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 →
The world says, “follow your heart.” But the Bible has something entirely different to say about the heart. Also read about God’s discipline of His children, godly friendship, and how Paul handled the need to offer constructive criticism. Continue reading →
Because something is popular, a religious tradition, or “the way we’ve always done it,” doesn’t make it biblical. In today’s Old Testament passage, God condemns the nation of Israel for their false religion and idolatry. Centuries later, when a Samaritan woman met Jesus and pointed out what was popular in her religious tradition, He told her, “… those who worship [God] must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4.24)—spirit, with the right heart attitude, and truth, according to His commands. Let’s not be among those who have itching ears, wishing to hear only what we want to hear.
I know I run the risk of offending some today. I pray that I don’t, but even more, I pray that if you are you will dig into God’s Word and prayerfully seek the truth for yourself.
Itching Ears, False Worship & the Queen of Heaven
Jeremiah 7 & 8:
The prophet continues along the same lines as yesterday’s reading, even repeating some of the same phrases.
In chapter 8 Jeremiah again speaks specifically to false teachers, priests and prophets:
10 … Everyone is given to covetousness;
From the prophet even to the priest
Everyone deals falsely.
11 For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace.
Once again he condemns them for giving the people a false assurance of peace concerning their relationships with God.
He also condemns the people themselves because they were listening to falsehood. Even though our leaders are responsible for what they teach, we are responsible to make sure what we’re hearing and learning lines up with God’s Word! Because something is popular or “the way we’ve always done it” does not make it biblically sound.
Many people form their theological views by listening to preachers and teachers whose style or messages they like without going to God’s Word for themselves. Paul told Timothy:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Tim. 4.2-4).
Some things that are being taught by very popular teachers are not biblically sound; they are fables. God is not some genie in a bottle waiting to give us everything we want or keep us from going through difficulties.
It’s been said before, but He is more concerned with our character than our comfort and more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. This is not your best life now; this is where He is growing and maturing you into the likeness of His Son. As believers our best life is to come. This world is not our home. Our home is in heaven and the best is yet to come!
It’s not that God wants us beaten down and miserable, but He wants us to find our happiness, our peace, our contentment, and our satisfaction in Him. We will never find happiness in the things of creation, only in our wonderful Creator! As the psalmist invites us in Psalm 34:
8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
9 Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints! There is no want to those who fear Him.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.
Jeremiah 7 also addresses false religious practices:
16 “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you. 17 Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? 18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.
God said have no other gods before Me (Ex. 20.3), that includes the worship of saints and even the Virgin Mary. Jesus honored His mother as a faithful son should. He saw to it that she would be cared for after His death (Jn. 19.24-27), but He did not honor her as someone to be worshiped or who was greater than other believers. Luke 8.20-21: Continue reading →
Chapter 27 ends with the list of David’s closest advisers. It says in verse 33, “Ahithophel was the king’s counselor, and Hushai the Archite was the king’s companion.” These two men were probably David’s two closest friends, people he trusted and confided in. But sadly, one of them would later betray him. David wrote about it in Psalm 55. Verses 12-14 recall the anguish he felt:
12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.
13 But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.
14 We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng.
Our spiritual ancestors experienced the same struggles and disappointments we do. Perhaps you have experienced some betrayal by a friend or even a spouse. Maybe you’re undergoing some other kind of hurt or rejection. If so, go to the psalms and find comfort from God’s Word, knowing that others have gone through similar things and come out the other side.
While God through His Word can bring us great comfort, His work in us doesn’t stop there. He wants to grow and change us through our trials, even when we are deeply hurt. In the process, He may use us to bring either restoration to the relationship or conviction to the offender.
First we need to pray and give the hurt to God. Then we should examine ourselves and ask God to show us where we might have contributed to what happened. That doesn’t mean we are responsible for someone else’s sin, but we are responsible for our own actions or reactions.
Perhaps we see that we were a small portion of the problem. If so, we should take 100% of the responsibility for our 5% or 10%. That might mean going to our offender and asking forgiveness without blame-shifting or minimizing what we did.
