Are we listening?

Are we listening?

Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. – Hebrews 1:1-2

Hebrews 12:25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!

One of the unintended consequences of our digital, streaming world is that people in the Western world are losing the art of listening. Like any skill, listening can be developed and enhanced through practice. But it is very much like a muscle that atrophies when not used regularly.

Henning Mankell in his article, “The Art of Listening” December 10, 2011, wrote, “In Africa, listening is a guiding principle. It’s a principle that’s been lost in the constant chatter of the Western world, where no one seems to have the time or even the desire to listen to anyone else.” He added, “Many people make the mistake of confusing information with knowledge. They are not the same thing. Knowledge involves the interpretation of information. Knowledge involves listening.”

Good listeners focus on what is being communicated and heard. They ask questions to clarify and better understand what they are hearing. They pause and reflect before responding.

The Father has spoken and continues to speak, are we listening?

What is the Father like? The only way for people can know is if He communicates with us and lets us know. He has disclosed truth regarding Himself and His ways to us in the Word of God. The Old Testament messages, stories, history, and prophecy were written between 2000 B.C and 400 B.C. The New Testament was written between 30 A.D. and 90 A.D. Although the self-revelation of the Father was done over a long period through diverse means, it maintains continuity and unity. It is written by many but sourced by the Father Himself. When the Lord Jesus Christ came, the revelation reached its zenith.

Hebrews 1:3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God,

If we want to know the Father, we simply look at the Son. The Lord Jesus Christ is the full and definitive representation, of the Father.

The Greek word translated representation or imprint is charakter. Charakter comes from the Greek verb charasso, to cut, to scratch, to mark. In its early usage, it referred to the tool that was used to mark or cut. Later it denoted the mark or impression made with the tool. Thus it came to mean, the exact reproduction (A.T. Robertson).

The second Greek word which is translated as nature or essence is hypostasis. This term refers to the objective aspect and underlying reality behind anything (Friberg). When this word is used in connection with God, it is more esoteric and philosophical. It is hard to get a grip on it (Moffatt). It is beyond our grasp to completely comprehend what it fully means. In simple terms, the Son is identical in substance to God the Father, being Himself fully God. The Son is exactly like the Father.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the exact representation, the imprint, of the Father’s nature and essence.

REFLECT & PRAY

Conceptually, we understand that the Father knows everything and desires only the best for every child of the King. But when it comes to the individual details of our everyday lives, do we really listen?

Father may I hear, listen, and receive what You are trying to communicate with me. May I respond accordingly.

INSIGHT

In the 21st century, copies of the Bible are plentiful throughout much of the world. In the United States, we tend to take them for granted. This is not so for the rest of the world nor has it been throughout history. Imagine for a moment what it would be like to have an unquenchable desire for something that meets the innermost hunger of our souls but find nothing that satisfies them. Then quite unexpectedly, we encounter something new and marvelous that fills the void. It is more delightful and sweeter than the sweetest honey from the honeycomb (Psalms 19:10).

That was exactly what happened to the people of Israel after the Babylonian captivity. For the first time in decades, the people of Israel had the opportunity to hear the word of God, take it in, and take great pleasure in it. Imagine what it would be like to be among them when they hear Ezra read the law of God for the first time. Their innermost being was permeated as they absorbed it. They were overwhelmed with joy. They were filled with awe. They were euphoric and spontaneously praised and worshiped the Father. Would you do any less?

Nehemiah 8:1-10

 1 all the people assembled with a unified purpose at the square just inside the Water Gate. They asked Ezra the scribe to bring out the Book of the Law of Moses, which the LORD had given for Israel to obey.

 3 He faced the square just inside the Water Gate from early morning until noon and read aloud to everyone who could understand. All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law.

 4 Ezra the scribe stood on a high wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. . ..

 5 Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.

 6 Then Ezra praised the LORD, the great God, and all the people chanted, “Amen! Amen!” as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

 7 The Levites . . . then instructed the people in the Law while everyone remained in their places.

 8 They read from the Book of the Law of God and clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage.

 9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who were interpreting for the people said to them, “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the LORD your God.” For the people had all been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.

 10 And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate . . ..”


The people responded with eager attentiveness (Nehemiah 8:3), reverence and worship (Nehemiah 8:5-6), understanding (Nehemiah 8:7-8), and repentance Nehemiah 8:9) (Stanley).

The word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). As it reveals the Father to us, we are enriched yet convicted and experience a kind of inexplicable joyful sorrow.The Father offers a personal, intimate relationship. It is a two-way communication. We speak to Him in honest, heartfelt prayer. We hear his voice as he speaks to our minds, hearts, and spirits.

Hebrews 3:15
Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.

God continues to speak, are we listening?

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Trash talking

Trash talking

A warrior putting on his sword for battle should not boast like a warrior who has already won. – 1 Kings 20:11

1 Samuel 17:40-46

 40 David picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine.

 41 Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him,

 42 sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy.

 43 “Am I a dog,” he roared at David, “that you come at me with a stick?” And he cursed David by the names of his gods.

 44 “Come over here, and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and wild animals!” Goliath yelled.

