“Sex, Manipulation & Revenge” January 21

 

Sex, Manipulation & RevengeGod created sex. He designed our sexuality as a means to delight and bring pleasure to one another within the marriage relationship. But, sadly, as our culture knows all too well, “sex sells” and it has been twisted and used throughout the ages to manipulate and entice and for many other evil purposes, including revenge.

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 41 & 42
Psalm 10.12-18
Proverbs 4.7-9
Matthew 14.1-21

 

Sex, Manipulation & Revenge

 

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He Must Increase

 

Here we have the sordid story of King Herod, Herodias (Herod’s wife, his half-brother’s ex-wife and daughter of another half-brother) and Herodias’ daughter. It’s Herod’s birthday and this young girl is dancing for the men at the party—most likely a drunken “men’s affair” like a bachelor’s party or “gentlemen’s club” (what an oxymoron that is!)

Herodias, had probably noticed the way Herod looked at her young daughter when he thought she wasn’t looking, and instead of protecting her daughter, she used her to manipulate Herod into giving her what she wanted! And what she wanted was revenge—John the Baptist’s head on a platter! John had publicly spoken against her sinful behavior and she had decided to get even!

But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”

And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her.10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother (Matt. 14.6-11).

After John’s death, we see Jesus’ grief over the loss of His cousin.

“When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself …” (v. 13).

But it was time for John to leave the stage and for Jesus to take full prominence. Remember John himself had said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3.30). God can and does use sinful people to fulfill His divine purposes.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

& :

Joseph’s Story & Your Story

 

Here in these two chapters God’s purposes begin to unfold in Joseph’s life. God has used trials to prepare him and in the chapters to come we’ll see that he has learned to trust God’s workings in his life. Now he’s ready to be placed on the world stage and to be reconciled with his family.

How difficult it must have been for Joseph when God gave him the interpretation of the Butler’s and the Baker’s dreams, and yet, to have it seemingly end there! It may not have seemed so strange to us because we know the end of the story, but think about it from Joseph’s perspective.

What has God allowed in your life that seems to make no sense? How can understanding Joseph’s story help you patiently wait on God in your own life?

Finally, if you have a strained relationship with someone in your family, Continue reading

“True Freedom” September 30

 

true freedom

Like the fool who thinks he’s wise, what we call freedom often leads only to bondage. So what is true freedom?

Also, read about the fear of man. Proverbs tells us it is a trap into which we can easily fall. What is it and how can we be free from it’s grip?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 51 & 52
Psalm 112.5-10
Proverbs 26.16
Ephesians 2.1-22

 

True Freedom

 

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Freedom or Bondage

 

Like the fool who thinks he’s wise in today’s Proverbs reading, we were once dead while thinking we were alive. We thought we were free when we were in bondage.

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others (2.1-3).

We look back at Eve and think, “How could she have been so easily deceived?” But what about us, as modern women, we bought the farm when it comes to being deceived!

business woman, overworkedWe decided …
We should be “free” to work just like men.
We should be “free” to have sex just for pleasure with no commitment.
We should be “free” to have a career and a family.
We should be “free” to be attracted to women instead of men.
We should be “free” to get a divorce if we’re not happy.
We should be “free” to not have kids.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying it is sinful for a woman to work or have a career, but I’m talking about the attitude that says we should be free to do whatever we think will make us happy.

We were not only “dead in trespasses and sins,” but blind and deaf and deceived and in bondage when we thought we were alive and educated and enlightened and free!

And for the gentlemen reading this, we women don’t have the market on deception.

computer pornToo many men have bought into the lie that they’re “free” to look at whatever they want on the internet.
That they don’t need to be involved in spiritual things. They can leave that to their wives.
That new toy or a new woman will make them happy.
That divorce is fine and the kids will get used it.

True freedom can only be found “in Christ” and as we discover that we can be free from the guilt and penalty of our sins. “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8.36). True freedom is the freedom to do what’s right. The self-proclaimed freedom to do whatever we want only leads to bondage.

