Verses 3-9 relate the story of the woman with the alabaster jar:
3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He [Jesus] sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
John 12.3 tells us this was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. This costly oil was, probably, worth nearly a year’s salary. She poured it out showing her love and devotion for her Lord.
Others were given the opportunity to pour out for Christ. One that comes to mind is the rich young ruler, but he walked away when Jesus asked him to sell all that he had and give to the poor (Mk. 10.17-21).
What about me? What about you? What are we willing to give back to God? Are we willing to use our gifts and talents to further the kingdom of God? Do we give faithfully of our finances? What about our time? Do we give God an hour or two a week, but no more? Continue reading →
As we see God’s swift and strong judgment on sin in the Old Testament, we need to remember a couple of things. First, He was protecting the people and the bloodline through which He was going to bring forth the Messiah.
But second, though God is patient and merciful with us in our sin and idolatry, it doesn’t mean He’s changed His mind about sin! It’s only the blood of Christ that keeps us from a similar fate and it was the mercy and love of God that made provision for our salvation. And how great a salvation it is!
We tend to write off the idea that we, too, are idolaters. We may or may not bow down to carved images, but we are frequently guilty of having other things on the throne of our hearts besides God Himself. Things like: I must have a spouse to be happy; I must have a godly husband; I must have a wife who respects me, I must have obedient children; or some other, “I must ..” Even good things can become idols if they are the focal point of our lives in the place of God.
Ask yourself, “Is there something or someone I think I cannot be happy without?”
Our idols can become so important that they blind us (Ezek. 14.1-8). In our blindness we can begin to justify sin or even refuse to see that it exists. We murmur and complain like the children of Israel in the wilderness. We compromise our moral standards, resort to sinful anger, or give in to fear.
When we do, it is sin—pure and simple. No amount of sugar coating will change it, but the answer is just as simple Continue reading →
“He who earnestly seeks good finds favor, but trouble will come to him who seeks evil.”
The New Living Translation says it this way, “If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!” In other words, if you’re looking for trouble, watch out! It will find you!
We’ve probably all known people who just seem to go looking for trouble. It’s easy to get focused on them and be a little smug about the fact that we’re better than that. But do we seek evil in more subtle ways without realizing it?
Have you ever maliciously thought, “what goes around comes around”? Ever taken some secret delight in seeing someone fail? It may seem relatively harmless, but is it? Is it pleasing to God? Is it seeking good or searching for evil?
What can a 4-way stop intersection teach us about submission, biblical authority, and decision making within marriage?
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Marriage: Made in Heaven? “Decision Making & 4-Way Stops”
In the first few weeks of this study we talked about some of the key components of marriage, then the wife’s role, and last week we looked a little deeper at submission, what it is and what it isn’t.
If you missed the last two and you’re struggling with the idea of submission or not even sure if it’s biblical or fair, I encourage you to go back and read them.
Today I want to look at a practical explanation of what submission should look like and how it ties in with the husband’s role as leader (Eph. 5.25).
My husband does a great job of explaining what I want to share, so I’m going to let him do just that. This little video is an illustration he uses in the counseling room and when he teaches on the subject.
Some of you might be thinking, I would submit if my husband preferred me like that! We need to remember that our job is to trust God and allow Him to work in our husbands.
But we also need to understand that, in the same way, that a husband’s love for his wife is purifying and causes her to want to love him back, a wife’s respect and willingness to honor him and follow his leadership, softens his heart both toward her and toward God (1 Pet. 3.1-4). Continue reading →
Do you ever feel like you have so little to give to God? So little in the way of talent or time or resources? What kind of giving does God desire and what does the heart of the giver have to do with it?
Jesus and His disciples are observing those giving in the temple:
“Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, …So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood'” (vv. 42-44).
The New Living Translation says she gave “all that she had to live on.” Bible dictionaries say these coins were worth less than a penny a piece. This poor widow humbly and quietly gave all that she had.
In Matthew 6.2 Jesus warned against following the example of some who, while the gifts may have been large, made a show of their giving:
“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full (NASB).
They wanted to be seen and heard by men, but this poor widow’s giving was seen and heard in heaven. God is not looking at the size of the gift, but at the heart of the giver!
How is your heart when you give? Do you give begrudgingly? Cheerfully? Sacrificially? This is not about earning God’s love. He already loves each of us enough to die for us. It’s not about looking good to others like religious people of Jesus’ time.
Even though God works through the giving of His people, He doesn’t need our money (Ps. 24.1, 50.10). He wants our hearts!
In chapter 21 God had blessed the Nation of Israel with military success. He continued to feed them supernaturally, protect them and rule over them. Yet they continued to grumble, complain and turn against Moses. As a result God sent poisonous snakes into the camp. These snakes had a bite that caused a fiery inflammation.
