Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness. Because, as Paul said, bad company corrupts good morals.
Anyone who thinks the Bible is an old dusty book with little current application has only to read the book of Proverbs and other passages in light of today’s headlines. Just consider the growing list of those accused of sexual immorality, greed, and corruption:
Hollywood elite who looked the other way as directors and other powerful men preyed on young women.
The perpetrators themselves.
Politicians who have been corrupted by power, position and the ability to spend tax-payer dollars to cover their indiscretions.
Others afraid or unwilling to criticize, perhaps wondering if they’ll be the next to be outed or accused.
Women who have been willing to tolerate abuses to get what they wanted (yes, some were naive or fearful, but do we really believe all of them were mere victims).
Those willing to use money and favor, if not, out and out bribery, to get a desired outcome.
Those willing to accept it.
Politicians and media people willing to stack elections in favor of one candidate or the other; one party or the other.
And many other examples.
But bad influences don’t just exist in politics and the entertainment industry. They can exist with our friends, advisers, co-workers, business partners, spouses, and those with whom we spend a great deal of time, whose favor we desire, or whose influence we come under. Continue reading →
Most people would agree things in our nation are broken, but there’s little agreement about how to change it. Can we tinker with a broken system and expect to fix it?
We not only face great challenges within our nation but attacks and attempted attacks from without seem to be non-stop. How should a Christian respond to those who are sworn to destroy us as a society and individually? Continue reading →
It seems many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle are more concerned about how their current decisions and the laws they pass affect them directly. Their primary goal appears to be getting re-elected rather than doing what’s right. Yet we have a responsibility to pray for those God has placed in authority.
Reading about Hezekiah made me think of some of our politicians.
5 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD of hosts. 6 ‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD. 7 ‘And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’”
8 So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!” For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days.”
The Prophet had just told him, Hezekiah, your choices and the accumulated rebellion of your generation are going to lead to the destruction of your nation as you know it. Your children and grandchildren are going to be taken into slavery, some will even be castrated. And, instead of calling his nation to repentance, his response was, “At least it will be good for me!”
It seems many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle are more concerned about how their current decisions and the laws they pass affect them directly, too. Their primary goal appears to be getting re-elected rather than doing what’s right. Without a revival in our nation, I don’t see that changing.
But that doesn’t excuse us from praying for those God has placed in authority:
1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.1-4).
If there is to be a reprieve in God’s judgment on our nation, it’s only going to happen because the hearts of our leaders change. Only then will they make right, though painful, economic decisions. Only then will they call for racial unity. Only then will they make good moral choices, even at great personal cost.
Let’s pray for revival in our nation’s capitol and her people.
Chapter 40 makes we wonder afresh if we really understand the awesomeness of God:
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance?
13 Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
14 With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding?
Though the Bible is not primarily a book about science, where it does speak of science or any other subject, it is truth! Verse 22, for example, says, “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth …” He told us the earth was round long before science figured it out!
Although many theories laid out by sinful, unredeemed men contradict the Bible (remember it’s the theory of evolution), true science does not!
Chapter 40 goes on:
26 Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing.
Just look up! The heavens declare His majesty. The order and magnificence of the universe speaks of a Creator. The intricacies of the human body alone confirm to anyone who wants to know the truth that nothing happened by mere chance.
God is upholding everything! He “brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name.” The host—all the stars and planets and all the universes that exist, do so because He created them. He already knows just how many there are even as we continue to discover new ones. He has already named each one of them. Just as He declared what a set of pagan parents would name their son (King Cyrus) a hundred and fifty years before, so He pre-ordained the name of each star and planet and solar system.
And if that’s not enough, it’s His power which holds each one in its place, “by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing.”
What an amazing thing that the Creator of everything in the heavens above and the earth beneath invites us to have a relationship with Him!
Today’s Other Readings:
For His Name’s Sake
And when we have a right relationship with Him, He deals with us through His mercy and grace.
“But You, O GOD the Lord, deal with me for Your name’s sake; because Your mercy is good, deliver me” (v. 21).
The Curse of Sin
“Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight.”
Certainly, this can apply to the laws of sowing and reaping, but the world as a whole is under the curse of sin. One day it will be destroyed because of God’s righteous judgment and will be replaced with a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21.1).
Justified by Faith
When God destroys the earth, those of us who have been justified by faith (v. 16) will not be destroyed with it.
1 Thessalonians 4:
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
God is in control of everything and the best preparation we can take for the catastrophic changes coming to the world is not environmental restrictions. It’s not stocking up on survival gear. The most important preparation is the preparation of our hearts and cultivating a passion to share Christ with those who don’t know Him.
