Chapter 30 covers the “Law of Vows.” God takes truth and honoring our word seriously. Jesus said, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” (Matt. 5.37a”]).
God not only takes truth seriously, but He also takes authority seriously. Part of the “Law of Vows” addressed that fact. It said if a woman still lived in her father’s house or if she was married, her father or husband could overrule what she vowed.
Authority is still very important to God whether in our marriages, in the workplace, or in other areas of life.
We need to teach our children the importance of respect for authority, too. That means teaching them to respect their teachers, the police and other civil authorities, and even the other parent where divorce has taken place.
We should teach them both by instruction and by example. That means we must show respect to our spouses (& ex-spouses), their teachers and school officials, civil authorities, and our bosses.
Authority, however, stops when the other person asks us to sin. Sin would include Continue reading →
Where are You, Lord? Ever felt that way? Maybe you’ve been deeply hurt, possibly by someone close to you. Maybe it’s a financial trial or a serious illness. Whatever it is, we need to be like the psalmist in today’s reading.
Joseph was said to be a “type of Christ.” A type is a picture (like the old “tintypes,” pictures taken during the 1800s). In this case, a picture of Christ, a glimpse of what was to come. What exactly does that mean and how should his example inspire us today?
Here we see the progression that comes by faithfully, and honestly, lifting our requests to God in prayer. The Psalmist prayed:
“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (v. 1).
He was saying, in effect, “Where are You, Lord?” Ever felt that way?
In spite of not fully understanding, the psalmist prayed in faith:
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, And my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken (vss. 3-4).
Then he goes on:
But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, Because He has dealt bountifully with me (vss. 5-6).
The psalmist made a conscious decision to trust God. He chose to focus on the faithfulness of God.
We, too, can choose to trust God in our trials!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov. 3.5).
Our prayers may start out, as the psalmists did, “Where are you, Lord?” But if we stay faithful, God will not only faithfully answer according to His will and His timing, but we will be changed as we grow in our ability to trust Him.
Joseph and his family have been reunited. Here in chapter 47 we see Joseph’s care for his aging father, “Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh” (v. 7). Somehow I see Joseph helping his elderly father into some kind of a chair so Jacob can show his respect to Pharaoh and pray for him. But he doesn’t just care for his father; he also cares for his brothers. In verse 11 Joseph “situated his father and his brothers” and in verse 12 he “provided” for his father and his brothers. Remember, these are the same brothers who sold him into slavery.
Joseph is a type of Christ. A type is a picture (like the old “tintypes,” pictures taken during the 1800s). In this case, a picture of Christ, a glimpse of what was to come. We can look at those old photos and see that while they were not perfect images, they give us some idea of what the real person looked like. In the same way, when we look at the various “types of Christ,” each one gives us an idea of some of the attributes of our Savior. Continue reading →
While we’re not of this world, we are to live in it. But there are times when we may need to remove ourselves and our families from certain environments, whether that is a workplace, a school system, a circle of friends, or a city. Let’s pray for God’s wisdom and grace to know how to stay strong enough in the Lord to be salt and light, yet discerning enough to know when it’s time to go. And what about in a marriage? Is there ever a time to go?
Also, read about God’s view of authority in “Respect for Authority = Great Faith,” His “Mercy in Our Weakness,” and the importance of allowing God’s Word to control our inner attitudes, as well as, our outward actions in “Mercy & Truth Inside & Out.”
As I read and meditated on this portion of Scripture, I was reminded of Romans 15.4 which says:
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
I love the book of Genesis, because it does instruct us, but it often does so by allowing us to see truth through the lives of very real people.
Here in Chapter 19 we see through the lives of Lot and his family how easy it is, even though we may be believers, to compromise and “live” in places and situations where we shouldn’t. 2 Peter 2.7 calls Lot “righteous.” That doesn’t mean everything he did was righteous. He was righteous by faith—faith in the One True God—just as we are made righteous by faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
Yet he chose to live in a city so wicked that God destroyed it!
He had apparently tried to do some good there. When the men of the city came to, basically, gang rape the angels, thinking they were travelers, they said: Continue reading →
During the Tribulation the final Antichrist will rise to power. All those who want to buy and sell will be required wear his name or his number 666 on their right hand or foreheads and all who dwell on earth will be deceived into worshiping him, except those whose names are written in the Book of Life of the Lamb.
Also, are the wicked “getting away with murder?” Habakkuk thought so. How about you?
1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.
