The Story

Today’s reading is Joshua 5-8, Psalm 14, and Luke 15.

Despite the fact that I like to think that I’m a “good person” (and I have to believe most are like me and think they are), I know I sin if not through actions or word, through thought, probably ever hour of every day. Sin is not in God’s nature whatsoever. It is exactly the opposite of His being and who He is. Today’s readings are a humbling reminder of what God thinks about sin, and yet also a reminder of his grace and love. It is also a reminder of how pleasing it is to Him when we show faith and trust in Him and turn back to Him after we fall away. Obeying Him does not mean immediate gratification like a dog shaking and getting a treat, but a continued path living a life of filled with intentional sin and disobeying Him will surely lead to destruction. And turning back to Him will lead to grace, forgiveness, and ultimate victory through eternal life no matter how far we have fallen away.

Early on in today’s readings we are reminded that God freed the Israelites from slavery and kept His word to lead them to the Promised Land. But, we also learn in Joshua 5:6 He let them wander in the desert for 40 years and did not let the generation He freed go into the Promised Land (including Moses who God thought highly enough to have attend Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew 17) because “they did not obey the voice of the Lord.” Yet, we see it is pleasing to the Lord and He “rolled away the reproach of Egypt” when the next generation obeys His instructions to Joshua that all the men be circumcised (Joshua 5:9). They keep the Passover, God sends a commander of His army to speak to Joshua (Joshua 5:14), and God instructs Joshua in Joshua 6 how he and his army are to march around Jericho for 6 days quietly and on the 7th day they are to march around the city 7 times. On the 7th time of the 7th day, they are to blow the horns and shout and the walls of Jericho would fall down before God would give them victory in battle. The Israelites could have said to Joshua, “yeah right…these walls are just going to fall when we blow our horn and yell…give me a break?!” However, this time they obeyed, and God gave them victory. What great faith and belief they showed! As promised in Joshua 6, the only family God protects in Jericho is Rahab’s because she helped the Israelite spies in Joshua 2.

As we read on in Joshua 7, we see going against God’s word leads to a path of destruction. God gave specific instructions in the conquering of Jericho that the gold and devoted things be given to the Lord (Joshua 6:18-19). But Achan took some for himself and hid it which was displeasing to God resulting in him being stoned and thus the Lord let Israel first be defeated at Ai before later giving them victory (Joshua 8). We read later in Joshua 8 where Israel turns back to God by building an altar to Him on Mount Ebal just as Moses commanded be done. Joshua honored God by also writing the law of Moses on the stones (Joshua 8:32) and by reading all the words of the law, every single one, to all the people of Israel (Joshua 8:35) which was no doubt pleasing to God.

I love the parallels of our verses each day from the Old Testament, including the Psalms, and the New Testament. Psalm 14 speaks of the corruption of man God sees as He looks down and sin which displeases Him (Psalm 14:2-3), yet promises Jesus’ coming to give salvation in Psalm 14:7. Then, we read in Luke 15 where Jesus tells how God seeks out sinners to give them a chance to repent and turn to Him through the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and of course the amazing story of grace in the story of the prodigal son.

Think of some of your favorite movies and books. What is a common theme in most all of them, especially the ones that really tug on your heart strings? Most all have a story of redemption from someone who has either done wrong in the past or just didn’t have things go their way for a while. Why do you think those stories get to us, and why do we love them so much? Maybe that’s because it’s our story. It’s the story God has laid on all of our hearts because we are all part of God’s story and plan to save us from our sin (Romans 5:8) when we turn to Him. And while we read today how much God hates sin, we see in Luke 15 how much more joy He has when a sinner turns to Him for grace and forgiveness. Do you remember Rahab, the prostitute we mentioned earlier who decided to turn from her sinful ways and help the Israelites? She was not only spared in the destruction of Jericho, but ultimately became part of the bloodline of Jesus (Matthew 1:5)!

Please watch this short video from Spread Truth and pray for God to lay on your heart someone who needs to hear it and know God’s love and that they are part of His greater Story.

Here is the children’s version as well.

Why Do ‘Bad’ Things Happen?

Today’s reading is Job 42.

