September 20 “Refusing to live God’s way”

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When Jesus spoke truth to the rich young ruler, he turned and walked away. And Jesus didn’t stop him! If we as individuals, or even as a nation, are determined to turn our backs on God and continue refusing to live God’s way, He will let us! But the results could be disastrous.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 30-32
Psalm 108.7-13
Proverbs 25.23-24
2 Corinthians 11.16-33

 

Isaiah 30-32:

Refusing to live God’s way

Over and over throughout these passages God is warning His people to not rely on themselves or their own wisdom and not to turn to false prophets who merely tell them what they want to hear. He also warned them not to turn to outsiders, other nations, no matter how strong they look. The message is “I am sovereign—I am in control.”

He warns them that all the false prophets, all the strong nations, all the wisdom of man will ultimately be brought to naught. With all the problems in our country today many cling to the idea that some leader, some program, some philosophy, some scientific discovery will solve our problems nationally and individually. We are so much like the people in Isaiah’s time (30.9-13):

Children who will not hear the law of the LORD;
10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things;
Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.
11 Get out of the way,
Turn aside from the path,
Cause the Holy One of Israel
To cease from before us.”

12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel.

“ Because you despise this word,
And trust in oppression and perversity,
And rely on them,
13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you
Like a breach ready to fall,
A bulge in a high wall,
Whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.

The list of things we no longer want to hear as a nation is endless:

attitude, disrespectThat rebellion and disrespect is wrong (1 Sam. 15.23). Consequently, we disrespect policeman and other authority figures … and our children disrespect their teachers and parents.

That marriage is to be between one man and one woman for a lifetime (Matt. 19.4-6). Consequently, the rate of divorce and of couples living together without marriage happens across all levels of society in huge numbers and without any shame. And now so-called gay marriage is becoming legal in one state after another.

That sex is holy and reserved for the marriage bed (Heb. 13.4; Rom. 1.24-32). Consequently, sex outside of marriage in all of its forms is rampant: adultery, fornication, rape, incest, molestation, homosexuality, pornography and more.

That life is precious and God is the giver and taker (Acts 17.24-25; Ps. 139.13-16). Consequently, abortion is now called a woman’s right, euthanasia has been openly debated and practiced, murder is rampant in many of our cities, and mass shootings because of anger, hate, or political ideology happen all too often.

WorkerThat work is God-ordained and the way God provides for His people on a day to day basis (2 Thess. 3.10; 1 Tim. 5.8). Consequently, we have husbands and fathers who find every excuse possible not to work and provide for their families, people who know how to “work the system” going for agency to agency, organization to organization, even church to church getting every handout they can, and others who live much of their lives dependent on the government. (Bear in mind, that other passages commanded God’s people to care for the genuinely needy and unable to work.)

But the answer is the same today as it was thousands of years ago. First, to return to God. Not to become independent, but God dependent:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength …” (30.15).

And 2 Chronicles 7.13-14:

13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

And then choosing to live obediently before Him, know that He is God (Eccl. 12.13; Jn. 14.15; Ps. 100.1-5). Continue reading

September 19 “How to overcome evil”

thoughtful womanWe are not to be overcome by evil. In fact, we are commanded to overcome it! So how do we overcome evil?

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 29
Psalm 108.1-6
Proverbs 25.21-22
2 Corinthians 11.1-15

Isaiah 29:

He wants your heart!

Verse 13, “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”

God is not impressed with our “praise-the-Lords,” our yard signs, or our involvement in religious activities. Neither is He impressed with our Bible knowledge or our pious-sounding prayers.

Many of those things are good. We should have an attitude of praise toward God. We should be willing to proclaim our faith. We should be faithful to learn more about God’s Word and spend time with Him in prayer. But none of that matters to Him, unless He first has our hearts.

Continue reading

September 18 “What really are strongholds?”

stronghold, fortress When the Apostle Paul talked about strongholds, what did he mean? And how do we tear down strongholds in our lives?

