“When You’re Treated Unfairly” December 14

 

When You're Treated Unfairly - Have you ever been misjudged, falsely accused, or passed over by someone in leadership? Have you ever been hurt or mistreated? #accused #mistreated #justice #God #soulsurvivalHave 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.  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.  Continue reading

“God’s Promise in Trials” August 29

 

God's Promise in Trials - God has given us a great promise to hang on to when we're going through tests and trials. God's promise in trials is one every believer should memorize. But God's promise contains good news and bad ...God has given us a great promise to hang on to when we’re going through tests and trials. God’s promise in trials is one every believer should memorize. But God’s promise contains good news and bad …

 

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 7
Psalm 103.1-5
Proverbs 24.7-9
1 Corinthians 10.1-18

 

God’s Promise in Trials

 

1 Corinthians 10.1-18:

God’s Promise: Good New & Bad

 

If you have never memorized verse 13, I would encourage you to do so. This verse is one of God’s great promises and is filled with good news and hope!

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

When we go through great difficulties, we often feel isolated and alone. But the temptations, tests and trials we undergo are “common to man.” Others have gone through them and have come out the other side and so can we.

God promises He will “make a way of escape.” Sometimes the way of escape is out of the trial, but more often it’s through the trial, yet we are “able to bear it” because of His grace.

And “… God is faithful …” No matter what we are going through God is faithful! He won’t leave us or forsake us, but will walk through it with us. He’s also faithful to filter the trial through His hands and not allow it to be more than we can handle without sinning …  as long as we keep our eyes on Him and rely on His strength.

But that’s the key; we must keep our eyes on Him and rely on His power. And we must respond obediently. Many of our greatest difficulties arise because when we are in a test or trial, we respond sinfully and find we have only complicated the situation. We risk experiencing the consequences of our own sin and, often, find ourselves struggling with anger, anxiety, guilt, and depression.

Those emotions are like the warning lights on the dashboards of our cars telling us something is not right under the hood (in our hearts).

Instead, we should focus on James’ advice:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (Jas. 1.2-4)

I don’t know about you, but I don’t automatically want to be joyful when I’m in the midst of a test or trial! But this passage tells us we can be joyful if we remember that God is using the trial to mature us and make us more like His Son (Rom. 8.29).

James MacDonald, in his book When Life Is Hard, explains how God uses tests and trials to grow us and ultimately bless us. I have recommended it before, but I want to do so again. I have seen many lives impacted by the truths Dr. MacDonald shares in that study. And it’s not just for people who are going through severe trials, it’s for all of us as we face the ups and downs of life and struggle to understand what God is doing!

But there’s also bad news in 1 Corinthians 10.13.

 

The Bad News

 

Since God has promised no trial will be too much for us to handle in a godly way, if we choose to sin in response (with anger, bitterness, worry, an unbiblical divorce, etc. …), it’s just that … a choice! No one and no circumstance can make us sin.

Let’s pray that God will give us His grace to choose to respond His way as we face the ups and downs and struggles of life (Heb. 4.16).

 

God's Promise in Trials - God has given us a great promise to hang on to when we're going through tests and trials. God's promise in trials is one every believer should memorize. But God's promise contains good news and bad ...


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ecclesiastes 7:

Funerals and Parties

 

There are so many nuggets in this chapter! Let’s start with verse 2. What does it mean when it says, “better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting”?

Solomon is saying it’s better to go to a funeral than to a party, because a funeral causes you to examine your life and your relationship with God, while a party Continue reading

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: the Divine Squeeze + LINKUP

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: The Divine Squeeze - Today we're going to begin talking about how to handle tests and trials. We'll look at both biblical and unbiblical perspectives on them, God's purposes for trials and how we should respond.Today we’re going to begin talking about how to handle tests and trials. We’ll look at both biblical and unbiblical perspectives on them, God’s purposes for trials and how we should respond.

 

Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: The Divine Squeeze

 

We’re in a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” In earlier posts we have covered anger, depression, fear, worry, and guilt. If you missed any of them, just click on the link.

Today we’ll look at tests and trials.

 

The Divine Squeeze

 

It’s been said that either you have just come out of a trial, are presently in a trial, or are about to go through a trial. That thought can stop us in our tracks, because we don’t like trials. At least I don’t and I don’t think I’m alone.

