God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life

Speaking of God, the Bible says: You have broken the teeth of the ungodly (Psalm 3:7).

We were reading the Bible together before leaving home for work. My wife read Psalm 3 where David calls out to God for deliverance from his enemies. She paused after verse 7, then said, So much for the people who say that God loves everyone and has a wonderful plan for their lives.

Having God knock out all your teeth snarled in anger isn’t a wonderful plan, unless that weakness brings you to repentance from ungodliness and sin. God does have a wonderful plan of eternal life, but that wonderful plan is limited to those who believe upon Christ Jesus.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).

Advertisements

Las Vegas: Why Didn’t God Do Something?

Every evening before we pray and go to sleep, my wife and I talk about the matters of the day soon to fall behind us. The evening after the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 1, 2017,  Kim asked why God hadn’t done something to stop the massacre.

My answer was simple: “He did. He sent Jesus to die for sinners.

Sin is a deadly disease that infects every human heart. The symptoms of sin are every form of evil we can imagine, and evil we haven’t yet imagined. Into this mess, God the Father sent Jesus to die for sinners, redeem them from sin, and cleanse the heart.

After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended into Heaven and the Father sent the Holy Spirit to live inside the redeemed ones. From inside each believer, the Spirit wars against the sin nature and believers strive to live godly lives.

God also gave us His holy Word, the Bible, to teach us right from wrong, like the commandment, Thou shalt not murder (Romans 13:9). The Holy Spirit uses the Scriptures to make us more like Jesus, but most people chose to rebel against the Father by rejecting Jesus as the only Saviour of the sinner.

Instead of believing the Bible, we ignore and blaspheme it as narrow-minded, old-fashioned, and judgmental because it points out so clearly our wrong from God’s right, our sin from righteousness, and our desperate need for a Saviour.

The problem isn’t that God hasn’t done something; the problem is that we have rejected God’s solution.

The Lord of the Flies

lord of the fliesWilliam Golding’s book, The Lord of the Flies, is the story of a group of well-monied, well-bred, and well-socialized boys who become stranded on an island during a war. Left to themselves, they very quickly descend into evil and their sin natures take full control over every aspect of life. The boys inflict every evil imaginable upon each other. Without an outside, redeeming influence, they become wicked savages.

The Bible reminds us who have trusted in Christ alone for salvation: Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day of Christ’s return approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

No one can live the life of faith alone. Christians need other Christians, just as the finger needs the hand if it is to function and live (First Corinthians 12:14-27). God has attached each one of His people to another for support and strength; but when we are separated from the body into which He joins us, we become weak, discouraged, and even lifeless. It’s not that we lose our salvation and revert to spiritual savagery, but we lose the encouragement, growth, and life which Jesus provides to us through His body (Ephesians 4:15-16).

As the Christian husband nourishes and cherishes his believing wife in her faith and life (Ephesians 5:29), so Christians do to one another through our Head, Jesus.

** Please keep us in prayer while we minister in Kenya. Thanks!

Hard Hearts

God created the universe to declare His glory and reveal His existence (Psalm 19:1-2; Romans 1:20-23), yet very early in man’s history, we began to worship the creation rather than the Creator; devoting ourselves to the planet rather than God.

Humanity, created to worship God, turned nature into gods. Today, we’ve not moved beyond that theology with the “Mother Earth” worshiping green movement. We save the whales and murder unborn babies. We save the planet from pollution but pollute our minds with evil. Paul wrote that mankind does this to purposely avoid acknowledging God’s rule (Romans 1:21-23).

God’s command has never been to end pollution and save the Earth’s environment, but to preach what Jesus has done to save Earth’s sinners.

God refuses to share His glory with anyone or anything. He promises to judge idolatrous mankind and destroy every false god, yet hard-hearted man rejects God and denies Him as Judge (2 Peter 3:1-13).

The Earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness (First Corinthians 10:26).

 

God is Good All the Time

god-is-good-all-the-timeYou are good, and do good; teach me Your statutes (Psalm 119:68).

What does it mean that “God is good?”

When you say, “Oh Billy, you’re sure a good boy,” we mean that Billy has done something that pleases you. But is that what the Bible means when it says God is good? Does it mean that God does things to satisfy and please us? Are we the ones who decide God’s goodness?

