Moses the Humble

DAILY DEVOTIONAL: DAY 214

“Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

In Moses’ time there were a lot of people in the world. That the Bible describes Moses as more humble than anyone on earth is, therefore, a high praise and a testament to the man’s character. Of all the things which could have been said in praise of Moses, it is interesting that the Bible chose to highlight his humility. The Bible inserted this comment after Aaron and Miriam had criticized Moses over his Ethiopian (Cushite) wife. In the face of this criticism, Moses maintained his composure. Being meek, he would rather be wronged than wrong others.

If anyone had reason to boast in life, Moses was the one. In the period around the Israelites’ departure from Egypt, you could say that Moses was probably the most influential person in the world. He had been raised by Pharaoh’s daughter in the palace. Naturally, therefore, he would have made friends in the highest levels of Egyptian royalty; he would have been well versed in Egyptian language, law, science, culture, diplomacy and politics. He had everything he needed for success.

But, as the Word of God testifies, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt . . .” (Hebrews 11:24-26).

Under the direction of JEHOVAH, Moses performed breathtaking miracles in the presence of Pharaoh. He was the man who led tens of thousands of Israelites through the Red Sea. When Aaron and Miriam disrespected Moses, God rebuked them and reminded them of Moses’ exalted status in His sight (cf. Numbers 12:4-8). God spoke face to face with Moses, and even granted him the honor of seeing His form. With such an impressive resumé, Moses could have succumbed to pride. But in all of this, the Bible says he was more humble than anyone on the surface of the earth. A shining example of godliness!

Let us resist pride. Let us clothe ourselves with humility. Let us learn from Moses the Humble.

May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you today! Amen.

For further study: Numbers 12:1-14

Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of ‘MARY thy God’ in Vain?

God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. In one of these commandments, the Lord commanded:

 “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11, KJV). Whose name is God commanding us to take not in vain? Answer: God’s own name. Every Christian will understand that this commandment is speaking of God’s name, not a human being’s name.

Shockingly, the Roman Catholic Church distorts this commandment. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (hereafter, CCC), the Roman Catholic Church teaches, “The second commandment [what some Christians regard as the third commandment] forbids the abuse of God’s name, i.e., every improper use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, but also of the Virgin Mary and all the saints” (CCC, paragraph 2146, http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P7I.HTM, emphasis added).

As you can clearly see from the quoted text, the Roman Catholic Church is contradicting God’s Word. It teaches that, the commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain,” does not refer to God’s name only; it refers also to the names of the Virgin Mary and all the saints. What the Roman Catholic Church does here amounts to blasphemy against God. If you believe what the Roman Catholic Church is teaching here, it will lead you into idolatry.

Jesus is Lord and God. And His name is far above all names. God’s Word testifies to the exalted name of Jesus. “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him [Jesus], and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10, emphasis added; cf. Acts 4:12 and Ephesians 1:21).

 After an evil spirit overpowered the seven sons of Sceva for attempting to cast it out in the name of Jesus, the Word of God says, “And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:17, emphasis added).

God wants us to honor all people, including our parents, the elderly, our church leaders, civil authorities, etc. (cf. Exodus 20:12; Leviticus 19:32; Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 2:13-17). But it is blasphemous to render unto human beings what belongs to God alone, which is what the Roman Catholic Church has done by applying Exodus 20:7 to Mary and the saints. And, this is not the only time it does that. On several matters of doctrine or dogma, the Roman Catholic Church has a sinful and dangerous habit of elevating Mary to the status of God; and, in the process, they mangle the Holy Spirit-inspired Scriptures.

Let’s test the truth (or falsity) of what the Roman Catholic Church teaches in CCC, paragraph 2146, by inserting the name of Mary and some saints in God’s commandment:

  1. “Thou shalt not take the name of MARY thy God in vain.” True or False?
  2. “Thou shalt not take the name of JOHN thy God in vain.” True or False?
  3. “Thou shalt not take the name of MARY MAGDALENE thy God in vain.” True or False?
  4. “Thou shalt not take the name of PETER thy God in vain.” True or False.

