Many believe the goal of life is happiness. Even when we say we know better, we often live like it is. What should the goal of life be for a believer?
Our reading in Revelation tells us about the Two Witnesses. With fire to devour their enemies, the power to shut heaven, turn water to blood, and strike the earth with plagues, they will warn, preach, and prophesy during the first half of the Tribulation.
6 With what shall I come before the LORD,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
1 Samuel 15.22 says it this way:
“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
“If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” We’ve all heard that saying, but this time it came from a sister in Christ sitting in my counseling office. As we continued to talk about the role of women, this time about submission, she said, “I’m an educated woman! Why should I submit to him?” Since then I’ve heard even worse, but I’ve never forgotten how saddened I was by her statement and the awareness of how much feminism had infiltrated the church of the Living God.
But the truth is, many of us, though we want to live godly lives, chafe against some of the Bible’s teaching on women or passages on modesty or authority. We’re too often tempted to think, “That’s not fair!” or question why God would give us certain commands. So how are we to understand these things?
9 in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
I once overheard a conversation between two women at church discussing their Sunday school lesson on the role of the wife and submission. One of them said about their teacher, “I think he actually believes that stuff!”
Ladies, even though we might laugh about a conversation like that, we often struggle to understand and accept God’s Word in some of these areas. We’re a little like the king and the princes Jeremiah encountered (see our O.T. reading). Sometimes we don’t want to believe or accept God’s Word as being true or fair. We would rather lock up the prophet (Jer. 32.2) or cut that part of the scroll off and throw it into the fire (Jer. 36.20-26), at least in practice.
So how can we begin to understand, and more importantly embrace, a passage like this? I believe we need to start with some basic truths about God, His Word, and His character.
Jeremiah 29.11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Psalm 119.68 says, speaking of God, “You are good, and do good …”
And Galatians 3.28-29 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
But we must also realize that God is God! He is the all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful Creator of the Universe and everything in it, including us, and He gets to make the rules!
But if He is good—all the time—and if He loves us and calls us heirs along with men, (so much so that He tells our husbands in 1 Peter 3.7 that their prayers will be hindered if they don’t treat us as such), what does this passage mean?
First, God said to all of us, men and women, to be sure that everything we do points to Him and gives Him glory.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (2 Cor. 10.31).
Modesty, Gold & Braided Hair
So let’s break down our 1 Timothy passage, beginning with “that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation.” The word “adorn” here means to arrange. So, we should arrange ourselves so that our clothing and manner is modest and respectful. That doesn’t mean we must look drab or unattractive.
“… not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” In the time period in which Paul was writing women would weave gold and other jewelry into their hair in order to attract attention to themselves. Others would wear expensive clothing to show off their wealth. It wasn’t the specific hairstyle or the fact that the clothing was expensive, it was the attitude of the heart Paul was addressing.
Today we might say, “… not with tattoos or designer clothing …” Again, not legalistically saying tattoos or designer clothing are sinful, but what is the attitude of the heart? Where is the tattoo and to what is it designed to draw attention? Continue reading →
What is your state of mind? Is it full of anxiety or is there peace? Are you meditating on some wrong done to you or how God has blessed you? Are you content or striving for more? Your state of mind leads either to peace or to turmoil. But more importantly, what does it say about your relationship to God.
Is your state of mind tied to your relationship with God?
Pray & Be Thankful
Yesterday I talked about some of my favorite passages in Philippians. Today I want to share a few more:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
“Be anxious for nothing …” is a command, not a suggestion.
Worry is sin! Ouch, that hurt since I have a couple of things weighing on my heart right now.
We’re told not to be anxious, worried, fearful and fretful about ANYTHING! Instead, we are to pray about everything and be thankful, and when we do, the peace of God, which often makes no sense to the world, will stand guard over our hearts and minds. What a great promise! But it’s a conditional promise—dependent on our faithfulness to choose not to worry and to pray and be thankful, instead.
The more we come to know Him, to trust in His sovereignty and goodness, the more His peace will guard our hearts and minds. In other words, the level of our peace depends on the quality of our relationship with Him.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
Instead of playing the video tape in your mind about that hurt, that sin, or that wrong done to you, meditate on what God says about your situation: how He’ll use all things for good (Rom. 8.28-29), how He takes care of His own, including any retribution that needs to happen (Rom. 12.17-21), how we can be joyful in trials (Jas. 1.2-5), and how, out of His love for you, He died in your place so you could extend His love and mercy to others, even your enemies (Matt. 5.43-48).
