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Five Minutes of Truth with Dr. Danny Purvis - A Weekly Devotional Podcast
5 minutes | 2 years ago
Staying strong in the storm
Did you know that Daniel’s three friends: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, stood tall against the most powerful man in the world with no promise that God would spare them? Let’s take a few minutes to look at this amazing story. The events of Daniel and his three friends as they served under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon during the Babylonian captivity are some of the most interesting in all of Scripture. That includes how they got there in the first place. First prophesied by Jeremiah, the Israelites would be conquered by the Babylonians and held captive for 70 years. As was the custom of the Babylonians, they would take youngsters from their captured foes in order to brainwash them and train them for usefulness is running the Babylonian kingdom. Daniel and his friends were among those culled from the masses. They were well treated and well trained as they solidified their position in service to their new overlords. But Daniel and his friends became favorites of King Nebuchadnezzar so that, “The king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:48). Daniel convinced the king to include his three friends and life moved on pretty favorably for young men who had been kidnapped from their homes. But there was a problem. While Daniel and his friends made the very best of a bad situation, they were certainly aware that King Nebuchadnezzar thought of himself as a god…and demanded worship as a god. For Daniel and his friends, this was a non-starter. The very first of the Ten Commandments clearly states that God is God, and that we should “have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). However, Nebuchadnezzar was making it increasingly difficult for Danial and his friends to keep that commandment. In fact, he ordered that a gold statue of himself be created and that whenever a cacophony of music was heard, all who heard it would, “fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up” (Daniel 3:4-5). Knowing they could not do so, Daniel’s friends, in fact, did not do so. Local priests, obviously jealous of Daniel and his friends’ rise to power, alerted the King that the three friends of Daniel: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not bowing to or offering worship to the King’s statue (Daniel 3:12). The King would have none of that. Bringing the three young men to his presence, the king chided the young men and threatened that if they did not bow down during the appointed time, that they would be “cast immediately into the midst of a fiery furnace…and who is the god who will deliver you from my hands” (Daniel 3:15)? Faced with a grisly death, the three young men had a choice. They could bow down even if they didn’t mean it, or they could stand their ground while their God protected them or they could stand their ground whether their God would protect them or not. They chose the last option. Standing in front of the most powerful man in the world at the time, who was seething with anger at their disobedience, the three said: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:17). To say this enraged the king is an understatement. He ordered the furnace to seven times its usual heat and ordered the young men tossed inside. So hot it was, that the servants who threw them in died from the heat. You know the rest of the story. The king looked into the furnace and saw not three people but four. And that the fourth looked like the Son of God (Daniel 3:25). The three survived and the king was brought face to face with the true God. But what is interesting is not that the three survived the fire. The key is that they had no idea whether they were going to survive the fire. They assured the king that God would deliver them. They then said He was able to save them from the fire. These are not the same. God can and does deliver us from horrible situations sometimes by rescuing us from them, and sometimes by calling us home to be with Him. The three knew God would deliver them, they just didn’t know how. It would either be by miracle or by calling them home. The most important point is that they did not let their situation determine their actions. They openly admitted that God might let them perish in the fire. But that they would still not acquiesce to the king’s sinful demands. There is an old song that goes: “Sometimes He calms the storm, sometimes He calms His child”. Sometimes He lets the storm rage. He allows to go through extremely difficult times not with the promise that He will rescue us from those trials. But that He will deliver us…one way or the other. Oh, and to not be afraid. How cool is that?
6 minutes | 2 years ago
Anger at God’s Mercy?
Did you know that one of God’s very own prophets actually got angry because God kept His promise and showed mercy? Stick around and we’ll talk about it…here on 5 minutes of truth. The story of Jonah is one of the most well-known stories in all of the Bible. It is one of those events that has some bit of recognition even outside of religious circles. I have heard mentions of Jonah from the Sunday School classroom to an Avengers movie. There are a large number of people who are at least tacitly familiar with Jonah’s adventures in the belly of a fish. But there is at least one aspect of the story that both Believer and non-believer are generally not familiar with. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. In able to understand the end of the story, we must first make sure we are familiar with the first part of the story. It begins like this. God has chosen to bring His word of salvation and redemption to a city called Nineveh acknowledging, “their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2b). Instead of punishing their sin, God decided to send a prophet to the city to preach a message designed to get the people to repent and turn to Him. For this important task, God chose Jonah. We are told that instead of being honored and humbled to be chosen by God, Jonah felt otherwise. Instead of heading for Nineveh with a message of hope, the Bible tells us that, “Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3a). Rather than obey God, Jonah ran from God to avoid this mission. We are not, at this point, told why Jonah made this decision. But we would find that out later. After securing passage to Tarshish as he ran from the Lord, the ship Jonah was on was hit by a terrible storm. The storm was so intense that the Bible relates to us that, “the ship was about to be broken up” (Jonah 1:4b). Since wayfarers of the sea are often known to be a superstitious group, the ship’s crew decided that one of the people on board must be responsible for the wrath they were suffering. And while they were crying out to their gods, they decided to cast lots (similar to drawing straws) to see who the guilty culprit was. Jonah drew the short straw, so to speak. Once they knew that Jonah had angered God by fleeing from Him, they looked desperately for a solution. Jonah had one. He told them that the only way they could escape God’s wrath for his shortcomings was to throw him overboard. Though they protested, they eventually capitulated. And they tossed Jonah overboard into the tumultuous sea. I believe you’re familiar with the rest. Once in the water, God sent a “great fish” (Jonah 1:17) to swallow Jonah and to ensure that Jonah ended up exactly