No Confidence in the Flesh

The only path to acceptance before God is the way of the Savior, Jesus Christ, who alone can make us righteous. Flee from any confidence in your flesh.

Today’s reading

Isaiah 37-38; Philippians 3

Selected Verses

Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord. Isaiah 37:18-20

 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:2-3

Reflections

In Isaiah’s day, Sennacherib king of Assyria and his army romped across the world destroying kingdoms at will.  He boasted that Judah would be next.  After all–he reasoned–all the nations had their gods and none of them had been able to stand up to mighty Sennacherib.  Hezekiah was intimidated, but he made the right response.  He called on the prophet Isaiah for help and prayer.  He prayed and repented himself.  He asked God to intervene in such a way “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”

God heard and answered in a decisive way.

Sennacherib was diverted from Judah and then murdered by two of his own sons while he was worshipping his idols.  How fitting!  Sennacherib trusted in his flesh and in empty idols rather than seeking the true and living God of Israel. Meanwhile, Hezekiah and Judah were safe.

Paul warned the Philippians of the “Sennacheribs” that threatened them and elevated themselves as if they were perfect by their own law keeping.  They trusted in their flesh.  Paul said to look out for them.  They seek their own righteousness and their own glory, but “we put no confidence in the flesh” wrote the Apostle.

Think about it

Beware of false teachers who diminish the need for faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who say we are capable of attaining righteousness apart from Him. These do not glory in Him but, like Sennacherib, trust in themselves. Flee them. Put no confidence in your flesh or in those who tell you to do so.

Aiming to Please God

Life has meaning because we will all stand before an Omniscient Judge from whom we will receive our due. We must aim to please Him.

Today’s reading

Proverbs 23-24; Second Corinthians 5

Selected Verses

Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work?  Proverbs 24:11-12

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.  Second Corinthians 5:9-10

Reflections

Today’s reading in Proverbs points us to our responsibility for the lives of others who are dying, and we may assume, unjustly. Innocent people are killed by war, poverty, and abortion to name a few of the obvious causes. The media insures that we have a daily dose of the worst atrocities on the planet. We cannot say we know nothing about this. It is easy to be overwhelmed before breakfast seven days a week.

Paul reminded the Corinthians that this life is fleeting. Meanwhile, we should “make it our aim to please him.” To begin with, we please Him when we recognize our utter depravity. We are not able to be righteous before Him, not in ourselves. We please Him when we trust in the One who died for us, that in Him we might become the righteousness of God (verse 21).

Think about it

Starting with Christ as our Redeemer, we may consider how we can further aim to please God. Clearly, no one of us can do everything to correct all the ills of our world and the culture of death. But we can do something.  Edward Everett Hale, though a Unitarian, made this wise observation and resolution, “I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”

So what can we do in our aim to please God?  We can pray. We can proclaim the good news of life in Jesus Christ. We can give to ministries that serve hurting and dying people.

Life matters because there is judgment to come. Aim to please God. Begin by trusting in Christ alone for your righteousness.

Seven Things God Hates

Did you know there are things that God hates?  The list of seven of these despicable behaviors in today’s reading (Proverbs 4-6) are not controversial.  These hateful things abound in society and people consider them bad, if not evil.  I’m afraid, however, that we condemn them in others but not much in ourselves.

Lying and being a false witness are two behaviors we hate when our opponents do them, but we tend to give ourselves a pass on them.  Politicians sow discord, but that is acceptable if we agree with that politician.

I am challenged to resist these seven sins.  By God’s grace and strength, let us rid ourselves from them for His glory.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Confess Sin to God

How serious is sin?  Today’s reading (Psalms 51-57) helps us answer that question. We live in a time when even the concept of sin is politically incorrect, a relic of a bygone era.  Not everyone agrees.  A couple years ago, Huffington Post blogger William Bradshaw asked “What happened to sin?”  Bradshaw argued that society has gone off course as a result of ignoring God’s law.

David committed adultery, fraud, and murder.  He was caught and confronted.  To his credit, he confessed and repented.  His thorough heartfelt prayer is recorded for us in Psalm 51.  He gives us an example of the pain which sin causes and the remedy for it.

Sin is not just serious; it is lethal. But God calls us to confess our sin, to repent and to believe the good news of forgiveness and eternal life through Christ.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

The Danger of Settling for First Place

Here’s why being first can be a sure path to mediocrity.

Today’s reading:  2 Kings 10:18-13:25

Jehu was a king who got mixed reviews.  He did better than other kings but did not serve God fully.  You could say he came in first.  But first was not good enough.  Maybe he compared himself to others and felt he had done enough.  His scale of values was distorted by human failings.

God made us to be His image bearers, to reflect His glory.  As fallen creatures we do not achieve that perfectly.  Only Jesus Christ lived a sinless, completely God-honoring life.  Yet we will be like Him (I John 3:1-3).  That is our destiny.  Do not settle for first place, like Jehu,  but seek to grow in Christlikeness.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

God’s Absolute Justice

Here’s a perfect example of how God’s wisdom and justice is far above ours.

Today’s reading:  1 Kings 14:1-16:20

Baasha carries out God’s justice but also receives it.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Small Sin; Big Consequences

Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 19:8-21:22

Despite the title above, there are no small sins.  Any sin is rebellion against a Holy God.  Yet there are sins which are subtle and often go undetected until they grow into a major problem.  Sheba, the rebel in today’s reading, exploited pride and jealousy (small sins?) and used it to mount an almost-successful overthrow of the kingdom.

Beware of small sins with big consequences.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Michal’s Character

Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 19:1-22:5

At what price would you sell your integrity?

Michal chose what appeared to be the safe route, but that choice is never God-honoring or truly safe.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Everyone is Doing It!

Today’s reading: Judges 14:1-17:13

Not unlike the society we read about in Judges, post-modern man overestimates his wisdom to know and do what is morally correct.  He has rejected God’s law and leaned to his own understanding.  As a result, he honors what is despicable and punishes righteousness. “Everyone is doing it!” he says.  “Nothing’s gonna stop us now,” he sings.     It happened in ancient Israel and it is happening again in our time.

“Not so fast,”  the Bible warns us. God is still the Judge of all the earth (Genesis 18:25).  Romans 2:5 tells us, “ But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”

Take heed.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

Good Intentions Gone Bad

Today’s reading: Joshua 22:1-24:33

When we make vows and commitments to the Lord, we need to be sure we are trusting Him for strength to fulfill them. Jesus’ teaching about abiding in Him like a branch connected to a vine is very instructive (John 15:1-11). God is not glorified by the failures of our good intentions, but He is glorified when we confess them and repent promptly.

[For more reflections on this passage see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].