November 30, 2013 Bible Reading

November 30

Reading for Today:

Daniel 3:1–4:37

Psalm 136:1-9

Proverbs 29:11

2 Peter 1:1-21

Notes:

Daniel 3:1- image of gold. The statue, which the king arrogantly made, represented himself as an expression of his greatness and glory and reflected the dream where he was the head of gold (2:38). It was not necessarily made of solid gold, but more likely would have been overlaid with gold, like many objects found in the ruins of Babylon. The word for “image” usually means a human form. The height of the figure was about 90 feet and the width 9 feet; it would have been comparable in height to date palms found in that area. The self-deifying statue of the king need not have been grotesquely thin in proportion to the height since a massive base could have contributed to the height. This established the worship of Nebuchadnezzar and the nation under his power, in addition to the other gods.

Daniel 3:15- who is the god…? The king’s challenge would return to embarrass him. The true God was able to deliver, just as He was able to reveal a dream and its meaning. Nebuchadnezzar had earlier called him “the God of gods” (2:47); but having let that fade from his attention, he soon would be shocked and humiliated when God took up his challenge (3:28, 29).

2 Peter 1:4- partakers of the divine nature. This expression is not different from the concepts of being born again, born from above (John 3:3; James 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23), being in Christ (Rom. 8:1), or being the home of the Trinity (John 14:17–23). The precious promises of salvation result in becoming God’s children in the present age (John 1:12; Rom. 8:9; Gal. 2:20; Col. 1:27), and thereby sharing in God’s nature by the possession of His eternal life.

2 Peter 1:21- by the will of man. As Scripture is not of human origin, neither is it the result of human will. The emphasis in the phrase is that no part of Scripture was ever at any time produced because men wanted it so. The Bible is not the product of human effort. The prophets, in fact, sometimes wrote what they could not fully understand (1 Pet. 1:10, 11), but were nonetheless faithful to write what God revealed to them. moved by the Holy Spirit. Grammatically, this means that they were continually carried or borne along by the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit thus is the divine author and originator, the producer of the Scriptures. In the Old Testament alone, the human writers refer to their writings as the words of God over 3,800 times (e.g., Jer. 1:4; 3:2; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 2:10). Though the human writers of Scripture were active rather than passive in the process of writing Scripture, God the Holy Spirit superintended them so that, using their own individual personalities, thought processes, and vocabulary, they composed and recorded without error the exact words God wanted written. The original copies of Scripture are therefore inspired, i.e., God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) and inerrant, i.e., without error (John 10:34, 35; 17:17; Titus 1:2). Peter defined the process of inspiration which created an inerrant original text (Prov. 30:5; 1 Cor. 14:36; 1 Thess. 2:13).

DAY 30: Who was the fourth person in the fiery furnace of Daniel 3:19–25?

The delivery of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the flames was an astonishing, miraculous event. The furnace was real, and the flames were hot. The guards who carried the young men close enough to cast them in the furnace were killed. Why complicate this miracle with a fourth person in the furnace? Because the king himself noticed the discrepancy between the number he had thrown into the flames and the number he saw strolling about. The truth usually includes unexpected complications.

The king concluded the fourth person was a heavenly being. He identified the visitor in two different ways: 1) “like the Son of God” (3:25); 2) “Angel” (3:28). When he commanded the three friends to exit the furnace, the king did not extend an invitation to God’s special servant.

Viewed from the context of all of Scripture, the fourth person could possibly have been the Second Person of the Godhead (Jesus Christ) in a preincarnate appearance. For other similar Old Testament instances, see Exodus 3:2, Joshua 5:13–15, and Judges 6:11ff. While the term “Angel” is used in these reports, the person had a special connection with the Lord. He wasn’t an angel, but the Angel of the Lord. His presence may be startling but He does not have the stunning and awe-inspiring appearance of an angel. The king saw four men in the furnace. The one who appeared miraculously he identified as the Son of God. It may well have been an inspired exclamation.

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals/daily-bible

An Unlikely Heroine

An Unlikely Heroine

[COLOR=Red]”By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace” (Heb. 11:31).

