Daily Archives: January 13, 2018

January 13 Enjoying God’s Forgiveness

“In Christ we have … the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of [God’s] grace, which He lavished upon us” (Eph. 1:7–8).

✧✧✧

In Christ we have infinite forgiveness for every sin—past, present, and future.

On Israel’s Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the high priest selected two goats. One was sacrificed, the other set free. Before releasing the second goat, the high priest symbolically placed the sins of the people on it by laying his hands on its head. This “scapegoat” was then taken a great distance from camp and released—never to return again (Lev. 16:7–10).

The Greek word translated “forgiveness” in Ephesians 1:7 means “to send away.” It speaks of canceling a debt or granting a pardon. Like the scapegoat, Christ carried away our sins on the cross.

In Christ, God canceled your debt and pardoned your transgressions, and He did so “according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon [you]” (v. 8). That means you have infinite forgiveness, because God’s grace is infinite. You cannot sin beyond God’s grace, because where sin abounds, grace super-abounds (Rom. 5:20).

God delights in lavishing His grace upon you. Such grace is overflowing and cannot be contained. You are forgiven for every sin—past, present, and future. You will never be condemned by God or separated from Him (Rom. 8:1–2, 31–39). Even when you fail, God doesn’t hold your sins against you. Christ bore them all so that you might know the joy and peace that freedom from sin and guilt brings.

Let the reality of God’s grace fill your heart with joy and assurance. Let the responsibility of glorifying Him fill you with awe and reverence. Let this day be a sacrifice of praise and service to Him.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His infinite grace and forgiveness. ✧ Look for opportunities to extend forgiveness to others.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 18:21–35. ✧ What characteristic marked the wicked slave? ✧ What was the king’s response to the wicked slave’s actions? ✧ What point was Jesus making? How does it apply to you?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 25). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women)

“God made men and women different from day one of creation… sorry, day six. He meant for men to fill certain roles and women to fill certain roles. We are one body in Christ made of individual parts, each functioning in their own way. One person is not to infringe upon another or take it upon themselves to do the task given to someone else.”

In 1 Timothy 2:11-12, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.” The context here is church leadership, an instruction that continues into chapter 3. A woman is not permitted to be a pastor in a church (elder, bishop, overseer, etc.). Only a man can be a pastor.

This instruction is not limited to the time-period in which Paul was writing. It applies to all people in every place at every point in the history of the church. How do we know this? Because Paul goes all the way back to Genesis with his explanation: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (verses 13-14).

So the first reason the role of pastor is to be filled by a man is because Adam was formed first, and Eve was formed from Adam as his help-meet. The differences between the sexes and the different roles they are assigned are not a result of the fall. They were established at creation and have applied to all people in all cultures at all times.

The second reason a pastor is to be man is because Adam was not deceived by the serpent, but the woman was deceived and transgressed the law of God. This might seem unfair because Adam certainly sinned as well, and death came to all men because Adam sinned (Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:21). But Adam wasn’t deceived, and Eve was. So whether we’re talking about a perfect, sinless world, or the fallen, sinful one we currently inhabit, God intends that a man be the one to shepherd the flock of God (pastor means “shepherd;” see also 1 Peter 5:1-5).

Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak at church” (1 Corinthians 14:33-35).

This doesn’t mean a woman is supposed to have duct-tape over her mouth from the moment she walks into church to the moment she walks out. The context is teaching the church, or administering the authority of the word of God over the gathered people of God. The role as overseer is set apart for specifically a man to fill.

This also doesn’t mean a church that obeys this instruction is oppressing women. Heavens, no! A woman sitting in that church during a gospel sermon is no more oppressed than any man in the congregation. The truth does not oppress those who listen to it — it sets them free (John 8:31). It is a woman’s delight to learn quietly with all submissiveness, and she does this in honor of the Lord.

Women serve an incredibly important role in the church. If a church was all men and no women, that would be a dysfunctional church (see Titus 2:1-8). The church is to be made up of men and women, young and old, complimenting one another in their strengths and weaknesses, working and growing together so that we may be a functioning body of Christ.

But each according to their own purpose. God made men and women different from day one of creation… sorry, day six. He meant for men to fill certain roles and women to fill certain roles. We are one body in Christ made of individual parts, each functioning in their own way. One person is not to infringe upon another or take it upon themselves to do the task given to someone else. We all submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

Bad Arguments for Women Pastors
Over the weekend, a friend got into a discussion over this topic with a feminist, and the feminist retorted with a list of names — women of the Bible who were more than just “helps” but, in her view, were qualified to be pastors. That list was as follows: “Deborah, Hannah, Miriam, Ruth, Esther, Jael, Proverbs 31, Wisdom personified as woman in Proverbs 8 (present with God at creation), Phoebe, Lydia, Prisca, Mary, Mary Magdalene, [were] all just there ‘to help’?”

This is a very common tactic when arguing for why women deserve to be pastors: throw out the name of a woman from the Bible. Boom! But that name is always taken out of context. There are no examples of a woman serving as a pastor in the church. None of the apostles were women, for that matter. I can say “period” and leave it at that. The instruction in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is clear.

But for the sake of teaching, I’d like to go through that list of names and explain why they’re actually bad examples. While they are not examples of women pastors, most of them are certainly great examples for being strong women of God.

Deborah
The book of Judges captures a very dark time in Israel’s history. In those days there was no king in Israel, and the people did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6, 21:25). But God gave them judges to be their leaders, decision-makers, and deliverers.

The pattern of the story of Judges goes like this: the people sinned and worshiped false gods, the Lord sent an enemy to punish and oppress them, the people cried out for mercy, so God sent a judge to conquer their enemies and deliver a semi-repentant Israel. Wash, rinse, repeat. Three of the most famous judges were Samson, Gideon, and a woman named Deborah.

Deborah was a prophetess and a God-fearing woman who judged during a time when there were no God-fearing men. In Judges 4, Deborah confronted Barak, commander of the Lord’s army, who was reluctant to do what God had told him to do: gather his troops and fight the Canaanites. Instead, Barak told Deborah, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.” So Deborah mommied him and led him by the hand to get him to obey God.