where God wanted Him in the first place, on the shore outside of Nineveh. Once Jonah spent three days in the belly of the fish, we might think he would be more than ready to accomplish the mission God had sent him on. We’d be partly right. He was ready, but he had his reservations. In the meantime, of course, God was as good as His Word. Once Jonah went into Nineveh and began preaching God’s truth, an amazing thing began to happen. The Ninevites, from the greatest to the least, began to listen and heed the Word of the Lord. In fact, the Bible states, “So the people of Nineveh believed God” (Jonah 3:5a). As a result, instead of punishing their sin which would have been a just thing to do, God instead forgave them. In the pantheon of stories related to the Old Testament prophets, this is one of the ones with the happiest endings. Too many times people ignored the prophets and experienced punishment. But here, the people listened and repented and were spared. And everyone was happy. Right? Not exactly. The Bible states: “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry” (Jonah 4:1). Why, you may ask, was Jonah so angry when his mission had been such a success? Well, he tells us. Jonah was angry because he knew that God was merciful. He knew God would show that mercy to the Ninevites. And he didn’t want God to do as He had promised to do for Nineveh. In fact, Jonah told God: “was not this what I said when I was still in my country? I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness” (Jonah 4:2). In other words, Jonah was angry because he knew God would show mercy to the Ninevites. He was angry because God is merciful. And he didn’t want the Ninevites to get mercy. We don’t know why. We don’t know the reason for his hatred for the people of Nineveh. But we know what he forgot. What we must never forget. That none of us deserve God’s mercy. None of us. No matter what a person does, they do not fall outside of God’s willingness to forgive and show grace. We have all sinned and we all deserve God’s wrath. That includes Jonah. He forgot about that. He hated the Ninevites. He thought them worse than him. He felt they did not deserve God’s grace. He was right. But he forgot that he didn’t deserve God’s grace either. None of us do. And yet, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. How cool is that? On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
6 minutes | 2 years ago
We are family
Did you know that when we come faith in Christ, that He changes how we understand everything…including family? Stick around and we’ll talk about it here on 5 Minutes of Truth. There are a great number of things people find interesting about Jesus as He is portrayed in the four Gospels. There are quite a few things we know about Him while other things remain in the shadows a bit. Some of what is not so obviously seen is how Jesus interacted with members of His family on earth. While we do have considerable records of Jesus’ interactions with His mother, Mary, many of us forget that He also said several siblings. Matthew gives us the names of His brothers: James, Joses, Simon and Judas while also acknowledging that Jesus also had sisters (Matthew 13:55-56). Very little is shared about these siblings. This could be, in part, because the Bible leaves out a huge chronological section of Jesus’ life. In the Gospels, we last see Jesus as a child when He was 12 years old (Luke 2:41-52). That passage ends with Luke stating: “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). The next time chronologically we see Jesus again is at His baptism which officially kicks off His public ministry. Though we can’t be completely certain, it is widely believed that Jesus was about 30 years old when this event occurred. If that is the case, then we have, approximately, an 18 year period for which we have almost no information regarding Jesus. It must be assumed that He took part in the normal aspects of human growth which would have included His relationship with His earthly family. His adoptive father, Joseph, is not mentioned and church history has him dying a pretty early age. We have some mention of His relationship with His mother later in life but very, very little with regards to his relationship with His siblings. Though the Gospel writer, John, does give us a glimpse. Just before the Feast of Tabernacles, according to John, Jesus’ brothers challenged Him to go and prove to the folks in Jerusalem He was Who He claimed to be. They did this not because they believed Him. In fact, it was quite the opposite. John tells us: “For even His brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5). Leaving aside the reality of how difficult it must have been for these siblings to grow up with the older brother being the Messiah, suffice it to say that Jesus had a strained relationship with His biological family. There were even moments when He had to make sure His mother was certain of their most unusual relationship (John 2:1-4). Because of what is seen by some as a harshness when dealing with His biological family, some folks have attributed an assumption that Jesus emotionally distanced Himself form His family while on earth because they did not really understand Who He was. Jesus loved and adored His family. There are only a handful of statements attributed to Jesus while he was actually hanging on the Cross. One of those statements was Jesus directing His disciple, John, to take care of His mother (John 19:26-27). Two of His brothers actually went on to write New Testament books: James and Jude. He did not have antipathy towards His family. What then do we make of Matthew 12:46-48 When Jesus is told that His family is outside wanting to see Him? Jesus answered: “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” (Matthew 12:48). He then gestures to the Disciples in front of Him and states: “Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:49-50). What was He saying? First, He was not trying to disrespect or impugn His biological family in any way, shape, or form. He was trying to redeem and renew what the idea of family really was intended to be through Him. Prior to Christ, our family was limited to only those who shared the same DNA…the same blood. But Jesus was trying to show them and us what real family actually means. He was not dismissing biological families but He was stating the single most important aspect of family from that point forward…faith in Him. Once we come to faith in Christ, we still have a biological family. But what if all of our biological family are not fellow Believers. Then they are not truly our “brothers and sisters”. Jesus now transcends all other relationships on the planet. If all of my family were not Believers, and there is a peanut farmer in China who is a Believer…then because of faith in Christ…I have more in common with that Chinese peanut farmer whom I’ve never met than I do with my own flesh and blood family. That doesn’t mean I don’t love my family. I just don’t share with them the single most important aspect of my life. Through Christ, God has adopted me as His child (2 Corinthians 6:18). His other children, whether I’ve even met them or not, are literally my brothers and sisters. More so than my biological family. That is exactly why Jesus told us the best way for the world to know that we belong to Him: “By this will the world know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). How cool is that? On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project…keep reading God’s Word.
