Gen 1 to 18 and Ezekiel 18 “The problem of blame-shifting.”
Theology is the study of God, and today’s lesson is about upside-down theology. From Gen 1 to 18, we learn that what was perfect was destroyed by sin. First, Adam blamed Eve, then Eve blamed the serpent, and so it has gone since time began. Here the elders sat before Ezekiel complaining (maybe in their hearts?) that they were in this fix, meaning in Babylon, because of their father’s sin. Ezekiel asked them just as God asked Eve and then Cain; “what have “YOU” done, not what has your father done. Each is responsible to live righteously or live in sin. You can’t use the thinking of Flip Wilson: “he made me do it.”
Ezekiel told them, “the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.” [Ezek 18:20] We are all responsible for choosing righteousness or wickedness/sin. We all must stand before God alone, and God will not hear our complaint that “it was because of so and so” or “he made me do it.” Ezekiel then points out the beauty of God’s mercy. “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.” [Ezek 18:32]
May we all stop and thank God that we are not responsible for another’s sin.
Numbers 3 and 4 God is a God of order and it is revealed in these two chapters how He has chosen the clan of the Levites to surround the Holy Tabernacle. After Moses selected the Levites to surround the Tabernacle; he gave them a place of service. They were responsible to care for the sanctuary. Who in our churches today is responsible for our sanctuaries? What jobs do they have? Do we stop and thank them for their work?
The tribe of Levi was responsible to serve Aaron; to care for his needs by attending to the service of the tabernacle. Today there is great responsibility in our churches where elders and deacons attend to the leadership of our churches. These who have “served well gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith..” [selected words 1Tim 3:13] Today stop and pray for them for they carry a great weight on their shoulders and one day will stand before God for their service.
God wanted the children of Israel to remember that all work in the kingdom of God is royal service, whether up front or behind the scenes. The psalmist noted: “I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of the wickedness.” [Ps 84:10]
What role brings joy and gladness to your heart because you see yourself as a servant for the Lord?
1 Chron 24-26 Today we received yet another note from one of the international staff that they had been tested and it was positive. Will this person weather the corona storm? But, add to that the many that are already near their finish line. One friend’s father is 104 and another is 101. Will they continue on or will they move to their eternal destiny. Only time will tell. Both are in excellent health. On the other hand, King David knew his time was drawing near and so he set about to plan for the future and the next king. Do we do the same? Do we plan ahead so our children and extended family are prepared? Do we have all or bank accounts set up with our children or someone else as a beneficiary? Have we made out our will so that our testimony is clear to those who are not saved?
Read carefully David’s planning structure. “David, Zadok (a descendant of Eleazar), and Ahimelech
(a descendant of Ithamar) divided them into groups to carry out their assigned
responsibilities,” David also prepared some for music and words
to encourage and edify. Paul captured this idea as he wrote to the Ephesians: “speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and
spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord,” [Eph 5:19] Along
with that, David outlined the duties of those who would care for the new
After Paul left Galatia, grievous wolves had entered and
taken captive their hearts. Paul said to them, “I am astonished that you are so
quickly deserting…” The author of 1Kings has recorded the story of the
disobedient unnamed prophet sent to the wicked king Jeroboam. Before we judge
this prophet harshly, we need to stop and see ourselves in this tale.
The prophet had stood tall and strong in the face of
Jeroboam to warn him! God had sent a sign by Jeroboam’s shriveled hand and the
broken altar. He had refused Jeroboam’s gracious gift of a meal and rest. YET—on
his way home, he stopped to rest. God had said not to eat or drink or return
the same way, but not about resting. An old man approached him, saying he too
was a prophet with an angelic message. Was the old man a true prophet? This is
when we let our guard down! We wonder why the prophet did not ask God for confirmation.
But…why do we not ask God when we hear someone say, God has told me to tell you
this or that? Beware of contradicting messages; if it sounds too good to be
true, it probably isn’t. God is not a man that changes his mind. If we want to
know, pray and ask for discernment. Be forewarned; the adversary can use even
what seems like righteous words.
Stay alert! Be on your guard. Check the source; be like the Bereans in Acts 17. Check to see if it is true.
2 Samuel 16-18 Proverbs 22:6 wisely admonishes parents to “Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” David was a man after God’s own heart yet he failed Parenting 101 class as well as the one man-one woman rule. He was a dysfunctional parent and husband to his many children of many wives. His first child, Absalom, was the first child with honors awaiting him to rule after his father passed off the scene but as we read this story we see that Absalom was foolish, prideful, arrogant, bitter and lacked respect for his father and the role he should inherit. And so now he seeks to usurp the king’s position all because David indulged him. Spoiled children do make a king or queen as we can ascertain from history, not just here.
And all of this began one night long ago when David allowed
lust to rule rather than God.
We can learn a lot from this story if we are willing to
look. Look at the fruit of indulgence. Look at the fruit of not being
discerning. David fits all categories. If we read Psalm 55 along with today’s passage
we see the heart of David. We wish we could undo life but we can’t. It is wiser
to learn from our mistakes and seek the heart of God.
