Can the very blessings of God hinder someone’s relationship with Him? What is the danger of education or wealth? What can we learn from the life of Solomon and from Paul’s writing in the New Testament?
Can you imagine a time in history when the blessings of God were so great that silver was accounted for nothing? The gold that was given or paid to Solomon was measured in “talents.” A talent was 100 pounds and would probably be worth over $5,000,000.00 today.
And it wasn’t just the monetary blessings, but the blessings of wisdom—so much so—that the Queen of Sheba would travel 1200 miles at a time when there were no jets, no trains, not even cars, only camels, horses and carts—just to see if it was true!
But then to see how the sinful nature of man can allow even the blessings of God to become a snare as Solomon began to accumulate wealth in a way that he had been forbidden to do. It’s not that it’s wrong to “save” or to have money in the bank, or even to have material goods. Remember, God gave Joseph the wisdom to set aside stores of food to last Egypt through 7 years of famine and enough to sell to people from other nations. Continue reading →
A fool has no heart for wisdom because wisdom is truth and knowledge applied in a godly way. Only the Spirit of God can provide that ability, but the good news is, for those who belong to Him, the wisdom we need is ours for the asking! Fools, however, may be a lot more prevalent in our world today than we think.
Verse 16, “Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, since he has no heart for it?”
People with the ability to “buy” wisdom have always surrounded themselves with advisers. The Pharaoh’s of Egypt had their wisemen, as did the Babylonian and other pagan kings. The Jewish kings also had their advisers. In modern times even criminals and kingpins have their lawyers and accountants.
In reality, it’s impossible to “buy” wisdom even if we have the “purchase price.” We may be able to buy information, but we need God’s Spirit and His wisdom to apply it in wise and godly ways.
But the good news is, when we have the Spirit of God because we belong to Him, the wisdom we need is ours for the asking (Jas. 1.5).
Fools, however, are not interested in wisdom, only their own opinions (Prov. 18.2). In fact, Proverbs 23.9 says they despise it. This is the attitude of many in our relative, “my truth is what I believe it is” culture.
The description of the temple is beautiful and amazing to me. Many believe that, even now, preparations are being made to rebuild it, which Scripture tells us will happen as part of the events of the last days. At that time the Jews will resume temple worship. Continue reading →
We’re all counselors. We’re counseling our friends when they seek our advice. We’re counseling our children when they come home crying because they weren’t invited to the party, they’re struggling in school, or suffering the consequences of a poor decision. We’re counseling others when we write our blogs, teach a Bible study, or lead a Sunday school class.
We’re all counselors. The question is … are we counseling well or not. Are we counseling from our experience? Are we counseling according to popular culture? Or are we counseling according to God’s Word?
While neither I, nor the author, want to reduce the Bible to a set of verses on any given subject, the Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Women can help you be a better, more biblical counselor, friend, mom, dad or teacher by leading you to pertinent passages of Scripture.
From the introduction:
The Bible is the grand story of God’s glory manifested in his rescue and restoration of his good but fallen and broken creation. This story is woven through every book in the Bible.
In Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Women, each of the topics and verses is a window into the grand mansion that is the Bible. As marvelous as the view is through the windows, it is only when we step inside the grand house— rest in its rooms, explore its many passages and balconies, enjoy its beauty and light— that we will be truly transformed.
When we encounter this grand home’s Master and Maker— Jesus Christ, whose name is written on every wall and reflected on every surface— we will know at last that we are truly home.
The Bible is not just a reference; it is so much more. Please do not get bogged down in the topics or the references. Take time to read, study, memorize, and meditate on the precious Word of God. Let it saturate your life. Keep exploring this mansion for the rest of your life!
They [God’s Words] are not just idle words for you— they are your life. Deuteronomy 32: 47 NIV
Many debate the statement “once saved, always saved.” Perhaps it could be more accurately stated “if saved always saved.” I believe there are many people who think they have a right relationship with God because they go to the right church … or because they were brought up in a Christian home … or because they took the right sacraments … or were baptized as a baby … or, perhaps the most insidious, they are pretty good people.
No one can snatch us out of His hand!
If we are truly saved, verses 27-30 should give us great confidence in God’s sovereign control of our eternal lives.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
If we belong to God, no one, not the devil nor anyone else can take that away from us. But the kind of saving faith that gives us that reassurance involves more than our just having prayed a prayer at some point. Continue reading →
Here in chapter 10, Jesus said of Himself, “I am the Good Shepherd” (v. 11) and in verse 4 He said:
“And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
As we follow Christ, reading His Word and obeying His commandments we grow in our ability to “know His voice” and to recognize the voice of a stranger (Satan, v. 5). We become more and more discerning about the truth, God’s wisdom, and recognize the enemy’s lies.
Knowing the Bible isn’t enough though, we must also “follow” the truth that we know. Knowledge without doing doesn’t bring discernment, it brings delusion (Jas. 1.22).
James 1.22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
So how can we know if we are hearing from God?
Go to the Bible. What does God say about it in His Word? God does not lead us contrary to His written Word (Tit. 1.2).
If we are one of His, we can know His voice, but the more time we spend reading and meditating on His Truth, the more clearly we will know and the more we will recognize a voice that is not His.
God will sometimes speak truth to us through sermons and other teachings, through our consciences, through people, and even through circumstances. But if it is Him, it will not contradict His written Word.
In chapter 3, God appears to Solomon in a dream and gives him a blank check to request anything he wants. Instead of wealth, or fame, or any material blessing, Solomon asks for wisdom to rule the kingdom.
God still invites us to ask for wisdom and gives it freely to those who do.
James 1.5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Have 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?
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!
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 →
Do 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:
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 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.
2 Samuel 21 & 22
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.
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 →
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 →