 45 David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies – the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

 46 Today the LORD will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel!

Trash talking is often a lighthearted way to engage opponents in a competitive athletic setting. The goal is to make your opponent doubt their own skill or sufficiently distract them. It also tends to build up one’s own confidence and team spirit. When dealing with friends, trash talk is often funny, enjoyable, entertaining, and does not attack their dignity

When dealing with enemies, trash-talking is another thing altogether. Trash talk is employed to intimidate adversaries who may seem otherwise unshakable. The point is to threaten, coerce, and insult them.

The trouble is it does not always work!

The Father knows that preparing for war is one thing, but winning the battles is quite another. Too often we boast prematurely. This idea is conveyed using common colloquial expressions: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” or “Don’t celebrate your victory until you have fought the battle.”

The Father has a better way.

1 Kings 20:13 “This is what the LORD says: Do you see all these enemy forces? Today I will hand them all over to you. Then you will know that I am the LORD.”

REFLECT & PRAY

It is never a good idea to mock or taunt. More importantly, it is a really bad idea to mock and taunt the Father, the living God, and His people.

Father, as I read the Scriptures, I see people with great faith and confidence. They are bold and wish only to honor You. How I long to be like that.

INSIGHT

The Father treasures and protects His reputation and honor. It is foolish to insult or taunt the living God. The Father will often act when His character, authority, or power is scorned. People with great faith such as David, Moses, Ruth knew this. They relied upon it and fully trusted Him when risking their own lives.

Sometimes we are left scratching our heads wondering why the Father does not act immediately to the insults from an increasingly godless world. It is worthwhile to remember “The Wheels of Justice turn slowly but exceedingly fine” (Longfellow). One of Longfellow’s translations taken from the poem, “Retribution,” by Friedrich Von Logau:

          Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;

          Though with patience he stands waiting, with exactness grinds he all.

David’s entire life had prepared him for the very moment of this confrontation with Goliath. The Father builds faith and strengthens it throughout our lives. And so it was with David. The Father had previously delivered David from danger. The Father demonstrated His power and trustworthiness. David relied on the Father to deliver him once again from the giant Goliath.

The challenge of Goliath, a pagan uncircumcised Philistine, was directed toward the armies of the living God. Hence the battle was with the Father Himself. David knew this. He understood that the Father was the commander of Israel’s armies. David recognized that the Father was the real deliverer of Israel.

To David, this battle is fundamentally spiritual. David was jealous for the Father’s reputation, not his own. David’s faith and trust in the Father gave him the courage and boldness to face the Father’s enemy and defend His honor and majesty. David was confident that the Father would empower him to preserve His honor and defeat Goliath.

1 Samuel 17:36-37

 36 “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.”

 37 And David said, “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”

There is a way to be confident and boast properly. Our boasting should be in the Father and His adequacy not our own. Spending time with the Father provides great confidence in the face of adversity.

2 Corinthians 10:17-18

 17 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

Acts 4:13 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence (Helen Keller).

Confidence is simply the belief in a successful outcome. The confidence of the Father’s children rests in His strength, not from their own.

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To an unknown God ∙

To an unknown God

God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.” – Exodus 3:14

Acts 17:23-31

 23 As I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

 24 He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples,

 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs– for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.

 27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him– though he is not far from any one of us.

 30 God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.

 31 For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.

Would it be too extreme to suggest that most all people throughout the millennia, regardless of their location, have had some concept of God? People everywhere have asked, “Who or What is God?” When we speak of God, we are somewhat limited by the English language. English uses one term, God, to signify both the concept of God and the person of God.

The primary Western concept of God is theism. Theism is the view that there is a God which is the creator and sustainer of the universe and is unlimited concerning knowledge (omniscience), power (omnipotence), extension (omnipresence), and moral perfection (International Encyclopedia of Psychology).

It is important to distinguish the things that differ. Yet at the same time, not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Is there a difference between the concept of God and the living God revealed in the Scriptures? Most definitely.

When God appeared to Moses at Mount Sinai, Moses asked God what His name was. Moses believed in the concept of God, but he also believed in a personal God. He believed that the living God, the personal God, was now at Sinai revealing Himself to him.

Moses was no pagan. As part of the Nation of Israel, Moses was speaking with the God of his fathers. The truth of the living and true God had been passed down through the centuries via spoken stories. These stories were the accurate history of the people who lived them: men such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, or Jacob. They had not yet been compiled and inscribed in the Hebrew language. That was a yet future project still on the Father’s drawing board. At the right time, Moses would be tasked to collect and write down these stories in a book. That book would one day be named Genesis.

Moses is driven by curiosity and caught up in the moment. Moses was now in face-to-face contact with the God of his fathers. He was coming to terms with the living, personal God. Heretofore, He was simply known as “He-Who-Has-No-Name” (The Ten Commandments) or simply “The Unknown God.” Moses needed to know what the name of God was. The people would one day ask him. How would Moses answer them? God revealed His name to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM tell them that I AM [Yahweh] sent you.”

Persons have names, mere God concepts do not. The Father God revealed in The Scriptures is no mere force or idea. He is a person who can be known, loved, and experienced through a personal relationship.

Exodus 3:13-14

 13 Then Moses said to God, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

 14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”

Moses now knew the name of the personal God, I AM [Yahweh]. Through the writings of Moses, it has been passed down through the millennia to all those who believe in Him and enter into a personal relationship with Him.

