“Risky Faith” April 8

 

Risky Faith - 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.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.

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 5 & 6
Psalm 42.6-11
Proverbs 13.19-21
Luke 9.18-36

 

Risky Faith

 

Joshua 5 & 6:

A Hill of Foreskins

 

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” 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.

 

Risky Faith

 

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.

tree rootsSometimes, 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).

But, as believers, we shouldn’t go looking for persecution. We need to be wise and prayerful. Rod Dreher, in his book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, says:  Continue reading

“The Whole Counsel of God” December 10

 

Does your church teach the whole counsel of God? - Do you attend a church that is teaching God's Word in its entirety, the full counsel of God, or just the easy to swallow parts ... those that don't make you uncomfortable?Do you attend a church that is teaching God’s Word in its entirety, the full counsel of God, or just the easy to swallow parts … those that don’t make you uncomfortable?

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 11 & 12
Psalm 139.17-24
Proverbs 29.22
Jude 1-25

 

The Whole Counsel of God

 

Jude 1-25:

False Teachers & Our Own Hearts

 

The introduction to Jude in Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says:

“This epistle is addressed to all believers in the gospel. Its design appears to be to guard believers against the false teachers who had begun to creep into the Christian church, and to scatter dangerous tenets, by attempting to lower all Christianity into a merely nominal belief and outward profession of the gospel. Having thus denied the obligations of personal holiness, they taught their disciples to live in sinful courses, at the same time flattering them with the hope of eternal life. The vile character of these seducers is shown, and their sentence is denounced, and the epistle concludes with warnings, admonitions, and counsels to believers.”

Jeremiah said our own hearts are deceitful (Jer. 17.9). They will lull us to sleep where nominal Christianity and sin are concerned. If that’s not dangerous enough, there are false teachers and others who preach a watered down version of truth that allows us to be comfortable in our sin, if not trust in outright error.

God is a God of grace and mercy and patience. But that doesn’t mean that we should get comfortable with our own sin. A heart that has truly been reborn by the Spirit of God is a heart with new desires and we need to grow those righteous desires by attending a church where the Word of God is being preached from cover to cover, not just the comfortable parts. We need to know and understand the whole counsel of God.

We also need to cultivate friendships with people who will encourage us to grow and change, not make it easier for us to remain spiritual babies. Proverbs 27.5-6:  Continue reading

“Bad Company & Politics” November 24

 

Bad Company Corrupts Good Morals

Bad company corrupts good morals. That is true of friends, advisers, co-workers, business partners, spouses, and anyone else with whom we spend a great deal of time. It’s true in our personal lives, in our work lives, and Proverbs tells us, even in politics.

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 39 & 40
Psalm 132.10-18
Proverbs 29.5
James 5.1-20

 

Bad Company & Politics

 

Proverbs 29.5:

Bad Company Corrupts Morals & Politics

 

“Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.”

The king represented their system of government. Romans tells us “bad company corrupts good morals.” That is true in politics, as well as, in our personal lives. Let’s pray that our president-elect, politicians and other leaders would surround themselves with godly counselors.

But we also need to be wise in our personal choices of friends and associates.

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6.14).

Bad company corrupts good morals

We can’t always choose our co-workers, but we can be wise about how much time we spend with them during breaks and after work. We can be careful not to listen to gossip, complaining or advise from those who are ungodly.

If we’re already married to an unbeliever we need to fill our hearts and minds with God’s truth and seek to love them biblically while continuing to be salt and light. If we’re single we should only date someone who would be a godly spouse.

We need to choose our friends wisely. It’s not that we should never spend time with unbelievers, but our closest friends should be those who love God and will speak truth into our lives not tell us what we want to hear all the time.  Continue reading

“Uncommon Friends” August 3

 

uncommon friends

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

 

Proverbs 22.10-11:

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 friendshipThis 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

December 10 “True friends”

true friendsFriends who are true friends will encourage us to grow and change, not make it easier for us to remain spiritual babies.

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 11 & 12
Psalm 139.17-24
Proverbs 29.22
Jude 1-25

Hosea 11 & 12:

God’s redeeming love

God’s love is not a pampering love, but a redeeming love. The nation of Israel was ungrateful and disobedient and He would allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions, but He would eventually restore them because of His love and mercy.

 

prayer, biblePsalm 139.17-24:

Search me, O God

Like the Psalmist in verses 23-24, we should pray:

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
 Try me, and know my anxieties;
 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
 And lead me in the way everlasting.

Our hearts are so deceitful that we can be blinded to our own sin. Jeremiah 17.9-10a says: Continue reading

August 3 “Uncommon friends”

imagesCAUOIYKS

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

June 6 “Friends who will speak the truth – have any?”

All of us need friends who will speak the truth, but, many of us choose those who will tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear.

friends who will speak the truth

Today’s Readings:
1 Kings 21 & 22
Psalm 71.1-8
Proverbs 18.3-5
John 15.1-27

1 Kings 21 & 22:

The cost of doing right

What a great reminder in chapter 21, the story of Naboth, that sometimes when we do what’s right there is a cost. There are times in our lives when we obey God in some area and it looks like it isn’t working out so well, but we have to leave it in the hands of a sovereign God and trust that He knows just what He’s doing!

Yet, there are times, as in Naboth’s case, when it costs something very precious to us, possibly even our lives.

Last year I read Eric Metaxas’ book Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. (If you enjoy biographies or history or you just want a deeper understanding of what it means to be a believer in difficult times, I highly recommend the book.)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian and pastor. He was one of the few men who stood up to Hitler and it cost him his life. He was hanged (in an act of sheer revenge on Hitler’s part) just 3 weeks before the war ended. He was only 39 years old when he died, but his life, his writings, and his story have impacted generations. Continue reading

May 22 “Friendships: kisses & winks”

Friendships can be confusing. Sometimes those who appear to be our friends turn out to be our enemies, at least spiritually, and our worst critics can be truer friends.

friendships

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 15 & 16
Psalm 66.8-15
Proverbs 16.27-30
John 7.1-27

2 Samuel 15 & 16:

Trusting in the sovereignty of God

We see David’s trust in the sovereignty of God in these two chapters. In 15.26 David instructs the priest, “Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus. “I have no delight in you,” here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him.'”

Then in chapter 16 Shimei one of Saul’s descendants follows David and his men cursing and throwing stones at him and Abishai, one of his generals, offers to take off Shimei’s head!

David responds by saying, “So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ And David said to Abishai and all his servants, ‘See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”

Responding to our critics

criticism

This is a great example of how we should respond to criticism in our lives. Whether or not the criticism is justified, God has allowed it for some purpose. If it’s unfair or ill-intended, allow God to deal with it.

Romans 12, “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Proverbs 12.15 says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” It’s so easy for us to dismiss any counsel or criticism we don’t like, but over and over in Proverbs and other places in the Bible we are encouraged to listen. Even when criticism is unfair on untrue, there is generally a nugget of truth in it. So listen, take it to the Lord, and leave your critic in God’s hands. Continue reading