God had chosen the nation of Israel to be the people through whom He brought the promised Messiah. But He also wanted them to be a nation of priests and prophets who pointed others to the one true God. They were to be His missionary nation.
They not only failed to be His light to the world but instead followed the pagan nations around them into darkness. Now they were faced with His judgment.
Now it’s us, the church, who is to be salt and light. It won’t always be easy. Salt sometimes stings and darkness doesn’t like the light, but both are desperately needed. Will we be children of light or be swallowed up by the darkness? Continue reading →
Does salvation + time + knowledge = spiritual maturity? If not, where does it come from? From years of church membership? From learning how to use Bible software or getting 10 devotionals in your inbox? Does it come with a degree in theology? Or from attending Bible studies week after week? If not, what does it take? Continue reading →
Jesus 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 things today. Others may propagate lies because they are misinformed and listening to the wrong voice themselves. Each of us is responsible to rightly divide the Word of God, to know how to study it and to examine what we hear in light of it. When we don’t we, too, can fall prey to the enemy’s lies. Continue reading →
If you died tonight, do you know that you would go to heaven? Do you truly understand what is meant by the Gospel? Maybe you do, but you still have doubts about your eternal destiny. Don’t leave your eternity to chance!
Verses 1-2, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
That is something we all need to remember as we witness to our friends and loved ones. We can’t “talk them into anything.” The power lies in the gospel and in God’s Word. We need to share the truth with them by pointing them to the Scripture.
Martha Peace, who wrote The Excellent Wife: A Biblical Perspective, said that before she got saved her friends had told her to read the book of John, and to keep reading it until it made sense to her. She was depressed and pretty messed up, but she did. And one night after reading it several times, faith came alive in her heart!
We certainly don’t want to beat people over the head with the Bible, but we must realize that it is the Scriptures that contain the power of God for salvation!
If you died tonight?
What about you? Are you are reading this and wondering, “Would I go to heaven?” Please don’t push that thought away. Seek God about it. Pull out your Bible or get one. Begin reading the book of John. Ask God to reveal Himself to you. You can read more about the gospel and salvation here.
Or maybe you have been in church for a long time or you went when you were younger. Maybe you “prayed a prayer” once, joined a church, got baptized … but you still have doubts. The aging Apostle John said this about why God had him write the book of 1 John:
13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 Jn. 5.13).
Did you notice that phrase? “…that you may KNOW”! God wants us to have confidence and peace in knowing that we belong to Him. He wants us to understand eternal security. Read more here. We can have eternal security, but it is not based on what we do, rather it is a faith transaction.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2.8-9).
Leave me a comment and I will put you in touch with a solid biblical church in your area if you would like to talk to someone about your eternal destiny (I won’t publish your comment). Don’t leave your eternity to chance!
Today’s Other Readings:
Job 31 & 32:
If … If … If
Job ends his defense in chapter 31 with a series of “ifs.” If I had looked on a woman lustfully (Job 31.1, 9), if I had not been generous (Job 31.16-21), if I had treated my employees unfairly (Job 31.13), if I had trusted in wealth and not God (Job 31.24-25), if I had hidden my sin (Job 31.33), if I had stolen (Job 31.39), etc., then I could understand all this.
We are often a lot like Job. We think if we keep the law (at least our interpretation of it), God is obligated to bless us.
After Job and his three friends had stopped speaking, a younger friend, Elihu, says in effect, I can’t keep quiet any longer. I think you’re all wrong!
Certain sins are easily caught from others. Could there be people in your life whose friendship is a danger to your walk with God?
“Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go, lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul” (vss. 24-25).
Anger is one; so are gossip, cursing, and other sins, especially those of the tongue. If you hang around people who practice those things, you will become less and less bothered by them and eventually begin to join in.
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’ ” (1 Cor. 15.33).
Jesus said we’re to live in the world, but not be of it (Jn. 17.14-15). And the Apostle Paul warned us about being closely associated with unbelievers.
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).
So while we are to have relationships with people outside the faith and use those opportunities to be salt and light, they should not be our closest friends and partners.
But it can be just as dangerous, maybe more so, to hang around with professing believers who act like the world!
9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person (1 Cor. 5.9-11).
