Deuteronomy 16 ends with the command to never set up Asherah poles or sacred pillars beside the altar they would build for God.
God knows man. He knows that man will instinctively want multiple gods. It seems strange that He would have to give this command to His chosen people, but they disobeyed it repeatedly.
And Christians disobey it today. We don’t call them gods, but if we elevate them in importance so that we treat them as equal to God, then that’s what they are. We may refuse to admit it, but refusing doesn’t change truth. 😕
Months ago, I shared that my word for the year is consistency. I also reviewed some things that were helping me stay consistent in my walk with God. One of those tools is the Through The Word Bible app.
It seemed right to return today and share that yes, I have been consistent. It’s taken self-discipline, sometimes in the form of a swift kick to my own backside, but I am working my way through the Bible in an eye-opening, methodical way that I’m loving. Best of all? It’s simple, requiring nothing but my Bible, pens, and one app.
I start my study by reading a chapter in the Bible – just one. I don’t ONLY read it, however. I ask the Holy Spirit to talk to me, teach me, open my eyes. As I read, I’m underlining and making notes (journaling Bibles help with that!).
Then I hit play on my Through the Word app and listen to what Chris Langham or one of his associates has to say about the chapter. While I listen, I’m making more notes as things become clear or I make connections I’ve never made before. I’ll sometimes go back again, afterwards, to make even more notes. It seems the more connections you make the more you see new connections.
It’s such an easy way to gain a greater relationship with The Word, which is necessary if we want a greater relationship with God, and a close relationship with God is an absolute necessity.
Time is short, my friends. If we’re putting off this vital aspect of our walk with God we are making a grave mistake. The day will come, soon, when there will be no tomorrow. I mean that literally. If you’ve studied the end times at all, you know what I mean.
“He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.” These are much more than words to an old song.
I grew up in a typical American Christian home. By that I mean that we loved God, but lived our Christian walks on our own terms. Generally, that meant we went to church when we felt like it, prayed when we needed something, and read our Bibles when we wanted to. For me, everything changed when I started attending church regularly at 18 and began to realize what I’d been missing.
As I grew in my walk with Him I discovered true hunger. The closer I got to God, the closer I wanted to be. I was in my 30s when, as a minister was talking about one of the many conversations he’d had with God, an undeniable desire rose up in me. “God,” I begged. “I want that type of relationship with You!”
Long story short: Today I have it. It took a while. I had to learn to shut up and listen, to recognize His voice, and once I recognized it I had to learn to always be listening for it – and to respond. A conversation, you see, takes two. Now we talk a LOT.
It may be Him starting the conversation, or it may be me. It may be deep theological converse or it may be lighthearted stuff. He answers questions I once would not have dared ask, and He tells me secrets. Sometimes He ambushes me with information I’d not even considered asking for. He warns me of things to come, and He reassures and comforts me when I’m hurt or afraid and run to His arms.
Now, here’s the point. I’m not special. The only thing about me that’s different from some others is the strong desire I have for this relationship, and my willingness to do whatever is necessary to develop and maintain it. I’ve had to seek Him out and spend time with Him; I’ve had to work at getting to know Him just like I’ve had to do with my earthly best friend.
God wants everyone to have this type of relationship with Him. It’s what He created us for.
I was asked, recently, about my favorite Bible story. What is it, and why? I had a hard time choosing, but I said it was Ruth. Why? Because the book of Ruth tells a powerful story of redemption.
Elimelech blew it. He let fear of famine drive him out of Judah into Moab, where he knew he wasn’t supposed to be. All seemed well for a time, but eventually he and both of his sons died; his lineage was now not just polluted by rebellion, but was dead.
And then there was Ruth, a Moabite who had no business even being in the family. Even so, because of her faithfulness to Naomi, she was welcomed with open arms and eventually married Boaz, Elimelech’s kinsman redeemer.
In marrying Ruth, Boaz did more than redeem her. He redeemed Elimelech’s line when he gave Ruth a son, Obed, who counted as a descendant of Elimelech and would carry on the family name as well as inheriting Elimelech’s property. Obed, truly, was a son of redemption.
And Obed begat Jesse.
And Jesse begat David.
And through David came Jesus.
And so the son of redemption is the ever-so-great grandfather of our Redeemer.
While driving home from the office, I had a moment of… I felt a little spiritually unproductive; I suppose that’s the best way to say it. I thought, “Oh, I need to turn on some worship music or my Bible study app.” Then I heard God’s voice.
“But you like the silence.”
“Yes,” I responded. “I do.”
“So enjoy it.”
Believe it or not, I cried in that moment as I was reminded that He truly understands me. People, God GETS you! He knows all the details of what makes you tick. Even such a simple thing as this, that I value silence because I get it so seldom, is an important thing to Him. He cares about the details!
The very last sentence in 1 John is so powerful. Children of God, if there is even A CHANCE that this thing – this new hobby, this relationship, this habit – MIGHT take God’s place in your heart, KEEP AWAY!
These are probably my favorite shoes…at least today. I have literally worn them out so completely that the duct tape you see is only covering holes in my soles – not really doing much to protect my foot. But you can’t see this important detail when you’re just looking down at my shoes.
Today, when I admitted to myself that I really need to dumpster these beauties, it occurred to me just how much they resemble the way we are sometimes.
We can look all pretty on the outside, making everyone think we’re just fine, while our souls seem to be held together with duct tape. The wounds may be hidden, but they are very real. I encourage you, don’t let yourself stay in such a condition. God is there, and He doesn’t just patch us up; He makes us new.
A friend used to tell her children, as they walked out the door, “Remember whose kid you are.” She wasn’t talking about herself, but God. When we keep in mind the fact that GOD is our FATHER, it changes us. It changes the way we think, the way we act, who we are.
So who IS our Father? Today, my Flourish journey (Passion Publishing/LifeWay) inspired me to do something I’ve never done before. I added the words “my Father” to a passage…and it seriously brought the Word’s message home in a whole new way.
Psalm 24:1-10 (ESV)
“The earth is my Father’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for my Father founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord my Father? Who may stand in my Father’s holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from my Father the Lord, and vindication from my Father God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek my Father, who seek Your face, my Father, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory, my Father, may come in. Who is this King of glory? My Father, the Lord strong and mighty, my Father, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory, my Father, may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – my Father – he is the King of glory.”
THAT is who your Father is, child of God, and don’t you forget it.
I recently had to stop in the road because two little dogs had dashed into the street. One crossed the road, but the other got confused and was wandering. I prayed for the poor things, but then I realized what they’d been after and was floored.
A large dog was jogging beside a woman. He stayed right at her side, never seeming to even notice the little yapper that was chasing after him. He never broke stride, never looked away. He was doing EXACTLY what he’d been trained to do.
And he was carrying his own leash. Literally. He held it in his mouth as he jogged down the sidewalk beside a woman who obviously had total trust in him. And the two made me think.
In a sense, we’re all like that dog. God calls us to run along beside Him, but though He gives us a guide (the Word and the Spirit) that He could use as a leash to control us, He ultimately leaves the decisions up to us. What do we do? What do I do? Do I actively choose to walk faithfully beside Him, not turning to the right or left?