“Titles, Oaths, Judging & Pride” February 5

 

Titles, Oaths, Judging & Pride - In Matthew 23, Jesus made some unusual statements: "Do not call anyone on earth your father ..." "... he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it." "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" In another passage, He said, "Do not judge, lest you be judged." So, are titles wrong? What about oaths? Should we strengthen our commitments by swearing by things bigger than ourselves? And what did Jesus mean when He said, "Do not judge ...?"In Matthew 23, Jesus made some unusual statements: “Do not call anyone on earth your father …” “… he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.” “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” In another passage, He said, “Do not judge, lest you be judged.”

So, are titles wrong? What about oaths? Should we strengthen our commitments by swearing by things bigger than ourselves? And what did Jesus mean when He said, “Do not judge …?”

And in our Old Testament reading, why would God lay out such an elaborate systems of laws and regulations? Did those laws limit or enhance freedom? Do they have any connection to our laws today?

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 21 & 22
Psalm 18.46-50
Proverbs 6.26-29
Matthew 23.1-22

 

Titles, Oaths, Judging & Pride

 

Matthew 23:1-22

Titles & Authority

 

Sometimes verses must be studied in the light of other verses and passages in the Bible. If we take one or two verses and isolate them, we can easily read more into them or something different from what was intended. Also, studying the texts in their original languages can help our understanding. That doesn’t mean that we must be Greek or Hebrew scholars. We are blessed to live in a time when there are many excellent and understandable references and commentaries written by people who have studied the texts carefully and prayerfully.

Verses 8-10, for instance, where Jesus said:

“… do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.”

Jesus is not condemning titles. The Apostle Paul called himself a “father” to the Corinthians. And in Ephesians 4:11-12 where Paul is talking about spiritual gifts, he says:

“He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Rather Jesus was condemning the religious leaders who set themselves up as the final authority on spiritual matters as if they were the source of the truth. God through His Word must always be our source of truth. No man or woman is infallible, only God.  Continue reading

“When You Try Trusting God & Things Get Worse” January 28

 

When You Try Trusting God & Things Get Worse - Our Exodus reading illustrates the importance of being willing to keep standing and trusting God when things get worse instead of better and can help us understand that we are in a spiritual battle.  Psalm 16 reminds us where real joy is to be found.  Proverbs 5 warns us of the consequences of sin. All of us need to heed the warnings in this passage, but if you have teenagers, knowing these truths and teaching them to your sons and daughters is so important. This may be one of the most important passages for boys to understand even before they come into their teens.There are so many important truths in today’s readings. I had a hard time deciding which one to feature in the title. I hope you’ll take the time to read today and let me know what spoke to you.

Our Exodus reading illustrates the importance of being willing to keep standing and trusting God when things get worse instead of better and can help us understand that we are in a spiritual battle.

Psalm 16 reminds us where real joy is to be found.

Proverbs 5 warns us of the consequences of sin. All of us need to heed the warnings in this passage, but if you have teenagers, knowing these truths and teaching them to your sons and daughters is so important. This may be one of the most important passages for boys to understand even before they come into their teens.

Finally, Matthew 18 illustrates the seriousness of unforgiveness and its effect on our relationship with God.

On to the Word …

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 5 & 6
Psalm 16.7-11
Proverbs 5.7-14
Matthew 18.21-35

 

When You Try Trusting God & Things Get Worse

 

Exodus 5 & 6:

When Things Get Worse

 

Now Moses has returned to Egypt to do what God has told him to do. He has gone to his brother Aaron and received confirmation from him, from the elders, and from the people (Ex. 4.27-31). But when he and Aaron go to Pharaoh to demand he let the people go, things don’t turn out so well! In fact, things get worse!

Have you ever felt that way? You surrender your life to God or you make a decision to turn and go God’s way in some area of life. At first it’s great. You know you’re doing the right thing … but then things start to go wrong! Continue reading

“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

“Consequences of Favoritism & Deception” January 14

 

Consequences of Favoritism & Deception - Job said that no plan or purpose of God's can be thwarted (Job. 42.2), but He often has to allow the consequences of our sin and self-effort to take effect before we're ready to be used or to receive the blessing without messing it up. Jacob and Rebekah, it seems, had to learn this lesson the hard way. All this should be both a warning and a great encouragement to us: a warning of the consequences of deception, controlling behavior, and selfishness and an encouragement that God can and will use us, in spite of our past mistakes, if we will repent and turn to Him.Job said that no plan or purpose of God’s can be thwarted (Job. 42.2), but He often has to allow the consequences of our sin and self-effort to take effect before we’re ready to be used or to receive the blessing without messing it up. Jacob and Rebekah, it seems, had to learn this lesson the hard way.

