Could you be a contentious woman? Do you ever find yourself arguing for argument’s sake? Do you feel like it’s your job to point out the other side of the issue? Do you enjoy a good debate? Do you have to have the last word?
Verse 9, “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”
My thesaurus uses some of the following synonyms: controversial, debatable, arguable, touchy. The Encarta Dictionary defines her as, “frequently engaging in and seeming to enjoy arguments and disputes.”
Do you ever find yourself arguing for arguments sake? Do you feel like it’s your job to point out the other side of the issue? Do you enjoy a good debate? Do you have to have the last word?
Ladies, we need to ask ourselves those questions without trying to justify or minimize our actions. If we can answer “yes” to any of them, let’s ask God to help us search our hearts (Ps. 139.23-24) and help us grow and change.
Here in these two chapters Hezekiah calls the people to repentance and worship. He sends runners throughout the land even to the Northern Kingdom to extend the invitation. Although most of the people in the Northern Kingdom “laughed at them and mocked them,” the people of Judah came together with “singleness of heart.” What followed was a great revival with the people giving in abundance to support the priests and Levites and the operation of the temple. And when they did, God blessed them abundantly.
Forgiving Like God Forgives
Verses 2-3, “You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people; You have covered all their sin. Selah. You have taken away all Your wrath. You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.”
When God forgives and covers sin, He ceases to be angry about it. We are told in Ephesians 4.32 to “forgive just as God in Christ also has forgiven us.” If we truly forgive we choose to cease being angry, too. It may take time for our feelings to completely come into line, but we can choose to treat that person with God’s love if we will rely on His grace. Continue reading →
Fighting and disagreements within a family can be some of the most difficult to settle, but God places a high priority on unity and peace within our biological families and within the family of God. Sadly, very few have the strength of character to do what is required in the midst of family feuds, spiritual or biological.
Verse 19, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
If you have ever seen or been a part of a family feud, you know they can last for years, partly because of the intensity of the emotional ties. So we must seek to avoid unnecessary conflict within our families.
Family feuds are often over money, favoritism, or failure to take responsibilities seriously.
Favoritism can be real or imagined, but the sovereignty of God must always be kept in mind. If God has allowed some mistreatment or lack of favor, what character quality (Gal. 5.22-23) might He be developing in your life and how does God want you to respond?
When it comes to responsibility, whether it’s children taking responsibility for themselves or siblings taking responsibility to care for aging parents, we are accountable for ourselves regardless of what someone else does or doesn’t do. Remember God rewards those who do right with the right heart attitude.
And when it comes to money, Jesus makes it clear how Christians should respond:
7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! (1 Cor. 6).
When we feel we are being cheated (not repaid for a debt or not given what we are due), God says to forgive and let it go. How we respond when it comes to money reveals a lot about our attitude toward God. Matthew 6:
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money].
Verses 14-15 warn us to forgive those who wrong us:
14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6).
For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt. 16.26).
Of course, avoiding conflict must be balanced with other biblical truths. We cannot use obeying God in one area to excuse our sin in another. We can’t use peace with our parents, for instance, as an excuse for a lack of submission to our husbands. We can’t allow what our family will think or whether they will be offended, to excuse drunkenness, gossip or any other sin. Romans 12.2 tells us:
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” And 12.18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”
“If it is possible …” At times, even though we refrain from arguing, being self-righteous or unnecessarily contentious, there are those who do not want to be at peace with us, even in our own families. We are to be salt and light. Salt sometimes stings and light always exposes darkness. And sometimes that brings anger and rejection from others.
But while family feuds can be challenging and emotions can run high, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do all we can to reconcile those relationships. Jesus said in Matthew 5.23-24:
23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
God puts a high priority on unity and reconciliation and we should do all we can to be at peace within our biological families and within the family of God.
Is doesn’t matter who is more in the right. “The one who knows goes!”
James 4.17, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
God puts a high priority on unity and reconciliation and we should do all we can to be at peace within our biological families and within the family of God.
“But you don’t know what they did to me!” No, maybe not, but Jesus does. Matthew 5: Continue reading →
Even the disciples struggled with this idea. Look at their conversation with Jesus in verses 3-5:
“Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
“Increase our faith.” My paraphrase, “You’ve got to be kidding! Even if someone sins against me over and over in the same day and comes back saying, ‘I repent,’ I must forgive him?”
