Saturday’s Military Devotional – Avengers

 

18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18

(AMP AND RVR 1960)

 


CONTEXT:

Leviticus 19 is a further breakdown or expounding of the moral (Ten Commandment) Law. The requirement is for folks to be Holy (something we know they are wholly incapable of doing apart from Christ) because God is Holy. It teaches separation from worldly desires and concentration on the thing that matters God. When our neighbor (anyone) offends v.17 us we are to rebuke them in love.

In our text for today we see the second half of the neighbor handling equation, vengeance or not being and Avenger. 

 


BREAKDOWN:

Thou shalt not avenge, – Remembering context if we are offended by the actions of our neighbors (anyone at large in the US or your own country) we shall not take actions against them. 

nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, – Nor am I to harbor malice in my heart against them. 

but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: – God says I am to LOVE even those tearing apart America which can be a hard pill to swallow. Unless…

I am the Lord. –  We understand that pill is not ours to Avenge, it is God’s, the creator of all things. He alone has the authority to take life that He created.

I will add to this a thought not found in the text for you to contemplate, we have an understanding being able to read the whole Word of God, that Man is completely corrupt apart from Christ. Should we not expect this unruliness from our youth and extend the Love of God to them?


APPLICATION:

As a soldier my job was to execute the orders of my superiors. To “take vengeance” if you will upon the enemies of the United States. After my military career ended it was not so easy for me to adjust to “civilian” life. I had been an Army Avenger for 20 years+ and suddenly I had to play by a different set of rules.

Unfortunately not everyone chooses to obey the rules. Look, let’s be real there are times when it is real easy to be extremely mad about what is happening in America (and I can only assume in your country). I am a Constitutionalist, that is I believe in the principles set for by the founding fathers in the Constitution not as an ever changing document but as one to be preserved. These same things I see being destroyed today so do I “avenge” them? No!

Do I fight, yes and there is a HUGE difference (one for another devotional) but only within the confines of v.17, rebuking them with the Love of God in my heart. 


Today’s Questions:

Say What?

Observation: What did I read? What struck you as most meaningful?

So What?

Interpretation: What does it mean? Overall and the most meaningful? Did it change your view on being Avengers? 

Now What?

Application: How does it apply to me?

Then What?

Implementation: What do I do? How can I start living it out today?

 

The Simple Secret to Change

The Master's Seminary Blog

The Simple Secret to Change

by Jerod Gilcher | May 05, 2020

Every generation has blind spots. The church is no exception. The church has always had rough edges and areas in need of reform. That being said, every generation of Christian has also had their strengths, and those strengths often serve as correctives to the blind spots of other generations.

One of the major blind spots of the twenty-first-century American church is its view of theology. For many in the church, theology is little more than fuel for controversy or a complicated, wet blanket for Christian sincerity and zeal. We live in an age when pastors are expected to be all things to all men—that is, except theologians.

Many churches and Christians today have filed for theological divorce—making clear distinctions between the rigors of the mind and the affections of the soul. Many sigh in exasperation: give me what my soul needs, not complicated doctrines! The reality is, however, theology was never intended for such abuse. This is our generation’s tragic blind spot.

But another generation has answers and cures for our doctrinal deficiencies—the generation of the Puritans. For these sixteenth and seventeeth-century Protestants, theology was not intellectual rough-housing, but the very soul of the Christian life. The Puritan Thomas Watson writes that doctrine “directs the whole course of Christianity, as the eye directs the body…. [It] is to the soul as the anchor to the ship, that holds it steady in the midst of the rolling waves of error, or the violent winds of persecution.”1


The Puritans understood that reflection about God should produce affection for God


 

They knew that the head is meant to serve the heart. They were gripped by the reality that theology enjoyed in the soul would kindle worship and prayer. The Puritans were bent on making theology transformative for the soul.

And so, I wish to offer an example of a Puritan doing theology to answer a pressing question: how do I actually change and grow?

