“Money for Money’s Sake” August 28

 

Money for Money's Sake - Money without peace, contentment, and someone to share it, money for money's sake, is futility. And if we take it for granted or live like there is no tomorrow, we may find we are working only to give it away or wake up and find it all gone.Money without peace, contentment, and someone to share it, money for money’s sake, is futility. And if we take it for granted or live like there is no tomorrow, we may find we are working only to give it away or wake up and find it all gone.

 

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 4-6
Psalm 102.18-28
Proverbs 24.5-6
1 Corinthians 9.1-27

 

Money for Money’s Sake

 

Ecclesiastes 4-6:

Money without Peace & Contentment

 

In this portion of Ecclesiastes, Solomon begins talking about the futility of money for money’s sake.

Better a handful with quietness 
Than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind (4.6).

What good is an abundance of money with no peace or contentment?

There is one alone, without companion:
He has neither son nor brother.
Yet there is no end to all his labors,
Nor is his eye satisfied with riches.
But he never asks,
“For whom do I toil and deprive myself of good?”
This also is vanity and a grave misfortune (4.8).

What good is much success and no one to share it with?

woman with hand over mouthChapter 5 also warns us to be careful with our words.

“Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands?” (5.6).

How easy it is to let our mouths get us in trouble!

There is also a warning against discontent and greed. Look at verse 10 in the New Living Translation:

Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness! (5.10).

And chapter 6 warns against taking the blessings of God for granted.

2 A man to whom God has given riches and wealth and honor, so that he lacks nothing for himself of all he desires; yet God does not give him power to eat of it, but a foreigner consumes it. This is vanity, and it is an evil affliction (6.2)

We might say it this way: it’s better to find peace and contentment with a modest income than to be constantly working to pay a huge mortgage and trying to keep our heads above water, while appearing to “have it all.” Continue reading

“Freedom & Stumbling Blocks” August 27

 

Freedom & Stumbling Blocks - FREEDOM … we love it and in Christ we have a great deal of Christian liberty, but we are also called to love and prefer others. So how much freedom are you willing to give up out of love for your spouse or your brother or sister in Christ?FREEDOM … we love it and in Christ we have a great deal of Christian liberty, but we are also called to love and prefer others. So how much freedom are you willing to give up out of love for your spouse or your brother or sister in Christ?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 3
Psalm 102.1-17
Proverbs 24.3-4
1 Corinthians 8.1-13

 

Freedom & Stumbling Blocks

 

1 Corinthians 8.1-13:

Stumbling Blocks & the Cause of Christ

 

We love freedom. And we should. Christ suffered and died to set us free from the power and penalty of sin. His truth and grace sets us free from both religious legalism and the hopelessness that a life of sin can bring. But freedom, though precious and valuable, should be used carefully. Paul said it this way:

“… beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak” (v. 9).

And he ends this chapter with these thoughts:

And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble (vss. 12-13 NLT).

blond womanWhat are you willing to give up for your weaker brothers and sisters? What are you willing to forego for the cause of Christ?

Are you willing to give up that glass of wine? Or the latest movie?

Ladies, are you willing to quit wearing that new blouse if it might tempt your brother in Christ with wrong thoughts? Or your sister in Christ to wonder where her husband’s eyes are going?

Men, are you willing to forego going out with the guys and doing something you consider harmless if it causes your spouse distress?  Continue reading

“Heroes, Culture & Your Treasure” August 26

 

Heroes, Culture & Your Treasure - Where is your treasure? Before you answer ... Who are your heroes? What do you enjoy reading more—your Bible or People magazine? On what game show would you do better—The American Bible Challenge or a pop culture version? What does all that say about where your heart or, as Jesus said, where your treasure is?Who captivates your attention? What do you spend your time reading? On what kind of game show would you want to compete? What do the answers to those questions have to do with where you have put  your treasure? Before you answer … you might want to read today’s post!

 

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 1 & 2
Psalm 102.1-11
Proverbs 24.1-2
1 Corinthians 7.20-40

 

Heroes, Culture & Your Treasure

 

Proverbs 24.1-2:

Where is your treasure?

 

Verse 1, “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.”

