“Family Feuds, Sissies & Spiritual Ditches” June 13

 

Family Feuds, Sissies & Spiritual Ditches - Fighting and disagreements within a family can be some of the most difficult to settle, but God places a high priority on unity and peace within our biological families and within the family of God. Sadly, very few have the strength of character to do what is required in the midst of family feuds, spiritual or biological.Fighting and disagreements within a family can be some of the most difficult to settle, but God places a high priority on unity and peace within our biological families and within the family of God. Sadly, very few have the strength of character to do what is required in the midst of family feuds, spiritual or biological.


Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 14
Psalm 73.10-20
Proverbs 18.18-19
John 20.1-31

 

Family Feuds, Sissies & Spiritual Ditches

 

Family Feuds

Proverbs 18.18-19:

 

Verse 19, “A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle.”

If you have ever seen or been a part of a family feud, you know they can last for years, partly because of the intensity of the emotional ties. So we must seek to avoid unnecessary conflict within our families.

Family feuds are often over money, favoritism, or failure to take responsibilities seriously.

Favoritism can be real or imagined, but the sovereignty of God must always be kept in mind. If God has allowed some mistreatment or lack of favor, what character quality (Gal. 5.22-23) might He be developing in your life and how does God want you to respond?

When it comes to responsibility, whether it’s children taking responsibility for themselves or siblings taking responsibility to care for aging parents, we are accountable for ourselves regardless of what someone else does or doesn’t do. Remember God rewards those who do right with the right heart attitude.

And when it comes to money, Jesus makes it clear how Christians should respond:

 

Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! (1 Cor. 6).

When we feel we are being cheated (not repaid for a debt or not given what we are due), God says to forgive and let it go. How we respond when it comes to money reveals a lot about our attitude toward God. Matthew 6:

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money].

Verses 14-15 warn us to forgive those who wrong us:

14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6).

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt. 16.26).

Of course, avoiding conflict must be balanced with other biblical truths. We cannot use obeying God in one area to excuse our sin in another. We can’t use peace with our parents, for instance, as an excuse for a lack of submission to our husbands. We can’t allow what our family will think or whether they will be offended, to excuse drunkenness, gossip or any other sin. Romans 12.2 tells us:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” And 12.18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.”

“If it is possible …” At times, even though we refrain from arguing, being self-righteous or unnecessarily contentious, there are those who do not want to be at peace with us, even in our own families. We are to be salt and light. Salt sometimes stings and light always exposes darkness. And sometimes that brings anger and rejection from others.

hands reconciliationBut while family feuds can be challenging and emotions can run high, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do all we can to reconcile those relationships. Jesus said in Matthew 5.23-24:

23 Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

God puts a high priority on unity and reconciliation and we should do all we can to be at peace within our biological families and within the family of God.

Is doesn’t matter who is more in the right. “The one who knows goes!”

James 4.17, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

 

God puts a high priority on unity and reconciliation and we should do all we can to be at peace within our biological families and within the family of God.

 

Family Feuds & Sissies - Fighting and disagreements within a family can be some of the most difficult to settle, but God places a high priority on unity and peace within our biological families and within the family of God. Sadly, very few have the strength of character to do what is required in the midst of family feuds, spiritual or biological.“But you don’t know what they did to me!” No, maybe not, but Jesus does. Matthew 5:  Continue reading

“I Would Never ___________!” June 10

 

"I Would Never _______!" - God’s Word has much to say about pride, humility, and wise living. When we heed its counsel, it can help us avoid many of the pitfalls that lead to embarrassment, humiliation, or disaster. Even within Jesus' inner circle, prideful, self-confident Peter had told Jesus he would never deny Him. Yet, three denials later, as he heard that rooster crow, he must have experienced the worst grief and humiliation of his life!God’s Word has much to say about pride, humility, and wise living. When we heed its counsel, it can help us avoid many of the pitfalls that lead to embarrassment, humiliation, or disaster.

Even within Jesus’ inner circle, prideful, self-confident Peter had told Jesus he would never deny Him. Yet, three denials later, as he heard that rooster crow, he must have experienced the worst grief and humiliation of his life!

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 7 & 8
Psalm 72.8-16
Proverbs 18.12-13
John 18.19-40

 

I Would Never ___________!

 

Three Denials Later

John 18.19-40:

 

rooster

I couldn’t help thinking about today’s passage from proverbs when I read John 18 about Peter’s denial. Prideful, self-confident Peter had told Jesus he would never deny Him (Jn. 13.37).

Jesus had answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times” (Jn. 13.38).

Now here in chapter 18 Jesus has been arrested:

15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. 17 Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, “You are not also one of this Man’s disciples, are you?”

He said, “I am not.”

Verse 25:

25 Now Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. Therefore they said to him, “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?”

He denied it and said, “I am not!”

26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of him whose ear Peter cut off, said, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” 27 Peter then denied again; and immediately a rooster crowed.

Can you imagine, three denials later, when he heard that rooster crow and the words of Jesus came flooding back? The heartbreak Peter must have felt! The shame!

In our pride, we too, often think we could never sin in “such and such” a way, so we let down the guardrails, pridefully thinking we can handle “it.”

So we start having lunch with a co-worker of the opposite sex, because … we’re just friends.

We contact an old flame on FaceBook just out of curiosity.

We go out with an unbeliever. After all, we’re not getting married! It’s just a date!  Continue reading

“5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ” May 23

 

5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ - During Jesus' earthly ministry there were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today. Where are you and what is your attitude toward Christ? Do you say you believe without putting "feet" to your faith? Do you believe He exists without trusting Him personally? Are you convinced He is who He said He was and live your live accordingly? Do questions about other religions or science confuse you? Or do you believe something else? Even as professing believers we can fall into some of these attitudes. We can trust God for our salvation, but be contrary about obedience in certain areas or refuse to trust the Bible wholeheartedly. Or we can be confused because He isn't working in our lives the way we want. We can believe He isn't answering our prayers. Could it be that we have a wrong understanding about God and how He works in our lives? I hope you'll read today's post and evaluate where you are.During Jesus’ earthly ministry there were many different reactions to the claims of Christ. Some were convinced, some contrary, some confused, and others hostile. Not much has changed today.

Where are you and what is your attitude toward Christ? Do you say you believe without putting “feet” to your faith? Do you believe He exists without trusting Him personally? Are you convinced He is who He said He was and live your live accordingly? Do questions about other religions or science confuse you? Or do you believe something else?

Even as professing believers we can fall into some of these attitudes. We can trust God for our salvation, but be contrary about obedience in certain areas or refuse to trust the Bible wholeheartedly. Or we can be confused because He isn’t working in our lives the way we want. We can believe He isn’t answering our prayers. Could it be that we have a wrong understanding about God and how He works in our lives? I hope you’ll read today’s post and evaluate where you are.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 17 & 18
Psalm 66.16-20
Proverbs 16.31-32
John 7.28-53

 

5 Reactions to the Claims of Christ

 

John 7.28-53:

Where are you?

 

John MacArthur points out in his Daily Bible that this passage “catalogues the different reactions of people to Jesus’ claims.” We still see the same categories today.

First, those who are “convinced” of the truthfulness of His claims—faithful believers.

Verses 40-41a, “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, ‘Truly this is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.'”

Part of the meaning of the words “faith” and “faithful” includes the idea of “unquestioning belief or loyalty.” The convinced are loyal to Christ.

doubt questioningSecond, the “contrary,” those who find something wrong with everything.

Verses 41b-42, “But some said, ‘Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?'”

“Contrary” people are still around. “All the pastor wants is your money.” “Churches are full of hypocrites.” “The Bible was just written by a bunch of men.” And the list goes on.

Third, the “hostile,” we’ve all met them. They don’t just not believe or not agree with you, they are prepared to go on the attack where the things of God are concerned.

Verse 44, “Now some of them wanted to take Him …”

There is a move today in our country, and it’s growing stronger, to make speaking biblical truth a crime. There are those, for instance, who would love to see anyone who speaks out against homosexuality or abortion arrested for what they call hate crimes.

Fourth, are the “confused.”

Verses 45-46, “Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, ‘Why have you not brought Him?’ The officers answered, ‘No man ever spoke like this Man!'”