How does a Christian gain a practical, genuine holiness is the question of every age—a love-your-spouse and think-less-of-yourself kind of holiness. A holiness very much available to (and expected of) us in the here-and-now. Newly regenerated believers enter into the Christian life outmatched, overwhelmed, and often still somewhat enamored by sin. The war has begun. And thus there is an earnestness to the question: how do I practically increase in holiness?

This increasing in holiness is what the NT authors refer to as sanctification.

What is sanctification but the painful, slow carving of our lives into the image of Jesus Christ (cf. Romans 8:29)? It is the slow, at times minute-by-minute, putting to death of sin by the power of Christ through the instrument of the word.

And yet, the question remains: How does one do this? In other words, what are the means God has given by which one may grow in holiness and victory over sin and temptation?


The grace of God works through very practical means,
which is why we refer to them as means of grace.


 

This is precisely where the Puritans can help us. I am going to let Henry Scougal (1650-1678) step in. In his soul-nourishing little book, The Life of God in the Soul of Man, Scougal reveals what is perhaps the deepest secret to sanctification and holiness. And what is that secret?

Love.

Follow Scougal’s logic. He writes:

Love is that powerful and prevalent passion by which all the faculties and inclinations of the soul are determined and on which both its perfection and happiness depend.

In other words, what you love the most determines the direction and happiness of your life.

He goes on:

The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love: he who loveth mean2 and sordid things doth thereby become base and vile; but a noble and well-placed affection doth advance and improve the spirit unto a conformity with the perfections with its loves.

Here now is the crux of his argument:


What you love most, you grow to resemble


 

If you love someone, you will likely begin to absorb some of their interests and passions into yourself. If you develop a passion for gambling, you should not be surprised to find in your life sprouts of greed and recklessness. You slowly, yet assuredly, resemble what you love. This means, then, if we love God most, we will begin to resemble His beauty and holiness.

So if we find deficiencies in our practical holiness, we have to ask ourself, What am I loving? Because I am growing to resemble something that is not God. Therefore, we are to love God more. So then the next question presents itself: how do I increase my affections for God? This is nearing the heart of what it really means to change. Answer: you must expose yourself to Him and His beauty. How? In the pages of Scripture. You must gaze upon the beauty of His perfections and character in the pages of Scripture.

Scougal put it this way:

The true way to improve and ennoble our souls is, by fixing our love on the divine perfections, that we may have them always before us, and derive an impression of them on ourselves…. He who, with a generous and holy ambition, hath raised his eyes toward that uncreated beauty and goodness, and fixed his affection there, is quite of another spirit, of a more excellent and heroic temper than the rest of the world, and cannot but infinitely disdain all mean and unworthy things; will not entertain any low or base thoughts which might disparage his high and noble pretentions.

Far too often, we think of theology as useless quibbles that will all sort themselves out in the end. But a theologian is one who thinks rigorous thoughts about God. We are all theologians. Some of us, as theologians, have just come to the conclusion (unconsciously) that my understanding of the character of God has little to do with my arguments with my wife. That could not be more wrong. Scougal teaches us that the secret to our day-in-day-out holiness is not to avoid thinking deeply about God, but to push ourselves deeper into who God is.


The more of God’s glory you see, the more you will love Him


 

And the more you love Him, the more you will begin to resemble your Father, or—to state it negatively—the more liberation you will experience from the sins that entangle you.

Conclusion

Scougal demonstrates that precise, robust theology is anything but a wet blanket to Christian zeal. Instead, all of the life-change that we long to see in ourselves and in others is produced through careful meditation and theological reflection. Here is but one small example of why we should not only read the Puritans, but emulate their enjoyment of theology. The church would be healthier for it.

Editor’s Note: For more on the intersection of theology and everyday life, see our free resource: Reformed Practical Theology

 

[1] Thomas Watson, A Body of Divinity, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1983), 4.

[2] That is, low in dignity, worth, or value.

