by pastor david
“The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood, and the Lord sits as King forever.”
2017 has been a year filled with natural disasters around the world. There have been hurricanes, floods, volcano eruptions, tornadoes, famines, and more.
Students of the Bible are immediately reminded of Christ’s prophecy concerning the end times, where such devastation is predicted in great detail. “Then He said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven.” (Luke 21:10-11)
As horrified as we are by the results of such events, they should never stun us. These are simply signs and warnings that the return of Christ is very near. However, these tragedies should also remind us of something else. We should be reminded that there is a God who is still in control of this universe and everything in it.
Please take a moment to read the eleven verses of Psalm 29, part of which is quoted above. As you do, you will discover that the Psalmist declares God is sovereign over the angels (29:1-2), over the waters of the earth and the thunder (29:3-4), over the wind (29:5), the ground (29:6-8), the fire and lightning (29:7), the animals (29:9a), and the forest (29:9b). Then, in worshipful response to such sovereignty, “In His temple everyone says, ‘Glory!’” (29:9c).To add an exclamation point to this pronouncement and to help us see the scale of God’s control over His creation, the Psalmist adds, “The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood” (29:10).
There has never been devastation on the earth as horrific and deadly as the great Flood, recorded in the Book of Genesis, and the Psalmist David said that it was the result of God’s omnipotent power.As we observe things like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and other natural disasters, we often ask the question, “Why?” However, the better question would be, “What?” What is God trying to teach us? Is there a lesson in all of these events for us to learn?
On one occasion, a group of people approached Jesus and asked Him about two specific tragedies:
Christ’s response was remarkable; He said, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:2-5)
When inexplicable events occur, whether personal or global, whether close or far away, our first response should be to realize that God is calling us to repentance. The question in such cases is not, “Why did this happen to them?” but, “Why have such things NOT happened to me? After all, I am no better than they!”
As sinners by nature and by choice, we are all deserving of the wrath of God and if we spend one more moment on planet earth without His wrath being poured out on us, it is by the grace of our sovereign Lord. For that, we should be thankful. I am not claiming to have all the answers to the issues of personal and global catastrophes. Long ago, I accepted the fact that there are many things about God that neither I nor anyone else will ever understand. Nevertheless, the Bible is very clear in declaring that God is sovereign in all the affairs of men and that all He does or allows is for His glory.
All that Jesus does in the life of the believer is to drive him to dependence upon Him and to mold him into the image of Christ, which, in turn, brings Him the maximum glory and praise.
(Romans 8:28-29) “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Jesus said that the proper response when tragedy strikes others or us is to repent. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
A crisis is a call from God to draw closer to Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)
Today, God is calling us to be increasingly Christ-like! He wants to pour out a Holy Spirit revival on you, your family, your church, and your country.
(2 Chronicles 7:14) “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."
It is my prayer that this is what you want as well! Let us pray together to that end.
“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Like never before, the Church of Jesus Christ around the world has been infiltrated with false teachers and false doctrine. We expect this kind of aberrant teaching from the cults outside of the Church but, unfortunately, the greater problem, at least in our Western civilization, is false doctrine within the borders of the Evangelical Church.
We have somehow become more interested in being Politically Correct than we are in being Biblically Correct. We are so afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, or for that matter, anyone’s feelings that, even though they may be dead wrong about a particular truth, we are unwilling to challenge them or correct them.
I am in full support of maintaining peace within the Church, but at what price? Are we willing to take a flimsy stance on Biblical doctrine just to avoid a conflict or to maintain our current Sunday morning attendance?
The clarity of the Biblical message has, in our day, become muffled in many places and muted in many more. The doctrine that is heard in many pulpits and classrooms across America is incomprehensible or implausible or, incomplete at best.
Whether we are willing to admit it or not, imposters have penetrated our lines of defense. They have secretly and systematically contaminated the main supply of spiritual sustenance – that is the pulpits and classrooms that were intended to be a major source of Biblical nourishment. Many so called preachers and teachers have poisoned or at least polluted the simple yet powerful message of the Gospel. The disastrous result is masses of Christians who are Biblically illiterate.
Many do not know the Epistles from the Apostles. One man thought the Epistles were the wives of the Apostles. Another said his favorite book of the Bible was the Book of Parables.
In answer to the question, “What do the members of the church have a right to expect of their ministers?” the Scottish preacher George Duncan writes, “First, he is a preacher. He has been ordained to the ministry of the Word. ‘Preach the Word’ was Paul’s order to Timothy. Members of a church have a right to expect their minister to do just that; to come to them from the presence of God with a message, which is the Word of God. He will not come to tell them what he thinks, but what God has to say.”
