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Bible Insights

Let’s Not Forget Who’s in Charge

Good and Evil are Not Equal and Opposite Forces

In Revelation we read about the dragon and the beast, a great battle, and the tribulation the whole world faces.

The Beast

Embedded in the middle of this epic tale, we see a curious revelation. John writes that the beast is given power to wage war against God’s people that he created. John says the beast is given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation (Revelation 13:7).

Who gave the beast his power and authority?

God.

If God can grant the beast power and authority over the world and all creation, then that means God is more powerful than the beast and the forces of evil.

Think about this.

Contrary to what many people think, God and Satan do not exist as equal players in the age-old war of good versus evil. God is superior to Satan. God created Satan, albeit for good. Satan, in his pride, rebelled against God and has fought him ever since.

You see, the battle isn’t fair. God has the upper hand. Satan functions within the limits God places on him.

In the final battle, the victory goes to God. Click To Tweet

The Final Battle: God Wins; Satan Loses

That means in the final battle, we already know the winner. The victory goes to God. Satan loses. Big time.

If we’re on God’s team, we’re on the winning side. And for those who follow the enemy, they’ll lose along with him.

God’s in charge. God is more powerful then evil. Let’s not forget that. When we go with God, we go with the winner.

To him be the honor, and the glory, and the power, forever and ever. Amen.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Revelation 13-16, and today’s post is on Revelation 13:7.]

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

2 Key Truths About Leadership

The Bible Teaches Us Leadership Principles

The book of Proverbs overflows with wise advice and thought-provoking sayings. Often these one-liners produce the material for great soundbites or social media memes.

Yet some parts require a bit more work before we can find value in their words. Such is the case with Proverbs 14:28. It says, “A large population is a king’s glory, but without subjects a prince is ruined.”

Yeah, I get it. A king swells with pride over having a large kingdom with many subjects. Conversely, without people there is no need for a ruler.

So how does this apply to us today?

Let’s move from the concept of kings and subjects—which most of us have no experience in—and move to the idea of leaders and followers. This helps a lot. This verse teaches us about leadership.

Leaders Require Followers

Leaders have followers. Without followers, they have no one to lead. Some leaders have many followers, and others, just a few. Yet all leaders must have followers. It’s a requirement for leadership. You can’t have one without the other.

Whether it’s in business, nonprofits, or churches, the leaders of these institutions must have followers. Otherwise the organization cannot continue, as its survival requires both leaders and followers.

When followers don’t respect a leader, they soon cease following. While some leaders inspire loyal followers, the leadership of others has the opposite effect. They push people away.

If you’re leader, look at your followers. If your number of followers is growing, their actions demonstrate loyalty, and you have a stable base, this implies you’re an effective leader.

However, if your number of followers is shrinking (or nonexistent), you struggle to get them to do what you want, and your team keeps leaving, this implies you’re an ineffective leader. Though you can develop leadership skills, it may already be too late if your followers are scattering.

Followers Makes Leaders

What if you don’t view yourself as a leader or aren’t in a leadership position, but always have people around you, asking your opinion or wondering what they should do next? Maybe you’re a leader. Or at least it proves people view you as a leader, as someone they want to follow.

In fact, these people are already following you. They see leadership qualities in you. It’s just that you don’t realize it. While you could send them away to follow someone else, accept the respect they place in you and work to become a better leader for them.

While this may not be a recognized position, the fact that you have followers confirms the reality that you’re a leader.

God intends some people to lead and others to follow. Click To Tweet

God intends some people to lead and others to follow. Make sure you function in the role he created for you. Trying to be a leader when you’re not or ignoring your leadership when other people see it in you, causes you to fall short of what God wants for you.

While the world values leaders and applauds them, God has a different perspective. He affirms those who do what he calls them to do, both leaders and followers.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Proverbs 12-14, and today’s post is on Proverbs 14:28.]

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

God Brings Low the Pride of the Arrogant

God Wants Us to Celebrate Him and What He’s Done for Us

As Isaiah moves forward in his sweeping prophecy, he devotes a section to the city of Tyre. Tyre is a city of prominence, a center of trade and commerce. God doesn’t like their self-sufficiency and that they take pride in what they have become. Isaiah warns them of their coming destruction.

He emphatically ends his prophecy for them, saying that God has planned this because he wants to bring down the pride of their splendor. In fact, he desires to humble all who are renowned (Isaiah 23:9). This describes the arrogance of the city of Tyre. They’re going down.