On the other hand, people who only have the concept of God, are not concerned about names. Why would they be? They are not dealing with a person, only an idea.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Nothing twists and deforms the soul more than a low or unworthy conception of God” (A.W. Tozer)

Father, thank You that You are more than an idea, a man-made concept. Thank You for overlooking my ignorance and seeking me out.

INSIGHT

The Greeks were well known throughout the ancient world for their pantheon of gods. Many of their names are well known in Western culture: Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes, Hades. But their God concept was grossly distorted. They had many gods but what if they’d missed out on one? They wanted to cover all the bases. They did not want to offend any deity simply because they were unfamiliar with it. So the Athenians built an altar “To an Unknown God.”

When Paul spoke to the Athenians, the altar erected “To an Unknown God” provided common ground for communication. He seized the opportunity to speak of the true and living Father God, and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He used the concept of God, as a launching point, a bridge to explain the personal God.

Acts 17:23-27

 23 I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.

 24 He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth . . .

 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs – for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need.

 27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him – though he is not far from any one of us.

“On the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, there are the tremendous frescoes by Michelangelo. Among them is the magnificent picture of the creation of man. God is reaching out His finger, and man, just having been created, reaches out to God as well. But their fingers do not touch. This is a true Christian insight” (Francis A. Schaeffer).

The Father God of Scripture is personal yet infinite, close at hand yet distant. Being a person, He thinks and feels, and He seeks to enter into a personal relationship with sentient creatures made in His image.

Believing in God is good, but it is not good enough for eternity!

It is not enough to know about Him. He created us to know Him. He seeks us out.

Anyone can have a personal relationship with the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ.

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That dog won’t hunt ∙

That dog won’t hunt ∙

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. – James 5:16

 James 5:16-18

 16 The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

 17 Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!

 18 Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

President Lyndon B. Johnson used the phrase “that dog won’t hunt” in the 1960s. The exact origin of the phrase is unknown, but LBJ certainly popularized it. It has been in use since at least the 1930s. The phrase was made into a song by Waylon Jennings in 1986.

“That dog won’t hunt” is southern American slang. It refers to something that won’t fulfill its intended purpose or a plan or scheme that will flop. A couple of near alternative sayings are: “it just ain’t going to happen,” or “it ain’t going to work out.”

Too often when it comes to prayer, “That dog won’t hunt.”

We may not like to admit it, but we all know what ineffective prayer is. It is all too common and happens so much of the time. What is ineffective prayer? Ineffective prayer is prayer that does not get answered. Ineffective prayer does not achieve the desired results and seemingly does not influence the Father. It is inadequate and useless.

While there are certainly other considerations such as timing, the acid test couldn’t be simpler. Anyone can try it anytime or anywhere. If you pray and nothing happens, your prayer may well be ineffective. “That dog won’t hunt.”

To understand this better, simply review the meanings of two words: effective and ineffective.

Effective means producing the desired effect, an intended outcome, or an expected result. When something is effective, it gets the job done. It is capable of exerting force or influence on the final outcome.

Ineffective denotes not producing a desired effect or effects. When something is ineffective it is inadequate, incompetent, incapable, impotent, or useless.

Why are prayers so often ineffective? If the Father’s children are sincere and desire the best possible outcome, there is no reason to examine the motives of their hearts. Perhaps it has to do with the assumptions that His children make.

Could it be that we assume that we know what is best in a given situation? Do we believe that we know what ought to happen? If so, do we pray and ask the Father to do what we think is right? Do we try to persuade the Father to execute our will?

If so, we need to change our way of thinking. The Scriptures are quite clear. Prayer is effective when the Father’s children seek to pray His will into existence, rather than their own.

Matthew 6:10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Luke 11:2 When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.”

Think about one of your favorite athletes. Now visualize him or her performing to the degree of excellence you know they are capable of. What do you see? Now imagine that same athlete as a 5-year-old child. Some of the talent that makes them great as an adult may already be evident. But can the child perform up to the level that it will when it becomes an adult? Of course not!

What does it take to transform a 5-year-old child into an accomplished world-class athlete? The short answer is at minimum time and practice.

Our heartfelt desire may be pure. We may sincerely want only what we think is the best for others. But when it comes to prayer, perhaps too often we act just like 5-year-old children tugging on our parent’s clothes seeking that our wishes be fulfilled. What if our best, is not His best?

REFLECT & PRAY

It’s often said that the purpose of prayer is not to get man’s will done in heaven but to get God’s will done on earth (Wiersbe).

Father, I wish my prayers could be more effective. Enable me to get to know You better and hear and recognize Your voice. Give me a willing heart to carry out Your wishes.

INSIGHT

“Praying itself is not a shot in the dark, not a net cast into the sea with the hope of a good catch. Praying is working along with God in the fulfillment of His divine plan” (Thomas Haire).

“In prayer, we need always to obtain the wisdom of the Spirit so that we may pray according to the will of God and not suffer discouragement from failure to see our prayers realized” (Thomas Haire).

When our goal is to pray the Father’s will into existence, effective prayer begins with first determining what His will is. In part, this means getting to know the Father and developing the ability to hear His voice. The prophet Elijah shows the way.

