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Bible Insights

Avoid Spiritual Adultery, of Being Unfaithful to God

Jeremiah Compares the People’s Relationship with God to a Cheating Spouse

The prophet Jeremiah, along with many other writers in the Bible, accuse God’s people of spiritual adultery. They are unfaithful to their Lord. They cheat on him. They run around with other, lesser gods.

Marital Adultery

Cheating on a spouse is a situation most people readily comprehend, having experienced it, witnessed it in others, or faced that temptation themselves. The result of adultery is a damaged or destroyed marriage, broken hearts, and scars that last a lifetime.

In a marriage relationship, adultery—being unfaithful to your spouse—stands as a critical mistake, a potentially relationship-ruining act of selfishness. The same is true of God when we cheat on him. How our duplicity must break his heart.

Cheating on God

But how, you ask, do we cheat on God? We are unfaithful to our Creator when we put other pursuits before him, when we no longer allow him to be number one in our life.

Though in the Old Testament this means chasing after other gods, that practice isn’t so widespread today—at least not in a literal sense. But we do serve other gods in a figurative manner.

From a spiritual standpoint this is a potentially relationship-ruining act of selfishness.

Even more important than being faithful to our spouse is being faithful to God—both now and forever. Click To Tweet

Spiritual Adultery Examples

These acts of spiritual adultery may take many forms. This includes pursuing pleasure, recreation, and even idleness.

For many there are other gods that exist too. One is materialism: earning more money, buying more things, and accumulating more wealth. This unsatiated desire for more becomes the God that we worship because it displaces our Lord from his rightful place as being number one in our life.

Human relationships—though important—also threaten our right relationship with God. Anything that distracts us from him rages as a temptation to be unfaithful.

These adulterous pursuits disrespect God just as adultery disrespects a person’s spouse.

The Bride of Christ

Metaphorically speaking, as Jesus’s followers, we will collectively become his bride—the bride of Christ. John’s epic vision recorded in the book of Revelation captures this well. In the end of this age we—Jesus’s church—will prepare ourselves for our Savior, made ready and beautifully dressed for our betrothed. (Revelation 19:7 and Revelation 21:2).

Then we will unite with Jesus and live with him forever.

Faithfulness Matters

Even more important than being faithful to our spouse is being faithful to God—both now and forever.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Jeremiah 1-3 and today’s post is on Jeremiah 3:20.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What If God Told You to Kill Your Son, Just as He Did with Abraham?

The Bible Is Chocked Full of Perplexing Stories That Are Hard to Understand

One puzzling story in the Bible is when God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. What loving father would kill his son? It might be asking someone to make the ultimate sacrifice. However, Abraham is intent on obeying God regardless of the cost.

Three days later we find Abraham up on a mountain, with Son Isaac tied up and laying on the alter. With knife in hand, Abraham raises his arm, ready to plunge the dagger into Isaac. Just then, God says, “Wait, don’t do it. I was just seeing if you would really obey me.”

Wow, that was close. Then God provides a ram for the sacrifice instead of Isaac. Abraham proved himself faithful to God, and God spares Isaac. It was a test, and Abraham passes.

Jesus Is Our Ultimate Sacrifice

Fast forward several centuries to Jesus. Jesus is himself getting ready to die. He plans to go to the cross—for us. Surely, he knows the story of Abraham and Isaac. Every Jew knows that story.

I suspect he wonders if his obedience to God is about to be tested just like Abraham, for he says, “Papa, if you’re willing, please cancel my assignment, but I defer to your will.”

However, God doesn’t say, “Hold on. This is just a test.” There’s no one else or nothing else to take Jesus’s place. There is no plan B. He must see this thing through. He must die. Jesus dies as the ultimate sacrifice to end all sacrifices.

Jesus dies as the ultimate sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Click To Tweet

It is Jesus’s purpose to die for the wrongs of the world and make us right with Papa.

Jesus obeys. He dies. We live.

Thank you, Jesus.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 21-23, and today’s post is on Genesis 22:1-14.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

5 Biblical Truths about God

Discover Who God Is from Scripture

We can learn a lot about God from the Bible. After all, we do sometimes call it the Word of God. Every book in the Bible, even every chapter reveals truth about God. This includes Psalm 33. It’s a psalm of praise. It reveals five biblical truths about God.

In this Psalm, the writer praises God by telling him who he is. If this seems a bit corny, know that we do this with the people we care about all the time. Why not do it to God too?

While this shortlist is far from inclusive, it’s a great start and a smart summary about who God is.

1. God is Right and True

God’s word is right and true. What he says reflects his character. So, if his words are right and true, so, too, is his character. While we always want to be right, no person can be right all the time. But God is. He’s always right. And what he says is always true. We can count on it. God is right and true.

2. God is Faithful

God is faithful in all he does, every action. He’s loyal to us and devoted. This isn’t just part of the time. It’s all the time. God’s faithfulness to us is consistent. He’ll never let us down.