Pride Sets Us Up for Failure

In Proverbs Solomon writes that pride brings about destruction and haughtiness leads to a great fall (Proverbs 16:18). King Solomon is right. We unwisely elevate ourselves when we take pride in our skills, status, or inherent characteristics without acknowledging God who is behind it. We glory in ourselves and not our creator who made us. He created us to be who we are and granted us his favor. Misplacing our confidence in ourselves sets us up for a fall. Pride prepares us for failure.

God wants us to celebrate him and what he’s done for us. Click To Tweet

Instead Boast in the Lord

To the church in Corinth, Paul reminds his friends that if they’re to boast in anything it should be in God (1 Corinthians 1:31). We should boast in God’s character, in his love, and in his power. God is worthy of our boasting. In sharing this reminder, Paul paraphrases Jeremiah 9:24. So, Jeremiah said it first and Paul reminds us that we should boast only in God. That is, we are to glory in the Lord.

Our egocentric society celebrates self-accomplishment and elevates the individual. This is far from what God has in mind. God wants us to celebrate him and what he’s done for us. He wants us to elevate him and not ourselves.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Isaiah 21-24, and today’s post is on Isaiah 23:9.]

Read more about the book of Isaiah in For Unto Us: 40 Prophetic Insights About Jesus, Justice, and Gentiles from the Prophet Isaiah 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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Christian Living

Bearing Fruit is Key; Having a Right Theology Isn’t

In matters of faith, it’s not what we believe, it’s what we do

One of the promises during the modern era was that through the Age of Enlightenment (Age of Reason) we could pursue truth and it would eventually converge on a single understanding of reality. This didn’t happen.

Instead of converging to reach consensus, we diverged to produce disagreement. Though this is true in all facets of our life, it is perhaps most pronounced in the area of spirituality. Protestantism is a prime example, with our 43,000 denominations disagreeing with one another.

We fight about theology. Then we separate ourselves from those who don’t agree with us.

The sad thing about pursuing a right theology is the inevitable conclusion that everyone who doesn’t agree with us is wrong and headed down a misguided path. Then we separate ourselves and cause more division.

At a most basic level, theology is the study of God. I think about him a great deal. I contemplate my relationship with him. I wonder how that should inform the way I interact with others. Yes, I think a lot about theology (God), not as an intellectual pursuit but as a matter of spiritual imperative.

To be painfully honest, I must admit a sense of pleasure over the results of my spiritual musings. I hope a degree of humility can replace this hint of pride.

Although I think my deliberations in spirituality are correct and produce meaningful insights, I hold my views loosely. After all I could be wrong.

God doesn’t care about our theology nearly as much as he does our actions. Click To Tweet

The reality is that the details of how we understand God don’t matter as much as how this understanding affects the way we live. God doesn’t care about our theology nearly as much as he does our actions. We need to produce fruit. Jesus says that bearing fruit glorifies God (John 15:8).

This means we need to put our faith in action. The Bible tells us to. James discusses this (James 2:14-26). He ends this passage by saying faith without action is dead (James 2:14, CEB).

What we believe doesn’t matter nearly as much as what we do. May we never forget that.

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’s Your Life and Legacy?

Amon did evil in the eyes of God and did not humble himself

A reoccurring phrase in the books of 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles is about people who “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” In these four books it appears thirty-two times, including eight times in 2 Chronicles.

Most of these occurrences reference kings, evil kings who rebelled against God and led their people to follow their wrong path away from him and his expectations for right living.

The phrase applies to Amon in today’s text, as well as to his father Manasseh. Talk about teaching the wrong things to your kids. As the saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

But there was one thing Amon didn’t learn from his dad that he should have. Though King Manasseh spent his life doing the wrong things, once he was confronted about them he made a U-turn. He humbled himself. Today we might say he repented.

Years later King Amon ends up in the same situation. He is an evil king just like his dad, but instead of turning things around, he persists in the wrong path he has chosen for his life. His pride keeps him from a humble response. In doing so, the Bible says he “increased his guilt.” 

May we live our life in such a way as to not need a second chance. Click To Tweet

God may not give everyone a second chance, but if he does we had better take it. However, an even better approach is to live our life in such a way as to not need a second chance.

May we live a life and leave a legacy where we “did right in the eyes of the Lord.”

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 31-33, and today’s post is on 2 Chronicles 33:22-23.]

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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We Need to Learn From the Seven Churches in Revelation

John’s vision for the area’s churches provides us with practical insight today

Many people love the Book of Revelation, the apostle John’s supernatural treatise of the end times. It’s an epic read of God’s awesome power and the amazing, scary, exciting events that will usher us from this world into our eternal reality.

