“Let” Trials Make You Better Instead of Bitter

Even though God uses trials for our good, it’s still tempting to become bitter. When people are suffering, there is greater potential for them to question, criticize—or worst of all—turn from God.  James 1:3b–4 reads:

…the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

I would love to say, “Trials always produce patience, and patience makes you perfect and complete, lacking nothing,” but sometimes it would be more accurate to say, “Trials produce bitterness.” Perhaps you can think of people experiencing a trial and they said something like, “How could God let this happen to me? I do not deserve it! I wish I could give Him a piece of my mind!” If we’re honest, we can probably think of times trials did not produce patience or maturity in us. Instead of making us better, they made us bitter.

We Must Choose to “Let” Trials Make Us Better Instead of Bitter

The wording of James 1:3-4 is odd. If we never read the verses before we would probably expect them to say, “…the testing of your faith produces patience, which makes you perfect…” Instead, there are instructive words: “let patience have its perfect work.” The Greek word for let is echō, and it’s a verb because James is commanding us to do something. We must “let” trials “work.” Echō means, “To have, hold, own, possess, lay hold of.” Here are two places it’s used:

  • Matthew 3:13–14—“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need (echō) to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’”
  • Acts 2:44–45—“Now all who believed were together, and had (echō) all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had (echō) need.”

Of the 712 times echō occurs in the New Testament, 613 times it is translated as “have,” because it is not simply about accepting trials in our lives. We must take ownership of them. Instead of resisting trials, we must embrace them. This is how we “let” God use them for our benefit. The alternative is to fight against trials, which hinders the “perfect work” they can accomplish.

Before doctors administer a shot, they say, “Relax. Try to remain as calm as possible. This will hurt, but it will be worse if you resist.” The doctor is telling you to accept what is about to happen because failing to do so will only make an already painful situation even worse. It is the same with trials. We cannot avoid them. They hurt, and we make them worse when we resist. Instead, we must accept them, trusting God wants to use them for our good and His glory. This is how we “count it all joy” and “let” trials make us better. Continue reading ““Let” Trials Make You Better Instead of Bitter”

Ways to Avoid Hypocrisy in Parenting

We want our children to embrace the Gospel and follow the Lord at the earliest possible time. We want the best for them, but they face so many threats. Could one of those threats come from us? We need to avoid hypocrisy in our parenting to ensure our children see the Gospel in us and through our parenting.

To accompany the message, below you will find:

  1. Lessons
  2. Discussion Questions
  3. Notes

Lessons

Lesson 1: ____________ ____________________ so you don’t see your sins in your children (2 Sam 13:21, 38-39, 14:33, 18:5; 1 Kin 1:6).

Lesson 2: Don’t let ________ ________ prevent you from disciplining your children (Pro 13:24, 19:18).

Avoid hypocrisy in parenting by:

Lesson 3: ________________ ________ you want from your children (Rom 2:1, 20-24; Matt 7:1-5).

Lesson 4: Telling your children ____________ __ ____________.


Discussion Questions

  1. Day 1—Read 2 Sam 13:21, 38-39, 14:33, 18:5, 1 Kin 1:6 and discuss: What sins did David see in the lives of his sons? In what ways did David’s sons’ sins reveal his sins? What are the dangers associated with viewing our children too sentimentally?
  2. Day 2—Read Pro 1:8-9, 3:12, 13:24, 19:18, 22:6 and discuss: Why didn’t David discipline his sons? Why would past sins prevent parents from disciplining their children? What can parents tell themselves when past sins prevent them from disciplining their children? When parents have sin-filled pasts what can they their children to avoid hypocrisy?
  3. Day 3—Read Rom 2:1, 20-24, Matt 7:1-5 and discuss: Do you have expectations for your children that you don’t have for yourself? What would your children say in answer to the previous question? Do your children see behaviors from you that you don’t want to see from them? Are you presenting a high view of God in your home, not just from what you profess, but the way you live?
  4. Day 4—Read Rom 3:9-23 and discuss: Why should parents share with their children that they’re sinners too? What are the dangers for parents if they don’t share with their children that they’re sinners too? Why is it important for parents to avoid making excuses to their children? What happens if children grow up with parents who regularly shift blame? In what ways can children see Christ through humble, loving parents?

Continue reading “Ways to Avoid Hypocrisy in Parenting”

How Wives Should Respect Their Husbands

“How Wives Should Respect Their Husbands” is the fifth, and final message, I preach at Marriage God’s Way Conferences. This message is the complement to “How Husbands Should Treat Their Wives.” Watch this video to have a marriage conference in the privacy of your own home!

