Posts Tagged ‘obeying God’

1 Samuel 28:1-25
Saul Consults a Medium

Are there really demons? Is there really a Satan? These are questions that we don’t want the answers to in modern society. We think of Satan and demons as creations of the church to keep us in line and that such things were never real. First, in order to do that, we must discredit the Bible. We must see it as old fashioned and flawed. Once we have that convinced in people’s minds, then, we can attack its doctrines as flawed and then eliminate them. Once we have people convinced of that, we can then begin to pick and choose what of the Bible and the doctrines developed from God’s Word that we want to believe. One of the main doctrines that we want to eliminate in our “just be a good person” world is the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell for our sins. That then makes Jesus unnecessary as a Savior. He is just a self-help guru who only wants the best for you. You can choose to follow or not to follow with no impact because in the end there is no hell. If you get rid of hell and Jesus is just a nice guy with good advice for clean living, then, it follows that there are no demons and there is no Satan. It makes up good stuff for movies that scare the pants off ya but, in the end, it’s not real, right? Since there is no Satan and there are no demons. We eviscerate the Bible to just one of many options to have obtain life help from. We can dabble in anything we want to dabble in because none of it is real. All of this talk of God, Jesus, Satan, demons and all that stuff is just folklore. We can pick and choose from Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, New Age because there is no consequence to what we should believe and not believe.

If there is no Satan, no demons, no hell, then there is no real evil. Then, there is no harm in playing games that consult the dead, because hey some religions do that. Seeking guidance from ancestors was the basis of some religions, right? It’s all OK because there’s no Satan, no demons, no hell, no real evil. Even allowing our kids to listen to satanic rock music and becoming obsessed with the occult and evil practices is OK, right? Because in the end there is no Satan, no demons, no hell, right?

The Bible tells us that Satan is real. The Bible tells us that demons are real. Jesus dealt with demons on more than one occasion as recorded in the gospels. You cannot believe in Jesus even as just a self-help guru without discounting his statements and actions against demons. In the letters to the churches, the apostles tell us that there are spiritual battles going on around us daily between the angels and demons. When we discount the Bible, we are free to believe and not believe whatever we want. Seeking information from ouiji boards, from psychics, praying to the dead has no impact, right? The Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that we are to stay away from it. You may discount the Old Testament as no longer applicable to us but Jesus said that He to fulfill the law and not to abolish it. Sure, the situational specific instructions to the Israelites of the law are not applicable to us but the moral laws and the spirit of the law from the Old Testament is still valid for us and validates our specific and real need for Jesus. So, the restrictions against seeking advice from anything other than God is real and valid.

I will admit that over the years since I became a Christ follower that I have had a hard time in my modern sensibilities truly believing in the existence of evil spirits or demons. I had always steered away from Ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune tellers and things like that because I didn’t want to take a chance but didn’t really know whether such things were real or not. However, as I have grown in my faith over the years since my salvation in December 2001, I have begun to believe more and more in their existence because the Bible tells us that they are real. The Bible tells us that there are indeed spiritual battles going on around us. I fully believe that Jesus cast out demons from people during His earthly ministry. Media reports of mass killers dabbling in death metal music and the occult seem to confirm the existence of demonic influences, demon oppression and even outright possession.

Recently, I had an experience with its existence that is as real to me now as it was when it happened to me two weeks ago. While we were in North Carolina for the funeral for my father in law, we stayed with my brother in law and his wife. They live in this really, really nice subdivision in Huntersville, NC, a northern suburb of Charlotte. My brother in law’s wife and my stepdaughter told of nightmares that they had had while sleeping or taking a nap in the upstairs guest bedroom of my brother in law’s house. I just blew it off as coincidence and laughed when my brother in law’s wife said that the previous owner of the house had their teenage boy whose room in the house was that room. The neighbors had told them that the teenage boy was into the Goth thing and was really into occult stuff and that dark music often referred to as death metal. The afternoon after the funeral we had family and friends at my brother in law’s house. Between family and friends there were about 25 people there for the meal and fellowship afterwards. They have a big house but with that many people it was crowded. I decided to get away from it all and take a nap after the big meal. I went upstairs to the upstairs guest bedroom. Low and behold while sleeping in there I began dreaming. And from the beginning of the dream, I had this ominous feeling like in that Stephen King movie, “It”, where everything turned into something else. While dreaming a teenage boy with his back to me turned around and it was this evil spirt of darkness under the hoody and I could not see a face just blackness and the hands of the boy grabbed me and his hands turned into this greenish skin color and with ugly long fingernails and the voice inside the hoody said to be in a gravel-ly voice that “I will tell you the REAL truth!”. For some reason, in my fear, I gather the energy to stick my face into the hoody and scream, “the REAL truth is in the name of Jesus Christ!” and I immediately woke up in a cold sweat.

Maybe it was a dream drawn from the power of suggestion from two other people. Maybe it was just a dream induced by something I ate. Maybe, maybe. Maybe. But it to me was verification of the existence of latent evil spirits drawn in by the previous owner’s son who lived in that room. We can invite the existence of evil into our lives. We can think that it is not real. We can dismiss Jesus’ casting out of demons as fabrications of the church. However, as we have discussed many times here, the gospels and other New Testament books were written within the lifetimes of both the advocates AND enemies of Jesus Christ and no one ever disputed the contents of the gospels, the church history in Acts, nor the letters to the churches. Therefore, I choose to believe the evidence of the biblical record and believe in God’s ban against dabbling in things that invite evil into our lives.

My dream while taking a nap in bedroom once occupied by a person who dabbled in the occult and listened to music about evil, death, and the devil was what I immediately thought of when I read about Saul seeking out a medium. It is no wonder that God had turned His back on Saul. He was not satisfied ever with simple obedience to God but rather wanted things his way and would praise God one minute for giving him what he wanted and seek a medium the next when God wasn’t giving him what he wanted. Let’s read through this episode in 1 Samuel 28 now:

28 About that time the Philistines mustered their armies for another war with Israel. King Achish told David, “You and your men will be expected to join me in battle.”

2 “Very well!” David agreed. “Now you will see for yourself what we can do.”

Then Achish told David, “I will make you my personal bodyguard for life.”

3 Meanwhile, Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him. He was buried in Ramah, his hometown. And Saul had banned from the land of Israel all mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead.

4 The Philistines set up their camp at Shunem, and Saul gathered all the army of Israel and camped at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the vast Philistine army, he became frantic with fear. 6 He asked the Lord what he should do, but the Lord refused to answer him, either by dreams or by sacred lots[a] or by the prophets. 7 Saul then said to his advisers, “Find a woman who is a medium, so I can go and ask her what to do.”

His advisers replied, “There is a medium at Endor.”

8 So Saul disguised himself by wearing ordinary clothing instead of his royal robes. Then he went to the woman’s home at night, accompanied by two of his men.

“I have to talk to a man who has died,” he said. “Will you call up his spirit for me?”

9 “Are you trying to get me killed?” the woman demanded. “You know that Saul has outlawed all the mediums and all who consult the spirits of the dead. Why are you setting a trap for me?”

10 But Saul took an oath in the name of the Lord and promised, “As surely as the Lord lives, nothing bad will happen to you for doing this.”

11 Finally, the woman said, “Well, whose spirit do you want me to call up?”

“Call up Samuel,” Saul replied.

12 When the woman saw Samuel, she screamed, “You’ve deceived me! You are Saul!”

13 “Don’t be afraid!” the king told her. “What do you see?”

“I see a god[b] coming up out of the earth,” she said.

14 “What does he look like?” Saul asked.

“He is an old man wrapped in a robe,” she replied. Saul realized it was Samuel, and he fell to the ground before him.

15 “Why have you disturbed me by calling me back?” Samuel asked Saul.

“Because I am in deep trouble,” Saul replied. “The Philistines are at war with me, and God has left me and won’t reply by prophets or dreams. So I have called for you to tell me what to do.”

16 But Samuel replied, “Why ask me, since the Lord has left you and has become your enemy? 17 The Lord has done just as he said he would. He has torn the kingdom from you and given it to your rival, David. 18 The Lord has done this to you today because you refused to carry out his fierce anger against the Amalekites. 19 What’s more, the Lord will hand you and the army of Israel over to the Philistines tomorrow, and you and your sons will be here with me. The Lord will bring down the entire army of Israel in defeat.”

