“Joy will come!” March 3

 

Joy will come! - Are you going through some difficulty? Are the things of this world pressing in? Do you feel like God isn't even listening? Meditate on today's reading in Psalm 30 ... joy will come!Are you going through some difficulty? Are the things of this world pressing in? Do you feel like God isn’t even listening? Meditate on today’s reading in Psalm 30 … joy will come!

 

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 3 & 4
Psalm 30.1-7
Proverbs 10.30-32
Mark 8.1-21

 

Joy will come!

 

Psalm 30.1-7:

Our Light Affliction

 

Verse 5, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

John MacArthur calls this verse “… one of the most worshipful testimonies from the Scriptures.”

In John 16.20-22 Jesus said:

Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.

Sometimes life can be difficult, but this world is not our home and this life is short in comparison to eternity. Jesus is coming back for us and someday we will spend eternity ruling and reigning with Him. Paul said:  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

“Beaten and Bruised?” December 27

 

Beaten & Bruised? - Do you feel beaten and bruised from raising a strong-willed child or by being in a difficult marriage? How do you keep going when life seems to be full of challenges? Not in your own strength, but …Do you feel beaten and bruised from raising a strong-willed child or by being in a difficult marriage? Have you recently faced a devastating loss or were the holidays especially difficult? How do you keep going when life seems to be full of challenges? Not in your own strength, but …

 

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 4-6
Psalm 148.1-6
Proverbs 30.24-28
Revelation 17.1-18

 

Beaten and Bruised?

 

Zechariah 4-6:

Not by Might

 

Verse 4.6 says, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel. ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.

Sixteen years previously, doubt, discouragement and opposition had caused the Jews to stop the rebuilding of the temple. Zerubbabel was God’s chosen leader and this word from God was meant to be an encouragement to him that they were to finish the task God had given them.

This should be an encouragement to us, as well, when we feel beaten and bruised or when God has called us to some challenge—whether raising a strong-willed child, honoring Christ in the midst of a difficult marriage, growing a ministry, or serving Him in the workplace. It is not by might, not by our own strength or abilities, but through God’s power that we will succeed.

[Tweet “How do you raise a difficult child or handle other challenges? Not by might, but …” #soulsurvival]

Hebrews 4.14-16:

14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

When we come to Him boldly in prayer, He promises to give us the help and the grace we need in every situation.

And James 1.2-7 says:

2 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. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

He will provide us with the wisdom we need, but we must Continue reading

“The Fullness of Scripture … Wade In!” November 28

 

The Fullness of Scripture ... Wade In! - The river flowing out of the Millennial Temple represents the fullness of Scripture. Some things are “ankle deep”—easy to understand. Others are knee deep and require more study. Others are deeper still and we may not be able to understand them fully. Even so, God wants us to "wade in" so we can grow in our understanding of Him and His Word. Also read about "The 4 Attitudes to have in the Midst of Trials & Persecution" and "The Futility of Arguing with a Fool."The river flowing out of the Millennial Temple represents the fullness of Scripture. Some things are “ankle deep”—easy to understand. Others are knee deep and require more study. Others are deeper still and we may not be able to understand them fully. Even so, God wants us to “wade in” so we can grow in our understanding of Him and His Word.

Also read about “The 4 Attitudes to have in the Midst of Trials & Persecution” and “The Futility of Arguing with a Fool.”

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 47 & 48
Psalm 135.8-14
Proverbs 29.9
1 Peter 4.1-19

 

The Fullness of Scripture … Wade In!

 

Ezekiel 47 & 48:

Christ, the Gospel & Living Water

 

These two chapters close out the book of Ezekiel. Chapter 47 describes a river flowing out of the temple. Symbolically the Temple is Christ and the river is the Gospel. The Living Water flows from Him and blesses everything it touches.

In the deepness of the water we see the fullness of Scripture. While in some places it’s ankle deep, in other places knee deep, and in other places even deeper, God wants us to wade in.

As Paul told Timothy:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Tim. 2.15).

The fact that we won’t understand everything about God in this life (2 Pet. 3.14-16), is all the more reason to worship Him. A god we could understand fully wouldn’t be God at all!

