Your Word is a Lamp: 1st & 2nd Kings
What a quick journey we had through 1 & 2 Kings on Sunday! There are many events and many things that are recorded in those books, so I encourage you to read through them if you haven’t done so before. There are two applications I want to point out here:
May He fill us with His Spirit today so we can walk with Him!
Your Word is a Lamp: 1st & 2nd Samuel
Would you bear with me for a moment as I review the four types of theology we talked about on Sunday? They are:
We see these theologies all come into play in 1 & 2 Samuel. Among many examples I could choose from, let’s look at God being holy, which is part of our systematic theological understanding of Him. To be holy means to be pure and set apart from ordinary things. God is totally holy, perfect in all He does and in every way. God in His holiness, then, deserves to be honored, worshiped, and obeyed. But this can’t just be a mental understanding.
There are many practical applications of this, which drives our theology to be practical and pastoral. For example, when Saul did not honor God, when he didn’t fully obey what God had called him to do in 1 Sam. 15, it had a profound impact personally on Saul. By not listening to God and doing what was right in his own eyes, Saul ultimately lost his kingship. This was not good because Saul was supposed to be the one who led Israel in righteousness and not just act as their protector. Therefore God wanted a king who would want what God wanted, a king who would desire God Himself, and honor Him rightly. You could say God wanted a king who would love Him. He found that in David, and even testified that David was a man after His own heart (1 Sam 13:14). God delighted in David so much that He made a covenant with David (2 Sam 7) that David would always have a descendant upon his throne, which was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. Now we can know God and have a way of our sins being forgiven in Christ so that we can honor God as holy. And, having Christ in us means we are separated unto God, devoted to Him, and can have a heart for Him, too. Surely, theology now becomes something living and life-giving within us because we have Christ. That’s “Coat Hanger Theology” in a nutshell. All of this must drive us to hang our lives on Christ, the One who hung on the cross for us.
His Word is a Lamp: Ruth
With the faithful, You prove Yourself faithful.
Ps. 18:25a, CSB
Ruth showed herself faithful both to Naomi and, ultimately to God, when she committed herself to go wherever Naomi would go, would live where Naomi lived, Naomi’s people would be her people, and God would be her God (see Ruth 1:16-17). Once in Bethlehem, Ruth again shows her faithfulness to Naomi when she offers to go glean grain from a nearby field. She “happened” to be in the part of the field owned by Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s deceased husband. Boaz treated her kindly and ultimately married Ruth to be her Kinsman Redeemer.
This was the path of Redemption for Ruth. Only God could have orchestrated such a path.
God has orchestrated a path of redemption for us but it’s a different path. Jesus is that path. Through His life on earth, death on the cross, and resurrection, He became the pathway for our redemption. He bought us back out of slavery to serve the Father in Heaven. Only He could have done such a thing on our behalf, only He could have rescued us from sin, ourselves, and eternal lostness.
Job speaks of this, hundreds of years before Christ ever stood on the earth He created. Job said, “But I know my Redeemer lives, and at the end He will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. I will see Him myself, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me.” (Job 19:25-27, CSB)
By faith, Job knew that he would not only experience redemption but that he would see the Redeemer Himself. We would do well to have that kind of faith. Let our hearts be filled with longing for our Redeemer!
Our Redeemer lives!
His Word is a Lamp: Judges
In his book, “The Pursuit of God”, A.W. Tozer notes that “faith is the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.” The book of Judges shows that the nation of Israel would often look everywhere else but to their saving God. In fact, Judges 21:25 tells us that they would only do what seemed right in their own eyes. No wonder they got themselves into such trouble! It was only when they were oppressed, enslaved, or overrun by the surrounding nations that they would look to Him. This became part of the “sin cycle” that they would get caught up in that they would go from serving the Lord, turning to idols, being oppressed, crying out to God, and Him sending a judge who would deliver them from the hands of their enemies. This happened again and again.
One crucial part of this cycle that I emphasized on Sunday and want to re-emphasize in this moment with you is that God was gracious and merciful to listen to the voices of His people as they cried out to Him. It was then that He would send a judge to intervene on their behalf. That’s who our God is! He hears us, too. We need to keep that in mind and remind one another of that sometimes. Whatever we’re facing, we can look to Him, we can turn to Him, take refuge in Him, and ask Him for His help. Thankfully, God is the same then and now. When His people cried to Him then, He sent them help. He does the same now in Jesus. Let’s keep seeking His face!
He is merciful!
His Word is a Lamp: Joshua
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your prayers, patience, and grace while I was away from NewLife, recovering from surgery and a subsequent chest infection. I'm excited to see you all this week as we worship together.
Our friend and brother, Paul Wheatley, gave a great sermon on Sunday about Joshua, who was an excellent leader who led the nation of Israel into the Promised Land.
Here are some of the things that Paul noted about Joshua’s life:
His Word is a Lamp: Deuteronomy
Brothers and Sisters,
We don’t have to pretend that humanity has a history of not being selfish and disobedient towards God. We don’t have to pretend that we are perfect and that we have everything together. God already knows our hearts. What we are asked to do is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and help us to listen (to hear and respond).