If you had been reading through Deuteronomy and Joshua, by the time you got to Judges 4, you’d recognize Israel’s digression in faith and obedience. In Deuteronomy 1:15, the tribes of Israel had wise and experienced men as heads over them. In Joshua 24:1, these men met with Joshua to renew their covenant before God. But within a generation, Israel began worshiping the Baals and forgot what the Lord had done for them (Judges 2:10-12).

It got to the point that the men weren’t doing what the leaders of Israel were supposed to do. So God placed a woman over them as though to say, “Sure, I’ll deliver you from your enemies. But to your shame, I’m going to send a woman to do what no man will do.” It was an embarrassment that Deborah was judge, not a high achievement (consider Judges 9:53 where it was to Abimelech’s shame that he was killed by a woman and not a man). In Deborah’s song of victory, she praised the tribes that stepped up to fight and lambasted those who stayed home (Judges 5:14-18).

Isaiah 3:12 says, “My people — infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them.” It is the judgment of God upon a nation when women occupy the roles that should be filled by men. Barak should have been the judge of Israel, following in the footsteps of Othniel, Ehud, and Shamgar before him. But because he was kind of a weenie, God gave Deborah to do what Barak wouldn’t.

So using Deborah as an argument for why it’s okay for a woman to be a pastor really isn’t a good move. It would be to admit, “There are no godly men here, so a woman is going to have to do this job.” When a woman is pastor, the church is immature and disobedient, just like Israel was when Deborah was judge. She is a great example of a God-fearing woman. She is not an example of a pastor.

Read More

The post Bad Examples of Women Pastors (But Great Examples of Godly Women) appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 01/13/2018

Moody Bible Institute President, COO Resign Amid Board’s ‘Unanimous Decision’ for ‘New Season of Leadership’   Jan 10, 2018 11:50 pm

CHICAGO — The president and COO of Moody Bible Institute have submitted their resignations amid controversy over the direction of the historic institution, and in light of the board’s “unanimous decision” for “new leadership.” The Moody Board of Trustees accepted the resignations of President Paul Nyquist and COO Steve Mogck on Wednesday, according to an email…

Continue reading the story


Paula White Urges Followers to Give ‘First Fruits’ Offering of a Day, Week or Month’s Wages   Jan 08, 2018 02:30 pm

APOPKA, Fla. — Prosperity preacher Paula White, who also serves as the chair of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, is urging her followers to give a “first fruits” financial offering with the start of 2018, stating that there are “consequences” for those who don’t do so out of “ignorance or direct disobedience.” “As you remember the Lord your God,…

Continue reading the story


School District to Pay Girl Who Identifies as Boy $150,000 for Not Being Allowed to Use Preferred Restroom   Jan 12, 2018 05:34 pm

Photo Credit: Transgender Law Center MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — A school district in Wisconsin has agreed to pay $650,000 in attorneys’ fees and $150,000 to a female former student who identifies as male, who sued in 2016 after being prohibited from using the boys’ restroom. The Transgender Law Center says that the $150,000 payment is for “harms … experienced as a…

Continue reading the story


Paula White Reps. Scrub Web Page of Language Urging ‘First Fruits’ Offering of Day, Week, Month’s Wages, ‘Consequences’ for Not Giving   Jan 11, 2018 07:07 pm

APOPKA, Fla. — Following media reports and public backlash over the matter, representatives for false teacher Paula White, who also serves as the chair of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, have scrubbed a page on White’s website of any mention that she had urged followers to give a “first fruits” offering of a day, week, or month’s wages—and that…

Continue reading the story


Former Teacher Has Certificates Suspended for Speaking Against Sin of Homosexuality on Facebook   Jan 09, 2018 09:45 pm

NEWARK, N.J. — The New Jersey Department of Education has suspended the teaching certificates of a former high school teacher who came under fire seven years ago for speaking against the sin of homosexuality on Facebook. As previously reported, Jenye “Viki” Knox, 56, first came under fire in June 2011 after she posted comments on Facebook decrying the…

Continue reading the story


Ohio’s Largest Abortion Facility Launches Billboard Campaign to Claim: ‘Abortion Is a Blessing’   Jan 06, 2018 02:29 pm

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The largest abortion facility in Ohio has launched a billboard campaign in an effort to urge readers “to reflect on the powerful role that abortion plays in people’s lives.” The facility, called Preterm, has purchased 16 billboard locations around the Cleveland area to “spark conversation” surrounding its belief that abortion is necessary as…

Continue reading the story


US Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Mississippi’s Freedom of Conscience Act   Jan 08, 2018 11:37 am

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal of a Fifth Circuit ruling that upheld Mississippi’s “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” a bill meant to shelter residents from punishment when acting in accordance with their religious convictions in regard to the institution of marriage. The court denied the…

Continue reading the story


HIV Positive Teacher’s Aide, Track Coach Accused of Molesting 42 Youth Pleads Guilty to Sex Abuse Charges   Jan 06, 2018 11:38 am

WALDORF, Md. — A former Maryland teacher’s aide and track coach accused of sexually abusing 42 youth between 2015 and 2017 has accepted a plea deal after being charged with over 200 offenses, including the attempted transmission of HIV. According to reports, Carlos Bell, 30, was first investigated in December 2016 after a parent contacted authorities in…

Continue reading the story


Gideons No Longer Allowed to Offer Bibles at Kansas Elementary School Following Complaint   Jan 07, 2018 11:05 pm

HERINGTON, Kan. — Representatives for Gideon International will no longer be allowed to make Bibles available to students at an elementary school in Kansas following a complaint from a national humanist organization. The American Humanist Association (AHA) recently sent a letter to the superintendent of Herington Schools and the principal of Herington Elementary…

Continue reading the story


U.S. Department of State Announces Annual Notation of World’s Most Egregious Violators of Religious Freedom   Jan 07, 2018 08:27 am

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of State has announced its annual designation of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) based on observance of ongoing violations of religious freedom. “In far too many places around the globe, people continue to be persecuted, unjustly prosecuted or imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief,”…

Continue reading the story

Biola University – Going . . . Going . . . Gone As President Takes Sabbatical At Catholic Contemplative Monastery

(Lighthouse Trails) For many years, Lighthouse Trails has written about the slide that Biola University in Southern California has taken into contemplative spirituality. Our first indication that the school was heading that way was in February of 2006 when we learned that Biola was actively participating in a publication called Conversations Journal, a magazine whose primary purpose is to bring contemplative spirituality to the church, and editorial involvement includes names such as Richard Foster, Basil Pennington (a Catholic mystic), Tilden Edwards (co-founder of the panentheistic Shalem Institute), and others of the contemplative viewpoint. Since then, we have watched as Biola has gotten whole-heartedly on the contemplative band wagon with its own Institute for Spiritual Formation through Biola’s Talbot School of Theology.

