“Risky Faith” April 8

 

Risky Faith - Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee you won't be hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise.Faith can be risky. It takes risky faith to turn the other cheek or forgive with no guarantee you won’t be hurt again. It takes risky faith to obey God when it makes little sense to our natural way of thinking. It takes risky faith to stand up for the truth in a world of compromise.

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 5 & 6
Psalm 42.6-11
Proverbs 13.19-21
Luke 9.18-36

 

Risky Faith

 

Joshua 5 & 6:

A Hill of Foreskins

 

At that time the Lord said to Joshua, “Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives for himself, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins (5.2-3).

I imagine all the men reading this portion of Scripture cringed a little when they read about flint knives, circumcision, and “the hill of foreskins.” I can’t help thinking the men in Joshua’s time, probably, felt the same way.

 

Their Parents Disobedience

 

The fact that this second generation had not been circumcised was another symptom of their parents disobedience. But now, before they could go in and take the land God had given them, this covenant sign had to be performed. This must have been a memorable (after all, the hill was named after it) and solemn ceremony.

It was, also, a huge step of faith, since this mass circumcision made them vulnerable to attack. In Genesis 34 we read about an angry brother who convinced a whole village to get circumcised by promising to allow his sister to marry her rapist.  While they were weak and in pain, he killed them all in revenge.

 

Risky Faith

 

God watched over them, but humanly speaking, it was a risky decision. Risk is, often, a reality when you step out in faith.

When you forgive and turn the other cheek, you risk being struck again (Matt. 5.39). When you stand up for the truth, you risk being persecuted (Matt. 23:34-36). When you do what’s right, some people are not going to like it. The world does not like the light. Sometimes you’ll, even, be targeted for your faith.

Just ask Barronelle Stutzman. In case you aren’t familiar with her story, Barronelle is a 72-year old grandmother, a florist, and a follower of Christ. She has been targeted by the State of Washington and people on the left for declining to make flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding.

Since then her case has worked it’s way to the Washington Supreme Court where she lost in a 9-0 decision. Unless the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the decision, it could cost Barronelle her livelihood and all her assets.

It’s important to understand that Barronelle wasn’t trying to discriminate against the men. She had provided flowers for them on numerous occasions over a 9-year period, but when one of them asked her to provide flowers for their wedding, she declined because of her religious convictions. Instead, she recommended some other florists.

tree rootsSometimes, persecution, pain, and rejection come from our own families and those closest to us. That can hurt even more deeply. But we must be quick to forgive and keep our eyes on the Lord no matter who mistreats us. Otherwise that hurt can be the seed that grows up into a root of bitterness.

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many (Heb. 12.14-15 , NLT).

But, as believers, we shouldn’t go looking for persecution. We need to be wise and prayerful. Rod Dreher, in his book The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, says:  Continue reading

“Facing the Storms of Life” April 5

 

Facing the Storms of Life - Are you facing a storm in your life? Are wind and waves threatening to sink you boat? Are you worried about our nation, the economy or something else? Remember when you're facing the storms of life, He still rebukes the wind and waves.Are you facing a storm in your life? Are wind and waves threatening to sink you boat? Are you worried about our nation, the economy or something else? Remember when you’re facing the storms of life, He still rebukes the wind and waves.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 33 & 34
Psalm 40.13-17
Proverbs 13.13-14
Luke 8.1-25

 

Facing the Storms of Life

 

Luke 8.1-25:

Faithful Women

 

 

I was reminded again here in Luke 8 of just how many women were followers of Christ from the beginning (vv. 2-3). Not only did they follow, but many of them went with Him all the way to the cross.

 

Wind, Waves & Wonder

 

But let’s look at verses 22-25 again:

22 Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

He went to sleep! And … He stayed asleep through the storm! He wasn’t wringing His hands wondering if they’d really get to the other side.

He hasn’t changed! He’s still in control of everything. He still rebukes the wind and the waves. He isn’t wringing His hands about the economy or who’s in office or who seems to be winning the cultural debate. He’s on the throne and those of us who stay in the boat with Him will get to the other side.  Continue reading

“A Fool for God” April 1

 

I'd rather be a fool (or called one) for God than foolishly live like the devil.Today is April Fool’s Day, a day to have fun and play practical jokes. I’ve carried out a few and been the recipient of even more … all in fun.

