Category: Bible Reflection & Challenge

Why is the Heart Deceitful?

Why is the Heart Deceitful?

We are exhorted by the Word of God to not lean on our own understanding, but to trust in the Lord with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5). Yet, oftentimes, we choose to trust our own heart; we choose to trust ourselves. Do you know that trusting the heart is just another way of trusting in man?

Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Now, why did the prophet Jeremiah say this? Why did he warn the people to be cautious about the directions and inclinations of the heart?

It has everything to do with what happened to the people of Judah. Instead of giving their devotion and obedience to the true and living God, who had blessed them, the Jews followed the dictates of their evil hearts which eventually led them astray.

The Folly of Trusting You Own Heart

It’s interesting that the Bible calls it foolishness to trust and follow your own heart.

The heart of every problem is the problem in the heart. Indeed, our heart often deceives us. It convinces us that heart-fulfillment is the key to happiness. Our heart tells us that if we would just be true to it and fulfill all its desires then we will be happy. However, what we desire is often not what we need.

But the human heart is not only deceitful but also desperately wicked. By following their heart without judging it by the measure of God’s truth, many people have been led to disobedience, rebellion, and eventually great sorrow. I’d say the advice to “always follow your heart” is not good advice at all.

God Has Given Us a New Heart

As believers under the New Covenant, we have a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26), we have been made a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and have become a new man according to the image of our Creator (Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:24).

Ezekiel 36:26

Although there are still some elements of sin and flesh remaining in us and we still have to deal with inward deceit and wickedness, we can be confident that the Lord will give us the strength and grace to overcome. We just need to trust in the Lord to guide and lead us and allow Him to carry out His plans and purpose in our lives.

God searches the heart and mind and knows exactly how to reward each one of us. If we want to know how our hearts are like, we must read the Word and let the Spirit teach us.

God is Continually Transforming Our Hearts

In Philippians 2:12-13, the apostle Paul exhorts us to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling because it is God who is working in us.”

A very important note in regard to this verse. Paul is definitely not saying that we must work to earn our salvation. Rather, Paul calls the Philippians (and every believer today) to put forth real effort into their Christian lives. The Christian is to make evident in every area of their lives the salvation that God has given them freely.

So let me say it one more time, God does not automatically make you a sanctified Christian. You have to put the work into it to foster that relationship with God.

It’s kind’ a like a plant. After a seed is planted in fertile soil, it sprouts. That is when salvation occurs, but it is only a baby plant. Now, it needs to grow, but if it does not have the right conditions, it can’t grow.

We need the water of the Word and sunlight. God is described in many places in the Bible as being the Light (Psalm 27:1; Isaiah 60:19; John 8:12; 1 John 1:5). We need an unobstructed view of the Light. We need to make sure we do not have any obstructions in our view.

God is our main priority, our main focus. And our main motive is our love for God. You may want to read Deuteronomy 5:29 again.

Has God Changed Your Heart?

As people, we are predisposed to sin. Why? It’s because our hearts desire to sin. We are not able to change that. Romans 7:18 says “nothing good dwells in men.” So when God saves us, He saves us by first allowing our hearts to change.

We did not automatically get a heart for God the moment we got born again. In other words, sanctification is not automatic after salvation. Rather, we need to allow God to work in us and through us. And it starts by submitting to the will of God as shown by our obedience to Him and His commandments.

In his appeal to Israel, Moses urged the people to remember the majesty of God and respect the Word of God. He quoted Yahweh’s own words, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever” (Deuteronomy 5:29)!

Obedience is always a matter of the heart, and if we love the Lord, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15, 21-24). There is no conflict between the greatness of God and the grace of God, His transcendence and His immanence, for we can love the Lord and fear the Lord with the same heart (Psalm 2:10-12; 34:8-9).

Why is the Heart Deceitful?

As God changes our hearts, we will fear Him more and more. When we love Him, we will keep His commandments. God does not want us to be petrified of Him. He is our Father.

Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’”

We are children of God and He wants to bless us for our obedience. Jesus said in Matthew 11:29-30 that we can “swap our burden of sin, for His burden is light.” Why? It’s because we want to live for Him.

Are you serious about putting your heart, soul, mind, and strength into loving God? If not, why not start now? God has done so much for you, how are you going to say thank you to Him?

Closing Words

Why is the human heart deceitful and wicked? Because it often desires things that are contrary to what God wants for us. And if we let our own hearts make decisions without taking into consideration what the Word of God says, we will be led astray.

Let us learn from the Jewish people who allowed their hearts to turn away from the Lord and His truth. Consequently, they made unwise decisions and plunged the nation into ruin.

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God?

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God?

In Mark 1:14-15, we read that after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the gospel of God, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

The Gospel of God

John 3:16As soon as John the Baptist had finished his testimony, Jesus began His in Galilee, His home district. John’s enemies had sought to silence Him, but the gospel cannot be silenced.

What is the Gospel of God which Jesus came to preach? The word “gospel” literally means “good news.”

When a king had good news to deliver to his subjects he sent messengers or heralds throughout the land to make a public announcement – such as the birth of a newborn king or the victory over an invading army or occupied force.

God sent His prophets to announce the coming of God’s anointed King and Messiah.

After Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan and anointed by the Spirit He begins His ministry of preaching the Gospel – the good news that the kingdom of God was now at hand for all who were ready to receive it.

The Kingdom of God

Jesus proclaimed that the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Jesus takes up John’s message of repentance and calls His disciples to believe in the gospel – the good news He has come to deliver.

What is the good news?

It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God as Ephesians 6:15 says), of hope (the hope of heaven and everlasting life – Colossians 1:23), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable – Colossians 1:5), of promise (He rewards those who seek Him – Ephesians 3:6), of immortality (God gives everlasting life – 2 Timothy 1:10), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God – Ephesians 1:13).

God sent us His Son not to establish an earthly kingdom but to bring us into His heavenly kingdom – a kingdom ruled by truth, justice, peace, and holiness. The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of His gospel message.

God Rules over All

What is the kingdom of God? The word “kingdom” means something more than a territory or an area of land. It literally means “sovereignty” or “reign” and the power to “rule” and exercise authority.

The prophets announced that God would establish a kingdom not just for one nation or people but for the whole world. The Scriptures tell us that God’s throne is in heaven and His rule is over all (Psalm 103:19).

God’s kingdom is bigger and more powerful than anything we can imagine because it is universal and everlasting (Daniel 4:3). His kingdom is full of glory, power, and splendor or glory (Psalm 145:11-13).

In the Book of Daniel, we read that this kingdom is given to the Son of Man (Daniel 7:14, 18, 22, 27). The Son of Man is a Messianic title for God’s anointed King. The New Testament word for “Messiah” is “Christ” which literally means the “Anointed One” or the “Anointed King.”

Conditions for Entering the Kingdom of God

How does one enter the kingdom of God? In announcing the good news, Jesus gave two explicit things each of us must do in order to enter the kingdom of God: repent and believe.

A. Repent

Repentance is the first step. Repentance means to change – to change our way of thinking and our attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of our hearts rather than sin, selfishness, and greed.

