May 22 “Friendships: 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 worst critics can be truer friends.

friendships

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. In 15.26 David instructs the priest, “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.'”

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

David responds by saying, “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

criticism

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, allow God to deal with it.

Romans 12, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Proverbs 12.15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” It’s so easy for us to dismiss any counsel or criticism we don’t like, but over and over in Proverbs and other places in the Bible we are encouraged to listen. Even when criticism is unfair on untrue, there is generally a nugget of truth in it. So listen, take it to the Lord, and leave your critic in God’s hands. Continue reading

May 21 “On holiness & yum-yums”

Your “happiness” is not God’s first concern, rather it’s your holiness! In fact, the “happiness” we crave is often like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia, only an illusion.

holiness

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

2 Samuel 13 & 14:

Sad consequences

God had told David in 2 Samuel 2.11 that, “‘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 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.”

Psalm 66.1-7:

Shouting, singing, and saying

The mode and means of worship are as varied as the personalities, emotions, and circumstances of the worshipers. Here the psalmist instructs us to “shout to the Lord,” to “sing out,” and to “say to God.” All are biblical forms of worship when offered from the heart. In other places we are instructed to “clap,” to “bow down,” and to “make a joyful noise.” God is pleased by our exuberant, as well as, our quiet worship. Continue reading

Ask the counselors: “A young widow asks about grief”

Lauren asks:

Question: I am 35, mother of two small children. My husband passed away suddenly last year in June. I have been working through my grief. I have shed many tears and have had many pity parties. However, The Lord always encourages me to keep pressing forward and to live with the knowledge that my husband is with him and that I still need to run this race of faith. I’m also a preacher. Many people think I have not grieved or reached this desperate place of grief. What are your thoughts? Can we as believers mourn, but mourn with the hope and expectation that to live is Christ and to die is gain? Continue reading

May 20 “The cost of sin … farther, longer & greater”

One 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 fills our hearts. 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.”

cost of sin

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

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 because He’s 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.” Continue reading

May 19 “Do not be unequally yoked” & LINKUP

We’re commanded to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Nowhere is that truer than in our choice of a spouse.

unequally yoked

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 9 & 10
Psalm 65.1-8
Proverbs 16.20-21
John 6.1-21

2 Samuel 9 & 10:

Don’t be unequally yoked

Chapters 9 & 10 give us a glimpse of David’s heart—first as he showed kindness to Mephibosheth as a way of honoring his covenant with Jonathan and in chapter 10 as he sent representatives to comfort Hanun at the time of his father’s death.

Sadly, David’s gesture toward Hanun was not only rejected, but met with ridicule by Hanun when he shamed and humiliated David’s ambassadors. Should we be surprised when our gestures of peace and kindness are met with rejection? Those in the world often find it hard to believe we don’t have ulterior motives, because of what’s in their own hearts.

But this is also a reminder that we can’t “make friends” with the world. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6.14).

We are to love them biblically, pray for them, and share God’s truth, but not be “yoked together” with them. This means dating, marriage, partnerships, and other close associations, especially those that require agreement on decisions, seeking advice, etc.

Nowhere is this truer than in our choice of a spouse. Paul said if you’re single you’re free to marry but only “in the Lord” (1 Cor. 7.39).

However, if you’re already married to an unbeliever, you’re not to divorce him or her. You’re to live for Christ and allow your godly behavior to be all the more evident (1 Cor. 7.12-14; 1 Pet. 3.1-2). Continue reading

May 18 “Life’s toughest questions”

Many people today are looking for answers to life’s toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What’s my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.

life's toughest questions

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 7 & 8
Psalm 64.1-10
Proverbs 16.18-19
John 5.24-47

2 Samuel 7 & 8:

The goodness of God

Read David’s prayer in chapter 7:

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: “Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? 19 And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O Lord God; and You have also spoken of Your servant’s house for a great while to come. Is this the manner of man, O Lord God?

He understood that God’s favor came only as a result of His mercy and grace and not because of any goodness in himself. What a great example of how we should prayerfully respond to the goodness of God in our lives!

Psalm 64.1-10:

Who will know?

Verse 5, talking about the wicked says, “They encourage themselves in an evil matter; they talk of laying snares secretly; they say, ‘Who will see them?'”

The wicked secretly plot evil as if God doesn’t know what they are doing. But God is omniscient. He knows everything that has ever happened, everything that is happening now, and everything that ever will happen.

How do you live? Do you harbor secret sin in your life as if God doesn’t know? Do you excuse it by saying, “It’s no big deal.” “Compared to other people, I’m not so bad.” “Everyone has some shortcomings.” “Who will know?” God knows and He’s calling us to confess and forsake those things that are not pleasing in His sight. Continue reading

May 17 “Was Jesus a liar?”

