“Sex, Manipulation & Revenge” January 21

 

Sex, Manipulation & RevengeGod created sex. He designed our sexuality as a means to delight and bring pleasure to one another within the marriage relationship. But, sadly, as our culture knows all too well, “sex sells” and it has been twisted and used throughout the ages to manipulate and entice and for many other evil purposes, including revenge.

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 41 & 42
Psalm 10.12-18
Proverbs 4.7-9
Matthew 14.1-21

 

Sex, Manipulation & Revenge

 

Matthew 14.1-21:

He Must Increase

 

Here we have the sordid story of King Herod, Herodias (Herod’s wife, his half-brother’s ex-wife and daughter of another half-brother) and Herodias’ daughter. It’s Herod’s birthday and this young girl is dancing for the men at the party—most likely a drunken “men’s affair” like a bachelor’s party or “gentlemen’s club” (what an oxymoron that is!)

Herodias, had probably noticed the way Herod looked at her young daughter when he thought she wasn’t looking, and instead of protecting her daughter, she used her to manipulate Herod into giving her what she wanted! And what she wanted was revenge—John the Baptist’s head on a platter! John had publicly spoken against her sinful behavior and she had decided to get even!

But when Herod’s birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask.

So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”

And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her.10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. 11 And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother (Matt. 14.6-11).

After John’s death, we see Jesus’ grief over the loss of His cousin.

“When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself …” (v. 13).

But it was time for John to leave the stage and for Jesus to take full prominence. Remember John himself had said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3.30). God can and does use sinful people to fulfill His divine purposes.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Genesis 41 & Genesis 42:

Joseph’s Story & Your Story

 

Here in these two chapters God’s purposes begin to unfold in Joseph’s life. God has used trials to prepare him and in the chapters to come we’ll see that he has learned to trust God’s workings in his life. Now he’s ready to be placed on the world stage and to be reconciled with his family.

How difficult it must have been for Joseph when God gave him the interpretation of the Butler’s and the Baker’s dreams, and yet, to have it seemingly end there! It may not have seemed so strange to us because we know the end of the story, but think about it from Joseph’s perspective.

What has God allowed in your life that seems to make no sense? How can understanding Joseph’s story help you patiently wait on God in your own life?

Finally, if you have a strained relationship with someone in your family, Continue reading

“Red Hot Love” September 4

 

Red Hot Love - Red hot love? Does God really approve of a red-hot sexual relationship within the context of marriage? Judge for yourself!Red hot love? Does God really approve of a red-hot sexual relationship within the context of marriage? Judge for yourself!

And what about pornography … is there a place for it within marriage or outside of it?

 

Today’s Readings:
Song of Solomon 7 & 8
Psalm 104.31-35
Proverbs 24.21-22
1 Corinthians 14.1-20

 

Red Hot Love

 

Song of Solomon 7 & 8:

Real Intimacy, Pornography & Singleness

 

I’d like to share some of these verses from The Message to help us get a clearer picture of the imagery here. Chapter 7.1-9 contain Solomon’s description of his bride:

1-9 Shapely and graceful your sandaled feet,
and queenly your movement—
Your limbs are lithe and elegant,
the work of a master artist.
Your body is a chalice,
wine-filled.
Your skin is silken and tawny
like a field of wheat touched by the breeze.
Your breasts are like fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
Your neck is carved ivory, curved and slender.
Your eyes are wells of light, deep with mystery.
Quintessentially feminine!
Your profile turns all heads,
commanding attention.
The feelings I get when I see the high mountain ranges
—stirrings of desire, longings for the heights—
Remind me of you,
and I’m spoiled for anyone else!

Your beauty, within and without, is absolute,
dear lover, close companion.
You are tall and supple, like the palm tree,
and your full breasts are like sweet clusters of dates.
I say, “I’m going to climb that palm tree!
I’m going to caress its fruit!”
Oh yes! Your breasts
will be clusters of sweet fruit to me,
Your breath clean and cool like fresh mint,
your tongue and lips like the best wine.