6 minutes | 2 years ago
What about social justice?
Did you know that among all of the letters Paul wrote in the New Testament, one seems to be written to a buddy asking a favor? Stick around and we’ll talk about it here on 5 minutes of truth. Most people know that Paul wrote just about half of the letters that make up the New Testament. Of the 27 books that make up the New Testament, Paul was responsible for penning 13 of them. There are also a number of ways those letters are categorized today. There are letters he wrote to churches. There are letters he wrote to churches he founded and those to churches he did not found. There are the “Prison Letters”, so-called because they were written during his first Roman imprisonment. There are letters he wrote to individuals and there are the so-called “Pastoral Letters” he wrote to individuals who were serving as pastor of a specific congregation. In short, there are quite a few ways to designate and categorize the letters Paul wrote in the New Testament depending on the criteria of the category in question. And then there is Philemon. Suffice it to say that Philemon is in a class all by itself. In fact, it seems as if this letter is actually a personal correspondence between Paul and a good friend of his named Philemon. And the goal of the letter appears to be related to Paul asking Philemon for a favor. Unlike Paul’s letters to churches and his pastoral letters of instruction to Timothy and Titus, Paul’s epistle to Philemon is arguably the most unique book in the entire Bible. Okay, Revelation might give it a run for its money…but let’s take a look at the uniqueness of Philemon. Especially as it relates to one of the most interesting aspects in our culture today, and that is the idea of social justice. Was Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, really instructing us as Believers some 2,000 years later how we are to interact with social justice? Let’s find out. The backstory of this letter is simple but multifaceted. Philemon had been converted to Christianity by Paul and they had become good friends. Philemon, as was common for that time, owned a slave named Onesimus. This was more a voluntary servitude as opposed to the idea of slavery we have today, but it was a social ill nonetheless. At some point, Onesimus committed a crime by stealing from Philemon and running away. Probably wanting to blend into a large city in anonymity, Onesimus ended up in Rome where he ran into, of all people, Paul who was under house arrest at the time. In fact, when Paul writes Philemon he confirms this by saying: “I appeal to you for my son Onesimus whom I have begotten while in my chains” (1:10). To make a sort-of short story even shorter, Paul does not hide or keep Onesimus with him to escape the horrors of slavery and a potentially vindictive master. Instead, he sends Onesimus back to his master Philemon. And he sends him back with the letter that now resides in the New Testament. But what does Paul say in the letter? Does he support slavery? Are we supposed to turn a blind eye to cultural injustices in the world around us? Are we, as Believers, supposed to be social justice warriors? The short answer to this last question is…no. Not as the world defines it. For the world, social justice has nothing to do either with society or justice. The world’s idea of social justice only deals with some ambiguous definition of justice for some, but not all. It is more selfish justice than it is social justice. Which is why, as Believers, we are to have no part in it. What we are to do is to look at God’s Word. How does Paul address the cultural injustice of slavery? Simple. He reminds Philemon that He is a Christian. And that as a Believer, he simply cannot engage and embrace the ways of the world if they are incompatible with Christianity. And slavery was certainly incompatible with Christianity. Paul tells Philemon that though he has the right to command him, instead he would rather “appeal” to him as a Brother. He tells Philemon that Onesimus is not the same person he used to be but that he is now “a beloved brother”. He tells Philemon that he wants him to treat Onesimus “as you would me”. And he tells Philemon that if Onesimus owes him a debt, that Paul himself wants Philemon to “put that on my account”. Of course, by doing this, Paul is reminding Philemon that Jesus paid his sin debt when he was a slave to sin. Paul did not ask Philemon to free Onesimus, but he knew that would be the end result. Why? Because Paul reminded Philemon that the cure for social injustices is not social justice. It is the Gospel. It is a transformed mind and a regenerated being that will lead individuals to treat people as they want to be treated. The goal of the Cross was not to right cultural wrongs. It was to save that which was lost. To redeem the unredeemable. To cleanse the unclean. To make righteous the unrighteous. And when that happens, the culture will be impacted. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word
10 minutes | 2 years ago
Ezekiel and those dry bones.
