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Tag Archives: Deuteronomy

  • I Want To Run Away

    Posted on November 1, 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst

    Lysa

    "If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him—then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you." Deuteronomy 11:22-23 (NIV)

    One of the worst feelings in the world to me is feeling stuck.

    Stuck in a situation where I can't see things getting better. I look at the next 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, and all I see are the same hard patterns being repeated over and over.

    I try to give myself a pep talk and tap into that part of me that chooses to see the bright side. But it isn't there.

    Life suddenly feels like it will forever be this way.

    And a dark funk eclipses me.

    This happened to me when my two oldest daughters were babies. Hope was not quite 16 months old when Ashley was born. I was thankful for these two amazing gifts. I loved them very much.

    But there was this other side of motherhood no one talked to me about beforehand. It never came up at my baby shower or a doctor's appointment or in conversations with other mommies.

    In the midst of all the pink happiness, the dark funk came.

    This desperate feeling that life would forever be an endless string of sleepless nights. Leaky diapers. Needy cries.

    Forever.

    One night I went to the drug store. I pulled into a parking space right in front of the restaurant beside the store and stared inside. There were normal people in there. Laughing. Eating. Having fun conversations. They had on cute outfits and fixed hair-dos.

    I looked at my reflection in the rear view mirror and I cried, thinking, this is my life. Forever.

    Suddenly I had this crazy desire to run away. Far away.

    And then guilt slammed into my fragile heart and I convinced myself God was going to punish me for feeling this way and take one of my babies. Smite me for being so stinkin' selfish.

    I cried until I could hardly breathe.

    I thought about this recently when I started feeling stuck in a different situation that seemed so big and made me so sad. I felt myself on the edge of that dark funk thinking this is the way it's going to be forever.

    But then I remembered that night crying in my car. Those days of diapers and no sleep weren't forever. It was a season that came and went. And this would play out that way too.

    It's the rhythm of life. The ebb and flow of struggles and victories.

    I closed my eyes and whispered, "Are You here God? Hold me. Breathe courage into my weak will. Help me."

    And in that moment I realized all that God ever wants from me is to want Him. Love Him. Acknowledge Him.

    In the midst of struggles. In the midst of victories. "God, I don't love this situation. But I love You. Therefore, I have everything I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I get to the other side of this."

    "If you carefully observe all these commands I am giving you to follow—to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him—then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and stronger than you." (Deut. 11:22-23 NIV)

    I love how this scripture says, "hold fast" to the Lord. The dark funk makes me want to hold slow. Make God the last thing when I'm stumbling and falling. But if I close my eyes and simply whisper, "God ...," at the utterance of His Name He "dispossess" things trying to possess me.

    Then I can see this is a season. This isn't how it's going to be forever. Though my circumstances may not change today, my outlook surely can. And if my mind can rise above, my heart gets unstuck.

    Dear Lord, thank You for being so loving and understanding even in my weakest moments. Help me see that no matter how big or small, You are in control of all situations. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    One of the best things we can do when we feel stuck is get together with others and study God's Word. Why not consider Lysa's new Small Group / Bible study curriculum, Unglued?

    For more information on the Unglued book, click here.

    For more information on the Unglued 6 week DVD and participant's workbook, click here.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Write the key verse and power verse down in your journal or on a notecard.

    When you feel overwhelmed by circumstances, read these verses and remember to hold fast to God. He is waiting for You to call out to Him.

    Power Verse:
    Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Christians and Halloween

    Posted on October 18, 2012 by Family Christian

    The following post is from a Grace To You blog post. It was written by Travis Allen. Grace to you is a ministry of John MacArthur. John is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry.

    Halloween. It's a time of year when the air gets crisper, the days get shorter, and for many young Americans the excitement grows in anticipation of the darkest, spookiest holiday of the year. Retailers also rejoice as they warm up their cash registers to receive an average of $41.77 per household in decorations, costumes, candy, and greeting cards. Halloween will bring in approximately $3.3 billion this year.

    It's a good bet retailers won't entertain high expectations of getting $41.77 per household from the Christian market. Many Christians refuse to participate in Halloween. Some are wary of its pagan origins; others of its dark, ghoulish imagery; still others are concerned for the safety of their children. But other Christians choose to partake of the festivities, whether participating in school activities, neighborhood trick-or-treating, or a Halloween alternative at their church.