Praise be to God, that we were once dead, but now are alive. We were once blind, but now we see! We were once slaves to sin, but are now free to be what God has called us to be!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

& :

What would they think?

 

Chapter 51.12-13:

12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die,
And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?
13 And you forget the LORD your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens
And laid the foundations of the earth;

Matthew 10 says:

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

How much time we waste “fearing man”! It’s another kind of bondage into which we can easily fall. Not just fearing what they might do to us physically, but what they think of us, what they might say about us, or how they might sin against us.

“If they find out I’m a Christian, they’ll think I’m a ‘goody-two-shoes’.”
“If I don’t have sex with my boyfriend, he might leave me.”
“If I give in to my wife, what will I tell the guys?”
“If I submit to my husband, he’ll walk all over me.”
“What would they think if they knew about my past?”
“If I don’t lie for my husband, he might lose his job.”

Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Do we really want to trust in that which cannot save us? It’s really no different from those Old Testament people who trusted in idols they had carved from a tree trunk or formed with their own hands—gods who are not gods.

Our concerns need to be:  Continue reading

“Are you preparing to live in a hostile culture?” September 9

 

red x bible

We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and even hatred. Violence, from outside and inside our nation, is almost commonplace. How are you preparing to live in a dangerous and hostile culture?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 9 & 10
Psalm 106.1-5
Proverbs 25.1-2
2 Corinthians 1.1-24

 

Are you preparing to live in a hostile culture?

 

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Comfort in Tribulation

 

Verses 3-4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

God “comforts us in all our tribulation”! What a great promise, especially today as we face an increasingly hostile culture and an increasingly dangerous world. Not only does He comfort us, but we are to be conduits of God’s mercy and comfort just as we are with all of His blessings.

Paul Nyquist in his book, Prepare, says the following:

Get ready. An exciting, yet terrifying era is beginning for American believers. As cultural changes sweep our country, we’ll soon be challenged to live out what the Bible says about confronting and responding to persecution. For nearly 250 years, Christians in America were able to live in relative freedom from persecution. We escaped because our society historically embraced and promoted biblical values. Our founding fathers penned a Constitution esteeming religious freedom and establishing that rights come from God, not the government.

But we’re witnessing an epic change in our culture— a spiritual climate shift threatening to reshape life as we know it. Hostility and intolerance are replacing toleration. Rejection and even hatred are pushing aside acceptance.

John S. Dickerson, in his well-researched book The Great Evangelical Recession, writes, “In the coming decades United States evangelicals will be tested as never before, by the ripping and tearing of external cultural change— a force more violent than many of us expect. Evangelicalism in the United States has stood strong through centuries of difficulties and setbacks. She has not seen anything quite like what she will see in the next fifty years.”

I love the complete title of Nyquist’s book, Prepare: Living Your Faith in an Increasingly Hostile Culture.

 

How to Prepare

 

Persecution is a reality for believers in Christ. It may vary in degree in different cultures and time periods, but Jesus warned us to expect it (Jn. 15.20). The Apostle Paul said, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3.12).

In fact, in spite of the fact that it flies in the face of some current teaching, the Bible says persecution is good for us. James said:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (Jas. 1.2-4 NLT)

Persecution, when responded to rightly, develops Christian character, helps us mature in Christ, draws us closer to the Lord, and is a testimony to the world. So how do we prepare to face it when it comes?  Continue reading

“Uncommon Friends” August 3

 

uncommon friendsst 3" >

Common friends are … well … common. They are ordinary and unexceptional. They are the norm. But uncommon friends … are rare blessings from God! What is the quality of your friendship? Does it focus on what the other person can do for you? Or are you focused on loving others and being a godly friend?

 

Today’s Readings:
Esther 7 & 8
Psalm 90.7-17
Proverbs 22.10-11
Romans 5

 

Uncommon Friends

 

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Ordinary or Exceptional?

 

Two of the words used to define “common” are ordinary and unexceptional. But what does an “uncommon” or true friend look like? How does he speak? What are her motives?

