Before you know it the New Year will be here. I hope your New Year’s plans include reading through the Bible in a year in 2017. Reading, studying, meditating on and obeying God’s Word should be our lifelong adventure.
No matter how much you have gotten out of your reading in the Scriptures this year, you will get abundantly more during the next and the next and the next! Continue reading →
Verse 1 says, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD.’” As Christians there should be a joy associated with going to church and worshiping with other believers. If we dread going to church and find any excuse to stay home, we need to check our hearts. Someone once said, “If you don’t want to spend time with believers here on earth, there is little chance you will be with them for eternity.”
While going to church doesn’t save us and He doesn’t love us less if we miss a service, it is part of living an obedient life before Him. And yet, we can be deceived into believing going to church doesn’t really matter, or forgiving someone who has hurt us deeply doesn’t really matter, or gossiping, or that we can maintain some secret sin and still be right with God.
Just like the Israelites in Jeremiah’s and Ezekiel’s day, we can have these areas of our lives that are not submitted to God and not only feel “OK” about it, but be downright self-righteous and judgmental about others and their blindspots.
How does that happen?
Mike Wilkerson in his book Redemption, talks about something he calls “Religious Addiction.”
Definitions of addiction include words like habit, obsession, and dependence. It denotes a compulsive need or dependence on something. It usually involves a certain lifestyle, hanging out with other people who do the same, and talking the way they talk. It usually offers an escape from reality. Continue reading →
If you’re married, you have an imperfect marriage. You have a spouse who sometimes acts wrong and so does he or she.
Marriages are imperfect, because people are imperfect. If we have accepted Christ and begun that redemptive journey, hopefully, we are on the road to becoming more like Him, but none of us has arrived!
It may be that both you and your spouse are seeking to be the husband and wife God wants you to be, but even then we fail at times. It may be that your spouse is sinning in much larger and more damaging ways.
Sin is in all of us (Romans 3: 23). Attitudes and behaviors that come out of a self-centered, selfish, prideful, deceived, and/ or rebellious heart often express themselves in big, bad ways such as infidelity, lying, addictions, or abuse. The same sinful heart can also produce more benign but chronically irritating behaviors such as nagging and criticism, forgetting important occasions, failing to put dirty laundry in the hamper, not listening well, or staying glued to the television when our spouse is attempting to have a conversation with us. It can be just as difficult and discouraging to believe God and live by faith with a spouse who sins in subtle, less blatant ways as it can when a spouse commits the more grievous wrongs.
Most of us acknowledge that there are no perfect marriages or perfect spouses. We know that having a good marriage requires effort and hard work. At times, however, in the midst of that pain and struggle we can lose sight of what marriage is all about. We forget that we have made a covenant promise to love for better or worse. In the better times, love is usually easy. When worse comes, we often don’t know how to continue to love when we are angry, hurt, scared, or don’t feel very loving. We also aren’t exactly sure what that kind of love is supposed to look like. Do we just forbear? Forgive and forget? How and when do we apply the bolder forms of love?
Sadly, many just give up. The rate of divorce among believers isn’t much different than with couples outside the church, even though most of them know that God wants them to stay and work out their differences.
Others stay but become cold toward their spouses and toward God, believing He has commanded them to stay in an unhappy marriage. Others simply resign themselves and go about living two separate lives in one house. Continue reading →
The Israelites thought they were in charge of their own lives. They frequently decided they had a better idea of what they needed and where they would find the answers to their problems than God did!
So instead of seeking God, they followed after idols. Instead of trusting God for their provision, they pleaded with fertility gods, even participating in sexual immorality as part of their pagan worship. When God said, if you continue going this way, I’m going to allow you to go into captivity, they said, we can avoid the consequences of our actions by relying on own clever schemes. We can cover our sins instead of repenting from them, align ourselves with pagan nations when we come under attack, and only listen to the “prophets” who tell us what we want to hear.
Sound familiar? It should.
God said, marriage is a covenant and should not be broken except in the case of sexual immorality (Matt. 5.32). We said, we’ll make “no fault” divorce the law of the land.
God said, don’t have sex outside of marriage (Gal. 5.19). We said, we’ll use condoms and birth control pills and we won’t have to suffer the consequences of pregnancy and AIDS.
God said life is precious; I created it and knew you even before you were formed in your mother’s womb (Ps. 139). We said it’s not a baby and we can abort it any time we like.
God said, don’t covet (Ex. 20.17). We said, we’ve got to keep up with the Jones.
God said, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord” (Eph. 6.1). We said, “It’s my life. I can do whatever I want!”
Mirror … mirror … how many times have you looked today?
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. Verse 38.8, “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.” 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. Continue reading →