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 →
Bad company corrupts good morals. That is true of friends, advisers, co-workers, business partners, spouses, and anyone else with whom we spend a great deal of time. It’s true in our personal lives, in our work lives, and Proverbs tells us, even in politics.
“Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness.”
The king represented their system of government. Romans tells us “bad company corrupts good morals.” That is true in politics, as well as, in our personal lives. Let’s pray that our president-elect, politicians and other leaders would surround themselves with godly counselors.
But we also need to be wise in our personal choices of friends and associates.
“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).
We can’t always choose our co-workers, but we can be wise about how much time we spend with them during breaks and after work. We can be careful not to listen to gossip, complaining or advise from those who are ungodly.
If we’re already married to an unbeliever we need to fill our hearts and minds with God’s truth and seek to love them biblically while continuing to be salt and light. If we’re single we should only date someone who would be a godly spouse.
We need to choose our friends wisely. It’s not that we should never spend time with unbelievers, but our closest friends should be those who love God and will speak truth into our lives not tell us what we want to hear all the time. Continue reading →
In chapters 31 and 32 God continues to speak to Egypt, perhaps more as a warning to His people that they could no longer turn to worldly powers like Egypt for help and protection. In chapter 31 He compared Egypt to a great tree under which many had taken refuge, but which was about to be broken and destroyed.
Egypt is also a picture of the world and the world’s system. As a nation, we have attempted to live under that system. We have tried to legislate morality, tolerance, and equality. We have expected the government to provide for every need or imagined need, but our system, too, is broken.
The problem is the world’s version of morality, tolerance and equality is not one based on God’s Word and His standard. We are expected to “tolerate” things that are contrary to biblical morality. Equality is no longer about equal opportunity to work hard and make your way in the world, it’s about taking from one and giving to another. And morality is a morality that turns biblical morality on its ear.
No matter how much we “tinker” with our broken system, as long as it’s based on a faulty foundation, it will never have the ability to fix what is wrong in our nation. As believers we must look to God in our own lives and pray for genuine heart change in the lives of others. Continue reading →
Biblical truth is the standard by which our government and every one of our politicians should be measured. In a Democratic Republic like our nation, the only way that will be a reality is if we begin to vote what we say we believe and hold our politicians accountable after they are elected.
If not, our nation will continue to be living proof of Proverbs 28.12 which says “when the wicked arise, the righteous must hide themselves.”
Verse 160, “The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.”
As I said in a recent post, God’s Word is not to be taken cafeteria style. We don’t get to pick and choose what parts we will believe. The entirety of His Word is truth, even when we fail to fully understand it. It was not only truth in biblical times, but is truth today, and for all eternity. Jesus said:
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24.35).
That means biblical truth is the standard by which our government and every one of our politicians should be measured. In a Democratic Republic like our nation, the only way that will be a reality is if we begin to vote what we say we believe and hold our politicians accountable after they are elected.
It doesn’t matter which political party they belong to, but when politicians are exposed day after day as sexually immoral, when others break the laws they are sworn to uphold, when they vote for the legalized murder of innocent babies in the womb, and applaud “gay marriage,” something has gone terribly wrong. How long can we expect God to protect and bless our nation as a whole?
Secret Ballots Are Not Secret to God
While change would take time, we are still individually responsible for how we vote and whether or not we speak up for what’s right. While our voting is secret from other people, it’s not a secret to our omniscient God. As the Apostle Paul said a couple thousand years ago:
“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5.9-10).
But we don’t have to wait for eternity to see the results of voting for ungodly men and women. The state of our nation is living proof, but God said it thousands of years ago, as our Proverbs reading points out.
When the righteous rejoice, there is great glory; But when the wicked arise, men hide themselves.
Too often in a democracy, men and women begin to vote based on the politics of “what’s in it for me,” instead of what’s right in God’s eyes. There is no shortage of men and women willing to tell us what we want to hear to gain political power. And when the evil gain power, good men must hide themselves or be punished for standing up for what’s right. This is already taking place as we hear the outrage when Christians speak the truth about abortion or homosexuality, take a stand against sexual immorality, or refuse to approve things God forbids.
This has nothing to do with political party; there is plenty of evil to go around. But if the righteous are to rejoice, we must begin to vote based on the godly character, the platform on which candidates are running, and their willingness to stand up for what God says is right.
Sincere, godly believers are going to disagree about what that looks like when they step into the voting booth. But each of us should sincerely search God’s Word and pray for His wisdom. Then we need to stay committed to pray for our leaders and hold them accountable in the days and weeks to come. 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 →
It’s been a tough election year for most of us. Many feel it’s nearly impossible to whole-heartedly support either candidate. Personally, I’ve run the gamut of thoughts during and after the primaries, including, “I may not vote at all.” And as the process has gone on, I’m not any happier about the choices we have.
The question I’ve pondered is, “What is the right thing to do?”
Lord of All
I don’t believe our lives as a believers should look like a pie chart with a “business slice,” a “civic slice,” a “family slice,” a “social slice,” and maybe a “religious slice” where we keep God. God is God of all of life and He rightfully expects to be ruler over the whole pie.
Our faith and the principles of God should inform how we do business, how we love and raise our families, how we conduct our social lives and every other area, including how we carry out our civic duties.
Jesus taught that we were to be good citizens:
… “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God” (Lk. 20.25).
Paul added to that idea in Romans 13:
¹ Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
6 Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority (NLT).
