May 1, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 24:1-22

“The development of character is at the heart of our development not just as leaders, but as human beings.” ~ John Maxwell

It is easy to read today’s passage and see a bunch of rules and regulations for the Israelites. Many of which seem very outdated and hard for us to apply to our everyday lives. However, as we look at each of these laws we can see one major theme of character. Each of these laws forces the Israelites to act in a way that exhibits the character of God. These laws call Israel to be loving and kind to the poor (v.12-15; 19-22), How to treat their neighbor (v.10), how to respond rightly in the case of a divorce (v.1-4) and how to put family first (v.5).

So today I would like to challenge each of us to do an assignment from John Maxwell’s book, “The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader.” I hope that this helps each of us cultivate the character of Christ in our own lives.

To improve your character, do the following:

Search for the Cracks. Spend some time looking at the major areas of your life (work, marriage, family, service, etc.) and identify anywhere you might have cut corners, compromised, or let people down. Write down every instance you can recall from the past two months.

Look for patterns. Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing? Detectable patterns will help you diagnose character issues.

Face the music. Then beginning of character repair comes when you face your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions. Create a list of people to whom you need to apologize for your actions, and then follow through with sincere apologies.

It’s one thing to face up to your past actions. It’s another to build a new future. Now that you’ve identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.

Posted: Chad Wiles

April 30, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 23:1-25

Well, isn’t this just one of the most awkward passages of Scripture about which to write?  Nestled in amongst some of the awkwardness is verse 14, which, in my opinion, is the key verse.

The camp must be holy, for the LORD your God moves around in your camp to protect you and to defeat your enemies. He must not see any shameful thing among you, or he will turn away from you.—Deut. 23:14 (NLT)

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary gives this insight:  “The camp of the Lord must have nothing offensive in it.”

Let that be something of which we have great understanding.  The camp of the Lord must not have anything offensive in it.  Well, shucks, that isn’t a very hopeful verse for a sinner like me because I am offensive to the Lord various times throughout a typical day.

Now that you’ve recognized your inability to even be considered part of the Lord’s camp according to the merit of your sin, let the requirement for holiness and cleanliness point you towards the great news of the Great Redeemer’s great righteousness that is greatly lavished on those who surrender to His lordship and receive his forgiveness.

All of the commands of the Old Testament, even the ones that seem awkward and difficult to understand, point toward the need to be holy in order to fully engage in proper communion with the Lord.  We know that we cannot measure up to the standards of the Law, but “thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” that allows us the privilege to “draw near to the throne of grace with confidence.”

Now, on a different note, check out verse 23a. “You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips…” (NASB).These words sparked a thought that I want to communicate to both you and myself:  Please don’t promise to do something or commit to be part of something if you don’t plan to complete your promise or fulfill your commitment.

It’s intriguing to me how easily people back out of their commitments.  If someone agrees to be on a ministry team or a committee, he/she should fulfill that commitment.  I understand there are extenuating circumstances that get in the way at times, but we should all strive to do what we say we are going to do.

So, there ya go.  I hope this was helpful.  Oh, and I am thankful for toilets (vs. 12-13).

Posted: Rich Duffield

April 29, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 22:13-30

Sexual sin is something that is rampant in our day and age. People live together, hookup, and don’t think twice about it. We also see perversions happen in many different forms. These things have been around since the very beginning and continue to worsen. Sadly, in today’s world, not only are these practices acceptable but they are celebrated. People write songs and make movies based on these very things. Even in the church these things are happening, or at least are having an effect on people. We have become desensitized to it. In today’s passage, God is clear that not only are these things not acceptable, but they are downright abominable. When we accept these things God’s law required retribution, many times death. Now, I am not saying we round up everyone and kill them but we clearly have to change how we view these things. We have to understand a very important principle here:

The things that upset God should upset us

 Sadly, there are many sins, not just sexual, that we just smirk at or totally miss because we are used to it. We need to be, as God’s word tells us, “Excellent at what is good and innocent of evil”. Now, we also have to balance this out with grace. People sin and mess up. We have to teach God’s truth and stand for what is right but we can’t be Bible-thumping mini-judges. Just as we stand on what God says about despising sin we are also to stand on what God says about loving others and giving grace and forgiving people. This is truth in love. For many of us we practice more of one than the other. We will either have “righteous” anger against sin but not be as willing to receive those in love who do the sinning or we just love everyone for who they are, basically ignoring habits, lifestyles, and sinful activities that they are involved in. We have to be balanced here. God judges sin, but He is the same God who sent Jesus to save those who do the sinning. That is the same heart we need to have.

 

Posted: Robbie Byrd

April 28, 2014

Today you should read: Deuteronomy 22:1-12

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12

This is the passage we call the Golden Rule. Jesus said it sums up the rest of His commands for us to treat others in the manner we want to be treated. We all know this verse – but what does it mean to live it out practically in our lives?

Think Selflessly
We are by nature – very selfish. We focus on what we want, how we want it, and the quickest means to arrive there. If you don’t believe me – just keep up with how many times you switch the conversation to a subject about you – try and get ahead of someone in line – think about yourself first. Living the golden rule means getting our attention off of ourselves and onto others. Listen to the words the Holy Spirit wrote through Paul’s hand in Philippians 2…

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Live Carefully
Manners have become – in many ways – a thing of the past. This is unfortunate. If we are to live the Golden Rule – we must live carefully. Thinking before we speak – weigh our steps before we act – always conscious of how we affect others around us. This is especially difficult when it comes to reactions. Reactions can’t be planned like actions can.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20

So… the next time your run into your neighbor’s ox or sheep or donkey – or a bird along the way – ask yourself – What would I want them to do for me? …and do it.

Posted: Tim Parsons