Do you know the story of Job? Job was a wealthy man who loved God, and Satan told God it was only because God was protecting him from bad things. Satan said God had a “hedge” around Job (Job 1:10). Satan was convinced that if bad things happened to Job he would fold and curse God. So, God let Satan take Job’s property and children and strike him with leprosy as we read in Job 1 and Job 2. However, Job stayed strong in his faith, and while he questions why God is doing this, he does not curse God and lose his faith in God as Satan expected. In fact, he continues to put his hope in God.

When I was growing up and even until probably about 10 years ago, I would do something wrong and feel guilty about it and then when something bad happened within a few days or weeks later completely unrelated to the mistake I had made I wondered if it was because of what I had done wrong. Were things not going my way because of that unrelated mistake, and was this a punishment for what I had done? You may have also thought when something bad happened to someone “that’s justice” or “they had it coming to them” because of their past sins. In fact, Job’s so called ‘friends’ named Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar believed these things must have happened because of Job’s mistakes. However, God calls their thinking “folly” in Job 42:8 and says is Job 42:7 they “have not spoken of me what is right.

God tells us in Romans 8:1 there is “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I’ve said it before that God is not like a kid with a magnifying glass in the sun burning us who are the ants because we do something He’s not pleased with. We still may face earthly consequences for our actions or God may allow things to play out as a sort of discipline to ultimately draw us closer to Him which is His greatest desire, but we must know the heart of God and that it is not a punishment. This is hard to understand. Isaiah 55:8:9 tells us his ways and thoughts are not only not ours, but they are higher than ours. We won’t figure it out.  However, it is very important we understand Jesus already paid the price for our sins on the cross. In fact, in John 9 Jesus’ disciples ask Him if a blind man walking by is afflicted because of his or his parents’ sins. Jesus replies in John 9:3 by saying it is not because of either of their sins, and he is blind so that the works of God may be seen through Him. When so called bad things happen to good people, our first thought is likely not so God can be glorified through it and them. We know that in John 3:16 Jesus not only says those who believe in Him will have eternal life, but also in John 3:17 that He did not come to condemn the world.

God may let things play out in your life and the lives of others which in our eyes do not seem good like Job. He may even let Satan “win” for a while just like He did when He was crucified and died. For 3 days, Satan thought he was victorious and Jesus’ disciples did too..but then what happened? The Resurrection! We are still celebrating Easter over 2000 years later. As the saying goes, you can’t have a comeback without a setback. We read in Job 42 where God eventually blessed Job with even greater riches than he had prior to all his misfortunes. While I can’t promise you when something bad happens to you that you will see great things happen on this side of eternity, but what I can promise you is if you confess your sins and believe in Jesus’ Resurrection on Easter you will live with Him in Heaven after this life where there will be no pain or problems and everything will be perfect. Until then, we must keep trusting in Him and trusting despite our circumstances His love for us in unconditional and never failing. Let us remember why He came that first Christmas this December and always.

“..but God shows His love for us in that while were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

Let Go. He Has.

Today’s reading is Judges 15:9-20 as we read about Samson for a second day.

Yesterday we read in Judges 13:5 where an angel told Samson’s mother before he was born that God had big plans for Samson, and He would begin to save Israel from the Philistines who were against God and who suppressed them. Reading through today’s verses tell us he did just that. Although they took him as a prisoner, we can read in chapter 16 he killed many of them taking down the pillars of the building he was in with them.

In reading about Samson in the book of Judges we can tell God did with Samson just what he said he would and fulfilled His purpose through him. We can also learn Samson did not always do what was pleasing to God. He did not follow many of the rules he was supposed to as a Nazarite. He also fell in love with Philistine women who were against God including Delilah. Some would also say that while God did say he would fight against the Philistines he was also over-zealous and too bent on revenge and violence.

If we think about what the angel told Samson’s parents about the plans God had for Samson, we might realize that he did not say Samson would live a perfect life without sin, or God would only do big things with Samson if he didn’t make mistakes or behaved in a certain way. God was going to fulfill His purpose for Samson despite his mistakes and mess ups which He knew Samson would make.

Did you know God said the same thing about you?