If you are a Christian, you cannot answer “True” to any of the above questions. Yet, sadly, according to the Roman Catholic Church, the commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain,” “forbids the abuse of God’s name, i.e., every improper use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, but also of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.”

No one knows if the Roman Catholic Church as an institution will ever repent of all her teachings and practices which contradict God’s Word. But if you are a Catholic reading this, my appeal to you is this: Your eternal salvation is at stake. What you believe can make a difference between going to heaven or going to hell. Pray to God for light. Study the Scriptures for yourself. And may the Lord open your eyes and grant you the courage to depart from deception when you see truth. Amen. 

Click here to read about what St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori says about the name of Mary (starting from Chapter X).

 

 

Tips for Proposing the Gospel

Daily Devotional: Day 155

“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.  And some were persuaded by the things which were spoken, and some disbelieved” (Acts 28:23-24, NKJV).

IActs 25:10, Paul appealed to Caesar Augustus. Consequently, per Roman law, Paul was sent to Rome to have his case heard by the Emperor himself. This is the background to today’s Bible passage. Shortly after arriving in Rome, Paul sent for as many Jews as he could invite, welcomed them to his own rented house and shared the Gospel with them. Based on today’s Scripture passage, we will identify four tips for sharing the Gospel.

Tip 1.  When we share the Gospel with people, we should be ready to adequately explain it, testify about it and persuade people about it. While speaking to the Jews about Messiah, Paul did some explaining, some testifying, and some persuading. This approach is based on sound reasoning from the Scriptures which allows the light of the Gospel to be revealed.

Tip 2Being familiar with the Law and the Prophets will come in handy when we minster to people about Christ. Paul persuaded the Jews from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets. This tells us that Jesus is in the Law and the Prophets. In other words, He is in the Old Testament scriptures. To be effective witnesses for the Gospel, we need to study, not just the New Testament, but the Old as well. 

Tip 3If we have to spend hours or days or weeks to explain the message of salvation to people, it is worth it Paul shared the message from morning till evening. He had a sense of urgency, but he was in no rush to get people ‘saved.’ The message of salvation is the most important message Jesus entrusted to us. We need not rush through it as it unfortunately happens today with the ‘sinner’s prayer’ or ‘salvation prayer’ and ‘altar call’ Christians have invented.

People deserve to understand the details and the implications of what they are being invited to accept, and we should make time for it. If we can spend weeks preparing for summer picnic, we certainly can make time to explain the Gospel message to those we are inviting to believe in Jesus. Let’s offer people time to reflect on the message we deliver, pray about it, process it, be convicted by it, verify what we’ve said, ask questions, and give feedback. This is the approach we see in the New Testament. 

Tip 4The Gospel is proposed, not imposedSome people believed Paul, others did not. You should not ‘push’ people to believe anything. You should not employ any form of manipulation (emotional, psychological or spiritual) to make people sign up for your message. Don’t do anything to interfere with people’s free will and intelligence. Those who accept the message, have them baptized, and help them to mature. Those who don’t accept, let them go. It’s their right. 

May the Lord equip you with wisdom for proclaiming His message! Amen.

For further study: John 6:28-69

The Culture of God’s Nation

Daily Devotional: Day 139

“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘I am the Lord your God. According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances” (Leviticus 18:2-3, NKJV).

When the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt, His purpose was to make Israel His chosen nation, separated from the nations of the world (cf. Exodus 19:1-6). And, that is what He did. To make His plan work, He painstakingly gave them a unique identity through a set of commandments and the ministry of priests and prophets. What makes every nation unique is its laws, customs, history and culture. To be God’s chosen nation, Israel, too, needed its own God-given culture, customs and laws to set it apart from other nations. The formation of Israel’s identity as God’s people wasn’t easy. But it did eventually take shape.