Both Moses and Jesus taught us that we are to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. Paul taught the Thessalonians that same principle; meet the needs of those who are your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. God’s provision for ancient Israel was that if one became hungry while walking to the next destination, you were allowed to enter a neighbor’s grain field and pluck some kernels to eat, but not to collect the grain for another time. Jesus and the disciples followed that principle, but the Pharisees had added to that principle by saying even if hungry, you cannot do that for it is work on the Sabbath.
Today in our fast food society we drive from place to place. We wait in drive-up lanes, not walk through a grain field. So how can we apply the principle today? We continue to have open hearts and eyes to the needs around us remembering the words of Jesus: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, I tell you the truth, he will never lose his reward.” [Mat 10:42 ] After we have filled our plates, why not purchase an extra dinner for someone behind you in the drive-up lane? Or a cup of coffee?
Be creative today as you go about your busyness. Stop and look where God might be working, and you can be His servant.
Numbers 22 Many preachers and SS teachers use the story of Balaam and the speaking donkey to enthrall audiences, but there is more to this story than just the donkey. God used Balaam in an unlikely manner to reveal his heart and the way Satan uses unbelievers in our lives.
God questioned Balaam about his visitors. “Who are these men? Balaam kept up a dialog with God about them, and on the surface, it seems that he was obeying. However, step by step, Balaam fell headlong into the temptation of earthly riches, which was stronger than obeying God. Like many today, Balaam tried to appear righteous by his answer that he could not curse Israel, but his actions prove the opposite. Balaam sought ways to obey God and yet get the riches the King offered. The last test came when God explicitly tested Balaam when he said: “if” these men have come to call you, get up and go with them. But, Balaam didn’t wait for the “if” clause and instead got up and went.
There are several lessons for us to glean. One is that if you say you must ask God for his wise counsel, you must take a stand and stand firm. A second lesson is God gives us tests to discern if we will obey His voice or our own.
The present-day soap operas and even in our gov’t we find that people are prone to blameshifting rather than taking responsibility for their actions. Satan takes advantage of this behavior because he is a liar and we are weak because we have not studied to show ourselves approved. Thus, we are unable to discern truth from error thus leaving us immature believers.
How easily we forget what God commands just as Eve did. God said: you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die. Satan said: Is it really true?” Then Eve said: God said yes but added just not eat of it but you must not touch it, or else you will die.’ What an opening for Satan!
His response: Surely you will not die! (Liar, liar, pants on fire!)
When God appears on the scene we find Adam blaming Eve! “The woman whom you gave me,” She made me do it did not sit well with God. And when God asked Eve her response was “the serpent tricked me.” We find ourselves in this picture. God commands. Satan seeks to deceive. He is successful and we pass off the responsibility to another.
To protect us we must do as the psalmist said: Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You. Then we must meditate upon it day and night! Why do we need to do that? Because of what we know of Satan’s tools and because of what we know of God’s truth: inspired scripture prepares us to be equipped for every good work.
How are you coming in memorizing 2Tim 3:16 so you are prepared?
Did you ever wonder why God Most High showered the shepherds with the gift of His Son? God loves shepherds and His Son would be known as the Good Shepherd. Think back to one starry night so long ago when God looked down from heaven and found a group of shepherds whose hearts were open to His gift. God gave His people the privilege of caring for sheep, the most vulnerable of all animals. Most likely Abel was a shepherd. When the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt the brothers of Joseph were shepherds. God lovingly provided a safe place to raise their flocks along with the Egyptian’s flocks and the flocks prospered under the care of the Israelites. Later, the psalmist sat on a hillside watching the flocks by night just as the shepherds Luke described. He wrote about himself as a sheep in need of peace and quiet–and God provided.
Truly the God Most High is the giver of gifts. He gives liberally and without reprimand. Yet, God does not give to just anyone but those whose hearts are responsive. If we want the gift to see His Son we must ask in faith without doubting because he who doubts is like one caught in the riptides of the sea being tossed to and fro. Perhaps James was considering that when he wrote: All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change.
God’s eye is upon those whose hearts are receptive to His gift of the Savior.
Reading Ezekiel is like listening to the NYT or the Washington Post either in print or online but is surely not like the “good ole’ days.” Today’s big news was the destruction of the oil refineries in Saudi Arabia with Yemen taking credit but Pompeo saying Iran was at fault. Pointing fingers and making accusations is a daily menu item for the Middle East. But, when God unleashes his fury there will be no second-guessing. The entire world will know that He is the Lord.
This chapter speaks from the heart of God to the enemies of His children. God describes Himself: rage in my anger; zeal in the fire of my fury. Peter asks the exiles to whom he was writing what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God? [1Peter 4:17] But, Paul writing to the Romans reminded the believers that nothing can come against God’s children even when God unleashes all of his anger against the unbeliever. Until such time know this truth: Withflaming fire, he will mete outpunishmenton those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus [2Thess 1] but also this: believers are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. [1Peter1]
Beloved, when God unleashes his fury where will you be? Will you be sheltered under his wings or experience his wrath?