20 Saul fell full length on the ground, paralyzed with fright because of Samuel’s words. He was also faint with hunger, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night.

21 When the woman saw how distraught he was, she said, “Sir, I obeyed your command at the risk of my life. 22 Now do what I say, and let me give you a little something to eat so you can regain your strength for the trip back.”

23 But Saul refused to eat anything. Then his advisers joined the woman in urging him to eat, so he finally yielded and got up from the ground and sat on the couch.

24 The woman had been fattening a calf, so she hurried out and killed it. She took some flour, kneaded it into dough and baked unleavened bread. 25 She brought the meal to Saul and his advisers, and they ate it. Then they went out into the night.

In this passage, we are reminded of the fact that God had strictly forbidden the Israelites from having anything to do with divination, sorcery, witchcraft, mediums, spiritualists or anyone who consults the dead (Deuteronomy 18:9-14). In fact, sorcerers were to be put to death (Exodus 22:18). Occult practices were carried on in the name of pagan gods, and people turned to the occult for answers that God would not give. Practitioners of the occult have Satan and his demons as the source of their information. God does not reveal His will to or through them. Instead, He speaks through His Word, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. God did not answer Saul’s appeals because Saul had not followed God’s previous instructions.

Are you dissatisfied with God? Are you dissatisfied with His lack of answer to your prayers? Are you dissatisfied with the answer that He has given you? So what do you do? Will you seek out other forms of advice that are not of God? Are you willing to disobey God to get the answers that you want? Saul invited evil into his life because he did not want the answers that God gave him. He sought out the occult when God did vend the right product from the vending machine. That is why many of us drift toward making ourselves god and seeking alternatives other than God. We can drift into evil so easily. And when we become dissatisfied with God, and want to take matters into our hands like Saul, we are open season for Satan.

I am not saying that all of us will experience encounters with oppression or possession of some of these flashy instances of Satan’s existence because more often that Satan’s influence in our lives is more subtle – like a frog sitting in a pot of water where the heat is gradually, gradually increased to the point of boiling. The frog doesn’t even realize what is happening to him until it too late. It is the same most often with sin. We gradually allow ourselves to get entangled with sin because we want to do what we want to do. Satan entices us to do what we want rather than obey. He exists. He is real. He is sometimes blatant as in the examples I have given but most often he is beautiful and sly and invites his world little by little.

We must rebuke Him in the name of Jesus and take heed of God’s Word and obey, not because we are robots but because we love God and know that He wants to keep us from the harm that following Satan openly or subtly can bring to our lives.

Amen and Amen.

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Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 (Part 5 of 7)

A Call to Love and Obedience

 

One of the dangers of writing yesteday’s blog about the fact that we serve God because of thanksgiving for what He saved us from is that it might cause people to want salvation out of a sense of needing “fire insurance.” True salvation, however, comes from seeing and understanding the punishment we deserve and laying ourselves at the feet of Jesus Christ and begging him to cover us in His mercy. There are some though that want salvation so as to ensure that they do not go to hell. When salvation is purchasing “fire insurance” (when we fear the alternative of heaven), then it is not salvation at all.

 

As children, there is a difference between obeying our parents because we have a reverent respect for their authority than it is to obey them because we fear getting beaten for not obeying them. When a child lives in a violent home under the dictatorial rule of an uneven father, it is like living a life walking on eggshells. A child living in that environment obeys the father simply to keep the peace, to keep from getting beaten. And it is often not just the children who have to live this way, most of the time, it is a wife who has to live this way as well. They live in fear of suffering the wrath of the husband. Life becomes about figuring out what the father’s likes and dislikes are and how not to set them off into a physical rage. It is no way to live. Fear is not a great motivator. Fear will teach us to avoid punishment rather than teach us permanent life lessons.