Ezekiel and those dry bones. God gave a vision to one his prophets where God asked him to speak to an entire valley of bones? Stick around and we’ll talk about it here on 5 minutes of truth. As we have discussed before, there are a lot of events in the Old Testament that a lot of people would consider…well…kind of weird. Elisha saw an axe-head float. Elijah just sort of floated up to heaven. Seas parted and plagues descended. Samuel was summoned by a witch. One of the most interesting events involves the prophet Ezekiel and God’s vision where He commands Ezekiel to have a conversation with a bunch of human skeletal remains. If you are unfamiliar with this event, you can find it in Ezekiel 37:1-14. Ezekiel was a prophet and priest called by God during the Babylonian Captivity. While false prophets were predicting a quick return to Jerusalem, Ezekiel was telling them that their beloved capital would be destroyed and their captivity prolonged. He also told them that even though their sin had to be punished, God would also eventually forgive and restore the nation of Israel into His good graces and reaffirmed the covenant he mad with Abraham. Many times God would impart information to his prophets with audible words from above while other times He used dreams and visions. In Ezekiel’s case, He seemed to do a combination of these things. While Ezekiel certainly seems to have heard directly from God via an audible voice, he also received God’s truth via a series of visions. One of the most interesting of those visions includes God’s command for Ezekiel to speak to a valley filled with the dry bones of countless people who had obviously been dead for some time. Ezekiel states: “the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones” (Ezekiel 37:1). He then went to say that the valley was completely full of these bones and “indeed they were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:2b). The point of the dryness was to point out exactly just how dead these bones (or rather the people they represented) actually were. They were dead and had been that way a long time. God then asks a strange question. He asks, “can these bones live” (Ezekiel 37:3a)? God gets maybe an even stranger answer. “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3b). In other words, what should have been an obvious “no” answer to that seemingly obvious question, turns into an answer that leaves questions of life and death and miracles to the God of the universe. Ezekiel did not limit God, but neither did he know what God had in mind. God then makes and even stranger command. He tells Ezekiel, “prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:4). In other words, God tells Ezekiel to start proclaiming the word of the Lord to these dead, dry bones. But God’s not through. He then speaks to the bones and states that after they hear the word of the Lord, that God will actually (in a sort of reverse decomposition) bring them back to life by causing “breath to enter you” (Ezekiel 37:5). As good as His word, as Ezekiel proclaims the word of the Lord, the sinews, flesh and skin come back onto all of the skeletons. But they were not yet alive. God causes the wind He calls His breath to breathe life into the formerly dead bodies completing the regenerating process. And then God finally tells Ezekiel why he wanted Ezekiel to do this in the first place. He tells Ezekiel that the dry bones are the nation of Israel. And though they have been dead in their sin and rebellion for a very long time, God would breathe new life into them, renew His covenant with them, and they would once again as a nation be alive in Him. But like so many things in the Old Testament, it would be foolish of us to think that this has no meaning for us today as a 21st Century New Covenant Believer. Make no mistake about it, the primary reason for this vision was for those people at that time going through those issues. We cannot reinterpret Old Testament passages into first century interpretations. But there are underlying truths that have to be for us today along with the literal truths meant for the folks of that time. What might they be? Like those dry bones, outside of a saving relationship with Christ we are dead in our trespasses and sins. Like those dry bones, we will not because we cannot do anything to give ourselves life. Like those dry bones we need God to breathe life into our lifeless bodies so we know Who the true author of salvation actually is. Like those dry bones, there is nothing we have done to earn this breath of life. God simply chose to give it. Like those dry bones, it was only after hearing the word of the Lord, we’re able to receive the breath of life. And like those dry bones, because of His word, and due to His sacrifice on a cruel cross, we can become alive in Him forever more. How cool is that? On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
7 minutes | 2 years ago
To rapture or not to rapture
To rapture or not to rapture Did you know that Jesus’ most famous statements about the rapture were actually not about the rapture at all? Stick around and we’ll talk about it. Here on 5 minutes of truth. In the 70s it was Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth”. In the mid-90s into the 2000s it was the “Left Behind” books and movies. Both focused on one of the more interesting aspects of theology known officially as eschatology. In layman’s terms? The study of end times. Here is what you may not know. That though there are many references to eschatology in the Bible, there may not be as much information there as you might think. And it is not often as clear as you might think. That would explain why likeminded Believers could hold positions on eschatology that are in direct opposition to each other and yet both claim they emanate from Scripture. If it were crystal clear, there would be much more of a consensus. One of the more interesting aspects of eschatology that spurs on a lot of debate is the concept of the rapture. The rapture is a leading theological construct among most evangelicals that suggests Believers (both dead and alive) will be taken by Christ “into the air” either before, during or after the great tribulation. If you’ve seen movie representations of this event, it is usually portrayed as a huge mass of people simply disappearing without a trace and with no explanation. The results of these disappearances include planes crashing because of the loss of pilots, cars crashing due to lack of drivers, and frantic families due to the loss of loved ones. The question is: Is this how the Bible says it will be? That is the question we always have to ask ourselves. Just because something seems to be believed by a large number of people, does that make it correct? It’s a good question to ask. What does the Bible say about the rapture? Very little to be honest. The most often cited passage is, of course, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. I this passage, Paul clearly states this about the rapture: “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven…with the trumpet of God…the dead in Christ will rise first…then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air”. This passage is clear that there will be some event that seems to be related to our idea of the rapture. What we don’t know from this description could fill a wheelbarrow. There is no mention of the tribulation here as it relates to the rapture. Some believe it is, some believe that this event is for Believers to join Christ at His Second Coming. One of the most important questions we can ask is: What did Jesus say about the rapture? It is a good question. As I grew up theologically once I became a Believer, I was given an answer to that question. I was told by many people and heard it referenced by many more, that Jesus did, in fact, mention the rapture and His words are found in Matthew 24:40-44. Here in part is what Jesus says in this passage: “Two men will be in the field: one will be taken, the other left…two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken, the other left…watch for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming…for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect”. What do you think? Sure sounds like the rapture to me. One person will be taken and one person will be left behind. Just like one person in a car, one pilot on a plane, one loved-one in a family. For years I was told and heard others told that this was Jesus talking about the rapture. I was being told wrongly. That is not what Jesus is talking about here. In fact, this is an opposite analogy in relation to how it has been misrepresented. Context is key. Instead of starting at verse 40 in this 24th chapter of Matthew’s gospel, we need to read the beginning of the pericope which starts at verse 36. Jesus starts this analogy by referring back to, of all people, Noah and the events of the worldwide flood. If you remember, God used the flood to punish the rampant sin that had infected the entire earth. He chose to spare just 8 people: Noah and his wife along with Noah’s three sons and their wives. Using this event to make His point changes the meaning of the passage. Jesus says: “But as the days of Noah were, so also will be the coming of the Lord”. So He is saying that we must look at His analogy in the same way that we looked at what happened during the flood. He talks about how unaware the people were who were about to be destroyed by the flood and compared that to the day of the Lord. They were so unaware that “they did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:39). And then Jesus launches into the analogy by saying that one will be taken and the other left…again…just like the flood. So, the ones taken away, in Jesus’ analogy, are the ones who were being punished while the ones left behind were the ones that belonged to Him. Just as Noah and his family were left behind because they belonged to Him. The opposite of what so many people teach about this passage. It’s easy for me to get mad at the people who taught me incorrectly all those years. But the fact is, I should have been looking in a mirror. Our theology can never dictate our exegesis. Our exegesis must dictate our theology. It was up to me to read God’s Word and discover His truth. Which is what I am telling you. Don’t take my word for any of this, simply invest in the exploration of God’s Word so that you can clearly see His truth. On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
7 minutes | 2 years ago
God told Hosea to marry…who?
