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Bible Insights

What Matters Most?

May Our Actions Show Our Righteousness

We discussed the faith of Abraham demonstrated through his willingness to act. This is understandable; we uphold Abraham as a great example of faith.

Yet after James talks about Abraham’s great faith in action (James 2:25), he immediately adds Rahab as another example. Rahab, you may recall, was a prostitute who risked her life to protect two Jewish spies—and she wasn’t even Jewish.

By one brave act, she showed her faith—her righteousness—and she was spared from death as a result.

Rahab gives me hope. She was a woman in a male-dominated society, worked in a reviled profession, and didn’t have the right heritage. She was the quintessential outsider, yet that didn’t matter.

Our past and our circumstances don’t matter to God, but the things we do now. That’s what matters. That’s righteousness.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Joshua 1-3 and today’s post is on Joshua 2:1-21.]

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.

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Bible Insights

Do You Ever Wonder If Your Right Behavior Is in Vain?

Keeping Our Heart Pure Is Hard, Especially When God Offers Us Grace and Mercy

There are at least twelve psalms in the Bible written by Asaph. Psalm 73 is one of them. Asaph’s having a bad day. He’s going through a difficult time. It’s a rough season for him. He’s discouraged and pours out his angst to God in this Psalm. His words are honest and real, gut wrenching and agonizing. We feel his pain. His pain may be our pain. His questions may be our questions.

At one point he wonders if his efforts to maintain his purity are in vain (Psalm 73:13). I get that.

Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. It requires effort and involves sacrifice. And toward what end? There is no reward in sight. There is no “well done good and faithful servant.” Is it all in vain? Taking the easy path seems the easy thing to do. So why not? After all we have God’s mercy and grace to rely upon, so do our actions really matter? I think that’s where Asaph is at.

This is wrong thinking, and I often struggle with it.

God gives us a life worth living, a future to anticipate. Our right response is to adjust our behavior out of gratitude. Click To Tweet

We shouldn’t do good things to gain God’s attention, receive his favor, or even hear his praise. If we do something good for God in expectation of earning something from him in return, we have it backward. That’s man’s thinking, not God’s way.

Instead our right actions, our purity of word and deed, should come forth in response to what God has already done for us. It’s our thank you gift to him. God gives us a life worth living, a future to anticipate. Our right response is to adjust our behavior out of gratitude.

Thanking God through our actions and purity is not in vain. It’s the right thing to do and what he deserves.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 71-75, and today’s post is on Psalm 73:13.]

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 Can Ten Righteous People Do?

The Bible includes the account of Abraham discussing the future of Sodom with God. Abraham is torn, he knows the city is corrupt and warrants punishment, but he also carries concern for his nephew Lot who lives there.

In a series of bold moves, Abraham asks God if he’ll spare the town because of the righteous people who live there, each time wondering if a smaller and smaller number is sufficient. Finally Abraham gets down to ten—and God agrees. If only ten godly live in Sodom, he’ll spare the city because of those ten.

How encouraging, a minority of good people allowing a majority of bad people to be spared. We may find ourselves in a minority situation, but what if we’re one of ten righteous people implicitly protecting everyone around us?

Being a righteous minority for God can make a difference.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Genesis 18-20, and today’s post is on Genesis 18:32.]

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

The Last Words of King David

Discover the Fitting Capstone of King David’s Life

In the last recorded words of King David, we learn more about him and his relationship with God. David’s words may come across as bragging, but remember that God said David was a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22).

Here’s what King David has to say:

First, David asserts that God, who anointed him, inspired the things he said and the words he wrote. David’s psalms come at God’s inspiration.

Next, even more pointedly, David states that God spoke through him, that God’s words came from his mouth. This moves us beyond inspiration to make David a supernatural mouthpiece for God, his prophet. Indeed, today’s passage records words that God said directly to David.

These words are about ruling in righteousness and in the fear of God.

Third we see the ramifications of David’s relationship with God. David says that if he and his house were not right with God, there would be no reason for God to make an everlasting promise to David that his descendants would rule forever (2 Samuel 7:16 and 1 Kings 9:5).

For the next twenty generations, this is exactly what happened: David’s descendants ruled the nation of Judah. But for the eternal part of God’s covenant with David, we must look at this promise figuratively and not in a literal sense.

Hail Jesus! You’re my King! Click To Tweet

Jesus, a direct descendent of King David (Matthew 1:6-16), is this forever ruler that God promised. Jesus, whose earthly ancestor is David, will be our forever king.

Hail Jesus! You’re my King!

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Samuel 22-24, and today’s post is on 2 Samuel 23:1-7.]

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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Christian Living

Are You a Person of Integrity?

Righteousness is Another Word for Integrity

Someone once surprised me, catching me off guard by calling me a “man of integrity.” Though honored by their perception, I shook my head. Yes, I aspire to be a person of integrity, but I’m not there. I have a long way to go and will never fully arrive. Still it’s a worthy pursuit.

Do You Cheat at Solitaire?

I recall someone saying that integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking. I suspect most of you have never played solitaire old school, using a deck of cards, but it’s an easy way to understand this idea of integrity in private.

As someone who has played solitaire with cards, I understand this too well. Holding cards in our hands makes it all too easy to peek at what lies ahead. Yes, there have been times of integrity when I refused to cheat. And there have been other times when I gave in because I felt that peeking was my only chance to win.

That’s a lack of integrity.

How we play solitaire seems like a small thing with little consequence. But it’s indicative of the whole person. If we maintain our integrity in small things that no one sees, we’re much more likely to do so with the important things that people do see.