Then his bride begins to speak:  Continue reading

“How am I doing with the 2 great commandments?” September 1

 

How are you doing with the 2 great commandments? - Paul warned us of the importance of regularly examining ourselves and of the consequences when we don't!How am I doing with the 2 great commandments? Paul warned us of the importance of regularly examining ourselves and of the consequences when we don’t … sickness, problems, even early death. But how can we examine ourselves when our tendency is to justify our own actions and responses? Living in our sin-cursed world, how can we re-inform our consciences biblically so we are more sensitive to the sin in our lives? And in so doing, grow and change?

 

Today’s Readings:
Song of Solomon 1 & 2
Psalm 104.1-9
Proverbs 24.15-16
1 Corinthians 11.17-34

 

How am I doing with the 2 great commandments?

 

1 Corinthians 11.17-34:

Examining Ourselves

 

prayer trusting GodIn verses 27-32 Paul gives instructions for how we should approach the taking of the Lord’s Supper. He says that we should use it as an opportunity to examine ourselves to see if there is any unconfessed sin or unreconciled relationships in our lives.

If so, we should confess them to the Lord and repent. Repentance is more than regret or feeling sorry, it carries with it the idea of a turning from our way and going God’s way. Paul said that because we fail to examine ourselves, many in the body of Christ are sick and some sleep (have died prematurely).

Of course, communion isn’t the only time we should examine ourselves. It should be a regular part of our walk with the Lord.

When asked about the most important commandment, Jesus said the whole law and the prophets can be summed up in two commands: Love God and love others. If we’re loving God as we should, we won’t look for loopholes for disobedience. If we’re loving God as we should, obeying Him won’t be a burden, but a delight. That doesn’t mean our flesh will always like it, but our hearts will desire to please Him.

 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (Jn. 14.15).

But part of loving God is loving others.

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 Jn. 4.20).

A good way to examine how well we are loving others is to study and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13.4-7 and ask, “How am I doing in each of these areas (remember our standard is Christ, not how we’re doing compared to someone else)?”

If you’re struggling in some relationship, it may be helpful to be specific. How did I do today or yesterday? How am I doing with my spouse, my children, my co-workers, strangers I encounter, other drivers …  Continue reading

“The Bible on Marriage & Divorce” August 25

 

divorce separation

What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce? What about remarriage, singleness, and sex, both inside and outside of marriage? Does the Bible really address those subjects and, if so, does it have any relevance for today?

Also read about some of the amazing animals God has created: the horse with all his strength and fearlessness, the hawk, and the eagle. Then our reading in Job goes on to talk about a creature called behemoth and a huge sea creature called leviathan.

Finally, our Proverbs passage talks about the drunkard and how, even after the a hangover, he runs to look for his next drink. The world wants us to believe they can’t help it, that it’s a disease called alcoholism. What does the Bible say?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 41 & 42
Psalm 101.5-8
Proverbs 23.31-35
1 Corinthians 7.1-19

 

The Bible on Marriage & Divorce

 

1 Corinthians 7.1-19:

Sex, Singleness, Marriage and Divorce

 

Paul has a great deal to say about marriage, divorce, and singleness in this chapter. In verses 1-9 he explains that sex within marriage is God’s only provision for sexual fulfillment. That has not changed in spite of what our culture tells us.

I know this is a huge challenge for some of you who are single and desire to be married. I want to encourage you that God has not forgotten you, that He is good, and that He will give you the grace to respond biblically to this challenge.

And to the married, verse 5 says:

5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

For those who are married, sex is to be continual. It is never to be withheld from one’s partner except by mutual agreement and then only for the purpose of prayer and fasting and only temporarily. In the past, this passage was most often applied to women, but as my husband and I counsel, more and more I hear of women whose husbands are not interested in sex.

It’s ironic that in a culture where sex is everywhere—on billboards, on TV, on movie screens, and on the street—this has not freed people to enjoy God’s gift of sexuality. Instead, it has done serious harm. The reasons are numerous, and if you’re struggling with this situation, I would encourage you to seek counseling for both you and your spouse if he or she is willing, or for yourself, if not.

Verses 10-16 talk about divorce:  Continue reading

“Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex” + LINKUP

 

Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex by Linda Dillow & Lorraine PintusWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Intimate Issues: Twenty-One Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex by Linda Dillow & Lorraine Pintus.