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 27 & 28
Psalm 107.33-43
Proverbs 25.20
2 Corinthians 10.1-18

Isaiah 27 & 28:

Woe to the drunkards …

Verse 1 of chapter 28 says, “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower which is at the head of the verdant valleys, to those who are overcome with wine!”

This passage is written to the ten northern tribes represented by Ephraim. The area where they lived was very lush and fertile. God had blessed them with an abundance of beauty and fruitfulness, but they were puffed up with pride as if they had caused it and had wasted God’s blessings on “drunkenness”—their own sensual pleasures.

Verses 7-8 present a very unpleasant picture: Continue reading

September 17 “God still calms storms!”

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If you’re in a storm right now, don’t lose heart. God still calms storms!

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 25 & 26
Psalm 107.23-32
Proverbs 25.18-19
2 Corinthians 9.1-15

Isaiah 25 & 26:

An umbrella of protection

Chapter 26.1-4 is a picture of the church and its blessings. Verse 1 says we have “salvation for walls and bulwarks” and verse 3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”

There is great protection in being a part of a biblical New Testament church. In 1 Corinthians 5.4-5 Paul told the believers concerning a man involved in sexual sin, “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

And Matthew 18.15-17 says, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”

These two passages talk about putting someone outside the fellowship or membership of the church, sometimes called “church discipline.” As you can see from the 1 Corinthians passage, Satan has much more freedom to attack someone when that happens. But the reverse is also true; when you become a member of a biblical church, you have the protection of that body like an umbrella over you. Continue reading

Ask the counselors: Is hell a place?

Q and AJanene’s Question: Can you please tell me if hell is a place, then when did God create it?
May I post your Question/Answer on the website using only your first name? Yes
Dear Janene,
What a great question and one I’m sure many people have had.
Yes, hell is a real place. Jesus talked about the dangers of hell more than He talked about heaven. In the Sermon on the Mount alone (Matt. 5-7), He talked about it numerous times. In Luke 16, with the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus gives us a great deal of detail about hell and its finality. The rich man begged for even a drop of water on his tongue and when he realized there would be no relief for him, begged Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers before they ended up there, too.
We must also ask ourselves why Jesus would have come and suffered the horrible death He endured unless there was something very real from which we needed to be saved.
As far as when God created hell, I don’t believe the Bible makes any reference to when He created either heaven or hell. It appears they both predated the creation account. But Matthew 25.41 says it was a place prepared for the devil and his angels.
I hope that helps.
Blessing,
Donna
What about you? Do you have a counseling question? Just click the link. Questions can be published with your first name only or kept completely confidential.

September 16 “The Rapture or the Tribulation?”

sky, sun, cloudsThere will be a day when, “… the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout … we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air …” (1 Thess. 4.16-17). There will also be those who think they’re ok with God because of all the things they have done. They may be religious, but will realize too late that they were not truly saved and that they’ve been left behind. What about you? Will you experience the Rapture or the Tribulation?

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 23 & 24
Psalm 107.10-22
Proverbs 25.17
2 Corinthians 8.1-24

Isaiah 23 & 24:

God will one day judge the world

Chapter 24 changes the pattern in this book. Instead of talking about God’s judgment on specific nations, the prophet begins to speak to the inhabitants of the earth. This prophecy is more general in nature.

It certainly had near future meaning, possibly either the devastation brought about by Sennacherib and his Assyrian army or by Nebuchadnezzar and his armies from Babylon.

But it also has yet future application concerning the period of history called the Tribulation. The book of Revelation talks about the incredible destruction that will take place during those horrible, terrifying seven years: fires, earthquakes like the world has never seen, pestilence and wars, among other things.

shockedThe next few chapters of Isaiah will continue talking about God’s judgment on the world, but there is also comfort contained in many of the passages for God’s people. Even in the worst of times, God cares for His own! And as for the Great Tribulation to come, I don’t believe those of us who have made a decision for Christ now will be around to see that time. I believe that time will be proceeded by the Rapture of the church:

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4.16-17).

But there will also be those who attend church, but who have never made a personal commitment to Christ and who will realize too late that they were not truly saved. Continue reading

September 15 “Presuming on God’s grace” & LINKUP

presumptuous, thoughtful girlIs there some area where things could have gone badly, but somehow worked out? Did you just “count yourself lucky,” assume it was your quick thinking that got you out of that jam, or did you think about God’s grace and mercy?