But being a true fool is no laughing matter. Biblically, a fool is a man who fails to heed God’s warnings or refuses to live according to God’s wise principles.

Ironically, some who don’t know the Lord believe the opposite. They call us foolish for forgiving those who have hurt us, keeping God’s moral laws, and refusing to lie, cheat, or steal. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be called a fool for God than foolishly living in ways that will be displeasing to God and bring about His discipline.

 

Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 25 & 26
Psalm 39.7-11
Proverbs 13.4-6
Luke 6.1-26

 

Well, we are one fourth of the way through the Bible. If you are reading with us regularly, I would love to know how you’re doing.

Whether you are up to date, whether you have fallen behind a time or two, or even if you are a newcomer or occasional visitor, let me know? I’d love to know about your progress. Remember, any time we read God’s Word, it has the power to change our lives.

As a reformed perfectionist there have been so many times in my life that I have not done something because I couldn’t do it perfectly or because I had not started at the beginning, or … (you fill in the blank).

Maybe you’ve found yourself saying, “I’m too far behind. I’ll start over again next year.” But next year is the same. The enemy will see to it. There are always reasons, excuses really, to give up or not start. As the Nike slogan says, “JUST DO IT!” So even if today is your first visit … jump in!

On to His Word …

 

A Fool for God

 

Proverbs 13.4-6:

Wise or Foolish

 

Proverbs is a study in contrasts. The fool or the one who is acting foolishly is contrasted with the wise man.

In verse 4 the character qualities compared are the foolish man’s laziness and the diligence of the wise man or woman. Verse 5 compares foolish liars and those who love truth.

open bible mineFew of us really want to be fools, but we will be foolish by default if we don’t seek to know and understand God’s truth.

Where does wisdom start? Psalm 111.10 says:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”

So wisdom starts with the “fear” of the Lord. This is not a cowering fear, but a reverential respect for the God of the universe and creator of all things.

One way we live out the fear of the Lord is found in the middle of that verse, “a good understanding have all those who do His commandments.”

Hebrews 5.14 says, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

“Solid food,” the deeper things of God, the wisdom of God, belongs to those who have matured by “reason of use.” The NASB says “practice.” By practicing what we know to do, obeying the commandments as Psalm 111 said, we gain the ability to “discern good and evil”—that is to obtain wisdom.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Deuteronomy 25 & Deuteronomy 26:

Law of the Kinsman Redeemer

 

Deuteronomy 25.5-10 covers the “Law of the Kinsman Redeemer.” The kinsman-redeemer was a male relative who would act on behalf of a widowed woman, usually by marrying her and providing an heir for the deceased.

If you have read the book of Ruth, you see this law lived out in the marriage of Boaz and Ruth. Their beautiful story is part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.

Also, if you remember reading about Judah and Tamar in Genesis 38, you will recall that Judah had promised his youngest son would marry twice widowed Tamar when he was old enough, so this was apparently a common practice even before the law was instituted.

According to Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary, this was done partly out of  Continue reading

“The Adultery Test & the Sovereignty of God” March 4

 

The Adultery Test & the Sovereignty of God - Is there any such thing in the Bible as an "adultery test"? And, if so, what would an Old Testament law about jealousy and possible adultery have to do with us? Read more about the adultery test in today's reading.

Is there any such thing in the Bible as an “adultery test”? And, if so, what would an Old Testament law about jealousy and possible adultery have to do with us? Read more about the adultery test in today’s reading.

 

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 5 & 6
Psalm 30.8-12
Proverbs 11.1-3
Mark 8.22-38

 

The Adultery Test & the Sovereignty of God

 

Numbers 5 & 6:

The Adultery or Jealousy Test

 

Numbers 5 contains a passage that is difficult to understand and, at first glance, seems highly slanted against women, but it’s important to study it in light of God’s sovereignty and in light of other Scripture.

Verses 11-31 describe a ceremony to be performed when a man suspected, but couldn’t prove, his wife had committed adultery. The husband was to bring his wife before the priest along with an offering. The priest would have her stand before the Lord, a important point in all of this. He would ask her under oath whether or not she had been with another man. She was to drink “bitter water” to which had been added dust from the floor of the tabernacle and scrapings from the oath to which she had sworn.