All this should be both a warning and a great encouragement to us: a warning of the consequences of deception, controlling behavior, and selfishness and an encouragement that God can and will use us, in spite of our past mistakes, if we will repent and turn to Him.

Also read about the difference between “Righteous Anger & Sinful Anger,” “The Chastening of the Lord,” and the importance of “Defending the Faith in Love.”

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 27 & 28
Psalm 7.9-17
Proverbs 3.11-12
Matthew 10.1-20

 

The Consequences of Favoritism & Deception

 

Genesis 27 & Genesis 28:

Consequences & God’s Sovereignty

 

Isaac was now 137 years old, blind, and facing his own mortality. Perhaps he was sick since both Jacob and Esau expected him to die soon (27.41). As the story continues we will see that he actually lives forty-three years longer. By the way, Jacob and Esau were not exactly kids either. They were 77 years old!

Isaac planned to give a final blessing to Esau, his favored son, in opposition to God’s declared will (Gen. 25.23). But first he asked him to bring him a meal of fresh game. Instead, Rebekah convinced Jacob, her favorite, to deceive his father into pronouncing the blessing over him.

When the scandal of Jacob’s deception was revealed, it says, “Isaac trembled exceedingly,” perhaps over what Jacob had done or perhaps at the realization that he had favored his rebellious son in spite of what God had revealed to Rebekah before the twins were born.

Esau was already living up to God’s prophecy. He had married two Hittite women, clearly in violation of Abraham’s guidelines (Gen. 24.3). Rebekah and Isaac must have understood all this because 26.35 says his wives were “a grief of mind” to his parents.

And don’t forget the selfish, “I-want-what-I-want-and-I-want-it-now” attitude that had already cost Esau his birthright as the elder son.

Though Jacob’s behavior was completely wrong (and the fact that his mother suggested it, was no excuse), God, in His sovereignty, used it to bring about His desired result—not because of their sinful behavior, but again, in spite of it.

And Rebekah! Wouldn’t you just love to have a mother who gives this kind of advice! Continue reading

“What’s your Isaac?” January 11

 

What's your Isaac? Is there something you've been holding too closely, something God is asking you to put on the altar? A grudge, a relationship, a career, a lifestyle, even a child that you haven't fully given to God?What’s your Isaac? Is there something you’ve been holding too closely, something God is asking you to put on the altar? A grudge, a relationship, a career, a lifestyle, even a child that you haven’t fully given to God? What blessings are you missing, as a result?

Also, read “From Tears to Trust” and “Lean Not on Your Own Understanding.” And in “Exposed Hearts” from Matthew 8, Jesus delivered two demon-possessed men from the power of Satan. But the people of the region were more concerned about their herd of pigs than what Jesus was doing.

Are there any “pigs” in your life that occupy more of your concern and attention than the work of God?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 21 & 22
Psalm 6.6-10
Proverbs 3.5-6
Matthew 8.18-34

 

What’s your Isaac?

 

Genesis 21 & 22:

His Trustworthiness When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

 

As I read and meditate on these two chapters, they can be challenging to fully understand. While the truths of God are, on the one hand, so simple a child can understand, parts are so profound that we can spend a lifetime trying to fully understand.

15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction (2 Pet. 3.15-16 NLT).

As mothers and fathers and sons and daughters it’s difficult to understand the sending away of one child (21.8-14) and the offering up of another (22.1-14). But I couldn’t help but rejoice as I thought about our Proverbs reading today:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path” (3.5-6).

When we don’t fully understand all the “whys and wherefores” of Scripture, we can always rely on His trustworthiness (“Trusting God in Suffering”). That doesn’t mean we should seek to glean all that we can from God’s Word.

First, Ishmael—Ishmael was fourteen years older than Isaac and Isaac was probably about three years old when he was weaned (no sippy cups back then). Imagine this seventeen-year-old mocking a three-year-old.

Proverbs 20.11 says, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.”

But, God’s mercy was still at work here. God had not forgotten His promise to Hagar to protect Ishmael and to make a great nation of him. But it’s in the “sending out,” the consequences of our sin, that we are often brought to the end of ourselves and begin to look to God.

This is true in the lives of our children, too. Yet we are so prone to try to protect them from the natural consequences of their actions.  Continue reading

“Could we turn the world upside down?” December 6

 

Turn the world upside downIn the US (and many other countries), we have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and look at the consequences! It has affected education, politics, business, family life and more. Lawlessness is at an all time high and, if that’s not bad enough, we continue to see a rise in terrorism around the world and here at home. But, could we, like a handful of faithful men and women in the first century, turn the world upside down?