If we are only sorry for the consequences of our sins, we will very likely keep repeating the sin that is mastering us.

True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us the grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of His love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with His will.

God’s grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from His love and truth.

B. Believe

To believe is to take Jesus at His word and to recognize that God loved us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to free us from the bondage of sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of His Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with Himself. He is our Father and He wants us to live as His sons and daughters. God loved us first (1 John 4:19) and He invites us in love to surrender our lives to Him.

When we submit to Christ’s rule in our lives and believe the gospel message, the Lord Jesus gives us the grace and power to live a new way of life as citizens of His kingdom. He gives us the grace to renounce the kingdom of darkness ruled by sin and Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) and the ruler of this present world (John 12:31).

Do you believe that the gospel – the good news of Jesus – has the power to free you from the bondage of sin and fear?

What is the Good News of the Kingdom of God

Becoming Fishers of Men

Like fishermen, we are called to gather in people for the kingdom of God. When Jesus preached the gospel message, He called others to follow as His disciples and He gave them a mission “to catch people for the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:16-20).

What kinds of disciples did Jesus choose? Smelly fishermen! In the choice of the first apostles, we see a characteristic feature of Jesus’ work: He chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages.

Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under His direction and power.

God Chooses Ordinary People to Catch People

When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not think that we have nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like you and me, can offer and uses it for greatness in His kingdom.

Do you believe that God wants to work in and through you for His glory?

Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel.

Do you witness to those around you the joy of the Gospel? Do you pray for your neighbor, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of His love?

Biblical Truths for Christians Today

Biblical Truths for Christians Today

As Christians, we want to make sure we are living in accordance to the will of God, which is why we go the Word of God, study it and draw from it the principles we should apply for holy, Christian living.

One thing we need to understand is that all of God’s principles are based on His character and His laws. So, in this short devotional post, I would like to share certain biblical truths that God has impressed upon my heart.

The Truth for Today

“Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, And Your law is truth.” – Psalm 119:142

God’s Law, Righteousness and Truth are all eternal because God is eternal unlike us. We have broken His Law, which makes us unrighteous and liars. This world is broken because all people have broken God’s Law.

As Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

We are not able to save ourselves as so many religions want to tell you. That is why these principles are impossible in our own human abilities.

Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

No person on earth is able to be good enough to be like God. There would be no point to be living even a moral life if we can’t be good. Jesus said in Matthew 19:17, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

God is the Standard of Good

Honest people know that there is an objective standard of good. That conscience is evidence of an eternal God that is the objective standard of good. That conscience also tells us we cannot maintain that standard in real life.

That is why Jesus, the God-Man, came to earth to save us from the punishment of our sin as 1 Timothy 1:15 says.

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

God is the Absolute Standard of Good

Because He was God, He did not have sin that required His death and yet He laid down His life for you and me because He loves us.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Some might ask how can Jesus give life if He is dead? Good question.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4 answers that question.

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

Yes, Jesus died and rose again bodily to save you and me. His righteousness is given to us when we get saved as promised in Romans 4:24-25.

“But also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”

Living According to the Truth

Because of that glorious salvation and imputed righteousness, Jesus enables us to live Life According to the Truth. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

With God’s enabling power found in the Holy Spirit, you and I can live out these principles in our everyday lives. Before Jesus ascended into heaven, He specifically instructed His disciples to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon them before they go about witnessing for Him in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:4, 8).

Salvation by Faith and Confession

Are you sure you are saved? Have you received God’s gift of eternal life? Can you claim to be living a victorious Christian life? If you know in your heart that you are not right with God, why not get right with God now by confessing with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead.

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” (See Romans 10:9-11.)

Closing Words

God wants your heart so that He can change you from the inside out. These principles are not just a list of rules that He pushes on us. He changes who we are as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

Has that change occurred in you? If not, why not ask Him to save you today?


Here’s a beautiful song entitled, “Change my Heart Oh God.” You can sing along and make it your personal prayer to the Lord.

 

Search Me O Lord, Know My Heart

Search Me O Lord, Know My Heart

Few people get to know the real us up close and personal. Our parents, our spouse, our children, and our siblings are the only ones who really know us. We act so differently at home than we do at work.

Yet, even our families do not know us completely. Only God does. In fact, God knows us better than we know ourselves. That’s because God sees our hearts. King David recognized the omniscience of God when he said, “O Lord, You have searched me and known me” (Psalm 139:1).

God knows our every thought before we even thought of it. We could not begin a sentence for which God did not already know the end. Because God is omniscient, trying to count all the thoughts of God would be like counting the grains of sand on all the shores of the world.

We Cannot Hide from God

In looking at how God protected and chosen him, David found that it was beyond his capacity to understand all the magnificent deeds the Lord had done (Psalm 139:5-6). David also knew there was no place distant enough, no hiding place small enough, no darkness deep enough to conceal himself from God (Psalm 139:7-12).

Hold on a second, is David describing in verse 8 what we normally think of as hell or Gehenna (Matthew 10:28; 18:9)? Is he saying that even in hell God will be present because there is no place where God cannot be? It appears so. But make no mistake, this does not mean that God dwells in hell the same way He resides in heaven.

O God You Search Me You Know Me

God is transcendent so there is no place that is beyond His reach, even hell. However, we need to understand that God’s presence in hell will radiate none of His grace and mercy; only His righteous judgment.

Because God sees everything, David says to Him, “Search me, O God, and know my heart … And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). David begins and ends this psalm with a plea for God to search him, to look into his heart and see what he is really like and then to lead him into the way of everlasting.

Life Begins at Conception

David also acknowledged that even before he was born, God knew him in the womb and saw his potential and the life that awaited him (Psalm 139:13-16). The fact that God knows and cares for children in the womb means that God’s concern for life begins at the moment of conception.

Abortionists that say an unborn child is just so much unwanted tissue should read this passage as it demonstrates that God sees another person in the mother’s womb. Most people tend to argue that the mother has the right to do as she pleases with her own body, including the moral right to abortion.

God’s heart must be grieved as He sees so much potential thrown into the dumpsters of our land.

Be Open to God’s Searching Eye

David admitted that God knew him better than he knew himself and that he needed God to search and know him (Psalm 139:23-24). David knew that he could not truly know his heart so he asked God to know him; to examine him and look for some evidence of wickedness, worry, unbelief or misplaced trust.

In the end, David declared his complete trust in God to lead him to everlasting life.

If you asked God to search your heart, what would He see? If you asked God to lead you into the way everlasting, would you be ready to go?

A Clear Conscience

A man on his deathbed called his Christian friend to his house one day. This man was very wealthy and had lived a reprobate life. He had never given to the Lord’s work before, but knowing that he was dying, he wanted to give a generous sum of money to the church.

When his Christian friend asked why, he replied, “I want to have a clear conscience.” His friend knew he needed to face the truth so he said, “My friend, you are rich, but you do not have enough money to buy a clear conscience. You have stolen God’s tithes and offerings all your life. You have abused people with your wealth. Your family has suffered because of your indiscretions.”

O God You Search Me You Know Me

As the man was about to say something, his friend continued, “The only thing that can help you clear your conscience is to confess that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus died for you, and accept Him as your Savior. You need to get right with God.”

