“Living Based on the Hope that is within Us” June 9

 

Living Based on the Hope that is within Us - What if God called you or I to suffer for our faith or to live under some kind of oppression? Would we trust Him and choose to live righteously and show His love to those around us? On the other hand, even under the best of circumstances, sinful thoughts like discontent, envy, criticism and bitterness can cause us to justify all kinds of sinful behaviors. Those sins we think we harbor in our hearts and minds can send us into a downward slide into things we never could have imagined, as we'll see in 2 Kings 6.

 

What if God called you or I to suffer for our faith or to live under some kind of oppression? Would we trust Him and choose to live righteously and show His love to those around us?

On the other hand, even under the best of circumstances, sinful thoughts like discontent, envy, criticism and bitterness can cause us to justify all kinds of sinful behaviors. Those sins we think we harbor in our hearts and minds can send us into a downward slide into things we never could have imagined, as we’ll see in 2 Kings 6.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 5 & 6
Psalm 72.1-7
Proverbs 18.10-11
John 18.1-18

 

Living Based on the Hope that is within Us

 

2 Kings 5 & 6:

Serving God in Whatever Circumstances

 

Chapter 5.2-3 really amazes me and has a great message for us.

“And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.'”

Here’s a young girl who had been ripped away from her family and life as she knew it, forced to work as a slave, and yet, look at her heart attitude—one of loyalty and concern for the people under whose authority God had placed her.

Why would God allow that to happen to her in the first place?

For the same reason He allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and carried off to a foreign land—to fulfill His plans and purposes AND to bless those He uses. We need to remember that our good and His glory are always connected.

13 And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil (1 Pet. 3.13-17).

Because of this little servant girl, who lived her life out of “the hope that [was] in [her],” Naaman would come to know the One True God.

 

The Joys and Sorrows of Discipling Others

 

discipleship Bible studyAnother passage that spoke to me was 2 Kings 5.25-26. After Naaman had gone to the Prophet and been healed, he offered Elisha gifts of silver and clothing, but Elisha had refused them. After he left, Elisha’s servant Gehazi followed him, told him that the Prophet had changed his mind, and had greedily taken the gifts.

“Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, ‘Where did you go, Gehazi?’ And he said, ‘Your servant did not go anywhere.’ Then he said to him, ‘Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you?’ …”

“Did not my heart go with you …” It’s such a blessing to see those you have led to the Lord or discipled grow and walk in the truth, but painful to see them walk away from the truth.

How Elisha’s heart must have been broken to see Gehazi, who had seen so many of God’s miracles, turn his back on God for monetary gain!

How easily we can get on a downward slide into sin. We first need to realize that we can’t play around with sinful thoughts. Thoughts of discontent, envy and criticism can easily cause us to justify taking what we think we deserve or some other sinful behavior or response.

If not repented of and forsaken one sin leads to another and to another (Rom. 6.19) as we see in 2 Kings 6.

 

Without Shame

 

Chapter 6 recounts a very disturbing story of how the Northern Kingdom’s descent into sin and idolatry had brought them to the depths of human depravity. Samaria was under siege and food had become so scarce that the people were starving. Verses 26-29:

“Then, as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, ‘Help, my lord, O king!’ And he said, ‘If the LORD does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?’ Then the king said to her, ‘What is troubling you?’ And she answered, ‘This woman said to me, “Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.” So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, “Give your son, that we may eat him”; but she has hidden her son.'”

Can you imagine this, even under starvation conditions? The first thing that struck me was the woman’s lack of shame! She didn’t mind telling the king what they had done!

But as I thought about this passage and how shocking it is, is it that different from women today who allow their boyfriends to abuse or even kill their babies or children. And others who do so themselves.

Neither should we lose sight of the fact that there is a message in this for us, too. It’s so tempting to get self-righteous and think:  Continue reading

“Can I Lose My Salvation?” May 29

 

Once Saved Always Saved? - Many debate the question of "once saved, always saved?" Perhaps that is the wrong question.Many debate the question of “once saved, always saved?” Perhaps that is the wrong question.

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Kings 5 & 6
Psalm 68.21-27
Proverbs 17.13-15
John 10.24-42

 

Can I Lose My Salvation?

 

John 10.24-42:

Once Saved Always Saved?

 

Many debate the statement “once saved, always saved.” Perhaps it could be more accurately stated “if saved always saved.” I believe there are many people who think they have a right relationship with God because they go to the right church … or because they were brought up in a Christian home … or because they took the right sacraments … or were baptized as a baby … or, perhaps the most insidious, they are pretty good people. Salvation is based on the finished work of Jesus on the cross not anything we do. Ephesians 2.4-9 says:

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

 

John 10 eternal security

 

No One Can Snatch Us Out of His Hand!