Our final Old Testament hero of faith is an unlikely addition to the list. Not only was she a prostitute, she also was a Gentile–and a Canaanite at that.

The Canaanites were an idolatrous, barbaric, debauched people, infamous even among pagans for their immorality and cruelty. Yet in the midst of that exceedingly wicked society, Rahab came to faith in the God of Israel.

Joshua 2:9-11 records her confession of faith to the two men Joshua had sent into Jericho as spies: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And when we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath” (emphasis added).

Rahab demonstrated the genuineness of that profession by risking her life to hide the spies from the king of Jericho, who sought to capture them.

Because Rahab lied to protect the spies (vv. 4-5), some people question the validity of her faith. Surely genuine believers wouldn’t lie like that–or would they? Abraham did. Sarah did. Isaac did. Jacob did. But the important thing to understand is that God honored their faith, not their deception.

As with all the heroes of faith before her, Rahab’s faith wasn’t perfect, nor was her knowledge of God’s moral law. But because she trusted God, she was spared during Jericho’s conquest, then given an even greater honor. She became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth, the great-great-grandmother of David, thereby becoming an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:5).

Suggestions for Prayer:

Praise God for receiving even the vilest sinner who turns to Him in faith.

For Further Study:

Read all about Rahab in Joshua 2:1-24, 6:22-25, and James 2:25.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.[/COLOR]

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals

Responding to a Fool and His Folly

Responding to a Fool and His Folly

Posted on November 29, 2013

by Mike Ratliff

10 αἱρετικὸν ἄνθρωπον μετὰ μίαν καὶ δευτέραν νουθεσίαν παραιτοῦ, 11 εἰδὼς ὅτι ἐξέστραπται ὁ τοιοῦτος καὶ ἁμαρτάνει ὢν αὐτοκατάκριτος. (Titus 3:10-11 NA28)

10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self. (Titus 3:10-11 ESV)

Secular humanism, relativism, pluralism, et cetera are worldly philosophies that have invaded the visible Church. These ways of the world when applied to the Church are some of the things that “stirs up division” within the Body of Christ. Other things that cause this would be majoring in minors such as taking things from the Bible that are not explained in detail enough to be taken literally because they are given to us in an arbitrary fashion. Some take these minor points and make them major points in the gospel stirring up division. Also, some simply want to argue. They hate the truth and are not interested in it being explained to them in detail. All of these are the ones Paul was speaking of in Titus 3:10-11 (above). It is a total waste of time to contend with these people continually. There comes a time when, through God’s wisdom, that we move on and have nothing to do with these divisive people.

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post, which is Titus 3:10-11 from the English Standard Version of the Bible. The first eight words in English here are actually only two Greek words, αιρετικον ανθρωπον. The first word, αιρετικον or hairetikon, is the word from which we get the English word “heretic.” However, the word is used to describe those who have made a choice to be divisive. A good English translation of this word would be “sectarian” for this describes one who causes division by the creation of a sect. The second word, ανθρωπον or anthrōpon, is the Greek word for man, a generic name in distinction from gods and the animals. However, in the New Testament it is used to describe sinful men, whose conduct, way, or nature is opposed to God. Therefore, “as for a person who stirs up division…” is describing those who through their opposition to the truth cause division in a church by leading some into error.

How does Paul tell us to deal with these αιρετικον ανθρωπον? We are to warn them once and then twice, then have nothing more to do with them. Why? Their continued rebellion is a marker that they are warped (εξεστραπται) and sinful (αμαρτανει) being (ων) self-condemned (αυτοκατακριτος). The word translated here as “warped,” εξεστραπται or exestraptai, refers to one who is “perverted” or “subverted” in relation to the truth. He or she is sinful (αμαρτανει), which refers to those who have “missed the mark” of God’s Righteousness, which is sin. Because of their being (ων) self-condemned (αυτοκατακριτος), we are to turn from and have nothing more to do with them. This describes those who voluntarily have condemned themselves by cutting themselves from the Church by an open revolt.

