“Friends & Enemies: Kisses, Winks & Whispers” May 22

 

Friends & Enemies: Kisses, Winks & WhispersFriendships can be confusing. Sometimes those who appear to be our friends turn out to be our enemies, at least spiritually, and our critics can be truer friends.

But what about unfair criticism or people who simply attack us? How should we handle it when we believe criticism is unjustified or motives are evil? Can God truly use those situations for good?

 

Today’s Readings:

2 Samuel 15 & 16
Psalm 66.8-15
Proverbs 16.27-30
John 7.1-27

 

Friends & Enemies: Kisses, Winks & Whispers

 

2 Samuel 15 & 16:

The Sovereignty of God When People Whisper & Criticize

 

In these two chapters, we see David’s trust in the sovereignty of God in what must have been two very difficult situations.

First, the broken relationship between him and his son Absalom has lead to bitterness and now rebellion on Absalom’s part. He has been secretly plotting to overthrow his father by deceiving the people. He is now on his way to take Jerusalem.

David gets word and is fleeing the city along with his household and hundreds of his men. When Zadok the Priest joins him, David says:

“Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus. “I have no delight in you,” here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him'” (15.26).

Then in chapter 16, Shimei, one of former King Saul’s descendants, follows David and his men cursing and throwing stones at him. Abishai, one of his generals, offers to take off Shimei’s head! David responds by saying:

“So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ And David said to Abishai and all his servants, ‘See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”

 

Responding to Our Critics

 

This is a great example of how we should respond to criticism in our lives. Whether or not the criticism is justified, God has allowed it for some purpose. If it’s unfair or ill-intended, we can trust God to deal with it.  Continue reading

“Handling Anger Biblically” Part 3 + LINKUP

 

Anger … it’s a common, almost universal struggle.

We get angry because we want to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for us! We want to control what goes on around us.

When we should be saying, “Lord, how do you want to use this in my life,” and trusting Him, we often allow our “feelings” to take over.

In the two previous posts, we’ve said emotions like anger, sorrow, guilt, depression, etc. are not sinful in and of themselves. It’s what we do with them that makes them sinful or not. And even righteous anger can quickly become sinful by our failure to deal with it biblically.

Anger is not just an emotion. It’s an issue of the heart (Matt. 15.18-20). And when we are angry our tendency, instead of taking responsibility for it, is to make excuses, minimize it, or blame other people or our circumstances.

We’ve touched on them in previous posts, but today, we’re going to talk about the two primary forms of anger and steps to overcoming it.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Handling Anger Biblically – Part 3

 

We have just wrapped up a series on God’s design for marriage. If you missed it, you can access the lessons here. We’re in a new series “Handling Emotions Biblically.” Today’s post is the third of three on anger.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll also talk about:

Depression
Guilt
Fear & Worry
Trials & Suffering

I hope you’ll be here each week (post goes live at 5 PM MST on Sundays).

 

Two Forms of Anger

 

While there may be variations in the ways we express it, there are two primary forms of sinful anger. The first is “blowing up.”

 

Blowing Up

 

When we blow up, we frequently yell and scream and use cutting words.

“I hate you!”
“I wish I had never met you!”
“I don’t care what you do!”
A parent who says, “I wish you had never been born.”

Sometimes blowing up involves intimidation.

“You’re going to pay for this!”
“You’ll wish you had never met me!”

We may lose control physically by:

Pushing and Shoving.
Hitting and Punching.
Getting in someone’s Face.
Road Rage.
Murder.

 

Clamming Up

 

The second way we express sinful anger is by “clamming up.” We put up walls, withhold fellowship and affection, and refuse to deal with issues.

“I’ll just keep it to myself.”
“I’m not going to risk being hurt again.”

Clamming up frequently means giving others the silent treatment. And when the other person asks what’s wrong we say, “Nothing!”

We get focused on ourselves, how we’re suffering, how life is unfair. We play the martyr.

Or we decide we’ll just “get over it.” But it’s like throwing junk in a gunny sack. Eventually, the sack gets too full to carry and the person blows up!

