Many people today, including believers, have an entitlement attitude. We want what other people have and refuse to be content where God has us. Sometimes we work hard and and can’t understand why they seem to get ahead and not us. In other cases, we’re lazy and not willing to do what is required. But either way, instead of trusting that God knows what’s best, we grumble, complain, and even become bitter and resentful.
Grumbling, Complaining & Coveting or Faithfully Working & Obeying?
“The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare.”
These two verses make me think of a story I read about a famous pianist. A man came up to him once and said, “I would give my life to be able to play like that.” The pianist replied, “I did.”
I am not advocating neglecting family or any other God-given priority to seek selfish goals, but so often we want things that others have without being willing to do what it takes to obtain them. In the case of a lazy man, he covets the things that others have worked to obtain, but isn’t willing to do the same.
This is an attitude that is rampant in our society today. Many people, even Christians, have an entitlement attitude, even about spiritual things. Continue reading →
I’ve often heard that the rate of divorce in the US is about 50%, but I’ve discovered that statistics are hard to pin down. Some say the rate of divorce has dropped in the last decade and that as high as 70% of marriages make it to their 15th year. While that’s good, what about the 30% who don’t? And is it possible that the divorce rate is going down because many couples simply live together without marrying?
What does the Bible say about divorce? Is it allowable to divorce because we’re not happy or no longer in love? Is it OK if we’re unequally yoked? Are there, actually, any biblical grounds for divorce?
59 years had passed since the completion of the temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel. In these passages, the second group of former captives had returned led by Ezra. He had learned that the Jews who were already there, including many of the leaders, had taken pagan wives. This was strictly forbidden by the Law, had repeatedly led the people into idolatry, and had caused the nation to be taken into captivity. Yet, they went back to the same practices!
John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible notes that even though there was a decision made that these wives as a group were to be “put away”—that is divorced—each marriage was examined individually, probably to learn whether the wives had become believers. He also notes that other gentile women like Ruth and Rahab who had embraced faith in God were accepted and even included in the lineage of Christ.
So what about today? Can we divorce an unbelieving spouse? Matthew Henry in his commentary says, “As to being unequally yoked with unbelievers, such marriages, it is certain, are sinful, and ought not to be made; but now they are not null, as they were before the gospel did away the separation between Jews and Gentiles.”
2 Corinthians 6.14 says:
14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
So while it is wrong for a Christian to marry a non-Christian, if a believer is already married to a non-believer, divorce is not an option in most circumstances.
Biblical Grounds for Divorce
So what does the Bible say about divorce? Is it ever allowable? Jay Adams, in his book Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, says, “Contrary to some opinions, the concept of divorce is biblical. The Bible recognizes and regulates divorce.”
When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, “being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly (Matt. 1.19). He was going to divorce her until an angel convinced him that she had not committed adultery. Continue reading →
Today and over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to talk about guilt, what it is, and why we experience it? We’ll look at how the world views it, some examples of guilt in the Bible, and we’ll get the biblical perspective on it. Finally, we’ll discuss what we as Christians should do about it?
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Handling Guilt Biblically Part 1
We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We have already covered anger, depression, fear and worry. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.
Today we’re going to start talking about guilt, but first, I want to tell you about a man I know. This man was under a lot of pressure. He was suffering from poor health. He seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. He even seemed to be in a daze at times. He couldn’t focus. He was sad and depressed. And He thought about his problems all the time.
It was affecting him physically. His heart would race wildly and he was stressed out. All he wanted to do was sleep and, yet, when he tried to sleep he couldn’t.
If you’ve ever been around someone like that, it gets uncomfortable. There’s only so much you can say. That was the case with this man. He said his friends came around less and less and eventually some just quit coming. Maybe that has happened to you, either you have felt like this man or been one of his friends or both.
If you were trying to help my friend, how would you diagnose his problem?
Could he be clinically depressed, be suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome or have PTSD? Does he need medication?
It’s possible that you have met this man, too.
The man is David, and David was experiencing pressure at the hand of a loving God. David had sinned and God was dealing with him.
In Psalm 38 David said this:
1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure! 2 For Your arrows pierce me deeply, And Your hand presses me down.
3 There is no soundness in my flesh Because of Your anger, Nor any health in my bones Because of my sin. 4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. 5 My wounds are foul and festering Because of my foolishness.
6 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. 7 For my loins are full of inflammation, And there is no soundness in my flesh. 8 I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.
9 Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. 10 My heart pants, my strength fails me; As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.
11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague, And my relatives stand afar off. 12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me; Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction, And plan deception all the day long.
13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear; And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth. 14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear, And in whose mouth is no response.
