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Saturday, December 28 2019

 From the creation of the earth, the formation of light, the earth bringing form life, and God creating humanity in Their likeness, people have wonder with imagination about the genesis of the heavens and the earth. Because of the existence of the universe, humanity can observe the attributes of its cause — the Creator. The biblical writer, Paul declared, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom 1:20a). Everyone is able to see God’s attributes plainly in the creation. The Book of Deuteronomy aligns perfectly with God’s attributes of reason and wisdom revealed in God’s creation for humanity to observe.


In Deuteronomy, Moses revealed much about God:


5. God spoke directly to the people that He has chosen. God gave Israel the highest moral ethic and national sense of justice that set Israel apart from the nations of the world. God spoke the Ten Commandments out of the fire upon Mount Horeb instilling the fearful expectation of divine justice for breaking away from the standard of impartial justice (Deut 4:9–14). God did this so that only Israel can demonstrate the fact that God spoke to them from the fire of Mount Horeb (4:32–33). God chose the nation of Israel delivering them through many wonders and signs as occurred in Egypt and all the world can observe the attributes the Creator of the universe (Deut 4:34; cf. 4:36–38).


6. God has no form of a body. No one saw any form of God on Mount Horeb (Mt. Sinai). For this reason, God warned and commanded that Israel not to make any carved image in the form of a male or female person or of any living thing, because “you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire” (Deut 4:15–16 ESV). Moses warned that such images would lead them away from God in idolatry. Furthermore, Jesus revealed that God is Spirit, and later, Jesus observed that spirits do not have flesh and blood (John 4:24; cf. Luke 24:39).


7. Everyone can find God. God warned Israel not to make idols because God in His anger will drive them out of the land to live among the nations and worship their gods. God promised that they will seek God again and find Him. Moses revealed, “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find Him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut 4:29). God has set all peoples in all nations to seek and find Him, because God is not far from anyone (Acts 17:26–27; cf. Rom 1:19–20).


8. God is Yahweh — the only God — the God of the universe. God spoke to Israel from the fire of Mt. Horeb, because God loved their fathers who were faithful to God (Deut 4:36–37). By God, Moses attested, “To you it was shown, that you might know that Yahweh is God; there is no other besides Him” (Deut 4:35). God sets the standard that can unite a nation. Therefore, a nation can survive who declare and live by “In God we trust” (Isa 36:7). God had shown Israel great signs and wonders taking them out of slavery and into a land where God will drive out the inhabitants before them (Deut 4:33–34, 36–38). Moses declared, “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Deut 4:39).

Everyone can know that the Creator of the universe is not far from anyone. God has given commands as wisdom and understanding to help us. In these last days, God “has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb 1:2). 

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Friday, December 27 2019

Who is the God who spoke to the people of Israel from Mount Sinai? The text of Deuteronomy reveals many things about God. The transcendent causal Creator of the universe has revealed Himself in His creation, so that the universe displays God’s attributes of “His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom 1:20b). The study of the attributes of God is “theology,” and the theology revealed by the universe is “natural theology.” All that Moses revealed about God the Bible aligns with “natural theology” as displayed by the reason and science of the universe.


Moses revealed and recorded:


1. God gives commands to help His people. God’s relationship with His people sets an ancient model for every nation to establish order and protect the people by the highest ideals according to the great standard — God. At the beginning and end of this section of Scripture, Moses commanded Israel to keep God’s statutes and commands for their own good (Deut 4:1, 40). Furthermore, Moses commanded Israel to keep God’s commands that life may go well for them and their children so that they would live long in the land (Deut 4:40).


2. God’s laws are better than man’s laws. Moses commanded, “You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you” (Deut 4:2). Moses reflected upon God’s justice to destroy the men who rebelled against God by choosing to worship Baal so they could sleep with other women (Deut 4:3; Num 25). While humanity has thought to progress the universal ethic and change reality to match their wants and desires, God does not change and He knows what is best for each nation. No nation can improve its laws without the highest ideals according to the most perfect standard — God.