Several years ago I former friend referred to me in an article he had written. I was portrayed in a very negative light for doing exactly what Paul was commanding Titus to do here. In that article, this former friend made some statements that lined up almost exactly with Paul’s warning here. He was in full revolt against the Church, calling Orthodoxy a farce, and attempting to draw others into his sectarian “group.” While I am not attempting to defend dead ritualism or religious externalism, I know that God’s plan for the Church is to be united and not divided by sectarianism. However, we must obey Him in standing firm in His truth while we rely totally on the power of God in our ministries to work through us to accomplish His will. We do not have the power or ability to do anything good. It is only as we obey God that He uses us.

There is a parallel passage to these two verses in the book of Proverbs. Here they are.

4 Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes (Proverbs 26:4-5 ESV)

At first glance, it looks like we have contradiction or a paradox here. However, these two verses must be taken together. When we read them and study them correctly we learn that they teach us the appropriate way to answer a fool, which is a word that describes an unbeliever who rejects the truth. We should not answer a fool with agreement to his or her own ideas and presuppositions. Why? If we do that then he or she will think they are right. Instead, he or she should be rebuked on the basis of their folly and shown the truth so they see how foolish they are. We should always pray for their repentance as God opens their hearts as we do this. We must make sure to not let this devolve into unfruitful arguing as we obey Titus 3:10-11 as we rely on the power of God to change people as we simply preach and teach the truth.

Withholding the truth from an unbeliever in some sort of warped idea that to speak the truth may offend them is conformity to the doctrines of demons. The gospel is offensive my brethren and not giving it to the lost is an act of rebellion on our part. I pray that we will not be guilty of that.

Soli Deo Gloria!

http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2013/11/29/responding-to-a-fool-and-his-folly/

The US government says that Jewish settlements are illegitimate

The US government says that Jewish settlements are illegitimate

November 29, 2013

The US government says that Jewish settlers in Judea and Samaria which they refer to as the West Bank are living in settlements that are illegitimate and the settlements must be dismantled and the settlers removed. I asked my broadcast partner longtime journalist in Jerusalem David Dolan, “Is this a major break between the US administration and the Israeli government?”

David Dolan: Well, there is but again there has been. It’s a similar situation. Really, no American administration from the time when Lyndon Johnson was president, when Israel captured Judea and Samaria in 1967, no US government has ever recognized Israeli activities there certainly community building, road building, that sort of thing, calling these occupied territories. That is the US official position and it has been. On the other hand, President George W. Bush gave Ariel Sharon a letter promising that the US administration would agree to Israel holding on to major settlement blocks, areas where there is heavy concentrations of Jewish communities.

These the US recognized would remain under Israeli control and in exchange, Israel would give the Palestinians equal amounts of territory somewhere else probably adjacent to Gaza, maybe adjacent to other portions of the West Bank. That was the understanding, that was what the Israelis were promised, so if the Obama administration is going back on that then it’s a revoking of an earlier commitment made by the US government to the Israelis. Again, we’ll see how concrete that action, those words are translated into by the government here.

Jimmy’s Prophetic Prospective on the News

As the US government takes on the promises of God to the Jewish people, the stage is being set for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled.

Over the years, the US governments have had conflict with Israel over the issue of Jews living in what the US terms the West Bank and the Jews refer to as Judea and Samaria. Those Jewish settlers say that God gave this piece of real estate, Judea and Samaria to them, Ezekiel 34. They also say that the land is theirs forever, Ezekiel 36. The book of Ezekiel 35 says that the Palestinians also want that land and they will kill the Jews, verse 5 and take the land, verses 10-13.

US denial that the land does belong to the Jews is indeed setting the stage for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled.

http://news.prophecytoday.com/2013/11/the-us-government-says-that-jewish.html

November 29, 2013 Bible Reading

November 29

Reading for Today:

Daniel 1:1–2:49

Psalm 135:15-21

Proverbs 29:10

1 Peter 5:1-14

Notes:

Daniel 1:8- Daniel purposed. The pagan food and drink was devoted to idols. To indulge was to be understood as honoring these deities. Daniel “purposed in his heart” (Prov. 4:23) not to engage in compromise by being untrue to God’s call of commitment (Ex. 34:14, 15). Also, foods that God’s law prohibited (Lev. 1:1) were items that pagans consumed; to partake entailed direct compromise (Dan. 1:12). Moses took this stand (Heb. 11:24–26), as did the psalmist (Ps. 119:115) and Jesus (Heb. 7:26).

