“Worship, Arguing & Fools” June 30

 

Worship, Arguing & Fools - What is your attitude toward Sunday morning worship? Is it something you see as nice "if you make it on time"? Do you purposely come in late to avoid it? Or do you see it as an offering to the Lord?What is your attitude toward Sunday morning worship? Is it something you see as nice “if you make it on time”? Do you purposely come in late to avoid it? Or do you see it as an offering to the Lord?

And speaking of attitudes, how do you handle conflict? Do you always have to have the last word in an argument? What does that have to do with foolishness?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 23-25
Psalm 78.40-55
Proverbs 20.3
Acts 9.22-43

 

Worship, Arguing & Fools

 

1 Chronicles 23, 24 & 25:

How is your worship attitude?

 

Verse 25.1, “Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals.”

The passage goes on to tell us there were 288 singers, plus musicians and support staff, 4,000 in all! What a music ministry that must have been! There were people singing and praising the Lord all the time!

And when I read the Psalms and other passages of Scripture, it appears to me there is lots of praise and lots of music in heaven. I believe God loves to receive our heartfelt praises often expressed through music and singing.

How do you view that time in the service where the truths of God are being proclaimed through music and song? Do you see it as just the prelude to the service, something to be enjoyed “if you make it on time”? Do you purposely arrive late to avoid it? Or do you see it as a time when you really focus on God and worship Him? Do you allow the words of the songs to penetrate your heart? Do you “think about” and “meditate on” the words you’re singing? Or have you allowed it to become “vain repetition“?

Let’s ask God to give us a “right spirit” where praise and worship are concerned.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 78.40-55:

Remember and Have a Thankful Heart

 

heart hands

Like the ancient Israelites, we are forgetful people, forgetful hearers of His Word, and forgetful of the wonderful things He has done. If all He ever did for us, was die for our sins so we don’t have to spend eternity separated from Him, it should be enough. But He does so much more.

Take time to thank Him today. Keep a list of answers to prayer, so you can “encourage yourself in the Lord” and have a thankful heart!

 

Proverbs 20.3:

Quarreling Fools

 

“It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.”

We often think it proves something when we win an argument, and there certainly are truths worth standing up for, but even then, a believer is not to be argumentative (2 Tim. 2.23). It’s not about “winning.” This verse reminds us that it is often more honorable to lay it down, to let the other person have the last word, to be the better person!

And Proverbs 26.4 says, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him.” 

So when two people are determined to win an argument at all costs, what you end up with is two fools talking to each other.  Continue reading

“Should Christians Drink Alcohol?” June 29

 

Should Christians drink alcohol? What does the Bible say? How do you decide what's right?Should Christians drink alcohol? What does the Bible say? How do you decide what’s right?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 21 & 22
Psalm 78.34-39
Proverbs 20.1-2
Acts 9.1-21

 

Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

 

To Drink or Not to Drink?

Proverbs 20.1-2:

 

Verse 1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

I’m frequently asked what the Bible says about drinking. I usually explain that the Bible does not condemn all drinking, but it does condemn drunkenness, specifically. And it gives us other passages to guide our decisions in this area. Here are 3 from Paul’s epistles:

“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify” (1 Cor. 10.23).

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor. 6.12).

“It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak” (Rom. 14.21).

 

Discerning God’s Will

 

So we need to ask ourselves several questions as we consider whether or not we should drink:

Is it edifying, not just to me, but to those around me? My children or others?

Could I be brought under its power, either temporarily or in the long term? Temporarily, will my behavior be influenced by it? Long term, could I become addicted to it?

Is it the loving thing to do? Are there others around me who struggle in this area and who could be wrongly influenced or tempted?

What about the unbelievers that God has placed in my life? Perhaps even strangers who are watching from a distance? One of the excuses unsaved people use to keep God at arm’s length is that believers are hypocrites. Is my freedom worth being a stumbling block to someone? That’s what Paul was referring to in Romans 14.21.  Continue reading

“His-Story, Eunuchs, & Believer’s Baptism” June 28

 

His-Story, Eunuchs, & Believer's Baptism - Is baptism really that important? Does it save us? What is the difference between infant baptism and believer's baptism? What about those who have never heard the gospel? Is God limited by natural circumstances when revealing Himself?Is baptism really that important? Does it save us? What is the difference between infant baptism and believer’s baptism?

