The Difference Between Stumbling and Falling

Paul asked, “Have [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not!” (Romans 11:11a). Stumbling is not the same as falling, and we can see the difference between the two by considering two men who had much in common. Who does this describe?

A well-known man received a unique opportunity when Jesus asked him to become one of the twelve disciples. In accepting the invitation, he became a student of the greatest Teacher in history. He could be with the Son of God day and night. The man heard Jesus’ teaching, and when His enemies tried to trap Him with penetrating questions, he heard the profound theological answers. He saw miracles that showed the Messiah’s authority over death, nature, demons, and disease. Jesus gave him some of the same divine power to cast out demons and perform miracles. He witnessed firsthand Jesus’ love, grace, and mercy. After experiencing all this, he betrayed Jesus in a strong, convincing way only hours before His crucifixion. Then he felt great sorrow.

Who is the man? If you say Judas, you are right. If you say Peter, you are right.

Stumbling Is not the Same as Falling

There are plenty of similarities between Peter and Judas, but one crucial difference. Regarding their faith, Peter stumbled, but Judas fell. Luke 22:31–34 records:

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”
Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”

Notice the words, “that your faith should not fail.” Jesus knew Peter’s faith was about to be tested, so He graciously warned him. He reverted to Peter’s former name, “Simon,” to remind him of his old nature, and repeated it twice to reveal the gravity of the situation. Peter failed to appreciate Jesus’ warning. He responded pridefully, claiming he would not stumble. Continue reading “The Difference Between Stumbling and Falling”

Temptations Facing Husbands and Wives

“Temptations Facing Husbands and Wives” is the first message I preach at Marriage God’s Way Conferences. 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
  5. Information about my books: Marriage God’s Way, and the accompanying workbook.

Lessons

Lesson 1: As we begin, make the decision to:

  • (Part I) Focus on ________ ____________________ more than your spouse’s.
  • (Part II) Turn your frustrations ________ ____________.
  • (Part III) Recognize your marriage is a reflection of your ________________________ with ____________.

 Lesson 2: God created headship before ______ ________ (Genesis 2:16-17).

 Lesson 3: Wives are tempted to:

  • (Part I) ______________ their husbands (Genesis 3:16 cf. 4:7).
  • (Part II) ______ their husbands (Proverbs 19:13b, 21:9, 19, 25:24, 27:15–16).

 Lesson 4: Husbands are tempted to:

  • (Part I) Be ________________ (Genesis 3:16).
  • (Part II) ________________ their wives (Colossians 3:19; Genesis 3:16).
  • (Part III) Be ______________ (Genesis 3:17).

Lesson 5: Reverse the effects of The Fall by ______________ God’s ________________ for marriage.

Discussion Questions

Husband asks wife:

  • Do you feel like I am stubborn?
  • Do you feel like I am harsh or authoritarian with you?
  • Do you feel like I am passive?

 Wife asks husband:

  • Do you feel like I try to control you?
  • Do you feel like I nag you?
  • Do you feel like I stir you up for good…or evil?

Continue reading “Temptations Facing Husbands and Wives”

Don’t Confuse Discipline and Trials

When we’re suffering, we often wonder if we did something wrong. As a result, we end up confusing God’s discipline and trials. I saw a recent example of this when a woman wrote me about a miscarriage she experienced. She wondered if God was punishing her. It was heartbreaking. The miscarriage was painful enough without also having to wonder if it was her fault.

You Didn’t Do Something Wrong!

We should expect trials, but when they take place, we don’t have to wonder if we sinned! It’s tragic when people blame themselves for their trials. It’s also tragic when people experience trials and “friends” try to get them to blame themselves!

Job’s friends come to mind. They started off well “[sitting] down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13). This demonstrates what to do when people are suffering. The “Ministry of Presence” requires being a good listener. I received a good piece of advice when I first became a pastor: “If you cannot improve on silence, do not.” Solomon said there is “A time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7b), and “He who has knowledge spares his words” (Proverbs 17:27a).

Unfortunately, Job’s friends did not follow these verses, and things went downhill after they opened their mouths. Eliphaz was the first to speak, and he summarized their argument in Job 4:7 when he asked, “Who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?” In other words, “When have bad things ever happened to good people?” Job’s friends wanted to convince him that since he suffered terribly, he must have sinned terribly. Continue reading “Don’t Confuse Discipline and Trials”

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?”

The best way to counsel believers in sin

counsel believers in sin
Glennon Doyle Melton and Abby Wambach

There’s terrible confusion regarding what is and isn’t loving when it comes to correcting people. This makes it difficult to counsel believers in sin. Take for instance homosexuality, which draws almost immediate hostility when criticized. The most disheartening situations occur when believers defend sinful behavior. Take for instance author, speaker, and professing Christian Glennon Doyle Melton announcing she is in a relationship with soccer star Abby Wambach.

How would I counsel professing believers in sin, such as Glennon Doyle Melton?

Before Katie and I were married, she looked for a job doing massage. We were excited when the professing Christian owner of a local barber shop offered her a room. After Katie’s first day of work she told me, “I don’t know how to say this, but the woman who owns the shop…is a man.”

Genesis 1:27 says God created us male and female. “She” was a man despite the physical changes he made to his body. Since he claimed to be a Christian, we decided to speak with him about living such a lifestyle while professing to follow Christ.

A Christian friend of ours was angry with us saying:

“How can you think of calling ‘her’ a ‘him’? How can you think of confronting ‘her’ about this? This is so unloving!”