Let’s not be like Hezekiah in the spiritual sense, thinking we won’t be around to worry about all this.
In the next few days we’ll talk more about legalism, especially in our parenting, whether or not things God hates could be part of our lives and more.
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Could Isaiah’s words paint a picture of our nation?
He describes people who work at sin. They don’t fall into it; they pull it to themselves like a team of horses pulls a load. They do it, in spite of, the conviction of their own consciences and God’s faithfulness to warn and correct them. In so doing, they pull God’s judgments onto their own heads.
He describes their sin by saying they “call evil good, and good evil.” Yet, in spite of God’s strong warnings against it, we have decided to call homosexuality another lifestyle option and abortion just a choice. We justify the wicked for a bribe and call it politics and call anyone who speaks up for the truth intolerant.
Here are [s]ins described which will bring judgments upon a people: and this perhaps is not only a charge drawn up against the men of Judah who lived at that time, and the particular articles of that charge, though it may relate primarily to them, but is rather intended for warning to all people, in all ages, to take heed of these sins, as destructive both to particular persons and to communities, and exposing men to God’s wrath and his righteous judgments.
He goes on to describe their behavior:
Who are eagerly set upon sin, and violent in their sinful pursuits (Isaiah 5:18), who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, who take as much pains to sin as the cattle do that draw a team, who put themselves to the stretch for the gratifying of their inordinate appetites, and, to humour a base lust, offer violence to nature itself. They think themselves as sure of compassing their wicked project as if they were pulling it towards them with strong cart-ropes … in spite of the oppositions of Providence and the checks of conscience. Some by sin understand the punishment of sin: they pull God’s judgments upon their own heads as it were, with cart-ropes.
These are people who work at sin. They don’t fall into it; they pull it to themselves like a team of horses pulls a load. They do it, in spite of, the conviction of their own consciences and God’s faithfulness to warn and correct them (Providence). In so doing, they pull God’s judgments on their own heads.
I commented on some of this yesterday, but think about our nation as you read the following verses 5.20-24:
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight! 22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, 23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man! 24 Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, And the flame consumes the chaff, So their root will be as rottenness, And their blossom will ascend like dust; Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
We call evil (abortion, homosexuality, etc.) good.
We call speaking up for the truth about those and other subjects “intolerant” and evil.
We put forth darkness (all kinds of sin and immorality) as being “enlightened”—intellectual.
We rail against the backward narrow-minded Christians who supposedly want to “impose” their views on everyone.
We justify the wicked for a bribe and call it politics.
We take away the justice from the righteous man.
Then we are outraged when the flame of a bad economy consumes our retirement plans and our stock portfolios and our jobs disappear like blossoms gone by and turned to dust.
We want to blame past presidential administrations, immigrants, the middle class, the rich, the poor, or corporate America. But the real problem is we “have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel”! Continue reading →
As Paul is winding up the book of Romans, he tells us that, as believers, we are able to admonish one another when biblically necessary. That means risking what people may think, even their rejection, to speak the truth in love when there is an issue that is hurting others, hindering their walk with God, or hurting the cause of Christ.
In our fast changing world, many things that were once universally considered wrong are now called right. Speaking up when God’s standards are at stake is going to be more and more costly … but God’s grace will abound to those who remain faithful to God and His Word.
And notice to whom this passage was written and what we need to do before we go to someone.
Also, when it comes to our political leaders, how should a clear understanding of God’s sovereignty and His commands concerning authority, effect how we speak and respond now?
Verse 4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”
The Scriptures, in particular the Old Testament (like the book of Job which we are going through), were written so that we might grow and learn by the examples of others, good and bad. God patiently instructs us in how we should change and shows us the results of unbiblical living. And as we grow and come to understand God’s love and grace, we find comfort in His faithfulness to those who remained devoted to Him.
Admonishing When Needed
Let’s look at one more verse in Romans 15:
“Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another” (v. 14).
Notice this verse is not written to pastors or counselors or spiritual leaders. It was written to the believers at Rome and by extension to us as believers. Paul says all of us are “able to admonish one another.” That word for admonish means, “exhort, admonish, and instruct.” Admonish means, “to rebuke or to advise or warn someone to do, or not do, something.”
So God expects us to be willing to get our hands dirty, to risk what people may think of us and even rejection, at times, to speak the truth in love to those who are sinning, as well as, those who need encouragement.
However, we must guard against a harsh or self-righteous attitude. We are to confront others lovingly, gently, tentatively, especially if we’re not sure of the circumstances, and humbly. That requires checking our own motives and a careful self-examination to make sure we take the logs out of our own eyes first (Matt. 7.3-5).
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6.1).