What about those who have never heard the gospel? Is God limited by natural circumstances when revealing Himself?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 19 & 20
Psalm 78.26-33
Proverbs 19.27-29
Acts 8.26-40

 

His-story, Eunuchs, & Believer’s Baptism

 

The Ethiopian Eunuch

Acts 8.26-40:

 

In this passage we meet an Ethiopian eunuch who had been to Jerusalem to worship. He was reading from the Prophet Isaiah and seeking to understand what it meant. As a eunuch, he would not have been accepted by the Jews, but God saw his heart and sent Philip to share the gospel with him:

Verse 35 says, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.”

Philip started where he was and explained how it all pointed to Jesus.

Jesus Christ and God’s salvation through Him is the ultimate theme of both the Old and the New Testaments. It’s one continuing story—His-story.

 

The Importance of Believer’s Baptism

 

baptismActs 8.37, also, reminds us of the importance of “believer’s baptism.” When the eunuch asked if he could be baptized, Philip said, “‘…If you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.'” Notice Philip said, “if you believe.”

If you have not been baptized since you came to saving faith in Christ, I would encourage you to take that step of obedience. While baptism doesn’t save us (Eph. 2.8-9), we are commanded to be baptized once we have come to saving faith (Acts 2.38).

Infant baptism is not the same. When a baby is baptized, it’s a decision his or her parents make. We are not saved by being born into a Christian family or baptized as a infant. Each of us must come to that point of decision for ourselves. Believer’s baptism is a public declaration of our personal decision to put our faith and trust in the gospel and should be one of our first steps of obedience.  Continue reading

“Is this all there is?” June 27

 

Is this all there is? - We live in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of "toys," and yet, instead of finding satisfaction, we often find ourselves asking, "Is this all there is?"We live in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, instead of finding satisfaction, we often find ourselves asking, “Is this all there is?”

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 17 & 18
Psalm 78.17-25
Proverbs 19.25-26
Acts 8.1-25

 

Is this all there is?

 

Finding Satisfaction & Contentment in Him

Psalm 78.17-25:

 

In this portion of the psalm, the psalmist talks of the people’s dissatisfaction with God’s provision. It’s easy to point our fingers and shake our heads when we read passages like this, but how like us they were!

Proverbs 27.20 says, “Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

We are living in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. Even those of us living relatively modest lives are abundantly blessed compared to many other nations, and yet, it is so easy to look around and want more, to look around and say “why does God seem to be blessing her and not me.” Or “if only I had such and such” life would be so much better.

We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, we are easily bored. “Is this all there is?” has been the theme of numerous books, movies and songs.

Psalm 90.14 in the American Standard Version says:

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

We need to pray regularly that our hearts will be satisfied in God, the only true source of satisfaction, and not look to the world for it!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

His Hand Holds the Future

1 Chronicles 17 & 18:

 

The chronicler continues to recount the story of David’s reign. In today’s reading he emphasizes God’s promise to David that his son would sit on the throne after him. It had a near application in Solomon and a messianic application, as well.

Notice David’s response to all of this in chapter 17:  Continue reading

“What Do Wax, Cracks & Happy Hearts Have to Do with Worship?” June 26

 

What Do Wax, Cracks & Happy Hearts Have to Do with Worship? -

If you did a heart check, how would you describe your heart attitude this past week? In your relationships with others? How about before Sunday worship? How have you approached God privately? Do you know what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth? How’s your obedience? Do you “obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart?”

I have to admit that I, sometimes (dare I say, often), fall short in these areas!

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 15 & 16
Psalm 78.12-16
Proverbs 19.22-24
Acts 7.44-60

 

What Do Wax, Cracks & Happy Hearts Have to Do with Worship?

