Category Archives: Christianity

Think Again

2 Samuel 15-16

What happens when sin is not addressed? It gets worse.

David turned a blind eye to Absalom’s murder of Amnon. Without even a hint of repentance on Absalom’s part, David reunited with his son as though nothing had happened. Maybe David thought if he didn’t come down hard on Absalom, Absalom would always be loyal to him, would always love him out of gratitude for the grace his dad had shown him.

Wrong.

What happens when sin is not addressed in our own lives? It gets worse.

One glance at pornography leads to another until it becomes an obsession. One drunken night becomes two, then three until it becomes an addiction. One lingering glance, one sexual fantasy turns into an affair.

You think that sin you are holding on to is no big deal? Think again.

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right

2 Samuel 13-14

Absalom had murdered his brother Amnon. Yes, Amnon had raped and discarded their sister Tamar, and Absalom’s hatred for Amnon had festered for two years. But the fact remains: Absalom murdered Amnon in cold blood.

After the murder, Absalom ran to his grandfather and hid out there. Eventually he’d be allowed to return to his home in Jerusalem, but his father David would refuse to see him. This rejection went on for a while until Joab convinced David to reunite with his son.

I share all of that to tell you what Absalom said about seeing his father after all those years he’d been banished:

Let me see the king; if he finds me guilty of anything, then let him kill me. (2 Samuel 14:32b)

Do you wonder about that statement? Guilty of anything? You mean like murdering your brother, Absalom? Guilty like that?

What was he thinking? Did Absalom not carry any guilt over what he’d done? It appears not. That just seems absurd to me.

But it just reminds me that any of us can (and do) justify sin in our own lives. We might say or do something to someone thinking they deserve it, so that let’s us off the hook. We can’t be “guilty” if they started it, right?

The thing is, I don’t think God ever goes along with our rationalizations, our own sense of fairness, our excuses. I’m pretty sure sin is sin in God’s eyes, and the wages of any and all sin is death, no matter who started it or why we think we were entitled to sin considering the circumstances.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. That’s true. But also true is the fact that two sins don’t cancel out the serious consequences of sin.

Look Up

Psalm 57

David didn’t have Google. He couldn’t pull a MacArthur, Henry, or Moody Commentary off the shelf, turn on the TV to a Charles Stanley sermon, or listen to a podcast by a popular preacher. David didn’t look to Kay Arthur or Joel Osteen for answers.

In 1 Samuel 23 we see David go directly to the Lord for answers. And in Psalm 57 David shares what that entails.

  1. I look to you for protection
  2. I hide beneath the shadow of your wings
  3. I cry out to God most high
  4. I cry out to God who will fulfill his purpose in me
  5. I place my confidence in God
  6. I thank and praise God
  7. I praise God for his unfailing love and faithfulness

If you read 1 Samuel 23 you’ll see God did answer all of David’s questions.

Now, if you’ve been with me for awhile you know I don’t discount the wisdom of people shared in sermons, blogs, and commentaries. In fact, Matthew Henry said something that got me thinking along these lines this morning, and prompted me to take a closer look at Scripture.

In regard to Psalm 57:3 Henry points out “that all (David’s) expectation is from God… Those that make God their only refuge, and fly to Him by faith and prayer, may be sure of salvation, in His way and time.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume; Marshall, Morgan & Scott; 1960; p 636)

Did you catch the word “only” in that? Henry goes on to say that we can look for answers on earth, but if we do “refuge fails, no help appears.” Have you found that true in your life? I don’t care if it’s my blog rantings or the careful study of men like Matthew Henry. We can’t be your refuge! Only God can be that, and really, you shouldn’t want or need another!

Henry also says on page 636 that “those who lift up their hearts to things above may expect all good.” If we look at the Bible, in the accounts of people like Moses, Joel, David, Paul, James, etc. we will hear the exact same thing. God is the giver of good things, including insight into His Word and the rules and ability to follow them.

