“The Danger of ‘Small’ Things” January 17

 

The Danger of "Small" Things - How many, seemingly, small decisions and compromises do we all make that can have huge consequences? In our marriages? In our parenting? In our thinking?

What can we learn from the small decisions and compromises that people in the Bible made and what happened as a result?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 33 & 34
Psalm 9.1-5
Proverbs 3.21-26
Matthew 12.1-21

 

The Danger of “Small” Things

 

Genesis 33 & Genesis 34:

Big Consequences

 

Have you ever thought about how “small things” can set the course of our lives, sometimes in ways we never intended.

James, in talking about the tongue, said, it is a small member—a little part of our body, but he went on to say that it’s like the rudder on a ship. It sets the course of our lives (Jas. 3.4-5).

What about other “small things”? What about small decisions, small compromises, small indulgences, small thoughts, “small” sins? How do they affect our lives and the lives of those we love?

In chapter 33 Jacob, now called Israel, continued on toward home after the reunion with his brother Esau after twenty plus years. But on his way, Jacob set up temporary homes first in Succoth and then in Shechem.

Genesis 34 contains a very sad story. Jacob’s daughter Dinah had decided to go into town “to see the daughters of the land.” She ended up being raped, which in turn, lead to the brutal slaughter of all the men in the city of Shechem. Even though Shechem, the young man who raped her, professed his love for and desire to marry her afterwards, it didn’t change what was done.

Dinah, possibly 15 or 16 at the time, appears to be Jacob’s only daughter. Was she the apple of everyone’s eye, especially her mother’s? While it is possible she left the camp without her father knowing, it is unlikely she did so without her mother’s knowledge.

The text says she wanted to see the daughters of the land. Maybe to see what was in fashion, how they dressed, how they wore their hair. Maybe she didn’t just go “to see,” but to be seen. How did she end up unsupervised in a pagan city? Was she spoiled?Did her parents have trouble saying “no”?

Shechem was apparently, the son of the city’s founder. Verse 19 says, “He was more honorable than all the household of his father.” The word “honorable” is translated “respected” in the NASB. It comes from a root word meaning “to be heavy, weighty or burdensome.”

It doesn’t mean he was honorable or respected in the best sense of the word, but that he was influential. Daddy’s boy carried a lot of clout! That would explain how he could talk the other young men into being circumcised (34.13-17), the condition Dinah’s brothers gave before they would allow Dinah to marry Shechem.

Was he, perhaps, an ancient version of the “affluenza” teen we read so much about a year or so ago? Look at what he said to his father after the rape, “Get me this young woman as a wife.” He sounds like a son who was accustomed to getting what he wanted. What may have seemed like “small” indulgences to his father had huge consequences.

Often, “small choices,” if not filtered through God’s principles, can lead to an attitude of entitlement. Many of our children today think they are entitled to the latest video games, the latest cell phones, etc.  Continue reading

“Could guilt lead to paranoia?” October 27

 

Could guilt lead to paranoia? - Could guilt lead to paranoia?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.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 39 & 40
Psalm 119.81-88
Proverbs 28.1
1 Timothy 6.1-21

 

Could guilt lead to paranoia?

 

Proverbs 28.1:

Guilt, Anxiety & Paranoia

“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).

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Jeremiah 39 & 40:

The Faithfulness of God in Hard Times

What a sweet testimony to the faithfulness of God!

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

“Are you whining or shining?” September 13

 

are you whining

We’re called to be different! But when it comes to how you respond to circumstances, tests, trials, the state of our nation, economy or politics … are you whining or shining? And why does it matter?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 17 & 18
Psalm 106.32-39
Proverbs 25.11-12
2 Corinthians 5.1-21

 

Are you whining or shining?

 

Isaiah 17 & 18:

A Remnant … Whining or Shining?

 

In these chapters God through the prophet continues to warn of coming judgments, but reminds them there will always be a faithful remnant (18.6).

As we see what’s happening here in our nation, we cannot give up or lose hope. We must realize that it’s our calling to be part of His faithful remnant. We are to be salt and light.

Philippians 2.14-15 says we are to:

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that [we] may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (emp. added).

How’s your light? Is it bright and clear? Is it dim and hidden by junk (sin or the cares of this world)? Or do you just whine and complain like everyone else?

If we are going to give hope to a lost and dying world, even in the midst of discouraging political seasons and other setbacks, we must point to the only source of real hope. Our hope cannot be in the candidate of our choice, the hope that our nation will wake up and turn back to God, or any other person or event.

The fact is we don’t know if any of those things will happen. Our hope must be in all the truths and promises of Scripture: God’s free offer of salvation to those who will believe, His divine supports here and now to those who belong to Him, and the reality of heaven and the promise of eternal rewards. And while our saltiness may sting at times, it must be balanced with the brightness of our lives that will cause others to want what we have.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 106.32-39:

Holding Out the Light, Not Taking Part in the Darkness

 

lightbulb

As the psalmist continues to recount the history of the Israelites, he includes these verses about their involvement with pagan religions, even taking part in the most detestable practices.

Verses 35-38:

35 But they mingled with the Gentiles
And learned their works;
36 They served their idols,
Which became a snare to them.
37 They even sacrificed their sons
And their daughters to demons,
38 And shed innocent blood,
The blood of their sons and daughters,
Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan;
And the land was polluted with blood.