“Increase our faith.” Basically the disciples were saying, “That’s too hard. You’re going to have to give us some supernatural faith if we’re expected to do that!”
Faith is Not the Problem
6 So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.
Then he went on to tell them a parable about a slave and his master.
7 And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’?8 But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’?9 Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.
Jesus ended the parable by saying:
10 So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”
Jesus had not changed the subject; He was still talking about forgiveness. Faith is not the problem when we refuse to forgive, obedience is! If Jesus is truly our Lord and we His servants, we should willingly obey Him even when it is challenging or seems unfair to us. And when we step out in faith, He provides the strength and ability.
It’s important to remember that biblical forgiveness is not about feelings. Sometimes we won’t feel like forgiving. The servant in the parable probably didn’t feel like serving his master when he was hot and tired and hungry himself, but he did it as an act of obedience. So too, we are to forgive as an act of obedience, as an act of our will.
We’ve been reading about all the offerings under the Levitical system. Notice that a sin offering had to be made for Aaron and his sons just like all the rest of the people (8.14).
Even those God has placed in the ministry as leaders today are imperfect men and women. They are neither sinless nor infallible.
All of us must walk constantly in the truth of the Gospel. You might think, “Well, I accepted the Gospel once so that has nothing to do with me any longer.” It is true that when we accept the Gospel (the free gift of Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, His forgiveness and cleansing, and are made His sons and daughters), it’s a one-time decision. But it is, also, true that until we get to heaven, we will have the pull of sin constantly at work in us (Rom. 7.13-25).
We need to run back to the cross and remember that it’s only by His grace that we are able to walk in obedience, rather than any inherent goodness in us. The Apostle Paul said:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find” (Rom. 7.18).
When we realize we have sinned, we can run back to the cross. The same grace that saved us is available to help us live the Christian life. God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness when we confess our sin (1 Jn. 1.9).
Some have called this “preaching the Gospel to yourself.” We need to remind ourselves that He died for all of our sins: past, present, and future.
The more we contemplate that and understand His goodness, mercy, and grace, rather than giving us a license to sin, it should give us a greater desire to please Him in return.
For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk.7.47 NASB).
Verse 7, “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.”
According to Matthew Henry in his Commentary on the Whole Bible, this pictures Christ’s ascension into heaven after His death and resurrection, and the welcome He received there. He paid the price with His blood for entry, not just for Himself, but for us, also, so that we can enter in with Him! What good news!
Verse 12 says, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”
We are constantly reminded in Scripture that we alone are responsible for our acceptance or rejection of truth (Ezek. 18.20; 2 Cor. 5.10). We can’t blame our pastors or our teachers or our family. The Word and the wisdom that goes with it are there for all to see and to accept or reject.
That, also, means we are responsible for our own spiritual growth and for whether or not we are hearing solid biblical teaching. No matter where we attend church or whose teaching we sit under, we must be good Bereans. Continue reading →
In the introduction to the “Lord’s Prayer,” Jesus addresses motives. Why do we do what we do, whether praying, fasting, giving, or reading through the Bible?
Our goal in anything should be the same as Paul’s was in 2 Corinthians 5.9.
“I make it my ambition [some translations say goal or aim] whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to the Lord.”
Paul was saying, I want to please God with my life whether through life or through death. There may be other appropriate goals, but pleasing God should be our primary goal in life.
When it comes to reading His Word, what would be pleasing to Him? Not to gather a lot of Bible knowledge so we can impress others. Not to say we did it. Not to check one more thing off our to-do list.
We are to discipline ourselves to read and study and meditate on God’s Word for the purpose of becoming more like Christ (1 Tim. 4.7) and, like Mary, so we will come to know Him better by sitting at His feet (Lk. 10.38-42).
So as we start this new year in God’s Word, let’s read more thoughtfully. Let’s take time to ask God how we should apply it to specific areas of our lives and pray for His grace to make those changes.
“Lord, teach us to pray”
Verses 5-13 contain a great outline for prayer. In the parallel passage in Luke 11, one of the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” That request was followed by this model prayer. Rather than praying it repetitiously, try taking each phrase and expanding on it in your own words.
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” – We should let worship be the starting point. You might pray one or more of the names of God or talk to Him about His various attributes. Continue reading →
You may think you know the story of Jonah, but there is so much more for us to learn from his book. There is the fact that disobedience and running from God can land us in some pretty nasty circumstances. But there is, also, a great lesson in God’s mercy and willingness to forgive in the rest of the story.