If she was guilty the water would make her extremely sick, but if not, it would have no effect. She would be declared clean, set free, and able to bear children.

 

Remember the Sovereignty of God

 

First, we must remember the purpose of these laws was to maintain purity in the camp. God had determined to dwell with the Israelites and He could not dwell with hidden sin.

Remember, also, that the Sovereign God of the universe oversaw the outcome. He was in control and He knew the guilt or innocence. The same law that condemned a guilty woman also vindicated an innocent one so she didn’t have to live under suspicion.

Matthew Henry in his commentary on the Bible said that even under the law, the Continue reading

“Mirror, Mirror” February 13

"Mirror, mirror ..." How many times a day do you look in the mirror? What do you think about more often: how you look to others or how you look to God? Do you spend more time looking at yourself, your life, your world or are you looking intently at God and His Word?“Mirror, mirror …” How many times a day do you look in the mirror? What do you think about more often: how you look to others or how you look to God? Do you spend more time looking at yourself, your life, your world or are you looking intently at God and His Word?

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 37 & Exodus 38
Psalm 22.9-15
Proverbs 8.12-21
Matthew 26.51-75

 

Mirror, Mirror

 

Exodus 37 & 38

Where is my gaze fixed?

 

Bezelel and the others God had blessed with the talent and ability to craft the furniture and implements for this magnificent temple continued with their work. God was using all this beauty to give His people a little glimpse of His beauty and creativity and glory.

But one little verse jumped out at me as I read this passage.

“He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting” (v. 38.8).

He made them from the mirrors of the serving women. Think about it. These were nomadic people living in a desert environment. But they were also women … women who experienced love and marriage and jealousy and a desire to look attractive to their husbands, or perhaps potential husbands.

We walk into our homes and there is a mirror in the entryway, a mirror in the bedroom, a mirror in the bathroom. We go to work or church and … more mirrors. Even in our cars, we flip down the mirror for a last minute look. But in the desert, if a woman had a brass hand mirror, I imagine that was really something … possibly a luxury … but they gave them up!

I have to ask myself, what would I be willing to give up for the glory of God? What is really more important to me, people seeing the beauty of Christ or how I look to others?

And I wonder, on what is my own gaze fixed? Is it more on myself or God and His Word? Am I focused on my life and wants or is my desire to use whatever I have to point others to Christ?

How about you?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 22.9-15

Our God from the Womb

 

mother baby kozzi

Verse 9, “But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on my mother’s breasts.”

This doesn’t mean that David was saved as a baby, but it is a beautiful picture of God’s sovereignty, His complete control, and how He is wooing us and blessing us with His goodness, even from birth.

James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights …” (Jas. 1.17).

 

Proverbs 8.12-21

Obedience Leads to Wisdom and Growth

 

As I have said over and over in the last couple of commentaries, God is not withholding His wisdom. It is here in His Word, but we must look for it. It’s not about being smart … or memorizing half the Bible … or sitting in Bible studies week after week and filling our heads with knowledge. It’s about faithfully seeking to know Him better through His Word and time spent with Him. And it’s about having a heart to please Him by choosing to obey what we know to do.

Hebrew 5.14 says, “… solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

It is by knowing and obeying that we grow in wisdom and maturity. On the other hand, James 1.22 says if we are hearers, readers, or sitters in Bible study without applying it, we deceive ourselves. We may think we’re mature. We may even be able to quote a lot of Scripture, even stand up and teach a Bible study ourselves, but we are spiritual lightweights!  Continue reading

“When Others Hurt You” January 25

 

The Sovereignty of God When Others Hurt YouHow do you respond when others hurt you? Do you trust in the sovereignty of God or do you become angry and bitter?

Jacob’s love for Rachel seems to be one of the great love stories in the Bible, but at the end of his life, he didn’t ask to be buried with Rachel. He made a very surprising request.

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 49 & 50
Psalm 14.1-7
Proverbs 4.20-24
Matthew 16.1-28

 

When Others Hurt You

 

Genesis 49 & Genesis 50:

The Death of Jacob

 

As we conclude our reading in Genesis, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Genesis is one of my favorite books and chapter 50 contains one of my favorite verses, verse 20.

