Genesis 18:19 NCV
In Genesis 18, we read about God’s conversation with Abraham just before He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. God decided to tell Abraham of His decision to destroy the city: ‘I have heard many complaints against the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. They are very evil. I will go down and see if they are as bad as I have heard. If not, I will know’ (Genesis 18:20-21 NCV).
God has no need to justify His actions to anyone, so why did He explain to Abraham? We can’t fully know why God made the decision, but one of the reasons can be found in the previous verse: ‘I have chosen him so he would command his children and his descendants to live in the way the Lord wants them to, to live right and be fair.’ God had promised that Abraham would be the founder of a ‘great nation’ (take a look at Genesis 12:2), and Abraham was responsible for passing on his knowledge and teaching God’s way of living, so the nation would be equipped to grow into a righteous, godly one.
The destruction was a demonstration of what would happen to people who sinned and refused to repent, and it was a powerful lesson that Abraham could teach to others – as well as witnessing the destruction of the city for himself (see Genesis 19:27-28), he understood why God had done it.
When God reveals something to us, it’s important that we listen and take notice of what He’s saying, even if we don’t understand it at first. He might give words of warning, guidance, teaching or comfort, but whatever He reveals to us, let’s hold on to it and value it. And if we can, let’s use what God’s revealed to us to show others the right way and stay on God’s path.
1 Chr 17:1-20; Heb 11:4-12:3; Ps 18:20-29; Prov 4:18
Proverbs 15:23 NLT
One of the easiest areas to repeatedly trip up on sin is in the way that we speak. So often, our mouth lets something slide out before we’ve fully thought about what we’re saying. But that can cause so much damage. Proverbs 18:21 tells us that ‘the tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences’ (NLT). It really is that serious.
All of our words carry our thoughts directly into someone else’s mind. A careless word from us can dramatically alter the way that other people think, feel, and even live their lives. God calls us to be diligent with our words, because our conversations have so much power.
However, the positive side to this is that if our words have so much influence, then the outcome can be dramatically positive when we invite God into what we say. Proverbs 15:23 also reminds us that ‘everyone enjoys a fitting reply; it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time!’ (NLT).
When we work with God to resist the urge to speak negatively, we really can shine a light to those around us. It will take prayer and real practice, but it is possible with God to make it a habit to check ourselves before speaking. Even while we’re working on curbing negative words, we can send out as many good words as possible.
Let’s make a real effort to use every conversation that we have as an opportunity to share something of the hope and joy that we’ve found in God. Imagine the trail of positivity you’d leave everywhere you go.
Ezra 3-5; John 7:25-44; Ps 108; Prov 24:29
Matthew 7:2 NIV
If you’re the one doing the judging, remember this timeless principle: What goes around comes around. Jesus said, “Do not judge…For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (vv. 1-2 NIV). It’s called the law of reciprocity, and it guarantees you will get back what you give. It’s not a threat; it’s an immutable law, just like the law of gravity.
You say, “I’m honest; I just tell it like it is. Besides, that person’s sin needs to be exposed!” It’s not about your honesty or their sin, it’s about God’s Word that forbids judging. You may be right and they may be wrong, but judging puts you in violation of Scripture. Plus it sets you up to be judged.
Question: What if the other person has already repented, confessed their sin, and received God’s forgiveness? Think about it: The worst kind of judging is judging sins God has already forgiven and forgotten (See Isaiah 43:25). When we judge others, we’re looking in the wrong direction. We’re avoiding what we don’t want to see – our own shortcomings.
Jesus said, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3 NIV). Whatever their “speck” is, it’s God’s business – not yours. Your “plank” is your business! Jesus also said, “They are blessed who show mercy to others, for God will show mercy to them” (Matthew 5:7 NCV). Instead of judging others, start investing in your own “mercy account.” You’ll need it soon enough.
Soul food: Nahum 1-3; John 6:1-24; Ps 85; Prov 24:11-14
Philippians 2:16 NLT
We must be prepared to give up instant gratification for long-term achievements.
Paul wrote: ‘Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.’
Nothing is more important in life than the choices we make. The Bible says, ‘Abram settled in the land of Canaan, and Lot moved his tents to a place near Sodom and settled among the cities of the plain’ (Genesis 13:12 NLT). Lot prospered for a while, but in the end, everything he worked for was destroyed. Then, ‘the LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him: “Look around from where you are…all the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever”‘ (vv. 14-15 NIV). Lot chose to settle in the wrong place and lost everything, but Abraham chose the right direction and gained everything.
When we’re faced with a choice, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of asking ourselves a few questions: ‘How will this choice affect my character and my self-respect? How will this choice affect my family and people who might look to me for a role-model? How will I feel when I tell God about my choice?’
The Bible says: ‘We are surrounded by a great cloud of people whose lives tell us what faith means. So let us run the race before us and never give up. We should remove from our live anything that would get in the way and the sin that so easily holds us back. Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect’ (Hebrews 12:1-2 NCV).
1 Sam 16-17; Luke 24:45-53; Ps 63; Prov 22:17-23
Galatians 5:7 NKJV
You must take responsibility for your life instead of blaming others. In the Garden of Eden when God asked Adam why he had eaten from the tree, he blamed his wife: “‘The woman whom You gave…me…gave me of the tree, and I ate'” (Genesis 3:12 NKJV). Then we read, “The Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me'” (v. 13 NKJV). Eve blamed the Devil.
So did God accept their excuses? No. He said to Adam: “‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and…eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it:” Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you'” (vv. 17-18 NKJV).
Then God told Eve, “‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you'” (v. 16 NKJV).
When those words were spoken, Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise.
“Since God is all-knowing,” you ask, “how come He got angry with Adam and Eve?” Because neither one would take responsibility for their actions! When you sin, God will readily forgive you (See Nehemiah 9:17). What He won’t accept, however, is obfuscating, rationalizing, justifying, excusing, and blaming. His Word says, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 NKJV).
So if you want to move forward, you must take responsibility for your life!
Soul food: 1 Sam 14-15; Luke 24:36-44; Ps 51; Prov 22:12-16