Perhaps your first thought was like mine, “I don’t hang out with evil people.” I go to church and hang out with my Christian friends. I don’t go out drinking. I try to avoid gossip. In fact, the list of ways I obey God might be long in my mind.

But just as we learn and grow from the good influence of mature believers, even those who have already gone to be with the Lord, by reading their books and watching or listening to them through all kinds of media … so we can be influenced by ungodly people.

People MagWho captivates your attention? Is it Hollywood celebrities or committed Christians? Do you spend more time reading your Bible, Christian biographies and other Christian books … or People magazine and the hottest new novel? Would you do better at The American Bible Challenge or a pop culture version? Do you know more about Kate Middleton, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Katy Perry … or the Apostle Paul, Susanna Wesley and Charles Spurgeon?

Jesus said, “… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6.21).

What do your answers say about where your treasure is?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ecclesiastes 1 & 2:

Finding Satisfaction in the Daily Activities of Life

 

Solomon most likely wrote this book during the later years of his life after he had squandered much of his energy on earthly pursuits. He wrote this book to others, especially young people, to warn them about the futility of trying to find happiness in the things of this world. As he points out the “vanity” of such pursuits, he shares many nuggets of wisdom.

In chapters 1 and 2 he warns that even wisdom for wisdom’s sake is vanity, as are seeking after pleasure, building projects, and accumulating possessions. He tried and failed to find satisfaction in power, great wealth, and fame. Work for work sake didn’t bring satisfaction either. In fact, he came to realize that all his accomplishments meant nothing in light of eternity. Everything he accumulated here on earth would someday be left to others.

In the midst of all this we read this nugget:

“Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God” (2.24).

Instead of seeking satisfaction in success, wealth, power, and other pursuits, we should learn to find satisfaction in the daily activities of life.

 

Psalm 102.1-11:

Living by Feelings

 

Here in the first part of this psalm the writer focuses almost entirely on his feelings. When he did, he felt as if God had abandoned him. The same can happen to us.  Continue reading

“The Bible on Marriage & Divorce” August 25

 

divorce separation

What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce? What about remarriage, singleness, and sex, both inside and outside of marriage? Does the Bible really address those subjects and, if so, does it have any relevance for today?

Also read about some of the amazing animals God has created: the horse with all his strength and fearlessness, the hawk, and the eagle. Then our reading in Job goes on to talk about a creature called behemoth and a huge sea creature called leviathan.

Finally, our Proverbs passage talks about the drunkard and how, even after the a hangover, he runs to look for his next drink. The world wants us to believe they can’t help it, that it’s a disease called alcoholism. What does the Bible say?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 41 & 42
Psalm 101.5-8
Proverbs 23.31-35
1 Corinthians 7.1-19

 

The Bible on Marriage & Divorce

 

1 Corinthians 7.1-19:

Sex, Singleness, Marriage and Divorce

 

Paul has a great deal to say about marriage, divorce, and singleness in this chapter. In verses 1-9 he explains that sex within marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. That has not changed in spite of what our culture tells us.

I know this is a huge challenge for some of you who are single and desire to be married. I want to encourage you that God has not forgotten you, that He is good, and that He will give you the grace to respond biblically to this challenge.

And to the married, verse 5 says:

5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

For those who are married, sex is to be continual. It is never to be withheld from one’s partner except by mutual agreement and then only for the purpose of prayer and fasting and only temporarily. In the past, this passage was most often applied to women, but as my husband and I counsel, more and more I hear of women whose husbands are not interested in sex.

It’s ironic that in a culture where sex is everywhere—on billboards, on TV, on movie screens, and on the street—this has not freed people to enjoy God’s gift of sexuality. Instead, it has done serious harm. The reasons are numerous, and if you’re struggling with this situation, I would encourage you to seek counseling for both you and your spouse if he or she is willing, or for yourself, if not.