 

But if we are truly saved by faith in the gospel, verses 27-30 in today’s reading should give us great confidence in God’s sovereign control of our eternal lives.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

If we belong to God, no one, not the devil nor anyone else can take that away from us.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

1 Kings 5 & 6:

The Beauty of God and the Ugliness of Sin

 

menorah gold temple

Every time I read these passages I try to get my mind around what Solomon’s Temple must have been like! The love and care that went into every detail, the magnificence of it, the gold that was beaten into thin sheets and then gently hammered to fit over all the carved and embellished wood and stone so that everywhere you looked there was gold! The most beautiful things we build today with all our technology can’t match what it must have been like.

But, even with all the beauty and splendor, God was more interested in whether or not their lives reflected the beauty of God or the ugliness of sin. He warned Solomon that He would only dwell among them as long as they walked in His statutes and kept His commandments (6.11-13). He would eventually allow this magnificent temple to be burned and sacked because of their repeated sin and idolatry (2 Kings 25).  Continue reading

“If you died tonight …?” August 20

 

If you died tonight ...? - If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don't leave your eternity to chance!If you died tonight, do you know for sure that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 31 & 32
Psalm 98.1-3
Proverbs 23.17-18
1 Corinthians 2.1-16

 

If you died tonight …?

 

1 Corinthians 2.1-16:

The Power of the Gospel

 

Verses 1-2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

That is something we all need to remember as we witness to our friends and loved ones. We can’t “talk them into anything.” The power lies in the gospel and in God’s Word. We need to share the truth with them by pointing them to the Scripture.

bible johnMartha Peace, who wrote The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective, said that before she got saved her friends had told her to read the book of John, and to keep reading it until it made sense to her. She was depressed and pretty messed up, but she did. And one night after reading it a number of times, faith came alive in her heart!

We certainly don’t want to beat people over the head with the Bible, but we must realize that it is the Scriptures that contain the power of God for salvation!

 

If you died tonight?

 

What about you? Are you are reading this and wondering, “Would I go to heaven?” Please don’t push that thought away. Seek God about it. Pull out your Bible or get one. Begin reading the book of John. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. You can read more about the gospel and salvation here.

Or maybe you have been in church for a long time or you went when you were younger. Maybe you “prayed a prayer” once, joined a church, got baptized … but you still have doubts. The aging Apostle John said this about why God had him write the book of 1 John:

13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 Jn. 5.13).

Did you notice that phrase? “…that you may KNOW”! God wants us to have confidence and peace in knowing that we belong to Him. He wants us to understand eternal security. Read more here. We can have eternal security, but it is not based on what we do, rather it is a faith transaction.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2.8-9).

Leave me a comment and I will put you in touch with a solid biblical church in your area if you would like to talk to someone about your eternal destiny (I won’t publish it, if you prefer). Don’t leave your eternity to chance!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 31 & 32:

If … if … if

 

Job ends his defense in chapter 31 with a series of “ifs.” If I had looked on a woman lustfully (vss. 1, 9), if I had not been generous (vss. 16-21), if I had treated my employees unfairly (v. 31), if I had trusted in wealth rather than God (vss. 24-25), if I had hidden my sin (v. 33), if I had stolen (v. 39), etc., then I could understand all this.

We are often a lot like Job. We think if we keep the law (at least our interpretation of it), God is obligated to bless us.

After Job and his three friends had stopped speaking, a younger friend, Elihu, says in effect, I can’t keep quiet any longer. I think you’re all wrong!

But soon … God will begin to speak and answer all of them. Continue reading

“Biblical Hope & Eternal Security” August 7

 

eternal security

What is biblical hope? Is it the “wishing and hoping” kind of hope? And what about eternal security? Can a believer lose his salvation?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 5 & 6
Psalm 92.1-7
Proverbs 22.16
Romans 8.22-39

 

Biblical Hope & Eternal Security

 

Romans 8.22-39:

Biblical Hope

 

Verses 24-25, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

fingers crossedBiblical hope is not the “wishing and hoping” kind of hope, as if something might happen. Although it has not yet happened yet, biblical hope is a sure thing, because it is based on God’s promises.

Paul gives us some of the greatest examples of biblical hope in the remainder of this chapter! Verses 28-30:

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

First He promises to work all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Notice it said all things! Is that thing you are going through part of the all things? Yes! (Notice, Paul didn’t say all things are good, but that God would use them for good.)

He also says that God has predestined us to be like Christ. If we are truly saved, God is working in our lives to make us more like His Son, and sometimes He uses tests and trials and difficult people to do that. Instead, of murmuring and complaining we need to see it as God’s hand molding and shaping us.

But God’s promises in these verses doesn’t end there.

 

Eternal Security

 

eternal securityThen he says, “whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” We won’t be glorified until we get to heaven. That means if He called us and justified us (made us right with Him), He will glorify us. We will not lose our salvation somewhere along the line! What a great promise of our eternal security!

