Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Tag: Psalms 89

Accusations

April 7 – Today’s Readings – Deuteronomy 19-21 and Psalms 97

Chapter 19:16-19 reads, “If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime…, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the LORD before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you.”

The gist of this passage teaches that the witness who dishonestly accuses another of committing a crime or of doing something immoral should suffer the same consequence as the accused would have if found guilty. This kind of thinking would be a refreshing addition to our justice system. Just imagine one politician falsely accusing another of impropriety – being found out – then having to resign or go to jail for his lying accusation. The media too would have to mind their words before defaming an innocent person. Think of all the “charges” that can completely ruin people because of the suggestion that they did such and such. I, for one, would be cheering loud and long if some of those false accusers would end up paying fines or serving time for trying to destroy a good person’s reputation. Better yet, they should be made to pay the person they were accusing directly! There are plenty of malicious people around who gladly accuse others because there is really no punishment or consequence for this crime.

I also enjoyed the section in Chapter 20 starting at verse 5 where the officers of the army were instructed to send anyone home who was not prepared to put aside distractions and to have faith in God for victory in battle. This attitude speaks to the heart of effective christian service and we too must embrace it if “the army of the Lord” is to fulfill it’s “commission”. Few things are harder to bear than negative attitudes and lack of confidence and unity when it comes to a community of people moving forward. We do indeed have a great task at hand and it will take members who are willing to put distractions aside and focus (with faith and trust) on the mission that is laid before us.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 sums up the general attitude Paul adopted in order to fulfill God’s calling on his life – “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” I personally am not big into “beating my body”, but we will never do all God has called us to if we do not let the Holy Spirit shape certain disciplines into our lives.

Questions:

1.       Think of an example from your life, where things would have felt different if a “malicious witness” had been made to pay for their lies.

2.       How is the Holy Spirit trying to instill certain spiritual disciplines in your life so that you can be a better “spiritual soldier”?

The Heart of God

March 29 – John 15-16 and Psalms 89

It’s amazing to me how Jesus could so easily simplify concepts – and yet use such rich language doing so. Twice in this reading He insists that His simple command is; “love each other”. Seemingly, in these three words, Jesus sums up all the Commandments, the Law of Moses, all the other ceremonial laws – in fact the entire Bible. Think of it – the Spirit of the Book is “love each other” – the heart of God is to “love each other” – God’s heart for the world is “love each other” – God’s will for family and spouses is “love each other” – God’s desire within His church is “love each other” – God’s command in the workplace is “love one another”! How simple. How profound. How IMPOSSIBLE without God’s Holy Spirit!

To love is to invest in – to love is to die for – to love is to serve – to love is to be kind to – to love is to obey – to love is to cling to – to love is to be respectful of – to love is to be patient with – to love is to forgive. The list can go on and on but the heart emotion we feel from all this is that Biblical love is a far cry from what is portrayed so often in the world around us. I truly believe that it is impossible to love like God loves unless you have God in you.

He is the one who dwells in you by the Holy Spirit through whom you have a new capacity to love – not only those who are naturally close to you but also to love those who are more “unlovely”. It is God’s love that leads us to engage people in conversation in order to lead them to the Lord. It is God’s love that leads us to invest our lives in the cause of the Kingdom of God – and – it is God’s love that keeps us doing the right thing when it would be very convenient not to. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:17-20 reads, “In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”

Here is the secret then. We were made agents of love when we were born again – not the shallow kind of love that the world knows, but the God kind of love that put Jesus Christ on the cross – love that comes from an eternal understanding of things – love that comes from the depths of God’s heart towards His children as well as the lost and dying world.

Questions:

1. Which part of the “love on another” command is the hardest for you to follow – and why?

2. How does “love one another” affect your personal evangelism?

God Punishes?

September 29 – Today’s Readings – Nahum 1-3 and Psalms 89

I must deviate from my usual format today and go to the Psalms 89:32-33 were we read, “I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging, but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness.”

This thought is worth repeating because “flogging” is one of the ways God speaks to his people. Proverbs 27:6 says, “wounds from a friend can be trusted.” This is a terribly confusing statement if you do not connect with the thought process. When a friend stands in your way and you run headlong into him, you will be “wounded” – you may end up with a black eye or a bruised arm or leg. The “collision” with your good friend has caused all this – Why? Because your friend cares enough about you to stand in your way and tell you not to do the foolish thing you are about to do.

Hebrews 12:5-10 reads, “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’ Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.”

Years ago, I got into the habit of “examining myself” spiritually whenever I was in trouble or when something was going wrong in my life. The reason for this was that I wanted to know whether my problems were a the result of the Lord’s “rod” or if they stemmed from other sources such as an obstacle of the enemy – my own foolish decisions – or perhaps just “life” happening to me. I concluded that if the Lord was trying to get my attention, and I hadn’t been listening as I should to the voice of the Spirit, then he could use the “flogging” of difficult circumstance to get my attention. I truly can’t think of a time when I saw the difficult circumstance as “from the Lord”, but the truth remains – God does use this kind of thing to correct His children. What loving father does not correct his kids? Remember this – it will be immediately clear to you if God is directly involved because as soon as you examine yourself, the Holy Spirit will confirm God’s correction. Do not be like the confused Christians who say we should praise God “for all things”. This is not the case. The correct wording is; “in all things” we should praise God. Let this be your meditation today – Our Father uses loving discipline to mold us into the image of His Son.

Questions:

1. Describe a time when God used “discipline” to correct you.
2. How does God normally correct you?
3. Does God ever use “the rod of correction” to change a nation? – how about a church?

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