“Flattery Will Get You!” July 27

 

Flattery Will Get You!

Flattery will get you! – Could you be drawn away from God’s best in your life by flattery or some other temptation? What can we learn from Nehemiah about protecting our testimonies, our jobs, and our ministries?

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 6 & 7
Psalm 89.5-10
Proverbs 21.28
Acts 27.1-26

 

Flattery Will Get You!

 

Nehemiah 6 & 7:

Flattery & Enticing Distractions

 

Chapter 6 reminds me of what goes on in politics and the media today. Nehemiah and the people were making great progress at rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Notice what happened next:

¹ Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (6.1-3).

As soon as someone starts to do something significant for God, influential people want to meet with him or her and, often, interview them for TV or some other media. Sadly, many have learned the hard way that most people in the media don’t want to rejoice with them because they’re doing something worthwhile. In fact, most have learned that what they say and do gets twisted and misreported. And all it does is serve as a distraction from what’s really important.

Fear is another of the enemies weapons: fear of losing a position of prominence, fear of what people will think, or fear for their own safety or well-being.

10 Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.”

11 And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” 12 Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

When we know that we are doing what God has called us to do, we can trust Him to take care of us.

14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

But sadly, flattery, the enticement of national coverage, and the excitement of rubbing elbows with dignitaries can tempt us to compromise. Fear sometimes stops us in our tracks. But when it doesn’t work, the enemy will often attack from within—sometimes using people close to that person. How many times have we read the phrase “unnamed sources say …” to spread some untruth.

Another way the enemy attempts to bring down servants of God is by taking advantage of our own sinful desires, often through an immoral sexual encounter.

Those encounters don’t always start with something obviously sexual or immoral. Often they happen between two co-workers or even people who work together in ministry.

It may seem innocent, at first, things like texting and compliments, but will often turn to flirting and spending more and more time together.   Continue reading

“What’s Up with God’s Timing?!” June 18

 

God's TimingDo you ever wonder where God is when you’re in a trial, being mistreated, or waiting for an answer to prayer? Though it sometimes doesn’t seem so to us, God is always in control and His timing is always right.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 25
Psalm 75.1-10
Proverbs 19.4-5
Acts 3.1-26

 

What’s Up with God’s Timing?

 

Where Is God?

Psalm 75.1-10:

 

God is always near and always in control! Always! But often we wonder, “Where is God? Doesn’t He know what’s going on here?” Yet He says:

“When I choose the proper time, I will judge uprightly” (v. 2).

Think about that. He has all the facts. He knows the end from the beginning. He knows what each of us needs to help conform us to the image of Christ, and … He chooses the proper time.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Mercy Even in Judgment

2 Kings 25:

 

The book of 2 Kings ends, sadly, with the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the people being carried off captive to Babylon. This was God’s judgment for their continued rebellion as a nation. But the last few verses contain a picture of God’s mercy and faithfulnessContinue reading

“The Lens of Scripture” April 13

 

The Lens of Scripture

Our perception, the filter through which we “see” everything has a tremendous effect on our lives. I often tell people in counseling that we are affected much more by what we “think about” what happens to us that what actually happens to us.

So how do you view the events of your life? What is your filter? Are you looking through the lens of Scripture or through the world’s lens? Are you seeing through the sovereignty of God or through a self-focused lens?

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 15 & 16
Psalm 45.1-5
Proverbs 14.4-5
Luke 11.29-54

 

The Lens of Scripture

 

Luke 11.29-54:

Perceptions

 

Verse 34, “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.”

John MacArthur in his Daily Bible says, “The problem was their perception, not a lack of light.”

Our perception, the filter through which we “see” everything has a tremendous effect on our lives. I often tell people in counseling that we are affected much more by what we “think about” what happens to us that what actually happens to us.

As believers and children of the Sovereign God of the Universe, we should filter everything through the lens of Scripture beginning with verses like Romans 8.28-29:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

comparing shoes

When we’re tempted to compare ourselves to someone else financially, socially or career wise, do we allow envy to get a foothold or do we trust our loving heavenly Father to know what’s best for us?

When we must forgive – again – do we remember how much we’ve been forgiven and forgive graciously, or do we hold a grudge, give the silent treatment, or hold out for proof the other person really means it?  Continue reading

“Politics, Choices & Trusting God” March 28

 

Politics, Choices & Trusting God - God's Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God's people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.God’s Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God’s people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.

Also, in what are you trusting? Our government, living in America, your own resources? What do choices have to do with trust?


Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 17 & 18
Psalm 37.37-40
Proverbs 12.20-22
Luke 4.1-30

 

Politics, Choices & Trusting God

 

Deuteronomy 17 & 18:

God & Government

 

Chapter 17.14-20:

14 “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ 17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

18 “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

God’s Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God’s people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.

