Do you ever take silent pleasure when someone who has criticized or mistreated you falls or suffers a setback? Is that how we should react? Is there a problem with rejoicing when “what goes around comes around”? Today’s reading in Obadiah looks at those questions.
In our New Testament reading, yesterday’s opening of the first six seals in Revelation prophecy a time of famine, death, earthquakes, volcanoes, murder, chaos and disaster. It will be followed by a time of eerie calm and devastating fear as the God of heaven is seen on His throne and the world reels in terror over “what’s next?” But first, an angel prepares a great evangelistic force. Continue reading →
The Tribulation: God is a God of mercy and grace, but He is also the Righteous Judge and will one day, possibly soon, begin opening the seven seals of Revelation 6 and unleashing final judgment on all who refuse to repent and turn to Him for forgiveness. What will that look like?
Could the devil be about to reel you in? Could you be nibbling on some bait that he has designed just for you? God has clearly explained just how that happens so we can avoid being ensnared by his bait. But would you recognize it, if it was happening to you? Continue reading →
We will all live forever. The question is … where? Will it be in a place of eternal punishment, where Jesus said there is fire that’s never quenched and the worm doesn’t die? Or will we spend eternity in the presence of God where He will wipe away every tear and where there will be no sorrow or pain?
In chapter 24 of Isaiah, the pattern of the book changes. Instead of talking about God’s judgment on specific nations, the prophet begins speaking to the inhabitants of the earth. This prophecy is more general in nature.
It. certainly. had a near future meaning, possibly the devastation brought about by Sennacherib and his Assyrian army or by Nebuchadnezzar and his armies from Babylon.
But it also has a yet future application in the events of the Tribulation. The book of Revelation talks about the incredible destruction that will take place during those terrifying seven years.
The next few chapters of Isaiah will continue talking about God’s judgment on the world, but there is also comfort in these passages for those who belong to Him. Even in the worst of times, God cares for His own! And as for the Great Tribulation, I don’t believe those of us who have made a decision for Christ now will be around to see it. I believe it will be proceeded by the Rapture of the church:
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4.16-17).
What about you? Do you know that you will “always be with the Lord”?
We will all live forever (1 Cor. 15.50-54). The question is … where? Will it be in a place separated from God, where Jesus said the fire is never quenched and the worm doesn’t die (Mk. 9.43-44), a place of eternal torment? Or will we spend eternity in the presence of God where he will wipe away every tear, where there will be no sorrow and no more pain (Rev. 21.4)?
Sadly, there will be those who attend church, do good things and think they’re OK with God, who will realize too late that they were not truly saved (Matt. 7.21-23).
What about you? Where will you spend eternity?
If you cannot say that there has been a time in your life where you recognized your need for a Savior, a time when you accepted Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross for you personally and surrendered your life to Him, cry out to God now and ask Him to save you.
Assurance of Salvation
Perhaps, you’ve prayed a prayer or had an emotional experience at some time in your life, but you still have doubts. Continue reading →
Do you have any difficult people in your life? Most of us do. Is there someone that God has not changed (even though you have been praying and praying) … and it’s hard? So, how does God want us to respond to them?
Responding to Difficult People
This is the second post in a series about what Paul Tripp calls “Living Between the Already and the Not Yet.”
6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
We talked about Jude 24 and how God tells us that one day He will cause us to stand before Him faultless.
But there is a progression to it. By God’s grace we are progressing from what we were on the day of our spiritual birth (the “already”) and what Jude talks about in verse 24 (the “not yet”).
Here between the “already” and the “not yet” God is progressively changing us as we learn to:
1. Count it all joy (James 1.2-5).
2. Accept His discipline (Heb. 12.5-11).
3. Keep the 2 great commandments (Matt. 22.37-40).
4. Overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.17-21).
5. Trust in His sovereignty (Rom. 8.28-29; 1 Cor. 10.13).
Today in the second post in that series, we’ll talk about how we should respond to difficult, even sinful, people.
Do you have any difficult people in your life? Is there someone that God has not changed (even though you have been praying and praying) … and it’s hard?
It could be a work situation or a family situation. Maybe you’re being mistreated, insulted or falsely accused?
The truth is, most of us have relationships that are challenging!
In counseling much of what we deal with concerns relationship issues:
A couple may come because they can’t be in the same room without fighting.
A wife may come because her husband is harsh and unloving.
Parents come because a child is disrespectful and angry.
Someone else comes because they are still struggling with mistreatment or abuse from childhood.
Parents come with a child who is being bullied.
How do these things fit into God’s plans and purposes for us?