Fast forward nearly twelve years to the fall of 2017 when the longstanding president of Biola, Dr. Barry Corey, took a month-long sabbatical leave starting with a week at the Glastonbury Abbey in Massachusetts (a Benedictine monastery) then wrote about his time of contemplative silence at the Abbey for the students of Biola in an article titled “The Abbey Makes Space for the Soul” in the school’s student-run newspaper Chimes.

Of course, it makes sense to us that the president of a strongly contemplative university would spend time in silence at a Catholic mystical retreat center. We have been explaining for many years now that contemplative prayer came to the evangelical church from the Catholic monasteries (e.g. Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky). So naturally, a contemplative proponent such as Corey would be drawn to a Catholic contemplative retreat center. It’s like going back to the roots of what has become the foundation of Biola’s “faith.” And with the president himself boasting of his time at the Glastonbury Abbey, no doubt, many students will wish to follow suit. Most of them probably won’t have the money to take a week off and fly across the country to Massachusetts (college students are generally strapped for funds – Biola’s yearly tuition runs over $40,000 a year). But with President Corey’s glowing report of his time at Glastonbury, students can at least order a few books from Glastonbury’s online bookstore.

Here are some titles Biola students might purchase from the Glastonbury bookstore: Becoming the Presence of God (Contemplative Ministry for Everyone) by Michael Ford, Finding Our Sacred Center by Henri Nouwen, Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr, Christ in All Things: Exploring Spirituality with Pierre Teilhard De ChardinGuidelines for Mystical Prayer, What the Mystics Know: Seven Pathways to Your Deeper Self by Rohr, and a multitude of other similar books. The majority of the books in Glastonbury’s bookstore radiates with the contemplative message that God is in everyone. For those who are new to understanding contemplative spirituality, THAT is the foundation of contemplative prayer (i.e., Spiritual Formation) – God in everyone, which of course, if was true, then Christ died for us in vain as man would not need a Savior separate from himself. This is why we have given our lives up to warn the church about the infiltration of this panentheistic spirituality that now affects over 90% of the Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries. If contemplative spirituality (as promoted at Biola) is legitimate, then the Gospel is not needed, and those of us who believe in it are the worst of fools.

Some reading this may be thinking, well, just because Dr. Corey visited a contemplative monastery doesn’t mean that Biola itself is promoting or teaching contemplative prayer. On that matter, we could give one example after the next (see links to some of our former research below). But let’s look at just a few recent things from Biola’s website:  View article →

Related:

Articles on Richard Foster

See our Research Papers on Contemplative Prayer and Spiritual Formation

Source:  Biola University – Going . . . Going . . . Gone As President Takes Sabbatical At Catholic Contemplative Monastery

The Fortune-Telling ‘Encounter Gospel’ of Bethel & the NAR Explained

(Steven Kozar – Museum of Idolatry) Tired of getting no results with old-fashioned, Bible-based Christianity? It’s time to go off the map with Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton and all of their New Apostolic Reformation friends! In this first episode of this series we will focus on the fortune-telling aspect of the “Encounter Gospel,” so get out your tarot cards, oops… I mean get out your Destiny Cards and let’s get started! Here’s a quick summary of the new and better Gospel of the Kingdom:

  • People aren’t really that bad, they just need to be convinced of how special they are-they need to understand their “true identity.”
  • Religion is the real source of people’s problems, not rebellion against God (sin).
  • God is desperately trying to get people to “accept” Him, but He’s been hindered by the historic Christian Church, with its specific, Biblical teachings about Salvation, Heaven and Hell, The Atonement of Jesus Christ, and all other forms of unnecessary “head knowledge” found in the Bible.
  • People would believe in God if they could just see some proof for themselves.
  • Bethel teaches how to give people the proof they need to believe that God is real, He loves them, and He wants all of their dreams to come true so they can fulfill their “Destiny.”

How does Bethel teach you to provide proof of God’s existence? How can you convert anyone you want?

Give people an “encounter with God.” This is the new and better “Gospel of the Kingdom!”

giphy (65).gif
  • Tell them something about themselves that can only be known supernaturally, exactly like a psychic, only much better! 
  • Always tell them something good about themselves; especially about how they have a great “Destiny” and how God thinks they’re amazing.
  • Do NOT call this fortune-telling, call it prophecy. Examples: “I operate in the prophetic,” or “I have a prophetic gifting/anointing/mantle/office,” or “Wow! I received a prophecy from Theresa and it was dead-on!” or “These aren’t tarot cards-they’re prophecy cards!”
  • It helps if you have some stock phrases memorized ahead of time, like these: “I’m sensing a shift in the atmosphere,” or “You’ve been waiting for a breakthrough, haven’t you?” or “God wants you to know that you’re very special and He hasn’t forgotten about you.”
  • If your prospect appears skeptical or nervous, assure them that you’re getting direct downloads from the third heaven realm.

View article →

Source: The Fortune-Telling ‘Encounter Gospel’ of Bethel & the NAR Explained

JANUARY 13 LEARN TO LOVE GOD FOR HIMSELF ALONE

We love him, because he first loved us.

1 JOHN 4:19

The phrase, “the love of God,” when used by Christians almost always refers to God’s love for us. We must remember that it can also mean our love for God!

The first and great commandment is that we should love God with all the power of our total personality. Though all love originates in God and is for that reason God’s own love, yet we are permitted to catch and reflect back that love in such manner that it becomes our love indeed!

The Christian’s love for God has by some religious thinkers been divided into two kinds, the love of gratitude and the love of excellence. But we must carry our love to God further than love of gratitude and love of excellence.