But God uses tests, trials, and suffering in our lives as a divine squeeze to let us and others see what’s in our hearts. J.C. Ryle said, “What you are in the day of trial, that you are and nothing more.” Trials show us what we are really made of!

That may be a little discouraging if you didn’t do so well in a trial or aren’t handling one well right now, but God is a God of second and third chances. That’s good news and bad. The good news is He keeps working with us. The bad news is He keeps working with us. That means when we don’t handle a trial well, He’ll give us another chance either by extending the trial we’re in or bringing another one designed to work on the same heart issue.

Many times I’ve seen someone file for an unbiblical divorce only to find themselves a few years down the road married to someone with the same issues. The world has come up with all kinds of psychological explanations for it, but I don’t believe God will set us free from those patterns until we learn to respond in a Christlike way to the present situation.

My husband spoke with a friend of his one day. His friend was complaining about a situation that was stretching his patience. He commented that God was always allowing something in his life to make him more patient.  My husband’s response, “Maybe it’s time to learn what He’s trying to show you!”

Whether it’s loving our spouses biblically, growing in patience, kindness or unselfishness, learning to truly forgive, or some other area of life, our Divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit is well able to design the right teaching opportunity and homework.

But God also uses tests and trials to remove the dross from our lives–those things which keep us from bringing as much glory to God as we should! He wants us to be able to say, like Job, “When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10, NASB).

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (Jn. 15.1-2).

 

Unbiblical Perspectives about Tests & Trials

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: The Divine Squeeze - Today we're going to begin talking about how to handle tests and trials. We'll look at both biblical and unbiblical perspectives on them, God's purposes for trials and how we should respond.

 

When we are going through trials and sufferings we can easily develop wrong perspectives about the nature of and reason for them.  Here are some of those unbiblical perspectives:

 

It’s always my fault.

Or it’s always the fault of anyone going through a trial. This was the problem with Job’s comforters.

If you were pure and upright,
Surely now He would awake for you,
And prosper your rightful dwelling place (Job 8.6).

The disciples, mistakenly, believed the same thing:

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him (Jn. 9.1-3).

Sometimes things happen that are not a direct result of personal sin. You could be driving responsibly and be hit by a drunk driver. You could be a faithful employee, yet your company is sold and you lose your job.

 

It’s always someone else’s fault.

Other people have a “victim” mentality about our tests and trials. As we’ve talked about in some of the earlier posts in this series, we’re good at blame-shifting. It’s my spouse’s fault, my boss’ fault …” No matter how irresponsible we have been, we blame someone else.

 

It’s no one’s fault.

We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: “S_ _ _ happens!” This is fatalism.

We’re not just the victim of some random cosmic joke! God is the author and originator of everything in our lives. He is either the proximate or immediate cause or He is the remote or distant cause, that is He allowed it to happen for our good and His glory. Nothing happens by accident.

 

A deistic view of God’s involvement in our tests and trials.

This is the idea that God created everything, but now He just stands back and watches without getting involved.

 

So what does the Bible teach about tests and trials?

 

10 Biblical Facts about Tests & Trials

 

Handling Tests & Trials Biblically: 10 Biblical Facts about Tests & Trials

 

1. We all experience trials and sufferings.

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16.33).

 

2. Ultimately, trials are the result of the fall.

I’m glad for Adam and Eve that there are no guilt trips in heaven, because everything goes back to the fall (Gen. 3).

 

3. God is always the remote (distant) cause of trials and suffering.

He allows us to make choices, but only when those choices are in keeping with His sovereign will.

 

4. God is never the author of sin.

Even though He allows us to make choices, He never causes or tempts us to sin.

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures (Jas. 1.13-18).

Continue reading

“God & Satan, Heavenly ‘Battle of the Bands’?” August 5

 

"Satan & God, Heavenly 'Battle of the Bands'?" - The battle is raging and we see evidence of it all around us. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy all that God loves. But is it really a fair fight?The battle is raging and we see evidence of it all around us. Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy all that God loves. But is it really a fair fight?

Also, read about how “lions” can keep us from moving forward with the plans and purposes God has for us.

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 1 & 2
Psalm 91.7-13
Proverbs 22.13-14
Romans 7.1-25

 

God & Satan, Heavenly “Battle of the Bands”?

 

Job 1 & 2:

Adversary, but Not Equal

 

The book of Job may be one of the least understood books in the Bible. So let’s pray that God will give us fresh insight into this book. Remember “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable …” (2 Tim. 3.16).