    The question is, How should Christians respond to Halloween? Is it irresponsible for parents to let their children trick-or-treat? What about Christians who refuse any kind of celebration during the season--are they overreacting?

    The Pagan Origin of Halloween
    The name "Halloween" comes from the All Saints Day celebration of the early Christian church, a day set aside for the solemn remembrance of the martyrs. All Hallows Eve, the evening before All Saints Day, began the time of remembrance. "All Hallows Eve" was eventually contracted to "Hallow-e'en," which became "Halloween."

    As Christianity moved through Europe it collided with indigenous pagan cultures and confronted established customs. Pagan holidays and festivals were so entrenched that new converts found them to be a stumbling block to their faith. To deal with the problem, the organized church would commonly move a distinctively Christian holiday to a spot on the calendar that would directly challenge a pagan holiday. The intent was to counter pagan influences and provide a Christian alternative. But most often the church only succeeded in "Christianizing" a pagan ritual--the ritual was still pagan, but mixed with Christian symbolism. That's what happened to All Saints Eve--it was the original Halloween alternative!

    The Celtic people of Europe and Britain were pagan Druids whose major celebrations were marked by the seasons. At the end of the year in northern Europe, people made preparations to ensure winter survival by harvesting the crops and culling the herds, slaughtering animals that wouldn't make it. Life slowed down as winter brought darkness (shortened days and longer nights), fallow ground, and death. The imagery of death, symbolized by skeletons, skulls, and the color black, remains prominent in today's Halloween celebrations.

    The pagan Samhain festival (pronounced "sow" "en") celebrated the final harvest, death, and the onset of winter, for three days--October 31 to November 2. The Celts believed the curtain dividing the living and the dead lifted during Samhain to allow the spirits of the dead to walk among the living--ghosts haunting the earth.

    Some embraced the season of haunting by engaging in occult practices such as divination and communication with the dead. They sought "divine" spirits (demons) and the spirits of their ancestors regarding weather forecasts for the coming year, crop expectations, and even romantic prospects. Bobbing for apples was one practice the pagans used to divine the spiritual world's "blessings" on a couple's romance.

    For others the focus on death, occultism, divination, and the thought of spirits returning to haunt the living, fueled ignorant superstitions and fears. They believed spirits were earthbound until they received a proper sendoff with treats--possessions, wealth, food, and drink. Spirits who were not suitably "treated" would "trick" those who had neglected them. The fear of haunting only multiplied if that spirit had been offended during its natural lifetime.

    Trick-bent spirits were believed to assume grotesque appearances. Some traditions developed, which believed wearing a costume to look like a spirit would fool the wandering spirits. Others believed the spirits could be warded off by carving a grotesque face into a gourd or root vegetable (the Scottish used turnips) and setting a candle inside it--the jack-o-lantern.

    Into that dark, superstitious, pagan world, God mercifully shined the light of the gospel. Newly converted Christians armed themselves with the truth and no longer feared a haunting from departed spirits returning to earth. In fact, they denounced their former pagan spiritism in accord with Deuteronomy 18:

    There shall not be found among you anyone...who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the Lord (vv. 10-13).

    Nonetheless, Christian converts found family and cultural influence hard to withstand; they were tempted to rejoin the pagan festivals, especially Samhain. Pope Gregory IV reacted to the pagan challenge by moving the celebration of All Saints Day in the ninth century--he set the date at November 1, right in the middle of Samhain.

    As the centuries passed, Samhain and All Hallows Eve mixed together. On the one hand, pagan superstitions gave way to "Christianized" superstitions and provided more fodder for fear. People began to understand that the pagan ancestral spirits were demons and the diviners were practicing witchcraft and necromancy. On the other hand, the festival time provided greater opportunity for revelry. Trick-or-treat became a time when roving bands of young hooligans would go house-to-house gathering food and drink for their parties. Stingy householders ran the risk of a "trick" being played on their property from drunken young people.

    Halloween didn't become an American holiday until the immigration of the working classes from the British Isles in the late nineteenth century. While early immigrants may have believed the superstitious traditions, it was the mischievous aspects of the holiday that attracted American young people. Younger generations borrowed or adapted many customs without reference to their pagan origins.

    Hollywood has added to the "fun" a wide assortment of fictional characters--demons, monsters, vampires, werewolves, mummies, and psychopaths. That certainly isn't improving the American mind, but it sure is making someone a lot of money.

