“When Life Is Hard & Confusing” August 9

 

When Life Is Hard & Confusing - There will be times in all of our lives when life doesn't make sense. It may be because of sickness or some tragedy. It may be the loss of a relationship or watching a child walk away from the Lord. It may be because of someone else's sin or just our circumstances, but there are times when life is hard and confusing. If we're not in one of those difficult times, what can we do now to be ready when they come?There will be times in all of our lives when life doesn’t make sense. It may be because of sickness or some tragedy. It may be the loss of a relationship or watching a child walk away from the Lord. It may be because of someone else’s sin or just our circumstances, but there are times when life is hard and confusing. If we’re not in one of those difficult times, what can we do now to be ready when they come?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 9 & 10
Psalm 93.1-5
Proverbs 22.22-23
Romans 9.16-33

 

When Life is Hard & Confusing

 

Job 9 & 10:

Preparing for the Hard Times

 

In these two chapters Job responds to his friend Bildad. He’s confused because he holds to the same basic belief as his friends—that all troubles come as a direct result of one’s own sin. So, while he knows he’s not sinless, he struggles to understand how he deserves the degree of suffering he’s enduring.

But he holds on to the truths he does understand. In verse 32 speaking of God, he says:

“He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.”

pointing upHe understands that he and God are not equals, that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are far above our thoughts (Is. 55.8-9).

Understanding that truth helped Job and can help us accept things in our lives that we don’t understand. And there will be things this side of heaven which don’t seem fair, things for which God has a higher and a bigger purpose than we know.

A pastor I know went through a dark depression years ago when his son walked away from the Lord. He said anything he had called depression before that time didn’t even come close. While he still believed the truths he had taught for many years, including the reality of God’s goodness and sovereignty, the darkness continued.  Continue reading

“Flattery Will Get You!” July 27

 

Flattery Will Get You!

Flattery will get you! – Could you be drawn away from God’s best in your life by flattery or some other temptation? What can we learn from Nehemiah about protecting our testimonies, our jobs, and our ministries?

 

Today’s Readings:
Nehemiah 6 & 7
Psalm 89.5-10
Proverbs 21.28
Acts 27.1-26

 

Flattery Will Get You!

 

Nehemiah 6 & 7:

Flattery & Enticing Distractions

 

Chapter 6 reminds me of what goes on in politics and the media today. Nehemiah and the people were making great progress at rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Notice what happened next:

¹ Now it happened when Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of our enemies heard that I had rebuilt the wall, and that there were no breaks left in it (though at that time I had not hung the doors in the gates), that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, “Come, let us meet together among the villages in the plain of Ono.” But they thought to do me harm.

So I sent messengers to them, saying, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” (6.1-3).

As soon as someone starts to do something significant for God, influential people want to meet with him or her and, often, interview them for TV or some other media. Sadly, many have learned the hard way that most people in the media don’t want to rejoice with them because they’re doing something worthwhile. In fact, most have learned that what they say and do gets twisted and misreported. And all it does is serve as a distraction from what’s really important.

Fear is another of the enemies weapons: fear of losing a position of prominence, fear of what people will think, or fear for their own safety or well-being.

10 Afterward I came to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was a secret informer; and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us close the doors of the temple, for they are coming to kill you; indeed, at night they will come to kill you.”

11 And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” 12 Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13 For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me.

When we know that we are doing what God has called us to do, we can trust Him to take care of us.

14 My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and the prophetess Noadiah and the rest of the prophets who would have made me afraid.

But sadly, flattery, the enticement of national coverage, and the excitement of rubbing elbows with dignitaries can tempt us to compromise. Fear sometimes stops us in our tracks. But when it doesn’t work, the enemy will often attack from within—sometimes using people close to that person. How many times have we read the phrase “unnamed sources say …” to spread some untruth.

Another way the enemy attempts to bring down servants of God is by taking advantage of our own sinful desires, often through an immoral sexual encounter.

Those encounters don’t always start with something obviously sexual or immoral. Often they happen between two co-workers or even people who work together in ministry.