James 5:16-17

 16 The effective prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.

What is the difference between Elijah and us? There is a one-word answer. Nothing!

How was Elijah able to know how to pray? What enabled him to pray effectively? How did he pray the Father’s will into existence on earth?

1 Kings 17:1-2

 1 Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead, told King Ahab, “As surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives – the God I serve – there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”

 2 Then the LORD said to Elijah,

1 Kings 18:1 Later on, in the third year of the drought, the LORD said to Elijah, “Go and present yourself to King Ahab. Tell him that I will soon send rain!”

So how did he know how to pray? He heard the Father’s voice and the Father told him what to pray and also what to say to others.

James 5:15 could be translated, “the energized prayer of a righteous man is able to do much.” Such prayers are “a potent force in calling down the power of God” (MacArthur). The Greek word translated energized, effective is energeo. The English word “energy” comes from this term.

Where does the energy of effective prayer come from? It comes from the Father. When a righteous child of the King prays effectively, they are energized by the Father. He communicates with them. He works through them.

Now that dog will want!

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Privileged listening ∙

Privileged listening

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

Mark 12:28-34

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

 29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD.’”

 30 “‘And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’”

 31 “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.’”

 32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other.”

 33 “And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

 34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

“La, la, la, la, I am not listening!” How often have you seen and heard it on media or in casual conversation? For one reason or another people have just stopped listening.

When listening stops, communication is blocked and relationships are stymied. Connections between people are often determined by how well they listen.

Some suggest that there is a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is considered a mainly physical thing and is processed merely by the ear. We hear thunder, we hear the roar of the ocean or the sounds of animals. We hear noise and music. But listening is considered a bit more. Listening is hearing with understanding. Listening involves more than sounds, it engages the mind to comprehend what is heard. Hearing is nothing more than one of the five senses, but listening is a skill that can be developed.

Good relationships and consequent appropriate actions are based upon communication, comprehension, and wise decision-making. Listening is also a key to leadership. “Leaders who refuse to listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing helpful to say” (Andy Stanley).

The Scriptures take hearing and listening to a whole different level. The word of God assumes that proper hearing is more than taking in sounds. It is listening!

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

People of the Jewish faith refer to this verse as the Shema. It is properly pronounced, “Sha-MAH.” The Shema lies at the heart of the Jewish faith. It is the credo by which they live and tragically have died at the hands of their persecutors. It is part of their daily prayers.

The original Hebrew translated, “The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” contains only four words. It could be literally translated, “YHWH our-God YHWH one”

This verse has many nuances. At minimum, it is a clear and definite expression of monotheism. YHWH, the Lord God of Israel is unique. He is the only true God. There is only one God. The only true God is the God of Israel. Moses is saying that “our God, is God.” All other gods are false gods. Pantheism, belief in multiple gods” is rejected outright.

The Hebrew word translated hear, listen is Shema, which means to listen and pay attention. And when the Father is talking, it often has an added nuance of obedience. It could well be rendered, “listen, pay attention, and take action.”

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father requires that we listen, pay attention, take action, and remember.

Father thank You for the privilege and opportunity of being able to listen to You. Encourage my heart to continuously do that throughout all the days of my life.

INSIGHT

When the Lord Jesus Christ was asked “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” He quoted Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

Why is this so important? Because it speaks to the bedrock of our faith as children of the King. Our faith is all about relationship, a personal love relationship with the living God. When we truly love the Father, we want to know Him, follow Him, and serve Him. Our actions emanate from a loving desire to please and obey. It is all based upon our bond with Him.

Such love is not a mere feeling. It is not a spontaneous burst of emotion. It is a commitment. It is love in action.

The word Shema, hear, is an imperative, that is, a command. The Shema is a call to action. The Father is the sole object of our devotion and allegiance. He requires the loyal love of His children. The details are filled in in the words that follow.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

 4 Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.

 5 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.

 6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.

 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.

Having the opportunity to listen to the Father is a great privilege. It was granted first to the Nation of Israel. The Father first made Himself known to them. Now, all who enter into a personal relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, have the same prerogative.

Deuteronomy 4:35-39

 35 He showed you these things so you would know that the LORD is God and there is no other.

 36 He let you hear his voice from heaven so he could instruct you. He let you see his great fire here on earth so he could speak to you from it.

 37 Because he loved your ancestors, he chose to bless their descendants, and he personally brought you out of Egypt with a great display of power.

 38 He drove out nations far greater than you, so he could bring you in and give you their land as your special possession, as it is today.

 39 So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The LORD is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other.

Listen, pay attention, take action, and remember!

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Auditors not wanted ∙

Auditors not wanted ∙

Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. – James 1:22

James 1:23-25

 23 For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.

 24 You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard . . .

It is easy to be a pretender. Many of the Father’s children are. Sadly, we think our efforts to show up, get involved and act religious is what the Father intends. James says we are only fooling ourselves. We are living a religious delusion centered upon self-deception. What is worst is that many of us do not know that we are pretending.

“The Great Pretender” is a popular song recorded by The Platters in 1955. The song was repopularized in 1987 by Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. Mercury explained that the song was particularly fitting for the way he saw his career and being on stage. In 2004, the song was voted the 360th greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone.