In chapter 49 Jacob is dying and he gathers his sons around him to speak to them for the last time. Commenting in depth on what follows in verses 2-27 would require more time and study than I can give here. But remember, God, who knows the end from the beginning, was speaking prophetically through Jacob. The things he spoke foretold future events, but also reflected each of his sons’ characters and their past.

But let’s take a minute and read back over his words to Judah in chapter 49:

8 “Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp;
From the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He bows down, he lies down as a lion;
And as a lion, who shall rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
11 Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine,
He washed his garments in wine,
And his clothes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
And his teeth whiter than milk.

Jesus was to come through the tribe, or descendants, of Judah and much of this speaks of Him. But as you think about Judah remember this is the man who in chapter 38 married a Canaanite woman, slept with his daughter-in-law Tamar because he had mistaken her for a prostitute, and then hypocritically condemned her to death.

But God was working and when he was confronted with the truth concerning Tamar, Judah said, “… She is more righteous than I …” (Gen. 38.26). He admitted his sin and repented.

In Egypt we get another glimpse of the change in Judah. When it looked like Benjamin was going to be arrested, Judah volunteered to take his place!

This should give us all hope that God can and does change people. It should also give us hope that He can use us in spite of the mistakes we have made, if we will repent and go His way.

 

When Others Hurt You

 

Genesis closes with the death of Jacob and a new set of worries for Joseph’s brothers. The old fears come back. They wondered if Joseph was just waiting for their father to die, so he could seek his revenge.

Verse 17 says that Joseph wept because they still didn’t get it. His response is one of the classic passages on the sovereignty of God:

“Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50.19-20).

What has God allowed in your life? Has someone meant evil against you? Have you become angry or bitter because of it? Or Continue reading

“Betrayal!” January 23

 

Betrayal, Wrong Roads & Swallowing CamelsHow do you respond to betrayal? Do you play that video tape over and over in your mind, allowing it to burn into your brain, turning to anger, then bitterness? Or do you surrender it to God? Do you view it through the sovereignty of God or simply through your feelings?

And what about wrong roads, have you ever asked yourself, how did I get here? This isn’t where I wanted my life to end up. Or have you ever gotten so focused on straining out gnats in your life (or someone else’s) that you swallowed a camel?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 45 & 46
Psalm 12.3-4
Proverbs 4.14-17
Matthew 15.1-20

 

Betrayal!

 

Genesis 45 & Genesis 46:

Understanding the Sovereignty of God

 

A great famine has brought Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to buy grain. He recognized them immediately, but they have no idea who he is. Remember he was only a youth when they sold him to slave traders. Now he looks like any other Egyptian official.

Joseph has been testing them, perhaps to see if they’ve changed, but he can stand it no longer:

¹Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence (45.1-3).

What a reunion for Joseph and Benjamin! But I can’t imagine the shock the other ten brothers must have experienced.

14 Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him (45.14-15).

The most amazing part of this story is what John MacArthur calls “a masterpiece of recognition of and submission to the sovereignty of God” (MacArthur Daily Bible).

And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt (45.4-8).

Think about it. Fifteen years had passed since that day when his brothers betrayed him. There were ten of them—older and stronger. They had thrown him into a pit. Imagine the terror of overhearing them arguing about whether or not to kill him and what they would tell their father. Later we learned that he pleaded with them, but they wouldn’t hear it (Gen. 45.21). The text says:

“And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming” (Gen. 37.25).

They sat down to have lunch while they debated his fate!

Then there was the long journey to Egypt. Did he hope they might change their minds and come after him? But no rescue. When he arrived in Egypt, was he put on an auction block?

At some point, Joseph must have made a decision to make the most of his circumstances and the Scripture says, “The Lord was with him” (Gen. 39.2). He served his master Potiphar well, rising to the job of chief steward, and was loyal even in the face of temptation. Then he was falsely accused and thrown into prison. Even there he was faithful and ended up being given a position of responsibility.

Even so, imagine the nights spent lying awake and wondering why? Why would his brothers do such a thing? Why would God allow it? When did he surrender it to God? We don’t know, but without a surrender he could not have responded as he did.