Verses 10-16 talk about divorce:  Continue reading

“Lawsuits, Dinosaurs & the Bible” August 24

 

Justice sign on a Law Courts building

What does the Bible say about lawsuits? How should we respond if we think we have been wronged?
Does the Bible have anything to say about dinosaurs? Did Job talk about them and how would he have known? Could the answer be plain?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 39 & 40
Psalm 101.1-4
Proverbs 23.29-30:
1 Corinthians 6.1-20

 

Lawsuits, Dinosaurs & the Bible

 

Job 39 & 40:

Demanding Answers

 

Even though Job was a righteous man, he had, perhaps pridefully, believed he needed to understand what was happening and why? In this passage God opened his eyes to just how little he really understood. Job quickly acknowledged his mistake. Job 40:3-5:

Then Job answered the Lord and said: “Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.”

 

The Bible & Dinosaurs

 

dinosaurAn interesting note, check out John MacArthur’s Daily Bible comments about 40.15-24. You might be surprised to learn that many believe the “behemoth” spoken about in this passage was a dinosaur. That means Job knew what dinosaurs were. The most likely explanation would be because they co-existed with people instead of living “millions and millions of years ago,” as we are taught as fact!

If you’d like to learn more about creation science, there are a variety of good websites and resources. You might want to start with Ken Ham’s website Answers in GenesisContinue reading

“The Danger in NOT Judging Sin” August 23

 

The Danger of NOT Judging Sin - While we cannot know another person’s heart, it is a misunderstanding of the Bible to think we are never to judge someone else's behavior. In fact, there is great danger in not judging sin, especially to the person caught up in it.While we cannot know another person’s heart, it is a misunderstanding of the Bible to think we are never to judge someone else’s behavior. In fact, there is great danger in not judging sin, especially to the person caught up in it.

Also read about some things to consider when going through a test or a trial and some of the traps that can lead to sexual immorality.

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 37 & 38
Psalm 100.1-5
Proverbs 23.26-28
1 Corinthians 5.1-13

 

The Danger in NOT Judging Sin

 

1 Corinthians 5.1-13:

For the Purpose of Reconciliation

 

Our reading in Proverbs today has some strong warnings about the dangers of sexual immorality. The Corinthian church had their problems in this area and, instead of dealing with it biblically, they chose to look the other way. In our society today, we might call this “being tolerant”!

Sometimes we even put a biblical-sounding spin on it and say we don’t want to judge.

Read Paul’s words in verse 3 again, “For I indeed … [I] have already judged … him who has done this deed.” While we cannot know or judge another person’s heart or spiritual relationship with God, we are told throughout Scripture to judge sin. Jesus said, “You will know a tree by its fruit.” That means you must determine what the fruit is!

confronting comfortingThe point we most often miss in all of this is the purpose behind it. It’s not so we can be self-righteous or condemning. It’s so a sinning brother or sister can be reconciled to God. If a person stays in a lifestyle of sin, one of two things is true: either he or she is not really saved or they are in danger of God’s discipline (Heb. 12.5-11).

Later in chapter 11 Paul tells these same believers:

“For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Because of unconfessed and unforsaken sin, many were weak and sick and some had even died prematurely!

Certainly we all sin in many ways, and many of those things can be covered in love. But gross sins, life dominating sins like anger, abuse, and sexual immorality should be lovingly confronted in a biblical way. This is not easy to do, but necessary, if the body of Christ is to be the pure and undefiled bride she is called to be.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 37 & 38:

Things to Consider When Going Through a Test or Trial

 

prayer bibleIn chapter 38, God turns the tables on Job and begins to question him! Remember God had already vindicated Job in the court of heaven and He will vindicate him again as He speaks to Job and his friends, but as John MacArthur says in his Daily Bible notes, “… He first brought Job to a right understanding of Himself.”

It’s alright for us to question God, but we must know in advance, we won’t always get an answer, neither will we always understand the answers we get, and we need to be willing to accept that He knows best. Tests and trials are opportunities to trust God in a greater way whether or not it makes sense to us.  Continue reading

“Honoring Parents Who Were Less Than Perfect” August 22

 

honoring parentsGod clearly commands us, even as adults, to honor and respect our parents. Yet, many of us grew up in homes that were less than perfect. How do we honor parents when we believe they failed us in some way?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 35 & 36
Psalm 99.1-9
Proverbs 23.22-25
1 Corinthians 4.1-21

 

Honoring Parents Who Were Less Than Perfect

 

Proverbs 23.22-25:

Buy the Truth & Do Not Sell It

 

pearlsVerse 23, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

Matthew 13.45-46 says:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

We should be willing to get God’s truth no matter what the cost and once we have gotten it, we should not be willing to give it up, not for wealth or fame or popularity or anything else.

