Do not love the world or anything in the world.1 John 2:15
Scripture says that “everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world” (1 John 2:16). That is why we are instructed, “Do not love the world or anything in the world” (v. 15).
Of course, millions of young people who lack a strong faith are very much influenced by the world and its values. MTV, the twenty-year-old cable broadcast, is one of the most dangerous institutions among the young. It is the world’s most-watched cable channel among viewers between ages twelve and twenty-four; more than 300 million people watch it daily. As one of its corporate ads recently proclaimed, “[MTV] is a cultural force…MTV has affected the way an entire generation thinks, talks, dresses, and buys.” That’s a scary thought, considering that MTV and programs like it will do almost anything to attract an audience. One of its “stars,” for instance, was videotaped while being sloshed around upside down in a portable toilet; he ate a live goldfish and then vomited it into a bowl. Sex and violence are its stock-in-trade.
It’s sobering to realize that your kids are the targets of these outrageous programs. That’s why it’s more important than ever to teach them to love God and obey His commands, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). While you’re at it, you might turn off your TV, too.
Before you say good night…
How much are your kids influenced by worldly values?
Have you “locked out” MTV and similar filth from your home?
Do your kids know the difference between worldly and godly values?
Father, we so want our children to focus not on the values of the world, but on Your perfect ways. Help us to put distance between our family and those who would try to manipulate us with evil intent. Amen.
“Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26
Sometimes it’s not the fight itself that’s damaging, but what happens when the battle is over. Think for a moment about your own verbal spats with your mate. Do they usually result in a time of healing, or are issues left hanging for a “rematch” later on? Do you and your spouse agree to leave an argument behind after you’ve talked it out, or is there a prolonged period of distance and silence?
In unstable marriages, conflict is never entirely resolved. Resentment and hurt feelings accumulate over time and eventually turn to bile in the soul, which then erodes the relationship from within. But in healthy relationships, confrontation allows ventilation that ends in forgiveness, a drawing together, and a better understanding of each other.
After an argument with your spouse, ask yourself these four important questions: Are there things I’ve said or done that have grieved my partner? Do I need to ask forgiveness for attacking the self-worth of my spouse? Have I refused to let go of an issue even though I said it was settled? Are there substantive matters that haven’t been resolved? Then move to put an end to the conflict—before the sun goes down.
Just between us…
In our last fight, did we resolve the issue in question?
Do our conflicts usually end positively, or with hurt feelings and unanswered questions?
What changes would help us resolve conflicts “before the sun goes down”?
Lord, give us the maturity and strength to settle our disagreements quickly and without damaging the personhood of each other. We know that this is Your will for us, but we need Your guidance to live by it. Amen.
2 Chronicles 20:12 ERV: Our God, punish those people. We don’t have the strength to stop this large army that is coming against us. We don’t know what to do! We are looking to you for help.”
One of the greatest victories of the people of God over an enemy happened during the reign of Jehoshaphat. A large army came against the people of Judah, and Jehoshaphat was afraid. Although he was afraid, he had the presence of mind to do the right thing. He announced a time of fasting for everyone in Judah and he gathered them together for prayer. Jehoshaphat himself led them in prayer. Our verse for today is the conclusion of his prayer and it is instructive for our own prayers.
First, Jehoshaphat confessed that the people of Judah did not have the strength to defeat the large army. What we can learn from this is that when the disaster is about to strike it is no time to act proud. We should be humble like Jehoshaphat and confess the plain state of affairs before the Lord. We should come before the Lord with our requests precisely because we do not have the strength and ability to overcome the situation on our own.
Second, Jehoshaphat confessed that the people of Judah did not know what to do. What we can learn from this is that when the problems are overwhelming and the path forward is not clear it is no time to try and figure things out on our own. We should be humble like Jehoshaphat and confess our ignorance before the Lord. We should come before the Lord with our requests precisely because we do not know how to overcome the situation on our own.
Finally, Jehoshaphat stated that they were looking to the Lord for help. He had confessed their weakness and ignorance and he now states that the only thing they know to do is ask the Lord for help. They do not have the strength or wisdom and so they are going to simply wait before the Lord.
The Lord responded to Jehoshaphat’s prayer that day and gave the people of Judah an overwhelming victory.
When we admit to the Lord that we don’t have the strength and the wisdom to overcome, but we are looking to Him for help, then He can go to work for us just like He did for Jehoshaphat.
Matthew 24:29–31 “All the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (v. 30).
For most people, the biggest obstacle to our interpretation of Matthew 24:1–35 is probably today’s passage. Believers usually read the astronomical upheaval in verse 29 and the appearance of the Son of Man on the clouds in verses 30–31 in an overly literal fashion and place these events in the future. That is, most Christians read verses 29–31 as an eye-witness description of darkness in the skies and so on, concluding that these verses must refer to Christ’s return at the end of history since we have not yet seen such signs.
Yet these astronomical events do not have to be interpreted in this manner. As commentators have noted, the Old Testament prophets often speak of the overthrow of human kingdoms and cataclysmic events in history using metaphors such as the falling of stars from the sky and the darkening of the heavens. For example, Isaiah 13 uses astronomical imagery (v. 10) to predict Babylon’s fall to the Medes (v. 17), who were later conquered by the Persians. These were no small events, it was a crisis of great proportions when one empire fell to another in the ancient world. One’s whole way of life might change: a new religion might be imposed on the conquered nation; the tax system would be different; no one knew how the new empire would treat its new citizens. The changing of empires was epoch-making; consequently, it might feel as if the very universe itself was out of whack at such times, and the people living in these circumstances used vivid images, like those in Isaiah, to convey this reality. Apparently, Jesus in Matthew 24:29–31 is using this very imagery to depict Jerusalem’s fall.
What, then, do Jesus’ coming on the clouds and His sending of the angels mean (vv. 30–31)? The coming on the clouds will be studied more closely next week, today we note that the Greek term for “angels” in verse 31 is the plural form of angelos, which can also mean “messenger.” It seems that verse 31 is a reference to Christ’s sending of His “messengers” — His people — to preach the Gospel and thus call people from every tongue and tribe. This mission began before Jerusalem’s fall, but it really began to gather steam after the city’s destruction forced the Christians there to scatter throughout the Roman empire.
Coram deo: Living before the face of God
Today’s passage reminds us of our need to read each biblical passage according to the type of literature it happens to be. For example, passages that are apocalyptic (symbolic depictions of God’s wrath and vindication) cannot be read as if they are pure historical narrative. While we may disagree on the meaning of the more complex portions of Scripture, let us always read them with a sensitivity to the style of literature they represent.
For further study:
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For the weekend:
ESV Reformation Study Bible2015 Edition, Hardcover
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