15 For in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God. 16 For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me, Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”
17 For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me.
18 For I will declare my iniquity; I will be in anguish over my sin.
God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithfully studying the Bible and seeking to understand and apply it, even in a pagan culture. There is little doubt that we are living in a post-Christian culture, in many ways a pagan one. Are you part of that remnant?
As we continue reading through the book of Ezra, the prophet is preparing to lead the second group of exiles back to Jerusalem.
As you can well imagine, most of the returning Jews who had lived and many been born in a pagan culture had little understanding of God’s law. But chapter 7 verse 6 says:
“This Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given.”
Ezra had faithfully studied and meditated on the laws and precepts of God in spite of the culture around him. And because of his faithful preparation, he was instrumental in teaching the people who returned to Jerusalem after the captivity. God was able to use him in a mighty way because he knew God’s Word!
Do you suppose he ever wondered, “Why am I spending all this time reading and studying and memorizing scripture?” John MacArthur says in his Daily Bible that, according to tradition, Ezra had memorized God’s law. That would have been, at least, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—memorized! Many of us have gotten bogged down just trying to read through the last three.
God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithful to study, understand and apply it.
The Job of a Scribe
Verse 6 says that Ezra was a Scribe. Scribes were commissioned with copying the Scriptures by hand, as well as, knowing and teaching them. Did you know there are more than 5,300 handwritten Greek manuscripts of the New Testament alone (many more of the O.T.) and they have very few errors, most of which have to do with numbers or spelling not things which would alter any Bible doctrine.
It’s no wonder that Jesus was so upset with the Scribes and Pharisees in His day. They knew the Word of God and legalistically demanded adherence to the letter of it without grasping the Spirit of it.
Ezra was a great example, though, not just of knowing the law, but living it:
“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (7.10).
Notice the order: he prepared his heart, he sought to understand the Word of God, he purposed in his heart to obey it, and then he taught it to others. It’s not that we are ever going to do things perfectly, but before we seek to teach others, we should be doing our best to understand and be doers of God’s Word ourselves.
What about you? Are you faithfully studying God’s Word for yourself or are you content to be spoon fed on Sunday mornings? What if it was suddenly against the law to own or read a Bible, do you have enough of God’s Word hidden in your heart to sustain you and to allow you teach others?
The people who had come back enthusiastic and ready to rebuild the temple, had met some resistance and gradually quit doing God’s work and, instead, got busy with their own lives.
God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to stir and rebuke the people about their priorities. In Haggai 1, God said:
“‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’ Thus says the Lord God of Hosts, ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountain, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord” (Hag. 1.5-8).
What about you? Do you need to consider your ways? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Have you gotten “too busy” to be concerned about the things of God? Do you feel like you work hard, but everything goes into a purse that is full of holes? Could God be using circumstances to get your attention?
Verse 7b says, “All my springs are in you.” In Acts 17.28 Paul said, “… in Him we live and move and have our being.” And James 1.17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above … ” (NASB).
God is the source of every talent, every ability, every blessing. Scripture tells us that He even blesses the unrighteous in many ways. The Puritans called it “common grace.” And yet, we are so easily puffed up and become proud of our achievements, our possessions, even, our children. We need to be careful to give God the glory that He and He alone is due!
Contentious and Angry
In verse 19, God again sees fit to warn us, ladies, that we can easily go from being a blessing to being a curse to our husbands and/or children.
“Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”
Of course, we women are not the only ones who struggle with anger and it’s just as destructive when it’s you men.
With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.
In chapter 3, even though the people who returned to Jerusalem had the authority of the king behind them, there was still opposition from the people already living in the land.
Verse 3 says, “… fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries …” But in spite of their feelings they determined to do what was right and to worship God as Moses had instructed them to do.
Even though there is a move to restrict our rights as believers, we still have a great deal of freedom under the laws of our land. And while Romans 13 instructs us to obey those who rule over us, even that has limitations. Anytime someone in authority asks us to sin, we have a higher authority—that is God and His Word.
With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger. There will be times on the job (even when we are within our rights), with our friends, or in our families where we will feel fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being rejected, fear of what people will think, fear of being labeled unloving or intolerant, even in some cases, fear of losing our jobs or our businesses. But, we too, can do what’s right in spite of our feelings. Continue reading →
What an incredible example of boldness in the face of intense persecution! Paul had just been beaten by a mob. It says they were, “seeking to kill him.” After he was rescued, he asked the soldiers if he could address his abusers and then he began to share his testimony and to prepare their hearts for the gospel.
Like Christ who died for us when we were His enemies, he was more concerned about their spiritual destiny than any harm done to him.
Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matt. 5.44).
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Phil. 2.3-4).
Like Paul and Jesus, we need to resolve to keep our focus, not on any wrongs done to us, but on others’ need for a Savior!
