Chapter 27 ends with the list of David’s closest advisers. It says in verse 33, “Ahithophel was the king’s counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king’s companion.” These two men were probably David’s two closest friends, people he trusted and confided in. But sadly, one of them would later betray him. David wrote about it in Psalm 55. Verses 12-14 recall the anguish he felt:
12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. 13 But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.
The psalmists experienced the same struggles and disappointments we do. Perhaps you have experienced some betrayal by a friend or even a spouse. Maybe you’re undergoing some other kind of hurt or rejection. If so, go to the psalms and find comfort from God’s Word, knowing that others have gone through similar things and come out the other side.
While God through His Word can bring us great comfort, His work in us doesn’t stop there. He wants to grow and change us through our trials, even when we are deeply hurt. In the process, He may use us to bring either restoration to the relationship or conviction to the offender. Continue reading →
Verse 25.1, “Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals.”
The passage goes on to tell us there were 288 singers, plus musicians and support staff, 4,000 in all! What a music ministry that must have been! There were people singing and praising the Lord all the time!
And when I read the Psalms and other passages of Scripture, it appears to me there is lots of praise and lots of music in heaven. I believe God loves to receive our heartfelt praises often expressed through music and singing.
How do you view that time in the service where the truths of God are being proclaimed through music and song? Do you see it as just the prelude to the service, something to be enjoyed “if you make it on time”? Do you purposely arrive late to avoid it? Or do you see it as a time when you really focus on God and worship Him? Do you allow the words of the songs to penetrate your heart? Do you “think about” and “meditate on” the words you’re singing? Or have you allowed it to become “vain repetition“?
Let’s ask God to give us a “right spirit” where praise and worship are concerned. Continue reading →
Verse 1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
I’m frequently asked what the Bible says about drinking. I usually explain that the Bible does not condemn all drinking, but it does condemn drunkenness, specifically. And it gives us other passages to guide our decisions in this area. Here are 3 from Paul’s epistles:
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Cor. 10.23).
“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor. 6.12).
“It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (Rom. 14.21).
Discerning God’s Will
So we need to ask ourselves several questions as we consider whether or not we should drink: Continue reading →
Is baptism really that important? Does it save us? What is the difference between infant baptism and believer’s baptism? What about those who have never heard the gospel? Is God limited by natural circumstances when revealing Himself?
In Acts 8 we meet an Ethiopian eunuch who was reading the Prophet Isaiah and seeking to understand what it meant. As a eunuch, he would not have been accepted by the Jews, but God saw his heart and sent Philip to share the gospel with this genuine seeker.
Verse 35 says, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.”
Jesus Christ and God’s salvation through Him is the ultimate theme of both the Old and the New Testaments. It’s one continuing story—His-story.
The Importance of Believer’s Baptism
Verse 37 reminds us of the importance of “believer’s baptism.” When the eunuch asked if he could be baptized, Philip said, “‘…If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'” Notice Philip said, “if you believe.”
If you have not been baptized since you came to saving faith in Christ, I would encourage you to take that step of obedience. While baptism doesn’t save us (Eph. 2.8-9), we are commanded to be baptized once we have come to saving faith (Acts 2.38).
Infant baptism is not the same. When a baby is baptized that is a decision his or her parents make. We are not saved by being born into a Christian family. Each of us must come to that point of decision for ourselves. Believer’s baptism is a public declaration of our personal decision to put our faith and trust in the gospel and should be one of our first steps of obedience. Continue reading →
We live in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, instead of finding satisfaction, we often find ourselves asking, “Is this all there is?”
In this portion of the psalm, the psalmist talks of the people’s dissatisfaction with God’s provision. It’s easy to point our fingers and shake our heads when we read passages like this, but how like us they were!
Proverbs 27.20 says, “Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
We are living in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. Even those of us living relatively modest lives are abundantly blessed compared to many other nations, and yet, it is so easy to look around and want more, to look around and say “why does God seem to be blessing her and not me.” Or “if only I had such and such” life would be so much better.
We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, we are easily bored. “Is this all there is?” has been the theme of numerous books, movies and songs.
Psalm 90.14 in the American Standard Version says:
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
We need to pray regularly that our hearts will be satisfied in God, the only true source of satisfaction, and not look to the world for it!
The chronicler continues to recount the story of David’s reign. In today’s reading he emphasizes God’s promise to David that his son would sit on the throne after him. It had a near application in Solomon and a messianic application, as well.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource.
This week’s selection is Preparing for Marriage by David Boehi, Brent Nelson, Jeff Schulte & Lloyd Shadrach, published by Family Life Ministries.
