“Contagious Sins: Could You Be at Risk?” August 10

 

Contagious Sins: Could you be at risk? - We take every precaution with deadly diseases like ebola or zika, but there are diseases of the soul that are just as deadly. How are you protecting yourself from contagious sins?We take every precaution with deadly diseases like ebola or zika, but there are diseases of the soul that are just as deadly. How are you protecting yourself from contagious sins?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 11 & 12
Psalm 94.1-11
Proverbs 22.24-25
Romans 10.1-21

 

Contagious Sins

 

Proverbs 22.24-25:

Could you be at risk?

 

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!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 11 & 12:

Love Believes the Best

 

Now it’s Zophar’s turn to speak to Job about his troubles. He can’t believe what he is hearing. He is sure that Job is guilty of some serious sin, so he rebukes him sharply.

While Job agrees with Zophar’s assessment of God’s wisdom, power and sovereignty and he doesn’t claim to be perfect, he strongly condemns his simplistic conclusion.  Continue reading

“Could you be left behind?” July 19

 

left behind

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?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 34-36
Psalm 86.1-5
Proverbs 21.13-14
Acts 21.1-17

 

Could you be left behind?

 

2 Chronicles 34-36:

Mercy … but Then Judgment

 

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 it was read to him. 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 the presence of His faithful people, the Church! But one day …  Continue reading

“Pride … Me?” July 15

 

Pride ... Me? - 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?'” So where does pride show up in your life?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?’” So where does pride show up in your life?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 25-27
Psalm 84.1-7
Proverbs 21.4-5
Acts 19.1-20

 

Pride … Me?

 

Proverbs 21.4-5:

A PROUD HEART

 

Verse 4, “A haughty look, a proud heart, and the plowing of the wicked are sin.”

Over and over the Bible warns against the dangers of pride.

Stuart Scott in his powerful little booklet From Pride to Humility says:

“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.
3. Anger.
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.
7. Perfectionism.
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.

Today’s reading in 2 Chronicles gives us a great illustration of what pride can do …  Continue reading

“Gospel Treason: Uncovering Our Hidden Idols” + LINKUP

 

Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols by Brad BigneyWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel With Hidden Idols by Brad Bigney.

 

The Bible talks a lot about idols and idolatry, both in the Old and New Testaments. Perhaps you, like me, have often skimmed over those verses as only relevant to some foreign culture with temples and giant statutes.

But are statues of Buddha, Hindu gods, and other strange religions the only forms of idolatry?

In Ezekiel 14 God, speaking to the elders of Israel, said this:

¹ Now some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat before me.And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity. Should I let Myself be inquired of at all by them?

“Therefore speak to them, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Everyone of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols.”’

“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who separates himself from Me and sets up his idols in his heart and puts before him what causes him to stumble into iniquity, then comes to a prophet to inquire of him concerning Me, I the Lord will answer him by Myself. I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.

These were not carved statues. These idols were in their hearts, were causing them to stumble into sin, and separated them from God.

Sin does that. While those of us who belong to Him don’t lose our salvation. It puts a wall between us and Him and will hinder our prayers and our communion with Him.

Gospel Treason can help us uncover the idols we have in our hearts, idols we might not even recognize. Idols that are standing between us and our spiritual growth, between us and the marriage we want, between us and peace in other relationships. In short, causing chaos in our lives.

Brad does so through personal stories and a great deal of transparency. From the introduction:

My wife and I have been married for twenty-five years, but twenty years ago we were at war. There was no camouflage, there were no guns, and neither of us was crawling under barbed wire in our single-wide mobile home. But we both felt that we were constantly stepping on land mines in our relationship—putting out brushfires, running for cover, and dodging the bullets that our tongues fired back and forth. Our marriage had deteriorated into a battlefield, and we were opposing forces.

And the casualty rate was high.

He goes on:  Continue reading

“Do I still need the gospel?” + LINKUP

 

Because He Love Me, the Power of the Gospel for Everyday LifeWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I’ll feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick.

In the Biblical counseling world, a phrase you’ll sometimes hear is, “You have to preach the gospel to yourself everyday.”

What does that mean? Isn’t the gospel for unbelievers, something you believe once and then move on to other things?

It turns out we need the gospel everyday!

In her introduction Elyse says this:

… although all orthodox believers view salvation as his work, we believe that living the Christian life is solely ours. Yes, salvation is a wonderful gift, we think, but Christian living is where we’ve got to concentrate now.

She goes on by asking the reader to consider a series of questions: Continue reading

December 22 “The Righteous Judge & the death sentence” + LINKUP

The Righteous JudgeImagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He is sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s ok. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge.

Today’s Readings:
Nahum 1-3
Psalm 145.17-21
Proverbs 30.16
Revelation 12.1-17

 

Nahum 1-3:

God the Righteous Judge

Chapter 1 verses 3 and 7 sum up this book:

3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.

7 The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.

Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He’s sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s ok. You’re free to go. No big deal”?

You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge.

God can’t be good and be a liar. He can’t be a righteous judge and give evil a pass. There is a debt to be paid for sin in the court of heaven and it must be paid. For those who put their faith and trust in what Christ did on the cross, it has been paid in full, but for those who reject the truth, the penalty is death.

But death is not the end. We will all live forever. The question is … “Where?”

Death is separation. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden they experienced death. The first death was their separation from God. The second death, the process of physical death, began as they were driven out of the garden and barred from eating from the tree of life.