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

These verses in Psalms tell us not only did He make you fearfully and wonderfully and know you before you were born, but He knew all the days in your life and what would happen and the mistakes you would make. Yet, the verse in Ephesians tells us you are not only His workmanship, but you were created for good works which God prepared before hand for you to walk in. You were created for good works He would do through you despite your sin.

From the time sin came into the world, God knew you would sin and had a plan to defeat it. Genesis 3:15 tells Satan Jesus would come “crush your head” beating sin. Romans 5:8 tells us while we were still sinners Christ showed us His love and died for us.

God has had a plan for you all along to not only save you from your sin, but to use you for His purpose.

He’s forgiven you and will use you for His purpose despite anything in your past.

Since He’s forgiven you, what do you need to forgive yourself?

What do you need to do to remember daily that He will use you for big things despite your sin and past?

In fact, He’s using your past and your story to create your future and bring His greater story of grace and forgiveness to light so that He may be glorified and so that others may know Him and know His love and what’s possible through you and your life.

It is Finished.

Today’s reading is Hosea 11:12-12:14.

These verses remind us again how God feels about our sin. God is everything good and right. Sin is the exact opposite of Him and His nature. Hosea 12:1 and Hosea 12:8 discuss chasing things that don’t have eternal value but only earthly value. Often times when we receive worldly wealth we think we are invincible and don’t acknowledge that these things came from God. We think we don’t need Him. We become our own God and it’s all about us. God continued to provide for Israel, but yet Israel continued to turn their back forgetting what He had done for them. I do the same daily, and we can get a sense in here how God feels about that.

As you read verses like Hosea 12:14, it is concerning to think about the wrath of God and suffering for our sins. In his final breaths when He died on the cross, Jesus said in John 19:30, “It is finished.” The fact that He took the sin and punishment that should have mine is something that is hard to comprehend. God still hates sin the same as He always has. There are outcomes from our sin we have to deal with on this Earth. However, Romans 8:1 says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Jesus took the punishment that should have been mine and yours for our sin. John 3:17 tells us that God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but to save the world. The Old Testament, this chapter, and this book of Hosea tell us about the wrath of God and how He feels about our sin so we know how abhorrent it is to Him . However, the New Testament does not talk about suffering the wrath of God for our missteps and mistakes. Why? Because there was a new covenant established by Jesus’ blood. Jesus took the wrath and the pain that should have been on you and me on our behalf. I am extremely grateful to God for what He did through His Son Jesus which He didn’t have to so that “It is finished.”

Dead to Sin or Alive in Christ?

Today’s reading is Romans 6 as we continue our theme to start 2022 of God’s Word of Life.

If I were to ask you what you were passionate about, what would some of your top answers be?

Many might say family, fitness, reading, their favorite sports team(s), and hopefully their faith amongst other possible responses. For me I would likely say family, my faith, and likely Illini basketball, too.

Romans 6:12 discusses being a slave to our passions/sin.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body to make you obey its passions.

Romans 6:12

I have to admit that I have thought about how I can’t imagine being a slave to nicotine, alcohol, or drug addiction as some are. While I understand these addictions are such that some truly can’t help them due to genetics or disease or other underlying challenges, and yet at the same time I’m embarrassed to say I can still be prideful and quick to judge others with these issues. My brother Chad talked about the problem with being judgmental Monday. Not only am I becoming more aware and having empathy with those challenges, I’m also more aware that I can be a slave to other sins and addictions myself (Luke 6:41). I can be a slave to my phone, social media, trending news/politics, or prioritizing interest in sports over faith and family at times. We can use our phones to stay in touch and nurture healthy spiritual relationships with others, use social media to spread the Gospel, and sports as a platform to share the Gospel as well. However, we can also use these tools in a negative way where they become too much of our focus, as well as use them for the wrong reasons.

A small group friend of mine who has gone on mission trips to areas which don’t have the money and technology we have in the US once commented that you don’t see demonic possessions much in the US so many don’t think they happen anymore like in the Bible. However, he has experienced them and has observed they are more common in other countries where he’s been on mission trips which aren’t wealthy like the US. His hypothesis is that Satan does not need to use demonic possessions in the US because he has plenty of other ways to tempt and control us through the love of money, technology, drugs, and alcohol which is readily available at our fingertips in the US. It is an interesting observations and point he brings up.

