The call to follow has not changed

It is a shame when we separate out the “God of the Old Testament” from the “God of the New Testament,” like they’re two differing beings, or two different acts of a show or something.

The call to follow hasn’t changed. What God calls out to Israel is, in essence, what Jesus calls out to any who follow him. It is a road of obedience. It is a call to die to self. It is about the King’s agenda, not our own.

Lord, help us follow!

12 And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? (Deut. 10:12-13)

Ah, the joys of teaching the Old Testament!

I am not the Old Testament scholar by a long shot, but I thoroughly enjoy teaching the Old Testament to college freshmen. In my setting I teach to students in a Christian college, many of whom probably grew up in church. Yet… they don’t know the Old Testament.

Where I have the most fun (besides Song of Songs) is Judges. It’s perverse, I know. But for me it beats any Quentin Tarantino movie by a long shot.

Judges 19 is the kicker. If I haven’t seen them freak out over Ehud stabbing the Jabba the Hutt character, or get a little queasy over Jephthah and his weird vow that cost him the life of his own daughter, the story of the Levite carving up the concubine usually does the trick.

The biggest question I get: “Why is this in the Bible?”

My biggest question back: “Why do we IGNORE this stuff?”

My answer is this: “We like our Jesus meek and mild. When Jesus mean and wild shows up, we get turned off.”

There are other answers to explore, and I know I’ll get them on Facebook as soon as I hit “post” on this blog. No problem.

I just want to register my absolute pleasure at teaching the Old Testament.

Does God’s Word WORK?

Reading Nehemiah 8, I am struck by the reaction of the people when they actually heard the Book of the Law taught to them.

They wept. They were sorry. Something struck them in such a way they knew they had lived in disobedience and they wanted to get it right… and it grieved them.

There is still a place of conviction. We don’t like to think of it, but we need it. We need to be faced with the high call of God and realize we haven’t exactly gone there… and it needs to grieve us. It needs to tear our heart up.

Then, we can respond. Then, we can more clearly hear the word of the Lord. We can be truly ready to follow him.

It’s the work of the word and the Spirit. Not us.

But, as the church, we must bring people TO the word and the Spirit. Don’t back off. Don’t apologize. Bring people to a place where the word is clear and who God is becomes so magnificent, a response is needed.

God help us if we try to “explain away” one more text! Let us bring our own lives to submission to the word and let the Spirit do the work!

I don’t need a response to my preaching. I long for a response to the living word of God being given!

Praying for an Increase in Capacity for the Kingdom of God

2 Chron. 29:18-19

I have been challenged to pray for an INCREASE in capacity for the Kingdom of God. I am asking for my own life to be expanded so I can be more effective in my leadership as a pastor. There are so many things the Lord has given me in dreams for what is ahead, I know I need a greater capacity.

As I was praying, this thought dropped into my heart: To find immediate increase, just get the junk out of the room you already have.

Ouch.

That was Israel as well. When Hezekiah led the nation in reform, the first thing he did was clean out what was already there.

To increase my capacity in the kingdom of God, I can clean out the junk and be AMAZED at the room I will find!