But there is a third death, separation from God for eternity in a place called hell where Jesus said, the fire is never quenched and the worm does not die (Mk. 9.43-44).

God is good, a stronghold to those who trust in Him, but because He is also the Righteous Judge of heaven and earth and He will one day judge sin and evil.

Romans 3.23 and 6.23:

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Have you ever stood before God, the Righteous Judge, in prayer? Have you admitted that you owe a debt you can’t possibly pay—that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness and that there is no just verdict other than death. Romans 10.1-4:

1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

Have you put your complete faith and trust in what Jesus did on the cross? Have you accepted His payment for your sins? Romans 10.8-13:

 

 

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

Have you done that? Have you admitted your guilt? Have you acknowledged Him as Lord—Master, Savior? Have you truly surrendered your life to Him?

If not, don’t let another Christmas season pass without understanding, acknowledging, and accepting the very reason He was born in that stable so long ago.

Why not pray now? There is no magic formula. You don’t need to be in a church. There are no special words. Just talk to Him in your own words and acknowledge the things I have talked about here.

If you do, please email me (contact info below) and I’ll send you some information about where to go from here. Please include a mailing address. I will not use it for any other purpose.

 

prayerPsalm 145.17-21:

All who call upon Him

Verse 18, “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”

What an amazing thing Continue reading

December 7 “Believe you are saved?”

believe you are saved

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’” (Matthew 7.21-23, NLT).

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 5 & 6
Psalm 139.1-6
Proverbs 29.19
1 John 5.1-21

 

Hosea 5 & 6:

Mercy is more important than sacrifice

Chapter 6.6, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

Jesus repeated this statement in Matthew 9.13 and again in 12.7.

In Matthew 12, Jesus’ disciples had plucked grain and eaten it on the Sabbath Day. He quoted this verse in rebuking the Pharisees when they had condemned them for it. The Pharisees believed their legalistic adherence to the law was what made them right with God. The next scene in the gospel account is this one:

9 Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. 10 And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him.
11 Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? 12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 13 Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. 14 Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

Rather than trying to understand, they hardened their hearts still more.

Meditate on Hosea 6.6. Is there some area in your life where you are legalistically adhering to the law of God, but not out of a pure desire to love God and demonstrate His love to those around you? Continue reading

November 21 “Are you a faithful watchman?”

Silhouettes of trumpetWe are all called to be God’s watchman. Are you faithful to wisely and prayerfully share God’s truth, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient?

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 33 & 34
Psalm 130.5-8
Proverbs 29.1
James 2.1-26

Ezekiel 33 & 34:

Watching & warning

1 Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand” (ch. 33.1-6).

Ezekiel was called to be a “watchman” to the people of His day. He was to warn the people of their need to repent and turn from their sin and idolatry. We, too, are “watchman” called to share the gospel with those around us. Matthew 28.19-20 says:

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

If we are faithful to share God’s truth, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient, we are free from guilt. But if we refuse, God says “their blood is on our hands.”

Notice I said we are called to be “faithful,” not to do it perfectly, not to memorize the whole Bible, nor to be able to answer every potential question or objection someone may make … just to be faithful!

We are not responsible for someone’s response, only to be obedient as God’s instrument in the lives of others. It is He who ultimately seeks and saves! Continue reading

September 23 “Legalists at heart”

images[4] (2)

We’re all basically legalists at heart and if we don’t have an understanding of the gospel firmly fixed in our minds, we can easily fall into it.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 37 & 38
Psalm 109.14-20
Proverbs 26.1
Galatians 1.1-24

Isaiah 37 & 38:

That all the kingdoms of the earth may know

In yesterday’s reading, an emissary from the King of Assyria had set up camp outside the city trying to intimidate the Israelites into surrendering without a battle. When threatened, Hezekiah turned to God, not on the basis of what he deserved, but on the basis of who God is:

“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see …” (vv. 37.16-17).

prayer, worshipThen he asked that God would move on their behalf but for His own glory:

“Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone” (v. 37.20).

This needs to be, not just the prayer of our lips, but the underlying desire of our hearts, as well, that God would receive glory through His work in our lives.

And sometimes that means walking through a trial instead of escaping from it. While it’s fine to pray and ask God to deliver us from tests and trials and difficulties, we must hold those requests in an open hand. Just as Jesus did, “… nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done, O Lord.”

But in this case, as He often does in our lives, God worked in an incredible, supernatural way, destroying the invaders without a battle! Continue reading

August 20 “If … if … if”

puzzledWe’re often a lot like Job and his friends. We think if we keep the law (at least our interpretation of it), God is obligated to bless us.

Today’s Readings:
Job 31 & 32
Psalm 98.1-3
Proverbs 23.17-18
1 Corinthians 2.1-16

Job 31 & 32:

If … if … if

Job ends his defense in chapter 31 with a series of “ifs.” If I had looked on a woman lustfully (vv. 1, 9), if I had not been generous (vv. 16-21), if I had treated my employees unfairly (v. 13), if I had trusted in wealth rather than God (vv. 24-25), if I had hidden my sin (v. 33), if I had stolen (v. 39), etc., then I could understand all this.

After Job and his three friends had stopped speaking, a younger friend, Elihu, says in effect, I can’t keep quiet any longer. I think you’re all wrong!

But soon … God will begin to speak and answer all of them. Continue reading