While we are still sinful humans who will make mistakes, Paul discusses in Romans 6 that through our baptism, belief, and Christ’s Resurrection, we are no longer slaves to sin and dead in our sin.

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life.

Romans 6:4

So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:11

As we reflect on this chapter, I pray we take notice of our actions and habits and have self-awareness on whether we are acting in manner more closely to being a slave to our sins or acting more in a way which displays we are alive in Christ Jesus.

Paul ends chapter 6 with the ultimate mic drop on this topic. As we and others in our lives are under construction, I also pray we keep this in the forefront of our thinking and share this great news with others.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

On Alert

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 5-6.

If you read these chapters not knowing when and where they came from, sadly you would likely think they were written to the current church. The Bible makes it clear that God hates we read just recently in Romans 6:23. Without Jesus’ saving grace, the wages of sin are death. In today’s reading we learn about how God feels about sin within the church, especially sexual immorality. We also learn about how He feels about sin to our own body.

Flee sexual immorality. Every other sin one commits is outside the body, but the sexual immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

When God created the universe and everything in it, He said it was good. But, when he created man on the sixth day He said it was very good (Genesis 1:31). God loved us so much that He gave His Son Jesus for us grace for a price…His suffering..not ours. The church is often referenced as the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7). With these things in mind, it is no surprise God is especially disappointed with sin inside the church (1 Corrinthians 5:12-13), and sin committed to our own body.

Arguably, sins of sexual immorality are the most visible and prevalent in our world today. They are also prevalent inside the church with members of the clergy not only committing sins of sexual immorality, but some churches claiming to be Christian even going directly against what the Bible says. They are not only condoning certain sins, but even allowing those knowingly committing them to serve as pastors and elders. It is more important than ever that we let the Bible be our guidance system. We must constantly be making sure that our churches and pastors are following and preaching what the Word says. The world should not lead what our pastors and the church should do and say…the Word should. One letter…the letter “l” makes all the difference.

It is also more important than ever that we guard the eyes, hearts, and minds of our children. Sins which the Bible says are wrong are being condoned and even taught in some churches and schools. We must educate and teach them what the Word says. We can dislike the sin, but still love the sinner in the same way that God dislikes our own sins yet loved us so much that He let His own Son suffer and die for us. We are sinners ourselves and in need of grace. However, we cannot knowingly approve of sins the Bible says are wrong in the same way we cannot approve of the sins we commit ourselves.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6

This is not easy when we are getting told from TV, movies, advertising, schools…and even the churches what is acceptable that directly conflicts with Bible. We must stay on watch and fervently use the Bible as our guidance chip.

Be soberminded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

How Do You View God?

When you have a choice to make on doing something you know is right or wrong, what sways your decision on what to do? I made my share of bad choices growing up (and still do today), but when I made good choices I would like to say it was always because it was just the right thing to do, or even better, it’s what God would have wanted and I was following His will. However, I would say when I made good choices it wasn’t always for the right reasons. Often times, it was because of a fear of God. Fearing God is not always a bad thing, but it is if you do it because you think God is like a little boy with a magnifying glass in the sun and you’re the ant when you do something wrong. When I did something wrong and then something bad happened a few days later I wondered if it was because of what I did as punishment. Yes, there are earthly consequences for bad choices we make, but God makes it clear He does not punish us for things we do wrong.

Today’s reading is John 9, and in it we read….

As he passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned,(this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

John 9:1-3

We also read the following in Romans 8:1…

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross. He does not punish us for our wrongdoings while on this Earth and if we believe in Him we are protected and saved from eternal punishment in Hell as well. It’s ok for us to have a healthy fear of God and know He does not like sin, and He’s always watching. But, it’s also more important that we know the love and grace of God outweighs our sin, and Jesus already suffered the punishment which should have been ours 2,000 years ago. We should do the right thing because of the relationship we have with God. He loves us, and we love him so we do right thing out of love and respect for Him. I pray our kids know the love of God for them and make good choices because they want to show love back to Him for His love…not because of the fear of His wrath.

