Category Archives: The Bible

If God Cares for Every Bird, How Much More Will He Care for Us?

God Cares for the Lesser Things of His Creation and We Are So Much MoreIf God Cares for Every Bird, How Much More Will He Care for Us?

In one of Asaph’s Psalms he exalts God for his power, beauty, and perfection. In doing so Asaph envisions what God might say to his people, talking about what is important and what isn’t. God has no need for our animals (possessions), for every creature (everything) is his. In fact God says that he knows every bird, and that even the insects are his.

God Cares for Birds

Does this idea that God knows every bird sound familiar? Consider what Jesus says in his teaching in what we commonly call “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:25-27). He tells us not to worry, that God will take care of us.

Then he reminds us of the birds. Even though birds don’t prepare for the future by planting crops, gathering the harvest, or storing for the future, God feeds them. He takes care of them.

In the non-winter months in Michigan, anytime I look out my window I see all kinds of birds, often more than I can count. Though I know some species, I can’t identify most of them. While I have trouble identifying various types of birds, God not only knows each species, he also knows each bird within each specie.

Aside from my enjoyment of watching birds, in the overall scope of life, I give little thought to birds. Yet God cares for them. Thank you, Father God for taking care of us. Click To Tweet

God Cares for Us

Jesus goes on to say that if his Father will feed the birds how much more will he care for us. As people, we’re the highpoint of his creation. We matter much more to him than birds. God cares for us even more than he cares for the birds.

Thank you, Father God for taking care of us.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 49-52, and today’s post is on Psalms 50:11.]

Deuteronomy Hints at the Horror of Jesus’s Sacrifice

We Discover Parallels Between Deuteronomy and Jesus’s DeathDeuteronomy Hints at the Horror of Jesus’s Sacrifice

The book of Deuteronomy, which most people skip and the rest of us skim, does contain interesting passages for us to consider. In one short section, God addresses capital punishment. Though the idea of executing people for their offenses may offend our sensibilities, don’t dismiss this passage.

Learn from its words. It gives insight into Jesus’s gift of the ultimate sacrifice.

This passage in Deuteronomy talks about executing criminals on a pole. It commands people not to leave the body hang overnight but to bury it the same day. Further it goes on to state that anyone hung on a pole is under God’s curse.

Let’s relate this to Jesus:

Jesus Died on a Pole

We don’t know the exact configuration of the cross Jesus died on, but we can understand that in simple terms, it was a pole. Jesus died on a pole, and his body hung exposed on a pole, exactly aligned with this passage in Deuteronomy. There he suffered and served as our sacrifice.

Jesus Was Buried the Same Day

When Joseph of Arimathea requested Jesus’s body for burial, he likely had this Deuteronomy passage in mind: that God instructed his people not to leave an executed body hang on a pole overnight. Joseph, a righteous man, made sure that Jesus’s body didn’t suffer this final indignity. Jesus died under God’s curse to free us from the curse. Click To Tweet

Jesus Was Under God’s Curse

It’s hard for us to think of Jesus being under God’s curse, yet as he died on the cross, suffering the consequences for what we’ve done wrong, he was under God’s curse. He suffered God’s punishment for our wrongdoing. Paul confirms this in his letter to the Galatian church. He tells them, and reminds us, that when Jesus became our curse, he freed us from the curse that we deserve (Galatians 3:13).

Jesus died under God’s curse to free us from the curse.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 21-22, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 21:22-23.]

God Loves Us and Keeps His Promises

There’s Nothing We Need to Do to Earn God’s LoveGod loves us unconditionally

In the book of Deuteronomy, a book of the Bible that most people skip, God explains his relationship to his people. He starts by saying that he didn’t choose them because of their numbers or greatness as a nation. In fact, they started out as the smallest of all peoples. It was just Abraham and Sarah when God chose them.

Instead he chose them because he loved them. And he continues to choose them because he made a promise to them, and he keeps his promises. His love lasts over the centuries, despite their unfaithfulness to him and in the many ways they reject him over and over.

We can take great comfort in this.

God Loves Us and There’s Nothing We Must Do to Earn It

The people of Israel didn’t need to earn God’s love and attention. He gave it to them freely. In the same way, there’s nothing we need to do to earn his affection. We don’t need to do good things, love others, or even obey his commands to gain God’s love. Instead, he loved us first, and in response we may opt to react to his love by doing things that please him.

