“I never knew you!” September 28

 

I never knew you

I can’t imagine anything worse than believing you are alright with God and when you stand before Him, hear these words, “I never knew you.” Could it happen to you?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 47 & 48
Psalm 111.7-10
Proverbs 26.11-12
Galatians 6.1-18

 

I never knew you!

 

Isaiah 47 & 48:

Trusting in Self, False Gods or Sorceries

 

In chapter 47, the Babylonians thought they were strong and secure and untouchable. They trusted in themselves, their false gods, and their sorceries. They had set themselves against God and would soon be judged.

Like the Babylonians many today are busy enjoying their ease and success and power. Many of them have set themselves against God. They belittle His people as weak and God as merely a crutch. They want to make their own rules. Their first commandment is “Thou shalt not be intolerant of anything I want to do!” Even when they claim to believe in Him, they pervert the Word of God, twisting it to make it say the opposite of what it does.

They wrongly interpret God’s patience and tolerance.

“They have lied about the LORD and said, ‘He won’t bother us! No disasters will come upon us. There will be no war or famine’” (Jer. 5.12 NLT).

Instead of seeing God’s patience and mercy as an opportunity to repent, they decide there will never be a day of accounting.

 

Wheat, Tares, and Hypocrites

 

Then in chapter 48, God speaks to those who call themselves His people. Though He continues to assure them that He will not utterly destroy them because of His mercy and grace, he promises to judge those who hypocritically claim to believe one thing while practicing another.

In the New Testament Jesus told “the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares.” He acknowledged there are many tares, unbelievers, growing alongside the wheat, believers. But he said:

“Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn’” (Matt. 13.30).

Many, even in our churches, are in danger of hearing the shocking truth when they stand before Him:

“‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7.23).

 

Test Yourselves

 

Paul said in our New Testament reading, “But let each one examine his own work …” (Gal. 6.4). And in his instructions for taking the Lord’s Supper:  Continue reading

“Could what God hates be part of your life?” September 27

 

Could something God hates be part of your life?God puts contention, jealousy and envy in the same list as adultery, fornication and idolatry! Don’t let what God hates be part of your life!

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 45 & 46
Psalm 111.1-6
Proverbs 26.10
Galatians 5.1-26

 

Could what God hates be part of your life?

 

Galatians 5.1-26:

What God Hates

 

There is so much in this chapter. Be sure to read MacArthur’s Daily Bible notes, especially the explanation of each of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit.

But verses 19-21 contain another list:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders,drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Notice that contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions and envy are in the middle of that list! And verse 21 says, “… those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Continue reading

Blended Families Part 5: Favoritism and Other Four-Letter Words + LINKUP

 

We've been talking about the challenges blended families face and also some of the ways their struggles are common to us all. Today we're going to look at one of the biggest issues parents, step-parents, and children face when two families become one ... favoritism. - We've been talking about the challenges blended families face and also some of the ways their struggles are common to us all. Today we're going to look at one of the biggest issues parents, step-parents, and children face when two families become one ... favoritism.

 

Blended Families Part 5: Favoritism and Other Four-Letter Words

 

We’ve been talking about the challenges blended families face and also some of the ways their struggles are common to us all. Today we’re going to look at one of the biggest issues parents, step-parents, and children face when two families become one … favoritism. We’ll also look at the need to view the blended family as one and how to avoid having a child-centered home.

In the last blog, I said the overarching goal of blending a family and for all of life is to please God (2 Cor. 5.9)—not to get along, not to have our needs met, not to feel loved or appreciated, but to please God.

I also discussed the importance of biblically loving one another, rather than merely getting along or even liking each other (Blended Families Part 3). And last week I started discussing the priority of the husband and wife relationship (Blended Families Part 4). Today we’ll look at some specific ways we can strengthen the marriage relationship, even while handling tough parenting issues.

 

Joe’s & Liz’s Story

 

Do you remember Joe and Liz (Blended Families Part 4)? Week-ends were rough with the added dynamic of Joe’s son from his previous marriage. How might they plan to have a better week-end the next time Joe’s son is with them?

 

Praying Together for God’s Wisdom

 

James 1.2-8 says:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

God promises to give wisdom to those who ask in faith and have a heart that’s willing to obey. And later in his epistle James added, “You do not have because you do not ask God” (Jas. 4.2). Parents in blended families need wisdom and, yet, how often do we actually stop and ask?