Our New Testament reading is from Revelation 8 with the beginning of the seven trumpet judgments. The first four are horrible enough, but before the fifth one sounds an angel cries, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet …”
Most of us grew up hearing the story of Jonah in Sunday school or at least had some vague idea of what it was all about. But there is so much more to be learned from this little book.
Jonah received a call from God to go to the capital of Assyria, the city of Nineveh. The Assyrians were the enemies of Israel and Judah. Instead of obeying God he got on a ship going in the opposite direction only to have God bring a fierce storm against the ship. He ended up being thrown overboard, though reluctantly, by the crew when they realized that it was the only way to save the ship and themselves. Jonah 1:
13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the LORD and said, “We pray, O LORD, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the LORD and took vows.
They recognized God’s hand in what was happening, and the text says they feared Him and offered sacrifices to Him. Even God’s judgment can cause people to turn to Him.
Back to Jonah himself. Don’t you wonder what it was like to be inside that fish’s belly for three days and three nights? God knows just how to get our attention. We don’t know everything that went through his mind, but chapter 2 gives us some insight:
1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the fish’s belly. 2 And he said.
“I cried out to the LORD because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
Even though he had been disobedient and was running from God, he turned back to Him in his time of trouble.
He knew God was faithful:
4 Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
7 “ When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the LORD;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
8 “Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
9 But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the LORD.”
10 So the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.”
In chapters 31 and 32 God continues to speak to Egypt, perhaps more as a warning to His people that they could no longer turn to worldly powers like Egypt for help and protection. In chapter 31 He compared Egypt to a great tree under which many had taken refuge, but which was about to be broken and destroyed.
Egypt is also a picture of the world and the world’s system. As a nation, we have attempted to live under that system. We have tried to legislate morality, tolerance, and equality. We have expected the government to provide for every need or imagined need, but our system, too, is broken.
The problem is the world’s version of morality, tolerance and equality is not one based on God’s Word and His standard. We are expected to “tolerate” things that are contrary to biblical morality. Equality is no longer about equal opportunity to work hard and make your way in the world, it’s about taking from one and giving to another. And morality is a morality that turns biblical morality on its ear.
No matter how much we “tinker” with our broken system, as long as it’s based on a faulty foundation, it will never have the ability to fix what is wrong in our nation. As believers we must look to God in our own lives and pray for genuine heart change in the lives of others. Continue reading →
God will not play spiritual pat-a-cake with us by allowing us to seek His help while we continue turning to our idols and self-efforts. If God doesn’t seem to be answering our prayers, maybe we need to ask ourselves, “Am I playing spiritual games with God?”
As you’re reading the book of Ezekiel, it might help to remember that this book does not follow Jeremiah chronologically. Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah, although Jeremiah was about 20 years older and began his prophetic ministry over 30 years earlier. Their prophecies about the fall of Jerusalem and the various deportations cover the same events, but while Jeremiah was prophesying to the people in Jerusalem and later in Egypt where he was forced to go late in his ministry, Ezekiel was prophesying in Babylon to those who had been taken captive.
In chapter 20, some of the elders of Israel living in captivity came to Ezekiel and asked him to seek the Lord on their behalf. But it’s obvious from God’s response that, despite coming to the prophet, they continued with their idolatry.
Sometimes we forget that the events of the Old Testament are historically true. These were real people and real events.
And if we’re honest, at the heart level, they were not that much different from us. How many times have we prayed and asked God for help and wisdom while we continue to try to work things out in our own strength and in our own way? How often have we turned to our idols for help (something sweet to comfort ourselves, a drink to help us relax, buying something to lift our spirits …) or manipulation (getting angry, pouting, crying, withholding affection …) in order to control someone or something? Continue reading →
Even if we have been forgiven by God, it doesn’t excuse us from making restitution to people we have wronged.
Is there someone from your past to whom you need to make restitution? Restitution is restoring or paying back something that has been lost, stolen or damaged. Is there someone you need to go to and seek forgiveness? Is there a letter you need to write or a call you need to make?
I love this little book. There are some great principles contained in these 25 verses.
Paul was writing to Philemon about a runaway slave by the name of Onesimus. In God’s providence Onesimus had met Paul in Rome and received the gospel. Now Paul was sending him back to his master to make restitution and to submit himself to the authority that God had originally placed him under.
8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ— 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.
12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.
