Handwriting on the wall: Can you imagine the scene at the company Christmas party if a disjointed man’s hand suddenly appeared and began to write on the wall? That was the scene at Belshazzar’s bash! God was letting him know “the party’s over”!
What does that mean for our nation and the culture we live in?
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13.8). God has been patient and merciful to us, but He will judge our nation as a whole. In fact, the free fall in morality probably means that judgment is well underway (Rom. 1.18-32).
And on an individual basis, that judgment will happen, as well. Each of us will stand before one of two judgments (2 Cor. 5.10; Rev, 20.11) and give an account. The biggest questions will be: How did we respond to the gospel and was Jesus truly Lord of our lives?
Our New Testament reading warns us of judgment against false teachers whose biggest lies have to do with Jesus, especially about who He is. Cults, false religions, and false teachers always deny His deity, His virgin birth, His eternal nature, His Lordship, or some other characteristic of His nature.
Peter also warns us against believing and following false teachers.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed” (2 Pet. 2.1-2).
Do you have an unreasonable or harsh spouse? Does God’s Word have anything to say about how you should respond? What about other difficult relationships? How should you respond to mistreatment, harshness or a lack of loving behavior? Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
Have you ever heard someone say, “I might as well live it up, I’m going to hell anyway?” Or maybe that’s you. No matter what you’ve done, God is willing and able to forgive you, but you must come to Him. Don’t let another day pass. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Continue reading →
How much do you really want to know Jesus? How much we value knowing Him reveals a great deal about our hearts. The Apostle Paul who had all the Jewish credentials: education, a great family pedigree, and his own achievements, said he counted it all as garbage, literally “dung,” in comparison to knowing Him.
Several years ago I started listening to a worship song entitled All I Once Held Dear (Knowing Him). You may be familiar with it.
I believe when it comes to worship, it’s not about the style of music, but about the words. It’s the words that we are offering up to God in our worship. It’s the words that really matter.
I was greatly moved by the lyrics which come right out of today’s passage in Philippians.
But as I was singing and worshiping two lines toward the end grabbed my heart with a holy fear. The lines were, “Oh, to know the power of your risen life and to know You in Your sufferings.”
The thought occurred to me that this isn’t generic. I was saying to the Lord, “I want to know You in Your sufferings.” And that would most likely happen through suffering on my part.
We have all suffered in various ways. I have and I’m sure you have, but there was something that gave me pause about singing and saying I wanted to know Christ in that way. I had to ask myself, “How much do I really want to know Him?”
As I went to my Bible to read the entire passage, I thought about the Apostle who had all the Jewish credentials: education, a great family pedigree, and his own achievements, and how he said he counted it all as garbage, literally “dung,” in comparison to knowing Christ (Phil. 3.8). Not just knowing Him in His resurrection power, but in the fellowship of His sufferings.
Verse 10, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
I don’t know about you, but I like the part about knowing Him in the “power of His resurrection,” but the “fellowship of His sufferings,” is another thing. But I’ve come to believe we can’t have one without the other.
There will be times when we will suffer simply because we live in a sin-cursed world. There will be times when we will suffer because of the sins of others. And there will be times when we suffer because we are His and His light is in us. And darkness doesn’t like the light.
“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (Jn. 3.19-20).
The Christian walk is not without tests and trials, but ultimately God takes care of His own. As the Prophet Jeremiah said:
“‘They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to deliver you’” (Jer. 1.19).
And in the process of that suffering, we come to know Him in increasingly greater ways as we learn to depend on Him and cling to His promises.
Here are the lyrics to the song:
All I once held dear, built my life upon All this world reveres, and wars to own All I once thought gain I have counted loss Spent and worthless now, compared to this
Knowing you, Jesus Knowing you, there is no greater thing You’re my all, you’re the best You’re my joy, my righteousness And I love you, Lord
Now my heart’s desire is to know you more To be found in you and known as yours To possess by faith what I could not earn All-surpassing gift of righteousness
Oh, to know the power of your risen life And to know You in Your sufferings To become like you in your death, my Lord So with you to live and never die
Jeremiah is often called “the weeping prophet.” He also wrote the book of Lamentations. Its name refers to a funeral dirge. Jeremiah grieved over the judgment of his people and the destruction of the once flourishing and beautiful city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The destruction was God’s judgment on a people who had repeatedly turned their backs on Him. But before doing so, God through Jeremiah called the people to repentance and warned of the judgment that would come if they did not repent. 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 →
Why bother doing what is right? Do you ever feel that way when you look around and see evil people doing fine … even prospering? Those were the Psalmist’s thoughts. But things are not always as they seem …
Also, read about a grandmother so wicked she had her own grandchildren killed and the foolishness of judging when you only hear one side of the story.
