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Bible Insights

Reflections From the Book of Job

Here is a trio of thoughts from the book of Job:

What Job Feared Most Happened to Him

The enemy (that is Satan, the devil) knew Job’s fears and exploited them. Although everyone fears something, we are best advised to turn our fears over to God and not dwell on them.

Job Believed that Through Good Behavior He Deserved God’s Blessings

Things are not any different today. The common belief is that we can earn God’s love and attention. Of course, the converse of that is rejected. People assume that bad behavior should be forgiven, not punished.

The right motivation for good behavior is simply out of respect for God and to honor him, not to earn something in return.

When Job Had Nothing Left to Say, That’s When God Spoke

It is hard for us to listen when we are talking; it is no different in our relationship with God. When you pray do you spend more time talking or listening?

[See Job 3:25, Job 30:25-26, and Job 38:1.]

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

Who Are We to Judge? We May Have It Backwards

Though the Bible Tells Us to Judge, Who We’re Supposed to Judge May Shock You

When Paul writes to his friends in Corinth, he has much to say because they struggle with many things, including judging others. He spends a whole chapter in his first letter addressing sin within their assembly: sexual sin, specifically incest.

In reading between the lines, it seems the people involved think God’s grace gives them the freedom to pursue this lifestyle, to live as they wish, while the rest of the church remains quiet on the issue.

Judge Ourselves

Paul is concerned one bad example will infect others and embolden them to go wild as well. As the saying goes, “one bad apple spoils the whole barrel,” though Paul’s first-century version says a little bit of yeast affects the whole batch of dough.

He tells them how to deal with this issue and the perpetrators. Though he expects them to assess the situation and take action, he places limits on the scope of their role of judging others.

The world fails to see the love of Jesus because his followers fail to show the world his love. Click To Tweet

Not Judging Others

Specifically, he says not to worry about those on the outside, that God will deal with them. Instead, they need to worry about the people within their group, that self-policing is in order.

Paul reminds them that they should judge folks within the church but they have no business judging others, the people in the world.

Much of today’s church has this backward. We delight in pointing a condemning finger at the actions of the world, all the while ignoring the behavior within our own community.

It’s no wonder the world thinks the church is comprised of close-minded, judgmental, hypocrites—because it is.

It’s no wonder the world fails to see the love of Jesus, because his followers fail to show the world his love. Instead, they show judgment, mean, hateful judgment.

Though we need to judge ourselves, we have no business judging others in the world in which we live. So stop it.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 5-7, and today’s post is on 1 Corinthians 5:12-13.]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

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

Four Lessons from Job about Devotion to God

Job Professes His Spiritual Practices

The words of Job’s friend Eliphaz fail to comfort him. Instead they stir up anger. With a friend who speaks like Eliphaz I’d be angry too. In Job’s reply to his so-called friend, he professes what he has done to align himself with God. He claims his practices prove his devotion to his Lord.

Job Follows God

Job says that he follows closely behind God. It’s as if he walks in God’s shadow, placing each step in the footprint of his Lord. With intention he trails after God, focusing on staying right behind him.

Job Resists Distractions

Job follows God with unswerving dedication. He keeps his eyes fixed on God, walking in his path. Job does not look to his left or to his right. He tunes out worldly distractions so he can remain steadfast in keeping aligned with God, going everywhere that God goes.

Job Obeys God’s Commands

Next Job says that he keeps the commands of God. He listens to what God says and follows his words with unswerving commitment. It’s as if Job pauses in expectation for God to speak. Then he immediately obeys him, doing everything he says to do.

Job Treasures God’s Words

Job ends his testimony saying that he values God’s words more than food. Though we might think this refers to the written Word of God, the Bible, it does not. Job likely lives in a time before the Scriptures existed. This means Job treasures the spoken words of God.

Job would rather feed his soul by listening to God then feed his body by eating food. For Job to hear God speak, Job must remain in close relationship with him.