    The Christian Response to Halloween
    Today Halloween is almost exclusively an American secular holiday, but many who celebrate have no concept of its religious origins or pagan heritage. That's not to say Halloween has become more wholesome. Children dress up in entertaining costumes, wander the neighborhood in search of candy, and tell each other scary ghost stories; but adults often engage in shameful acts of drunkenness and debauchery.

    So, how should Christians respond?

    First, Christians should not respond to Halloween like superstitious pagans. Pagans are superstitious; Christians are enlightened by the truth of God's Word. Evil spirits are no more active and sinister on Halloween than they are on any other day of the year; in fact, any day is a good day for Satan to prowl about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). But "greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). God has forever "disarmed principalities and powers" through the cross Christ and "made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them through [Christ]" (Colossians 2:15).

    Second, Christians should respond to Halloween with cautionary wisdom. Some people fear the activity of Satanists or pagan witches, but the actual incidents of satanic-associated crime are very low. The real threat on Halloween is from the social problems that attend sinful behavior--drunk driving, pranksters and vandals, and unsupervised children.

    Like any other day of the year, Christians should exercise caution as wise stewards of their possessions and protectors of their families. Christian young people should stay away from secular Halloween parties since those are breeding grounds for trouble. Christian parents can protect their children by keeping them well-supervised and restricting treat consumption to those goodies received from trusted sources.

    Third, Christians should respond to Halloween with gospel compassion. The unbelieving, Christ-rejecting world lives in perpetual fear of death. It isn't just the experience of death, but rather what the Bible calls "a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume [God's] adversaries" (Hebrews 10:27). Witches, ghosts, and evil spirits are not terrifying; God's wrath unleashed on the unforgiven sinner--now that is truly terrifying.

    Christians should use Halloween and all that it brings to the imagination--death imagery, superstition, expressions of debauched revelry--as an opportunity to engage the unbelieving world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has given everyone a conscience that responds to His truth (Romans 2:14-16), and the conscience is the Christian's ally in the evangelistic enterprise. Christians should take time to inform the consciences of friends and family with biblical truth regarding God, the Bible, sin, Christ, future judgment, and the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ for the repentant sinner.

    There are several different ways Christians will engage in Halloween evangelism. Some will adopt a "No Participation" policy. As Christian parents, they don't want their kids participating in spiritually compromising activities--listening to ghost stories and coloring pictures of witches. They don't want their kids to dress up in costumes for trick-or-treating or even attending Halloween alternatives.

    That response naturally raises eyebrows and provides a good opportunity to share the gospel to those who ask. It's also important that parents explain their stand to their children and prepare them to face the teasing or ridicule of their peers and the disapproval or scorn of their teachers.

    Other Christians will opt for Halloween alternatives called "Harvest Festivals" or "Reformation Festivals"--the kids dress up as farmers, Bible characters, or Reformation heroes. It's ironic when you consider Halloween's beginning as an alternative, but it can be an effective means of reaching out to neighborhood families with the gospel. Some churches leave the church building behind and take acts of mercy into their community, "treating" needy families with food baskets, gift cards, and the gospel message.

    Those are good alternatives; there are others that are not so good. Some churches are using "Hell House" evangelism to shock young people and scare them into becoming Christians. They walk people through rooms patterned after carnival-style haunted houses and put sin on display--women undergoing abortions, people sacrificed in a satanic ritual, consequences of premarital sex, dangers of rave parties, demon possession, and other tragedies.

    Here's the problem with so-called Hell House evangelism: To shock an unshockable culture, you have to get pretty graphic. Graphic exhibits of sin and its consequences are unnecessary--unbelieving minds are already full of such images. What they need to see is a life truly transformed by the power of God, and what they need to hear is the truth of God in an accurate presentation of the gospel. Cheap gimmickry is unfitting for Christ's ambassadors.

    There's another option open to Christians: limited, non-compromising participation in Halloween. There's nothing inherently evil about candy, costumes, or trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. In fact, all of that can provide a unique gospel opportunity with neighbors. Even handing out candy to neighborhood children--provided you're not stingy--can improve your reputation among the kids. As long as the costumes are innocent and the behavior does not dishonor Christ, trick-or-treating can be used to further gospel interests.

    Ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, you must honor God by keeping yourself separate from the world and by showing mercy to those who are perishing. Halloween provides the Christian with the opportunity to accomplish both of those things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a message that is holy, set apart from the world; it's a message that is the very mercy of a forgiving God. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?