3. God’s laws and statutes are wisdom and understanding. The greatest nation should be defined as having the greatest ethical ideals. God’s nation of people have laws that cause the nations of the world to respect them and admire their God. Regarding God’s Law, Moses commanded, “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Deut 4:6; cf. Deut 4:5–8; Ps 119:98–105).


4. God wants His people to work diligently not to forget God’s works from their hearts. The model of God and Israel tells another truth more than that laws order a nation, but God’s highest teaching and wisdom belong on the hearts of every citizen and they must work not to forget the righteous instruction of God. Moses instructed, “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life” (Deut 4:9).

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Thursday, December 26 2019

“And I charged your judges at that time, ‘Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the alien who is with him. You shall not be partial in judgment. You shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not be intimidated by anyone, for the judgment is God's. And the case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’ And I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do” Moses commanded (Deut 1:16–18 ESV).

When I read this, I cannot help but think about the Preamble of the Declaration of the United States and the Bill of Rights. By God’s instruction, the governing authorities are to protect and guard the rights of the people (Prov 31:8–9). God instructed the judges of Israel to judge impartially the Israelite and the alien, because the judgment is God’s judgment. Isaiah revealed, “For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isa 30:18b; cf. 33:22).

            Without individually rejecting the governing authorities, the American colonies worked to reform their government that Great Britain suspended. The unanimous Declaration of the United States affirmed the rights of every man as created equal and endowed by the Creator with unalienable rights. Furthermore, the Declaration affirmed the necessity and purpose of the government to secure those rights. For the Representatives of the General Congress of the United States published independence “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions” and pledged their lives to one another “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.”

            Today, government authorities still stand before God for their actions and God will bring justice (cf. Rev 19:1–2; 20:7–10). God has set today’s authorities to enact justice (1 Pet 2:13–15; cf Rom 13:3–4; Titus 3:1–2). However, many politicians and officials are intimidated and extorted to act partially and ignore justice. Politicians promise great things until the corrupt threaten to slander or uncover secret sins.

            God’s laws for Israel protected and guarded the rights of life, liberty, and property among the people of Israel and strangers in the land. God gave Israel the prerogative to choose their own leaders so that ancient Israel was a republic. Moses instructed Israel, “Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads” (Deut 1:13). God knew that Israel would one day ask for a king to judge and reign over them (Deut 17:14–15). Samuel warned them of the heavy burdens of labor and taxes from kings (1 Sam 8:4–18).

            Thank God for the government that secures rights for the people, and trust God to bring justice on those who do not. Thank God for the freedom that Christians have. Subject to the governing authority, be ready to do every good work, and speak evil of no one (Titus 3:1–2).

            When Jesus resurrected, He declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18; cf. Isa 9:6–7). Jesus is the ruler over the kings of the earth. He is the emperor — the King of kings (1 Tim 1:17; 6:15–16; Rev 1:5).

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Monday, December 16 2019

The United States government grants a federal holiday and recognizes Christmas as a national holiday. However, the Supreme Court noted that it is also a secular holiday. That is strange because the original meaning of holiday was “holy day” and this word has become secular — nonreligious without recognition of God. However, the national recognition of the birth of Jesus at Christmas is both encouraging and yet concerning. For Christians, we must be ready in this season to proclaim the gospel and teach devotion to God as Jesus did at Hanukkah (John 10:22–39).

            The Bible does not specify or command the celebration of Jesus’s birth on December 25 (or January 6). The oldest record of Christians observing December 25 as the birthday of Jesus comes from an early Christian writer Hippolytus who wrote in the early third century AD (Commentary on the Book of Daniel 4.23.3). However, most early Christian writers did not agree on the time of Jesus's birth. Christmas by definition is an early Roman church tradition as indicated by “mass” in the word “Christmas.” Historically, many protestant and reformed Christians opposed celebrating Christmas. Some have claimed that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday, but the evidence is lacking. Every observance of a day can be attributed to one of many pagan holidays, but such is parallelomania. Anyone educated in Christianity knows that Jesus was a Jew and His teachings built on the Jewish Scriptures of the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (cf. Luke 24:44).