Daniel 2:36–45- we will tell the interpretation. Five empires in succession would rule over Israel, here pictured by parts of a statue (body). In Daniel 7, the same empires are represented by 4 great beasts. These empires are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the later revived Rome, each one differentiated from the previous as indicated by the declining quality of the metal. A stone picturing Christ (Luke 20:18) at His Second Coming (as the Son of Man also does in Dan. 7:13, 14) will destroy the fourth empire in its final phase with catastrophic suddenness (2:34, 35, 44, 45). Christ’s total shattering of Gentile power will result in the establishment of His millennial kingdom, the ultimate empire, and then continuing on eternally (2:44; 7:27).

1 Peter 5:6- under the mighty hand of God. This is an Old Testament symbol of the power of God working in the experience of men, always accomplishing His sovereign purpose (Ex. 3:19, 20; Job 30:20, 21; Ezek. 20:33, 37; Mic. 6:8). The readers of Peter’s letter were not to fight the sovereign hand of God, even when it brought them through testings. One of the evidences of lack of submission and humility is impatience with God in His work of humbling believers. exalt you in due time. God will lift up the suffering, submissive believers in His wisely appointed time. See Job 42.

DAY 29: How are pastors to care for their congregations?

First Peter 5:2 gives this exhortation to the elders: “Shepherd the flock of God.” After the motivation (v. 1) comes the exhortation (vv. 2–4). Since the primary objective of shepherding is feeding, or teaching, every elder must be able to teach (John 21:15–17; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:9). Involved with the feeding of the flock is also protecting the flock (Acts 20:28–30). In both duties, it must be remembered that the flock belongs to God, not to the pastor. God entrusts some of His flock to the pastor of a church to lead, care for, and feed (v. 3).

“Not by compulsion but willingly.” Specifically, Peter may be warning the elders against a first danger—laziness. The divine calling (1 Cor. 9:16), along with the urgency of the task (Rom. 1:15), should prevent laziness and indifference. “Not for dishonest gain.” False teachers are always motivated by a second danger, money, and use their power and position to rob people of their own wealth (2 Pet. 2:1–3). Scripture is clear that churches should pay their shepherds well (1 Cor. 9:7–14; 1 Tim. 5:17, 18); but a desire for undeserved money must never be a motive for ministers to serve (1 Tim. 3:3; 6:9–11; 2 Tim. 2:4; Titus 1:7; 2 Pet. 2:3; see also Jer. 6:13; 8:10; Mic. 3:11; Mal. 1:10).

“Nor as being lords” (v. 3). This is the third major temptation for a pastor: demagoguery. In this context, “lords” means to dominate someone or some situation. It implies leadership by manipulation and intimidation. Rather, true spiritual leadership is by example (1 Tim. 4:12).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals/daily-bible

Conquering in Conflict

Conquering in Conflict

[COLOR=Red]”By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they had been encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).

Forty years had lapsed since the Israelites refused to enter the Promised Land. That unbelieving generation had perished in the wilderness. Now Joshua was leading a new generation into the land. The first obstacle they faced was Jericho–a well- fortified city that was near the mouth of the Jordan River.

Some city walls of that day were wide enough at the top to allow two chariots to ride side-by-side. That was probably true of Jericho because of its strategic location. That, coupled with the caliber of its army, made the city virtually impregnable– especially to unsophisticated Israelites, who lacked military training.

But what is impossible for man is easy for God. And the stage was set for Him to demonstrate His power and for the Israelites to demonstrate their faith and humility.

One can only imagine how embarrassed the Hebrew people felt as they marched around Jericho once a day for six days. That certainly is not your typical military strategy. But on the seventh day, after marching around the city seven times with the priests blowing their rams’ horns, the priests gave one final blast, the people all shouted out loud, and the walls of the city collapsed (Josh. 6:20). Faith had reduced a formidable obstacle to a crumbled ruin.