 

SEX … it’s everywhere! It’s in commercials, situation comedies, on billboards, even subtly injected into children’s movies.

And yet … the questions we most want to ask, we find too embarrassing, especially as Christian women.

Intimate Issues tackles that problem in an open, honest, sensitive way. Linda and Lorraine are two godly, mature Christian wives. I attended one of their conferences years ago and also had the privilege of hosting Linda in my home. She is just as real and honest in person. She loves the Lord and seeks to honor Him even in this delicate topic. I know Lorraine has the same heart.

In their own words: Continue reading

“Gift-Wrapped by God: Why Wait?” + LINKUP

 

Gift Wrapped by God + LINKUPWelcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival. Each week I’ll feature a book that I consider a valuable resource. This week’s selection is Gift-Wrapped by God: Secret Answers to the Question “Why Wait?” by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus.

I’m out of town because of a death in the family, so I’m going to let Linda and Lorraine speak for themselves. From their introduction:

This book is about God’s plan for sexual purity and His heart for you, His daughter. It’s the book we wish we’d had when we were single, because we believe it would have saved us much heartache.

As you read, may your eyes be lifted to the beauty of God’s Gift of sex. May you discover emotional and spiritual reasons why sex is worth the wait. If you have already given away the Gift, may you receive hope of a new beginning sexually.

Thousands of women have shared with us their deep regret concerning their wrong sexual choices. Repeatedly we hear, “I wish someone had told me to say no, told me why to say no, and helped me develop my own plan to say no.” We pray that Gift-Wrapped by God will do this for you.

Continue reading

September 20 “Refusing to live God’s way”

hands-over-ears[1]

When Jesus spoke truth to the rich young ruler, he turned and walked away. And Jesus didn’t stop him! If we as individuals, or even as a nation, are determined to turn our backs on God and continue refusing to live God’s way, He will let us! But the results could be disastrous.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 30-32
Psalm 108.7-13
Proverbs 25.23-24
2 Corinthians 11.16-33

 

Isaiah 30-32:

Refusing to live God’s way

Over and over throughout these passages God is warning His people to not rely on themselves or their own wisdom and not to turn to false prophets who merely tell them what they want to hear. He also warned them not to turn to outsiders, other nations, no matter how strong they look. The message is “I am sovereign—I am in control.”

He warns them that all the false prophets, all the strong nations, all the wisdom of man will ultimately be brought to naught. With all the problems in our country today many cling to the idea that some leader, some program, some philosophy, some scientific discovery will solve our problems nationally and individually. We are so much like the people in Isaiah’s time (30.9-13):

Children who will not hear the law of the LORD;
10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things;
Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.
11 Get out of the way,
Turn aside from the path,
Cause the Holy One of Israel
To cease from before us.”

12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel.

“ Because you despise this word,
And trust in oppression and perversity,
And rely on them,
13 Therefore this iniquity shall be to you
Like a breach ready to fall,
A bulge in a high wall,
Whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.

The list of things we no longer want to hear as a nation is endless:

attitude, disrespectThat rebellion and disrespect is wrong (1 Sam. 15.23). Consequently, we disrespect policeman and other authority figures … and our children disrespect their teachers and parents.

That marriage is to be between one man and one woman for a lifetime (Matt. 19.4-6). Consequently, the rate of divorce and of couples living together without marriage happens across all levels of society in huge numbers and without any shame. And now so-called gay marriage is becoming legal in one state after another.

That sex is holy and reserved for the marriage bed (Heb. 13.4; Rom. 1.24-32). Consequently, sex outside of marriage in all of its forms is rampant: adultery, fornication, rape, incest, molestation, homosexuality, pornography and more.

That life is precious and God is the giver and taker (Acts 17.24-25; Ps. 139.13-16). Consequently, abortion is now called a woman’s right, euthanasia has been openly debated and practiced, murder is rampant in many of our cities, and mass shootings because of anger, hate, or political ideology happen all too often.