    Travis Allen
    Managing Director

  • Hide and Seek

    Posted on October 15, 2012 by Micca Campbell

    Micca

    "But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV)

    During my childhood, one of my most memorable times was during the long, hot days of summer. Each evening, the neighborhood kids and I went outside after dinner for one last game. At dusk, we would meet at the dead-end street to play "Hide and Seek."

    This was a very serious game. The goal was to hide from your seeker until it was safe to run for home base without being seen and tagged out. That is why we played under the cover of twilight. The darkness kept you concealed as you dashed from object to object until you finally made it to home base - unseen and untagged by the pursuer.

    I especially loved the memories of when I was young enough to still enjoy the game, but old enough to know how to keep from being found.

    It was my dad who first introduced me to Hide and Seek. Although, my father and I played the game with different rules.

    When Dad hid, he would leave clues on purpose so I could find him. Sometimes, I would spy his wiggling toes sticking out from under the living room curtains. Others times, I noticed a lampshade sitting atop a very large stand in the shape of his body. Or I'd hear noises coming from behind the couch.

    For my dad and me, the game was not about staying hidden. It was about developing our relationship.

    Our reunion brought joy and laughter. Mostly, it taught me that whenever I needed my dad, he could always be found.

    The same is true with our heavenly Father. He is not playing a game of chance - that we may or may not find Him. No. God wants to be found, and He leaves clues about His presence everywhere we look.

    Today's key verse assures us that we will find God if we seek Him with our heart and soul. "But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deut. 4:29)

    When do we seek Him? God's Word tells us to seek Him while He can be found. We should seek God immediately.

    How do we seek Him? With diligence, through prayer, in His Word, and with our whole hearts.

    He will be found in the beauty of creation and within the pages of His Word. As we seek God, we will discover His will, His plans, and His blessings in new found strength as we face adversity, and in the comfort of His presence as we communicate with Him in prayer.

    God isn't playing Hide and Seek with us. He longs to be found by those who earnestly seek Him. The Lord is ready and waiting to reveal Himself to you in such wonderful ways that it will leave you longing for more. It's an adventure you don't want to miss. Ready, set, seek!

    Dear Lord, I long to see You in my daily life. Reveal Yourself to me as I seek in times of sorrow and in times of joy. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    Related Resources:
    Discover a faith stronger than all your fears in Micca's book, An Untroubled Heart.

    Reflect and Respond:
    Have you lost sight of God?

    Seek Him today in His Word and through prayer. Look for Him all around you. Ask God to open your eyes and reveal Himself to you in a fresh and tender way.

    Power Verses:
    1 Chronicles 16:11, "Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always." (NIV)

    Psalms 9:10, "Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." (NIV)

    © 2012 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Well Pleased

    Posted on September 24, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:17).

     

    Am I well pleasing to the Lord? Do I model a life of submission to my Savior? Do I defer all honor and glory to Him? For my heavenly Father to be well pleased with me is the heartbeat of humility. This means at times I displease others to please my Master Jesus. I will choose to embrace beliefs and behaviors that are other-worldly and can cause conflict. 

    A Christian, pleasing to Christ, first learns that to be raised high means to begin low. Jesus did not begin His ministry baptizing, but rather being baptized. He required of Himself everything expected from everyone else. Humble leaders do this; they follow the agreed upon guidelines, realizing no one is above the rules. It is with a humble heart that a leader discerns the Lord’s ways and then lives them out in front of the faithful and faithless.

    Perhaps goodhearted people seek to place you on a pedestal of admiration and honor. It is at this point of recognition that you keep your spirit low, as your reputation is on the rise. The Lord sustains His blessing for those who defer honor back to Him. It pleases your heavenly Father to see you engage in humble acts, especially as your influence grows. The closer you grow to Christ, the more you see the need for His grace and forgiveness.

    You can only deal with the soul of another if Jesus has dealt with your soul. It pleases Him when you first pronounce yourself needy before heaven, before pointing out the needs of another. Humility looks inward at the heart before it outwardly observes the issues of another. The Lord is pleased when you take the lead to repent.

    Go public with your faith after you have been private in prayer. This solemn preparation pleases your heavenly Father. Moreover, have you proclaimed your faith publicly in baptism? It pleases God for you to go public for Him. It is an honor becoming your sacred accountability. Private intimacy with your heavenly Father leads to a public inauguration of your faith. He is well pleased with you when you publicly pronounce Him the Lord over your life. Humility pleases Him. Why? It listens and obeys.