You know how it goes. We meet. Fall in love. Get married. And live happily ever after.
At least that’s what we all expect. No one marries expecting to be a divorce statistic, but sadly, the rate of divorce isn’t all that different among Christian couples than it is with unbelievers.
That shouldn’t be the case and it doesn’t have to be, but it takes preparation. Preparation that is often neglected in the midst of choosing caterers and venues. Many couples spend months, even longer, preparing for a wedding and little, if any, time preparing to be married!
My husband and I taught a preparing for marriage class for a number of years. After using various materials, we found this book and the couples who currently teach the class still use it.
The book is a combination book and workbook. The best way to use it, is for each person to complete a chapter or project on their own, then to spend some time discussing it together. It can be worked through by a couple on their own or with a mentor couple. It can also be used as a small group or classroom study.
If you did a heart check, how would you describe your heart attitude this past week? In your relationships with others? How about before Sunday worship? How have you approached God privately? Do you worship God in spirit and in truth? Do you obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart?
In Chapter 15 we find David once again preparing to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, but this time he does it in a way that is honoring to God. Whether he spent time reading the scrolls or talking to the priests, he had learned the importance of following God’s instructions for moving it.
Sometimes we, too, have a heart to do something for God, but we jump out there and do it without really seeking to understand if it’s the way He wants it done or if it’s even His will. Instead of prayerfully seeking Him, we go do our own thing and then ask God to bless our plan.
Everything the Israelites did in regard to the ark was part of their worship, recognizing that He is God and remembering to reverence Him.
In Spirit and Truth
When it comes to worship, we can be thankful that we have a new and better covenant as the book of Hebrews tells us. We are no longer under the ceremonial law with all of its restrictions and prohibitions (like “don’t touch the ark, unless you’re a Levite”). But the Old Testament laws were given so that we might better understand who God is.
In this case, that He is a holy God and should be honored as such. Continue reading →
Reading through the Bible is a great goal and worth persevering through. To quote that great philosopher Dory, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim.”
That’s true with many other areas of life, as well, not because we’re swimming on our own or reliant on our own strength, but because the Christian life requires perseverance and faithfulness.
It includes our parenting which we’ll talk a little more about today, in particular, about sharing our testimony with our children in ways that are reasonably transparent, yet wise. It also includes our willingness to check our hearts, repent and turn away from sin lest we end up on a downward spiral of sin and consequences.
God allows us to see the men and women He uses with all their warts and failings:
Verse 14.3, “Then David took more wives in Jerusalem, and David begot more sons and daughters.”
Remember kings had been specifically commanded not to take multiple wives (Deut. 17.17). Even though God allowed him to do so, He didn’t condone it. And the history of his life and family reveals the horrible consequences, including: infighting, jealousy, incest, and murder. So don’t be tempted to think the men and women in the Bible somehow got a pass on sin.
As a pastor friend of ours used to say, “You can choose to sin, but you don’t get to choose the consequences.”
Someone else has said:
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay”– unknown
The title of this psalm is “A Contemplation of Asaph.” A contemplation is “something to think about.”
Verse 4 reminds the people to tell their children the stories of their history and what God had done. Verses 6-7:
6 That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, 7 That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments;
We, too, should tell our stories to our children, being “reasonably” transparent about our own mistakes. I say “reasonably” transparent because they don’t need all the gory details. Make sure what you share is age appropriate.
We should remind them of God’s grace, mercy, and blessings in our lives, even though in may cases, He allowed us to suffer the consequences of our foolish or sinful behavior.
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life (Gal. 6.7-8).
Share the grace and mercy of God in saving you and setting your feet on the right path.
We should be transparent, too, when we sin or have sinned against them in some way, either directly or indirectly by arguing or acting selfishly in front of them. We should be willing to admit our sins and seek their forgiveness.
A Word of Caution
I’d like to offer a word of caution about sharing your past with your children. First ask yourself about your own attitude toward Your sinful past. Kevin Johnson who co-wrote The Peacemaker Student Edition says: Continue reading →
Could you explain the basics of the faith? How do we know we can trust the Bible? Why did Jesus have to die? How is a person saved? If you had the opportunity to share your faith, would you know how to answer those questions?
Stephen was taken before the Sanhedrin and falsely accused of blasphemy and here in chapter 7, instead of answering directly, Stephen began to speak the truth of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had said:
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” ( Matthew 10.16-20).
We are living in a society where more and more restrictions are being placed on believers in our schools, in the workplace, and in the civic arena. It seems many in our culture want to give freedom of religion and expression to everyone except believers in Jesus Christ. While we need to be respectful of our civil laws, teach our children to respect authority in their schools and elsewhere, and be the best possible employees, we must sometimes risk censure to speak the truth to a lost world. When we do, we must do it out of a desire to please God and a love for the lost and not self-righteousness or an argumentative attitude.
