Ananias and Sapphira sold some land and pretended to give all the proceeds to the church. They didn’t have to. There was no universal command to “sell all you have.” But they wanted to look good.
I wonder if God dealt with sin in the same way in our churches this Sunday, how many of us would walk out of there? Even though we may not often see this quite as vividly, God’s attitude toward hypocrisy and lying hasn’t changed!
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11.28-32:
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”
Though Paul is talking specifically about the Lord’s Supper in this passage, we should be examining ourselves on a daily basis. Notice that Paul says, “many are sick and weak … and many sleep (have died)” because of a failure to examine themselves.
Angry children—we see them in the grocery store, in the schoolyard, on the news, and possibly in our own homes. While all of us, including children, are responsible for our choices, as parents we’re warned not to provoke our children to anger (Eph. 6.4). One way we do is through hypocrisy, telling them one thing while doing another. Before you proclaim your innocence consider today’s reading in Ephesians.
Also in today’s New Testament reading, we’ll talk about the armor of God. What is it? How to we put it on?
This chapter continues to illustrate how a Holy Spirit controlled life should be reflected in various relationships.
Children should honor and obey their parents (Eph. 6.1-3). Parents should raise their children “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord” and not treat them in ways that would provoke them to anger (Eph. 6.4). One way we provoke them to anger is by living a hypocritical life—telling them one thing and while doing another.
We can’t discipline our children for lying and then “call in sick” because we don’t want to go to work.
We can’t teach our children not to steal and then pilfer from our employer.
We can’t preach respect for authority while we disdainfully talk about “the cops” or brag about what we can get away with.
We can’t discipline them in anger or chastise them because they have “broken our law” by bothering or inconveniencing us.
We can’t say one thing while we do the other without being parental hypocrites and without the strong possibility we will provoke our children to anger.
In his book The Heart of Anger, Lou Priolo lists 25 ways parents provoke their children to anger including: marital disharmony, having a child centered home, being inconsistent with discipline, and parental role reversal, among others.
Our relationship with God should, also, affect our employer-employee relationships. If we work for someone else, we should be good, faithful employees. We should work hard, not just when the boss is looking, but all the time, out of a desire to please God, who sees everything (Eph. 6.5-8). Bosses should treat their employees and subordinates well, again out of a desire to please God (Eph. 6.9).
The Armor of God
Then in verses 10-17 we have the “armor of God” with which all believers should be equipped. We need to wear the “belt of truth” by getting rid of anything in our lives that will hinder us from having victory in the battle. Unforgiveness, bitterness, jealousy, and the like have no place in a believer’s life and will hinder your walk and spiritual growth. Continue reading →
Most of us are familiar with the proverb: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” But we all know kids who were raised in church and, yet, have walked away from God. What went wrong? Did their parents miss something? Did God fail to keep His Word? Do we have a guarantee that our children will continue to walk with God?
We’ll also read about:
Esther, what God was up to, and the un-fairytale like ending for the other young virgins taken as “potential queen for a night.”
And the danger of judgment and self-righteousness Paul warns us about in Romans 2.
The book of Esther takes place sometime between the time the Jews began to return to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel and the second return under Ezra. It’s quite an interesting book. Though the name of God is not mentioned at all, He is seen everywhere, and is in control of the events of this book in a grand way!—as He is in all the events of history and the world (even our election cycle).
The book starts out with a party and what a party it is—7 days, free flowing wine, everyone is invited (the men, at least!), golden goblets, entertainment … wine, women (probably the entertainment) and song, as the saying goes.
Finally, the drunken king decides to show off his wife and she refuses to come. The men were faced with a problem. If word got around that the queen didn’t obey the king, all the women would refuse to obey their husbands! So, at the other men’s urging, he strips away her crown.
Angry children—we see them in the grocery store, in the schoolyard, on the news, and possibly in our own home. While all of us, including children, are responsible for our choices, as parents we’re warned not to provoke our children to anger (Eph. 6.4). One way we do is by living a hypocritical lifestyle—telling them one thing and while doing another. Before you proclaim your innocence consider today’s reading in Ephesians.
16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written.
18 “ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
This was not a case of Jesus simply knowing what the prophet had said about Him. This was a case of God having caused the prophet to speak what God had already ordained since the beginning of time. What an awesome God we serve! Continue reading →
Headlines: “Our courts oppose the righteous,” “Justice is nowhere to be found,” “Truth stumbles in the streets,” “Honesty has been outlawed,” “Truth is gone,” and “Anyone who renounces evil is attacked” (Is. 59.14-15). Wow! As I reread today’s passage, it occurred to me that it could be a series in today’s newspapers! Though God is patient and long suffering, one day soon …
13 We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD.
We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14 Our courts oppose the righteous,
and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
Verse 13 reminds us that all sin is first and foremost against the Lord. Notice it says, “We have turned our backs on our God.” When we deny and turn our backs on the Lord we are expressing contempt for Him, in effect, saying that we are dissatisfied with His blessings, that He is not good, that we want and deserve something better than what He has given us.