    “Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow” (Deuteronomy 4:12–13)

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, may I bring a smile to Your face in honoring You with my attitudes and actions?

    Related Readings: Job 37:5; Haggai 1:12; John 5:25; Hebrews 4:7

    Post/Tweet: We go public with our faith after we have been private in prayer. #prayer

    Get free eBook “Infusion” by inviting 5 friends to Wisdom Hunters http://bit.ly/PEbaBJ

  • Grace Made Man

    Posted on August 10, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” 1 Corinthians 15:10

     

    A self-made man is the antithesis of a grace made man. A self-made man becomes desperate for God on occasion, as when a crisis occurs— but a grace made man is continually desperate for God, since he sees himself as a needy man. A self-made man struggles to give God the glory for his accomplishments, but the grace made man never forgets to give Christ the credit for his success. Grace brings out the best in humble hearts. 

    Furthermore, a grace made man does not work any less, but more. Gratitude governs grace-based behavior into focused diligence. A man or woman motivated by the grace of God works for an audience of One. Their godly ambition has an eternal allegiance that no earthly boss can inspire. So, we work hard because God’s grace is at work within us. Is your work and life a divine portrait of grace? If so, you are attractive, beautiful to behold.

    “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3

    We are nothing unless the Lord makes us by His grace. We may make money, but unless we lean into the Lord’s grace, it is just another temporal transaction. We know we are leaning into the Lord’s grace when we are gracious with our words and humble in our attitude. People are not seen as a means to make money, but as individuals with hopes, dreams and fears. A grace made person engages people with kindness, not passive pride.

    Therefore, work hard with a heavenly agenda.  Acknowledge that the larger the Lord’s blessing on your life the greater the need for more grace. Christ increases our capacity for grace, as we credit Him for His favor. Amazing grace starts at salvation and becomes a growing marvel as you apply humble faith and thanksgiving. God’s grace makes the man; man does not make the man. Your Creator created you and your success. “T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…and Grace will lead us home.” (Amazing Grace, the hymn)

    “You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” Deuteronomy 8:17-18a

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, teach me to rely more and more on Your generous grace.

    Related Readings: 1 Samuel 2:7; 2 Corinthians 11:23; Colossians 1:29; Philippians 2:13

    Post/Tweet this today: God’s grace makes the man; man does not make the man. #grace

    Click on the free download “How to Have a Quiet Time”… http://bit.ly/KWDrkJ

  • You Matter

    Posted on July 31, 2012 by Boyd Bailey

    “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” Deuteronomy 14:2

     

    You matter. You matter because you’re made in the image of God. You are a blueprint of a beauty birthed out of heaven. Your physical makeup is beautiful, because the eye of your beloved beholder is your heavenly Father. Your intellectual capacity is attractive, because in Christ, you know the mind of Christ. Your emotional energy is engaging, because you are accepted and loved by God. You matter because your Master Jesus says you matter.

    You matter. You matter because you are chosen by the Lord—you are His treasured possession. Jesus wants you to be with Him like a coach who recruits athletes; He has picked you to be on His team. He calls the plays and He expects you to excel in the position suited for your skills, gifts and experiences. You matter most to the Lord of Hosts. Since Jesus Christ thinks the world of you, He laid down His life for the world on your behalf.

    “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4

    What does it mean for you to be a treasured possession of Almighty God’s? Like the Hope Diamond, He values your extreme worth. He protects you, He provides for you, He prays for you and He displays you as a proud trophy of His grace to a lost and hurting world. Yes, you matter. You matter because God owns you. And His ownership displays excellent stewardship. What He owns, He takes care of. What He owns He blesses.

    Furthermore, as a precious possession of God’s, your value increases over time. You are an eternal asset that appreciates in worth and significance. The allocations in your heavenly portfolio include faith, hope, love, grace and holiness. You matter. You matter, because you are filthy rich with the riches of Christ. You have been given much in your faith journey, so God expects much. Thus, you matter in helping others know they matter.

    “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” Luke 12:48b

    Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that I matter much to you, so lead me to help others know they matter to You as well.

    Related Readings: Numbers 16:22; Malachi 2:15: Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 2:9

    Post/Tweet this today: You matter, because your Master Jesus says you matter. #value #affirmation

    Click on our Wisdom Video blog… http://bit.ly/JCjzJB

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