In 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? Continue reading →
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 including our responsibilities whether older men and women or younger.
Also read about God’s incredible patience and the reason God may be allowing some unpleasant circumstances in our lives. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
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.
Verse 18, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.”
In 2 Chronicles 10, today’s Old Testament reading, we see 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.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Tim. 4.3).
On the other hand, godly wisdom may not always be what we want to hear, but it’s the wisdom that will keep us from a train wreck down the road. Ultimately, it’s the truth of God that will set us free (Jn. 8.32). It’s the person who truly loves us who will speak the sometimes uncomfortable truth to us.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Prov. 27.6).
13 The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, 14 besides what the traveling merchants and traders brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon.
The actual weight of a talent may have varied from area to area, but it was probably 75-100 pounds. At 75 pounds that would be 49,950 pounds of gold coming into the treasury each year. Trying to figure out what that would be worth today was definitely beyond my pay grade. Gold is not priced by the pound, but by the troy ounce which is worth more than $1200. So you do the math. Continue reading →
Is prayer like going to the First National Bank of God? Do you have a blank check with God? Should you expect God to give you anything you want? If not, what does it mean that God gives you the desires of your heart?
First National Bank of God & the Desires of Your Heart
2 Chronicles 1 & 2:
A Blank Check with God
2 Chronicles begins with the reign of Solomon. One of his first orders of business was to build the temple that his father David wanted to build.
Also, in chapter 1 God appeared to him and said, “Ask! What shall I give you?” Wow! Can you imagine a blank check on the First National Bank of God? Of course, we know that Solomon asked for wisdom which God gave him in abundance to say the least! People came from far and wide to see and hear it for themselves! But because his prayer was for something pleasing to God, God blessed him with riches and honor, as well.
But what if Solomon’s request had contradicted God’s will? Would God still have answered? And is God bound to always answer our prayers?
In reality, as believers, we have the same “blank check” with God. John 15.7 says:
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
Nothing breaks a parent’s heart more than to see our children make foolish choices which can result in consequences for years to come. But there are some things we can do early on so God doesn’t have to allow more serious consequences later.
Verse 25, “A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him.”
Nothing breaks a parent’s heart more than to see our children make foolish choices which can result in consequences for years to come. Nothing we do can guarantee that our children will not make those choices, but our responsibility is to faithfully teach them while they are young. At times, that includes allowing them to suffer the consequences of their actions instead of constantly intervening.
The child who repeatedly forgets her lunch, may need to miss lunch a few times.
The child who gets in trouble with a teacher needs to know that Mom and Dad will not run to his rescue.
The teen who gets caught drinking and driving may need to spend a night in jail, instead of being immediately bailed out.
The son or daughter who brings drugs into the house needs to know that his or her parents will call the police and have them arrested!
By allowing those less serious consequences, we may save our children from progressively more serious ones. But as they get older, if God needs to allow more serious ones, we need to be careful not to get in God’s way. The Prodigal Son’s father, a type of our Heavenly Father, did not run after his son, he didn’t bail him out of the mess he was in or try to find him a job. He patiently waited. It was in the pig sty that his son, finally, came to his senses (Lk. 15.11-32).
God loves our children more than we do. He knows what each of them (and each of us) needs to come to the end of ourselves. He knows our hearts and He disciplines us when it’s appropriate and for our good (Heb. 12.5-11).
In the course of counseling, I’ve seen too many instances where parents had protected their children over and over from the natural results of their sin and rebellion, only to have God take matters out of their hands, by allowing something that the parents could not fix. Continue reading →
What did Jesus mean when He said we must “eat His flesh and drink His blood?” Why is it the path to true happiness, peace, satisfaction, and joy? Have you been settling, instead, for something that ends up like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia? Has it left you with nothing but a craving for more of the same?
Also, as David’s story continues to unfold in 2 Samuel, we see the foolishness of thinking we can sin in secret and that our sins won’t affect anyone but us. David had set in motion laws of sowing and reaping and the sad results were happening before his eyes in the lives of his own children. How can this drive us to our knees to pray for God’s wisdom in our own parenting?
2 Samuel 13 & 14
Are You Hungry for Him or Settling for Yum-Yums?
The Bread of Life
48 I am the bread of life.49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
52 Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
What does it mean to “eat His flesh and drink His blood?” In verse 56 Jesus said the one who does so “abides” in Him.
John 15, also, talks about “abiding in Him.”
John 15.9-11 says, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
We “eat His flesh and drink His blood” when we allow the “Word of God,” to become as much a part of our being as the food we eat. Food is digested and broken down in our bodies and literally becomes a part of us. So should the Word of God.
Is it truly a part of who you are or just some nice ideas that you consider if you feel like it or if it “seems right to you” as our Proverbs passage today says? The Word of God is not a buffet where we can pick and choose what seems palatable to us or makes us happy.
Our “happiness” is not God’s first concern, rather it’s our holiness! In fact, the “happiness” the world offers is like the yum-yums the White Witch offered Edmund in Narnia, only an illusion crafted by the deceiver himself.
As today’s Proverbs reading says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 16.25).
When we seek happiness in disobedience, the end is death, beginning with our intimacy with God. The next thing we know the yum-yums we desired have vanished only to be replaced by a craving for something that brings no satisfaction.
True happiness, peace and satisfaction is found by “abiding in Him,” in “keeping the commandments,” in “eating His flesh and drinking His blood,” so that His “joy may remain in [us], and that [our] joy may be full.”
God had told David in 2 Samuel 2.11, “‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house …”
David’s sins were adultery and murder. Now his son Ammon has raped his own half-sister and her brother, Absalom, has murdered Ammon and fled for fear.
38 So Absalom had fled and gone to Geshur, and was there three years.39 The heart of King David longed to go out to Absalom; for he was comforted concerning Amnon, since he was dead (2 Sam. 13.38-39).
But even though David longed to see his son, he refused to go to him. Only when one of his men interceded did he allow Absalom to return to Jerusalem and, even then, refused to see him for two more years.
I have to wonder what was going through David’s mind. How he must have reflected back on the consequences of his sin and its effect on his family. Perhaps the idea of seeing Absalom was too much to bear. Continue reading →
Sin’s Bizarre End: Today we wind up one of the saddest periods is Israel’s history—to quote John MacArthur, “Judges 17-21 vividly demonstrates how bizarre and deep sin can become when people throw off the authority of God …”
The consequences of rejecting His authority are not pretty. As one sin leads to another, the results are sad, costly, and sometimes downright bizarre. The book of Judges ends with several examples, including how to get your relatives attention and how to get a wife.
Can you imagine telling some cousins, we’re sorry you don’t have any women to marry, but some of our other cousins are having a party and the girls will be out back dancing. So just grab some of them and we’ll look the other way!? Or how about offering your virgin daughter to a bunch of rapists or shaking up your complacent relatives by sending a part of your murdered wife’s body to each family. It makes you wonder why the human race has even survived this long … only because of the grace of God!
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?
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 →
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.
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 →