God, certainly calls us to try to reach our sinning brothers and sisters (Gal. 6.1-2; Heb. 3.13), but if there is no repentance we’re aren’t to continue acting as if it’s no big deal.
Two people will be working together. One will disappear and the other will be left behind. Men and women will be eating and sleeping and going about their business. Some will be gone in an instant and others left behind. How about you? Would you go or could you be left behind?
In chapter 34 Josiah had become king at the ripe old age of 8, but what a king he was! Verse 3 says that he began to seek the Lord in the eighth year of his reign. He would have been just 16 years old. By the age of 20 he was putting a stop to idolatry. Next he began clearing out the temple and getting ready to reinstate the proper temple worship. In the process Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord.
Several things struck me about all of this. First, the Word of God was not being taught. People were just doing whatever seemed right to them. The second thing was Josiah’s response to the Word when he heard it. He tore his clothes, a statement of intense mourning and repentance. He was repenting, not just for himself, but for the nation as a whole, because he realized just how far they had departed from the truth. He understood that they were under God’s judgment because of it.
So he sent Hilkiah and a group of men to meet with a prophetess named Huldah to seek further direction from the Lord. She reassured him that God had seen his righteous response to all of this and his willingness to humble himself and obey. So while judgment was coming, He would grant the nation a reprieve. In fact, it wouldn’t happen in Josiah’s lifetime. But after his death and by the close of 2 Chronicles, Jerusalem would be destroyed and the remaining people carried off to Babylon where they would remain in captivity for 70 years.
God is Withholding His Judgment Today
Today, much like in Josiah’s time, God is withholding His final judgment from the earth because of His faithful people, the Church! But one day … Continue reading →
Stuart Scott says, “Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride … The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”
Our Old Testament reading gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with. So, where does pride show up in your life? Check Dr. Scott’s list of the manifestations of pride. You might be surprised.
“It is probably safe to say that humility is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be. We cannot come to God without it. We cannot love God supremely without it.”
He goes on to say we can’t be an effective witness, love and serve others, lead, communicate properly, or resist sin without it (Eph. 4.1-2).
“You cannot have humility where pride exists. Pride is the opposite of humility and it is one of the most loathed sins in God’s sight” (Prov. 16.5). He adds, “We all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?’”
He lists some of the manifestations of pride as:
1. Complaining against or passing judgment on God.
2. A lack of gratitude in general.
4. Seeing yourself as better than others.
5. Having an inflated view of your importance, gifts, and abilities.
6. Being focused on your lack of gifts and abilities.
8. Talking too much.
9. Talking too much about yourself.
10. Seeking independence or control.
11. Being consumed by what others think.
12. Being devastated or angered by criticism.
13. Being unteachable.
14. Being sarcastic, hurtful, or degrading.
15. A lack of service.
16. A lack of compassion.
17. Being defensive or blame-shifting.
18. A lack of admitting when you are wrong.
19. A lack of asking forgiveness.
20. A lack of biblical prayer.
21. Resisting authority or being disrespectful.
22. Voicing preferences or opinions when not asked.
23. Minimizing you own sin and shortcomings.
24. Maximizing others’ sin and shortcomings.
25. Being impatient or irritable with others.
26. Being jealous or envious.
27. Using others.
28. Being deceitful by covering up sins, faults, and mistakes.
29. Using attention-getting tactics.
30. Not having close relationships.
Some of those may have surprised you, as pride can be very subtle, masquerading as something else.
Remember, it’s not a matter of “Do you or I have it?” but, “Where is it?” and “How much of it do I have?” So, it’s important that we learn to recognize it, confess it, and learn to go God’s way.
Today’s reading in 2 Chronicles gives us a great illustration of what pride can do when not dealt with … Continue reading →
What makes someone a Christian? Do Good Works Save us?
Is our salvation based on taking certain sacraments or belonging to the right church? Is it based on living a godly life or doing good deeds? Does God have a divine scale where He’s weighing our good deeds versus our bad ones? Or is salvation based on something else?
Chapters 15 & 16 record two situations concerning circumcision. The Scripture makes it clear that there was no requirement to be circumcised. But here in chapter 16 Paul had Timothy circumcised, not because it was necessary for Timothy, but so it did not become a stumbling block and shut the door on ministry to the Jews they were trying to evangelize.