There is a place in the religious experience where we love God for Himself alone, with never a thought of His benefits. There is, in the higher type of love, a suprarational element that cannot and does not attempt to give reasons for its existence—it only whispers, “I love!” In the perfection of love, the heart does not reason from admiration to affection, but quickly rises to the height of blind adoration where reason is suspended and the heart worships in unreasoning blessedness. It can only exclaim, “Holy, holy, holy,” while scarcely knowing what it means.

If this should all seem too mystical, too unreal, we offer no proof. But some will read and recognize the description of the sunlit peaks where they have been for at least brief periods and to which they long often to return. And such will need no proof![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 13, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

3:21This I recall to my mind: Jeremiah’s remembrance of God’s faithfulness brought about a change in the prophet’s emotions. As long as we contemplate our troubles, the more convinced we will become of our isolation, our hopelessness, our inability to extricate ourselves from the present trouble. But when we focus on the Lord, we are able finally to rise above, rather than to suffer under, our troubles.

3:22 This verse seems to contradict all that had been written up to this point (2:1–5). Yet the fact that there was a prophet left to write these words and a remnant left to read them show that not every person in Jerusalem had been consumed. The fact that there was a remnant at all was due to the mercies and compassions of God. Even in His wrath (2:1–4), God remembers to be merciful.[1]


3:21 This I recall. The prophet referred to what followed as he reviewed God’s character.

3:22 lovingkindnesses. This Heb. word, used about 250 times in the OT, refers to God’s gracious love. It is a comprehensive term that encompasses love, grace, mercy, goodness, forgiveness, truth, compassion, and faithfulness.[2]


3:21 This verse marks a change in the speaker’s attitude. The contentment he remembers renews the hope lost in v. 18. In view of vv. 22–23, 32, he may be reflecting on Ex. 34:6–7, which these verses echo.

3:22 God’s steadfast love (his “covenant mercy” or beneficial action on his people’s behalf) never ceases, even in the face of Judah’s unfaithfulness and the resulting “day of the Lord” (cf. Joel 2:1–2; Amos 5:18; Zeph. 1:14–16). mercies. Or “compassion.” This type of mercy goes the second mile, replacing judgment with restoration. never come to an end. God is willing to begin anew with those who repent.[3]


3:21 What Jeremiah does is what every believer must do when he is discouraged, disappointed, or depressed—he must call to mind the faithfulness of God and meditate upon it until the Spirit lifts him up again.

3:22 Jeremiah’s realization of Judah’s defilement in the presence of a holy God moves him to one of the more poignant expressions of the grace of God found anywhere in the Bible. The wonder to Jeremiah is not that some are lost, but that any are saved. All would be consumed were it not for God’s mercies. The word “mercies” is a translation of the Hebrew word hesed, sometimes rendered “lovingkindness” (cf. Jer. 2:2, note). The word captures the spirit of the term “grace” in the N.T. (cf. Eph. 2:8, note). “Mercy” and “compassion” alone stay the hand of God’s righteous and just indignation. Nor is this to be construed as an initial occurrence only. Each morning His mercies are fresh, verifying God’s great faithfulness to us (v. 23). Man’s only hope rests on this truth.[4]


3:21This I recall to my mind: Jeremiah’s remembrance of God’s faithfulness brought about a change in the prophet’s emotions. As long as we contemplate our troubles, the more convinced we will become of our isolation, our hopelessness, our inability to extricate ourselves from the present trouble. But when we focus on the Lord, we are able finally to rise above, rather than to suffer under, our troubles.

3:22 This verse seems to contradict all that had been written up to this point (see 2:1–5). Yet the very fact that there was a prophet left to write these words and a remnant left to read them show that not every person in Jerusalem had been consumed. The fact that there was a remnant at all was due to the mercies and compassions of God. Even in His wrath (2:1–4), God remembers to be merciful.[5]


3:22 — Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.

Do you know the Lord as trustworthy, reliable, and consistent? Or do you question whether God will be there for you in your hour of need? From cover to cover, the Bible proclaims, “God is there, and He cares!” He never abandons us.[6]


21 This I †recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.

This, not what was already said, that made them despair, and their souls to bow down; but this, that which followeth, concerning the nature of God, and other good providences. I see nothing in the circumstances of my condition to comfort me, but I see something in God’s nature, and in some other dispensations of his providence, which gives me ground to hope for better things than an utter ruin and destruction.

22 ¶ It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.

Mercy is nothing else but love flowing freely from any to persons in misery, and differs from compassion only in the freeness of the emanation. It is not because God had not power enough utterly to have consumed us, nor because we had not guilt enough to have provoked his justice to have put an end to our lives, as well as to the lives of many thousands of our countrymen, but it is merely from the Lord’s free love and pity to us in our miseries. If God had not a blessing in store for us, how is it that we are captives, and not slain as many others were during the siege?[7]


[1] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 951–952). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (La 3:21–22). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1487). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., La 3:21–22). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5]The NKJV Study Bible. (2007). (La 3:21–22). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (La 3:22). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[7] Poole, M. (1853). Annotations upon the Holy Bible (Vol. 2, p. 655). New York: Robert Carter and Brothers.

JANUARY 13 LOVE WITHOUT MEASURE

Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3

I once wrote something about how God loves us and how dear we are to Him. I was not sure I should put it down on paper—but God knows what I meant.

I wrote: “The only eccentricity that I can discover in the heart of God is the fact that a God such as He is should love sinners such as we are!”

On this earth a mother will love the son who has betrayed her and shamed her and is now on his way to a life in prison. That seems to be a natural thing for a mother. But there is nothing natural about this love of God. It is a divine thing. It is forced out by the inward pressure within the heart of the God of all grace. That is why He waits for us, puts up with us, desires to lead us on—He loves us!

My brethren, this should be our greatest encouragement in view of all that we know about ourselves: God loves us without measure, and He is so keenly interested in our spiritual growth and progress that He stands by in faithfulness to teach and instruct and discipline us as His own dear children!