Why not “wade in” to Scripture in the coming year by signing up for the “BIBLE IN A YEAR” devotionals?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 135.8-14:

No Power of Hell or Earth …

 

In this psalm of praise to God for creation and redemption it says:

He destroyed the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and beast. He sent signs and wonders, defeated many nations, slew mighty kings and all the kingdoms of Canaan, and gave their land as a heritage to Israel His people. Verses 13-14: 

Continue reading

“Are you ‘profiting’ from the Bible?” November 25

 

Are you "profiting" from the Bible?

What does Matthew Henry mean when he talks about “profiting from the Bible”?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 41 & 42
Psalm 133.1-3
Proverbs 29.6
1 Peter 1.1-25

 

Are you profiting from the Bible?

 

Ezekiel 41 & 42:

Profiting from the Bible

 

In chapter 40, Ezekiel said:

¹ In the twenty-fifth year of our captivity, at the beginning of the year, on the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after the city was captured, on the very same day the hand of the Lord was upon me; and He took me there. In the visions of God He took me into the land of Israel and set me on a very high mountain; on it toward the south was something like the structure of a city.

From outside the city, God took him to the outside of the temple and into the courts (Ezek 40.6-49) and then into the temple itself (Ezek. 41).

Matthew Henry in his Complete Commentary on the Bible, says about chapter 41, “After the prophet had observed the courts, he was brought to the temple. If we attend to instructions in the plainer parts of religion, and profit by them, we shall be led further into an acquaintance with the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.”

My paraphrase—if we are faithful to learn the basics of the Christian faith, God will take us deeper into the wonders of His Word.

But notice that second sentence in Henry’s comment, “If we attend to instruction … and profit by them …” If we are not applying what we already know, it is unlikely we will grow and understand more!

The writer of Hebrews said it this way:  Continue reading

“The Right Bait & the Process of Sin” November 23

 

The Right Bait & the Process of Sin - What is the process of sin in your life? God has clearly explained it so we can avoid its pitfalls, but would you recognize it, if it was happening to you?What is the process of sin in your life? God has clearly explained it so we can avoid its pitfalls, but would you recognize it, if it was happening to you?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 37 & 38
Psalm 132.1-9
Proverbs 29.4
James 4.1-17

 

The Right Bait & the Process of Sin

 

James 4.1-17:

The Process of Sin

 

There is so much in the book of James and this chapter is no exception. Verse 4.1 coupled with chapter 1.13-15 give us great insight into the process of sin in our lives.

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? (4.1).

We often point outside ourselves to other people and circumstances as the reasons for our problems and conflicts. But James clearly tells us they come from our own sinful desires. We do what we do because we want what we want; the problem is not outside of us, but within us!

Sometimes we even attempt to put the blame on God for our sinful behavior. “I prayed and prayed for God to help me (deliver me, remove this sinful desire, etc.), but He just hasn’t.” Chapter 1.13-15:

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.

The Process of SinVerse 14 uses a fishing analogy. Each of us is lured or enticed by our own desires just as a fish is enticed to “take the bait.” And like the fish, we often fail to believe the bait has a hook in it! Once we take the bait we are “drawn away” or we might say, reeled in.

Next James uses a birth analogy: “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

First, there is the sinful desire. We start thinking about that man or woman at work. We justify it by saying, “There’s no harm in it. I’m not going to do anything about it!” Pretty soon we start telling ourselves things like, “Well, if my spouse paid more attention to me …,” “He makes me feel desirable,” “At least she respects me,” or a million other variations of the lie.

The desire has been conceived. It’s not full grown yet, but it’s taking shape in the womb of our sinful hearts. And when it’s full grown it gives birth to sin. If we don’t stop it in its tracks, it will be followed by death: guilt, fear, anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation, destruction, even divorce!

Of course, lust and sexual immorality are not the only areas where sin can entice us. It might be just one drink, lying to make ourselves look better, cheating, gossiping, or a million other things.