Let’s just say for a minute “Lois” comes in. Her husband is harsh and unloving and not even willing to come for counseling.
Mike Wilkerson in his book Redemption says that we are all fellow sufferers AND fellow sinners. Even when we are sinned against, we complicate the situation by our responses.
So Lois finds herself yelling, complaining, gossiping to friends, and even threatening her husband with divorce. Now things are not going well. In fact, life has gotten hard!
I will often draw what we call the “Y- Chart” and share with her this simple phrase “Only 2 choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self.”
“Only 2 choices on the shelf, pleasing God or pleasing self.”
Pleasing self starts out easy. It comes naturally to us. But …
Proverbs 13.15 says “the way of the transgressor is hard.”
What starts out easy gets hard; things don’t go well. Our sin only worsens the situation.
Psalm 32.10 says, “Many are the sorrows of the wicked.”
And Romans 2.9 says:
There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil …
Synonyms for those two words “tribulation” and “distress” include depression, shame, guilt, anxiety, affliction, agony, hurt, misery, pain, torment, and woe, just for starters.
Doing evil can involve sins of commission or sins of omission. Sins of commission are things we do that we shouldn’t and sins of omission are our failures to do what we should.
Pleasing self starts out easy, but, eventually, life gets hard!
The other way … pleasing God, starts out hard. It goes against our natural way of thinking.
We have thoughts like: “If I let him get away with that, he’ll think it’s ok” or “Do you expect me to be a doormat?” It’s hard! But … Jesus said in Matthew 11.28-30:
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
What starts out “hard” gets easier and our burden gets lighter.
A minute ago I quoted Romans 2.9:
“There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil …”
But verse 10 says:
“but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good …”
John 13.17 says, now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. And James 1.25 says it’s the doer of the Word who will be blessed.
So back to Lois … life has gotten hard, there’s tribulation and distress, made worse by Continue reading →
As we see God’s swift and strong judgment on sin in the Old Testament, we need to remember a couple of things. First, He was protecting the people and the bloodline through which He was going to bring forth the Messiah.
But second, though God is patient and merciful with us in our sin and idolatry, it doesn’t mean He’s changed His mind about sin! It’s only the blood of Christ that keeps us from a similar fate and it was the mercy and love of God that made provision for our salvation. And how great a salvation it is!
We tend to write off the idea that we, too, are idolaters. We may or may not bow down to carved images, but we are frequently guilty of having other things on the throne of our hearts besides God Himself. Things like: I must have a spouse to be happy; I must have a godly husband; I must have a wife who respects me, I must have obedient children; or some other, “I must ..” Even good things can become idols if they are the focal point of our lives in the place of God.
Ask yourself, “Is there something or someone I think I cannot be happy without?”
Our idols can become so important that they blind us (Ezek. 14.1-8). In our blindness we can begin to justify sin or even refuse to see that it exists. We murmur and complain like the children of Israel in the wilderness. We compromise our moral standards, resort to sinful anger, or give in to fear.
When we do, it is sin—pure and simple. No amount of sugar coating will change it, but the answer is just as simple Continue reading →
Just as in Micah’s day, one of the devil’s oldest tricks is to get men and women to put their hope in a lie. Even though it is often what they want to hear, it leads to despair when they realize their hope was fixed on a lie. How could you be misplacing your hope?
And in our New Testament reading …
In Revelation 9 the fifth and sixth trumpets sound! The fifth releases swarming locust-like demons with tails like scorpions. Their stings will leave people begging to die, but not even able to commit suicide. And the sixth is even worse.
Like many in our culture today, the people in Micah’s time rejected God’s truth (2.6). They dismissed the prophets as “prattlers” or babblers. But God said, the real “babblers” are false prophets who tell people what they want to hear (2.11). Furthermore God warned them of a time when their false prophets would be exposed for the fakes they were and discredited, leaving the people with no hope, because they had put their hope in a lie (3.6-7):
6 “Therefore you shall have night without vision,
And you shall have darkness without divination;
The sun shall go down on the prophets,
And the day shall be dark for them.
7 So the seers shall be ashamed,
And the diviners abashed;
Indeed they shall all cover their lips;
For there is no answer from God.”
Deception is one of Satan’s oldest tricks. Jesus said he is the “father of lies” (Jn. 8.44). Just as he did in the garden where Eve put her hope in his lies, he first plants seeds of doubt by implying, “Did God really say …?”
“Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3.1).
But sooner or later he simply calls God a liar:
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen. 3.4-5)
There is no end to the lies people place their hope in today. Lies such as: Continue reading →