O How He Loves You And Me!

This morning, my Bible plan took me to the first three chapters of Revelation. I’ve read and preached on the words of Jesus to the church at Laodicea many times and have focused on the negatives of our Lord’s words, the rebukes, as it were. This morning my heart was compelled to look at the positive things that Jesus said in this passage of Scripture.

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Preachers over the years have taught that this church characterizes the church of the last days prior to the Lord’s return judge the wicked and to set up His kingdom. The church existing in the days prior to the Lord’s return is apostate (2 Thess. 2:7; 2 Timothy 3:1-7) and has placed her trust in riches and materialism. The church has lost her zeal and fervency for the things of the Lord. The church has become worldly. Over the years I’ve focused on these things in my preaching on this passage and rightly so.


Yet the Lord is not finished in His remarks about this church. Jesus continues in Revelation chapter 3, verses 18 and following and communicates His great love for sinners. Jesus says in verse 19, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline”. Barnhouse writes, “Yet upon a church that has sunk so low as Laodicea, the risen Lord still showers His love”. What an amazing love!


The challenge for the Bible student when dealing with this passage is to see through the anger of correction dispensed by our holy God, the loving kindnesses, patience, and gentle mercies of our Savior. “Oh how He loves you and me!” He doesn’t banish us from His presence because of our sin, He is willing to forgive and even gives us explicit instructions on what we need to do in order get right with Him.

Here we do not find the King of kings sitting on His throne, ready to deal out retribution; He is standing at the door, gently knocking and calling out for us to open the door and let Him come in. He is even willing to have an intimate meal with us!

Oh how He loves you and me! This isn’t a call to salvation, it’s a call for the believer who has sinned and has drifted from the Lord to be reconciled and restored to fellowship with the One who loves us and died to prove it!

Longevity in Marriage?

I’ve been asked what has been the key to any longevity in marriage. Thankfully Debbie and I celebrate our 40th anniversary today. The general answer I’ve given is always the same: “Obedience to Christ and His Word found in the Bible is the key.”

Proof of this conviction I held can be found in a letter I wrote in 1981, when I was only 22 years old, a few years as a Christian, and less than a year in my marriage, or maybe even in the earlier weeks of January 1981 before Deb and I got married.

Read it and you will see that God got a hold of that young man, who grew up in sin and dysfunction, saved me and has been working to conform me to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ.
I’m still a work in progress…a sinner saved by His grace. As the song says, “He’s still working on me…”

Thanks That Make You Go Hmmm

Recently I watched an interview with Geert Vanden Bossche DMV, PhD, an independent virologist and vaccine expert, formerly employed at GAVI and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Here is the link to the video on YouTube.  Watch it before it is removed.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJZxiNxYLpc

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In summary, Dr. Bossche says (as I translate it into laymen’s terms) that when people get the COVID-19 vaccine, super antibodies are created by the vaccine.  These new artificially-produced-antibodies will decimate your naturally produced antibodies by rendering them useless.  The synthetic antibodies will begin to go after the COVID-19 virus (or anything good or bad that stands in their way). The COVID-19 virus will react to the attacks of these new super antibodies by going into survival mode and mutating into more potent virus strains.  

Now what follows is something alarming. Those who have been vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine will turn into asymptotic “super spreaders” of the more virulent, resistant form of the virus and millions will become infected and die. 

Those who haven’t taken any of the COVID-19 vaccines now need to be careful around those who have received it for fear of infection.  Those who have received the vaccine may not only die themselves from this lethal machine running rampant in their bodies, they will be responsible for spreading killer viruses across the planet.

Oh, how the tides have turned!

Sounds like a movie running on the SyFy Network!  It also sounds like what could be the judgements that are poured out on the earth in Revelation chapters 9 and 16.  Revelation chapter one tells us that when men continue to “men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (vs. 18) that God “gives them over” or leaves them to continue in their unabated sin.  It is like the “snowball effect” where the sin gets greater and more lethal as time progresses. Job 5:7 says, “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.”

I don’t know if any of Dr. Bossche’s concerns will be realized.  I do know that God is still on His throne! Isaiah 40:22 says, “God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.”

One of my favorite Psalms for helping me to keep the proper perspective in times like these is Psalms 2.  Be encouraged by it as I often am:

Psa 2:1  Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 

Psa 2:2  The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, 

Psa 2:3  “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” 

Psa 2:4  He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. 

Psa 2:5  Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, 

Psa 2:6  “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” 

Psa 2:7  “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 

Psa 2:8  ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 

Psa 2:9  ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'” 

Psa 2:10  Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. 

Psa 2:11  Worship the LORD with reverence And rejoice with trembling. 

Psa 2:12  Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him! 

The Sovereignty of God Over Creation

A website called ABC Science has this to say:

When we think of the big things in the universe, we think planets, stars and galaxies. And while Earth seems big from where we sit, it’s pretty puny as far as the solar system goes: you could fit more than a million earths inside the sun.

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But our sun (which is a star) is no galactic giant either. It’s nothing compared to the really big stars. The biggest known star, VY Canis Majoris, is 2000 times the size of the sun.

But it’s not just the size of stars that’s big, it’s the number of them as well. Best estimates put the number of stars in the Milky Way at around two hundred billion. That’s 200,000,000,000 stars in our galaxy alone!

And there are plenty more galaxies out there. In fact, it looks like there are around two hundred billion galaxies as well. If you multiply the number of galaxies by the average number of stars in them, you get the number of stars in the universe, which is something like a million billion billion stars.[1]

In Genesis 1:16, where its recorded that God made the sun and the moon, it says at the end of verse 16, “He made the starts also”. Like it was an after thought and it took no effort at all.  He’s the Creator! He’s sovereign!

Isaiah 40:22 – “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”

And that’s just what we can see with our eyes!

The Unseen World

There is an unseen physical world as well as an unseen spiritual world.

We are familiar with what the Bible teaches about unseen angels and demons and what goes on in the spiritual realm.  We know that God has infinite power over Satan and his demons.  We see this throughout Scripture especially when Jesus encountered the devil in the wilderness and the multitude of times he cast demons out of people.  We also know from Scripture that Satan’s doom is sure and one day he and his demons will be cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone for ever and ever.

Yet there is an unseen physical world, that we find hard to see with our eyes unless we have help with technology.  This microscopic world has many people today very paranoid.

When it comes to small things, we find in Matthew 10:29-30 that Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

But when it comes to even smaller things, in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we find God the Son being credited with being sovereign over them too:

Col 1:16  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 

Col 1:17  He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (sunistaō – hold together). Keep your finger on this verse.

Years ago I did an internet search on the question, “What keeps atoms from exploding?” I found an article with an answer from the “experts”.

The nuclear physicists had this to say:

In the nucleus of an atom you have protons (which are positively charged) and neutrons (which have no charge) packed very close to each other. Since positive charges repel each other, one would think that the protons would fly apart from each other, making all atoms (and hence all matter!) explode. 

The experts say there is a strong force which overcomes this repulsion of the positively-charged protons and keeps the nucleus together. The carrier particles of the strong force are called GLUONS, because they GLUE the quarks together.[2]

Think about it, all these PHDs can do is call this unknown force that keeps atoms intact a “strong force”.  But the Bible has already told us (In Colossians 1:17) that in Him, JESUS CHRIST, all things sunistao…hold together!

Let’s put this in perspective.