But even then God made a provision for them to be saved from the consequences of their sin. He instructed Moses to put an image of the snake, the result of their sin, on a pole and anyone who looked at it, was saved from death.
John 3.14-15 says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
As a result of our sin, Jesus allowed Himself to be hung or lifted up on a cross so that whoever looks to Him will also be saved, not from physical death, but from eternal spiritual death!
According to A.W. Tozer in his book The Pursuit of God, looking and believing are synonymous. While Israel looked with their physical eyes, we look on or believe in with the heart.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”
Like the nation of Israel, our nation has been blessed by God in so many ways: militarily, financially, with an abundance of food, protection, unheard of freedoms, and yet, we’ve turned to gods of our own making. The only answer is turning back to the One true God. That begins with us. We must surrender fully to Him in our own hearts, minds and lives, and pray for a great revival in our nation.
Whether or not our nation as a whole will turn back to God, we don’t know, but just as God protected individuals in the nation of Israel from what was going on around them, Continue reading →
What does God value in a woman? Does He care about modesty and discretion? About how we dress or talk? Does the Bible have anything to say about these things? Check out our proverbs reading to learn more.
What does our clothing and behavior say about us? Is clothing merely a fashion statement? Is it our right to dress any way we choose? Is off color language simply part of life in the business world? Does the Bible have anything to say about these things and other ways that we relate to those around us?
It turns out God has a great deal to say about these things. Verse 22 in today’s reading for starters.
“As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.”
A beautiful woman without discretion—a woman without modesty, wisdom and grace—is compared to a pig!
A pig is an animal who roots around in garbage, an animal that you can clean up, but who will go right back to the pig sty! The beauty of a woman without discretion is like a jewel put in the nose of an animal that pokes around in the slop!
Ladies, why do we stand around and listen to dirty jokes, or laugh at them, or … tell them? Why do we reveal parts of our bodies that should be reserved for our husbands or future husbands—by wearing things that are too low, too short or too tight? And why do we allow our daughters to dress that way?
Why do we allow gossip and criticism and unwholesome things to come out of our mouths? Why do we watch TV shows and movies and read books that fill our minds with things contrary to the Word and make us look like the rest of the world?
The Bible doesn’t give us rules and regulations about the length of our skirts or the style of our clothes and I don’t want to either. And we need to be extremely careful about becoming self-righteous in this area, especially when it comes to visitors to our churches or with new believers. But as we grow in Christ we should be more sensitive to these issues and more aware of the heart attitudes behind them.
When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus said in short, love God and love others (Matt. 22.37-40). Our behavior has an effect on others: on our brothers in Christ, on our sisters in Christ who are their wives, on those who look to us as an example, and to the world who is watching to see if there is really anything different about us.
More than once, I’ve heard women say, “I like to dress this way. If men look at me, that’s their problem.” Certainly, men are responsible for what they do with their eyes, but we are also responsible if we’re a stumbling block.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. 7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. (1 Thess. 4.3-7).
One definition of defraud is to offer something for sale that you don’t intend to provide.
3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Eph. 5.3-4)
Instead, may the Lord help us to be the women Peter talked about:
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3.3-4).
A Note to the Men:
Men, I pray that you will become the kind of men who value what God values in a woman, rather than the world. Too many men value the wrong things. Sadly, I’ve even seen men with 1 Peter 3.3-4 wives who were demanding they become Proverbs 11.22 women!
Almost 40 years had passed since the Israelites were brought out of Egypt. Most of the adults had died just as God said they would. They did not enter the Promised Land because they listened to the evil report of the ten spies instead of trusting God. Now there was a new generation murmuring against God. They seem to have learned more from their parents’ example than from their parents’ fate!
What are your children learning from you? Do you tell them not to “whine and complain” while you “whine and complain” about your spouse, your boss, your government (this one hits pretty close to home for me), your mother-in-law or whatever?
Verse 8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.”
Matthew Henry had this to say about verse 8, “He teaches us by his word and guides us with his eye, by the secret intimations of his will in the hints and turns of Providence, which he enables his people to understand and take direction from, as a master makes a servant know his mind by a wink of his eye.”
Read that quote once again slowly.
It’s that combination of His Word, the circumstances of our lives (the secret intimations of his will in the hints and turns of Providence), and His Holy Spirit’s guidance (which he enables his people to understand and take direction from). They work together, but we won’t recognize the leading of His Spirit apart from a faithful intake and an understanding of His Word.
God had told the Nation of Israel that they would not be allowed to go into the Promised Land because they had believed the evil report of the ten spies, instead of trusting God to give them the strength and the ability to defeat His enemies.
