Scripture Memory Challenge – Week 4

How did you do with memorizing Scripture last week? If you did not do so well, or you did not know what Scripture to start memorizing, I invite you to take up the Scripture Memory Challenge with me. You can read more about it, and get started with week one’s memory verses, by clicking here.

Memory Verses

This last week, I memorized Psalm 103:5-7 and Psalm 103:8-10. I challenge you to do the same.

Psalm 103:5-7

who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the people of Israel.

Psalm 103:8-10

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

Resource

Fighter Verses Set 2 Weeks 6, 7

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God’s Heart for the Nations

Did God’s plan for Israel fail resulting in Him creating another plan that included the nations? Let me say right off I believe the answer is no.

God’s Plan Has Always Included the Nations

Even though the Old Testament is primarily focused on the nation of Israel, we see a glimpse of God’s desire to save all nations. Resulting in His mission as always being focused on, and including, the nations.

Since God’s mission has always been focused on the nations, we, as God’s ambassadors, are to take up His mission to reach all peoples with the gospel.

With that in mind, let’s look at some key verses that I believe shows God’s heart for the nations.

Key Verses Showing God’s Heart for the Nations

Genesis 12:1-3

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

God tells Abraham that all the families of the earth will be blessed in Him. He then is the source of blessing. From him comes the Messianic seed, Jesus, who is the Christ. It is Jesus who will bring redemption to all nations and all peoples (Gen. 22:18; Gal. 3:17; Matt. 1; Acts 3:26).

In Psalm 22:27-28, we are told that the Lord will rule over all nations and all nations will worship Him. Granted some will bow down unwillingly, but many will bow down willingly to God as their Lord and Savior.

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.

In Psalm 67, the Psalmist prays that God would bless the nation of Israel, so that His blessing on them would cause all the nations to know He is the one true God and worship Him.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you!

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, shall bless us.
God shall bless us;
let all the ends of the earth fear him!

In Isaiah 56:3,6-7, the foreigner is not kept from joining Himself to the Lord. Rather, he will be brought into God’s holy mountain. His  sacrifices will be accepted, and he will experience the joy of the Lord.

Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
“The LORD will surely separate me from his people”;
and let not the eunuch say,
“Behold, I am a dry tree.”

And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD,
and to be his servants,
everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
and holds fast my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.”

In Zechariah 2:10-11, we are told that many nations will join themselves to the Lord.

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for behold, I come and I will dwell in your midst, declares the LORD. And many nations shall join themselves to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people. And I will dwell in your midst, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.

So then, after reading the verses above, we are not surprised at what Paul writes in Ephesians 3:1-6

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

As well as we are not surprised that in Galatians 3:28-29, Paul tells us that all those who believe in Jesus Christ will be saved, and that all those who believe in Jesus by faith are Abraham’s offspring.

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Conclusion

The nations were not an afterthought. The Gentiles were not God’s Plan B. He has always had a concern for the nations. His desire has always been for them to experience salvation.

While Israel is God’s special people, experiencing special privileges, they are not God’s only people. Rather, they were the way in which God deemed right to bring salvation to all peoples. In short, Israel was God’s first ambassadors. They were how God manifested Himself to the nations. They were God’s light to the world.

Through God working in Israel the gospel has been made known to the Gentiles. As well as the gospel has been believed by the Gentiles because they were also foreordained to be God’s people.

So then, God has always had a heart for the nations. It has always been His plan to bring salvation to both Jews and Gentiles alike.

Application

Now that we know God’s mission, we are to take up His mission. We are to be His ambassadors, bringing the message of the gospel to all nations, so that all nations will experience salvation.

Questions for Reflection

  1. How are you doing at being a light for God where you work, live, and play?
  2. If we took our mission seriously, do you believe there would be more people reached with the gospel?
  3. Are you allowing the world’s comforts to stop you from sharing the gospel with others?

Resource

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God Doesn’t Need Our Worship

In the Bible Belt, it’s easy to say you are a Christian. There is relatively no persecution or monetary cost for claiming to be a follower of Jesus. In most places it is even expected by our friends and family that we be a Christian. As humans, we often do outwardly what our family and friends expect of us without changing inwardly, but this is not the type of change the Lord desires.

Israel was the First

Bible Belt Christians are not the first ones to perform religious acts without an inward change. There were many in Israel who did the same. They offered sacrifices to God because it was expected of them, not because they were truly broken and thankful for God’s salvation.

In Psalm 50, the Lord rebukes those who offered sacrifices to Him out of duty rather than thanksgiving. He says in verses 16-21:

16  But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite my statutes
or take my covenant on your lips?
17  For you hate discipline,
and you cast my words behind you.
18  If you see a thief, you are pleased with him,
and you keep company with adulterers.

19  “You give your mouth free rein for evil,
and your tongue frames deceit.
20  You sit and speak against your brother;
you slander your own mother’s son.
21  These things you have done, and I have been silent;
you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

22  “Mark this, then, you who forget God,
lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!
23  The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!”

What Does the Lord Desire Then?

Instead of offering sacrifices for sacrifices sake, the Lord desired that they be offered in thanksgiving for their salvation, as well as those offering them be living in a way that honors Him (Ps. 50:23).

For the Lord desires sacrifices from a broken spirit and a contrite heart.

In other words, He does not want the sacrifices of those who are proud, believing they can bring about their own salvation. Rather, He desires sacrifices from those who know they are guilty and need atonement for that guilt. He wants sacrifices from those who realize they are sinners, and as such, cannot, on their own, repair their relationship with God, because they cannot cover their own sins (Ps. 51:17).

We are No Exception

The Lord desires the same from us today. Even though we do not go to a temple to offer sacrifices, the same principle applies. The Lord does not desire those who have no thought of Him to pile into churches each Sunday because their family and friends expect them to be there. Rather, He desires those who know they can’t provide their own salvation to worship Him.

It is Not Enough Just to Show Up to Church

It is not enough to just show up to church. We are not doing God any favors. He does not respect us for attending, if we have not first given our heart to Him, knowing He is the One, who alone provides us with salvation. As He told the Israelites, He does not need their sacrifices, He is the ruler of the universe, every beast of the field is His (Ps. 50:7-11).

Likewise, He does not need us in church to make Him feel better about Himself. He does not really need us at all. We are the ones who need Him, and when we realize that, then and only then is He glorified by our worship. 

Questions for Reflection

  1. Do you attend church because it is expected of you? Or do you go because you really desire to worship God?
  2. Do you believe God needs your worship? If so, why?