God once ordered a man to marry a woman who would become a harlot and engage regularly in adultery all to illustrate His love and longsuffering for us? Stick around and we’ll talk about it here on 5 minutes of truth. The Old Testament is filled with amazing stories taking place with amazing people under amazing circumstances. Whether it is a Sea that parted, an axe-head that floated, bones that resurrected, or a donkey that talked, the Old Testament includes a huge number of unusual and often difficult to understand events to show God’s love for His people. One of the most interesting of these stories is often one that is overlooked because of the near anonymity of the person involved. Yes, he was a prophet, but he was a minor prophet. Yes, he’s in the Bible, but he’s kind of stuck in the middle there with a bunch of other prophets most people have never heard of. His name? Hosea. His claim to fame? God ordered him to marry an unfaithful wife who may have even been a prostitute. The big question is: Why would God do this? First, let’s look at the story. Hosea was a prophet called by God to minister between 755-710 BC. Other than that. We know very little about him with the exception of who he married and how his marriage unfolded. At the beginning of the book, God commands Hosea to, “go, take a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1:1-2). The Bible then tells us that Hosea does exactly that by marrying a woman named Gomer who would be exactly what God said she would be. Many scholars think that Gomer was not yet a harlot at the time they married but that God was telling Hosea what would happen as a result of their union. Also, by calling the children she had “children of harlotry” it is strongly suspected that the children named in chapter one are not Hosea’s children, but Gomer’s via her many episodes of unfaithfulness. To say that this was a difficult marriage would be an understatement. But that leads us back to the original question we had. Why would God tell a man (a prophet, no less…a holy man) to marry a woman whom God knew would be unfaithful? Well, in part God gives us the answer in the original command. He states the reason is because, “the land has committed harlotry by departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1:2b). In other words, Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was to be an illustration of God’s relationship with His people. How could this possibly be? We can better understand that by understanding that relationship a bit better. In Genesis, God began His relationship with His people by establishing an everlasting covenant with them through Abraham. God told Abraham, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great” (Genesis 12:2). Later He also states, “look now towards heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them. So shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5). God was establishing an everlasting covenant with people that from that time on would be His people. But that relationship would sour. Embedded in a single comment, would be the disease that would plague the relationship between God and His people. At the end of Judges we read, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). That became the problem. God’s people would regularly and continuously ignore and reject God’s truth and His teachings by following after false gods. In other words, they were committing spiritual adultery on God. The very first of the Ten Commandments states, “you shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). There is a reason He put that one first. Just as Gomer broke the sacred covenant of marriage and turned her back on her husband, so had God’s people broken the sacred covenant with God and turned their back on their God. Gomer’s marital adultery was a picture of Israel’s (and our) spiritual adultery. And if God had left the picture like this, it would have amounted to little more than God pointing out their infidelity. But He didn’t end it there. After Gomer left Hosea, God instructed him to do something interesting. He tells Hosea, “go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery” (Hosea 3:1a). After Hosea is rid of his cheating bride, God tells him to go after her even though she is actively engaged with committing adultery and she has not changed her ways. How far had she fallen? Hosea states, “so I bought her for myself for 15 shekels of silver” and said to Gomer, “you shall stay with me many days” (Hosea 3:2-3). His wife’s harlotry had led her to slavery, and her jilted, betrayed husband actually paid to get her back. Why? “Afterwards the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days” (Hosea 3:5). God told Hosea to remain faithful to Gomer no matter what, because He will remain faithful to us no matter what. The covenant is His, not ours. We try to break it with our sin and disobedience, but He cannot and will not break the covenant He made with us. There may be temporal consequences for our sin, but ultimately, He will separate our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. He will toss them into the sea of forgetfulness and remember them no more. He paid a price for our freedom on the Cross and secured the victory via the empty tomb…despite our unfaithfulness to Him. How cool is that? On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
7 minutes | 2 years ago
The Bible and Suicide
A very important episode of Five Minutes of Truth. Please consider sharing this episode with someone who needs to hear it. Even though the Bible had 40 authors, mentioned about 1,300 people by name, covers a time period of thousands of years where there were hundreds of millions of people, that there are only three recorded suicides in all of Scripture? And of those three, only one of them fits the paradigm we are most familiar with today. Stick around, and we’ll talk about it here on 5 minutes of truth. The scope of the Bible is immense. It begins with the creation of the universe and ends near 100 AD when the last book of the Bible was probably written. In these pages we see a myriad of events unique to humans played out on the pages under a variety of circumstances. Nearly every single happy, sad or in between thing that can happen to a person is seen in the Scriptures over and over again. Interestingly enough, however, one tragedy that is played out all too often in the world today is only mentioned three times in the entire Bible: suicide. The one is probably most familiar to us because of its being linked to the arrest, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. The other two, however, are probably forgotten by most folks familiar with the Bible. That’s because the reason for those suicides does