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 …
Exodus 5 & 6
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!
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 what about 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. Find those promises that apply to your situation and those passages that speak to you. Memorize them. 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 up 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.
You might also want to read:
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.
In the coming days, we’ll talk about how we might be sleeping with frogs, how journaling can help us in our relationships with God and others, and how whining affects our lives.
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Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp
The argument over the last donut. The cry of nothing to wear a half hour before school. The “I’m the only one whose parents make them . . .”
Teenage hassles that disrupt parents’ lives? Or prime opportunities to connect with, listen to, and nurture our kids?
Paul Tripp uncovers the heart issues affecting parents and their teenagers during the often chaotic adolescent years. With wit, wisdom, humility, and compassion, he shows parents how to seize the countless opportunities to deepen communication, learn, and grow with their teenagers.
“Age of Opportunity is a marvel. It brims with fresh, rich, honest truth. Tripp will get you looking in the mirror before you go looking at your teen. He’ll get you seeking—and finding—your own Father’s help.”
“Opens the door to hope for parents and teens alike by showing us how God can transform the hearts of whole families. . . . You won’t be able to put this book down.”
—Tremper Longman III
“A wealth of biblical wisdom and a treasure of practical steps for understanding and shepherding your teen’s heart.”
“Provides a superb roadmap for raising teenage children . . . [and] experiencing with them the challenges, victories, and joys of our journey to maturity in Christ.”
“Optimistic, positive, biblical. . . . In a world that has made an industry out of dysfunction, it is refreshing to read a book that assumes that God . . . has made ample preparation for parents and teenagers to succeed.”
Getting a Grip: The Heart of Anger Handbook for Teens by Lou Priolo
In one of the most popular books on the subject, The Heart of Anger, author and counselor Lou Priolo tackled the tough problem of anger in young children; its causes and cures. Now, Priolo takes his years of experience and considerable skills in defusing anger in teenagers. This is a book designed for teenagers. It is meant to be read by teenagers. But Mom and Dad don’t worry: We want you to read it, too! THIS IS THE BREAK-THROUGH BOOK YOU VE BEEN LOOKING FOR. IN IT YOU LL FIND HELPFUL TOPICS LIKE:
Learning how to communicate properly
How to maintain your cool when provoked
How to manage your manipulating tendencies
Using the appeal process
How to handle rejection and hurt
Plus, the author shows you how to journal your anger experiences to better understand why and how you get angry, and what you actually say when you are angry! Sure to be a classic, this book will put your life back on a God-glorifying track!
Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson
How are parents to raise children so they don’t become Pharisees (legalists) or prodigals (rebels)? It’s all about grace-filled, gospel-driven parenting, says the mother/daughter team of Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. Christian parents, in their desire to raise godly children, can drift toward rule-centered discipline. There is, however, a far more effective method—a grace-motivated approach that begins with the glorious truth of God’s love for sinners.
In Give Them Grace, parents will learn how to connect the benefits of the cross—especially regeneration, adoption, and justification—to their children’s daily lives. Chapters address topics such as our inability to follow the law perfectly, God’s forgiveness and love displayed at the cross, and what true heart obedience looks like. Fitzpatrick and Thompson also discuss discipline, dealing with popular culture, and evangelism as a way of life. Parents will find this book a great resource for raising grace-filled, Jesus-loving kids.
Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp
Winner of the ECPA Book of the Year Award for Christian Living
What is your calling as a parent?
In the midst of folding laundry, coordinating carpool schedules, and breaking up fights, many parents get lost. Feeling pressure to do everything “right” and raise up “good” children, it’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose as parents in the quest for practical tips and guaranteed formulas.
In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God’s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God—grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.
Freed from the burden of trying to manufacture life-change in our children’s hearts, we can embrace a grand perspective of parenting overflowing with vision, purpose, and joy.
Grocery shopping. Soccer practice. Dirty dishes.
Motherhood is tough, and it often feels like the to-do list just gets longer and longer every day—making it hard to experience true joy in God, our children, and the gospel.
In this encouraging book for frazzled moms, Gloria Furman helps us reorient our vision of motherhood around what the Bible teaches. Showing how to pursue a vibrant relationship with God—even when discouragement sets in and the laundry still needs to be washed—this book will help you treasure Christ more deeply no matter how busy you are.
Don’t Make Me Count to Three by Ginger (Plowman) Hubbard
Do you find yourself threatening, repeating your instructions, or raising your voice in an attempt to get your children to obey? Are you discouraged because it seems you just can’t reach the heart of your child? Through personal experience and the practical application of Scripture, Ginger Hubbard encouraged and equips moms to reach past the outward behavior of their children and dive deeply into the issues of the heart. Ginger’s candid approach will help moms move beyond the frustrations of not knowing how to handle issues of disobedience and into a confident, well-balanced approach to raising their children.