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creation

~I See You Lord In Everything~

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“The Lord put it on my heart to talk to you”—“I did not hear back from that employer, God must not want me to have that job”—“That conversation went really well, God must have blessed it.”

Some people build their entire lives around statements such as these. Others think they should read God’s will into everything in their lives. For example, a man of this mindset has a flat tire during his commute to work. Afterward, he decides it was God’s will and tries to find the “hidden purpose” behind the event—when, in actuality, the man simply neglected to check the air pressure in his tires!

Should God be involved in where we plant a flower garden? Does He have an opinion on which auto mechanic we use for repairs? Is He directly involved in how we organize our home libraries? Or which pair of shoes we buy?

By using a number of verses in the Bible, we can begin to understand God’s role in our lives. The book of Colossians states, “He is before all things, and by Him all things consist” (1:17). In Hebrews 1:3, we find that He is “upholding all things by the word of His power.” God holds the universe together! Through the power of His Spirit, He makes certain that the laws of science are in motion—even keeping atoms from coming apart.

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Without God, all physical life would cease. Realize what this means: each breath you take is only possible because the Creator is in control.

He also guides major events on Earth according to the Master Plan for mankind. Notice Daniel 2:21: “And He changes the times and the seasons: He removes kings, and sets up kings: He gives wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.”

God is certainly involved in the affairs of men, and especially His people. Yet thinking He orchestratesevery event in our lives is dangerous—and stems from an incorrect understanding of how God individually works with us.

The Smallest Matters

Jesus asked His disciples, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father [knowing]. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear you not therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matt. 10:29-31).

If God keeps up with every sparrow, consider how much more attention He gives His people: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (II Chron. 16:9).

In addition, “The Eternal looks from heaven, beholding all mankind; from where He sits, He scans all who inhabit the world; He who alone made their minds, He notes all they do” (Psa. 33:15, Moffatt translation).

God is both all-powerful and all-knowing, and guides how events play out on Earth. Yet how much is He directly involved in individual lives?

Each of us is a free moral agent, meaning we are free to make decisions in our lives. God has invested in Christians by giving them an earnest, or down payment, of His Holy Spirit (II Cor. 1:22). He watches all we do to see what kind of “return” He will get on His investment—how much we are growing and overcoming.

This is where the towering law of cause and effect comes into play. As human beings, and especially as God’s people, we are to be responsible and circumspect, and exercise thought when making decisions.

Proverbs describes this principle: “He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusts in the LORD, happy is he” (16:20). A variation of this verse could be rendered this way, “He that handles a matter unwisely shall find bad”—meaning he will be forced to suffer the consequences of his actions. Good choices—causes—will render good effects. Bad choices, bad effects.

Throughout the day, you have hundreds of decisions that are yours to make—each an opportunity to grow in godly maturity, experience and wisdom. Note I Corinthians 6:2: “Do you not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?”

While God is watching what you do, He will not directly interfere with the day-to-day routine of your life unless necessary. If we are sick, He will heal us on His timetable. If our lives are in peril, He will protect us through His angels. If we have a need, He will provide. But throughout all of these, we must do our part. We must maintain our health, not tempt God by putting ourselves in dangerous situations, and put forth maximum effort in all we do.

We should ask God to lead, guide and direct us throughout our lives. In order to gain more wisdom in how “to judge the smallest matters,” we must go to the source of wisdom—God.

What About Resistance?

When making important decisions, such as buying a home, a car, or seeking a job, we should always ask for God’s involvement and guidance.

Again, He does not plot every move in our lives. He allows us to make judgments and decisions on our own. The choices we make can change our circumstances and future. God will not always step in and cause us to make a different choice. He especially does not get directly involved in everyday, mundane decisions we make, such as the exact time we go to bed or what time we get up.

God does expect us, however, to be responsible and do our part. For example, if someone contacts a mortgage company when wanting to purchase a home and finds that they are unqualified for a loan, should this person give up? Should he conclude that God does not want him to buy a house?

The same conditions exist for any similar situation. Should a person give up trying to buy a car simply because the first dealership rejected his application?

Certainly not. He should go to a number of dealerships in search of one who will finance a vehicle.

Cause and effect are at work in such situations. There could be a problem with the person’s credit, something that he would need to correct before any dealership would sell him a car. At that point, it is his responsibility to correct that issue and begin trying again.

If a person is looking for a job, should he quit looking after the first several rejections? Of course not! He should continue for as long as it takes, applying both perseverance and resourcefulness.

How can we build character if we do not put forth maximum effort in all we do?

If we encounter resistance in any given situation, it does not necessarily mean God is saying, “No.” Life is a series of challenges that we must overcome. We are in a lifetime of training and enduring for a greater purpose. We should be overcoming these problematic situations that occur in our lives every day.

It is unnecessary to overanalyze every situation and confrontation we encounter by asking: “Is this God’s will?” “Is this from God?” Instead, we should simply ask in faith for God’s overall guidance, and know that He will deliver.

Notice Luke 11: “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened” (vs. 9-10).

Stay in contact with God, maintain a humble attitude, and He will respond to your needs.

Going Overboard

While seeking to do God’s will in everything, some fall into the trap of mentioning God or Jesus in virtually every sentence of their conversations. Others seem to be always saying “God willing” after every sentence: “I am going to the store later, God willing.” “We should sit down and have a cup of coffee sometime, God willing.” Or “God willing, I am going to put up a new deck in the spring.”

At their core, these actions are a form of self-righteousness and vanity. While such people think they are being humble by always involving God in their lives, they are actually drawing attention to their own “righteousness.”

This thinking breaks the Third Commandment: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain” (Ex. 20:7).

One of the definitions of vain is “to no useful purpose.” When God’s name is constantly used in casual conversation, it is being taken in vain.

The person who constantly mentions God in conversation is in effect saying, “See how godly I am?” or “See how religious I am?” By attempting to include God in everything he does, such a person is actuallydiminishing God’s role in events.

These attitudes stem from the fact that human nature is given to extremes. If a Christian is not circumspect, he can take things too far and “go overboard.” While we should seek God’s will and talk to brethren about spiritual matters, we must be careful not to go too far.

Christians are to let their moderation be known to all men (Phil. 4:5). God wants us to be balanced in our thinking. We should never be seen as odd, weird, strange or syrupy—since this is how manmade religions look.

We should reflect a sound, balanced way of thinking in all we say and do: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Tim. 1:7).

Time and Chance

There is another element at work in our lives, which Ecclesiastes 9:11 sums up as “time and chance.” While many of our problems, whether small or great, are caused by our weaknesses or irresponsibility, other mishaps and bad events can occur due to no fault of our own.

Under such circumstances, many people will immediately peg the blame on Satan, not realizing it was mere “time and chance.” Influenced by human nature, people love to blame bad things that happen, or even sinful actions, on what they deem as Satan’s direct involvement.

Just as God does not orchestrate every event in our lives, Satan is not behind every bad occurrence.

Consider. Would we conclude that if a person slips and injures himself tripping on a toy his child left on the floor that Satan is behind the event? No!

In the same way, we cannot blame the devil for situations we bring upon ourselves, or mere time and chance. While Satan fulfills the role of “tempter” (Matt. 4:3), God has limited him so he cannot force us to sin. Rather, the devil relies on situations, circumstances and human nature to tempt people to sin. He may cause circumstances or situations to lead us to compromise our beliefs, but the choice to sin or not to sin is ours alone.

Avoid the dangerous thinking of blaming Satan after a sin is committed. When people make Satan out to be the “bad guy” when they sinned, they are no longer growing and overcoming. Instead, they have taken on the childish attitude of “the devil made me do it”—in an attempt to deflect blame from themselves.

This excuse is as old as the Garden of Eden, when Eve said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Gen. 3:13). Yet it was Eve’s decision to make, and the consequences (vs. 16) fell on her, not just Satan!

On the contrary, we are to be sober and vigilant because Satan is like a roaring lion, walking about seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). He is constantly looking for weaknesses in our character, andwill take advantage of those flaws through temptation or deceit.

Yet God promises He will never leave or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). If we allow God to fight our battles and deal with the problems we encounter each day, we will not have to fear Satan’s snares, as they will have no power over us.

In the end, Satan will interfere in our lives only to the extent we allow—and that God allows (Job 1:12,2:6). We can unknowingly nurture Satan’s involvement by failing to resist him in actions and thoughts. This is done through pride, vanity, rebellion and disobedience. Instead, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (Jms. 4:7).

You can resist the devil by obeying God, submitting to His laws and government, and asking Him for help every day in prayer.