Dear Lord, this morning I’m struck with the thought of how much You have put up with me—because of Your endless love. Lord, help me take another baby step toward spiritual maturity today.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 13 Testing Jesus’ Divine Rights

“If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”—Matt. 4:3b

Before Satan tempted Jesus more directly, he threw out a cynical challenge to test Christ’s deity. The devil’s conditional statement, “If You are the Son of God,” assumed that Jesus was indeed God’s beloved Son (3:17). But he hoped to persuade Him into a demonstration of divine power that would violate God’s plan, which called for Jesus to set aside His divine power while on earth and use it only when the Father commanded. If Satan could make Jesus presume upon His divine rights and act independently of His Father, this would amount to disobedience.

Obviously, then, the purpose of the first temptation went far beyond getting Jesus to satisfy His physical hunger by wrongly using miraculous power. The devil wanted Him to doubt the Father’s word, love, and provision—to disobediently declare that being hungry was simply not fit for God’s only Son.

Satan’s argument was, “Hadn’t He endured enough humiliating circumstances already (the stable, the flight to Egypt, obscurity in Nazareth, this time in the wilderness) in an effort to identify with unworthy humanity?” But unlike Eve in the Garden of Eden (cf. Gen. 3:1f.), Jesus stayed true to God’s will and did not cast doubt on the Father’s word or His already secured position as God’s Son.

ASK YOURSELF

Yes, there is more at stake in temptation than the mere subject of the enticement. There are significant matters of trust and freedom and identity involved. How seriously are you taking these threats to your Christian calling? Pray that God would help you see the battle for what it is.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 21). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

January 13 Raised Through the Spirit

God does not give the Spirit by measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.

John 3:34–35

Jesus took on a role requiring voluntary submission, and He did the will of the Father through the power of the Spirit. That is an amazing act of love and humility from One who is fully God and always will be throughout eternity.

It is important to recognize the Spirit’s work in the ministry and resurrection of Jesus because it indicates that the entire Trinity was involved in the redemption of mankind. The greatest affirmation that Jesus is who He claimed to be is that the Father raised the Son through the agency of the Holy Spirit.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 24). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

January 13, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

6:3 God is known truly in Christ (Matt. 11:27; John 14:6; 17:3).[1]


6:3 press on to know the Lord. Like the call to return (v. 1), the call to true knowledge of the Lord is central to Hosea’s message (2:8, 20; 4:1, 6; 5:4; 6:6). See Introduction: Characteristics and Themes.

as the dawn … as the showers. These similes compare God’s reliability to the recurrent events of nature.[2]


6:3 God’s restored presence and blessings would be like the rain that waters and renews the earth. latter and former rain: The latter rains of Israel came in the spring and caused the plants to grow. The former rains came in the autumn and softened the ground for plowing and sowing.[3] †


6:3 — “Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord .… ”

Our highest pursuit in life is to get to know the Lord for who He really is. While we can do much of this on our own, God directs us to pursue Him together, with other believers who also love Him.[4]


6:3 God’s restored presence and blessings would be like the rain that waters and renews the earth. latter and former rain: The latter rains of Israel came in the spring and caused the plants to grow. The former rains came in the autumn and softened the ground for plowing and sowing.[5]


[1] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1631). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1245). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[3] The NKJV Study Bible. (2007). (Ho 6:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ho 6:3). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1032). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

JANUARY 13 THE SECRET GARDEN

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

—Genesis 3:8

However we may explain this mysterious “ground” within us, we will not have been long in the Christian way until we begin to experience it. We will find that we have within us a secret garden where no one can enter except ourself and God…. This secret inner chamber is the secret trysting place for Christ and the believing soul; no one among all our dearest friends has the open sesame that will permit him to enter there. If God is shut out, then there can be only everlasting loneliness and numb despair.

Where God is not known in the inner shrine, the individual must try to compensate for his sense of aloneness in whatever way he can. Most persons rush away to the world to find companionship and surround themselves with every kind of diversionary activity. All devices for killing time, every shallow scheme for entertainment, are born out of this inner loneliness. It is a significant and revealing fact that such things have in these last days grown into billion-dollar enterprises! So much will men pay to forget that they are a temple without a God, a garden where no voice is heard in the cool of the day. NCA114-115

What a privilege, Lord, to fellowship with the God of the universe. Slow me down today, that I might know this intimate inner fellowship. Amen.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

January 13 Showing Love Through Hospitality

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Hebrews 13:2

✧✧✧

Hospitality should be a trait of all Christians, because whenever we display it, we minister to the Lord.

If you are a Christian, your responsibility to love others does not stop with fellow believers. The apostle Paul is very explicit and direct about this: “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men” (1 Thess. 5:15). “All men” includes even your enemies. The “strangers” mentioned in today’s verse can refer to unbelievers as well as believers. The writer of Hebrews is saying we often won’t know the full impact hospitality will have; therefore, we should always be alert and diligent because our actions may even influence someone toward salvation.

The last part of Hebrews 13:2, “some have entertained angels without knowing it,” further underscores the point that we can never know how significant or helpful an act of hospitality might be. Abraham had no idea that two of the three men passing by his tent were angels and that the third was the Lord Himself, but he still went out of his way to demonstrate hospitality (Gen. 18:1–5). The primary motivation is still love, for the sake of those we help and for the glory of God.

The Lord Jesus says, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:40). As Christians, when we feed the hungry, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit someone in prison, we serve Christ. If we turn our backs on people, believers or unbelievers, who have real needs, it is the same as turning our backs on Him (v. 45). Loving hospitality is therefore more than an option—it is a command.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that God would give you a greater desire to show hospitality and that you could minister it to a specific person.