Remember, no matter whether we want to believe it or not, we need a Savior. We need an intercessor and we deserve to be punished for our sins. Yet, God handles us with Grace and Mercy. When we have acted with disobedience and selfishness, God lavishes us with love and chooses to send us the Savior we need.
It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we can begin to truly listen and love God at the depths of our beings.
Meditate on Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and not only pray for a heart that listens and loves but also to be willing to
Impress them (God's commandments) on your children. (vs. 7)
Talk about them when you sit at home. (vs. 7)
Talk about them when you walk along the road. (vs. 7)
Talk about them when you lie down and when you get up. (vs. 7)
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. (vs. 8)
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (vs 9)
Take some time and read Joshua in preparation for next week's message.
His Word is a Lamp: Numbers
The picture in the Book of Numbers is painted ever so clearly. God's people find themselves stuck in a pattern they cannot get out of themselves. Over and over again they turn to Moses to intercede on their behalf, begging Moses to ask for mercy from God. One by one the leaders fall victim to this sin cycle. The Levites, Miriam and Aaron, and lastly Moses, himself, disobey God's commands.
It is easy to brush this off and simply quote Paul, "We all sin and fall short of the glory of God," then go about our day, living daily in that destructive cycle. Or we can go the other way and claim that we are so horrible and unworthy that nothing will ever bring us back to God's presence and we proceed without hope (not to be confused with precede which means to go before. I hear they can be easily confused. Please watch the sermon for context.)
Either extreme keeps us stuck, hopeless and disconnected from a God who desires our company, the God who willingly set up a plan for our sin to be atoned and for our hearts to be made right, able to stand in His presence once again.
We are moving into Deuteronomy as Moses gives his final farewell speech. He knows he will not enter the promised land, but he has hope that even as the new generation may (will) fail, there will be a time when the hearts of God's people will no longer be hard and selfish and that true transformation will occur. There will be a day when we all will be able to love God fully and obey His Word.
Until then, just as the Israelites did with Moses as their intercessor, we too must lean heavily on our intercessor, who is none other than Jesus. Until God's promises are fulfilled we must lean on Christ as our intercessor, our mediator, our Savior - the only One who can truly take us to God.
Come and see what God has done, His awesome deeds for mankind!
He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot-come,
let us rejoice in Him. Ps. 66:5-6, NIV
The Psalmist calls God’s people to see what awesome things God has done for His people. In particular, the Psalm writer is reminding God’s people that He miraculously made a way for them when there was no way. He opened up the impossible to make a path for them when Pharaoh and his army were chasing the Israelites and gave total victory. It’s like the Psalmist is excitedly saying, “Come and see this!! He is awesome!” This is what God did in ancient Egypt.
And, He has done the same for us in Christ. He has made a way when there was no way for salvation. When we were dead, He gave us life. When it was impossible, God did something awesome. God continues to be at work among us, His people today. This past Sunday, we paused to share some ways that we saw God at work in our lives and in the lives of our NewLife family in 2022. I trust your heart was encouraged.
May I also encourage you to look to Him, now, today? He’s not done yet. In fact, Jesus said the same thing that the Psalmist said, “Come and see.” What an invitation. I humbly think that if we do that, we will have a lot to share at next year’s “Impact Sunday”!
Blessings on the journey,
His Word is a Lamp: Leviticus
“Why would God require bloodshed for the forgiveness of sin?” That’s a good question! Why would a holy God demand such a thing? The answer is found in Leviticus 17:11. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”
So, we see here two things (among many observations that could be made):
The author of Hebrews refers to this in verse 9:22b, when it states, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Also, the author of Hebrews tells us that there had to be a better way. “But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” Heb. 10:3-4
Jesus is that better way! He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). He laid down His life for us and poured out His blood for us in the payment of our sins.
Let us then make our confession of faith in Him and let us hold on to that good confession!
May His Word continue to be Lamp for your feet!
His Word is a Lamp: Exodus
Exodus shows us that God is the One who rescues His people from slavery and sets them free so that they can know Him and worship Him. What God did for the Israelites in rescuing them and giving them an exodus from their captivity to Egypt, He has accomplished for us through Christ in rescuing us from our slavery to sin. He has done this so that we may know Him, love Him, and serve Him.
There are many pictures in Exodus that tell us the story of salvation:
Christ is the way out of our sin. The cross was God’s total judgment on our enemy: sin, death, and the devil. Christ is our Passover, for those who are covered with His blood pass from death to life. God continues to give second chances to us in Christ.
This is all based on the character of God, which He reveals to Moses as He shows Moses His glory, with Moses in the cleft of the rock. He said, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” (Ex. 34:6-7a) That’s the God we know and love through Jesus Christ. That’s the God who tells us, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Ex. 33:14)
Friends, let us look for and find rest in His Presence,