We should not place too much emphasis on Satan’s influence in our lives, especially in every small thing that seems bad or wrong. At the same time, we should certainly be aware of his tactics. Our main focus should be on matching the attitude found in Psalm 119: “O how love I Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (vs. 97).

Our thoughts should be centered on God and the Work He is doing—not on the devil.

Seeing God’s Power

God cares about everything that happens to us. He is concerned about every problem we have to confront, whether small or great. No problem is too small or too big for Him. We do not have to face any problem alone. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivers him out of them all” (Psa. 34:19).

God also commands us to cast our cares upon Him (I Pet. 5:7). His power is available to us whenever we need it. It is by His power our prayers are answered, but we must do our part to seek wisdom and counsel, as well as implement the seven laws of success in our lives. You may want to review our booklet The Laws to Success.

While God does not orchestrate each and every event in our lives, He does want to be involved in all we do. We should not “see God” in everything, but we should see God’s power at work as we grow and overcome in this life.

Take advantage of the great privilege offered to those begotten by God to be a part of His Family. Share every aspect of your life with God, and you will see His mighty power. You will experience what moved David to say, “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusts in Him” (Psa. 34:3-4, 8).

When you do your part, God allows you to tap into His infinite power and wisdom, which then helps you make decisions—large and small. “Great is our LORD, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Psa. 147:5).

Treat each day as a training ground as you qualify to rule in God’s soon-coming kingdom. Consider this awesome fact as you make decisions and judgments each day. If you do, you will properly SEE God working in your life!

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~You Shall Know The Truth For The Word of God~

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Everyone Has a Worldview

A Chinese proverb says, “If you want to know what water is, don’t ask the fish.” Water is the sum and substance of the world in which the fish is immersed. The fish may not reflect on its own environment until suddenly it is thrust onto dry land, where it struggles for life. Then it realizes that water provided its sustenance.

Immersed in our environment, we have failed to take seriously the ramifications of a secular worldview. Sociologist and social watchdog Daniel Yankelovich defines culture as an effort to provide a coherent set of answers to the existential situations that confront human beings in the passage of their lives. A genuine cultural shift is one that makes a decisive break with the shared meaning of the past. The break particularly affects those meanings that relate to the deepest questions of the purpose and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we understand the world in which we live.

The issues are worldview issues. Christians everywhere recognize there is a great spiritual battle raging for the hearts and minds of men and women around the globe. We now find ourselves in a cosmic struggle between Christian truth and a morally indifferent culture. Thus we need to shape a Christian worldview and lifeview that will help us learn to think Christianly and live out the truth of Christian faith.

The reality is that everyone has a worldview. Some worldviews are incoherent, being merely a smorgasbord of options from natural, supernatural, pre-modern, modern, and post-modern options. An examined and thoughtful worldview, however, is more than a private personal viewpoint; it is a comprehensive life system that seeks to answer the basic questions of life. A Christian worldview is not just one’s personal faith expression, not just a theory. It is an all-consuming way of life, applicable to all spheres of life.

Distinguishing a Christian Worldview

James Orr, in The Christian View of God and the World, maintains that there is a definite Christian view of things, which has a character, coherence, and unity of its own, and stands in sharp contrast with counter theories and speculations. A Christian worldview has the stamp of reason and reality and can stand the test of history and experience. A Christian view of the world cannot be infringed upon, accepted or rejected piecemeal, but stands or falls on its integrity. Such a holistic approach offers a stability of thought, a unity of comprehensive insight that bears not only on the religious sphere but also on the whole of thought. A Christian worldview is not built on two types of truth (religious and philosophical or scientific) but on a universal principle and all-embracing system that shapes religion, natural and social sciences, law, history, health care, the arts, the humanities, and all disciplines of study with application for all of life.

Followers of Jesus must articulate a Christian worldview for the twenty-first century, with all of its accompanying challenges and changes, and to show how such Christian thinking is applicable across all areas of life. At the heart of these challenges and changes we see that truth, morality, and interpretive frameworks are being ignored if not rejected. Such challenges are formidable indeed. Throughout culture the very existence of normative truth is being challenged.

For Christians to respond to these challenges, we must hear afresh the words of Jesus from what is called the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:36–40). Here we are told to love God not only with our hearts and souls but also with our minds. Jesus’ words refer to a wholehearted devotion to God with every aspect of our being, from whatever angle we choose to consider it—emotionally, volitionally, or cognitively. This kind of love for God results in taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), a wholehearted devotion to distinctively Christian thinking (or as T. S. Eliot put it, “to think in Christian categories”). This means being able to see life from a Christian vantage point; it means thinking with the mind of Christ.

The beginning point for building a Christian worldview is a confession that we believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth (the Apostles’ Creed). We recognize that “in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15–18), for all true knowledge flows from the One Creator to his one creation.

We Believe in God, Maker of Heaven and Earth: A Worldview Starting Point

A worldview must offer a way to live that is consistent with reality by offering a comprehensive understanding of all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. As we said earlier the starting point for a Christian worldview brings us into the presence of God without delay. The central affirmation of Scripture is not only that there is a God but that God has acted and spoken in history. God is Lord and King over this world, ruling all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does in order that humans and angels may worship and adore him. God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

To think wrongly about God is idolatry (Ps. 50:21). Thinking rightly about God is eternal life (John 17:3) and should be the believer’s life objective (Jer. 9:23–24). We can think rightly about God because he is knowable (1 Cor. 2:11), yet we must remain mindful that he is simultaneously incomprehensible (Rom. 11:33–36). God can be known, but he cannot be known completely (Deut. 29:29).

We maintain that God is personal and is differentiated from other beings, from nature, and from the universe. This is in contrast to other worldviews that say God is in a part of the world, creating a continual process, and that the process itself is God—or becoming God. God is self-existent, dependent on nothing external to himself. God is infinite, meaning that God is not only unlimited but that nothing outside of God can limit God. God is infinite in relation to time (eternal), in relation to knowledge (omniscience), and in relation to power (omnipotent). He is sovereign and unchanging. God is infinite and personal, transcendent, and immanent. He is holy, righteous, just, good, true, faithful, loving, gracious, and merciful.

God, without the use of any preexisting material, brought into being everything that is. Both the opening verse of the Bible and the initial sentence of the Apostles’ Creed confess God as Creator. Creation is the work of the trinitarian God. Creation reveals God (Ps. 19) and brings glory to him (Isa. 43:7). All of creation was originally good but is now imperfect because of the entrance of sin and its effects on creation (Gen. 3:16–19). This is, however, only a temporary imperfection (Rom. 8:19–22), for it will be redeemed in the final work of God, the new creation.

The Creator God is not different from the God who provides redemption in Jesus Christ through his Holy Spirit. God is the source of all things. This means that God has brought the world into existence out of nothing through a purposeful act of his free will. A Christian worldview affirms that God is the sovereign and almighty Lord of all existence. Such an affirmation rejects any form of dualism, that matter has eternally existed, or that matter must, therefore, be evil since it is in principle opposed to God, the Source of all good.

A Christian worldview also contends that God is set apart from and transcends his creation. It also maintains that God is a purposeful God who creates in freedom. In creation and in God’s provision and preservation for creation, he is working out his ultimate purposes for humanity and the world. Human life is thus meaningful, significant, intelligent, and purposeful. This affirms the overall unity and intelligibility of the universe. In this we see God’s greatness, goodness, and wisdom.

General Implications of a Christian Worldview

A Christian worldview becomes a driving force in life, giving us a sense of God’s plan and purpose for this world. Our identity is shaped by this worldview. We no longer see ourselves as alienated sinners. A Christian worldview is not escapism but is an energizing motivation for godly and faithful thinking and living in the here and now. It also gives us confidence and hope for the future. In the midst of life’s challenges and struggles, a Christian worldview helps to stabilize life, anchoring us to God’s faithfulness and steadfastness.

Thus, a Christian worldview provides a framework for ethical thinking. We recognize that humans, who are made in God’s image, are essentially moral beings. We also recognize that the fullest embodiment of good, love, holiness, grace, and truth is in Jesus Christ (see John 1:14–18).

A Christian worldview has implications for understanding history. We see that history is not cyclical or random. Rather, we see history as linear, a meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for humanity (see Eph. 1). Human history will climax where it began—on the earth. This truth is another distinctive of Christian thinking, for Christianity is historical at its heart. In the sense that according to its essential teaching, God has acted decisively in history, revealing himself in specific acts and events. Moreover, God will act to bring history to its providential destiny and planned conclusion.