What do you do when someone has sinned against you? Do you play that video tape over and over in your mind, allowing it to burn into your brain, turning to anger, then bitterness? Or do you surrender it to God? Continue reading

“Is this a test?” January 22

 

Medical test doctor stethoscopeHave you ever wondered, in the midst of some difficulty, “Is this a test?” Does God, actually, test His people and, if so, are tests punishments or something else? What does God do when we fail those tests?

As we continue the Genesis story, Joseph will be faced with a test. How would he respond to the brothers who thought about killing him before they sold him into slavery? And his brothers will face some tests of their own, including the fear that God was punishing them for what they did to Joseph and how he might retaliate.

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 43 & 44
Psalm 11.1-7
Proverbs 4.10-13
Matthew 14.22-36

 

Is this a test?

Genesis 43 & Genesis 44:

 

From Prison to Leadership

 

If you’ve been following along in Genesis, you know that Joseph had been thrown into prison after he was falsely accused of sexual assault, as if being sold into slavery was not enough. While there, God gave him the interpretation of two men’s dreams. Joseph asks the one that was released to remember him and his plight, but he, apparently, never did.

Two years later Pharaoh had two disturbing dreams (Gen. 41):

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard.11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

God warned that seven years of abundance would be followed by seven years of famine. He, not only, revealed the interpretation to Joseph, but gave him so much wisdom that Pharaoh put him in charge of managing a program to prepare for the famine. His plan was so successful that people from surrounding areas came to buy grain, including Jacob’s brothers (Gen. 42).

 

You are spies!

 

Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked.

“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”

Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”

12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”

13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested …

I don’t know what was, actually, in Joseph’s heart when he first saw his brothers after so many years. The text says he remembered his dreams, but he, also, had to remember the hurt and the wrong they had done? He was  faced with a test of sorts. How would he respond to the brothers who thought about killing him before they sold him into slavery.

 

The Test

 

His brothers would face the fear that God was punishing them for what they did to Joseph and, later, the fear of how Joseph might retaliate.

18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.

21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.”

22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.

24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.

 

Back to Egypt

 

Time passed. Simeon was sitting in jail, probably wondering if anyone was coming back for him.

Jacob had not been willing to deal with the situation. The thought of losing Benjamin was too great for him, but his hand had been forced by continued famine.

 

God & Famine

 

God often uses famine and lack to move us or test us. Sometimes, because we have become too content in our comfort zones, fearing failure or change. Other times, there are selfish desires, hidden idolatries, or sinful patterns that need to be exposed and dealt with. There are, also, times when we may not know the strength and ability we have in Christ until it is tested.  Continue reading

“When Treated Unfairly” December 14

 

When Treated Unfairly

Have you ever been misjudged, falsely accused, or passed over by someone in leadership? Have you ever been hurt or mistreated? What do you think about at those times? How can you learn to  trust God in a greater way?

Also, find out why God would call a group of women “cows of Bashan” and how we can be sure we don’t act like them.

 

Today’s Readings:
Amos 4-7
Psalm 141.5-10
Proverbs 29.26
Revelation 4.1-11

 

Well, we are nearing the end of our journey on “the Bible bus” as J. Vernon McGee used to call it. I’d love to know how reading through the Bible has impacted you. Please take a few minutes and let me know. What has been your favorite book so far? What has changed in your life? How have you been able to apply what you are learning (the most important question of all)?

Are you already thinking about the coming year? I know I am. Every year is an exciting adventure in knowing God better through His Word! I’ll continue these “read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year” posts, along with more topical posts. I hope you’ll join me.

On to the magnificent Word …

 

When Treated Unfairly

 

Proverbs 29.26:

God’s Unstoppable Plans 

 

Thoughtful man hurt depression guilt sadness

“Many seek the ruler’s favor, but justice for man comes from the LORD.”

Have you ever been misjudged, falsely accused, or passed over by someone in leadership? Have you ever been hurt or mistreated?

What do you think about at those times? As believers we need to meditate on God’s wonderful attributes and remember who is really in control.

First of all, we need to remember that He is good! If He allows us to go through some test or trial, it’s for our good (Rom. 8.28-29). It’s intended to help us grow in the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5.22-23) and come to trust Him more.

Second, God is Sovereign—He is completely in control. He is omnipotent—all powerful. He has the power and the ability to bring about whatever He chooses.

Job 42.2 says, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.”

