Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Freedom From Bondage

Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2012 in Old Testament
Tags: , , , ,

Deuteronomy 15 (NLT) “At the end of every seventh year you must cancel the debts of everyone who owes you money. This is how it must be done. Everyone must cancel the loans they have made to their fellow Israelites… There should be no poor among you, for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land he is giving you as a special possession… But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward them… If a fellow Hebrew sells himself or herself to be your servant and serves you for six years, in the seventh year you must set that servant free. When you release a male servant, do not send him away empty-handed. Give him a generous farewell gift from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress. Share with him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you… You must not consider it a hardship when you release your servants… You must set aside for the Lord your God all the firstborn males from your flocks and herds.”

One of the great criticisms the Christian faith receives is about its acceptance of slavery and in this chapter, God actually references it in detail. Does that mean God and His word support it? (more…)


Deuteronomy 12 (NLT) When you drive out the nations that live there, you must destroy all the places where they worship their gods—high on the mountains, up on the hills, and under every green tree. Break down their altars and smash their sacred pillars. Burn their Asherah poles and cut down their carved idols. Completely erase the names of their gods! Do not worship the LORD your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods. Rather, you must seek the LORD your God at the place of worship he himself will choose from among all the tribes—the place where his name will be honored… Your pattern of worship will change. Today all of you are doing as you please, because you have not yet arrived at the place of rest, the land the LORD your God is giving you as your special possession… You must celebrate there in the presence of the LORD your God with your sons and daughters and all your servants. And remember to include the Levites who live in your towns, for they will receive no allotment of land among you… You must eat these in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose. Eat them there with your children, your servants, and the Levites who live in your towns, celebrating in the presence of the LORD your God in all you do… When the LORD your God goes ahead of you and destroys the nations and you drive them out and live in their land, do not fall into the trap of following their customs and worshiping their gods. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations worship their gods? I want to follow their example.’ You must not worship the LORD your God the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughters as sacrifices to their gods.

I know the question you must ask as did I – Why would a God of love direct His people to cause such destruction to their enemy’s property and idols? Is there no room for secularism in God’s eyes? (more…)


Acts 25:18-19
When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.

Years after Paul was first charged by Ananias and then brought to Caesarea, his trial continues under the new leadership of Festus and now King Agrippa. This is part of a conversation Festus has with Agrippa regarding Paul and what stood out to me was Festus’ understanding of Paul’s belief in a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. It made me wonder about what the Jews and any non-believers thought about Paul’s beliefs and similarly our belief. It made me wonder why people found it so hard to believe at all?

To most people, religion is a something they do and they do it because it is taught to them, expected of them and makes them feel secure. It is something they cling to for self-comfort and therefore is about their needs being met. For Paul and believers in Jesus, it is about a relationship with God that saved us from the depths of hell. It is not an act but a realization of the truth. Today I am reminded that I need to stop judging those around me, those in authority, etc. but that I should be focussed on seeking the Lord and living a life modeled on His own and let God use our lives as a testimony of lives transformed by Him.

In His Loving Service,
ServantBoy


Matthew 19:11-12, 14-15, 23-24

Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”…Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there…Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

 

Jesus seems to contradict everything known to the men of those times, even the wise and learned ones, and the passages above are a reflection of some of his statements that puzzled everyone, even his own disciples. It seems like he was getting them to unlearn all of Moses’ teachings, the traditions followed by the Israelites for 1,000s of years and the rules set to help people follow God diligently. What was the problem? Is this something we face today also? What is Jesus teaching us today?

One of the things we notice is that Jesus’ corrections were to do with the blindness of our beliefs. In those times, it was unthinkable for children to be given any importance in society and they were the outcast until they became adults, just like women always were. Divorce became a thing of convenience and was no longer a taboo like it is not today. Religiosity and religious fervor was determined by acts and deeds and not by a change of heart and faith. Jesus was trying to awaken their dead hearts which were living in their version of the present rather than what God wanted for them and this was the reason for conflicts. Are you fixated on your version of God’s will for you or can you hear what the Lord is speaking to you through his word today? For me, it’s going to be a lifetime of undoing what I thought and think about living and all I pray is that God would patiently love and lead me each day to make me more like his son Jesus and to change my heart to love and serve him in everything I do.

In His Loving Service,
Vineet


Matthew 10:26-31

“So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”


These are the words Jesus spoke to his disciples before sending them off on their journeys across Israel to share the gospel with God’s children. Every word spoken is so weighty and I dint know which one to choose but I ended up choosing this passage because of the assurance God gives us in it. My biggest fear in sharing the gospel is that I am embarrassed to talk to someone about something that might make me look and sound uncool. Talking about religion is so socially unacceptable in our times that it is now shunned in commercial media, at schools and universities, in offices, homes and just about anywhere you go. How then are we expected to live out the great commission of sharing the gospel with the lost if it is such a difficulty.

The answer is not in going for a toastmaster’s class or going to Bible school but instead, the answer is through prayer and knowing that we are going about God’s work, not ours. When I first thought of starting this devotional, I was embarrassed to invite anyone to read because I was worried my writing was not good, my understanding of the word was poor and many other excuses, much like Moses before freeing the Israelites. Once I asked God to lead me and realized this was God’s work, it became so easy and today it’s a joy. I may still not be a great writer, have a masters in Theology or be ordained to minister in the Church but I know that as I serve God, God gives me the wisdom and I’m just a glorified typist who is blessed to be entrusted with this work. It’s about God, not me! Until we get over the fear of man and recognize that it is not about us but about the one that saved us, we will live in fear and satan will rejoice. Now are you ready to give God a chance?

In His Loving Service,
Vineet