“Housewives & Kingdom Rewards” May 27

 

Housewives and Kingdom RewardsHave you ever wanted to go out into the mission field? or record a Christian hit song? or be a great Bible teacher? And instead, you find yourself cooking and cleaning and teaching Bible verses to preschoolers.  What does God have to say about housewives and kingdom rewards?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Kings 1 & 2
Psalm 68.11-14
Proverbs 17.7-9
John 9.24-41

 

housewifePsalm 68.11-14:

Housewives and kingdom rewards

Psalm 68 is a psalm of prayer, praise and thanksgiving to God for His care over His people and for giving them victory.

But before we pass by too quickly, there’s a sweet phrase tucked into verse 12, “and she who remains at home divides the spoil.”

What an encouragement this should be to you precious stay-at-home moms to know that God sees what you do as just as valuable and important to kingdom work as any other responsibility (more so, really, because you are raising the next generation for God). It’s also a reminder that you will share in kingdom rewards just as fully!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

1 Kings 1 & 2:

Solomon becomes king

In chapter 1 King David is dying. (Those of us who are married and getting older can be thankful for electric blankets, none of that “virgin heating” for our husbands! You’ll just have to read the passage!) Continue reading

15 Ways to Enhance Your Quiet Time*

 

15 Ways to Enhance Your Quiet Time* when you have so littleDo you ever feel like your quiet time is just another thing on your to-do list? Or do you ever wonder why yours is ho-hum when everyone else makes such a big deal out of it? You want to enjoy it and be excited when that alarm goes off at 6 a.m., but every day you hit the snooze button again!

 

We all know it. A daily quiet time is important. But with kids … and a job … and so much to do everyday, sometimes it doesn’t happen.

If you have little ones, it may be like someone once said, “My kids wake up at the first crack of the Bible!” There’s no doubt about it, children, especially younger ones, make it challenging to find time for yourself and God.

We live in a culture that values activity. Most of us hit the ground running every morning: carpools, breakfast, kids to drop off, jobs, errands to run, homeschooling, email, social media, blogging, you name it …

We set the alarm a few minutes early, but hit the snooze button. We not only snooze through our quiet time, but through any margin we had, too. The next thing we know, we hurrying the kids, grabbing a bagel on the way out the door, and rushing off, only to get caught in traffic!

So how can we fit in a regular, daily quiet time and make the most of the time we have? Here are 15 suggestions:


  Continue reading

“The Sins of Others & Our Good” May 26

 

The Sins of Others & Our GoodDoes God cause someone to sin? And how does God use the sins of others for our good and His glory?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 23 & 24
Psalm 68.7-10
Proverbs 17.5-6
John 9.1-23

 

2 Samuel 23 & 24:

The sins of others & our good

Here we are at the last two chapters of 2 Samuel. They read like a summary of David’s life, both at his best and at his worst.

Chapter 23 gives David’s last inspired words (vss. 2-7), calling him “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” What a great ending—or is it? Along comes chapter 24.

Verse 1, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel, and He moved David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.'”

There’s so much contained in that one verse. First, was it God who “caused” David to sin against the people?

James 1.13-15 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

David, like all of us, was first and foremost tempted by his own sinful heart, but we can glean more understanding by reading the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles:

1 Chron. 21.1 says, “Now Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.”

So God, for His sovereign purposes, allowed Satan to tempt David to do what was already in his heart.

So what was the sin that manifested itself here? Notice the last part of verse 2, “… count the people, that I may know the number of the people.” David counted the people out of his pride so that he would know the number of people over which he had rule.

What about the phrase, “Again the anger of the LORD was aroused against Israel …”? Remember these were the people who had followed Absalom in rebellion against David and then afterwards, many of them had followed Sheba. So God allowed David to be His instrument of discipline in the lives of the people while he used the situation to reveal to David the pride in his own heart.