Duncan goes on to say, “Every time the members come into the church they should be, they must be, expecting that to happen.” (George Duncan: Preach the Word-Marshall Morgan and Scott - 1989)
There are three distressing facts that we must face today.
1. Most churches in America are not comprehensively preaching the Word of God.
The second and more deplorable fact is…
2. They think they are.
The last and most dangerous fact is…
3. Most church members don’t know the difference.
How timely then is the message of The Epistle of Jude, whose main thesis is, “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints”. (Jude 3)
The expression “contend earnestly” occurs only here is Scripture. It means to contend about an issue as a combatant. The adverb “earnestly” is added to convey the intensity of the verb. The reason we must declare war is because, “Certain men have crept in unnoticed…who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ”. (Jude 4). The battle Jude was facing then has escalated today to the point that we have no alternative but to go to war! When the great truths of Christianity are attacked, it is criminal to sit on the sidelines. Therefore, Jude sounds the battle cry for all to hear, “Contend earnestly for the faith”.
How do we, “Contend earnestly for the faith”? We do that by faithful and fully, expositionally and earnestly preaching and teaching the Word of God. That is our commitment to God and to God’s people.
Many years ago in the early days of Judaism there was a breakaway sect formed known as, “The People of the Book”. Their views and beliefs would certainly be different from ours as born-again believers. Nevertheless, it is the title that intrigues me - “People of the Book!”
these days, what we need above all else is a band of redeemed people who will be so familiar with the Word of God and so full of the Word of God that they will be faithful to the Word of God. We must be “People of the Book!” Amen?
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.
For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'".
Moses first uttered this wonderful promise, "He will never leave you nor forsake you", to Joshua, as recorded in (Deut. 31:6). As his 120 year-old mentor, Moses was preparing Joshua for the enormous task that lie ahead - the task of leading the people of Israel into the Promise Land.
God Himself repeated this promise to Joshua after the death of Moses, just prior to leading the Israelites into Canaan. In (Joshua 1:5), God said to this new leader, "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you".
This was such a significant promise that the inspired writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews quoted it in his words of edification and encouragement. (Heb. 13:5) "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Most of us, who read the Bible with any frequency, are somewhat familiar with this promise but I wonder how many of us actually take this promise seriously and honestly apply it to our own personal lives.
If we do, then, why are we so often lonely? I realize that many who are reading this feel like you are alone.
However, you are not truly alone, if you are a child of God. When you acknowledged Christ as your Lord, He immediately took up permanent residence within you. He is there with you every moment of every day. You may be alone from a human perspective, but in reality, Child of God, you are never alone!
Stop reading for a moment and let that truth sink deeply into your soul. You are not alone!
Therefore, you never again need to be lonely. That sense of loneliness that you feel at times is God's way of drawing and driving you to greater dependence upon Him.
Hear His words in (Matthew 11:28): "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He is calling you to His side. Turn to Him in prayer. Open His Word and read what He wants to say to you today. "For the word of God is living and powerful..." (Hebrews 4:12).
Christianity is all about a relationship with the living God through His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. When you have that relationship, you are never alone and never need to feel lonely. Let that loneliness drive you to the right hand of God to commune and communicate with the Lord of universe. He is calling out your name. He wants to hear from you today. He wants to know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Go to Him. Go now! You are not alone!
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.”
Do you expect to go through life without ever being hurt? Of course not! You have lived and loved long enough to know that you will be hurt and, sometimes, by those closest to you. Everyone gets wronged and offended by others. There is no way around it. That much is obvious.
However, I want to challenge you to consider another observation that may not be quite so easy to accept. As radio host Nancy Leigh Demoss says, “The outcome of our lives is not determined by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens to us”.[i]
I am reminded of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
The Apostle is not saying that everything that happens to us is good but that God has the ability to take all our circumstances, the pleasant and the unpleasant, the just and the unjust, and turn them around for our good and for His glory.
I am not suggesting that these wounds do not leave scars, but these injustices, horrendous as they may be, do not have the power to control the outcome of our lives as believers, if we respond Biblically.
Ephesians 4:32 reminds us that, “God in Christ forgave you.”
1. The believer is forgiven.
This is the starting point – we are forgiven. Oh how we should thank God that all our sins have been…
ü Removed from us: (Psalm 103:12) “As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
ü Blotted out: (Isaiah 44:22) “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
ü Cast into the depths of the sea: (Micah 7:19) “He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”
ü Remembered against us no more (Hebrews 10:17) "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."