God included this passage in His Word to reveal the process of sin so we can recognize and avoid it. And if we are already nibbling the devil’s bait … or worse … so we would repent and cry out for His help.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezekiel 37 & 38:

Dry Bones & Resurrection Life

 

In chapter 37 Ezekiel sees a vision of a valley filled with dry bones. God tells him He is going to bring the dry bones back together, cover them with flesh, and breathe His Spirit into them. (I can’t read this passage without humming the old song “Dry Bones” that many of us sang as children. Anyone else?)

The dry bones represent the Israelites who had been dispersed among other nations. God promised He would restore them to their land and give them His Holy Spirit.

God also brings resurrection life to our sinful, dry lives. He redeems our pasts, restores where there is death and devastation and breathes life into marriages and relationships that have fallen into disrepair. Continue reading

“Where is God When Life is Hard?” November 18

 

When Life is Hard - Where is God when life is hard? Does He allow tests and trials in our lives because He is angry? How should we respond to His discipline and what are the dangers of rejecting it?Where is God when life is hard? Does He allow tests and trials in our lives because He is angry? How should we respond to His discipline and what are the dangers of rejecting it?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 27 & 28
Psalm 129.1-4
Proverbs 28.26
Hebrews 12.1-29

 

When Life is Hard

 

Hebrews 12.1-29:

God Our Perfect Parent

 

When Life Is Hard

This chapter talks about the discipline or the chastening of the Lord. When we go through difficult times, the devil tempts us to believe that it’s because God doesn’t love us or because we aren’t really believers or that we must have done something so horrible that He will no longer help us.

But in reality, the opposite is true. This chapter clearly tells us that “whom the Lord loves He chastens.” So whether we are chastened because of unrepentant sin, pruned so that we will bear more fruit (Jn. 15), or suffering the consequences of our own choices (Gal. 6.7-9), it is proof that God loves us.

As Psalm 119.71 says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” and verse 75 adds, “in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”

Pastor James MacDonald has done a wonderful, life-changing series based on Hebrews 12.5-17 entitled When Life Is Hard. In it he explains the importance of understanding how God as the Perfect Parent lovingly disciplines His children, how He does it because He loves us, and how He uses it for our good.

He also outlines the dangerous process that can happen to someone who rejects God’s discipline. That person can become discouraged and then bitter. That bitterness can defile everything and everyone around it. And, if those attitudes are not dealt with, it can lead to profane living and, finally, rejection.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezekiel 27 & 28:

Pride & Humility

 

God continues to speak through the prophet, this time to Tyre, a coastal city in modern Lebanon famous for its trade and goods. In 28.11-17 he speaks to the King of Tyre. This passage and others in the Bible, especially in the prophetic books and the Psalms, have duel meanings. While it is addressed to the historical king and city, it also speaks of Satan who was the power behind the King of Tyre.  Continue reading

“Words & Attitudes Matter!” October 19

 

Attitudes MatterWords and attitudes matter! Whether we’re nagging or encouraging, praising or criticizing, they matter in our relationships with people.

Words and attitudes also matter in our relationship with God. Will we be patient and faithful in times of tribulation, as well as blessing, or will our praise quickly turn to anger and bitterness?

If we realize our words and attitudes need to change, where do we start?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 23 & 24
Psalm 119.17-24
Proverbs 27.15-16
2 Thessalonians 1.1-12

 

Words & Attitudes Matter!

 

Proverbs 27.15-16:

It Starts with the Heart

dripping faucet“A continual dripping … and a contentious woman are alike …”

Ladies, we need to understand what God is saying here about the power of our words and attitudes.

None of us lives in a perfect world. We have spouses and children, bosses and co-workers, family, friends, and neighbors who are imperfect. But we can choose how we’ll respond.

Will we be the women Peter encouraged us to be?

¹ In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over by observing your pure and reverent lives. Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. (1 Pet. 3.1-4 NLT).

Will we choose to live the kind of lives that win others even without words (v. 1)? And when we do speak, will they be impacted by the purity and reverence of our lives (v. 2) or will they see a harsh, prideful heart?

Proverbs has a lot to say about the power of our words:

A gentle answer deflects anger,
    but harsh words make tempers flare.
The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing,
    but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. (Prov. 15.1-2 NLT).

