It didn’t take long. Less than 70 years into church history and there were those who wanted to water down the Word of God and the call to personal holiness. And others who wanted to add things to the requirements for salvation and Christian living.
In 25 verses Jude’s epistle called believers to contend for the truth. It still does today.
Sadly, many still prefer to teach only the easy to swallow parts … those things that don’t make anyone uncomfortable or the Christian life seem too hard? And others claim that something else is necessary.
To say I’m not a fan of the vampire, living dead crazes would be an understatement. I think it contributes to our society’s loss of shock about the things of darkness. Many of us have seen so much death, blood, and wickedness on our TV screens that we are no longer repulsed or shocked by it. But could there be an even more deadly reason for people’s fascination with fictional immortal beings?
There was, however, a time when the dead did come out of their graves and the Bible says it will happen again. How should that influence our thoughts about eternity?
Imagine, if you will, your family sitting around the dinner table one night when there is a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Joe,” whose funeral you had attended a few years before? Continue reading →
Have you ever heard someone say, “I might as well live it up, I’m going to hell anyway?” Or maybe that’s you. No matter what you’ve done, God is willing and able to forgive you, but you must come to Him. Don’t let another day pass. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Continue reading →
The world says, “follow your heart.” But the Bible has something entirely different to say about the heart. Also read about God’s discipline of His children, godly friendship, and how Paul handled the need to offer constructive criticism. Continue reading →
With the destruction from Hurricanes Irma and Harvey fresh in our minds, few would doubt the sheer force of storm driven wind and rain. And we’ve all seen images of earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Man made destruction can be just as powerful: war torn countries, the effects of suicide bombers and terrorism, and our own twin towers. Now another enemy threatens with missile launches and nuclear tests.
But are any of those the most powerful force in the world? And, if not, what is?
Another Monday morning. Jeannie would have to pray. She and Sue were the only two women on a job that was hard enough without Sue’s constant antagonism. It was made worse by the fact that, as far as Jeannie knew, she had never done anything to warrant her hatred.
The cheating began just a few months into their marriage. Mary had cried, yelled, spied on him, and threatened to leave. Each time Joe would tell her he was sorry and promise to break off the affair. But before long, she’d overhear a conversation, someone would call and hang up, or Joe would stay out all night and she’d know.
Karen’s husband worked hard. He came home every night. He paid the bills. But week-ends were a nightmare. Before the sun set on Friday, Bill was well into a bottle of bourbon and the more he drank, the angrier he got. More than once he had pulled out his gun and waved it around, even pointing it at Karen.
Each workday Jeannie determined to be kind to Sue, in spite of her cursing and cheap shots. But there were days when she went home in tears and cried out to God for another job.
Then one day after a particularly angry outburst, Sue stopped and just stared at Jeannie. “What is wrong with you? Everyday you come back and treat me right no matter what I say or do!” What followed were tears, but this time they were Sue’s and not Jeannie’s, as she poured out a story of heartbreak and abuse. Eventually, she accepted an invitation to attend church with Jeannie where she found the grace to let God heal her heart. Continue reading →
God’s desire for us is for holiness. Holiness is more than our outward actions. It’s about what’s going on in our hearts.
Song of Solomon 3 & 4
1 Corinthians 12.1-31
Holiness: Speak, See, Hear, Think No Evil
Song of Solomon 3 & 4:
Holiness & Our Heart
3.5b, “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the does of the field, do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases.”
This verse emphasizes the importance of keeping sexual passions within the boundaries God has laid down. Whether we are married or single, it’s important to set godly standards of purity for ourselves and, if necessary, make ourselves accountable to godly friends.
Often times, we think that means simply not doing anything we see as sinful. But God’s standard is much higher, it is inner and outer holiness. Job said he had made a covenant with his eyes not to gaze at a virgin (Job 31.1). Continue reading →
What do you see? One kind of vision leads to greater faith in God the other leads to fear, worry and doubt.
Our Proverbs reading reminds us that even the thoughts of an evil man or woman are an abomination to God, because, as Matthew Henry says, “thoughts are words to God.” Think about that! Thoughts are words to God!
Thoughts come, even ungodly ones at times, but what do we do with them? Do we take them and consider them, look at them from different angles, or do we reject those that are not pleasing to Him? What are you saying to God with your thoughts?
A thought, like a bird, may come and land on your head, but you don’t have to let it build a nest!
1 Samuel 16 & 17
What do you see?
1 Samuel 16 & 17:
What God Sees
Verse 16.7, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'”
God doesn’t look at outward appearances, nor at the amount of education, nor financial or social status, nor great beauty. He looks at the heart!
