“One Last Chance, Purgatory & God’s Wrath” December 24

 

One Last Chance, Purgatory & God's WrathMerry Christmas Eve,

Like all great books, the last chapters in God’s Word are “hold-your-breath” exciting. Today we’ll talk about “The King” who was born as a babe but will one day return in power and glory. The climax will be a great battle where the fighting will be so fierce that the blood will be four feet deep in places and take place over an area of 200 square miles.

In the final days of the Tribulation, people will be given one last chance to hear and believe the gospel. An angel will offer them that last chance, but warn them if they take the mark of the beast, their eternity will be sealed for all time. And those of us who die before that time must decide, before we die, because there’s no purgatory, no last chance to realize “Oops, I made a mistake!”

We’ll also talk about seduction, not just the devil’s open seduction of many in the last days, but sexual seduction in personal relationships.

And speaking of great books, did you know that the Bible is the best selling book of all time? Of course, it’s not just any book. It is God’s revelation of Himself to all mankind, penned by men, but breathed out from the heart and mind of God.

Be sure to think about how you will get to know this greatest of all books. And don’t forget to talk to anyone else God has placed on your heart about reading through the Bible this coming year. I would love it if you would share this post on your favorite social media. Also, The MacArthur Daily Bible would make a great and reasonably priced last minute Christmas gift. It may be just the motivation someone needs to get started!

I pray that today will be a restful day without too many last minute things to do. Let’s all remember to take time tonight and tomorrow to think about what it all means … which is so much more than all the commercial hustle and bustle. And I hope you will make time to attend a worship service.

On to today’s readings …

 

Today’s Readings:
Zephaniah 1-3
Psalm 147.1-6
Proverbs 30.18-19
Revelation 14

 

:

He’s the King and He is good!

 

When Mike and I were talking about the book of Zephaniah, we were reminded of a scene in the first Narnia movie. In the book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the conversation goes like this:

“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

When you read the book of Zephaniah and see God’s wrath and judgment on sin, Continue reading

“Trusting God in Suffering” November 16

 

Trusting God in SufferingWhen God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Trusting God makes all the difference in times of suffering. What can we learn about God that will steady us in tough times?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 23 & 24
Psalm 127.1-5
Proverbs 28.24
Hebrews 11.1-16

 

Trusting God in Suffering

 

& :

Understanding Suffering

 

What if God called you to make the sacrifice that Ezekiel had to make—losing his wife and not even being allowed to grieve ()? Could you trust God to give you the strength to do it? Or would you fall into self-pity or a “why me” attitude?

How would you respond if the child you raised to love God becomes a prodigal, throwing aside everything you believe? Would you still trust God?

What if the doctor handed you a bad report? Or your child didn’t get better? Would you still believe that God is good?

What if you or your spouse lost a job or your savings or your retirement plan? Would you still be able to trust Him to meet your needs?

I know for some of you these questions aren’t hypothetical, they are reality. The truth is suffering is a part of life in this fallen world. Someone has said that we’re either in the midst of trial, coming out of one, or getting ready to go into one.

They may vary in degree and some may be easier to handle than others, but we all suffer.

When God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Could you say with the psalmist, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me” (Ps. 119.75)?

 

How to Grow in Trust

 

It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know.

When your toddler jumps into your arms in the swimming pool for the first time, he doesn’t trust his ability to swim, he trusts you because he knows you. When your doctor says she needs to do surgery, you’ll either trust her diagnosis, or you’ll get another opinion.

A toddler learns to trust his parents because of his experience with them. You may come to trust your doctor because of her care and knowledge in other situations or because someone you know recommended her. But somehow we must have knowledge of a person if we’re to trust in them.

We trust God first by faith. We make the choice to believe His Word and to respond to His wooing, but we walk it out by coming to know Him through His Word.

 

What can we know about God that will steady us in trials and suffering? 

Continue reading

“Is the Bible True … All of It?” October 25

 

Is the Bible True ... All of It? - 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 as merely a book of nice suggestions for living? Or do you view it as God Word and allow it to direct every area of your life?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 as merely a book of nice suggestions for living? Or do you view it as God’s Word and allow it to direct every area of your life?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 35 & 36
Psalm 119.65-72
Proverbs 27.22
1 Timothy 4.1-16

 

Is the Bible True … All of It?