It may seem innocent, at first, things like texting and compliments, but will often turn to flirting and spending more and more time together.   Continue reading

“The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty” April 29

 

The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty - 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. So what can we do to prepare ourselves for the continuing battle?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?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ruth 3 & 4
Psalm 52.6-9
Proverbs 15.6-7
Luke 20.1-26

 

The Battle for Truth & Religious Liberty

 

Luke 20.1-26:

By What Authority?

 

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

“The Lens of Scripture” April 13

 

The Lens of Scripture

Our perception, the filter through which we “see” everything has a tremendous effect on our lives. I often tell people in counseling that we are affected much more by what we “think about” what happens to us that what actually happens to us.

So how do you view the events of your life? What is your filter? Are you looking through the lens of Scripture or through the world’s lens? Are you seeing through the sovereignty of God or through a self-focused lens?

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 15 & 16
Psalm 45.1-5
Proverbs 14.4-5
Luke 11.29-54

 

The Lens of Scripture

 

Luke 11.29-54:

Perceptions

 

Verse 34, “The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.”

John MacArthur in his Daily Bible says, “The problem was their perception, not a lack of light.”

Our perception, the filter through which we “see” everything has a tremendous effect on our lives. I often tell people in counseling that we are affected much more by what we “think about” what happens to us that what actually happens to us.

As believers and children of the Sovereign God of the Universe, we should filter everything through the lens of Scripture beginning with verses like Romans 8.28-29:

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

comparing shoes

When we’re tempted to compare ourselves to someone else financially, socially or career wise, do we allow envy to get a foothold or do we trust our loving heavenly Father to know what’s best for us?

When we must forgive – again – do we remember how much we’ve been forgiven and forgive graciously, or do we hold a grudge, give the silent treatment, or hold out for proof the other person really means it?  Continue reading

“Politics, Choices & Trusting God” March 28

 

Politics, Choices & Trusting God - God's Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God's people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.God’s Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God’s people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.

Also, in what are you trusting? Our government, living in America, your own resources? What do choices have to do with trust?


Today’s Readings:
Deuteronomy 17 & 18
Psalm 37.37-40
Proverbs 12.20-22
Luke 4.1-30

 

Politics, Choices & Trusting God

 

Deuteronomy 17 & 18:

God & Government

 

Chapter 17.14-20:

14 “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ 17 Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.

18 “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

God’s Word does not ordain a certain kind of government, but God’s people are to pray, seek His wisdom, and obey His commands in whatever circumstances and under whatever form of government they find themselves.

God, Government & Our ChoisesLeaders should be those “whom the LORD your God chooses.” In a nation like ours where we choose our leaders, they should not be chosen on the basis of political expediency or personal gain. Instead, we should pray, seek godly counsel, and search God’s Word for the characteristics of godly men.

“You may not set a foreigner over you.” Certainly, this has national implications, but more important are the spiritual ones. Look again at verses 18-19, “he shall write for himself a copy of this law … he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes…”

Of course, this was written directly to the nation of Israel. God intended the nation to be a theocracy, led by God Himself through His chosen leaders. Instead, they would demand a king like the nations around them. And while there would be consequences, God still provided wisdom for living under the authority of kings and other leaders. And there is much we can learn from His instructions about living under our government today.

Our most important consideration when choosing leaders should be, Continue reading

“Did God really say …?” January 2

 

Did God really say ...? - It started in the garden. The serpent tempted Eve first with a thought, "Did God really say ...?" The first step in his deception was to get her to doubt God and he's still whispering the same question today.It started in the garden. The serpent tempted Eve first with a thought, “Did God really say …?” The first step in his deception was to get her to doubt God and he’s still whispering the same question today.

Also read about the danger of thinking we’re smarter than God, the importance of honoring parents and some examples of fulfilled prophecy.

 

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 3 & 4
Psalm 2.1-6
Proverbs 1.8-9
Matthew 2.1-23

 

Did God really say …?

 

Genesis 3 & 4:

Another Voice

 

God had created the man and the woman and placed them in the garden to tend and keep it (2.15). He left them with just one commandment:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2.16-17).

But sadly, they would listen to another voice:

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’” (v. 3.1)

The New Living Translation says, “’Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?’”

Nothing much has changed. The devil is still whispering the same questions today, trying to get us to doubt God’s Word, to believe He’s withholding something good from us, and get us to think we can decide what is right and wrong.

“Did God really say … that homosexuality is wrong?”