God who has acted in history in past events will also act in history to consummate this age. So when we ask, “How will it end?” we do not simply or suddenly pass out of the realm of history into a never-never land. We pass to that which is nevertheless certain of occurring because God is behind it and is himself the One who tells us it will come to pass.

Developing a Christian worldview is an ever-advancing process for us, a process in which Christian convictions more and more shape our participation in culture. This disciplined, vigorous, and unending process will help shape how we assess culture and our place in it. Otherwise, culture will shape us and our thinking. Thus a Christian worldview offers a new way of thinking, seeing, and doing, based on a new way of being.

A Christian worldview is a coherent way of seeing life, of seeing the world distinct from deism, naturalism, and materialism, existentialism, polytheism, pantheism, mysticism, or deconstructionist postmodernism. Such a theistic perspective provides bearings and direction when confronted with New Age spirituality or secularistic and pluralistic approaches to truth and morality. Fear about the future, suffering, disease, and poverty are informed by a Christian worldview grounded in the redemptive work of Christ and the grandeur of God. Moreover, a Christian worldview offers meaning and purpose for all aspects of life.

Particular Applications

While many examples could be offered, here are six particular applications where a Christian worldview provides a difference in perspective:

  1. Technology—Technology can become either an instrument through which we fulfill our role as God’s stewards or an object of worship that will eventually rule us. A Christian worldview provides balance and insight for understanding this crucial aspect of twenty-first-century life.
  2. Sexuality and marriage—Sexuality has become a major topic for those entering the third millennium. Much confusion exists among Christians and non-Christians. Sexuality is good in the covenant relationship of mutual self-giving marriage. Sexual intimacy, separated from covenant marriage, in hetero-sexual or homosexual relations is sinful and has a distorted meaning, a self-serving purpose and negative consequences.
  3. The environment—Environmental stewardship means we have a responsibility to the nonhuman aspects of God’s creation. Since God’s plan of redemption includes his earthly creation, as well as human (see Rom. 8:18–27), we should do all we can to live in it carefully and lovingly.
  4. The arts and recreation—The arts and recreation are understood as legitimate and important parts of human creativity and community. They express what it means to be created in the image of God. We need to develop critical skills of analysis and evaluation so that we are informed, intentional, and reflective about what we create, see, and do.
  5. Science and faith—For almost two centuries science has been at the forefront of our modern world. We must explore how we see scientific issues from the vantage point of a Christian worldview. An understanding of God includes the knowledge we gain through scientific investigation. With the lens of faith in place, a picture of God’s world emerges that complements and harmonizes the findings of science and the teachings of Scripture.
  6. Vocation—Important for any culture is an understanding of work. Work is a gift from God and is to be pursued with excellence for God’s glory. We recognize that all honest professions are honorable, that the gifts and abilities we have for our vocation (vocatio/calling) come from God, and that prosperity and promotions come from God.

These are only a few examples that could be cited that will help shape our thinking in other areas.

Conclusion

Thus Christian thinking must surely subordinate all other endeavors to the improvement of the mind in pursuit of truth, taking every thought captive to Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). At three places in the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds us that we cannot presume that our thinking is Christ centered. In 2 Corinthians 3:14 we learn that the minds of the Israelites were hardened. In 4:4 Paul says that the unregenerate mind is blinded by the god of this world. In 11:3 the apostle says that Satan has ensnared the Corinthians’ thoughts. So in 10:5 he calls for all of our thinking to be liberated by coming under the lordship of Christ.

So today, as in the days of the Corinthian correspondence, our minds and our thinking are ensnared by the many challenges and opposing worldviews in today’s academy. Like Paul and Bernard of Clairveaux several centuries after him, we must combine the intellectual with the moral and spiritual expounded in Bernard’s famous statement:

Some seek knowledge for
The sake of knowledge:
That is curiosity;
Others seek knowledge so that
They themselves may be known:
That is vanity;
But there are still others
Who seek knowledge in
Order to serve and edify others;
And that is charity.

And that is the essence of serious Christian worldview thinking—bringing every thought captive to the lordship of Jesus Christ in order to serve and edify others. That is a high calling indeed as we move forward and faithfully into the twenty-first century.

The Puritans, preserving the line of faithful and orthodox Christians, have always had a passion for Truth. This pattern was established in the story of the Bereans who asked if what the Apostle Paul was saying was true (Acts 17:11). And how would they know? They searched the scriptures.

There are two sources of Truth: God’s work and his word. Psalm 148 reminds us that all creation communicates about God’s existence and his nature. Paul reiterates, in Romans 1:20, that all human beings can know that God exists and something about his nature through the things that he has made.

Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin spoke of two books: God’s Word – the Special Revelation comprised of scripture, and His Works – the General Revelation of Creation.

Three other reformers–Campenella, Comenius, and Alsted–spoke of three books:

  • The book of revelation – Special Revelation – The Bible
  • The book of nature – General Revelation – Science (a la Aristotle)
  • The book of the mind – Reason or Logic – Philosophy (a la Plato)

Truth is found at the intersection of the books of Scripture, nature, and reason. Comenius writes of the tripartite revelation for truth: “the only true, genuine and plain way of Philosophy is to fetch all things from sense, reason and Scripture.” Puritan Historian Dr. David Scott says that “Comenius went on to say that the end of scholarly endeavor is not to merely add to the wood pile of human knowledge, but to grow a living tree that from its roots to its boughs and fruit reflects the image of the words and works of its divine Creator.” [1] (For more on this subject see Dr. Scott’s excellent paper A Vision of Veritas: What Christian Scholarship Can Learn from the Puritan’s “Technology” for Integrating Truth .)

William Ames (1576-1633), the French Huguenot Educational Reformer, wrote of the three books,

Thus, let us not become the slaves of anyone, but performing military service under the banner of free truth, let us freely and courageously follow the truth …. Testing all things, retaining that which is good, let Plato be a friend, let Aristotle be a friend, but even more let truth (veritas) be a friend.

When, eight years after landing in New England, the Puritan fathers established Harvard College (now Harvard University) to educate pastors and civic leaders, they enshrined VERITAS with the three books in the college’s shield.

truth in Harvard logo

Harvard’s first mission statement was explicitly Christ centered:

Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17.3 and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.

Christ is the focus of all of life and vocation. It was this that laid the groundwork for their Christian culture and self government.

Sadly, the Western world today is no longer founded on a Biblical worldview. And only the Biblical Worldview provides a foundation for free, just, prosperous, and compassionate nations. The four dominating worldviews today are Biblical Theism, Secularism, Evangelical Gnosticism, and Monism.

~Spiritual Questions~

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Question 1: Why is there evil in the world?

If God exists, why is there evil in the world? You know, this is a difficult stumbling block and question for many people. The simplest way to look at this question is to examine God’s nature and his desire for mankind. Look at the logic. God loves us and wants us to love him back. And how could we love him back unless we have the freedom to not love?

God could have made us like robots who do nothing more than say, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” But we’d be forced to do that and that wouldn’t be real love. Love is a choice. And if you have a choice you have to be able to choose not to love and that in itself is the nature of evil. Evil is choosing not to love. So when God gave us the freedom to choose, he gave us not only our greatest blessing, but he also gave us our greatest curse because we can choose to do right or choose to do wrong.

The reason there’s evil in the world is not because of God, but because God gave us the freedom to choose. Now the potential for love outweighs the existence of evil, because you see, evil is only going to exist for a short time, but love is going to go on forever. And all of the suffering and all of the death that we see in the world today are the result because man has chosen to make wrong choices.

God could have taken our freedom, but He didn’t. I hope you’ll use your freedom to choose God.

Question 2: Is Jesus really God?

Well when you think about it you only have three options as to who Jesus Christ was. You see, Jesus claimed to be God. He said things like, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” He claimed to be God many, many times. Now, that means either:

  1. He is who he says He was
  2. He was the biggest liar in history or
  3. He was crazy, He was a lunatic on the order of the man who calls himself a fried egg.

You see, you can’t just say Jesus was a good man. I’ve had many friends who said, “Oh, I believe Jesus was a good man.” Well He couldn’t have been a good man and said those things He said. For instance, if I said to you, “I’m Rick Warren and I’m a good teacher and a good husband.” You might say, “Okay, I buy that.” But if I said to you, “I’m Rick Warren and I’m God and I’m the only way to heaven.” Well, you would have to make a decision. You couldn’t say I was a good person because a good person wouldn’t say that. You’d either say, “He is who he says he was, or he’s a liar or he’s crazy.”

