“What is the unpardonable sin?” January 18

 

What is the unpardonable sin? - Two questions that have been asked for over 2,000 years: What is the "unpardonable sin"? and "Could I have committed it?"Two questions that have been asked for over 2,000 years: What is the “unpardonable sin”? and “Could I have committed it?”

 

Welcome to our daily “Bible in a Year” devotional. I hope you’ll join us every day. Scroll down for more commentaries or click on “Bible in a Year.” Don’t worry if you’re behind, each day’s devotion stands on it’s own. Anytime we read God’s Word, it’s profitable (2 Tim. 3.16).

 

On to our reading …

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 35 & 36
Psalm 9.6-10
Proverbs 3.27-30
Matthew 12.22-50

 

What is the unpardonable sin?

 

Matthew 12.22-50:

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

 

What is the unpardonable sin? - Two questions that have been asked for over 2,000 years: What is the "unpardonable sin"? and "Could I have committed it?"

There’s often a great deal of concern about verses 31 and 32 where Matthew talked about the unforgivable or unpardonable sin:

31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Jesus described it as “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”

Notice Jesus was talking to a group of Pharisees who knew the prophesies about the Messiah, witnessed His miracles first hand, knew the truth of His claims, and still blasphemed the Holy Spirit: They watched God work and then attributed those works to Satan for their own evil purposes. And Jesus knew their hearts.

Charles Ryrie in his book Basic Theology says, “… theirs was a sin committed to His face. To commit this particular sin required the personal and visible presence of Christ on earth; to commit it today, therefore, would be impossible.”

To blaspheme is to lie about God, something of which the Apostle Paul was certainly guilty before he was converted on the road to Damascus. But it wasn’t unforgivable. So, as far as rejecting God, making fun of believers, denying the truth, and many things that you and I may have done, none of those things are unforgivable. So what is the only sin which will keep up out of heaven today? Continue reading

“When Treated Unfairly” December 14

 

When Treated Unfairly

Have you ever been misjudged, falsely accused, or passed over by someone in leadership? Have you ever been hurt or mistreated? What do you think about at those times? How can you learn to  trust God in a greater way?

Also, find out why God would call a group of women “cows of Bashan” and how we can be sure we don’t act like them.

 

Today’s Readings:
Amos 4-7
Psalm 141.5-10
Proverbs 29.26
Revelation 4.1-11

 

Well, we are nearing the end of our journey on “the Bible bus” as J. Vernon McGee used to call it. I’d love to know how reading through the Bible has impacted you. Please take a few minutes and let me know. What has been your favorite book so far? What has changed in your life? How have you been able to apply what you are learning (the most important question of all)?

Are you already thinking about the coming year? I know I am. Every year is an exciting adventure in knowing God better through His Word! I’ll continue these “read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year” posts, along with more topical posts. I hope you’ll join me.

On to the magnificent Word …

 

When Treated Unfairly

 

Proverbs 29.26:

God’s Unstoppable Plans 

 

Thoughtful man hurt depression guilt sadness

“Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the LORD.”

Have you ever been misjudged, falsely accused, or passed over by someone in leadership? Have you ever been hurt or mistreated?

What do you think about at those times? As believers we need to meditate on God’s wonderful attributes and remember who is really in control.

First of all, we need to remember that He is good! If He allows us to go through some test or trial, it’s for our good (Rom. 8.28-29). It’s intended to help us grow in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22-23) and come to trust Him more.

Second, God is Sovereign—He is completely in control. He is omnipotent—all powerful. He has the power and the ability to bring about whatever He chooses.

Job 42.2 says, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”

Think about that; God’s unstoppable plans, His perfect plans and purposes, will come to pass.

He is, also, omnipresent. He is present everywhere and at all times! He is omniscient. He knows everything. Nothing we think about, nothing we do, and nothing that happens to us is a secret to Him.

He is a God of love, a God of mercy, and perfectly holy. But He is also a God of justice.

So, since He knows everything, He has the power to do whatever He needs to do, He is completely sovereign, a God of justice, and He loves His children, He is well able to take care of You and make all things right in His time. Put your faith and trust in Him. He is our faithful, loving Father! Trust in His unstoppable, wonderful plans!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Amos 4-7:

You cows of Bashan!

 

cows

Amos was written primarily to the Northern tribes (Samaria) during a time of relative peace and prosperity. In chapter 4 Amos begins by addressing the women of Samaria calling them “cows of Bashan.” Wow, that’s pretty harsh!