I think her sentiments capture the way a number of people feel about confronting sin. Continue reading “The best way to counsel believers in sin”

The One Thing to Avoid When Judging

marriage-gods-way-author-scott-lapierre-judgingIn Matthew 7:1 Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” Last post, 3 Truths About Judgingdiscussed what this verse is not saying: judging is wrong. So what is it saying? The primary rule for interpreting Scripture is to look at context. Let the Bible be the commentary on the Bible. Matthew 7:2 says:

For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 

We will be judged with the same standard we use with others

If you judge someone for doing something, you better make sure you don’t do it. If you judge people for:

  • Lying, you better not lie
  • Losing their tempers, you better not lose your temper
  • Being late late, you better be on time
  • Watching or listening to things they shouldn’t, you better not watch or listen to anything compromising
  • Gossiping, you better not gossip
  • Not serving, you better be a servant

There’s nothing wrong with saying something is sin, but there is something wrong with saying something is sin while committing the same sin yourself. It’s similar to Romans 2:1: Continue reading “The One Thing to Avoid When Judging”

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”

Do we grieve over our sin?

Do we grieve over our sin?
Do we grieve over our sin?

A previous post laid a foundation for understanding the Beatitudes. Then we considered the first two Beatitudes: spiritual poverty and spiritual hunger. The third, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (Luke 6:21b) led to a discussion about grief over the sin around us. While we should be grieved by the sin around us, the more important issue is, do we grieve over our sin?

A love for God demands we grieve over our sin. The Amplified says, Blessed are you who weep now [over your sins and repent].”

While I don’t want to minimize sinning, the truly important issue is how we respond when we sin. We’ve all seen people fall into one of two categories:

  • People who sin and couldn’t care less.
  • People who sin and are genuinely grieved and broken over what they’ve done.

The latter is “godly sorrow [that] produces repentance” versus “worldly sorrow [that] produces death” (2 Cor 7:10). This is the grief Jesus said leads to blessing: “You shall laugh.” Continue reading “Do we grieve over our sin?”

Am I Saved? Seven Tests to Know!

“Am I saved?” is one of the most important questions we can ask. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus said many people are deceived about the answer:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul commands:

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.”

Here are seven ways to do that, but first, two introductory points:

  1. I taught messages on six of the tests at Woodland Christian Church. Links to each message are below.
  2. First John was written, “that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). As a result, 1 John is referenced more than any other book.

Test 1: Have I experienced godly sorrow that produces repentance?

Here’s the accompanying message.

Repentance is required for salvation, and it comes from godly sorrow over our sin:

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly sorrow produces death.

Worldly sorrow is the sorrow in:

  • Courtrooms across the country when the verdict is read
  • Children when they find out they’re going to be punished
  • Adults when they find out they’re going to suffer because of something they’ve done

Basically, worldly sorrow is regret or shame, not because of the sin itself, but because of the consequences. It has no redemptive value. Continue reading “Am I Saved? Seven Tests to Know!”

Temptation Often Comes Back Stronger

Temptation often comes back stronger

The past two Sundays we’ve been looking at the story of the old prophet and the man of God in 1 Kings 13. Here are the sermons:

  • 1/18/15 – 1 Kings 13:1-18 False Prophets – Part I
  • 1/25/15 – 1 Kings 13:19-32 False Prophets – Part II

In the chapter, God sent a prophet – repeatedly called “man of God” – to confront the idolatry King Jeroboam introduced to the nation (the golden calves in 1 Kin 12:25-33). The Lord told the man of God, You shall not eat bread, nor drink water, nor return by the same way you came” (1 Kin 13:9, 17). After the prophet received this command he was repeatedly tempted to disobey it (verses 7, 15, 18). It’s similar to what we experience: God gives us commands through His Word and we’re repeatedly tempted to disobey them.

But one of the other realities is the temptation often comes back stronger…

First, the old prophet said, “Come home with me and eat bread” (v. 15). The man of God resisted, but then the old prophet said, “I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water’” (v. 18). The second temptation was much stronger and more convincing than the first.

There are a number of similarities between the man of God and Balaam (in Num 22:1-21):

  • They were both prophets.
  • They were both given commands directly from God:
    • The man of God was commanded not to eat or drink (1 Kin 13:9, 17).
    • Balaam was commanded, “You shall not go with Balak; you shall not curse the people, for they are blessed” (Num 22:12).
  • They were both tempted to disobey the commands God gave them.
  • The were both tempted in similar ways:
    • Balaam was tempted to go with Balak.
    • The man of God was tempted to go with the old prophet.
  • And just like with the man of God, the second temptation Balaam experienced was much stronger and more convincing than the first…

First Balak said, “Please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too mighty for me.” (Num 22:6). Balaam resisted (v. 13) and the second temptation: “Balak again sent princes, MORE NUMEROUS and MORE HONORABLE than before and they said to Balaam, ‘Please let nothing hinder you from coming to me; for I WILL CERTAINLY HONOR YOU GREATLY, and I WILL DO WHATEVER YOU SAY to me. Therefore PLEASE COME, curse this people for me’” (Num 22:15-17).

The final – and most tragic – similarity is Balaam finally went with Balak and it had terrible consequences for him, and the man of God finally went with the old prophet and it had terrible consequences for him.

The lesson for us: temptation often comes back stronger, and we need to be sure to resist it.