not really resonate with us today due to its unusual circumstances. Who were the only three people recorded as having taken their life in the Bible? Judas Iscariot; Saul, the first king of Israel; and Saul’s armorbearer. Be honest…did you remember that King Saul had taken his own life? You probably didn’t. But I believe that has more to do with the reasons for that suicide than as a testimony of our Bible knowledge. Saul’s death is recorded in 2 Chronicles 10:1-7. Israel was at war with the Philistines and at the culmination of the final battle, when all was lost, Saul ordered his armorbearer to kill him, “lest these uncircumcised men come and abuse me” (2 Chronicles 10:4a). Unable to follow through on his King’s command. The Bible relates that, “Saul took a sword and fell on it” (2 Chronicles 10:4c). Immediately afterward, the armorbearer also threw himself on his sword rather than be taken captive by the Philistines. See what I mean about the impact this suicide may have had on us personally? Saul took his life in battle to avoid torture and humiliation at the hands of his enemies. In the long list of reasons people take their lives today, that one does not resonate with the average person considering suicide. As a result, we have a tendency to forget about that one. Judas is another case. After Judas Iscariot realized that he had indeed betrayed “innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4a) when He orchestrated Jesus’ arrest which would lead to His crucifixion, Judas, overwhelmed by his actions, “threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5). This suicide has a ring of familiarity to us, doesn’t it? Tremendous regret over a decision or series of decisions that led to tragedy. Tremendous guilt for the actions and the results of those actions. Tremendous emotional isolation as a result of the choices made. Tremendous hopelessness that nothing will get better, and only death will ease the pain. These are the reasons we are most familiar with an act that will, on average, take the lives of about 45,000 Americans every year and 1 million lives worldwide each year. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US each year. But these numbers lack perspective. Let’s see if we can provide some. There are on average 17,000 homicides in the US each year. That is less than half the number of suicides. Yet when have you ever heard a politician say: We have to do something about the suicide rate in this country. I have never heard that. Compare that with how often you hear a politician say something about curbing the rate of homicides each year. That is a staple political position despite the fact that more than twice as many people will die from suicide as homicide. There is a stigma and discomfort level with suicide that we have to get past if we are going to put a dent in these numbers. There is one silver lining in the numbers, however. There are, on average, about a million suicide attempts in the US each year which tells me most people who do this do not want to die, they just want the pain to stop. They think suicide is the only way that happens. They are wrong. While the Apostle Peter did not arrange for Jesus to be arrested, he did abandon Jesus when He needed Peter the most. Then when confronted by the crowd, Peter cursed and said he didn’t even know who Jesus was. This too was a betrayal of Jesus. We know this because the Scripture tells us Peter, after realizing his failure, “went outside and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). He was experiencing what Judas was experiencing. He was hopeless. But Jesus, gave him hope. Jesus had told Peter before he ever sinned that this was going to happen and He also told Peter that Peter would return to Jesus. We see this precious return at the end of John’s Gospel when Jesus not only forgave Peter, but also reiterated to him that he was still useful in God’s work. That’s the point. Judas wrongly thought there was no hope even in the midst of the worse thing he could have possibly imagined doing. Peter understood that even when we do terrible things with terrible consequences, there is hope in Jesus. When no one else cares, Jesus cares. When all is lost, Jesus will save us. And when we think we want to die, Jesus will help us live. He will never leave us nor forsake us…and He is with us always even until the ends of the age. How cool is that? On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
6 minutes | 2 years ago
Getting What We Deserve? I Hope Not!
Did you know that when Jesus offered grace and forgave the woman who had been caught in adultery that He wasn’t necessarily disagreeing with the ones condemning her? Let’s take a few minutes to look at this amazing event. The story of Jesus and the unnamed woman who had been caught in the act of adultery is one of the most well-known and beloved of any events in the life of Christ. There is a reason that it resonates with us as we read this story found only in John’s Gospel. It is because we see the worst in humanity juxtaposed with the hope that can only be found in Christ. If you are unfamiliar with this event, let me recap it quickly for you. This story is located in and finds Jesus in a very familiar place, the Mt. of Olives just east of Jerusalem. Seen as a solitary place throughout the millennia, that serenity is broken when a large and raucous crowd drags a woman to where Jesus was in order to stone her to death. Her crime? According to the Scripture she had been, “caught in adultery, caught in the very act” (). The fact she had been caught in the act is important to this story. The Bible also tells us, however, that her death was not all they were seeking with their actions. John tells us the crowd initiated this course of events to test Jesus, “that they might have something of which to accuse Him” (). In other words, they were less interested in punishing the woman than they were trying to discredit Jesus. That was the nature of the test. If Jesus had rejected the Law of Moses, He would have been discredited by the people. Had He upheld the stoning by following the Law of Moses, He would have been seen as practicing the exact opposite idea of the love and compassion He had been teaching. The woman, then, in part, was a pawn. After they confronted Jesus with her undeniable guilt (remember she had been caught in the act…so this was not an accusation…it was a solid fact), they waited quietly for His response. The Scripture notes that Jesus is sitting on the ground and writing in the dirt with His finger when He responds to their query over whether the Law calls for the death of this adulteress. His response is arguably one of the most poignant and important sentences uttered in the history of the world. Jesus states, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (). John is quick to tell us that the crowd, having been “convicted by their conscience” (), one by one, began to file away. When Jesus asks the woman if there is anyone left that had condemned her, she states, “no one, Lord”. Jesus then finishes this amazing story by telling her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (). An extraordinary event with an extraordinary truth. A truth we might partially miss if we’re not paying attention. Like so much of what Jesus said and did, too many times this event is grossly oversimplified for the sake of telling a compelling story. Because of the way the narrative is constructed, it is easy to sort of miss the forest for the trees theologically speaking. We are supposed to notice two attitudes represented by two entities. The crowd represents lack of compassion, lack of forgiveness, and a heart of vindictiveness. Jesus represents the exact opposite. These two entities are antithetical to each other. However, if all that we get out of this event is that there are bad guys and a Good Guy and the Good Guy beats the bad guys…then we are missing the deeper truths here. Here is something that you may have never thought of before but is vital to seeing what God is trying to tell us via this event. Are you ready? The crowd was NOT wrong. If we dismiss everything they said as wrong because they are the bad guys, we will miss this part. What were they not wrong about? After they dragged the woman into Jesus’ presence and provided proof of the guilt of her sin, they said, “Moses, in the Law, commanded us that such should be stoned” (). Now, methodology aside, what they were saying was that this woman was caught in a sin and because of her sin, she needed to be punished. In fact, the punishment for this sin was death. She deserved to die because of her sin. You know Who else agrees with that basic, foundational truth? Jesus. Notice Jesus never says that the woman does not deserve to die for her sin. If He had done that, He would have contradicted His own teaching. The Book of Romans tells us that the wages of sin (all sin) is death (). Death is the penalty for all sin. Jesus is not amending that idea or changing that reality in this passage and that is the beauty of this narrative. People think that in this story, Jesus is de-emphasizing sin. He’s not. He’s re-emphasizing grace. Jesus is agreeing with the crowd that sin causes death, He merely expanded that idea to include all sin, even the sin of the condemning crowd. Sin is the most destructive force on the planet. It corrupts and destroys everything it touches. The crowd had grown too comfortable with their sin and Jesus uses this event to say that we all deserve death for sin, but that Jesus extends the grace, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion that can only be found in Him. And that we will always be comforted by God’s Word that reminds us, “But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us ().” How cool is that? SUPPLEMENTAL READINGS: ; ; ; ;
8 minutes | 2 years ago
Does God say yes or no to us?
When we ask God for something that He will always give us one of three possible answers? That’s right…three. Most people think He answers either yes or no, but stick around and we’ll talk about it, here on Five Minutes of Truth. Perhaps one of the most amazing and well-known of Jesus’ healings deals with an unnamed woman who simply longed to touch Jesus’ clothing. We know nothing about her except that she had been suffering from a bleeding issue for 12 years. This story, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke, states that the woman had “spent all she had on doctors yet could not be healed by any”. We are pretty familiar with her story. Seeing that Jesus was passing by surrounded by a throng of people the event as recorded in Mark’s Gospel tells us that the woman surmised “If I can just touch His robes, I’ll be made well”. Which is exactly what happened. She made her way through the crowd, touched a tassel on Jesus’ robe and was “instantly cured”. Jesus, knowing this had happened called the woman out of the crowd and asked her to tell this story which she did as “she came trembling and fell down before Him”. Jesus then does something unusual. In fact, in all of the Gospels, this is the only time He does this. He calls her “Daughter” but does so by using it as if it were her name…using it as a personal pronoun. Jesus commends her faith and that part of the story ends. But did you know that this story was, in fact, a part of a different story and a different request for Jesus to heal someone? Though this event is recorded in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, it’s the version in Luke chapter 8 that we are most interested in. If you back up just a few verses before the woman with the issue of blood is mentioned, we see the reason Jesus was walking near her in the first place. And it has to do with a plea from a man named Jairus. Jairus was a synagogue leader. Historical evidence seems to suggest that though this was a religious position, it did not mean that he was a Rabbi, Scribe or Pharisee. He was the overall leader of the synagogue sort of the way a CEO is in charge of their organization. It was a position of religious significance, cultural significance and power. It almost certainly meant that Jairus was also a very wealthy man. In fact, many believe that the Rich Young Ruler mentioned in the Gospels was also a synagogue ruler. So Jairus was a wealthy, religious, respected, powerful man in the local community. And his daughter was dying. Just before Jesus’ interaction with the bleeding woman, we see that Jairus came to Jesus and pleaded with Him to go to his house because his daughter “was at death’s door”. Jesus agreed, and began His journey with Jairus when He came across the woman who needed her own kind of healing. Now, let’s be clear. This could not have been an easy thing for Jairus to do. He was a member of the religious ruling class of the day. And for the most part, the religious ruling class of the day did not care for Jesus at all. In fact, it was this ruling class that would eventually ensure Jesus’ crucifixion. It was a risk for Jairus to do this, but his little girl was dying. He had heard the stories of Jesus’ miracles, I’m sure he had sought out doctors to no help, and he was desperate. He asked Jesus to heal his daughter. Here is where it gets interesting. Jairus knew that time was of the essence. Jesus was going with him to his home. As a father myself, it had to feel like every step was not nearly fast enough. And so, in this rush to get Jesus to his home, what happens? Jesus stops. He not only stops, but He engages with a woman who had touched His robe and been healed. As a reader of the Scripture, we are overjoyed to hear the story of this woman…but what must Jairus have been thinking? He had to be going out of his mind seeing Jesus delay in going to heal his daughter. What would happen if they were too late? Every second must have felt like an hour. And it turns out, they were too late. No sooner than the conversation with the woman ended, did Jairus get the news he feared the most. Someone came from Jairus’ house bearing the bad news, “Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the Teacher anymore”. Jesus then makes an extraordinary statement: “Fear not. Only believe and she will be made well”. What, you might ask, has this to do with what was said in the introduction? When we ask God for something, He gives us one of three answers. Sometimes He says ‘yes’. Sometimes He says ‘no’. And sometimes He says ‘wait’. Of the three, for all of us, ‘wait’ is the most difficult answer. But that’s because we don’t understand the wait. It’s never because He is too busy. It’s never because we have to take a number and wait our turn. It’s never because He forgot or has better things to do. It’s because there is something we have to learn about Him. Look more closely at Jairus. Jairus came to Jesus while his daughter was still alive. And so he must have been thinking that if he could get to Jesus before she died, there might be a chance. Jesus knew that his daughter would die before He got there…but Jairus didn’t. So Jesus needed to give him some hope. He stops to talk to a woman who had been sick for 12 years. The exact age of Jairus’ daughter. She had spent all of her money on doctors. I’m sure Jairus too spent a lot of money on doctors. He certainly didn’t run to Jesus at the first sign of sickness, that doesn’t make sense. While Jairus was worried about his daughter, Jesus actually calls the woman “Daughter”. Again…something that He never did in Scripture either before or after that. What does all of this mean? Jairus needed to understand the depth of Jesus’ power and Who He really was. It was clear from those who broke the bad news to him that Jairus had faith that Jesus could do something so long as his daughter lived. When they told him, “Don’t bother the Teacher anymore” Jairus had a choice. Trust Jesus or start mourning. He chose to trust Jesus. And I don’t think that would have been possible if he not seen Jesus’ miraculous interaction with the woman who had the issue of blood. That’s why Jesus said ‘wait’ to Jairus. Because that healing of the woman was as much for Jairus as it was for the woman. He will say ‘yes’ to us at times. He will even say ‘no’ to us at times. Often times He says ‘wait’. But the wait is never arbitrary. Even the waiting is for us so that we will be able to heed those words He spoke to Jairus when He said: “Fear not, only believe”. How cool is that? On behalf of myself, Robert Houghton and all of us here at Growth Project, keep reading God’s Word.
7 minutes | 2 years ago
The impossible sentence
Apostle Paul once uttered a sentence that is considered to be impossible? Did you also know that as Believers we often speak that same sentence? Stick around and we’ll talk about it, here on Five Minutes of Truth. Many of us remember the tragic story of Peter’s denial of Christ as espoused in all four of the Gospels. Jesus, prior […]
6 minutes | 2 years ago
Jesus is related to who?
Did you know that Jesus family tree actually includes a Gentile prostitute? Find out more in this episode of Five Minutes of Truth. Family is a funny thing. These are the people we care about the most, but who can also drive us completely insane at times. But one of the most interesting aspects about family is how those who […]
6 minutes | 2 years ago
Jesus Calms a Storm
When Jesus calmed the dangerous storm on the Sea of Galilee, that He not only was protecting His disciples but also explaining salvation to us? Stick around and we’ll talk about it, here on five minutes of truth. Most of us are probably familiar with one of the most famous of all of Jesus’ miracles…the calming of a storm that […]
6 minutes | 2 years ago
Woman at the well
Did you know that we can get so busy doing what we think God wants us to do, that it is extremely easy to miss what He actually wants us to do? Stick around and we’ll talk about it, here on 5 minutes of truth. Most of us, if not all of us, are very familiar with one of the […]
6 minutes | 2 years ago
A Miracle to hide Jesus?
You probably know that while on this planet, Jesus performed many miracles designed to show people Who He really was. But did you know that one time He performed a miracle to hide His identity? Stick around and we’ll talk about it. Here on five minutes of truth. There are a myriad of reasons why Jesus performed miracles while He […]
18 minutes | 2 years ago
The Armor of God (Growth Project Radio)
Growth Project Radio Preview. This episode is a snippet from Dr. Purvis’ other podcast Growth Project Radio. Its broadcast Live at 8pm EDT on our Facebook page. You can also find it on all podcast providers or visit www.growthproject.org for more information. www.growthproject.org/radio
8 minutes | 2 years ago
Moses and Water From a Rock
Did you know that God did not allow Moses to cross over into the Promised Land because Moses wouldn’t talk to a rock? Well…there’s a lot more to it than that. Stick around and we’ll talk about it, here on 5 minutes of truth. There are a lot of people in the Bible that we have a tendency to feel […]
8 minutes | 2 years ago
Jesus and the serpent
Did you know that Jesus once compared His crucifixion to a brass statue of a serpent attached to a metal pole in the middle of the desert? Stick around and we’ll talk about it…here on 5 minutes of truth. One of the most interesting elements of the four Gospels is how each Gospel is unique in its own way. Though […]
7 minutes | 2 years ago
Achan: Sin has a price
Achan: Sin has a price. Did you know that immediately after the Israelites defeated an impenetrable city called Jericho because of a miracle of God…that they then lost a battle to a small city because of the actions of a single person? Stick around and we’ll talk about it. Here on five minutes of truth. Many times people come to […]
7 minutes | 2 years ago
Promise Not Made
There are a myriad of amazing promises that God makes throughout the 66 books that make up the Bible. Putting aside the fact that the God Who spoke the universe into existence would make any promises at all to us, it is estimated (by some) that there are over 3,000 specific promises God makes throughout the Bible. Yet despite all […]
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