There is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do. Click To Tweet

The Outcome of Job’s Devotion

Job is a man who carefully follows God with singular focus, obeying him and valuing everything he says. It’s an example of godly devotion we will do well to follow.

You’d think that for Job’s dedication, God would bless him and keep him from discomfort. Yet for this time in Job’s life, he is in much distress and God’s blessings are absent in his life. Though a positive and pleasant outcome await Job, it’s far removed from his present life.

This is a hard reality to accept and to comprehend. Yet there are two things we must remember. First, God is Sovereign and can do whatever he wants.

We must accept this truth even if we don’t like it.

Second, there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favor. He loves us regardless of what we do or don’t do. In the end, we, like Job, will see God’s blessing and reward. Until then we should follow Job’s example of devotion to our Lord.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Job 21-24, and today’s post is on Job 23:11-12.]

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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Christian Living

Help One Another

We Must Be Willing to Share Our Concerns If We Hope to Receive Help

One of my newsletter subscribers emailed me with a question. He wants to do what the Bible says about loving one another (such as in 1 John 3:11).

He’s willing to sacrifice to meet the needs of his brothers and sisters in Jesus, but how can he do that when he doesn’t know what their needs are? How can he hope to help one another?

Even praying for them—something everyone can do—is hard when they won’t share what their needs are.

When his church takes prayer requests, “the tendency is to request prayer for someone else who is sick” he says, and not themselves. “It seems that the lack of openness and transparency prevents Christians from fulfilling the command to love one another.”

I get this. I’ve experienced it.

I too often hear people complain about their spiritual community for not being there to help one another—of helping them during their time of crisis.

Yet they guard their struggle as if it’s a huge secret and won’t let anyone know what they’re dealing with. How can Jesus’s church love one another, help one another, and pray for one another, when we keep them in the dark?

A Friend in Need

Once God brought to my mind a friend who had moved away. The Holy Spirit prompted me to reach out to him because he was struggling. Beyond that I had no clarification.

Did God want me to pray for him? Was I to encourage him? Perhaps I was supposed to visit him to help with something or just to be present. Or was the need financial?

It had been a couple of years since we had any direct contact, but through others I knew the general trajectory his life had taken. So, I wasn’t surprised when the Holy Spirit told me to reach out to him.

I emailed him and told him that God brought him to my mind that morning. “How are things going for you and your family? Do you need anything? How can I pray for you?”

He responded later that day, giving me a glowing report of his life, his work, and God’s provisions.

I felt a failure for thinking his life was in crisis. According to his report, he was doing better than me. I assumed I hadn’t heard correctly from God. It sometimes happens. But I wondered how I’d gotten things so wrong when the instruction seemed so clear.

Discouraged, I pushed aside my desire to help one another and my failure to correctly hear the Holy Spirit’s nudging.

A year later he and his family were in town. He invited me and some other long-ago friends to visit them at a vacation condo someone had gifted them with for two weeks.

We had a marvelous time catching up and renewing our friendship. During a quieter moment in their visit, it was just my friend and me.

He gulped hard and told me about the struggle he had the year before, how he lost about everything and the difficulty he and his family went through. I asked him when, and he told me August. That was when he was at his lowest. It was in August when I had emailed him.

I wanted to scream. “I would have helped you! I was ready to do whatever I could. But you didn’t give me a chance.”

We must learn how to properly share the difficulties of our lives with others and avoid being stoic when we should be honest. Click To Tweet

Yet I kept my frustration to myself, because letting him know now of my readiness to help then would do nothing to alleviate the pain he went through.

I’d heard right from the Holy Spirit after all. Should I have pressed into my friend’s assurance that everything was okay? Should I have tried harder to help him even though he said everything was fine?

Basically, he lied to me. As a result, he missed the blessings God was preparing to give him through me—and perhaps others.

If we are to help one another, our community must be appropriately transparent and honest.

We Must Seek Balance

We all know people in a perpetual crisis. Their life seems to bounce from one disaster to another, and they’re always pulling everyone around them into it. It’s a quick way to lose friends and alienate others, especially when their own bad decisions are the continual cause of their problems.