God the Creator, created the atom, which is the basic unit of matter.  Everything is composed of atoms.  Atoms are like the Lego blocks that everything in creation is made of. Atoms are tiny. But even tinier than atoms are the protons, neutrons and electrons that they’re made of. We’ve already seen that “God’s force” keeps the atoms and matter from flying apart and exploding.

Let’s compare an atom with a flu virus.  The typical flu virus is just a chunk of RNA wrapped in a bit of protein, measuring about 120 nanometers (nm) across, which makes it about a thousand times bigger than an atom.

If God created the atom and controls how it works, do you not think that God can sovereignly control a virus which is a thousand times bigger than an atom? (Illust: Which is more difficult, catching a slower Basketball vs. a faster BB pellet?)

R.C. Sproul writes in one of his books, “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”[3]

One random atom or “maverick molecule,” as Dr. R.C. Sproul has said, or one renegade virus could throw everything into chaos.

There is no virus molecule outside of the control of God.  Yes, we should take reasonable measures to keep ourselves safe but not at the expense of doing what God says that we, as Christians, ought to be doing when it comes to worshipping Him and reaching the lost.

Our lives aren’t being held captive by a virus. Our lives aren’t in the hands of the president, the governor, the mayor or even the doctor; Our help comes from the Lord, who made the heavens and the earth. In John 10:29 Jesus says, “My Father, which gave them me (speaking of His sheep), is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

God is sovereign over ALL His creation!

God is also sovereign over Princes and Politicians.  In Daniel 2:21 the Bible says, “He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.”

Proverbs 21 :1 says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will.”

The Bible is telling us that princes and politicians are merely puppets in the hands of our Sovereign King.  He controls them and even when they rule unjustly, God can take what they mean for evil and make it out for our good. He is our Sovereign King!

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

This verse tells us that God’s purpose will stand.  No one has the power to undo what God has purposed and decreed.  He is our Sovereign King!

God is sovereign over Life and Death – In Deuteronomy 32 Moses is about to die and he turn over the reigns of leadership to Joshua with a song.  In verse 39 God speaks to His people through Moses’ song and says, “See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand.”

God is saying that life and death is in His hand.  He is our Sovereign King!
God is saying that He even controls sickness and healing.  He is our Sovereign King!

God is sovereign when it comes to meeting our needs. In Matthew 6 Jesus says, “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” 

God is sovereign when it comes to meeting our needs and if you are doing His will, He will fight for you; He will take care of you.

If God is the Creator of the entire universe, then it must follow that He is the Lord of the whole universe. No part of the world is outside of His lordship.

He is sovereign! He is in control! In 1 Timothy 6 the Apostle Paul frames this truth this way:

“He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”

As “Lord” and the Sovereign King, He alone is the one who sets the requirements for salvation and entrance into His kingdom.  This is why the Bible says in Romans 10:9: “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Jesus emphasized His sovereignty and lordship when it came to salvation: “Whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27), and “Those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples” (verse 32).

The call of the Gospel is more than making an intellectual decision or mouthing a prayer; the gospel message is a call to submission to the Sovereignty of God. The sheep will follow their Shepherd in submissive obedience. In John 10:27 Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…”

Jesus is Lord! He is our Sovereign King! Are you following Him in submissive obedience?  Have you repented from your sins and obeying your sovereign King?

[1] https://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2010/03/30/2859247.htm

[2] http://www.nevis.columbia.edu/~phypharm/opp/opp.html

[3] ― R.C. Sproul, Chosen By God: Know God’s Perfect Plan for His Glory and His Children

Getting Through Tough Times

A road sign indicating tough times ahead.To see more road signs click on the link below:

Recently my morning Bible reading plan took me to Psalms 94-96.  Psalm 94 begins this way:

Psa 94:1  O LORD, God of vengeance, God of vengeance, shine forth!

Psa 94:2  Rise up, O Judge of the earth, Render recompense to the proud.

Psa 94:3  How long shall the wicked, O LORD, How long shall the wicked exult?

Psa 94:4  They pour forth words, they speak arrogantly; All who do wickedness vaunt themselves.

Psa 94:5  They crush Your people, O LORD, And afflict Your heritage.

Psa 94:6  They slay the widow and the stranger And murder the orphans.

Psa 94:7  They have said, “The LORD does not see, Nor does the God of Jacob pay heed.”

As the psalmist continues, he exhorts the peoples of the “senseless” and “stupid ones” of earth to “pay heed” to our Creator who formed the eyes and ears and can both see and hear and chastens the nations.  He who will rebuke knows the thoughts of man and that they are a mere breath (vs. 8-11).

In other words, God who created everyone and all things is in control and though it looks like sinful man is in control, he will most surely be judged by God. Man’s moment is like the breath that is exhaled from our mouths on a cold day.  It is visible for only a moment and then it is gone.

The psalmist goes on to remind his readers that “Yahweh will not abandon His people” (vs. 14).  God will grant His people relief in the days of adversity (vs. 13).  His people are those who are chastened by the Lord and who are taught out of His law (vs. 12).  They are the Lord’s “inheritance” (vs. 14). 

The psalmist shares with us how he gets through times of adversity and trouble such as we find ourselves in today.  It is his meditation on the truths of Scripture that remind him of God’s ever-present help (vs. 17) and lovingkindness (vs. 18) and “consolations” (vs. 19).

I am reminded of the Reformer Martin Luther’s words in his great hymn of the faith:

“And though this world, with devils filled,

Should threaten to undo us;

We will not fear, for God hath willed

His truth to triumph through us.”

The psalmist ends Psalm 94 writing, “But Yahweh has been my stronghold and my God the rock of my refuge.  He has brought back their wickedness upon them and will destroy them in their evil; the Lord our God will destroy them” (vs. 22-23).

It is only fitting that Psalms 95 and 96 erupt with praise in the form of singing and shouting joyfully to the Rock of our Salvation!  Not only does the psalmist exhort his readers to “sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 96:1) but to “proclaim” and “tell” of His “salvation” and “glory” and “deeds” to the nations (vs. 1-3).

As God’s people we are to “Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength”.

As God’s people we are to worship Him and bring an offering to Him, and tremble before Him” (vs. 7-9). 

As God’s people, we are to affirm and reaffirm to the nations that “Yahweh reigns!”

This is what is going to get us through tough times.

Today If You Hear His Voice Harden Not Your Hearts

Most of us are so busy in our daily lives that we spend very little time thinking about our own mortality.

It is often only after a friend or family member dies that we take a moment and reflect on the fact that we will someday die ourselves.  I think it was Benjamin Franklin that said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  Though some have tried to evade it, death is something we can’t avoid.  And the truth of the matter is that life insurance statistics tell us that humans only live on this planet for an average of 70.8 years. Some get more years, others less.  Death is an appointment that each person must keep.

This is why King Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes12:1, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”.

We are born and someone pours into our life and we have the opportunity to pour into others lives before we die. Perhaps many who might read this blog are old enough to remember the spiritual legacy or heritage that was passed on through our forefathers and foremothers. The sad situation is, many have either forgotten their spiritual heritage, turned their backs on it altogether, or never received it from their parents and grandparents.

African Americans used to regularly sing in church the spiritual, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and knew exactly what the song meant.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.

Encyclopedias tell us that this song originated in early oral and musical African American traditions. 

In other words, it was composed and sung by slaves as they worked the fields for their masters…slaves who knew the Old Testament story about Elisha (E-lish-a), watching the prophet Elijah, who did not die but was carried off to heaven in “a chariot and horses of fire” (2 Kings 2:11).  

I looked over Jordan, and what did I see,

Coming for to carry me home.