 

My home growing up was one where I knew that my dad was the boss. I knew that he would punish me for violating his rules. When I was young kid, it was often a whipping but as I grew older while living at home, it was the loss of freedoms (restrictions) that began to be his preferred form of punishment. I knew dad was in authority. But although I respected him, I also loved him. He was the same guy that would wrestle with us in the floor. He was the same guy that would sit and talk to us and give us advice on how to live life. He was the one who would teach us stuff about life. He was the one that would joke around with us. He would play ball with us. Bottom line, I knew that my dad loved me. I knew too that he was dad, and he was the ultimate authority in our house. There was that tension between knowing that he loved us and realizing that he was the boss. I obeyed my father’s rules as much as I could not because of fear but because I respected him and I trusted that he had a reason for his requests of me and my behavior. I obeyed my father as much as I could because I did not want to see that look of disappointment on his face when we did not obey. That was the motivator. Making my dad proud and seeing him smile when realize we got the point was my motivator. I knew that my dad loved me and had my best interest at heart (even if I did not want to admit it). I think that is a whole different ballgame than obeying someone out of fear alone. I wanted to see the smile on my dad’s face when I obeyed rather than that look of how I let him down when I did not. That would be the worst. Disappointing him. That feeling was worse than any punishment.

 

Obeying a parent out of knowing that they love you and not because of the fear of losing the peace was what I thought of this morning. With that idea of obedience out of love in mind, let’s read Deuteronomy 10:12-11:7 together:

 

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

 

14 To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. 16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. 21 He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. 22 Your ancestors who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky.

Love and Obey the Lord

 

11 Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. 2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm; 3 the signs he performed and the things he did in the heart of Egypt, both to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his whole country; 4 what he did to the Egyptian army, to its horses and chariots, how he overwhelmed them with the waters of the Red Sea[a] as they were pursuing you, and how the Lord brought lasting ruin on them. 5 It was not your children who saw what he did for you in the wilderness until you arrived at this place, 6 and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab the Reubenite, when the earth opened its mouth right in the middle of all Israel and swallowed them up with their households, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. 7 But it was your own eyes that saw all these great things the Lord has done

 

In this series of blogs, we are talking about how we should relate to God. Today, we look at why we should obey God as part of that relationship. When I think about my relationship with my dad, I obeyed him because I knew he had my best interest ultimately at heart. I obeyed him because I would rather someone kick me in the gut than see my dad look at me with disappointment in his eyes. I obeyed my father because I knew he loved me. I knew too he would not forever hold my misbehaviors against me provided that I had learned my lesson from his discipline. It is the same way with our Father in heaven.

 

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!” Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:17. When we are remade by the Holy Spirit, we understand that God loves us and that we should obey His commands not out of a sense that we are trying avoid hell by doing all the right things. We should obey His commands not because we are trying to keep the peace with some capricious, remote God. We should obey His commands because we know that He knows what’s best for us. We should obey His commands because we love Him and would rather have a punch in the gut than for God to be disappointed in us. We obey because we want God to smile because we get the point that He is trying to make. We obey God because we know that we are loved by Him. We know this because He sent us His Son so that we could be reconciled to Him.

 

We obey God not because we want to avoid hell but rather because we love our Abba Father and we know that He loves us. When we accept Christ as our Savior and He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, yes, that is when we realize what we have been saved from – the depths of hell. But it is also reminds us of how much God loves us – that though we are not perfect that we are worth saving. That though we deserve hell, He loves us so much that He gave us Jesus. Love motivates us not fear. Avoiding hell is no motivator, but pleasing a loving God who we know has our best interest at heart is. We obey because of love not fear. We obey because there is evidence of God’s love for us through Jesus’ sacrifice. We obey not to impress. We obey to make our Father in heaven smile. We obey because of love.

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 14:13-25 (Part 3 of 4)

Moses Intercedes for the People

One of the differences between boys and girls that I learned during the 10 years of dating, then marriage, to my second wife (with her three boys) back in 1994-2004 was that boy, oh boy, how boys are different from girls. When those who try to claim unisex approaches to parenting and unisex approaches to life in our society, they just fail to see that boys and girls, and men and women are just fundamentally different. We should celebrate the difference but we try our best to eradicate it in society. But my little case study of the wiring of boys vs. that of girls during my second marriage is proof that God designed us, men and women, to be different and it is evident early on.

