Two questions that have been asked for over 2,000 years: What is the “unpardonable sin”? and “Could I have committed it?” Even those of us who have some familiarity with the Bible can be afraid of that possibility. We remember the things we said and did as unbelievers and we wonder! Continue reading →
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? Continue reading →
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 full of challenges? Not in your own strength, but … Continue reading →
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 →
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?” Continue reading →
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?
Trusting God makes all the difference in times of suffering. What can we learn about God that will steady us in tough times? Continue reading →
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?
As we continue reading through the book of Ezra, the prophet is preparing to lead the second group of exiles back to Jerusalem.
As you can well imagine, most of the returning Jews who had lived and many 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 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 memorized God’s law. That would have been, at least, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy—memorized! Many of us have gotten bogged down just trying to read through the last three.
God has always supernaturally protected His Word and always had a remnant of men and women faithful to study, understand and apply it.
The Job of a Scribe
Verse 6 says that Ezra was a Scribe. 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).
Notice 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?
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.
Verse 18, “Plans are established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.”
In 2 Chronicles 10, today’s Old Testament reading, we see 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.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (2 Tim. 4.3).
On the other hand, godly wisdom may not always be what we want to hear, but it’s the wisdom that will keep us from a train wreck down the road. Ultimately, it’s the truth of God that will set us free (Jn. 8.32). It’s the person who truly loves us who will speak the sometimes uncomfortable truth to us.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Prov. 27.6).
13 The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, 14 besides what the traveling merchants and traders brought. And all the kings of Arabia and governors of the country brought gold and silver to Solomon.
The actual weight of a talent may have varied from area to area, but it was probably 75-100 pounds. At 75 pounds that would be 49,950 pounds of gold coming into the treasury each year. Trying to figure out what that would be worth today was definitely beyond my pay grade. Gold is not priced by the pound, but by the troy ounce which is worth more than $1200. So you do the math. Continue reading →
I counsel a lot of people who struggle because of words that were spoken to them as children. Certainly, God can use it for good as He helps them find their identity in Him, but how sad when our kids have to overcome our parenting, rather than remember it with gratitude. You kids will be grown before you know it. How will they remember you? They may know you love them, but do they know you like them?
2 Samuel 3 & 4
Do Your Kids Know You LIKE Them?
In the Light of the King’s (& Queen’s) Face
Verse 15, “In the light of the king’s face is life, and his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.”
Leaders have a great opportunity to be a blessing by encouraging those under them. My husband recently picked up a book about the top 10 mistakes leaders make. One of the big 10 was failing to encourage!
No where do we have a greater opportunity to encourage (or discourage!) than in our homes with our spouses and with our children.
That’s one reason why husbands are commanded to live with their wives in a understanding way (1 Pet. 3.7) and wives are commanded to show respect for their husbands (Eph. 5.33) and to have a gentle spirit (1 Pet. 3.2). Even when we must reprove one another we are to do it with gentleness (Gal. 6.1).
As parents, Colossians 3.21 instructs us to “not provoke [our] children, lest they become discouraged.” Parenting is not about giving our children everything they want (far from it!) or allowing them to do what pleases them, but we can and should parent in a way that encourages them and not in a way that discourages them.
Megan Scheibner and her husband Steve have a website called “Character Health.” In her blog she wrote:
There are many things that my children know. They know how to read, they know how to pray, they know how to do their chores, etc. But, there are just as many things that I assume my children know without ever making sure that my assumption is correct … The first is this: don’t assume your children know you like them. Yes, my children know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I love them, however, do they know that I like them?
How are your relationships with your children? Is it all about what they do wrong? Is it all about getting their homework and chores done? Is it all about the next scheduled activity? Do you ever take the time to just let your kids know you like them and enjoy spending time with them? Continue reading →