“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

“What is the unpardonable sin?” January 18

 

What is the unpardonable sin? - Two questions that have been asked for over 2,000 years: What is the "unpardonable sin"? and "Could I have committed it?"Two questions that have been asked for over 2,000 years: What is the “unpardonable sin”? and “Could I have committed it?”

 

Welcome to our daily “Bible in a Year” devotional. I hope you’ll join us every day. Scroll down for more commentaries or click on “Bible in a Year.” Don’t worry if you’re behind, each day’s devotion stands on it’s own. Anytime we read God’s Word, it’s profitable (2 Tim. 3.16).

 

On to our reading …

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 35 & 36
Psalm 9.6-10
Proverbs 3.27-30
Matthew 12.22-50

 

What is the unpardonable sin?

 

Matthew 12.22-50:

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

 

What is the unpardonable sin? - Two questions that have been asked for over 2,000 years: What is the "unpardonable sin"? and "Could I have committed it?"

There’s often a great deal of concern about verses 31 and 32 where Matthew talked about the unforgivable or unpardonable sin:

31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Jesus described it as “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.”

Notice Jesus was talking to a group of Pharisees who knew the prophesies about the Messiah, witnessed His miracles first hand, knew the truth of His claims, and still blasphemed the Holy Spirit: They watched God work and then attributed those works to Satan for their own evil purposes. And Jesus knew their hearts.

Charles Ryrie in his book Basic Theology says, “… theirs was a sin committed to His face. To commit this particular sin required the personal and visible presence of Christ on earth; to commit it today, therefore, would be impossible.”

To blaspheme is to lie about God, something of which the Apostle Paul was certainly guilty before he was converted on the road to Damascus. But it wasn’t unforgivable. So, as far as rejecting God, making fun of believers, denying the truth, and many things that you and I may have done, none of those things are unforgivable. So what is the only sin which will keep up out of heaven today? Continue reading

“What’s your Isaac?” January 11

 

What's your Isaac? Is there something you've been holding too closely, something God is asking you to put on the altar? A grudge, a relationship, a career, a lifestyle, even a child that you haven't fully given to God?What’s your Isaac? Is there something you’ve been holding too closely, something God is asking you to put on the altar? A grudge, a relationship, a career, a lifestyle, even a child that you haven’t fully given to God? What blessings are you missing, as a result?

Also, read “From Tears to Trust” and “Lean Not on Your Own Understanding.” And in “Exposed Hearts” from Matthew 8, Jesus delivered two demon-possessed men from the power of Satan. But the people of the region were more concerned about their herd of pigs than what Jesus was doing.

Are there any “pigs” in your life that occupy more of your concern and attention than the work of God?

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 21 & 22
Psalm 6.6-10
Proverbs 3.5-6
Matthew 8.18-34

 

What’s your Isaac?

 

Genesis 21 & 22:

His Trustworthiness When Life Doesn’t Make Sense

 

As I read and meditate on these two chapters, they can be challenging to fully understand. While the truths of God are, on the one hand, so simple a child can understand, parts are so profound that we can spend a lifetime trying to fully understand.

15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction (2 Pet. 3.15-16 NLT).

As mothers and fathers and sons and daughters it’s difficult to understand the sending away of one child (21.8-14) and the offering up of another (22.1-14). But I couldn’t help but rejoice as I thought about our Proverbs reading today:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path” (3.5-6).

When we don’t fully understand all the “whys and wherefores” of Scripture, we can always rely on His trustworthiness (“Trusting God in Suffering”). That doesn’t mean we should seek to glean all that we can from God’s Word.

First, Ishmael—Ishmael was fourteen years older than Isaac and Isaac was probably about three years old when he was weaned (no sippy cups back then). Imagine this seventeen-year-old mocking a three-year-old.

Proverbs 20.11 says, “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right.”

But, God’s mercy was still at work here. God had not forgotten His promise to Hagar to protect Ishmael and to make a great nation of him. But it’s in the “sending out,” the consequences of our sin, that we are often brought to the end of ourselves and begin to look to God.