Oh yes, I’m the great pretender, pretending that I’m doing well

My need is such I pretend too much.

I’m lonely but no one can tell. Oh yes, I’m the great pretender.

Adrift in a world of my own, I play the game but to my real shame.

You’ve left me to dream all alone, too real is this feeling of make believe.

Too real when I feel what my heart can’t conceal.

Ooh, Ooh yes, I’m the great pretender.

I seem to be what I’m not (you see).

I’m wearing my heart like a crown, pretending that you’re still around.

REFLECT & PRAY

“Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up” (Chinese proverb).

Father encourage me to live out the message of the truth of Your word.

INSIGHT

James 1:22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

Hearing the Scriptures, and not following through is like auditing a class in college. You listen but do not take notes, you do not study, you retain little, and you take no appropriate action. You are involved but are not committed. The course of life firmly built upon the word of God cannot be audited. Merely hearing, understanding, and knowing it are not sufficient. The Father requires that we act upon the truth of His word.

What does it mean to prove yourselves “doers of the word?” This phrase is a Hebrew idiom that could literally be translated, “a word maker.” Doers of the word denotes putting the word into practice, living out the message. It couldn’t be simpler. You must do what it says, you must be sure you live out the message.

But there is more. Living out the message is not enough. While “doing the word,” we get better at it, we keep improving.

This command “to do, to live out” should not frighten us. Rather, it should encourage us. James doesn’t expect us to get this right at the outset. In fact, being fallen creatures in a fallen world, we will never get it completely right. The most important thing is to begin to do. And then we are to make sure that we continue to do. It is a process. Putting it another way, being a doer of the word of God is both an art and a science that can be learned and developed. Short-term failure is expected as a part of a long-term outcome.

Determining to do the word of God is not for the faint of heart. It is much like pursuing innovation in engineering.

There is a perfect real-world analogy for this: Walt Disney Imagineers. The term “Imagineer” is a combination of two words imagination and engineer. For decades, Imagineering enabled Walt Disney to transform the dreams, fantasies, and wishes of his imagination into concrete reality.

Imagineering synthesizes the approaches of three different types of individuals: the dreamer, the realist, and the critic. Disney employs very talented people from different fields and walks of life to dream. They conceive new ideas and invent new technologies for accomplishing them. This eclectic group of Imagineers starts with an idea. They then begin the process of trying to implement the idea. They are expected to fail. In fact, if they do not fail 30% of the time it is assumed, they aren’t trying hard enough to succeed.

Are you pretending and fooling yourself? You can begin right now and choose to live out the message of the Father’s word. Don’t be discouraged by bumps in the road, they are to be expected.

Psalm 37:24 Though they stumble, they will never be hurled headlong, for the LORD holds them by the hand.

Parents are well aware of the fact that toddlers learn to walk when they’re about 12 months old. Wise parents provide a safe environment where the toddler can learn the new skill of walking. Any type of sharp objects or tripping hazards are removed. Parents set the stage and provide support and encouragement along the way. The entire process can be exciting and yet also nerve-racking.

Because the Father wants us to succeed in our walk of faith, He treats every child of the King similarly.

The Father does not guarantee that children of the King will not stumble or fall. Rather, He promises that when it happens, He has their back. On the one hand it is true that He can prevent people from stumbling (Jude 24). But the norm is to allow us to struggle with the normal variations and challenges of life. When we fall, He is there to restore us. Why does the Father do this? What is His motivation? In a word, love. He loves every child of the King. “The Father delights in His children and wants them to learn to walk” (Wiersbe).

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The Father’s house

The Father’s house

In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. – John 14:2

John 14:1-6

 1 Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?

 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

 4 And you know the way to where I am going.

 5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

 6 Jesus told him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Antonin Dvorak, the notable Czech composer, traveled to America in the late 19th century. What he heard and saw, provided some of the inspiration for his greatest work Symphony 9, the New World Symphony. It contains an alluring, hauntingly beautiful Largo, played on the English Horn. The Largo is the outpouring of Dvorak’s own longing for his homeland. He managed to capture a moving expression of nostalgia; the pathos of the human soul “longing for home.”

President Ronald Reagan was so enchanted with this music, that he requested that it be played at his funeral. And it was so.

As the Lord Jesus Christ prepared to go to the cross for us, He knew that His ultimate destination was not the grave. He was going home to be with His Father. He shared the natural human longing for going home. But His thoughts turned towards His disciples. He wanted to share something startling and magnificent. His home would also become the home of each child of the King. His Father had a very big home. There was enough room for each of his children. And they were all invited!

“An earthly house becomes overcrowded; an earthly inn must sometimes turn away the weary traveler because its accommodation is exhausted. It is not so with our Father’s house, for heaven is as wide as the heart of God and there is room for all. Jesus is saying to his friends: ‘Don’t be afraid. In this world, people may shut their doors upon you. But in heaven, you will never be shut out’” (Barclay).

He told His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you.” He assured them that there would be plenty of room in His Father’s house. He was going on ahead to make everything ready. When He finished with the preparations, He would return for them and bring them back with Him to their new home. And they would be with Him forever.

Most of us have had the pleasure of visiting delightful homes and families. They are all the dearer to us if our backgrounds were less than stellar.