Romans 8.28-29, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

So what or whom is He using in your life to conform you to the image of His Son? How might He even be using someone else’s sin as an instrument of discipline in your life? What does He want you to see? How did David respond and how should you and I respond at those times?  Continue reading

“God of the Fatherless” May 25

 

God of the FatherlessGod is a God of the fatherless, especially the thousands and thousands of babies who are killed in their mothers’ wombs every year in our country. He is also the God who restores those who have ended their babies lives, if they turn to Him in genuine repentance.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 21 & 22
Psalm 68.1-6
Proverbs 17.2-4
John 8.28-59

 

Psalm 68.1-6:

God of the fatherless

This psalm of praise says God is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows. If we have His heart, He desires for us to be His agents in this. One of the greatest opportunities to do so is in defense of unborn babies whose fathers and mothers, while not physically nonexistent, are unable or unwilling to defend them.

I say unable, as well as, unwilling because I understand that there are times when women are coerced into abortions and times when fathers are left out of the decision altogether or unable to stop it.

If you have had an abortion or if you are the father of an aborted baby, there is grace and forgiveness. Go to the Lord, seek His forgiveness and restoration.

I would strongly recommend finding a biblical counselor to help you walk through it or go to someone who does post-abortion counseling. If you live in El Paso, you can contact the Pregnancy Help Center/Fatherhood Help Services, but most cities have Christian crisis pregnancy centers. Seek one out.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

2 Samuel 21 & 22:

Divine judgment

In chapter 21 we have the story of the seven sons of Saul being executed by the Gibeonites. This is divine justice being carried out, though it hardly seems fair that it would be carried out on the next generation.

One phrase may help us understand why God allowed His justice to be carried out this way:

Verse 1, “It is because of Saul and his bloodthirsty house …”

It appears that the violence was not limited to Saul, it may have been a predominant attitude among his descendants, as well, (remember Shimei who cursed David when he fled Jerusalem). Continue reading

“Stuck between Easter and Pentecost?” May 24

 

Are you stuck between Easter and Pentecost or are you living in the power and with the resources God has provided?Are you stuck between Easter and Pentecost or are you living in the power and with the resources God has provided?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 19 & 20
Psalm 67.1-7
Proverbs 16.33-17.1
John 8.1-27

 

John 8.1-27:

Christ is the only way!

There’s so much in this chapter, including another of Jesus’ great “I AM” statements. In this passage He declared Himself to be the Light of the World.

Verse 12, “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Verse 24 talks about the sin of unbelief:

“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

No one can be good enough to go to heaven apart from believing the Gospel. Christ is the only way!

 

Stuck between Easter and Pentecost

And a comment about the story of the woman taken in adultery (verses 3-11):

3 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, 4 they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” 6 This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” 8 And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

How should we live based on the fact that our sins have been forgiven just as this sinful woman’s were?

God in His grace showed mercy to the sinful woman, not so she could continue in her sin, but that she, like us, could “go and sin no more.” We are not to live righteous lives out of fear of the consequences of breaking the law, but out of gratitude for all we’ve been forgiven!

Romans 5.20-6.2 says, “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

Once we were slaves to sin. We have not only been forgiven of our sins, but set free from the bondage of sin. Yet many of us live as if we are still slaves to it.  Continue reading

“5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ” May 23

 

5 Reactions to the Claims of ChristThere were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today. Even as believers we can fall into some of these attitudes. Where are you?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 17 & 18
Psalm 66.16-20
Proverbs 16.31-32
John 7.28-53

 

John 7.28-53:

5 Reactions to the claims of Christ

John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible that this passage “catalogues the different reactions of people to Jesus’ claims.” We still see the same categories today.

First those who are “convinced” of the truthfulness of His claims—faithful believers.

Verses 40-41a, “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.'”

Part of the meaning of the words “faith” and “faithful” includes the idea of “unquestioning belief or loyalty.”

doubt questioningSecond, the “contrary,” those who find something wrong with everything.

Verses 41b-42, “But some said, ‘Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?'”

“Contrary” people are still around. “All the pastor wants is your money.” “Churches are full of hypocrites.” “The Bible was just written by a bunch of men.” And the list goes on.

anger finger pointingThird, the “hostile,” we’ve all met them. They don’t just not believe or not agree with you, they are prepared to go on the attack where the things of God are concerned.

