“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 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?

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?”

Can a wife love her husband without respecting him?

“Can a wife love her husband without respecting him?”

This is a good question to understand, because many people don’t think there’s a difference between a wife loving her husband and respecting him. This leaves many women thinking they respect their husbands, while the husbands are not feeling respected. Watch the short video of Katie and I discussing the answer and/or read the transcript below…

Can a wife love her husband without respecting him? Not only would I say it’s possible, I would say it’s common! Most women will say they love their husbands, and I believe they do. But many of these same wives might not respect their husbands. I’ve met men who have told me they feel loved by their wives but not respected.

In marriage counseling, when I hear wives expressing their frustrations about their husbands, it typically sounds like this: “I don’t feel that my husband loves me. I wish my husband loved me more. He never tells me he loves me.” But when husbands express frustration, it more often sounds like this: “I wish my wife respected me more. I wish my wife followed my lead. I wish my wife supported my decisions.”

In truth, it is much easier for a wife to say she loves her husband than to show it through respect. But it is through respect that a wife expresses her love for her husband. If a wife does not show respect, her husband will not feel loved. A good perspective for couples to keep in mind is that feeling unloved is as painful to a wife as feeling disrespected is to a husband.

An example from scripture of a wife loving her husband without respecting him

Continue reading “Can a wife love her husband without respecting him?”

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 Salvation and Forgiveness Take Place in the Old Testament?

How were people forgiven (or saved) in the Old Testament? Did forgiveness (or salvation) take place through sacrifices or human effort? The short answer is forgiveness (and salvation) was received in the Old Testament the same way it’s received in the New Testament: by grace through faith.

Unfortunately, people think of the Gospel as a New Testament invention, but Paul uses the Old Testament to present the Gospel. He explains justification by faith apart from the law and works in Romans 3:21-28. Then he discusses two prominent Old Testament men to have credibility with his Jewish readers. In the process he shows people were forgiven (or saved) in the Old Testament, just as believers are in the New Testament.

Paul’s First Example of Old Testament Salvation: Abraham—The Father of the Jewish People

Although Abraham was well-respected, he committed well-known sins:

  • God commanded Abraham to leave his family behind. He failed by bringing his nephew Lot (Genesis 12:1-4).
  • Abraham failed when he left Canaan, went to Egypt, and tried to protect himself by telling Sarah to say she was his sister (Genesis 12:10-20).
  • Sarah told Abraham to have a child with Hagar, and he obeyed her (Genesis 16:1-2).
  • Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister (Genesis 20:2).

Romans 4:1—What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.

We can boast if we’re justified by works, “but not before God,” because it wouldn’t impress him.

Romans 4:3—What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Paul quotes Genesis 15:6, which summarizes the Gospel. Abraham was justified by faith. He was saved by believing God.

Romans 4:4—Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.

When your boss gives you a paycheck you’d be offended if he said, “This is a gift.” You worked for it; therefore, you earned it. A system of works makes God “obligated” to us.

Romans 4:5—However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

The man who attempts to be justified – or saved – by works is not trusting God. He’s trusting himself. The man who trusts God finds his faith credited – or given to him – as righteousness.

Paul’s Second Example of Old Testament Salvation: David—The King of the Jewish People

According to God’s Law, David committed two sins that should’ve resulted in death: adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11). A few things made David’s terrible sins even worse:

  • David’s accountability—He knew God’s Law well.
  • David was 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.

If David had to be justified, or declared righteous by works, he’d stand condemned before God. Since justification is by faith, he felt very blessed…

Romans 4:6—David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

David agreed with Abraham about justification by faith, and he wrote about his thankfulness in Psalm 32:1-2, which Paul quoted in Romans 4:7-8:

“Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

When you’ve sinned like David did, you’re very thankful when God doesn’t “count” those sins against you, but instead “counts” or “credits” righteousness to you.

Romans 4:9-10—Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before!

Abraham was declared righteous by God in Genesis 15:6 when he “believed God” at 86 years old. He wasn’t circumcised until Genesis 17:24, when he 99. Since he was declared righteous 13 years before he was circumcised, he had to be justified by faith and not works.

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:

2 Samuel 12:13a—“I have sinned against the Lord.”

This is how we should respond when we sin. In these few words David provides a number of lessons:

  • Take ownership: “I have…”
  • Call it what it is: “sin.”
  • Acknowledge the sin was “against the Lord”
  • Avoid excuses and blame shifting.

Then Nathan said:

2 Sam 12:13b—“The Lord also has taken away your sin.”

These are some of the most amazing words in the Old Testament. Despite the enormity and wickedness of David’s sin, it was “taken away.” Hebrews 10:4 and 11 both state:

“It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”

Sacrifices couldn’t forgive sins, say nothing of take them away. How could Nathan say this to David? His sins were taken away the same way ours are taken away:

  • When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
  • 1 John 3:5 says “[Jesus] was manifested to take away our sins.”

If any Old Testament sacrifices could take away sins, Jesus’s sacrifice would’ve been unnecessary. David looked forward in faith to Jesus the way we look backward in faith to our Savior.

The New Covenant Foreshadowed in the Old Covenant

The grace and mercy David received provide a beautiful glimpse of the New Covenant under the Old Covenant. What did David do to receive this forgiveness? Psalm 51:16-17 records:

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

David didn’t offer any sacrifices. He had a spiritual insight that was tremendous. He knew parts of the New Testament before they were written, and he knew no Old Testament sacrifices could make up for his sins.

But he did know there was a “sacrifice” he could “give”; he knew there was an “offering” God “desired”: “a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart.”

David Confess his sin and it “took away” evil sins he committed. This is without personal merit, human effort, or penance. This is New Covenant forgiveness by grace; justification by faith.

Forgiveness that Provided Life Instead of Death

David’s sins demanded death, but he found: life. Nathan also said:

2 Samuel 12:13c—“You shall not die.”

These words mean David was going to die. The Old Covenant (the Law) demanded what it always demands: death. But David was able to find life. He recognized the greatness of what took place, which led him to write Psalm 32. Paul quoted this in Romans 4, showing forgiveness and salvation took place the same way in the Old and New Testaments.

Discussion Questions to Answer in the Comments Section 

  • Do you agree or disagree with the post?
  • How did you previously think people were forgiven and saved in the Old Testament? Do you think that now?
  • What other supporting verses from the Old Testament come to mind? What verses from the New 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”