“Virgins, Self-Righteousness & Parental Guarantees” July 31

 

Virgins, Self-Righteousness & Parental Guarantees - Most of us are familiar with the proverb: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” But we all know kids who were raised in church and, yet, have walked away from God. What went wrong? Did their parents miss something? Did God fail to keep His Word? Do we have a guarantee that our children will continue to walk with God?

Most of us are familiar with the proverb: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” But we all know kids who were raised in church and, yet, have walked away from God. What went wrong? Did their parents miss something? Did God fail to keep His Word? Do we have a guarantee that our children will continue to walk with God?

We’ll also read about:

As we start the book of Esther, we’ll look at what God was up to, and the un-fairy-tale like ending for the other young virgins taken as “potential queen for a night.”

Yesterday in Romans 1 we read about God’s rebuke to “wise fools” who reject God and the downward spiral of sin that follows. In today’s reading in Romans 2, God speaks to believers, warning us of the danger of self-righteously judging others.

 

Today’s Readings:
Esther 1 & 2
Psalm 89.38-45
Proverbs 22.5-6
Romans 2.1-29

 

Virgins, Self-Righteousness & Parental Guarantees

 

Esther 1 & 2:

Young Virgins & a Selfish King

 

The book of Esther takes place sometime between the time the Jews began to return to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel and the second return under Ezra. It’s quite an interesting book. Though the name of God is not mentioned at all, He is seen everywhere, and is in control of the events of this book in a grand way!—as He is in all the events of history and the world.

The book starts out with a party and what a party it is—7 days, free flowing wine, everyone has been invited (the men, at least!), golden goblets, entertainment … wine, women (probably the entertainment) and song, as the saying goes.

Finally, the drunken king decides to show off his wife and she refuses to come. The men were faced with a problem. If word got around that the queen didn’t obey the king, all the women would refuse to obey their husbands! So, at the other men’s urging, he strips away her crown.

But when the king sobered up and got over his fit, he realized what he had done. He missed the queen, so the men devised another plan—to bring all the beautiful women in the kingdom to the palace and let him choose the one who suited his fancy as the new queen.

palaceAs glamorous as it might sound to have a chance to be queen, this was not a good thing for these young girls. They were probably mostly very young teenagers. And notice it says, “Esther also was taken” (Esther 2.8). This was not voluntary; these girls were taken to the palace.

Each of them was to spend one night with the king and never to be with him again unless she was chosen. In the meantime, they would have lost their virginity to a lecherous king who cared little about anyone but himself. And in that society, what was left for them in the way of marriage and family? They probably would be supported afterwards, but I think it would have been a lonely existence—never to have a husband or children of their own.

But God was at work in the situation and was setting the stage to use this pagan king and Esther to do something great.

 

Psalm 89.38-45:

God is Always at Work

 

From the viewpoint of the psalmist it looked like God had forsaken his people, but we know He had not. Sometimes we feel that way, but we must know that God is at work even when we can’t figure it out.

 

Proverbs 22.5-6:

Parental Guarantees

 

Verse 6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

This is not a guarantee that our children will always walk with God. What it does mean is that if we are faithful to train our children in God’s ways, they will never be able to get away from the truth they’ve learned. It will follow them like their shadow! So even if they make bad choices, the truth will be there to guide them back, when they repent, just like the prodigal son in Luke 15.

Our job is to be faithful: faithful to take our children to a good Bible-believing church. Faithful to teach them by example and as we go about our daily activities.

Deuteronomy 6:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

We should also teach God’s Word to our children in a formal, systematic way. That is not, primarily, the church’s responsibility, but ours. Family devotions is one of the most neglected responsibilities in the church today. There is nothing that will impact our children and grandchildren more than to see us faithfully read and study God’s Word individually and to faithfully and formally have times where we read and study God’s Word together as a family.