Are you feeling something going on in your life right now is God’s punishment for something you did wrong? Or do you know someone who may be feeling the same way? Direct them to Christ’s love on the cross. This is the exact reason why He came….to remove our punishment. Direct them to the truth that only the Bible can give in these verses. Words like “not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.,” and “therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And also in Isaiah 55:8-9 He tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I’ve said it many times in my writings, and I’ll say it again. Satan thought he won. Jesus was dead. But 3 days later God took the worst event in history, the only sinless man to ever live being beaten, crucified, and killed, and turned it in the greatest event in history by saving mankind through His Resurrection. What will God do in your life through your challenges to display His glory?





Today, we are examining God as our comforter.  This post was originally written in 2017 by Michael Summers.

Paul’s letters to the Corinthians are painful to read.  Yesterday David asked if any of us had ever experienced having a person we were trying to help question our motives and speak negatively about us to others.  I sadly answered yes in my heart as I read David’s prompting.

That experience was difficult for me.  Today’s reading challenged me to grow. Especially verses 3-7.

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

God is our comforter.  Παράκλησις, translated as comfort here, could also be translated ‘encourage’.  It holds in it the element of acceptance, council, and courage.  As if to say God is the one who finds our sorrow acceptable (or not) and strengthens us to continue on (if it is acceptable, more on this latter).

Παρακαλέω, translated as comfort three times in verse 4, could also be translated as urge, implore or exhort.  This helped me understand the activating (or reactivating) nature of this word as if strengthening one to get back in the fight.  God provides us the strength to continue Glorifying Him.

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

‘That we’ is a purpose clause.  God strengthens us so that we may be strengthened and encourage others.  Citing God’s character as the Comforter; the source of strength gives God glory.

5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

This was the most challenging part for me.  The comfort supplied has no limits, so long as our sufferings are in Christ.  Put another way, God supplies us with all the comfort we need for righteous suffering.

The question then became, what if the suffering was not righteous?  That is, what if the suffering was actually a result of my selfish ambition, seeking my own glory and not God’s?  This was my wake up call.

If I did not receive strength and comfort for the sorrow I felt, does it then mean that it was chastening rather than suffering for Christ?  I am inclined to consider this deeply.  Afterall, are we to believe that all suffering is because we are seeking Christ glory perfectly?  If not, as I reflect on a past wound that lingered too long, that sapped my strength when I know it shouldn’t have, I am inclined to think it was due to my sin and pride.

Ouch and amen! God is the righteous One who judges.  I am the sinner who is judged.  God is the Merciful One who gives grace.  I am the one in desperate need of His mercy and grace.   Admitting this depravity is the first step to receiving that which I need from God.  Confessing our Sin is our humble gate that protects God’s glorious reputation. (see extra credit below)

6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.

We are to thank God for the righteous suffering.  We will know it by the degree to which we are supernaturally strengthened.  This is to be shared with and passed on to those who suffer.  All the time giving glory to God as the Strengthener.

7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.


Extra Credit: God’s Glory and Confession of Sin

All things were created for God’s glory. (Revelation 4:11, Isaiah 43:7)  The proud are too busy seeking their own glory to give God His glory.  Confessing our sin proclaims God’s character as holy and His Law as right. (Luke 23:41)  Not confessing our sin is a way of blaming God for sin.  Notice the first sin and how Adam blames God. (Genesis 3:12)  Confessing our sin humbles us and gives God glory. (Joshua 7:19) In summary, when we do not confess our sin it is disagreeing with God, a form of attack on His reputation.  When we say, “God I deserve this” it agrees with God and brings Him glory.  We were designed to bring God glory.  This is one way we can do it.  Confessing our sin.  

The world says, ‘find your strengths and play them up.” the Word says “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Corinthians 12:10)


Today’s reading is 1 John 1-2 and Revelation 1.

