When we go through tests and trials, there is often a roller coaster of emotions. But we don’t have to let our emotions run the show! As believers, how can we learn to live by something other than our feelings and emotions?
Also read about the meanings of God’s name, how joy follows loving discipline, and how the truths of the Gospel contain the power of God.
Our friend Job is on quite a roller coaster. In yesterday’s reading he had some of the most incredible revelation from God and in today’s reading He thinks God has totally abandoned him.
Isn’t that a picture of the roller coaster of emotions we can all experience when we are going through a test or trial? The important thing to remember is that even though the feelings are there, they’re real, and they’re often strong, we don’t have to be controlled by our emotions. By that I mean, we don’t have to let them determine the way we act and respond!
In spite of all his roller coaster feelings, Job stayed faithful to God. Remember what his wife said at the beginning, “Why don’t you just curse God and die!” (my paraphrase). But Job didn’t waver from his faith in God, even though he didn’t understand why God was allowing all this calamity.
So how can we avoid letting emotions run the show in our own lives?
Certain sins are easily caught from others. Could there be people in your life whose friendship is a danger to your walk with God?
“Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul” (vss. 24-25).
Anger is one; so are gossip, cursing, and other sins, especially those of the tongue. If you hang around people who practice those things, you will become less and less bothered by them and eventually begin to join in.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’ ” (1 Cor. 15.33).
Jesus said we’re to live in the world, but not be of it (Jn. 17.14-15). And the Apostle Paul warned us about being closely associated with unbelievers.
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).
So while we are to have relationships with people outside the faith and use those opportunities to be salt and light, they should not be our closest friends and partners.
But it can be just as dangerous, maybe more so, to hang around with professing believers who act like the world!
9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person (1 Cor. 5.9-11).
God, certainly calls us to try to reach our sinning brothers and sisters (Gal. 6.1-2; Heb. 3.13), but if there is no repentance we’re aren’t to continue acting as if it’s no big deal.
Tests and trials: no one likes them. We don’t pray for them. In fact, we pray to avoid them. But trials come to everyone. So, what is it that sustains us in trials? What gives us hope? You might be surprised.
Also, read about the quality of friendship. You see, 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?
In the previous chapters Paul explained salvation by grace—how God saves sinners through the free gift of salvation based on our faith in Christ. Here in chapter 5 Paul explains how, as sinners saved by God’s grace, we are kept by the same grace—how it is God and God alone who is able to present us, “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). No amount of good works could save us and no amount of good works can keep us! I hope you’ll take the time to read this chapter for yourself, if you haven’t already.
But let’s take a closer look at the first five verses:
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Verse 8 goes on:
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
You may have heard the expression, “Preach the gospel to yourself.” Have you thought about what that means? We typically think of the gospel as a one-time thing, something we accept once and then move on to Christian living. But we need the gospel everyday. A true understanding of all that the gospel encompasses makes living the Christian life a joy. It’s what sustains us in trials and encourages us when we fail.
We need to remind ourselves that God loved us even while we were still sinners. Christ died for us knowing full well every sin we would ever commit and every time we would reject Him. If we understand that He loved us then, we will better trust that He won’t reject us when we fail.
He died for every sin whether committed before and after we come to know Him. Rather than giving us a license to sin, fully comprehending that should help us to love Him back, desire to live to please Him, and to love others with the same kind of love.
We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn. 4.19).
But don’t miss verses 3-5. As we come to fully understand the gospel, we can trust God when we’re going though a trial. We should remind ourselves that the God who loved us enough to die for us, will not allow any test or trial in our lives that He won’t use for our good. We can trust Him to walk through it will us, to sustain and strengthen us, to grow our faith, and to help us mature to become more and more like His Son.
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.”
This 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 →
Two people will be working together. One will disappear and the other will be left behind. Men and women will be eating and sleeping and going about their business. Some will be gone in an instant and others left behind. How about you? Would you go or could you be left behind?
In chapter 34 Josiah had become king at the ripe old age of 8, but what a king he was! Verse 3 says that he began to seek the Lord in the eighth year of his reign. He would have been just 16 years old. By the age of 20 he was putting a stop to idolatry. Next he began clearing out the temple and getting ready to reinstate the proper temple worship. In the process Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord.
Several things struck me about all of this. First, the Word of God was not being taught. People were just doing whatever seemed right to them. The second thing was Josiah’s response to the Word when he heard it. He tore his clothes, a statement of intense mourning and repentance. He was repenting, not just for himself, but for the nation as a whole, because he realized just how far they had departed from the truth. He understood that they were under God’s judgment because of it.
So he sent Hilkiah and a group of men to meet with a prophetess named Huldah to seek further direction from the Lord. She reassured him that God had seen his righteous response to all of this and his willingness to humble himself and obey. So while judgment was coming, He would grant the nation a reprieve. In fact, it wouldn’t happen in Josiah’s lifetime. But after his death and by the close of 2 Chronicles, Jerusalem would be destroyed and the remaining people carried off to Babylon where they would remain in captivity for 70 years.