Now Jesus didn’t just expect us to believe Him and take Him at His word. He said, “I’m going to prove the claim that I am God.”He said, “I’m going to let people kill me on a cross, then let them bury me. I’ll be dead for three days and then I’ll come back to life.” And, of course, that was the event that changed history. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every person since then refers to Jesus Christ, whether they believe in Him or not, every time you right a date, A.D. or B.C., what’s the reference point? Jesus Christ. Because it was the event that split history when Jesus proved that He was who He said He was, He is God.

Question 3: Do all religions lead to God?

Well now think about the logic of this. Can I go into a phone booth and dial any phone number and get home? No, there’s only one number that’ll get me home. I could be sincere, but I could be sincerely wrong. The truth is, all roads don’t lead to Rome and all roads and all religions don’t lead to God.

You see, it all depends on which direction you take. Jesus said this, “I am the way and the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I’m betting my life on the fact that He was right because I figured Jesus knows more about it than I did.

The Bible tells us that on the road to heaven, there are only two directions, toward Christ or away from Him. You can accept it or you can reject it, that’s your choice. You can make Jesus the Lord of your life, that means the manager, the ceo, the person in charge of your life, or you can call Him a liar, but that’s what the Bible declares.

You know a lot of people sincerely believe that even though they’ve broken God’s rules that they can earn God’s forgiveness by doing good works, by observing the Five Pillars of Islam or the Buddhist Eightfold Path or the Hindu Doctrine of Karma, for example. But I don’t get it. How will doing some good works that we should have done all our lives, make up for all the countless times we failed? You see, heaven is a perfect place and that means only perfect people get to go there. If not-perfect people were allowed in, it wouldn’t be perfect anymore. Well I don’t know about you, but I stopped being perfect a long time ago. So God came up with plan b. He came to earth in human form, Jesus Christ, and He lived a perfect life and now He offers to let us go to heaven on His ticket. And I pray that you will trust Jesus Christ and stop trying to bat a thousand because you ended up not doing that a long time ago and accept God’s free ticket through Jesus Christ.

Question 4: What’s going to happen to those people in the world who’ve never heard about Jesus Christ?

You may have heard this question put this way: “What about the person living in the jungle somewhere who’s never heard the good news about Jesus Christ? Are you christians saying that a person won’t go to heaven based solely on where he lives?” No, we’re not saying that. The Bible tells us that God doesn’t work that way. We understand that God is perfect in His love and perfect in His holiness and He’s perfectly just and fair. Therefore, it’s against God’s nature to be unfair. It’s against God’s nature to hide the ball on salvation or to condemn somebody who’s ignorant of his truth. In fact the scripture, the bible declares that God is loving and patient and not willing that anybody should perish. But He wants everybody to come to repentance, to come to know Him.

So if God is a perfectly loving and righteous God, then He will figure out ways to help people understand Him. He somehow reveals the simple truth of the gospel to people throughout the world. You know, I’ve talked to people who were missionaries in Africa who’ve told me that Jesus has revealed Himself through nature. When you look at nature you learn that God is organized, that God is creative, that God likes variety. But it’s when we look at Jesus Christ we realize that God is loving.

And as Christians we are called to tell the good news to other people. It’s God’s decision to decide what happens to people who haven’t heard about Him. But it is our decision to take that news to as many people as possible. And the bible says we will be held more responsible because we have heard and we have known that God is love, that God wants a relationship to us and that God will forgive us if we give our lives to Jesus Christ.

So, what do we do about those who haven’t heard? We tell them. First we accept God’s good news and then we tell them and we leave the result in the hands of a fair, loving and just God.

Question 5: What about all the wars that are caused in the name of Christianity?

Well first, let me say that a lot of things have been done in the name of Christianity that Jesus Christ would totally disavow. Andjust because someone claims to be a Christian doesn’t necessarily make him a follower of Christ, nor does it make him a representative of Jesus. It’s very, very important to distinguish between the bible kind of Christianity and the actions that have been taken throughout history by people who claim to be Christians but really didn’t know.

You see there’s a difference between religion and a relationship with God. Jesus is not interested in the religion of Christianity. He’s interested in you having a relationship to Him. Jesus never said, “I’ve come that you might have religion.” He said, “I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Now a lot of people have claimed to be followers of Christ but they’ve lived their lives contrary to His teaching. And we shouldn’t label that group Christian. But let me say this, have you ever seen a counterfeit dollar? Well, maybe you haven’t, but maybe you’ve heard of them. Why are there counterfeit dollars in the world? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because there are real dollars in the world. If there were no real dollars, there would be no counterfeits. And if you find counterfeit Christianity in the world, it must mean that somewhere there must be the real thing. The point is we don’t identify Jesus by claiming that all the things that were done in His name were done by Him. In fact, Jesus proffended His own disciples from defending themselves against the enemies when He said on a personal basis, He said, “I want you to turn the other cheek.”

So a lot of wars have been done in the name of Christianity that Jesus probably would have disavowed. The real issue is do you know Jesus Christ? You see, it doesn’t matter so much what has been done by hypocrites or phonies or false followers of Christ. What matters is do you know the real, true, genuine item? Have you ever turned your life over to Jesus Christ? If you haven’t, I would encourage you to investigate Him today.

Question 6: Is there any real right or wrong?

You know, you might have heard somebody say, “I don’t believe there’s such a thing as right or wrong.” Or maybe you’ve heard a professor say, “There are no absolutes.” Whenever I hear that I want to say, “Are you absolutely sure?” You have to ask yourself, “Is this statement even logical? Is there any right or wrong?” Because when people say, “There is no right or wrong, or it’s wrong for you to impose your morals on me,” think about it, by them telling you that, they are imposing their morals on you.

The fact is we all inheritantly know right from wrong and we just have this weird tendency to disregard it. To disregard morality when it conflicts with our desires for pleasure or personal gain. Now, sure, you might justify having an affair, but certainly you wouldn’t condone your spouse having one. Or you might justify taking something without permission, but if you were the one being robbed you wouldn’t think it was okay. You see the fact is, there isn’t a person alive today who’d come home from work and discover that their entire house had been robbed and say, “Oh, how wonderful that this burglar is able to enjoy all my things without my permission. And who am I to impose my view of right or wrong on this poor burglar?” You see how ridiculous that is? Of course.

Even those who claim there is no right or wrong have their own moral conscious, they’ve just set their own standards.Here’s a good way to determine right from wrong. Turn the situation around on yourself. Jesus said it best. He said, “Treat people the same way you want people to treat you.” You see we all know that murder and rape and lying and stealing and torture and injustice are absolutely wrong. Why? Because we wouldn’t want any of these things to happen to us. The person who would say, “there is no right or wrong,” would not agree that it was okay for them to be raped. No, when you turn it on yourself, you realize that even inside ourselves God has placed a moral conscious and that conscious tells us when we do right and when we do wrong. And when we violate our conscious, we need forgiveness. That’s why the bible said, “God sent Jesus to earth so that we might be forgiven of all of our wrong.”

Question 7: Why do I exist?

That’s the most fundamental question of life. What on earth am I here for?

Well, you need to understand God to answer that question. You see, the bible says, “God is love.” It doesn’t say He has love, it says He is love. It’s part of His nature, His character, it is the essence of His being. God is love. Now, love isn’t very valuable unless you bestow it on something and the bible says, “God made you to love you.” You were created as an object of God’s love. If you want to know why you’re taking breath right now, why your heart is beating, it’s because God made you to love you. It’s the sole reason. You were made to be loved by God and to bring Him pleasure.

Now God wants you to learn to love Him back and that’s the first purpose of your life, to get to know and love Him back.One day Jesus was walking down the street and a man came up and said, “What’s the most important command in the bible?” And Jesus said, “I’m going to summarize the entire bible in one sentence. Love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.” That’s called the great commandment. And God wants you to get to know and love Him back. So that means when you get up in the morning, you should sit on the side of your bed and say, “God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know you a little bit better and I want to love you a little bit more.” Because if at the end of the day you know God more and you love Him more, you have just fulfilled one of the purposes of your life.

If, on the other hand, you’ve accomplished all kinds of things and achieved many, many successes in life, but at the end of the day you don’t know God better or love Him more, you have missed the primary purpose of your life. Because God didn’t put you on this earth just to mark things off your to-do list. He put you here to know Him and love Him. That’s why you exist.

Question 8: What is my purpose in life?

Well the truth is, God created you for five purposes. You see, you were made by God and you were made for God. And until you understand that, life isn’t going to make sense. When you come to this question, what is my purpose, you only have three alternatives.