The problem was that these women were living in luxury and encouraging their husbands to focus on material prosperity. Verse 1, “Who say to your husbands, ‘Bring wine, let us drink!’” And they had no regard for those less fortunate, “Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy …”

As wives and mothers and sisters, we have much more influence over our families than we think or like to admit. How are we influencing them? What is our focus? Could we be acting like the “cows of Bashan”? Are we saying we want our husbands to be godly leaders and our sons to grow up to be godly men … all the while putting our focus on material things, pushing them to get a better job, more education, and provide more “stuff”?  Continue reading

“Trusting God in Suffering” November 16

 

Trusting God in SufferingWhen God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Trusting God makes all the difference in times of suffering. What can we learn about God that will steady us in tough times?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 23 & 24
Psalm 127.1-5
Proverbs 28.24
Hebrews 11.1-16

 

Trusting God in Suffering

 

Ezekiel 23 & 24:

Understanding Suffering

 

What if God called you to make the sacrifice that Ezekiel had to make—losing his wife and not even being allowed to grieve (24.15-18)? Could you trust God to give you the strength to do it? Or would you fall into self-pity or a “why me” attitude?

How would you respond if the child you raised to love God becomes a prodigal, throwing aside everything you believe? Would you still trust God?

What if the doctor handed you a bad report? Or your child didn’t get better? Would you still believe that God is good?

What if you or your spouse lost a job or your savings or your retirement plan? Would you still be able to trust Him to meet your needs?

I know for some of you these questions aren’t hypothetical, they are reality. The truth is suffering is a part of life in this fallen world. Someone has said that we’re either in the midst of trial, coming out of one, or getting ready to go into one.

They may vary in degree and some may be easier to handle than others, but we all suffer.

When God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Could you say with the psalmist, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me” (Ps. 119.75)?

 

How to Grow in Trust

 

It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know.

When your toddler jumps into your arms in the swimming pool for the first time, he doesn’t trust his ability to swim, he trusts you because he knows you. When your doctor says she needs to do surgery, you’ll either trust her diagnosis, or you’ll get another opinion.

A toddler learns to trust his parents because of his experience with them. You may come to trust your doctor because of her care and knowledge in other situations or because someone you know recommended her. But somehow we must have knowledge of a person if we’re to trust in them.

We trust God first by faith. We make the choice to believe His Word and to respond to His wooing, but we walk it out by coming to know Him through His Word.

 

What can we know about God that will steady us in trials and suffering? 

Continue reading

December 14 “God’s unstoppable plans”

God's unstoppable plansYou can trust in God’s unstoppable plans even when you are criticized, passed over, or treated unfairly. No plan of His can be thwarted and He allows nothing into our lives that He can’t and won’t use for good.

 

 

 

Today’s Readings:
Amos 4-7
Psalm 141.5-10
Proverbs 29.26
Revelation 4.1-11

Well, we are nearing the end of our journey on “the Bible bus” as J. Vernon McGee used to call it. I’d love to know how reading through the Bible has impacted you. Please take a few minutes and let me know. What has been your favorite book so far? What has changed in your life? How have you been able to apply what you are learning (the most important question of all)?

Are you already thinking about this coming year? I know I am. Every year is an exciting adventure in knowing God better through His Word! I’ll continue these “read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year” posts and I’ll be adding some new things. First, there will be more topical posts. And there will be two new regular features: “Wisdom Wednesdays” (a study from Proverbs) and “Bite-Sized Theology Thursdays” (a study in the basics of the Christian faith in simple, everyday language). Sign up to receive “Bible in a Year” emails and/or “Christian Living” emails to receive all the other posts.

On to the magnificent Word …

 

cows on fieldsAmos 4-7:

You cows of Bashan!

Amos was written primarily to the Northern tribes (Samaria) during a time of relative peace and prosperity. In chapter 4 Amos begins by addressing the women of Samaria addressing them “you cows of Bashan.” Wow, that’s pretty harsh!

The problem was that these women were living in luxury and encouraging their husbands to focus on material prosperity. Verse 1, “Who say to your husbands, ‘Bring wine, let us drink!’” And they had no regard for those less fortunate, “Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy …”

As wives and mothers and sisters, we have much more influence over our families than we think or like to admit. Are we acting like the “cows of Bashan”? What is our focus? Are we saying we want our husbands to be godly leaders and our sons to grow up to be godly men … all the while putting our focus on material things, pushing them to get a better job, more education, and provide more “stuff”?

Or do we encourage them to consider the spiritual implications of a job or career first and foremost? Will it allow them time to serve the Lord? Will having that bigger house make it difficult for us to give to the work of God? How do our lifestyles, our careers, and our goals fit with God’s plans and purposes? Whose agenda are we on, His or ours?

And husbands, are you leading your wives in this area? You are to wash us with the water of the Word (Eph. 5.26), pray for us, help us to grow spiritually, and lead by example.

Matthew 6 says:

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Where is your treasure and therefore your heart?

 

finger pointingPsalm 141.5-10:

Receiving criticism

Chapter 141.5, “Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it.”

