August 31 “Our sin’s effect on our children”

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Often when we harbor some sin, we console ourselves by claiming it only affects us. But whether we sin or whether we choose righteousness, we never do it in isolation. Our sin’s effect on our children and others can be profound and long lasting.

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 11 & 12
Psalm 103.15-22
Proverbs 24.13-14
1 Corinthians 11.1-16

Ecclesiastes 11 & 12:

Life is short. Spend it well.

Chapter 12.13-14:

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. 14 For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

We might sum up the book of Ecclesiastes by saying. Life is short. Spend it well. Enjoy the journey and above all, fear God and keep His commandments. Continue reading

August 30 “Settling for poor substitutes”

Fake crown, jewels

God gives us so much to enjoy within the framework of His commandments, but we constantly feel we have to go outside of His guidelines. We end up settling for poor substitutes for God’s best.

 

 

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 8-10
Psalm 103.6-14
Proverbs 24.10-12
1 Corinthians 10.19-33

Ecclesiastes 8-10:

Delayed justice

courtroom, judge, gavel,

“Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (8.11).

And we wonder why our criminal justice system doesn’t work?

It’s not that we shouldn’t take the time to allow for a clear investigation and give an accused person a chance to defend him or herself, but when cases drag on for years and sentences are not carried out in a reasonable amount of time, punishment is much less of a deterrent.

couple at home eating  pizzaEat, drink & be merry

“So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun” (8.15).

This is not about living a party lifestyle, doing whatever we please, but about enjoying life’s simple pleasures within the framework of God’s will. The sad fact is that just like Adam and Eve, we constantly feel we must go outside the guidelines God has given to find the pleasure we think we “deserve.” God gave them the whole garden to enjoy and they settled for a lousy tree!

“Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun” (9.9).

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Again, He gives us all the benefits of marriage to enjoy and we will settle for some other guy or some other woman who we think “understands us” or builds up our ego—forgetting the spouses they are willing to neglect while they commit adultery with us! We will destroy two families, our testimony, and our relationship with God to have what we think we want, and realize too late it doesn’t deliver. Continue reading

August 29 “God’s promise in trials”

Older coupleGod has given us a great promise to hang on to when we’re going through tests and trials. God’s promise in trials is one every believer should memorize.

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 7
Psalm 103.1-5
Proverbs 24.7-9
1 Corinthians 10.1-18

Ecclesiastes 7:

Funerals and parties

There are so many nuggets in this chapter! Let’s start with verse 2. What does it mean when it says, “better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting”?

Solomon is saying it’s better to go to a funeral than to a party, because a funeral causes you to examine your life and your relationship with God. But a party often distracts you and keeps you from looking honestly at your life.

This chapter also talks about the sovereignty of God and how the plans and purposes of God cannot be thwarted (vv. 12-14).

Solomon encourages us to do right, even though in a sin-cursed world, bad things happen to the good and the evil. He reassures us that the laws of sowing and reaping determine that it is better to do right. Peter echoed that truth in the New Testament:

“For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Pet. 3.17).

Continue reading

August 28 “Money without peace & contentment”

money in handMoney without peace, contentment, and someone to share it with truly 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

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?

Chapter 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.”

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God blesses us so we can be a blessing, not so we can hoard it, use it strictly for our own pleasure, lord it over others, or get proud and boastful. 1 Corinthians 4.7 says:

7 For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

As God provides for us, let’s pray for the wisdom to use it wisely. If we take it for granted and live like there is no tomorrow we may wake up and find it all gone. Continue reading

August 27 “Freedom & stumbling blocks”

freedom, bondageFREEDOM … as Americans, especially, 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

Ecclesiastes 3:

To everything there is a season

This chapter begins:

1 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven.
2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;

 

(Some of you once thought the Byrds wrote that! And the rest of you are going, “Who are the Byrds?”)

Continue reading

August 26 “Heros, culture & your treasure”

treasureWhere is your treasure? But, 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?

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

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 & 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. Continue reading

August 25 “The Bible on marriage and divorce” & LINKUP

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What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce? What about remarriage? And is any of it relevant for today?

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

Job 41 & 42:

Behemoth, leviathan & their creator

In chapter 41 God continues to challenge Job with just Who He really is! He uses creation and His sovereign control of every aspect of the universe to illustrate this truth.

I was struck with the incredible variation in all the species that God created. A few chapters ago we read about the ostrich and what a magnificent bird she is, but it says, “God deprived her of wisdom, and did not endow her with understanding …”

Then we read about the horse and his power, how he is not afraid in battle, and of his pure strength. The passage goes on to talk about the uniqueness of the hawk and the eagle and the behemoth. Now in chapter 41, God describes a huge sea creature called leviathan. Verses 9-10 say, “Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.”

Verse 10 goes on, “Who then is able to stand against Me?” If the creatures God created are incredible, what should that tell us about the One who created them?

Job, too, finally gets it! He responds with humility and repentance and God later restores to him all that he had and more. Continue reading

August 24 “Suing another believer”

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Suing another believer … what does the Bible say? How should we respond if we think we’ve been wronged?

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

Job 39 & 40:

Demanding answers

Even thought 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 Genesis. Continue reading

August 23 “Danger in not judging sin”

dangerWhile we cannot know another person’s heart, it’s 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.

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

Job 37 & 38:

Things to consider when going through a test or trial

In chapter 38, God turns the tables on Job and begins to question him! Remember God has 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.” Continue reading

August 22 “Adversity & consequences”

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Have you truly surrendered your life to God? Is your relationship with Him genuine or just religious activity? Sadly, we’re often content with little more than an appearance of godliness until hardship, drought or adversity comes our way.

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

Job 35 & 36:

Adversity

Verse 36.15, “He delivers the poor in their affliction, and opens their ears in oppression.”

God uses tests, trials, and times of suffering to draw us closer to Him. Sadly, we are often content to just go about our lives without giving God much thought until we have nowhere else to turn. Sometimes the only way He can get our attention is to allow some adversity into our lives.

But in other cases, even when we are living our lives to please Him (as Job was), He allows adversity to take us to a higher place with Him, not to pull us down. That is when trust is so important. Continue reading