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Showing posts with label Deuteronomy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Deuteronomy. Show all posts

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Christian Paradoxes - A Time for Wonder – Taking Control and Surrendering - Purity 635


Christian Paradoxes - A Time for Wonder – Taking Control and Surrendering  - Purity 635

Purity 635 01/22/2022  Purity 635 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a blazing sunset nestled between a cover of clouds and a tree line fading into darkness comes to us from the love of my life as she was returning home from work on January 15th and had presence of mind to capture this blazing example of God’s creative beauty.  Shortly after she became a student of my discipleship classes, TammyLyn started to get up earlier than usual to pray and to take walks at sunrise.  Her eyes were opened to the presence of God in her life in a way they hadn’t been before and just like this sunset her spirit’s soared above the darkness of her past and suddenly she was experiencing a life of wonder and she began sharing photos like this one and encouraging posts on Facebook.   

Well it’s Saturday and for most of us, not me, it is a day of recreation and rest.  The temperatures in upstate New York are going to be cold but there is supposed to be some sun.  Sometimes life can be a paradox – something that is seeming contradiction but can somehow be true. So today you could be freezing your hindquarters off out in the elements and be roasted by greenhouse like conditions in your heated car. 

While some of us may be perfectly content nestled in our homes and will love the cold as an excuse to not go anywhere, others may be suffering from cabin fever and a seasonal depression.  I know some people who are in the latter category, and they are not quite their regular selves.  

To those friends, I encourage you to go out and take a drive, do some winter sports, or do some other indoor activity.  You can enjoy the sights of a sunny January day and never leave the warm confines of your car, or I suggest going to a mall, a museum, or some other venue outside your home where you can engage your body, mind, and spirit to proactively get out of the cabin fever funk.  There is bowling, roller skating, gyms, and mall walking as options to move the body.  There are movie theaters, libraries, and museums to engage the mind.  

And with whatever you pick, I suggest you bring God along for the day and just thank Him for your ability to change your circumstances with intentional thoughts and actions.  God cares for you and wants you to know the abundant life that comes from living in His presence.

I am a huge fan of the singer, Malik Harris, and in one of his songs he sings about being proactive to rediscover the wonder of life. His song, “Time for Wonder” says: 

And I know
Yes I know
I gotta get up
When feeling low
But I just hope
That there's somebody to wake me up
'Cause I been calling

  (Chorus) I'm tired of hoping things get better

I'm tired of hoping things will change
It's time for wonder
It's time for wonder, yeah

That chorus repeats and then it says: 

“It's time for me to take control
It's time for me to break the walls
It's time for me to take it on
And make you watch out for me

(https://genius.com/Malik-harris-time-for-wonder-lyrics) 

I have a Christian worldview and I know that God is in control, but we have a choice to decide to live with Him or not. We can choose to forsake the world system and live continuously in the fruit of the Spirit when we decide to live with and for God.  

As the song says, if we’ve been calling and hoping  that there’s “somebody to wake me up” we have to decide to “take control… and break down the walls” because it is time to “take it on and make” God watch out for us, by surrendering to His wisdom and ways to discover the abundant life that He calls us to. It’s “time for wonder”! 

The question is:  will you take control? Will you break down the walls by surrendering and coming under the protection and authority of the only One who can make things better, of the only One who can make things change? 

To my friends who are feeling “Blah!”, or who are hoping things get better, or that things will change, I encourage you to seek the Lord and follow Him.

When you walk and talk with God as a continually practice, you can discover the wonder of life that surrounds us even on days where the blazing sun is challenged by icy temperatures. Receiving power when you surrender and taking control by coming under the authority of a Higher Power is just another paradox of our Christian faith, one of those things that seem like a contradiction but can be true. The word of God encourages these things and even though these ideas can challenge you, God’s word can be trusted to be true.       

 

Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.

This morning’s meditation verse is:

Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT2)
6  So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  

Today’s verse encourages us to be strong and courageous and assures us that the Lord will prepare things for us and protect us.   

This verse speaks to the nation of Israel and encourages them to go into Canaan to take possession of the promised land, a daunting task but God’s encouragement was backed up by their previous victories and His miraculous provisions. God was to be trusted and He encouraged the nation of Israel to trust Him again.   

