Most of us know someone whose life has been turned upside down by the sin of adultery. Perhaps that is you. While it is not the unforgivable sin, the effect of adultery is often devastating, affecting our relationships with others, even our children, our finances, and our testimonies. But none of those things is the worst consequence.
Most of us know someone whose life has been devastated by the sin of adultery. Perhaps that is you. While I have seen many marriages restored and even made better, the journey is hard and in many cases, restoration never happens. Instead, families, children, finances, and testimonies are destroyed.
There are many sins which have the consequences already built in. Thinking we can fool around with any kind of sexual immorality without devastating consequences is like thinking we can jump off a building and not have gravity affect us!
If there is one area where the Bible has strong warnings, it has to do with our relationships, especially the danger of sexual immorality and other inappropriate relationships!
But there is an even greater consequence; that is the effect it has on the person’s relationship with God.
Verse 32 says, “Whoever commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding and he who does so destroys his own soul.”
Notice the last part of that verse. It says, “… he who does so destroys his own soul.” Continue reading →
Verse 2 says, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.”
Anyone who has been around a newborn baby knows they crave milk and will let you know when they want more! John MacArthur (MacArthur Daily Bible) says, “Spiritual growth is always marked by a craving for and a delight in God’s Word.”
A baby who had no appetite for milk and refused to eat would soon be malnourished, even sick and we can’t grow spiritually without a steady intake of God’s Word. Neither will we grow in the quality of our relationship with God without getting to know Him, His attributes, His promises, and learning to recognize His voice.
Do you “delight” in God’s Word? Do you crave it like a baby craves milk? If not, pray and ask God to give you a hunger for His Word.
Peter was writing to believers who were suffering intense persecution in a very ungodly society! He was teaching them how to respond to persecution, mistreatment and the ungodliness of others.
He didn’t say, “Get mad, gossip, or rebel.” Neither did he say, “Act like everyone else” or “When in Rome do as the Romans do.” Instead he said in chapter 2:
11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man …
Do you believe Jesus is coming back soon? Does your life reflect that belief? How should you live in light of that truth?
The alternative is to live like the people in Jeremiah’s time who needed God’s rod of judgment, as we will see in our Old Testament reading. As we dig deeper into Psalm 119, we will see how knowing and contemplating God’s Word can help us steer clear of sin and grow in our understanding of God and His will.
2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
Jesus is coming back both for His church and to judge the whole earth. He is coming “like a thief in the night,” but as believers, who know His Word, we shouldn’t be caught off guard. Instead, we should live every day like we believe Jesus is coming back soon:
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
The remainder of the chapter spells out some ways we are to do that:
1. By respecting our pastors and elders and submitting to their authority (v. 12).
Hebrews 13.17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
Incidentally, October is “Pastor’s Appreciation Month.” Is there some way you could show appreciation to your Pastor? A meal? A card? A word of encouragement?
2. By being faithful in our relationships to our brothers and sisters in Christ (v.14).
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”
Sometimes we need to encourage one another. Other times we need to gently rebuke one another.
3. By not returning evil for evil, but by giving a blessing instead (v. 15). Romans 12:
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “VengeanceisMine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”[b]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
4. By rejoicing in the blessings of God and being thankful (vvs. 16, 18).
Some time has passed and the Jews have failed to heed God’s warnings through Jeremiah, but now the invaders are approaching. Skirmishes are already being fought outside the city, and the people will soon be driven back into the city itself.
Now that things are desperate, the King sends a messenger to Jeremiah asking him to intercede for them. God answers by telling them that they are not just fighting the Babylonians, but they have made themselves enemies of God Himself!
Many of us go through times in our lives, too, where we reject God’s truth, then when we get into trouble we cry out, “Oh God, help me! If You get me out of this mess, I’ll never do it again!” Continue reading →
These are challenging times to be a believer. There is a huge clash of world views. The truthfulness of God’s Word is being attacked on many fronts. Perhaps, you are being attacked personally for standing for the truth. How should a believer respond to those attacks?
These truly are challenging times to be a believer, and while it is going to get more and more intense as this world of ours spins closer and closer to the 2nd coming of Christ, it’s not new.
There was a “clash” in Jeremiah’s day, too. Chapter 11.21-23:
21 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the men of Anathoth who seek your life, saying, ‘Do not prophesy in the name of the LORD, lest you die by our hand’— 22 therefore thus says the LORD of hosts. ‘Behold, I will punish them. The young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine; 23 and there shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring catastrophe on the men of Anathoth, even the year of their punishment.’”
There were people who didn’t want to hear the truth and who threatened Jeremiah. In fact, they threatened to kill him if he continued to speak God’s truth. But God said, don’t worry about them, Jeremiah, I’ll deal with them in My time and in My way.
There will be people who are not going to like it when we speak the truth. They may be family members, co-workers, supervisors, friends or enemies. We shouldn’t be surprised by this, but how should we respond?
First, we should rejoice that we are counted worthy to suffer for His name (Acts 5.41).
We shouldn’t try to fight evil with evil. Remember Romans 12..21 tells us: Continue reading →
There will be times in all of our lives when life doesn’t make sense. It may be because of sickness or some tragedy. It may be the loss of a relationship or watching a child walk away from the Lord. It may be because of someone else’s sin or just our circumstances, but there are times when life is hard and confusing. If we’re not in one of those difficult times, what can we do now to be ready when they come?