Think back to the first page of the Book of Genesis. Before man was made, God looked at the creation of His hand and declared it to be good (Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25) and very good (Genesis 1:31).

A good tree produces good fruit (Matthew 7:17). Any goodness that may exist in anything is there only because it was created by a God of goodness. What He does is good because He is good. His goodness wasn’t created or decreed, it is the very nature of His eternal character.

God’s goodness means that everything that comes to His child, is good. Some people think that bad things come because Satan is in control. My friend, the God of the Bible bows to no one, and as His child, Satan has no authority over you. Those things that seem “bad” in your day are just another method of God working an unrecognized goodness in you life (Rom 8:28). It grows your faith in Him and draws you closer to Him.

God’s goodness means that there is no deficiency, fault, or more that can be done to improve upon Him or His acts. It means that all He does is perfect, so that even His judgment of sin is good!

God’s goodness means that even His wrath against sin is a revelation of His goodness. If He didn’t provide a consequence to those who are either ignorant of His will, or who purposely rebel against His will, God would not only be unjust, but He would be promoting evil. That’s why we read in Hebrews 12 that even the discipline He gives His children is a sign of His love and goodness.

God’s goodness means that while our perceptions of His works may be weak, flawed and sinful, He is not. The Lord is good (Nahum 1:7).

 

Angry Humanists

angry-humanists-jpetA friend posted a passage of Scripture on his Facebook page. It was Joshua’s call to the Israelites to choose whether they would serve the God who delivered them from slavery in Egypt or serve the gods of their own making.

The response to this man’s posting of Scripture was fascinating.

First, this tolerant crowd replied with anger. Their words harsh, judgmental, demeaning, and condemning. There was no dialog with others or joy in being asked whom they would serve.

Second, the commenters relied upon their own personal sense of morality to dictate their actions. Surprisingly, they all believed their actions were good; praising and validating their own self-righteousness.

Third, these angry humanists dismissed the idea of a God who judges sin and that He should judge them. They had each chosen their own god, and that god looked just like them.

The God of the Bible offers mercy and love to those who abandon self to trust in Jesus alone:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through HIm might be saved.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed (John 3:16-20).

Love is Blind

love-is-blindThe English poet Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400) wrote that love is blind. The idea is that truth is often distorted as we gaze through rose-colored glasses at the ones we care most about. That distorted view makes us feel good about ourselves, but it is dangerous to everyone involved. Overlooking sin and wrongdoing is never beneficial.

King David’s son stole the throne of Israel and caused David to flee for his life. Yet on the run, David’s greatest concern was always for the welfare of his favorite son. He couldn’t see the situation for what it really was. He refused to see Absalom for who he was and what he’d done. His rebellion was more than against father and the nation; it was open rebellion against God.

As Israel’s army marched to protect God’s chosen king, David commanded his soldiers, Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom (2 Samuel 18:5). David’s concern for his rebellious son influenced his actions. Despite all Absalom did, David loved his son and hoped for reconciliation as if his son’s actions were nothing but a simple misunderstanding. His love as a parent kept him from reality as the king.

Man is a sinner and needs a Saviour. We are ever forgetting how wicked our sin is. We don’t understand that all the love and hugs and warm feelings in the universe cannot fix man’s sin problem. The Bible says that there must be a payment in blood for sin (Hebrews 9:22). Sin is a death sentence demanding full satisfaction (Romans 6:23).

God’s love for you is not blind. The Father didn’t ignore your sin because of His love; instead His love brought Him to send Jesus to die in your place (John 3:16-17). The innocent Jesus took upon Himself the guilt of your sin-debt. WHen Jesus died on the cross, justice was served so that love could reign.

The new birth is the only saving possibility for the sinner, and for new life to come, Jesus died.

50 Shades of Gray

50-shades-of-greyWhen the Jewish leaders brought the King of the Jews before the Roman governor, they demanded He be given the death penalty. Jesus was guilty in the minds of the Jewish leaders of declaring Himself to be God, but what would Pontius Pilate decide?

The Gospel accounts say that Jesus refused to defend Himself against His accusers. This left the Roman governor confused about Jesus and what to do next since he found no fault in Him at all (John 18:38). But the protesting crowd outside the courthouse was moving from anger to violence.