Satan will summon one of his demons to come up out of the abyss. This demon will control the man who is Antichrist.
3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”
During the Tribulation the final Antichrist will rise to power. That power will come from Satan himself. Many will be deceived into worshiping him and at one point he will, at least appear to, die and be raised from the dead, causing many more to worship him.
5 And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. 6 Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. 7 It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation. 8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
All but genuine believers will be deceived into worshiping him.
11 Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, and he had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. 12 And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence, and causes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. 13 He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men. 14 And he deceives those who dwell on the earth by those signs which he was granted to do in the sight of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who was wounded by the sword and lived. 15 He was granted power to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause as many as would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666.
This is Antichrist’s sidekick, so to speak. He will promote him and encourage others to worship him. He is the final false prophet. He will force people to wear the mark of the beast if they wish to buy or sell and will have people killed for refusing to worship Antichrist. But those who have come to faith in Jesus Christ and whose names have been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb will be protected from this deception.
It’s encouraging to know that people can and will be saved during the Tribulation, but it will be an unprecedented time of trial and persecution for those who are. And, as I said yesterday, it’s a bittersweet reality that many will reject the truth and continue to do so, in spite of, the events going on.
All the more reason to pray and share the gospel so those God has placed in our paths will be spared from the hardships and terror of that time.
In chapter 1 Habakkuk has been crying out to God about the sin and wickedness all around him. He sees the righteous being mistreated and wicked people “getting away with murder,” as we might say today. God responds by telling him, he is going to judge the guilty in short order. But He will do so by allowing an even more evil government, the Chaldeans, to come in and take over as an instrument of His judgment.
The prophet is at first shocked and questions God’s method. He reminds God of His own character and points out that the Chaldeans will take the credit and use their success to worship their own false gods and military might.
What is God’s “umbrella of protection” and how do we stay under it? How, also, do we put ourselves outside His protective authority? And how does the Church itself act as an umbrella of protection for its members?
Interestingly our verse in Proverbs today is 28.2:
“Because of the transgression of a land, many are its princes; but by a man of understanding and knowledge right will be prolonged.”
John MacArthur says, “Unrighteousness in a nation produces political instability with many vying for power …,” on the other hand, “Wisdom promotes social order and long rule.”
We see that truth in operation here in Jeremiah 41 and 42, and in the following chapter. Ishmael sees an opportunity to seize control and is shortly overturned himself by Johanan. But, because he lacked righteousness and trust in God, Johanan soon leads the people to ruin.
There is also a beautiful picture of God’s willingness to protect His people in chapter 42. When the people were in a desperate situation, they turned to God, asking Jeremiah to intercede for them and seek His wisdom. But when He provided it, they were unwilling to listen.
The place of protection was where God had placed them and commanded them to stay. But since it didn’t make sense to them, they left and went their own way, only to be destroyed as we’ll see in the next chapter.
Remember 9-11? After that horrible tragedy people flocked to churches, but few actually made the life changes they needed so they could truly live under God’s protective authority. And as a nation, we have totally rejected the spiritual lessons we should have learned.
What can we do today? If you remember much of our reading in the historical Bible books, God would often show mercy on the whole nation because of a godly leader or one who turned to Him in times of trouble. In a democratic republic like ours, let’s pray He gives us the wisdom to make the wisest choice possible and that we listen.
But what about on a personal level, how do we either stay under God’s protective authority or leave and go to Egypt? Continue reading →
Could guilt lead to paranoia? Could those feelings of guilt and anxiety be God’s early warning system to keep us from experiencing deeper emotional issues? And what happens when we ignore those warnings?
Also read about God’s faithfulness in hard times and a biblical view of authority.
“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
Wickedness can lead to double-mindedness, fear, worry and what the world calls “paranoia.”
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines paranoia as “a tendency on the part of an individual or group toward excessive or irrational suspiciousness and distrustfulness of others.”
God gave each of us a conscience. Romans 2.14-15:
14 for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, 15 who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them).
And when we violate our consciences, we’ll experience guilt, anxiety and, at times, even paranoia. Not all guilt and anxiety are bad. Sometimes they’re God’s early warning system to keep us from hardening our hearts and doing things that can harm us or others.
But when we refuse to heed the warning behind those unpleasant emotions, they can morph into paranoia and a continued downward spiral of sin (Rom. 1.18-32).
When the city was defeated, Nebuchadnezzar gave orders that Jeremiah was not just to be spared, but to be given a ration and told he was free to go anywhere he wanted to go!