So that’s the context, and some scholars would say that this verse isn’t necessarily to be used to encourage us as Christians today but while I could see their point I would disagree and say the principles behind today’s verse endure for all generations of those who follow the Lord.  

While we can’t use this verse and expect that everything we try will be blessed by success, we can find hope and encouragement in the facts that God does go before us (He is over and above all time and space after all) and that He will never abandon us or fail us because through Christ we have a new and eternal life that keeps us in His presence forever.      

I think today’s verse is a fitting compliment for my encouragement to “take control” by surrendering to the Lord’s way of living, to choose to live a lifestyle of Christian discipleship.   The pathway of Christian discipleship is counter intuitive to the world’s ways and when we pursue it we will face opposition so we will need to be strong in courageous and trust that the Lord will go before us and never abandon us or fail us when we seek His will and purpose for our lives.   

So be strong and courageous and represent God’s kingdom by answering the call to a life of Christian discipleship.  When you surrender to the Lord and walk by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit you will not only experience the fruit of the Spirit you will also be able to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the promises of God in the Bible like today’s verse really are true for people today, like me and you.  


As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

Today we continue to share from Dr. Neil Anderson’s . “Restored: Experience Life with Jesus”. Today, we continue sharing from Chapter 5.   

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Dr. Neil Anderson’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

THE MEANING OF SUBMISSION

Because of abusive authority and legalistic teaching, the term submission has a negative connotation for many people. To them, a submissive person is a doormat who never questions those in authority. Some accept the doormat role and identity, while others deeply resent all authority figures, including God. But God is not like the abusive authority figures they have known. He has our best interests at heart. Submitting to His will and His way is the only means by which we can have any sense of social order. Little would be accomplished in our marriages, families, churches, businesses, and governments without some authoritative structure. When none exists, there can only be anarchy. The authority of God provides for the peaceful coexistence of His people, who are called to live and work together.

The Apostle Paul instructs wives to be submissive to their husbands, and then he says that we are all (both men and women) to “be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”107 This means that all Christians are to be willing to cooperate in their relationships under God given authority structures. Everybody is under the authority of somebody or something, and we are all subject to the needs of one another, because we are all called to love one another.

SUBMISSION, REBELLION, AND THE SEARCH FOR SIGNIFICANCE

What do Paul and Peter mean when they teach that wives are to be submissive to their husbands?108 Why do some women rebel against the idea of submission? Why do some men abuse the authority God has given them in the home? Why do Peter and Paul remind men of their responsibility to lovingly meet the needs of their wives?109 These are critical questions that we all encounter when treading into the minefield of role relationships in marriage. Much of the confusion and virtually all of the emotional energy that fuels the debate comes from buying into a wrong view of the source of our identities and significance. People tend to get their identities from the things they do and their significance from their positions and titles. They wrongly conclude appearance, performance, and status equals significance.

Our identities are not determined by what we do; they are determined by who we are in Christ. It is not what we do that determines who we are; it is who we are that determines what we do. Before coming to Christ, we did get our identities from our natural heritage, professional work, and social status. But now that we are in Christ, “There is neither Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian and Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all,”110 and “neither male nor female.”111 These passages do not eradicate social roles or eliminate authoritative structure. It clearly teaches that our essential identities are found in Christ, and we are to live out our roles in life as children of God.

Our significance is not determined by our worldly positions and possessions, but by our position in Christ and the riches we possess in Him. When the mother of the sons of Zebedee was trying to get her sons seated next to Christ, our Lord used the occasion to instruct us concerning positions of ministry. “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”112 Every leader is subject to the needs of those who serve under him. Headship in the home is not a right to be demanded; it is an awesome responsibility, and the same holds for any role of social responsibility.