 

Truth, Love, and Stones of Remembrance

BreakPoint Journal

Truth, Love, and Stones of Remembrance

thumbnail_tsunami

John Stonestreet and David Carlson

“Remember the calamity of the Great Tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.” Those are the words inscribed on what are appropriately called “Tsunami stones,” markers left by previous generations in Japan that warn future generations of difficult lessons learned.

After decades with no tsunamis, especially given new technologies such as better seawalls and flood-proof construction, these kinds of warnings were increasingly seen more as relics than wisdom from past experience. They became easier to ignore and, as a result, in 2011, many perished.

The villagers of Aneyoshi, however, heeded the instructions their forebears placed on a tsunami stone in the 1930s, and they moved their village to higher ground. They not only survived the 2011 tsunami, but the one in 1960 as well.

When I learned about these stones recently from a friend, I immediately thought of a parable by G. K. Chesterton about those committed always to reform:

“… let us say, for the sake of simplicity, (there’s) a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’”

In other words, we should never remove a fence until we know why it was put up in the first place.

There’s no doubt we live in a culture that’s quite committed to clearing away all kinds of moral fences in all areas of culture, often replacing them with new fences in new places. What used to be unthinkable is now unquestionable. What used to be unquestionable is now thought of as quaint, puritanical, and in some cases, oppressive and evil. What used to belong to families now belongs to the state. The guilty are now victims; the good guys now the bad guys; the essential now non-essential.

Even in the Church today, perhaps especially in the Church, there’s a great temptation to move fences, to lower or remove moral standards in a well-intentioned, but often misguided, attempt to be “welcoming.” Almost always, these moves are made in the name of “love,” as if the key missional strategy of the Church is to remove any and all barriers to the Gospel, including any that are inherent and essential to the Gospel itself.

Often the tsunami stones of moral truth, which the Church has embraced and taught faithfully for 2,000 years, are seen as obstacles to progress. The first and greatest commandment to “love God,” at least as we’ve long understood it, seems to be in conflict with the second one of “loving neighbor.” Truth and love are increasingly seen as incompatible in the fog of secularism and moral relativism. Believing the truth about human sexuality, which went unquestioned in Christian history until yesterday, is considered unloving. Speaking that truth? Well, that’s downright cruel.

This, of course, gets it exactly backwards. What’s cruel, if moral realities do exist and if we live in a world designed and not accidental, is to remove fences and ignore stones. It’s cruel to tell someone who’s not okay that they are. It is not only possible to be loving and to tell the truth, it is in fact, impossible to be loving without the truth.

Learning to hold truth and love together, especially in a culture committed to their divorce, is now a key task of the Church.

In a wonderful scene near the beginning of C. S. Lewis’s “The Silver Chair,” Aslan is preparing a young Jill Pole for a rescue mission in Narnia. His instructions are clear, but his instructions about his instructions, even more clear:

“…first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. . . And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind… Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”

If this reminds you of God’s instructions to Israel in Deuteronomy, it should. Most of the Bible is about remembering. There is no way to live out what God has taught us and called us to, no way to love God or neighbor, without remembering.

At the most foundational level, each of the five modules of the Colson Center’s upcoming virtual event this month, “Truth. Love. Together.” is all about remembering. In our culture, there is no remembering without defining. The first module, featuring Os Guinness, Sean McDowell, Abdu Murray, and Natasha Crain is about defining, or remembering, what truth is. The second module, with Joni Eareckson Tada, Pastor Chris Brooks, Louis Markos, and me is about defining, or remembering, what love is.

From remembering, we move into doing. In module three, Andy Crouch, Brett Kunkle, Lauren and Michael McAfee, and Max McLean will challenge us on how we can “Become People of Truth and Love.” In module four, the great apologist Lee Strobel, Promod Haque, Uju Ekeocha, and J. Warner Wallace will remind us “Why Telling the Truth Is an Act of Love” and how we can indeed do that–tell the truth in love. Finally, Katy Faust, J. P. DeGance, and this year’s Wilberforce Award Winner, Bob Fu, will teach us how to “Love the Victims of Lies” by speaking the truth.

