You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.” Exodus 20:17
Covetousness is a root sin. The Bible records how King Saul was jealous of David’s success and coveted the praise and honour which David received for his victories (1 Samuel 18:6-8). As a result King Saul plotted to murder David.
King David coveted the wife of his neighbour Uriah. He committed adultery with Bathsheba and then connived to have Uriah killed to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11:1-27).
The pagan religions practiced child sacrifice. One of the many pagan gods, Baal, was worshipped as the key to fertility and prosperity. To entice Baal to bless their land, mothers were required to present her firstborn child to the priest. Baal was represented by a huge stone, or brass, statue carved in the image of a bull’s head and the upper body of a man. The arms were extended to receive babies and fire belched from a hollow area in the chest.
“They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrifice to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood. Therefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against His people, so that He abhorred His own inheritance. And He gave them into the hands of the gentiles, and those who hated them ruled over them. Their enemies also oppressed them, and they were brought into subjection under their hand.” Psalm 106:37-42
Frustration and Failure
Many people today have the Law and the Gospel backwards. They think that they need to keep the Law in order to become Christians. As a result they are frustrated with failure, shame and guilt. They don’t understand why the Gospel does not work in their experience. Their problem is that they are getting the proverbial cart before the horse.
“Do we then make void the Law through Faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Law.” Romans 3:31
Law and Grace
Salvation is by the Grace of God alone, received by Faith alone. We do not keep the Law in order to be saved. We keep the Law because we are saved.
The Law condemns – but the Gospel of Christ saves.
The Law reveals our sin – but the Gospel reveals the Saviour.
The Law makes us guilty – but the Gospel of Christ offers us forgiveness.
The Law demands payment – but the Gospel of Jesus Christ pays our debts to God.
D.L. Moody declared: “The Law is a mirror to show us who we are – but you cannot wash yourself with a mirror.”
Thursday - 02 June 2011 - is Ascension Day. The very name holiday means "holy day." Most holidays have religious significance. The events that a society chooses to centre its holidays around speak volumes about the religious worldview and value systems of that society.
For example, Ascension Day used to be a holiday in South Africa. Yet few of us ever appreciated its significance, until the government abolished it as a public holiday. It has been replaced with days that celebrate mankind, such as "Human Rights Day"; "Women's Day"; "Workers' Day" and "Youth Day" - yet another indication that our government has rejected Christianity and embraced Humanism.
Discerning the Voice of God
In order to understand the Will of God, it is essential that we recognise the Voice of God. We cannot do His Will if we cannot discern His Voice from the clamour of peer pressure, the noise of the world and the cacophony of our emotions.
“Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the Word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread Revelation… Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the Word of the Lord yet revealed to him. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you did call me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for Your servant hears.’ Then the Lord said to Samuel: ‘Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.’” 1 Samuel 3:1-11
This article is also available in PowerPoint format here.
A Defining Moment
The Reformation was a defining moment when the Christian convictions and courage of Reformers, such as Dr. Martin Luther, met the crossroads of decision and engaged the battle fields of belief and behaviour.
Their decisive actions were blessed by God with an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which made the Protestant Reformation one of the greatest movements for Faith and freedom in history.
Dr. Martin Luther’s actions were described as that of another Elijah – confronting the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Indeed, there were many similarities between the religious superstition and corruption confronted by Martin Luther in the 16th Century and the national apostasy of Israel confronted by the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 18.
There is much in modern technology that is marvelous. However, the incredible complexity and intricacy of God's Creation is infinitely more marvelous.
"But now ask the beasts and they will teach you; and the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; and the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this. In whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind? Does not the ear test words and the mouth taste its food? Wisdom is with aged men, and with length of days, understanding. With Him are wisdom and strength, He has counsel and understanding." Job 12:7-13
Volume 3 1987
The Psalms are alive with a burning devotion to God, a refreshing appreciation of God’s Holiness, a zealous enthusiasm for God’s Word and an intense hatred of evil. The soldier/shepherd/king/psalmist David was “a man after God’s own heart” 1 Sam 13:14. We need to learn to fear and respect and love God as David did. And “to honour the Lord is to hate evil” Prov 8:13.
Volume 1 1988
Not only has the enemy enslaved millions to false religions, sinful habits and addictions, but he is also waging an all-out war against the forces of Jesus Christ. Satan aims to undermine the Church and frustrate the divinely appointed Rescue Mission entrusted to it.
Just as Jesus Christ is dedicated to the saving of lost men and women (Luke 19:10), so too Satan is dedicated to damning and destroying everyone in this wartorn world.
Just as it is God’s will that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), it is Satan’s will that all be lost.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Martin Luther observed that we exhibit a degree of thankfulness in life in reverse proportion to the amount of blessing we’ve received. In Tabletalk, Martin Luther wrote: “The greater God’s gifts and works, the less they are regarded.” The blessings of life, health, freedom and food are not really appreciated unless they are lost or threatened. Because sunrises and sunsets occur daily, they are taken for granted.