The Greek word for sin in the original New Testament was “hamartia” which is translated as missing the mark. Have you missed the mark? I know I have…every hour of every day of my life…maybe every minute. It is clear John wants us to realize this. God is the mark, and we miss it and Him. I’m taken back to my roots and part of the Lutheran liturgy with the words of 1 John 1:8-10…

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

Paul also states in Romans 3:23…

..for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

John is clear not only that we miss the mark and sin, but also tells us how to avoid it as much as possible in 1 John 1:15-16…

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life- is not from the Father but is from the world.”

Constantly the world is trying to tell us what is “ok.” It’s on the internet, TV shows, commercials, movies, books, and the list goes on and on. And not only is the world trying to force things God says is wrong upon us, but the world tries to tell us that if we don’t agree with the world we are not only in the wrong, but we are also practicing hate. Isn’t it crazy what Satan is capable of and how he works? He can twist things not only from what is actually bad to make it look good, but also make the world believe what is good is hate. The world tells us we cannot dislike a sin and still love the sinner. We can because we in fact ourselves as Christians are sinners (1 John 1:8-10), and yet Christ loves us.

The first step in finding Jesus is realizing we need Him. How? We have to be truthful with ourselves about our sin problem. Let’s go back to 1 John 1:8 for a moment. We must specifically name our sins. That’s how we realize we have missed the mark and need Him. We must not compare ourselves to others and what the world says is acceptable. John tells us the world is not the mark…God is!

So, what do we do now that we realize we’ve not done what God wants? 1 John 1:9 tells us we must confess our sins, and He makes us white as us from all our dirty deeds. John wants us to know we have an advocate in Jesus who took our place; He is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:1-2). Through Him, and only through Him, do we please God. He knew we could not do it on our own..that we would miss the mark. John is clear that God had a game plan all along. John tells us God knew we needed Jesus, and Jesus was their all along with the Father from the beginning of Creation (John 1:1-5 and 1 John 1:1-2).

There is no relationship like with Him. All relationships are two sided and conditional….know matter how much we say, or even try not to make them that way. This is not the case in the relationship with Him though..He loved us before we loved Him and still loves us today when we miss the mark. All we can do is try to do our best to follow His will by walking in the light John discusses, and say, “Thanks! Praise be to God!”

The Pharisees

Today’s reading is Matthew 12:1-45.

Do you have a hero of the Bible you like to compare yourself to or like to think you’re similar? Could it be Joseph, Moses, Daniel, Joshua, David, or Ruth to name a few? I doubt very many of us like to compare ourselves to the Pharisees, but I for one, have to admit that often times I am more like them than some of the other aforementioned desired people.

First, we see in Matthew 12:1-3, the Pharisees judging the disciples for picking grain and doing work on the Sabbath. We then see them questioning this again when in Matthew 12:9-10 Jesus heals a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. It can be easy to quickly judge someone for how they parent, how they spend their family time, the car they drive, or the home they own. I heard a quote one time that said…Question: “How big of a house is too big of a house?” Answer: “Just a little bit bigger than my house.” Please forgive me for not giving the proper credit, but one of our other Bible Journal writers commonly says they remind themselves by saying, “Stay in your lane.” What a great saying. Even if what someone does is in fact a sin (and it may not be), their sin is no worse than any of my own sins in God’s eyes.

In Matthew 12:22-24, we see the Pharisees not wanting to believe the miracles Jesus performed in front of them were from God, and then they asked in Matthew 12:38 to see a sign. How often do we have the sin of pride by not giving credit to God for what He’s doing and then not seeing the “signs” right in front of us of what He has done already or will do. Recently, I’ve faced a challenge that I’m wondering how it will be resolved, and it has consumed many of my thoughts. The crazy thing is that this same exact challenge has been overcome many, many times before under arguably more difficult obstacles. Yet, God pulled through in the past and has even used some circumstances this time to help give me clues that this to will pass. However, like the Pharisees, I find myself looking for more “signs,” nearly completely ignoring His past provisions and evidence that this to will be resolved.

Why do I consistently do this? Why am I like the Pharisees when I don’t want to be? I’m a sinful human in need of a Savior just like the Pharisees. All I can do is pray for more awareness to make me more like Him and less like the Pharisees, to not lean on my own understanding by trusting Him with all my heart, soul, and mind, and most importantly by confessing my sinful nature and by thanking Him for His saving grace on the cross.