“Biblical Grounds for Divorce” July 24

 

Biblical Grounds for Divorce - What does the Bible say about divorce? Is it allowable to divorce because we're not happy or no longer in love? Is it OK if we're unequally yoked? Are there even any biblical grounds for divorce?

 

I’ve often heard that the rate of divorce in the US is about 50%, but I’ve discovered that statistics are hard to pin down. Some say the rate of divorce has dropped in the last decade and that as high as 70% of marriages make it to their 15th year. While that’s good, what about the 30% who don’t? And is it possible that the divorce rate is going down because many couples simply live together without marrying?

What does the Bible say about divorce? Is it allowable to divorce because we’re not happy or no longer in love? Is it OK if we’re unequally yoked? Are there even any biblical grounds for divorce?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 9 & 10
Psalm 88.6-10
Proverbs 21.23-24
Acts 24.1-27

 

Biblical Grounds for Divorce

 

Ezra 9& 10:

Marriage and Divorce when Unequally Yoked

 

59 years had passed since the completion of the temple under the leadership of Zerubbabel. In these passages, the second group of former captives have returned led by Ezra. He has learned that the Jews who were already there, including many of the leaders, have taken pagan wives. This was strictly forbidden by the Law, had repeatedly led the people into idolatry, and had caused the nation to be taken into captivity. Yet, they had gone back to the same practices!

John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible notes that even though there was a decision made that these wives as a whole were to be “put away”—that is divorced—each marriage was examined individually, probably to learn whether the wives had become believers. He also notes that other gentile women like Ruth and Rahab who had embraced faith in God were accepted and even included in the lineage of Christ.

So what about today? Can we divorce an unbelieving spouse? Matthew Henry in his commentary says, “As to being unequally yoked with unbelievers, such marriages, it is certain, are sinful, and ought not to be made; but now they are not null, as they were before the gospel did away the separation between Jews and Gentiles.”

2 Corinthians 6.14 says:

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

So while it is wrong for a Christian to marry a non-Christian, if a believer is already married to a non-believer, divorce is not an option in most circumstances.

 

divorce argumentBiblical Grounds for Divorce

 

So what does the Bible say about divorce? Is it ever allowable? Jay Adams, in his book Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, says, “Contrary to some opinions, the concept of divorce is biblical. The Bible recognizes and regulates divorce.”

When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, “being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly (Matt. 1.19). He was going to divorce her until an angel convinced him that she had not committed adultery. Continue reading

“Studying the Bible in a Pagan Culture” July 23

 

Studying the Bible in a Pagan Culture - God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithfully studying the Bible and seeking to understand and apply it.God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithfully studying the Bible and seeking to understand and apply it, even in a pagan culture. There is little doubt that we are living in a post-Christian culture, in many ways a pagan one. Are you part of that remnant?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 7 & 8
Psalm 88.1-5
Proverbs 21.21-22
Acts 23.16-35

 

Studying the Bible in a Pagan Culture

 

Ezra 7 & 8:

Preparing the Heart & Studying God’s Word

 

Ancient scrolls torahAs you can well imagine, most of the returning Jews who had lived and been born in a pagan culture had little understanding of God’s law. But chapter 7 verse 6 says:

“This Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given.”

Ezra had faithfully studied and meditated on the laws and precepts of God in spite of the culture around him. And because of his faithful preparation, he was instrumental in teaching the people who had returned to Jerusalem after the captivity. God was able to use him in a mighty way because he knew God’s Word!

Do you suppose he ever wondered, “Why am I spending all this time reading and studying and memorizing scripture?” John MacArthur says in his Daily Bible that, according to tradition, Ezra had God’s law memorized. That would have been at least the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—memorized! God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithful to study and seeking to understand and apply it.

Scribes were commissioned with copying the Scriptures by hand, as well as, knowing and teaching them. Did you know there are more than 5,300 handwritten Greek
manuscripts of the New Testament alone (many more of the O.T.) and they have very few errors, most of which have to do with numbers or spelling not things which would alter any Bible doctrine.

It’s no wonder that Jesus was so upset with the Scribes and Pharisees in His day. They knew the Word of God and legalistically demanded adherence to the letter of it without grasping the Spirit of it.

Ezra was a great example, though, not just of knowing the law, but living it:

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (7.10).

Man Praying Holding the Bible isolated on whiteNotice the order: he prepared his heart, he sought to understand the Word of God, he purposed in his heart to obey it, and then he taught it to others. It’s not that we are ever going to do things perfectly, but before we seek to teach others, we should be doing our best to understand and be doers of God’s Word ourselves.