  1. First is what I call the mystical approach, and that is look within. You find this in a lot of talk shows, a lot of new age books a lot of seminars. They say, “look within to discover your purpose.” The only problem is that doesn’t work. We’ve all looked within and I didn’t like what I saw. It’s quite confusing. In fact, if you could know the purpose of your life by looking within, we’d all know it by now. It doesn’t work.
  2. The second way you can try to discover your purpose is called the intellectual or philosophical approach. And that’s where you go to a seminary class or university class and you sit there with a pipe and your latte and your coffee and you ask questions like, “Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?” I once read a book by professor John Morehead, the Head of the Department of Philosophy at Northeastern University in Illinois. And he wrote to 250 well-known intellectuals and asked them, “What is the meaning and purpose of life?” These were novelists, scientists, well-known intellectuals, and I read the book, it’s now out of print, it was quite depressing because most of the people said, “I have no idea what the purpose of life is.” Some of them admitted they just made up a purpose. And some of the admitted they guessed. And some of them said, “If you know the purpose, please tell me.”
  3. You see, there’s a better answer to speculation and that’s revelation. If I were to hold up an invention that you have never seen before, you wouldn’t know its purpose. The only way you’d know its purpose was either talk to the inventor, the creator who made it or read the owner’s manual. The owner’s manual of life is the bible and your Creator is God. And it is only as you get to know God you will discover his five purposes for your life. I hope you’ll begin that journey today.

Question 9: Does my life really matter?

Well, it’s a good question. You know, today we teach our kids that we’re all just one big cosmic accident. We came from the goo through the zoo to you over billions of years. Well, if that is true, in a nutshell it teaches that your life really doesn’t matter, you’re just the freak accident of random chance, you’re complex slime and you were an accident. And if you get accidentally killed, well, of course, that doesn’t matter. And that creates a lot of our sociological problems and a lot of our self-esteem issues.

But the truth is you are not an accident. You were created by a loving God who loves you and designed you with intricate detail in your life and when you understand that God made you to love you and that God made you to be a part of His family and that God made you to last forever, then you’re never going to have a problem with low self-esteem again.

It was Bertram Russell the atheist who once said, “Unless you assume the existence of God, then the purpose and meaning of life is irrelevant.” The truth is, if there is no God your life doesn’t matter. But because there is a God, God had a specific purpose in mind when He created you and you do matter. You matter because God created you. You matter because he sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross. If you want to know how much you matter, think of Jesus Christ with his arms outstretched saying, “I love you this much.”

Now, if you had to chose between a loved one and a material thing, even if that thing was priceless, you’d chose your loved one in a heartbeat. And when you’re on your deathbed, you’re not going to surround yourself with material possessions, you’re not going to say, “Bring me my trophies. Bring me my credentials. Bring me my certificates so I can look one more time at my grade point average.” No, you’re going to surround yourself with loved ones and everybody’s going to be crying because they’re going to miss you. You see, that’s how much you matter.

Personal relationships to God and to other people are the most important thing in life. And God wants you to know Him and He wants you to have a relationship with Him because you’re worth so much in God’s eyes that he sent His Son to die for you. I hope you’ll get to know Him very soon.

Question 10: Is there a real hell and why would a loving God send anyone there?

Well, first I believe in hell because Jesus talked about it. In fact, Jesus talked more about hell then He did heaven. He said it is a real place and it is a place of eternal torment. And I believe Jesus knows more about it than either you or I.

But second, I believe in hell because logic and fairness demand it. Think of all the atrocities and evil that have been done throughout history by evildoers in this world. For God to allow those crimes to go unpunished would mean that God is not worthy of our worship and love.

Now why would a loving God send anyone to hell? Well in a nutshell, God doesn’t. God doesn’t send anybody to hell. We choose to go there when we reject the love of God. If I were to say to my right is a door heading to heaven, and to my left is a door heading to hell, if you walk out the door heading to hell, you don’t have anybody to blame but yourself.

In fact, the bible tells us that God does almost everything – well everything possible to keep us out of hell. He cared so much to keep us out of hell that he sent Jesus Christ to come to earth, to die on the cross, to pay for our sins so that we don’t have to pay for them. He wants to set us free. He wants to give us forgiveness. God made us in his image and He gave us the ultimate power to say yes or no.

Now if we chose to reject God here on earth, then we, at the same time, are choosing to spend eternity separated from Him. You see, there are only two people in the world – two kinds of people. Those who say, “Thy will be done here to God on earth” and those to whom God says, “Your will be done,” when we say, “I want to do it my way.” And if we say, “God I don’t want you in my life while I’m here on earth,” then God says, “I don’t want you in my heaven for eternity.”

You don’t have to go to hell. In fact, Jesus Christ has made it possible for you to go to heaven. Open your heart to Him and say, “Jesus Christ, I need you, I want you, I trust you and I ask you to forgive me.” And He’ll come in and save you.

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~Our Duty Is Service~

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Someone shared with me her observation about two bosses. One is loved but not feared by his subordinates. Because they love their boss but don’t respect his authority, they don’t follow his guidelines. The other boss is both feared and loved by those who serve under him, and their good behavior shows it.

The Lord desires that His people both fear and love Him too. Today’s Bible passage, Deuteronomy 10, says that keeping God’s guidelines involves both. In verse 12, we are told “to fear the Lord your God” and “to love Him.”

To “fear” the Lord God is to give Him the highest respect. For the believer, it is not a matter of feeling intimidated by Him or His character. But out of respect for His person and authority, we walk in all His ways and keep His commandments. Out of “love,” we serve Him with all our heart and with all our soul—rather than merely out of duty (v.12).

Love flows out of our deep gratitude for His love for us, rather than out of our likes and dislikes. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Our fear and love for God enable us to walk willingly in obedience to God’s law.

Lord, You are holy and Your thoughts are much higher than mine. I bow before You. Thank You for salvation in Jesus. I love You and want to obey You with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. Amen.
If we fear and love God, we will obey Him.
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, Deuteronomy 10:12-17

We are here most plainly directed in our duty to God, to our neighbor, and to ourselves.

1. We are here taught our duty to God, both in the dispositions and affections of our souls and in the actions of our lives, our principles and our practices. (1.) We must fear the Lord our God, v. 12, and again v. 20. We must adore his majesty, acknowledge his authority, stand in awe of his power, and dread his wrath. This is gospel duty, Rev. 14:6, 7. (2.) We must love him, be well pleased that he is, desire that he may be ours, and delight in the contemplation of him and in communion with him. Fear him as a great God, and our Lord, love him as a good God, and our Father and benefactor. (3.) We must walk in his ways, that is, the ways which he has appointed us to walk in. The whole course of our conversation must be conformable to his holy will. (4.) We must serve him (v. 20), serve him with all our heart and soul (v. 12), devote ourselves to his honour, put ourselves under his government, and lay out ourselves to advance all the interests of his kingdom among men. And we must be hearty and zealous in his service, engage and employ our inward man in his work, and what we do for him we must do cheerfully and with a good will. (5.) We must keep his commandments and his statutes, v. 13. Having given up ourselves to his service, we must make his revealed will our rule in every thing, perform all he prescribes, forbear all the forbids, firmly believing that all the statutes he commands us are for our good. Besides the reward of obedience, which will be our unspeakable gain, there are true honour and pleasure in obedience. It is really for our present good to be meek and humble, chaste and sober, just and charitable, patient and contented; these make us easy, and safe, and pleasant, and truly great. (6.) We must give honour to God, in swearing by his name (v. 20); so give him the honour of his omniscience, his sovereignty, his justice, as well as of his necessary existence. Swear by his name, and not by the name of any creature, or false god, whenever an oath for confirmation is called for. (7.) To him we must cleave, v. 20. Having chosen him for our God, we must faithfully and constantly abide with him and never forsake him. Cleave to him as one we love and delight in, trust and confide in, and from whom we have great expectations.

2. We are here taught our duty to our neighbour (v. 19): Love the stranger; and, if the stranger, much more our brethren, as ourselves. If the Israelites that were such a peculiar people, so particularly distinguished from all people, must be kind to strangers, much more must we, that are not enclosed in such a pale; we must have a tender concern for all that share with us in the human nature, and as we have opportunity; (that is, according to their necessities and our abilities) we must do good to all men. Two arguments are here urged to enforce this duty:—(1.) God’s common providence, which extends itself to all nations of men, they being all made of one blood. God loveth the stranger (v. 18), that is, he gives to all life, and breath, and all things, even to those that are Gentiles, and strangers to the commonwealth of Israel and to Israel’s God. He knows those perfectly whom we know nothing of. He gives food and raiment even to those to whom he has not shown his word and statutes. God’s common gifts to mankind oblige us to honour all men. Or the expression denotes the particular care which Providence takes of strangers in distress, which we ought to praise him for (Ps. 146:9, The Lord preserveth the strangers), and to imitate him, to serve him, and concur with him therein, being forward to make ourselves instruments in his hand of kindness to strangers. (2.) The afflicted condition which the Israelites themselves had been in, when they were strangers in Egypt. Those that have themselves been in distress, and have found mercy with God, should sympathize most feelingly with those that are in the like distress and be ready to show kindness to them. The people of the Jews, notwithstanding these repeated commands given them to be kind to strangers, conceived a rooted antipathy to the Gentiles, whom they looked upon with the utmost disdain, which made them envy the grace of God and the gospel of Christ, and this brought a final ruin upon themselves.