So how do we grow in our ability to trust in Him and to live the way He’s called us to live? It starts with our thinking. Continue reading →
Who captivates your attention? What do you spend your time reading? On what kind of game show would you want to compete? What do the answers to those questions have to do with where you have put your treasure? Before you answer … you might want to read today’s post!
Verse 1, “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.”
Perhaps your first thought was like mine, “I don’t hang out with evil people.” I go to church and hang out with my Christian friends. I don’t go out drinking. I try to avoid gossip. In fact, the list of ways I obey God might be long in my mind.
But just as we learn and grow from the good influence of mature believers, even those who have already gone to be with the Lord, by reading their books and watching or listening to them through all kinds of media … so we can be influenced by ungodly people.
Who captivates your attention? Is it Hollywood celebrities or committed Christians? Do you spend more time reading your Bible, Christian biographies and other Christian books … or People magazine and the hottest new novel? Would you do better at The American Bible Challenge or a pop culture version? Do you know more about Kate Middleton, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Katy Perry … or the Apostle Paul, Susanna Wesley and Charles Spurgeon?
Jesus said, “… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6.21).
What do your answers say about where your treasure is?
Finding Satisfaction in the Daily Activities of Life
Solomon most likely wrote this book during the later years of his life after he had squandered much of his energy on earthly pursuits. He wrote this book to others, especially young people, to warn them about the futility of trying to find happiness in the things of this world. As he points out the “vanity” of such pursuits, he shares many nuggets of wisdom.
In chapters 1 and 2 he warns that even wisdom for wisdom’s sake is vanity, as are seeking after pleasure, building projects, and accumulating possessions. He tried and failed to find satisfaction in power, great wealth, and fame. Work for work sake didn’t bring satisfaction either. In fact, he came to realize that all his accomplishments meant nothing in light of eternity. Everything he accumulated here on earth would someday be left to others.
In the midst of all this we read this nugget:
“Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God” (2.24).
Instead of seeking satisfaction in success, wealth, power, and other pursuits, we should learn to find satisfaction in the daily activities of life.
What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce? What about remarriage, singleness, and sex, both inside and outside of marriage? Does the Bible really address those subjects and, if so, does it have any relevance for today?
Also read about some of the amazing animals God has created: the horse with all his strength and fearlessness, the hawk, and the eagle. Then our reading in Job goes on to talk about a creature called behemoth and a huge sea creature called leviathan.
Finally, our Proverbs passage talks about the drunkard and how, even after the a hangover, he runs to look for his next drink. The world wants us to believe they can’t help it, that it’s a disease called alcoholism. What does the Bible say?
Paul has a great deal to say about marriage, divorce, and singleness in this chapter. In verses 1-9 he explains that sex within marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. That has not changed in spite of what our culture tells us.
I know this is a huge challenge for some of you who are single and desire to be married. I want to encourage you that God has not forgotten you, that He is good, and that He will give you the grace to respond biblically to this challenge.
And to the married, verse 5 says:
5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
For those who are married, sex is to be continual. It is never to be withheld from one’s partner except by mutual agreement and then only for the purpose of prayer and fasting and only temporarily. In the past, this passage was most often applied to women, but as my husband and I counsel, more and more I hear of women whose husbands are not interested in sex.
It’s ironic that in a culture where sex is everywhere—on billboards, on TV, on movie screens, and on the street—this has not freed people to enjoy God’s gift of sexuality. Instead, it has done serious harm. The reasons are numerous, and if you’re struggling with this situation, I would encourage you to seek counseling for both you and your spouse if he or she is willing, or for yourself, if not.
The Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom and its flip side, foolishness. In this series we’re looking at what it means to be wise and, by comparison, what it means to be foolish and how to recognize the difference.
Are you a wise woman or a foolish one? Part 3
Money & Stuff
As I said in the first post (read it here), while I’m specifically addressing this to us as women, these truths are for everyone: young and old, men, women, and children.
Our foundational Scripture is Proverbs 14.1 which says:
The wise woman builds her house,
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
Our working definition of wisdom is, “wisdom is the right application of truth.” It’s not only knowing the truth, but applying it to the everyday situations of our lives!
Money & Stuff
In the last post I talked about the tongue and the ears. God has a great deal to say about the words we speak and how well we listen.
In this post we’ll take a look at what God says about about our attitudes toward money and possessions.
If you mention money in a Christian context, often, one of two thoughts will come to mind.
Money is the root of all evil and those who have it are somehow unspiritual. Or …
God is just waiting to make me rich. He wants me to have the desires of my heart.
