Wednesday, February 21, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Feb. 21

Today's reading is Deuteronomy 33-34 and Joshua 1-4

What catches my attention in chapter 2 of Joshua was the number of spies Joshua sends in. Moses sent in 12 spies one for each of the twelve tribe. Moses actions seem like a very democratic and fair way of doing things, the problem was the majority only saw the problems. Joshua on the other hand picks two people and sends them in. There is no committee of tribes picking their favorites, no democratically elected representatives, only Joshua saying, go look at the land.

I want to say that I appreciate democracy and what it brings but I understand that often the majority can’t see the possibilities for something better. In the real world, studies tell us it is when the innovators and early adopters reach a certain level that the majority take up the idea (want more info on this read Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell).  To say it another way, most people are followers or as God calls us sheep.

In our spiritual life, and don’t be miss it God was trying to teach Israel to life spiritually, I can’t help but think that we would do better not following the majority but the minority. A minority of one, Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean we live the Christian life on our own. The Bible teaches us that we are part of the body of Christ, the church. However, Jesus clearly teaches that the minority will choose to follow him, remember the wide and narrow gates (Matthew 7:13-14).

Joshua had seen what had happened before. This time he wasn’t choosing 12 but chose 2, the same number which brought back a good report the first time. Joshua threw out the democratic method and choose the number which were faithful before. As we see in the book of Joshua, this time the outcome was far different.

I am not saying we should ignore the majority, we should see why they are doing what they are doing. They could be right as enough people have followed the minority into something right. However, often Jesus and his true followers are in the minority. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Feb. 20

Today's reading is from Deuteronomy 28-32.

“IF” is a big word.

There are plenty of people who have beat themselves up of the thought, “what might have been” or “if only.” Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whittier, wrote the verse so often quoted on the subject of regret, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’” The “ifs” in life have caused much heartache and looking at the history of Israel there is much to be saddened by.

However, there is another side of the word if. In Deuteronomy 28 (and many of the following chapter), if isn’t a word giving despair, it is a word giving us freedom. Israel and us today have the freedom to chose or reject what God has to offer. There isn’t a mandatory path we have to go down, we can choose our path. We aren’t free from the consequences of those choices, but we are free to choose. God doesn’t want follower who are little more than robots, programed to do certain things. God wants people who will chose him and chose what is right.

These chapters laying out the Blessings and the Cursing’s are not God’s way of saying, be good or else. These chapters are laying out the options and the results of those choices. Did many make the choice which lead to pain? Yes, and people do today, but they and we had the freedom to choose.

So what are you going to choose? 

(picture from )

Monday, February 19, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Feb. 19th

Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 23-27.

In Deuteronomy 24, there are a host of small regulation and laws given by God to the Children of Israel. In them, I see a pattern that God set up which carries into the New Testament, the idea of doing unto others as you would have them do to you. These commands carry in them the idea of what I would call true social justice.

I won’t look at them all, but God told the Israelites to treat people as people don’t take advantage of their position especially if it because they are poor or in an unusual circumstance (newly married, related to a criminal, etc.).  God’s solution as I see it here is to treat the unfortunate like an equal and give them the opportunity to better themselves.  The key for many of these commands was to make sure the person could work for themselves so they could get ahead.

We may not be able to change the way the government or business dealings with the less fortunate, but we could look at these laws and ask ourselves, what we could do personally to treat people like equals. We could ask ourselves if there is something we could change either as the person who is in the fortunate position or how you need to work if you’re the person who is poor or in that unfortunate life circumstance.  God may ask us to help change the government or our business, but he always asks us to change ourselves and in truth, it is what we need to change first, before anything else. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Feb 16

Today's reading is Deut 18-22

As I read today's readings I was reminded of the Parable of the Birds by Paul Harvey(you can watch the video below). In the middle of repeating the commands and the law, Moses gives a prophecy about a coming prophet who would both be like God and like him. The people feared the God on the mountain and asked that God not speak to them, but here God says he will fill the gap with someone more than a prophet. This is another reminder in the Torah of a coming Messiah. It would be easy to miss but in light of the New Testament, it is clear.

God came himself as Jesus, a man but more than a man, the God/man. Someone we could understand. Here in Deuteronomy, we get a picture of the incarnation which would come thousands of years later. Someone would we could relate and not fear.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Feb 15 Miracles can't lead us

Today's reading is Deut. 13-17

Though most cultures, especially in the West, have some form of pluralism when it comes to religion, the children of Israel were not to allow this in their midst. They had seen God proform mighty miracles to bring them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, so God demanded complete allegiance. 

In Deuteronomy 13, God tells the people that even if a prophet can perform signs and wonders, they are supposed to kill him if he asks them to serve any other God. Though in the New Testament we are called to watch out for false prophets we are not called to kill them. However, what I want to look at is the children of Israel are warned that some false prophets would be able to do miraculous things. 

What matters then and now is not if someone does something amazing, or if they have a compelling story or any kind of miracle, what matters is are they speaking the truth. There were people able to do the miraculous in the past and there will be in the future, but we have to be motivated by truth. Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:24 "For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

Don't be deceived by signs, just follow the truth. 

PS Not all miracles are wrong, God does them on occasion (They're called miracles, not commons;  pastors remind us). However, God's miracles will never lead you away from the truth of scriptures. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Feb 14

Today's Reading is Deut. 8-12

I notice in Deut. 8:10-14, God gives a warning which I believe is true for every generation. The warning is when things are going well it is easy to forget God. When things aren't going well or we are weak then we have no choice but to look to God. However, once things turn and things go well then it is easy to slide into complacency. This isn't just true in spiritual life but in every area of life. Business authors point out that once a company or a person hits the pinnacle there is often a tendency to let the things slide which have gotten you there.

The key to not falling into complacency is constantly challenging yourself (or your business). When it comes to our spiritual life it is during the good times when we can set our roots deep so when the storm comes then you can survive. Methodist Pastor Talbot Davis points out in his book, The Storm Before the Calm, it is during the times of calm (when everything is going well) we need to prepare for the storm. It's hard to get the house ready for a storm if you're in the middle of it. Let's be honest storms do come. The key to spiritual success is using the times when things are going good not as a time to relax, but as a time to secure our relationship with Jesus. If we don't we will be doomed to follow the path of the children of Israel.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey Feb 13

Today's reading is Deuteronomy 3-7

We see here in Deut. 6, God commands parents to teach their children about the things of God. This isn't a new idea for most Christians. There are few Christians who would say they don't have some responsibility to at least show their children how to live for God. However what God commands is something far more, and I believe it is something we who live under the New Covenant can learn from.  

God's command about teaching children isn't a once a week teaching or a youth group. God takes teaching children seriously and commands parents to teach children nearly all the time. Just look at verse 4-9: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates" (NIV). This isn't go to church once a week for Sunday school and maybe Sunday morning service. What God is calling for is constantly finding teachable moments to tell your children about the things of God. This is both a talking and a living type of teaching. It requires a complete commitment, yet what has God called for anything less? 

Too often Christian parents, have either not taught their children the things of God, have not lived out their Christian faith, or both. These parents have looked back and asked, "God I took them to church, why aren't they serving you?" God's answer I fear may be, "You didn't teach them the way I told you too." 

One final note, there is always the chance that parents who do everything correct still end up with children who forsake God. This isn't a promise that if you do everything right your kids will be perfect. NO! The greatest teacher in the world was Jesus and after 3 years of teaching the disciples, one betrayed him and the rest forsook him. This being said, don't blame God, if your not doing all you are called to do.