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Old Testament: Judges 17:1-18:31
God does not like a homemade religion, not even a smidgeon.
Judges 17:1-12 A Homemade Religion
A while back an old friend of mine asked how his Methodist minister could leave for a Presbyterian church in another state. I told him most churches are all alike now. They have about the same doctrine (like none) and the same music so it wouldn’t matter if he changed denominations. People change churches more frequently now, too. If there’s something they don’t like about a church, they just change. It’s a buyer’s “market.” I thought this was something new. But apparently it happened back in the days of the judges.
The key verse of the book of Judges is found in verse 6, “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” We live in similar times. Everyone forms their own theology and everyone forms their own politics. Everyone does what they think is right.
Back in that day, a man named Micah, an Ephraimite, stole some silver. He was a thief. And worse, he stole it from his mother! He disrespected his mother by stealing from her. But he heard her utter a curse so he gave it back. She was so happy that she dedicated the silver to the Lord and gave 20% of it to the silversmith to make into an idol to give to her son as a donation to his “shrine.” Micah then made his son a priest. Talk about homemade religions!
A Levite, a member of the ministerial clan of Israel, was passing through and Micah offered to pay him to be his personal priest. He thought God would prosper him because of it.
Judges 18:1-13 Dan Them
The tribe of Dan had no place to settle because they hadn’t driven the pagans out of their assigned territory yet. Five of their scouts stayed at Micah’s. They asked the priest if they had the Lord’s blessing and he told them they did. They reported back to their leaders and decided to attack the area where Micah lived and take it. They came to Micah’s place and stole the contents of his shrine and made a deal with his priest to serve them.
Micah and some of his neighbors pursued the Danites and confronted them. It was obvious they couldn’t fight them and win so they put their tails between their legs and went home again.
The Danites went out to a neighboring peaceful town of Micah in Laish and killed all the people and burnt down their town. There was no one around to help the poor people. They re-named the town Dan. They set up religious shop there using Micah’s idols.
New Testament: John 3:1-21
Jesus paid the price so we could all be born twice.
John 3:1-12 The Scholar Gets Schooled
Nicodemus was one of the religious leaders called the Pharisees. He didn’t want anyone to see him so he snuck to see Jesus at night to ask Him a question. He told Jesus He had caught his attention with all the miracles. Jesus told Nicky that he had to be “born again to see the kingdom of God” (v. 3).
Nicky said, “I don’t get it.” Jesus said there were two ways to be born, one fleshly and one spiritually. Nicodemus said he still didn’t get it. Jesus tried to explain it to him. He said, “you know how the wind blows and you don’t know where it came from or where it’s going?” Nicodemus still was not getting it. Jesus said, “Seriously? You teach all of Israel and you don’t get this stuff?”
Jesus told Nicodemus that He was already “up there” and He knows what’s going on. He tried another illustration with Nicodemus. “You know the story in the Penteteuch where Moses lifted up the serpent on a pole and everyone got healed? That’s what’s going to happen to me and everyone who looks to me will get to Heaven.”
Jesus told Nicodemus that God loved the world so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son so that whoever wills to have faith will not go to Hell but will go to Heaven. He told Nicky that His Father didn’t send Him to send people to Hell but so people would be saved from Hell. He told him that He had come as Light but that men liked darkness better because they were basically no good. But everyone who enjoys doing the right thing would choose Him to show where their heart was really at.
Psalm 104:1-23 A Hymn About Creation By Anonymous
One of God’s greatest deeds is that all creatures He feeds.
Psalm 104:1-23 Reports Are Flooding In
Psalm 104 is divided between today and tomorrow. Ryrie calls this psalm a poetic parallel to the Genesis account of creation.
As in Ps. 103, we have another call to “bless the Lord,” to worship Him. The reason is that He is “great” and majestic (v. 1). He is covered with light (v. 2). He is responsible for all waters and sky (v. 3). He controls all tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, and breezes (v. 4, cf. Gen. 1:3, 6, 9). His “messengers,” the angels move as quickly as the wind (v. 4, quoted in Heb. 1:7; cf. Ps. 103:20).
God controls the entire world along with its waters and mountains (vv. 5-9). He secures them so that they only shift or move when He wants them to (cf. Col. 1:16-17).
He provides sustenance for all living beings including all animals and all vegetative growth (vv. 10-23). From lions to birds, He provides for all, even the “small, shy, furry animals found in the peninsula of the Sinai, northern Israel, and the region round the Dead Sea aka shephanim aka coneys (v. 18b).
Verse 23 seems to imply what Paul says overtly. Though God provides the raw material we need for life, “. . . if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thess. 3:10).
Proverbs 14:20-21 Thinking And Growing Rich
God loves the poor, you also should take care of them and be a doer.
The poor don’t have any friends (v. 20a). Everyone thinks the poor are going to try to borrow money from them.
The rich have a lot of friends because everyone thinks their money is going to spill over to them (v. 20b).
But if you don’t care about the poor, that’s a sin (v. 21a, cf. James 1:27). Blessed are those who give because it is more blessed to give than to receive (v. 21b, cf. Acts 20:35).
Choose Life: Scripture: John 3:16 NASB “Being Born Again”
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
This used to be the verse I liked least in the Bible. The reason is because is so overused. It even pops up at football games! I had to finally admit that it is a good one. What this verses emphasizes is that Christ died in our place and took the punishment that we deserved. We deserved to die eternally for our sin but Jesus took the penalty. His Father was the One Who initiated the whole process. That is how much Both of them love us.
The reason is so that we could live with them forever since we would have eternal life. The purpose of the Bible is show us how we can have a relationship with God. The door into the relationship is believing in Christ and being born again (cf. John 3:3).
Have you begun your relationship with God by trusting Christ?
If you have, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Probably the easiest way to understand being saved is to understand three steps from the book of Romans.
1) Understand that you are sinner (Rom. 3:23).
2) Realize that Christ died in your place (Rom. 5:8; 6:23).
3) Personally trust Christ (Rom. 10: 9b, 10a). This is also the easiest way to explain the gospel to others. If anyone believes these verses then they can be sure they are going to go to Heaven (cf. 1 John 5:13; John 5:24).
Being sure of our eternal destiny is what sets Biblical Christianity apart from religion and all other beliefs.
The purpose of the “Choose Life” is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: Homemade Religion