This is a 360 degree experience on “Truth. Love. Together.” And, it is absolutely free. Just come to WilberforceWeekend.org to register. All five modules, with more than 20 sessions, will be available live or on demand. Again, the cost is free.

 

 

 

Saturday’s Military Devotional – Men of God

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
Porque no nos ha dado Dios espíritu de cobardía, sino de poder, de amor y de dominio propio (RVR 1960)

CONTEXT: 

Paul is writing to Timothy, and it is Timothy’s first experience as a leader on his own. He had previously been Paul’s partner in the ministry but now he was in charge of the operation and naturally had some trepidation (fear) of screwing up.

As service members it is easy to relate to Timothy, the first time we are assigned roles as (usually) E-4 Corporals, Petty Officer 3rd or Sr. Airman the pressure is on to preform and there is a natural fear of failure.  As the chart below shows with an increase in rank the duties and responsibility do not get any easier. In fact the bigger the insignia the more there is for you to do.

Yet Paul reminds Timothy, it is God who intimately places us in positions of authority and His authority is supreme. We can be empowered by His Holy Spirit when we call upon His strength and power and not our own.

Read the commentary and answer this weeks questions. As always may you be edified and God glorified. – Mike

Image result for Enlisted Ranks


Commentary 

Alexander MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture


Today’s Questions

Say What?

Observation: What did I read? What struck you as most meaningful?

So What?

Interpretation: What does it mean? Overall and the most meaningful? Did it change your view on Men of God?

Now What?

Application: How does it apply to me?

Then What?

Implementation: What do I do? How can I start living it out today?

From the Beginning

CONTEXT:

Chapter Three begins as a continuation of Chapter Two and is all bout the Children of God. Note verse 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. 

From there John immediately launches into our text for today and the theme for verses 11-24 is ‘Love One Another.’ This message the John speaks of can be none other than the Gospel Good News, but who is the “other we should be loving? 

A first read v.10 above, it is clear brothers (and sisters) in Christ. This would also fall into place with Christ’s command in John 13:34-35. Yet I would argue, when we take in the Whole Counsel of God; we can not neglect when Jesus spoke these words Matthew 22:36-40John 13:34-35 “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” 

So who should we love? For sure our church family, our brothers in sisters in Christ, but also that person who got a licence in a Cracker Jacks® box and cuts you off for the last parking space you have been diligently waiting for. The person next door who never seems to clean up their yard and all their leaves end up in yours. The person whose political beliefs are so diametrically opposed to your own, you think they are from another world. They are all our neighbors and need God’s love through His people. 

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 1 John 3:11

Porque este es el mensaje que habéis oído desde el principio: Que nos amemos unos a otros. (RVR 1960)

He Loved Us

It is Sunday “The Lord’s Day” and here is something to contemplate throughout the day. This verse has two key components; God’s Love and Christ’s Mission in Relation to God’s Love. 

Note this verse makes it clear true love (Biblical) is can ever anything we attempt to do on our own. God must Love us before we can consider Love. I offer John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible on this for further consideration and reading.  

Secondly Christ’s propitiation, the Amplified Bible adds “[that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering]” was sent for our sins, yes, but equally so to prove and satisfy God’s love for His chosen children. I offer Alexander MacLaren’s Expositions of Holy Scripture for your consideration and reading.

I pray your day is blessed and God is Glorified.  

10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

En esto consiste el amor: no en que nosotros hayamos amado a Dios, sino en que él nos amó a nosotros, y envió a su Hijo en propiciación por nuestros pecados. (RVR 1960)

 

Biblical Charity or Love

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Biblical charity (Love) is long-suffering it endures all the hardships life throws at us. 

It is never about self (egotistical) nor used in a condescending manner (putting others down).

Here is a tough one true biblical charity is not easily provoked (anger issues anyone) and never thinks evil of anyone (ouch).   