This passage says we sin willingly, knowingly, “We know we have rebelled … we know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.” Continue reading →
In this life we’ll be hurt and mistreated, at times, sometimes even by those closest to us. The temptation is to give in and become bitter or vengeful. But our example is Christ who prayed even for His betrayers.
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil.
16 He will dwell on high;
His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.
Even in the midst of God’s judgment, He makes provision for those who remain faithful.
But I couldn’t help noticing the two phrases in verse 15, “who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed” and “and shuts his eyes from seeing evil.” I don’t believe that means we shut our eyes and ears to the reality of evil and the need to know what is going on in our country and our world. But it seems to me it would apply to seeing and hearing those things for entertainment or enjoyment. I think each of us must think about what that means in respect to our movie, TV, and video game industries and even our own habits. Continue reading →
Nehemiah and the people continued to rebuild the wall, but not without opposition. Nehemiah’s response was the same one we should have when we encounter problems. Chapter 4, verses 8-9:
“… and all of them conspired together to come and attack Jerusalem and create confusion. Nevertheless we made our prayer to our God, and because of them we set a watch against them day and night.”
Nehemiah and the people prayed, did what they believed God wanted them to, and left the rest in the hands of God!
Chapter 5 changes focus and talks about problems among the people themselves. Some of the Jews had taken advantage of the hard economic times and had charged high rates of interest and even taken as some of the other Jews as slaves to repay their debts. This was forbidden by the law. God takes a very serious view of this kind of behavior and Nehemiah dealt with it accordingly. Verses 11-13: Continue reading →
As we continue through the genealogical record, the tribe of Levi, as the priestly tribe, is given special prominence. Not only do we have the genealogy, but their responsibilities are delineated, as well. In 6.33-47 we see those assigned the responsibilities for singing and praising God in the house of the Lord. Heman seems to be over all the singing with Asaph and Ethan on his right and on his left. Besides singing they also penned a number of the psalms. Asaph is given credit for the one in our reading today.
I will remember
Notice the title, “A Psalm of Asaph.” This psalm, like many others, starts out with deep sorrow, but ends with the psalmist encouraging himself and us, with accounts of God’s faithfulness in the past. This is one reason why the psalms are a good place to go when we are struggling with hurts and discouragements. The psalmists were often very honest with God about their disappointments, grievances, fears and worries, but there comes a turning point where they begin to say, “… but God …” We will see that in this psalm as we proceed through it over the next couple of days.
In these three verses we see words and phrases like. “I cried out,” “in the day of my trouble,” “my soul refused to be comforted,” “I … was troubled,” “I complained,” and “my spirit was overwhelmed.” But later we’ll see such phrases as. “But I will remember” and “I will meditate … and talk of Your deeds.” Continue reading →
How deep is your Christianity? Is it just a veneer or is it who you are? How do you respond to God’s dealings with you? Do you pray and read your Bible only when the heat is on and stop once the pressure is off? Have you added a little “Christianity” to your life without truly making Jesus Lord?
In chapter 17 we see what John MacArthur calls “divine patience” come to an end concerning the Northern Kingdom. Their continued idolatry and disobedience to God’s commands brought the judgment of captivity.
God has not changed (Heb. 13.8). While He is patient and merciful with us, His patience will not on go forever. As a nation and as individuals, if we continue in disobedience to the clear commands of Scripture, if we practice idolatry, if we worship God half-heartedly, we will eventually suffer the consequences of our choices, as well. Continue reading →
It’s so easy to let hypocritical attitudes creep into our hearts and allow ourselves to become religious pretenders. We may look good on the outside, but have hearts full of envy, greed, anger, worry, and self-righteousness. In the process we lose the joy of our salvation and find ourselves just going through the motions of the Christian life.
Chapter 24.9-11 contains some incredible statements:
9 Then Moses went up, also Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity. 11 But on the nobles of the children of Israel He did not lay His hand. So they saw God, and they ate and drank.
All of them saw God in some form. So incredible was what they saw that even the pavement beneath His feet appeared to be like heaven itself! Though we may never see God in the same way these Israelites did, we can behold Him in the person of Jesus Christ! The more we come to know Him through His Word, the more we see God! Continue reading →