A band of angels coming after me,

Coming for to carry me home.

If you get there before I do,

Coming for to carry me home.

Tell all my friends I’m coming too,

Coming for to carry me home.

These slaves knew the Jordan River was where the Israelites crossed into the promised land (Joshua 4:23) and where Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:16-17).

As followers of Jesus Christ, these slaves knew of Jesus’ promise “to prepare a place” for His own and come back to get them so that they would be with Him forever.  Their hope was based on the words of Jesus and what He said in John 14:1, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me”.

But as the last generation to pick cotton in the south, our ancestors knew that singing the song “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” also brought with it sweet comfort as they labored under the backbreaking toil of working the cotton field. I can only imagine as they worked, they were thinking and praying, “Jesus, get me out of this hot and miserable field; get me off this plantation and home with You.”[1]

But as I said earlier, the sad situation in our day is that many (no matter what their skin color is) have either forgotten their spiritual heritage, turned their backs on it or never received it. Many of today’s generation have been robbed of a spiritual heritage because their grandparents and parents have not passed down to them the important truths of God’s Word captured in the pages of the Bible. Our ancestors used these encouraging Bible truths and promises, to get them through some of the most harsh and oppressive seasons of human history.

But for some of us, the only time we hear the precious promises of God are at funerals.  Promises like Psalm 23 that says:

Psa 23:1  The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 

Psa 23:2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 

Psa 23:3  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 

Psa 23:4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 

Psa 23:5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 

Psa 23:6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. 

And Psalm 27:

Psa 27:1  The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

And Psalm 121:

Psa 121:1  I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 

Psa 121:2  My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. 

Another “negro spiritual” my ancestors sang had these words:

Steal away, steal away,
steal away to Jesus!
Steal away, steal away home;
I ain’t got long to stay here.

My Lord, he calls me;
he calls me by the thunder.
The trumpet sounds within my soul;
I ain’t got long to stay here. 

My ancestors knew that even though they were considered someone else’s property, there was nothing the “Massa” could do to take away the relationship the slave had with Jesus.  The slave had an absolute conviction that he or she could “steal away” to Jesus.

The slave had the “blessed hope” that “trouble wouldn’t last always” and that one day the trumpet would sound, and the Lord would descend from heaven and rapture or snatch His followers away from this place. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Today, true followers of Jesus still know that “they ain’t got long to stay here”. 

Followers of Jesus know that when in trouble they can reach for the Bible and be reminded of all the precious promises of Scripture.

What Do You Reach For?

When you are in trouble, what do you reach for?  Do you reach for a Bible and a hymnal?  Many today are no longer reaching for these things.

  • Many reach for their smartphone so they can meditate on the posts of Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, or Porn.
  • Some reach for a cigarette, some crack, a joint or a bottle.

Our ancestors, red, yellow, black and white, and as imperfect as they were, looked to the Bible. Our ancestors looked to the Bible and found hope.  In fact, many of our hymns and spirituals were based on how God kept His promises with His chosen people…the Jews.

In the New Testament, the Bible tells us that the Jews had a spiritual heritage passed on to them from their forefathers, and sadly, they had come to a point in their history where they had, as the Bible puts it, “neglected so great a salvation”. (Hebrews 2:1-4)

How did this happen? Let me give you a “bird’s eye” view of what the Bible says:

  • God created the heavens and the earth and then created mankind.
  • God put man in a beautiful garden and told him he could eat from any tree in the garden except for one.
  • The man sinned by eating from the forbidden tree and as a result, his offspring, the entire human race, became corrupt.  We sin because we have a nature to sin and because we want to.
  • The human race because increasingly sinful so much to the point where God had to destroy the earth with a flood.  There was only one man at that time who was faithful to God, so God saved Noah and his family and repopulated the earth.
  • Even after God judged wicked humanity with a flood, wicked mankind began to populate the earth again.  This time, rather than destroy the world God called a man, named Abraham, a righteous man, away from his family and chose to create a righteous nation from his seed.  It would be through Abraham’s seed that many upon the earth would be blessed.  These were the Children of Israel…the Jews.
  • God gave them some land and promised that through them, the Messiah, God’s own Son, would come and one day set up His kingdom, a kingdom where He would rule in righteousness as the Last Adam. 
  • The Messiah did come, but they rejected Him and crucified Jesus on a rugged Cross.  But this was God’s plan all along to offer His own Son as a substitute to pay for the sins of those who would believe in Him. 
  • But Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose from the dead (Easter) and ascended back into heaven after promising that He would come back, not as a sacrificial Lamb but as the LION of Judah, who would set up His eternal kingdom and judge the wicked.

In the first century after Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead, there were some Jews who believed this GOOD NEWS and gave their lives to Messiah Jesus, but not too long after that began to drift back into their old Jewish religion, ceremony and traditions.

The book of Hebrews was written to those Jews as a warning and an encouragement to them not to drift back an inferior system of Law and not grace.

There might be some reading this article that heard the Gospel:

  • The good news of Jesus’ coming to earth as a baby, growing up as a man doing miraculous works. 
  • You may have heard the good news that God gave His only begotten Son to die on the Cross for your sins. 
  • You may even have heard the good news that Jesus arose from the grave on the third day.
  • One day you may have even said a prayer and asked Jesus to save you and promised Him that you would forsake sin and follow Him for the rest of your life.

But like the unbelieving Jew, it was just “lip service” and you have drifted away from Christ back to your old way of living for yourself and not in obedience to Christ.

Hebrews 4:1 says, “Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it.”

The writer of the Book of Hebrews says that if you have drifted away from Jesus Christ, you should be fearful.

  • You should be fearful because promises have been made about the certainty of Heaven for those who truly believe in Christ, but you seem to have come short of it.
  • You should be fearful because you are taking the risk of dying without Christ, who promised to save from sin all who truly believe.
  • You should be fearful because this life is like a vapor and if death catches you without Christ, you will be spending eternity in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.
  • You should be fearful because you will miss out on eternity with Jesus in heaven, where the Bible teaches that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. 21:4)
  • You should be fearful because when you drift and come up short from what the Bible teaches to be true about Jesus, you will miss eternity by a mile.

The Book of Hebrews continues…

Hebrews 4:2 – “For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.”

Many have heard the Good News of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection to pay for sins, but it doesn’t profit them if it is not united by faith. In other words, there are many who did not believe it, because if they had believed it, they would have acted on it and it would have changed their life.

The Gospel changes lives.  In 2 Corinthians 5:17 the Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

The Bible tells us that in the last days we would be living in perilous times.  I can remember as a boy (not even in my teens) walking through the neighborhoods of West Baltimore and it didn’t even cross my mind whether or not I would return home safe and sound.

My, what changes can occur in just over 50 years. And, according to the Bible, its going to get worse.

When my ancestors encountered difficult circumstances, they went to the Lord.  They didn’t take matters into their own hands.  They certainly didn’t do evil for evil.  They knew of Bible verses which said truths like: “Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you, or ridicule those who ridicule you. Instead, bless them, because you were called to inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)

This is why, rather than going out rioting and destroying property and attacking their oppressors, they wrote and sang songs that had lyrics like, “Soon a will be done-a with the troubles of the world….goin home to live with God.”

And…

I’m sometimes up, I’m sometimes down.

comin for to carry me home.

But still my soul feels heavenly-bound

comin for to carry me home.

The Gospel changes you.