Most of us vacillate between the two.

So, if we know we’re dealing with anger issues of either kind, how do we change?  Continue reading

“Are You Hungry for Him or Settling for Yum-Yums?” May 21

 

Are You Hungry for Him or Settling for Yum-Yums? -

What did Jesus mean when He said we must “eat His flesh and drink His blood?” Why is it the path to true happiness, peace, satisfaction, and joy? Have you been settling, instead, for something that ends up like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia? Has it left you with nothing but a craving for more of the same?

Also, as David’s story continues to unfold in 2 Samuel, we see the foolishness of thinking we can sin in secret and that our sins won’t affect anyone but us. David had set in motion laws of sowing and reaping and the sad results were happening before his eyes in the lives of his own children. How can this drive us to our knees to pray for God’s wisdom in our own parenting?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 13 & 14
Psalm 66.1-7
Proverbs 16.25-26
John 6.52-71

 

Are You Hungry for Him or Settling for Yum-Yums?

 

John 6.52-71:

The Bread of Life

 

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”

Verse 56:

56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

What does it mean to “eat His flesh and drink His blood?” In verse 56 Jesus said the one who does so “abides” in Him.

John 15, also, talks about “abiding in Him.”

John 15.9-11 says, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”

open bible mineWe “eat His flesh and drink His blood” when we allow the “Word of God,” to become as much a part of our being as the food we eat. Food is digested and broken down in our bodies and literally becomes a part of us. So should the Word of God.

Is it truly a part of who you are or just some nice ideas that you consider if you feel like it or if it “seems right to you” as our Proverbs passage today says? The Word of God is not a buffet where we can pick and choose what seems palatable to us or makes us happy.

Our “happiness” is not God’s first concern, rather it’s our holiness! In fact, the “happiness” the world offers is like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia, only an illusion crafted by the deceiver himself.

As today’s Proverbs reading says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 16.25).

When we seek happiness in disobedience, the end is death, beginning with our intimacy with God. The next thing we know the yum-yums we desired have vanished only to be replaced by a craving for something that brings no satisfaction.

True happiness, peace and satisfaction is found by “abiding in Him,” in “keeping the commandments,” in “eating His flesh and drinking His blood,” so that His “joy may remain in [us], and that [our] joy may be full.”

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Samuel 13 & 14:

Sad Consequences

 

God had told David in 2 Samuel 2.11, “‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house …”

David’s sins were adultery and murder. Now his son Ammon has raped his own half-sister and her brother, Absalom, has murdered Ammon and fled for fear.

38 So Absalom had fled and gone to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 The heart of King David longed to go out to Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, since he was dead (2 Sam. 13.38-39).

But even though David longed to see his son, he refused to go to him. Only when one of his men interceded did he allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem and, even then, refused to see him for two more years.

I have to wonder what was going through David’s mind. How he must have reflected back on the consequences of his sin and its effect on his family. Perhaps the idea of seeing Absalom was too much to bear.  Continue reading

“The Cost of Losing God’s Restraining Grace” May 20

 

The Cost of Losing God's Restraining Grace - One of the consequences of willful sin can be the removal of God's restraining grace where He steps back and allows us to do what our sinful heart desires. Without that restraining grace, we find that the sin we thought we could control is now controlling us. As someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”There is no sin in our lives that is too big or for which God won’t forgive us. But knowing that God will forgive us, doesn’t mean that’s our “ace in the hole” or that we can sin without impunity, like children with our fingers crossed behind our backs. The person who thinks he or she can do whatever and ask for forgiveness later is in rebellion against God and God is looking at the heart.

One of the consequences of willful sin can be the removal of God’s restraining grace where He steps back and allows us to do what our sinful heart desires. Without that restraining grace, we find that the sin we thought we could control is now controlling us. As someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay and cost you more than you want to pay.”