What about you? Are you faithfully studying God’s Word for yourself or are you content to be spoon fed on Sunday mornings? What if it was suddenly against the law to own or read a Bible, do you have enough of God’s Word hidden in your heart to sustain you and to allow you teach others?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 88.1-5:

Trusting God in Times of Trouble

 

This psalm is a lamentation. The psalmist was apparently in some kind of deep distress and did not understand why God had not answered his prayers for relief. Can you relate?  Continue reading

A Wise or Foolish Woman: The Tongue & Ears

 

Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 2: The Tongue & EarsThe Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom and its flip side, foolishness. In this series we’re looking at what it means to be wise and, by comparison, what it means to be foolish and how to recognize the difference.

 

Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 2

The Tongue & Ears

 

woman of God

As I said in the first post (read it here), while I’m specifically addressing this to us as women, these truths are for everyone: young and old, men, women, and children.

 

wise woman

Our foundational Scripture is Proverbs 14.1  which says:

The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.

 

wisdom

Our working definition of wisdom is, “wisdom is the right application of truth.” It’s not only knowing the truth, but applying it to the everyday situations of our lives!

Today we’ll begin looking at some of the specific things God has to say about wisdom, beginning with “the tongue” and the ears, how well we listen.  Continue reading

“Ever feel like you have a purse with holes?” July 22

 

Do you feel like your have a purse with holes? Have you put God on a back-burner? Are your priorities God's priorities? Could He be using circumstances to get your attention?Ever feel like you have a purse with holes? Have you put God on a back-burner? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Could He be using circumstances to get your attention?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 5 & 6
Psalm 87.1-7
Proverbs 21.19-20
Acts 23.1-15

 

Ever feel like you have a purse with holes?

 

Ezra 5 & 6:

Are your priorities God’s priorities?

 

The people who had come back enthusiastic and ready to rebuild the temple, had met some resistance and gradually quit doing God’s work and, instead, got busy with their own lives.

God used the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to stir and rebuke the people about their priorities. In Haggai 1, God said:

“‘Consider your ways! You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.’ Thus says the Lord God of Hosts, ‘Consider your ways! Go up to the mountain, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,’ says the Lord” (Hag. 1.5-8).

What about you? Do you need to consider your ways? Are your priorities God’s priorities? Have you gotten “too busy” to be concerned about the things of God? Do you feel like you work hard, but everything goes into a purse that is full of holes? Could God be using circumstances to get your attention?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 87.1-7:

Everything Comes from Him

 

Verse 7b says, “All my springs are in you.” In Acts 17.28 Paul said, “… in Him we live and move and have our being.” James 1.17 says, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above … ” (NASB).

God is the source of every talent, every ability, every blessing. Scripture tells us that He even blesses the unrighteous in many ways. The Puritans called it “common grace.” And yet, we are so easily puffed up and become proud of our achievements, our possessions, even, our children. We need to be careful to give God the glory that He and He alone is due!

 

Proverbs 21.19-20:

Contentious and Angry

 

In verse 19, God again sees fit to warn us, ladies, that we can easily go from being a blessing to being a curse to our husbands and/or children.

“Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

Of course, we women are not the only ones who struggle with anger and it’s just as destructive when it’s you men.

angry kids childrenIf you struggle with anger get a copy of Wayne Mack’s book Anger & Stress Management God’s Way. In it he explains that anger that is selfishly focused or controls us is sinful—no matter how we try to justify it. If you’re dealing with angry children, check out The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo or Getting a Grip: The Heart of Anger Handbook for Teens. Both are extremely practical and helpful for parents and children alike.  Continue reading

“Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture” July 21

 

"Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture" - With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just "go along because it's the law" will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.

 

With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 3 & 4
Psalm 86.11-17
Proverbs 21.17-18
Acts 22.1-30

 

Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture

 

Ezra 3 & 4:

Fearing God or Man?

 

"Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture" - With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just "go along because it's the law" will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.In chapter 3, even though the people who returned to Jerusalem had the authority of the king behind them, there was still opposition from the people already living in the land.

Verse 3 says, “… fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries …” But in spite of their feelings they determined to do what was right and to worship God as Moses had instructed them to do.

Even though there is a move to restrict our rights as believers, we still have a great deal of freedom under the laws of our land. And while Romans 13 instructs us to obey those who rule over us, even that has limitations. Anytime someone in authority asks us to sin, we have a higher authority—that is God and His Word.