Hebrew 4:6  continues: “Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience…”

The writer of Hebrews reminds his readers that there are only two groups of people.  Those who enter the promised land of Heaven and those, who because of disobedience, fail to enter it.

Jesus says it this way in Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Let’s finish this message with Hebrews 4:7: “He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.”

Even when the Jewish people drifted from the promised of God, they were offered the opportunity to reconsider and repent.

Notice that the Bible doesn’t say:

“when you get around to it…” or
“tomorrow after you’ve had some time to think about it”.
“when you decide to stop sinning” or
“when you get yourself together”…

The Bible says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS.” 

Conclusion

There is an old fable that tells of three apprentice devils who came to earth to finish their apprenticeship. They were talking to Satan, the chief of the devils, about their plans to tempt, ruin and destroy men and women.

The first said, “I will tell them there is no God.” Satan said, “That will not deceive many, for they know there is a God.”

The second said, “I will tell men there is no hell.” Satan answered, “You will mislead no one that way; men know even now that there is a hell for sin.”

The third said, “I will tell men there is no hurry.”

“Ahhh! You will ruin them by the thousands!” said Satan. The most dangerous of all delusions is that there is plenty of time.

Don’t let Satan delude you. If you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, you don’t have plenty of time. In fact, the time is short and the Gospel is a command.

Turn from your sin and run to Jesus Christ before its eternally too late!

[1] https://thefederalist.com/2019/02/11/9-famous-spirituals-enlighten-understanding-black-american-history/

What Shall I Render Unto God For All His Benefits?

In Psalm 116 the psalmist looks back over his life and sees the Lord working and rescuing and delivering and providing and so he asks himself the question in verse 12, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?”  He is saying in essence, “In view of the mercy of God, especially in view of the His love manifested my life, what can be an adequate return for love like that – for mercies so great, for grace so undeserved?”

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

But what can we give unto the Lord that He doesn’t already own? 

Psalm 24:1-2 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the waters.”

In Psalm 50 God says, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.  I know all the birds of the mountains, And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.  If I were hungry, I would not tell you; For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.”

What could we offer Him that would meet the high expense of His blessings?  His benefits are:

Incomprehensible – Psalm 8:3-4 David says, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?”

Impeccable – In James 1:17 the apostle writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning”.

Inexhaustible – In 2 Corinthians 9:8 the Apostle Paul writes, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work”.

Inestimable – In 1 Corinthians 6:20 we read, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”.

The benefits of God are incomprehensible, impeccable, inexhaustible, and inestimable, so what can we render to God for all that He has done for us?  The psalmist provides us with answers in Psalm 116, verse 13: “I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the LORD.”

While it is somewhat unclear what the psalmist is referring to in the first part of verse 13, most commentators believe that the cup of salvation is referring to the Jewish drink offering which accompanied the thanksgiving offering that was given as an act of worship (Lev. 7:11-21; Num. 15:3-5; Matt. 26:27).

In other words, the psalmist is saying “All I can do is offer the Lord worship for all His benefits!” Worship is the appropriate response from a people who have been beneficiaries of the Lord’s benefits.

The Apostle Paul was in this frame of mind after he writes the first 11 chapters of his letter to the church at Rome. 

In Romans chapters 1 through 11, Paul lists the “mercies of God”: The doctrines of salvation…God’s election, the Cross of Christ…our deliverance from sin and death…the resurrection of Christ…our justification, redemption, adoption, and sanctification, the gift of the Holy Spirit, no separation from the love of God, God’s faithfulness, and the coming glory.

When Paul gets to the end of listing these mercies, he’s about to burst wide open. And so, in verse 33 of chapter 11 of Romans, he erupts forth with these words, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways, for who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor, or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? It is all inscrutable, it is all undeserved. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to Him be the glory forever, amen.”

What produces genuine worship is our grasp of these wonderful truths, thus Paul starts Romans 12:1 saying (and I’m paraphrasing), “Brothers and sisters, in view of all the mercies of God (all of what I’ve written about in the first 11 chapters), I urge you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you.”

In Ephesians chapters one through three, Paul shares with his readers the spiritual blessings that Christians have been blessed with…a doctrinal smorgasbord… and at the end of chapter 3 he writes, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, He has given us mercies that are unimaginable. To Him who is able to do this according to the power that works in us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

What shall I render unto God for all His benefits toward me? 

The answer is “worship”!

Worship is motivated by a knowledge of what God has done for the believer.  Worship always comes in response to a contemplation of the spiritual blessings afforded to us in salvation.

In writing to Timothy, Paul gives his salvation testimony.  At the end of 1 Timothy chapter one, he says, “I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor and yet I was shown mercy” And the mention of this wonderful truth concerning God’s mercy, Paul loses it and just has to give up some worship, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”

That’s worship!  It comes from a heart overwhelmed with the benefits of God lavished upon the believer.

Back in Psalm 116 the psalmist writes in verse 1 through 11 that:

  • God heard his voice and his pleas for mercy.
  • God delivered him from the attacks of his enemies that would have surely resulted in death.
  • God dried up his tears and kept him from falling.

After contemplating these benefits, David asks himself the question, “What shall I render unto God for all His benefits?”  His answer, “I will worship”!

The Eviction Moratorium and The New World Order

The quote, “There ain’t no such thing as free lunch” appeared as early as 1938 as the punchline of a joke in an article in the El Paso Herald-Post of June 27, 1938.  Epictetus in his Enchiridion (maxim Nr. XVIII) states “… nothing is acquired for free, and necessarily must cost us some thing”.[1]

On September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) imposed a nationwide temporary federal moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent. The order is intended to prevent the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by preventing homelessness and overcrowded housing conditions resulting from eviction. The action, which followed an Executive Order directing the CDC to consider such a measure, was unprecedented, both in terms of the federal reach into what is traditionally state and local governance of landlord-tenant law and its use of a public health authority.[2]

As a result of this order, many people across the United States stopped paying their rent. As this happened, many landlords across the United States no longer received monthly rent that was used to pay mortgages on their properties, maintain those properties, and for some, put a roof over their heads and keep food on their tables.

At the same time, many of the people who no longer had to pay their rent were receiving generous subsidies of money from the government in addition to unemployment checks. A North Carolina landlord says he is out $24,000 in unpaid rent from tenants, while one renter bought three boats over the course of the eviction moratorium. Buddy Shoup, who owns 35 properties across the state, said that he has been forced to maintain the properties and hemorrhage costs while the federal government slowly dribbles out rental assistance, of which only 7% has been doled out to renters in need.[3]

On June 29th the Supreme Court of the United States issued a statement declaring that “the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its existing statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium”.[4] This statement fell short of ending the CDC moratorium on evictions.

On July 23rd, 2021, The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the national eviction moratorium mandated by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is unconstitutional. The court said in its ruling that the matter ultimately needed to be resolved by Congress.[5]

Because the House of Representatives failed to extend the eviction moratorium before leaving town for seven weeks, the Biden administration has now done what the Supreme Court specifically said it doesn’t have the authority to do: CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday signed another order extending the eviction moratorium until October 3. This new order applies to counties experiencing substantial and high levels of community transmission of COVID-19, which covers most of the country.[6]

If you, as a tenant, think the politicians and unelected bureaucrats are on your side when they say you don’t have to pay your rent because of Covid-19, think again. They are playing you. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. They are knowingly or unknowingly bringing the economy of the United States to its knees.  They are making you more dependent on the handouts of the state. They are weakening the power, independence and autonomy of our nation so that it will fold into the “new world order” along with the other nations of the world, under one government, one economy and one religion, headed by one world ruler, the Antichrist. By the time all this happens you will not be in a position to resist because of your dependence on the governments so-called “entitlements”.