Verses 1-3, “Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; My steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.”
Even though the Psalmist knew the truth, that God is good to His children, he got his eyes off God and His promises. Instead, he got into self-pity, thinking how much easier life is for those who are not following God.
How like us! Who among us has not asked, “Why bother doing what is right? Look at so and so, she isn’t even trying to live right and she has a great husband, a nice home …!” But, as we’ll see in tomorrow’s reading, things aren’t always the way they appear on the surface.
Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, had been her son’s counselor (2 Chron. 22.3-4), leading him in the worship of Baal. After his death she was anxious to grab power and see to it that Baal worship continued in Judah. So much so, that she was willing to kill her own grandchildren!
Athaliah didn’t just want Baal worship allowed, she wanted it sanctioned by the one in control … her.
As I listen to the news and hear the homosexual, gay-marriage, pro-abortion and other anti-God proponents, it is easy to see that, like Athaliah, they are not happy to be allowed the freedom to make their personal choices. They want the sanction of government and society, in general. Continue reading →
How did the nation of Israel go from being favored by the Egyptian leadership to suffering so much persecution and prejudice that they would end up enslaved by a nation that once welcomed them? And what does it say to us as Christians in our nation today?
What if you were arrested for being a Christian? Would the evidence be for you or against you? One day each of us will stand, either before the “Judgment Seat of Christ” or “The Great White Throne Judgment.”
Jesus said, ““Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Will He be able to testify for you or have to testify against you?
Now we begin another adventure into the Word of God!
God is getting ready to raise up Moses and remember:
“… whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15.4).
When we studied the life of Abraham, the Father of Faith, it helped us know and trust in the faithfulness of God to keep His promises. The Scripture says Abraham:
“Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be’ ” (Rom. 4.18).
In Joseph we saw a picture, a shadow, of Christ, the Son who was willing to lay down his life for His brothers, to forgive though they caused His suffering.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8).
Now, through the life of Moses, we’ll begin to see more of God’s character. This time as our Deliverer—the One who sees our bondage and hears our cries and “in the fullness of time,” His perfect timing, He delivers us. We’ll talk more about this in the days to come.
But today let’s take another look at chapter 1.8-10:
8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; 10 come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.”
How did the nation of Israel go from being favored by the Egyptian leadership to suffering such persecution and prejudice? Continue reading →
In yesterday’s reading (Gen. 38) we saw Judah’s private immorality, followed by his initial public self-righteousness when he condemned his daughter-in-law to death.
Here in 39 we see Joseph’s righteous behavior even when tempted in private.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.
7 And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.”
8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”
10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.
How easy it would have been for him to say, “What’s the use? What has doing good gotten me so far?”
And talk about temptation! Here’s this woman throwing herself at him, but he shows honor to his master even in his speech (a proper attitude toward authority). Most importantly, he says, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (v. 9).
Joseph realized that sin is first and foremost against God. While our sins can create major problems in other relationships with people, the biggest problem they create is in our relationship with God (Gal. 6.7-8; Heb. 12.7-11). As Joseph said, how then can I do this …?
Sexual immorality, lying, stealing, drunkenness, outbursts of anger, and other sins of commission (what we do) are not the only ways we sin. We can also commit sins of omission, things we should do, but don’t—like forgiving someone who has wronged us or taking full responsibility for our own failings.
James 4.17 says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
But, after repeated attempts to seduce Joseph, Potiphar’s wife falsely accuses him of trying to rape her. When she tells her husband, he has Joseph thrown into prison.
Tested & Tried
Why would God allow all this to happen to Joseph? Had God left him? Was He punishing him?
We know that isn’t the case, because the text repeatedly says that the Lord was with him:
2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lordwas with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. 6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate (Gen. 39.2-6).
20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. 23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper (Gen. 39.20-23).
All of God’s servants are tested and tried. Sometimes He uses other people, even sinful people like Joseph’s brothers and Potiphar’s wife, to do it. Abraham was tested as he waited for the promised child and then by the command to sacrifice that child. The “mama’s boy” Jacob was tested as he was forced to flee the home life he loved and as he was betrayed by his father-in-law. Later we’ll see Moses being tested and refined as he spends forty years herding sheep … and David by running from Saul for years.
The Apostle Paul said of himself:
“From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness …” (2 Cor. 11.24-27).
We, too, are tested and like the men and women in the Bible. Sometimes He uses sinful people (a difficult spouse, child or other family member). Sometimes He uses our circumstances (financial hardship, sickness, loss, mistreatment, betrayal or some other difficulty). Continue reading →