Can you believe you're already ¼ the way through the Bible? Great job! Only ten more days of the Torah, and then we'll head into history. The history books are some of my favorite too, with amazing stories! Keep up the good work.
13:1-3 Apparently false prophets can have success in predictions, signs, and wonders. I have always thought this is because Satan can make things happen to match the fake prophecy or fortune telling. He is the god of this world who masquerades as a "angel of light," so he has a fair amount of convincing dominion. But notice that in verse 3 God says He makes/allows this to happen to test us and our affections. A couple principles: 1. Don't trust in prophetic words and miracles alone. The key to hearing God is accuracy, consistency, and fruit. 2. Don't put faith in the signs and wonders or let our hearts be led astray from pure and simple devotion to Christ. As soon as we put faith in the sign, the miracle, or the experience, we have moved into dangerous territory. Verse 4, "cling to Him" only.
A good modern-day example of this based on my studies (I've mentioned it before) is the "Counterfeit Revival" going on (or now finished) in several cities. I have seen videos of "miracles" that really have nothing to do with God or His getting glory, but they are sure drawing a crowd. People suddenly getting gold teeth, or "manna" appearing in people's Bibles, gemstones appearing on the altar, of course all kinds of "healings" taking place. I am also going to go out on a limb and tell you that I believe all the more recent "manifestations" of getting "slain in the spirit (note the little s)," holy laughter, and other zany things are not of God. For one thing, they are not Biblical. Sure, they are happening, but God specifically showed me the spirit behind it after a couple years journey of my own. This declaration would offend many, but again, this is my personal position and I believe God has shown this to me after a long season of asking and waiting for His answer.
As these last days draw near, we have to become vigilant and learn to recognize false signs and wonders. We are all in danger of being deceived by the spirit of the anti-Christ who is recognized by false signs and wonders. I came across this blog where a pastor details his experience at the Lakeland (FL) revival, which is more or less a same experience from other counterfeit revivals in Toronto and Brownsville.
13:6 Suppose someone secretly entices you—even your brother, your son or daughter, your beloved wife, or your closest friend—and says, ‘Let us go worship other gods.' Hey, this happens today! Those closest to us have the power to lead our hearts astray quicker than anything. They may not literally say, "Let's go worship other gods," but they may entice you with their behavior. We must be careful not to follow or to be the enticer! As you keep reading, do you get the sense that God wants us to be brutal with anything or anyone that pulls our complete devotion away from Him? God is clear—we must let any spiritually toxic relationship die.
15:6 The Lord your God
will bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations
but will never need to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they
will not rule over you. Isn't it strange as small as Israel is,
no one has ever captured it permanently? As far as I know, America
gives a lot of money to Israel, but Israel doesn't "borrow" it. And even if they do, God probably would have supplied all they needed if they had depended on Him.
8:40 On the other side of the lake the crowds welcomed Jesus, because they had been waiting for him. I couldn't help but see the Gentiles in this picture!
8:43-48 Remember how last month we had some stellar discoveries about the woman bleeding for 12 years and the purification offerings in Leviticus and what all this meant for the Jews.
I couldn't really find anything too definitive, but I noticed that the number "12" appears three times in this passage. Jairus' daughter, the woman bleeding, and immediately following, Jesus calls His 12 disciples together to give them authority over demons and to heal the sick. There seems to be a consensus that 12 typically signifies a group or congregation of chosen assembly. Not sure how it all ties together, but surely these three things must be somehow interrelated to occur so close together. Numbers are very significant biblically, and I doubt these numbers would have found their way into Scripture unless they mattered. It could have said, "a woman bled for years," and "Jairus' daughter," and "Jesus called His disciples together (we already knew it was 12 from earlier passages)." Why 12/12/12?
Questions for reflection:
Have you ever been influenced (or been the influencer), toward worshiping "other gods" by those close to you?
What are some "other gods," either subtle or overt, that close relatives or friends have used to divide your Christ-centered loyalties? These need not always be temptations toward sin. Sometimes they can even be "good things" or sometimes they can be things that distract us.
I have a friend who has an example of this right now. His parents died and left money behind. The siblings (Christians) have been in a constant state of disagreement/fighting over who gets what. I don't know what my friend has decided to do, but he has recognized the "god" behind it, and he doesn't want to be a part of that.
Personal experience: I have a relative who
is an alcoholic. I am not in any way tempted to partake of the drink
when I am around this person—that's not the problem. But this person
has become a huge distraction at times in my faith because of the
typical behavior of alcoholics and all the ways their drama becomes
yours if you let it. It can become an idol of focus! So I have removed
myself as much as possible until this person is ready to address the
drinking problem. In the mean time, there is nothing I can do or say
that will help this person, but it will only suck the life from me if I
choose to stay in the situation.