Oh that the Church – you and I – would put aside the books and blogs and TV shows and open our Bibles. Oh that we would not depend on the teaching of man, but would allow God to teach us by His own Words. Oh that we would stop fashioning our religion, our worship, our churches according to what makes people comfortable, and look to heaven above.

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.

Everything We Need

Psalm 34

Sounds like another health and wealth gospel. But don’t let that fool you.

In reality, there are Christians who are sick and starving, homeless and without means to provide for their families. So how can we make sense of verses 9-10 which clearly say if we fear God, we’ll have all we need. If we trust God, we will lack no good thing.

Tell that to the Christian living on the streets with a cancer diagnosis.

But why is it people who truly fear, worship, stand in awe of God, and people who trust God and submit to Him are some of the most joyful, most contented people around? It’s because God is true to His Word.

God does give us everything we need. The Apostle Paul expressed that beautifully in Philippians 4:11-13, and again in 2 Corinthians 12:9. I hope you’ll take time to read those verses and hear what someone who had a tough life says about what God gives.

Matthew Henry, on page 610 of his Bible Commentary published by Marshall, Morgan & Scott in 1960, that if we look at this psalm as merely promising physical comfort we miss the most important thing. God not only works FOR us, He works THROUGH us. To me that means God is right there with the Christian, leading, directing, comforting, strengthening, and revealing Himself in marvelous ways.

The psalmist encourages us to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” and there is joy when we attach ourselves to Him in all circumstances. God is a personal God, intimate, present.

Romans 8:28 tells us that God works things out for our good if we love Him. 2 Corinthians 4:17 reminds us that our troubles today are leading toward an eternal glory that far outweighs any hardship we face in this lifetime.

So yes, God does give us all we need, and we lack no good thing when we taste and see that He is good!

The Winning Side

I Samuel 14

We all like to be on the winning side. I was a die-hard Cleveland Indians’ fan for literally decades (until they got woke) and I will tell you it wasn’t always fun wearing Chief Wahoo t-shirts. Many years people would laugh at “the mistake on the lake.” But during the 90’s when the Indians made serious runs at a World Series title, Indians fans came out of the woodwork! The Chief was everywhere, and “Go Tribe” was our mantra. It was so fun!

Winning draws people in. That’s what happened in 1 Samuel 14. When Jonathan and his armor bearer were defeating the Philistine army, people noticed and got excited. Warriors literally came out of hiding in caves and joined the battle BECAUSE they were winning.

Well Christian, where are you in this battle against our enemy? Are you hiding in your pew and behind a few praise songs? Do you turn on a live stream in your home on Sunday mornings?

Or are you out there wielding your sword? The truth is, if you know Jesus as your Savior you ARE on the winning side in this war against Satan. We WILL win this war. Satan WILL be defeated!

But we need you today. We need you to get out there and join us in the battle we face today.

If you aren’t serving in your church, if you aren’t forging relationships with your neighbors in order to introduce them to their Savior, if you aren’t studying the Bible, praying, growing, standing up, and moving ahead – you need to crawl out of your hiding place and join God’s army. Now! You won’t be sorry.

It’s great being on the winning side!

It’s Still Wrong

Judges 19-21

In my opinion this is one of the most disturbing passages in Scripture. Homosexuality, brutal rape, murder, the mutilation of a dead body, retaliation, war, kidnapping. It’s disgusting.

But something that I may have overlooked before spoke to me today. Part of their justification for sin was that “the people felt sorry for Benjamin…” because they didn’t have enough young women within the tribe who could be wives for their young men.

Never mind the fact that the men of the tribe of Benjamin were responsible for starting this whole mess because of their lust and the violent murder of a woman. But because the other tribes felt sorry for them, an arrangement was made for the kidnapping of innocent girls who were then forced to go with the Benjamin men and marry them.