The book starts out in “God’s heavenly courtroom” and helps us understand that not everything that happens is the result of sin in a believer’s life. Sometimes God allows something for His holy, just and righteous purposes. There were many such purposes in what was going on here in the book of Job.

This wasn’t some “battle of the bands” between God and Satan. First, even though Satan is God’s adversary, he is not God’s equal! He is a created being who cannot do anything in the life of a believer without God’s permission.

Everything in our lives has been filtered through God’s loving hands and He promises to use it all for our good (Rom. 8.28). But we can believe that only to the degree we know Him, know His character, and understand His love for us.

Even when, for His divine purposes, God allows Satan some entrance into a believer’s life, He sets limits on it (Job 1.12, 2.6). 1 Corinthians 10.13 says:

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

God knows what we need in our lives to develop us as believers, but will not allow more than we can handle if we will rely on Him. It’s not about what we can handle in our own strength, but about what He wants to do in and through us. One of His good purposes is, often, to help us learn to rely on Him in a greater way.

Even though Job never knew what went on in heaven, God recorded it in His Word for our benefit (1 Cor. 10.11), to help us understand and trust that God is always in control.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 91.7-13:

Satan and Scripture

 

This beautiful psalm pictures God’s care for His children. It’s interesting that the devil quoted verses 11 & 12 during Christ’s temptation in the wilderness (Lk. 4.1-13). You see, the devil knows the Scriptures, too, but twists them to suit his evil purposes. In Luke 4 he misused this passage in an attempt to get Jesus to do something foolish. He tried to get Him to jump off the pinnacle of the temple by saying, in effect, “If God has commanded His angels to take care of You, You can just go ahead and jump!” Continue reading

“Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture” July 21

 

Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture

 

With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 3 & 4
Psalm 86.11-17
Proverbs 21.17-18
Acts 22.1-30

 

Fearing God in an Anti-Christian Culture

 

Ezra 3 & 4:

Fearing God or Man?

 

In chapter 3, even though the people who returned to Jerusalem had the authority of the king behind them, there was still opposition from the people already living in the land.

Verse 3 says, “… fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries …” But in spite of their feelings they determined to do what was right and to worship God as Moses had instructed them to do.

Even though there is a move to restrict our rights as believers, we still have a great deal of freedom under the laws of our land. And while Romans 13 instructs us to obey those who rule over us, even that has limitations. Anytime someone in authority asks us to sin, we have a higher authority—that is God and His Word.

With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger. There will be times on the job (even when we are within our rights), with our friends, or in our families where we will feel fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being rejected, fear of what people will think, fear of being labeled unloving or intolerant, even in some cases, fear of losing our jobs or our businesses. But, we too, can do what’s right in spite of our feelings.  Continue reading

“Is this all there is?” June 27

 

Is this all there is? - We live in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of "toys," and yet, instead of finding satisfaction, we often find ourselves asking, "Is this all there is?"We live in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, instead of finding satisfaction, we often find ourselves asking, “Is this all there is?”

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 17 & 18
Psalm 78.17-25
Proverbs 19.25-26
Acts 8.1-25

 

Is this all there is?

 

Finding Satisfaction & Contentment in Him

Psalm 78.17-25:

 

In this portion of the psalm, the psalmist talks of the people’s dissatisfaction with God’s provision. It’s easy to point our fingers and shake our heads when we read passages like this, but how like us they were!

Proverbs 27.20 says, “Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

We are living in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. Even those of us living relatively modest lives are abundantly blessed compared to many other nations, and yet, it is so easy to look around and want more, to look around and say “why does God seem to be blessing her and not me.” Or “if only I had such and such” life would be so much better.

We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, we are easily bored. “Is this all there is?” has been the theme of numerous books, movies and songs.

Psalm 90.14 in the American Standard Version says:

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

We need to pray regularly that our hearts will be satisfied in God, the only true source of satisfaction, and not look to the world for it!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

His Hand Holds the Future

1 Chronicles 17 & 18:

 

The chronicler continues to recount the story of David’s reign. In today’s reading he emphasizes God’s promise to David that his son would sit on the throne after him. It had a near application in Solomon and a messianic application, as well.