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 11 & 12
Psalm 65.9-13
Proverbs 16.22-24
John 6.22-51

 

The Cost of Losing God’s Restraining Grace

 

2 Samuel 11 & 12:

David, Bathsheba & the Loss of Restraining Grace

 

Here in chapter 11 David sees a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop and lustfully sends for her, knowing that her husband, one of his faithful men, is away on the battlefield. When she becomes pregnant, he tries to hide his sin and when his scheme doesn’t work, he orders her husband into the most dangerous part of the battle.

This is a sad page in David’s life story, one that would define and change the rest of his life and his reign. Even though God forgave him when he repented, the consequences of it were great!

Neither is there any sin in our lives that is too big or for which God won’t forgive us. But knowing that God will forgive us, doesn’t mean that’s our “ace in the hole” or that we can sin without impunity, like children with our fingers crossed behind our backs. The person who thinks he or she can do whatever and ask for forgiveness later is in rebellion against God and God is looking at the heart. God will not even hear our prayers when we are in that kind of willful sin:

“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66.18).

Romans 6.1-2, 15-16, 21, “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? … What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? … Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.”

And Galatians 6.7-8 says, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

So what were the consequences of David’s and Bathsheba’s sin? Continue reading

“Why do you follow Jesus?” May 19

 

Why Do You Follow Jesus? - Recently I heard of someone who said he was willing to come to church to "see what God has to offer him." That's understandable for an unbeliever who is just beginning to explore the claims of Christ. But sadly, many professing believers seem to follow Him for much the same reason.Recently I heard of someone who said he was willing to come to church to “see what God has to offer him.” That’s understandable for an unbeliever who is just beginning to explore the claims of Christ. But sadly, many professing believers seem to follow Him for much the same reason.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 9 & 10
Psalm 65.1-8
Proverbs 16.20-21
John 6.1-21

 

Why do you follow Jesus?

 

John 6.1-21:

What’s in it for Me?

 

Verse 2, “Then a great multitude followed Him, because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.”

They didn’t follow Him because they saw their need for spiritual change, but for what He could do for them. Sadly, that hasn’t changed for many people.

God does bless those who love Him, but that should never be our primary motive for serving Him. We are to live our lives to please God out of our desire to bring glory and honor to His name, not with a what’s-in-it-for-me attitude.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Samuel 9 & 10:

Don’t Be Unequally Yoked

 

Chapters 9 & 10 give us a glimpse of David’s heart—first as he showed kindness to Mephibosheth as a way of honoring his covenant with Jonathan and in chapter 10 as he sent representatives to comfort Hanun at the time of his father’s death.

Sadly, David’s gesture toward Hanun was not only rejected, but met with ridicule by Hanun when he shamed and humiliated David’s ambassadors. Should we be surprised when our gestures of peace and kindness are met with rejection? Those in the world often find it hard to believe we don’t have ulterior motives, because of what’s in their own hearts.  Continue reading

“Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions” May 18

 

Answers to Life's Toughest Questions - Many people today are looking for answers to life's toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What's my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.Many people today are looking for answers to life’s toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What’s my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 7 & 8
Psalm 64.1-10
Proverbs 16.18-19
John 5.24-47

 

Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions

 

John 5.24-47:

Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places

 

Answers to Life's Toughest Questions - Many people today are looking for answers to life's toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What's my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.

Verses 39-40, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”

The religious leaders studied and debated and memorized the Scriptures, but were blinded to the truths contained in them which pointed to Jesus. Sadly, they didn’t recognize their Messiah when He was right in their midst.

As Americans, we have grown up in a nation where Bibles are everywhere. There is hardly a home without one, yet many of us look for eternal life and the answers to life’s toughest questions everywhere but in the Book of Life!

We try to find eternal life by leaving a legacy or by making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate—both good things to do, but they can’t save us.