With this background, let’s get into today’s Bible passage. God’s instruction to the Israelites is clear. He identifies two nations and warns His people not to imitate them: Egypt and Canaan. The Israelites had been in Egypt for about four hundred years, so they were well acquainted with Egyptian religion, life and culture. God didn’t want to take any chances. Being under pagan influence for four hundred years, the Israelites had a lot to unlearn and much to learn about becoming citizens of Jehovah’s nation.

Ungodly experiences or habits from your past, if not adequately dealt with, can carry over into your present life and hinder you from being set apart unto God for holiness. Don’t ignore your past as though it never existed. Identify anything from your past which still seems to adversely affect your present life, face it squarely, and by the power of God’s grace, deal with it once and for all.

In addition to Israel’s past contact with Egypt, the Lord also warned Israel about its future contact with the land of Canaan. When you are planning a future move, don’t walk blindly into a situation. It is important to pray, plan and research about the move, and understand how you will live in the new environment while staying true to God. 

As Christians, we should know that the practices of Egypt and Canaan are alive and well in nearly every culture around the world today. Our only protection is to listen to God and not copy blindly. In the Old Testament, we see that the main reason for Israel’s downfall was the fact that they borrowed the pagan practices of the surrounding cultures. As God’s people, we have a culture of our own dictated by the Lord. It is a culture of holiness and righteousness. No matter where we dwell, let’s remember that we are citizens of God’s holy nation. Let’s not be polluted by the ungodly practices around us. 

May the Lord let His face shine on you and your family today! Amen.

For further study: Leviticus 18:1-30

Faith Is a Risk

Daily Devotional: Day 36

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go” (Hebrews 11:8, RSV).

Faith in Christ isn’t risk-free. This shouldn’t surprise us. If you hate risk, following Jesus would be an unpleasant experience for you. Jesus will take you places that can make you uncomfortable. Consequently, following Jesus isn’t for the faint of heart. When we trust someone, we assume a degree of risk; that’s the nature of trust. Risk can take many forms, including but not limited to, disappointment, financial loss, grief, broken heart and betrayal. We haven’t seen God with our eyes, yet we believe that he exists. That’s a big risk. We didn’t see Jesus rise from the grave, yet we believe and boldly proclaim that he’s risen from the dead. We haven’t been to heaven, yet we’re convinced that after this life, we shall be with the Lord and see him face to face. We’re, for the most part, relying on the testimony of the Sacred Scriptures. This means we’ve taken the risk to believe what the Bible tells us about God and his dealings with people. Where there is trust, there is risk. The fact is, if we’re afraid to take risks, we can’t trust anyone – not even ourselves. And if we cannot trust people – even a little – then we need our own planet, for there’s no risk-free relationship.

It takes faith to even obey God, as we can see from today’s Bible verse. Abraham obeyed God by faith, when he was instructed to relocate. The Bible says that Abraham started out, not knowing where he was going. He took a big risk when he moved his family and headed to an unknown destination. God rewards simple obedience. And when we obey him, he shows himself faithful. The Bible is full of individuals and groups of people who took risks in the exercise of their faith in God. Take, for example, Moses: God called Moses to lead the deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. At that time, Moses was a fugitive – having fled Egypt after he killed an Egyptian. The last person Moses wanted to meet was Pharaoh. He thought that returning to Egypt would be a suicide mission. Overwhelmed by the potential risks of the divine assignment, Moses came up with several excuses to convince God to look for someone else: “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak. But he [Moses] said, “Oh, my Lord, send, I pray, some other person” (Exodus 4:12-13, RSV). You, too, may have your own reasons why you want to avoid something you know God wants you to do. If so, what’s your fear? Can you trust God to have your back?

Pray:

Daddy, thank you for the honor of being called by your name. Thank you for believing that I can do what you want me to do. Open my eyes to see that you always have my back, and that your hands will always be there to catch me. In the Name of Jesus. Amen. (Enjoy this song by Hillsong United)

For further study: Luke 1:26-38