 

By the Way … Bless Me

1 Chronicles 15 & 16:

 

If you remember, David’s first attempt to bring the stolen Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem hadn’t gone well (2 Sam. 6.6-8; 1 Chron. 13.1-10). But here in 1 Chronicles 15 we find David once again preparing to bring the Ark back. This time he does it in a way that is honoring to God (1 Chron. 15.1-15). Whether he spent time reading the scrolls or talking to the priests, he had learned the importance of following God’s specific instructions for moving it.

Then David said, “No one may carry the ark of God but the Levites, for the Lord has chosen them to carry the ark of God and to minister before Him forever.”

11 And David called for Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and for the Levites: for Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites; sanctify yourselves, you and your brethren, that you may bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel to the place I have prepared for it. 13 For because you did not do it the first time, the Lord our God broke out against us, because we did not consult Him about the proper order.”

14 So the priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the children of the Levites bore the ark of God on their shoulders, by its poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the Lord.

Sometimes we, too, have a heart to do something for God, but we jump out there and do it without really seeking to understand if it’s the way He wants it done or if it’s His will. Instead of prayerfully seeking Him, we go do our own thing and then ask God to bless our plan.

 

In Spirit and Truth

 

Everything the Israelites did in regard to the ark was part of their worship. It represented the presence of God with them.

When it comes to worship, we can be thankful that we have a new and better covenant as the book of Hebrews tells us (Heb. 8.6). We are no longer under the ceremonial law with all of its restrictions and prohibitions (like “don’t touch the ark, unless you’re a Levite”). But the Old Testament laws were given so that we might better understand who God is.

In this case, that He is a holy God and should be honored as such. In the New Testament Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4.24).

Worship is to come from the heart, in sincerity. The word “sincere” means “without wax.” In ancient times if pottery was of poor quality, it would get small cracks. To cover them up, merchants would fill the cracks with wax. When we worship Him in sincerity—”without wax”—we do it without hypocrisy, openly, with pure hearts, honestly confessing our sins to Him, because, while we may be able to fool others by putting some wax in the cracks, we cannot fool God.

 

The Sweet Psalmist of Israel

Psalm 78.12-16 & 1 Chronicles 16.8-36:

 

In Psalm 78 the psalmist continued to extol the works of God which we have talked about before, so instead of commenting on those verses I’d like to talk about David’s psalm in our Chronicles reading (1 Chron. 16.8-36).

David is called “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” What a beautiful example we see here. Especially note the verbs and what they show us about how to praise and worship God, such as: give thanks, call, sing, talk, glory, seek, remember, proclaim, declare, give, bring, tremble, and say.

As you worship God in the days to come, it might be good to look back at this psalm and incorporate some of those ideas into your worship, if you don’t already.

 

All the Way, Right Away, with a Happy Heart

Proverbs 19.22-24:

 

Verse 23a, “The fear of the Lord leads to life.”

The fear of the Lord is not the cowering fear of an abusive God who is just waiting to clobber us because we fall short. It’s worshipful respect.

But it’s, also, knowing that God is God and that He loves us enough to discipline us if we’re determined to go our own way instead of His. He does so because He knows that His way is the way that leads to life no matter how it looks to us.

Living in the fear of the Lord doesn’t just involve our one on one relationship with Him. It is how we live our lives every minute of every day. It’s obeying His commands and precepts in all areas of our lives. It’s how we treat others, our attitude toward authority, our motives for all that we do and much more.

Sometimes when I counsel younger children I teach them a phrase I learned many years ago from Ginger Hubbard, “Obey all the way, right away, with a happy heart!”

That’s good advice for all of us, but does that mean?  Continue reading

Handling Depression Biblically: “How?” – Part 4 + LINKUP

 

Handling Depression Biblically - Part 4

Handling Depression Biblically – Part 4

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We started with anger and then moved on to depression. Three weeks ago we discussed the medical, cultural and biblical definitions of depression and two weeks ago we looked at the lives of two of the prophets, Elijah and Jeremiah, and how God ministered to them when they experienced feelings of depression.

Last week we looked at depression in David’s life.  As we looked at Psalm 32 we saw how David’s sin with Bathsheba affected his emotions and led to what we would describe as depression. Today we’re going to talk more about how a failure to handle the events and responsibilities of life in a biblical way and other sins can cause feelings of depression. Then we’ll talk about how, as believers, we should respond to feelings of depression.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Cain & His Unpleasant Emotions

 

In Genesis 4, we read about Adam and Eve’s two sons, Cain and Abel.

