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. The effect of our sin on our children and others can be profound and long lasting.
Also, read about the conclusion of the Book of Ecclesiastes and the sweetness of God’s wisdom.
Verse 17, “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.”
Often when we harbor some sin, we console ourselves by saying we know it’s wrong but claiming it only affects us. But, in reality, whether we sin or whether we choose righteousness, we never do it in isolation. Our actions and behaviors do affect others, especially our children. That does not mean, that God punishes our children for our sins (Ezek. 18.20), but our actions do have an effect on them—sometimes a profound effect!
Conversely, when we choose to live righteously it also affects them. No one knows us like those who live in our own home. When our children see us living in the fear of the Lord when no one else is watching, it can be more powerful than all the words we use to teach them right from wrong. To fear the Lord is to recognize that He alone is God, to reverence and respect Him as God and to be more concerned about pleasing Him than either ourselves or other people. Continue reading →
God’s wisdom can help us avoid numerous problems, but ignoring it can lead to all kinds of trouble and heartache in every area of life. And when it comes to the decision of whether or not to marry, God’s Word provides an abundance of wisdom and cautions that can save you from years of heartache. Ignore it at your own peril.
Also read about one secret to contentment, the danger of delayed justice, and some important questions to consider before exercising our “freedoms” in Christ.
“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.
“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).
God 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.
Premarital Red Flags that Can Keep You from Years of Heartache
13 This wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me: 14 There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snaresaround it. 15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man.
16 Then I said:
“Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, And his words are not heard (9.13-16).
Solomon reminds us that “Wisdom is better than strength,” though he admits it may not always be appreciated in this life.
Even God’s principles, the ultimate wisdom, are often rejected as too hard, too inconvenient or too restrictive. But when the consequences of living life their own way set in, people come looking for help just as the men of this small city came looking for this wise man.
One area where I see this played out is with premarital couples. At our church we require couples to take a “Preparing for Marriage” class before they can be married by one of our pastors. It is followed by an interview with one of the couples leading the class. When there are red flags concerning marriage, they may refer one or both of them to one of our counselors. Continue reading →
If you have never memorized verse 13, I would encourage you to do so. This verse is one of God’s great promises and is filled with good news and hope!
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
When we go through great difficulties, we often feel isolated and alone. But the temptations, tests and trials we undergo are “common to man.” Others have gone through them and have come out the other side and so can we.
God promises He will “make a way of escape.” Sometimes the way of escape is out of the trial, but more often it’s through the trial, yet we are “able to bear it” because of His grace.
And “… God is faithful …” No matter what we are going through God is faithful! He won’t leave us or forsake us, but will walk through it with us. He’s also faithful to filter the trial through His hands and not allow it to be more than we can handle without sinning … as long as we keep our eyes on Him and rely on His strength.
But that’s the key; we must keep our eyes on Him and rely on His power. And we must respond obediently. Many of our greatest difficulties arise because when we are in a test or trial, we respond sinfully and find we have only complicated the situation. We risk experiencing the consequences of our own sin and, often, find ourselves struggling with anger, anxiety, guilt, and depression.
Those emotions are like the warning lights on the dashboards of our cars telling us something is not right under the hood (in our hearts).
Instead, we should focus on James’ advice:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (Jas. 1.2-4)
I don’t know about you, but I don’t automatically want to be joyful when I’m in the midst of a test or trial! But this passage tells us we can be joyful if we remember that God is using the trial to mature us and make us more like His Son (Rom. 8.29).
James MacDonald in his book When Life Is Hard explains how God uses tests and trials to grow us and ultimately bless us. I have recommended it before, but I want to do so again. I have seen many lives impacted by the truths Dr. MacDonald shares in that study. And it’s not just for people who are going through severe trials, it’s for all of us as we face the ups and downs of life and struggle to understand what God is doing!
But there’s also bad news in 1 Corinthians 10.13. Since God has promised no trial will be too much for us to handle in a godly way, if we choose to sin in response (with anger, bitterness, worry, an unbiblical divorce, etc. …), it’s just that … a choice! No one and no circumstance can make us sin.
Let’s pray that God will give us His grace to choose to respond His way as we face the ups and downs and struggles of life (Heb. 4.16).
Blended Families Part 1: “The Losses and the Gains”
Blended families—they’re everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. They also face the everyday problems of living with other sinners in a world that’s been damaged by sin.
When couples remarry after death or divorce, one or both may bring children from previous marriages into their new family unit. Sometimes there are children from multiple marriages and, even, other relationships outside of marriage.
They also bring different parenting styles, different traditions, different levels of spiritual maturity, and different expectations. Sometimes, those expectations can be unclear, even unrealistic.
Many of us grew up watching TV shows like The Brady Bunch and Step by Step where blended family issues could be handled during a 30-minute TV show. And engaged couples who’ve been struggling with single-parent issues like loneliness, financial difficulties, and the hazards of the dating scene can view remarriage as the answer to all their problems and be blind-sided by the reality of blending a family. Continue reading →
Money without peace, contentment, and someone to share it, money for money’s sake, 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.
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.” Continue reading →
FREEDOM … 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?