WorkerThat work is God-ordained and the way God provides for His people on a day to day basis (2 Thess. 3.10; 1 Tim. 5.8). Consequently, we have husbands and fathers who find every excuse possible not to work and provide for their families, people who know how to “work the system” going for agency to agency, organization to organization, even church to church getting every handout they can, and others who live much of their lives dependent on the government. (Bear in mind, that other passages commanded God’s people to care for the genuinely needy and unable to work.)

But the answer is the same today as it was thousands of years ago. First, to return to God. Not to become independent, but God dependent:

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength …” (30.15).

And 2 Chronicles 7.13-14:

13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

And then choosing to live obediently before Him, know that He is God (Eccl. 12.13; Jn. 14.15; Ps. 100.1-5). Continue reading

September 4 “Red hot love”

Fire flamesRed hot love? Does God really approve of a red-hot sexual relationship within the context of marriage? Judge for yourself!

Today’s Readings:
Song of Solomon 7 & 8
Psalm 104.31-35
Proverbs 24.21-22
1 Corinthians 14.1-20

Song of Solomon 7 & 8:

Red hot love

I’d like to share some of these verses from The Message to help us get a clearer picture of the imagery here. Chapter 7.1-9 contain Solomon’s description of his bride:

1-9 Shapely and graceful your sandaled feet,
and queenly your movement—
Your limbs are lithe and elegant,
the work of a master artist.
Your body is a chalice,
wine-filled.
Your skin is silken and tawny
like a field of wheat touched by the breeze.
Your breasts are like fawns,
twins of a gazelle.
Your neck is carved ivory, curved and slender.
Your eyes are wells of light, deep with mystery.
Quintessentially feminine!
Your profile turns all heads,
commanding attention.
The feelings I get when I see the high mountain ranges
—stirrings of desire, longings for the heights—
Remind me of you,
and I’m spoiled for anyone else! Continue reading

September 1 “Passionate physical love” & LINKUP

Romantic coupleSolomon and his bride have a lot to teach us about God’s will for passionate physical love within marriage.

Today’s Readings:
Song of Solomon 1 & 2
Psalm 104.1-9
Proverbs 24.15-16
1 Corinthians 11.17-34

Song of Solomon 1 & 2:

God & sex

Just in case you didn’t think God sees sex as a good thing, think again. The Song of Solomon is a book about the sexual relationship between a man and a woman! It’s written in the form of Hebrew poetry, something most of us find somewhat foreign, but if we go through it prayerfully, I believe God will give us some great nuggets of truth. Truths that can open our minds, not just to God’s thoughts on sexual intimacy, but to the incredible love He has for us and the intimacy He desires with us. REMEMBER: Marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and His church (Eph. 5.32)! So even if you’re single, the Song of Songs has much to say to you.

young kissing coupleLet’s start with 1.2:

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth—for your love is better than wine.”

According to Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus in their book Intimate Issues, the word for kiss in Hebrew is onomatopoetic, that is, it sounds like what it means. They suggest we might translate this verse, “O, that he’d give me some of his smacking kisses that take my breath away.” Continue reading

August 25 “The Bible on marriage and divorce” & LINKUP

divorce460[1]

What does the Bible say about marriage and divorce? What about remarriage? And is any of it relevant for today?

Today’s Readings:
Job 41 & 42
Psalm 101.5-8
Proverbs 23.31-35
1 Corinthians 7.1-19

Job 41 & 42:

Behemoth, leviathan & their creator

In chapter 41 God continues to challenge Job with just Who He really is! He uses creation and His sovereign control of every aspect of the universe to illustrate this truth.

I was struck with the incredible variation in all the species that God created. A few chapters ago we read about the ostrich and what a magnificent bird she is, but it says, “God deprived her of wisdom, and did not endow her with understanding …”

Then we read about the horse and his power, how he is not afraid in battle, and of his pure strength. The passage goes on to talk about the uniqueness of the hawk and the eagle and the behemoth. Now in chapter 41, God describes a huge sea creature called leviathan. Verses 9-10 say, “Indeed, any hope of overcoming him is false; shall one not be overwhelmed at the sight of him? No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up.”

Verse 10 goes on, “Who then is able to stand against Me?” If the creatures God created are incredible, what should that tell us about the One who created them?

Job, too, finally gets it! He responds with humility and repentance and God later restores to him all that he had and more. Continue reading