When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that an uproar was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” (Matthew 27:24). Stirred by fear of the crowds (John 19:8), Pilate compromised truth with what worked for him politically and Jesus was led away to be crucified.

I’m been amazed at how many people calling themselves Christians are willing to act like Pilate. They will compromise truth for fifty shades of gray. They will accept one shade of evil while condemning another shade of the same evil.

As people of faith in Jesus Christ, we are to walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), proving what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret (Ephesians 5:8-12).

Whether in your workplace or at the ballot box, in your finances or in the privacy of your own bedroom, let us shine the light of Christ rather than throw shade in an already compromised world.

God’s Answer for an Evil Nation

Revival 10.1.15Like many of us, the ancient prophet Habakkuk questioned what seemed to be God’s inactivity. Like him, we want to see God act against the evil around us.

God was fully aware of the sins of the people of Judah. They were materialistic and violent. The government was unjust and politicians were corrupt. God not only knew what was going on, He was preparing an answer, but it was an answer Habakkuk didn’t want to hear:

Look among the nations and watch – but utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you (Habakkuk 1:5). Wowzers! God was preparing something truly amazing. “Revival!” must have been the prophet’s first thought. But there would be no revival, instead God was raising up the Chaldeans to destroy the nation of Judah (Habakkuk 1:6).

Habakkuk had been eager for God to act, but then didn’t like God’s plan.

God must judge sin. Look at the nations of history. Only one nation has stood the test of time, and that’s Israel. All others have risen and fallen and eventually disappeared. That’s the destiny of the Hittites, the Babylonians, the Magyars, and will be of the United States.

Rather than asking God to change His unchangeable mind, Habakkuk reaffirmed his trust in God and His perfect ways. Rather than call for a tent meeting revival at the state capital for prayer and music, the prophet trusted God in His righteous judgment and wrath upon an evil nation (Habakkuk 3:16-18).

O Lord, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy (Habakkuk 3:2).

Opposing Evil – not Voting for It

BonhoefferIn 1933 and the rise of the German Chancellor Adolph Hitler, the German Evangelical Church was consumed by the Nazi government. Church leaders surrendered their authority over spiritual affairs and accepted the demands of Nazi leaders. No longer was the Church of Jesus Christ an independent voice for morality and good, but was coerced into silence and control by the federal government. Most German Christians either voted for Hitler as the lesser of two evils or sat idly by and allowed the government to act without opposition. While the handicapped and Jews were being gassed, German pulpits were silent except in their praise of Hitler. German Christians buried their heads in the sand.

A young pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer refused to back down in his opposition to Hitler and the government. By radio, Bonhoeffer warned the German people that they were making Hitler into a god and that the church had become a cult of idolatry used by Nazi politicians. Just then the radio transmission was cut. Two months later Bonhoeffer declared that the church had a responsibility not only to help those crushed by the government, “but to fall into the spokes of the wheel itself.

A small cadre of pastors began what was called the Confessing Church, a group opposed to Hitler, his socialism, and stood in support of the Jews. These pastors insisted that Christ Jesus and the Bible alone could dictate the conscience of a Christian and the role of the church in society. Secular government nor any political leader ruled over Christ’s Church.

Refusing to compromise the Gospel, Bonhoeffer and a few others openly resisted the government. Soon churches, schools, and charities that refused to cooperate with the government were closed by force. Pastors were banned by court order from preaching in public. Bonhoeffer secretly traveled Germany, teaching the Bible, preaching against Hitler and socialism, and advocated on behalf of the Jewish people. He also participated in several failed attempts to assassinate Hitler.

Pastor Bonhoeffer was eventually captured, imprisoned, tried and convicted of crimes against the state. On Sunday, April 8, 1945, from inside a concentration camp, he preached his last sermon, from Isaiah 53:5, by His stripes we are healed. Upon finishing, he was taken and hanged, only days before Allied Forces liberated the concentration camp.

The blood of martyrs might once again be demanded, but this blood, if we really have the courage and loyalty to shed it, will not be innocent, shining like that of the first witnesses for the faith. On our blood lies heavy guilt, the guilt of the unprofitable servant who is cast into outer darkness.  – Dietrich Bonhoeffer