Randy Patten, the Executive Director of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (formerly NANC) for many years, says we must remember there are three factors at work in our children’s lives: there is our teaching and training, there is their will, and there is the Holy Spirit.  Continue reading

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 2 + LINKUP

 

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 2Today we’re going to continue to talk about guilt, what it is, and why we experience it? We’ll look at how the world views it and the biblical perspective on it. Finally, we’ll talk about what God has to say about handling guilt biblically?

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 2

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” In previous posts we covered anger, depression, fear and worry. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.

Last week we looked in depth at Psalm 38 which was written by David as he struggled with guilt and depression.

Today we’ll look at how guilt and shame are tied to other negative emotions like fear and shame. We’ll also see how the culture has tried to remove all restrictions, including God’s law, to alleviate feelings of guilt, instead of dealing with the root issues. Then we’ll look at what guilt is biblically and how God says to deal with it.

 

An Unholy Trio: Guilt, Fear & Shame

 

A few weeks ago we looked at the first time fear showed up in the Bible. Adam and Eve had disobeyed God and eaten the fruit they had been forbidden to eat. When their eyes were opened and they realized what they had done, Genesis 3 says:

7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

That fear was triggered by guilt and shame. Their response was to hide and when confronted to shift the blame to someone else:

12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Since that day in the garden, human beings have perfected the art of blame-shifting and tried to cover our guilt with all kinds of fig leaves. We’ve blamed our parents, our economic situations, society, cultural demands, and religion just to name a few.

 

The World’s Fig Leaves

 

  • The Psychology Fig Leaf

Secular psychologists told us that religion and society imposed unfair “codes of conduct” on us and that was the root of our guilt. The answer we were told was to throw off those constraints and create our own definitions of what’s right and wrong.

Isn’t that what women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, the right to abortion, the demand to be gay, bisexual, transgender or whatever we desire, are all about? In our attempt to alleviate any guilt, we’ve re-written the code.

  • The Environmental Fig Leaf

Behaviorists came along and blamed the environment. They said we shouldn’t feel guilty. It’s not our fault. It’s because we’re poor and uneducated. Or it’s the way our parents raised or neglected us.

  • The Low Self-Esteem Fig Leaf

The self-esteem movement told us it’s because we don’t feel good about ourselves. We must raise our self-esteem so we can eliminate those negative emotions.

  • The Medical Fig Leaf

The medical world has clouded the issue, too. Drunkenness is now called a disease, alcoholism. Rebellion is oppositional defiance disorder. Sexual immorality is a sexual addiction.

The problem is when we quit calling things what they are, the answers get obscured, as well.

 

The Effects of Living in a Sin Cursed World

 

No one would deny the the environment in which a person is raised has an effect on them. But we have a choice as to how we’ll respond to those factors. And because of our fallen nature we can have a predisposition to certain kinds of sin, weaknesses, where we need to depend on God in a greater way.

And, certainly, we need to examine any “code of conduct” in light of God’s Word. Legalism and false religions are full of man-made rules. But the answer isn’t to come up with what seems right to us.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death (Prov. 14.12).

And nowhere in the Bible are we told to esteem ourselves, but rather, to esteem God and others. We’re not to denigrate ourselves, but neither are we to think more highly of ourselves than we should.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (Rom. 12.3).

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself (Phil. 2.3).

Whatever our weaknesses, whatever our environment, God has promised that if we belong to Him, He’ll give us the grace we need for every situation.  Continue reading

“Wise Fools” July 30

 

Wise FoolsAn unwillingness to accept and believe the truth can start an individual or a society on a dangerous downward spiral. But the rejection of God is not done in ignorance. Romans 1 tells us that creation alone provides each of us with enough knowledge to know there is a God. It’s not a lack of truth. Instead, men and women suppress the truth because they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to respect God’s authority in their lives. The consequences are evident in our world today.

Many of those who reject the truth most vehemently are the most educated in our society. Our schools, colleges, universities, and professions are full of people who think they are wise with all their science, business acumen, and knowledge. But God says they’re fools!