3. We are here taught our duty to ourselves (v. 16): Circumcise the foreskin of your hearts. that is, “Cast away from you all corrupt affections and inclinations, which hinder you from fearing and loving God. Mortify the flesh with the lusts of it. Away with all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, which obstruct the free course of the word of God to your hearts. Rest not in the circumcision of the body, which was only the sign, but be circumcised in heart, which is the thing signified.” See Rom. 2:29. The command of Christ goes further than this, and obliges us not only to cut off the foreskin of the heart, which may easily be spared, but to cut off the right hand and to pluck out the right eye that is an offence to us; the more spiritual the dispensation is the more spiritual we are obliged to be, and to go the closer in mortifying sin. And be no more stiff-necked, as they had been hitherto, ch. 9:24. “Be not any longer obstinate against divine commands and corrections, but ready to comply with the will of God in both.” The circumcision of the heart makes it ready to yield to God, and draw in his yoke.

II. We are here most pathetically persuaded to our duty. Let but reason rule us, and religion will.

1. Consider the greatness and glory of God, and therefore fear him, and from that principle serve and obey him. What is it that is thought to make a man great, but great honour, power, and possessions? Think then how great the Lord our God is, and greatly to be feared. (1.) He has great honour, a name above every name. He is God of gods, and Lord of lords, v. 17. Angels are called gods, so are magistrates, and the Gentiles had gods many, and lords many, the creatures of their own fancy; but God is infinitely above all these nominal deities. What an absurdity would it be for them to worship other gods when the God to whom they had sworn allegiance was the God of gods! (2.) He has great power. He is a mighty God and terrible (v. 17), who regardeth not persons. He has the power of a conqueror, and so he is terrible to those that resist him and rebel against him. He has the power of a judge, and so he is just to all those that appeal to him or appear before him. And it is as much the greatness and honour of a judge to be impartial in his justice, without respect to persons or bribes, as it is to a general to be terrible to the enemy. Our God is both. (3.) He has great possessions. Heaven and earth are his (v. 14), and all the hosts and stars of both. Therefore he is able to bear us out in his service, and to make up the losses we sustain in discharging our duty to him. And yet therefore he has no need of us, nor any thing we have or can do; we are undone without him, but he is happy without us, which makes the condescensions of his grace, in accepting us and our services, truly admirable. Heaven and earth are his possession, and yet the Lord’s portion is his people.

2. Consider the goodness and grace of God, and therefore love him, and from that principle serve and obey him. His goodness is his glory as much as his greatness. (1.) He is good to all. Whomsoever he finds miserable, to them he will be found merciful: He executes the judgment of the fatherless and widow, v. 18. It is his honour to help the helpless, and to succour those that most need relief and that men are apt to do injury to, or at least to put a light upon. See Ps. 68:4, 5; 146:7, 9. (2.) But truly God is good to Israel in a special obligations to him: “He is they praise, and he is thy God, v. 21. Therefore love him and serve him, because of the relation wherein he stands to thee. He is thy God, a God in covenant with thee, and as such he is thy praise,” that is [1.] “He puts honour upon thee; he is the God in whom, all the day long, thou mayest boast that thou knowest him, and art known of him. If he is thy God, he is thy glory.” [2.] “He expects honour from thee. He is thy praise,” that is “he is the God whom thou art bound to praise; if he has not praise from thee, whence may he expect it?” He inhabits the praises of Israel. Consider, First, The gracious choice he made of Israel, v. 15. “He had a delight in thy fathers, and therefore chose their seed.” Not that there was any thing in them to merit his favour, or to recommend them to it, but so it seemed good in his eyes. He would be kind to them, though he had no need of them. Secondly, The great things he had done for Israel, v. 21, 22. He reminds them not only of what they had heard with their ears, and which their fathers had told them of, but of what they had seen with their eyes, and which they must tell their children of, particularly that within a few generations seventy souls (for they were no more when Jacob went down into Egypt) increased to a great nation, as the stars of heaven for multitude. And the more they were in number the more praise and service God expected from them; yet it proved, as in the old world, that when they began to multiply they corrupted themselves.

 

~One God Is Required~

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Everyone – pantheist, atheist, skeptic, and polytheist – has to answer these questions: ‘Where did I come from? What is life’s meaning? How do I define right from wrong and what happens to me when I die?’ Those are the fulcrum points of our existence.

Ravi Zacharias

A few months ago I was reading an article about King Tut (his full name was Tutankhamun). The ancient Egyptian pharaoh, and artifacts from his tomb, were making a tour and would be stopping in at Chicago to be displayed at one of the museums there. As I read the article I became intrigued by a couple of things.
Back in 1922, archeologist Howard Carter led a team that unearthed the tomb of King Tut. Shortly after the tomb was opened, Carter’s canary was bitten by a Cobra A year later Lord Cameron – the man who financed the expedition – died of an infection he got while shaving. Add the rumor that King Tut’s tomb held a curse for any who would open his grave… and the media had a field day.

By 1935, they claimed there were 21 victims of the Mummy’s curse.
Now, they really had to stretch to get that number (only 6 of the 22 people present when the tomb was opened actually died over the next 12 years or so… not a dramatic number), but because of the supposed Mummy’s curse and the interest it aroused in the general public, Hollywood took notice. From that day until this, there have been over 500 movies featuring dead Pharaohs, wrapped in burial cloth, wreaking their wrath on foolish mortals who dared to disturb their tombs.

APPLY: The story of the curse of King Tut is interesting to me.
And the reason its interesting is because there really was a curse associated with his family.
But the curse didn’t affect the people who opened his tomb.
And it didn’t effect King Tut.
If I’m right, it effected his father, his uncle and his grandfather.

Tut’s mother was Nefertiti (one of the famed beauties of ancient Egypt) and his father was a Pharaoh named Amenhotep IV.
Amenhotep was not quite as famous as King Tut, but he caused quite a stir in his day because he made a major change in Egypt’s worship. Amenhotep took what had been a worship many gods (called polytheism)… and forced Egypt to worship only ONE god (monotheism)

Scholars are divided as to why Tut’s father made this dramatic change but you can be assured it wasn’t real popular at the time. People didn’t like changes in their worship back then any more than they do now. In fact, Amenhotep’s decision was so unpopular that once King Tut took the throne he immediately changed Egypt back to the many gods that everybody seemed to want.

Amenhotep IV (King Tut’s father) was the heretic King of Egypt.
He wanted Egypt to worship only one god.
That alone was worth my interest.

But even more intriguing was the fact Amenhotep IV wasn’t actually supposed to be Pharaoh. That title should have gone to his older brother – Thutmose.
Thutmose was the 1st born of his family… and he died mysteriously. No one seems to know why. (Aldred, Cyril. Akhenaten: King of Egypt. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1988)

Hmmm.
To my way of thinking this family sounds a lot like one that might have suffered from a curse. A curse known as the 10th plague of God upon Egypt.

God told Moses say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’” Exodus 4:22-23

Now, I could be wrong, but…
Since King Tut’s father (Amenhotep IV) was the 2nd born, and became Pharaoh because his elder brother, the 1st born, had died of unknown causes. And since he decided – once he became Pharaoh – to abandon the many gods of his family for ONE god…
My guess is: Amenhotep was probably the 2nd born son of the Pharaoh that defied God in Exodus.

I can visualize what transpired:
Amenhotep IV would have seen the failure of Egypt’s many gods. And he would have known 1st hand that his family’s gods couldn’t save his family. And in bitterness he would have abandoned them for a more powerful god.
If one God were good enough for Moses – then one god (albeit not the God of Scripture) would be good enough for him.

If that’s true, that would make King Tut’s grandfather – Amenhotep III – the Pharaoh of Egypt during the Exodus.