Can you identify some spiritual obstacles you’ve faced recently? How did you handle them? You’ll always have them to deal with in your Christian walk, but don’t fret. See them as opportunities to exercise faith and see God’s power on display in your life. Continue to trust the Lord and demonstrate your faith by courageously doing what He has called you to do.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask God to help you humbly trust in God’s power when you face spiritual conflicts.

For Further Study:

Read about the conquest of Jericho in Joshua 6:1-21. Note each occasion where the people obeyed one of Joshua’s commands without hesitation.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.[/COLOR]

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals

Thanksgiving Day is evidence that the US government and the Bible can

Thanksgiving Day is evidence that the US government and the Bible can work in harmony

November 28, 2013

The United States of America stops today to give thanks for all the blessings and freedoms that we have and this day is a special day set aside by the US government to do exactly what the Bible calls for us all to do, give thanks in all things.

Families will gather for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and dressing, the young men and even some of us old guys will break out in the annual game of touch football and the ladies, well they’ll be there to cheer us on, and in fact heal up any of the bruises sustained in the afternoon free-for-all. Those of us with loved ones on a far away battlefield will thank God for their protection and ask God for their safe return to the family circle for next Thanksgiving: and all of this on a day of thanksgiving required by the Bible and set aside by decree of our own government.

Jimmy’s Prophetic Prospective on the News

Today is a day set aside for all of us to be thankful, but as we move closer to the time of the return of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, our world will become more and more unthankful, that is according to Bible prophecy. The principle of thanksgiving: there are over 100 locations in the Bible where the scriptures speak of thanks and thanksgiving. We are told to give thanks in all things for it is the will of God in Christ Jesus, I Thessalonians 5:18.

The product of thanksgiving: interestingly when we stop to give thanks, the end result is to our own personal benefit. Paul, an apostle, in a letter that he wrote to the Philippians, states that giving thanks brings us true joy. Paul also wrote the people in Colosse that giving thanks helps us to abound in the faith, a faith that is needed for all of life Colossians 2:7.

The prophecy of unthankfulness: as we approach the time of the Second Coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Paul reminded us that he wrote a letter to Timothy to tell him that people would be unthankful at that time, II Timothy 3:2.

Unthankfulness is one of the major signs of the last days and as those days approach we need to be looking up in anticipation of His coming, but also in thanksgiving as well. Remember on this day of thanksgiving, unthankfulness is an indicator, a trend, a sign of the judgment that is coming, that is according to Bible prophecy.

http://news.prophecytoday.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-day-is-evidence-that-us.html

What is Strange Fire?

What is Strange Fire?

Posted on November 27, 2013

by Mike Ratliff

1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. (Leviticus 10:1-2 ESV)

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)

Until 2004 I could not stand to read some Old Testament books such as Leviticus and Job. I would read them only to find my mind wandering off in all directions. It was frustrating. However, something wonderful happened after God changed me over a period of about 8 months from January through August. I don’t know exactly what He did or how He did it, but I do know that until that time I was very religious, but very self-focused. I loved the Lord, and served in many capacities in church. I was a Bible teacher. However, the rest of the time I was totally self-focused. I was fleshly. I was focused on my own desires. However, at the same time, I was very frustrated with my lack of self-control. I desperately wanted victory over these things.

Over that 8 month period God drew me closer to Him. About halfway through the summer I quit watching TV. I quit listening to secular music. Instead of those things, I worshiped, I prayed, I studied my Bible. I began to write about what God was doing in my heart. By the end of August I realized that my value system had been completely altered. I valued nothing but God Himself. I simply wanted to please Him. I cared nothing about material things. My focus was on God and eternity. My brethren, it was at this time that God brought me back to reality by taking me deeper into sanctification. Cleansing is by fire and I find that I am continually in it. Until the day God takes me home I am sure I will remain in this cleansing.

It was through this great work of God in my heart that I came to understand what Peter was talking about in his second epistle in which he described Christians as a royal Priesthood. Since the elect is this Priesthood then each one of us who are in Christ are priests in Him. What we are witnessing in our day is the culmination of a period in which this truth has become distorted within the visible Church. The necessity of personal holiness for each believer has been neglected and discounted by antinomians whose cry is “Free Grace!” On the other hand, legalistic Christians have made the acts of obedience to God’s commands into idols unto themselves. My brethren, both of these extremes are Strange Fire unto the Lord.

