Do you know someone who used to come to church, but somewhere along the line they became disillusioned or angry at God? Maybe He didn’t answer their prayers or work the way they thought He should. Maybe that’s you!
Also read about prayer, obedience, godly friends, requirements for church leadership and the importance of good doctrine.
Jeremiah 33 & 34
1 Timothy 3.1-16
Disappointed or Angry at God?
What should church leaders look like?
In this chapter Paul lists the characteristics we should look for in a man’s life before considering him for leadership in the church. The first list is for elders, pastors, bishops or overseers. The words are used interchangeably.
The second list is for deacons. Deacons serve in various other areas of the church, under the leadership of the pastors and elders. Both are extremely important. Paul emphasizes the fact that we should not be quick to put people in leadership positions (“not a novice” v. 6), but should wait to see the fruit of the Spirit manifested in their lives over a period of time. Placing someone in leadership before they are spiritually mature enough to handle it can lead to pride and a fall (v. 6-7).
Good Doctrine Matters
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine (teaching us what is right), for reproof (showing us when we’re wrong), for correction (teaching us how to get it right), and for instruction in righteousness (helping us live a godly lifestyle) (2 Tim. 3.16-17).
Good doctrine helps us see the tests and trials of life through the lens of Scripture. Good doctrine helps us know God for who He is, not as a God of our own making. Good doctrine grows our faith and trust in Him and prevents disappointment when He doesn’t work the way we think He should.
Bad doctrine on the other hand can lead us into all kinds of error, including a false assurance of salvation (Matt. 7.21-23).
One of the most widespread and pernicious is the faith and prosperity teaching. If you’ve been taught there’s a miracle in your mouth; that God wants you rich; that if you have enough faith or enough hands laid on you, you’ll be healed; or that your problem is a demon of lust, alcohol, or pornography … yet … after declaring “I’m healed” you’re not; after giving to get a promised reward, you’re still broke; or the lust, desire for alcohol, and pull of pornography is still there …, many become disappointed and walk away from God, even shake their fist at Him, because they believe they did their part and He failed to keep His end of the bargain.
Don’t misunderstand me. God is still a God of miracles. I believe He can and does do them every day. But the greatest miracle, is the miracle that takes place when we are born again and become new creations in Christ (Jn. 3; 1 Cor. 5.17).
I believe in prayer and the laying on of hands. I believe God heals, redeems, and delivers us from all kinds of sin and bondage. Physically, He can heal instantly or through modern medicine. And there are times when for our good and His glory, He doesn’t heal this side of heaven. God can deliver someone from the desire for drugs or alcohol instantly, but more often He gives us the power to walk by the Spirit day by day (Gal. 5.16-24).
I believe in giving our tithes and offering in faith and that God blesses faithfulness in giving, but I don’t believe God will make us all rich or that we should give with a selfish heart attitude.
Our God is good and He is a God of love and mercy and grace, but we must get to know Him as He really is. Jesus told a Samaritan woman:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4.23-24).
If you have walked away from God because of something He has allowed in your life or because you’ve been hurt or disillusioned by someone or something in the church, turn back to Him. Get to know Him for who He is.
What is your experience with bad doctrine? Share your thoughts at the bottom of the post.
Saving Faith and a Repentant Heart
Just a note about point number one: Evangelical Christians would agree that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. We would be quick to say that baptism doesn’t save you, taking communion won’t save you, and that no amount of good works can save you. But we may be in danger of unwittingly making “the sinner’s prayer” more of a work than an expression of faith. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating, there’s no magic in the prayer. It is only meaningful if it’s prayed as an expression of saving faith in a repentant heart.
Today’s Other Readings:
Call to Me, and I will Answer …
Chapter 33.3 says, “‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’”
What an incredible invitation from our Mighty God! The only reason not to pray is because we don’t take Him at His Word.
Obedience, Godly Friends, and a Hunger for Truth
I love this psalm. It is rich in wisdom and truth and this passage is no exception. Verses 60-64:
60 I made haste, and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.
Do you obey the Lord, quickly, or do you hem and haw and try to find some loop-hole?
61 The cords of the wicked have bound me,
But I have not forgotten Your law.
Are you willing to live for Christ no matter what the cost?
62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.
63 I am a companion of all who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.
With whom do you hang out?
64 The earth, O LORD, is full of Your mercy;
Teach me Your statutes.
Are you hungry to know God more and better every day through a better understanding of the Scriptures?
Do you reflect Christ?
We are warned repeatedly in Scripture not to get caught up in the “fear of man,” meaning a sinful concern about what people think of us, rather than what God thinks. Instead of pridefully worrying about what others think of us, we should be concerned about how well our lives are reflecting Christ and giving others a right opinion of our God!
When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald
When life is hard, really hard, we often spend all our time pleading, begging, yelling, refusing, and questioning. While none of these things are necessarily unusual, they are missing the ultimate point. When life is hard, when things get ugly, when all hope seems to be lost… that is when we are able to display the superiority of the life lived in God. It is in those moments of despair, when we question what is happening, when we don’t know what to do, when some trials never seem to end, that we can lean most heavily on God’s promises and truths.
Always True: God’s 5 Promises When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald
2 Peter 1:3 refers to certain portions of God’s Word as exceedingly great and precious promises. Great promises are ones that don’t fall apart during difficult times; they reveal hope in the midst of the storm. Precious promises are ones that we find strong enough to hold us up and resilient enough to get us through. God’s promises become exceedingly great and precious to us when nothing else will do.
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Getting ready for 2017
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in. As an incentive, I’ll be giving away one daily Bible to someone who signs up between now and October 31st and another one to someone who leaves a comment between now and then.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
SIgn UP FOR THE “BIBLE IN A YEAR” DAILY POSTS TODAY so you don’t miss a single one!
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.