Thursday, February 28, 2013

God is Not to Blame

Did you ever have people say to you, "If God is good why is there suffering in the world?" Yes, the age old problem of suffering, the one that makes people question whether God could ever be good and let it go on. And you don't have to look far at all today to see suffering. It is all around, it is horrific, it lets no one out of its grasp. I could not even give justice to the answer here but I can say in defense of my God, I know He is good. I know He takes no pleasure in seeing men suffer, I know He has provided a solution to man's suffering.

As I continued in my Psalm study I came across Psalm 5:4 which says:

"For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: Neither shall evil dwell with Thee."

That verse brought me comfort, because it reminds me of God's holiness, God's purity. He does not have any morbid pleasure in seeing men hurting on this earth. If you study other holy books of other religions you may find some rules and injunctions that would seem less than pure. Some religions ask their adherents to make sacrifices, but true Christianity saw the suffering and sacrifice of One Man only, the just One for the unjust.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit

The Psalmist asks if the throne of wickedness can ever be in fellowship with God's throne in Psalm 94:20:

"Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, Have fellowship by You (God)?

Psalm 101:7 emphatically tells us "He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence."

But in Christianity we read of a sinless Lamb offering Himself without spot for us on the cross. It doesn't ask us to wash ourselves ritually or say a number of prayers or bow a certain direction before approaching God. It says "DONE."

Hebrews 10:12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,

Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

It is the evil one, the one who is the father of lies, who has caused the suffering in this world. Men, when they listen to the liar, perpetuate his misery on themselves and others. And so the cycle of suffering continues. God in His holiness can have no fellowship with the evil one.

Do you see how the Pharisees listened to the liar and how satan used them to speak to Jesus when they went so far as to accuse Him of healing a demon possessed, blind and mute man by the power of Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons in Matthew 12: 22-32? That was the final straw. Their accusation was a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which there would be no forgiveness for in verse 32. The Holy Son of God could no more have communion with demons than His Father could.

God in His infinite wisdom sees each person in this world of misery here. And if there be anyone who would cry out to Him in their hour of need He is sure to hear them, no matter where they are, no matter what they have been told before by the liar.

Isa 45:22 "Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I [am] God, and [there is] no other.

If He sees they have a spark of wanting to know Him, He will get the gospel to them. That is why John 7:17 has always been a special verse to me:

{Jesus speaking}"If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority."

We know who the liar is. He has been telling lies ever since the Garden of Eden, when he told Eve in Genesis 3:1, "Has God indeed said...?"

So many, when they behold the carnage before them, that is when they shake their fist heavenward and start the blame game. Of course it must be God's fault. Oh no, think again, please, think again.

Someday, if we choose God's path, we will come to understand with perfect clarity. For today, our part is to trust that our God is good.

1 John 1:5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Lord is my Shield

I am attempting to study in the Psalms, may the Lord bless it. I was reading Psalm 3 and missed some things before when I had read it previously. Did you know Psalm 3 was written by David when he was an old man, fleeing from his son Absalom, who was attempting to steal his kingdom from him?

David did not have this happen to him out of a clear blue sky though. He had laid the seeds for his family's dysfunction when he committed premeditated murder and adultery with Bathsheba many years before. God told him he would pay and he did.
Absalom's rebellion was part of David's discipline. Yet because David fully had repented long before the rebellion (in Psalm 51 we can read about it) the discipline was a suffering for blessing when David wrote Psalm 3.

David's heart was broken when his son attempted to steal the kingdom. He still loved his son Absalom very much. But David
pours out his complaint to God in Psalm 3:1-2

LORD, how they have increased who trouble me!

Many are they who rise up against me.

Many are they who say of me,

"There is no help for him in God." Selah

But as I read along yesterday, my heart was cheered by verse 3, a beautiful chorus that we often sing in church. I wonder if David knows that we sing still his words that he wrote in desperation that day.

Verse 3 continues: "But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts my head."

I was looking up other verses where it talks about the Lord being our shield, and there are many of them. In case you would like to look them up here they are: Gen. 15: 1, II Sam. 22: 3, and 31, Psalm 5: 12, 28: 7, 33: 20, 47: 9, 84: 11, 91: 4, 115: 9 and 11, 119: 114, Proverbs 30: 5, and Ephesians 6: 16.

According to Smith's Bible Dictionary, the shield represents the protection of God, and in Ephesians 6: 16 it represents our faith.

Have you ever been in a place where you needed the Lord to raise your head? Where you needed the Lord to be your shield?
I have, many times. As I walk through the season of midlife- the empty nest, physical challenges, seeing the hurting world around me - well, I for one, need the Lord to be my shield. That is why I love David's Psalms. That is why I loved that one little verse crying out to me yesterday.

If you look at the world today, there are many who would also say to us, just like David's enemies said to him, "There is no help for you in God!" They would mock at us, laugh at us, while we cling to our God. Let me ask you a question, to whom else will you turn? Who else will be a shield for you? David wrote these words after he had failed. Did God turn him away? No He did not!

