Isaac’s and Rebekah’s twins, Jacob and Esau, are grown now. Isaac’s favorite is Esau, a hunter and man’s man. Jacob, it seems, was a mama’s boy and a homebody. Their favoritism led to manipulation and deceit that would, eventually, split their family apart.
In today’s reading, the first cracks appear as Jacob manipulates his impatient, impulsive brother. In the process, Esau throws aside his birthright. His behavior has a great lesson for us as believers in Christ.
Also, read about “God Our Righteous Judge,” the blessings that come from “Honoring the Lord in Our Giving,” and about spiritual and physical healing in “Unless the Father Draws Him.” Continue reading →
Do you ever find yourself trying to help God out just a little? You believe He’s going to answer some prayer, but you keep trying to figure out how, and pretty soon, you’re trying to orchestrate one of those possibilities. Abram and Sarai had been given a great promise, but years had passed with no answer in sight and they took matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, just as it does in our lives, it led to all kinds of problems and revealed some things about their hearts.
In the process, they needed some reassurance from God. How about you? Do you need reassurance today … of His faithfulness, His goodness, or His trustworthiness?
We’ll also look at polygamy, a great passage on worry, God’s mercy and His wisdom for the upright. Continue reading →
Today we’ll talk about the danger of believing lies when it comes to our spiritual life. Whether that means trusting good works, religious activities, or some higher knowledge to save us, our eternal destiny is at stake when it comes to what we believe. Could you be believing a lie?
We’ll also continue our study in Revelation as the final conflict approaches.
There are only two more days in 2017. Can you believe it?! Have you set a goal for your Bible reading in 2018? Have you invited someone else to join you? Let’s bring others along as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3.18).
During the Tribulation, the final Antichrist will rise to power. All those who want to buy and sell will be required wear his name or his number 666 on their right hand or foreheads and all who dwell on earth will be deceived into worshiping him, except those whose names are written in the Book of Life of the Lamb.
It will seem that he has free reign to do evil and get away with it. The prophet Habakkuk felt the same way about the enemies of Israel in his day. We may feel that way today when it comes to evil men and women. But there will come a day when God will judge the wicked and in the meantime, God reminds us that “the just shall live by faith.” Continue reading →
When God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?
Trusting God makes all the difference in times of suffering. What can we learn about God that will steady us in tough times? Continue reading →
I recently started attending a Bible study taught by a dear friend. During this week’s lesson, she told a story that I loved.
A young man who was an avid hiker wanted to propose to his girlfriend, but he want to do so at a particularly scenic spot in the mountains where he hiked. His girlfriend, an “indoor girl,” agreed to go, but was having a difficult time with the trek. As she struggled with the ascent, he encouraged her by saying, “just step where I step.”
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival
Step Where I Step
And that’s what she did, step by step. That “indoor girl” followed the young man she had grown to love and trust.
She made it. He proposed.
And later she said, even though it was challenging, it was so worth it! In fact, she said, it wasn’t as hard as it looked.
As my friend, Marie, was telling the story, I thought about the Christian walk. It, too, can be a challenging journey. It’s filled with steep ascents, unexpected turns, scary cliffs and falling rocks. It tests our stamina and our courage, at times.
But I wonder, do we make the journey harder than it needs to be, because of our failure to truly follow in the foot steps of our Savior?
Just as surely as He did to those first twelve disciples, Jesus says to each of us, “follow me.” Just step where I step.
Too often, we’re walking in our own strength, trying to do what we should through self-effort and wondering why it’s so hard.
We end up exhausted, burned out, or frustrated, because the Christian life can’t be done in our own strength (Matt. 9.26).
This isn’t just a problem for new believers. In fact, as we grow in Christ we may be more prone to self-effort. After all, we know the drill. We speak the language. We know what we should say and do. We’re not as desperate for His help and guidance, not clinging to Him one step at a time. We’ve walk the path before and can easily think, “I’ve got this.”
God knows our tendency and out of His love for us will take us on new paths, steeper journeys than we thought possible, so we see our need for Him. When He does, we’re sometimes shocked at our responses.
We may respond with sinful anger that we thought we’d dealt with years ago or find ourselves tempted with another sinful habit.
In our heart of hearts, we sometimes think “after all I’ve done to serve You, Lord, why would You allow this?”
Why would my child rebel after I’ve raised her right?
Why would my business fail after I’ve tithed all these years?
Why would my spouse walk out?
How can I be struggling with this?
It’s not fair!
That’s when we must look to Jesus and the path he walked ahead of us. We need to step where He stepped … when He was betrayed, misunderstood, falsely accused, arrested and crucified. We need to follow in His steps as He forgives those who reject and sin against Him today.
We need to forgive the unforgivable (Rom. 5.8; Eph. 4.31-32).
We need to love the unlovable (Matt. 5.43-48).
We need to submit to the harsh and unreasonable (1 Pet. 2.18-21, 3.1-2).