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 21 & 22
Psalm 107.1-9
Proverbs 25.14-16
2 Corinthians 7.1-16

Isaiah 21 & 22:

Presuming on God’s grace

In chapter 22 Isaiah begins to prophesy concerning the “Valley of Vision”—a reference to Israel. God had allowed the Assyrians to threaten and attack them previously, but in his mercy had prevented their defeat. Instead of seeing God’s mercy at work, taking it as a “shot over the bow,” and repenting in thankfulness, they had taken His deliverance for granted.

In this chapter Isaiah warns them that though they will take the next deliverance for granted and will even be celebrating prematurely, God will let them fall because of their continued rebellion.

What about you? Is there some area where things could have gone badly, but somehow they worked out? Did you just “count yourself lucky,” assume it was your quick thinking that got you out of that jam, or did you think about God’s grace and mercy? Did you consider what God might be saying through that situation or will He have to repeat the lesson, this time with more severe consequences?

prayerPsalm 107.1-9:

Thankful or unthankful?

Verse 8, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men.”

Just as with the ancient Israelites, one of the characteristics of these last days is unthankfulness. 2 Timothy 3 gives us a picture of the times in which we live: Continue reading

September 14 “Delayed obedience is disobedience!”

time, clockJust as we should not put off getting our lives right with God initially, neither should we put off obeying God in the ongoing day-to-day areas of our lives. Delayed obedience is disobedience.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 19 & 20
Psalm 106.32-48
Proverbs 25.13
2 Corinthians 6.1-18

Isaiah 19 & 20:

Future mercies

Even as God through the Prophet declares judgment on Israel and the surrounding nations, He looks forward to Christ’s millennial reign on earth.

Psalm 106.32-48:

Again & again

Verse 43, “Many times He delivered them; but they rebelled in their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity.”

It’s so easy to look back and see God’s hand in the lives of His people and wonder how they could fall back into their sinful ways. And yet, how many times have we, through our disobedience, gotten ourselves into difficulties and cried out, “Lord, if You will get me out of this mess, I won’t do it again.” Only to find ourselves there again and again! Continue reading

September 13 “Whining or shining?”

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We’re called to be different! But when it comes to how we respond to circumstances, tests, trials, or the state of our nation, economy or politics … are you whining or shining?

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 17 & 18
Psalm 106.32-39
Proverbs 25.11-12
2 Corinthians 5.1-21

Isaiah 17 & 18:

A remnant … whining or shining?

In these chapters God through the prophet continues to warn of coming judgments, but reminds them there will always be a faithful remnant (18.6).

As we see what’s happening here in our nation, we cannot give up or lose hope. We must realize that is our calling—to be part of His faithful remnant. We are to be salt and light.

Philippians 2.14-15 says we are to:

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (emp. added).

How’s your light? Is it bright and clear? Is it dim and hidden by junk (sin or the cares of this world)? Or do you just whine and complain like everyone else? Continue reading

September 12 “Good doctrine matters!”

truth, torn paper

Good doctrine matters because what we believe about God, His sovereignty, and His dealings with those He loves determines how we’ll respond to the tests and trials of life.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 15 & 16
Psalm 106.24-31
Proverbs 25.8-10
2 Corinthians 4.1-18

Isaiah 15 & 16:

Judgment against gentile nations

Isaiah not only warned God’s people of coming judgment, but he also warned of His judgment against other nations.

Moab was a nation that descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot through incest with his daughter. This prophecy warned of the destruction of their land and resources, as well as, coming military defeat.

more, greed, discontentPsalm 106.24-31:

Despising God’s blessings

Verses 24-25, “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word, but complained in their tents …”

These verses contrast believing God’s word with a lack of contentment (they despised the pleasant land—God’s blessing) and complaining. We’re faced with the same choice. Are we going to be thankful or discontent? Are we going to trust God and enjoy His blessings or are we going to be constantly wanting more? Continue reading