Or we seek to live longer and healthier with the help of medical science, as if we can somehow avoid death.  Continue reading

“Who is Jesus?” May 17

 

Who is Jesus? A good Teacher? A Prophet? A Good Man? Was He really the Son of God? Or is He a Liar because He claimed to be all these things? More importantly, who is He to you?Who is Jesus? A good Teacher? A Prophet? A Good Man? Was He really the Son of God? Or is He a Liar because He claimed to be all these things? More importantly, who is He to you?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 5 & 6
Psalm 63.1-11
Proverbs 16.16-17
John 5.1-23

 

Who is Jesus?

 

John 5.1-23:

Teacher? Prophet? Good Man? Liar?

 

So often people who reject the Gospel claim they believe Jesus existed, that He was a good man or a good teacher. They may even call Him a prophet, but they don’t believe He was God. And they refuse to believe Christianity is the only way to heaven.

But you can’t have it both ways!

Either He is who He says He is or He can’t be a good man or a good teacher. He would be a liar, because He clearly said He and the Father are One.

Verses 17-18, “… ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”

And, in spite of some popular movies and liberal theologians, He said in John 14.6:

 “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

So, who is Jesus? Or more importantly, who is He to you?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Samuel 5 & 6:

Death by Good Intentions

 

In chapter 6 we have the account of David’s first attempt to bring back the ark. This well-intentioned, but misguided attempt resulted in the death of Uzzah. According to Matthew HenryContinue reading

“Do Your Kids Know You LIKE Them?” May 16

 

Do Your Kids Know You LIKE Them? - I counsel a lot of people who struggle because of words that were spoken to them as children. Certainly, God can use it for good as He helps them find their identity in Him, but how sad when our kids have to overcome our parenting, rather than remember it with gratitude. You kids will be grown before you know it. How will they remember you? They may know you love them, but do they know you like them?I counsel a lot of people who struggle because of words that were spoken to them as children. Certainly, God can use it for good as He helps them find their identity in Him, but how sad when our kids have to overcome our parenting, rather than remember it with gratitude. You kids will be grown before you know it. How will they remember you? They may know you love them, but do they know you like them?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 3 & 4
Psalm 62.5-12
Proverbs 16.13-15
John 4.31-54

 

Do Your Kids Know You LIKE Them?

 

Proverbs 16.13-15:

In the Light of the King’s (& Queen’s) Face

 

Verse 15, “In the light of the king’s face is life, and his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.”

Leaders have a great opportunity to be a blessing by encouraging those under them. My husband recently picked up a book about the top 10 mistakes leaders make. One of the big 10 was failing to encourage!

No where do we have a greater opportunity to encourage (or discourage!) than in our homes with our spouses and with our children.

That’s one reason why husbands are commanded to live with their wives in a understanding way (1 Pet. 3.7) and wives are commanded to show respect for their husbands (Eph. 5.33) and to have a gentle spirit (1 Pet. 3.2). Even when we must reprove one another we are to do it with gentleness (Gal. 6.1).

As parents, Colossians 3.21 instructs us to “not provoke [our] children, lest they become discouraged.” Parenting is not about giving our children everything they want (far from it!) or allowing them to do what pleases them, but we can and should parent in a way that encourages them and not in a way that discourages them.

Do your kids know you LIKE them?Megan Scheibner and her husband Steve have a website called “Character Health.” In her blog she wrote:

There are many things that my children know. They know how to read, they know how to pray, they know how to do their chores, etc. But, there are just as many things that I assume my children know without ever making sure that my assumption is correct … The first is this: don’t assume your children know you like them. Yes, my children know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I love them, however, do they know that I like them?

How are your relationships with your children? Is it all about what they do wrong? Is it all about getting their homework and chores done? Is it all about the next scheduled activity? Do you ever take the time to just let your kids know you like them and enjoy spending time with them?  Continue reading

“How to Respond to Imperfect Authority” May 15

 

How to Respond to Imperfect Authority - How should we respond to imperfect authority? Are we to obey no matter what? Are we to refuse? And, if so, is there a right way and a wrong way?How should we respond to imperfect authority? Are we to obey no matter what? Are we to refuse? And, if so, is there a right way and a wrong way?