 

Properly Honoring Parents as Adults

 

“Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old” (v. 22).

“Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her who bore you rejoice” (v. 25).

As a counselor, some of the most frequent problems I see in marriages involve a failure to properly “leave and cleave.” Spouses fail to make their husbands and wives the primary human relationship. They run first to their parents when there is a problem instead of communicating biblically with their spouses. This hinders the one-flesh relationship God intended.

They may continue to support their parents financially against their spouse’s wishes or neglect their own family unit in other ways.

But just as serious is a failure to properly honor parents as these two verses command. This often comes as a result of actual or perceived parental failures.

 

Getting Over an Imperfect Childhood

 

We live in a fallen world. I don’t know anyone who grew up in a perfect home. I know I made mistakes, many of them, when raising my children. So did my parents and your parents.

I also know many adult children who refuse to see their childhood through God’s eyes. Instead, often because of unforgiveness and bitterness, they continue to view their childhood through a childish lens. As children, we all have a narrow understanding of the world. We only know how decisions and circumstances affected us. We don’t usually see the big picture.

Children may blame a single mom for leaving a marriage and destroying their home without ever knowing that the father was an adulterer or an abuser, sometimes because their mother didn’t want to destroy their relationship with their father.

Children in blended families sometimes resent a step-parent without ever appreciating the difficulties, financial strains, and sacrifice parents and step-parents make. All they can see is that this person was NOT their biological parent. That thinking breeds resentment and rebellion in childhood and a lack of grace and thankfulness in adulthood. They may only see what they perceived as unfairness without considering their own difficult, rebellious attitudes and how that complicated the relationship.

One of the biggest issues is favoritism and perceived favoritism. Certainly, parents need to avoid sinfully favoring or comparing one child to another. Parents are not blameless in this.  Continue reading

Blended Families Series + LINKUP

 

I'll be talking about the common issues and challenges, offering some solutions, and providing resources to help. If you're not a blended family, I'm sure you know someone who is. The first post will start in the next linkup.Life has been a little hectic for me. We just finished getting the flooring redone in our whole house (a huge blessing, the carpeted areas were in terrible shape), but for all of you who have done major redo’s you know it’s a lot of work to get ready for it, and lots more to get everything back in place. Along the way you find all kinds of things that need to be updated or redone just to get things back to normal … lots of painting and patching.

Getting ready for it was a little like moving with no place to go. We packed everything we could and moved it to our garage (along with our bed). Even thought it’s finished and has air conditioning, it’s a little like sleeping in a warehouse. About as close to camping out as I like (sorry all you campers).

Now we’re cleaning up from all the tile demolition and waiting to put things back in place until the new baseboards are in.

I said all that to say … I don’t have a book review for this week. I need to spend what time I have preparing to teach DivorceCare on Sundays at my church and starting a new ladies Bible study this Thursday. So for the next few Mondays I’m rerunning a series I did a couple of years ago on “Blended Families.”  Continue reading

“Entertainment, Over-Indulgence, and Ease = Poverty” August 21

 

Entertainment, Over-Indulgence, and Ease = Poverty - Trying to find relief or distraction through entertainment, over-indulgence, and ease will all lead to poverty, not just physical poverty, but often, poverty of the soul. Also ... Can evil and suffering ever lead to good? How can waves clap their hands and nature declare the glory of God? Are we in danger of following men and not God? And if so, how does that lead to spiritual immaturity?

Trying to find relief or distraction through entertainment, over-indulgence, and ease will all lead to poverty, not just physical poverty, but often, poverty of the soul.

Also …

Can evil and suffering ever lead to good?
How can waves clap their hands and nature declare the glory of God?
Are we in danger of following men and not God? And if so, how does that lead to spiritual immaturity?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 33 & 34
Psalm 98.4-9
Proverbs 23.19-21
1 Corinthians 3.1-23

 

Entertainment, Over-Indulgence, and Ease = Poverty

 

Proverbs 23.19-21:

Ease, Entertainment, Food, & Fun

 

Verse 21, “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.”