The moguls behind what they call, “The Great Reset” are not shy about their motives. The one group most seen as the tip of the spear when it comes to this reset, is called, The World Economic Forum. This organization is unashamedly sharing everything they are doing and desire to accomplish right on their website.[7] Their leader, Founder and Executive Director Klause Schwab, has written a book detailing he and his cohort’s plan to “re-imagine and to re-draw” the world.

Let’s get back to the eviction moratorium. The moratorium states that landlords cannot evict tenants who are unable to make rental payments.  Now this seems very compassionate on the part of our government but it begs a lot of questions like, “Where does the CDC get the authority to make this order? “How does the government prove that a tenant really doesn’t have the money to make rental payments?” “What about the landlords? How are they going to manage their business with little to no income?”  “How are landlords going to provide for the needs of their own families with reduced income?”

Few have considered the serious fallout that occurs when tenants don’t pay their rent.  Very few are concerned about the landlords, who are regular people, that pay mortgages on the properties they rent, and are being forced out of business as the banks foreclose and take possession of their properties. No one is talking about the months of rent owed by the tenant that will eventually have to be paid when the moratorium is lifted. Unsympathetic banks will foreclose and take possession of the landlord’s properties and petition the tenant for rent that has accumulated. Tenants that are not able to pay this humongous sum will be evicted. The tenant’s credit score and rental history will be adversely affected resulting in difficulty in finding a new place to live. No landlord will rent property to a tenant with poor credit and a terrible payment history.  As this happens, hundreds of thousands of families will become wards of the state which will pay the rent, health insurance, and other “entitlements” for the unemployed and homeless, including a universal basic income.

As I said earlier, the World Economic Forum’s plan is to bring the United States to its knees.  This is one of the reasons the Biden administration is spending trillions of dollars and printing billions of paper currency that does not correspond to the value output of our nation’s economy. This out-of-control spending will soon lead to hyperinflation as nations around the world, that once depended on the stabile value of the dollar, lose their faith in it and switch to another standard and monetary system.[8]

Globalists also have a plan to do away with cash and currency and move everyone to a central bank digital currency (CBDC) so everyone can be tracked.  This CBDC will allow the globalists to control everything that is bought and sold as citizens are limited to using plastic debit cards, digital wallets and some sort of biometric ID. Perhaps a vaccine passport will be integrated into this digital currency which will allow the globalists to track and control everywhere a person goes. It’s my opinion that the vaccine passport will one day soon become the Mark of the Beast written about in Revelation chapter 13:

“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.” (vs. 16-18)

The Bible tells the reader that this will take place and teaches that all the nations of the world will be under one global government and leader, one global economy and one global religion.  2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 says:

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the Day of the Lord) will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 

Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” of the 1930’s people in the United States have been conditioned to look to the government as “Savior” while simultaneously looking away from the God of Creation who has promised to supply the needs of those who believe and follow Him (Matthew 6:19-34). Much of the world has followed Roosevelt’s early form of socialism or succumbed to the contemporary deception of Marxism taught in the form of “social justice” and “Critical Race Theory (CRT)” that’s been disseminating in our schools, media, movies, houses of worship, places of employment and military. Perhaps a conglomeration of the social justice movement, climate change, and Roman Catholicism that will constitute the religion of the New World Order.

Enough of my rant.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_ain%27t_no_such_thing_as_a_free_lunch

[2] https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IN/IN11673

[3] https://www.foxnews.com/media/eviction-ban-north-carolina-landlord-moratorium-rent-coronavirus

[4] https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/20a169_4f15.pdf

[5] https://www.fox28spokane.com/sixth-circuit-rules-cdc-eviction-moratorium-is-unconstitutional/

[6] https://www.cnsnews.com/article/washington/susan-jones/biden-cdcs-latest-eviction-moratorium-although-unconstitutional-will

[7] https://www.weforum.org/

[8] https://www.newsmax.com/finance/harveybezozi/printing-money-inflation-economy/2020/07/20/id/978020/

Passing God’s Word to the Next Generation

I grew up in a fatherless home in West Baltimore City and after I became a follower of Jesus Christ, and over time, God’s Word has helped me to get a better grip on what fatherhood is all about. 

God has blessed my wife and I will 8 children, 16 great-grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. One passage of Scripture that has helped me to understand biblical fatherhood and parenting is Psalm 103.

This psalm was written by King David in praise of the Lord’s benefits in his life:

In Psalm 103 David begins by calling on his own soul to praise the Lord.  He also calls on his own soul to forget not all God’s benefits. 

Psa 103:1  A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Psa 103:2  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;

As David begins to list the benefits he is declaring that God is totally involved in the lives of His children. God, as Heavenly Father, meets all of His children’s needs. 

Psa 103:3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;

Psa 103:4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

Psa 103:5  Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

In Psalm 103:6, David goes on to describe the greatness and love of our Abba Father.  He writes, “The LORD performs righteous deeds And judgments for all who are oppressed.”

In other words, the Lord serves as a divine advocate for those who are downtrodden and those who are taken advantage of.  That was me as I grew up.

A third of the way through Psalm 103, in verse 7, David writes “He (God) made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.”

And then, King David continues blessing the Lord…

Psa 103:8  The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. 

Psa 103:9  He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 

Psa 103:10  He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 

Psa 103:11  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 

Psa 103:12  As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 

Psa 103:13  Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. 

Psa 103:14  For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. 

Why would David insert verse 7 in the midst of his blessing the Lord for all His benefits?  Why would he want his readers to know that “Yahweh made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel”?

In order to learn the answer to this question we need to go back to the book of Deuteronomy.

In Deuteronomy chapter one Moses recounts the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel.  He reminds them of when the Lord placed the Promised Land before His people and commanded them not to be afraid, but to go up and take possession of the land (1:21).

Rather than immediately obeying the Lord, Deuteronomy 1:22 tells us that the leaders of Israel approached Moses and asked that they might send men to search out the land and bring back word about it before they obeyed and took possession of the land.  Verse 23 tells us that Moses took 12 men, one of each of the 12 tribes of Israel and sent them to spy out the land. 

Ten of the 12 men came back with a bad report that caused fear to enter the hearts of the people so that they rebelled against the command of the Lord and grumbled in their tents against Him (The Israelites liked the land but they did not like the people who lived on the land!).

Moses tried to assure the people that the Lord promised to fight for them but they would not trust the Lord (1:22-33). They were terrified by these people and did not believe that God could give them victory (Deut. 1:28). 

The Bible says in Deut. 1:35-36 that God was angry and took an oath saying, “Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give your fathers, except Caleb…and Joshua”.

Moses himself would also be barred from entering the land due to a different act of disobedience.

Now 40 years later, that rebellious generation died off and a new generation of Israelites was about to enter the Promised Land.  Moses writes the Book of Deuteronomy, which is in fact a collection of his sermons to Israel, just before they crossed the Jordan in the land God promised them..

God had to make His ways known to this new generation of the children of Israel who would go in to possess the land. In Deuteronomy 1:39 Moses describes this generation as the “little ones”, the “sons”, who 40 years earlier, had “no knowledge of good or evil…”

In other words,

  • This new generation, being children at the time, may not have understood judgments God poured on Egypt 40 years earlier because Pharoah would not let His people go.
  • Some in this new generation may not have connected the parting of the Red Sea with the omnipotence of the Almighty God who made a covenant with Abraham, Issac and Jacob. 
  • They weren’t old enough to understand the significance of Mt. Sinai, the mountain that quaked with thunder, lightning and a thick cloud and the trumpet blast that grew louder and louder (Exodus 19).
  • This generation wasn’t the one that, when the Lord descended on the mountain in fire and smoke, cried out to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die”.