Yet readers are often in such a rush to read those words, they breeze through the first three chapters of John’s grand tale.

In chapter 1 of Revelation we read the book’s introduction. The exiled apostle has a supernatural experience, a grand vision. God tells him to write what he sees and send it to seven area churches, those in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (Revelation 1:10-11).

For each church God shares words of commendation and condemnation. We do well to carefully consider what he says. Though the immediate application applies to those seven specific churches, the broader function informs our churches today.

What can we learn from these churches to affirm and reform our local branch of Jesus’s church today? First we must celebrate what we do well, without a smug sense of pride and with an eye toward maintaining and growing each strength.

More importantly we must ask if any of Jesus’s criticism for those churches rightly applies to us today. If we’re willing to read with an open mind, we will find much to correct, as well as warnings of what to avoid.

I think a third application provides even greater insight for us on a personal level. How do Jesus’s words confirm and confront us?

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Click To Tweet

We need to read Revelation chapters 2 and 3, not to unveil the future, but to unmask our present. “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” Revelation 2:11, NIV.

Which of the seven churches do you most identify with? What is one thing you need to change?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Revelation 1-3, and today’s post is on Revelation 1:10-11.]

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

Don’t Veil Selfish Motives in Spiritual Terms

The root cause of conflict is our egos, even when we hide our agenda by citing scripture

In Numbers 12 we see a story of sibling rivalry, one at a spiritual level.

Moses, the leader of the Israelites, is confronted by his sister, Miriam, aided by his brother, Aaron. The two pair up to oppose their younger brother, Moses, the guy who ran away for forty years and abandoned his people.

They had stuck around. They had suffered in Egypt while Moses had escaped.

Though Moses does return and lead the people, the older siblings, especially Miriam, wants greater recognition for the supporting role they play in this. Though her motivation is selfish, Miriam tries to make it spiritual.

She asserts that God speaks to her and Aaron, just as God does with Moses. Maybe God does; maybe God doesn’t. Though there could be some truth to her claim, the Bible says little to confirm this. We don’t know for sure.

At this point in the story, the Bible slips in a parenthetical note. It confirms the deep humility of Moses. The implication is that Moses makes no effort to defend himself or squash her uprising. He leaves it in God’s hands.

God reacts swiftly, putting Miriam (and Aaron) in their place and affirming Moses as his chosen leader.

We see this same type of conflict today with brothers and sisters opposing one another, in both their biological families and spiritual families, the church.

Though usually dressed in spiritual attire, these church conflicts are often (perhaps, always) about ego: selfish motives, greed, and pride. We want our way; we desire more power; we crave recognition.

Even when we quote verses and project pure motives, the reality is that we want to be right, which means we want to prove others wrong. It’s about ego.

Society dismisses the humble, but a humble spirit pleases God. This should be our ultimate goal. Click To Tweet

Churches split over such conflicts. Christians even kill one another because of such polarized disagreements. Each time we harm the cause of Jesus.

While it would be great if God would take immediate action in today’s disputes, just as he did in the case of Miriam and Aaron versus Moses, he does not. I suspect he’s hoping we will learn from this and one day grow up.

I think the key is that we need to react like Moses, from a place of true humility.

Though our society dismisses the humble, a humble spirit pleases God. That should be our ultimate goal, especially in the face of conflict.

What can we do to pursue a God-honoring humility? What can we do to be a peacemaker among church conflict?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 10-12, and today’s post is on Numbers 12:2-3.]

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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Naaman Overcomes his Pride

Naaman Overcomes his Pride

The Bible includes the story of Naaman, an Aramean army commander, who has leprosy (at the time, a contagious skin disease).

His Jewish servant girl suggests that he go and see Elisha, in Israel, to be healed. Naaman eagerly goes, but feels slighted by Elisha, who doesn’t even bother to greet his powerful visitor, instead sending a servant with the simple message to wash seven times in the river to be healed.

Naaman is not used to being treated that way; he storms off in a huff. He wanted attention. Instead he expected that a grand and glorious display of power would be given to bring about his healing.

Fortunately, the cooler head of another of his servants prevails, essentially saying, “Don’t be proud; you have nothing to lose.”

Naaman agrees. He performs the humble task of washing himself in the river—and God heals him!

Sometimes when we ask for God’s help, we expect one thing, but he provides an unexpected response. What do we do then, stomp off in a huff or dutifully follow God’s instructions?

In Naaman’s case, he had to humble himself before receiving God’s reward. We should not be surprised when we must do the same.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Kings 5-7, and today’s post is on 2 Kings 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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