 

& :

Cutting and Pasting the Bible

Chapter 36.22-26 says:

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!

is the Bible trueI 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.

Then there are those who cut and paste the Bible with other religious ideas. They take what they like from Christianity, add a little Eastern religion, and toss in some mysticism. Or they say they’re Christians but add other books or some so-called higher knowledge. Still others deny the Deity of Christ, the virgin birth, or the reality of the Trinity.  Continue reading

“Exhaustion, Disappointment, & Discouragement” June 5

 

exhaustionne 5" >

Could exhaustion, disappointment, or neglect of your time in the Word be the cause of discouragement or depression?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Kings 19 & 20
Psalm 70.1-5
Proverbs 18.1-2
John 14.1-31

 

& :

Exhaustion, disappointment & discouragement

I always find it amazing that after defeating the prophets of Baal and seeing God do such a mighty work, Elijah would respond the way he did to Jezebel’s threat (chap. 19). But it’s a good reminder to us that when we get exhausted, physically and/or spiritually, things often seem much worse than they are, because we can easily get our eyes off God and on to our own strength or the lack of it.

As John MacArthur pointed out in his Daily Bible, he probably expected Ahab and Jezebel to repent after that great display of God’s power and when they didn’t, he became discouraged.

 

Elijah’s disappointment over their lack of repentance and his own physical and spiritual exhaustion led to discouragement and depression (in verse 19.3 he asked God to take his life). Instead God gave him what he, actually, needed. Continue reading

“Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions” May 18

 

Life's toughest questions

Many people today are looking for answers to life’s toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What’s my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 7 & 8
Psalm 64.1-10
Proverbs 16.18-19
John 5.24-47

 

:

Looking for answers in all the wrong places

Answers to Life's Toughest Questions - Many people today are looking for answers to life's toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What's my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.Verses 39-40, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”

The religious leaders studied and debated and memorized the Scriptures, but were blinded to the truths contained in them which pointed to Jesus. Sadly, they didn’t recognize their Messiah when He was right in their midst.

As Americans, we have grown up in a nation where Bibles are everywhere. There is hardly a home without one, yet many of us look for eternal life and the answers to life’s toughest questions everywhere but in the Book of Life!

We try to find eternal life by leaving a legacy or by making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate—both good things to do, but they can’t save us.

Or we seek to live longer and healthier with the help of medical science, as if we can somehow avoid death.  Continue reading

December 24 “On the King, seducers & last chances”

last chancesMerry Christmas Eve,

Like all great books, the last chapters in God’s Word are “hold-you-breath” exciting. Today we’ll talk about “The King” who was born as a babe but will one day return in power and glory. The climax will be a great battle where the fighting will be so fierce that the blood will be four feet deep in places and take place over an area of 200 square miles.

In the final days of the Tribulation, people will be given one last chance to hear and believe the Gospel. A angel will offer them that last chance, but warn them if they take the mark of the beast, their eternity will be sealed for all time. And those of us who die before that time must decide, before we die, because there’s no purgatory, no last chance to realize “Oops, I made a mistake!”

We’ll also talk about seduction, not just the devil’s open seduction of many in the last days, but sexual seduction in personal relationships.

And speaking of great books, did you know that the Bible is the best selling book of all time? Of course, it’s not just any book. It is God’s revelation of Himself to all mankind, penned by men, but breathed out from the heart and mind of God.

Be sure to think about how you will better know and understand the greatest book of all time. And don’t forget to talk to anyone else God has placed on your heart about reading through the Bible this coming year and share this link on social media. The MacArthur Daily Bible would make a great and reasonably priced last minute Christmas gift. It may be just the motivation someone needs to get started!

I pray that today will be a restful day without too many last minute things to do. Let’s all remember to take time tonight and tomorrow to think about what it all means … which is so much more than all the commercial hustle and bustle. And I hope you will make time to attend a worship service.

On to today’s readings …

Today’s Readings:
Zephaniah 1-3
Psalm 147.1-6
Proverbs 30.18-19
Revelation 14

 

Zephaniah 1-3:

He’s the King and He is good!