 ---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

Saturday, December 11, 2021

From Guatemala to Oxford Michigan– A Small World and a Loving Father - Purity 599

From Guatemala to Oxford Michigan– A Small World and a Loving Father -  Purity 599

Purity 599 12/11/2021  Purity 599 Podcast

Good morning,

Today’s photo of a full moon over an orphanage in Zacapa Guatemala, comes to us yours truly as I have once again felt led to grab a photo from the archives to coincide with this morning’s message.  This photo comes from a vacation mission trip that I went on in 2019. Our mission trip in Guatemala was to share the hope of Jesus Christ, to perform some maintenance work around the orphanage in Zacapa, to level and lay the foundation for a church in the mountains near Jocotan, and to install ovens that would be used in food preparation and providing heat in some of the mountain villager’s homes.  It was a challenging but rewarding trip. 

While I was there I happened to make the acquaintance of a fellow American, named Keegan Everett, who was serving at the orphanage for several months.  Unlike myself who went to Guatemala as part of a team of 30 or so,  Keegan had answered the Lord’s call to the mission field of Guatemala solo.  I don’t know about you but when I was in my early twenties I was far from the Lord, and I it find it simply amazing that a young man like Keegan from the States would be completely surrendered to the Lord’s service.  Keegan’s faith was for real.  His example is an encouragement for all of us.  

Keegan’s mission to encourage people to follow the Lord didn’t stop when he eventually returned to the States to settle in Venice Florida.  We’re friends on FB and I see that he, like myself, uses social media to point to God and to the hope and the new life that is found in Jesus Christ.  

This morning I happened to see the following post about being “real” emotionally as Christians from Keegan and I advised him that I simply had to share it on my blog and podcast because I felt “the Lord had need of it” and that people could benefit from its message. Keegan Everett writes:  

“Christians are not called to be pessimists, for then they would not be able to rejoice with those who rejoice or be able to enjoy the great glories of God.

Neither are Christians called to be optimists, for then they would have to lie to themselves about their own real griefs and they would not be able to weep with those who weep. Rather Christians are meant to be realists in the most true sense.

This is because our first reality, and in fact the truest reality, is the Word Who says I Am Who I Am.

Why do all things exist? Because of the eternal self-existent, self-sufficient One. “I Am”

He is never without hope, joy, peace, and self-sufficiency, nor is He ever a liar to His emotions, which reflect and perfectly align with Who He is and His perfect Will.

So if we dwell in the reality of Him, then we can really, truly be sad about the things which grieve His heart, and we can likewise really rejoice in all that is good and pure and holy.

We don’t have to rain on people’s parades who are grieving, but in love can sit in the sadness they are dealing with, weeping beside them. Yet in the same day we can be fully rejoicing because of the great hope in which we dwell. Not a shakable or indefinite one, but a sure and unchangeable all powerful hope that cannot be defeated.

Therefore we Christians can be the most real with our emotions, truly weeping and rejoicing, we don’t have to be sorry about it or change our emotions as to hide from others.

We get to be the most real because we dwell in reality: the reality that is the great “I AM.”

He who dwells in unapproachable light and yet is perfectly revealed in the personal savior, Jesus Christ. All things were made through this baby born on Christmas Day, and all things were made for Him.

If the God of heaven is so untouchable, and yet so personal and touchable at the same time—what a paradox—then we really can be real with ourselves and others, because the untouchable God knows us, and likewise weeps and rejoices personally with us, touching and healing our hearts. And we know, He is working out all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

He wastes nothing in all creation, no evil shall be left unturned or able to taint or defeat what He brings about. For our joy and His glory. All things bow to YHWH. He shall even, in finality, wipe away our tears.

And yet He already does now through His comforting Holy Spirit, and He collects each one of those tears in a bottle as a sign, and a proclamation, of how much He cares and loves His people.

A day is coming when He will show us how He has kept watch over all our pains and sufferings, how He has dwelled beside us, went through it with us, and wasted none of it.” 

- Keegan Everett

Keegan’s words of encouragement speak the truth of the Lord’s presence and care of us and how we can represent Him. 

As I thought about meeting Keegan in Guatemala in 2019, I tried to remember where it was in the States that Keegan had come from.  I knew he lived in Florida now but that wasn’t where he was coming from when I met him in 2019.  So this morning I looked at his profile and remembered that Keegan hailed from the Midwest, Michigan. Oxford Michigan.    

As someone who tries to limit the influence of the world by not watching the news, I’m not always up on things. However, significant events will come across my radar.

