“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 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).


Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Chronicles 9 & 10:

Empty Abundance

 

2 Chronicles 9 tells us:

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

“1st National Bank of God & the Desires of Your Heart” July 3

 

1st National Bank of God & the Desires of Your Heart - 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?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?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 1 & 2
Psalm 79.1-4
Proverbs 20.8-9
Acts 11.1-30

 

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.

1st National Bank of God & the Desires of Your Heart - 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?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.”

The question is, Continue reading

“Parenting: Why Consequences Are Important” June 3

 

Parenting & Consequences - Why They're Valuable -

 

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.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Kings 15 & 16
Psalm 69.22-28
Proverbs 17.25-26
John 13.1-20

 

Parenting & Consequences – Why They’re Valuable

 

Proverbs 17.25-26:

When to Help & When to Get Out of the Way

 

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!

 

Parenting & Consequences - Why They're Valuable

 

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

“Are You Hungry for Him or Settling for Yum-Yums?” May 21

 

Are You Hungry for Him or Settling for Yum-Yums? -

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?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 13 & 14
Psalm 66.1-7
Proverbs 16.25-26
John 6.52-71

 

Are You Hungry for Him or Settling for Yum-Yums?

 

John 6.52-71:

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?”

Verse 56:

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.”

open bible mineWe “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.”

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Samuel 13 & 14:

Sad Consequences

 

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” April 27

 

Sin's Bizarre End: The consequences of rejecting God 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.

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.

 

Today’s Readings:
Judges 20 & 21
Psalm 51.12-19
Proverbs 15.1-3
Luke 19.1-27

 

Judges 20 & 21:

Grab Your Partner … Do-Si-Do

 

Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

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!

 

Our Own Bizarre Consequences

 

But before we criticize our spiritual ancestors too harshly, we need to look at our nation today. Where has sin and the rejection of God led usContinue reading

“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