² … When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord. Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected (NLT).

Cain’s offering was rejected by God and Cain became dejected. The NKJV says his countenance fell.

Hebrews 11.4 says, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous.”

God didn’t just reject Cain’s offering out of hand. Abel responded to God in faith, he believed God and obeyed Him. Cain’s disobedience and rebellion was first exposed by his offering. He followed the dictates of his own heart and brought what seemed right to him. Genesis 4 goes on:

“Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

God was personally dealing with and warning Cain about what was going on in his heart. His response should have been repentance, instead he remained angry at God and his brother will pay the price.

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him.

Cain lures his brother out into the field and then kills him out of anger and jealousy.

Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?”

“I don’t know,” Cain responded. “Am I my brother’s guardian?”

Given another opportunity to repent and confess his guilt, he responds with defiance and rebellion.

10 But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! 11 Now you are cursed and banished from the ground, which has swallowed your brother’s blood. 12 No longer will the ground yield good crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless wanderer on the earth.”

13 Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! 14 You have banished me from the land and from your presence; you have made me a homeless wanderer. Anyone who finds me will kill me!”

His response: “It’s too much! It’s not fair!” He was filled with self-pity and feelings of depression.

“Someone will kill me.” He becomes consumed with fear and guilt.

His sinful choices put him on a downward spiral of sin that lead to dejection, anger, self-pity, depression, fear, worry, and guilt.

 

Colleen’s Story

 

In a course that my husband teaches, the downward spiral is illustrated by what happens in the life of a hypothetical college student. We’ll call her Colleen.

Colleen is a good student. She heads off to college with lots of encouragement from her family and teachers to study hard and keep her grades up. College life is new and exciting. She’s making friends and doing well in her classes.

But one night as she heads to the dorm to study, a new friend says they should go to Starbucks and hang out for a while. She protests, but after some convincing gives in and jumps in the car. They stay late and she’s too tired to study. The first time she gets away with it, but soon it becomes a habit. One morning she fails a pop quiz and pretty soon her grades are slipping. When an exam comes up, Colleen cheats.

Then her parents call and ask her how she’s doing. She lies and tells them she’s doing great.

Soon she’s experiencing feelings of anxiety and depression.

If she went to the clinic on campus and told them about her feelings, it’s likely she would be given a prescription to help her feel better. But are her feelings really the problem?

Often, our feelings are like the warning lights on the dash of our cars. They’re telling us something is wrong under the hood. If we disconnect the lights or cover them up somehow, we won’t solve the problem. In fact, we’ll probably have a bigger problem somewhere down the road.

Something is wrong in Colleen’s heart. She has let fun and pleasing her friends become more important than pleasing God.

 

What Does Colleen Need?

 

Colleen needs to repent. She needs to ask God to forgive her and she needs to accept His forgiveness. She needs to call her parents, admit that she lied, and ask for their forgiveness. She, also, needs to confess what’s she’s done to her professor, ask for forgiveness, and be willing to accept the consequences. Then she needs to become faithful in her studies.

Hard. Yes.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12.11 NKJ).
As challenging as this might seem, if she’s willing to respond God’s way, she’ll be on an upward path, instead of the downward spiral she’s been on, and her feelings can improve quite rapidly. But even if the feelings of depression and discouragement don’t leave immediately, she can have peace with God and know that He’ll use all that’s happened for good in her life. And she’ll grow in her Christian walk as she learns to live righteously before Him.


If You’re Depressed

 
What if you’re experiencing feelings of depression?

Continue reading

“Reasonably Transparent about Our Own Sin” June 25

 

Reasonably Transparent about Our Own Sin -

The Bible shows us people, even those used greatly by God, with all their warts and shortcomings. But it, also, shows us the consequences they faced as a result.

As we look at our own lives, we should allow the consequences for our poor choices to make us wiser. But if we’ve accepted His gracious gift of forgiveness and cleansing, we should, also, remember God’s mercy and grace in forgiving us and changing us.