Hallelujah! We are forgiven! Therefore, says Ephesians 4:32, we are to be “forgiving one another”.
2. The believer is to be forgiving.
There are essentially two ways of responding to life’s hurts and unfair experiences. The first and natural response is to become a debt collector. We set out to make the offender pay for what he has done. But the problem is that being a debt collector does more than keep our offender in debtors’ prison; it put us in prison as well.
However, there is another way. As an alternative to being debt collectors, God calls us to the pure, powerful choice of forgiveness and, when possible, reconciliation. Keep in mind that…
No sin against you is as horrific as your sin against God.
Yes, I said “choice”. Forgiveness is a choice. It is a step of obedience to Christ. Regardless of your feelings, make the choice today to forgive your offender(s). Then, you will discover that, over time, your emotions will catch up with your choices.
Feelings follow choices.
When emotions like hurt, anger, resentment, and thoughts of revenge arise within us, we can remind ourselves that on a specific day we, in obedience to our forgiving Savior, chose to forgive the indignity that conjures up so many unpleasant feelings.
Steve Canfield, with Life Actions Ministries, suggests five steps to follow in order to free oneself from the prison of bitterness and resentment.
1. Make a list of the people who have wronged you.
2. Confess to God, and then the offender, any wrong responses you may have had (e.g. hatred, bitterness, gossip). (Acts 24:16)
3. Thank God for each person who has wounded you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
4. As Christ has forgiven you, fully forgive each offender and offense. (Colossians 3:13)
5. Rebuild relationships and confirm your Christian love to the people on your list. (2 Corinthians 2:8)
The Lord Jesus was very clear and direct when He said, “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” Mark 11:25
One portion of the Lord’s model prayer is very dangerous to pray. Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” What if God’s forgiveness of us was in direct proportion to our forgiveness of others? If we do not forgive those who have “trespassed against us” then we are telling God not to “forgive us”. Can you seriously offer such a prayer to God? John Wesley said that kind of prayer was, “daring God to do His worst”.
Jesus calls us to embrace His love and accept responsibility for extending His gracious forgiveness to others. He wants us to apply the forgiveness we have received from God to our relationships with others. In so doing, we become partners with God in extending forgiveness to lost, sinful, rebellious people.
We show the world the reality of our faith by our shockingly gracious response to those who sin against us. The light of Christ shines ever so brightly when we obey His command to forgive one another.
[i] Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Forgiveness, Moody Publishers © 2006
“I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.”
At www.dictionary.com, we find the official definition of the word, “conscience”. It reads, “The inner sense of what is right or wrong in one's conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.”
The Bible teaches that our conscience, or inner sense of right and wrong, is a part of our original DNA. However, like everything else about us, that aspect of our DNA was polluted by sin in the Garden of Eden. The corrupted DNA has been passed down to each of us, from that day until now. It is a part of our “sinful nature” with which we are born and a part of us that needs to be redeemed.
In (Acts 23:1) we read Paul’s bold declaration, “Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day”.
Every person who has come to God and acknowledged Christ as personal Lord and Savior should strive to maintain a clear conscience toward God and toward his fellow man. A clear conscience involves that inner freedom of spirit toward God and others, that comes by knowing that God’s holiness is not offended by one’s thoughts or actions. It also includes the freedom that comes from knowing that no one can point a finger at you and say, “You have offended me, and you have never asked for my forgiveness”.
Far too often, when our conscience alerts us to our wrongdoing, we begin to rationalize. It is our natural inclination, because of our polluted conscience, to find other people or circumstances, which are to blame for what we have done. The greater our guilt, the more we must blame. The resulting bitterness and guilt are devastating to our mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
It is essential that we recognize and confess wrong actions against God, as well as others we have offended. However, it is more important to discern, confess, and change wrong attitudes, which either caused or resulted from our wrong actions.
In (1 John 1:9), we read, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. The wise writer of the Proverbs tells us that, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy”. (Proverbs 28:13)
The only way to “live in all good conscience” is to keep short accounts with God.
According to Jesus, one of the tasks of the Holy Spirit is to convict us when we have done wrong. (John 16:8) The moment we sense in our spirit that we have done something wrong, we should pray for clarity: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24) God will immediately make perfectly clear to you what you have done wrong and will graciously forgive your sincere confession and repentance. Again, (Proverbs 28:13) is applicable here: “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
The peace of mind that comes from a clear conscience is priceless. Knowing your sins are forgiven and that nothing stands between you and your Savior is inestimable. Let us make it our goal to “always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men”. (Acts 24:16)
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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