We get so concerned about how the economy or some political change will affect us. Instead of standing firm for truth in the face of adversity and evil, we compromise, worry, and put our trust in other gods, like government, to save us. Instead of voting for candidates who are morally right we vote our pocketbooks (who promises me the most?). We lie to get unemployment benefits. Or we compromise our values in the work place, the classroom and the marketplace. Continue reading →
This is a very clear passage regarding authority. Scripture says all authority comes from God (v. 1). That could be a school teacher over a student, a boss over an employee, a husband over a wife, a pastor or elder over a church member, or a civic official over a citizen. Whatever it is, God expects us to respect and obey that authority. The only exception is if that person asks us to break God’s laws, then we must humbly and respectfully refuse to obey.
We should be teaching our children to respect the authority God has placed them under at school or any place else. Sadly, today many parents are quick to run to their children’s defense instead of teaching them to respond biblically.
But respect for authority begins with us and, sadly, we are often more concerned about what we perceive as our “rights,” than about being pleasing to God! We can’t expect our children to respect authority, including ours, if we are disrespectful to our spouses, police officers or bosses!
For example, how do you respond when you get stopped for speeding or some other violation? Are you concerned about justifying your behavior or denying your guilt? Or are you more concerned about pleasing God and trusting in His sovereignty?
How do you respond when passed over for a promotion or criticized at work? Are you more concerned about whether or not it’s fair or are you concerned about giving your co-workers the right opinion about God? Continue reading →
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.
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 →
God places a high priority on authority. He commands us to respect authority and to live obediently under the authority of our government, our work structure, our church leadership, and within the family. So is it ever right to disobey authority? If so, when?
I am blessed to work full time at our church so I have great freedom to talk about Christ and the Gospel. Many people who come to me for counseling don’t have a personal relationship with God, but I’m free to share the truth with them.
However, I have many friends who work at secular jobs. Some are teachers with students from broken homes and other difficult environments. Others are office workers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, law enforcement personal, and dozens of other occupations. They are surrounded by people with great needs and a variety of beliefs and they are often limited in the freedom to share their faith openly.
God places a high priority on authority. He commands us to respect authority and to live obediently under the authority of our government, our work structure, our church leadership, and within the family. So is it ever right to disobey authority? If so, when? Continue reading →
Oh, the depths of sin to which human beings can sink without a relationship with the One True God! And His faithfulness to keep those who belong to Him! But what about apostasy, those who serve God for a season and then walk away?
Chapter 5.2-3 really amazes me and has a great message for us.
“And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.'”
Here’s a young girl who had been ripped away from her family and life as she knew it, forced to work as a slave, and yet, look at her heart attitude—one of loyalty and concern for the people under whose authority God had placed her.
Why would God allow that to happen to her in the first place? For the same reason He allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and carried off to a foreign land—to fulfill His plans and purposes AND to bless those He uses. We need to remember that our good and His glory are always connected.
As a result of this little servant girl, Naaman would come to know the One True God.
Another passage that spoke to me was 5.25-26. After Naaman had gone to the Prophet and been healed, he offered Elisha gifts of silver and clothing, but Elisha had refused them. After he left, Elisha’s servant Gehazi followed him, told him that the Prophet had changed his mind, and had greedily taken the gifts.
“Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, ‘Where did you go, Gehazi?’ And he said, ‘Your servant did not go anywhere.’ Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you?’ …”
It is such a blessing to see those you have led to the Lord or discipled grow and walk in the truth, but by the same token, it is painful to see them walk away from the truth.
How Elisha’s heart must have been broken to see Gehazi, who had seen so many of God’s miracles, turn his back on God for monetary gain!
Chapter 6 recounts a very disturbing story. Samaria is under siege, food is so scarce that the people are starving. Verses 26-29:
“Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, ‘Help, my lord, O king!’ And he said, ‘If the LORD does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?’ Then the king said to her, ‘What is troubling you?’ And she answered, ‘This woman said to me, “Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.” So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, “Give your son, that we may eat him”; but she has hidden her son.'”
Can you imagine such a thing even under starvation conditions? The first thing that struck me was the woman’s lack of shame! She didn’t mind telling the king what they had done! But as I thought about this passage, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that while we are shocked to think that such a thing could happen, how often we read or hear about women who allow their boyfriends to abuse or even kill their babies or children. And we hear of others who even do so themselves.
We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there is a message in this for us, too. When we read these stories we’re so tempted to get self-righteous and think: Continue reading →