The hopes and dreams of these girls were shattered. They were ripped from their homes. They were expendable because people felt sorry for the men. Does that get your blood boiling? Everything about this is wrong, wrong, wrong.

If this angers you like it does me, let me ask you something. Where do you stand on the issue of abortion?

We feel so sorry for women with unplanned and unwanted pregnancies that we deem their innocent children expendable. We rip them from their homes inside their mother’s bodies. Any hopes and dreams for these children are shattered because someone feels sorry for their mothers. Never mind the mother’s responsibility for the pregnancy.

We come up with one excuse after another why we should feel sorry for them, rationalize why that innocent child is expendable. That gets my blood boiling.

Now let me say that if you are carrying the guilt of having had an abortion, God can forgive your sin. In fact, I hope that if you have had an abortion you have asked God to forgive you, and allowed Him to turn your life around. I wish nothing less for you.

But if you are pregnant and considering an abortion, stop. Your baby is a life deserving to hope and dream, to make mistakes and succeed, to find the Savior and walk with God on this earth. They are not responsible for your mistakes.

They aren’t responsible any more than the girls we read about in these chapters of Judges in the Bible. Those girls had nothing to do with the savage murder of a woman, or the brutal war that took the lives of most of the young men in the tribe of Benjamin. They had nothing to do with it. And neither does an unborn child have anything to do with an unwanted pregnancy.

It’s wrong to make a child pay for his mother’s choices. There are people who would love to put their arms around moms of unborn children and help them do the right thing. There are parents who are aching to fill empty homes with the laughter and love of a child.

Your baby deserves that.

I pray that if you or someone close to you is considering an abortion, you will reach out to compassionate, loving people who will walk this journey with you. There are crisis pregnancy centers in most areas, or people in churches who can point you in the direction of help. You have options.

What happened to the girls in Judges is wrong. There is no justification for the actions of the adults around them. The same is true today in the question of abortion. There is no justification for the actions of the adults who choose to destroy the lives of the innocent.

It was wrong back then. It’s still wrong.

There Is No Justification

Judges 15

“They started it.”

How many times did I, as a middle school counselor, hear that excuse for bad behavior? Lots! Now here in Judges we read where Samson – who wasn’t an adolescent at the time, but a grown man – uses the same mistaken logic:

“I only did what they did to me.”

Dear one, retaliation is never acceptable. The score is never evened out. It just isn’t.

What did Jesus say about how we should treat people who aren’t necessarily fair to us?

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44)

I think we are seeing the result of years of telling children they “shouldn’t” be bullied, or that they have a “right” to be treated fairly. There are way too many young adults on medication for depression these days. Turn on the news and see the number of incidents of violence cause by angry and vengeful people in our world.

Instead of giving them healthy coping skills, we’ve made them life-long victims. Instead of encouraging them to control their own behavior, we tell them they can control the behavior of others if they are just tougher than they are.

But the truth is, we live in a sinful world. And people will fail us. We will fail them. Bad things happen. And people aren’t always treated fairly.

Think of what happened recently when Will Smith “protected” his wife by slapping Chris Rock for saying something stupid. Smith didn’t protect his wife from bodily harm. He retaliated because she got her feelings hurt. It wasn’t self defense. It was assault.

Yet there are people who applaud Smith for his loyalty to his wife, saying Rock deserved it.

Really?

Love your enemies. Pray for those who do you wrong.

What happened at the Oscars is not an isolated incident. You see the same mindset every day in the form of gossip, slander, FaceBook jail, cancel culture, and on the highways with road rage. We see it every day in the news, in gang violence, nasty divorces, and on and on and on.

Would you say that makes for a happy and healthy world?

If we would just live according to the Law of God, we wouldn’t be talking about the likes of Will Smith. We wouldn’t worry that some kid will take a gun to school because people aren’t being nice to him. We wouldn’t read about eight year old kids losing their lives because they got caught in the middle of a drive by shooting.