Proverbs warns us that a desire for relief, distraction and fun (drunkenness), indulgence (gluttony) and laziness (drowsiness) will all lead to poverty, not just physical poverty, but often, poverty of the soul.

Proverbs 27.20 says, “… the eyes of man are never satisfied.” We can never get enough of the things the flesh craves including ease, entertainment, food and enjoyment. We end up being left empty and devoid of any peace, joy or satisfaction.

Instead, if we will allow God to fill us spirit, soul and body, we will find that the things of this world pale in comparison. And we are free to enjoy God’s blessings in their proper place and amount.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 33 & 34:

Even Evil Can Result in Good

 

Elihu, the fifth person in this scene, continues with his observations. He has patiently waited while Job and his other three friends have debated the issue of Job’s sufferings and his integrity or lack of it and now he wades in.

While Elihu makes some good observations (we will see in a few chapters that even God did not rebuke him as He did the others), his understanding was still limited. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13.12:

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

There will always be things which we don’t fully understand. We see only a small portion of the tapestry of our lives, our families’ lives, and the events playing out around us. And even what we do see, we don’t see clearly. So when we go through a test or a trial or we read about some tragedy, we must filter it all through the goodness of God, the sovereignty of God, and the absolute holiness of God.

We hear of a child being molested, for instance, and we think “Why would God allow such a horrible thing?” But what if, as a result, that child got saved, and then she married a Christian man, and his life was impacted by her testimony, causing him to draw closer to God. Then when they had children, they raised them in a godly home and, as a result, their children were saved and many of the next generation and the next. Maybe a whole line of people was ultimately impacted by that horrible act, changing the eternal destiny of many. From an eternal perspective, would it be worth it?  Continue reading

“If you died tonight …?” August 20

 

If you died tonight ...? - If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don't leave your eternity to chance!If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 31 & 32
Psalm 98.1-3
Proverbs 23.17-18
1 Corinthians 2.1-16

 

If you died tonight …?

 

1 Corinthians 2.1-16:

The Power of the Gospel

 

Verses 1-2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

That is something we all need to remember as we witness to our friends and loved ones. We can’t “talk them into anything.” The power lies in the gospel and in God’s Word. We need to share the truth with them by pointing them to the Scripture.

bible johnMartha Peace, who wrote The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective, said that before she got saved her friends had told her to read the book of John, and to keep reading it until it made sense to her. She was depressed and pretty messed up, but she did. And one night after reading it a number of times, faith came alive in her heart!

We certainly don’t want to beat people over the head with the Bible, but we must realize that it is the Scriptures that contain the power of God for salvation!

 

If you died tonight?

 

What about you? Are you are reading this and wondering, “Would I go to heaven?” Please don’t push that thought away. Seek God about it. Pull out your Bible or get one. Begin reading the book of John. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. You can read more about the gospel and salvation here.

Or maybe you have been in church for a long time or you went when you were younger. Maybe you “prayed a prayer” once, joined a church, got baptized … but you still have doubts. The aging Apostle John said this about why God had him write the book of 1 John:

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 Jn. 5.13).

Did you notice that phrase? “…that you may KNOW”! God wants us to have confidence and peace in knowing that we belong to Him. He wants us to understand eternal security. Read more here. We can have eternal security, but it is not based on what we do, rather it is a faith transaction.

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).

Leave me a comment and I will put you in touch with a solid biblical church in your area if you would like to talk to someone about your eternal destiny (I won’t publish it, if you prefer). Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 31 & 32:

If … if … if

 

Job ends his defense in chapter 31 with a series of “ifs.” If I had looked on a woman lustfully (vss. 1, 9), if I had not been generous (vss. 16-21), if I had treated my employees unfairly (v. 31), if I had trusted in wealth rather than God (vss. 24-25), if I had hidden my sin (v. 33), if I had stolen (v. 39), etc., then I could understand all this.

We are often a lot like Job. We think if we keep the law (at least our interpretation of it), God is obligated to bless us.

After Job and his three friends had stopped speaking, a younger friend, Elihu, says in effect, I can’t keep quiet any longer. I think you’re all wrong!

But soon … God will begin to speak and answer all of them. Continue reading