Notice David’s response to all of this in chapter 17:  Continue reading

“Hope When the Pressure Seems Too Much” June 11

 

Hope When the Pressure Seems Too Much - When we lose hope even small problems can seem insurmountable. How do we find hope and learn to trust God in difficult circumstances?

Also, how should we respond when someone speaks to us in unbiblical ways or threatens us foolishly? What can we learn from Jesus’ responses to Pilate?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Kings 9 & 10
Psalm 72.17-20
Proverbs 18.14-15
John 19.1-22

 

Hope When the Pressure Seems Too Much

 

Who Can Bear a Broken Spirit?

Proverbs 18.14-15:

 

Verse 14, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?”

As human beings, we are able to withstand great physical and circumstantial difficulties. And as believers, who better understand how to respond to those difficulties, all the more so.

But when we lose hope (Prov. 13.12) or are undergoing spiritual pressure, even lesser problems can seem too much to bear.

depressionSpiritual pressure can be the enemy’s attempt to get us to quit when we are walking in obedience or stepping out in faith. That’s one reason why Scripture tells us to encourage one another (1 Thess. 5.11) and why we are not to forsake coming together with other believers, including church attendance and fellowship. Hebrews 10.23-25:

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Sometimes that pressure comes from other people, either believers or unbelievers. When it does, it’s important that we respond in Christlike ways:

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

We can meditate on and follow Jesus’ example:

22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Pet. 2.22-23).

Spiritual pressure can also come from God Himself as He deals with us regarding sin.  Continue reading

“Friends & Enemies: Kisses, Winks & Whispers” May 22

 

Friends & Enemies: Kisses, Winks & WhispersFriendships can be confusing. Sometimes those who appear to be our friends turn out to be our enemies, at least spiritually, and our critics can be truer friends.

But what about unfair criticism or people who simply attack us? How should we handle it when we believe criticism is unjustified or motives are evil? Can God truly use those situations for good?

 

Today’s Readings:

2 Samuel 15 & 16
Psalm 66.8-15
Proverbs 16.27-30
John 7.1-27

 

Friends & Enemies: Kisses, Winks & Whispers

 

2 Samuel 15 & 16:

The Sovereignty of God When People Whisper & Criticize

 

In these two chapters, we see David’s trust in the sovereignty of God in what must have been two very difficult situations.

First, the broken relationship between him and his son Absalom has lead to bitterness and now rebellion on Absalom’s part. He has been secretly plotting to overthrow his father by deceiving the people. He is now on his way to take Jerusalem.

David gets word and is fleeing the city along with his household and hundreds of his men. When Zadok the Priest joins him, David says:

“Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Carry the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the eyes of the LORD, He will bring me back and show me both it and His dwelling place. But if He says thus. “I have no delight in you,” here I am, let Him do to me as seems good to Him'” (15.26).

Then in chapter 16, Shimei, one of former King Saul’s descendants, follows David and his men cursing and throwing stones at him. Abishai, one of his generals, offers to take off Shimei’s head! David responds by saying:

“So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ And David said to Abishai and all his servants, ‘See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.”

 

Responding to Our Critics

 

This is a great example of how we should respond to criticism in our lives. Whether or not the criticism is justified, God has allowed it for some purpose. If it’s unfair or ill-intended, we can trust God to deal with it.  Continue reading

“When Still Fighting the Same Struggle” May 5

 

When Still fighting the Same Struggle - Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week ... sometimes year after year. Maybe you've, actually, stopped praying about it, because you're sure God is tired of hearing it. Or have you been tempted to think ... I give up! I've tried to stop or I've asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn't listening!Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week … sometimes year after year. Maybe you’ve, actually, stopped praying about it, because you’re sure God is tired of hearing it.

Or have you been tempted to think … I give up! I’ve tried to stop or I’ve asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn’t listening!

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 12 & 13
Psalm 56.1-13
Proverbs 15.21-23
Luke 22.47-71

 

When Still Fighting the Same Struggle

 

Luke 22.47-71:

Redeemer of Our Failures

 

Have you ever felt you let God down by something you did or failed to do? You told Him, you would never do such and such again, but a day or two or three later … there you are again. You may feel like Peter when the rooster crowed and He realized Jesus was looking right at him (Lk. 22.34, 60-61)!

Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week … sometimes year after year. Maybe you’ve stopped praying about it, because you’re sure God is tired of hearing it.

Or have you been tempted to think … I give up! I’ve tried or I’ve asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn’t listening!  Continue reading