Too often, we get this backwards. We don’t behave better to earn God’s love; we behave better because he loves us.

God Loves Us and There’s Nothing We Can Do to Lose It

God loved the people of Israel first and continued to love them despite their many missteps. In the same way, God doesn’t withhold his love for us when we screw up. He maintains his love. It’s always there. There’s nothing we can do to push him away or cause him to withdraw his affection of us. We don’t behave better to earn God’s love; we behave better because he loves us. Click To Tweet

We often get this backwards, too. We assume that when we mess up, he will withhold his love and punish us. Yes, sometimes there are consequences for what we do—punishment, if you will—but this is a result of his love and not the withdrawal of it.

God loves us unconditionally, even if this is hard for us to comprehend.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 7-8, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 7:7-8.]

God Speaks to the Prophet Amos through a Vision

Regardless of How God Speaks to Us, We Should Listen to What He SaysGod can speak to us in various ways.

The words of the Old Testament prophet Amos appear in the book of the Bible that bears his name. The words come to him in a vision. But the Bible doesn’t tell us the circumstances surrounding the vision or how it occurred. The vision may have come to Amos at night in a dream or in that early-morning time between the unconsciousness of sleep and the consciousness of being awake. Or perhaps the vision came to Amos as he was praying or fasting or meditating. Regardless of the details, God speaks to Amos in a vision.

Some of the other prophets also have visions but not all. For other prophets, such as Jeremiah, the Bible simply says that the word came to them. And God spoke directly to Jacob, Moses, Samuel, Job, and Isaiah. Other times, angels serve as messengers to carry God’s word to his emissaries.

Regardless of the process, however, God speaks to his people. It may be through a vision, words, or thoughts. It may be through an angel, a person, or another means. The method doesn’t matter but the message does.

Be Faithful When God Speaks

When Amos receives his vision, he proclaims it to the people. A scribe records it for us to read in the Bible. In this way, Amos is faithful to his vision. God speaks to him, and he shares it with others.

I wonder if God spoke to other people who weren’t faithful with his message. They didn’t proclaim it to others and therefore those words didn’t make it into the Bible. We’ll never know, but it’s worth considering. Are we ready to listen to what God says to us? Click To Tweet

God speaks to us, too. Are we ready to listen to what he says? And when we hear, are we faithful to say or do what he says?

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Amos 1-3, and today’s post is on Amos 1:1.]

The Book of Numbers Shows Us a Wise Step to Follow

Throughout the Bible We See Examples We Can Apply in Our World Today

As we move toward the end of the book of Numbers, we see God allocating Canaan—the Promised Land—to the twelve tribes of Israel. First, God gives Moses the western, northern, eastern, and southern borders of the nation. Then he indicates which tribes will live east of the Jordan and which will reside to the west.The Bible teaches us about leadership.

But he doesn’t give any details for tribal boundaries within this area. Instead, he says to divide the land by lots. That is, to conduct a random drawing. Though this seems akin to a game of chance, the people likely believe God will direct the results. In the book of Acts, we see the same thing in choosing a disciple to replace Judas. In this case the disciples explicitly ask for God to direct the outcome (Acts 1:24–26).

An Additional Wise Step to Take

However, instead of relying only on lots to make the selection, God designates one leader from each tribe to be involved in the process (Numbers 34:18). This wise step provides the people with assurance that the drawing occurred properly, and nothing interfered with the selection of territory as God intended.

Though Moses could have simply drawn lots himself to assign territory to the twelve tribes, having representatives from each tribe present to witness the process, helps give the people confidence that everything happened as it should.

Though this seems like an unnecessary step, it’s also a wise step. Likewise, we are wise to follow this perspective in the proper management of our local church and the administration of our denomination or association. In all we do, we must be wise. Click To Tweet

At one level we can equate this additional level of oversight to poll watchers during an election. At another level this is like a check and balance in government. In an ideal world, neither one of these is necessary. However, in a fallen world this is a wise precaution to take. And in all we do, we must be wise.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 34-36, and today’s post is on Numbers 34:18.]

God Is Slow to Anger and It Only Lasts for a Moment

God Loves Us and His Favor Lasts a LifetimeGod loves us and is patient with us.