The Bible clearly teaches us that every believer in Jesus Christ is a priest and has a ministry. The whole purpose of existence of Christians is to fulfill their priesthood. Examples of periods in History when this truth was recovered would be the Protestant Reformation and the era of the Puritans. I am sure there have been others, but the Church has a tendency to lose sight of this then over a period of time find it again. When it is recovered it always has the fantastic power to change a whole civilization. When God’s people take their priesthood seriously, no matter in what nation, it has always resulted in a tremendous awakening.

As a result of God’s people becoming dedicated to personal holiness their role as salt and light in their culture becomes compounded beyond all understanding with the resultant reforms which benefit all citizens. Again, we are in a time in which the Church has let the truth of the priesthood of believers slip through its fingers. As a result, it has little impact as salt and light and immortality seems to rule and reign all around us.

In the book of Leviticus we find that God gives us what it means to be a priest, to be a member of the royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9) God has given this world this priesthood through which He intends to reach it. In Chapter 9 we read where the Tabernacle along with the ways and means of the priesthood were completed as the Lord commanded. As a result, the presence of God was manifest as a remarkable shining forth of His glory. Then Aaron, picturing Jesus Christ as the great hight priest is joined by his sons in the priesthood. Aaron pictures Christ while his sons picture all believers in relationship with Him.

They had done all that God had commanded and fulfilled their priesthood. Then the glory of the Lord broke out in their midst. The glory of the Lord is the character of Jesus Christ in His incarnation, which is present in the believer’s daily lives. Chapter 9 of Leviticus concludes with The Shekinah glory appearing in the midst of the people of Israel. It consumed the rest of the sacrifice in fire. The Israelites were awed and amazed. They fell on their faces crying out in triumph. Sadly, on the very same day, we find a scene of tragedy as a sudden and shocking manifestation of judgement occurs. We find this account in Leviticus 10.

1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. (Leviticus 10:1-2 ESV)

This was swift judgement in which these two priests are destroyed as they ministered. Why did God do this? These men simply put glowing coals in their censors, put incense upon them then went into the presence of the Lord. What a sad and sobering sight this must have been as Aaron watched God kill his sons with fire. What was so wrong with what these men did? The passage tells us that the incense was unauthorized. The authorized incense was frankincense, which God had specified. The unauthorized incense could have been any other sweet smelling substance. The problem was that it was not what God had authorized to be proper worship of Him.

Other instances of God judging like this are found in the Old Testament. For instance, Moses’ sister, Miriam, criticized Moses and God judged her with leprosy. During the time of David ( 2 Samuel 6:3-8 ) Uzzah was struck dead for touching the Ark of the Covenant to keep it from falling off an oxcart. In the New Testament we have the account of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:9-11) who lied about the amount of money they had received from the sale of some property. They were judged for pretending to have more devotion to Christ and the Church than they really had.

Some may recoil as they read of these things from God’s Word. Isn’t God Love? Why would He judge these people like this? What we must do is dig into the truth from the Bible instead of making assumptions. From this will to show us how we are to live as priests to our Lord. Let’s start with the instructions God had given to Moses, Aaron and his sons.

7 And Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it. Every morning when he dresses the lamps he shall burn it, 8 and when Aaron sets up the lamps at twilight, he shall burn it, a regular incense offering before the Lord throughout your generations. 9 You shall not offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering, and you shall not pour a drink offering on it. (Exodus 30:7-9 ESV)

This was not secret. Nadab and Abihu knew that God had commanded that no unauthorized incense would be allowed to be burned as an offering before Him. However, these men did this very thing in violation of the direct command of God. They did something against which God had forewarned them. We must never forget that our Lord Jesus tells us, quoting Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench.” God understands our hearts. He is merciful to those who try to obey Him, but are ignorant of what is right and what is not. God does not discourage them. Instead, they are encouraged as He is patient, long suffering, tender, compassionate, and understanding. However, willful presumption on the part of His priests is a very different matter.

