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?” Continue reading →
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? Continue reading →
Is there forgiveness for an abortion or are there some sins for which we never find redemption?
And what if you’re contemplating an abortion? Have you justified something that you know is wrong? Have you bought into the world’s philosophy in this area? Or are you scared and don’t know what else to do?
Also read about the Rapture, the Tribulation, and how believers can be a part of what God is doing in the world. Continue reading →
Have you ever heard someone say, “I might as well live it up, I’m going to hell anyway?” Or maybe that’s you. No matter what you’ve done, God is willing and able to forgive you, but you must come to Him. Don’t let another day pass. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Continue reading →
God clearly commands us, even as adults, to honor and respect our parents. Yet, many of us grew up in homes that were less than perfect. How do we honor parents when we believe they failed us in some way?
Verse 23, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”
Matthew 13.45-46 says:
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
We should be willing to get God’s truth no matter what the cost and once we have gotten it, we should not be willing to give it up, not for wealth or fame or popularity or anything else.
Adult Children & Their Parents
As a counselor, some of the most frequent problems I see in marriages involve a failure to properly “leave and cleave.” Spouses fail to make their husbands and wives the primary human relationship. They run first to their parents when there is a problem instead of communicating biblically with their spouses. They may continue to support their parents financially against their spouse’s wishes or neglect their own family unit in other ways.
This is unbiblical and hinders the one-flesh relationship God intended in marriage. Yet, the Bible clearly calls us to honor our parents, no matter what our age.
“Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old” (v. 22).
“Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice” (v. 25).
But how do you honor parents who failed in some way?
Honoring Imperfect Parents
We live in a fallen world. I don’t know anyone who grew up in a perfect home. I know I made mistakes, many of them, when raising my children. So did my parents and your parents.
I also know many adult children who refuse to see their childhood through God’s eyes. Instead, often because of unforgiveness and bitterness, they continue to view their childhood through a childish lens. As children, we all have a narrow understanding of the world. We only know how decisions and circumstances affected us. We don’t usually see the big picture.
Children may blame a single mom for leaving a marriage and destroying their home. They may never know that their father was an adulterer or an abuser because their mother didn’t want to destroy their relationship with him.
Children in blended families sometimes resent a step-parent without ever appreciating the difficulties, financial strains, and sacrifice parents and step-parents make. All they can see is that this person was NOT their biological parent. That thinking breeds resentment and rebellion in childhood and a lack of grace and thankfulness in adulthood. They may only see what they perceived as unfairness without considering their own difficult, rebellious attitudes and how that complicated the relationship.
One of the biggest issues is favoritism or perceived favoritism. Certainly, parents need to avoid sinfully favoring or comparing one child to another. Parents are not blameless in this. Continue reading →
Did you notice the title of this Psalm? “A Prayer of Moses the Man of God.” I love the way God remembers the good and not the bad. A few days ago in Nehemiah, David was called “the man of God.” Did God forget about David’s adultery? Did He forget that Moses struck the rock when he was told to speak to it?
He didn’t “forget,” He chose to “not remember”!
Lori Wilhite and Brandi Wilson, in their book Leading and Loving It, have this to say about “not remembering”:
We love this anecdote that author Linda Dillow shares [in her book Calm My Anxious Heart], about Clara Barton, founder of the Red Cross. Clara was reminded of a vicious deed someone had done to her years before.
“Don’t you remember it?” her friend asked. “No,” came Clara’s reply, “I distinctly remember forgetting it.” She had made a conscious choice to forgive a vicious deed, a conscious choice to continue forgiving when reminded of the deed. By replying, “I distinctly remember forgetting it,” Clara Barton was saying, “I remember choosing to forgive, and I still choose to forgive.”
Forgiveness is both a decision and a process. The decision is choosing to “not remember” and the process includes reminding ourselves of that and leaving the situation in God’s hands.
As believers, all our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. God chooses to “not remember” them against us(Is. 43.25) and He asks us to imitate Him (Eph. 5.1) and to choose to forgive just as He has forgiven us (Eph. 4.32).
In reality, “not remembering” is different from “forgetting.” God doesn’t have amnesia and neither do we. When we sin, that sin is a debt we owe to God and others (Matt. 18.21-35). God chooses to not charge that debt to our account, but to charge it to Jesus’ account and that account was paid in full on the cross.
Today’s Other Readings:
Esther 5 & 6:
Where is God?
God is always at work, on behalf of His people, even when we can’t see what He is doing. In the book of Esther, there is no prophet, no direct words from God. God’s activities are not, at first, apparent.
But He causes a pagan king to suffer a sleepless night and to ask his servant to read to him—from a government record. What an unlikely “bedtime story.” Then God has the reader go to something that happened five years previously, concerning one of His servants, Mordecai, and his loyalty to the King! As you will remember from yesterday’s reading, Mordecai is in wicked Haman’s crosshairs. Continue reading →
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 →