But even so, he continued to speak to them in miraculous ways:
“Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds” (17.8).
When they questioned Moses rightful leadership, He said He would cause the rod of His chosen leader to bud. He not only caused it to bud, but to produce blossoms and ripe almonds! He doesn’t just do the minimum; He is able and willing to do so much more.
Ephesians 3.20-21 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.”
Few of us have trouble believing that God is powerful and able to do miraculous things, but I wonder how many of us really believe He will do great things in our lives?
Do you believe—really believe—that He wants to do great things in your life? your marriage? your children and grandchildren? your finances?
God had delivered the nation of Israel from Egypt and provided for them over and over in the wilderness. So these chapters can’t help but seem astounding, how these people rebelled again and again in spite of how God had revealed Himself to them. And yet, if we’re honest, once again … they are us and we are them!
Verse 15.30 talks about “presumptuous sins.” That is willful disobedience. It means we know it’s wrong and, yet, we do it anyway! Remember, anytime we sin, it’s first and foremost a sin against God. So when we willfully transgress the Lord’s commands to us, we’re shaking our fist at God just as Korah and his bunch did in today’s reading. Instead of fearing God, we’re rebelling against Him!
It may not be as public when we do it, so we think it’s not as bad. But remember God is looking at our hearts and nothing is hidden from Him. Romans 14.23 says, “… for whatever is not from faith is sin.” And James 4.17 says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (NASB).
Remember, Remember, Remember
The Nation of Israel failed to remember all that God had done for them and quickly turned back to living by their feelings, instead of walking by faith.
God, in His mercy, is constantly showing us ways to “remember.” In 15.37-41 He instructed the Israelites to put tassels on their garments to remind them of the commandments and the importance of obeying them. He was saying “remember, remember, remember”!
Today, we have the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as reminders. We hang plaques on our walls and drink our coffee out of Scripture emblazoned cups.
He has given us His written Word, great biblically sound books, teachings on the radio, on TV, on the Internet and in church. Yet, how often do we leave church after hearing a great message and, instead of “remembering,” … we, immediately, start living for ourselves, fighting and quarreling, and sinning willfully … sometimes on the way home!
In the book of numbers, even after the earth opened and swallowed up the rebels, Continue reading →
What does it mean that God visits the iniquity or the sins of the fathers on the children to the third and forth generation? Are those children doomed spiritually? Are they bound to repeat their parents sins? Will they bear the guilt or the punishment for their parents sins?
Verse 14.18 says, “The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.”
What does that mean? Are those children doomed spiritually? Are they bound to repeat their parents sins? Will they bear the guilt or the punishment for them?
Let’s look at another passage of Scripture:
“The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (Ezek. 18.20).
Scripture never contradicts Scripture. So we need to dig a little deeper to understand our passage from Numbers.
It’s my understanding that when the word translated “visited” is used it refers to physical consequences. And children do, often, suffer physical consequences for their parents’ sins.
They may be exposed to horrible lifestyles, suffer physical or sexual abuse, live in poverty, or be neglected in many ways.
Other choices and lifestyles affect children, too. For instance, when parents choose to divorce, the children are tossed back and forth between two households, sometimes put in the middle of arguments, and have limited time with one or both parents. Continue reading →
As a nation we have complained, taken credit for God’s blessings, and kicked Him out of the government, the schools, and the public arenas of life. Has our complaining and rejection of God finally produced “fire in the camp”?
Chapter 11.1, “Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.”
God had been merciful to the Israelites. He had delivered them from 400 years of bondage in Egypt. He not only brought them out of Egypt without a fight, but had caused the Egyptians to give them a great deal of wealth as they left (Ps. 105.37). He led them and protected them from the pursuing Egyptian army and parted the Red Sea so they could cross on dry land. He comforted them and warned away their enemies with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
As they traveled their feet didn’t swell and their clothes didn’t wear out (Neh. 9.21). He fed them with food from heaven (manna), gave them water in the wilderness and demonstrated His power and presence over and over.
Yet … what did they do? They complained!
And what about us as Americans or you wherever you live? We live in perhaps the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth. Our poor are better off than the majority in many nations. God has blessed us with an abundance of natural resources, a beautiful land, creativity and ingenuity beyond measure. We have freedoms almost unheard of in the world: freedom to worship, freedom to vote, freedom to pursue an education, freedom to live where we want, even freedom to protest. Instead of being thankful we frequently complain.
Not only have we complained, but we have taken credit for the things with which He has blessed us and kicked Him out of the government, the schools, and the public arenas of life. Is it any wonder our complaining, unthankfulness, and rejection of God as a nation has finally produced “fire in the camp”?