“Secret Things & Religious Demons” February 25

 

Secret Things & Religious Demons - Do Satan and demons quote Scripture? Can they appear harmless, even religious? Are there secret things which God has not revealed and which we are forbidden from seeking to know apart from Him? How does this apply to fortune tellers, horoscopes, and others who claim to predict the future? Also, is there a connection between sexual immorality, human sacrifice, and abortion?Do Satan and demons quote Scripture? Can they appear harmless, even religious?

Are there secret things which God has not revealed and which we are forbidden from seeking to know apart from Him? How does this apply to fortune tellers, horoscopes, and others who claim to predict the future?

Also, is there a connection between sexual immorality, human sacrifice, and abortion?

 

Today’s Readings:
Leviticus 19 & 20
Psalm 27.4-10
Proverbs 10.10-12
Mark 5.1-20

 

Secret Things & Religious Demons

 

Leviticus 19 & 20:

Moral & Social Standards

 

Here in chapter 19 we have many of the moral and social standards laid out or repeated:

Respect for parents (19.3).

Caring for the poor and needy (19.9-10). This was the law of gleaning. Long before there was welfare, God’s people were to leave some of the harvest in the field so the poor and the stranger were free to gather what was left.

Fair labor practices (19.13).

Not taking advantage of the disabled (19.14).

Justice and fairness (19.15-16).

Love for your neighbor (19.17-18).

Protection for women (19.20-22, 29).

Respect for the elderly (19.32).

Kindness to strangers (19.33-34).

Honesty in business (19.35-36).

Commands to not take part in any kind of witchcraft, fortune telling, predicting the future or any kind of divination (19.26-28, 31). These things were strictly forbidden and still are! No matter how good or how harmless it looks, it’s Satanic. In our New Testament reading you will see that even Satan can appear religious when it serves his purpose.

I’ve heard about fortune tellers and others involved in these things who tell people they Continue reading

“Sheep & Goats” February 10

 

Sheep & Goats: Which one are you? - Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. On the outside they often look the same, but one day, the “Heart-Knower” will separate the two. The sheep to everlasting glory. The goats to everlasting punishment. We will all live forever—somewhere! Do you know for certain where you will spend eternity?Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. On the outside they often look the same, but one day, the “Heart-Knower” will separate the two. The sheep to everlasting glory. The goats to everlasting punishment.

We will all live forever—somewhere! Do you know for certain where you will spend eternity? And what about other people you know? Are there some who profess to be Christians, yet whose lives haven’t changed?

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 31 & 32
Psalm 21.1-7
Proverbs 7.24-27
Matthew 25.31-46

 

Sheep & Goats

 

Matthew 25.31-46

The “Heart-Knower” Will Separate the Two

 

32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:

Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. On the outside they often look the same, but Jesus said they’re not.

Last month when we read through the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matt. 5, 6 & 7), we talked about 7.21-23:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Notice in verse 22, “Many will say …” Yet, these people were doing “Christian” things. They were sitting in our pews, part of our small groups, serving in ministry … but Jesus will say, “I never knew you …”

How is it possible that people can sit in churches week after week, attend Bible studies, even serve in ministry and not know God? How would we know if that’s us? And, if we want to truly love and serve others, are there red flags that we should look for in their lives?

Lest you think, I’m talking about becoming overly focused on what others are doing or doing it in a harsh or unloving way, please hear me out. But, too often, we’ve been taught that we are never to judge others based on Matthew 7.1. Certainly, we have to be careful. We can’t know anyone else’s heart. We barely know our own (Jer. 17.9).

But in Luke 6 Jesus also said:

43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

You can’t read the gospels and Jesus’ interactions with the Scribes and Pharisees without realizing this “good fruit” isn’t so much outward or religious acts in themselves. The good fruit talked about here must come from a changed heart.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things (Matt. 12.35).

A person with a changed heart will sometimes fall short. As Christians we sin, sometimes in grievous ways. But, as genuine believers, we should be convicted when confronted with the truth about sin (1 Jn. 3.9-10).  As new creations in Christ, we should have a desire for God’s Word and to live in ways that are pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5.9). And there will be fruit, in varying degrees, but a changed heart produces changed desires and a changed life.

 

The Dilemma

 

So, we have a dilemma. First, is it even loving to look at the fruit in someone else’s life? Some would say, “no.” And, if we can’t know someone else’s heart, what would we judge when looking for “good fruit”?