Now don’t get lost here.
Amenhotep the IV was son of Amenhotep III.
And Amenhotep III was a powerful ruler who ruled Egypt for nearly 40 years. His reign was one of the most prosperous and stable periods of Egypt’s history
But Amenhotep III suffered from the curse.
His son – his 1st born son – died mysteriously.

So let’s review:
King Tut’s grandfather (Amenhotep III) would have been the Pharaoh during the Exodus. Tut’s father (Amenhotep IV) would have become the next Pharaoh sometime after Israel went on their Exodus. And King Tut himself would have restored the ancient practice of polytheism once his father died.

Got that???

Ok, but we still have one Pharaoh we haven’t identified.
Who would have been the “new king who didn’t know Joseph” in Exodus 1?
Moses returned to Egypt at the age of 80, so the Pharaoh who ruled when he was born had long since died. So, who was THIS first Pharaoh mentioned in Exodus?

If my math is right that might have been Tut’s great, great, grandfather – Thutmose III.
Thutmose III loved to build things… great monuments, temples, and cities (According to Wikipedia, he built over 50 temples, including what is now the great ruins of Karnak).

That kind of building would have required a lot of labor… slave labor… slaves like maybe Israelite slaves.

In addition – Thutmose also hated people that weren’t like his people – the Egyptians.
Years before Thutmose became king, Egypt had been taken over by foreign people called Hyksos. The Hyksos ruled for about 110 years
But the Egyptian people never warmed to these new rulers.
They didn’t fit in. They weren’t “like” the Egyptians.
They lived different, ate different, and worshipped different.
And eventually the Egyptians overthrew these foreign Kings

When Thutmose became king he decided to completely remove any remaining threat of the Hyksos and he mounted 23 campaigns to finally destroy what power they still had. He was a mighty warrior that some have called the Napoleon of Egypt.

And like I said – he hated people who weren’t like his people.
Like the Hyksos.
And (perhaps) like the Israelites – because they weren’t like the Egyptians either.
· They lived different
· Ate different
· And they worshipped different than Egyptians did.
Many conservative scholars believe Joseph came to Egypt during the reign of the Hyksos. Thus Israel would have been identified as being part of the hated rule of those foreigners and thus Thutmose III would have sought to destroy Israel because he saw them as posing the same threat the Hyksos had had over his beloved nation.

So THIS is how it would have all played out (according to my way of thinking)
Thutmosis III – was the New King who didn’t know Joseph (Exodus 1:8)
Amenhotep III – (Thutmosis’ great grandson) was the Pharaoh during the Exodus (chapters 3 – 14)
Amenhotep IV – was the 2nd born son who became Pharaoh due to his brother’s death and who forced Egypt to worship only one God.
And King Tut was the king who brought Egypt back to worshipping its many false gods

Now that’s nice but YOU MIGHT ASK “what difference does that make?”
I’m glad you asked
It makes a difference because there are many “scholars” out there who would like you to think that the Bible is unreliable.
They’d like you to think you can’t trust it
That it’s historically inaccurate
That its authors borrowed from other cultures to arrive at its theology.

For example they’d like us to think that Moses didn’t come on the scene of Egypt until nearly 200 years later… and thus learned his theology about there being only “one God” from Amenhotep IV rather than the other way around (first suggested by Sigmund Freud)

Why would these skeptics believe this?
They believe it because they don’t believe in the God of the Bible.
And since they don’t believe in Him they need to explain how the Israelites could have lived in such a polytheistic world… and still ended up worshipping only ONE God. Religion evolved (say these “scholars”) and that evolution progressed from polytheism to monotheism. Thus, to their way of thinking, since there is no REAL God – then men had to make Him up.

But there is a REAL God and His Bible makes no errors in its telling of history. Archeologists have used the Bible for more than a century as a road map to find cities and civilizations that have been long buried by the sands of time.
There is no other religious book capable of that kind of accuracy!

God didn’t give us the Bible as a history book… but it IS historically accurate.
You CAN depend on it to be correct even in the smallest details.
And I believe God didn’t do that just with the Bible.
I think He left a little “trail of crumbs” in history-crumbs of evidence pointing back to His Word… evidence like the lives of King Tut and his father Amenhotep IV

Now… I want to shift gears a little here.
The curse of the Mummy was the curse of God’s judgment upon Pharaoh’s house.
Ever since the days of Thutmose III (this new king that didn’t know Joseph) God had been at war with Egypt. The Pharaoh had arranged to kill the babies of the Israelites and so God would not only free His people from their slavery but would bring judgment upon all of Egypt…and especially on the house of Pharaoh.

When the confrontation in Exodus 5 takes place Moses came into Amenhotep III’s throne room and asked permission to take Israel away. And Pharaoh declared: “Who is the LORD that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:2

Well… over the next weeks God showed this Pharaoh just WHO He was and why he should let Israel go. He brought 10 terrible plagues upon Egypt… and the last of those plagues was the death of the firstborn (except in the homes of those who had applied the blood of innocent lamb on their doorposts).

Now, what I found interesting in this part of the story was Pharaoh’s comment:
“Who is the LORD that I should obey Him?”

As I pondered on that phrase, it occurred to me that this was exactly the same attitude Satan had toward God.

Satan had declared in his heart – “Who is the LORD that I should obey Him.”

In Isaiah 14:13 we’re told that Satan had said in his heart
“I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.”

WHO IS this supposed God that I should bow down to Him (Satan was saying) I’ll take Him down from His throne… and then I’ll be God!

Then it occurred to me that Pharaoh was a “Type” of Satan.
Pharaoh was to Israel what Satan is to us.

Pharaoh
· held God’s people in slavery
· he was known for his cruelty
· pain, punishment and death were in his hands
· And he owned Israel (Moses had to ask his permission)

In the same way – before we became Christians – Satan
· held us in slavery
· he was known for his cruelty
· pain, punishment and death were in his hands
· And because of our sins – he OWNED us
· BUT Jesus bought us back.

Now, follow me here:
Colossians 1:18 tells us that in His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus was “… the firstborn from the dead” (repeat this for emphasis)
By His resurrection, Jesus opened the gates of hell and freed us from death’s power.

Thus… just as the death of the firstborn heralded the freedom of Israel
So also, the death of only begotten Son of God – His “firstborn” – heralded our freedom
In His death and resurrection He bought us our freedom

Every time we see someone accept Jesus by being buried in the waters of baptism and risen up to live a new life we should be reminded of this great truth. In their baptism they are re-enacting the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and declaring that it was by His action that they were freed from sin.

One last thought.
There has always been one troubling aspect of Israel’s relationship with Pharaoh that has always puzzled me. Once they crossed the Red Sea – and for the next 40 years – whenever Israel ran into difficulties and hardships… guess where they wanted to go back to?
That’s right. They’d always talk about going back to Egypt.

In Numbers 11 we’re told that Israel began to be bored with their diet. They wanted more variety, more meat. And so they said: “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost— also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.” Numbers 11:5

they’d forgotten the bitterness of their slavery when life didn’t go their way and they were tempted to return to their old way of life.

That happens to some new Christians as well.
They become bored with Christianity.
Or they face troubles that shake their faith
And they long for how life had been before they were saved.
And some even return to Egypt.
And because they turn back… they embrace the curse.

CLOSE: Michael P Green (Illustrations For Biblical Preaching – with a few changes)
When Howard Carter and his associates found the tomb of King Tutankhamen they opened up his casket and guess what they found? They found another within it covered with gold leaf.
Then they opened this 2nd casket and guess what they found? They found a third.
Inside the third casket – guess what – there was a fourth made of pure gold.
And the pharaoh’s body was in the fourth, wrapped in gold cloth with a gold face mask.

But when the body was unwrapped, it was leathery and shriveled.

No matter how elaborate the caskets.
No matter how beautiful the wrappings
What lay within was death
And no matter how they tried to preserve their bodies the Pharaohs couldn’t escape that final curse.
The curse of death.

But through Jesus we have escaped
Hebrews 2 tells us “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death— that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15

Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead to free us from the curse.
And that’s why we offer an invitation at the end of every service for all who would be willing to die to their sins, be buried in the waters of Christian baptism and rise up to a new life.

Footnotes:
* Ramses (or Ramesses) II is considered by many to be Pharaoh of Exodus. However, the more conservative timetable for the Exodus (around the 1400’s) predates Ramses by over a hundred years.
* An intriguing website to check out: http://www.heptune.com/akhen.html

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Awareness Of Our Current Food Regulations

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Non Organic Foods it’s safe to eat

The food movement is definitely picking up steam these days: Farmers markets are on the rise, organic sales are up, and California is poised to vote on a proposition to label GMOs—which could set the pace for the rest of the nation.