Make it your ambition to please God with your life (2 Cor. 5.9). Do what you have to do to make yourself available to serve Him. Ask Him to give you the right heart attitude and He will do mighty things. You do your part and He will do His. In fact, it’s His grace that enables us to even do “our part.”
What We Should See
Chapter 17 recounts the familiar story of David and Goliath.
Verse 24, “And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were dreadfully afraid.”
But the young man David saw things differently:
Verse 26b, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
The other men looked at their size in relation to the size of the giant, but David looked at the giant in relation to the size of His God!
How do you see your problems? Do you see them in relation to God or do you see yourself in relation to your problems? One way leads to greater faith in God the other leads to fear, worry and doubt. Continue reading →
Emotions are real and part of being human. In fact, God created us as emotional beings. But problems result when we allow our emotions to control our thoughts, words, and actions. When that happens, we can quickly end up in a ditch, spiritually and relationally.
Today we’re beginning a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” I hope you’ll be here over the next few weeks while we look at emotions, how they affect us, and how we can handle them God’s way.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Handling Emotions Biblically: Introduction
We just wrapped up a series on God’s design for marriage. If you missed it, you can access all the lessons here. Today we’re starting a new series on how to handle emotions so we don’t allow emotions to handle us.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing:
Fear & Worry
Trials & Suffering
They’re real. They’re often powerful. They’re, also, part of being human.
God Himself is described as having emotions.
The psalmist said, “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7.11b) and another psalm says, He laughs at His enemies (Ps. 2.4).
Genesis 6.6 says, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
Numerous times we’re told God is a jealous God (Ex. 20.5; Josh. 24.10).
But He, also, has compassion on His servants (Ps. 135.14; Jud. 2.18; Deut. 32.36).
And He rejoices over His people (Zeph. 3.17).
We know that Jesus wept (Jn. 11.35) over sin and it’s results on His creation.
Isaiah said he was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53.3).
And Mark 6:34 says He had compassion on the multitudes who listened to Him.
That doesn’t mean God’s emotions and ours are always the same. When God expresses emotions, they are perfectly just and righteous, never sinful. He never has a bad day and He never changes His feelings toward His redeemed.
Emotions like anger and fear often come with powerful feelings. Feelings that tend to control how we treat people, how we respond to the tests and trials of life, and whether or not we obey God.
While the feelings themselves are not always sinful, if they’re not dealt with in a biblical way, they can quickly become so.
While emotions are real and often powerful, they’re lousy leaders. When we allow our emotions to control our thoughts, words, and actions, we can end up in a ditch. Continue reading →
Today the battle for truth and religious liberty is raging. Truth has become relative. God’s Word carries no authority for the majority of the people in our nation and much of the Western World.
Christians are being denied jobs or realizing they can no longer work in their chosen fields without compromising their religious convictions. Those who speak up for what is morally right are called bigoted, intolerant or worse.
We need to be careful about putting our hope in any changes in government or leadership to protect us. While there might be a temporary slowing of the process, I believe in the long run these trends will continue, perhaps faster than we think possible. Just look at how things have changed in the last five years.
So what can we do to prepare ourselves for the continuing battle?
Verses 1-2, “Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”
Today the words may be different, but the heart attitude is the same.
“What right do you have to impose your religious beliefs on me? I can live anyway I please!”
“Who do you think you are? You have no right to refuse your services to me!”
The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty
Today the battle for truth and religious liberty is raging. Truth has become relative. Much like what we just finished reading in the book of Judges, everyone believes they’re free to decide what’s right for them. God’s Word carries no authority for the majority of the people in our nation and much of the Western World.
Christians in the scientific community and in the world of academics have been discredited, marginalized, refused positions, and fired for expressing their beliefs.
Christians are now being attacked and made an example of in the market place. There have even been attempts to intimidate pastors who speak out about homosexuality and gay marriage. Sadly, I believe we can expect these trends to continue in the long run and pick up speed.
If you’ve listened to the news in recent months, you know even free speech itself is being attacked in the very institutions that have traditionally stood for the free exchange of ideas. Students on university campuses are rioting to prevent the expression of opinions and ideas with which they disagree. And those who oppose them are afraid to speak up for fear of becoming targets themselves.
What If It’s Us?
How should we respond if (or perhaps, more accurately, when) we find ourselves in the cross hairs of this intolerant culture? The book of 1 Peter has some things to say on that subject. Continue reading →
There is so much worth commenting on in these two chapters but let’s focus on 11.16 which says, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them.” Maybe you’re feeling discouraged about something, maybe even thinking about giving up.
Maybe you have been trying to walk with the Lord, trying to read your Bible, trying to grow and be the husband or wife, father or mother God has called you to be. Maybe you have been waiting for your husband, your wife, or someone else to come to know the Lord. Maybe you have been waiting for God to answer some other prayer. Continue reading →