Yet to avoid being that person, we often overreact to this concern, shielding others from our struggles. When we do this, we miss God’s blessings through them, and they miss the opportunity to serve us in Jesus’s name.

We must learn how to properly share the difficulties of our lives with others and avoid being stoic when we should be honest.

This is the only way we can hope to help one another.

Two Questions to Help One Another

If we are to truly help one another, we must ask ourselves two questions:

1. Who should I share my concerns with?

2. Who needs my help, even if they insist that they don’t?

And if we don’t know the answer to the second question, we can pray for them (James 5:16). Though I did pray for my friend, despite his insistence that everything was fine, I could have been more diligent about it.

In the future, when the Holy Spirit’s direction doesn’t align with what people tell me, I’m going to defer to God.

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

What Are Spiritual Gifts?

God Equips Us to Grow His Kingdom

The Bible talks about “gifts of the Spirit,” which we commonly call spiritual gifts (not to be confused with spiritual disciplines). Paul teaches about spiritual gifts extensively in his first letter to the church in Corinth. But what are spiritual gifts? Here’s what we can learn from him.

They Come from the Holy Spirit

God’s Holy Spirit supernaturally endows us with special abilities. This includes different types of service and work, but they’re all the result of God at work in us and through us (1 Corinthians 12:4-6).

The gifts of the Spirit that God gives us are intended to benefit others, not ourselves. Click To Tweet

They Are for the Common Good of Jesus’s Followers

The gifts of the Spirit that God gives us are intended to benefit others, not ourselves. They help the church community, or they serve others outside the church. Sometimes they do both. When used properly, our spiritual gifts advance the kingdom of God, for his glory (1 Corinthians 12:7).

Sovereign Allocation

God doesn’t equip us with the same supernatural abilities. He gives each of us the spiritual gift or gifts needed to accomplish his divine purpose. Though we may wish to be gifted like someone else, we would be wrong to desire that person’s gift or begrudge them.

God gave them the gift he did and us with our gift because he is sovereign (a good sovereign), able to do whatever he wishes (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).

One Body with Different Parts

Paul gives the Corinthians—and us—an example to help us understand how and why God allocates spiritual gifts the way he does. Think of a person with different body parts: a head, ears, eyes, hands, feet, and so forth.

Each part has a key purpose, and without one or more of our body parts, we would struggle to fully function.

The same is true with the church—that is, the body of Christ. For the church body to function as it should, all parts must be present and work together, each doing what it is designed to do. Just as the human body has diversity in its components, so does the church.

Through a diversity of people with various spiritual gifts, our church can become a unified whole (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).

A Pursuit Higher than Spiritual Gifts

Now that we know what are spiritual gifts, it’s exciting that God gives us special abilities (spiritual gifts) to equip us to serve and to work. Yet we should not overemphasize or become proud of the gifts he gave us.

Something is more important than any type of spiritual gift. And this is something for all of us. It’s something we can all do. Paul calls this the most excellent way (1 Corinthians 12:31).

What is it? Love (1 Corinthians 13).

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

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

Immerse Yourself in the Bible

Meditate On God’s Word by Reading a Passage Over and Over

I advocate reading the Bible every day. To make the most out of it requires a plan, such as reading through the Bible in the year. I do this often, but sometimes I want to slow down and focus on a specific text. It’s an issue of quantity versus quality.

To meditate on God’s Word requires taking time and pursuing a quality approach over a quantity mindset. One way to do this is to read a passage over and over. This can occur in one sitting, or, even better, over multiple days. This is how we can immerse ourselves in the Bible.

1 John

I’ve been doing this with the book of 1 John for the past few weeks. Each time I go through John’s letter, I gain new insight. Often, I see something that seems so obvious and wonder why I never noticed it before. Such is the case with immersing myself in 1 John.