That doesn’t mean that those who abuse physically, sexually, or in any other way should be allowed to continue illegal or immoral behavior. But even when the right thing to do is to report a crime or in some other way allow the abuser to suffer the consequences of his actions, the focus of our hearts should be eternal, forgiving them, trusting God in our own lives, and praying for their salvation.
Two people will be working together. One will disappear and the other will be left behind. Men and women will be eating and sleeping and going about their business. Some will be gone in an instant and others left behind. How about you? Would you go or could you be left behind?
In chapter 34 Josiah had become king at the ripe old age of 8, but what a king he was! Verse 3 says that he began to seek the Lord in the eighth year of his reign. He would have been just 16 years old. By the age of 20 he was putting a stop to idolatry. Next he began clearing out the temple and getting ready to reinstate the proper temple worship. In the process Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord.
Several things struck me about all of this. First, the Word of God was not being taught. People were just doing whatever seemed right to them. The second thing was Josiah’s response to the Word when he heard it. He tore his clothes, a statement of intense mourning and repentance. He was repenting, not just for himself, but for the nation as a whole, because he realized just how far they had departed from the truth. He understood that they were under God’s judgment because of it.
So he sent Hilkiah and a group of men to meet with a prophetess named Huldah to seek further direction from the Lord. She reassured him that God had seen his righteous response to all of this and his willingness to humble himself and obey. So while judgment was coming, He would grant the nation a reprieve. In fact, it wouldn’t happen in Josiah’s lifetime. But after his death and by the close of 2 Chronicles, Jerusalem would be destroyed and the remaining people carried off to Babylon where they would remain in captivity for 70 years.
God is Withholding His Judgment Today
Today, much like in Josiah’s time, God is withholding His final judgment from the earth because of His faithful people, the Church! But one day … Continue reading →
Wow! What a great start Hezekiah had. In yesterday’s reading he put an end to idol worship, restored the priesthood, cleansed the temple, restored temple worship, and re-instituted the solemn feasts.
Now, in today’s reading, he is faced with an enemy from outside. When he realizes the Assyrian King Sennacherib was plotting to overtake Judah he sprung into action, working with his leaders and encouraging the people by reminding them of God’s faithfulness. Chapter 32.7-8:
7 “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
And when the danger grew worse:
20 Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. 21 Then the LORD sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there.
22 Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side.
What a great story of God’s faithfulness in response to Hezekiah’s prayers and his godly actions. But while Hezekiah had a great start, he didn’t finish as well.
25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.
After years of seeing God’s faithfulness, Hezekiah began to think it was about him, his wisdom, his great abilities, and his heart was lifted up in pride.
But even after all that, when Hezekiah repented, God was merciful:
26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.
Paul, however, finished well in spite of his great accomplishments and in spite of great opposition. Let’s take a look at the difference from our New Testament reading.
Here in chapter 20 Paul is saying goodbye to his beloved friends in Ephesus. He reminds them of the truths he has taught them, warns them to watch out for false teachers, recounts his example of ministry to them, and tells them he will face danger and hardship in the future.
Verse 24, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
After all he had been through and knowing that he was going to suffer for the cause of Christ, Paul expressed his desire to finish well! What a contrast to so many of the Old Testament kings.
Could you be a contentious woman? Do you ever find yourself arguing for argument’s sake? Do you feel like it’s your job to point out the other side of the issue? Do you enjoy a good debate? Do you have to have the last word?
Verse 9, “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
My thesaurus uses some of the following synonyms: controversial, debatable, arguable, touchy. The Encarta Dictionary defines her as, “frequently engaging in and seeming to enjoy arguments and disputes.”
Do you ever find yourself arguing for arguments sake? Do you feel like it’s your job to point out the other side of the issue? Do you enjoy a good debate? Do you have to have the last word?
Ladies, we need to ask ourselves those questions without trying to justify or minimize our actions. If we can answer “yes” to any of them, let’s ask God to help us search our hearts (Ps. 139.23-24) and help us grow and change.
Here in these two chapters Hezekiah calls the people to repentance and worship. He sends runners throughout the land even to the Northern Kingdom to extend the invitation. Although most of the people in the Northern Kingdom “laughed at them and mocked them,” the people of Judah came together with “singleness of heart.” What followed was a great revival with the people giving in abundance to support the priests and Levites and the operation of the temple. And when they did, God blessed them abundantly.
Forgiving Like God Forgives
Verses 2-3, “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah. You have taken away all Your wrath. You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.”
When God forgives and covers sin, He ceases to be angry about it. We are told in Ephesians 4.32 to “forgive just as God in Christ also has forgiven us.” If we truly forgive we choose to cease being angry, too. It may take time for our feelings to completely come into line, but we can choose to treat that person with God’s love if we will rely on His grace. Continue reading →