It’s 40 years later and Moses speaks to this new generation of Israel to remind them of their history, their God, and His law.

In Deuteronomy, Moses recounts all the history of Israel up to that point in time…the disobedience of their ancestors, their lack of faith, and their rebellious refusal to enter the land because of the bad report of the 10 spies. 

In chapter five, Moses would also proclaim the Ten Commandments from God for the second time, with new tablets of stone. He would command the children of Israel to take God’s laws and teach them to their children. In Deuteronomy chapter ten they would be commanded to circumcise their hearts (Deuteronomy 10:12-22).

This new generation of the Children of Israel needed to be reminded of their history so that they would not commit the same acts of disobedience their forefathers did.  They needed to be reminded of who they were and how they were supposed to live, before entering the Promised Land.

Today Christian parents need to take God’s commands and teach them to their children.  We need to be preoccupied with teaching the next generation:

  • Who they are.
  • Who they are supposed to serve, and,
  • How they are supposed to live.

Much of the disloyalty, unfaithfulness and fickle mindedness we are lamenting about in our day has developed over time.  Much of what we are seeing in the culture of our day has resulted from the parental neglect to teach God’s commands from one generation to the next.

I’m old enough to remember the spiritual legacy or heritage that was passed on to my grandparents from their parents, but had a hard time making its way down to me and my siblings.

African Americans used to regularly sing in church the spiritual, “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and knew exactly what the song meant.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.

This song was composed and sung by slaves who knew the Old Testament story about Elisha (E-lish-a), watching the prophet Elijah, who did not die, but was carried off to heaven in “a chariot and horses of fire” (2 Kings 2:11). 

 I looked over Jordan, and what did I see,

Coming for to carry me home.

A band of angels coming after me,

Coming for to carry me home.

They knew the Jordan River was where the Israelites crossed into the promised land (Joshua 4:23) and where Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:16-17).

As followers of Jesus Christ, these slaves knew of Jesus’ promise when He said, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also”.  Their hope was connected to what Jesus said in John 14:1, “Do not let your heart be troubled”.

But the sad situation in our day is that many, no matter what their ethnicity, have never received a spiritual heritage because the truths of God’s Word captured in the pages of the Bible has not been passed from generation to generation.

Back in Deuteronomy, Moses would present the Ten Commandments for the second time with new tablets of stone. He would command the children of Israel to take God’s laws and teach them to their children.

Moses was also preparing them for his departure and the appointment of Joshua, who would take Israel into Canaan.

The word “Deuteronomy” literally means “second law.” This title comes from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and means “repetition of the law,” or “second law.”

This does not mean that the law given in Exodus is incomplete, or that the law that God gives in Deuteronomy is different. The book of Deuteronomy explains the Ten Commandments in more detail.[1]

The underlying tone of the book is serious and reverential and the major characters of the book are God, Moses, Children of Israel.

Key phrases found in the book are “the LORD spoke”, “go up”, “take possession”, “do not fear or be dismayed”, “commandment”, “Hear, O Israel!”, “the LORD our God”, “I command you”, “love the LORD”,

The main themes of the book are obedience, faithfulness to God, trusting the LORD, and abstaining from sin.

There are direct quotations from Deuteronomy by New Testament speakers and writers and there are also numerous allusions to Deuteronomy in the New Testament.[2]

Jesus

In Matthew 4 when Satan attempts to get Jesus to sin, Jesus responds with the Word of God from Deuteronomy.
Time would fail me if I shared all the passages in the Gospels where Jesus quotes from the book of Deuteronomy.

Paul 

Paul quotes from Deuteronomy in several of his letters and as you research them you will find it obvious that Paul gets his preoccupation with the theological theme of “grace” from the book of Deuteronomy when you read verses such as:

  • Deu 7:7  “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 
  • Deu 7:8  but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 

Peter

In 1 Peter 2:9-10 Peter is quoting Moses as he says to Israel in Deut. 7:6: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.”
When Peter preaches in Solomon’s Portico in Acts 3, he applies the promise in Deut. 18:15-18 to Jesus, where God says He would raise up a prophet like Moses.

Revelation – In Revelation 17:14 and 19:16 we find a reference to Deut. 10:17 when Jesus, the conquering Lamb of God, is given the title of “King of kings, and Lord of lords”.

Some have called Deuteronomy as “The Book of Romans of the Old Testament” because it contains the Old Testament’s most systematic and sustained presentation of theology.

One of the key passages of Deuteronomy is chapter 6. For this message we will be looking at Deuteronomy 6:1-9.

Deu 6:1  “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it,

Deu 6:2  so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged.

Deu 6:3  “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.

Deu 6:4  “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! 

Deu 6:5  “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 

Deu 6:6  “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 

Deu 6:7  “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 

Deu 6:8  “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 

Deu 6:9  “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 

As Moses prepares a new generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land, he would teach them the principles they would need to know and practice to maintain a distinctiveness and a uniqueness from the other nations. Our outline is a follows:

An exhortation to observe the principles (6:1-3)
An exhortation to know the essence of the principles (6:4-5)
An exhortation to teach the principles (6-9)

An exhortation to observe the principles (6:1-3)

Deut 6:1  “Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it…”

Commandments – The NASB 6:1 begins with the words, “Now this is the commandment…” not commandments. The people had already received the Ten Commandments in chapter five but there was one more commandment they needed to hear. We’ll look at that commandment in verse five.

Statutes – The statutes were the various specific rules and regulations the Jews were to follow. These statutes were sprinkled throughout chapters 6-11. They were things like:

Deut 6:13 – you shall fear only the LORD, your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.
Deut 6:14 – you shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the people who surround you
Deut 6:16 – you shall not put your LORD God to the test

These statutes made it clear what the Jews were to do and not to do.

Judgments – The judgments laid out what would happen, both good and bad, if Israel either chose to obey, or not obey God’s commandment and statutes. Again these judgments are sprinkled throughout Deuteronomy chapters 6-11. For example:

If Israel failed to obey, Deut. 6:15 states, “…the anger of the LORD your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.”

But if Israel obeyed, Deut. 6:18 says, “it may be well with you and that you may go in and possess the good land…”

The commandment, the statutes and the judgments were designed to set Israel apart from the people of other nations in the land they were going over to possess. 

Deuteronomy 6:2 says, “so that you and your son and your grandson “might fear the LORD your God”.

The word “fear” here means reverence; it is awe and respect for the God of creation and includes the ideas of worship and obedience.

Illust.: When I was in the sixth grade, one day someone was picking on me.  I was a rather short person in those days and a target for the bullies.  On that day a guy named Rodney was teasing me and I was beginning to get aggravated and feel “hot around the collar.”  Then it happened, someone came up behind me and tapped me on my shoulder and I balled up my fist and with all the strength I could muster I swung around and hit Garfield McCoy. 

Now Garfield was around 12 but looked like he was 16.  Garfield picked me up and threw me across a few desks. 

Guess what my first thoughts were as I was picking myself off the floor? 

My thoughts were, “What strength!”  “What might!”  That guy won my respect; he won my admiration.  After we straightened out the misunderstanding, he forgave me and became my friend and volunteered to be my bodyguard! For that time on, I highly respected Garfield.