These men had been sent to arrest him, but when they went they didn’t know what to do because they saw something about him they didn’t understand. The Pharisees challenged them by saying, “Are you also deceived?”

Many people are confused today. They’ve seen just enough truth to think there might be something to it, but have not made the choice to believe. Often these people fear man more than God. They may be afraid to speak up or seek out the truth because of what people will think.

Proverbs 29.25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.”

Or they’ve heard questions about other religions:

“Don’t all roads lead to God?”
“How could all those Muslims be wrong?”

Or tried to use human reasoning:

“How is it fair that an evil person could get saved on his deathbed?”
“How can the miracles in the Bible be true?”
“But science says …”
“Why would the Bible condemn someone who’s gay when they say they’re born that way?”

There is a fifth group, too, the “religious authorities,” we might call them the “religious establishment.” These people are often more concerned about maintaining their position and authority than in being a true follower of Christ or in seeking biblical truth. These people respond in the complete opposite way from John the Baptist, who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3.30).

Many in the religious establishment today are busy trying to stay “relevant.” For years some have ignored the first few chapters of Genesis in favor of a more “enlightened, scientific” view of creation. Others have “evolved” in their views about homosexuality and other politically incorrect issues. Still others refuse to discuss these subjects at all, preferring to teach more palatable things, some lifted out of context like false advertising claims.

Sadly, they can have a profound effect on others. They may put pressure on friends and family members not to leave their religious “tradition,” even though their church has actually left them and biblical truth.  Continue reading

“Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions” May 18

 

Answers to Life's Toughest Questions - Many people today are looking for answers to life's toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What's my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.Many people today are looking for answers to life’s toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What’s my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Samuel 7 & 8
Psalm 64.1-10
Proverbs 16.18-19
John 5.24-47

 

Answers to Life’s Toughest Questions

 

John 5.24-47:

Looking for Answers in All the Wrong Places

 

Answers to Life's Toughest Questions - Many people today are looking for answers to life's toughest questions: Why am I here? Is this all there is? What's my purpose in life? When I die, then what? But sadly, many are looking in all the wrong places.

Verses 39-40, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”

The religious leaders studied and debated and memorized the Scriptures, but were blinded to the truths contained in them which pointed to Jesus. Sadly, they didn’t recognize their Messiah when He was right in their midst.

As Americans, we have grown up in a nation where Bibles are everywhere. There is hardly a home without one, yet many of us look for eternal life and the answers to life’s toughest questions everywhere but in the Book of Life!

We try to find eternal life by leaving a legacy or by making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate—both good things to do, but they can’t save us.

Or we seek to live longer and healthier with the help of medical science, as if we can somehow avoid death.  Continue reading

“How Do You Respond to Instruction?” May 9

How do you respond to instruction? Do you have a teachable spirit or do you quickly reject anyone else's input? What does your answer say about you and could it have a cost in your life?

 

How do you respond to instruction? Do you have a teachable spirit or do you quickly reject anyone else’s input? What does your answer say about you and could it have a cost in your life?

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 20 & 21
Psalm 59.1-5
Proverbs 15.31-33
Luke 24.36-53

 

How Do You Respond to Instruction?

 

Proverbs 15.31-33:

Disdaining Instruction

 

How do your respond to instruction? Do you have a teachable spirit or do you quickly reject anyone else’s input?

 

“He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.”

Refusing to listen to wise counsel is the same as hating oneself, but the one who listens grows in wisdom and understanding.

What keeps us from wanting to hear wise counsel? It’s that ugly 5-letter word, P-R-I-D-E.

I wish I could remember where I found this, but I think it’s one of the best definitions for pride, “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.”

Did you notice the words, “inordinate” and “cherished in the mind”? Pride doesn’t just keep us from listening to instruction when we do, perhaps, know more than someone else, but when we have an inflated opinion of our own knowledge or ability!