For Further Study: Read Genesis 18:1–15. Write down the positive ways in which Abraham handled his opportunity to show love to strangers. ✧ How well did Sarah handle this situation? ✧ How does the example of her attitude relate to Hebrews 13:2?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

January 12 Daily Help

SINNER, let this be thy comfort, that God sees thee when thou beginnest to repent. He does not see thee with his usual gaze, with which he looks on all men, but he sees thee with an eye of intense interest. He has been looking on thee in all thy sin, and in all thy sorrow, hoping that thou wouldst repent; and now he sees the first gleam of grace, and he beholds it with joy. Never warder on the lonely castle top saw the first gray light of morning with more joy than that with which God beholds the first desire in thy heart.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 16). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

January 12, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Dt 6:4–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


The focus and essence of allegiance (6:4–5)

4–5 Verse 4, known by Jews as the Shema, is “as close as early Judaism came to the formulation of a creed” (Block, 195). The call for Israel to “hear,” a common form of address in Deuteronomy (5:1; 6:3; 9:1; 20:3; 27:9), draws attention to the rest of the Hebrew line, which focuses on God himself as the object of Israel’s allegiance. Scholars have often debated whether v. 4 teaches the singularity (one as opposed to many) or unity (internal consistency) of Yahweh or his uniqueness (incomparability) or exclusivity (the only one for Israel). A key interpretive problem is the unparalleled nature of this line in Hebrew. After the summons, “Hear, O Israel,” four Hebrew words occur without any verbs. Although verbless clauses occur throughout the Hebrew Bible, the construction found here has no counterpart.

Space precludes giving attention to many of these details, but certain key affirmations deserve mention. Regardless of where one places a form of the verb “to be,” at least three truths arise from the divine names used in these verses. (1) This God is Yahweh, the faithful, covenant-making, and covenant-keeping God. He is God, the sovereign Creator. (2) He is also “our God,” the God who entered into an intimate and special covenantal relationship with his nation, Israel. (3) Although the OT makes it clear that Israel’s God is singular, in stark contrast to the pagan gods, another idea seems prominent in this context (cf. 4:35, 39; 5:7) and in this verse. One of the realities that sets Israel apart from the world is the exclusive relationship they have with this remarkable God. He is Yahweh alone! Not only is he incomparable, but he is the only God for the Israelites and they are the people on whom he has set his love. Yahweh and only Yahweh is to be the object of Israel’s wholehearted and undivided loyalty. A potential translation of v. 4 is, “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone!”

In v. 5 Moses develops the essence of covenantal allegiance, i.e., loyalty or obedience. He demands that Israel “love” Yahweh with their entire being. In covenantal settings, “love” connotes a commitment that “seeks the well-being and the pleasure of one’s covenant partner, often without regard for oneself” (Block, 201). Love described the loyalty rendered by a vassal on behalf of his suzerain (Els, NIDOTTE, 1:278, 287–88). Moses correlates this duty to “love” Yahweh with the demand that God’s covenantal nation fear him (10:12), walk in his ways (10:12; 11:22; 19:9; 30:16), serve him (10:12; 11:13), keep his commands (10:13; 11:22; 19:9; 30:16), hold fast to him (11:22; 30:20), and listen to or obey his voice (11:13; 30:20).

The second part of v. 5 delineates the extent or intensity of the love God demands his people to have for him: “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Moses does not mention these three nouns primarily as attributes of human personality but to demonstrate the far-reaching nature of this demanded commitment. The heart often signifies the seat of a person’s intellect, emotion, and will (4:29; 10:12; 11:13; 26:16). The soul designates one’s entire being or person (Ps 103:1). The word translated “strength” or “might” usually signifies the adverbial idea of “very” or “much” and only here and one other place (2 Ki 23:25) connotes “might.”

Moses piles up relatively synonymous terms to emphasize the totality of this allegiance. The task of expressing this love for Yahweh (in loyalty) encompasses one’s entire person. These three phrases do not express three precise modes of expressing love or refer to three distinct spheres of life. They combine together to serve as an intense affirmation of absolute commitment. In summary, vv. 4 and 5 make a statement about God as well as demanding absolute commitment to God.

Reflection

Jesus taught that the truths contained in these two verses constitute the foremost or central demand of the OT law (Mt 22:37–38; Mk 12:29–30; Lk 10:27). Minor differences between the gospel quotations and Deuteronomy include Matthew’s replacing “might” with “mind,” while Mark and Luke include both (with “mind” and “strength” in different order). Regardless, the NT writers do not subtract anything from the meaning of the passage in Deuteronomy. As with Moses, Christ sought to emphasize the life-invasive extent of this commitment to allegiance.[1]


6:4–5 / Just as the Decalogue is both statement (Deut. 5:6) and command (5:7ff.), so this most fundamental of Israel’s “credal” traditions, the “Shema” (Deut. 6:4–5), is both an affirmation about God and a call for commitment to God. Its Jewish name, “Shema,” is the first Hebrew word of the summons, Hear, O Israel, a favorite form of address in Deuteronomy (cf. 5:1; 6:3; 9:1; 20:3; 27:9) that is similar to the Wisdom tradition’s portrayal of parents calling a child’s attention to their teaching for the child’s own good (cf. Prov. 1:8). It is also a constant reminder that Israel was a people summoned by God to hear God’s word. They were not merely spectators at a divine “show,” but the recipients of divine revelation in words. They were to hear the truth and to respond to it. Even at a formal level, therefore, these two verses expose the falseness of the view that religious truth and revelation are “personal, not propositional”—i.e., the view that God does not reveal timeless truths propositionally, but simply acts in love and leaves to each individual his or her own interpretative conclusions as we respond in personal relationship to him and one another. Such reductionist views of revelation ignore the reality that truth in human experience is both propositional and personal and deny the biblical emphasis on both. Deuteronomy 6:4–5 is one whole sentence; nothing could be more “propositional” than 6:4 and nothing more “personal” than 6:5.

The Lord our God, the Lord is one. The niv is most probably correct in its translation of verse 4 (see the niv’s footnotes and the additional notes for other possible renderings stemming from the absence of an explicit “is” in the Hb.). In the first half of the declaration, the Hebrew word “our God” is a qualifier, functioning like a relative clause: “Yahweh, who is our God, this Yahweh is one.” But what does this mean?

An exegetical understanding would be that the second two Hebrew words mean “Yahweh is one,” rather than “Yahweh alone.” The uniqueness and incomparability of Yahweh are a major affirmation of the context, as we have already seen (Deut. 3:24; 4:35, 39; cf. 32:39; Exod. 15:11; Ps. 18:31), and there is doubtless a lingering flavor of that uniqueness in this text (note how Mark 12:32 adds the uniqueness formula to the great commandment). A problem with this contextual approach is that the verbal forms that usually express the uniqueness and incomparability of Yahweh are quite different from the expression in verse 4, which seems to suggest the oneness or singularity of Yahweh. There are various suggestions as to how this is to be understood.