The man’s dark eyes blazed with hatred and said, “I am dying. How can you talk to me that way?” His friend did all he could to explain to him God’s gift of salvation but in the end, he rejected it. Death soon came and the man left this world an unrepentant sinner.

He wanted a clear conscience but in reality, he was a bitter, remorseless man.

Tending the Soul

In Mark 8:36, Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Only Jesus could have asked this question. Only Jesus could have possessed all this world’s gold, silver, diamonds, pearls, sapphires, and rubies. He could have had it all, but He knew that riches would not save one soul.

The only way to life everlasting is redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son (Matthew 26:28). Without the shedding of His blood, there is no remission of our sins. No matter how much money we have or how many things we possess, we must come to the place where we give our hearts to the Lord.

Whether we are community-minded, family-oriented, or upwardly mobile, if we have not accepted Christ as Savior, then nothing else matters.

Closing Words

Jesus said, “And all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works” (Revelation 2:23). Jesus did not die at Calvary for our comfort. There is no crown without the Cross. There is no blessing without the burden. There is no conquest without conflict.

We are to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12). Take a stand for the Lord. There are burdens to carry and giants to whip. Put your hand to the plow without looking back. Quit whining about your comfort. We are at war with Satan and his armies.

When God searches your heart, will He find a worthy workman? Will you have accomplished the things that He had envisioned for you to do and be?

Here’s a beautiful worship song called, “Lead Me in the Way Everlasting” based on Psalm 139:23-24. Watch and be blessed.

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

Jesus’ statement to His disciples in Matthew 18:3 about them not entering the kingdom of heaven unless they are converted and become as little children speaks volumes of the importance of having a childlike faith.

But what is childlike faith? What makes one’s faith childlike?

Faith Rooted in Security

During the days of childhood, one learns how to survive and prosper, how to love and share, and how to serve and praise. A well-cared-for child has no worries about house payments, no anxious moments over job opportunities, no apprehensions about failure, and no thoughts of vengeance.

David exemplified this kind of faith while he was on the run from Saul. In Psalm 131:1-2, David compared the calmness and serenity he had in the Lord to that of a weaned child with his mother.

Content with God and the works He was doing in his life, David did not concern himself with great matters such as selfish ambition and self-promotion. Rather, he found serenity and security in his relationship with God.

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

To have a childlike faith is to find serenity and security in our relationship with God no matter the circumstance.

Faith that Praises

Jesus loved children. He loved to use children to teach hard-headed and hard-hearted grown-ups about faith and praise. While preaching in the region of Judea, Christ was encircled by a great crowd.

“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there” (Matthew 19:13-15).

He later reminded the priests and scribes that “the mouth of babes and nursing infants” would offer praise fitting for God’s Anointed (Matthew 21:16). When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, a very great multitude that included children cried out saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9)!

The sound of the children praising Jesus in the temple courts made the chief priests and scribes indignant. In response, Jesus quoted from Psalm 8:2. God does not only want prayer in His house, He also delights in praise.

To have a childlike faith is to have a heart that always longs to praise and glorify God in each and every life’s circumstance.

*Read here: The Elements of Praise

Faith that Believes

Jesus used the lad with the five barley loaves and the two small fish to feed five thousand people (John 6:9). To show His power over death, He used a little girl. Jairus, a ruler in the synagogue, fell at Jesus’ feet begging Him to come to his house and save his dying twelve-year-old daughter.

Jesus agreed and tried to make His way with Jairus, but the surrounding crowd made the trip difficult. Word came that Jairus’ daughter had died. But Jesus responded, “Do not be afraid, only believe and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50).

At the house, as the parents wept over their loss, Jesus said, “She is not dead but sleeping” (Luke 8:52). Through tears, the people laughed at the impossibility of what they heard. Jesus then asked everyone to leave the room, and then He said, “Little girl, arise” (Luke 8:54), and she did!

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

Romans 4:17 says that “God gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” Jesus spoke to the girl with the power of God, and she was raised from the dead. Jairus’ faith definitely played a part in the miracle healing of his daughter just like the faith of the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years had made her well (Luke 8:43-48).

Nothing is impossible with God if we would just believe. This is what it means to have a childlike faith.

Faith that is Humble

Another time, Jesus used a child to teach humility. In Matthew 18:1-5, we read how the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” and how did Jesus respond? He called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them and said, “Assuredly I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

He then went on to say, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”

The fact that Jesus had been sharing with the disciples that truth about His approaching suffering and death did not affect them for they were thinking only of themselves and what position they would have in His Kingdom. So absorbed were the disciples in this matter that they actually argued with each other (Luke 9:46).

Pride – the very sin that caused Satan to be cast down from heaven is what’s causing people to think of themselves more highly than others. When Christians are living for themselves and not for others, conflict and division are bound to result (James 4:1-2).

Descriptions of a Childlike Faith

True humility means knowing ourselves, accepting ourselves, and being ourselves – our best self – to the glory of God. It means avoiding two extremes: thinking less of ourselves than we ought to (as did Moses when God called him, Exodus 3:11), or thinking more of ourselves than we should (Romans 12:3).

The truly humble person does not deny the gifts God has given him or her but uses them to the glory of God. The truly humble person also helps to build up others, not to tear them down. This person is a stepping-stone, not a stumbling block. Thus, we must remove from our lives anything that makes us stumble. If we don’t, we will cause others to stumble as well.

An unspoiled child has the characteristics that make for humility: trust, dependence, a desire to make others happy, and an absence of boasting or selfish desires to be greater than others. By nature, we are all rebels who want to be celebrities instead of servants. And so we need a great deal of teaching for us to learn the lesson of humility.

Final Words

As Christians, we are encouraged to have a childlike faith. To have faith like a child is to completely trust our heavenly Father’s goodness, care, provision, leadership, and protection.

Have you experienced the peace of a well-cared-for child in letting Jesus take care of your worries? Have you found the healing that faith in Jesus brings? Have you praised His name with the joy of a child? Have you answered Jesus’ call in childlike faith, asking Him to be your Savior?

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

Ruth is one of the most significant books in the Old Testament for the Church. It explains like no other book in the Bible, the role and mission of the Kinsman Redeemer. This book is also an essential prerequisite to understanding the Book of Revelation. Before attempting to study Revelation 5, you need to understand the Book of Ruth.

In many respects, Ruth is the ultimate love story. It’s a love story on several levels. It’s a love story because Ruth falls in love with Boaz – that’s the main plotline. But overlaying that is the ultimate love story, a love story written in blood on a wooden cross, erected in Judea more than two thousand years ago.

Chapter 1: Ruth Remains with Naomi

Life was not easy in those days; for during the period of the judges, “Israel had no king so all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). How strange that a famine should hit Bethlehem, a town whose name means “house of bread,” thereby driving a family to Moab.

Elimelech, (which means “God is my king”) and his wife Naomi (“pleasant”) were forced to move to Moab along with their two sons, Mahlon (“unhealthy”) and Chilion (“puny”). The sons marry, but about ten years later all the men died, leaving Naomi destitute.