God, Government & Our ChoisesLeaders should be those “whom the LORD your God chooses.” In a nation like ours where we choose our leaders, they should not be chosen on the basis of political expediency or personal gain. Instead, we should pray, seek godly counsel, and search God’s Word for the characteristics of godly men.

“You may not set a foreigner over you.” Certainly, this has national implications, but more important are the spiritual ones. Look again at verses 18-19, “he shall write for himself a copy of this law … he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes…”

Of course, this was written directly to the nation of Israel. God intended the nation to be a theocracy, led by God Himself through His chosen leaders. Instead, they would demand a king like the nations around them. And while there would be consequences, God still provided wisdom for living under the authority of kings and other leaders. And there is much we can learn from His instructions about living under our government today.

Our most important consideration when choosing leaders should be, Continue reading

“The Danger of Believing Lies” December 29

 

The Danger of Believing LiesToday we’ll talk about the danger of believing lies, whether about some false religion or about our right to nurse our wounds and refuse to forgive.

We’ll also continue our study in Revelation as the final conflict approaches.

About 2017

There are only two more days in 2016. Have you set a goal for your Bible reading in 2017? Have you invited someone else to join you? Let’s bring others along as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3.18).

On to the readings …

 

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 10-12
Psalm 149.1-4
Proverbs 30.32-33
Revelation 19-21

 

The Danger of Believing Lies

 

Zechariah 10-12:

The Idols Speak Delusion

 

I found verse 10.2 very interesting. It says:

“For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd.”

Yesterday we talked about “Babylon the Great,” and how the world’s religious and socioeconomic system will be destroyed at the end of the age. We also talked about the allure of false religions. So often, what makes false religion so alluring is because it tells us what we want to hear.

It tells us we’re “OK” if we just keep these rules. It even enables us to feel self-righteous because all those “other people” outside our group don’t get it!

Or it tells us that god is within us and we just need to reach some higher level of spirituality and that we can do so by meditating on this mantra or using this substance. This appeals to the self-delusion that we are more spiritual than someone else.

The lure of false religion is one of the reasons we get so enthralled with things like “The DaVinci Code” and tales of “lost gospels.” It’s the appeal of Gnosticism, the belief in some hidden knowledge, not available to the “less enlightened.” It’s the appeal of the Masonic Temple and many “secret” organizations.

It’s the appeal of martyrdom for Allah and the reward of “100 virgins” or of giving up your life to live in a monastery forsaking all earthly possessions. It’s the deception of Continue reading

“Truth & Lies” October 21

 

False ProphetsJesus called Satan the father of lies and He warned the religious leaders of His day that they were listening to the wrong voice. In the garden Satan sold Eve a bill of goods and in Jeremiah’s day, he spoke through false prophets who told the people that the consequences of their sin wouldn’t be so bad. False teachers and false prophets are saying much the same thing today. Others may propagate lies because they are misinformed and listening to the wrong voice.

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 27 & 28
Psalm 119.33-40
Proverbs 27.18
2 Thessalonians 3.1-18

 

Truth & Lies

 

Jeremiah 27 & 28:

False prophets

In the garden the serpent told Eve, “You will not surely die!” In other words, your disobedience won’t result in painful consequences.

As if to make His point that the devil is a liar, God recorded pages and pages of genealogy and after each name it says, “… and he died and was buried with his fathers.”

In Jeremiah’s day, false prophets told the people that the consequences of their sin wouldn’t be so bad, but it too, was a lie.

Today, the false prophets may not look as obvious, but they’re out there. They’re preachers and teachers. They’re counselors, psychologists and therapists. They’re teachers and university professors. They’re politicians and judges and activists and Planned Parenthood employees.

 

They Prophesy Falsely …

They prophesy falsely when they say, “The Bible isn’t all true. It’s just a book of myths.”

But God says:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1.20-21).

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3.16).

Or, when they say “Jesus was a good man, but not God.”

But Jesus said “I and My Father are one (Jn. 10.30).”

He can’t be both a good man and a liar.

Or, “Jesus loves everyone just the way you are. There’s no need to change.”

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel (Mk. 1.15).

They prophesy falsely every time they say to an unrepentant sinner, “You don’t need to feel guilty. You need to do what’s right for you.”

Guilt is not always a bad thing. Apart from Christ we’re all guilty, so guilty that the only remedy was for Jesus to die in our place! Often the guilt and consequences are the very things God uses to draw people to Himself.

2 Corinthians 7.9-10 says:

9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

They prophesy falsely every time they say to a young woman, “You won’t suffer any problems as a result of this abortion.”

But to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath,tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good (Rom. 2.8-10).

Or “Just accept who you are. You were born that way.”

We were all born sinners though we’re inclined to sin in different ways, but that’s precisely why we need a Savior.