Failure to ask for God’s help and wisdom is foolishness, at best, and more often a form of pride, since we’re really saying, “Lord, I don’t need Your help. I can figure this out for myself!” It’s so easy to think the way that seems right to us is the right way. But Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14.12). Whether we’re faced with a stressful, potentially mine-filled week-end or just day-to-day events, we should be praying regularly for God’s wisdom.

 

Family Not Families

 

It’s important to see your family as one and your children as yours jointly and to prayerfully make decisions as a team. Practice taking time to talk over issues, in advance, considering the needs of all the children and your family as a whole. It’s especially important not to make special rules for children who aren’t in the household full time or to favor your biological children over your step-children.

 

Favoritism … The Other F-Word

 

Favoritism is quite possibly the biggest destroyer of the blended family. It weakens the husband and wife relationship, hinders the step-parent’s relationship with the other children, and leads to anger and bitterness. And, ironically, it often hurts the favored child as much as anyone else. Trust me on this one; it will create chaos and can drive a wedge between family members faster than you can imagine.  Continue reading

“Parental Legalism” September 26

 

parentingCould you be guilty of parental legalism? Parental legalists often focus on behavior as opposed to the heart. If we make Christianity all about “the law,” we may fail to help our children understand their need for genuine heart change and a personal relationship with Christ.

Also read about:

  • How and how not to communicate with a person who is acting like a fool.
  • And the foolishness of idolatry, even the kind you may be practicing.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 43 & 44
Psalm 110.1-7
Proverbs 26.5-9
Galatians 4.1-31

 

Parental Legalism

 

Galatians 4.1-31:

The Importance of Getting to the Heart

 

I’ve been talking about legalism for several days now. Remember the Judaizers or legalists had come in trying to impose their brand of religion on the Galatians. As human beings we love having a set of rules to follow instead of allowing God to make a change in our hearts or the hearts of others.

Lou Priolo in his book The Heart of Anger talks about how we do this with our children. We make our rules (be in bed at 8.30; you can’t watch that TV show; no dating until you are 16; don’t talk with food in your mouth) on the same par with God’s commands (love God with all your heart; love your neighbor as yourself; do not lie; do not steal, etc.).

It’s not that children shouldn’t obey the rules their parents lay down for them (one of God’s commands is “children obey your parents in the Lord …” Eph. 6.1-3), but we must help our children understand that those are temporary rules for the household and not God’s law. Otherwise we run the risk of either making little Pharisees of our children or causing them to view Christianity as a legalistic religion instead of a relationship with Christ. Without that personal relationship with God, many of our kids will turn away from the things of God once they’re out of our homes.

Instead we need to lovingly teach our children to obey us as God’s temporary authority in their lives, while teaching them the truths and freedoms and principles of a genuine relationship with God and helping them see their need for the Savior. He is the only One who can ultimately change their hearts.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 43 & 44:

Idolatry … It’s Not Just Carved Images!

 

In chapter 44.10-17 Isaiah points out the foolishness of idolatryContinue reading

“Kept by Grace” September 25

 

Kept by Grace - No amount of good works can make us right with God. And just as we are saved by grace through faith, we are kept by grace.No amount of good works can make us right with God. And just as we are saved by grace through faith, we are kept by grace.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 41 & 42
Psalm 109.26-31
Proverbs 26.3-4
Galatians 3.1-29

 

Kept by Grace

 

Galatians 3.1-29:

Saved by Grace and Kept by Grace

 

Verse 21, “… if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.”

I touched on this a couple of days ago when I talked about how we are all legalists at heart. We are so prone to believe that if we are somehow just good enough, we can be right with God. So often when you ask people why they think they will go to heaven, they will say “because I’m a pretty good person. I’m not perfect, but I haven’t murdered anyone.”

But Romans tells us, “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom.3.10). We cannot be right with God on our own. As Jesus told us in John 3, we must be born again by the Spirit of God. We must accept Christ’s sacrifice and payment for our sin.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2.8-9).

Just as we are saved by grace through faith in the Son and what He did for us, so we are kept by the power of God, not by any works which we do. Ephesians 2.10 tells us that the fruit of a changed life will produce good works, but they cannot make us righteous. Good works flow from our righteousness in Him and our love for Him, but they cannot produce it.

