When we do not offer our best to God

“‘A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me?’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘It is you, O priests, who show contempt for my name. But you ask, ‘How have we shown contempt for your name?'” Malachi 1:6.

After this last book of the Old Testament, there would be over four hundred years of silence from God until John would become the “voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for [Jesus].'”

So there is a lot of good and important stuff packed into these four chapters, split into two main sections. Continue reading

#devotionals, #malachi, #reverence

in the presence of God

Exodus 32 chronicles the building of the golden calf made by Aaron when the Israelites began to miss Moses. Their leader seemed to have disappeared, and his second-in-command either did not know the law or did not have the spine to stand up to the people in their error. He made the idol, and according to verse 6, the people “sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.”

Fast forward to chapter 33. The people have been rebuked for their sin, and many were executed. God has withdrawn His presence from the people because He does not want to destroy them. A tradition begins of Moses meeting with God in his tent outside the camp.

And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent. Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the Lord would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent. (verses 8-10)

Here is an interesting contrast: in the presence of the idol, the people ate, drank, and rose to play. In the presence of Jehovah, the people rose to worship. The point? What is our demeanor when we assemble for worship, and what does that say about our understanding of what is taking place? If we feel no sense of awe at the presence of God, and therefore demonstrate a lack of reverence in the assembly, then perhaps there is some kind of idol inhibiting our communion with the Creator.

Lord, open our eyes in the assembly; remind us that You are in our midst during worship, for only then can we begin to show the reverence You demand.

#aaron, #book-of-exodus, #christianity, #god, #golden-calf, #idolatry, #israelites, #presence-of-god, #reverence, #worship

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(#87) The Proverbs of Solomon 14:26-Are You Sure?

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 14:26: “In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge.”

“Fear of the LORD” is the attitude of giving reverence and respect to God in everything we do, because there is no “strong confidence” in being afraid. The “fear of the LORD” is the beginning of “knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7) and “wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Other proverbs teach us that obeying God with admiration should be more important than amassing “great treasure” because “there is a hereafter:” “Better is a little with the fear of the LORD, Than great treasure with trouble” (Proverbs 15:16); “Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:17-18).

“Strong confidence” shows no fear, insecurity or doubt, and can get us to Heaven: “And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2:28). When the Apostle Paul wrote to Philemon, he had “confidence in your obedience” (Philemon 21). This can only be said of those who “hearing, believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8), for baptism “now saves us” (1 Peter 3:21). No one should be confident of their own salvation unless and until they have followed exactly what the Scriptures teach! The central message of the Old Testament revolves around this thought: “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man” (Psalm 118:8). It follows that: “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble Is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint” (Proverbs 25:19).

It is tragic when “strong confidence” is placed in humans, rather than in God! The people who run and hide from God have trusted in themselves without learning the “strong confidence” that comes to one who “walked with God,” like Enoch (Genesis 5:22-24) or Noah (Genesis 6:9). It is only in the church of Christ, that “we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:10-12).

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#admiration, #bible-study, #confidence, #fear-of-the-lord, #obedience, #proverbs, #respect, #reverence, #truth, #walked-with-god, #wisdom

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(#69) The Proverbs of Solomon 13:14-Don’t Say We Weren’t Warned!

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 13:14: “The law of the wise is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.”

“A fountain of life” expresses a constant supply of that which is essential to life. Municipal water supplies seem to have replaced cisterns and wells, nevertheless the point is that we all die without some source of drinking water. Spiritually-speaking, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Since all of God’s “commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172), then everyone striving to be righteous will receive “the word with all readiness” and search “the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things” are so (Acts 17:11). David said with God “is the fountain of life,” and it is through His Word that spiritual life springs eternal. This is what Jesus meant to the woman at the well: “’Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw’” (John 4:13-15).

An exact parallel to this proverb is in Proverbs 14:27: “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.” “The fear of the LORD” is the same as “the law of the wise.” Reverence and awe for God and His Word go hand-in-hand. Many have gone astray who think they “fear God” but ignore or violate His commandments; likewise, others think they have reverence for God’s Word but profane and desecrate His Person and Name. No one “fears God” without keeping His commandments. Many have thought they had faith in God while rejecting: baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38); the churches of Christ which Jesus established and “purchased with His own blood” (Matthew 16:18; Romans 16:16; Acts 20:28); clear Scripture on marriage (Mark 10:2-12); and repentance from sins (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

The purpose for “the fear of the LORD” and “the law of the wise” is “to turn one away from the snares of death.” Nowhere does God promise to save anyone in their sins who do not repent. The common slogans, “God loves me just the way I am;” “I know I’m saved regardless of what you say the Bible says;” “you have no right to ‘judge me’ or my way of life;” have never been taught by God in His Word! In 2 Peter 3:9, we are told, God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” There is “absolutely” no justification for those who “continue in sin” (Romans 6:1), but only for those who die to sin and, by baptism, bury their dead body in Jesus’ grave (Romans 6:2-7). Having listed the overwhelming “desire to be rich,” and “the love of money” being “a root of all kinds of evil,” Paul commanded, “But you, O man of God, flee these things” (1 Timothy 6:9-11). “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). If we are not saved, it is not because God hasn’t given proper instruction or warning!