God is Withholding His Judgment Today
Today, much like in Josiah’s time, God is withholding His final judgment from the earth because of His faithful people, the Church! But one day … Continue reading →
Stuart Scott says, “Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride … The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”
Our Old Testament reading gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with. So, where does pride show up in your life? Check Dr. Scott’s list of the manifestations of pride. You might be surprised.
“It is probably safe to say that humility is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be. We cannot come to God without it. We cannot love God supremely without it.”
He goes on to say we can’t be an effective witness, love and serve others, lead, communicate properly, or resist sin without it (Eph. 4.1-2).
“You cannot have humility where pride exists. Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”
He lists some of the manifestations of pride as:
1. Complaining against or passing judgment on God.
2. A lack of gratitude in general.
4. Seeing yourself as better than others.
5. Having an inflated view of your importance, gifts, and abilities.
6. Being focused on your lack of gifts and abilities.
8. Talking too much.
9. Talking too much about yourself.
10. Seeking independence or control.
11. Being consumed by what others think.
12. Being devastated or angered by criticism.
13. Being unteachable.
14. Being sarcastic, hurtful, or degrading.
15. A lack of service.
16. A lack of compassion.
17. Being defensive or blame-shifting.
18. A lack of admitting when you are wrong.
19. A lack of asking forgiveness.
20. A lack of biblical prayer.
21. Resisting authority or being disrespectful.
22. Voicing preferences or opinions when not asked.
23. Minimizing you own sin and shortcomings.
24. Maximizing others’ sin and shortcomings.
25. Being impatient or irritable with others.
26. Being jealous or envious.
27. Using others.
28. Being deceitful by covering up sins, faults, and mistakes.
29. Using attention-getting tactics.
30. Not having close relationships.
Some of those may have surprised you, as pride can be very subtle, masquerading as something else.
Remember, it’s not a matter of “Do you or I have it?” but, “Where is it?” and “How much of it do I have?” So, it’s important that we learn to recognize it, confess it, and learn to go God’s way.
Today’s reading in 2 Chronicles gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with … Continue reading →
Yesterday was Easter. If you attended church, you probably sang about the blood of Christ that was shed for your sins, but the singing didn’t stop there. You, probably, sang about the Resurrection, too. You rejoiced that the tomb is empty and Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, having overcome death, hell, and the grave.
But as church goers in America there is a certain danger in the familiarity of all that. We aren’t faced with the choice of committing to Christ and facing persecution, even death, or remaining what our culture says we are, at least in name, whether Muslim or Hindu or some other religion. So instead, we run the risk of being cultural Christians, what our family or our tradition says we are … Christians in name only.
When an observer in Jesus’ time asked, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” He warned that the gate is narrow. And when the people of Joshua’s day claimed that they would serve the Lord, he told them not to take that commitment lightly. Are there many today who have failed to heed those warnings? Are there many who are basing their relationship with God on something besides the true Gospel?
That should be heart-breaking for those of us who truly understand the Gospel, because it is the most incredible GOOD NEWS ever! Today’s post includes a link to a video that could shake your understanding of what the good news of the Gospel really is!
You Choose … Whether to Serve the Lord or Something Else
What a rich portion of Scripture! Joshua is coming to the end of his life and he wants to leave everything in order. He takes time to remind the people about all God has done for them and encourages them to remember how He has been faithful to His Word.
In 23.12-13 he warns them about intermarrying with unbelievers. This is still true today. If you are single and considering marriage or if you do in the future, remember, we are free to marry only in the Lord! (1 Cor. 7.39) – that is to another believer.
Then Joshua calls them to make a choice as to whom they will serve:
“…. choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (v. 24.15).
And when they are quick to say, “We also will serve the Lord,” he challenges them that this is no flippant profession, this is serious business and they should count the cost and mean what they say.
Is He Lord?
Today many talk about “cheap grace.” If you want to go to heaven, just ask Jesus to come into your heart and He’ll forgive you for your sins and you’ll have your ticket to heaven.
It is true that we can do nothing to deserve salvation and nothing to save ourselves. It is by grace alone through faith alone. But Jesus didn’t imply that it was “cheap.” First of all, it wasn’t cheap for Him. He paid the ultimate price.
Part of coming to Him in faith means we recognize our desperate need for Him and that we are sinners with no ability to fix ourselves. There is to be repentance (a change of heart and mind leading to change in the direction of our lives) and a willingness to acknowledge Him as Lord (Rom. 10.9-10; Acts 2.36). Lord … Master, God, the One who has the right to tell us what is right and wrong and how to live our lives!
Have you truly put your faith and trust in Him for your salvation?
Jesus gave an even stronger warning in today’s New Testament reading.
The Narrow Gate
Jesus warned that the gate is narrow (v. 24) and that many who think they have entered, have not. Verses 23-27:
23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”
And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’”
What a terrifying thing, to think you’re assured a place in heaven, yet hear those words, “I do not know you.”
The striving Jesus talked about is not our good works or self-efforts. In fact, we can’t get to heaven based on our own righteousness, because we don’t have any of our own (Rom. 3.10-12).