We love freedom. And we should. Christ suffered and died to set us free from the power and penalty of sin. His truth and grace sets us free from both religious legalism and the hopelessness that a life of sin can bring. But freedom, though precious and valuable, should be used carefully. Paul said it this way:
“… beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak” (v. 9).
And he ends this chapter with these thoughts:
And when you sin against other believers by encouraging them to do something they believe is wrong, you are sinning against Christ. So if what I eat causes another believer to sin, I will never eat meat again as long as I live—for I don’t want to cause another believer to stumble (vss. 12-13 NLT).
What are you willing to give up for your weaker brothers and sisters? What are you willing to forego for the cause of Christ?
Are you willing to give up that glass of wine? Or the latest movie?
Ladies, are you willing to quit wearing that new blouse if it might tempt your brother in Christ with wrong thoughts? Or your sister in Christ to wonder where her husband’s eyes are going?
Men, are you willing to forego going out with the guys and doing something you consider harmless if it causes your spouse distress? Continue reading →
Who captivates your attention? What do you spend your time reading? On what kind of game show would you want to compete? What do the answers to those questions have to do with where you have put your treasure? Before you answer … you might want to read today’s post!
Verse 1, “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.”
Perhaps your first thought was like mine, “I don’t hang out with evil people.” I go to church and hang out with my Christian friends. I don’t go out drinking. I try to avoid gossip. In fact, the list of ways I obey God might be long in my mind.
But just as we learn and grow from the good influence of mature believers, even those who have already gone to be with the Lord, by reading their books and watching or listening to them through all kinds of media … so we can be influenced by ungodly people.
Who captivates your attention? Is it Hollywood celebrities or committed Christians? Do you spend more time reading your Bible, Christian biographies and other Christian books … or People magazine and the hottest new novel? Would you do better at The American Bible Challenge or a pop culture version? Do you know more about Kate Middleton, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Katy Perry … or the Apostle Paul, Susanna Wesley and Charles Spurgeon?
Jesus said, “… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6.21).
What do your answers say about where your treasure is?
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 and 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.
What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce? What about remarriage, singleness, and sex, both inside and outside of marriage? Does the Bible really address those subjects and, if so, does it have any relevance for today?
Also read about some of the amazing animals God has created: the horse with all his strength and fearlessness, the hawk, and the eagle. Then our reading in Job goes on to talk about a creature called behemoth and a huge sea creature called leviathan.
Finally, our Proverbs passage talks about the drunkard and how, even after the a hangover, he runs to look for his next drink. The world wants us to believe they can’t help it, that it’s a disease called alcoholism. What does the Bible say?
Paul has a great deal to say about marriage, divorce, and singleness in this chapter. In verses 1-9 he explains that sex within marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. That has not changed in spite of what our culture tells us.
I know this is a huge challenge for some of you who are single and desire to be married. I want to encourage you that God has not forgotten you, that He is good, and that He will give you the grace to respond biblically to this challenge.
And to the married, verse 5 says:
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
For those who are married, sex is to be continual. It is never to be withheld from one’s partner except by mutual agreement and then only for the purpose of prayer and fasting and only temporarily. In the past, this passage was most often applied to women, but as my husband and I counsel, more and more I hear of women whose husbands are not interested in sex.
It’s ironic that in a culture where sex is everywhere—on billboards, on TV, on movie screens, and on the street—this has not freed people to enjoy God’s gift of sexuality. Instead, it has done serious harm. The reasons are numerous, and if you’re struggling with this situation, I would encourage you to seek counseling for both you and your spouse if he or she is willing, or for yourself, if not.
Even though 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
An 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!
While we cannot know another person’s heart, it is 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.
Also read about some things to consider when going through a test or a trial and some of the traps that can lead to sexual immorality.
Our reading in Proverbs today has some strong warnings about the dangers of sexual immorality. The Corinthian church had their problems in this area and, instead of dealing with it biblically, they chose to look the other way. In our society today, we might call this “being tolerant”!
Sometimes we even put a biblical-sounding spin on it and say we don’t want to judge.
Read Paul’s words in verse 3 again, “For I indeed … [I] have already judged … him who has done this deed.” While we cannot know or judge another person’s heart or spiritual relationship with God, we are told throughout Scripture to judge sin. Jesus said, “You will know a tree by its fruit.” That means you must determine what the fruit is!
The point we most often miss in all of this is the purpose behind it. It’s not so we can be self-righteous or condemning. It’s so a sinning brother or sister can be reconciled to God. If a person stays in a lifestyle of sin, one of two things is true: either he or she is not really saved or they are in danger of God’s discipline (Heb. 12.5-11).
Later in chapter 11 Paul tells these same believers:
“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.”
Because of unconfessed and unforsaken sin, many were weak and sick and some had even died prematurely!
Certainly we all sin in many ways, and many of those things can be covered in love. But gross sins, life dominating sins like anger, abuse, and sexual immorality should be lovingly confronted in a biblical way. This is not easy to do, but necessary, if the body of Christ is to be the pure and undefiled bride she is called to be.
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 had 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.”
It’s alright for us to question God, but we must know in advance, we won’t always get an answer, neither will we always understand the answers we get, and we need to be willing to accept that He knows best. Tests and trials are opportunities to trust God in a greater way whether or not it makes sense to us. Continue reading →