We need to bless those who revile us and do us wrong (1 Pet. 2.23).
We need to refuse revenge and overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.17-21).
We need to release the prodigal to His love and consequences, yet stand ready to welcome him home (Lk. 15.11-24).
We need to refuse to be like the prodigal’s brother (Lk. 15.25-32).
We need to follow His steps as He loves and forgives us when we turn to other gods and commit spiritual adultery (Jas. 4.1-4).
David was at his wits’ end, even his own men had turned against him. Yet he wasn’t at his faith’s end. Instead, David strengthened himself in the Lord?
How can you strengthen or encourage yourself in the Lord? What should you remember about God’s sovereignty, goodness, justice, and mercy? How might God be using this for good so that as Romans 8.29 says, you can become more like Christ?
1 Samuel 29, 30 & 31
When You’re at Your Wits’ End
1 Samuel 29, 30 & 31:
A Man after God’s Own Heart … Are You Kidding?
What was David thinking?! Wanting to join the Philistines and go to war against Israel! God used the princes of the other Philistine clans to prevent him from doing such a foolish thing.
But God wanted to get David’s undivided attention. So while he was off involved in a situation in which he should never have been involved, God allowed the Amalekites to burn down his city and carry off all the women and children.
“… they did not kill anyone, but carried them away …” (v. 30.2).
God would allow them to recover their families, all their possessions, and even take the spoil of the Amalekites. But David and his men didn’t yet know the outcome. They came home tired and anxious to see their wives and children only to find the city burned and their families gone. After they wept over their losses, their emotions turned to anger against David.
Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible says they had joined David because they believed he would become king and they expected to all be princes by now. Instead, it looked like they had lost everything. Their grief was coupled with discontent, impatience and disappointment over their unmet desires. To quote Henry, “Their own discontent and impatience added wormwood and gall to the affliction and misery, and made their case doubly grievous.”
At His Wits’ End
David, on the other hand, demonstrated what made him “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13.14). He didn’t turn on his men. He didn’t point out their wrongs. He didn’t give in to fear over their threats. Instead, he “strengthened himself in the LORD his God” (30.6) and sought His counsel (30.7-8). Continue reading →
Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee you won’t be hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise.
2 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” 3 So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins (5.2-3).
I imagine all the men reading this portion of Scripture cringed a little when they read about flint knives, circumcision, and “the hill of foreskins.” I can’t help thinking the men in Joshua’s time, probably, felt the same way.
Their Parents Disobedience
The fact that this second generation had not been circumcised was another symptom of their parents disobedience. But now, before they could go in and take the land God had given them, this covenant sign had to be performed. This must have been a memorable (after all, the hill was named after it) and solemn ceremony.
It was, also, a huge step of faith, since this mass circumcision made them vulnerable to attack. In Genesis 34 we read about an angry brother who convinced a whole village to get circumcised by promising to allow his sister to marry her rapist. While they were weak and in pain, he killed them all in revenge.
God watched over them, but humanly speaking, it was a risky decision. Risk is, often, a reality when you step out in faith.
When you forgive and turn the other cheek, you risk being struck again (Matt. 5.39). When you stand up for the truth, you risk being persecuted (Matt. 23:34-36). When you do what’s right, some people are not going to like it. The world does not like the light. Sometimes you’ll, even, be targeted for your faith.
Just ask Barronelle Stutzman. In case you aren’t familiar with her story, Barronelle is a 72-year old grandmother, a florist, and a follower of Christ. She has been targeted by the State of Washington and people on the left for declining to make flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.
Since then her case has worked it’s way to the Washington Supreme Court where she lost in a 9-0 decision. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the decision, it could cost Barronelle her livelihood and all her assets.
It’s important to understand that Barronelle wasn’t trying to discriminate against the men. She had provided flowers for them on numerous occasions over a 9-year period, but when one of them asked her to provide flowers for their wedding, she declined because of her religious convictions. Instead, she recommended some other florists.
Sometimes, persecution, pain, and rejection come from our own families and those closest to us. That can hurt even more deeply. But we must be quick to forgive and keep our eyes on the Lord no matter who mistreats us. Otherwise that hurt can be the seed that grows up into a root of bitterness.
14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many (Heb. 12.14-15 , NLT).
“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (31.6).
Think about that, when we go for that doctor’s visit or procedure, He goes with us! When we go for that job interview or to share our testimony or all those other situations that tempt us to be afraid, He goes with us! When our children walk away from God or our spouse walks out, He is there.
When we’re tempted to worry about how we’ll pay the bills, live with the loss, handle caring for an aging parent or another baby … He is with us! He will not leave us or forsake us!
Verse 8, “I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”
Psalm 37.4 says, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
The more we write His law on our hearts and get to know Him, the better able we are to really “delight” in Him. Then the more we delight in Him, the more He fills our hearts with His righteous desires, which He in turn works out in our lives. Continue reading →