If Oxford Michigan sounds familiar, it is because on November 30th of this year there was a mass shooting that occurred at Oxford High School. Four students were killed and seven people were injured, including a teacher.

In the wake of the shooting,  \former Oxford Michigan resident, Keegan Everett posted the following:

“Pray for my hometown’s high school and the trauma that families are going through. There was a shooting today with about 8 injured and 4 killed.

Pray that God would use this situation to direct folks’ eyes to Him and His goodness, that they might have peace in Him even in the midst of the horrible situation.”

In our mad, mad world where our hurt and isolation can explode into random acts of violence, we need to find the peace that the Lord wants us to have that is provided through His Son, Jesus Christ.  

Keegan and I know that the Lord’s presence is a present, everyday reality that give us hope, peace and purpose. 

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write today and figured that “borrowing” Keegan’s post was just going to be a nice way of “mailing it in” on a Saturday morning.  

But the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth and directs us to keep looking and I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit directed me to see Keegan’s message this morning and to see that a larger picture, that included a mass shooting, was in play here.  

It’s the Christmas season, where we speak of peace on earth and good will to men, and  I believe that the Lord brought this latest shooting to my attention again to let people know that He is not some distant God who doesn’t care about what happens in this world. 

When horrible things like this happen, a search for answers, and where to place blame or responsibility, begins.  Ultimately, regardless of influences and other surrounding circumstances, the shooter is the one to blame and the one who is responsible.  We will all be judged for the things we do, and only if we are in a covenant relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ will we be forgiven.

But the search for answers, in all things, must lead us back to God. The evil that men do is in direct opposition to the Lord’s will for our lives.  He sent the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, so that we would have peace with God and with each other.   No measures that man can institute will give us the security and peace that God provides in Jesus Christ.

So as we draw closer to Christmas, share the love of God that brings peace, hope, and a new life. We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it, and we can use today to let people know that above all the chaos of this world there is a God who is good, who offers us peace, and who will eventually repay the evil that was done and will make all things right.  

Today’s Bible verse is drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verses are:

 Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NKJV)

18  "Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
19  You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
20  And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates,
21  that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.

 

Today’s verses remind us of the primacy that the Word of the Lord is to play in our lives and of the benefits that come from following His counsel.  

Today’s verses tell us that we are not only supposed to read the word of God, they indicate that we are to really absorb it into our hearts and our souls. That goes beyond just knowing what the word says intellectually.  That points to us knowing it intellectually, emotionally, and experientially.  This level of engagement with the word of God indicates that we know that the word of God is true, and that because it is the truth sent from God above, it simply must be believed and applied to our lives.  If we fail to agree with and to follow the Word of God, we are foolishly in rebellion to the good counsel that the Lord wants us to know. 

Lukewarm or Nominal “Christians” will sometimes warn people to “not get too carried away” with the study of the word of God, but scripture, that comes from God, doesn’t teach that.  

These passages state that we are to absorb the word, talk about the word day and night, teach the word to our children, and to decorate our homes with sayings from the word.  

So while we should be balanced and wise in our approach to living out our faith, we really can not be “too extreme” in our study of the word of God.  

The word of God is said to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. It teaches us all about Jesus and is good for us. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT2)
16  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
17  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

The word of God prepares us to do His will on earth and, as today’s verses indicate, when we give the primacy to the word of God that it deserves, our days and the days of our children will be multiplied. 

God wants us to know, and live according to, His word and when we do that these verses indicate that we will prosper and that we will fulfill the purpose that the Lord has for us. 

So keep walking and talking with God.  When we do that, His word comes into our hearts and flows out our lives to share the love of the Lord everywhere we go.

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

 

Today we continue sharing from A.W. Tozer’s Advent Devotional – From Heaven,  for Day 15, as this current resource series will lead us to Christmas Eve.

 

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Tozer’s books for your own private study and to support his work.