The book of Psalms gives us glimpses into God’s character and his love for us. Though some people view God, as portrayed in the Old Testament, as angry and vengeful, a more careful read gives us a different perspective. We see his love and his patience; he is slow to anger. We realize his desire to enjoy community with us.

One such example of God’s character comes through with poetic elegance in Psalm 30:5. Here we read that God’s “anger lasts only for a moment.” Even better is what comes next, that God’s “favor lasts a lifetime.” And now for the poetry part: “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5, NIV).

Yes, we may suffer through some dark times (nighttime), but light will always follow (daytime), just as surely as morning follows evening. And though each day is made up of half night and half light, God’s anger is not in equal proportion to his favor. Remember that we sleep through most of the darkness and therefore experience mostly light. In this way, nighttime seems brief—at least most of the time. Just as we experience mostly the light of each day, we will also mostly bask in God’s favor. God is slow to anger, but his favor lasts a lifetime. Click To Tweet

Nine times the Old Testament reminds us that God is “slow to anger.” This occurs three times in Psalms and twice in the Law of Moses, along with Nehemiah, Joel, Jonah, and Nahum. That’s a lot of people reminding us that God is slow to anger.

If we view God as a good parent (recall that God is our father, and we are his children), we realize that there will be times of needed correction. But if we respond appropriately, our time of discipline will be short. Then we emerge from it and return to right relationship with God, experiencing his favor and his love, just as every good parent wants for their children. So, too, God wants this for us.

God is slow to anger, but his favor lasts a lifetime. Praise God!

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 29-32, and today’s post is on Psalm 30:5.]

We Must Listen to God and Do What He Says

God Promises Rewards for Obedience and Punishment for DisobedienceWe must listen to God.

As we read through the book of Leviticus, which is a struggle for most of us, we read instruction after instruction of what God expects from his people. With precise detail, his commands come forth one after another. Then, in chapter 26, the book begins to wrap up. Here we see the prior chapters put into perspective. The key concept here is that we must listen to God and follow him.

The chapter opens with a detailed list of rewards for those who listen to God, follow his decrees, and obey his commands. He promises favor, peace, and fruitfulness. Isn’t this a life we all want to experience?

But then the tone of the chapter changes. The word “but” signals a transition. For those who refuse to listen to God, don’t carry out his commands, and reject his decrees, he adds a list of threats (Leviticus 26:14-16) that contrast to the comforting promises in the first half of the chapter. He talks about terror, disease, and enemy oppression. We all want to avoid these things. God doesn’t want to punish us. He wants us to turn to him. Click To Tweet

However, these aren’t to punish us but to get our attention.

After a few verses he says, “If after all this…” It’s like he’s taking a breath and giving his people—and us—a second chance. We must grab this opportunity. Because if we don’t, more punishment will follow, with dire repercussions.

What follows in the rest of the chapter is a series of chances: a third chance, a fourth chance, a fifth chance, and so on.

God doesn’t want to punish us. He wants us to turn to him, follow him, and obey him. His message is clear. We must listen to God and do what he says. Then we will receive the rewards he wants to give us.

And this all starts when we listen to God.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Leviticus 25-26, and today’s post is on Leviticus 26:14-16.]

Be Holy Because God is Holy

The Bible Gives Us a Framework for Why We Should Be HolyBe Holy Because God is Holy

Reading through the book of Leviticus challenges most people. Its words fail to engage our imagination as they drone on with seemingly repetitious commands. But there are gems buried within its verses—if our minds aren’t too glossed over to see them. In today’s verse, God tells us to be holy, but then he tells us why.

The idea to be holy—to live with God-honoring words and actions—both compels and confounds me. I like this ideal, but I fall short on the implementation. Holiness is easier said than done. Sometimes I wonder why I should even bother to try to be holy—as if I can accomplish it on my own, anyway.

Fortunately, Leviticus gives us some insight into this holiness thing.

Following another string of things to do and not to do, God inserts this overarching thought. He says, “Therefore be holy, because” . . . wait for it . . . “because I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45, NIV).

Be Holy Because . . .

Notice that God doesn’t say, “Be holy because I said so,” even though he has every right to. Instead he gives an explanation. Knowing the why behind the command helps me a lot. I’ll take an explained instruction over a blanket edict any day.