 

In my second marriage, we were a blended family. My second wife had three boys and I had two girls. The irony of that was not lost on me. You would have thought that either one of us could have a mixture of sexes in our children. What are the odds of a second marriage where one spouse brings 3 of the same sex of children while the other spouse brings 2 of the opposite sex of children? I would venture to guess that the odds were pretty staggering. It was the fact that girls and boys are different and react to things differently that had a lot to do with the undoing of that marriage. There were other factors but this one was always center stage in many of the conflicts between me and my second wife.

 

When my second wife and I got married, her boys were ages 10, 6, and 3 and my girls were ages 10 and 5. Five kids under the age of 11. Can you imagine? Wow, when I look back on that now. I ask that younger Mark at age 33 in 1995 when we got married, “Are you freakin’ crazy?” But it did teach me a few things about parenting boys and girls at the same time. The main thing that I learned is that boys are hard-headed and girls are timid. With my girls, usually a stern look, a stern discussion about errors in their behavior were sufficient to at least curtail that kind of behavior. Girls are tender and want love and approval and, thus, a stern talking-to would lead to reforms in behavior in a permanent way. Yell at them once and that would be enough to end whatever behavior that you wanted to stop. Sure, that is a generalization, and there were times that they willfully disregarded my instructions but generally the girls just wanted my approval more than anything else so that was a behavior modifier in and of itself.

 

Boys. Boy, oh boy, how they are different. I guess God designed boys (who later become men) so that they can survive in the world and be providers for their families and sometimes that involves rebelling against authority to do what is needed to provide. It is that hunter-gatherer mentality. We are wired, as boys and men, to figure out ways to get around things and solve problems where we come out the victor (coming back to the stone age camp with food for the family). We are wired to see something and get around it. With the boys, being boys, they were stubborn. I would have to repeat rules of behavior that I had established in the home on a daily basis. They would act each day as if the rule or rules were completely new and they had no knowledge of the rule’s existence. You’d have to tell them the same thing over and over again to the point of frustration. Boys would rather run through a brick wall than around it. Girls will collaborate together and figure out how to work together to scale the wall. Now, that I look back on it, both my second wife and I should have not expected the girls and the boys to be any different than who they were wired to be. It was that expectation of sameness that was the undoing. The irony of it all was that it should have been a boy/girl discussion but it become my kids vs. your kids with no middle ground of understanding the differences between the sexes.

 

But when reading through the passage today, it was the stubbornness of the boys that leapt into my mind today. And, I think, in general all boys are like that. I was probably like that with my parents. As boys, we push the limits of our parents to see how far we can go and see just what we can get away with before the hammer falls. My second wife’s boys were the poster boys for boys. They were stubborn. They were willful. Repeatedly getting in trouble for violating house rules and acting all shocked as if the rules did not exist. It was a test of wills that was for sure. Me, as stepdad, and them, as stepsons. It was not the best of relationships in those days. I was always on the boys about something. Trying to get them to behave well and do the right thing and to not be self-centeredly selfish all the time. I was trying to grow them into men because the world is not kind to men if they are not ready to be out in the adult world. It wasn’t until about maybe 4 years ago that one of the boys thanked me for being tough on them. He said I know we boys were a handful back then and I appreciate your trying to make us into men. His attitude had changed. Why? He had a boy of his own. Stubborn. Willful. And a handful to deal with. We both agreed that its funny how we get paid back and the cycle continues of parenting boys. He said you don’t stop loving them but they can drive you crazy.

 

As we read through Numbers 14:13-25 for the third time today, let us think about how God had to be so totally frustrated with the stubbornness of the Israelites and rightfully so. They were a stubborn, willful people. The way I relate to how God felt was thinking back to the days of raising stepsons for a decade:

 

13 Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. 14 And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, Lord, are with these people and that you, Lord, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you put all these people to death, leaving none alive, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 16 ‘The Lord was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath, so he slaughtered them in the wilderness.’

 

17 “Now may the Lord’s strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.’ 19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

 

20 The Lord replied, “I have forgiven them, as you asked. 21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth, 22 not one of those who saw my glory and the signs I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness but who disobeyed me and tested me ten times— 23 not one of them will ever see the land I promised on oath to their ancestors. No one who has treated me with contempt will ever see it. 24 But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it. 25 Since the Amalekites and the Canaanites are living in the valleys, turn back tomorrow and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.”