Proverbs 27.6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

How do you respond to criticism? Do you welcome it, taking it to God and asking Him to show you how you need to grow and change? Or do you get defensive and choose to be offended? God can even use ungodly, unfair criticism for our good if we will take it to Him and ask Him to show us any element of truth in it. Continue reading

November 16 “Why you need a theology of suffering”

bibleWe all have a theology. The question is, “What is the source?” And when hard times come, what is our theology of suffering?

Today’s Readings:

Ezekiel 23 & 24
Psalm 127.1-5
Proverbs 28.24
Hebrews 11.1-16

 

Ezekiel 23 & 24:

A theology of suffering

Before I lose anyone with the title, we all have a theology. Theology is simply the study of God and His relationship to the world. The question is, “From where do you get your theology—from your circumstances or from God’s Word?”

And when it comes to suffering and hardship, our theology and its source make all the difference.

What if God called you to make the sacrifice that Ezekiel had to make—losing his wife and not even being allowed to grieve? Could you trust God to give you the strength to do it? Or would you fall into self-pity or a “why me” attitude? And how would you view God for even asking such a thing?

How would you respond if the child your raised to love God becomes a prodigal, throwing aside everything your believe? Would you still trust God?

What if the doctor handed you a bad report? Or your child didn’t get better? Would you still believe that God is good?

What if you or your spouse lost a job or your savings or your retirement plan? Would you still be able to trust Him to meet your needs?

I know for some of you these questions aren’t hypothetical, they are reality. The truth is suffering is a part of life in this fallen world. Someone has said that we’re either in the midst of trial, coming out of one, or getting ready to go into one.

They may vary in degree and some may be easier to handle than others, but we all suffer.

When God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Could you say with the psalmist, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me” (Ps. 119.75)?

It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know.

When your toddler jumps into your arms in the swimming pool for the first time, he doesn’t trust his ability to swim, he trusts you because he knows you. When your doctor says she needs to do surgery, you’ll either trust her diagnosis, or you’ll get another opinion.

A toddler learns to trust his parents because of his experience with them. You may come to trust your doctor because of her care and knowledge in other situations or because someone you trust recommends her. But somehow we must have knowledge of a person if we’re to trust in them.

We trust God first by faith. We make that choice to believe His Word and to respond to His wooing. But we walk it out by coming to know Him through His Word.

BibleWhat can we know about God that will steady us in trials and suffering?

We can know His character by coming to understand His various attributes.

God is love (1 Jn. 4.8). It’s not that He merely does loving things, He is love. Love seeks the good of the person loved. His love is perfect and unselfish. He loves us so much that He was willing to suffer and die in our place (Jn. 3.16). Even in hardship God is working for our good (Rom. 8.28; Gen. 50.20).

Joseph told the brothers who had sinned against him in such horrible ways:

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50.20).

Charles Ryrie says, “Love consists of affection and also of correction. Babies are cuddled and corrected, and both are true expressions of parental love.”

Even when God disciplines His children, it’s because of His love:

“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12.6).

God is good (Ps. 73.1). Like love, good isn’t something He does, it is His very essence.

He is, also, merciful and faithful. His is patient and forgiving, righteous and just. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (always with us), omnipotent (all-powerful) and He never changes. And that’s just the beginning of His attributes.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2.4-6)

We can never fully know God, but He has revealed much through His creation, through His acts, and, especially, through His Word. Coming to know Him will allow us to trust Him even in suffering.

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29.29).

There are numerous resources which can help us come to know Him, to know His attributes, and to better understand how God works in and through suffering. A friend told me her life and perspective changed when she read Trusting God by Jerry Bridges as a young widow. I’ve seen numerous people helped by reading It’s Not Fair! by Wayne Mack. Both talk about the attributes of God and help us know Him better. And A.W. Pink’s classic The Attributes of God is a little gem.

You can also use Bible Gateway or another concordance to look up the attributes of God and study them out for yourself.

Continue reading

September 19 “How to overcome evil”

thoughtful womanWe are not to be overcome by evil. In fact, we are commanded to overcome it! So how do we overcome evil?

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 29
Psalm 108.1-6
Proverbs 25.21-22
2 Corinthians 11.1-15

Isaiah 29:

He wants your heart!

Verse 13, “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”

God is not impressed with our “praise-the-Lords,” our yard signs, or our involvement in religious activities. Neither is He impressed with our Bible knowledge or our pious-sounding prayers.

Many of those things are good. We should have an attitude of praise toward God. We should be willing to proclaim our faith. We should be faithful to learn more about God’s Word and spend time with Him in prayer. But none of that matters to Him, unless He first has our hearts.

Continue reading

July 28 “Our sin, His grace” & LINKUP

grace

How do you respond when you come face to face with your own sin? Nehemiah 8.10b, “Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” The wretchedness of our sin should cause us to rejoice in the amazing grace of God!

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

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, 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. Continue reading