Let me address the question of whether or not it’s loving.  Continue reading

“When You Try Trusting God & Things Get Worse” January 28

 

When You Try Trusting God & Things Get Worse - Our Exodus reading illustrates the importance of being willing to keep standing and trusting God when things get worse instead of better and can help us understand that we are in a spiritual battle.  Psalm 16 reminds us where real joy is to be found.  Proverbs 5 warns us of the consequences of sin. All of us need to heed the warnings in this passage, but if you have teenagers, knowing these truths and teaching them to your sons and daughters is so important. This may be one of the most important passages for boys to understand even before they come into their teens.There are so many important truths in today’s readings. I had a hard time deciding which one to feature in the title. I hope you’ll take the time to read today and let me know what spoke to you.

Our Exodus reading illustrates the importance of being willing to keep standing and trusting God when things get worse instead of better and can help us understand that we are in a spiritual battle.

Psalm 16 reminds us where real joy is to be found.

Proverbs 5 warns us of the consequences of sin. All of us need to heed the warnings in this passage, but if you have teenagers, knowing these truths and teaching them to your sons and daughters is so important. This may be one of the most important passages for boys to understand even before they come into their teens.

Finally, Matthew 18 illustrates the seriousness of unforgiveness and its effect on our relationship with God.

On to the Word …

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 5 & 6
Psalm 16.7-11
Proverbs 5.7-14
Matthew 18.21-35

 

When You Try Trusting God & Things Get Worse

 

Exodus 5 & 6:

When Things Get Worse

 

Now Moses has returned to Egypt to do what God has told him to do. He has gone to his brother Aaron and received confirmation from him, from the elders, and from the people (Ex. 4.27-31). But when he and Aaron go to Pharaoh to demand he let the people go, things don’t turn out so well! In fact, things get worse!

Have you ever felt that way? You surrender your life to God or you make a decision to turn and go God’s way in some area of life. At first it’s great. You know you’re doing the right thing … but then things start to go wrong! Continue reading

“The Danger in NOT Judging Sin” August 23

 

The Danger of NOT Judging Sin - While we cannot know another person’s heart, it is a misunderstanding of the Bible to think we are never to judge someone else's behavior. In fact, there is great danger in not judging sin, especially to the person caught up in it.While we cannot know another person’s heart, it is a misunderstanding of the Bible to think we are never to judge someone else’s behavior. In fact, there is great danger in not judging sin, especially to the person caught up in it.

Also read about some things to consider when going through a test or a trial and some of the traps that can lead to sexual immorality.

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 37 & 38
Psalm 100.1-5
Proverbs 23.26-28
1 Corinthians 5.1-13

 

The Danger in NOT Judging Sin

 

1 Corinthians 5.1-13:

For the Purpose of Reconciliation

 

Our reading in Proverbs today has some strong warnings about the dangers of sexual immorality. The Corinthian church had their problems in this area and, instead of dealing with it biblically, they chose to look the other way. In our society today, we might call this “being tolerant”!

Sometimes we even put a biblical-sounding spin on it and say we don’t want to judge.

Read Paul’s words in verse 3 again, “For I indeed … [I] have already judged … him who has done this deed.” While we cannot know or judge another person’s heart or spiritual relationship with God, we are told throughout Scripture to judge sin. Jesus said, “You will know a tree by its fruit.” That means you must determine what the fruit is!

confronting comfortingThe point we most often miss in all of this is the purpose behind it. It’s not so we can be self-righteous or condemning. It’s so a sinning brother or sister can be reconciled to God. If a person stays in a lifestyle of sin, one of two things is true: either he or she is not really saved or they are in danger of God’s discipline (Heb. 12.5-11).

Later in chapter 11 Paul tells these same believers:

“For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

Because of unconfessed and unforsaken sin, many were weak and sick and some had even died prematurely!

Certainly we all sin in many ways, and many of those things can be covered in love. But gross sins, life dominating sins like anger, abuse, and sexual immorality should be lovingly confronted in a biblical way. This is not easy to do, but necessary, if the body of Christ is to be the pure and undefiled bride she is called to be.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Job 37 & 38:

Things to Consider When Going Through a Test or Trial

 

prayer bibleIn chapter 38, God turns the tables on Job and begins to question him! Remember God had already vindicated Job in the court of heaven and He will vindicate him again as He speaks to Job and his friends, but as John MacArthur says in his Daily Bible notes, “… He first brought Job to a right understanding of Himself.”