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 12 & 13
Psalm 89.30-37
Proverbs 22.3-4
Romans 1.1-32

 

Well, here we are finishing up the book of Nehemiah. Do you realize we have finished well over half of the Old Testament, 16 books in total and a good part of Psalms and Proverbs? We’ve finished the four gospels and the book of Acts, the historical books of the New Testament.

bible on a chairNow we are starting the Epistles of Paul in the New Testament, beginning with the book of Romans and tomorrow we’ll start the book of Esther in the Old Testament. It’s exciting to see the progress we’re making.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Well, on to the word …

 

Wise Fools

 

Romans 1.1-32:

An Overview

 

As we start the book of Romans, it might be helpful to consider a couple of things. Romans is primarily a book of doctrine, but don’t be put off by that. It doesn’t mean it’s a dry book with no relevance to our lives, quite the contrary! This epistle (letter) has some of the most important truths for us to understand in our Christian lives. In his Study Bible, John MacArthur says:

“The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes from God: the glorious truth that God justifies guilty, condemned sinners by grace alone through faith in Christ alone.”

That is the foundation of our faith. If you are a newcomer to reading through the Bible or you’re new here, you might find it confusing that at the end of Acts, Paul is in Rome and here in Romans he is expressing his desire to go to Rome. It’s important to remember that the books of the Bible are not always arranged in chronological order.

In the New Testament the first four books are the Gospels, the four accounts of Christ’s life and ministry. Acts is the historical overview of the first three decades of the Church, ending its account in about 60-62 A.D.

quill pen scroll parchmentThe rest of the New Testament, except for the book of Revelation is a series of letters written by various church leaders to churches and individuals meant to be circulated to others within the church. They’re not in chronological order, but are grouped by author. Romans through Philemon, and possibly Hebrews, were written by the Apostle Paul. Romans was written about 56 A.D. before his imprisonment and journey to Rome.

 

The Joy of Christian Fellowship

 

So here we are in chapter one and there’s so much in this chapter. I love verses 11-12 where Paul is expressing his desire to visit Rome:

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established—that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.”

What a picture of the joy of Christian fellowship and one anothering (Rom. 15.14; Gal. 6.2; Col. 3.16; 1 Thess. 4.18, 5.11; Heb. 10.24-25; Jas. 5.16; 1 Pet. 4.9).

 

Not Ashamed

 

Then verses 16-17:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

Are you tempted to be ashamed of the gospel? In the workplace? Or with your unsaved family? Are you afraid to share the truth because someone might make fun of you or think you’re simple-minded? Even after being beaten, stoned, ridiculed, and all the rest, Paul was “not ashamed of the Gospel”!

 

Claiming to Be Wise

 

Then beginning in verse 18, we have what can be called “the downward spiral of sin.

This passage explains how an unwillingness to accept and believe the truth can start an individual or a society on a downward spiral. But this rejection of God is not done in ignorance. Paul tells us that creation alone provides each of us with enough knowledge to know there is a God.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.

It’s not a lack of truth. Instead, men and women suppress the truth because they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to respect God’s authority in their lives. The result and its consequences are evident in our world today.

And sadly, many of those who reject the truth most vehemently are the most educated in our society. Our schools, colleges, universities, and professions are full of people who think they are wise with all their science, business acumen, and knowledge. But God says they’re fools!

21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools.

How scientists can study the intricacies of the human body and the wonders of the earth and deny the existence of God is beyond me. It takes more “faith” to believe a lie than to believe the truth! But they are putting their faith in the wrong things. You have to wonder what the Day of Judgment will be like for some of them, when their utter foolishness has been totally exposed and “every knee bows” to the God of the universe—too late for them to accept Him personally.

Because of their sin and rejection, three times it says, God “gave them over” or “gave them up” (Rom. 1.24, 26, 28). You can see in this passage how lives and societies spiral downward. The more they turn away from God, the more they turn toward sexual immorality and other sins, eventually reaching the point where it’s commonplace. At the bottom of the spiral we see these verses:

28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.

Debased minds, sexual immorality, maliciousness, murder, hatred toward God, pride, disobedient children … doesn’t that describe our world today?