When Mike and I were talking about the book of Zephaniah, we were reminded of a scene in the first Narnia movie. In the book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the conversation goes like this:

“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy.
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh!” said Susan, “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

When you read the book of Zephaniah and see God’s wrath and judgment on sin, Continue reading

October 25 “Cutting and pasting the Bible”

Computer Key discardHow 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?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 35 & 36
Psalm 119.65-72
Proverbs 27.22
1 Timothy 4.1-16

 

Jeremiah 35 & 36:

Cutting and pasting the Bible

Chapter 36.22-26 says:

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!

holy bible genesisI 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

October 16 “When someone says, ‘I’m going to hell anyway!'”

Burning fire hell flamesHave you ever heard someone say, “I might as well live it up, I’m going to hell anyway?” Or if that’s you, no matter what you’ve done, God is willing and able to forgive you.

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 17 & 18
Psalm 118.25-29
Proverbs 27.11-12
1 Thessalonians 3.1-13

 

Jeremiah 17 & 18:

God’s faithfulness to those who remain

Even in the midst of God’s judgment we have verses 7 & 8:

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.
8 For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

It’s important to remember that there were still faithful believers among the people who would soon be conquered and exiled. Daniel and the other young men we read about in the book of Daniel were taken to Babylon as a result of God’s judgment. So even though their nation and their way of life suffered, God was still blessing and watching over His faithful remnant.

Our deceitful hearts

Verses 9 & 10 are two verses which we frequently share in counseling:

9 “The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
10 I, the LORD, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give every man according to his ways,
According to the fruit of his doings.

It’s so easy for us to believe that we know what’s going on in another person’s heart—what they’re thinking, what their motives are, what they’re going to do in a given situation. But the truth is we can’t even know our own heart and we certainly cannot know someone else’s. Our own heart can deceive us, causing us to believe we’re somehow “ok”—justified in our actions, even when we’re focused on ourselves and not the glory of our God.

We must constantly stay connected to God, asking Him to search our hearts and show us the sin and deceit that resides there.

 

“I’m going to hell anyway!”

Chapter 18.11-12:

11 “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD. “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.”’”
12 And they said, “That is hopeless! So we will walk according to our own plans, and we will every one obey the dictates of his evil heart.”

We’ve all met people like that. They know what God’s Word says about the way they’re living, but they aren’t willing to do what God requires, so they just say, “I might as well live anyway I want, because I’m going to hell anyway!” Continue reading

October 11 “Worship, truth & fables”

Lonely FlowerBecause something is popular or “the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t make it biblically sound. In fact, 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.

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 7 & 8
Psalm 118.1-4
Proverbs 27.5-6
Colossians 2.1-23

I know I run the risk of offending some today. I pray that I don’t, but even more, I pray that those who are offended will dig into God’s Word and prayerfully seek the truth for themselves.

 

Jeremiah 7 & 8:

Tickling their ears

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.

He also condemns the people 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. Continue reading

August 12 “On not being miserable comforters”

imagesCAWAW2S2st 12 “On not being miserable comforters”" >

Most of us will have opportunities in life to offer comfort to those suffering and grieving. Will we be miserable comforters like Job’s friends or be able to offer “a word fitly spoken” (Prov. 25.11)?

Today’s Readings:
Job 15 & 16
Psalm 94.20-23
Proverbs 22.28-29
Romans 11.19-36

 

Job 15 & 16:

Miserable comforters

Eliphaz and Job’s other “comforters” were faced with a dilemma most of us are faced with at one time or another—how to speak truth and yet bring comfort when someone else is suffering.

We can be faced with this dilemma when an unbeliever dies, for example. How do you comfort the family without giving false hope about the basis of salvation? We can’t say we are sure their loved one is in heaven, but we can say that no one knows a person’s heart except God alone. Only He knows what transpired in the past, or even in the days or moments before death. We can encourage the surviving loved one to trust in the goodness and perfect judgment of God.

It is also an opportunity to share with the family the importance of being sure they are in right relationship with God and not leave their family wondering about them should something tragic happen.

Families also need comfort when they or someone close to them is suffering. This can be through the illness of a child or spouse, a divorce, or some other tragedy.

In the beginning, often the best thing we can do is just be there … with a hug, a listening ear, or just our presence. What we don’t want to do is lecture them and act like we know what is going on in the mind of God like Job’s “comforters” did. Job ended up calling them “miserable comforters” (16.2)!

As time goes on, though, Continue reading