If that’s not enough and to be sure we get it, Paul asks the question:  Continue reading

June 9 “On eternal security, apostasy & cannibalism” & LINKUP

Oh, the depths to which human beings can sink without a relationship with the One True God! And His faithfulness to keep those who belong to Him!

eternal security

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 5 & 6
Psalm 72.1-7
Proverbs 18.10-11
John 18.1-18

2 Kings 5 & 6:

Serving God no matter where you are

Chapter 5.2-3 really amazes me and has a great message for us.

“And the Syrians had gone out on raids, and had brought back captive a young girl from the land of Israel. She waited on Naaman’s wife. Then she said to her mistress, ‘If only my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria! For he would heal him of his leprosy.'”

Here’s a young girl who had been ripped away from her family and life as she knew it, forced to work as a slave, and yet, look at her heart attitude—one of loyalty and concern for the people under whose authority God had placed her.

Why would God allow that to happen to her in the first place? For the same reason He allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and carried off to a foreign land—to fulfill His plans and purposes AND to bless those He was using. We need to remember that our good and His glory are always connected.

As a result of this little servant girl, Naaman would come to know the One True God.

Continue reading

May 29 “Once saved, always saved?”

Many debate the statement “once saved, always saved.” Perhaps it could be more accurately stated “if saved always saved.” But Jesus said those who truly belong to Him cannot lose that relationship.

eternal security

Today’s Readings:
1 Kings 5 & 6
Psalm 68.21-27
Proverbs 17.13-15
John 10.24-42

1 Kings 5 & 6:

The beauty of God and the ugliness of sin

Every time I read these passages I try to get my mind around what Solomon’s Temple must have been like! The love and care that went into every detail, the magnificence of it, the gold that was beaten into thin sheets and then gently hammered to fit over all the carved and embellished wood and stone so that everywhere you looked there was gold! The most beautiful things we build today with all our technology can’t match what it must have been like.

But, even with all the beauty and splendor, God was more interested in whether or not their lives reflected the beauty of God or the ugliness of sin. He warned Solomon that He would only dwell among them as long as they walked in His statutes and kept His commandments (vv. 6.11-13). He would eventually allow this magnificent temple to be burned and sacked because of their repeated sin and idolatry (2 Kings 25).

What beautiful things does He allow to be destroyed in our lives because of our unwillingness to love and obey Him? We often turn and blame Him when it’s actually a consequence of our rebellion.

Psalm 68.21-27:

He reigns forever

This psalm was probably part of David’s celebration when the Ark of the Covenant was brought back to Jerusalem, but it also looks forward to the day when Jesus will reign forever and all the world will worship Him.

Proverbs 17.13-15:

Those who reward good with evil

Verse 13, “Whoever rewards evil for good, Evil will not depart from his house.” Romans 12.17 & 21 say, “Repay no one evil for evil” instead we are to “… overcome evil with good.” If we are not even to repay evil with evil, how much worse the judgment on someone who repays good with evil!

John 10.24-42:

No one can snatch us out of His hand!

Verses 27-30 should give us great confidence in God’s sovereign control of our eternal lives.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”

If we truly belong to God, no one, not the devil nor anyone else can take that away from us. But the kind of saving faith that gives us that reassurance involves more than our just having prayed a prayer at some point. While it is true that we exercise saving faith through prayer, there is no magic in the words or the prayer itself. The prayer must involve true saving faith. A prayer merely spoken in response to outside pressure or the emotion of the moment does not necessarily constitute saving faith. We’ve all known people who “prayed a prayer” at some point, but have never displayed any life change.

eternal security

Salvation is not a work. We can’t conjure up faith or do anything to save ourselves, but we’re all called to “examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13.5)—that is whether or not we have “unquestioning belief in and loyalty to God” and whether that faith has resulted in fruit. John the Baptist warned the religious people of his day to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Lk. 3.8).

What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:

Have you truly put your faith and trust in Christ and Christ alone? Have you come to the place where you realize you are a sinner in desperate need of a Savior and that nothing you do warrants eternal life? Have you confessed you sin to Him and received His free gift of forgiveness and salvation?

Blessings,
Donna

 

January 23 “Responding to betrayal”

Betrayal

How do you respond when some one offends, hurts, or even, betrays you?

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 45 & 46
Psalm 12.3-4
Proverbs 4.14-17
Matthew 15.1-20

Genesis 45 & 46:

Accepting the sovereignty of God

What a reunion for Joseph and Benjamin! But I can’t imagine the shock the other ten brothers must have experienced.

The most amazing part of this story is what John MacArthur calls “a masterpiece of recognition of and submission to the sovereignty of God” (MacArthur Daily Bible). Think about it. Fifteen years had passed since that day when his brothers betrayed him.

Remember there were ten of them—older and stronger. Continue reading