Though we may not be killed for doing so, there will be times when it will be costly. We should pray that God will help us be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” as Jesus said in Matthew 10. For instance, we can take a co-worker to lunch instead of sharing the gospel at work and we need to be informed of our freedoms under the law and take advantage of them. Many people keep quiet because they are uninformed about the freedoms they do have.
The Basics of the Faith
We also need to learn to defend our faith. Many of us hold back because we don’t even know why we believe what we do. It doesn’t mean you have to have a degree in theology, but we should all know the basic tenets of our faith!
1 Chronicles parallels 2 Kings and repeats much of the same narrative story, but because of the viewpoint of the return from Babylon, it emphasizes certain points. So as I said yesterday, don’t be confused by the repetition.
Notice in 11.41 in the list of David’s mighty men—those who served him so well—the name Uriah the Hittite. He was the husband of Bathsheba. David’s sin of adultery and murder would have been bad enough no matter who Uriah had been, but it was aggravated by the fact that Uriah was a loyal associate.
Yet, though there were consequences, some of which affected David for the rest of his life, Continue reading →
Are you inside God’s circle of blessings or have you put yourself on the outside? When we put ourselves outside of God’s circle of blessings, we risk shortening our lives and opening ourselves to God’s discipline.
Verse 16, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.”
The Puritan Pastor Matthew Henry said about this verse, those who make it a lifestyle to keep God’s commandments, “secure their present peace and future bliss, and provide every way well for themselves.”
It made me think of a very simple illustration we use when counseling children. We call it the “Circle of Blessings” based on Ephesians 6.1-3:
¹ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.
When children obey and honor their parents, things tend to go well with them and God promises a long life, but the opposite is also true. When they put themselves outside of God’s circle of blessings, things, generally, don’t go well with them and they risk shortening their lives.
You can quickly draw this out on a piece of paper or a white board as you talk about Ephesians 6.1-3. This is a simple illustration that helps children understand the passage, but the same principle is at work in our lives. When we keep our Heavenly Father’s commandments and honor Him, things tend to go well with us. When we reject the commandments and wisdom of God, we put ourselves outside of God’s circle of blessings. We, too, risk shortening our lives and opening ourselves to His discipline.
If you think of the Bible as being written chronologically, today’s reading and much of what follows may seem confusing. But the Bible is not put together chronologically, as far as the various books go. And at times, as in Chronicles, it repeats things that were previously recorded with a slightly different perspective.
It may help to remember that Chronicles was probably written by Ezra. He was a priest who came back to Jerusalem after they had been in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. So he was writing from the perspective of the return and how life was so dramatically different from how it was during the reigns of David and Solomon. This portion covers the genealogy of the people who were returning and emphasizes the reign of David.
The last two verses of chapter 10 are worth meditating on:
13 So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. 14 But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.
Even though Saul committed suicide, God had allowed the situation in which he found himself (about to be captured and probably tortured) as a consequence of his sin. Notice the sins delineated all involved his lack of trust in the sovereignty of God. He refused to believe that doing things God’s way was best and sought to know the future apart from waiting on God to reveal it at the proper time.
The psalmist starts out “This is my anguish …,” but turns his thoughts to God and begins to remind himself of God’s faithfulness in the past, “I will remember,” “I will also meditate,” and “I will talk of Your deeds.” Then he recounts the great things God has done.
Have you ever tried writing your own psalm? This would be a great way to spend some of your devotional time if you’re struggling with discouragement of any kind.
This passage points to the importance of the ministry of helps. When others use their gifts, it frees those who are called to the five-fold ministry, such as pastors and teachers, to do what God has called them to do—that is pray and study God’s Word.
Facing Religious Persecution
But there are other great truths contained in this portion of Scripture. Let’s look at verse 15:
“And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.”
Stephen faced the anger and persecution of an angry religious mob, with a peace and calm that demonstrated his complete trust and reliance on God.
Jesus said in Matthew 10.18-20:
18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
What a great promise!
What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:
Have you ever faced religious persecution? How did you respond? How would you like to respond in the future? I hope you will share your story with us.
Read several of the Psalms, then try writing your own. After you’ve shared your honest emotions with God, turn your attention to other times when God has shown Himself faithful. Use a concordance or go to Bible Gateway and look for verses that speak to your situation. Share your experiences and insights in the comments section at the end of the blog.
Where are you in regard to the “Circle of Blessings”? Are you inside that circle or have you put yourself outside?
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