Verse 11 says:

“He who loves purity of heart and has grace on his lips, the king will be his friend.”

friends friendshipst 3" >This verse reminds me of a book I read many years ago called Uncommon Friends about a man by the name of James Newton who became friends with Thomas Edison, Charles Lindbergh, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone and others because of the quality of his friendship.

What is the quality of your friendship? Does it focus on what the other person can do for you? Or are you focused on loving others and being a godly friend? Do you have “purity of heart” and “grace on your lips”?

Being an uncommon friend doesn’t mean constantly flattering the other person. In fact, Proverbs 27. 6 says the opposite:

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Someone who is “pure in heart” wants the best for his or her friend. Sometimes that means “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4.15). But being “pure in heart” also means being willing to sacrifice for your friend. Sometimes real friendship is inconvenient, but when you love someone, it’s not a burden.

What is the quality of your words to and about your friends? Are they full of God’s grace and mercy? Or are they laced with sarcasm or harshness? Do you speak well of your friends or do you gossip and criticize? Continue reading

“Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture” July 21

 

"Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture" - With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just "go along because it's the law" will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.

 

With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 3 & 4
Psalm 86.11-17
Proverbs 21.17-18
Acts 22.1-30

 

Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture

 

& :

Fearing God or Man?

 

"Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture" - With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just "go along because it's the law" will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.In chapter 3, even though the people who returned to Jerusalem had the authority of the king behind them, there was still opposition from the people already living in the land.

Verse 3 says, “… fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries …” But in spite of their feelings they determined to do what was right and to worship God as Moses had instructed them to do.

Even though there is a move to restrict our rights as believers, we still have a great deal of freedom under the laws of our land. And while instructs us to obey those who rule over us, even that has limitations. Anytime someone in authority asks us to sin, we have a higher authority—that is God and His Word.

With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger. There will be times on the job (even when we are within our rights), with our friends, or in our families where we will feel fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being rejected, fear of what people will think, fear of being labeled unloving or intolerant, even in some cases, fear of losing our jobs or our businesses. But, we too, can do what’s right in spite of our feelings.  Continue reading

November 3 “The loss of His restraining grace!” & LINKUP

wave tsunami oceanThe Bible tells it like it is, sometimes including the depths of human depravity. When we read about those things, instead of looking down our noses, we must realize that if God were to remove His restraining grace, we are all capable of almost anything. May we fear God and pray to stay on His path.

 

Today’s Readings:
Lamentations 1 & 2
Psalm 119.137-144
Proverbs 28.9-10
Titus 3.1-15

 

Lamentations 1 & 2:

Heart-broken over sin & destruction

The book of Lamentations was written by Jeremiah and was basically a funeral dirge. The prophet was mourning the destruction of Jerusalem, God’s holy city. Even though the people had rejected his warnings, even tortured and imprisoned him for speaking the truth, Jeremiah was heart-broken over their destruction.

Let’s pray that as the body of Christ we would be heart-broken over the sin and destruction in our nation instead of self-righteous, self-pitying or judgmental.

 

Psalm 119.137-144:

His restraining grace

Verse 137 says, “Righteous are You, O LORD, and upright are Your judgments.”

God is righteous and all His judgments are upright. They are good!

It’s interesting this is placed here alongside our reading in Lamentations. It would be easy to read a verse like Lamentations 2.20, “…Should the women eat their offspring, the children they have cuddled? …” and we think, “How could a good God cause such a thing to happen to innocent children?” But we must realize God did not “cause” such a horrible thing to happen. James 1.13-15 says: Continue reading

September 30 “To the formerly dead, foolish and deceived”

Teenage girl, clueless, foolish

Sin has not only affected us spiritually and physically, it has also affected us mentally. In short, we don’t think straight apart from having our minds renewed by the Word of the Living God. “Professing to be wise, they became fools …” (Rom. 1.22), fools who mistake bondage for freedom, death for life, and foolishness for wisdom. It’s called the noetic effect of sin.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 51 & 52
Psalm 112.5-10
Proverbs 26.16
Ephesians 2.1-22

 

Isaiah 51 & 52:

What would they think …?