As we continue to read through God’s Word, especially the book of Job, it’s tempting to grow tired or get confused by all that is happening. As we read of Job’s sufferings, his friends’ lack of mercy and grace, and God’s silence so far, we should ask ourselves some questions:
How will coming to understand this better help me be more patient in my sufferings and disappointments? How can I learn to trust God more? What can I learn from listening to Job’s “comforters“? What can I learn from Job about responding to unjust criticism?
Often when we fail to grow in our understanding of Scripture it’s because we fail to ask the right questions. Continue reading →
What or who is really to blame for the trouble in America? Is it Democrats? Is it Republicans? Is it because of our stand on one issue or another? Is it our form of government? Is it taxes? Is it the rich or the poor? Or does the answer lie some place else? And what is our responsibility as Christians in today’s moral, spiritual, political climate?
Solomon has died and the kingdom has been divided under his son, starting a procession of kings that would repeatedly lead to God’s judgment and, eventually, their captivity.
Today’s reading focuses on the northern part of the divided kingdom. You remember in chapter 16.30-33:
“… Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD, more than all who were before him … he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal … Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”
Wow, what an indictment! Some of those other guys were pretty wicked, but God says Ahab was the worst!
And in chapter 17 God announced His judgment through the Prophet Elijah.
And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” (1 Kings 17.1).
James 5.17 tells us that when Elijah prayed under God’s direction, it didn’t rain for three and a half years. But rather than looking to themselves, Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, blamed Elijah.
When Elijah showed up, Ahab called him the “troubler of Israel.” Elijah answered in 18.18:
“I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals.”
The Trouble with America
It made me think about what goes on in politics today in our nation. Everyone wants to say, “The trouble with America is this policy or that one. Everyone points the finger at someone or something else. The Democrats point to the Republicans; the Republicans to the Democrats; the poor to the rich, and on it goes. Continue reading →
I counsel a lot of people who struggle because of words that were spoken to them as children. Certainly, God can use it for good as He helps them find their identity in Him, but how sad when our kids have to overcome our parenting, rather than remember it with gratitude. You kids will be grown before you know it. How will they remember you? They may know you love them, but do they know you like them?
2 Samuel 3 & 4
Do Your Kids Know You LIKE Them?
In the Light of the King’s (& Queen’s) Face
Verse 15, “In the light of the king’s face is life, and his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.”
Leaders have a great opportunity to be a blessing by encouraging those under them. My husband recently picked up a book about the top 10 mistakes leaders make. One of the big 10 was failing to encourage!
No where do we have a greater opportunity to encourage (or discourage!) than in our homes with our spouses and with our children.
That’s one reason why husbands are commanded to live with their wives in a understanding way (1 Pet. 3.7) and wives are commanded to show respect for their husbands (Eph. 5.33) and to have a gentle spirit (1 Pet. 3.2). Even when we must reprove one another we are to do it with gentleness (Gal. 6.1).
As parents, Colossians 3.21 instructs us to “not provoke [our] children, lest they become discouraged.” Parenting is not about giving our children everything they want (far from it!) or allowing them to do what pleases them, but we can and should parent in a way that encourages them and not in a way that discourages them.
Megan Scheibner and her husband Steve have a website called “Character Health.” In her blog she wrote:
There are many things that my children know. They know how to read, they know how to pray, they know how to do their chores, etc. But, there are just as many things that I assume my children know without ever making sure that my assumption is correct … The first is this: don’t assume your children know you like them. Yes, my children know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I love them, however, do they know that I like them?
How are your relationships with your children? Is it all about what they do wrong? Is it all about getting their homework and chores done? Is it all about the next scheduled activity? Do you ever take the time to just let your kids know you like them and enjoy spending time with them? Continue reading →
Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week … sometimes year after year. Maybe you’ve, actually, stopped praying about it, because you’re sure God is tired of hearing it.
Or have you been tempted to think … I give up! I’ve tried to stop or I’ve asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn’t listening!
1 Samuel 12 & 13
When Still Fighting the Same Struggle
Redeemer of Our Failures
Have you ever felt you let God down by something you did or failed to do? You told Him, you would never do such and such again, but a day or two or three later … there you are again. You may feel like Peter when the rooster crowed and He realized Jesus was looking right at him (Lk. 22.34, 60-61)!
Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week … sometimes year after year. Maybe you’ve stopped praying about it, because you’re sure God is tired of hearing it.
Or have you been tempted to think … I give up! I’ve tried or I’ve asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn’t listening! Continue reading →
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 is often called the weeping prophet. He was heartbroken over the spiritual and moral condition of his nation. In chapter 9 he said:
2 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.
3 “And like their bow they have bent their tongues forlies. 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 →