One possibility is that there is a polemical intent to define God as wholly different from the multitude of gods that surround Israel, perhaps especially from the multiple manifestations and forms of Baal in the Canaanite cults. Yahweh is not the brand name of a cosmic corporation. He is one God, our God, and Yahweh is his personal name. On this understanding, the emphasis lies on Yahweh’s singularity.

Another possible understanding is that the oneness of Yahweh implies a unity of will and purpose. Yahweh is not inwardly divided, despite the fact that in the ot text Yahweh sometimes appears to act in contradiction to the declared purposes and character of God (e.g., Moses’ intercession in Exod. 32–34; Num. 14; cf. Deut. 9:7–29; Ps. 73; Job; Hos. 11). But, whatever the appearances, at the deepest level Yahweh is one, consistent, faithful, and true within. The idea here would be the same as when we say of a particular individual, “There is only one John.” We imply he is not two-faced or inconsistent; you can rely on John to be the same whatever happens. Likewise, to say “Yahweh is one” is to affirm unchangeableness and consistency. There is no divine schizophrenia. The harmony of God’s purpose for the world and its people is grounded in the ultimate unity of God’s own being. On this understanding, the emphasis lies on Yahweh’s integrity.

Whether, then, we read the verse in terms of Yahweh’s incomparability (from the context, but not the text itself), his singularity (explicit, and probably the most likely meaning), or his integrity (implied, but not directly stated), it is clearly a most important text in relation to Israel’s monotheism. It is beside the point to insist that the verse is not explicitly monotheistic in the philosophical sense of categorically denying the existence of other deities than Yahweh. The incontrovertible emphasis was that Yahweh (alone) was God in covenant relationship with Israel; that Yahweh had done what no other god had done or could do; that Yahweh was one, not many.

Whether the full implications of all this were understood from the start may be impossible to verify, but such convictions certainly generated a hope that was missiological, universal, and unquestionably monotheistic. The Deuteronomistic historian records prayers of both David and Solomon that express the wider vision and hope of other peoples coming to recognize what Israel already knew regarding Yahweh (2 Sam. 7:22–26; 1 Kgs. 8:60; cf. 1 Kgs. 8:41–43, and the reflection of Deut. 6:5 in 1 Kgs. 8:61). And the only clear quotation of Deuteronomy 6:4 in the rest of the ot is both eschatological and clearly monotheistic: “The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name” (lit. “Yahweh will be one and his name will be one,” Zech. 14:9).

Finally, it is worth repeating the point made in relation to Deuteronomy 4:35, 39. The declaration at the heart of the Shema, and especially in its eschatological form in the text just cited (Zech. 14:9), is made about Yahweh in particular, not just about deity in general. That is why a preoccupation with abstract monotheism can lead us to overlook the primary challenge of the text. It is not being said simply that there is ultimately only one divine reality. Such a claim would certainly not be unique among the religions and philosophies of humankind. Nor is the eschatological hope of Zechariah merely that some day all human beings will profess monotheism of some sort per se. A philosophical monotheism that leaves the divine reality unnamed and characterless is alien (both unknown and hostile) to the ot faith. It is vital to see that, in ot terms, it is Yahweh who defines what monotheism means, not a concept of monotheism that defines how Yahweh should be understood.

This has very serious implications for the so-called “theocentric” theory of religious pluralism, according to which the ultimate divine reality at the center of the religious universe cannot be definitively or absolutely named in terms of any of the great divine names of human religions, including Yahweh or Jesus Christ or Allah or Brahman, etc. These are described as penultimate “personae” or “impersonae”—masks of human creation that attempt to express the inexpressible “noumenon” of the divine reality. The “theos” at the center thus becomes abstract, impersonal, and finally ineffable (nothing at all can be said about him/her/it). But the sharp precision of the Shema cannot be evaporated into a philosophical abstraction or relegated to a penultimate level of truth. Its majestic declaration of a monotheism defined by the history-laden, character-rich, covenant-related, dynamic personhood of “Yahweh our God,” shows that the abstract and definitionally undefinable “being” of religious pluralism is really a monism without meaning or message.

“And you shall love the Lord your God.” Statement and response is the typical form of Deuteronomic exhortation, characteristic indeed of the biblical faith. “We love, because he first loved us,” is a nt text that could as easily have been at home in Deuteronomy. So here in verse 5, the affirmation about Yahweh is followed by the claim upon Israel’s total allegiance. The two halves of the Shema thus mirror the opening of the Decalogue, with the declaratory preface followed by the exclusive claims of the first two commandments (5:6–10).

The command to love God is one of Deuteronomy’s favorite ways of expressing the response God expects from the people (10:12; 11:1, 13, 22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20). It features also in the covenant renewal texts, Josh. 22:5; 23:11, which draw so much on the Deuteronomic model. In the context of a broken covenant, it is found in the prayers of Daniel (Dan. 9:4) and Nehemiah (1:5), drawing, perhaps on the worship of the Psalms as well as Deuteronomy (Pss. 31:23; 97:10; 145:20). A very early poetic use in the context of the early wars of Israel in Canaan is in Judges 5:31.

For Deuteronomy, the command to love is so often linked with the command to obey, in a sort of prose parallelism, that the two terms are virtually synonymous (though they should not be simply identified; “love” clearly has a distinctive range of affective meaning not entirely equivalent to the practical sense of “obey”). The simple fact that Deuteronomy’s love is one that can be commanded shows that it is not merely an emotion. It is also a commitment to Yahweh, which generates corresponding action in line with his word. “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

This committed, covenantal response to Yahweh was to be total: with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. The wholeness, or oneness, of Yahweh (v. 4) is to be met with a response involving the wholeness of the human person (v. 5). The expression “heart and soul” is another characteristic Deuteronomic phrase (seen in 4:29; 10:12; 11:13; 13:3; 26:16; 30:2, 6, 10). The heart(lēbāb) in Hebrew was not so much the seat of emotions and feelings—as it is in English metaphors—as the seat of the intellect, will, and intention. You think in your heart, and your heart shapes your character, choices, and decisions. It is also the center of the human being as a moral agent (cf. also its prominence in Proverbs). It is understandable, therefore, that the gospel version of the great commandment adds the word “mind” (dianoia) to the list. Dianoia (understanding, intelligence) is the word the lxx uses to translate lēbāb, in this text and most others.