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 3 & 4
Psalm 138.8
Proverbs 29.18
1 John 4.1-21

 

Could we turn the world upside down?

 

Hosea 3 & 4:

God’s Mercy

 

What a beautiful picture of God’s mercy with His people and the fact that He will, eventually, redeem the true church and the nation of Israel.

Verse 3.1, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.’ ”

 

But … Our Choices, Like Theirs, Are Not without Consequences

 

As I’ve said before, it doesn’t mean there are no consequences for sinful behavior.

It’s impossible not to see some of the parallels between America and rebellious Israel. We have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and loved a lover, a god, of our own making—one who allows us to live however we desire. Look at some of the phrases in chapter 4:

“…no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land … swearing and lying … killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint … bloodshed upon bloodshed … you have rejected knowledge … forgotten the law of your God … they set their heart on iniquity.”

No truth or knowledge of God: He has been “kicked out” of our schools, our government and the public arena. And sadly, we’ve thrown common sense out the window, too.

Swearing and lying: In politics (if this political season has taught us anything), in business (whatever it takes to make a buck), and the list goes on.

Killing and stealing: Just turn on the nightly news.

Committing adultery: We excuse and justify it when it’s our life or our side of the political aisle, but broken marriages, serial relationships, abortion, and the lowering of every sexual standard are the result. Even a sitting President can get away with sexual immorality and argue the meaning of the words.

Breaking all restraint: We have demanded and won the freedom to live out almost any lifestyle we choose.  But we’re no longer happy to be allowed to live in sexual sin, we demand that everyone else accept, even applaud it. And we’re willing to destroy anyone who disagrees, dares to tell us we’re wrong, or refuses to participate in our choices!

Bloodshed upon bloodshed: Rioting, gang violence, wholesale murder in some of our inner cities.

Rejection of knowledge and the law of your God: Anyone holding to a biblical standard will be mocked, accused of ramming our opinions down their throat, or worse.

Hearts set on iniquity: There are those who live to lie, cheat, and steal.

The prophet also shall stumble with you: Even some churches have removed a biblical standard and a call to holiness, refusing to use the word sin or to say anything that might offend anyone, ordaining gay clergy, and looking the other way concerning abortion, just for starters. And, sadly, far too many religious leaders have fallen personally (4.5)

And look at some of the consequences:

“Therefore the land will mourn … everyone who dwells there will waste away … even the fish of the sea will be taken away … you shall stumble in the day … I also will forget your children … I will change their glory into shame … they shall eat, but not have enough …” (4.3-10).

Look at the condition of our nation as a whole. There is a lack of morality and justice. Our economy continues to falter. Selfishness rules the day and everyone does what seems right and feels good to him.

 

The Only Answer … Revival

 

baby upside down

“Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days” (3.5).

Revival, personally and corporately, is the only answer. So what can we do? Continue reading

Blended Families Part 12: Seven A’s of Confession + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 12: Seven A's of Confession - In last week's post, Blended Families Part 11: How to Start Dealing with Ex's, we talked about some of the reasons for conflict and the beginning steps of working toward a better relationship with an ex-spouse. We discussed the need to first seek God's help to have the right heart attitude and then to do some self-examination.

Blended Families Part 12: Seven A’s of Confession

 

In last week’s post, Blended Families Part 11: How to Start Dealing with Ex’s, we talked about some of the reasons for conflict and the beginning steps of working toward a better relationship with an ex-spouse. We discussed the need to first seek God’s help to have the right heart attitude and then to do some self-examination (Matt. 7.3-5).

I suggested making a “log list” of ways you’ve sinned against your ex without focusing on what he or she has done or not done.

This week in “Blended Families Part 12: Seven A’s of Confession,” we’ll look at the next step.

Click here for previous posts in this series.

 

Seeking Peace Starts with You

 

God puts a high priority on peace and reconciliation in our relationships.

Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone (Rom. 12.18 NLT).

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matt. 5.23-24).

He doesn’t say seek peace with everyone but your ex, but rather do “all that you can” to live at peace with “everyone.” Certainly, there are some people who won’t be at peace with us, but unless there is some reason (like physical abuse or safety issues), we should be willing to do our part.

The next step is seeking forgiveness for the things on your log list.

This can be challenging if you believe your ex-spouse is the one who should be asking for forgiveness, but remember, you are only responsible for you. What the other person has done is between them and God.