 


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 41 & 42:

His Care for the Faithful

 

Chapter 41 was written to warn those in Israel, who persisted in idolatry, but also to encourage and comfort those who remained faithful to the One True God. Chapter 42 contains many prophesies about the Messiah. Jesus quoted from this chapter in Matthew 12 speaking about Himself (Matt. 12.17-21).  Continue reading

Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 4: Friendships & Counselors

 

Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 4: Friends & Counselors - In this post we're going to talk about our associations, especially our friendships and who we listen to when we seek advice, either formally or informally. Often we learn too late that going our own way or listening to the wisdom of fools leads to disaster and heartache. Could you be listening to advice that may sound good, but could take you farther from God and His purposes for your life? Could it even endanger you, your marriage, your other relationships, or even your relationship with God?The Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom and its flip side, foolishness. In this series we’re looking at what it means to be wise and, by comparison, what it means to be foolish and how to recognize the difference.

 

Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 4

Friendships & Counselors

 

woman of God

As I said in the first post (read it here), while I’m specifically addressing this to us as women, these truths are for everyone: young and old, men, women, and children.

 

wise woman

Our foundational Scripture is Proverbs 14.1 which says:

The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

 

wisdom

Our working definition of wisdom is, “wisdom is the right application of truth.” It’s not only knowing the truth, but applying it to the everyday situations of our lives!


Friendships & Counselors


In previous posts we talked about our tongues along with wise listening and in the last post we talked about wise attitudes toward money and “stuff.”

In this post we’re going to talk about our associations, especially our friendships and who we listen to when we seek advice, either formally or informally.

Often we learn too late that going our own way or listening to the advice of fools leads to disaster and heartache. Could you be listening to advice that may sound good, but could take you farther from God and His purposes for your life? Could it endanger you, your marriage, your other relationships, or even your relationship with God?


Good or Bad Advice 


The Bible has a lot to say about the person who tries to go it alone and never listens to anyone.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice (Prov. 12.15 ESV).

Wise advice is a great blessing, but bad advice can lead us over a cliff. It’s tempting to surround ourselves with people who think like us, rather than people who challenge us to change and grow. We like friends who will listen to “our side of the story” and sympathize with us … people who will tell us what we want to hear instead of what we may need to hear.  Continue reading

“Are you ready?” September 24

 

Are you ready? - Mark 13.33, “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” Jesus is coming back. He told us about the signs pointing to His return and said to watch and pray. Are you watching? Are you praying? Are you ready?Mark 13.33, “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.” Jesus is coming back. He told us about the signs pointing to His return and said to watch and pray. Are you watching? Are you praying? Are you ready?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 39 & 40
Psalm 109.21-25
Proverbs 26.2
Galatians 2.1-21

 

Are you ready?

 

Isaiah 39 & 40:

At Least It Will Be Good for Me

 

Hezekiah made me think of some of our politicians. He has just been told that his actions are going to cost his children and grandchildren dearly. Look at his response. Isaiah 39:

5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts. 6 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD. 7 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”

8 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”

 

He who Weighs the Mountains

 

Chapter 40 makes we wonder afresh if we really understand the awesomeness of God:

12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance?
13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding?

Though the Bible is not primarily a book about science, where it does speak of science or any other subject, it is truth! “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth …” (v. 22). He told us the earth was round long before science figured it out!

Although many theories laid out by sinful, unredeemed men contradict the Bible (remember it’s the theory of evolution), true science does not!

Chapter 40 goes on:

26 Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing.

Just look up! The heavens declare His majesty. The order and magnificence of the universe speaks of a Creator. The intricacies of the human body alone confirm to anyone who wants the truth that nothing happened by mere chance.

God is upholding everything! He “brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name.” The host—all the stars and planets and all the universes that exist, do so because He created them, He already knows just how many there are even as we continue to discover new ones. He has already named each one of them. Just as He declared what a set of pagan parents would name their son (King Cyrus) a hundred and fifty years before, so He pre-ordained the name of each star and planet and solar system.

And if that’s not enough, it’s His power which holds each one in its place, “by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.” But one day that will all change and the events going on in the world today point to the fact that it could happen anytime! Mark 13:  Continue reading

“Are you a legalist?” September 23

 

Are you a legalist? - I've heard it said that we are all legalists at heart. Are you a legalist? You might be surprised at the subtle ways we fall into it. Also read about: Hezekiah's amazing prayer and how we can pray the same way. One way to start preparing for 2017 and get your time with God off to a good start.