With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger. There will be times on the job (even when we are within our rights), with our friends, or in our families where we will feel fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being rejected, fear of what people will think, fear of being labeled unloving or intolerant, even in some cases, fear of losing our jobs or our businesses. But, we too, can do what’s right in spite of our feelings.  Continue reading

“Loving Your Enemies” July 20

 

Loving Your Enemies - What do you value more—your rights when abused and mistreated or the eternal destiny of your abuser? Like Christ we are called to love our enemies.

What do you value more—your rights when abused and mistreated or the eternal destiny of your abuser? Like Christ we are called to love our enemies.

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 1 & 2
Psalm 86.6-10
Proverbs 21.15-16
Acts 21.18-40

 

Loving Your Enemies

 

Acts 21.18-40:

Paul’s Eternal Focus

 

What an incredible example of boldness in the face of intense persecution! Paul had just been beaten by a mob. It says they were, “seeking to kill him.” After he was rescued, he asked the soldiers if he could address his abusers and then he began to share his testimony and to prepare their hearts for the gospel.

Like Christ who died for us when we were His enemies, he was more concerned about their spiritual destiny than any harm done to him.

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matt. 5.44).

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Phil. 2.3-4).

Like Paul and Jesus, we need to resolve to keep our focus, not on any wrongs done to us, but on others’ need for a Savior!

That doesn’t mean that those who abuse physically, sexually, or in any other way should be allowed to continue illegal or immoral behavior. But even when the right thing to do is to report a crime or in some other way allow the abuser to suffer the consequences of his actions, the focus of our hearts should be eternal, forgiving them, trusting God in our own lives, and praying for their salvation.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezra 1 & Ezra 2:

God the Author of Human History

 

historyThe book of Ezra picks up where 2 Chronicles left off, with a pagan king named Cyrus sending the captives who wanted to return, back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.

Verse 1 says, “that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled …”

God was orchestrating the course of human events. History is His-story.

And just as God is in control of the events of human history, He is in control of our individual histories, as well.  Continue reading

“Could you be left behind?” July 19

 

left behind

Two people will be working together. One will disappear and the other will be left behind.  Men and women will be eating and sleeping and going about their business. Some will be gone in an instant and others left behind. How about you? Would you go or could you be left behind?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 34-36
Psalm 86.1-5
Proverbs 21.13-14
Acts 21.1-17

 

Could you be left behind?

 

2 Chronicles 34-36:

Mercy … but Then Judgment

 

In chapter 34 Josiah had become king at the ripe old age of 8, but what a king he was! Verse 3 says that he began to seek the Lord in the eighth year of his reign. He would have been just 16 years old. By the age of 20 he was putting a stop to idolatry. Next he began clearing out the temple and getting ready to reinstate the proper temple worship. In the process Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord.

Several things struck me about all of this. First, the Word of God was not being taught. People were just doing whatever seemed right to them. The second thing was Josiah’s response to the Word when it was read to him. He tore his clothes, a statement of intense mourning and repentance. He was repenting, not just for himself, but for the nation as a whole, because he realized just how far they had departed from the truth. He understood that they were under God’s judgment because of it.

So he sent Hilkiah and a group of men to meet with a prophetess named Huldah to seek further direction from the Lord. She reassured him that God had seen his righteous response to all of this and his willingness to humble himself and obey. So while judgment was coming, He would grant the nation a reprieve. In fact, it wouldn’t happen in Josiah’s lifetime. But after his death and by the close of 2 Chronicles, Jerusalem would be destroyed and the remaining people carried off to Babylon where they would remain in captivity for 70 years.

 

God is Withholding His Judgment Today

 

Today, much like in Josiah’s time, God is withholding His final judgment from the earth because of the presence of His faithful people, the Church! But one day …  Continue reading

“10 Secrets to Finishing Well” July 18

 

finishing well

Will you finish well or will pride and self-sufficiency show up when least expected? Find out what makes the difference.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 32 & 33
Psalm 85.8-13
Proverbs 21.12
Acts 20.17-38

 

10 Secrets to Finishing Well

 

2 Chronicles 32 & 33:

He started out well, but …

 

Wow! What a great start Hezekiah had. In yesterday’s reading he put an end to idol worship, restored the priesthood, cleansed the temple, restored temple worship, and re-instituted the solemn feasts.