DAY 15

THE GLORY OF CHRIST

We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father …

JOHN 1:14

I hear sermons on the radio sometimes that make the physical body everything, and works of miracle everything, and I wish that I could go along with such interpretations and say that the glory of Jesus Christ lay in His ability to cast out devils, heal the sick, raise the dead, and still the waves. Now undoubtedly that was wonderful, and He did get some praise to Himself from these necessary miracles. But I believe that there was a greater glory than merely works of wonder, which our Lord manifested there.

For always remember this friends, that who a man is is always more important to God than what he does. Remember that if a man were able to stand up and create pine trees and lakes and hills, but were not a good man, he would still be of no value to God. And let us remember that if a man were a good man, through and through a good man, and had no power at all to do any miracle, he would still be one of the sweetest treasures of God, and God would write his name on His own hands. For it is goodness that God is looking for; it is being and character and personality that God is looking for, not the ability to do amazing things.

So it was who Jesus was that was glorious, not only what He did. In fact, what He did was secondary; who He was was primary. So Jesus Christ’s glory lay in the fact that He was perfect love in a loveless world, that He was purity in an impure world, that He was meekness in a harsh and quarrelsome world, that He evinced humility in a world where every man was seeking his own place, that He showed boundless, fathomless mercy in a hard and cruel world, that He evinced selfless goodness in a world full of selfishness. It was the deathless devotion of Jesus—and the patient suffering and the unquenchable life and the grace and the truth—that they beheld.

They beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. And so it was this that made Jesus wonderful. As little as the poor, blind world knows about it today in all its wild, money-inspired and profit-inspired celebrations, it is not celebrating turning water into wine. It is not celebrating healing the sick or raising the dead. It is not celebrating the cursing of fig trees or the sticking on of cut-off ears. The poor, blind world with what little bit of religious instinct it has left in it yet, is this season celebrating who He was.

Tozer, A. W. (2016). From heaven: a 28-day advent devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

 

Join our “Victory over the Darkness” or “The Bondage Breaker” series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

 

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship

 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Less Light? - Dancing in the Dark - Purity 570

 

Less Light? -  Dancing in the Dark -  Purity 570

Purity 570 11/06/2021   Purity 570 Podcast

Good morning

Today’s photo of the last light of sunset over the Oswego River in downtown Oswego NY comes to us from Celestial Blue Photography who captured this shot on Friday night before we were given back the hour that we had “lost” when we sprung forward into daylight savings time way back on March 14th. 

My question is: can’t we just leave well enough alone?

I don’t particularly care for bright mornings and was doing just fine with the sun at the latter half of our days. Now when we get out of work this evening the daylight will be dwindling if not completely gone!   

This transition of daylight savings time could cause us to think that there is less light and the idea of things getting darker could cause us to be drawn into despair.  Also, seasonal affective disorder is a thing!

So take lots of vitamin D and invest in a sun lamp if you know you struggle with depressive tendencies that come with the “darkening days”, but I would also suggest that you do two things that will give you a foundation upon which you can stand every day to have peace and joy even if the sunsets at 4:41 pm, as it is scheduled to do so today.    

1.    Put your faith in Christ and recommit yourself to following Him every day.  

Our relationship and peace with God come through faith in Jesus Christ. If we have put our faith in Christ and remind ourselves to follow His lead and example for life we can not only be assured of our eternal security beyond this life, or when He returns to establish a new heaven and a new earth, but we can be assured that our conduct and direction for life is what it should be. 

When we consider the big picture, the little things don’t bother us so much. When we consider the things of God, the things of man are put in their proper perspective. Jesus has given us eternal life and His ways are righteous and good. So rest in that truth and walk in His ways.

 

2.    Thank the Lord for all the blessings of your life every day. Make gratitude a daily and continual practice. 

It’s November so the focus in a couple of weeks will be on the American holiday of Thanksgiving, but we should not only be thankful on a single feast day each year. God has not only provided us with everything we have which includes:

·       Our minds, with its intellect, creativity, insights, perspective, and sense of humors

·       Our bodies – with its health and the abilities to move, perform work, exercise, sense pleasure and feel pain

·       Our relationships – the love of family, friends, and pets, those who help, teach, inspire, or challenge us

·       Our environment – our nations, weather, natural beauty, and resources to live

But He has given us the ability to think about and meditate about them to give us peace.

