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 respect for authority. He commands us 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 someone in authority? If so, when? That is a question more and more believers are forced to consider.
Until recently, I worked full time at our church, so I have had great freedom to talk about Christ and the Gospel. Even now, as a volunteer counselor, I’m free to share the gospel with those who don’t have a personal relationship with God and speak the truth to those who want answers for the issues in their lives.
However, I have many friends who work in 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.
And God does place a high priority on respect for authority. He commands us 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 someone in authority? If so, when? That is a question more and more believers are forced to consider. Continue reading →
What if God called you or I to suffer for our faith or to live under some kind of oppression? Would we trust Him and choose to live righteously and show His love to those around us?
On the other hand, even under the best of circumstances, sinful thoughts like discontent, envy, criticism and bitterness can cause us to justify all kinds of sinful behaviors. Those sins we think we harbor in our hearts and minds can send us into a downward slide into things we never could have imagined, as we’ll see in 2 Kings 6.
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.
13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).
Because of this little servant girl, who lived her life out of “the hope that [was] in [her],” Naaman would come to know the One True God.
Another passage that spoke to me was 2 Kings 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?’ …”
“Did not my heart go with you …” It’s such a blessing to see those you have led to the Lord or discipled grow and walk in the truth, but 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!
How easily we can get on a downward slide into sin. We first need to realize that we can’t play around with sinful thoughts. Thoughts of discontent, envy and criticism can easily cause us to justify taking what we think we deserve or some other sinful behavior or response.
If not repented of and forsaken one sin leads to another and to another (Rom. 6.19) as we see in 2 Kings 6.
Chapter 6 recounts a very disturbing story of how the Northern Kingdom’s descent into sin and idolatry had brought them to the depths of human depravity. Samaria was under siege and food had become so scarce that the people were 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 this, 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 and how shocking it is, is it that different from women today who allow their boyfriends to abuse or even kill their babies or children. And others who do so themselves.
Neither should we lose sight of the fact that there is a message in this for us, too. It’s so tempting to get self-righteous and think: Continue reading →
Have you ever wanted to go out into the mission field? or record a Christian hit song? or be a great Bible teacher? And instead, you find yourself cooking and cleaning and teaching Bible verses to preschoolers. What does God have to say about housewives and kingdom rewards?
Psalm 68 is a psalm of prayer, praise and thanksgiving to God for His care over His people and for giving them victory.
But before we pass by too quickly, there’s a sweet phrase tucked into verse 12. It says, “and she who remains at home divides the spoil.”
What an encouragement this should be to you precious stay-at-home moms to know that God sees what you do as just as valuable and important to kingdom work as any other responsibility (more so, really, because you are raising the next generation for God). It’s also a reminder that you will share in kingdom rewards just as fully!
In chapter 1 King David is dying. (Those of us who are married and getting older can be thankful for electric blankets, none of that “virgin heating” for our husbands! You’ll just have to read the passage! 1 Kings 1.1-4) Continue reading →
How should we respond to imperfect authority? Are we to obey no matter what? Are we to refuse? And, if so, is there a right way and a wrong way?
Also, what’s wrong with living together? Many people today argue that a marriage license is “just a piece of paper”! What does the Bible really say?
2 Samuel 1 & 2
How to Respond to Imperfect Authority
2 Samuel 1 & 2:
Well, we have passed another milestone, another Old Testament book under our belts. Now we are on to 2 Samuel.
Proper Respect for Authority
In chapter 1 David mourns the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, especially Jonathan with whom David had a special covenant relationship. I believe it was Jonathan’s faith in God and sensitivity to what God was doing that led him to make a covenant with David.
We also see Jonathan’s loyalty to his father, although he didn’t allow that loyalty to cause him to sin. Instead, he kept his covenant to protect David. He warned David of the threat against him and spoke the truth to his father, telling him what he was doing was wrong. But in the end he refused to desert his father, even though it cost him his life.
What a beautiful picture of how we should respond to those God has placed in authority over us.
All of us are under authority. Wives are under their husbands’ authority. Children under their parents. Students are under the authority of teachers and administrators. Employees under their bosses and supervisors. We are all under the civil authorities: police men and women, judges, governors, all three branches of our federal government and others. Christians are under the authority of their pastors and elders. And we are all under God’s authority.
Could it be that God is at work all around us in incredible ways, yet we’re no longer excited about what He is doing? No longer seeking Him? Have we become “ho-hum” about God and His Word? What could our attitude be costing us?
In chapter 29.2-9 Moses was recounting what God did for them those 40 years in the desert:
“You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land—the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.”
In his Daily Bible, John MacArthur says, “The Lord had not given them an understanding heart, simply because the people had not penitently sought it.”
Perhaps, they took God’s work in their lives for granted. Perhaps, they found trying to understand and know Him too difficult or too much trouble. Perhaps they were bored with the things of God and found life in the pagan nations around them more exciting.
What have you not “seen” because you have not sought it? God desires to show us more and more, to take us deeper and deeper into His truth, for us to know Him better and better, but we must want it, seek it, and ask Him for it. Do you study God’s Word with that attitude?
In Matthew 7.7-8 Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
But on the other hand verse 29.29 reminds us that there are things God has not yet revealed to us and, while we can pray for answers and understanding, we’re not to seek to know things apart from the Him. You can read my post from a few days ago about fortune telling and witchcraft. Continue reading →
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.