“Hypocrisy & Little White Lies” June 21

 

Hypocrisy & Little While Lies - If God dealt with so-called little white lies and hypocrisy in the same way this Sunday as He did with Ananias and Sapphira, how many of us would be left standing?If God dealt with so-called little white lies and hypocrisy in the same way this Sunday as He did with Ananias and Sapphira, how many of us would be left standing?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 5 & 6
Psalm 77.1-3
Proverbs 19.10-12
Acts 5.1-21

 

Hypocrisy & Little White Lies

 

Acts 5.1-21:

Hypocrisy & “little white” lies

Ananias and Sapphira sold some land and pretended to give all the proceeds to the church. They didn’t have to. There was no universal command to “sell all you have.” But they wanted to look good.

I wonder if God dealt with sin in the same way in our churches this Sunday, how many of us would walk out of there? Even though we may not often see this quite as vividly, God’s attitude toward hypocrisy and lying hasn’t changed!

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11.28-32:

“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Though Paul is talking specifically about the Lord’s Supper in this passage, we should be examining ourselves on a daily basis. Notice that Paul says, “many are sick and weak … and many sleep (have died)” because of a failure to examine themselves.

Why not pray as David did in Psalm 139.23-24:  Continue reading

“Exhilarated by Persecution” June 20

 

Exhilarated by Persecution - Here in Acts 4 Israel's ungodly leaders threatened Peter and John telling them they were no longer to preach about Jesus (vv. 17-18). Instead of making them and the other disciples afraid, as John MacArthur says, "it exhilarated them." Though God may allow men to criticize or persecute us at times, we can rejoice in the fact that He will turn it to our good and His glory at the right time!Here in Acts 4 Israel’s ungodly leaders threatened Peter and John telling them they were no longer to preach about Jesus (vv. 17-18). Instead of making them and the other disciples afraid, as John MacArthur says, “it exhilarated them.” Though God may allow men to criticize or persecute us at times, we can rejoice in the fact that He will turn it to our good and His glory at the right time!

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 3 & 4
Psalm 76.7-12
Proverbs 19.8-9
Acts 4.23-37

 

Exhilarated by Persecution

 

Acts 4.23-37:

When People Plot Vain Things

Is anyone besides me amazed at how often our Old and New Testament readings fit together? (See today’s reading in Psalm 76.7-12.) Remember, it is all one continuous story written by the same Author! Should we be surprised?!

The disciples even quote an Old Testament passage here, (Ps. 2.1-2):

“Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?
The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the LORD and against His Christ.”

Here in Acts 4 the ungodly leaders of Israel threatened Peter and John telling them they were no longer to preach about Jesus (vv. 17-18). Instead of making them and the other disciples afraid, as John MacArthur says, “it exhilarated them.” They just had a prayer meeting!

Verse 24, 29, 30, “So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said. ‘Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them.’ … Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.'”

Verse 33 was the result:  Continue reading

God’s Attributes: Rest for Life’s Struggles + LINKUP

 

God's AttributesWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is God’s Attributes: Rest for Life’s Struggles by Brad Hambrick.

 

Theology … we tend to think it’s for pastors and teachers or, maybe, students in seminary or Bible college, but not for moms and dads, office workers, storekeepers, and others of us who work in stores and offices and homes every day.

But as you’ll learn from Brad Hambrick’s book, we all have a theology, including our ideas about God’s attributes. How does our understanding of God’s character affect how we view the events of our lives, especially the hard ones and how do we arrive at our view of God, sometimes, without even realizing it?

One portrayal of how we do theology is provided by breathing: inhale, process, and exhale. We inhale information, experiences, relationships, hopes, dreams, opportunities, tragedies, successes, failures, and an incredible number of mundane moments. These pieces are then processed by personal evaluations as good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant, painful, pleasurable, significant, noticed, or unnoticed. Finally, we exhale beliefs, correlations of cause and effect, life principles, optimistic or pessimistic expectations, and ideas about God (i.e., whoever or whatever we believe to be “in charge” of it all).

Think about some of the formative events of your life, the good and the bad. These major memories have the greatest impact on our core beliefs, our theology.

As you reflect on these formative life events, the hard or negative ones will fit into one of two categories: sin or suffering. Sin encompasses those actions, beliefs, and emotions that are contrary to God’s Word or character. Suffering includes the tragic and deteriorative effects of living in a fallen world, as well as the consequences of other’s sin against you.

The guiding principle of this entire study is simply: Our battle from and against sin and suffering is first and foremost a battle toward and for God.