Verse 44, “Now some of them wanted to take Him …”

There is a move today in our country, and it’s growing stronger, to make speaking biblical truth a crime. There are those, for instance, who would love to see anyone who speaks out against homosexuality or abortion arrested for what they consider hate crimes.  Continue reading

“Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” + LINKUP

 

Foxe's Book of MartyrsWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by by John Foxe, editied by Harold J. Chadwick.

John Foxe was a 16th century English historian best known for writing Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. His book gives a detailed account of Christian martyrs throughout Western history.

His book is about courageous men, women and children who have been tortured and killed because of their confessions of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. But, even more, it’s a book about God’s amazing grace that enabled them to endure persecutions and often horrible deaths.

 

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs has been edited and updated many times since John Foxe wrote the first volume in English in 1563 under the title, Acts and Monuments of These Latter and Perillous Dayes, but it became known almost immediately as the Book of Martyrs.

At the time it was written many of the events the author describes were still taking place and it was written more like a reporter would write today. Foxe probably witnessed many of the events or knew people who did. Other stories were sent to him by those who had suffered or knew people who had.

Editor, Harold Chadwick writes:

Without question the book began in Foxe’s mind when he was at Magdalen College at Oxford University, where he held a fellowship for seven years. He had first been sent by his parents to Brasenose College at the University when he was sixteen. During that time Reformation doctrines were strong throughout Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and Foxe was highly influenced by them. He began intensive study of the Scriptures and began to question the doctrines and practices of the Roman church. Before long he was an affirmed Protestant and nothing ever turned him from that path. This so changed his conduct that before long suspicions began to arise about his allegiance to the Church of Rome. Then it was reported that Foxe was taking solitary walks in the evening and could be heard sobbing and pouring out prayers to God. When questioned about this practice, he openly stated his new religious opinions, and was almost immediately expelled from the college as a confirmed heretic.

Sometime later he married Agnes Randell, a fellow believer, and stayed for a time with her parents.

By this means and others, Foxe kept himself concealed for some time from the papist inquisitors. This continued from the reign of King Henry VIII, through the open and peaceful days of Edward VI, and into the reign of Queen Mary I, who brought back into England all of the Roman Catholic doctrines and the pope’s power. Knowing then what was to happen, Foxe and his family left England and traveled first to Strasbourg, France, then to Frankfurt, Germany, and then to Basel, Switzerland. There he found a number of English refugees who had fled England to avoid the cruelty of the persecutors, and there began work on his now famous book.

Foxe’s history of the martyrs starts with the first century martyrs, including Jesus Himself and Stephen who was martyred about 8 years after the crucifixion.  Continue reading

“Friendship & Criticism, Kisses & Winks” May 22

 

Friendship & Criticism, Kisses & Winks - Friendships can be confusing. Sometimes those who appear to be our friends turn out to be our enemies, at least spiritually, and our critics can be truer friends. But what about unfair criticism? How should we handle it when we believe criticism is unjustified?Friendships can be confusing. Sometimes those who appear to be our friends turn out to be our enemies, at least spiritually, and our critics can be truer friends.

But what about unfair criticism? How should we handle it when we believe criticism is unjustified?

 

Today’s Readings:

2 Samuel 15 & 16
Psalm 66.8-15
Proverbs 16.27-30
John 7.1-27

 

2 Samuel 15 & 16:

Trusting in the sovereignty of God

We see David’s trust in the sovereignty of God in these two chapters. The broken relationship between David and his son Absalom has lead to bitterness and now rebellion on Absalom’s part. He has been secretly plotting to overthrow his father by deceiving the people. He is now on his way to take Jerusalem.

David gets word and is fleeing the city along with his household and hundreds of his men. When Zadok the Priest joins him, David says:

“Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus. “I have no delight in you,” here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him'” (15.26).