Those of us who are parents often pray our children will avoid some of the mistakes we’ve made so they won’t suffer the same consequences. We should share our testimonies with them in ways that are reasonably transparent, yet wise.

But could there be something we do without realizing it that might backfire as it plays out in the lives of our children?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 13 & 14
Psalm 78.1-11
Proverbs 19.20-21
Acts 7.22-43

 

Reasonably Transparent about Our Own Sin

 

The Horrible Consequences of Sin

1 Chronicles 13 & 14:

 

God allows us to see the men and women He uses with all their warts and failings:

Verse 14.3, “Then David took more wives in Jerusalem, and David begot more sons and daughters.”

Remember kings had been specifically commanded not to take multiple wives (Deut. 17.17). Even though God allowed him to do so, He didn’t condone it. And the history of his life and family reveals the horrible consequences, including: infighting, jealousy, incest, and murder. So don’t be tempted to think the men and women in the Bible somehow got a pass on sin.

As a pastor friend of ours used to say, “You can choose to sin, but you don’t get to choose the consequences.”

Someone else has 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”– unknown

 

Reasonably Transparent

Psalm 78.1-11:

 

Reasonably Transparent

The title of this psalm is “A Contemplation of Asaph.” A contemplation is “something to think about.”

Verse 4 reminds the people to tell their children the stories of their history and what God had done. Verses 6-7:

That the generation to come might know them,
The children who would be born,
That they may arise and declare them to their children,
That they may set their hope in God,
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments.

We, too, should tell our stories to our children, being “reasonably” transparent about our own mistakes. I say “reasonably” transparent because they don’t need all the gory details. Make sure what you share is age appropriate.

We should remind them of God’s grace, mercy, and blessings in our lives, even though in many cases, He allowed us to suffer the consequences of our foolish or sinful behavior.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life (Gal. 6.7-8).

Share the grace and mercy of God in saving you and setting your feet on the right path.

We should be transparent, too, when we sin or have sinned against them in some way, either directly or indirectly by arguing or acting selfishly in front of them. We should be willing to admit our sins and seek their forgiveness.

 

A Word of Caution

 

I’d like to offer a word of caution about sharing your past with your children. First ask yourself about your own attitude toward Your sinful past. Kevin Johnson who co-wrote The Peacemaker Student Edition says:  Continue reading

“Could You Explain the Basics of the Faith?” June 24

 

Could you explain the basics of the faith? How do we know we can trust the Bible? Why did Jesus have to die? How is a person saved? If you had the opportunity to share your faith, would you know how to answer those questions?Could you explain the basics of the faith? How do we know we can trust the Bible? Why did Jesus have to die? How is a person saved? If you had the opportunity to share your faith, would you know how to answer those questions?

Also, is there an angry person in your life? How do you respond to them? Do you make excuses? Do you give in to their selfish demands? How should we respond to people whose lives are characterized by anger?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 11 & 12
Psalm 77.16-20
Proverbs 19.17-19
Acts 7.1-21

 

Could You Explain the Basics of the Faith?

 

Wise as Serpents & Harmless as Doves

Acts 7.1-21:

 

Stephen was taken before the Sanhedrin and falsely accused of blasphemy and here in chapter 7, instead of answering directly, Stephen began to speak the truth of God in the power of the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus had said:

16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt. 10.16-20).

We are living in a society where more and more restrictions are being placed on believers in our schools, in the workplace, and in the civic arena. It seems many in our culture want to give freedom of religion and expression to everyone except believers in Jesus Christ. While we need to be respectful of our civil laws, teach our children to respect authority in their schools and elsewhere, and be the best possible employees, we must sometimes risk censure to speak the truth to a lost world. When we do, we must do it out of a desire to please God and a love for the lost and not self-righteousness or an argumentative attitude.

Though we may not be killed for doing so, there will be times when it will be costly. We should pray that God will help us be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves,” as Jesus said in Matthew 10. For instance, we can take a co-worker to lunch instead of sharing the gospel at work and we need to be informed of our freedoms under the law and take advantage of them. Many people keep quiet because they are uninformed about the freedoms they do have.