And Proverbs 29.2 tells us:
When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan.
So, in a nation like ours where we choose our political leaders, we should do all that we can to see that godly people are in authority.
I’ve written often about “the goal of life” Paul talked about in 2 Corinthians 5.9:
Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
So what would be pleasing to God?
The Sovereignty of God
While I believe as Christians we should do our part to elect godly leaders, God is not limited by anything we do. He’s not limited by who wins the election or the kind of political system under which we live.
He has cared for His people through the centuries under even the most oppressive governments. In the first century alone, believers “turned the world upside down” (Act 17.5-6) under one of the most wicked and oppressive governments in history.
We also must remember that government is not our savior. It’s not the answer to the moral and spiritual problems our nation faces. We are the light of the world (Matt. 5.16). It’s our job to make disciples and teach others about God and His Word (Matt. 28.19-20).
Our culture will never change unless hearts are first changed.
We must remember, too, that it’s God Himself who raises one up and removes another from positions of authority (Dan. 2.21). But when the nation of Israel demanded a king like the other nations, He gave them one (1 Sam. 8.5). So we shouldn’t take our responsibility lightly, beginning with prayer.
My Voting Decision
So how did I decide?
I’ve always based my voting decisions on moral, biblical issues, so with all due respect to her supporters, I knew I could never vote for Hillary Clinton because of her stand on abortion and gay marriage, among other things. Not because I hate women who have had an abortion or people living a gay lifestyle, but because God forbids those things (Ex. 20.13; Rom. 1.26-27).
Our nation rightfully deserves God’s harshest judgment for the blood of the million plus babies who are murdered each year in the name of women’s rights and now we are trying to redefine the institution of marriage, an institution that was ordained by God Himself (Gen. 2.22-25).
But I don’t agree with many of Donald Trump’s choices and attitudes either. So the real question for me was, “Would I vote at all?”
Then one day, as I went through the mail, a copy of Decision, a magazine put out by Billy Graham’s Ministry, found its way into my hands. On the cover was a picture of the two candidates and the headline, “Two Visions. Two Americas.” But it wasn’t the headline that caught my attention. As I thumbed through the pages, I came to an article comparing the two party platforms.
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time you’ve probably seen similar comparisons. I know I’ve seen many of them, but reading the stands from each platform made me realize what I needed to do.
The article stated, “Many decisions are made at the president’s desk, but the major political party to which he or she belongs wields significant power over which domestic and international policies are advanced and what becomes law.”
I’m not naive enough to think that because any political party says they stand for something, that our elected officials will necessarily do what’s right or that laws will automatically be changed. But given the choices, I realized my responsibility was to vote for the one whose platform most aligned with God’s principles and pray for those who are tasked with carrying out those goals. Whether or not they do is ultimately in God’s hands and the candidates are accountable to Him.
Here are some excerpts on various issues:
Sanctity of Life
Democratic: “Democrats seek to repeal the 1976 Hyde Amendment so that federal funds can be used to pay for abortions. The platform says, ‘We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers.’ Democrats support ratification of UN efforts that affirm ‘the reproductive rights of women’ globally.”
Republican: “The GOP asserts the sanctity of human life and affirms, ‘The unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.’ The party supports a Human Life Amendment making clear that the 14th Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth, and it salutes states that require informed consent, parental consent, waiting periods and clinic regulation.”
Democratic: “‘Democrats applaud last year’s Supreme Court ruling that ‘LGBT people–like other Americans–have the right to marry the person they love.'”
Republican: “The GOP platform condemns the Supreme Court’s rulings that removed the ability of Congress and the people to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The GOP urges the reversal of those decisions, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment.”
Democratic: “The Democratic platform says, ‘We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.’ The party opposes a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the country.”
Republican: “Republicans affirm that religious freedom in the Bill of Rights protects the right of the people to practice their faith in their everyday lives. The platform endorses the First Amendment Defense Act, which would protect faith-based institutions and individuals from government discrimination.”
Democratic: “The platform says: ‘We will appoint judges who defend the constitutional principles of liberty and equality for all, and will protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion.”
Republican: “The GOP platform states: ‘A critical threat to our country’s constitutional order is an activist judiciary that usurps powers properly reserved to the people through other branches of government.’ The GOP supports the appointment of justices and judges who respect the constitutional limits on their power and respect the authority of the states.
Internet Safety and Decency
Democratic: “The platform supports ‘a free and open internet at home and abroad.’ The party would seek to strengthen cybersecurity while ‘protecting the privacy and civil liberties of the American people.”
Republican: “The platform states: ‘The internet must not become a safe haven for predators. Pornography, with its harmful effects, especially on children, has become a public health crisis that is destroying the lives of millions.'”
The article also covers each party’s position on:
Human Rights (the Democratic stand has mostly to do with LGBT rights, even forcing policies on other nations)
Law and Order
Israel and Jerusalem
So while I don’t have a high view of the candidate, because of his party’s stand on biblical, moral issues, I’ll be voting for Donald Trump in November. And I’ll trust God to do in our nation what only He can do.
I also know I need to recommit myself to praying more faithfully for our nation, its people, all the candidates, and whoever will become our next president.
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God has strong words to say to any nation found calling evil good. Yet … 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 speaking up for the truth intolerant. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”
Even though these passages are specifically about the nation of Israel, there is much universal truth contained in them.
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 on those and other subjects “intolerant” and considered by many to be 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 →