With this said, our concept of God, resulting from the theological breathing discussed above, greatly influences how we read the Bible. If we believe that God is a cosmic cop, we read the Bible fearfully wanting to know the things for which God will “pull us over” and for which he will “let us go”—the equivalent of the “how far over the speed limit can you drive and get away with it” debate. If we believe that God is a heavenly grandfather, then we read the Bible to find out what good ideas he has and how to stay on his good side to get the extra treats of his approval.

This devotional study can help us identify the connections between our sins and struggles and our understanding of God. It can help us identify those attributes we need to understand better. Doing so will help us trust, enjoy and emulate Him more and better. When we have a wrong view of God, Brad says:  Continue reading

“When is it right to disobey?” June 19

 

 

When is it right to disobey? - God places a high priority on authority. He commands us to respect authority and to live obediently under the authority of our government, our work structure, our church leadership, and within the family. So is it ever right to disobey authority? If so, when?God places a high priority on authority. He commands us to respect authority and to live obediently under the authority of our government, our work structure, our church leadership, and within the family. So is it ever right to disobey authority? If so, when?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 1 & 2
Psalm 76.1-6
Proverbs 19.6-7
Acts 4.1-22

 

When is it right to disobey?

 

Acts 4.1-22:

Sharing the Truth

I am blessed to work full time at our church so I have great freedom to talk about Christ and the Gospel. Many people who come to me for counseling don’t have a personal relationship with God, but I’m free to share the truth with them.

However, I have many friends who work at secular jobs. Some are teachers with students from broken homes and other difficult environments. Others are office workers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement personal, and dozens of other occupations. They are surrounded by people with great needs and a variety of beliefs and they are often limited in the freedom to share their faith openly.

God places a high priority on authority. He commands us to respect authority and to live obediently under the authority of our government, our work structure, our church leadership, and within the family. So is it ever right to disobey authority? If so, when?  Continue reading

“What’s Up with God’s Timing?!” June 18

 

God's TimingDo you ever wonder where God is when you’re in a trial, being mistreated, or waiting for an answer to prayer? Though it doesn’t seem so to us, God is always in control and God’s timing is always right.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 25
Psalm 75.1-10
Proverbs 19.4-5
Acts 3.1-26

 

What’s Up with God’s Timing?

 

Psalm 75.1-10:

Where is God?

God is always near and always in control! Always! So often we wonder, “Where is God? Doesn’t He know what’s going on here?” But He says:

“When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly” (v. 2).

Think about that. He has all the facts. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows what each of us needs to help conform us to the image of Christ, and … He chooses the proper time.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Kings 25:

Mercy Even in Judgment

The book of 2 Kings ends, sadly, with the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the people being carried off captive to Babylon. This was God’s judgment for their continued rebellion as a nation. But the last few verses contain a picture of God’s mercy and faithfulnessContinue reading

“The Blame Game” June 17

 

Blame GameThe blame game—we’re good at it! We blame others, even God, for our sin and its consequences, twisting the facts and pointing the finger at the most convenient target.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 22,23 & 24
Psalm 74.18-23
Proverbs 19.3
Acts 2.22-47

 

The Blame Game

 

2 Kings 22, 23 & 24:

It’s all too common for people today to play the “Blame Game” by blaming their problems or their spiritual condition on their parents, but here was Josiah who had a horrible spiritual heritage. Both his father and his grandfather did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, yet 23.25 says:

“Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.”

Wow! In spite of his family of origin, Josiah loved and served the Lord.

We don’t limit our blaming to our parents. We blame our spouses, our heritage, our temperament, and our circumstances, even God.

No matter who our parents or grandparents were, no matter who we’re married to, we’re responsible for our choices. While other people can make it more difficult for us, nothing they do can make us sin (1 Cor. 10.13; Ezek. 18.20)! And nothing in our lives can keep us from turning to God “with all our heart, all our soul, and all our might, just as Josiah did!

 

A Mother’s Influence

mother and child praying sqHave you also noticed that as the history of Judah’s kings has been recounted, God included the names of their mothers, as well as, their fathers? In Josiah’s case, he was only eight years old when he began to reign. It’s unlikely that he made the decisions he did without wise counsel. And who do you suppose would be the most likely counselor of an eight-year-old boy?

Mothers and grandmothers can make a big difference in the lives of their children and grand-children—for good or for evil. Remember Athaliah who had her own grandchildren put to death so she could seize control. It’s no wonder her son Ahaziah was a wicked king.

In the New Testament Paul wrote to Timothy about “the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also” (2 Tim. 1.5).

I’m so encouraged by so many of the mothers and grandmothers I know and many of you I know from the blogging world, who are seeking to leave behind that kind of legacy.