This is true in the lives of our children, too. Yet we are so prone to try to protect them from the natural consequences of their actions.  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

“What goes around comes around?” December 17

 

What goes around comes around?Do you ever take silent pleasure when someone who has criticized or mistreated you falls or suffers a setback? As believers, should we rejoice that “what goes around comes around”? You might be surprised at what God told the Edomites about that!

Also read about the importance of trusting in God’s timing and more about the Tribulation. This time the eerie calm between the time the 6th and 7th seals are opened.

 

Today’s Readings:
Obadiah 1-21
Psalm 143.7-12
Proverbs 30.5
Revelation 7.1-17

 

What goes around comes around?

 

Obadiah 1-21:

Guarding Our Hearts

 

The two verses that really jumped out at me were 12 & 13:

12 “ But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother
In the day of his captivity;
Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah
In the day of their destruction;
Nor should you have spoken proudly
In the day of distress.
13 You should not have entered the gate of My people
In the day of their calamity.
Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction
In the day of their calamity,
Nor laid hands on their substance
In the day of their calamity.

God was rebuking the nation of Edom, the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. These distant cousins took pleasure in the fall of Israel and Judah. They rejoiced in their calamity and even took advantage of the situation, perhaps by pillaging the city after it was deserted.

How much more as believers in Jesus Christ—those who have God’s Holy Spirit resident within us—should we guard our hearts against any such thing, whether with our biological family or our brothers and sisters in Christ! We are told to love, help and pray for even our enemies, to say nothing of those who are part of our family.

And yet, we sometimes take silent pleasure when someone who has criticized us falls, or in thinking “what goes around comes around!” While it is true that there are laws of sowing and reaping, we should be grieved not happy when it happens. We should pray for God to use it for good to turn that unbeliever to Christ or to cause a sinning brother or sister to repent, turn back to God, and live rightly.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 143.7-12:

His Righteousness

 

As the psalmist continues to cry out to God in his distress, remember he does so on the basis of Continue reading

“Struggling to Trust God?” November 29

 

Struggling to Trust God? - Is there some area of life where you're struggling to trust God? Do you find yourself impatient because God has failed to answer your prayer or change your circumstances? Do you wonder, "Why me?"Is there some area of life where you’re struggling to trust God? Do you find yourself impatient because God has failed to answer your prayer or change your circumstances? Do you wonder, “Why me?”

 

Today’s Readings:
Daniel 1 & 2
Psalm 135.15-21
Proverbs 29.10
1 Peter 5.1-14

 

We’ve finished another O.T. book (Ezekiel) and will finish 1 Peter today. We’re closing in on the end of the year! What has God shown you as you’re read through the Word? I’d love to get your input.

 

Struggling to Trust God?

 

Daniel 1 & 2:

When Struggling to Trust God

 

Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel, so this book backs up to the beginning of the Babylonian conquest when Daniel was kidnapped and taken to Babylon along with other intelligent, handsome young men. They were to be brain-washed through education and exposure to rich-living so they would be useful to the leadership in Babylon, possibly to help with the other Jews who would later be brought to Babylon in larger numbers.

Instead, because of his character, God would use him to influence two pagan kingdoms. Just as He did with Joseph, God would use Daniel’s personal circumstances to alter the course of history. And in it all, Daniel gave glory to God (2.28-30).

Daniel would face the temptation to compromise his beliefs (1.5-8, 6.6-7) and the threat of death (2.12-13, 6.6-7). Yet he stayed faithful to God. He didn’t rely on his own devices, but prayed continually for God’s wisdom and help (6.10).

What a great example of God using “all things,” even an unsaved king and unfair, undeserved circumstances, for good (Rom. 8.28).

whispering gossipBut what about your life and your difficulties? Has someone sinned against you in grievous ways? Are you struggling to trust God in your life?