During those ten years, things began looking better back in Bethlehem, so Naomi decided to go back home. She released her two daughters-in-law from any obligations to her and encouraged them to find new husbands since they were still young. Naomi urged them not to follow her.

Ruth 1:16 Ruth's Loyalty to Naomi

Orpah ultimately decided to stay in Moab but Ruth (which means “desirable”) clung tightly to Naomi. In fact, her commitment is one of the most famous passages in the Bible. Ruth said:

“Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me” (Ruth 1:16-17).

Ruth’s statement is one of the most magnificent confessions found anywhere in Scripture. First, she confessed her love for Naomi and her desire to stay with her mother-in-law even unto death. Then she confessed her faith in the true and living God and her decision to worship Him alone. She forsook her father and mother (Ruth 2:11) in order to cleave to Naomi and the God of her people.

Chapter 2: Ruth Gleans in the Field of Boaz

One of the values of the book is that to understand it, you have to do a little homework about the Law of Gleaning and the Law of the Levirate Marriage. The Law of Gleaning was a form of welfare. If you owned a field, your reapers could go through the field once, and only once. Whatever they missed was left for widows, the destitute, orphans, etc.

The existence of the gleaning law was proof of God’s concern for the poor among His people. The nation was instructed to treat the poor with equity (Exodus 23:3, 6; Leviticus 19:15; Proverbs 22:22-23) and with generosity (Leviticus 19:9-10). God was also concerned for the widows, many of whom were poor, and He told the people to care for them (Exodus 22:22-24; Isaiah 10:1-2).

A Summary of the Book of Ruth

In her gleaning, Ruth happened to come to the part of the field belonging to Boaz (which means, “in him is strength”), one of the wealthiest landowners in the area. He was probably the primary leader among the men at the gate.

Boaz was introduced to Ruth by an unnamed servant. She obviously caught his eye because he instructed his supervisors not to let the young men touch her, and he gave her protection. He also instructed them to drop handfuls of grain on purpose.

It so happened that Boaz was a kinsman for Naomi’s family, which is why this is so important to us. The Law of Redemption said when someone sold their property; they actually sold only the rights to the property, not the title (the title belonged to God).

If you died, a kinsman of your family could go and pay the money to redeem the land. Naomi sold her property ten years before. Now they were back, but since she was destitute and couldn’t buy it back, a kinsman of hers would have the right to purchase that land from whoever was using it (the Law of Redemption is in Leviticus 25).

There is also a Law of the Levirate Marriage. If you were a widow without issue, you could ask your nearest kinsman to raise up an issue with you. He didn’t have to, but if he did, it would continue the line (see Deuteronomy 25). As we shall see, a family redeemer could rescue relatives from poverty and give them a new beginning.

The purpose of these laws was to preserve the name and protect the property of families in Israel. God owned the land and didn’t want it exploited by rich people who would take advantage of poor people and widows.

As a woman, a poor widow, and an alien, Ruth could have no claims on anyone. She was at the lowest rung of the social ladder. But grace is favor bestowed on someone who doesn’t deserve it and can’t earn it. Ruth received grace and the channel of that grace was Boaz.

The Message of the Book of Ruth

Ruth’s faith in God’s Word led her to the field of Boaz. The love of Boaz for Ruth compelled him to pour out his grace upon her and meet her every need. Ruth’s experience of grace gave her new hope as she anticipated what her family redeemer would do.

Chapter 3: Ruth at the Threshing Floor

The threshing floor was usually a raised platform outside the village and often on a hill where it could catch the evening breeze. Once the grain was harvested, the workers would throw the grain into the air, and the breeze would carry the chaff away while the grain fell to the floor. The men often worked in the evening when the breeze was up, and they slept on the threshing floor to protect the harvest.

Naomi understood all of this background. When she realized that Ruth happened upon the field of Boaz, she saw an opportunity because Ruth could put the bite on him to solve everybody’s problem. He could get Naomi back the land she had forfeited years ago and give Ruth a new life. So Naomi instructed Ruth on what to do.

Ruth washed herself, put on perfume and dress in her nicest clothes. Then she went down to the threshing floor where Boaz was sleeping, uncovered his feet and quietly lied down at his feet. When Boaz woke up and realized she was there, Ruth said, “Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a near kinsman” (Ruth 3:9).

There was no improper behavior implied in this episode; Ruth was asking Boaz to take her as a Levirate bride and put the authority of his house over her. He was flattered because he was much older and because he had learned a lot about her; she had a good reputation. He wanted to do this, but there was a problem: there is a kinsman nearer than him (Ruth 3:12).

A Summary of the Book of Ruth
Threshing Floor in Ancient Israel

Boaz told Ruth that he’ll see how things will go and gave her six measures of barley to take home as a code to Naomi that he would not rest until the matter was resolved. Not only did he calm Ruth’s fears, but he also made a promise to her concerning their future. That brings us to the climax of chapter 4, the redemption itself.

Chapter 4: Boaz Marries Ruth

The key theme of this chapter is redemption. The words “redeem,” “buy,” and “purchase” are used at least fifteen times and they mean “to set free by paying a price.”

In the case of Ruth and Naomi, Elimelech’s property had either been sold or was under some kind of mortgage. This explains why Ruth was also involved in the transaction.

As a near relative, Boaz could redeem the family property that Elimelech had mortgaged when he took his family to Moab. Naomi wasn’t wealthy enough to redeem it, but Boaz could buy it back and keep it in the family. The wife of the deceased went with the property; therefore, the family redeemer had to marry her and bring her up children bearing the name of the deceased. They would then inherit the property, and the family name and family possessions would continue to be theirs.

The Message of the Book of Ruth

Boaz was at the gate, which is like the city council, and told the nearer kinsman that Naomi had a piece of land t sell and needed a redeemer. The nearer kinsman said that it was no problem. But Boaz said, “By the way, the man who does this also has to take Ruth to bride.” But the nearer kinsman replied, “I can’t do that; it’ll ruin my inheritance.”

The nearer kinsman took off one shoe and gave it to Boaz, a symbol of him yielding the opportunity of the obligation. So Boaz purchased the land for Naomi and purchased Ruth as his bride. And that’s the term he used: he “purchased a bride.”

A Kinsman Redeemer

Looking at the Book of Ruth from the perspective of a goel, a kinsman redeemer, there are four requirements: 1) he has to be a kinsman; 2) he must be able to perform; 3) he must be willing, and 4) he must assume all of the obligations.

God has a goel for you and me. He has to be a kinsman of Adam. He must be able to perform. Revelation 5 is about the Seventh Sealed Book, the Title Deed of the Earth. No man was found to claim that Deed. It had to be a man. John sobbed convulsively because no man was found to redeem the earth.

But wait! There is one who has prevailed to open the book and loose the seals thereof. “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals” (Revelation 5:5).

And that unfolds in the story of Ruth. It has to be a kinsman, he has to be able; he was to be willing; he must assume all the obligations; and indeed, He has. “He proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30)!

