One of God’s major pet peeves is when we rely on ourselves or other people more than we rely on Him. Now of course we all have relationships that are important to us. Sometimes we even say things like “I can’t imagine my life without ___.” But if we’re Christians, then we’d better be exaggerating when we make such an extreme statement. God is very jealous by nature and He wants to be the only One we truly can’t live without. If He starts feeling like He’s having to compete with other things for our attention and trust, He’s going to get agitated. When God gets agitated, the people we’ve become too dependent on have a way of suddenly dying. Continue reading
Each of our four gospel writers have a different flare. We can call Matthew Mr. Cross-Reference because he puts extra effort into showing us how Jesus fulfilled various prophecies in the Old Testament. Our other three gospel writers also toss in a verse now and then, but Matthew really goes for it. At first glance, his frequent quotations give us the impression that he’s a very scholarly fellow who really knows his Scriptures. Well, that impression is wrong. For like our teachers today who insert irrelevant Bible verses into the middle of their speeches, Matthew peppers us with many “Messianic” predictions that aren’t Messianic at all. Sure, he gets some of them right. But like lemonade with too much water in it, Matthew tries to stretch things a bit too far. In this post, we’ll check out some of his blunders. Continue reading
In our last lesson, we learned about how Yahweh called a young priest named Ezekiel to be His mouthpiece for the Jews who are living in Babylonian exile. By now, Judah has been attacked twice by King Nebuchadnezzar—the current ruler of the mighty Babylonian Empire. Each attack ended with Nebuchadnezzar hauling off thousands of Jewish prisoners. Those prisoners were taken to Babylon, sorted out by brains and physical potential, and then assigned work that would benefit the empire. The first haul of prisoners included a young man named Daniel. In Lesson 29 we learned how God used Daniel to interpret a frightening nightmare that Nebuchadnezzar had. The king was then so impressed that he promoted Daniel and his three friends to high ranking positions in the empire. Daniel is currently serving as Nebuchadnezzar’s top adviser and his life has turned out to be pretty sweet. Not so much for the priest Ezekiel. Continue reading
God’s direct convictions to you must be viewed as superior to any other command you have received from Him in the past or read in the Bible. Convictions always trump commandments. Those who pleased God in the past learned this principle and we find examples of them applying it in the Word. According to the Old Covenant Laws, prostitutes were to be publicly executed. They were certainly not to be slept with or married. This was a clear command which Yahweh had given His people through Moses, and yet later on He told the prophet Hosea to go out and marry a prostitute named Gomer. Because Hosea understood that personal convictions trump written commands, he immediately obeyed God. He didn’t sit there saying, “No, God, I won’t disobey Your commands.” This is what Peter said when God spoke directly to him about eating unclean meat (Acts 10). At first Peter responded the way many of us respond today when the Holy Spirit convicts us to do something that counters a previous command of God. Continue reading
Have you been taught that the Bible is Divinely inspired, inerrant, infallible, and that you should believe every word that it says? If you believe this, you’re going to be totally led astray by one well-meaning yet most unhelpful theologian: the disciple John. John was one of the Twelve and a member of Jesus’ special inner circle of three favorites: Peter, John and James. At least it’s commonly assumed these three were His favorites, because they were the only ones He invited to come and witness the Transfiguration. When you see a man receiving such special favor from God, you naturally figure he really knows his stuff. And this is where you figure wrong, for God’s pleasure with us has nothing to do with how well we understand Him, but with the depth of our desire for Him.
We can be totally confused about everything, yet if our souls earnestly desire to please God, then He is going to be quite pleased with us. So just because you see God blessing someone with special insights, you shouldn’t assume that person is responding to those insights well, nor should you assume that they are a trustworthy teacher. John is not a trustworthy teacher. One minute he’s telling us solid truths, the next minute he’s making statements that are absolutely wrong. Some of the things that John says are so obviously wrong that we have to wonder how he didn’t see the error of his own logic. Yet we don’t wonder this because we’ve all been taught to trust in the man’s social connections instead asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom. It’s time to stop following the herd down the road of spiritual foolishness. Continue reading
There’s nothing holy about having an empty stomach. God designed human beings to be dependent on food. Not only do we need to eat, we need to eat on a regular basis. To encourage us to do this, God has equipped our bodies with many ways of complaining if we go too long without refueling them. Painful hunger cramps, salivating mouths, headaches, head rushes, weakness—these are just some of the ways our bodies shout at us for more food.
So then, how well can you concentrate when someone is shouting at you? Does it make sense that we teach people that praying—an activity which requires concentration—is somehow enhanced if we do it while fasting? Not at all. For a small minority of us, fasting will prove to be a strange plus that actually helps us concentrate better. But for most of us, it will only be a major detriment. So if fasting sounds like a bad idea to you, then that’s because it is. Eat with a clear conscience. God does not find you spiritually deficient because you are doing what He designed you to do. Continue reading
In our last lesson, we learned about King Nebuchadnezzar’s second attack on Judah. More exiles were hauled away, and now a priest named Ezekiel has joined Daniel in Babylon, the capital city of the Babylonian Empire. But while Daniel is helping to run the government, Ezekiel is living in a colony of captives that is located near a canal. The years are ticking by, and according to messages that the prophet Jeremiah has sent from Judah, there’s no point in dreaming about returning home again. Yahweh says that no one’s going anywhere for seventy long years. Continue reading