Do not look at yourself and your ability to keep your promises to God! Do not be surprised at the depths of your sinfulness! Jesus knew all your sins before you even committed them. Just look at Christ and keep looking at Him. He is your help and your shield.

Lamentations 3: 21- 24

"This I recall to mind, Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
'THE LORD IS MY PORTION,' says my soul,
Therefore I hope in Him!"

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Agape Triumphs when Eros Fades

Because it is Valentine's Day, here are a couple random thoughts on the difference between God's love and the love we celebrate today- eros love- romantic love. God's love is of no comparison with eros love. God's love is called agape love and remains far superior to eros love.

It is the kind of love that is unconditional, the kind that would hold a Saviour to the confines of a bloody tree for a bunch of people who could have cared less, that were busy spitting on Him, cursing Him. Could we not use that kind of love today in our relationships with our families, the very ones we care about most? In fact, isn't it really what this whole world is crying for?

But back to eros for now. Eros says, "You're attractive. You don't have wrinkles or grey hair. You are not heavy or slobby or ..."{whatever you want to fill in there.} I once read on a Christian board a woman complaining about her husband because he had become unkempt with bad teeth. All the other women were advising her to dump him! The person receiving the love usually has to uphold something in order to be loved, to stay in the good graces of the lover. They need to wear fancy clothes or drive the right car or have the right degree or hold the right job or.... you get the idea. They have to merit the love in some way, shape or form. They have to earn it somehow.

What happens when you promise each other to love each other for the rest of your life but then your spouse gets grey hair or slobby or heavy or....? Does that give you free reign to go out and get a new one then? Eros is conditional in this way. It is not a "till death do us part" kind of love. It is only a "till my feelings do change" kind of love. That is why you see the break up of so many marriages today. Eros didn't hold them together. The marriage only lasted as long as the passion did. Once the passion left, so did the commitment.

But God and His love are so different from ours. Thank Him for that! Jesus could have given up on us, but He did not. Agape, not nails,is what held Him to the cross that day. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, did you know that God does not see you in your sins? The last time He saw them was when He judged them in His Son upon the cross. So He sees you as being perfectly righteous. (II Corinthians 5:17) Agape is what is needed if we want our marriages not to be added to the casualty list. But we cannot produce it. It must be Divinely produced within us.

If we have not been walking in agape, we need to confess it before God. He will not be surprised, nor will He be angry with us. He took out His anger on His Son.(Hosea 14: 4)
We ask Him to teach us His way of agape, He will not despise us if we ask Him in genuine humility. We need to come, and keep on coming, to Him. He never tires of us coming, or asking. (Matt. 11: 28-30, James 1: 5)

"Show me your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day." Psalm 25: 4-5

But we must realize we bring nothing before Him, our hands are empty. It is not, we do a little and He'll do a little. No, He must do it all. God shares His glory with no one. (Isaiah 45: 22-23)

"And this is the commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also." I John 4: 21

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sharing His Joy

I assume that some people that may stumble across this blog may also love to read books. Well, one of my rather annoying habits is that I am attracted like a magnet to any type of book sale that I happen upon. It is the thrill of knowing that you might find a treasure there.

You might also be able to tell from reading my blog that I write about Christian ideas. So older Christian books are the ones I usually find. I found one at the big library sale across the river last summer. It is a devotional by Watchman Nee entitled A Table in the Wilderness. It was published in 1966. At that time, Brother Nee had been detained for fourteen years in Communist prison in China. Another believer had collected some of his writings and gathered them into this devotional. From this book, I have been gaining needed encouragement right when I need it most.

I was doing some rearranging in my house the other day and found it. You see, I had put it in this storage cubby and had forgotten about it. Even though the New Year was well under way, I decided to pick up with where it was now.

For February 1st's reading, he offered such a profound thought to go along with the Scripture from I Thessalonians 5: 16- 18 which says:

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

To be honest, I haven't been doing too well. Yet I know this is what the Scripture commands. But Brother Nee pointed out something that I had never considered and that was the fact that, despite my shifting emotions and moods, Jesus Christ never lost His joy. He said I could only lose mine when Christ lost His. And so, he continues to exhort, when I have no joy, I just tap into His endless supply whenever I need to.

When you come to think of it, Jesus even had joy when He went to the cross, for Hebrews 12: 2 tells us to keep:

...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God...

Even in that most desolate place our Lord had joy. He could rejoice, for He knew that the outcome would mean our salvation. Brother Nee had joy, even though he was incarcerated for his faith for twenty long years in Communist prison and died there.

It seems that the spiritual battle we are facing is intensifying. Do not be discouraged. Do not cave in. The tempter is doing all he can to distract us. We must remain strong in the Lord and in His power.

I love what Moses told the Israelites when the Egyptians came racing after them with their chariots.

Exd 14:14 The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."