In reality, both are distortions of what God has to say about money. And He has a LOT to say about money.
Not the Root of All Evil
The Bible doesn’t say that money is the root of all evil. 1 Timothy 6.10 actually says:
For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.
Sin is the root of all evil (Matt. 15.19; Rom. 5.12; Jas. 1.15) and the love of money is sin. Sinful attitudes toward money will get us into all kinds of trouble.
Money itself is neither good or evil, but it can be used for both. It can be used to help us care for our families as God instructed us to do (1 Tim. 5.8), it can allow us to help others (Prov. 22.9, 28.27), and can be used to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ (Phil. 4.15-17). But it can also be used for all kinds of evil.
Money can be something we control or something that controls us. We control it by using it wisely and allowing God to bless others through us. Or we can demand it, hoard it, and be miserable when we don’t have it. You don’t have to have money to be controlled by it.
The love of money causes some to pervert justice in the civil realm (Prov. 17.23) and use unfair business practices in the marketplace (Prov. 11.1, 13.11). It has led people to lie, cheat, steal, extort, even gamble away everything they have. Continue reading →
We live in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, instead of finding satisfaction, we often find ourselves asking, “Is this all there is?”
In this portion of the psalm, the psalmist talks of the people’s dissatisfaction with God’s provision. It’s easy to point our fingers and shake our heads when we read passages like this, but how like us they were!
Proverbs 27.20 says, “Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
We are living in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. Even those of us living relatively modest lives are abundantly blessed compared to many other nations, and yet, it is so easy to look around and want more, to look around and say “why does God seem to be blessing her and not me.” Or “if only I had such and such” life would be so much better.
We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, we are easily bored. “Is this all there is?” has been the theme of numerous books, movies and songs.
Psalm 90.14 in the American Standard Version says:
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
We need to pray regularly that our hearts will be satisfied in God, the only true source of satisfaction, and not look to the world for it!
The chronicler continues to recount the story of David’s reign. In today’s reading he emphasizes God’s promise to David that his son would sit on the throne after him. It had a near application in Solomon and a messianic application, as well.
Chapter 32.17, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You …
And verse 27, “‘Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?’”
Do we even begin to understand who God is?—the omnipotent creator of the universe! He is not only omnipotent (all powerful), but He is omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (present everywhere), and sovereign (totally and completely in charge and in control! Add to that—the fact that He is good (Ps. 119.68); He is love (1 Jn. 4.8); and He is holy (1 Pet. 1.15). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Continue reading →
These are challenging times to be a believer. There is a huge clash of world views. The truthfulness of God’s Word is attacked on many fronts. And while it is going to get more and more intense as this world of ours spins closer and closer to the 2nd coming of Christ, it’s not new.
There was a “clash” in Jeremiah’s day, too. Chapter 11.21-23:
21 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life, saying, ‘Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, lest you die by our hand’— 22 therefore thus says the LORD of hosts. ‘Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; 23 and there shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring catastrophe on the men of Anathoth, even the year of their punishment.’”
There were people who didn’t want to hear the truth and who threatened Jeremiah. In fact, they threatened to kill him if he continued to speak God’s truth. But God said, don’t worry about them, Jeremiah, I’ll deal with them in My time and in My way.
There will be people who are not going to like it when we speak the truth. They may be family members, co-workers, supervisors, friends or enemies. Don’t be surprised and don’t try to fight evil with evil. Remember Romans 12..21 tells us:
“Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Love them. Pray for them. But don’t quit speaking the truth out of fear or intimidation.
Sometimes we fear they will withhold their love or acceptance from us. But Jesus said:
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10.37-39).
If you’re undergoing persecution because of your relationship with God or for speaking the truth in a world which doesn’t want to believe there is any absolute truth, you’re in good company. Take some time and study out that whole passage in Matthew 10.16 and following.
While we’re not to be argumentative, neither should we deny the truth:
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10.32-33).
We don’t want to be like the religious leaders in Jesus’ time about whom it was said:
“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (Jn. 12.42-43). Continue reading →
Isaiah not only warned God’s people of coming judgment, but he also warned of His judgment against other nations.
Moab was a nation that descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot through incest with his daughter. This prophecy warned of the destruction of their land and resources, as well as, coming military defeat.
Despising God’s blessings
Verses 24-25, “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word, but complained in their tents …”
These verses contrast believing God’s word with a lack of contentment (they despised the pleasant land—God’s blessing) and complaining. We’re faced with the same choice. Are we going to be thankful or discontent? Are we going to trust God and enjoy His blessings or are we going to be constantly wanting more? Continue reading →