But what would be like to be welcomed into the Father’s home? And not just as a visitor, but as a permanent resident? His place will be our place. His home will become our home. We will enjoy His company forever!

One day we will all have the amazing experience of stepping into the life to come and experience the eternal accommodations that the Lord Jesus Christ lovingly and uniquely prepared for one of us.

And best of all we will dwell in His presence forever!

REFLECT & PRAY

What a fantastic thought. Each child of the King will have a special place prepared for them in the Father’s house forever.

Father thank You for having such a big heart and welcoming me into Your forever family. In your presence are pleasures forevermore, I can hardly wait!

INSIGHT

The disciples were confused. They did not understand where the Lord Jesus Christ was going. Even after being with Him for over three years, there were still a bit dull in their comprehension. And on top of that, if they do not know where He was going, how can they know the way to get there? Thomas asked the natural question.

John 14:5 “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

“Again and again, Jesus had told his disciples where he was going, but somehow they had never understood. ‘I will be with you a little while longer,’ he said, ‘and then I am going to him who sent me’ (John 7:33). He had told them that he was going to the Father who had sent him, and with whom he was one, but they still did not understand what was going on. Even less did they understand the way by which Jesus was going, for that way was the cross.”

“At this moment, the disciples were bewildered men. There was one among them who could never say that he understood what he did not understand, and that was Thomas. He was far too honest and far too much in earnest to be satisfied with any vague, pious expressions. Thomas had to be sure. So he expressed his doubts and his failure to understand, and the wonderful thing is that it was the question of a doubting man which provoked one of the greatest things Jesus ever said. No one need be ashamed of having doubts; for it is amazingly and blessedly true that those who seek will in the end find” (Barclay).

“Jesus’ words made this expectation a certainty. He never would have promised to prepare a place for the disciples if He were not sure that they would reach it. . . Faith in Him was their key to security, no matter how well-grounded their fears for themselves might be.”

“Christ’s presence would make the place glorious. Eternal companionship with Him is the expectation of the saved” (Tenney).

Going home – Bill Gaither

Many times in my childhood when we’ve traveled so far

By nightfall how weary I’d grown

Fathers arms would slip around me and gently he’d say

My child were going home

Going home, I’m going home

There is nothing to hold me here

I’ve caught a glimpse of that Heavenly land

Praise God, I’m going home

Now the twilight is fading, the day soon shall end

Lord, I get homesick, the farther I roam

But the Father has led me each step of the way

And now I’m going home

Going home, I’m going home

There is nothing to hold me here

I’ve caught a glimpse of that Heavenly land

Praise God, I’m going home

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The messenger

The messenger

I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. – Malachi 3:1

Malachi 3:1-5

 1 “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

 2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.

 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.

 4 Then once more the LORD will accept the offerings brought to him by the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as he did in the past.

 5 “At that time I will put you on trial. I am eager to witness against all sorcerers and adulterers and liars. I will speak against those who cheat employees of their wages, who oppress widows and orphans, or who deprive the foreigners living among you of justice, for these people do not fear me,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

The end of the 20th century saw the rise of the new technology SMS (Short Message Service). Originally it was alphanumeric characters but soon expanded to digital images, video, sound, and ideograms (emoji). SMS was used for the 1st time in 1992 in the UK.

Text messaging, or simply texting, became a quick and easy way to meet communicate.

Messaging of course is nothing new. In the Old Testament, the Father used His servants the prophets to communicate His messages. Messages bring good news or bad news and are often intended to challenge and provoke repentance and restoration.

The Hebrew word translated messenger is malak. While the Greek word is aggelos. From which we get the English word angel. The name of the prophet Malachi translates into English as my messenger.

The prophet Malachi is the last writing prophet of the Old Testament. He prophesied between about 450 BC and 425 BC. He was sent by the Father to the Jewish people living in Judea after their return from the Babylonian exile. In the Protestant Bible, Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. The end of his prophetic ministry inaugurated a time of silence from the Father that lasted over 400 years.

It was finally broken by John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness, preparing the way of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The last Old Testament prophet anticipates the coming of the first New Testament prophet, John the Baptist.

How do we know that John is the messenger that Malachi spoke of in his prophecy? So often people simply share their opinions and ideas without any biblical basis. In this particular case, the Lord Jesus Christ identified John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy.

Matthew 11:10 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.”

REFLECT & PRAY

The words of John the Baptist prepared away in the wilderness for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, it is in Your loving heart to communicate with Your children. When You send a message, make my heart sensitive and open to receiving it. May John’s words prepare the way in my heart to receive and walk with You fully.

INSIGHT

Malachi is among the most confrontational minor prophets. His book is a long, heated argument between him, the Father’s servant, and the rebellious, materialistic religious leaders. They are still intractable and bellicose. Sadly, when they defied the Father, the living God, our misguided priorities moved them to make tremendously poor choices. Sadder still, they had learned little from dreadful consequences of their actions: the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple, the cessation of the reign of Davidic kings, and 70 years of harsh, difficult captivity.

They had returned from the Babylonian captivity. But rather than focusing on making things right, worshiping the Father, and restoring the Temple, they spent their time and resources on themselves. Rather than honoring the Father by offering top-of-the-line, spotless sacrifices, as required by the law of Moses, they presented the Lord God Almighty with their rejects, seconds, and paltry leftovers. Their trifling performance was essentially good for nothing.

