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 →
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)!
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.
In chapter 13 God used an object lesson to illustrate the filthy spiritual condition of the people. He had the prophet bury a dirty sash (probably an undergarment) in a hole instead of washing it. He was instructed to leave it there until it began to rot. Then in verse 10 God said:
“This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing.”
Their sin and rebellion had rendered them useless to God!
These people thought since they were God’s people, that they could live any way they wanted. They could “follow the dictates of their own hearts.”
Today, one message the world sends is “follow your heart,” but another passage in Jeremiah says:
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? (Jer. 17.9 NLT).
So our wicked hearts tell us we are OK with God because we had some experience, prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, got baptized, or became the member of a certain church. Our ticket to heaven has been punched. So we …
… act selfishly at home with our spouses and children.
… make work or friends or children or a hundred other things a higher priority than our personal relationship with God.
… drink to excess, feel justified in our anger, refuse to forgive, or dozens of other things that God says are sin.
When we do, we, too, become just like Jeremiah’s sash—“profitable for nothing”! We negate our testimonies, especially in the eyes of the people closest to us. “Following the dictates of our own heart” is our own undoing!
As I read back through this passage and thought about this post, I remembered a comment that Michele Morin made last year about Elisabeth Elliot. I tried to find the quote, but I didn’t succeed. Maybe Michele will remember and share it with us. 🙂 It had to do with being able to trust our own hearts more as we matured in Christ.
I believe that lines up with Psalm 37.4 which says God will give us the desires of our hearts. This verse is often misunderstood to mean God gives us whatever we want. But let’s look at it in context: 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.
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 a false assurance of peace in their relationship 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 in 2 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 →
Verses 28- 29 “Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm, so that its waves are still.”
God has complete and sovereign control of His world, including the elements. And He has the same control over the events of our lives. If you are in a storm today, first and foremost, decide to put your complete faith and trust in Him. If you are truly one of His children and you keep your eyes on Him, He has promised that he will never allow that storm to be greater than you can handle without sinning (1 Cor. 10.13).
But He also wants you to ask for His help. Verse 28 in our reading says “Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble …” James said we have not because we ask not (Jas. 4.1), and Jesus said in Luke 18.1, “…that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” Call out to Him.
That 1 Corinthians 10 passage tells us that “… God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able …” That means if we choose to sin in response to our trial or storm, it’s just that—a choice to sin! Nothing—no one, no circumstance can force us to sin! We choose!
Chapter 26.1-4 is a picture of the church and its blessings. Verse 1 says we have “salvation for walls and bulwarks” and verse 3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
There is great protection in being a part of a good biblical church. The flip side of that is illustrated in a couple of New Testament passages.
Matthew 18.15-17 says:
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
In other words, let him be considered as an unbeliever.
In 1 Corinthians 5.4-5 Paul told the believers concerning a man involved in sexual sin:
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
These two passages talk about putting someone outside the fellowship or membership of the church. This is sometimes called “church discipline” or excommunication. As you can see from the 1 Corinthians passage, Satan has much more freedom to attack someone when he or she is outside the fellowship. But the reverse is also true; when you become a member of a biblical church and submit yourself to its authority, you have the protection of that body like an umbrella over you. 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