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#awe, #baptism, #bible-study, #burial, #church, #church-of-christ, #dead-body, #fear-of-the-lord, #fountain-of-life, #jesus-christ, #obedience, #proverbs, #repentance, #reverence, #righteous, #salvation, #snares-of-death, #wisdom

Hugh’s News & Views (OMG)

hugh’s news & Views

OMG!

The third of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). The moral force of that commandment continues in effect under the New Testament law of Christ, but apparently it has become a forgotten commandment in our day. God’s name is taken in vain and spoken thoughtlessly, irreverently, and profanely in countless ways every day. The vocabulary of some otherwise intelligent people is so limited that they cannot express themselves without using God’s name in the most impious ways imaginable. Comedians, lacking of any real talent, have to depend on profanity and vulgarity to produce laughs from their mentally challenged audiences.

Today, peoplem including many teenagers, react to the least surprising or unusual event with a flippant “O my God” (OMG). The expression falls thoughtlessly from the lips of countless millions of people every day. Some are so in the habit of using it that they are not even aware of what they are saying.

Bible scholars tell us of the respect the ancient Jews had for the name of Jehovah. For instance, the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary (Merrill C. Tenney, General Editor) states: “The Jews took seriously the third commandment ‘Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain; for Jehavah will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7) and so, to keep from speaking the holy name carelessly, around 300 B.C. they decided not to pronounce it at all; but whenever in reading they came to it they spoke the word adhonai which means ‘Lord.’ ” (page 408).

There is something to be learned from the above if we will learn it, and that is that God and His name are to be reverenced. “Holy and reverend is his (God’s) name” (Psalm 111:9 [KJV, ASV]). This is the only time in the English Bible the word “reverend” is used and in that one instance it applies to God, a fact of which the so-called “clergy” might well take note.

In what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer” but more correctly designated “The Model Prayer,” Jesus instructed His disciples to say: “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9). The word “hallowed” means “to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate.”

We Southerners have our mild forms of profanity: “God a’ mighty”; “Good God”; “Good Lord”; “My Lord”; “Lord, have mercy”; “Lordy mercy”; etc. Likely, most of those who use such expressions do not think of themselves as taking the name of the Lord in vain, but “vain” means “useless, futile, idle, unavailing, empty.” A vain word or expression conveys nothing of substance; it is empty of any real meaning. The above expressions are sterling examples of such vain use of the Lord’s name. We all need to remember that Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word that men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). We would do well to call this verse to mind the next time we are tempted to speak the name of God or the name of Christ in a thoughtless, careless, and irreverent manner.

And then there are our euphemisms: “Gosh” and “Golly” for God, “Gee” and “Jeez” for Jesus, “darn” and “dang” for damn, and “heck” for hell. Call me old fashion, but early in life I was taught by my parents (later reinforced by Christian teachers) that such language was not appropriate for one who sought to honor the name of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ. (The preceding is not written from a self-righteous standpoint, but simply as a statement of fact.) And, yes, I knowpeople don’t think of it as being irreverent. But that is precisely the problem, people often don’t think, either about their words or their actions!

Speaking Schedule:

  • March 31: Cullman Church of Christ, Cullman, AL (a.m.)
  • April 4: Memphis School of Preaching Lectures, Memphis, TN

Hugh Fulford

March 26, 2013

#hughfulford, #name-of-god, #reverence

The extreme goodness of God towards us —…

The extreme goodness of God towards us — he gives us “an unshakeable kingdom” — must not make us overlook his greatness and his holiness. To forget it would be to lose contact with him.

—Albert Vanhoy, A Different Priest: The Epistle to the Hebrews, 2011, 397

#god, #hebrews, #holiness, #reverence

What Is Beauty?

Solomon described outward beauty as being vain (Proverbs 31:30). The NIV translates the term vain as “fleeting.” Both charm and beauty are superficial and temporary. Real beauty originates from the heart (1 Peter 3:1-4) when a woman displays (1) reverence towards God (Proverbs 31:30), (2) a meek and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4), (3) being submissive toward her husband (1 Peter 3:5-6).

#beauty, #charm, #describe, #fleeting, #heart, #meek, #reverence, #submissive, #superficial, #temporary, #term, #translate, #vain