“Did God really say … that you should submit to your husband in everything? What if Continue reading

“The Danger of Believing Lies” December 29

 

The Danger of Believing LiesToday we’ll talk about the danger of believing lies, whether about some false religion or about our right to nurse our wounds and refuse to forgive.

We’ll also continue our study in Revelation as the final conflict approaches.

About 2017

There are only two more days in 2016. Have you set a goal for your Bible reading in 2017? Have you invited someone else to join you? Let’s bring others along as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3.18).

On to the readings …

 

Today’s Readings:
Zechariah 10-12
Psalm 149.1-4
Proverbs 30.32-33
Revelation 19-21

 

The Danger of Believing Lies

 

Zechariah 10-12:

The Idols Speak Delusion

 

I found verse 10.2 very interesting. It says:

“For the idols speak delusion; the diviners envision lies, and tell false dreams; they comfort in vain. Therefore the people wend their way like sheep; they are in trouble because there is no shepherd.”

Yesterday we talked about “Babylon the Great,” and how the world’s religious and socioeconomic system will be destroyed at the end of the age. We also talked about the allure of false religions. So often, what makes false religion so alluring is because it tells us what we want to hear.

It tells us we’re “OK” if we just keep these rules. It even enables us to feel self-righteous because all those “other people” outside our group don’t get it!

Or it tells us that god is within us and we just need to reach some higher level of spirituality and that we can do so by meditating on this mantra or using this substance. This appeals to the self-delusion that we are more spiritual than someone else.

The lure of false religion is one of the reasons we get so enthralled with things like “The DaVinci Code” and tales of “lost gospels.” It’s the appeal of Gnosticism, the belief in some hidden knowledge, not available to the “less enlightened.” It’s the appeal of the Masonic Temple and many “secret” organizations.

It’s the appeal of martyrdom for Allah and the reward of “100 virgins” or of giving up your life to live in a monastery forsaking all earthly possessions. It’s the deception of Continue reading

“The Unpopular Truth” December 15

 

The Unpopular Truth - The Bible is the unpopular truth to many today. And those who speak the truth are being told, "You can't say that here ... 'there's separation of church and state.' " Or, "You're trying to impose your religion on us." Others demand that we, "give hardy approval" to the sinful things they do. How does God expect us to respond to those pressures?The Bible is the unpopular truth to many today. And those who speak the truth are being told, “You can’t say that here … ‘there’s separation of church and state.’ ” Or, “You’re trying to impose your religion on us.” Others demand that we, “give hardy approval” to the sinful things they do. How does God expect us to respond to those pressures?

Also read about praying in difficult times, a word to Christian singles, and Jesus the soon coming King.

 

Today’s Readings:
Amos 6 & 7
Psalm 142.1-7
Proverbs 29.27
Revelation 5.1-14

 

The Unpopular Truth

 

Amos 6 & amos 7:

Speaking the Unpopular Truth

 

Chapter 7.12-13:

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos.
“ Go, you seer!
Flee to the land of Judah.
There eat bread,
And there prophesy.
13 But never again prophesy at Bethel,
For it is the king’s sanctuary,
And it is the royal residence.”

Rather than hear the truth and heed their warnings, the people of Amos’ day banished the prophets. How very much like the world in which we live. Today the cry is “separation of church and state” or “don’t try to impose your religion on me” or “you can’t say that here!” Those who talk about God’s standard are called intolerant, homophobes, judgmental or worse.

Many even demand that we approve their lifestyles and their right to live anyway they choose. Some people give in to their demands out of fear of criticism, intimidation, or misguided acceptance. Continue reading

“Could we turn the world upside down?” December 6

 

Turn the world upside downIn the US (and many other countries), we have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and look at the consequences! It has affected education, politics, business, family life and more. Lawlessness is at an all time high and, if that’s not bad enough, we continue to see a rise in terrorism around the world and here at home. But, could we, like a handful of faithful men and women in the first century, turn the world upside down?

 

Today’s Readings:
Hosea 3 & 4
Psalm 138.8
Proverbs 29.18
1 John 4.1-21

 

Could we turn the world upside down?

 

Hosea 3 & 4:

God’s Mercy

 

What a beautiful picture of God’s mercy with His people and the fact that He will, eventually, redeem the true church and the nation of Israel.