An Overview of the Book of Ruth

An Ultimate Purchase

Redemption, of which the story of Ruth and Boaz is a vivid illustration, becomes a theme in the New Testament. The primary Greek word used to convey this idea is a commercial word that simply means “to acquire something in the marketplace” (see its commercial use in Matthew 13:44 and Luke 9:13).

But used in reference to Christ and salvation, the word takes on a very important theological meaning. Paul modified this word in Galatians 3:13 and 4:5 with a preposition, so that the term literally means “to buy something and take it out of the marketplace.”

In essence, Paul was saying that by His death on the Cross, Jesus had purchased our pardon. We were under the curse of the Law, enslaved to sin, and destined to eternal death. But Christ redeemed us. He paid the price to buy us out of our sorry state and sad condition.

*Read here: What is the Cost of Our Redemption?

John Hagee said, “If you happen to be old enough to recall trading stamps, you may remember that it seemed to take forever to save the thirty or thirty-five books of stamps needed to purchase a toaster or a croquet set. The cost was high. The wait was agonizing. The taste from licking all those stamps was awful.”

The good news is, redemption in Christ is nothing like that. You don’t have to wait. It can be yours today. And the best of all it’s free because Jesus has already paid the full purchase price with His shed blood on the cross.

Conclusion

Ruth is a cameo story of love , devotion and redemption set in the black context of the days of the judges. It is the story of a Moabite woman who forsakes her pagan heritage in order to cling to the people of Israel and to the God of Israel. Because of her faithfulness in a time of national faithlessness, God rewards her by giving her a new husband (Boaz), a son (Obed), and a privileged position in the lineage of David and  Christ (she is the great grandmother of David).

The book of Ruth is also a harvest story about the Lord of the harvest bringing in the sheaves. Now, Boaz is the Lord of the harvest and he is also the kinsman-redeemer. So Boaz is a type of foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Naomi typifies Israel. She was out of the land; through his redemption, she was brought back into the land. Ruth was the Gentile bride, a type of the Church.

In order for Ruth to be joined to Naomi, Naomi had to be exiled from her land. The nearer kinsman couldn’t take Ruth; it was against the law for an Israelite to marry Maoabite. But what the law could not do, grace did.

The Message of the Book of Ruth

Incidentally, Ruth did not replace Naomi. They are different; they are distinctive. Israel and the Church are distinctive; different origins, different missions. Ruth learned the laws of Israel through Naomi, a Jew. We Gentiles learn the ways of God by understanding the Jewish Scriptures. We worship a Jewish King in a Church composed of Jewish leaders using a Jewish Bible as our authority.

In the threshing floor scene, no matter how much Boaz loved Ruth, he had to respond to her move. And Boaz took it upon himself to be her advocate; he was her intercessor. He confronted the nearer kinsman.

You and I are also beneficiaries of a similar love story that was written in blood on a wooden cross erected in Judea almost two thousand years ago. Have you asked your Redeemer to be your God?


*References:

  1. Learn the Bible in 24 Hours by Chuck Missler
  2. NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible 
  3. The Transformation Study Bible (General Editor: Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe)
  4. The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible (General Editor: John Hagee)
The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

The account of Jesus’ temptation recorded in Matthew 4:1-11 and in Luke 4:1-13 was not only God’s way of showing that Jesus was the perfect man, it also exposed the tactics of the enemy and reveals to us how we can overcome when we are tempted.

From the high and holy experience of blessing at the Jordan River, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. It is important to note that it was the Spirit of God that led Jesus into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1). This is the same Spirit who descended on Jesus at His baptism and empowered Him (Matthew 3:16).

Satan Introduced in the Gospels

It is in this passage where the devil, Satan is first introduced in the Gospel. This is the same Tempter who showed up in the Garden (Genesis 3:1-5); the fallen angel, the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4) who came in disguise, in the form of a serpent to deceive Adam and Eve; here Satan did not come in disguise, but in a bold and direct attack on Jesus.

The temptation in the Garden parallels that of Jesus’ temptation. But while the first Adam was tempted in a beautiful garden and failed, the last Adam (Jesus Christ) was tempted in a dangerous wilderness (Mark 1:13) and won the victory.

The Meaning of Temptation

The dictionary defines temptation as an urge or desire to do something, especially something you should not, or it refers to a wrong or forbidden pleasure that is enticing.

Lessons from the Temptation of Jesus Christ

In the Bible the word temptation primarily denotes a trial in which man has a free choice of being faithful or unfaithful to God; only secondarily does it signify allurement or seduction to sin.

The First Temptation

Matthew 4:3 “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

Notice how Satan picks up immediately on the fact that Jesus was hungry because He had not eaten for forty days (Matthew 4:2). By the way, there is no reason to doubt that Jesus really did fast for forty days and forty nights as the text clearly says. But the number “40” is commonly used in the Bible for a period of hardship, difficulty, or suffering.

When Jesus said, “If you are the Son of God …” he was not questioning Jesus’ deity for he knew exactly who Jesus was. He was saying, “Since you are the Son of God, why starve yourself to death? C’mon, just change some stones into bread.”

Satan challenged Jesus to prove or demonstrate that He is the Son of God through miraculous works. He wanted Jesus to use His divine powers to make something to eat. After all, Jesus was done fasting and He had the power to do exactly what Satan was suggesting. Didn’t He multiply food later during His ministry to feed some 4,000 and 5,000 people?

You may ask, “What’s wrong with that? Jesus was hungry and there’s definitely nothing wrong with hunger especially in a spiritual time of fasting. So why was this a temptation?” Because hunger represents human wants, plain and simple! Jesus fasted for forty days and forty nights in order to focus on the spiritual and away from the physical, that is, the comforts of life. Then came Satan telling Him to use His divine powers to meet His own needs.

The 3 Temptations of Jesus Christ

Jesus’ Response to the First Temptation

Matthew 4:1 It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Jesus responded by quoting from Deuteronomy (Deut. 8:3). But Jesus was not just quoting a favorite verse. Chapter 8 of Deuteronomy talks about the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for forty years. After plundering the Egyptians of their gold and silver, God led the Israelites into the wilderness to teach them obedience and dependence on God.

God wanted the Israelites to know that God is all they had and all they needed. He provided them manna from heaven for food but in order to acquire it, they had to follow God’s instructions carefully. The main point is that God would provide their food but they needed to obey Him and submit to His will.

When Jesus refused to give in to Satan’s temptation, it isn’t that He did not want to eat. In fact, He was more than happy to eat what the angels brought to Him when the time of testing was over (Matthew 4:11). It wasn’t a matter of refusing supernatural help. Rather, it was a matter of obedience to the Father and submitting to His will in all things at all times.

The Second Temptation

The second temptation strikes at the very heart of Jesus’ previous victory. Jesus has overcome the first temptation by obeying God even it meant suffering from severe hunger and weakness. So Satan took Jesus into the holy city (Jerusalem), had Him stand on the highest point of the temple and said:

“If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands, they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone’” (Matthew 4:6).

What Can We Learn from the Temptation of JesusWhat exactly is the temptation here? It was for Jesus to create a crisis and then force or manipulate God to rescue Him. Satan was prompting Jesus to do something spectacular to demonstrate that He is indeed the Son of God.