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

The Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church at Corinth new all to well the need for Biblical Charity coupled with humility.

Paul was a “great Apostle” although during his time it may not have seemed so, today we can clearly make a case for such. Yet here he says:

Although I have all these great gifts bestowed upon me by God; without Charity I AM NOTHING. 

To be certain I am not an advocate of Christians are all about “love” and only love nonsense where “christians” (yes I used a small c) are supposed to be pacifist wimps.  READ THE BOOK, Jesus was a real man, a Carpenter by trade no small task in His day,  He cleared His Fathers house with a whip, and called out the ruling class “Woe unto you” numerous times.  Are we not, when times are appropriate, to be like Jesus? He did all these and never sinned because He did them with righteous judgement and Love (Charity).

 

 

 

 

 

Since Before The World Began

Faithrises

abstract background beach color

“In the beginning… the Spirit of God hovered over the waters…”

“… I have loved you with an everlasting love.

Therefore, with loving kindness,

I havedrawn you.” 

“He chose us in Christ,

[actually selected us for Himself as His own]

Before the world began…” 

 -Genesis 1:2 – Jeremiah 31:3 – Ephesians 4:1

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More than a Feeling

by John MacArthur / Wednesday, January 8, 2020

More than a Feeling

GOD IS LOVE

On a cross-country domestic airliner some time ago, I plugged in the earphones and began to listen to the music program. I was amazed at how much of the music dealt with love. At the time I was preaching through 1 John 4, so the subject of love was very much on my mind. I couldn’t help noticing how glib and shallow most of the lyrics were. “She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)” is a classic by worldly standards. But few people would argue that its lyrics are truly profound.

I began to realize how easily our culture trivializes love by sentimentalizing it. The love we hear about in popular songs is almost always portrayed as a feeling—usually involving unfulfilled desire. Most love songs describe love as a longing, a passion, a craving that is never quite satisfied, a set of expectations that are never met. Unfortunately, that sort of love is devoid of any ultimate meaning. It is actually a tragic reflection of human lostness.

As I thought about it, I realized something else: Most love songs not only reduce love to an emotion, but they also make it an involuntary one. People “fall” in love. They get swept off their feet by love. They can’t help themselves. They go crazy for love. One song laments, “I’m hooked on a feeling,” while another confesses, “I think I’m going out of my head.”

It may seem a nice romantic sentiment to characterize love as uncontrollable passion, but those who think carefully about it will realize that such “love” is both selfish and irrational. It is far from the biblical concept of love. Love, according to Scripture, is not a helpless sensation of desire. Rather, it is a purposeful act of self-giving. The one who genuinely loves is deliberately devoted to the one loved. True love arises from the will—not from blind emotion. Consider, for example, this description of love from the pen of the apostle Paul:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4–7)

That kind of love cannot possibly be an emotion that ebbs and flows involuntarily. It is not a mere feeling. All the attributes of love Paul lists involve the mind and volition. In other words, the love he describes is a thoughtful, willing commitment. Also, notice that genuine love “does not seek its own.” That means if I truly love, I’m concerned not with having my desires fulfilled, but with seeking the best for whomever is the object of my love.

So the mark of true love is not unbridled desire or wild passion; it is a giving of oneself. Jesus Himself underscored this when He told His disciples, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). If love is a giving of oneself, then the greatest love is shown by laying down one’s very life. And of course, such love was perfectly modeled and embodied by Christ.

The apostle John is often referred to as “the apostle of love” because he wrote so much on the subject. He was fascinated by it, overwhelmed with the reality that he was loved by God. He often referred to himself in his gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20; cf. 13:2320:221:7).

John echoed his most famous words (John 3:16) when he wrote in his first epistle that “God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:8–9). John understood that knowing true love is inescapably bound to knowing the one true God. When he declares that “God is love,” he is explaining that it lies at the very heart of God’s character. And we’ll consider that next time.

(Adapted from The God Who Loves)