And at the very bottom we see this phrase “but also approve of those who practice them.” That is what so many in the LGBTQ movement want, not just the freedom to do as they please, but universal approval. And if you disagree they want to be able to attack you, call you “intolerant,” charge you with discrimination, or worse.

As you read today’s passage in Nehemiah, imagine how he would respond if he visited our nation today? When he returned to Jerusalem and found people buying and selling on the Sabbath and ignoring other clear commandments of God, it says, “So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God …” (Neh. 13.25).

We can’t stop standing for the truth either. I’m not advocating that we act unloving. In fact, 2 Timothy 2 says:  Continue reading

“The Great Exchange” July 29

 

The Great Exchange

 

“The Great Exchange”: We get to exchange our failures for His perfect obedience, our sin for His righteousness. If we have accepted Christ as our Savior and He lives in us, then God’s faithfulness, mercy and righteousness are ours!

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 10 & 11
Psalm 89.19-29
Proverbs 22.1-2
Acts 28.1-31


The Great Exchange

 

Nehemiah 10 & 11:

Not by Our Righteousness

 

As I read chapter 10 and all that the people covenanted to do, I was wondering how often we stop to think about and praise God for the fact that we are now under grace!

28 Now the rest of the people—the priests, the Levites, the gatekeepers, the singers, the Nethinim, and all those who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, everyone who had knowledge and understanding— 29 these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God’s Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the Lord our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes.

Notice “a curse and an oath.” They didn’t just expect God to bless them if they kept the covenant, but they accepted the curses of disobedience.

They went on to list all their responsibilities to not intermarry or allow their children to intermarry, to keep all the feasts and religious holidays, to tithe, pay the temple taxes, and give other offerings, to serve God, and to obey all the law.

Paul said the law was “… our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Gal. 3.24). The law, which was impossible to keep completely, pointed to the fact that we can’t be saved by our own righteousness and law keeping and helped us see our need for a Savior.

Jesus Christ who was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4.15), was the only one who kept the law perfectly. When we accept Him as our Savior we take part in a “Great Exchange.” Continue reading

“From Grief to Joy” July 28

 

From Grief to Joy - Nehemiah 8.10 says, "... the joy of the Lord is your strength." How did the people in Nehemiah's day go from grief to joy?Nehemiah 8.10 says, “… the joy of the Lord is your strength.” How did the people in Nehemiah’s day go from grief to joy? Why should we find joy for the same reason?

Also, read about the confidence we can have in life’s storms.

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 8 & 9
Psalm 89.11-18
Proverbs 21.29-31
Acts 27.27-44
 

From Grief to Joy

 

Nehemiah 8 & 9:

The Importance of Different Gifts

 

God was at work. He had prepared Ezra with a great knowledge of the Scriptures and Nehemiah as a great leader with the energy and gifts to accomplish the rebuilding of the walls. What a great example of how God gifts people differently and then brings them together to accomplish His work. Ezra, while a great man of God, had been back in Jerusalem for twelve years, but it wasn’t until Nehemiah came that the Feast of Booths was reinstated, the walls were rebuilt, and other things began to happen.

In the New Testament we are called the body of Christ. Romans 12.4-8 says:

4 For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

As believers, each of us has been gifted to serve God and each other. 1 Corinthians 12 says:

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all” (v.7).

Every gift is necessary and important.

“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? …And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (v. 17, 19).

 

From Grief to Joy

 

The result of Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s gifts working together, along with those of others who helped teach the people, was a reverence for the Word. They stood for three hours or more while the Scriptures were read and expounded … they bowed their faces to the ground … they wept in repentance.

It was good that the people wept and were grieved over their sin. We, too, should be grieved when we are confronted with our sin through the reading and study of the Scriptures, the preaching of the Word, or the rebuke of others. But, as Matthew Henry says in his commentary:

“Even sorrow for sin must not hinder our joy in God, but rather lead us to it and prepare us for it.”

The wretchedness of our sin should cause us to rejoice in the amazing grace of God through the gospel!

“Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.’ … And all the people went their way to eat and drink, to send portions and rejoice greatly, because they understood the words that were declared to them” (Neh. 8.10, 12).

The proper understanding of God and His word led to great joy and celebration among the people.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 89.11-18:

Glories, Blessings, and Rejoicing

 

praise worship gratituteIn verses 11-14 the psalmist continues to extol the glories of God, and in verse 15 he begins to talk about the blessings of the children of God. Then verses 16-18 remind us that we can rejoice in who God is (good and righteous), that He makes us strong, that He causes us to walk in light (wisdom and understanding) and that it pleases Him to take care of us.

Meditating on the glories (character qualities or attributes of God) and the blessings of being His children should cause us to rejoice and be thankful.  Continue reading

“Flattery Will Get You!” July 27

 

Flattery Will Get You!

Flattery will get you! – Could you be drawn away from God’s best in your life by flattery or some other temptation? What can we learn from Nehemiah about protecting our testimonies, our jobs, and our ministries?

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 6 & 7
Psalm 89.5-10
Proverbs 21.28
Acts 27.1-26

 

Flattery Will Get You!

 

Nehemiah 6 & 7:

Flattery & Enticing Distractions

 

Chapter 6 reminds me of what goes on in politics and the media today. Nehemiah and the people were making great progress at rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Notice what happened next:

¹ Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (6.1-3).

As soon as someone starts to do something significant for God, influential people want to meet with him or her and, often, interview them for TV or some other media. Sadly, many have learned the hard way that most people in the media don’t want to rejoice with them because they’re doing something worthwhile. In fact, most have learned that what they say and do gets twisted and misreported. And all it does is serve as a distraction from what’s really important.

Fear is another of the enemies weapons: fear of losing a position of prominence, fear of what people will think, or fear for their own safety or well-being.

10 Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.”

11 And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” 12 Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

When we know that we are doing what God has called us to do, we can trust Him to take care of us.

14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

But sadly, flattery, the enticement of national coverage, and the excitement of rubbing elbows with dignitaries can tempt us to compromise. Fear sometimes stops us in our tracks. But when it doesn’t work, the enemy will often attack from within—sometimes using people close to that person. How many times have we read the phrase “unnamed sources say …” to spread some untruth.

Another way the enemy attempts to bring down servants of God is by taking advantage of our own sinful desires, often through an immoral sexual encounter.

Those encounters don’t always start with something obviously sexual or immoral. Often they happen between two co-workers or even people who work together in ministry.

It may seem innocent, at first, things like texting and compliments, but will often turn to flirting and spending more and more time together.   Continue reading

“Politicians, Greed & Worthless Religion” July 26

 

Politicians, Greed & Worthless Religion - Greed can raise its ugly head in any area of life: in politics, in business, even in the family. Just as ugly is worthless religion. What does God value in the way of Christian service and religious activity? Are you relying on things that are worthless to God?

Greed can raise its ugly head in any area of life: in politics, in business, even in the family. Just as ugly is worthless religion. What does God value in the way of Christian service and religious activity? Are you relying on things that are worthless to God?

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 3-5
Psalm 89.1-4
Proverbs 21.27
Acts 26.1-32

Politicians, Greed & Worthless Religion

 

Nehemiah 3-5:

Greed and Selfishness

 

Nehemiah and the people continued to rebuild the wall, but not without opposition. Nehemiah’s response was the same one we should have when we encounter problems. Chapter 4, verses 8-9:

“… and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.”

Nehemiah and the people prayed, did what they believed God wanted them to, and left the rest in the hands of God!

Chapter 5 changes focus and talks about problems among the people themselves. Some of the Jews had taken advantage of the hard economic times and had charged high rates of interest and even taken some of the other Jews as slaves to repay their debts. This was forbidden by the law. God takes a very serious view of this kind of behavior and Nehemiah dealt with it accordingly. Verses 11-13: Continue reading

“Entitlement, Contentment & Hard Work” July 25

 

Entitlement, Contentment & Hard Work - Many people today, including believers, have an entitlement attitude. We want what others have and refuse to be content where God has us. In some cases, we are lazy and not willing to do what is required. Instead, we grumble, complain, and sometimes become bitter and resentful.