If you’re a believer, God’s promises are true for you, too! He has not allowed anything in your life that He cannot use for your good and His glory. Others may have meant it for evil, but God means it for good (Gen. 50.20).

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 135.15-21:

God & God Alone

 

Daniel understood what the psalmist said in these verses, that heathen gods have no power—that God and God alone is to be praised, worshiped and feared.  Continue reading

“What is the key to the Christian life?” November 17

 

Key to the Christian Life

What is the key to the Christian life?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 25 & 26
Psalm 128.1-6
Proverbs 28.25
Hebrews 11.17-40

 

What is the key to the Christian life?

 

Hebrews 11.17-40:

Hall of Fame of Faith

 

As we continue through the “Hall of Fame of Faith,” notice that all the Old Testament saints listed throughout this chapter received the blessings of God “by faith.” They didn’t achieve great things for God because of any inherent goodness in them, nor did they receive it because of their own bravery or intelligence or any other characteristic, but rather, through faith. The same is true today.

In fact, faith runs through all our readings today: faith to be saved (Eph. 2.8-9), faith to trust God’s ways in our Proverbs reading, faith to live the Christian life (2 Cor. 5.7), faith in prayer (Jas. 1.6, 5.15), faith to keep us from the pride we see condemned throughout Proverbs, and more …

We are to do all that we do in faith. In fact, Scripture says, anything not done in faith is sin (Rom. 14.23). We might even say that faith is the key to the Christian life. Over and over again we must put our faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, the Holy Spirit’s power, and the Father’s faithfulness in our lives.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ezekiel 25 & 26:

Those Who Put Their Faith in Him

 

In these two chapters God was declaring his intent to bring judgment on the pagan nations around Judah and Israel. But even while He brought judgment on those nations, He always responded in mercy to anyone who put his or her faith in Him. We see a great example of this in our New Testament reading in Hebrews where we are told that Rehab, a harlot, was saved because she put her faith and trust in the One True God (Heb. 11.31).  Continue reading

“Trusting God in Suffering” November 16

 

Trusting God in SufferingWhen God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Trusting God makes all the difference in times of suffering. What can we learn about God that will steady us in tough times?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 23 & 24
Psalm 127.1-5
Proverbs 28.24
Hebrews 11.1-16

 

Trusting God in Suffering

 

Ezekiel 23 & 24:

Understanding Suffering

 

What if God called you to make the sacrifice that Ezekiel had to make—losing his wife and not even being allowed to grieve (24.15-18)? Could you trust God to give you the strength to do it? Or would you fall into self-pity or a “why me” attitude?

How would you respond if the child you raised to love God becomes a prodigal, throwing aside everything you believe? Would you still trust God?

What if the doctor handed you a bad report? Or your child didn’t get better? Would you still believe that God is good?

What if you or your spouse lost a job or your savings or your retirement plan? Would you still be able to trust Him to meet your needs?

I know for some of you these questions aren’t hypothetical, they are reality. The truth is suffering is a part of life in this fallen world. Someone has said that we’re either in the midst of trial, coming out of one, or getting ready to go into one.

They may vary in degree and some may be easier to handle than others, but we all suffer.

When God asks you to trust Him in the difficult things: when He doesn’t seem to be answering your prayers, when your child isn’t getting better, when the finances still seem impossible, when the doctor hands you a bad report … where will you go? Where will you find hope? What will you believe about God?

Could you say with the psalmist, “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me” (Ps. 119.75)?

 

How to Grow in Trust

 

It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know.

When your toddler jumps into your arms in the swimming pool for the first time, he doesn’t trust his ability to swim, he trusts you because he knows you. When your doctor says she needs to do surgery, you’ll either trust her diagnosis, or you’ll get another opinion.

A toddler learns to trust his parents because of his experience with them. You may come to trust your doctor because of her care and knowledge in other situations or because someone you know recommended her. But somehow we must have knowledge of a person if we’re to trust in them.

We trust God first by faith. We make the choice to believe His Word and to respond to His wooing, but we walk it out by coming to know Him through His Word.