Willful presumption in Christians is expressed as taking God’s mercy and grace for granted. Those doing this give no weight to God’s words, but insist on their own way. God judged these men because what they were doing distorted God’s revelation of Himself. This revelation was God’s act of teaching His people what kind of God He is. However, Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire to God in disobedience and in this they were teaching wrong concepts about God. This brought His swift judgement.

Incense in Sacred Scripture is always a picture of prayer. When authorized incense was burned before God as worship in the priests’ censors, the clouds of smoke arose before the sanctuary. This was a picture to the people of how the prayers and thanksgiving of our hearts ascend before God. Incense pictures the prayer and commitment arising from our obedient and thankful hearts. The frankincense pictures the believers thankful heart for both blessings and the hardships and difficulties which are the fiery trials through which we all must pass.

12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13 ESV)

God is showing us through the incense that our prayers and thanksgiving is a sweet, fragrant odor, a delight to Him. When He sees the heart of a faithful priest that is filled this way, especially in the midst of trials, a heart that has learned to rejoice in the fire and sees the tests and trials as opportunity to manifest His very character, then His heart is delighted. This is why the prescribed ritual of offering frankincense each evening and morning was so important and why God’s judgment was so severe.

Strange fire would be, therefore, a form of prayer that is based on a false view of God and His ways. The incense used that was not authorized symbolized prayer that is based on God existing only for our happiness and to make us feel good. Those with this view of God come to Him to have their felt needs met. This philosophy says that whatever makes us temporarily happy is from God. This is hedonism. It sees anything which makes one happy as the reason for life. Anything which produces any sort of temporary, passing pleasure must be right. Why? Isn’t that why God exists? We know that this is a lie about God, don’t we? Our Lord gave us a graphic picture of what it means to offer strange fire before the Lord.

9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus:‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get. ’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner! ’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14 ESV)

The prayer of the Pharisee is the offering of strange fire before the Lord because it is reckoned upon his own self-righteousness and forgets that life is given to us as a gift. He committed the sin of ingratitude in seeing his life as a blessing to God, that God is lucky to have one such as him. However, the prayer of the publican, the tax collector, was the model for us in approaching God in gratitude for the gift of life in total recognition of our unworthiness to even hold our heads up in our Lord’s presence. This is the offering of authorized incense before the Lord.

We must remember in our trials and tests that our Lord has mercy on the bruised reed and the smoldering wick. God gives grace to the humble, but shuns the proud. Are you guilty of offering strange fire unto the Lord? Are you being resentful about your fiery trials or are you seeing them as the opportunity to suffer shame for His name? We offer strange fire unto God when we worship for our own sakes and pray as if God is letting us down if He doesn’t give us only ease and comfort. To those of you who are focused on the here and now as where your fulfillment is I pray that you will draw near unto God in prayer and repentance. He will draw near unto you. It is time to get your eyes off of self onto your Lord and eternity. It is time to take on the mantle of priest because all in Christ are of the Royal Priesthood. Lastly, never forget that the Holy Spirit does guide us and lead us into the Lord’s will. That will is for our personal holiness in our obedience to Him as His priests.

Soli Deo Gloria!

http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/what-is-strange-fire/

November 28, 2013 Bible Reading

November 28

Reading for Today:

Ezekiel 47:1–48:35

Psalm 135:8-14

Proverbs 29:9

1 Peter 4:1-19

Notes:

Ezekiel 48:35- the name. The city is called YHWH Shammah, “The LORD Is There.” The departed glory of God (chaps. 8–11) has returned (44:1, 2), and His dwelling, the temple, is in the very center of the district given over to the Lord. With this final note, all of the unconditional promises which God had made to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12), the Levitic Covenant (Num. 25), the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam.7),and the New Covenant (Jer. 31) have been fulfilled. So this final verse provides the consummation of Israel’s history—the returned presence of God!

Proverbs 29:9- contends. A fool may respond to wisdom with anger or laughter; but in either case, no agreement can be reached.