In 2 Corinthians 6.14-17 Paul said:

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God …

17 Therefore
“ Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord …”

Because we have not obeyed that command, like the ancient Israelites of Isaiah’s time, we are often more a part of our culture then we are separate from it. We are so afraid of being called “intolerant” or of being accused of being narrow minded or ignorant that we have accepted the world’s philosophy on many things or at least been intimidated into silence while unborn babies are being killed, history is rewritten, and truth becomes relative.  Continue reading

“What you do in moderation, your children will do to excess!” July 13

 

What you do in moderation, your children will do to excess! - Compromise and ungodly influence affected one family and a nation for generations. How are you influencing others, especially your children? Often, what you do in moderation, your children will do to excess!Compromise and ungodly influence affected one family and a nation for generations. Often, what you do in moderation, your children will do to excess! How are you influencing others, especially your children?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 21 & 22
Psalm 83.1-8
Proverbs 21.1
Acts 17.16-34

 

What you do in moderation, your children will do to excess!

 

2 Chronicles 21 & 22:

The Off Ramp of Compromise

Can you imagine your brother-in-law becomes the king and the next thing you know there is a knock on the door. There are soldiers outside. They drag your husband out and kill him in front of you and the children! Then they head for the homes of your other family members!

That’s basically what Jehoram did to his brothers. Remember, although he made some mistakes, his father Jehoshaphat was considered a good king. But at the end of his life, he allied himself with Ahaziah king of Israel and they went into business together. God didn’t allow that business to prosper. In fact, He destroyed it, but his son Jehoram ends up married to wicked Ahab’s daughter Athaliah.

How do you suppose they met? Did Jehoshaphat take his little boy along as he went to Samaria on business? Did he and Athaliah play together as children? We don’t know, but somehow they ended up married and Jehoram ended up following the ways of his wife’s family. She eventually killed her own grandchildren so she could seize power after her husband’s and sons’ deaths! What a family heritage!

Compromise is costly. And it doesn’t just affect us. It affects those around us, especially our children. It’s been said, “What you do in moderation, your children will do to excess.” That is often the case.  Continue reading

July 13 “Compromise & influence”

imagesCA2EDBA1

Compromise and influence affected one family and a nation for generations. How are you influencing others, especially your children? Often, what you do in moderation, your children will do to excess!

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 21 & 22
Psalm 83.1-8
Proverbs 21.1
Acts 17.16-34

2 Chronicles 21 & 22:

The off ramp of compromise

Can you imagine your brother-in-law becomes the king and the next thing you know there is a knock on the door. There are soldiers outside. They drag your husband out and kill him in front of you and the children! Then they head for the homes of your other family members! Continue reading

May 12 “The Christian two-step” & LINKUP

The Christian two-step: one step forward, two steps back. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have.

the Christian two-step

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 26 & 27
Psalm 60.6-12
Proverbs 16.4-5
John 2.1-25

1 Samuel 26 & 27:

One step forward, two steps back

In yesterday’s reading, Saul was repentant and had given up trying to kill David. But now in chapter 26 he’s at it again. David, on the other hand, in spite of God’s continuing faithfulness, starts to believe the worse. Instead of being encouraged, he decides that sooner or later Saul will probably kill him. So he resorts to his own foolish solution, going into enemy territory where he knows Saul won’t go. But as the story unfolds we’ll see that this only leads to more problems.

One step forward, two steps back: Have you ever felt like that’s the story of your life? I know I have. We may know intellectually that God’s way is the right way, but when it goes against our feelings, feelings often win out. We could call it the Christian two-step!

We know Matthew 5.23-24 says we aren’t to hypocritically worship God, while we ignore unresolved issues with family and our brothers and sisters-in-Christ. But instead of seeking reconciliation, we avoid people, move to a different church, gossip, or pretend things are fine.

flirting online

We’re know we’re playing with fire when we flirt with that co-worker or scan the internet for that old “friend,” but we’re so tired of feeling unappreciated and it seems so harmless, and besides, we think, “I can handle it!”

We’re heard our share of teaching about confronting a sinning brother or sister, but it’s just too hard! And besides, “Who am I to judge?”

We hear a good sermon on discipleship or prayer or growing in the Word and we decide, “I’m going to read my Bible more,” or “I’m going to spend more time praying,” or “I’m going to finish that Bible study I started.” Then the alarm goes off and another 30 minutes of sleep wins out.

One-step forward, two steps back.

Dancing to a new beat

Like David, when the struggles keep coming or when we think we’ve failed God again, we’re tempted to give up and think things will never change or we’re never going to get it.

But it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve fallen or how difficult the circumstances, God’s mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3.22-23). So what is it you need to do? Is there a relationship you need to reconcile? I habit you need to put off? A discipline you need to put on in its place? Why not ask God for the grace you need and step forward … one step at a time!

Psalm 60.6-12:

Through God alone

Verse 12, “Through God we will do valiantly, for it is He who shall tread down our enemies.” We need to be reminded over and over, just like David, that true victory comes only from the Lord. As we take those steps of faith, one by one, He brings change and victory.

Proverbs 16.4-5:

Even the wicked

Verse 4, “The Lord has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom.” One day everyone will bow their knee and bring glory to God, even the wicked on the day of judgment as the justice of God is demonstrated. Continue reading

January 17 “Small compromises or big trouble?”

Dinah

Have you ever justified some “small” sin or compromise by saying, “It’s no big deal”? Small decisions, small compromises, small indulgences, small thoughts, “small” sins? How might they affect our lives and the lives of those we love?

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 33 & 34
Psalm 9.1-5
Proverbs 3.21-26
Matthew 12.1-21

Genesis 33 & 34:

The power of “small” things

Have you ever thought about how “small things” can set the course of our lives, sometimes in ways we never intended.

James, in talking about the tongue, said, it is a small member—a little part of our body, but he went on to say that it’s like the rudder on a ship. It sets the course of our lives (James 3.4-5).

What about other “small things”? What about small decisions, small compromises, small indulgences, small thoughts, “small” sins? How do they affect our lives and the lives of those we love? Continue reading