 

Seeking Forgiveness God’s Way

 

Seeking forgiveness requires three things: repentance, confession, and asking.

Repentance is a change of thinking that leads to a change of action. Confession is to agree with what God says about something and asking is more than saying, “I’m sorry.” It is a sincere request to be released from a debt.

 

The Seven A’s of Confession

 

Peacemaker Ministries explains what’s involved in a biblical confession:

  1. Address Everyone Involved. As a general rule, you should confess your sins to every person who has been directly affected by your wrongdoing. Note that since all sins offend God by violating His will, all sins should be first confessed to Him.
  2. Avoid If, But, and Maybe. The best way to ruin a confession is to use words that shift the blame to others or that appear to minimize or excuse your guilt.
  3. Admit Specifically. Specific admissions help convince others that you are honestly facing up to what your have done.
  4. Acknowledge the Hurt. Your goal is to show that you understand how the other person felt as a result of your words or actions. Although you should not dwell excessively on feelings, it is important to show that you understand how other people feel and to express genuine sorrow for hurting them.
  5. Accept the Consequences. The harder you work to make restitution and repair any damage you have caused, the easier it will be for others to believe your confession is genuine.
  6. Alter Your Behavior. Explain to the person how you plan to change your behavior in the future. This could involve describing some of the attitude, character, and behavior changes you hope to make with God’s help.
  7. Ask for Forgiveness (and Allow Time). Ask, “Will you forgive me?” Be willing to allow the person some time to work through things.

 

Examples of biblical confessions:

“I realize I have not been treating you fairly and I want to change. Specifically, I have made it hard for you to pick up the kids and I have frequently brought them to your house late, cutting into your time with them. I plan to make every effort to have them there on time and ready when you to pick them up at my house. I’d like to make it up to you by allowing you to have them for Thanksgiving, even though it’s my turn. I want you to know that I’m sincere and I hope to prove it to you. Will you forgive me?”

“I want to ask forgiveness for lying about you in court. I told the judge that you were not a good mother/father. I also lied about how much money I make. I have damaged your reputation and cheated you out of child support. I plan to write the judge a letter and I will give a copy to you and both of our lawyers so the child support can be adjusted. Will you please forgive me?”

Some of you probably gasped when you read the second one. Taking responsibility for things like that runs contrary to the adversarial nature of the divorce process. But we are called to live radical lives … radically pleasing to God. And remember part of sincere repentance includes a willingness to accept the consequences of our actions.

 

Push Back from Your Current Spouse

 

Even though you may be convinced of the necessity of confession and restitution, your current spouse may or may not be completely on board, especially where either contact with your ex or financial repercussions are concerned.  Continue reading

“Basics of the Christian Life” November 2

 

Basics of the Christian Faith - All of God’s Word is valuable for teaching us to live a God-honoring life, but today’s New Testament reading contains a great synopsis of the basics of the Christian life. Also read about God's incredible patience and the reason God may be allowing some unpleasant circumstances in our lives. All of God’s Word is valuable for teaching us to live a God-honoring life, but today’s New Testament reading contains a great synopsis of the basics of the Christian life.

Also read about God’s incredible patience and the reason God may be allowing some unpleasant circumstances in our lives.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 51 & 52
Psalm 119.129-136
Proverbs 28.7-8
Titus 2.1-15

 

Basics of the Christian Life

 

Titus 2.1-15:

Great Practical Truths

Basics of the Christian Life

As I said yesterday, Titus is full of great practical truths. Chapter 2 gives instructions on the proper biblical behavior for older men and women, as well as, younger ones. It also gives instructions for employees and for believers in general.

Verses 1-10:

1 But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience;

Older men are to be sober (serious, especially about the things of God), reverent (respectful of God and others), temperate (not given to excesses), sound in faith (mature in faith and good doctrine), full of love for others, and patient.

3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.

Older women, whether older in years or older in spiritual maturity, are to be godly examples and disciplers. That means they should first exemplify the character qualities they are to encourage in younger women.

6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Younger men and women are to be teachable and growing in their walks with God, especially in the areas where God has given them specific responsibilities. As wives by: loving their husbands, loving their children, having sexual and moral purity, and keeping their homes in order. Young men should be serious about their integrity and spiritual growth, respectful, and incorruptible (steadfast in their integrity).

9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

Christians should be the best employees. We should be respectful and obedient to our bosses and supervisors, never stealing (even little things or time), and be loyal.