The pinnacle or highest point of the temple arose some five hundred feet above the Kidron Valley. A leap from there and the appearance of the promised protection of the angels would be a spectacular event that will be in full view of all the assembled people.

Here, Satan appealed to the desire within every man to sense approval from God and to have that approval publicly displayed. Satan was saying to Jesus, “You are God’s Son and He loves you so if you jump down from here He will send His angels to rescue you. Isn’t that exactly what the Bible says?”

Notice how Satan himself uses Scripture in making the appeal. He quotes from Psalm 91:11-12 but left out the important words, “in all your ways,” thus making the text say what in truth it never promised. True to his nature of being a liar and deceiver, Satan twisted the Word of God in an attempt to make Jesus test God, which the Scriptures strictly forbid.

Jesus’ Response to the Second Temptation

Jesus responded by quoting also from Scripture and applying it correctly: “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Matthew 4:7). In other translations, it says, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16, referencing Massa and Meribah in the wilderness where the Israelites murmured against God and tested Him because they did not believe that He could or would give them water.

Chapter 6 of Deuteronomy is the chapter in the Law that is foundational to Israel’s faith for it had the creedal statement in it, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4)! In this passage, God exhorts the Israelites to keep all His commandments and warns them against disobeying and testing Him.

The Third Temptation

Matthew 4: 9 “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

The third temptation very much sounds like a desperate move on the part of Satan. He realized he was not winning and so he thought this time he would give it his best shot. After all, He had nothing to lose by asking Jesus to worship him.

Satan then took Jesus to a high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world. Accordingly, there is no mountain in Israel high enough to see much of anything. Scholars say that Satan probably provided some vision of these kingdoms and promised that he would give them to Jesus if He would fall down and worship him.

For the third temptation, the devil offered Jesus a shortcut to His Kingdom. Jesus knew that He would suffer and die before He entered into His glory (Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:11, 20). If He bowed down and worshiped Satan just once (this is the force of the Greek verb), He could enjoy all the glory without enduring the suffering.

Satan was saying, “Look, you came as a king to inherit the nations. Here they are! I’m giving them to you in exchange for your worship. Why go through the trouble of being a suffering servant to get to the crown.” If we read the gospel of Luke, he adds that Satan claimed he had been given these kingdoms and he had the right to give them to Jesus if only He would fall down and worship him (Luke 4:6-7).

Jesus Tempted by Satan in the Wilderness

This is a revealing insight into Satan’s heart; worship and recognition from God are far more precious to him than the possession of the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Satan has always wanted worship because he has always wanted to be God (Isaiah 14:12-14).

But … coming from the father of lies, this was definitely a malicious temptation. Who would knowingly make a deal with the devil? Jesus knew that Satan was a liar and there is no truth in him (John 8:44). Did Satan actually imagine for one moment that Jesus would believe him? Even if Jesus gave in to the temptation, never would Satan have given Him the kingdoms.

Jesus’ Response to the Third Temptation

Jesus replied, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”Again, Jesus used the Word of God (Deuteronomy 6:13-14) and commanded the devil to leave. The enemy left as a defeated challenger and the angels of God came to minister to Jesus in ways that we cannot quite imagine (Matthew 4:10).

To worship God and God alone is the cardinal truth of Scripture. For the redeemed believers, the thought of bowing down and worshiping the prince of darkness should never come across. Jesus would never, ever worship Satan. He would take back the kingdom in God’s time and in God’s way – by defeating Satan not only here in the temptation but later at the cross.

It’s interesting that the three temptations of our Lord parallel that in 1 John 2:16; the lust of the flesh (stones into bread), the lust of the eyes (the world’s kingdoms and glory), and the pride of life (jump from the pinnacle of the temple).

How to Overcome Temptations

1. Be watchful and prayerful (Matthew 26:41).

Notice that Matthew writes, “When the tempter came …” (Matthew 4:3). In our lives, it’s not a question of if the tempter will come, but when he will come. We will all face temptation until we go to glory. 

In order for us to overcome temptations, first, we must be able to see them for what they are – lies and deception. Jesus triumphed over Satan because He recognized his mode of attack. Primarily, Satan is a liar and a deceiver and for those have been brought into the light of the cross, deception is his only tool.

How to Overcome Temptations as a Christian

Satan has already been disarmed of his “real weapons and power” at the cross. But deception is extremely effective at leading God’s people into sin. Matthew referred to Satan as the “tempter” and his weapons are lies and deception. How do we discern Satan’s temptations? We need to keep watch and pray.

2. Do not test God; instead, trust Him completely and obey Him fully.

Going back to Psalm 91:1-16, if we read it carefully, it is a psalm of trust, telling how God protects His people. God does promise to protect His people but passages like this were never intended to be claimed apart from practical wisdom. God promises protection but He has also given us common sense. 

When Satan prompted Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, Jesus basically answered, “I trust God completely and I will not test God’s word by doing something foolish like what you’re suggesting to see if the God’s angels would come and save me.” 

Jesus knew that attempting to force or manipulate God the Father into performing some kind of supernatural demonstration would tempt God, which the Scriptures strictly forbid. Those who truly know God and experience the reality of their faith daily do not need to find something spectacular to convince themselves and others.

Of course, God still does miracles but if people seek some miraculous signs in order to believe or to convince themselves of the faith, it portrays a weak faith. We are not to demand something spectacular from God to prove His love or concern for us. He has already given the ultimate demonstration of His love for us at the cross (John 3:16; Romans 5:8), and He can do nothing more “spectacular” than that.

How to Overcome Temptation as a Christian

We also tempt or test God when we willfully get into trouble and then expect Him to rescue us. We tempt God when we force or dare Him to act contrary to his word. God had never promised protection in sinful and forbidden ways.

Satan said it perfectly; he had hit the nail right on the head – Jesus is the Son of God. But the essence of Sonship is obedience to the will of the Father in everything. Jesus said He came only to do the will of the Father who sent Him (John 6:38-39). He would not, therefore, act independently of the will of the Father.

It goes the same with everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ. If we really love God we must strive to obey Him in everything even it means giving up the comforts of life.

3. Know the Scriptures well and use them.

Apparently, the devil also has knowledge of Scriptures and is an expert at twisting them in order to confuse and defeat those he tempts. Too often, people quote Scriptures out of context and if you do not have a good grasp of what the Word of God actually says, you will surely fall victim to the deceit of the devil and sheep in wolves’ clothing whose mission is to drive people away from God and His truth.

If you isolate verses from their texts or passages from the total revelation of Scripture or randomly pick out verses from here and there, you can make the Bible say anything you want it to say. This is referred to as “proof-texting,” one of the most common errors of Hermeneutics (Bible interpretation).

Overcoming Temptation with the Word of God

Let’s take Mark 16:17-18 for instance. News has spread about people who died from snake bites because they intentionally played with them and drank poison as a result of some twisted doctrinal teachings by their cult leaders. This is the same tactic used by the devil to deceive Eve and Adam into disobeying God.

In the three temptations of our Lord, He used the Word of God. Jesus is God and had supernatural powers that He could have used against Satan. He could have stood against Satan with a supernatural display of His own glory. Instead, He used the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God as a weapon to defeat Satan and temptation, a weapon that is readily available and accessible to us.

4. Submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7).

How to overcome temptation as a Christian
Photo Credits: Jesus Calls

How did Jesus overcome Satan’s third temptation? By resisting him! Let us not forget that the devil will go where there is the least resistance.

I often hear people blame the devil for falling into sin as a result of his promptings. Truth is, the devil can never force anyone to do what they do not want to do.

Sure, the devil will do all he can to deceive people into going against the will of God but the decision to give in to the temptation is completely in our hands.

The temptations of Jesus remind us that it is no sin to be tempted, as long as the temptation is resisted.

Closing Words

God’s will has no shortcuts. If we want to share in the glory, we must also share in the temptations and suffering. After Jesus Christ had defeated Satan, He was ready to begin His ministry.

Our Lord’s experience of temptation prepared Him for His ministry as our sympathetic High Priest. We should note that Jesus faced the enemy as a human and not as God. Therefore, we can come to Him for the help we need to overcome the tempter.

The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in the ways we are (Hebrews 2:16-18; 14-16). We now have in heaven our Lord interceding for us, the Savior who has defeated the enemy completely.


*Recommended Resource:

How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: Fourth Edition / Special edition
By Gordon D. Fee & Douglas Stuart

Product Description

Enjoy God’s Word to the fullest! This classic reader-friendly manual, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Fourth Edition, explains the different kinds of biblical literature – such as prophecy, Gospels, poetry, and history – so you can get the most from them.

The revised fourth edition includes updated language for today’s generation of readers, a new preface, bracketed Scripture references, and redesigned diagrams.

The Role of Children in the Family

The Role of Children in the Family

Both the Old and the New Testaments agree that children have only one role or responsibility in the family – to obey their parents. The admonition of Solomon in Proverbs 1:8 is more fully explained by Paul in Ephesians 6:1-3.

Bible Verses: Proverbs 1:8 & Ephesians 6:1-3

“My son, hear the instruction of your father, And do not forsake the law of your mother.” – Proverbs 1:8

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:1-3

Reflection and Challenge

We read in Proverbs 1:8 a warm and appropriate scene; a father speaking to his son and encouraging him to receive the wisdom of his parents. Solomon’s mention of “instruction” shows he understood that children are to be regarded capable of thought and obedience.

In essence, Solomon is saying that children are not to be taught and disciplined primarily through physical punishment such as spanking; they are to be instructed.

The Responsibility of Children in the Family
Photo Credits: TodaysParent.Com

In Ephesians 6:1-3, the command is simple and that is for children to obey their parents. The role of children in the family is to obey their parents and parents have the responsibility to teach their children obedience – one of the most important jobs for parents.

*Note: “Children” is an inclusive term. It is not a matter of either sex or age that is involved.

Children Ought to Obey their Parents

Twice in Scripture has God intervened and directly stated what He would have children to do. The last time was nearly two thousand years ago when He gave a revelation to Paul for the church. The first time was nearly thirty-four hundred years ago when He gave a revelation to Moses and Israel in which He commanded, “Honor your father and mother” (Deuteronomy 5:16).

God’s will for children is that they are to obey their parents. The expression “in the Lord” does not limit the responsibility only to the circumstances where the parents are believers. Colossians 3:20 clearly points out that children are to obey their parents “in all things,” not just in those things pertaining to Christian living.

“In the Lord” more properly is understood to mean by the Lord or because it is the Lord’s directive (this is what God says children are to do). “For this is right” indicates that when a child respects his parents’ authority, he is respecting God’s order of authority in other areas of life.

Such obedience is perfectly illustrated by God the Son who was completely obedient to God the Father, even though that obedience resulted in his death (Philippians 2:6-8).

The Responsibility of Children

The Importance of Teaching Children to Obey

Think about this for just a moment, parents are admonished to teach their children how to obey, now why is that? Parents need not teach their children to disobey because they have each inherited an inclination to sin from Adam, but obedience must be taught.

Teaching obedience to their children is essential for all parents so that their children will grow up knowing how to obey God even when they do not understand everything or do not want to.

We call this discipline on the part of the parents. This will not be easy for parents but disobedience must be punished for obedience to be learned.

Hebrews 12:6 says, “The Lord disciplines (or chastens) those whom He loves.” (See also Proverbs 3:12.)

Promise of Reward for Obedience

Two things are promised to children who obey their parents:

  • It will be well with them – they will have a happy life
  • They will enjoy long life

These are the two things that children want most, and obedience to parents is the only way to assure them. That is why this is the first commandment with promise; from it springs all other important issue of life.

The Role of Children in the Family

The child who has not learned to obey his parents, who are God’s representatives in the family, will not learn to obey God.

Conclusion

To honor our parents means much more than simply obeying them. It means to show them respect and love, to care for them as long as they need us, and to seek to bring honor to them by the way we live.

Children must learn to obey their parents, not only because they are their parents, but also because God has commanded it to be so. Disobedience to parents is rebellion against God.

Sin Can Infest Everything

Sin Can Infest Everything

The church at Corinth was a defiled body of believers. Some of its members were guilty of sexual immorality; others got drunk; still, others were using the grace of God to excuse worldly living. To sum it all up, it was a disgraced church.

How did this happen? Corinth was a polluted city, filled with every kind of vice and worldly pleasure and the members of the church permitted the sins of the city to get into the local assembly. So when Paul wrote his first letter to them, he addressed all these issues.

Bible Verse: 1 Corinthians 5:6, 11

“Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person.”

Confronting the Sin of Immorality

In chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians, Paul confronted the believers at Corinth of their immorality. Apparently, someone was having an ongoing sexual relationship with his stepmother (1 Corinthians 5:1), an incestuous relationship.

During that time, this kind of relationship was prohibited even among the pagans, yet the Corinthian believers seem accepting of this behavior.

Confronting Sin in the Church
Photo Credits: Pinterest

The Bible declared it sin in Leviticus 18:8, Deuteronomy 22:30 and 27:20, the worldly culture considered it sin but the church at Corinth didn’t seem bothered by it at all.

Paul pleaded with them to mourn over sin (1 Corinthians 5:2). The word used here is the same one used for mourning over the dead, which is perhaps the deepest and most painful kind of personal sorrow possible.

But instead of mourning, the people at Corinth were puffed up. They were boasting of the fact that their church was so “open-minded” that even fornicators could be members in good standing. Sounds familiar? Sadly, many churches today have become so accommodating that they seem to not care that members of their congregation are engaging in the sin of immorality.

As bad as the sin itself was, the apostle Paul was more concerned that the believers at Corinth seemed to take sin lightly. He knew that sin can infest everything and so his solution to the problem was to take the fornicator away from among them in order to protect the fellowship of God’s people.

Purging Sin

The church was to purge sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-13). The image here is that of the Passover supper (Exodus 12). One of the requirements was that no yeast (leaven) be found anywhere in their dwellings. Even the bread at the feast was to be unleavened.