Think about that; God’s unstoppable plans, His perfect plans and purposes, will come to pass.

He is, also, omnipresent. He is present everywhere and at all times! He is omniscient. He knows everything. Nothing we think about, nothing we do, and nothing that happens to us is a secret to Him.

He is a God of love, a God of mercy, and perfectly holy. But He is also a God of justice.

So, since He knows everything, He has the power to do whatever He needs to do, He is completely sovereign, a God of justice, and He loves His children, He is well able to take care of You and make all things right in His time. Put your faith and trust in Him. He is our faithful, loving Father! Trust in His unstoppable, wonderful plans!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Amos 4-7:

You cows of Bashan!

 

cows

Amos was written primarily to the Northern tribes (Samaria) during a time of relative peace and prosperity. In chapter 4 Amos begins by addressing the women of Samaria calling them “cows of Bashan.” Wow, that’s pretty harsh!

The problem was that these women were living in luxury and encouraging their husbands to focus on material prosperity. Verse 1, “Who say to your husbands, ‘Bring wine, let us drink!’” And they had no regard for those less fortunate, “Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy …”

As wives and mothers and sisters, we have much more influence over our families than we think or like to admit. How are we influencing them? What is our focus? Could we be acting like the “cows of Bashan”? Are we saying we want our husbands to be godly leaders and our sons to grow up to be godly men … all the while putting our focus on material things, pushing them to get a better job, more education, and provide more “stuff”?  Continue reading

“Is the Bible enough in a complex world?” November 30

 

Is the Bible enough in today's complex world?

 

Is the Bible enough to help us live life in our complex world? Is it enough when we’re faced with difficult issues like abuse, neglect, addiction, and sickness? What does it mean when we say God’s Word is inerrant and sufficient and what does it have to do with you and the problems you face?

Also read about how God spared His servants from a fiery furnace, how He caused a prideful man to live like a brute animal, how He removes power from kings and leaders and gives it to whomever He wills, and how a fool allows his emotions to rule him.

 

Today’s Readings:
Daniel 3 & 4
Psalm 136.1-9
Proverbs 29.11
2 Peter 1.1-21

 

Is the Bible enough in a complex world?

 

2 Peter 1.1-21:

God-Breathed & Sufficient

 

The Bible isn’t just a book about God. It is inspired by God, literally, God-breathed (2 Tim. 3.16).

We’re told in verse 21:

“for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Charles Ryrie in his book Basic Theology says this about verse 21:

This verse tells us as much as any single verse how God used the human writers to produce the Bible. The Holy Spirit moved or bore them along. The use of the same verb in Acts 27:15 illuminates our understanding of what is meant by “bearing” or “moving” the human writers. Just before the ship that was taking Paul to Rome was wrecked on the Island of Malta, it ran into a fierce storm. Though experienced men, the sailors could not guide it, so they finally had to let the wind take the ship wherever it blew. In the same manner as that ship was driven, directed, or carried about by the wind, God directed and moved the human writers He used to produce the books of the Bible.¹

So while God used men to pen the Scriptures, it was the Holy Spirit who moved or carried them along causing them to write exactly what He desired, without error.

So is the Bible enough to teach us how to live in our complex world or do we need to add something to it?

Let’s look at verses 3-4:

“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (vv. 3-4).

God’s Word contains everything we need for “life and godliness.” It gives us all we need to live life in a fallen world, with sin-cursed bodies, and among other sinners.

 

The Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture

 

The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. It means that not only is God’s Word inspired and inerrant, it is also sufficient for all the issues of life. We don’t need to add man’s wisdom to it.

When Paul told us in 2 Timothy that God’s Word is God-breathed, he went on to say it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).

But today we’re told, perhaps not in so many words, but by inference, that the Bible is not enough. Rather than looking to God’s Word for help to solve problems, overcome the past, and deal with life dominating sins, believers are often referred to psychologists and counselors who use worldly philosophies and unbiblical therapies.

Rather than calling drunkards and the sexually immoral to repentance, they are told they have a disease or they can’t help the way God made them. Victims are told that what happened to them explains all their problems, instead of helping them understand their own sinful responses, the sovereignty of God, and the freedom that comes from walking in forgiveness and grace.

Some might think I’m being overly simplistic or unrealistic.  Continue reading