Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 25 Feb 18:
1. Leviticus 20:1-5 – God will punish both those who take the lives of innocent children as well as those who in any way ignore the taking of innocent life. What role are you playing in the fight against abortion?
2. Leviticus 20:6 — “If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.” God does not think that horoscopes, Ouija boards, Tarot cards, or psychics are cute or fun. God equates having anything to do with these things to whoredom.
3. Leviticus 20:7, 26 — “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy…. You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” We are called to holiness because God is Holy, and we are His children and His ambassadors on earth (1 Peter 1:16). “Holy” is the only attribute ascribed to God in the Bible three times (the highest degree of emphasis), yet today’s body of believers seems to have taken holiness very lightly, casually, negligently. Version dependent, the word holy is used in the Bible 584 times (holiness another 25 times). I encourage you to do your own word search and review of holiness. While we are made holy through salvation in Christ, we are called by God to “be like God in true righteousness and holiness…. [to] perfect holiness out of reverence for God…. [to] live our lives in all godliness and holiness…. [to be] living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God…. to control [our] own [bodies] in a way that is holy…. to live a holy life…. [to be] upright, holy, and disciplined…. [to be] holy blameless and pure…. [to be] a holy nation, a people belonging to God (all New Testament references).” Remember, you were baptized with the Holy Spirit, not the somewhat or occasionally holy spirit.
– Psalm 24:3-6 — Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.
– Revelation 22:11 — Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.
4. Leviticus 20:10 — “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” The most important earthly institution in the Bible is the family, marriage between one man and one woman for the express purpose of raising up godly children (Malachi 2:15). God strictly forbids sexual activity outside the marriage covenant, and His high standard is never relaxed throughout God’s word for anyone. Sexual sin is like a deadly plague in society which is born from pure selfishness and spreads across the land wreaking havoc and death. Consider the impact of sexual sin in America, resulting in abortion, divorce, single-parent families, exploitation, sexual abuse, emotional illnesses, communicable diseases, crimes of passion, etc. Left unchecked, sexual sin will destroy a nation, one family at a time.
5. Leviticus 20:13 – “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” Society has now largely accepted the abomination of homosexuality. The remainder of the sexual sins in Leviticus 20 will also soon be publicly acceptable. Will you remain silent in the face of these sins around you or will you proclaim the need of repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ as John the Baptist did before Herod?
6. Leviticus 21:17-22 — “‘If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death…. whoever kills a man must be put to death. You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the Lord your God.’” Many opposed to the death penalty will site the Sixth Commandment in King James English, “Thou shalt not kill” as their reasoning (See Exodus 20). However, they fail to notice the penalty of death that comes with breaking this commandment. A better translation is “You shall not murder.” The authority for the death penalty was given by God and applied equally to all – “I am the Lord your God.” In fact murder wasn’t the only crime the warranted the death penalty in the Old Testament; so did blasphemy. It is interesting and timely that our OT readings describe the conditions required and the process for stoning, while the NT readings describe the stoning of Paul (as mentioned previously, the only other stoning in the NT was when Paul held the coats for Stephen’s stoning). The command in Leviticus was, “All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him (Leviticus 24:13)” – placing a burden of responsibility on the witnesses for the death. Notice that it doesn’t appear that anyone placed hands on Paul who, of course, wasn’t truly guilty. In the case where Jesus saved the alleged adulterer from getting stoned, you may have noticed that then too, the accusers were guilty of not following the Levitical law for stoning (no guilty man present, no evidence, etc). To follow God’s Laws we must know God’s Laws.
Matthew 22:29 — Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
7. Proverbs 25:7, 8 — “What your eyes have seen do not hastily bring into court, for what will you do in the end, when your neighbor puts you to shame?” Don’t be too quick to judge.
8. Proverbs 25:9 — “Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret.” Settle matters one-on-one, quietly in order to preserve the dignity of both parties and to protect the relationship.
9. Proverbs 25:14 — “Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.” Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep.
10. Proverbs 25:26-28 — “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked. It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glorious to seek one’s own glory. A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Much of Proverbs 25 is about that last fruit of the Spirit, self-control – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:22-24) The gift of the Holy Spirit does not remove the need or requirement for self-control but rather empowers us to have self-control. Self-control is our God-given ability to overcome temptation, one of our endowments that separate us from the animal kingdom, our defense against the destructiveness of sin. The Spirit has empowered us with the ability of self-control; we must choose to live by the Spirit and not by the flesh, to keep in step with the Spirit and not to quench the Spirit. This is our choice. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) But we are not yet perfected and experience the same frustrations Paul did – “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) So, the Bible remains a lamp to our feet to help protect us from our weak areas as we strive to build up our walls of self-control, as we live out the role of Nehemiah in our own lives, protecting our hearts. In dealing with self-control, today’s proverbs first warn us to avoid prideful self-promoting and self-justification. We are all too quick to take credit and to cast blame; we often do it without even thinking; this is ungodly. Proverbs next points out that prideful emotions cause us to sin in both word and deed. We lift ourselves up artificially and tear others down inappropriately, and we deny others the good we should have provided them. In so doing, we subvert our message from Christ. We misrepresent him as his ambassadors. Like a polluted well, we have nothing to offer those who thirst. The Bible tells us we must have self-control, internal discipline. Self-control goes hand-in-hand with love. Don’t take your lack of self-control lightly, and don’t act like you are powerless to overcome your areas of personal weakness. Strive to build up your strength where you know you are weak as an act of worship, as a sacrifice to God, to bring Him glory.
— Self-control is a mark of maturity and vital to the development of greater maturity. Another word we use for self-control is discipline. But interestingly when the Bible uses the word “discipline” it is almost exclusively used to describe external discipline rather than internal discipline, or “self-control.” God disciplines those He loves, but His desire is that we exercise self-control in maturity much like any parent would desire for their children. How is your self-control?
11. Psalm 23:1 – “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” If the Lord is truly your Shepherd, you shall not want because He will conform your desires to His will and make you satisfied with His provision.
12. Psalm 23:3 – “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” While we are made righteous solely through faith in Jesus Christ and not by our deeds, the Bible calls us to pursue righteousness in order to bring glory to God (Proverbs 15:9, 21:21; 1 Timothy 6:11, 2 Timothy 2:22). Fortunately, the Lord is our Shepherd who guides us in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. For His name’s sake means our righteousness is never for our glory but only for His. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:14).” Are you guided by the sound of your Shepherd’s voice?
13. Psalm 23:6 – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” With God, even the ‘bad’ things that happen to us are ultimately good because God will use them for greater purposes we cannot even imagine. However, with the non-believer, even the ‘good’ things that happen to them will ultimately turn out to be curses because every step taken by the unbeliever is just one step closer to ultimate destruction.
14. Psalm 24:6 – “Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.” Seeking the Lord involves the pursuit of increasingly “clean hands and a pure heart.” It is like ascending a mountain, getting a little higher each day.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 Feb: Today consider your wants. Where do your wants signal a lack of contentment with the provision of the Good Shepherd? (Psalm 23:1) Resolve today to keep all disagreements between you and the other party, never talking about them with others