Then in chapter 16 Shimei one of Saul’s descendants follows David and his men cursing and throwing stones at him. Abishai, one of his generals, offers to take off Shimei’s head! David responds by saying:

criticism friendship

“So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ And David said to Abishai and all his servants, ‘See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”

 

Responding to our critics

This is a great example of how we should respond to criticism in our lives. Whether or not the criticism is justified, God has allowed it for some purpose. If it’s unfair or ill-intended, we should allow God to deal with it.  Continue reading

“On Eating Flesh and Yum-Yums” May 21

 

On Eating Flesh & Yum-Yums - Are there some things in your life that are like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia? And what does eating flesh have to do with following Christ?Are there some things in your life that are like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia? And what does eating flesh have to do with following Christ?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 13 & 14
Psalm 66.1-7
Proverbs 16.25-26
John 6.52-71

 

John 6.52-71:

On eating flesh and yum-yums

Verse 56, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.”

This was difficult for those who followed Him to understand and many quit at this point. But Jesus was not concerned about making everything palatable.

We, too, are told to “count the cost” of discipleship.

Luke 14.27-28 says, “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost …”

So what does it mean to “eat His flesh and drink His blood?” In verse 56 Jesus says the one who does “abides” in Him. John 15 also talks about “abiding in Him.”

John 15.9-11 says, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

open bible mineWe “eat His flesh and drink His blood” when we allow the “Word of God,” to become as much a part of our being as the food we eat. Food is digested and broken down in our bodies and literally becomes a part of us. So should the Word of God.

Is it truly a part of who you are or just some nice ideas that you consider if you feel like it or if it “seems right to you” as our Proverbs passage today says? The Word of God is not a buffet where we can pick and choose what seems palatable to us.

The same Bible that talks about God’s love and mercy also requires us to “count the cost of being a true follower.” That means we must give up some things which “seem right” like holding grudges, refusing to discipline our children biblically, seeking an unbiblical divorce, or dating an unbeliever.

Instead, we justify by saying, “You don’t know what she did to me!” Or, “If I spank my children, the psychologists say, it will make them hit others.” Or, “I know what the Bible says, but I believe God wants me happy!”

Your “happiness” is not God’s first concern, rather it’s your holiness! In fact, the “happiness” the world offers is like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia, only an illusion crafted by the deceiver himself.

True happiness is found by “abiding in Him,” in “keeping the commandments,” in “eating His flesh and drinking His blood,” so that His “joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

As today’s Proverbs reading says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 16.25).

When we seek happiness in disobedience, the end is death, beginning with our intimacy with God. The next thing we know the yum-yums we desired have vanished only to be replaced by a craving for something that brings no satisfaction.

 

 

Today’s Other Readings:

2 Samuel 13 & 14:

Sad consequences

God had told David in 2 Samuel 2.11, “‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house …”

And so it begins.

David’s sins were adultery and murder. Now his son Ammon has raped his own half-sister and another son, Absalom, has murdered Ammon.

We think we can sin in secret and our sins don’t affect anyone but us, but we never sin in isolation. First, we set in motion the laws of sowing and reaping, and second, we are discipling our children and others by our lives and behavior. Children, in particular, are much more likely to do what we “do” than what we “say.” Continue reading

“The Cost of Losing God’s Restraining Grace” May 20

 

barcodeOne of the consequences of willful sin can be the removal of God’s restraining grace where He steps back and allows us to do what our sinful heart wants. As someone once 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.”

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 11 & 12
Psalm 65.9-13
Proverbs 16.22-24
John 6.22-51

 

2 Samuel 11 & 12:

David, Bathsheba & the loss of restraining grace

This is a sad page in David’s life story, one that would define and change the rest of his life and his reign. Even though God forgave him when he repented, the consequences of it were great!

Neither is there any sin in our lives that is too big or for which God won’t forgive us. But knowing that God will forgive us, doesn’t mean that’s our “ace in the hole” or that we can sin without impunity, like children with our fingers crossed behind our backs. The person who thinks he or she can do whatever and ask for forgiveness later is in rebellion against God and God is looking at the heart. God will not even hear our prayers when we are in that kind of willful sin:

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66.18).

Romans 6.1-2, 15-16, 21, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? … Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”

And Galatians 6.7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

So what were the consequences of David’s and Bathsheba’s sin? Continue reading