Paul says that just as the Jews were concerned to remove all leaven from their house, so the church should be concerned in removing unrepentant sinners from among them. Yeast is a picture of sin. It is small but powerful; it works secretly; it “puffs up” the dough and it spreads.

Sin infests everything. Like leaven, sin seeps into everything. The church is supposed to be without sin, but even one sin in one person has the tendency to grow throughout. The same is true in a church. As one person excuses sin, more and more people will excuse it.

The Principle of Separation

Paul tells the believers not to expect godly behavior from ungodly people. It’s not surprising that those who do not have a redemptive covenant with God through the Lord Jesus are sexually immoral and covetous.

Christians should not be offended when they see ungodly people committing extortion, are drunkards and idolaters. But they are to expect godly behavior from their fellow Christians and the believers at Corinth were not doing this.

Sin Can Infest Everything
Photo Credits: CrossCards.Com

So Paul commands that they were to be separated from them; they were not even allowed to eat with them. In those days the individuals whom you ate with was significant. Quite often church members ate together. Thus, if you were removed from fellowship and eating together, it resulted in a major barrier in the relationship.

It sounds to me like God hates sin in the church and wants us to get rid of that sin. 1 Corinthians 5:11 states several of the sins that God required a break in fellowship. Some people will not like this list at all but it does not matter what people say. It only matters what God’s word says.

*Related Article: Church Discipline: Correcting Another Believer

The Sin of Compromise

I have heard that 65% of people today believe cohabitation is acceptable. That is scary because that 65% must include many Christians. That is in spite of verses like this that say sex before marriage and cohabiting is sin, which should not happen to anyone that claims to be a Christian. God commands they should be removed from fellowship.

It is a shame that Christians accept any sin. Do you practice or accept this sin? You shouldn’t according to God. This list also included being covetous. Actually, every person commits this sin sometime in their life. The root word implies lust for or a very strong desire for something anything other than God.

If we seriously examine ourselves, we all have those things that we set as a priority over pursuing God. These things take our attention off of God. That is sin in God’s eyes. Have you repented for that sin?

Loving God Above All Else

Idolatry does not only mean bowing to or praying to a graven image. Anything that takes the place of God in our lives is our idol. It can be our family, our job, money, position or possessions.

And yes, it is true that Christians can worship God at church but worship other things the rest of the time. Is God your highest priority all of the time, or do you focus on other things as well? Remember, God said Christians that commit these sins should be removed from the fellowship.

Do you have pet gods? This includes railers, drunks, and extortioners. God does not want sin at your church. It is true you can hide your sin from other believers, but that does not mean you can hide it from God. What haven’t you confessed?

Closing Thoughts

Church discipline is not easy or popular, but it is important. If it is done properly, God can use it to convict and restore an erring believer. 2 Corinthians 2:1-11 indicates that this brother who was having an incestuous relationship with his father’s wife did repent and was restored to fellowship.


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Psalm 100: A Thanksgiving Song

Psalm 100: A Thanksgiving Song

Psalm 100:1-5 is a thanksgiving song that describes the process of preparation, anticipation, and participation of God’s people in worship. In the procession, as the worshipers reach the gates of the sanctuary (Psalm 100:4-5), they burst out in songs of praise and thanksgiving to God because of His goodness, unfailing love, and faithfulness.

Bible Verse: Psalm 100 

1 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Give Thanks with Joy

We can easily understand the people of Israel shouting joyfully to the Lord in praise and thanksgiving. God has done lots of great and amazing things for them that they are exhorted to make a joyful shout to the Lord.

Thanksgiving is unrestrained happiness leading to worship. Worship leads to service, and true service is worship. But the psalmist calls for all the nations of the earth to praise God and serve Him with gladness (Psalm 100:1-2), for it was Israel’s responsibility to introduce the Gentiles to the true and living God.

A Psalm of Thanksgiving to God

Think of the Sunday school teacher who often grumbles at her class because the students’ work is sloppy and they won’t sit still and be quiet. With one eye on the clock and the other on the door, she fusses about the preacher’s sermon going too long.

As the children leave the room, she does not stop to say goodbye because she is too busy cleaning up. Finally, with all the children gone she dashes to her car to wait for her husband who is talking with a visiting family.

Her husband comes to the car and says, “Honey, we are going to lunch with that new family.” The look she gives him would freeze water. What kind of joy can she be getting from her service to the Lord? None. What kind of love can she be showing from the Lord? None.

The place to be happy is here, and the time to be happy is now. Let us serve the Lord with gladness and come before His presence with singing.

Give Thanks for God’s Authority

Before we can have any real joy, we have to recognize the authority of God. He is our Maker; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3). The phrase “made us” means much more than “created us,” for He also created the nations that do not know Him.

It means Jehovah constituted us as a nation, His chosen people. This verse is a simple statement of faith: Yahweh (Jehovah) is God, Creator, Redeemer, and Shepherd, and we must be submitted to Him. If the sheep do not submit to their shepherd, they will stray into danger.

Without an awareness of who God is and who we are, we are not likely to sing a thanksgiving song to Him wholeheartedly.

Give Thanks in Adversity

Being thankful is easy when life is running smoothly. It is another matter when things are not going well.

We are not to blame God for what we do not have because doing so is to fault God’s provision. We are not to blame God for where we are in life – this is to fault God’s leadership. We are not to blame God for who we are or what has happened – this is to fault God’s sovereignty. The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).

Psalm 100 Psalm of Thanksgiving to God

The spirit of thanksgiving can cause believers to rejoice on the banks of the Red sea, to look at the fiery furnace and say, “Our God is able,” and to endure life’s impossibilities with the knowledge that “He who is in you is greater than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The spirit of thanksgiving also helps us overcome some of the “sins in good standing” that too often invade our lives, such as complaining, idolatry, pride, and ingratitude.

Give Thanks with a Shout of Triumph

After the Israelites, under the leadership of Joshua, marched around the walls of Jericho seven times, they shouted to the Lord with a voice of triumph, and the walls came tumbling down.

There may be some Jerichos or some walled cities of the enemy that will not come tumbling down in our life until we lift our voices to God in the shout of victory and release His power. We do not only shout for what God has done; we also shout in faith for what He will do.

Christians should follow the admonition of Isaiah to “cry out and shout, for great is the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 12:6).

Giving Thanks Makes Prayer Effective

Thanksgiving is necessary to make other forms of prayer effective. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Without thanksgiving, God does not listen to our prayers. We are to start our prayer time with thanksgiving. The apostle Paul wrote, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8).

Sing a Thanksgiving Song

Psalm 100 is a fitting climax to the collection of “royal psalms” (Psalm 93; 95-100) as it sums up their emphasis on God’s sovereign rule, His goodness to His people, the responsibility of all nations to acknowledge Him, and the importance of God’s people exalting and worshiping Him (see Psalm 95:1-2; 6-7).

Psalm 100:5 shows the importance of worship and praise in a believer’s life. When was the last time you shouted for joy because God answered the request of your heart? When was the last time you served the Lord with gladness? When was the last time you entered His gates with thanksgiving?

If you had to think about the answer, then it was too long ago. Commit yourself to a spirit-filled relationship with Christ, and begin it with a song of thanksgiving.