It takes conducting both our private and public life well to be a person of integrity.

Are You Honest and Moral?

Two key components of integrity are honesty and morality. Honesty speaks truth even when it’s difficult to do so. Dishonesty can occur by saying what is untruthful. But it can also occur by not saying what needs saying. Withholding needed information is just as dishonest as speaking lies.

Morality is doing the right thing. It means living the right way. The Bible calls this righteousness, which is not a very popular topic in today’s culture. In fact, morality is not very popular either. But both honesty and morality are integral requirements for a person of integrity.

Do You Wrap-up Things Well?

I’ve often said that a person reveals their true character by how they leave a job. Do they quit without notice, leaving their employer in a difficult situation? Or do they give their two-week’s notice and then work hard until the last hour, striving to wrap up their projects and leave on the best possible terms?

That’s integrity.

But this goes beyond ending well each time we leave a job. It’s finishing everything with excellence. It’s completing what we start. When you launch into a project do people suspect you’ll never finish? Or do they know they can depend on you to complete what you said you would do?

That’s a person of integrity.

Will You Finish Strong?

The final wrap-up occurs at the end of our lives. Will we finish the race strong? That was Paul’s goal (Acts 20:24 and 2 Timothy 4:7). Too many people coast toward the finish line of life, and some even give up or make a U-turn to head in the wrong direction.

As for me, I don’t want to lose sight of the goal. I want to run hard to get there. I want to finish strong. I want to be a person of integrity when my life here on earth winds down.

Becoming a person integrity is not a grand, one-time decision. It’s a series of little decisions, moment by moment, day by day. Click To Tweet

Be a Person of Integrity

Becoming a person of integrity is not a grand, one-time decision. It’s a series of little decisions, moment by moment, day by day. Each one of these helps us establish a habit of integrity. Each one helps us move toward the goal of being a person of integrity.

The opposite is also true. Each time we fail to do what is right, each time we take a shortcut because it’s expedient, and each time we spew a white lie because it’s easier than speaking truth, we move away from integrity.

These also combine over time to lessen our integrity. We then risk becoming dishonest, immoral, and corrupt.

When I think of integrity, I think of righteousness. The opposite of righteousness is unrighteousness. The Bible talks a lot about that—and warns against it.

Each day I strive toward the goal of righteousness, with the intent of becoming a person of integrity. This is not only to serve as an example to others, but also as an act of worship to God. I long to one day hear him say, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

May it be so.

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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Bible Insights

Why We Shouldn’t Be Overrighteous

The book of Ecclesiastes (in the Bible) is an example of wisdom literature, and it makes for an interesting read. At one point the author says, “Do not be overrighteous.”

Over-righteous is a curious word. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it before, and I certainly don’t remember seeing it in the Bible. In fact, it only appears in this one verse in the Bible.

What Does it Mean to be Over-righteous?

Since righteous means to be morally upright or virtuous, it seems over-righteous is just more of the same, that we can’t be too righteous.

Apparently, we can.

The dictionary says overrighteous means to be “Excessively righteous; usually implying hypocrisy.” Ouch! No one wants that.

Continuing on, the verse asks, “Why destroy yourself?”

So, overrighteous implies hypocrisy and causes personal destruction.

Being righteous is worth pursuing; being overrighteous should be avoided.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ecclesiastes 7-9 and today’s post is on Ecclesiastes 7:16.]

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

The Armor of God is For Protection

The Armor of God is For Protection

In the Bible, there is the instruction to “put on the full armor of God.”

To the casual reader, this might seem like a call to arms or a provocation for military action.

Yet I don’t see this as a militant statement, but merely a memory aid to help people remember key items needed to prevail in spiritual conflict, namely: truth, righteousness, sharing the gospel, faith, salvation, and the word of God (the only offensive tool of the group).

It's not about a physical fight ,but instead a spiritual conflict. Click To Tweet

Paul, in Ephesians 6:11-17, seems to be painting a word picture using the soldier of the day (which readers would have been most familiar with) connecting his essential gear with these key spiritual elements.

Then, to recall Paul’s list of six items, readers needed only to envision a soldier in uniform and associate each spiritual element with its physical counterpart. For example:

  • Belt: truth
  • Breastplate: righteousness (that is, right living)
  • Shoes: a readiness to share the gospel of peace
  • Shield: faith
  • Helmet: salvation
  • Sword: the word of God (the spoken word of God)

It’s not about a physical fight (which many people have missed throughout the ages), but instead a spiritual conflict for which followers of Jesus must be prepared to engage in using: truth, righteousness, sharing the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Bible.

This is what is meant by the metaphor of the armor of God.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Ephesians 4-6 and today’s post is on Ephesians 6:11-17.]

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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Reviews of Books & Movies

Video Review: Time Changer

Video Review: Time Changer

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

Time Changer cleverly contrasts the moral conditions in the United States circa 1890 with those of today, by allowing upright Bible teacher Russell Carlisle to transport himself from the 19th century into the future using a time machine.

The difference is startling and the impact is compelling, allowing viewers to see just how much moral values have changed in one century. Just as Carlisle is shocked by common everyday occurrences, so should we—but we aren’t.  And that’s this movies point.

Just as Carlisle is shocked by common everyday occurrences, so should we—but we aren't. Click To Tweet

If you’re looking for light entertainment—with some well-known actors—that will give you something to think about, this is it, but don’t expect cinematic excellence, as its production quality is somewhat lacking.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]Save

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.