 

Here in this passage, Numbers 14:13-25, we know that God was not exaggerating when He said that Israelites had again and again failed to trust and obey Him. There is a litany of times that they showed a complete lack of respect for the authority of God:

 

  • Not wanting to cross the Red Sea (Exodus 14)
  • Complaining over the bitter water at Marah (Exodus 15)
  • Complaining in the wilderness (Exodus 16)
  • Collecting more than the daily quota of manna (Exodus 16)
  • Complaining over the lack of water at Rephidim (Exodus 17)
  • Engaging in idolatry with a golden calf (Exodus 32)
  • Complaining at Taberah (Numbers 11)
  • More complaining over the lack of delicious food (Numbers 11)
  • And finally…failing to trust God’s protection when presented with the Promised Land (Numbers 14)

 

This is not an exhaustive list of their complaints and willfulness before the Lord but you get the gist. In some places in the Old Testament, the Bible calls the Israelites “a stiff-necked people”. They were just stubborn boys. They often willfully disobeyed the Lord because they did not like being told what to do. There were always consequences to the bad behavior of my former stepsons. It would take a while for me to get to the point of being tired of the constant disobedience but you do get there and those were bad times in the house. Just as we will see here in the rest of Numbers, there were consequences to be paid for disobedience. God got fed up. He said you are on restrictions for the rest of your life. You are restricted from the Promised Land. Only your children will inherit the Promised Land not you.

 

Is this God of wrath stuff? No. When you read the litany of disobediences that lead up to the banishing then you understand why God did what He did. Just as parents of boys can get fed up with their constant pushing of the limits and stepping over the lines in the sand. In the same way, God lets you and me suffer the consequences of our non-biblical decisions. Speaking of my second marriage, don’t think for a minute that I do not see that my making a woman my god and access to sex my god that God allowed me to walk down that path. He said OK if you want to put a woman before me, how bout this, I am going to let you suffer through the whole second marriage thing with my kids vs. your kids, girls vs. boys thing. I am going to give you some tough boys to raise. I am going to allow you to have this whole kids thing to become the focus of your marriage rather than what you wanted and thought this marriage was going to be about. All of our ungodly decisions have consequences that we do not count on. God allows us to live with the results of our bad choices that are in disobedience to His Word.

 

But the crazy thing is that He still loves us while we are mired in the results of our decisions that are against His will. He will always be there when we get sick and tired of being mired in the just punishment that we deserve. When we come to Him in true repentance, He will show us the path to righteousness. He will show us the way out of the mess that we have made for ourselves. Even when we are a stiff-necked people, God still loves us. But, we must have the scales drop from our eyes that blind us to the reality of the pig sty that we have made of our lives and come to Him in humility. We must repent and seek the favor of the Lord through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for our sins. We will be restored through Christ to a right relationship with Him. He will then allow us to enter the Promised Land.

 

Amen and Amen.

Luke 21:1-4 — Yesterday, we talked about how we must rewrite Scripture to avoid shining the light of the Bible on our own shortcomings when it comes to giving unto the Lord. Today, we will talk about honoring God with our finances and trusting Him with the results.

How do we honor people in our lives? We give them awards. We give them special recognition. We give them gifts. When we do this, we are saying you are important to me. You are worthy of the praise that I am giving you. Men, how do we honor our wives? We remember anniversaries. We shower them with flowers. We also honor them by opening doors for them. We honor them by telling them that they are beautiful. We honor them by giving required answers such as, “No darling, that dress does not make you look fat!” We honor them by taking them on romantic getaways for the weekend. We honor them by providing for their needs and making them feel secure. We do so many things to honor our wives and to let them know that they are important to us.

What if? What if we gave them some flowers we found in a trash can on our way home on the day of our anniversary, or her birthday, or some other important occasions. What if for a romantic weekend getaway we gave them a weekend at a Days Inn in Duncan, SC (no offense to Duncan. I live there and I am proud of my town but its not romantic getaway place for sure). What if you went out with the boys on a Friday and showed up at home at 10:30 telling your wife that its time for your date with what time’s left in the evening? What if…? You get the picture. Giving your wife your leftover time, giving your wife your leftover gifts, giving your wife just what you can scrounge up is not the secret to a happy marriage.