In this explanation we have a reminder that God is holy. As we pursue a relationship with him, we’ll become more like him. A bit of God will rub off on us. We will, in fact, become more holy. As we seek to be in relationship with God, we will become more like him. We will become more holy. Click To Tweet

This doesn’t mean we must be perfect before we approach him, but it does remind us that he appreciates a little bit of holiness. Our motivation to be holy doesn’t come because God says so. It comes from a desire to be more like him and be in a closer relationship with him. And that’s a holiness I want to strive for.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Leviticus 11-12, and today’s post is on Leviticus 11:45.]

Walk with God and Do Not Stumble

The righteous walk in God’s ways, while the rebellious trip over his wordsWalk with God and Do Not Stumble

As the prophecy of Hosea winds down he urges Israel (and us) to turn from our shortcomings and return to God. When we do this, blessing will follow: blessings for us and for others through us. Once again, we have this concept in the Bible of being blessed so that we can be a blessing to others.

After this conclusion to his message, Hosea tacks on a final thought. He says that God’s ways are right. Those who are righteous walk with God; they follow him. Those who rebel against God will stumble (Hosea 14:9).

If we find ourselves stumbling over what God tells us to do, this could imply we’re rebellious. This doesn’t mean we can’t have questions. In fact, I think God enjoys our questions—as long as we’re sincere and ask with the right motives. But if we disregard what he says, we shouldn’t be surprised when we trip over it.

Walk with God and Do Not Rebel

Some people read the Bible and delight in it. They’re happy to follow God and walk in his ways.

Other people read the Bible and mock it. They think it’s outdated and irrelevant for their lives in today’s world. Yet in ignoring it, they end up stumbling over it. Then they can’t figure out why their lives are a mess. “Why don’t things work out for me?” they ask. “Why can’t I catch a break?” But this happens when they rebel against God and stumble over what he tells them to do. Walk with God, and do not stumble. Click To Tweet

They can’t have it both ways.

Though God doesn’t force himself on anyone, a person can’t rebel against him and ignore his words and then expect to receive his blessings. People who don’t know God stumble over his ways and fall. Ironically, these rebellious people then often blame God for their troubles. But he didn’t cause them. They did.

Walk with God, and do not stumble.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Hosea 13-14, and today’s post is on Hosea 14:9.]

God Is Worthy of Our Praise

The Bible is filled with praise to God, and we should follow its exampleGod Is Worthy of Our Praise

The word praise occurs in more than 360 verses in the Bible. Most of these refer to praising God. They tell of people who praise God and their need to do so. Consider the short, six-verse Psalm 150. It’s filled with praise. The word occurs thirteen times. In fact, 15 percent of the words in the Psalm are the word praise. That’s a lot of praise.

Psalm 18:3 reminds us that God is worthy of our praise. And it’s a good reminder. At least it’s a reminder I need.

Though I talk to God daily, and on some days more than others, our conversation sounds like a monologue with me asking for stuff. Yes, my requests have a noble motivation—most of the time. And I strive to thank him for each answer he provides. Yet thanking God is not the same as praising God. Praise is largely missing in the time I spend with him. At least in the verbal sense.

Praise God in Our Spirit

Yes, sometimes I sit in awe of his presence, and this is a form of praise. Perhaps it’s the best praise I can offer. Though sometimes I’m moved to praise God with words, I too often find that my vocabulary falls short. My words are inadequate or even nonexistent. And for a writer, not being able to find the right words is most frustrating.

It’s easiest for me to praise God when I’m in the middle of his creation, far away from other people and our creations. It seems he’s all around me. My mind floods with an attitude of praise. Even though specific words evade me, it could be I’m praising him in my spirit.

Yet in my normal prayers, I fail to offer God praise. The praise God is worthy to receive. The praise he deserves. The praise I failed to give. Ouch! I can’t escape this feeling that when I neglect to praise God, that I’m letting him down. Maybe I’m letting me down. Click To Tweet

Though God may be worthy of my praise, fortunately my relationship to him isn’t contingent on me remembering to praise him every day. He loves me the same, regardless of what I do or don’t do.

Even so, I can’t escape this feeling that when I neglect to praise him—the praise he is worthy of—that I’m letting him down. Maybe I’m letting me down.

[Read through the Old Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 17-20, and today’s post is on Psalm 18:3.]