In another situation, there was a disagreement over eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul said that though there was no harm in doing it (it was just meat!), he would rather never eat meat again if it made his brother stumble (1 Cor. 8.13).
But in chapter 15, the Judaizers were adding something to the gospel. They were “unsettling” the faith of the gentile believers by telling them they couldn’t be saved if they didn’t meet the requirements of the law.
Works of Righteousness
There are no “works of righteousness” which can in any way contribute to salvation. Paul said in Ephesians:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2.8-9).
We are not saved through rituals, whether baptism or communion or any other sacrament. Neither are we saved through good works, religious service, or church attendance. Rather, we should have a desire to do those things because we are saved (Eph. 2.10). Good deeds are the fruit of repentance and genuine salvation, not the cause.
If you’re not sure about your salvation, I have a number of posts on the subject, but I would also be happy to answer your questions. Just add them to the comments section below. If you would prefer that I answer by email and not publish your questions (they don’t show up until I approve them), just let me know. If you have made a profession of faith in Christ, but struggle with that assurance, you might read this post.
As we saw yesterday God had done wondrous things through Asa as he worshiped and trusted in Him. After a great military victory over the Ethiopians, God sent the prophet Azariah to encourage him. His prophecy ended with these words, “… be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” (2 Chron. 15.7). Continue reading →
Verse 19, “Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, and we shall be saved!”
As I read that verse, my first thought was, even though they constantly wandered away from God, they knew where their salvation could be found.
Many of us have done our best to raise our children “in the discipline and admonition of the Lord,” only to have them wander from the faith or fail to make a personal commitment to the Lord. We are often confused and discouraged, because we saw parenting as something of a formula. If I do “A + B” (take my children to church, teach them biblical truth, send them to church camp, etc.), then God will give me “C” (believing, obedient children).
We back up our belief with verses like Proverbs 22.6:
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
But this is not an iron clad guarantee that our children will serve God or that they will never rebel. Remember, God’s children rebel, too, and He’s the perfect parent.
What it means is they will not be able “to depart” from the truth. They won’t be able to escape what they know. They can choose to walk away, but the truth will follow them like their shadow and be there when they come to their senses as the prodigal son did (Lk. 15.11-31) and as the Israelites did on many occasions.
Notice verse 12.14 about Rehoboam, “… he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord.” The NASB says, “he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” Other translations of that word include “to direct” or “to stand upright” or at attention.
Rehoboam was a mediocre king because he had a mediocre relationship with God. He never completely forsook God, he just never sought Him wholeheartedly. He didn’t pray as his father did for the wisdom he needed to rule the kingdom. He didn’t search the Scriptures to know the heart of God and get His wisdom. Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible says, “… he engaged not, his heart to seek the Lord …”
So how do we prepare our hearts to seek the Lord?
Our hearts, as the old hymn says, are prone to wander, we don’t automatically seek the Lord. We must purpose to do so. We first need to ask God for His help, then we need to read and study “at attention” and, finally, we need to set our minds, be determined, to obey those things He shows us. Continue reading →
Sometimes we truly “can’t see the forest for the trees,” as the saying goes. If we are made in the image of God, why do so many people come to wrong conclusions and false beliefs? Why can’t we think straight?
The temple has been completed and in chapter 6, Solomon prays and dedicates it to the Lord:
12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands 13 (for Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, knelt down on his knees before all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven); 14 and he said: “Lord God of Israel, there is no God in heaven or on earth like You, who keep Your covenant and mercy with Your servants who walk before You with all their hearts.
18 … Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! 19 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You: 20 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple day and night, toward the place where You said You would put Your name, that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. 21 And may You hear the supplications of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and when You hear, forgive.
He prays for the nation of Israel and then he prays for all who will come to the temple in faith:
32 “Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; 33 then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel …
Over and over we see God’s desire for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2.4) even here in the Old Testament.
He Alone Knows Our Hearts
Chapter 6.29-30, “whatever prayer, whatever supplication is made by anyone, or by all Your people Israel, when each one knows his own burden and his own grief, and spreads out his hands to this temple: then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive, and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men).”
“… for You alone know the hearts of the sons of men”—Jeremiah said it this way: Continue reading →