I use this illustration to point out that if you wouldn’t dare to treat the lady in your life in this manner, why then do we treat God this way. He is supposed to be the most important thing in our lives. We are told to put God first in our lives. We are told to love God with all of our mind, heart, soul and strength. Our love affairs with our wives are supposed to be symbolic of the way we are in love with God. We are to love God and put Him first in our lives. We are to love God and put Him first in every aspect of our lives. We are even supposed to put Him ahead of our spouses. All of us buy into this concept. I believe it to be true. If you do not get your relationship with God right, if you don’t put Him first in everything that you do in life, none of the rest of your life works properly. None of our relationships work right when we put something above God. However, there is alway a but, as the old saying goes. Why is it that we treat God like a left over pork chop in the fridge when it comes to our finances. We rewrite Scripture so that we can ignore his command to give him a tenth of what we make at least.

We give Him the leftover $20 bill from our Saturdays out on the town. We give Him the leftover $20 from our Saturdays at Death Valley or Williams-Brice. We give Him the leftover $20 after we pay for the Jet Ski. We give Him the leftover $20 after we pay for the house that we cannot afford. You get the picture. Your wife would not stand for you just giving her hand-me-down gifts of your leftover time so why do we treat God in this way. We should shower Him with praise and no place is this more evident than giving Him praise in our finances. Let us give Him praise by arranging our lives where we live off of 90% or less of our income so that we honor Him. If you stand and give praise to the Lord and say Amen when you hear that He knitted you together in your mother’s womb, but yet say it is your talents and your money, then are saying that you do not believe that He gave you your talents. Let us praise Him with the full honor and glory that He deserves in every area of our lives. Let us give Him praise by honoring His Word and accepting all of it as valid to our lives.

Do you trust God? Apparently, most of us don’t when it comes to our finances. We feel like we are throwing our money away when we give it to God. There is no obvious benefit to it, many of us think. How can I pay for all the things that I have to pay for and still give to this black hole for which I see no return on my investment. Have you ever thought that it is all the things that you have to pay is the reason that there is this constant state of emergency when it comes to your finances. When you give to the Lord through your local church, it has nothing to do with bankrolling the pastor team’s lifestyle. It has nothing to do with funding church outreach, church programs, etc. It has everything to do with trusting God. Do you trust God enough to take Him at his Word. This is one area of life that God invites us to test Him. In Malachi 3:10, He says it. The Lord said, “”Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” He says this after He curses Israel for having robbed Him by not bringing the best of the best as an offering to Him. When have lived our lives for our things that we want and have only leftovers for God, there is a lack of trust there.

I know this for a fact in my own life. Chasing the American Dream of having what everyone else has regardless of my financial situation left me in such a bind that I could not make ends meet even when I was making good money. It wasn’t until my wife suggested that I clean my credit up and get all my debts paid off. Although it was just her concern for my credit that motivated that fateful conversation, it was the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Slowly but surely over the years we began paying off my debts and worked our way into tithing. Now, talk about a change in perspective. When we give God the first fruits of our labor, it changes your perspective on things. We no longer care if we have the finest house, finest car, we have found peace in living off much less than we make. There is peace in that. That is the blessing. It is the peace in knowing that we are obeying God. It is peace in knowing that we have never done without when we have trusted God with the tithe. It is peace knowing that we are not leaving a legacy of debt to our children. It is peace knowing that we don’t have to have the latest and greatest (because guess what, within six months it’s going to be replaced by the newest of the latest and greatest). Giving God the first fruits of your money changes your perspective toward things of God rather than things of this earth. It gives you a new perspective on helping others rather than acquiring new debt. The devil wants us broke and overextended. Because when we are broke and overextended, our mind is not on God. Our mind is not on others. We are caught up in the me factory of endless payments. We are then ineffective.

Do you trust God with your money? He invites you to honor Him with your money. He says test me in this. He says test me in obedience to His Word. Do you trust God? Do you honor God?