Here is Paul, the great apostle, he could easily have just told Philemon what he needed to do, but instead, he appealed to him as a brother and a friend.
In Mark 10.42-43 Jesus said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.”
Like Onesimus, just because God forgives us for our sins when we put our faith and trust in Him, it doesn’t mean we don’t need to make restitution to people we’ve hurt or wronged in some way.
Is there someone from your past to whom you need to make restitution? Restitution is restoring or paying back something that has been lost, stolen or damaged. Is there someone you need to go to and seek forgiveness? Is there a letter you need to write or a call you need to make? Perhaps that other person hurt you, too, but have you taken responsibility for your part without blameshifting or minimizing your sin?
In the midst of Jeremiah’s grief over the fall of his nation he came back to this in chapter 3:
21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
25 The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the LORD.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
His compassions fail not. Great is His faithfulness. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion!
Is there an area of grief or heartache in your life? If so, spend some time meditating on this passage. Continue reading →
Here in chapter 2 Paul begins talking about some of the events that will take place leading up to the “Day of the Lord.” He speaks of a “falling away,” “the man of sin,” and “the son of perdition.”
About this man of sin he says:
He “… opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (v. 4).
And, “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (vv. 9-10).
Once the church has been raptured, a man will come to power. He will look to many to be a savior. He’ll appear to be a man of peace, but he will be an impostor. He is sometimes called the anti-Christ. He is not the devil himself, but he will be controlled by the devil.
The rapture will be followed by a seven-year period called “the Tribulation.” During the first 3 ½ years anti-Christ will keep up much of his charade as he consolidates his power, but mid-way through the Tribulation, he will go into the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem and set himself up to be worshiped, as Paul said “he sits as God in the temple of God.”
Daniel called this the “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 11-12) and Jesus used the same phrase in talking about the events of the last days (Matt. 24.15; Mk. 13.14). This will set in motion the events leading up to the 2nd Coming of Christ—the “Day of the Lord.”
While it’s clear that no one knows the day or the time, it’s probably much closer than many want to believe! In the meantime, we need to be praying and interceding for our nation just as Daniel did for his. Pray for the repentance of our people and godly wisdom for our leaders.
And be part of His faithful remnant. Seek to be on God’s side concerning the issues that matter to Him. One way is to stand up for the lives of the thousands and thousands of babies who are being murdered legally in this country and around the world. Otherwise, their blood is on our hands.
9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 Now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.
Even if we are not directly involved in the abortion industry (and it is an industry, producing a great deal of wealth for those participating), we cannot look the other way. We are our brothers’ keepers. Will we stand with God when their blood is crying out to Him?
A note to anyone who has had an abortion or is contemplating one:
Are there some sins so unforgivable that there is no hope? What does the Bible say? What if I can’t forgive myself? What if I was a Christian when I had an abortion?
First, if you’re reading this and are contemplating an abortion. Please go to a godly friend, a pastor or Christian Pregnancy Help Center. No matter what your situation, there is help. God loves you and your baby and He doesn’t want you to do something you’ll regret for the rest of your life. If you don’t know where to go or who to talk to, leave me your name and number or email in the comments section. I WILL NOT publish your comment, but I will contact you and help you find the support you need.
But, if you have had an abortion in the past don’t run from God, turn to Him. No where in the Bible does it say we must forgive ourselves. Instead, we must be willing to humble ourselves, confess our sin to God, and accept His gracious gift of forgiveness.
Every one of us has committed sins against God and all sin is deserving of death (Rom. 3.23, 6.23), but the good news of the gospel is that Jesus died for guilty sinners LIKE ME and YOU! Go and read John 3.16. Then open your bible to the book of Romans.
There is forgiveness for an abortion! But you must go to God and admit your sin. Admit that you know you deserve to die (Rom. 6.23). Read Romans 3.23, 6.23, 5.8, 10.9-10, 13). Tell Him that you believe what Jesus did for you. He lived a sinless life and then willingly died in your place. Then call out to Him! Ask for His forgiveness. Surrender your life completely to Him and ask Him to help you live for Him (2 Cor. 5.15).
What if you were already a Christian when you had an abortion? Is there forgiveness available to you? Being a Christian isn’t a license to sin and we can’t sin with our fingers crossed behind our backs and then use His grace like a “get-out-of-jail-card,” but if you are sincerely repentant for what you did, He will forgive you (1 Jn. 1.9)!