If you are on the receiving end, how would you feel if something similar happened to you? The Father is livid! His words spoken through Malachi are burning hot. You almost have to duck as you read them.

Malachi 1:6-12

 6 “A son honors his father, and a servant respects his master. If I am your father and master, where are the honor and respect I deserve? You have shown contempt for my name! But you ask, ‘How have we ever shown contempt for your name?’“

 7 “You have shown contempt by offering defiled sacrifices on my altar. Then you ask, ‘How have we defiled the sacrifices?’ You defile them by saying the altar of the LORD deserves no respect.”

 8 “When you give blind animals as sacrifices, isn’t that wrong? And isn’t it wrong to offer animals that are crippled and diseased? Try giving gifts like that to your governor, and see how pleased he is!” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.

 10 “How I wish one of you would shut the Temple doors so that these worthless sacrifices could not be offered! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “and I will not accept your offerings.”

 12 “But you dishonor my name with your actions. By bringing contemptible food, you are saying it’s all right to defile the Lord’s table.”

The people are in total denial. In essence, they are saying, “We have done nothing wrong! What’s the problem?” Besides, the Lord God Almighty does not truly deserve our best, does He? It’s just too much trouble!

Malachi 1:13 “You say, ‘It’s too hard to serve the LORD,’ and you turn up your noses at my commands,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “Think of it! Animals that are stolen and crippled and sick are being presented as offerings! Should I accept from you such offerings as these?” asks the LORD.

Surely, almost any reasoning child of the King would experience a sense of outrage towards such utter disrespect and contempt of the Father that they love. However, before we condemn them for their actions outright, a bit of self-reflection is in order. Are we free from similar attitudes? Do we give the Father our best? Or do we simply give Him what we have leftover? What was the last time a church received a brand-new piano, rather than a secondhand one?

In my mind’s eye, I visualize Malachi confronting me about my misplaced priorities and poor choices. My heart is sad, my countenance is fallen. For I know in my heart of hearts, I am not significantly different than ancient Israel.

The Father calls it robbery! Were they really stealing from the living God? Did they honestly think they can cheat Him of what He deserves? Indeed so! And what about us? Do we rob God (Malachi 3:8)?

Malachi is a book of transitions. His writings marked the end of the Old Testament itself. He is the last of the Old Testament messengers. His book inaugurates 400 years of silence from God. The silence is only broken by the messenger of which he prophesied. The Old Testament came to a close without the hoped-for, promised King or kingdom. The New Testament opens with the entrance of the King. The Father’s promised messenger introduces His promised King, the Lord Jesus Christ to Israel (John 1:29–31).

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Fear or faith

Fear or faith

There is no fear in love, but perfect love expels all fear. – 1 John 4:18.

Mark 14:27 All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, “God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”

John 20:19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear . . .

Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

We all know what it is like to be afraid. Fear is emotional foreboding or dread of impending trouble or sorrow. Fear can result from real dangers or challenges. Fear can also be the result of imaginary dangers or challenges. This type of fear has no objective or logical basis. It is irrational. But it is real fear nonetheless to the one who experiences it.

Fear frequently immobilizes us. We freeze emotionally, mentally, or physically. We feel trapped, boxed in, and limited.

When we live in fear, we cannot experience fully who the Father is and what He desires for every child of the King.

If there was ever a group of men that had reason to have confidence based upon reality, it was the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. They spent over three years with Him. They rubbed shoulders with Him and got to know Him for the delightful and wonderful person that He is. He was a joy to be with. And yet He had a majestic power and authority that separated Him from all others. A lamb, a lion, and the King all rolled into one. To those that were in need, He was gentle, tender, and kind. To those who were self-righteous and spiritually blind, the Lord Jesus Christ was blunt and direct, often offensive.

The Lord Jesus Christ is a remarkable person. He is the incarnate God, the exact representation of the Father’s character and nature on earth. Those that saw Him, saw the Father at work through Him.

The Apostles had great expectations and high hopes based on reality, not fiction, mythology, or imagination. Their firm conviction was that the Lord Jesus Christ had come into the world to redeem Israel, freeing them from Roman domination. They were expecting the Son of David to take His rightful place as the long-awaited Messiah, the King of Israel and usher in the Kingdom of God on earth. They were expecting freedom, peace, and joy.

But then something terrible happened. How horrifying it was. He was arrested, beaten, tried, sentenced to death, and cruelly crucified. They watched in horror and they were filled with fear and dread. Their hopes and expectations were utterly shattered. They were crushed. They went into hiding. Imagine for a moment what it was like for them, hiding, cowering behind closed doors, in total disillusionment, fearing the absolute worst.

REFLECT & PRAY

The apostles of Christ experienced the darkest of all Sabbaths and the brightest of all Sundays.

Dear Father, You alone are responsible for our faith in Your Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Father thank You for opening the eyes of our hearts that we might see the glory and truth of the gospel. Encourage us to walk by faith and reject fear.

INSIGHT

At the darkest of all nights, something totally marvelous happened. It was remarkable and unbelievable. Sadly, for most, it remains unbelievable even to this day. The Father, the Lord God Almighty, exercised His mighty power. The Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected. He lives! God the Father raised Him from the dead.