Even when we are familiar with a skill or subject, there are always things we can learn, if just how to be graceful and polite!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

1 Samuel 20 & 21:

Our Own Schemes

 

In chapter 20 God continued to show His sovereign control over the events of David’s life through his covenant with Jonathan. But God still had a few things to teach David before he would be ready to be king. In chapter 21, instead of trusting God, he relied on his own schemes to protect himself, first by deceiving the priest and then by pretending to be crazy. But in David’s life, just as in ours, God’s ultimate plan and purpose would prevail.  Continue reading

“Bored with the Things of God?” April 3

 

Bored with the Things of God? - Could it be that God is at work all around us in incredible ways, yet we're no longer excited about what He is doing? No longer seeking Him? Have we become "ho-hum" about God and His Word? What could our attitude be costing us?Could it be that God is at work all around us in incredible ways, yet we’re no longer excited about what He is doing? No longer seeking Him? Have we become “ho-hum” about God and His Word? What could our attitude be costing us?

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 29 & 30
Psalm 40.1-5
Proverbs 13.9-10
Luke 7.1-30

 

Bored with the Things of God?

 

Deuteronomy 29 & 30:

When We Fail to Seek Understanding

 

In chapter 29.2-9 Moses was recounting what God did for them those 40 years in the desert:

“You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land—the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders. Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.”

In his Daily Bible, John MacArthur says, “The Lord had not given them an understanding heart, simply because the people had not penitently sought it.”

Perhaps, they took God’s work in their lives for granted. Perhaps, they found trying to understand and know Him too difficult or too much trouble. Perhaps they were bored with the things of God and found life in the pagan nations around them more exciting.

Marilee Bible study Scripture memory cardWhat have you not “seen” because you have not sought it? God desires to show us more and more, to take us deeper and deeper into His truth, for us to know Him better and better, but we must want it, seek it, and ask Him for it. Do you study God’s Word with that attitude?

In Matthew 7.7-8 Jesus says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

But on the other hand verse 29.29 reminds us that there are things God has not yet revealed to us and, while we can pray for answers and understanding, we’re not to seek to know things apart from the Him. You can read my post from a few days ago about fortune telling and witchcraftContinue reading

“Disorder, Self-Sufficiency & Over-Commitment” March 2

 

Disorder, Self-Sufficiency & Over-Commitment - Do you struggle with disorder, over-commitment, and self-sufficiency? Do you ever feel like God isn't taking care of things on your schedule? Could your frustration and stress stem from a common problem?Do you ever feel like God isn’t taking care of things according to your schedule? Could your frustration and stress stem from a common problem? Do you struggle with disorder, over-commitment, and self-sufficiency?


Today’s Readings:
Numbers 1 & 2
Psalm 29.7-11
Proverbs 10.26-29
Mark 7.14-37

 

Disorder, Self-Sufficiency & Over-Commitment

 

Numbers 1 & 2:

Make no decision without prayer!

 

Well, we’re into a new month and a new book.

As I read these two chapters I couldn’t help thinking that God is a God of order. He specified who was to lead each tribe, where each tribe was to camp and even the order in which they were to break camp when they moved. He gave “the who, the where, and the how” of it all. And we know from other passages that He also told them “when.”

In Mark 6 when Jesus fed the 5,000, He had them sit down in an orderly way, “… He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties” (Mk. 6.39-40).

Like most of you, I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want or think I should be doing. That can easily lead to disorder in my life. It’s easy to forget Continue reading

“Titles, Oaths, Judging & Pride” February 5

 

Titles, Oaths, Judging & Pride - In Matthew 23, Jesus made some unusual statements: "Do not call anyone on earth your father ..." "... he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it." "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" In another passage, He said, "Do not judge, lest you be judged." So, are titles wrong? What about oaths? Should we strengthen our commitments by swearing by things bigger than ourselves? And what did Jesus mean when He said, "Do not judge ...?"In Matthew 23, Jesus made some unusual statements: “Do not call anyone on earth your father …” “… he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.” “Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” In another passage, He said, “Do not judge, lest you be judged.”

So, are titles wrong? What about oaths? Should we strengthen our commitments by swearing by things bigger than ourselves? And what did Jesus mean when He said, “Do not judge …?”

And in our Old Testament reading, why would God lay out such an elaborate systems of laws and regulations? Did those laws limit or enhance freedom? Do they have any connection to our laws today?