First John is a delightful book in the Bible that most people don't give enough attention to. Click To Tweet

So many people revere the gospel of John, and I’m surprised their affection for the apostle’s words don’t carry over to his three letters in the Bible. I hope to change that.

First John, I’m discovering, is a delightful book that most people don’t give enough attention to. It has many parallels with the gospel of John, which I covered in my book Living Water.

Love One Another

Now I’m working on the follow-up book, Love One Another, that covers 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. I’m really excited about the insights I’m seeing and can’t wait to share them with you.

As I immerse myself in the Bible—as I immerse myself in this passage of Scripture—I rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance, which is another technique to meditate on the Bible.

I have my outline done for the book and have begun writing. You can follow my progress on my Coming Soon page. And, of course, once I publish the book, you’ll find it on my Books page. Look for Love One Another.

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

Do We Need to Obey God?

Doing What the Bible Says Isn’t a Requirement but a Response

In the post about how to be saved we realized there’s nothing we need to do (or can do) to earn our salvation; it’s a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). This means we don’t need to first obey God before he accepts us. He accepts us through no merit of our own. We just need to receive his goodness—his grace—through faith. It’s that simple.

But Don’t Abuse God’s Grace

In a spiritual sense, grace means receiving something from God that we don’t deserve. Just as we don’t deserve salvation, we don’t deserve his love either. We don’t need to obey God for him to love us. He loves us—despite ourselves and our actions—and he always has and always will. He loved us when we were still disobedient, still sinners.

He loved us so much that Jesus died in our place (Romans 5:8). And nothing can cause him to withdraw his love from us (Romans 8:38-39). It’s another example of God’s endless grace.

If we don’t need to obey God for him to love us or to save us, does that mean we can continue to live in disobedience to him? To continue to sin? Of course not.

 Paul writes, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2, NIV).

Work Out Our Salvation

In another place Paul writes that we are to continue to work out our salvation  (Philippians 2:12-13). He doesn’t say we need to work for our salvation, but to work it out. It’s something we do after he saves us, not before, as in a prerequisite.

This means that we choose to obey God as a response to him loving us and saving us. The Bible calls this sanctification. And we’ll spend our whole life doing it, moving ourselves closer to God as we obey him.

We don’t have to do this, to work out our salvation by obeying him. But we should want to. He has, after all, given us the greatest present of all, the gift of eternal life with him.

We choose to live a life of obedience to God, not because we have to but because we want to. Click To Tweet

Obey God

We don’t need to obey God as a requirement to be saved. Instead, once we follow him and receive eternal life our response of gratitude is to obey God. It’s how we say thank you to him for the gift of salvation he gave us.

We choose to live a life of obedience to God, not because we have to but because we want to.

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

Why Love Matters the Most

Last week in my post, How Important is Knowledge?, I noted that many in our society—and the Western Church—esteem knowledge above all else, while Paul says that love is more important. That is, love matters.

In another place Paul elevates love over several other things as well, such as supernaturally using other languages, giving prophetic words, having spiritual discernment, exercising deep faith, possessing a giving heart, and enduring physical hardship.

Although these things have value, they aren’t as important as simply loving one another. In fact, without love, these other things don’t even matter, not really.

Love is the greatest thing of all. Click To Tweet

I’ve often seen well-intended followers of Jesus seek an impartation of supernatural gifts, especially speaking in tongues, but I’ve never seen anyone ask for more love. Yet if we really believe what Paul says, that love matters, then love should be the first thing we ask for.

After all, Paul does say that love is the greatest thing of all.

[1 Corinthians 13:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 13:13]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

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

Be a Peacemaker

Do What You Can to Promote Peace

In Jesus’s best-known sermon, which we call the Sermon on the Mount, he proclaims that “Blessed are the peacemakers.” They’ll be known as God’s children (Matthew 5:9).

Though Jesus doesn’t explicitly command us to advocate for peace, he proclaims blessings on those who do. And the blessings are most significant. Peacemakers will be “called children of God.” The inference is that those who do not promote peace are not his children, or at least not known by others as his children.