Chapter 51.12-13:

12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die,
And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?
13 And you forget the LORD your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens
And laid the foundations of the earth;

Matthew 10 says:

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

puzzled, thinkingHow much time we waste “fearing man”! Not just fearing what they might do to us physically, but what they think of us, what they might say about us, or how they might sin against us.

“If they find out I’m a Christian, they’ll think I’m a ‘goody-two-shoes’.”
“If I don’t have sex with my boyfriend, he might leave me.”
“If I give in to my wife, what will I tell the guys?”
“If I submit to my husband, he’ll walk all over me.”
“What would they think if they knew about my past?”
“If I don’t lie for my husband, he might lose his job.”

Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Do we really want to trust in that which cannot save us? It’s really no different from those Old Testament people who trusted in idols they had carved from a tree trunk or formed with their own hands—gods who are not gods.

Our concerns need to be: Continue reading

August 3 “Uncommon friends”

imagesCAUOIYKSst 3 “Uncommon friends”" >

To my “Uncommon Friends”:

I hope you are still enjoying these #bibleinayear / #biblechallenge posts. And I humbly ask that you share them on FaceBook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites. I try to make that easy with the “sharing is caring” and “tweet this” buttons.

There are so many out there who are missing the blessings of regular time spent in God’s Word, who are hurting and don’t know that the Bible has answers. I’ll never meet many of them, but they are your “uncommon friends” and family members. Your FB pages, Pinterest boards, and Twitter accounts can reach them. Social media can be used to do evil or it can be used to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. I can put these posts on my website, but I need your help if I’m going to reach more.

And if you haven’t already, please consider signing up to receive these posts by email. It would be a great encouragement to me.

And if you only visit occasionally or this is your first time, thank you!

Read more about what it means to be an “uncommon friend” below.

On to the Word …

Today’s Readings:
Esther 7 & 8
Psalm 90.7-17
Proverbs 22.10-11

Esther 7 & 8:

Fear of God

The last sentence of these two chapters sums up God’s purpose in all that He does. It says:

“Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.”

God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He desires that all would be saved and come into a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.4). The MacArthur Daily Bible notes remind us that it wasn’t that the people in Esther’s day turned to God because they feared the people, but they saw that the Sovereign God the Jews served had power and authority and their false gods did not.

What do people in the world understand about God by observing you? Do others want to have a relationship with Him because of your life?

Continue reading

July 21 “Two kinds of fear” & LINKUP

fear, courage

There are two kinds of fear? Fear can be filled with faith or sinful depending on its focus.

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 3 & 4
Psalm 86.11-17
Proverbs 21.17-18
Acts 22.1-30

Ezra 3 & 4:

Fear of man and a higher authority

In chapter 3, even though the people who returned to Jerusalem had the authority of the king behind them, there was still opposition from the people already living in the land. Verse 3 says, “… fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries …” But in spite of their feelings they determined to do what was right and to worship God as Moses had instructed them to do.

Even though there is a move to restrict our rights as believers, we still have a great deal of freedom under the laws of our land. And while Romans 13 instructs us to obey those who rule over us, even that has limitations. Anytime someone in authority asks us to sin, we have a higher authority—that is God and His Word.

There will be times on the job (even when we are within our rights) or in our families where we will feel fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being rejected, fear of what people will think, even in some cases, fear of losing our jobs. But, we too, can do what’s right in spite of our feelings. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it is doing what’s right in spite of it!

Continue reading

January 21 “Dancing for the devil”

Dancing for the devil

God created sex. He designed our sexuality as a means to delight and bring pleasure to one another within the marriage relationship. But, sadly, as our culture knows all too well, “sex sells” and it has been twisted and used throughout the ages to manipulate and entice and for many other evil purposes.

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 41 & 42
Psalm 10.12-18
Proverbs 4.7-9
Matthew 14.1-21

Genesis 41 & 42:

Joseph’s story & your story

Here in these two chapters God’s purposes begin to unfold in Joseph’s life. God has used trials to prepare him and in the chapters to come we’ll see that he has learned to trust God’s workings in his life. Now he’s ready to be placed on the world stage and to be reconciled with his family. Continue reading