“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

“Ever Feel Like You Have a Purse with Holes?” July 22

 

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

 

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

 

Ever Feel Like You Have a Purse with Holes?

 

Ezra 5 & 6:

Are Your Priorities God’s Priorities?

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 87.1-7:

Everything Comes from Him

 

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

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

 

Proverbs 21.19-20:

Contentious and Angry

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture

 

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

 

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

 

Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture

 

Ezra 3 & 4:

Fearing God or Man?

 

In chapter 3, even though the people who returned to Jerusalem had the authority of the king behind them, there was still opposition from the people already living in the land.

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

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

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

“Loving Your Enemies” July 20

 

Loving Your Enemies

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

 

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

 

Loving Your Enemies

 

Acts 21.18-40:

Paul’s Eternal Focus

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezra 1 & 2:

God the Author of Human History

 

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

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

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

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

“Could You Be Left Behind?” July 19

 

Could You Be Left Behind?

 

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

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 34-36
Psalm 86.1-5
Proverbs 21.13-14
Acts 21.1-16

 

Could You Be Left Behind?

 

2 Chronicles 34-36:

Mercy … but Then Judgment

 

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

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

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

 

God is Withholding His Judgment Today

 

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

“Where Does Pride Show Up in My Life?” July 15

 

Where Does Pride Show Up in My Life? - Stuart Scott says, “Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride … The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”

Our Old Testament reading gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with. So, where does pride show up in your life? Check Dr. Scott’s list of the manifestations of pride. You might be surprised.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 25-27
Psalm 84.1-7
Proverbs 21.4-5
Acts 19.1-20

 

Where Does Pride Show Up in My Life?

 

Proverbs 21.4-5:

A Proud Heart

 

Verse 4, “A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin.”

Over and over the Bible warns against the dangers of pride.

Stuart Scott in his powerful little booklet From Pride to Humility says:

“It is probably safe to say that humility is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be. We cannot come to God without it. We cannot love God supremely without it.”

He goes on to say we can’t be an effective witness, love and serve others, lead, communicate properly, or resist sin without it (Eph. 4.1-2).

“You cannot have humility where pride exists. Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”

 

Where Does Pride Show Up in My Life? - Stuart Scott says, "Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God's sight" (Prov. 16.5). He adds, "We all have pride ... The question is not 'Do I have it?' but, 'Where is it?' and 'How much of it do I have?'”He lists some of the manifestations of pride as:

1. Complaining against or passing judgment on God.
2. A lack of gratitude in general.
3. Anger.
4. Seeing yourself as better than others.
5. Having an inflated view of your importance, gifts, and abilities.
6. Being focused on your lack of gifts and abilities.
7. Perfectionism.
8. Talking too much.
9. Talking too much about yourself.
10. Seeking independence or control.
11. Being consumed by what others think.
12. Being devastated or angered by criticism.
13. Being unteachable.
14. Being sarcastic, hurtful, or degrading.
15. A lack of service.
16. A lack of compassion.
17. Being defensive or blame-shifting.
18. A lack of admitting when you are wrong.
19. A lack of asking forgiveness.
20. A lack of biblical prayer.
21. Resisting authority or being disrespectful.
22. Voicing preferences or opinions when not asked.
23. Minimizing you own sin and shortcomings.
24. Maximizing others’ sin and shortcomings.
25. Being impatient or irritable with others.
26. Being jealous or envious.
27. Using others.
28. Being deceitful by covering up sins, faults, and mistakes.
29. Using attention-getting tactics.
30. Not having close relationships.

Some of those may have surprised you, as pride can be very subtle, masquerading as something else.

Remember, it’s not a matter of  “Do you or I have it?” but, “Where is it?” and “How much of it do I have?” So, it’s important that we learn to recognize it, confess it, and learn to go God’s way.

Today’s reading in 2 Chronicles gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with …  Continue reading

“Could We Turn the World Upside Down?” July 12

 

Could We Turn the World Upside Down? - In the first century a small army of believers turned the world upside down in a matter of a few years without TV, radio, or mass media. They simply believed in the power of the Gospel to change lives and the Holy Spirit working through them. And they did it in the face of intense opposition. Could we turn the world upside down again if we had the same faith and commitment?

Also:

What’s the real problem with the leadership in our nation? Is it party affiliation? A lack of compassion for the poor? Too much politics or too little experience? The answer is really pretty simple.

One of the greatest evils in our nation today is our failure to defend unborn babies. Will God hold us, as a nation, responsible?

Can being unequally yoked in marriage, in business, and in our close friendships affect our walk with God?

And finally, today’s readings contain one of the greatest prayers recorded. It was prayed by a man who fell short like us, but who understood where to turn for help.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 19 & 20
Psalm 82.1-8
Proverbs 20.29-30
Acts 17.1-15

 

Could We Turn the World Upside Down?

 

Acts 17.1-15:

Faithful Men & Women

 

In verse 6 the Thessalonians said about the disciples, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too.”

Beginning with the original Apostles, as they evangelized and discipled others who in turn evangelized and discipled still others, the world was turned upside down in a matter of a few years without TV, radio, or mass media, just the Word of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I wonder what you and I are doing or could do to turn the world upside down. Are we as committed to share the gospel as those in the first century? Would we still be willing to blog about God and His Word if knew we could be arrested? Would we still attend worship services? Do we invest the time and effort necessary to influence the world around us for Christ?

Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 

This is discipleship. Discipleship takes time and faithfulness. It’s coming alongside someone. It might mean going through a book on marriage with a young wife or a new believer. It might mean working through a book or Bible study on the character of God, the basics of the faith, or some other subject. It might mean teaching a young couple how to be godly parents or a newlywed how to keep house for the glory of God.