Galatians 1:1 God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.

What a difference one day makes. And because of it, the apostles could face tomorrow. The apostles’ fear was transformed into faith. Their timidity was transformed into courage and boldness. Their disparaging aimlessness and sense of futility were transformed into new purpose and focus. Their worldview now incorporated an expectation and certainty of the miracle-working power of the living God. They were still ordinary men, but they were ordinary men infused with the power and strength of the Lord God Almighty.

The darkness of the night heralds death, but the light of the morning declares life. In the face of such faith, fear is vanquished and evaporates.

1 Corinthians 15:54-58

 54 “Death is swallowed up in victory.

 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.

 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the faith upon which each child of the King stands. Resurrection power provides moment by moment strength and energy to live as the Lord Jesus Christ did and as the Father asks us to do.

1 Corinthians 15:14,17

 14 if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.

 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.

He is risen, He is risen indeed.

I serve a risen Savior

I serve a risen Savior He’s in the world today.

I know that He is living, Whatever men may say.

I see His hand of mercy; I hear His voice of cheer;

And just the time I need Him He’s always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me, I see His loving care,

And though my heart grows weary, I never will despair;

I know that He is leading, Through all the stormy blast;

The day of His appearing Will come at last.

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A bewitching deception

A bewitching deception


Galatians 3:1
You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you,

Galatians 5:1-13

 1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.

 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

 5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us.

 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

 7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth?

 8 It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom.

 9 This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough!

 10 I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.

 13 For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
 
Have you ever fervently believed a lie and then later discovered the truth? If so, you know how damaging deception is. It can ruin friendships, destroy reputations, and leave a trail of painful, lingering consequences. The damage is particularly horrendous when the deception is spiritual because it can mean the difference in your eternal destiny.

“It would be nice to think that once we’re saved, we could never again be spiritually deceived, but that’s not the case. Satan is always looking for ways to lead us astray so he can ruin our testimony and hinder our spiritual growth. That’s why it’s so important for Christians to be discerning – and this ability will be developed in us only as we grow in our knowledge of scriptural truth” (Stanley).

The apostle Paul wrote to the children of the King in Galatia because they were being scammed. As a result they were losing their grip on the the truth. The issue at hand was not peripheral, but central. It concerned the validity and accuracy of the gospel message itself.

Was the redemptive work of Christ sufficient to provide salvation by grace alone or is something more required? After Paul’s departure, false teachers came to Galatia and began to spread misinformation and among the nascent believers. As a result, some of the Galatians were abandoning the true gospel for a “different gospel.” This “different gospel” was no gospel at all but rather an egregious distortion.

“Paul appears to have been genuinely shocked at the news he received from Galatia. The shock was further deepened because the slippage occurred ‘so quickly’” (Timothy George). Apparently, this occurred a very short time after Paul first preached the gospel in Galatia.

Galatians 1:6-7

 6 I am shocked that you are turning away so quickly from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News

 7 but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.

The Greek word translated shocked or astonished is thaumazo. Thaumazo has the sense of astonished, marveled, amazed, astounded, or surprised. The expression, “‘I am astonished that’ was a literary device commonly used in Hellenistic letters to express irritation and irony as well as surprise” (Timothy George).

The Galatians are actively involved in the process of turning away from the Lord Jesus Christ. They are deserting Him and the message of the gospel. In its place, they are realigning their commitment to “another gospel,” which is no not an authentic gospel. Rather it is no more than a bewitching deception. At best, the Galatians are like silly, naive, gullible children. They are being persuaded by false teachers that the truth, is not actually the truth after all. At worst, they are poised to become deserters or worse, traitors and apostates. As Paul writes the letter, the Galatians were engaged in switching their allegiance. It was not too late to persuade them to abandon their pursuit of this enticing and persuasive scam.

Someone had come into the assembly distorting the gospel of grace. The Galatians were being told that salvation did not come by faith alone. But rather, the law of Moses must be kept and circumcision was necessary to be saved (Galatians 5:3-4).

REFLECT & PRAY

It is all too easy to beguiled and accept falsehood in place of truth.

Father keep us faithful to the truth that we have learned and stand firm upon.

INSIGHT

In the 21st century, following the law of Moses and being circumcised for salvation are not hot button issues. But children of the King can still be beguiled into believing that good works or outward performance are somehow necessary for salvation.

Paul couldn’t be more clear.

Ephesians 2:8-9

 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

The Lord Jesus Christ warned that deceivers would be present in the world attempting to lead people astray. As the time of His return approaches, things would get worse and worse.

Matthew 24:5-24

 4 Jesus told them, don’t let anyone mislead you,

 5 for many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Messiah.” They will deceive many.

 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones.

How can children of the King defend themselves against bewitching deception? By spending time in God’s Word. Knowing the Truth is our best protection against being led astray by misinformation.

2 Timothy 3:14 Continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

“Whenever someone promotes a ‘restored’ gospel or a ‘secret’ gospel or a ‘fresh’ gospel or any other ‘gospel’ that deviates from what the Bible clearly teaches, run for your life. That person promotes death, not life” (Stanley).

1 Corinthians 15:58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

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