Those who control their tongue will have a long life;
    opening your mouth can ruin everything (Prov. 13.3 NLT).

Some people make cutting remarks,
    but the words of the wise bring healing (12.18 NLT).

He who has knowledge spares his words,
And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit (Prov. 17.27 NKJV).

Kind words are like honey—
    sweet to the soul and healthy for the body (Prov. 16.24 NLT).

The tongue can bring death or life;
    those who love to talk will reap the consequences (Prov. 18.21 NLT).

And what about our attitudes? As Peter reminded us in the passage we just read (v. 1), we communicate even when we’re not speaking.

Mockers are proud and haughty;
    they act with boundless arrogance (Prov. 21.24 NLT).

Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall (Prov. 16.18).

Ladies, how do we want our husbands and others to think of us? We have a choice. But if we want to reflect a godly attitude, if we want kind words to fill our mouths, we’ve got to start with our hearts. Jesus said:

“It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness” (Mk. 7.20-22).

What are you putting into your heart? God’s truth or worldly ideas?

On what do you meditate? On slights and hurts, things you wish you had, on all your husbands faults? Or do you cultivate gratitude, contentment, forgiveness, and grace?

It’s your choice and mine.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Jeremiah 23 & 24:

The Father’s Plan

As I read chapter 23, verses 5 & 6, I was reminded of Genesis 3 where right in the middle of pronouncing the curse that would come on Adam and Eve as a result of their sin, God said to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Gen. 3.15). Right there in the garden, God gave them, and us, a glimpse of His plan to restore His creation to right standing with Him.

And here in Jeremiah 23, as He is pronouncing the consequences of Judah’s repeated disobedience, He promises to bring them back:

5 “ Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD,

“ That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;
A King shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
6 In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:

THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Another reminder of the coming of the promised Messiah—what a good and awesome God we serve! “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8) and that was the Father’s plan from the beginning.

Another passage that is full of hope is 24.4-7: Continue reading

“Good Doctrine Matters” September 12

 

Good Doctrine Matters - Good doctrine ... there I said it ... the "D" word. It seems like, in many churches, we're afraid of the word and of calling other biblical concepts by their traditional or biblical names. I understand the value of making preaching and teaching relevant. But have we gone to such lengths to avoid using biblical terminology that we're at risk of producing a generation of biblical illiterates?Good doctrine … there I said it … the “D” word. It seems like, in many churches, we’re afraid of the word and of calling other biblical concepts by their traditional or biblical names. I understand the value of making preaching and teaching relevant. But have we gone to such lengths to avoid using biblical terminology that we’re at risk of producing a generation of biblical illiterates?

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, doctrine is, “a set of ideas or beliefs that are taught or believed to be true.” Biblical doctrine is made up of the ideas and beliefs that the Bible teaches to be true. It’s the Bible carefully studied and understood.

Good doctrine matters because what we believe about God, His sovereignty, and His dealings with those He loves, determines how we’ll respond to the tests and trials of life among other things. It also determines whether or not we witness, how we interact with others, especially our spouses and children, and whether or not we have peace at the end of our lives. Good doctrine matters more than we know.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 15 & 16
Psalm 106.24-31
Proverbs 25.8-10
2 Corinthians 4.1-18

 

Good doctrine matters!

 

2 Corinthians 4.1-18:

Good Doctrine Concerning Tests & Trials

 

One area where good doctrine is vitally important concerns the tests and trials we experience in life. Look at what Paul had to say about his own:

Verses 1, 7-10:

1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart:

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

Many today come to God with a “what can He do for me” attitude. That attitude is fed by the popular “health and prosperity doctrine.” It’s a doctrine with great appeal, but it has a nasty downside.

What if you believe God will give you whatever you desire if you just have enough faith?

What if you believe God always wants His children healed physically, guarantees that our children will grow up to serve Him, and gives us freedom from all hardship?

Then … what if … God doesn’t make you rich or heal your body? What if your child gets sick? What if you continue to struggle financially? What if your husband doesn’t get saved or come back home or never changes? What if the man of your dreams doesn’t appear? What if you suffer physically? What if your children rebel?  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