So if we think about all the different facets of our lives and about all the things we do have rather than the things we may not have, we can be anchored in contentment and have joy over the abundant lives we already are living.   

So even though it may seem like there is less light in the world because of this transition with the clocks, let me assure you that there is a light that shines in the darkness that can never be extinguished.   The light of the hope we have in Christ shines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. 

Jesus gives us peace with God and victory over sin and death.  We need not fear where all this going for we are assured that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called for His purposes. 

So remind yourself of the love God has for you and the love you have for Him and that your life is in the palm of His hand and that He has a purpose for you, even in what you may consider to be a simple life. 

So rejoice in the hope you have in Christ that is available to stand in every day. Knowing that you are secure because of your faith in Christ and realizing all the blessings you have each day, can fill you with joy even in the worst circumstances and cause you to dance even in the dark.

 

Today’s Bible verses are drawn from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.  

This morning’s meditation verses are:

Deuteronomy 11:16-17 (NLT2)
16  “But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the LORD and serve and worship other gods.
17  If you do, the LORD’s anger will burn against you. He will shut up the sky and hold back the rain, and the ground will fail to produce its harvests. Then you will quickly die in that good land the LORD is giving you.

Today’s verses encourage God’s people not to turn away from the Lord and promises dire consequences for those who do.  

We have to be careful  when we go to the Old Testament for inspiring verses because verses like today’s verses in Deuteronomy were spoken to a certain people at a certain time and while we can draw general principles of faith from all of Scripture we have to realize when some of it doesn’t necessarily apply directly to our situation. 

The history of God’s chosen people in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel, details God’s interactions with them in which He selects them, blesses them, and seeks to instruct them in how they should live through His revelations to the prophets who were used to compose the word of God.   

God warns his people more than once to obey His commands and not to go and “worship other gods”. But unfortunately, the nation of Israel would forget how the Lord blessed them and would go astray, and even though there were always some that remained faithful to the Lord at all times, the nation as a whole was judged and afflicted with negative circumstances time and time again and that eventually lead to the destruction of their country and their exile to the Babylonian kingdom.  So the negative consequences in today’s verse were very real promises that were fulfilled a few times in the history of Israel.

But because God is faithful, He restored the nation of Israel and used their people to bring forth the Messiah, Jesus Christ, through whom all people can be saved and made righteous.   

So while Christians may think that today’s verses don’t apply to them because the context refers to the nation of Israel, the general principle of following the Lord’s instruction of not turning to other gods and suffering negative effects for doing so should still be heeded. 

The Bible teaches us that God is sovereign and that we are to worship no one and nothing else.  It also documents how people who would turn from worshipping the one true God would suffer in all kinds of ways. 

So we too as Christians should be true to the Lord and worship and follow Him only.  Our lives before Christ were hopeless and full of the futility of trying to find meaning and lasting peace and happiness without God.  The word of God and our own experience before Christ should teach us that it is not wise to worship other gods or to decide not to  follow the Way, The Truth, and the Life that we found in Christ.   

So heed the warning and thank God that He was gracious to show you the Truth and make you a part of His royal family.  Live a life of faith in Jesus Christ and be like an Old Testament prophet by warning those you encounter in the world, with love and concern, that there are very real and dire consequences for those who disparage God’s offer of the grace and mercy that He makes available in Jesus Christ.   

 

As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk. 

Today we begin sharing from June Hunt’s “Evil and Suffering… Why? Is God Fair?

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase June Hunt’s books for your own private study and to support her work.

Evil and Suffering... Why?: Is God Fair?

By June Hunt

Introduction

If honest, we have all said in our hearts, Why? It's just not fair! God, why would You allow...? The why's in life are bewildering on this side of heaven and require a true knowledge of and deep faith in the character and the heart of God.

At times life is simply not fair! In fact, most people have muttered, "Why? Why would God allow something so cruel... so evil?" Where was He? Doesn't He care? Left unanswered or incorrectly answered, these questions often become the basis for denying the existence of God or rejecting the goodness of God—or both. We can give thanks that God has given us insight into truth through His Word and His dealings with humanity. This truth not only validates the existence of God, but confirms the goodness of God. Nowhere in Scripture is the fairness of God more poignantly addressed than in the book of Job. In spite of his severe losses, Job posed a profound question—a question for all of us to consider in times of tragedy.

"Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" (Job 2:10)

I. Definitions

In the space of about 5 minutes, Job and his wife had lost all of their immediate family—every one of their sons and daughters—and all of their wealth and their entire livelihood. They went from plenty to poverty, from wealth to want, from happy to heartbroken. How would you respond to the stark realization that you had just lost everything of value to you in this world? Would you view God as fair? Would you consider Him good? Like Job's wife, you might be tempted to say,

"Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9)

A. What Is "Evil"?

A mass murderer, a cruel torturer, a child abuser—all represent what we know and hate about evil. Some people say, "Well, I may not know how to define evil, but I know it when I see it!" Is this true? Consider the following definitions:

  • Evil is the corruption of good...
    • —The absence of good, when good should be present
          "Turn from evil and do good." (Psalm 37:27)
    • —The departure from the way life ought to be
          "God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

Illustration: When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate fruit from the tree that God said was forbidden to them, they experienced an irrevocable separation from the way of life they had previously known. (Read Genesis chapter 3.)

  • Evil is a moral choice of bad over good, arising from badness of character. In Greek, the word kakia, which suggests "badness in character," means "wicked, depraved" and "morally reprehensible" and therefore represents...
    • —A violation of the will of God
          "Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you." (James 1:21)
    • —A perversion of the Word of God
          "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." (Isaiah 5:20)

Illustration: "The evil one," Satan, perverted the Word of God when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.

"The devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 'If you are the Son of God,' he said, 'throw yourself down. For it is written: "He will command his angels concerning you, And they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Jesus answered him, 'It is also written: "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."'" (Matthew 4:5-7)

  • Evil is that which causes evil. The Greek word poneros denotes "evil that causes evil," an evil that causes pain and suffering, as seen when...
    • —An evil person causes evil
          "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him." (Matthew 12:35)
    • —An evil spirit causes evil that leads to an evil generation
          "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation." (Matthew 12:43-45)

Illustration: An evil King Manasseh caused evil to spread throughout the whole of Judah.

"Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols." (2 Kings 21:11)

 

Question: "If God made all things, doesn't that mean He created evil?"

Answer: No. Realize these significant truths:

  • Evil is not a thing, but rather is—a condition resulting from the improper use of or perversion of a good thing.
  • Evil exists in something else, something it corrupts—corrupted goodness.
    —A good knife can be used by an evil man to commit murder.
  • Evil is the absence of good. It is an intruder brought in by human beings. Evil was not created by God. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, evil was introduced to God's world.
    —Evil is not the opposite of good but the absence of good.
  • Everything God created was good, but the intentional wrong choices of Adam and Eve resulted in an aberration of the good things God had created...

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:31)

 

Question: "Does God cause evil?"

Answer: No. God cannot ever cause evil. God cannot do anything that is contradictory to His character. The Bible clearly teaches that God is good. Since evil is the corruption of good, it is impossible for God to do anything evil...

"You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell.... Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God." (Psalm 5:4; 3 John 11)

 

Question: "Why should I believe in a God who allows evil?"

Answer: The often unspoken question behind this question is Does God really care that I am hurting?

The answer to both questions can be clearly seen in God's actions.

  • God cares about your hurts to the extent that He willingly suffered in order both to identify with you and to save you.
    —The beauty of Christ's crucifixion is that God—on your behalf—voluntarily suffered at the hands of evil people.
  • Although evil and pain are the result of human choices and not the result of God's choices, God does not subject His creation to something He is unwilling to endure Himself.
    —When you undergo loss, rejection, illness, or pain, remember that God knows how you feel from His own personal experience... and He hurts with you.

Realize, when God became a man, He entered fully into fallen humanity and thus fully experienced the suffering of humanity, except that He was without sin.

"In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering." (Hebrews 2:10)


Biblical Counseling Keys - Biblical Counseling Keys – Biblical Counseling Keys: Evil and Suffering... Why?: Why God? Why?.


---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

 

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