 

The Basics of the Faith

We also need to learn to defend our faith. Many of us hold back because we don’t even know why we believe what we do. It doesn’t mean you have to have a degree in theology, but we should all know the basic tenets of our faith!

basics of the faith

How do we know we can trust the Bible?

Why did Jesus have to die?

How is a person saved?

What is “justification by faith”?

What does the Bible really say about homosexuality and abortion and how are we to treat people caught up in life-dominating sins?

If you don’t know the answers to those questions, ask your church leadership if there is a discipleship class or program. Many churches, like ours, offer courses to help you get grounded in the truth.

You can, also, do a self study with books like, Basic Christianity by John R.W. Stott or The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin L. DeYoung.

COULD YOU EXPLAIN THE BASICS OF THE FAITH? How do we know we can trust the Bible? Why did Jesus have to die? How is a person saved? If you had the opportunity to share your faith, would you know how to answer those questions?


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Betrayal & Forgiveness

1 Chronicles 11 & 12:

 

1 Chronicles parallels 2 Kings and repeats much of the same narrative story, but because of the viewpoint of the return from Babylon, it emphasizes certain points. So as I said yesterday, don’t be confused by the repetition.

Notice in 1 Chronicles 11.41 in the list of David’s mighty men—those who served him so well—the name Uriah the Hittite. He was the husband of Bathsheba. David’s sin of adultery and murder would have been bad enough no matter who Uriah had been, but it was aggravated by the fact that Uriah was a loyal associate.

Yet, though there were consequences, some of which affected David for the rest of his life, God forgave him and Bathsheba. Because of His faithfulness and grace, their son Solomon would be the next king in the lineage of Jesus Christ.  Continue reading

“The Circle of Blessings” June 23

 

circle of blessings

Are you inside God’s circle of blessings or have you put yourself on the outside? When we put ourselves outside of God’s circle of blessings, we risk shortening our lives and opening ourselves to God’s discipline.

What about your children? Are you teaching them how to stay inside that circle of blessings?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 9 & 10
Psalm 77.10-15
Proverbs 19.15-16
Acts 6.1-15

 

The Circle of Blessings

 

Are You Inside or Outside?

Proverbs 19.15-16:

 

Verse 16, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.”

The Puritan Pastor Matthew Henry said about this verse, those who make it a lifestyle to keep God’s commandments, “secure their present peace and future bliss, and provide every way well for themselves.”

It made me think of a very simple illustration we use when counseling children. We call it the “Circle of Blessings” based on Ephesians 6.1-3:

¹ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.

circle of clessing

When children obey and honor their parents, things tend to go well with them and God promises a long life, but the opposite is also true. When they put themselves outside of God’s circle of blessings, things, generally, don’t go well with them and they risk shortening their lives.

You can quickly draw this out on a piece of paper or a white board as you talk about Ephesians 6.1-3. This is a simple illustration that helps children understand the passage, but the same principle is at work in our lives. When we keep our Heavenly Father’s commandments and honor Him, things tend to go well with us. When we reject the commandments and wisdom of God, we put ourselves outside of God’s circle of blessings. We, too, risk shortening our lives and opening ourselves to His discipline.

 


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Failure to Trust in the Sovereignty of God

1 Chronicles 9 & 10:

 

If you think of the Bible as being written chronologically, today’s reading and much of what follows may seem confusing. But the Bible is not put together chronologically, as far as the various books go. And at times, as in Chronicles, it repeats things that were previously recorded with a slightly different perspective.

It may help to remember that Chronicles was probably written by Ezra. He was a priest who came back to Jerusalem after they had been in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. So he was writing from the perspective of the return and how life was so dramatically different from how it was during the reigns of David and Solomon. This portion covers the genealogy of the people who were returning and emphasizes the reign of David.

The last two verses of chapter 10 are worth meditating on:

13 So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. 14 But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.

Even though Saul committed suicide, God had allowed the situation in which he found himself (about to be captured and probably tortured) as a consequence of his sin. Notice the sins delineated all involved his lack of trust in the sovereignty of God. He refused to believe that doing things God’s way was best and sought to know the future apart from waiting on God to reveal it at the proper time.