There just isn’t any justification for any of it. My prayer is that if you, or I, find ourselves wanting to even out a score, to get back at someone for doing something we didn’t like, we will stop and pray. Then figure out a way to show God’s love to that person instead.

Don’t tell me you can’t do that because they don’t deserve it for hurting you. Tell that to God. He’s the one who told you to love and pray for them. And because He’s the one who instructed us to do it, I have to believe that is the best thing for you and the other person.

And probably the best thing for our world.

Sleep Like A Baby

Judges 9

I play pickle ball with a dear friend who can put a wicked spin on the ball. Whenever I am playing on the opposite side of the net, and find myself swinging at the wind because the ball has taken a nasty bounce, I sometimes jokingly ask her, “How do you sleep at night?”

I find myself asking the same question of me after reading what Jotham said to the Jews in Judges 9. In a sense he told them, if they had acted honorably, if they had done the right thing, then he wished them joy. If they had not acted in good faith, Jotham called for fiery destruction of them.

I’ve had nights when I would lay awake, filled with regret or shame or guilt. I know what it’s like to feel the fiery hand of God’s anger at 2 AM. There were times I couldn’t – or didn’t want to pray, and I continued to toss and turn throughout those long nights.

But there were also nights when I confessed my sin, truly repented, and experienced the joy of the Lord – and a good night’s sleep.

We’ve all probably marveled at how infants can fall asleep so easily, and stay asleep so soundly. They have nothing to regret or feel guilty about. The sleep of a baby is generally peaceful and sweet, especially when that infant falls asleep in your arms, right?

I feel God asking me how honorably I’ve conducted myself in light of His holiness. Have my actions, thoughts, and words pleased or angered Him? Some days, I have to confess, it’s a wonder I am able to sleep at all.

As I go through my day today, I pray that I will act honorably toward God, that I will bring Him joy by my obedience. If I do, I’ll have no regrets. If I do, I just might crawl into bed tonight and into His arms, and sleep like a baby.

Proof Enough

Judges 6

Gideon needed proof. But he had proof.

When he realized he had been entertaining the angel of God, I would think that would have been proof enough. But a doubtful Gideon asked for another sign.

Jesus tells us it’s a wicked generation that asks for a sign. (Matthew 12:39, 16:4). Yet some people think they need the experience of speaking in tongues, or witnessing a miraculous healing, or seeing feathers fall from the rafters in order to believe that God is who He says He is.

Yet these same people often don’t take time to watch the sunrise, or may fail to marvel at the tiny fingers and toes of a newborn. They aren’t blown away at how God heals the scratch on their arms, or at seeing His strength in the wind. A changed life when a sinner repents ought to speak of the existence, will, and working of God in our lives and in this world.

But for some, that’s not enough.

Foolish and wicked.

We tend to look at the sky, at current events, at man’s opinions to find proof that Jesus is coming soon, when God has given us His word that He is coming again. That should be all the proof we need.

Jesus Himself spoke of heaven and hell, of grace and judgment, of holiness and sin. It’s pretty foolish to question Him or doubt what He said is true. Look at His birth, and His life on earth. Look at the cross. Look at the empty tomb. All proof that He has the authority to speak for God.

Do you need proof God exists? Read what He says about Himself. Trust that the Bible is true. Obey what it says. Seeking a sign or an experience is self-centered and anti-Christ.

Seek Him. He’s not hiding. He’s given you all the signs you need if you’ll just get out of the way, and pay attention.

He is proof enough.

Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1

One of my goals in writing this blog is to encourage people to fall in love with God’s Word. I hope you are all reading it every day and allowing God to speak His Words directly to you.

Today, I just want to share what God said to Joshua as he was to begin leading Israel after the death of Moses. In the times in which we live, it just might be exactly what God wants to say to us, too. May it challenge and bless you as it has me this morning.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. This is my command – be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:8-9)