 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Gal. 6.9).
Continue reading

“Is Prayer Your Last Resort?” June 16

 

prayerAre you a person of prayer? Do you pray at the first sign of a problem? Or do you first exhaust all your other options? Is prayer only a last resort?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 19, 20 & 21
Psalm 74.9-17
Proverbs 19.1-2
Acts 2.1-21

 

Is Prayer Your Last Resort?

 

2 Kings 19, 20 & 21:

What a great example Hezekiah was of how to respond when the odds seem stacked against us. Chapter 19, verses 14-19:

14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said. “O LORD God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, 18 and have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands—wood and stone. Therefore they destroyed them. 19 Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone.

As I’ve mentioned before, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still rises up on behalf of His people. But too often instead of going first to the Lord in prayer, we exhaust all our own solutions and go to Him as a last resort! Continue reading

“Just a Christian Veneer?” June 15

 

Just a Christian Veneer? - How deep is your Christianity? Is it just a Christian veneer or is it who you are? How do you respond to God's dealings with you? Do you pray and read your Bible only when the heat is on and stop once the pressure is off? Have you added a little "Christianity" to your life without truly making Jesus Lord?How deep is your Christianity? Is it just a Christian veneer or is it who you are? How do you respond to God’s dealings with you? Do you pray and read your Bible only when the heat is on and stop once the pressure is off? Have you added a little “Christianity” to your life without truly making Jesus Lord?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 17 & 18
Ps. 74.1-8
Prov. 18.22-24
Acts 1.1-26

 

Just a Christian Veneer

 

2 Kings 17 & 18:

End of Divine Patience

In chapter 17 we see what John MacArthur calls “divine patience” come to an end concerning the Northern Kingdom. Their continued idolatry and disobedience to God’s commands brought the judgment of captivity.

God has not changed (Heb. 13.8). While He is patient and merciful with us, His patience will not on go forever. As a nation and as individuals, if we continue in disobedience to the clear commands of Scripture, if we practice idolatry or if we worship God half-heartedly, we will eventually suffer the consequences of our choices, as well.

 

What is idolatry?

Someone asked me, what is “idolatry”? We usually think of bowing down to some statue or image, but that is not the only form of idolatry. Ezekiel 14.1-8 talks about idolatry of the heart. Anytime we put other things, other people, or other relationships above loving, serving, and pleasing God, we have placed that person or that thing on the throne of our hearts in place of God.

 

We practice idolatry when … Continue reading

“Words, Criticism & Imperfect Saints” June 14

 

criticism

Criticism, anger, sarcasm: Words have an effect on our lives and the lives of those around us. How should we use our words and how should we respond when someone criticizes us?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 15 & 16
Psalm 73.21-28
Proverbs 18.20-21
John 21.1-25

 

Words, Criticism & Imperfect Saints

 

Responding Well to Criticism

2 Kings 15 & 16:

Chapter 15 summarizes the reigns of Azariah, also called Uzziah, and his son Jothan. The Scripture says they did what was right in the sight of the Lord in many ways, although both tolerated the idolatrous practices of the people.

But then … verse 5:

“Then the LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death …”

What happened?

The parallel passage in 2 Chronicles gives us some insight. After serving the Lord well and seeing God prosper his efforts, Uzziah (Azariah) got puffed up with pride and tried to usurp the priestly role by going into the temple to burn incense on the altar of incense, something only the priest was to do. But even then, God didn’t strike him with leprosy until he refused to listen to the High Priest when rebuked (2 Chron. 26.16-23).

 

This is a great reminder to us to heed God’s Word and listen to wise counsel. And when we are rebuked, corrected, or criticized, we need to consider it carefully and prayerfully. Even when it seems unfair, we should ask the Lord if there is even a nugget of truth in what was said.

 

A great little booklet about how to receive criticism is called Words That Cut. It’s available through Peacemaker Ministries. If you’re not familiar with their ministry and materials, you might want to check out their website.

Continue reading

“Family Feuds & Sissies” June 13

 

Family Feuds & Sissies - Fighting and disagreements within a family can be some of the most difficult to settle, but God places a high priority on unity and peace within our biological families and within the family of God. Sadly, very few have the strength of character to do what is required in the midst of family feuds, spiritual or biological.Fighting and disagreements within a family can be some of the most difficult to settle, but God places a high priority on unity and peace within our biological families and within the family of God. Sadly, very few have the strength of character to do what is required in the midst of family feuds, spiritual or biological.


Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 14
Psalm 73.10-20
Proverbs 18.18-19
John 20.1-31

 

Family Feuds & Sissies

 

Proverbs 18.18-19:

Verse 19, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

If you have ever witnessed or been a part of a family feud, you know they can last for years, partly because of the intensity of the emotional ties. So we must seek to avoid unnecessary conflict within our families.

Family feuds are often over money, favoritism, or failure to take responsibilities seriously.  Continue reading