Today the gate is open (Heb. 3.15). God desires that all men be saved (1 Tim. 2.4), but we must believe and receive the Gospel.
11 He came to His own, and His owndid not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God (1 Jn. 1.11-13).
Is it your church membership or the fact you were born into a Christian family? Is it your good works? Is it simply that you believe in God? Is it that you once prayed a prayer, walked an aisle, or got baptized?
Those are all good things and may take place as part of our salvation experience. But none of them, in and of themselves, can save you! We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone (Eph. 2.8-9). His grace, received through our faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.
Jesus said, ““The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1.15).
So What is the Gospel?
If you have any doubts about whether or not you have believed the Gospel, I would encourage you to watch this video by Dr. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary. It’s a little long, but you can’t listen to Dr. Horton’s explanation and not realize what incredibly GOOD NEWS the Gospel really is! Continue reading →
Satan, the accuser of the brethren, seldom rests. He accuses us about the past. He accuses us about the present. He accuses us about our future. He’ll even accuse us when it comes to serving God, reading the Bible, praying or anything else we do for God. Is there any refuge from his accusations?
Chapter 20 talks about the cities of refuge where someone accused of murder or manslaughter could run for safety until a judge could decide his or her fate. Otherwise their accuser might decide to take justice into his own hands.
Our next reading, Psalm 46, reminds us that God Himself is our Refuge from Satan, our accuser (Rev. 12.10). Revelation 12 tells us that he accuses us day and night, sometimes in the throne room of God, as he did with Job. He accuses us about the past. He accuses us about the present. He accuses us about our future. He’ll even accuse us about serving God, reading the Bible, praying or anything else we do for God by telling us that our efforts are inadequate or what we have done in the past is too bad and God will never use us.
Either way, we have an Advocate. 1 John 1.7-9, 2.1-2:
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
And Hebrews 7.25 says, “… He always lives to make intercession for us.”
If we have been regenerated, born again by the Spirit of God, then Christ has paid the price for our sins and Jesus, our Divine Attorney, is our Defender.
TODAY’S OTHER READINGS:
God is our Refuge
This beautiful psalm should remind us from where true peace and stability come. The answer is not from government; even the greatest can fail. It’s not in our finances or our intelligence or anything else on earth. Only God is the “refuge and strength” that will never fail. If we fear God, we don’t need to fear anything else! Continue reading →
The Bible has so much to say about parenting, and we have many great resources today to help us understand and apply its teachings. It’s also an area where we need to apply the gospel, both to ourselves and in the grace we give our children. Check out this great list of resources for parenting kids from toddlers to teens.
Joshua 9 & 10
Parenting from the Foot of the Cross
The Bible on Parenting
Verse 24, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”
There is so much advice about parenting out there, much of which contradicts this truth. But we have to decide who we are going to believe—God or man!
The Heart of Anger is written to parents and includes journals and other helps to work with your children. But it first helps parents better understand what they may be doing to contribute to their children’s anger.
As parents we are warned in Ephesians 6.4:
… do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
So before Lou delves into the child’s behavior, he helps parents evaluate their own heart attitudes and behavior. His list of 25 ways parents provoke their children to anger is worth the price of the book.
Does the Old Testament mean anything to us as New Testament believers? If so, how can we say some Old Testament laws are still valid and others are not? And if Jesus paid the price for all of our sins, does that mean that we are free to live any way we choose?
Murder, Rape, Rebellious Children & Your Neighbor’s Ox
Deuteronomy 21 & Deuteronomy 22:
3 Kinds of Law
What attention to all the details of life we find here in the Old Testament law—everything from the jurisdiction in a murder case (Deut. 21.1-9) to “Good Samaritan” laws (Deut. 22.1-4) to rape and adultery (Deut. 22.22-30).
But why would God care about different kinds of seeds being sown together (Deut 22.9) or whether different materials were blended into one fabric (Deut. 22.11). Bible passages like these raise the question, “How can we say some Old Testament laws are still valid and others are not?”
Sowing seeds and blending fabrics may not seem like hot topics, but the question raised by these passages carries over into more relevant topics like homosexuality and transgender issues.
The Old Testament sacrificial system only provided a temporary covering for sin, like making minimum payments on our sin debt. Even though we no longer sacrifice bulls or lambs, many of us live much the same way, thinking a good deed here or showing up at church once in a while will keep the Creditor off our backs. Only to have the interest, the guilt and consequences of sin, pile up. But there is good news …
Imagine … this Sunday morning before going in to worship, you have to stop outside the church and sacrifice a bull, then take some of the blood and put it on the altar with your finger and pour the rest of it on the altar. Afterwards you take the fat that covers the intestines, the fatty part of the liver, and the two kidneys and burn them. Then you take the bull’s waste, the skin, and the rest of the flesh out in the parking lot to be burned! All this after baking bread, having oil poured on your head, and taking a ritual bath! (And you thought just getting the family out of the house was hard!)
It’s a funny picture, but a serious subject. Why would God require all of that? And why would He want us to understand? Continue reading →