Ask Your Preacher
Does God bless everyone with a wife?
There are no guarantees regarding marriage. In a fallen world full of sin, all sorts of tragic things happen… including people living without helpmeets even though they desperately want them. God offers us comfort in that we can seek Him and His help through prayer (Jas 5:16-18). God even says that there are advantages to being single, and that our single years can be our most productive spiritually (1 Cor 7:32-34). Take heart that the Lord watches over those that are His (Jhn 10:14), and you will never be tempted beyond what you are able (1 Cor 10:13). We can’t guarantee that you will have a wife, but we can tell you that in almost all cases, the right person comes along at the right time.
What is the “accursed thing” in Jericho that God told Joshua about in Josh 6:18?
The accursed thing was the spoils of war that typically would have been plundered after looting Jericho, but in this case, they were to be burned or devoted to the Lord. God was very specific that the Israelites were not supposed to keep any of Jericho’s valuables for themselves and that the entire city’s goods were devoted to the Lord (Josh 6:17). The accursed thing (some versions say “the devoted thing”) in Josh 6:18 refers to the commandment to not keep any of the goods for themselves. In Josh 7:1, we see that Achan disobeyed that command, and when it was found out, he was stoned for his disobedience (Josh 7:24-26).
God bless you, brethren. My question today is how important is it to have a clear conscience? I have the tendency to be a critic, especially of myself. Even when I do something right. I often replay it in my head and feel like I could've done it better. I find it hard to be satisfied and pleased with the amount of love I show people, the sharing of the gospel (or lack thereof), my thoughts, my devotional life, the amount of time I spend in prayer and in the Word, etc….
Dear Critical Thinker,
There is a difference between being dissatisfied with past choices and having conscience problems. The word ‘conscience’ refers to that part of your mind that prompts you to do what you think is good and condemns you for doing what you think is bad. Paul said that he had a clear conscience… even though he had attempted to kill Christians (Acts 23:1). The reason Paul could have a clean conscience after doing such reprehensible things is because when Paul did it, he did it in ignorance (1 Tim 1:13). As soon as Paul realized that he was sinning, he changed.
This is exactly what you are describing in your life. You try your best, and when your conscience prompts you – you act. Sure, there are mistakes made along the way, and in reflection, you could do better, but that is true of all of us. The key is that you are listening to your conscience and keeping a soft heart that is open to the Lord’s teachings (1 Tim 1:5).
Do people go to heaven or hell as soon as they die, or are they in the grave until Jesus returns?
Six Feet Under?
Dear Six Feet Under,
When a Christian dies, they go immediately to Paradise and await the day of Judgment, the day when our eternal heaven is created. Jesus said that angels immediately carry faithful souls off to Paradise (Lk 16:22, Lk 23:43), and the wicked are immediately sent to torments (Lk 16:23). Both Paradise and torments are part of Hades (‘Hades’ means ‘the unseen place’). When you die, your spirit is separated from your body and goes to Hades (Jas 2:26). On the Day of Judgment, all the souls will be emptied out of Hades (1 Thess 4:14), and all the bodies will be removed from the graves (1 Thess 4:16). On that great Day of Judgment, every soul shall be judged (Heb 9:27).
Is it okay for a Christian to file for bankruptcy? Wouldn't that be basically the same thing as lying since you've signed legal documents promising to make payments for the life of the loan? I know of someone who rationalized "letting the bank have the house" even though the house is worth a lot less now. What does the Bible say about this?
Dear Money Management,
Bankruptcy is never “okay”, but there are mixed reviews on whether or not it is a sin. Bankruptcy always involves pain and suffering, and regardless of whether it is a sin, filing for bankruptcy is never an easy road.
Some folks point to verses that talk about keeping your word (Matt 5:37) and being a faithful steward (1 Cor 4:2) as prohibitions against bankruptcy. Probably the strongest condemnation can be found in Ps 37:21. There can be no doubt that God desires us to pay our debts and to hold ourselves accountable for the management of what resources He gives us. However, that isn’t the only side of the story.
What about when the debt is too large to ever repay? The Bible clearly talks about such circumstances – our debt of sin being the greatest example. Verses like Lk 7:40-42 and Matt 6:12 emphasize the value of forgiving debts and helping those who are in a financial bind.
So, what we are left with are two Bible principles. Those who are borrowing should be careful to not be reckless or spend lavishly that which they haven’t earned themselves, and they should seek to faithfully and diligently repay their debts because that is what good stewardship is. And secondly, when there is opportunity for a lender to show mercy to an honestly struggling debtor, that is a blessing as well.