No matter where we are in our walks with God, we are to be growing and becoming more and more like Christ (Rom. 8.29). All of this is to be done so that we will bring glory to God and not cause the word of God to be blasphemed by a hypocritical lifestyle.

Jesus summed up the Christian life and all of God’s law in two commandments: Love God and love others (Matt. 22.37-40). But without the Spirit of God working in us and an understanding of God’s forgiveness and grace when we fail, that’s an impossible task. With Him, we can walk in grace-powered obedience.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Jeremiah 51 & 52:

God’s Remarkable Patience

God’s patience truly is remarkable. When we read a story compressed into a few verses or a chapter or two of Scripture it’s easy to lose sight of the time frame. Chapter 52 begins:  Continue reading

“9 Ways to Live like Jesus Is Coming Back” October 18

 

9 Ways to Live Like Jesus Is Coming Back - Do you believe Jesus is coming back soon? Does your life reflect that belief? How should you live in light of that truth?Do you believe Jesus is coming back soon? Does your life reflect that belief? How should you live in light of that truth?

The alternative is to live like the people in Jeremiah’s time who needed God’s rod of judgment, as we will see in our Old Testament reading. As we dig deeper into Psalm 119, we will see how knowing and contemplating God’s Word can help us steer clear of sin and grow in our understanding of God and His will.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 21 & 22
Psalm 119.9-16
Proverbs 27.14
1 Thessalonians 5.1-28

 

9 Ways to Live like Jesus is Coming Back

 

1 Thessalonians 5.1-28:

9 ways to live like Jesus is coming back

2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 

Jesus is coming back both for His church and to judge the whole earth. He is coming “like a thief in the night,” but as believers, who know His Word, we shouldn’t be caught off guard. Instead, we should live every day like we believe Jesus is coming back soon:

6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

The remainder of the chapter spells out some ways we are to do that:

1. By respecting our pastors and elders and submitting to their authority (v. 12).

Hebrews 13.17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

Incidentally, October is “Pastor’s Appreciation Month.” Is there some way you could show appreciation to your Pastor? A meal? A card? A word of encouragement?

2. By being faithful in our relationships to our brothers and sisters in Christ (v.14).

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”

Sometimes we need to encourage one another. Other times we need to gently rebuke one another.

3. By not returning evil for evil, but by giving a blessing instead (v. 15). Romans 12:

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”[b]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

4. By rejoicing in the blessings of God and being thankful (vvs. 16, 18).

5. By being faithful in prayer (v. 17).

6. By not quenching the Spirit through unrepentant, willful sin (v. 19).

7. By heeding God’s Word (v. 20).

8. By testing all things and making God’s Word our standard (v. 21).

9. And by abstaining from every form of evil (v. 22).

Jesus is coming back. It could be soon. Are you living like you believe it?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Jeremiah 21 & 22:

A Rod for a Fool’s Back

Some time has passed and the Jews have failed to heed God’s warnings through Jeremiah, but now the invaders are approaching. Skirmishes are already being fought outside the city, and the people will soon be driven back into the city itself.

Now that things are desperate, the King sends a messenger to Jeremiah asking him to intercede for them. God answers by telling them that they are not just fighting the Babylonians, but they have made themselves enemies of God Himself!

Many of us go through times in our lives, too, where we reject God’s truth, then when we get into trouble we cry out, “Oh God, help me! If You get me out of this mess, I’ll never do it again!” Continue reading

“Consequences of Bad Advice” July 7

 

Consequences of Bad Advice - Truth isn't always comfortable or pleasing to our sinful, selfish nature, but it's the truth that will deliver us from the consequences of foolishness and sin. Bad advice, on the other hand, tickles our ears and gives us the "go ahead" to do what we really want to do.Truth isn’t always comfortable or pleasing to our sinful, selfish nature, but it’s the truth that will deliver us from the consequences of foolishness and sin. Bad advice, on the other hand, tickles our ears and gives us the “go ahead” to do what we really want to do.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 9 & 10
Psalm 80.7-13
Proverbs 20.16-18
Acts 14.1-28

 

Consequences of Bad Advice

 

Proverbs 20.16-18:

Counsel—Wise or What We Want to Hear?

Verse 18, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.”

In chapter 10 of 2 Chronicles, we saw the importance of wise counsel. Rehoboam sought counsel, but he rejected the wise counsel of those who had walked with God for many years and, instead, took the advice that pleased Him.

There is much of that going on in the world today. Instead of seeking counsel from God’s Word or from wise people, many seek counsel that confirms what they want to do, especially if what they want to do is sin or foolishness! Even as professing believers, we can fall into that trap.  Continue reading