Verse 3.1, “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.’ ”

 

But … Our Choices, Like Theirs, Are Not without Consequences

 

As I’ve said before, it doesn’t mean there are no consequences for sinful behavior.

It’s impossible not to see some of the parallels between America and rebellious Israel. We have largely turned away from the God of the Bible and loved a lover, a god, of our own making—one who allows us to live however we desire. Look at some of the phrases in chapter 4:

“…no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land … swearing and lying … killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint … bloodshed upon bloodshed … you have rejected knowledge … forgotten the law of your God … they set their heart on iniquity.”

No truth or knowledge of God: He has been “kicked out” of our schools, our government and the public arena. And sadly, we’ve thrown common sense out the window, too.

Swearing and lying: In politics (if this political season has taught us anything), in business (whatever it takes to make a buck), and the list goes on.

Killing and stealing: Just turn on the nightly news.

Committing adultery: We excuse and justify it when it’s our life or our side of the political aisle, but broken marriages, serial relationships, abortion, and the lowering of every sexual standard are the result. Even a sitting President can get away with sexual immorality and argue the meaning of the words.

Breaking all restraint: We have demanded and won the freedom to live out almost any lifestyle we choose.  But we’re no longer happy to be allowed to live in sexual sin, we demand that everyone else accept, even applaud it. And we’re willing to destroy anyone who disagrees, dares to tell us we’re wrong, or refuses to participate in our choices!

Bloodshed upon bloodshed: Rioting, gang violence, wholesale murder in some of our inner cities.

Rejection of knowledge and the law of your God: Anyone holding to a biblical standard will be mocked, accused of ramming our opinions down their throat, or worse.

Hearts set on iniquity: There are those who live to lie, cheat, and steal.

The prophet also shall stumble with you: Even some churches have removed a biblical standard and a call to holiness, refusing to use the word sin or to say anything that might offend anyone, ordaining gay clergy, and looking the other way concerning abortion, just for starters. And, sadly, far too many religious leaders have fallen personally (4.5)

And look at some of the consequences:

“Therefore the land will mourn … everyone who dwells there will waste away … even the fish of the sea will be taken away … you shall stumble in the day … I also will forget your children … I will change their glory into shame … they shall eat, but not have enough …” (4.3-10).

Look at the condition of our nation as a whole. There is a lack of morality and justice. Our economy continues to falter. Selfishness rules the day and everyone does what seems right and feels good to him.

 

The Only Answer … Revival

 

baby upside down

“Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days” (3.5).

Revival, personally and corporately, is the only answer. So what can we do? Continue reading

“Tinkering with a Broken System” November 20

 

Tinkering with a Broken System - Most people would agree things in our nation are broken, but there's little agreement about what change is needed. Can we tinker with a broken system and expect to fix it?Most people would agree things in our nation are broken, but there’s little agreement about what change is needed. Can we tinker with a broken system and expect to fix it?

 

Today’s Readings:
Ezekiel 31 & 32
Psalm 130.1-4
Proverbs 28.28
James 1.1-27

 

Tinkering with a Broken System

 

Ezekiel 31 & 32:

Morality, Tolerance & Equality

 

In chapters 31 and 32 God continues to speak to Egypt, perhaps more as a warning to His people that they could no longer turn to worldly powers like Egypt for help and protection. In chapter 31 He compared Egypt to a great tree under which many had taken refuge, but which was about to be broken and destroyed.

Egypt is also a picture of the world and the world’s system. As a nation, we have attempted to live under that system. We have tried to legislate morality, tolerance, and equality. We have expected the government to provide for every need or imagined need, but our system, too, is broken.

The problem is the world’s version of morality, tolerance and equality is not one based on God’s Word and His standard. We are expected to “tolerate” things that are contrary to biblical morality. Equality is no longer about equal opportunity to work hard and make your way in the world, it’s about taking from one and giving to another. And morality is a morality that turns biblical morality on its ear.

No matter how much we “tinker” with our broken system, as long as it’s based on a faulty foundation, it will never have the ability to fix what is wrong in our nation. As believers we must look to God in our own lives and pray for genuine heart change in the lives of others.  Continue reading