Many people today, including believers, have an entitlement attitude. We want what other people have and refuse to be content where God has us. Sometimes we work hard and and can’t understand why they seem to get ahead and not us. In other cases, we’re lazy and not willing to do what is required. But either way, instead of trusting that God knows what’s best, we grumble, complain, and even become bitter and resentful.

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 1 & 2
Psalm 88.11-18
Proverbs 21.25-26
Acts 25.1-27

Entitlement, Contentment & Hard Work


Proverbs 21.25-26:

Grumbling, Complaining & Coveting or Faithfully Working & Obeying?

 

“The desire of the lazy man kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare.”

These two verses make me think of a story I read about a famous pianist. A man came up to him once and said, “I would give my life to be able to play like that.” The pianist replied, “I did.”

I am not advocating neglecting family or any other God-given priority to seek selfish goals, but so often we want things that others have without being willing to do what it takes to obtain them. In the case of a lazy man, he covets the things that others have worked to obtain, but isn’t willing to do the same.

This is an attitude that is rampant in our society today. Many people, even Christians, have an entitlement attitude, even about spiritual things. Continue reading

“Biblical Grounds for Divorce” July 24

 

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, actually, 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 had returned led by Ezra. He had learned that the Jews who were already there, including many of the leaders, had 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 went 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 group 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.

 

Is Divorce Ever Allowable for a Christian?


Biblical 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

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 1 + LINKUP

 

Handling Guilt Biblically -

Today and over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to talk about guilt, what it is, and why we experience it? We’ll look at how the world views it, some examples of guilt in the Bible, and we’ll get the biblical perspective on it. Finally, we’ll discuss what we as Christians should do about it?

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Handling Guilt Biblically Part 1

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We have already covered anger, depression, fear and worry. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.

Today we’re going to start talking about guilt, but first, I want to tell you about a man I know. This man was under a lot of pressure. He was suffering from poor health. He seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders. He even seemed to be in a daze at times. He couldn’t focus. He was sad and depressed. And He thought about his problems all the time.

It was affecting him physically. His heart would race wildly and he was stressed out. All he wanted to do was sleep and, yet, when he tried to sleep he couldn’t.

If you’ve ever been around someone like that, it gets uncomfortable. There’s only so much you can say. That was the case with this man. He said his friends came around less and less and eventually some just quit coming. Maybe that has happened to you, either you have felt like this man or been one of his friends or both.

If you were trying to help my friend, how would you diagnose his problem?

Could he be clinically depressed, be suffering with chronic fatigue syndrome or have PTSD? Does he need medication?

It’s possible that you have met this man, too.

The man is David, and David was experiencing pressure at the hand of a loving God. David had sinned and God was dealing with him.

In Psalm 38 David said this:

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
2 For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;

Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.

6 I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
I go mourning all the day long.
7 For my loins are full of inflammation,
And there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and severely broken;
I groan because of the turmoil of my heart.

9 Lord, all my desire is before You;
And my sighing is not hidden from You.
10 My heart pants, my strength fails me;
As for the light of my eyes, it also has gone from me.

11 My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague,
And my relatives stand afar off.
12 Those also who seek my life lay snares for me;
Those who seek my hurt speak of destruction,
And plan deception all the day long.

13 But I, like a deaf man, do not hear;
And I am like a mute who does not open his mouth.
14 Thus I am like a man who does not hear,
And in whose mouth is no response.

15 For in You, O LORD, I hope;
You will hear, O Lord my God.
16 For I said, “Hear me, lest they rejoice over me,
Lest, when my foot slips, they exalt themselves against me.”

17 For I am ready to fall,
And my sorrow is continually before me.

18 For I will declare my iniquity;
I will be in anguish over my sin.

 

A Closer Look

 

Let’s look closer at what David said:  Continue reading