Below you will find:

  1. Lessons for the message
  2. Discussion questions for the message
  3. Message notes
  4. Information about a Marriage God’s Way Conference you (or your church) could host

Lessons

  1. Lesson 1: Husbands must feel like their wives ______________ ________ (Ephesians 5:33; Proverbs 31:11–12, 23).
  2. Lesson 2: Wives can ________ their husbands without ____________________ them (1 Samuel 18:20; 1 Peter 3:5; 2 Samuel 6:16, 20–22).
  3. Lesson 3: Disrespect can ____________ a husband’s ________________ toward his wife (2 Samuel 6:23, 3:12-13).
  4. Lesson 4: Husbands can make respecting ________ ____________.
  5. Lesson 5: Wives respect their husbands by making their _________________ _____________________ easier.

Discussion Questions

Husband asks wife:

  • Do you feel like my feelings toward you have changed in a positive way from you respecting me, or in a negative way from you disrespecting me?
  • What do I do that makes it easier for you to respect me?
  • What do I do that makes it harder for you to respect me?
  • Do you feel like I withhold affection from you like David did with Michal?

 Wife asks husband:

  • Do you feel like I respect you?
  • What do I do that makes you feel respected?
  • What do I do that makes you feel disrespected?
  • Do you feel like I talk down to you like Michal did with David?

Continue reading “How Wives Should Respect Their Husbands”

Generational curses: are children punished for their parents’ sins?

If you’ve been in the church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard generational curses discussed. There are two conflicting opinions:

  • God punishes children for the sins of their parents.
  • God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents.

Why the confusion regarding generational curses?

Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…

Verses seem to support and argue against generational curses…

Exodus 20:5, 34:7, Numbers 14:18, and Deuteronomy 5:9 indicate God punishes children for the sins of their parents:

You shall not bow down to [idols] nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.

Other such as Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 indicate God doesn’t punish children for the sins of their parents:

Ezekiel 18:2-4, 20 The LORD says, “What do you mean by this proverb, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’? This proverb shall no more be used. Behold, the soul who sins shall die…The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father…the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

The people said they were punished (their teeth were bad: “set on edge”), because of their parents’ sins (the “sour grapes” they ate). God said, “Don’t say this anymore. You’ll be punished for your own sins!”

So which is it? Continue reading “Generational curses: are children punished for their parents’ sins?”

Avoiding Painful Decisions

2 Samuel 11Marriage-Gods-Way-author-Scott-LaPierre - Life Changing Decisions is probably one of the most familiar chapters in Scripture, because it recounts David’s sins with Bathsheba and Uriah. Something that really stands out to me is the way David’s decisions changed the trajectory of his entire life.

The last verse of 2 Samuel 10 says, “And when all the kings who were servants to Hadadezer saw that they were defeated by Israel, they made peace with Israel and served them. So the Syrians were afraid to help the people of Ammon anymore.”

This verse is significant not so much because of what it says, but because of what it represents. This is the pinnacle of both David’s reign and life. Everything will change after this. While David’s life was previously characterized by victories and triumphs, now it will be characterized by pain and loss. David spent much of the rest of his life moving from one horrible situation to the next.

Certain decisions change the course of our lives 

Following David’s repentance Nathan told him, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die” (2 Sam 12:13b). This reveals that, yes, we can be forgiven. Yes, God might be gracious. But our lives on this side of heaven might never be the same. Continue reading “Avoiding Painful Decisions”

How did forgiveness take place in the Old Testament?

Marriage-Gods-Way-author-Scott-LaPierre - Forgiveness in the Old TestamentDid forgiveness in the Old Testament take place through sacrifices or human effort? Forgiveness was received in the Old Testament the same way it’s received in the New Testament: by grace through faith.

Psalm 25:14 says, “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and the Lord will show them His covenant.” The Lord reveals the New Covenant and the grace and mercy of it through David, before Jesus instituted the New Covenant at the Last Supper (Luke 22:20).

According to God’s Law, David committed two sins that should’ve resulted in death: adultery and murder. A few things made David’s terrible sins even worse:

  • David’s accountability. He knew God’s Law well.
  • David had been very blessed. God brought him of that shepherd’s field where he was a nobody born to a no-name family. Then God turned him into the rich and powerful king of Israel.
  • David’s sins were premeditated. He planned out all the details, even writing a letter to Joab that he had Uriah himself carry. It was one of the darkest moments in the Old Testament.

David’s sins should not have received forgiveness

If anyone deserved death it was David, but this is also why David’s situation provides one of the greatest examples of God’s grace and mercy in all of Scripture. Nathan the Prophet confronted David, and he responded, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam 12:13a). Continue reading “How did forgiveness take place in the Old Testament?”

4 Challenging Examples of Grief Over Sin

Do you experience grief over sin?
Do you experience grief over sin?

Do you experience grief over sin around you?

A previous post laid a foundation for understanding the Beatitudes. Then we discussed Jesus’ words about spiritual poverty and spiritual hunger. The third Beatitude: “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” (Luke 6:21b).