In similar fashion, James writes that peacemakers will plant peace and then reap righteousness (James 3:18). Again, James doesn’t command that we be peacemakers. He merely says that a significant reward awaits those who are: righteousness; a great harvest of righteousness.

Here are some ideas of what we can do to be a peacemaker.

Guard What We Say

The first step to be a peacemaker is to avoid saying things that stir up dissension. James writes that if we can’t control what we say, our religion is worthless (James 1:26). Paul says that our speech should be gracious (Colossians 4:6) and to block unwholesome speech from our mouths (Ephesians 4:29).

There are many more verses, too, such as asking God to guard our mouth (Psalm 141:3), a soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), and letting our speech be acceptable to God (Psalm 19:14), along with scores more.

Focus on Silence Not Speech

Just because we can say something, doesn’t mean we should. We often celebrate a right to speak, that is, freedom of speech. We live in a world where much of it abuses their speech.

Social media overflows with people who proclaim opinions as fact and vilify those who disagree with them. The more outrageous they are, the better. The more adamant their pronouncements, the more that like-minded people celebrate them—and the more that they hurt others.

News sources do the same thing.

Next consider reality TV. It seeks those with outrageous behavior. The more shocking they are, the more airtime they receive. The rest of the entertainment industry follows, pushing the envelope with what many view as offensive behavior, treating outlier perspectives as normal.

The result is a polarization of society.

As followers of Jesus, we should avoid promoting division whenever possible. The easiest way to do this is to not add to the fray, but to keep our mouth shut. We should listen first and then speak (James 1:19)

Jesus modeled silence, even when it seemed in his best interest to defend himself (Matthew 26:63).

We should guard what we say, exercise silence instead of freedom of speech, and speak the truth in love. Click To Tweet

Speak the Truth in Love

If we feel we must speak out about a subject, we should cover our speech in love (Ephesians 4:15) but only after first praying and seeking insight from the Holy Spirit. Too often—especially in the church and religious circles—people decry evil, but they do so in the most unloving way.

We judge, we condemn, and we withhold forgiveness. Instead, Jesus tells us to do the opposite (Luke 6:37). The world is watching, and they rightly dismiss us as a result.

Peacemaker Tips

Following these three ideas can move us closer to becoming a peacemaker. We should guard what we say, exercise silence instead of pursuing freedom of speech, and when we must talk to speak the truth in love.

If we all did this, our world would be a much better place. And our witness for Jesus would have much greater impact.

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

Discover How to Treat One Another

Consider How the Bible Teaches Us to Treat One Another

The Bible gives us many “one another” commands that instruct us how to treat one another.

Things to Do

Love one another (John 13:34, John 13:35, Romans 13:8, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11, 1 John 3:23, 1 John 4:7, 1 John 4:11, 1 John 4:12, 2 John 1:5).

Accept one another (Romans 15:7).

Instruct one another (Romans 15:14).

Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21).

Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13).

Teach one another (Jeremiah 9:20).

Teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16).

Encourage one another (Judges 20:22, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 3:13, Hebrews 10:25).

Agree with one another (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7).

Give to one another (Esther 9:22).

Live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16, 1 Peter 3:8).

Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

Bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (Romans 12:10).

Honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10).

Greet one another with a kiss of love (1 Peter 5:14).

Greet one another with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12).

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19).

Spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24).

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9).

Administer justice, show mercy and compassion to one another (Zechariah 7:9).

Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another (1 Peter 5:5).

Consider how the Bible teaches us to treat one another. Click To Tweet

Things Not to Do

Do not deceive one another (Leviticus 19:11).

Do not break faith with one another (Malachi 2:10).

Do not degrade your bodies with one another (Romans 1:24).

Do not lust for one another (Romans 1:27).

Stop judging one another (Romans 14:13).

Do not hate one another (Titus 3:3).

Do not slander one another (James 4:11).

When we follow these one-another commands from the Bible, we will begin to treat others the way God intended.

Read more about this in Peter’s new book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, 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.