This helps me to understand what “fear” means in Psalm 130:4.  It means reverence; it is awe and respect for the God who is called in Psalm 91:1 and Rev. 1:8, The Almighty.

The fear of the Lord includes the ideas of worship and obedience.  When you fear the Lord you will be moved to worship Him!  When you fear the Lord, you will be compelled to obey Him!  When you fear the Lord, you will desire to praise Him!

(Psa 111:10 NIV)  The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

(Psa 112:1 NIV)  Praise the LORD. Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in his commands.

Deuteronomy 6:2 tells us that Israel was to teach their children and their children’s children to fear the Lord.  The proof that they feared the Lord was that they kept, “all His statutes and commandments”.

Deuteronomy 6:2 ends with the words, “that your days may be prolonged”.  Here Moses repeats the fifth commandment spoken in Deut. 5:16 and he does so as if he was pleading with them, “If only you would faithfully obey Yahweh, He would give you a long life”.

In Deuteronomy 6:3 Moses tells Israel that if they kept the commandments of God they would be blessed: “That it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Moses says at the beginning of verse three: “O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it” – He is telling them that God is to be heard, and attentively considered. The word “listen” is the same word we will see used in verse four; it’s the Hebrew word, ‘shama”.

In verses 1-3 Moses exhorts Israel to observe the principles but this is not simply a call to obedience for obedience’s sake, or obedience so they can be happy and live long.

Moses was calling Israel to obedience for God’s glory. Any personal blessing they received from the Lord for their obedience was only a by-product of their relationship with Him, not as an end in itself.

Moses was calling Israel to obedience as an evidence of their love for God.  We will see that Moses was calling Israel to obedience so that their faith would be perpetuated from generation to generation and that through their faith and obedience they would be a witness and ministry to the world.

Moses begins chapter six by giving an exhortation for Israel to observe the principles.

An exhortation to know the essence of the principles (6:4-5)

In verse four, we come to what is known as the Shema. 

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” 

“Hear O Israel”. The word “hear” (also used in verse three) is the Hebrew word, shâma‛ shaw-mah’ and means “to listen” or “to hear intelligently”.  In grade school my teachers used to say to our class, “Give me your undivided attention!

Deuteronomy 6:4-10 has been called the Magna Carta of the home. Verse 4 was, and still is, the very first verse in the Torah that each Jewish boy and girl is taught by their God-fearing parents.  This is the verse that every devout Jew recites each day.  The God-fearing Jew is even taught to utter the Shema when dying.

The Shema was what separated Israel from the surrounding nations that practiced polytheism…the worship of many gods. 

The word “shama” means “to hear” but not just to hear the sounds, but to hear and obey. Put differently, “Shama” isn’t simply you or your children rote reciting or memorizing the Scriptures; it is writing the Scriptures on the tablet of your heart so that it will affect your behavior. 

Deuteronomy 6:4 also says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” 

In many English translations, each letter of the word LORD in verse four is capitalized, telling the reader it’s the Hebrew word, Yahweh.[3] 

The name Yahweh refers to God’s self-existence. Yahweh is how God described Himself in Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.”’”

Israelites grew up knowing the Shema and pledging their allegiance to Yahweh.  They were not to follow the gods of the nations inhabiting the lands they were about to enter. (Deut. 6:13-15).

  • Ashtoreth, the fertility and maternity goddess of the Canaanites was connected with sensuality and involved ritual prostitution. The priests and priestesses of Ashtoreth also practiced divination and fortune-telling.
  • Chemosh and Molech, the Canaanite gods that demanded the ritual sacrifice involving passing children through fire—the same children born due to sensuality and prostitution.
  • Baal and Marduk, the “climate gods” of sky, rain and thunder and lightning and associated with fertility and vegetation.  . 
  • Milcom, the god that the Ammonites sought for knowledge of the future.

Its interesting that the pagan and demonic “gods” of 14th century BC are still worshipped today.

The Israelites were to worship no other gods but the one true and live God, Yahweh, who created the heavens and the earth. They were to pass this command to obey God’s Word to their children and children’s children.

Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” 

The LORD is one (echad, which speaks literally of a compound unity), One God…not three…not 40 gods as the Egyptians worshipped…not the 15 “greater gods” and the hundreds of lesser deities of the Babylonians.  1 Corinthians 8:6 tells us: “there is one God.

As Israel conformed to God’s law, the people would function as God’s servant-nation, representing God and His character before the surrounding nations of the world.

God called Israel out from among the nations of the world to be His own people.  Israel wasn’t to be an end to themselves but a means to an end so that they would be a witness…a missionary nation (Exodus 19:3-5).

They were to be God’s possession among all the nations…a “priest-nation”.  They received the Law of God and were to be an obedient “prophet-witness” (unlike Jonah) to the Gentile nations (Deut 6).  They were to be a priestly nation.

As one generation of Israel would praise God’s works to another, the world look at Israel and find out what God was like.
Israel was to be God’s “priest” that would usher the inhabitants of the world into the presence of God.
Israel was to be the vehicle through which God would bring forth His Son, the Messiah—the Savior of the World.

But Israel had drifted away from the call of God on them as a people.  They drifted and were being destroyed.  Carnality had set in.  Idolatry was being practiced.  He old generation was judged and the new generation had to be reminded of God’s law and His ways.

In Deuteronomy chapter five Moses reiterates the Ten Commandments first introduced in Exodus chapter 20. Now in Deuteronomy 6:5 Moses is letting Israel know that their love for God is expressed in their wholehearted commitment to the Lord.

Verse 5 says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”. – The verb “to love” was to be their covenantal commitment and complete devotion to the Lord. The heart was considered the seat of the mind or intellect, so that one could “think with” one’s heart. 

In other words, the Israelite was to be totally committed, devoted and loyal to God with their whole mind. As Psalm 103:1 says, they were to love God, “with all that is within me”.

In Matthew 22:37-38, when Jesus was asked “What was the greatest commandment of all,” He quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 as He defines the Law in its essence: love the Lord with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. More than just a list of dos and don’ts, Jesus summarizes all the law in terms of loving God and your neighbor.

As Moses prepares a new generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land, he left them…

…An exhortation to observe the principles (6:1-3)

…An exhortation to know the essence of the principles (6:4-5)

An exhortation to teach the principles (6-9)

Deu 6:6  “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 

Deu 6:7  “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. 

In order to insure that this wasn’t just a one-generational obedience to the command of God, in Deuteronomy 6:6-7, we find that Israel was to pass down the knowledge of God to their children.

I believe that this is what David was thinking about as he penned Psalm 145:3-4  “Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts”. 

As Pastor George taught last night, Israel wasn’t just to pass on information, but an explanation that would cause the next generation to praise, boast and glory in the Lord.

But this is where Israel fell short.  In the book of Jeremiah (ESV) we find outlined an all-too-common deviation by the people of God, from obedience to disobedience.

Jer 2:1  The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 

Jer 2:2  “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. 

Jer 2:3  Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD.” 

God called Israel to Himself and blessed them, and provided for them, and protected them in the wilderness as a faithful husband would do for the bride he loved.

Jer 2:4  Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. 

Jer 2:5  Thus says the LORD: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? 

God asks His people, “Was there some kind of unrighteousness or unfaithfulness found in me? Were any of the good things that I promised you fail that you would go far from me to seek false gods and their idols?”