             What are Christians to do with observing special days? Christians are to maintain the God-given traditions just as God has given them (1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6). The Scriptures do infer the significance of the first day of the week for assembly as “the Lord’s Day” (Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1–3; cf. Acts 20:7; Rev 1:10). For the faithful, the Lord’s Day for assembly and every day is committed to observing the coming of the Son of God in the flesh and Christ’s resurrection to conquer death (1 Cor 15:25–26, 54–55; 2 Tim 1:10; 1 John 4:2–3). Because Christmas is not a biblical holiday, the church should not publically recognize and observe the manmade tradition of December 25 as the day of Jesus’s birth. Recognizing Christmas as a church would imply the day is truly the day of Jesus’s birth and infer observance of a manmade tradition on fellow believers.

            The Christian Scriptures address how the faithful are to approach the observation of days. The apostle Paul wrote, “One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord” (Rom 14:5–6a ESV). Furthermore, Paul taught the church not to judge or to despise one another over food or observing days because God is the Judge (Rom 14:10, 13). However, the apostle also taught the church at Colossi, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col 2:16–17).

            Christians should not divide or drive away believers who observe days to the Lord. For harmony and unity, Paul concluded by teaching the Christians in Rome to bear with the weak and build up one another (Rom 15:1–2; cf. 15:5–7). However, Christians do have the right and duty to warn about manmade traditions and observances of days that can lead the weak away from Christ. Paul warned, “You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain” (Gal 4:10).

            Be gentle and respectful with those who observe Christmas as Jesus’s birth. Make good use of a nation recognizing a special day to Jesus of Nazareth. Because many are recognizing Jesus, share the gospel. Like the angel to the shepherds, let us say, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

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Sunday, December 15 2019

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God” (Heb 3:12 ESV). The unbelieving heart is an evil heart rejecting God who the Source of all good things. God’s commands and traditions in the Scriptures are for the good of every believer. God did not create humanity for His whims, so God also did not give arbitrary commands. Likewise, Jesus taught, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

            When God gives us a command, He gives it because believers are capable of obeying His commands. God does not give commands that we can’t keep. When God tells us to endure temptations and make disciples and we dismiss our ability to do so, what are we claiming about God? What false god do we claim who keeps us from obeying His commands?

            Your church family is a constant reminder that you are capable of doing more. You can read, pray, assemble, overcome temptations, evangelize, and make disciples. Furthermore, the Pauline writer of Hebrews declared, “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb 3:13; cf. 10:24–25). Christians need one another as we are in a spiritual war — a true holy war. The apostle Paul described that Christians are in a holy war against the evil of coveting and yet able to destroy every argument against the knowledge of God (1 Pet 2:11; 2 Cor 10:3–5; cf. Eph 6:12–13). God has given Christians every means to oppose evil. Paul revealed, “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12).

            God has given His holy nation the armor and weapons to destroy every stronghold and take captives to Christ (2 Cor 10:4–5; Eph 6:10–20). For this reason, the church must train to handle rightly the Word of God (2 Tim 2:15). The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17; Heb 4:12). Many Christians struggle with God’s Word and fail to carry their own shield of faith because they are not familiar with their armor. They refuse to train and engage the world that is in resistance to God. For this reason, many “believers” degrade themselves and think little about their abilities as a Christian soldier in spiritual conflict. Was God wrong about them or are they wrong about themselves?

            How can a soldier serve when he doubts himself or doesn’t trust his fellow soldiers? The Christian must train with other Christians. The Scriptures are all-sufficient to help the faithful confront struggles (2 Tim 3:16–17). The Bible attests that everyone is made in God’s image, significant, and purposeful so that no paralyzing self-doubt, insult, resentment, or anxiety can stop the faithful Christian. Stand by faith in the identity of God. God is faithful and provides you with more than basic training. God spoke, “For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” (Isa 57:15).

            God made you to find Him (Acts 17:26–27). God made you in His likeness. God loves you while yet a sinner (Rom 5:8). Paul revealed, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). Christians must listen to God and act as one who is responsible for helping oneself. Paul taught, “For each will have to bear his own load” (Gal 6:5). However, he also taught, “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2). If you can’t help yourself (and yet you can), then how can you help others? Love God and obey His commands!

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