 

Could We Turn the World Upside Down?- Are we so busy with the things of this world that we are too entangled to come alongside someone else?Paul went on:

You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 

Are we so busy with the things of this world that we are too entangled to come alongside someone else?

Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

The Gospel is not limited to our great persuasive ability, a huge platform, or who is in the White House … just our faithfulness.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1.16).

Let’s turn the world upside down with the Gospel!

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Chronicles 19 & 20:

Ungodly Friends

 

Yesterday, Jehoshaphat, a relatively good king was hanging out with, of all people, Ahab, one of the most wicked kings of the Northern Kingdom. He and his wife Jezebel took the nation of Israel deeper and deeper into idolatry. Today’s reading begins:  Continue reading

“Mistreated? Fight Back!” July 11

 

When You're Mistreated or Falsely Accused, Fight Back! - How should we respond when we're falsely accused or mistreated? How should we respond to the ordinary, every day hurts that come from living life with other sinners? How can we fight back without sinning?How should we respond when we’re falsely accused or mistreated? How should we respond to the ordinary, every day hurts that come from living life with other sinners? How can we fight back without sinning?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 17 & 18
Psalm 81.11-16
Proverbs 20.26-28
Acts 16.22-40

 

Mistreated? Fight Back!

 

Acts 16.22-40:

Falsely Accused & Praising God

 

What a great story! Here are Paul and Silas in pain, mistreated, falsely accused and still praising God!

And as they did, God opened the prison doors with an earthquake. Fearing his prisoners had escaped the jailer prepared to commit suicide, but Paul and Silas cried out to stop him! Romans 2.4 says that it is the goodness of God which leads men to repentance. The goodness of God working through Paul and Silas led the jailer to repentance and he and his whole family were saved!

 

What If We’re Mistreated or Falsely Accused? How Should We Respond? 

 

Why am I suffering? Why me?We live in a fallen world and there will be times when we suffer. Sometimes we suffer as a result of our own sinful choices and sometimes because of the sins of others. Sometimes we complicate our unfair suffering by our sinful responses.

Other times we suffer because we are doing good and because of the light in us.

1 Peter 3.13-17:

13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

So, how should we respond to suffering or mistreatment? And how should we respond to the ordinary, every day hurts that come from living life with other sinners?  Continue reading

Handling Fear & Worry Biblically Part 2 + LINKUP

 

Handling Fear & Worry Biblically Part 2 - When sin entered the world it was accompanied by an uninvited guest … FEAR. Yet, the Bible tells us over 450 times, “fear not” or similar words. Find out the two root causes of fear and learn to overcome it biblically in your own life.

 

Handling Fear & Worry Biblically Part 2

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” We’ve covered anger and depression. Last week we started talking about fear and worry. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Fear & Worry

 

Last week I said that some sins are so common they’ve almost become acceptable, even among believers in Christ. Though we may spin them with words like: concerned, disturbed, or troubled, fear and worry fall into that category. Last week we focused on worry, how it comes from a divided mind, that it has sinful roots, and how it’s a form of idolatry. Today we’ll focus on fear.

 

Fear

 

The minute Adam and Eve sinned by disobeying God, an uninvited guest called “fear” showed up, too. Genesis 3:

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.

Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”

10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

When Cain killed his brother Abel and was banished, he responded with self-pity and fear. Genesis 4:

13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”

We fear what God will do. We fear what people will do. We fear what people think of us. We fear someone taking advantage of us or not loving us. We fear being disrespected. We fear all over the place.

 

“Fear Not”

 

Handling Fear & Worry God's WayYet, in His Word, God told us not to fear over 450 times.

He told a fearful mother:

17 … Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation” (Gen. 21.17-18).

He assured the nation of Israel of His help and deliverance by telling them to “fear not” (Is. 41.10, 13, 14). And in chapter 43 He said:

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.

In Exodus 4 God reassured a fearful, insecure future leader:

Then Moses answered and said, “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’”

10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”

11 So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord12 Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.”

And when he persisted, God sent his brother Aaron with him (Ex. 4.13-17).

In the New Testament, Paul told a nervous young preacher named Timothy:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1.7).

 

2 Root Causes of Fear

 

2 Root Causes of Fear - Instead of addressing Adam’s fearful feelings in Genesis 3, God addressed the roots of sinful fear:

11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

In that short verse He summed up the two causes of fear: who we are listening to (11a) and sin (11b).

Yet, God does not intend for His people to live in fear.  Continue reading

“Parenting, Pruning & Praying for Our Nation” July 4

 

Happy 4th of July!!!

Happy 4th of July

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.
Psalm 33.12

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions,and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.
1 Timothy 2.1-3

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 3 & 4
Psalm 79.5-10
Proverbs 20.10-12
Acts 12.1-25

 

Parenting, Pruning & Praying for Our Nation -

 

Parenting, Pruning & Praying for Our Nation


How do you view what is going on in our country? Do you believe God is chastising or pruning our nation or us as individuals? How are you responding? Are you praying or merely complaining?

And from our Proverbs reading, by what are your children known? Do you see tendencies that, if not dealt with biblically, will produce attitudes and actions that are not pleasing to God?

 

Proverbs 20.10-12:

Even a Child is Known by His Deeds

 

pouting child

Verse 11, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.”

Jesus said you will know a tree by its fruit and Matthew Henry says, about this verse, “even a young tree by its first fruits, a child by his childish things.”

What sinful attitudes and behaviors do you see in your children?

We need to seek God and His wisdom about those tendencies. We cannot allow them to be selfish, to throw tantrums or to be cruel and unkind, thinking they will just outgrow it.  Continue reading