Who was Jesus? Was He a prophet? Was He a good teacher? Was He really the Son of God? Or was He a liar? Who is He? And, more specifically, who is He to you?

was Jesus a liar?

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 5 & 6
Psalm 63.1-11
Proverbs 16.16-17
John 5.1-23

2 Samuel 5 & 6:

Death by good intentions

In chapter 6 we have the account of David’s first attempt to bring back the ark which resulted in the death of Uzzah. According to Matthew Henry, “God would hereby teach us that a good intention will not justify a bad action; it will not suffice to say of that which is ill done that it was well meant. He will let us know that he can and will secure his ark, and needs not any man’s sin to help him to do it.”

First the ark was not to be carried on a cart. It was to be carried on the shoulders of the priests, and no one but the priests was to touch it. Perhaps Uzzah had allowed familiarity to breed a lack of respect for the holy things of God.

The ark of Christ

The ark was a picture of Christ and the Old Testament is an example to us. If God took Uzzah’s disrespect for the ark so seriously, what should that tell us about taking our relationship with Christ for granted?

Hebrews 10.29, “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” Continue reading

Got counseling questions?

Is there a question you have wanted to ask? Perhaps it’s about a relationship or some decision you need to make. Maybe you want clarification about a Bible principle or some passage of Scripture.

Got counseling questions?

Maybe you didn’t know who to ask or maybe you were too embarrassed. “Ask the Counselors” is a safe place to ask questions and receive biblically based answers. We are trained in biblical counseling and have many years of experience counseling couples and individuals.

Depending on the subject matter, we’ll answer your questions here on the website (with your permission and with first name only or first initial if you prefer) or by email. Click here to ask your question.

Most importantly, our answers are based on the Bible, God’s inerrant, sufficient Word.

16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3.16-17)

Got counseling questions?

2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Pet. 1.2-4)

Answers are provided based on the information provided and some subjects may be too complicated to answer fully in this format.

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May 16 “Will your kids remember you as an encourager?”

I counsel a lot of people who struggle because of words that were spoken to them as children. Certainly, God can use it for good as He helps them find their identity in Him, but how sad when our kids have to overcome our parenting, rather than remember it with gratitude. You kids will be grown before you know it. How will they remember you? As an encourager or a discourager?

encourager

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 3 & 4
Psalm 62.5-12
Proverbs 16.13-15
John 4.31-54

2 Samuel 3 & 4:

Politics as usual

There truly is nothing new under the sun. As David rises to greater power, we see political infighting (Abner and Joab), jostling for power (Abner), and the forming of alliances through human means rather than God’s (probably the reason David took many of his wives).

Even though David was God’s chosen king he fell far short. One of the things kings were strictly forbidden to do was to gather wives and horses, gold and silver, and the like (Deut. 17.14-20). They were to rely on God and to depend on His power and means. Yet, he resorted to human plans and resources.

As is the case with so many biblical stories, it should give us hope that God can and will use each of us. But it shouldn’t give us an excuse not to learn from the mistakes of our spiritual ancestors, as well as, our own. Continue reading

May 15 “Responding to imperfect authority”

How should we respond to imperfect authority? Are we to obey no matter what? Are we to refuse? And, if so, is there a right way and a wrong way?

imperfect authority

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 1 & 2
Psalm 62.1-4
Proverbs 16.10-12
John 4.1-30

2 Samuel 1 & 2:

Well, we have passed another milestone, another Old Testament book under our belts. Now we are on to 2 Samuel.

Proper respect for authority

In chapter 1 David mourns the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, especially Jonathan with whom David had a special covenant relationship. I believe it was Jonathan’s faith in God and sensitivity to what God was doing that led him to make a covenant with David.

We also see Jonathan’s loyalty to his father, although he didn’t allow that loyalty to cause him to sin. He kept his covenant to protect David. He warned David of the threat against him while speaking the truth to Saul, telling him what he was doing was wrong. But in the end he refused to desert his father, even though it cost him his life.

What a beautiful picture of how we should respond to those God has placed in authority over us.

All of us are under authority. Wives are under their husbands’ authority. Children under their parents. Students are under the authority of teachers and administrators. Employees under their bosses and supervisors. We are all under the civil authorities: policemen and women, judges, governors, all three branches of our federal government and others. Christians are under the authority of their pastors and elders. And we are all under God’s authority.

The only perfect authority is God’s.

All other authority is imperfect.

That doesn’t let us off the hook. Continue reading