I’ve heard it said that we are all legalists at heart. Are you a legalist? You might be surprised at the subtle ways we fall into it.

Also read about:

  • Hezekiah’s amazing prayer and how we can pray the same way.
  • One way to start preparing for 2017 and get your time with God off to a good start.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 37 & 38
Psalm 109.14-20
Proverbs 26.1
Galatians 1.1-24

 

Are you a legalist?

 

Galatians 1.1-24:

If I Do “A” …

 

The Galatians, who had received the Gospel of salvation by grace, had been infiltrated by Judaizers, men who wanted to impose their own legalistic requirements on them. It’s as if someone came into your church or mine and began to hold his own Bible study telling people they are not really saved unless they’ve been baptized, or unless they become vegetarians, get circumcised, take communion every week, worship on a certain day, or some other list of requirements. It may sound foolish, but if you don’t know the truth and have it firmly fixed in your mind, you will fall for anything!

Legalism is much easier to fall into than we might think, but sometimes it shows up in very subtle ways. Many people who sit in church every week, when asked if they are sure they’ll get to heaven will say “yes,” but when asked why, will say “because I’m a pretty good person.”

What is that? It’s salvation by works. It’s legalism! They may have received the gospel on an intellectual level, but in their hearts believe they must add something to it, and certainly must do something to keep themselves saved.

How else does it show up?  Continue reading

“The Test of Genuine Faith” September 22

 

Test Yourself “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13.5 NASB). In today’s New Testament reading the Apostle Paul talks about the test of genuine faith.

In today’s other readings read about:

  • The schemes of the enemy & how the devil wraps up sin so deceptively.
  • Imprecatory prayer.
  • The result of the failure to exercise self-control.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 35 & 36
Psalm 109.6-13
Proverbs 25.27-28
2 Corinthians 13.1-14

 

2 Corinthians 13.1-14:

What is the test of genuine faith?

 

In chapter 12 in yesterday’s readings Paul wrote:

“For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced” (12.20-21).

After that sharp rebuke, the Apostle wrote:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13.5 NASB).

As believers, we can and do sin, but genuine believers will experience conviction and, eventually, repent. If we can sin without any conviction, we too, should examine ourselves to see if we are really saved. A redeemed life will produce good fruit. Jesus said, “You will know a tree by its fruit” (Lk. 6.44). And John the Baptist warned the Pharisees, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Lk. 3.8).

No amount of “good fruit,” what is often called good works, can save us. The Prophet Isaiah said, “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” (Is. 64.6). Paul said, “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” Romans 3.20 and when writing to the Ephesians he said:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph. 2.8-9).

We are saved by God’s grace when we put our faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross. But Paul when on to say in the next verse:

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Eph. 2.10).

While good works cannot save us, the result of a changed life is good works or fruit.

It will vary in degree and amount and even the speed with which it is produced, but that fruit should include:  Continue reading

“Heaven is Real, But …” September 21

 

heaven is read pinterest

Heaven is real, but are we too quick to believe every personal account of someone saying they have been there? We might need to read what the Apostle Paul said about His encounter with heaven.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 33 & 34
Psalm 109.1-5
Proverbs 25.25-26
2 Corinthians 12.1-21

 

Heaven is Real, but …

 

2 Corinthians 12.1-21:

Caught Up into Paradise

 

While Paul was not one of the original twelve apostles; he was a true apostle, because he was taught personally by the Lord. Here in chapter 12 he talks of being taken up to the “third heaven” either literally or in a vision. The things God spoke to him there were so incredible, that he was given a “thorn in the flesh” to help him keep his feet on the ground and remember that it was all about God and, like all of us, he was just a vessel.

But let’s look again at the first few verses:

It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven. And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Verse 4 caught my eye in light of some books and movies that have come out in recent years.

Paul said he heard, “inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” If the great Apostle was not permitted to share what he saw of heaven, it certainly should make us question the validity and claims of those who say they did and are telling all about it! Heaven is real, but perhaps we need to be cautious about believing any personal accounts. What are your thoughts on the subject?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 33 & 34:

God’s Provision for the Faithful

 

Chapter 33.15-16 says:

15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil.
16 He will dwell on high;
His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.

Even in the midst of God’s judgment, He makes provision for those who remain faithful.  Continue reading