 

“I Will Remember”

Psalm 77.10-15:

 

The psalmist starts out “This is my anguish …,” but turns his thoughts to God and begins to remind himself of God’s faithfulness in the past, “I will remember,” “I will also meditate,” and “I will talk of Your deeds.” Then he recounts the great things God has done.

Have you ever tried writing your own psalm? This would be a great way to spend some of your devotional time if you’re struggling with discouragement of any kind.

 

Importance of the Ministry of Helps

Acts 6.1-15:

This passage points to the importance of the ministry of helps. When others use their gifts, it frees those who are called to the five-fold ministry, such as pastors and teachers, to do what God has called them to do—that is pray and study God’s Word.


Facing Religious Persecution

 

why the world hates usBut there are other great truths contained in this portion of Scripture. Let’s look at verse 15:

“And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.”

Stephen faced the anger and persecution of an angry religious mob, with a peace and calm that demonstrated his complete trust and reliance on God.

Jesus said in Matthew 10.18-20:

18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

What a great promise!

 

journalWhat about You? Questions to Ponder or Journal:

Have you ever faced religious persecution? How did you respond? How would you like to respond in the future? I hope you will share your story with us.

Read several of the Psalms, then try writing your own. After you’ve shared your honest emotions with God, turn your attention to other times when God has shown Himself faithful. Use a concordance or go to Bible Gateway and look for verses that speak to your situation. Share your experiences and insights in the comments section at the end of the blog.

Where are you in regard to the “Circle of Blessings”? Are you inside that circle or have you put yourself outside?

Blessings,
Donna

 

Special Offer for the month of June only: If you sign up for “Christian Living” posts and “Bible in a Year” posts here and here (you must click both links and add your email address), I’ll send you a Kindle version of “Help, I”m Depressed” by Life Line Mini-Books.

Help! I’m Depressed

Does this sound like you? “Troubling thoughts flood my mind. I lie in bed alone, beseeching God on behalf of my three children. The tears come as I wonder why the Lord seems so far away and why prayers remain unanswered. Life seems so unfair. Why is it so hard? In the “depths of despair” I know I have a choice to make. Am I going to allow these feelings to destroy me?”

I sometimes LINKUP with these blogs.

“Drip, Drip, Drip” June 22

 

Drip ... Drip ... Drip ... Drip … Drip … Drip …

Ladies, our Proverbs reading says we can choose to be godly, wise wives and a blessing to our husbands or we can choose our own way. Solomon compares that nagging, unpleasant wife to a “continual dripping.” If you’re married, what kind of a wife are you … one who continually drips or one who blesses?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 7 & 8
Psalm 77.4-9
Proverbs 19.13-14
Acts 5.22-42

 

Drip, Drip, Drip …

 

Dripping or Blessing?

Proverbs 19.13-14:

 

nagging wife

These two verses contrast two different kinds of wives. The first are “continually dripping”—constantly nagging. The second are “prudent” or wise wives. Do you see that, ladies? Nagging is the opposite of wisdom!

For those who are married God gives us a choice as to what kind of wife we’ll be. It’s up to us! Are we going to allow God to work through us, and become His gift to our husbands. Or … are we going to take matters into our own hands and try to nag our husbands into becoming what we think they should be? In reality, we can’t change them, but we can allow God to change us!

I’d love to hear your stories about how God taught you that lesson, ladies. And husbands, I’d love to hear your stories about how your wife is a wise woman.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Looking for Baby Names?

1 Chronicles 7 & 8:

 

baby names pregnantAs you read the lists of names in the genealogy of the nation of Israel, do you ever wonder why some of these names failed to come into modern usage?

When I was expecting my oldest daughter, I wanted something different. Too bad I wasn’t reading my Bible, but if you’re expecting, all this genealogy should give you an abundance of names from which to choose.

Who’s going to be the first to have a little Elioaenai or Hotham or Japhlet? Or maybe you could name that darling little girl Maacah or Hushim or Baara. Maybe Shuppim and Huppim for those twins!

On a more serious note …  Continue reading