“When the Truth Becomes a Reproach” October 10

 

When the Truth Becomes a Reproach - God had a problem with those in Jeremiah's time. Even their leaders were giving people a false assurance about their relationships with God and the sinfulness of their behavior. And when the Prophet and others tried to speak the truth, it was a reproach to them. Many today are more concerned about being politically correct and not offending anyone than with speaking the truth. While we are to speak the truth in love, we are still to speak the truth even when it's uncomfortable or unpopular. Sadly, even many of our leaders have compromised the truth. While we can't fully understand all the motives, it seems that selling books and filling their churches is more important. Even whole denominations have twisted truths about God's love made them half-truths.God had a problem with those in Jeremiah’s time. Even their leaders were giving people a false assurance about their relationships with God and the sinfulness of their behavior. And when the Prophet and others tried to speak the truth, it was a reproach to them.

Many today are more concerned about being politically correct and not offending anyone than with speaking the truth. While we are to speak the truth in love, we are still to speak the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable or unpopular.

Sadly, even many of our leaders have compromised the truth. While we can’t fully understand all the motives, it seems that selling books and filling their churches is more important. Even whole denominations have twisted truths about God’s love made them half-truths.

And from our New Testament reading, how did the Apostle Paul pray and do you pray like he prayed? Could his prayers become a model for your own?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 5 & 6
Psalm 117.1-2
Proverbs 27.3-4
Colossians 1.1-29

 

When the Truth Becomes a Reproach

 

Jeremiah 5 & 6:

Swearing Falsely

 

“Though they say, ‘As the LORD lives,’ surely they swear falsely” (Jer. 5.2).

Sadly, there are many people who attend church, may even be involved in ministry, and who say all the right things. Their conversation is peppered with “praise the Lord” and other “Christian-ese,” but they swear falsely.

When they toss around God’s name merely to look spiritual, they are, actually, using the Lord’s name in vain. And “… are foolish for they do not know the way of the Lord …” (5.4). Jesus said it this way;

“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15.8).

May God help us to avoid that kind of hypocrisy in our own lives.

 

God’s Truth is a Reproach to Them

 

The last two verses of chapter 5:

30 “An astonishing and horrible thing
Has been committed in the land:
31 The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so.
But what will you do in the end?

And in chapter 6, Jeremiah said:

10 To whom shall I speak and give warning,
That they may hear?
Indeed their ear is uncircumcised,
And they cannot give heed.
Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them;
They have no delight in it. (6.10)

What a picture of our world! Just watch those who are “pro-choice” or “gay activists” on a talk show with a Christian. Or try to have a discussion with someone who supports policy which is in opposition to God’s Word. Their “ears” seem unable to even understand what you are saying. They are blind to the truths of God’s Word. In fact, “the Word of the Lord is a reproach to them”!

And to make it worse …

 

When the Truth Becomes a Reproach - God had a problem with those in Jeremiah's time. Even their leaders were giving people a false assurance about their relationships with God and the sinfulness of their behavior. And when the Prophet and others tried to speak the truth, it was a reproach to them. Many today are more concerned about being politically correct and not offending anyone than with speaking the truth. While we are to speak the truth in love, we are still to speak the truth even when it's uncomfortable or unpopular. Sadly, even many of our leaders have compromised the truth. While we can't fully understand all the motives, it seems that selling books and filling their churches is more important. Even whole denominations have twisted truths about God's love made them half-truths.


“Peace, Peace” When There Is No Peace

 

Those who should be calling us back to repentance are not.

13 “Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely. (6.13)

In Jeremiah’s day even the priests and prophets were corrupt and no longer able to understand or hear the voice of God.

They were “given to covetousness …” Money isn’t the only thing to be coveted. Today many so-called religious leaders covet fame or popularity, invitations to talk shows and public events, selling books and filling their churches, more than the truths of God.

I am not saying that appearing on TV or having a big church or writing a best-selling book is wrong. But we shouldn’t downplay the clear commands of Scripture or teach less than the full council of God, to achieve that end.

And what about pastors and even whole denominations who say “God loves everyone and if you’re gay, it’s because God made you that way.” They take a truth that God loved the world enough to send His Son to die for our sins (Jn. 3.16) and turn it into a half-truth, by forgetting that He also rose from the dead so that we, too, could have “newness of life” (Rom. 6.4) and not remain in our sin!

14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace. (6.13-14)

Paul warned the Corinthians and all believers:  Continue reading

“Snapshot of a Spirit Controlled Life” October 4

 

Snapshot of a Spirit Controlled Life

In the first three chapters of Ephesians Paul tells us a great deal about who we are in Christ. He begins chapter 4 by saying, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”

Because of everything Christ has done for you, I’m begging you walk worthy of that calling.

In the next three chapters he gives us a snapshot at what a believer’s life should look like when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit and living out that calling.

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 59 & 60
Psalm 115.1-8
Proverbs 26.23
Ephesians 5.17-33

 

Snapshot of a Spirit Controlled Life

 

Ephesians 5.17-33:

Not Wine, but the Spirit

 

For the last two days we’ve been talking about what a mature or Spirit-controlled life should look like from Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 4-6. Today we’ll look at the second half of chapter 5 beginning in verse 17.

17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.

As believers we should not allow anything other than God to control our lives—not a substance like alcohol or drugs, nor anything else that our hearts crave like power, wealth or prestige. Instead we should be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit.

One major way we should be changed, when we do, is in the way we communicate.

We’re to speak “to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (v. 19).

Paul isn’t suggesting we behave like a character in The Sound of Music by bursting into  a song in the middle of a conversation, but there should be joy in our lives and our conversations should be filled with praise for all that God has done for us.

We should have an attitude of gratitude, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 20).

It should affect our relationships toward each other, “submitting to one another in the fear of God” (v. 21).

Submitting isn’t just for those under one kind of authority or another. The Holy Spirit’s work in us enables us to submit our selfish wants and desires and prefer others above ourselves.

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it (Lk. 9).

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Phil. 2).

Within the husband and wife relationship, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord … Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (vss. 22, 25).

Wives are called to submit to the leadership of their husbands and husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives, each in unique ways. This is a sacrificial love that involves laying down what we want (those selfish desires, Matt. 9.23-24), preferring each other as more important than ourselves (Phil. 2.3-4), submitting even when the other one isn’t doing his or her part (1 Pet. 3.1-6), giving honor (1 Pet. 3.7), and showing respect (Eph. 5.33).

We’ll continue tomorrow with more of Paul’s snapshot of a Spirit controlled life.

 


Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 59 & 60:

Headlines: Our Courts Oppose the Righteous!

 

Wow! As I reread today’s passage, it occurred to me the phrases could be headlines in today’s newspapers!

Headlines like: “Our courts oppose the righteous,” “Justice is nowhere to be found,” “Truth stumbles in the streets,” “Honesty has been outlawed,” “Truth is gone,” and “Anyone who renounces evil is attacked” Look at chapter 59.13-15 in the NLT:

13 We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD.
We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14 Our courts oppose the righteous,
and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.

Verse 13 reminds us that all sin is first against the Lord. Notice it says, “We have turned our backs on our God.” When we deny and turn our backs on the Lord we are expressing contempt for Him, in effect, saying that we are dissatisfied with His blessings, that He is not good, that we want and deserve something better than what He has given us.

This passage says we sin willingly, knowingly, “We know we have rebelled … we know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies.”

And when the believers in a nation begin to compromise and live like the rest of the world, all of society suffers. Look at the list in verses 14 & 15 again: Continue reading

“What Are Strongholds?” September 18

 

What Are Strongholds? And how do we tear them down?When the Apostle Paul talked about strongholds, what did he mean? Could we have strongholds in our own lives? And, if so, how do we begin tearing them down?

 

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 27 & 28
Psalm 107.33-43
Proverbs 25.20
2 Corinthians 10.1-18

 

What Are Strongholds?

 

2 Corinthians 10.1-18:

The Weapons of Our Warfare

 

Verses 3-5, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

Notice three words in this passage: “arguments,” “knowledge,” and “thought.” The strongholds Paul talks about here are not physical and they are not demonic in the sense of “demon possession” or as a spirit holding us captive to some behavior (“spirit of alcohol,” or “a spirit of nicotine,” or “a spirit of lust,” etc.).

They have to do with arguments, knowledge, and thoughts—our thinking, ideas, and beliefs. The strongholds we have to battle are false ideas, false religions, false doctrines, and false philosophies—wrong thinking. We fight them on our knees and with “the Word of Truth.” The way to overcome strongholds is by replacing lies with truth.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2.15).

 

Plausible Lies

 

It’s easier to see some of the big lies or strongholds that keep people in bondage—lies like false religions and cults. But there are many more plausible lies, lies that are easier to believe and buy into.

  • A plausible lie: A woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body.
    The truth: “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed and in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139.16).
  • Plausible lies: Kids are going to have sex. We just need to teach them how to have “safe sex.” Or, God certainly doesn’t expect me to be chaste; after all, I’m only human! Or, that was for Bible times; this is a different culture!
    The truth: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification. that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4.3-5).
  • A plausible lie: Homosexuality—God made them that way, so they can’t be expected to change.
    The truth: Homosexuality like all sin is part of our fallen nature, but we are redeemable. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
  • A plausible lie: About dating or marriage—I know he’s not a Christian, but how else is he going to get saved? At least he comes to church with me and I’m sure he’ll become a Christian.
    The truth: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God …” (2 Cor. 6.14-16).
  • A plausible lie: God wants me to be happy!
    The truth: God does want His children to be blessed, but he first wants us to be holy! “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Pet. 1.15-16). Happiness if fleeting, but holiness leads to joy unspeakable!

But there are other, more religious sounding lies.

  • A plausible lie: How could a loving God send anyone to hell? That’s not the God I serve!
    The truth: God isn’t sending us to hell. We’re already lost and He sent His Son to rescue all those who will believe (Jn. 3.16; 1 Jn. 4.9).
  • A plausible lie: All religions lead to God though they may call Him by another name.
    The truth: Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (Jn. 14.6).
  • A plausible lie: Jesus just loved everyone. We should do the same. After all, who are we to judge?
    The truth: We should love everyone, even our enemies, but part of loving means there are times when we need to speak the truth in love (Gal. 6.1-2; 2 Cor. 7.8-11; Prov. 27.5-6).
  • A plausible lie: It doesn’t matter what I believe about God and the Bible, as long as I love Jesus.
    The truth: What we believe about God and His Word as revealed in the Bible matter a great deal. It affects how we handle tests and trials, how we reflect Him to a lost world, the level of our trust, and our ability to have peace and joy no matter what our circumstances. For more on this, check out my post, “Good Doctrine Matters.” In that post I explain how some false doctrines sound good, but have a nasty downside.

We, of all people, should not buy into the plausible lies that the world uses to argue against the truth and keep people in spiritual blindness and bondage! But we also need to be on guard against the religious sounding lies that can destroy our testimonies, keep us discouraged, or cause us to doubt God’s love.

Let’s purpose in our hearts to tear down those strongholds, first in our own hearts, and then to prayerfully share the truth with others.

 

What Are Strongholds & How Do We Tear Them Down?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Isaiah 27 & 28:

Woe to the Drunkards …

 

Verse 1 of chapter 28 says, “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower which is at the head of the verdant valleys, to those who are overcome with wine!”

This passage is written to the ten northern tribes represented by Ephraim. The area where they lived was very lush and fertile. God had blessed them with an abundance of beauty and fruitfulness, but they were puffed up with pride as if they had caused it and had wasted God’s blessings on “drunkenness”—their own sensual pleasures.

Verses 7-8 present a very unpleasant picture: 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, 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 we witness, how we interact with others, especially our spouses and children, and whether 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, like the people whose lives have been affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as my husband talked about in his sermon, a couple of Sundays ago.

Look at what Paul had to say about his own in 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

“Honoring Imperfect Parents” August 22

 

Honoring Imperfect Parents - God clearly commands us, even as adults, to honor and respect our parents. Yet, many of us grew up in homes that were less than perfect. How do we honor parents when we believe they failed us in some way?God clearly commands us, even as adults, to honor and respect our parents. Yet, many of us grew up in homes that were less than perfect. How do we honor parents when we believe they failed us in some way?

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 35 & 36
Psalm 99.1-9
Proverbs 23.22-25
1 Corinthians 4.1-21

 

Honoring Imperfect Parents

 

Proverbs 23.22-25:

Buy the Truth & Do Not Sell It

 

pearlsVerse 23, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”

Matthew 13.45-46 says:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

We should be willing to get God’s truth no matter what the cost and once we have gotten it, we should not be willing to give it up, not for wealth or fame or popularity or anything else.

 

Adult Children & Their Parents

 

As a counselor, some of the most frequent problems I see in marriages involve a failure to properly “leave and cleave.” Spouses fail to make their husbands and wives the primary human relationship. They run first to their parents when there is a problem instead of communicating biblically with their spouses. They may continue to support their parents financially against their spouse’s wishes or neglect their own family unit in other ways.

This is unbiblical and hinders the one-flesh relationship God intended in marriage. Yet, the Bible clearly calls us to honor our parents, no matter what our age.

“Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old” (v. 22).

“Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her who bore you rejoice” (v. 25).

But how do you honor parents who failed in some way?

 

Honoring Imperfect Parents

 

We live in a fallen world. I don’t know anyone who grew up in a perfect home. I know I made mistakes, many of them, when raising my children. So did my parents and your parents.

I also know many adult children who refuse to see their childhood through God’s eyes. Instead, often because of unforgiveness and bitterness, they continue to view their childhood through a childish lens. As children, we all have a narrow understanding of the world. We only know how decisions and circumstances affected us. We don’t usually see the big picture.

Children may blame a single mom for leaving a marriage and destroying their home. They may never know that their father was an adulterer or an abuser because their mother didn’t want to destroy their relationship with him.

Children in blended families sometimes resent a step-parent without ever appreciating the difficulties, financial strains, and sacrifice parents and step-parents make. All they can see is that this person was NOT their biological parent. That thinking breeds resentment and rebellion in childhood and a lack of grace and thankfulness in adulthood. They may only see what they perceived as unfairness without considering their own difficult, rebellious attitudes and how that complicated the relationship.

One of the biggest issues is favoritism or perceived favoritism. Certainly, parents need to avoid sinfully favoring or comparing one child to another. Parents are not blameless in this.  Continue reading

“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