Jesus presented values that were contrary to the thinking of the day, and this is a perfect example. The world doesn’t say those who weep are blessed. The world says they are unfortunate or cursed.

Jesus isn’t describing the joyful weeping that might take place at a wedding or the birth of a child, or even the sorrowful weeping that might take place from a loss or suffering. We live in a fallen, sinful world. Everyone weeps at times. In other words, Jesus isn’t saying blessed are those who experience something painful.

Instead, just like the first two Beatitudes, the third also needs to be viewed spiritually. Jesus is describing weeping over sin and wickedness. If you have a heart for God, you’re going to be grieved by the evil that surrounds you, because you know it’s rebellion against Him. Here are four examples…

Continue reading “4 Challenging Examples of Grief Over Sin”

God Sees What We Can Become

God sees what we can become
God sees what we can become

The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7).

Man sees physically, but God sees spiritually.

 

In the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, God couldn’t have seen them more differently than man:

  • Jesus told Smyrna, “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty, but you are rich” (Rev 2:9). A terribly poor and struggling church to man, but Jesus looked at it spiritually and said it was rich.
  • Jesus told Laodicea, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev 3:17). A rich, thriving church to man, but Jesus saw it spiritually and said it was terrible.

Continue reading “God Sees What We Can Become”

4 Examples Showing God Doesn’t Choose Like Man

God doesn't choose as man chooses.
God doesn’t choose as man chooses.

Miracle is one of my favorite movies, depicting the true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team winning the gold medal by defeating the Soviet Union in one of the greatest upsets in history. The head coach, Herb Brooks, is very familiar with the players through coaching, scouting, and watching film. So he’s able to choose his team very quickly. The assistant coach, Craig Patrick, comes to talk to Herb on the first day of tryouts:

Continue reading “4 Examples Showing God Doesn’t Choose Like Man”

7 ways Abigail is a type of Christ

When we think of types of Jesus, the Bronze Serpent (John 3:14), manna (John 6:51), rock in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4), or certain individuals like Joseph, Moses, David and Solomon probably come to mind. But Abigail? Probably not, but she should!

Jesus is our propitiation. Since this isn’t a word we use often here’s a simple definition: a gift, offering or sacrifice meant to turn away the wrath of an offended individual. The closest English words would be appeasing, expiating, placating, pacifying, or satisfying.

Here are two examples of propitiation in the Old Testament to give you an idea what it looks like:

  • In 1 Samuel 6:1-6 the Philistines wanted to return the ark to Israel, but they knew God was angry so they offered Him five golden tumors and five golden rats to hopefully turn away His wrath.
  • In 2 Samuel 21:1-6 seven men were sacrificed to turn away the wrath of the Gibeonites.

Another example of propitiation takes place in 1 Samuel 25. David helped Nabal, a man whose name fittingly means “fool”, and he responded to David’s kindness by insulting him. David was so angry, he told his men, “Strap on your swords!” (v. 13).

Enter Abigail as a type of Christ in turning away David’s wrath…

First, Abigail provided an offering on Nabal’s behalf.

Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seahs of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys” (v. 18).

[She told David] “And now this present which your maidservant has brought to my lord, let it be given to the young men who follow my lord” (v. 27).

Like Jesus provided an offering on our behalf: Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

Second, Abigail sought to bear Nabal’s iniquity.

“On me, my lord, on me let this iniquity be!” (v. 24).

Like Jesus bore our iniquity: Isaiah 53:11b For He shall bear their iniquities.

Third, Abigail asked for Nabal’s forgiveness.

“Please forgive the trespass of your maidservant” (v. 28)

Like Jesus asks to see us forgiven: Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Fourth, David accepted Abigail as an intercessor.

David said to Abigail, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me!” (v. 32).

Like the Father accepts the Son as an Intercessor: 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.

Fifth, Abigail turned away David’s wrath.

David said, “Unless you had hurried and come to meet me, by morning light no males would have been left to Nabal!” (v. 34).

Like Jesus turned away God’s wrath1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sixth, Abigail established peace between David and Nabal.

“Go up in peace to your house” (v. 35a).

Without Abigail there would have’ve been judgment on Nabal, but Abigail established peace between David and Nabal.

Like Jesus established peace between us and GodColossians 1:20b [Jesus] made peace through the blood of [the] cross.

Seventh, David was pleased with Abigail’s character.

“See, I have heeded your voice and respected your person” (v. 35b).

Like God is pleased with Jesus’ characterMatthew 3:17 a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

This account makes Abigail a wonderful type of Christ in turning away the wrath of God that is against us for our foolishness: 1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Discuss:

  • Do you see any other ways Abigail looks like Christ?
  • Would you share your favorite type of Christ in the Old Testament?

Leave your answer(s) in the comments section!