Soul is more often than not a misleading translation of Hebrew nepeš, since it has connotations in English that are simply not present in Hebrew. Nepeš means the life of each individual, and applies to animals as much as humans (cf. Gen. 1:20, 24; 2:7; Lev. 17:11, 14). In the legal texts it is frequently used in the sense of “a person, an individual, anyone,” or in the sense of “a life” that can be taken or lost. But most often it is used to express the whole inner self, with all the emotions, desires, and personal characteristics that make each human being unique. “Bless the Lord, O my nepeš,” sings the Psalmist, who then amplifies his meaning, “and all that is within me bless his holy name” (Ps. 103:1 rsv).

To love God, then, with all your heart and with all your soul, means with your whole self, including your rationality, mental capacity, moral choices and will, inner feelings and desires, and the deepest roots of your life. To this profound pair, the Shema adds a third, remarkable item: (lit.) “and with all your very-muchness” (meʾōd). This word is everywhere else used adverbially, meaning “greatly,” “exceedingly.” Here it is almost uniquely used as a noun in its own right and is open to various translations, of which strength is the most common. However, the earliest Jewish versions (including the Targum) translated it as “your substance” or “your possessions”—an acceptable possibility that has some support in Proverbs 3:9 and may lie behind some of Jesus’ parables and conversations (such as Matt. 6:19–24; Luke 12:13–21). It may even be that this third word is simply intensifying the other two as a climax. “Love the Lord your God with total commitment (heart), with your total self (soul), to total excess!” Loving God should be “over the top!” Such commitment characterized Josiah in his reforming zeal after the discovery of the Book of the Law of the Lord. Josiah alone in the Deuteronomistic History is credited with explicitly measuring up to the second verse of the Shema (2 Kgs. 23:25).[2]


6:5. To love the Lord means to choose Him for an intimate relationship and to obey His commands. This command, to love Him, is given often in Deuteronomy (v. 5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1, 13, 22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20). Loving Him was to be wholehearted (with all your heart) and was to pervade every aspect of an Israelite’s being and life (soul and strength).[3]


6:5love. See 4:37. all. That the Lord alone is Israel’s God leads to the demand for Israel’s exclusive and total devotion to him. heart … soul … might. All Israelites in their total being are to love the Lord; “this is the great and first commandment” (Matt. 22:38). In Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:30, and Luke 10:27, Jesus also includes “mind.” In early Hebrew, “heart” included what we call the “mind”. “Might” indicates energy and ability.

6:5 Love for God is the greatest commandment (Matt. 22:37–38). One’s relation to God himself is central to life, and true love for God and reconciliation to God are possible only in Christ (John 14:6; Rom. 5:1–10).[4]


6:5you shall love The command is not a demand to manufacture false emotion but to cultivate a disposition (see Lev 19:17–18).

with all of your heart and with all of your soul The Hebrew terms levav (often translated “heart”) and nephesh (often translated “soul”) do not refer to separate components of the human person. Rather, the terms overlap in meaning, conveying the internal life, dispositions, emotions, and intellect.

might The Hebrew word here is not a noun but an adverb meaning “exceedingly.” This description of love of Yahweh thus implies totality: as Yahweh is undivided unity and alone worthy of worship, so the Israelites must have undivided loyalty to Him.[5]


6:5 all your might. The Hebrew expresses totality. For this reason the New Testament sometimes renders it with “mind and strength” (Mark 12:30). This is the language of devotion. God does not demand mere outward obedience to a law, but the heartfelt love and commitment of the whole person (Prov. 23:26).[6]


6:5 The principle of love is a major theme in Deuteronomy. In Luke 10:27 Jesus stressed love as the essence of pure religion, and elsewhere He referred to it as a kind of “eleventh commandment” (Matt. 22:34–40; John 13:34; cf. Rom. 13:10).[7]


6:5 Moses repeatedly exhorted the Israelites to respond to God’s love with devotion. In this context, the word translated as love may mean “to make one’s choice in.” God commanded His people to choose Him with all their being, and in the process to deny all other supposed deities.[8]


6:5 — “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Of all God’s commandments, this is the central and most important one. When we love God first and foremost, obedience follows as a natural result and ceases to be a chore (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).[9]


[1] Grisanti, M. A. (2012). Deuteronomy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Numbers–Ruth (Revised Edition) (Vol. 2, pp. 555–556). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Wright, C. J. H. (2012). Deuteronomy. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 95–99). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Deere, J. S. (1985). Deuteronomy. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 274). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 341). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Dt 6:5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 254). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[7] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Dt 6:5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[8]The NKJV Study Bible. (2007). (Dt 6:5). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[9] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Dt 6:5). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

January 12: Fear God

Genesis 21:22–23:20; Matthew 15; Ecclesiastes 5:1–7

In Ecclesiastes 5, the author stops to consider God’s place in the heavens and our place on earth. He acknowledges that there is a great gulf of understanding between who God is and who we think He is. This realization should affect our entire posture before Him.

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God,” he says. “Do not be rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth.” Don’t attempt to offer the “sacrifice of fools” with your lips, or even your heart, he adds. Instead, we should come prepared to listen (Eccl 5:1–3).

Coming to God ready to listen doesn’t mean neglecting to bring our troubles or needs before Him. He wants us to do this—but not rashly. Rather, we should offer acknowledgement that He guides our lives. Like Rachel and Leah, in Genesis 30, we may sometimes use God to justify the pursuit of our own goals, rather than seek wisdom and guidance from Him.

It’s an awesome thing to think that this very God who should be approached with such humility and reverence left His place in heaven and came down to earth. This God, who is so beyond our own comprehension, has chosen to dwell in us with His Spirit. The mighty God who rules heaven, earth, and the cosmos, and who breaches all understanding, has chosen to reveal Himself to sinners like us.

What is your attitude towards God?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.