3. God is Righteous

God is righteous. He loves righteousness. This isn’t a word we use too much nowadays. This means he does the right thing. It denotes virtuous, moral behavior, without a hint of guilt or any stain of sin.

Though some people are more righteous than others, we all fall short of God’s perfect standard. Only God, exemplified by Jesus, is fully righteous.

4. God is Just

God is also just. He does what’s right. He’s honorable, and he’s fair. He loves justice. We should too.

5. God is Loving

God is love. His love fills the earth. His love is unfailing, never faltering, and without end. Despite our best intentions, we can never truly love unconditionally. But God can. Our love is limited, while God’s love is limitless.

Who is God?

God is right and true. He is faithful. He is righteous. He is just. And he is loving. These are five characteristics of God that we can count on.

What can we do to show these traits to others? Doing so will glorify God and point others to him.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 31-35, and today’s post is on Psalm 33:4-5.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

We Must Be Faithful and Fruitful

God Calls Us to a Faith That Produces Fruit

Two reoccurring themes in the Bible are the ideas of being faithful and being fruitful. We are to be faithful and fruitful.

The word faithful occurs over two hundred times in the Bible and shows up in most of its books (41).

The word fruitful occurs thirty-one times in eleven books, spanning both the old and new Testaments. (The word fruit—which can mean something to eat or the results of our actions—is as common in the Bible as the word faithful.)

Furthermore, the command to “be faithful” appears in eight verses, as does the command to “be fruitful.” It seems that God wants us to be both faithful and fruitful.

Be Faithful

Jesus talks about being faithful and his parables support this. Don’t we all want to hear him say, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23)?

In the New Testament, the word faithful occurs most in the book of Revelation, both in some of the letters to the seven churches and in John’s vision where he commends God’s faithful witnesses.

In the Old Testament, the book of Psalms tops all others with seventy-one mentions of the word faithful.

Though some verses address God’s faithfulness to us, others talk about our faithfulness to him: a faithful servant, faithful people, faithful ones, and faithful to him and his covenant (that is, his commands, Psalm 78:36-37).

God doesn’t want us merely to be faithful, he wants us to produce fruit in the process. Click To Tweet

Be Fruitful

We should note that the instruction to be fruitful in the Bible always relates to biological reproduction and the growth of a population. However, it isn’t a stretch to apply this metaphorically to other actions that produce spiritual growth, that is, spiritual fruit.

Consider the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul implicitly tells us to pursue these characteristics.

Be Faithful and Fruitful

Too often I’ve heard people who—after working hard to serve God but achieving little—shrug and say, “Well, at least I was faithful.” Yes, they were faithful, but they also failed. God doesn’t want us merely to be faithful, he wants us to produce fruit in the process.

He wants us to be faithful and fruitful. Working hard and failing, is simply failing. Working hard and producing fruit is what God desires.

James writes that faith without deeds (which we can call fruit) is dead (James 2:26). As we pursue God and seek to serve him, we must be fruitful and faithful. God expects nothing less.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Will You Pray For Me?

Three Outcomes to Consider

When people ask for prayer, I’m eager to do so. Prayer is important; prayer makes a difference. God wants us to pray, and it’s part of our spiritual formation.

So when someone asks, “Will you pray for me?” I pray. Often I pray right away, either silently or out loud, depending on the situation. And I try to pray again later.

Sometimes this may be just once or twice. In other instances I feel a prompting of the Holy Spirit to intercede multiple times throughout the day or over the course of many days.

Then, after investing so much in praying for someone, I’m anxious to learn what happened. I hear one of three responses:

Yes! Often I hear glowing reports of God’s amazing answer, either exactly as we prayed or in ways beyond what we hoped. Then I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus. God is good; I’m so glad I prayed.

No! Other times, the person is downcast. God seems to have been silent, not responding in any discernable way. I’m disappointed when this happens, but it doesn’t dissuade me from praying. I persevere. Prayer isn’t about getting our way; prayer is about aligning our thoughts with God’s will.

Sometimes we fail to see his perspective. Navigating this is a tricky path, but it’s part of our spiritual journey; it hones our faith. I press on. I thank God that he is growing me.

What? A few times—too often, in fact—they give me a blank stare. This is something they asked me to pray about, but they forgot. It was a passing thought to them, one quickly disregarded.

I invested time, emotion, and faith into something for their sake, and God was part of that process, but they went AWOL: not joining in prayer, not listening to God’s direction, and not doing their part to move towards resolution.

I was more faithful in praying for them than they were. They didn’t follow through or keep me updated. This minimizes prayer and demeans God; it makes me sad.

Don’t ask someone to pray for you unless you truly mean it and are willing to take part. Click To Tweet

At times we can be too casual when asking for prayer. While prayer should be common, it is not trivial. When we ask someone to pray for us, it is serious business; God is involved. After asking for prayer, our role is to pray, too.