Now, in today’s reading, he is faced with an enemy from outside. When he realizes the Assyrian King Sennacherib was plotting to overtake Judah he sprung into action, working with his leaders and encouraging the people by reminding them of God’s faithfulness. Chapter 32.7-8:

7 “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

And when the danger grew worse:

20 Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. 21 Then the LORD sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there.

22 Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side.

What a great story of God’s faithfulness in response to Hezekiah’s prayers and his godly actions. But while Hezekiah had a great start, he didn’t finish as well.

25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.

After years of seeing God’s faithfulness, Hezekiah began to think it was about him, his wisdom, his great abilities, and his heart was lifted up in pride.

But even after all that, when Hezekiah repented, God was merciful:

26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

Paul, on the other hand, finished well in spite of his great accomplishments and in spite of great opposition. Let’s take a look at the difference from our New Testament reading.

 

Acts 20.17-38:

Finishing Well

 

Here in chapter 20 Paul is saying goodbye to his beloved friends in Ephesus. He reminds them of the truths he has taught them, warns them to watch out for false teachers, recounts his example of ministry to them, and tells them he will face danger and hardship in the future.

Verse 24, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

finish line

After all he had been through and knowing that he was going to suffer for the cause of Christ, Paul expressed his desire to finish well! What a contrast to so many of the Old Testament kings.

How did Paul help ensure that he finished well?  Continue reading

The God-Empowered Wife + LINKUP

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource.

This week’s selection is The God Empowered Wife: How Strong Women Can Help Their Husbands Become Godly Leaders by K.B. (Karen) Haught.

 

The God Empowered Wife by K.B. Haught

Have you ever found yourself praying, “Dear God, please change my husband!”

You’ve tried it all: nagging, encouraging, keeping quiet … praying. You know there’s a right way to impact your marriage, but you’re too frustrated to try.

Maybe the following sounds familiar?

You’re efficient, smart, organized, and make sure everything that needs to get done, gets done. You’re physically tired, yes, but mostly just tired of being the responsible one. Your husband is a decent guy who helps when asked—but you still have to ask, which means it’s still your responsibility. Sometimes you joke that having a husband is like having another child.

Then, there’s the marriage itself. Things look fine on the outside, but they’re not really. In public, your husband is charming and cheerful. At home, he’s distant or grouchy—apparently more interested in anything else than spending quality time together. Faith, instead of being something that defines your marriage, is a private, individual matter.

You’ve bought books on how to improve a marriage, but they all require at least some degree of cooperation from your husband. You can’t make him read something he’s not interested in; and learning how to be more romantic, helpful, and communicative isn’t exactly high on his list.

On good days, being married is like having a roommate; on bad days it’s like being in prison. Maybe that’s an exaggeration, but it’s a far cry from what you dreamt it would be like. With a few adjustments you could support yourself financially, and it’s tempting to think life might be easier alone. The question, “Who needs a husband, anyway?” has crossed your mind more than once.

He’s frustrated, too. Somewhere along the way, being married became more of a burden than a joy. The way you always “help” him drives him crazy and makes him feel inadequate. “I don’t need another mother,” he says to himself.

You have the “right” answer for everything—at least you think you do—and he’s tired of being corrected, criticized, and contradicted in what he says or does. It’s easier to bury himself in television, hobbies, or work than fit into your world—a world where he’s never quite good enough. He may not have said it out loud, but he’s probably thought it: “What does she need me for a husband, anyway?”

Or maybe you just want to understand your husband better, why he does what he does, and how you can help him grow in the area of leading his family and growing as a believer in Christ.

One reviewer said:  Continue reading

“Could you be a contentious woman?” July 17

 

contentious woman

Could you be a contentious woman? Do you ever find yourself arguing for argument’s sake? Do you feel like it’s your job to point out the other side of the issue? Do you enjoy a good debate? Do you have to have the last word?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 30 & 31
Psalm 85.1-7
Proverbs 21.9-11
Acts 20.1-16

 

Could you be a contentious woman?

 

Proverbs 21.9-11:

If the shoe fits, ladies?

 

if the shoe fits contentious naggingVerse 9, “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

 

What is a contentious woman?

 

My thesaurus uses some of the following synonyms: controversial, debatable, arguable, touchy. The Encarta Dictionary defines her as, “frequently engaging in and seeming to enjoy arguments and disputes.”

Do you ever find yourself arguing for arguments sake? Do you feel like it’s your job to point out the other side of the issue? Do you enjoy a good debate? Do you have to have the last word?  Continue reading