Should We Follow Crazy Old Testament Laws?
Pastor Joshua Humpa
Verse of the Day:
He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups.
While reading the deep corners of the Old Testament, have you ever wondered why we don’t follow the same customs and laws that Old Testament Jews followed? You read anything from Leviticus or parts of Exodus and it’s almost bizarre the things that were put into law. Back then, followers of God were not allowed to eat sausage or pepperoni pizza. If you skipped church on Sunday, you were due death by stoning. Some laws still make sense today, like do not murder, but others, like don’t eat shrimp, seem misplaced. Why were those laws made law? Do we need to obey them today, especially if they are in the Bible?
To understand the context of these laws, we must realize the three categories that the laws fell into. There were civil laws to ensure the nation of Israel could survive in the time and age they lived in. There were ceremonial laws to demonstrate to Israel how significant sin was and what God would do about it. Finally, there were moral laws that reflected God’s assessment on what is wrong and right. When Jesus came, He said Himself that He has not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. What He’s saying is that He didn’t come to get rid of the entire law and call it useless, but instead would be the final achievement that the law was built for. Because Jesus lived a sinless, perfect life He became the final sacrifice for all of humanity and in respects fulfilled the laws given.
There are certain laws that we don’t follow today because Jesus fulfilled them and they aren’t needed anymore. We don’t sacrifice animals for our sins because Jesus became the final sacrifice. In fact, if we sacrificed animals for our sins today, it would be offensive to Jesus because He took care of that so we would never have to do it again. We no longer need to fulfill the law in order to meet God’s standards, Jesus opened the door for us. Now we obey the law because we love God and want to obey Him. God doesn’t have a nation-state on Earth anymore, so many of the rules set up for Israel do not apply to us. When Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, He made a way for all people, whether Jew or not, to have a relationship with God. We went from two separate groups of people, God’s chosen people and everyone else, to all nations becoming children of God. We please God because we love Him… but sometimes I wish we could inherit the every 7 year debt forgiveness plan that Israel had.
It’s A Process
Pastor Shawn Follis
Verse of the day:
I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. (Ephesians 1:16-17)
Do you remember back to that day you first cried out to Jesus and gave your life over to him? Do you remember the Joy and Happiness that came rushing in? Along with those emotions, do you remember having a desire to tell others about this great event that just happened in your life?
I find it interesting that the time that we have the most energy to share our faith with others is also the same time that we know the least about our faith. As we grow in spiritual wisdom and insight, we learn about all the great things that God has done for us and what he is working in us; yet our zeal for sharing that information wanes.
As believers, we should be growing in our understanding of who God is, how to study His Word, and how to process our belief in the context of His Word. We should be gaining in spiritual wisdom and gaining new insights. If you don’t know it by now, you need to know that this will not happen by just attending a Sunday morning worship service once a month. This will not happen just listening to Christian Radio. This only happens as you sit down with God’s Word on a daily basis, whether in personal study or in a small group context. It is also cultivated by your participation in a larger church context several times a week, not just Sunday Morning.
Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus that they would continue to gain spiritual wisdom and insight from God so that they could grow in the knowledge of God. Today I pray that for you as well. I pray that you will find a place to grow your faith. We can grow in our faith through sharing it. We can grow through our faith by reading and studying God’s word. Get into a process today. God is molding you and shaping you. You will only be an effective witness when you can combine that zeal for sharing Jesus with the spiritual Knowledge and revelation of who he is. It is a process; so now proceed.
How To Save A Life
Pastor Dan Wootton
Verse of the day:
"Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path." (Galatians 6:6 NLT)
I could see it in his eyes. I was too late. The window of opportunity had passed. I wanted to reason with him. I wanted to unwind the past six months, but steps had already been taken. Decisions were made, and the exit ramp was now closed. I was too late.
I’ve had experiences like this a dozen times over. A godly person is fixated on an ungodly path, and they cannot be deterred. Selfish desire has reframed their perspective, and now, they only see one path. They will destroy relationships; they will walk away from Christian community; they will abandon previously held beliefs all for the stubborn prize of satisfaction.
