:3, 10, 27, 33, 34 — “By wisdom a house is built…. If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small…. Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house…. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” Proverbs has much to say today about the discipline of the disciple. As we said earlier, success has two ingredients: good decisions and discipline. Wisdom lays the foundation for the house; then the house must be built. Good decisions place you on the right path, but discipline takes you, one step at a time, down the road to your intended destination. We can decide to follow Jesus, but then we must have the discipline to be his disciple and to follow him, one day at a time. Jesus warned that before a person decides to follow him, they should consider the cost. Most are familiar with the slogan, “What would Jesus do?” (WWJD). This is intended to serve as a reminder to Christians to make better decisions throughout the day, more like Jesus. “WWJD” is worn on bracelets, T-shirts, etc., to make that reminder more visible. But too often it only serves as a disappointing reminder when, at the point of decision, Christians still fail to act like
Jesus. Too often, only after a thoughtless response, does the Christian realize that their hearts were not ready to do what Jesus would have done. Part of the reason is because they did not do what Jesus did well before his public ministry. They did not spend a lifetime preparing for the point of decision. What would Jesus do? He would spend a lifetime in discipleship to the Father – countless hours in study, prayer, obedience, and ministry. He would memorize God’s word and meditate upon it, treating it as more important than food. He would get ‘lost’ in the Temple. He would take on the form of a servant and decide ahead of time to be obedient unto death. He would decide ahead of time to deny self and to go to Calvary. Too often, the Christian plays the role of Christ like an ‘actor’ (Greek word: hypocrite), rather than being transformed into the image of Christ. We can learn the rules and language of football, we can dress up like football players, we can act like football players, and we can even play football on weekends, but that will never make us ready for the Super Bowl. The church in America has neglected the importance of discipleship, leaving many Christians feeling disappointed, defeated, and disheartened. Too many churches generate emotional experiences and convince Christians that mighty oaks are grown in a day, pushing them out into the world ill equipped for battle. Like Proverbs says today, when we fail at the point of decision, it shows us the limits of our strength that was not built up day-by-day ahead of time. “Go to the ant,” disciple and consider its ways. Do not be complacent in your discipleship. Study to show yourself approved. (2 Timothy 2:15) Train hard before the battle.
8. Proverbs 24:11, 12 – “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?” If your remain silent while those you know walk in darkness with knowledge of ‘The Way, The Truth, and The Life – Jesus, you will be held accountable by God.
9. Proverbs 24:19 – “Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked…” Let God worry about the wicked while you focus on being faithful to Him, regardless of apparent outcomes. God knows what is going on and will judge the hearts of all people.
10. Proverbs 24:29 – “Do not say, ‘I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.’” Do not chase after the poisonous snakes the bite you – the poison will just travel to your heart. Let God deal with those who offend you. Just continue to follow Jesus.
11. Proverbs 24:32 – “Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction.” God wants you to compare the actions of others to God’s word, consider the consequences of their actions, and learn from their actions, both good and bad.
12. Psalm 22: On the cross, Jesus recited Psalm 22:1 (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). Psalm 22:12-18 is an incredible description of the Crucifixion. Psalm 22 is very exciting to read, an OT prophecy of Jesus’ work on the cross.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 24 Feb: Today, strongly consider your daily disciplines as a disciple. Are you knowing and making Jesus known more and more each and every day? Consider this week. Did you make the most of every opportunity to grow in Christ and to make disciples?