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 21 & 22
Psalm 18.46-50
Proverbs 6.26-29
Matthew 23.1-22

 

Titles, Oaths, Judging & Pride

 

Matthew 23:1-22

Titles & Authority

 

Sometimes verses must be studied in the light of other verses and passages in the Bible. If we take one or two verses and isolate them, we can easily read more into them or something different from what was intended. Also, studying the texts in their original languages can help our understanding. That doesn’t mean that we must be Greek or Hebrew scholars. We are blessed to live in a time when there are many excellent and understandable references and commentaries written by people who have studied the texts carefully and prayerfully.

Verses 8-10, for instance, where Jesus said:

“… do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ.”

Jesus is not condemning titles. The Apostle Paul called himself a “father” to the Corinthians. And in Ephesians 4:11-12 where Paul is talking about spiritual gifts, he says:

“He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

Rather Jesus was condemning the religious leaders who set themselves up as the final authority on spiritual matters as if they were the source of the truth. God through His Word must always be our source of truth. No man or woman is infallible, only God.  Continue reading

“Should we submit to church authority?” November 19

 

Should we submit to church authority?

How should we view church authority? Should we submit to our church leaders? What is our responsibility? How does God use this “to watch out for our souls”?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 29 & 30
Psalm 129.5-8
Proverbs 28.27
Hebrews 13.1-25

 

Should we submit to church authority?

 

Hebrews 13.1-25:

Church Authority

 

Should we submit to church authority?

Verse 7 says, “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.”

And verse 17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”

In a day and age when we value our independence and “rights” so much, this can be hard for us to accept. God is a God of order and He puts a great emphasis on authority. This passage says, “Obey those who rule over you”—our pastors and elders—“… for they watch out for your souls …” Just as He does in marriage and the family, God works through imperfect people to lead and guide His children for their good and protection.

Our responsibility is to become part of a biblical New Testament church, one that is teaching the Word of God and encouraging the growth of its members. We should become active members by making ourselves accountable to others within the church community, using our gifts to serve one another, praying for each other and our leaders, and submitting to the authority of the church leadership (unless we are asked to violate a clear command of Scripture).  Continue reading

“Where is God When Life is Hard?” November 18

 

When Life is Hard - Where is God when life is hard? Does He allow tests and trials in our lives because He is angry? How should we respond to His discipline and what are the dangers of rejecting it?Where is God when life is hard? Does He allow tests and trials in our lives because He is angry? How should we respond to His discipline and what are the dangers of rejecting it?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 27 & 28
Psalm 129.1-4
Proverbs 28.26
Hebrews 12.1-29

 

When Life is Hard

 

Hebrews 12.1-29:

God Our Perfect Parent

 

When Life Is Hard

This chapter talks about the discipline or the chastening of the Lord. When we go through difficult times, the devil tempts us to believe that it’s because God doesn’t love us or because we aren’t really believers or that we must have done something so horrible that He will no longer help us.

But in reality, the opposite is true. This chapter clearly tells us that “whom the Lord loves He chastens.” So whether we are chastened because of unrepentant sin, pruned so that we will bear more fruit (Jn. 15), or suffering the consequences of our own choices (Gal. 6.7-9), it is proof that God loves us.

As Psalm 119.71 says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” and verse 75 adds, “in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”

Pastor James MacDonald has done a wonderful, life-changing series based on Hebrews 12.5-17 entitled When Life Is Hard. In it he explains the importance of understanding how God as the Perfect Parent lovingly disciplines His children, how He does it because He loves us, and how He uses it for our good.

He also outlines the dangerous process that can happen to someone who rejects God’s discipline. That person can become discouraged and then bitter. That bitterness can defile everything and everyone around it. And, if those attitudes are not dealt with, it can lead to profane living and, finally, rejection.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezekiel 27 & 28:

Pride & Humility

 

God continues to speak through the prophet, this time to Tyre, a coastal city in modern Lebanon famous for its trade and goods. In 28.11-17 he speaks to the King of Tyre. This passage and others in the Bible, especially in the prophetic books and the Psalms, have duel meanings. While it is addressed to the historical king and city, it also speaks of Satan who was the power behind the King of Tyre.  Continue reading