And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again (2 Cor. 5.15).

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Cor. 5.17).

Or when they question God by asking, “What kind of a God let’s all these bad things happen?” As if God is obligated to bless a people who have denied His right to rule them!

But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2.10).

Or, even, when they say, “Just ask Jesus into your heart” without talking about the need to repent and turn away from sin.

Joel 2.12 says, “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

And Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Lk. 26.20).

And Acts 26.20 says, “… and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.”

It’s not that it’s wrong to pray a prayer of salvation, but it isn’t a “magic formula.” Each person needs to first understand and accept the gospel: that Jesus died for guilty sinners, that He rose from the dead so that we can have new life, and that He is Lord not just Savior (Rom. 10.9-10).

prayerThe acceptance of that truth may be expressed in a prayer. It may happen in a church pew, at an altar, in a home, an alley, or a hospital bed. It may happen as the Word is preached, as the gospel is shared one on one, or as the Spirit of God brings gospel truth to remembrance. It may look very different from one life to the next, but in some way an understanding of our inability to redeem ourselves (Rom. 3.10-12, 23, 6.23), that Christ died the death we deserved (Rom. 5.8), and that He offers us salvation as a free gift (Rom. 6.23; Eph. 2.8-9) must come alive.

If you’re reading this and that truth is coming alive in your heart, talk to God. No fancy words are required. Admit you’re a sinner and ask Him to forgive you, accept what He did for you and ask for His help to live a life that’s pleasing to Him. It’s that simple.

 

As for the False Teachers …

And as for the false teachers … there will come a time when some will hear what Hananiah heard at the end of 28.15-17:  Continue reading

The Most Important Election of Our Lifetime?

 

This Election ... the Most Important in Our Lifetime?

 

The Most Important Election in Our Lifetime?

 

Almost everyone I talk to is disgusted and disheartened about the condition of our nation, the election, and the candidates.  Social media is full of disparaging comments, photos, and videos asking the question, “Is this the best we could come up with?”

The temptation for many of us is to turn away from the whole process, but could this be the most important election in our lifetime?

 

My Old Testament reading today was from Jeremiah 9 & 10. As I was working on today’s daily post, I found myself looking once again at truths that speak to us and to this election. The daily post kept getting longer and longer so I’m sending it out late and separately.

 

Jeremiah 9 & 10:

Sin, Lies & Politics

Jeremiah  is often called the weeping prophet. He was heartbroken over the spiritual and moral condition of his nation. In chapter 9 he said:

Oh, that I had in the wilderness
A lodging place for travelers;
That I might leave my people,
And go from them!
For they are all adulterers,
An assembly of treacherous men.

“And like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies.
They are not valiant for the truth on the earth.
For they proceed from evil to evil,
And they do not know Me,” says the Lord.

We don’t use bows and arrows today, but we have all seen them. We understand how the bow is loaded with the arrow and then pulled back and fired at the target. In fact, the bow’s sole purpose is to launch arrows.

This was a picture of people whose lives were characterized by lies. Just like the bow is known for shooting arrows, so these people were known for a life of deceit. Jeremiah goes on to say,

“They weary themselves to commit iniquity” (9.5).

In our nation, it seems like every day there are new allegations and demonstrations of ungodly behavior on the part of one or both of our candidates … everything from cover-ups and deleted emails to so called “locker room talk.”

And, at least in one party, it appears systemic. Even those connected to the candidate “weary themselves to commit iniquity.”

If you can believe the most recently leaked emails, (even the writers aren’t denying their truth, only attacking the source), the political elite have contempt and disgust for people of faith.

Like many of our politicians, the people of Jeremiah’s day thought they were so wise (9.12). Perhaps, like today, they thought the religion of their fathers was for the weak and the unenlightened. We shouldn’t be surprised. 1 Corinthians 1 says:  Continue reading

“Look in the Mirror & Take the Test” October 12

 

Take the Test

Take the test: look into the mirror of God’s Word and ask yourself, “Which of these characteristics describe me and which don’t?” What do your answers tell you about your walk with God, your trust in Him, and your level of spiritual maturity?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 9 & 10
Psalm 118.5-9
Proverbs 27.7
Colossians 3.1-25

 

Look in the Mirror & Take the Test

 

Colossians 3.1-25:

The Mirror of God’s Word

Take the Test

In chapter 1 of James’ epistle, he compares the Word of God to a mirror (Jas. 1.23) and goes on to say that “if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it” (Jas. 1.25).

Here in this passage, Paul commands us to “set our mind on things above, not on the things on the earth” (v. 2).

This chapter gives us a great summary of what a mature Christian life should look like—kind of a composite mirror image of Christlike character. Read back through Colossians 3 and take the test. Ask yourself what you are reflecting to the world.  Continue reading