It’s easy to acknowledge sin in the final chapter, but the opportunity for intervention occurs at a far earlier date. The scenario I mentioned above was a friend who fell in love with a married woman. By the time I realized what was going on, it was too late. The day does come when correction can bring more harm than help. Ranting at someone after they’ve made an ungodly decision is unproductive. Offering gentle and humble guidance in the early stages can make a world of difference. Consider these applications when approaching a close friend…
1. Speak Gently // Choose kind words and safe locations for difficult conversations. People will listen longer if they believe you truly care.
2. Speak Humbly // Operate as a peer—not as an authority. All have sinned. We can sympathize with the weight of temptation. We can sympathize with the injuries of sin.
3. Speak Now // Don’t wait until tomorrow. Temptation drives deeper everyday. If God is leading you to reach out, don’t delay. The opportunity is now.
Love your neighbor as yourself
Pastor Ken Beach
Verse of the day:
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. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Galatians 5:13-14 NLT)
Those who stand in the grace of Jesus have been freed from sin and are free from the curse of the Law which condemns them. They are recipients of the promise of Abraham, children by faith, and citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem.
But freedom comes with responsibility, and followers of Jesus should have no desire to sin. This truth explains why Paul has spent so much time focusing on the offense of the cross. Unless we understand the debt we owe and the price Jesus paid, we will struggle to live as we should. When we know and remember why He died, then we will want to die to sin daily.
“Love your neighbor as yourself” is one of God’s guiding principles and is referred to as the “second greatest commandment,” behind the first, which was to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.”
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters” (vs 13). What good news. But we must use our freedom correctly and Love one another.
The freedom referred to here goes against our human nature. We often think of freedom as a green light to do anything we want, as long as we don’t hurt others. But this is a shallow definition, and certainly not a biblical one. Love is not defined merely by the things we don’t do to hurt others. It is the full expression of Jesus’ love through every step we take, every word we speak, everything we do and every hand we extend to another.
Freedom can be a beautiful thing if we remember the price that Jesus paid to win it. Anything else isn’t really freedom. So let God’s principles be seen in the freedom we enjoy daily.
Grocery Lists and Generosity
Pastor Tom Murray
One Year Bible Reading Guide
Verse of the Day:
But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.
Isaiah 32:8 (NLT)
You finish your grocery shopping. Everything on your list is in your cart and you roll up to the checkout lane to pay.
(Side note: Why do grocery stores have three dozen checkout lanes but only staff four of them? Have you ever seen all of the lanes open?)
You have everything you came for. Then, the checkout lane is lined with many items you didn’t come for, but may very well end up going home with you. Grocers put items you are likely to buy on impulse right in front of you.
“No, I didn’t plan on buying a pack of gum, family size bag of chocolate and gossip magazine - but, yes - get on the conveyor belt!”
To be impulsive means to take action without giving much thought to what you’re about to do. Doing good for others is not supposed to be like impulsive shopping.
A message God gave through Isaiah says, “generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity” (Isaiah 32:8 NLT).
To be generous means to go beyond what is required or expected. We have the capacity to be generous with our time, money, possessions and talents.
Living life God’s way is to plan to be generous. It is to strive to consistently show kindness in a way that goes beyond what usual or necessary. It is to give of our best, not just our leftovers.
This description of generosity in Isaiah is a readiness to give based on intention, not emotion.
Being intentional is the opposite of impulsive. God’s plan for generosity has much more in common with shopping with a grocery list than shopping impulsively. A good grocery shopping list is developed out of planning meals in advance, reviewing menus and schedules, and ensuring you have the right quantities.
Planned generosity means we are putting advanced thought into where we are going to be generous with our resources.
Yes, there are certainly moments when we are moved to do something for someone because of an appeal to our emotions. However, if that is the only time we give selflessly, we are not experiencing the full blessing linked to generosity that God has is in mind for us.
What's In Your Heart?
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
Verse of the day:
“And so the Lord says, “These people say they are mine. They honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. And their worship of me is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote.” (Isaiah 29:13 NLT)
My two year old daughter is increasingly becoming more vocal. While she is working on this skill I try to teach her the polite way to say things. When she doesn’t want something, or doesn’t like something, I have tried to teach her to say “no thank you”. However, what I didn’t anticipate was her yelling those words at me and at others. Her words are polite and correct, but the tone and the heart behind them is all wrong.