 

What can we know about God that will steady us in trials and suffering? 

Continue reading

“Studying the Bible in a Pagan Culture” July 23

 

Studying the Bible in a Pagan Culture - God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithfully studying the Bible and seeking to understand and apply it.God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithfully studying the Bible and seeking to understand and apply it, even in a pagan culture. There is little doubt that we are living in a post-Christian culture, in many ways a pagan one. Are you part of that remnant?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezra 7 & 8
Psalm 88.1-5
Proverbs 21.21-22
Acts 23.16-35

 

Studying the Bible in a Pagan Culture

 

Ezra 7 & 8:

Preparing the Heart & Studying God’s Word

 

Ancient scrolls torahAs you can well imagine, most of the returning Jews who had lived and been born in a pagan culture had little understanding of God’s law. But chapter 7 verse 6 says:

“This Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given.”

Ezra had faithfully studied and meditated on the laws and precepts of God in spite of the culture around him. And because of his faithful preparation, he was instrumental in teaching the people who had returned to Jerusalem after the captivity. God was able to use him in a mighty way because he knew God’s Word!

Do you suppose he ever wondered, “Why am I spending all this time reading and studying and memorizing scripture?” John MacArthur says in his Daily Bible that, according to tradition, Ezra had God’s law memorized. That would have been at least the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—memorized! God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithful to study and seeking to understand and apply it.

Scribes were commissioned with copying the Scriptures by hand, as well as, knowing and teaching them. Did you know there are more than 5,300 handwritten Greek
manuscripts of the New Testament alone (many more of the O.T.) and they have very few errors, most of which have to do with numbers or spelling not things which would alter any Bible doctrine.

It’s no wonder that Jesus was so upset with the Scribes and Pharisees in His day. They knew the Word of God and legalistically demanded adherence to the letter of it without grasping the Spirit of it.

Ezra was a great example, though, not just of knowing the law, but living it:

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (7.10).

Man Praying Holding the Bible isolated on whiteNotice the order: he prepared his heart, he sought to understand the Word of God, he purposed in his heart to obey it, and then he taught it to others. It’s not that we are ever going to do things perfectly, but before we seek to teach others, we should be doing our best to understand and be doers of God’s Word ourselves.

What about you? Are you faithfully studying God’s Word for yourself or are you content to be spoon fed on Sunday mornings? What if it was suddenly against the law to own or read a Bible, do you have enough of God’s Word hidden in your heart to sustain you and to allow you teach others?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Psalm 88.1-5:

Trusting God in Times of Trouble

 

This psalm is a lamentation. The psalmist was apparently in some kind of deep distress and did not understand why God had not answered his prayers for relief. Can you relate?  Continue reading

“Consequences of Bad Advice” July 7

 

Consequences of Bad Advice - Truth isn't always comfortable or pleasing to our sinful, selfish nature, but it's the truth that will deliver us from the consequences of foolishness and sin. Bad advice, on the other hand, tickles our ears and gives us the "go ahead" to do what we really want to do.Truth isn’t always comfortable or pleasing to our sinful, selfish nature, but it’s the truth that will deliver us from the consequences of foolishness and sin. Bad advice, on the other hand, tickles our ears and gives us the “go ahead” to do what we really want to do.

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 9 & 10
Psalm 80.7-13
Proverbs 20.16-18
Acts 14.1-28

 

Consequences of Bad Advice

 

Proverbs 20.16-18:

Counsel—Wise or What We Want to Hear?

Verse 18, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.”

In chapter 10 of 2 Chronicles, we saw the importance of wise counsel. Rehoboam sought counsel, but he rejected the wise counsel of those who had walked with God for many years and, instead, took the advice that pleased Him.

There is much of that going on in the world today. Instead of seeking counsel from God’s Word or from wise people, many seek counsel that confirms what they want to do, especially if what they want to do is sin or foolishness! Even as professing believers, we can fall into that trap.  Continue reading