We not only face great challenges within our nation but attacks and attempted attacks from without seem to be non-stop. How should a Christian respond to those who are sworn to destroy us as a society and individually?
Ezekiel 31 & 32
Tinkering with a Broken System
Ezekiel 31 & 32:
Morality, Tolerance & Equality
In chapters 31 and 32, God continues to speak to Egypt, perhaps more as a warning to His people that they could no longer turn to worldly powers like Egypt for help and protection. In chapter 31 He compared Egypt to a great tree under which many had taken refuge, but which was about to be broken and destroyed.
Egypt is also a picture of the world and the world’s system. As a nation, we have attempted to live under that system. We have tried to legislate morality, tolerance, and equality. We have expected the government to provide for every need or imagined need, but our system, too, is broken.
The problem is the world’s versions of morality, tolerance, and equality are not based on God’s Word and His standard. We are expected to “tolerate” things that are contrary to biblical morality. Equality is no longer about equal opportunity to work hard and make your way in the world, it’s about taking from one and giving to another. And secular morality turns biblical morality on its ear.
No matter how much we “tinker” with our broken system, as long as it’s based on a faulty foundation, we will never have the ability to fix what is wrong in our nation. As believers, we must look to God in our own lives, seek to live His way, and pray for genuine heart change in the lives of others.
Today’s Other Readings:
God’s Forgiveness in Desperate Times
Verses 3-4, “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.”
There is forgiveness with Him! If we are His children, our sins are forgiven! He isn’t marking them; He isn’t keeping score. If He did, none of us could ever stand before Him.
Ephesians 4.32 says that we are to forgive others just as He forgives us. And 1 Corinthians 13.5 says love, “does not take into account a wrong suffered” (NASB), yet we have a sinful habit of marking the iniquities of others on our mental scorecard, in violation of His clear commands.
If you’re struggling to forgive, meditate on Ephesians 4.32 and remember that we are to be imitators of God (Eph. 5.1). We are never more like Him than when we forgive.
But what does that mean in relation to those within our nation who seek to destroy our society or outside enemies who have sworn to destroy us as a nation?
It doesn’t mean we lay down our weapons and just let evil have its way. Remember God Himself commanded the Israelites to destroy His enemies when they went in to possess the Promised Land.
Neither does it mean that we don’t hold individuals (terrorists and criminals alike) accountable for their actions. The Bible teaches that punishment appropriate to the crime (1 Pet. 2.13-14), including capital punishment (Ex. 21.12), is necessary for a godly society. In fact, because, as my husband says, “We no longer have a justice system, only a legal system,” murder, crime, and all kinds of mayhem are rampant.
When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong (Eccl. 8.11 NLT).
We do, however, need to forgive on a heart level so we don’t become bitter, angry people, more like our enemies than like Jesus. We need to pray for our enemies that they might come out of the snare of the devil and open their hearts to the gospel. And we need to share the gospel with those God places in our paths.
Pray for Our Leaders
“When the wicked rise, men hide themselves; but when they perish, the righteous increase.”
All the more reason, to pray for our President, Congress, Governors and other leaders.
Is it a Test or a Temptation?
James was the Lord’s half-brother. He first rejected Jesus as the Messiah (during Christ’s earthly ministry), but later accepted and was converted. He became one of the leaders of the Jerusalem church.
The book of James is possibly one of the most practical books in the Bible. It is sometimes called the Proverbs of the New Testament. There is so much in this little epistle. Several years ago I spent 3 or 4 months teaching through it and barely scratched the surface!
Chapter one is no exception. Verses 2-4 are some of my favorites and are so rich in truth and encouragement:
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
I don’t know about you, but I rarely “feel like” counting it all joy when I encounter trouble. Yet James encourages us to do so, not because it is pleasant or because we are supposed to like hardship, but because of how God uses it in our lives. It’s through the tests and trials of life that God grows us and matures us as believers. It’s what makes us useful to the kingdom of God.
Yet if we don’t respond and process trials biblically, the trial which is intended by God to prove and strengthen our faith can become a temptation by the enemy to sin. It’s the same trial, the same circumstance, but our thinking and responses determine whether it will be a test or a temptation.
How can we “count it all joy” and grow during severe trials like persecution and hardship, even the threat of terrorism? We should start by remembering that many of the epistles were written to people who were being persecuted, even martyred for their faith.
The events in our world today are part of the “all things” of Romans 8.28-29 that God can and will use for good. They’re intended to cause believers to grow in spiritual strength and to help unbelievers to come to the end of themselves and see their desperate need for Him.
So let’s get serious about our walks with God. Let’s pray for a holy boldness to pray, speak the truth, share our testimonies and the gospel, and be the light God has called us to be!
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll discuss the questions, “Is believing ‘in’ God enough?” and “Are your words blessing or cursing?” We’ll also talk about how Satan is a fisherman who studies us to know the right bait to reel us in and how the Bible’s admonition about bad company applies to politics.
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The Gift of Forgiveness
Charles Stanley, one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our day, shares the key to personal and even world peace in The Gift of Forgiveness. as Stanley points out that no sin is so shockingly evil it blocks God’s forgiveness nor so trivial it negates the need for God’s mercy, he shares the specifics of how to go about receiving and giving forgiveness.
The Gift of Forgiveness reflects the heart of Stanley’s teaching ministry. In this markedly helpful book, Stanley addresses such questions as how to practice a life of forgiveness in all your relationships and how to make forgiveness an ongoing, practical experience in your life.
Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey to Freedom
Scripture says that offenses will happen. People will let us down and we will let others down, as well. Forgiveness is left up to us to pray about and then practice. Far from minimizing the hurt of the offense, readers are called to understand that offering forgiveness and letting go of bitterness is the only way to walk in faithfulness. Drawing on biblical teaching of our call to forgive, Nancy shows the reader that forgiveness is a choice- and the only pathway to true freedom.
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Getting ready for 2018
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.
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.