We can say the right thing but have the wrong heart. I can tell my husband I love him, but if I don’t mean it in my heart or show it with my actions what good are my words? My words would be sickening to him because they mean nothing.
This is what is happing in Isaiah 29. The people were saying the right things; they were saying they belonged to God but they were far from Him. They became caught up in the rituals of worshiping God but it was only in words and rituals and not in their heart. God could see through to their hearts and found what they were doing repulsive. The words were right but their hearts were wrong.
It can be easy to get into the grind of life and neglect the health of our own hearts. We can say and do the right things toward God but if our hearts are far from Him it all means nothing. What’s the state of your heart today? If it has started to drift you can back to where you should be today.
Make The Choice
Pastor Shawn Follis
Verse of the day:
“But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress. (Psalms 59:16)
Worship is not about feelings. Worship is about expressing what we know about God to be true, even if we don’t feel the benefits of it at the time. I am sure when we read about Paul and Silas singing in the prison cell (Acts 16) they were not feeing the benefits of God’s power and his unfailing love. I would guess that they were feeling more pain, weariness, and a bit alone. Yet in their dark moment they let out a song that would shake the place where they were being held. They sang of God’s power even though they felt very powerless in that moment. However, their praise shook the very prison that was holding them.
So many times in life we focus on the situations around us instead of who God is and what we know God can do. We need to focus on our God and make the choice to praise him. We must sings songs and let the words we sing become the attitude of our heart and mind. We need to use the power of our words to encourage ourselves to know that God is bigger than any situation.
So next time you are feeling like you are struggling, like God may have forgotten you or at very least is far from you, then make the choice to praise him. Praise him for the thing that you need. Praise his strength and power when you are weak. Praise his love and grace when you feel unloved and abandoned. Praise his mercy and justice when you feel wronged. Direct your praise toward your situation. It is a way to acknowledge that you know what God can do and it invites him to move in and be that for you. Make the choice to praise.
The Rescuer God
Pastor Joshua Humpa
Verse of the Day:
Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. (Galatians 1:4)
Just spending a week in Disney, it's eye opening how many people there are in this world. When you're in your home environment, it's easy to forget about the rest of the world. Sure, you're aware there's a world out there, but to cognitively comprehend the people who eat, laugh, need shelter, and want the same desires fulfilled as you can easily be lost on us. I'm not a news junkie, and I don't think about other people around the world constantly, but after a week where the majority of the people around me spoke different languages, it puts things into perspective.
Jesus came to rescue all of us from this evil world. All. Everyone. Even the people that stand too close to you in lines. Even the person who cuts in front of you at the last second. Even those evil people were on God's heart when he planned to rescue us. We messed up this world and we continue to make it worse everyday. The suffering or even annoyances weren't part of God's plan. Thankfully this isn't it.
To God, a soul is a soul. His desire is for every soul to accept His rescue package and spend eternity with Him. Even the person who is talking way to loud on their phone, or stole your lunch from the fridge. Please pray today for the people you encounter on a regular basis that don't know about God's rescue plan, and share the good news with them. Then, let's pray for the people around the world that haven't accepted Jesus to have their eyes opened and give and go so everyone will know.
Pastor Jon Brooks
2 Corinthians 13:1-14
Verse of the day:
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
The other night my girls went upstairs to take a bath. I heard the water running so about 15 minutes later I went to check up on things. I asked Krista if she had taken her bath. Her response was ‘yes’. So I did a brief examination.
Was her hair wet?
Were her pajamas on?
No further examination was needed. She had not taken her bath.
The Apostle Paul tells you and I to test ourselves to examine if our faith is genuine. It’s easy for us to take it for granted that we are followers of Christ yet real faith is not afraid of questioning. To simply ask whether we have faith or are we Christian may not get to the heart of the matter. A life of faith will be evidenced in lots of objective ways. Faith will change how we treat others, how we spent our time, how we use our money, our goals in life and much, much more. Here are a few questions that may be helpful as you and I test our faith…