1 Peter 4:9- Be hospitable to one another. The Greek word means “love of strangers.” Love is intensely practical, not just emotional. In Peter’s day, love included opening one’s home and caring for other needy Christians, such as traveling preachers. It also included opening one’s home for church services. Scripture also teaches that Christians should be hospitable to strangers (Ex. 22:21; Deut. 14:28, 29; Heb. 13:1, 2).

1 Peter 4:12- the fiery trial. Peter probably wrote this letter shortly before or after the burning of Rome and at the beginning of the horrors of a 200-year period of Christian persecution. Peter explains that 4 attitudes are necessary in order to be triumphant in persecution: 1) expect it (v. 12); 2) rejoice in it (vv. 13, 14); 3) evaluate its cause (vv. 15–18); and 4) entrust it to God (v. 19). some strange thing happened. “Happened” means “to fall by chance.” A Christian must not think that his persecution is something that happened accidentally. God allowed it and designed it for the believer’s testing, purging, and cleansing.

DAY 28: What did Peter mean when he said “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Pet. 4:7)?

The Greek word for “end” is never used in the New Testament as a chronological end, as if something simply stops. Instead, the word means a consummation, a goal achieved, a result attained, or a realization. Having emphasized triumphant suffering through death, Peter here begins to emphasize triumphant suffering through the Second Coming of Christ (1:3; 2:12), which is the goal of all things. He is calling believers to live obediently and expectantly in the light of Christ’s return. “Is at hand.” The idea is that of a process consummated with a resulting nearness, i.e., “imminent.” Peter is reminding the readers of this letter that the return of Jesus Christ could be at any moment (Rom. 13:12; 1 Thess. 1:10; James 5:7, 8; Rev. 22:20).

“Be serious and watchful.” To be “serious” implies here not to be swept away by emotions or passions, thus maintaining a proper eternal perspective on life. The doctrine of the imminent return of Christ should not turn the Christian into a zealous fanatic who does nothing but wait for it to occur. Instead, it should lead the believer into a watchful pursuit of holiness. Moreover, a watchful attitude creates a pilgrim mentality (2:11). It reminds the Christian that he is a citizen of heaven only sojourning on earth. It should also remind him that he will face the record of his service to God and be rewarded for what stands the test at the judgment seat of Christ, which follows the return of Christ to rapture His church. “And watchful in your prayers.” A mind victimized by emotion and passion, out of control, or knocked out of balance by worldly lusts and pursuits, is a mind that cannot know the fullness of holy communion in prayer with God (3:7). A mind fixed on His return is purified (1 John 3:3) and enjoys the fullness of fellowship with the Lord.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals/daily-bible

Accepting God's Provisions

Accepting God’s Provisions

[COLOR=Red]”By faith [Moses] kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the first-born might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned” (Heb. 11:28-29).

When the time came for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, everything on the human level said it couldn’t be done. Pharaoh wasn’t about to let two to three million slaves just pack up and leave. His formidable army was ready to insure that no such exodus occurred.

But when God devises a plan, He always makes the necessary provisions for carrying it out. On this occasion, His provision came in the form of ten terrifying plagues designed to change Pharaoh’s mind.

The tenth and worst plague was the death of all the first- born (Ex. 11:5). To protect themselves from this plague, the Israelites sprinkled the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their homes. When the angel of death saw the blood, he passed over that house. Thus the Passover was instituted.

The blood from those first Passover lambs had no intrinsic power to stave off the death angel, but its presence demonstrated faith and obedience, thus symbolizing the future sacrifice of Christ (cf. John 1:29).

Pharaoh got the message and allowed the Israelites to leave. But soon afterward he changed his mind and commanded his army to pursue them. Again God intervened by parting the Red Sea, allowing His people to walk across on dry land. He then drowned the entire Egyptian army when it followed the Israelites into the sea.

That was a graphic demonstration of a lesson every believer must learn: God’s provisions are always best. They may sometimes seem foolish to the human intellect–just as “the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness” (1 Cor. 1:18)– but the man or woman of faith trusts God and receives His provisions gratefully.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the wise and gracious provisions He has made for your salvation and ongoing Christian walk.

For Further Study:

Read the account of the Passover and the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus 11-14.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.[/COLOR]

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals