Thursday, March 04, 2010

2010 – Mar. 4 – Dining Separately

Study from God’s Word Lev 11: 46 – 47; Lev 11: 1-3; Deut 14: 3-5; Lev 11: 4-8; Deut 14: 6-8; Lev 11: 9-12; Deut 14: 9-10; Lev 11: 13-19; Deut 14: 11-18; Lev 11: 20-23; Deut 14: 19-20; Lev 11: 41-45; Lev 11: 24-38; Lev 20: 25-26; Lev 11: 39-40; Deut 14: 21a; Lev 17: 15-16; Ex 22: 31; Lev 17: 10-14, 7: 26-27, 19: 26a; Deut 12: 16, 12: 23-25; Lev 7: 22-25; Ex 23: 19b, 34: 26b; Deut 14: 21b; … Passage for Reflection: Leviticus 11: 47 … NIV 47 You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.

My Journal for Today: Today F. LaGard Smith had me into the study of ancient Jewish dietary laws and practices; and there is some debate as to whether God declared all these dietary restrictions for His people to protect their health or to separate their eating habits from those pagan cultures which surrounded them. Perhaps it was a lot of both; but most certainly the Jewish dietary restrictions did separate the Jews from other cultures; and we read of that illustrated in the Book of Daniel when Daniel was confronted by the Babylonian king/court with foods he decided not to eat because eating the foods would dishonor God (see Daniel 1: 8).

In today’s world there are religions, such as Muslims, who will not eat certain foods because of religious restrictions. When I was growing up, my best friends were Roman Catholic; and I found it fascinating that they would eat fish every Friday. And later in life, even now, we have Orthodox Jewish friends who “keep Kosher,” which certainly separates them from the world as we, here in the southlands, eat our barbecued pork and often devour shell fish, both of which are part of these Jewish dietary restrictions. So, what does this illustrate for us in our world today?

Well, as Smith points out in today’s devotional study, we unfortunately don’t separate ourselves as Christians often enough with the way we live. Oh, certainly some do … by dressing differently (such as kids today who dress in the “GOTH” style); or there are others who are “Vegans” and will not eat meat. But are these practices done to illustrate Godly values of modesty or sobriety which witness our Christian faith; or are they just practices which call attention to ourselves as being different as individuals in the world?

Again today Smith is right when he says, “Modesty, sobriety, and self-control are increasingly rare [Christian] virtues.” And as he also states, “Dressing oddly doesn’t necessarily make us separate – only odd. Eating strangely doesn’t make us separate – only strange. If we truly want to be seen as separate, it will come in our conversations and values … in our material possessions and financial priorities; … in what we listen to and what we watch.”

Yes, my friends, what we have to ask ourselves is this, “Are we living up to the standards of separation set up by the Apostle Paul, who instructed God’s people in Romans 12: 2 to avoid becoming like the world or from Jesus, Himself, Who charged His disciples to avoid loving the world (see 1st John 2: 15 and John 14: 21)?”

You know, as Smith points out, it’s interesting that we seem to intuitively know some things which would separate us from the world. For example, we know which jokes are “clean” jokes and which are “dirty” jokes. You probably can discern which activities are “just plain fun” and those which are “just plain filth.” The late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, as to whether a certain movie was to be ruled obscene, wrote, “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [i.e., that it was “pornographic”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it [i.e., pornography] when I see it.” I think you know which entertainment media we should be viewing and which dishonors God by our witness in seeing it.

Unfortunately there are way too many Christians who know that something is self destructive (such as smoking) or visually evil (such as pornography); but they do not separate themselves from the world by standing up and refusing to participate and giving witness that they do so avoid these things out of conviction – just like Daniel refused to eat the food the Babylonians desired for him because he knew he must remain separate from the world and honor God’s way of living.

May we be “anointed” (i.e., set apart) for God’s glory by the way we live, … yes, even by the way we eat. May we stand up and be counted for righteousness in a world which is pushing us ever more to accept evil or sinful practices. At the water cooler this week when a co-worker is saying that we should just let homosexuals get married, what will be your response? When someone wants you to take a drink to join them at dinner in their home when your sobriety is a witness to your faith, what will be your decision? As the world demands us to be more and more tolerant of what God’s word teaches is evil, how will we separate ourselves for God’s glory?

My Prayer for Today: Lord, may I have the courage of my conviction and commitment to Your ways and living for Your glory. Amen

No comments: