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 …
Exodus 5 & 6
When You Try Trusting God & Things Get Worse
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!
You might be thinking, “Well, at least God warned Moses and told him that things would eventually work out.” But hasn’t He told us the same thing, maybe not from a burning bush, but in the pages of Scripture?
Paul said, “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” (Rom. 8.28).
God is saying that no matter how things look right now, “I’m working! Trust Me!”
Paul also wrote, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1.6).
We may not see the big picture, but if we belong to God, He is at work fulfilling His design and purposes in our lives.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10.13).
So that you will be able to bear it, even if things get worse before they get better!
So take heart. Your story isn’t over.
“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope'” (Jer. 29.11).
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 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 (2 Cor. 10.3-5).
Notice three key words in that passage: arguments, knowledge, and thought. The strongholds we battle are patterns of thinking or belief systems…”that [exalt themselves] against the knowledge of God”. In other words, anything that contradicts God’s Word.
Satan is out to get your mind, especially what you believe about God and His Word. He wants you to doubt God’s promises, to doubt God’s love for you, and to doubt His goodness, among other things. DECEIT IS HIS MAJOR WEAPON.
He can’t MAKE you do anything. He can’t MAKE you disbelieve or quit trusting God, so he plants seeds of doubt.
We fight the battle with truth, just as Jesus did when He was tempted by the devil to forsake God’s plan and go His own way (Lk. 4.1-13). So spend time in His Word. Memorize those passages that speak to you. Choose to believe God and not your fears and doubts.
He is GOOD, all the time, even when we are being tested and tried and everything in us wants to quit and run the other way. Instead, as Paul admonished us in Ephesians 6, STAND:
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (NLT, emphasis added)
Today’s Other Readings:
Fullness of Joy
Verse 11 says, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Part of the deceitfulness of sin is its offer of pleasure—thoughts of “I deserve this” or “God knows that my needs are not being met so He will understand.” But the pleasure that it offers, while real, is momentary and ultimately unsatisfying.
The adulterous affair which seemed so alluring yields hurt, anger, rebellious children, financial ruin, guilt and regret.
The unforgiveness which we fuel by constantly replaying the event and justifying our feelings, only yields anger, bitterness, and the loss of any intimacy with God.
The way or path of the transgressor gets hard (Prov. 13.15), but the way or path that God offers through obedience to His Word is the path to real joy and pleasures forevermore!
Choices & Consequences
Yesterday we looked at the first part of Proverbs 5 and here in these verses Solomon continues to warn young men (and all of us) about the dangers of getting involved in immorality.
In verse 8-9 he says, “Remove your way far from her [the immoral woman], and do not go near the door of her house.”
We shouldn’t think we can play around with these things:
“Lest you give your honor to others and your years to the cruel one” (v. 9).
Some people waste years that could have been spent serving God on partying and immoral living and its consequences. How many young men have had their college careers cut short to support a family prematurely?
“Lest aliens be filled with your wealth and your labors go to the house of a foreigner” (v. 10).
I’ve seen my share of young men paying child support, sometimes for several children, and sometimes to more than one woman, because they fathered two or three children before they were even out of their teens. Now for much of their life, the state will be standing there to take its share of their paycheck and will send it “to the house of an alien”—the mother and step-father who are raising his children.
Please don’t misunderstand me. That’s what should happen. If a man (or even a boy) fathers a child, he should be supporting that innocent child. But we need to be warning our boys from the Word that these things are the consequences of ungodly living.
And what about the girls, our daughters, who end up married too soon to someone who didn’t value her purity or have any interest in the things of God, all because she chose to follow the path of sexual immorality. What about the desperate girls who end up at abortion clinics out of fear or confusion and end up suffering a lifetime of guilt and regret?
This is not about condemnation. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s standard (Rom. 3.23). I commend girls (and their boyfriends) who choose life for their babies. I commend young people who try to do the right thing whether that means getting married or being faithful to support their children. And I commend step-parents who choose to love and care for children who aren’t theirs biologically. But we must love our children enough to warn them, as Solomon did his son a few thousand years ago, with God’s Word as our authority, that choices have consequences!
If you have made these kinds of mistakes, and you have repented and are living for God, Romans 8.28-29 is still true. He can bring good out of our sin and even the sins others have committed against us. And if your child is caught in some kind of immorality now, continue to pray that he or she will surrender his or her life to God and seek His grace and forgiveness.
Earlier I spoke about unforgiveness leading to a loss of intimacy with God. This passage includes one of the clearest parables about the seriousness of unforgiveness. If you are struggling to forgive someone, go back and reread this passage. Ask God to help you see the magnitude of the debt for which He forgave you and to give you the grace to forgive “your fellow servant.”
I love you all, and more importantly, so does God!
Lord, please help us to be bold in speaking the truth in love to our children and others You have placed in our paths. Help us to do so humbly and gently, each one looking to ourselves lest we also be tempted (Gal. 6.1-2). Help us to forgive those who have hurt or disappointed us, to see our own sinfulness, to be focused on pleasing You rather than holding on to some perceived right to be angry. Open our eyes, Lord, and let us see the deceitfulness of sin and not be lured down a path that leads to destruction and heartache, in Jesus name, amen.
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