It’s alright for us to question God, but we must know in advance, we won’t always get an answer, neither will we always understand the answers we get, and we need to be willing to accept that He knows best. Tests and trials are opportunities to trust God in a greater way whether or not it makes sense to us.  Continue reading

Homosexuality: What set the stage?

 

Homosexuality: Setting the Stage for a Moral RevolutionIt’s easy to condemn and criticize out of hand what is now accepted, condoned, even mandated, especially when it comes to homosexuality, trans-gender issues, and sexual immorality, in general. And as believers we should be concerned about the changes in morality in our nation and the world.

But what is our responsibility? How should we respond to those we meet who are struggling with these issues? How should we respond to those who don’t seem to be struggling at all, but instead, are “in our face” about what they consider our unloving, even hateful, attitudes?

What set the stage for the moral revolution that is taking place in our world today? Does all the responsibility lie with the LGBT community and other non-believers or do we bear some of it?

I recently attended the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors annual conference in Louisville, Kentucky where homosexuality and transgender were the main themes. The conference was incredibly helpful and informative and I want to share some of the information with you in a new series of posts. Much of what I’ll share comes from my conference notes. I’ll endeavor to give specific credit wherever I can. 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

April 2 “Total depravity, sexual immorality & cannibalism”

God offers full disclosure. He allows us to make our own choices, but we should not think we can disobey God and somehow be in control of where it ends. Today’s reading in Deuteronomy gives us a stark picture of total depravity.

total depravity

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 27 & 28
Psalm 39.12-13
Proverbs 13.7-8
Luke 6.27-49

Deuteronomy 27 & 28:

Memorials and the Ten Commandments

Chapter 27.2-3, “… you shall set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. You shall write on them all the words of this law, when you have crossed over, that you may enter the land which the LORD your God is giving you, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ just as the LORD God of your fathers promised you.”

Some people think it’s foolish to make such a big deal about things like having the “Ten Commandments” posted in the schools and other public places. But, apparently, God thinks it a pretty good idea to have reminders of the truth! We see God telling His people to set up memorials and reminders over and over in the Scriptures.

moses holding the ten commandments

The Scriptures themselves are reminders, too, and we should be faithful to read and meditate on them so we can remember His love, remember His promises, and remember His faithfulness.

The flesh of your sons and daughters

Chapter 28—it’s hard to read some of this, “…your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you … You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters … he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat …The tender and delicate woman … will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter, her placenta … she will eat them secretly …” Continue reading

February 10 “Sheep and goats”

Sheep and goats: our churches are full of both. The sheep will go into the kingdom of heaven and the goats into everlasting fire. And, often, only God knows the difference.

Sheep & goats

Today’s Readings:

Exodus 31.1-18 & Exodus 32.1-35
Psalm 21:1-7
Proverbs 7:24-27
Matthew 25:31-46

This calf just jumped out

Exodus 31.1-18 & Exodus 32.1-35

Moses had been on the mountain top communing with God. As he’s preparing to come down to the people, God reveals the fact that the people have turned away from Him and begun to worship a golden calf. Not only are they worshipping a pagan god, but they are having a drunken and, probably, sex-filled party. God in His perfect justice and sinless anger is ready to destroy them for their wickedness.

But Moses intercedes for the people as a type of Christ. Christ would be the One by whose mediation God would one day reconcile to Himself all who believe!

Just a side bar, don’t you just love Aaron’s statement about how the golden calf was created! “And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.” As if it just jumped out of the fire! But as with so many things we see in the Old Testament, we’re not so different. Continue reading

January 20 “Private temptations, sin & accountability”

high contrast love

Like Joseph and Judah, all of us are tested and tried, sometimes through private temptations, sometimes by the sins of others, and other times by having to wait on God. And, like the psalmist, we sometimes feel like God is far off at those times.

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 39 & 40
Psalm 10.1-11
Proverbs 4.1-6
Matthew 13.31-58

Genesis 39 & 40:

Private temptations

What a contrast between Genesis 38 and Genesis 39! In 38 we saw Judah’s private immorality, followed by his initial public self-righteousness as he condemned his daughter-in-law to death.

In 39 we see Joseph’s righteous behavior even when tempted in private. How easy it would have been for him to say, “What’s the use? Look what doing good has gotten me so far!” And talk about temptation! Here’s this woman throwing herself at him, but he shows honor to his master even in his speech (a proper attitude about authority, ladies!). And, most important, he says, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Our sins can create major problems in our lives (Gal. 6.7-8; Heb. 12.7-11), Continue reading