In these two chapters Job responds to his friend Bildad. He’s confused because he holds to the same basic belief as his friends—that all troubles come as a direct result of one’s own sin. So, while he knows he’s not sinless, he struggles to understand how he deserves the degree of suffering he’s enduring.
But he holds on to the truths he does understand. In verse 32 speaking of God, he says:
“He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.”
He understands that he and God are not equals, that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are far above our thoughts (Is. 55.8-9).
Understanding that truth helped Job and can help us accept things in our lives that we don’t understand. And there will be things this side of heaven which don’t seem fair, things for which God has a higher and a bigger purpose than we know.
A pastor I know went through a dark depression years ago when his son walked away from the Lord. He said anything he had called depression before that time didn’t even come close. While he still believed the truths he had taught for many years, including the reality of God’s goodness and sovereignty, the darkness continued. Continue reading →
Is the Bible enough to help us live life in our complex world? What does it mean when we say God’s Word is inerrant and sufficient?
Daniel 3 & 4
2 Peter 1.1-21
Daniel 3 & 4:
God in the fire
These two chapters contain two of the most incredible stories of God’s power and sovereignty! First we see the “three Hebrew children,” as they are sometimes called, thrown into the fiery furnace because they refused to bow down to the golden image.
Doing so would have amounted to worshipping King Nebuchadnezzar. When they were not even scorched by the fire that had killed their executioners, Nebuchadnezzar was forced to acknowledge God’s intervention.
The kingdom departs
But even more awesome to me is the story in chapter 4. It is such a picture of God’s total and complete sovereign control of His universe and everything in it, including power and politics. God doesn’t just see into the future and reveal what He sees. God plans and purposes what He desires according to His will, His wisdom, and His good pleasure. He sometimes declares in advance what is to happen, but He is always working to bring about His desired result.
In chapter 4, God who knew Nebuchadnezzar’s heart warned him in a dream that all he had would soon be taken from him. A year later, forgetting that warning, he pridefully declared, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”
“… that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” Oh, really? (emphasis added)
Verse 31, “While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven. ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!’” Continue reading →
Chapter 4.1-5, Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. 2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. 3 It was like the appearance of the vision which I saw—like the vision which I saw when I came to destroy the city. The visions were like the vision which I saw by the River Chebar; and I fell on my face. 4 And the glory of the LORD came into the temple by way of the gate which faces toward the east. 5 The Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple.
Matthew Henry had this to say about this chapter, “After Ezekiel had surveyed the temple of God, he had a vision of the glory of God and it caused him to fall on his face. When Christ crucified, and the things freely given to us by God, through Him, are shown to us by the Holy Ghost, they make us ashamed for our sins. This frame of mind prepares us for fuller discoveries of the mysteries of redeeming love …”
Genuine conversion causes us to see our sin for what it really is—an offense against a Holy God. Only then can we fully understand the love and grace and mercy of God. When we see ourselves in comparison to Him and His holiness and seek to please Him through His empowering grace, He will take us yet deeper into His truths. Continue reading →
Just because we have been saved and forgiven by God for sins we committed in the past, doesn’t excuse us from making restitution to people we have hurt or wronged. Is there someone from your past to whom you need to make restitution? Is there someone whom you have hurt and never sought forgiveness?
In the midst of Jeremiah’s grief over the fall of his nation he came back to this in chapter 3.21-33:
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.
27 It is good for a man to bear
The yoke in his youth.
28 Let him sit alone and keep silent,
Because God has laid it on him;
29 Let him put his mouth in the dust—
There may yet be hope.
30 Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him,
And be full of reproach.
31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.
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!
All of God’s Word is valuable for teaching us to live a God-honoring life, but today’s New Testament reading contains a great synopsis. And what about God’s patience? I wonder how many times we have gotten upset with God for allowing something when He had been patiently waiting and warning.
God’s patience truly is remarkable. When we read a story compressed into a few verses or a chapter or two of Scripture it’s easy to lose sight of the time frame. Chapter 52 begins:
“Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem … He also did evil in the sight of the Lord” (vv. 1-2). Verses 4 & 5, “Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign … that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.” Continue reading →
How do you view the Bible? Do you see it as a cafeteria line where you pick and choose what you like? Do you cut and paste the Bible at will? Do you view it merely as a book of nice suggestions for living?
22 Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning on the hearth before him. 23 And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe’s knife and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. 24 Yet they were not afraid, nor did they tear their garments, the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words. 25 Nevertheless Elnathan, Delaiah, and Gemariah implored the king not to burn the scroll; but he would not listen to them. 26 And the king commanded Jerahmeel the king’s son, Seraiah the son of Azriel, and Shelemiah the son of Abdeel, to seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet, but the LORD hid them.
The king was sitting in his house, warm and comfortable, and—with a complete disregard for the Word of God! When the Scriptures were read to him, he simply cut them off the scroll and threw them into the fire!
I once heard about a liberal theologian who literally cut the first few chapters of Genesis out of his Bible. Others today throw out the whole Bible as being the work of men. Still others, claim they are followers of Christ, but pick and choose what to believe.
Some talk about how Jesus loves everyone, but forget that He ordered the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Some claim to love God but don’t do what He says, forgetting His words, “If you love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14.15). And others say it’s a book of principles alone. They deny its truthfulness in the area of history and science and eliminate the whole creation account. Continue reading →