We see in verse 6-8 that it got to the point that the people did not remember the Lord…the priests did not remember the Lord…the kings did not remember the Lord, and the prophets forsook and forgot the Lord.

God says in Jeremiah 2:9 that He would “contend” with His people.  The word “contend” means to quarrel and to find fault, to charge, to judge.

There is a progression of the people’s transgression in this passage and it happens in each successive generation; even today:

  1. We start with not seeking the Lord.
  2. We move to not knowing the Lord (through His Word).
  3. Then there’s transgression and sin against the Lord (and His Word).
  4. And finally we have a total transfer of allegiance from the Lord to false gods and idols (idolatry).

In Deuteronomy 6:7 Hebrew parents were commanded to “teach the words of God diligently to their children, and shall talk of them when they sat down in their house, when they walk by the way, when they lie down, and when they rise up.”

In order for parents to do this, the Word of God was to first reside in their own hearts (vs. 6). 

Q: Can you truly share with, and model before, your children that which you have yet to make your own?

God’s Word must be first impressed upon the parent’s heart. The whole soul of both mother and father was to be brought under the influence and impression of God’s Word. It was only then could they impress God’s commandments, statutes and judgments upon their children.

Moses must really want to drive home his point to fathers and mothers about redeeming the time and using every opportunity to instill the knowledge of God into the tender minds of Israel’s children.

In Deuteronomy chapter 11 he implores Israel to make sure they remain under the blessing, and not the curse of the Lord.  In this chapter Moses repeats, almost verbatim, what he commanded Israel in chapter six:

Deu 11:16  “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 

Deu 11:17  “Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you. 

Deu 11:18  “You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 

Deu 11:19  “You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 

Deu 11:20  “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 

Deu 11:21  so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth. 

Deu 11:22  “For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, 

Back in Deuteronomy  6:7 Moses says, “You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” 

“Teach” – The phrase “teach them diligently” in Deuteronomy 6:7 is the Hebrew word “shanan” (shaw-nan) that literally means to, “point,” to “prick.”  It means to “engrave,” that is, “to teach incisively.”

shanan, (shaw-nan) is also translated, “sharpened”, sharpened arrows, Isaiah 5:28; Psalm 45:5. This is referring to the time and effort required to sharpen an arrow or a knife.

This is more than just sending them to Sunday school or giving them a “Kid’s version of the Bible” with colorful pictures. Hebrew parents were expected to “inscribe” or “engrave” the words of God into their children “minds” and etch it upon their “hearts”.

“Talk” – Not only was the parent to teach the knowledge of God to their children…parents were to talk about the words of God—while they sat in their houses…when they got up in the morning, when they laid down for bed and when they traveled.  In other words, whether home or traveling, they were to share God’s Word with their children.

Please know that I don’t think Moses was talking about homeschooling.  I believe Moses was referring to the teaching and the talking that would overflow from one who “loved the Lord with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their mind” (verse 5).

They were not to compartmentalize their devotion to Yahweh: “Church/ Home”. They were to make the ways of the Lord known,

  • when they sat down in their house (these eggs and bacon come from the Lord our omnipotent Creator) and
  • when they walked by the way (See that bird in the tree how God takes care of it? He’s our Provider) and
  • when they lied down (thank God for protecting us through seen and unseen danger! He’s our Protector) and
  • When they got up (thank you Lord for giving us another day to serve you! – His mercies are new every morning; great is His faithfulness!). 

Our pastor preached yesterday that “the character of God obligates us to praise Him!”

The Scripture commands parents to be diligent in instructing their children in the ways and words of the Lord so that one generation might declare the works of God to the next. The father and mother who were obedient to the commands of Scripture did just that.

Back in Deuteronomy 6:8-9:

Deu 6:8  “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 

Deu 6:9  “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 

Upon entering the property of a Hebrew home, one might immediately tell this family served Yahweh, and not the false gods and idols of the nations.  But don’t think that God was merely concerned about how a family decorates their home with His Word; He was concerned that His Word be on the family’s heart (Deut. 6:6). 

By the time of Jesus was born and during His earthly ministry, the Jewish people interpreted Deuteronomy 6:7-9 by wearing phylacteries, which were small boxes holding parchment with scriptures on them, affixed to their foreheads or hands with leather straps.

Jesus condemned the wearing of phylacteries by the Pharisees because they only wore them to promote their “spirituality”. (Matthew 23:5).

The point of Deuteronomy 6:7-9 is that as Christians we can find ways to constantly remind ourselves of the truths of God. We can keep God’s Word close to our eyes and hands as it were…keeping it constantly within our sight and in our minds and hearts.

Application

We began this message with reading Psalm 103 where King David is in praise of the Lord’s benefits in his life:

Psa 103:1  Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Psa 103:2  Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits–

Psa 103:3  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

Psa 103:4  who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,

Psa 103:5  who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103 begins triumphantly declaring that God is totally involved in the lives of His children. God, as Heavenly Father, meets all of His children’s needs. 

As we said, a third of the way through Psalm 103, in verse 7, David writes “He (God) made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. 

In Deuteronomy 6:5-6 Moses commands the children of Israel: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart”.

As Christians, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:3 we are “a letter of Christ… written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts”.

As followers of Jesus, we are “living epistles” that are read by others and God uses our lives and witness to influence and bring others into His kingdom through the Gospel.  Someone has said, “How we live is important because it backs up what we say.”

We can learn from Deuteronomy chapter 6 that God’s people are to mindfully and wholeheartedly obey the Scriptures and make our lives and homes a place where God would dwell, and where the Scriptures are honored, and where our faith is unashamedly on display.

[1] http://smyrnafirst.org/deuteronomy-a-book-for-the-next-generation/

[2] https://thechrist-centeredlife.com/resources/thought/deuteronomy-new-testament/

[3] This is also known as the tetragrammaton.

Can’t You Read The Signs?

 This morning I found out that just as we have weather forecasters, we now have professionals that report a daily “Covid Positivity Rate” percentage.  A group of men I meet with were trying to determine if we were going to meet tomorrow and one of our leads wrote in a text message, “Predicted snow starting around 7, covid positivity was 12.5% yesterday. Recommend zoom only.” I was floored. I couldn’t believe what I was reading and had to search the internet. Yep, it was there in the search results, a “Covid positivity rate” forecast!

As I had my Bible reading this morning, I read from Luke 11 where Jesus was saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?” (vss. 54-56)

Men today can create metrics to measure the weather and now they’ve even created a, “Covid positivity rate”.  However, they still cannot and, sadly, will not analyze this present time when immorality and lawlessness abound and where all the “signs” point to the soon return of the Lord and King, Jesus Christ, in judgment.

Earlier in Luke chapter 11 Jesus says, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Certainly, this “sign” is happening all around us as the King’s citizens, who look to the Bible for instruction, and obey those instructions, have a biblical morality which cuts against what the world believes.  The world forces on its citizens concerning gender and marriage and sexuality. Government leaders forces on their citizens shutdowns, vaccines and now mandates. When the Covid-19 coronavirus first hit churches were forced to close or severely scale back their attendance, while the “big box” stores, wine and liquor establishments, and drug and abortion clinics were allowed to remain open.

This was not an oversight by government leadership; it was an overreach and in many respects discrimination, perhaps persecution. Looking at what has been taking place against the church and her leaders in other nations like Canada and Australia, and considering that we haven’t heard much of a peep from our political leaders here in the United States, I think that it is just a matter of time when we will see this kind of abuse take place on our soil. 

Just read the signs. Can’t you read the signs?