Our tendency, even when we’re willing to go to them, is to say, “I’m sorry I lost my temper when you hurt me so badly.” In other words, I’m sorry I did it, but it’s really your fault! Instead, we should simply say, “I’m sorry I lost my temper. Will you forgive me?”
Next is the hard part! We are not to expect anything in return. They may confess their wrongdoing or they may not! Either way, we are only responsible for ourselves.
I can hear the cries now, “So he or she just gets a pass on what they did?!” Continue reading →
The cost of doing right may mean risking a friendship or popularity. It could mean the loss of a job or finances. Sometimes it costs something very precious to us to stand up for righteousness. But it’s important to remember that everything in our lives is filtered through God’s loving, omnipotent hands. We are to be salt and light and trust Him for the results.
We, not only need to be willing to stand up for righteousness ourselves, but we need friends who will speak the truth to us. Too often we choose those who will tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear. Others, especially unbelievers, actually hate the truth because it interferes with their lifestyles.
On Hating Truth, Godly Friends & the Cost of Doing Right
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, as in Naboth’s case, when it costs something very precious to us, possibly even our lives. but we have to leave it in the hands of a sovereign God and trust that He knows just what He’s doing!
a couple of years ago, 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.
Hating the Truth
Another important passage appears in 22.7-8:
“And Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?’ So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, ‘There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.'”
“I hate him” because he doesn’t tell me what I want to hear! Maybe you have had that response from someone to whom you spoke truth. Continue reading →
Friendships can be confusing. Sometimes those who appear to be our friends turn out to be our enemies, at least spiritually, and our critics can be truer friends.
But what about unfair criticism or people who simply attack us? How should we handle it when we believe criticism is unjustified or motives are evil? Can God truly use those situations for good?
2 Samuel 15 & 16
Friends & Enemies: Kisses, Winks & Whispers
2 Samuel 15 & 16:
The Sovereignty of God When People Whisper & Criticize
In these two chapters, we see David’s trust in the sovereignty of God in what must have been two very difficult situations.
First, the broken relationship between him and his son Absalom has lead to bitterness and now rebellion on Absalom’s part. He has been secretly plotting to overthrow his father by deceiving the people. He is now on his way to take Jerusalem.
David gets word and is fleeing the city along with his household and hundreds of his men. When Zadok the Priest joins him, David says:
“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'” (15.26).
Then in chapter 16, Shimei, one of former King Saul’s descendants, follows David and his men cursing and throwing stones at him. 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
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, we can trust God to deal with it. Continue reading →
We’re all counselors. We’re counseling our friends when they seek our advice. We’re counseling our children when they come home crying because they weren’t invited to the party, they’re struggling in school, or suffering the consequences of a poor decision. We’re counseling others when we write our blogs, teach a Bible study, or lead a Sunday school class.
We’re all counselors. The question is … are we counseling well or not. Are we counseling from our experience? Are we counseling according to popular culture? Or are we counseling according to God’s Word?
While neither I, nor the author, want to reduce the Bible to a set of verses on any given subject, the Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Women can help you be a better, more biblical counselor, friend, mom, dad or teacher by leading you to pertinent passages of Scripture.
From the introduction:
The Bible is the grand story of God’s glory manifested in his rescue and restoration of his good but fallen and broken creation. This story is woven through every book in the Bible.
In Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling Women, each of the topics and verses is a window into the grand mansion that is the Bible. As marvelous as the view is through the windows, it is only when we step inside the grand house— rest in its rooms, explore its many passages and balconies, enjoy its beauty and light— that we will be truly transformed.
When we encounter this grand home’s Master and Maker— Jesus Christ, whose name is written on every wall and reflected on every surface— we will know at last that we are truly home.
The Bible is not just a reference; it is so much more. Please do not get bogged down in the topics or the references. Take time to read, study, memorize, and meditate on the precious Word of God. Let it saturate your life. Keep exploring this mansion for the rest of your life!
They [God’s Words] are not just idle words for you— they are your life. Deuteronomy 32: 47 NIV