Next we listen to God, and then we do our part to move towards resolution. This honors God and respects those who pray for us.

Don’t ask someone to pray for you unless you truly mean it and are willing to take part.

What are your thoughts about prayer?

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Diligence is Rewarded

In my prior post, “Listen to Understand,” I noted that listening to Jesus results in more understanding; not listening produces confusion.

This parallels Jesus’ teaching about the “talents” and the “minas” (both words refer to denominations of money). These parables, though differing in details (likely because they were given to different audiences at different times) have the same conclusion and message.

To those who invest their master’s money wisely, more responsibility (or money) is given; to those who fail to invest, what they have will be taken away.

Just as really listening to God results in more understanding of him, so too being faithful in the jobs he has given us results in greater responsibility and opportunity.

Many followers of Jesus desire to do great things for him, but before he gives us huge opportunities, we must prove ourselves diligent in completing lesser tasks first.

When we are diligent in serving God, he rewards us with more.

[Matthew 25:14-30, Luke 19:11-27]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Job Can’t See the Big Picture

Job Can’t See the Big Picture

As readers of the book of Job, we are privy to the whole story: Satan torments Job in an effort to prove that Job’s Godly devotion is conditional, that it is dependent on circumstances.

Job, however, does not have the luxury of this grand view. All he knows is that his once amazing life is now in shambles. He is in pain, and with seemingly nothing left to live for, he wants to die and end his misery.

With a limited view of God and not knowing the back-story, Job’s only conclusion is that this is God’s doing. His perspective is to blame God.

Job lacks an understanding of God’s overarching purpose at work. Job is unaware that once he proves himself faithful and that the enemy, Satan, is proved wrong, all that Job lost will be restored—two-fold.

In many ways we are like Job. We lack a comprehension of God’s overarching plan and end up blaming God for our pains, our disappointments, and our anger.

If we could just see a glimpse of God’s big picture, then we would know that he in not the source of our frustration, that it lies elsewhere; we would see the reward that awaits us if we but stay on course.

Job did just that, even though he didn’t see God’s big picture.

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Where’s Daniel?

You may know about Daniel, the guy noted for spending the night with a bunch of hungry lions and emerging the next morning unscathed.

The bigger story is that as a youth he was captured by an invading army, forcibly relocated to Babylon, stripped of his culture, indoctrinated with new philosophies, and forced to work for the king. Through all this, he put God first and acquitted himself well, serving four kings from two kingdoms.

There’s a curious verse about Daniel: “Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.”

If he’s not there, where is he?

A clue is that, also occurring during the first year of Cyrus’s reign, some of the exiles are permitted to return to their homeland. Daniel would have been in his eighties at the time, but he could have made the journey.  In fact, both Ezra and Nehemiah list a “Daniel” making the return trip.

Perhaps after years of faithful service to both God and king, Daniel is finally able to go home.

[Daniel 1:21, 2 Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra 1:1-2, Ezra 8:2, Nehemiah 10:6]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Do You Want More From God?

Here is another thought building on the prior post about one of Jesus’ parables.

To review, the parable is about a nobleman who, before going on a journey, entrusts three servants with varying amounts of money to invest for him. The first two invest their amounts and earn a good return, apparently doubling their stakes.

The third, however, to whom little is entrusted, makes no effort to invest it. He lazily does nothing and merely returns the original amount to his master. This is done under the guise of keeping it safe.

The master takes the money from the lazy servant and gives it to the first servant. The people nearby protest that this is not fair.

Jesus replies “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.”

We shouldn't ask God for more if we have misused or squandered what he has already provided. Click To Tweet

The lesson in this seems to be that to those who have been blessed with resources and have been faithful with them, more will be given. However, to those who have not faithful with what they have, that too will be taken away. We must be wise and faithful stewards.

A direct application of this may be for the person who is asking God for more, be it for the physical provision or spiritual blessing.  Perhaps their felt lack is a result of them having already been unfaithful with what they had been given; therefore it was taken away.

The warning in this is that perhaps we shouldn’t ask God for more if we have misused or squandered what he has already provided.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Luke 19-21, and today’s post is on Luke 19:24-27.]

Read more about the book of Luke in That You May Know: A 40-Day Devotional Exploring the Life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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God as the Master

God as the Master

The next word picture for God, is him as the master and we as his servants.

With God as our master we see him as being in charge; he is the boss and directs our activities.

Extending this image to us, there is a need to follow directives, to listen to him and obey him. We do have a choice (free will), however, and can choose to not obey, but that would make us to be an unfaithful servant.

Also, there is also the reminder that we can only truly serve one master: God or something else: be it money, things, a job, a person or relationship, amassing power, attaining prestige, or even leisure.

[Matthew 6:24, Matthew 10:24, 1 Samuel 3:10, Matthew 25:21]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.