Also, what’s wrong with living together? Many people today argue that a marriage license is “just a piece of paper”! What does the Bible really say?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 1 & 2
Psalm 62.1-4
Proverbs 16.10-12
John 4.1-30

 

How to Respond to Imperfect Authority

 

2 Samuel 1 & 2:

Well, we have passed another milestone, another Old Testament book under our belts. Now we are on to 2 Samuel.

 

Proper Respect for Authority

 

In chapter 1 David mourns the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, especially Jonathan with whom David had a special covenant relationship. I believe it was Jonathan’s faith in God and sensitivity to what God was doing that led him to make a covenant with David.

We also see Jonathan’s loyalty to his father, although he didn’t allow that loyalty to cause him to sin. Instead, he kept his covenant to protect David. He warned David of the threat against him and spoke the truth to his father, telling him what he was doing was wrong. But in the end he refused to desert his father, even though it cost him his life.

What a beautiful picture of how we should respond to those God has placed in authority over us.

salute authorityAll of us are under authority. Wives are under their husbands’ authority. Children under their parents. Students are under the authority of teachers and administrators. Employees under their bosses and supervisors. We are all under the civil authorities: police men and women, judges, governors, all three branches of our federal government and others. Christians are under the authority of their pastors and elders. And we are all under God’s authority.

The only perfect authority is God’s.

All other authority is imperfect.

That doesn’t let us off the hook.

Ephesians 5 instructs wives: Continue reading

“Handling Anger Biblically” Part 2 + LINKUP

 

Handling Anger Biblically - While it may take different forms, most of us have struggled with anger. Some of us turn our anger inward by clamming up or engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Some of us explode at the least provocation. No matter how we express it, anger can be extremely damaging. Today's post is part 2 of our discussion on "Handling Anger Biblically."While it may take different forms, most of us have struggled with anger. Some of us turn our anger inward by clamming up or engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Some of us explode at the least provocation. No matter how we express it, anger can be extremely damaging. Today’s post is part 2 of our discussion on “Handling Anger Biblically.”

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Handling Anger Biblically – Part 2

 

We have just wrapped up a series on God’s design for marriage. If you missed it, you can access the lessons here. We’re in a new series “Handling Emotions Biblically.” Last week we started talking about anger. Today we’ll discuss when and how anger becomes sinful and steps to overcoming sinful anger.

Over the next couple of months, we’ll also talk about:

Depression
Guilt
Fear & Worry
Trials & Suffering

I hope you’ll be here each week (post goes live at 5 PM MST on Sundays).

 

Last week we said that since God is the One who created us and everything else, all sinful anger flows out of our unwillingness to accept the fact that He is the Creator, and that He gets to make the rules.

presumptuous sinsWhen we get angry we’re really saying, “I don’t like the way You’re letting things work out in my life!”

We get angry because we want to decide what’s right and what’s wrong for us. We should be asking, “Lord, how do you want to use this in my life?” Instead, we allow the “feelings” to take over.

We also talked about the fact that emotions like anger, sorrow, guilt, depression … are not sinful in and of themselves, it’s what we do with those feelings that makes them sinful or not.

We discussed the different kinds of anger and said that anger is not just an emotion, but an issue of the heart (Matt. 15.18-20).

So, it’s not enough to just “control or manage anger.” The heart issues must be addressed if we want any lasting change and the kind of change that’s pleasing to God.

 

Different Expressions

 

We may express anger in different ways:

Sometimes we try to keep it under the radar. We say or do something mean … and then claim, “I was only kidding, can’t you take a joke?!” This kind of anger is deceitful and vengeful.

Prov. 10:23 says, “To do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom.”

And Prov. 14:8 says, “The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.”

Sometimes anger is explosive. We may yell, slam doors, hit something or someone.

Sometimes we clam up, give others the silent treatment, or turn it in on ourselves.

No matter how it’s expressed, anger, when not dealt with in God-honoring ways, is destructive and sinful.

 

Why Anger?

 

Why would God give us an emotion that can be so damaging?  Continue reading