Despite these advancements, we still have a ways to go. Until we attain a fair, sustainable food system for all, eating according to your values can cost a pretty penny. Organic produce, for example, tends to cost more than its pesticide-doused counterpart. The good news is, thanks to organizations like the Environmental Working Group (EWG), we know that some non-organic fruits and veggies are safer than others to eat. If purchasing organic food is too expensive for your family, go for these fruits and veggies next time you hit up the produce aisle.

non organic

Pineapples,Avocados, onions,Cabbage,Sweet Peas, Eggplant,Mangoes, Sweet Potatoes,Kiwi..

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18 ‘Food, Inc.’ Facts Everyone Should Know

This powerful film changed the way millions of Americans eat. Find out why.

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The Food Label That Has Kraft, Nestle, And Coca-Cola Shaking In Their Boots

Unfortunately, this label is not about to happen, but it should. Why? Because right now food manufacturers can put whatever mutant food they want in your grocery stores — without labeling. There’s no indication if the food in that can of soup is, you know, actually real food. I want a label like this to exist so I can avoid living in a dystopian future where I don’t know what goes in my face-hole.

Monsanto in 1950

Prior to renaming itself an agribusiness company, Monsanto was a chemical company that produced, among other things, DDT and Agent Orange.

MonsantoAD

Lack of USDA Power

In 1998, the USDA implemented microbial testing for salmonella and E. coli 0157h7 so that if a plant repeatedly failed these tests, the USDA could shut down the plant. After being taken to court by the meat and poultry associations, the USDA no longer has that power.

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Monsanto’s Soybean Monopoly

In 1996 when Monsanto introduced Round-Up Ready Soybeans, the company controlled only 2% of the U.S. soybean market. Now, over 90% of soybeans in the U.S. contain Monsanto’s patented gene.

soy bean

Minimal Food Inspections

In 1972, the FDA conducted 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2006, the FDA conducted only 9,164.

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Big Ag Controlling the FDA

During the Bush administration, the head of the FDA, Lester M. Crawford Jr., was the former executive VP of the National Food Processors Association.

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Big Ag in the USDA

During the Bush administration, the chief of staff at the USDA, James F. Fitzgerald, was the former chief lobbyist for the beef industry in Washington.

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The average chicken farmer (with two poultry houses) invests over $500,000 and makes only $18,000 a year.

chicken house

Sewing Seeds of Discontentment

Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas was an attorney at Monsanto from 1976 to 1979. After his appointment to the Supreme Court, Justice Thomas wrote the majority opinion in a case that helped Monsanto enforce its seed patents.

seed

Approximately 32,000 hogs a day are killed in Smithfield Hog Processing Plant in Tar Heel, N.C, the largest slaughterhouse in the world.

processing facilities

Illusion of Options

The modern supermarket stocks, on average, 47,000 products, most of which are being produced by only a handful of food companies.

options

GMO Woes

About 70% of processed foods have some genetically modified ingredient.

GMO

No Right to Know

The SB63 Consumer Right to Know measure, requiring all food derived from cloned animals to be labeled as such, passed the California state legislature before being vetoed in 2007 by Governor Schwarzenegger, who said that he couldn’t sign a bill that pre-empted federal law.

sheep

Diabetes Rates on the Rise

According to the American Diabetes Association, 1 in 3 Americans born after 2000 will contract early onset diabetes.

Among minorities, the rate will be 1 in 2.

diabetes

Foodborne Illness Becoming More Widespread

E. coli and salmonella outbreaks have become more frequent in America. In 2007, there were 73,000 people sickened by the E. coli bacteria.

illness

Hope in Organics

Organics is the fastest growing food segment, increasing 20% annually.

organic

The Impact of ‘Food, Inc.’ Lives On

Food, Inc. revealed powerful truths about the American food supply, from the inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals to the dangers of GMOs. Been a while since you’ve seen the film? We’ve compiled some of the most shocking facts from the movie. Read them to remind yourself why choosing sustainable, ethical food is so important—then share the info with those you love. Click through the gallery to see 18 truths you’ll never forget.

food-inc

 

God Works In Mysterious Ways

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A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.

Charles Dickens


God reveals Himself to people in many ways! God reveals Himself through His own words in the Bible. God reveals Himself through the Holy Spirit. God reveals Himself through Creation. God reveals Himself through the work of angels. And God also reveals Himself through people!

In the days of the Old Testament, God chose a group of people to reveal Himself; God chose Abraham and his descendants; God chose the Israelites to reveal Himself in the past! And if you study eschatology, you will note in the future that again through Israel, God will powerfully reveal Himself once and for all to the world! Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

God works in “mysterious ways”, but His message is clear; God is Creator who desires everyone to be holy and be with Him forever and ever!

Before we talk about how this should impact our lives today, let us learn more from the story of Joseph in Egypt.
Open your Bibles to Genesis Chapter 41. I want you to read our text this morning………

Does God work in mysterious ways? Mysterious means beyond ordinary understanding. What happened in this story with Pharaoh and Joseph that were beyond ordinary understanding?

First of all, the Pharaoh not only had one but 2 interesting dreams which bothered him. The dreams bothered him so much that he called all the wisemen to interpret the dreams; but no one could interpret the dreams!
Was God involved in bringing those dreams to Pharaoh?
Absolutely! Pharaoh’s dreams provided a way for Joseph (God’s man) to get out of prison and become Pharaoh’s right hand man. All of this had to happen because God had plans for the Israelites. God desired to reveal Himself to the world and to bring holiness to the Chosen People. God works in mysterious ways; He gave dreams for the purpose of His Chosen People!

And for more than 2 years, how can the cupbearer completely forget about Joseph, the man who gave him the great news of getting out of prison?

I noted last week that God likely kept the cupbearer silent about Joseph to teach Joseph a lesson about totally depending on God not man. Look again at v9…………
The cupbearer’s conscience all of sudden woke up after 2 years! Do you think God had anything to do with that? God used the cupbearer to bring Joseph, God’s man, to Pharaoh. God works in mysterious ways! God even used a bartender! Now, this doesn’t mean, I encourage you to hang out at bars!

Let’s stick to the Bible!
How well did Joseph know his God?
Look again at v15-16……….
Joseph knew that it is God who deserves all the power and glory! Joseph knew that God can work in mysterious ways!

And look again at v32…………..
God was certainly at work and He gave Pharaoh 2 dreams to make sure He got the king’s attention! God works in mysterious ways and God may repeat Himself to emphasize His point; God may repeat Himself to emphasize His point; God may repeat Himself to emphasize His point! Does Scriptures seem to repeat itself for you? God maybe trying to get our attention!
Are we listening?

Now look again at v33-36…………..
Joseph without any hesitation spoke wisely! Joseph spoke without thinking about himself. Joseph spoke without hesitation about a third person. How can Joseph speak without any hesitations or reservations? The wisdom spoken by Joseph was directly from God!

And so, even to the king of Egypt, it was clear that God was mysteriously but powerfully at work! Look at what Pharaoh said in v38, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” And because of God’s presence in Joseph, what did Pharaoh do according to verses 39-41? Because God was at work, Joseph, who was a slave, was put in complete charge of the most powerful nation in the world at the time, second only to Pharaoh!

Two more points about God being at work mysteriously but powerfully: God allowed and blessed Joseph to marry not only a non-Israelite, but a daughter of a priest!
Why do we freak out about “mixed marriages” when it may be God ordained?
And we note of course at the end of Genesis 41, God accomplished everything that was predicted!
Does God still work in mysterious and powerful ways today? Let me ask this question: How did you learn about Jesus Christ??

Do you know that many Muslims are recently becoming Christians because of dreams and visions? According to Wendell Evans of the Billy Graham Center’s Institute for Muslim Studies, “more and more stories are coming out of closed countries, of God supernaturally evangelizing Muslims through dreams and visions. Of the estimated thousands of new believers in Iran in the last few years, over half of them became believers after Jesus personally came to them in a dream or vision.” Here’s one example.

Madame Bilquis Sheikh was a high-born Muslim, former wife of a Minister of the Interior, in Pakistan. God gave her dreams and visions about John the Baptist, about himself as God the Father, Jesus the son and the Holy Spirit. He led her to read the Bible. Her family came to know of her new beliefs and confronted her. She was so convinced of her new found truth, however, that they plotted to kill her. They even tried to burn her house. Her family boycotted her, and the servants, who were Muslims, left her, calling her a traitor and an infidel. She received many threats from her family and outsiders. An Army General of Pakistan visited, asking her ‘Why did you do it?’ She replied she has been called to witness Jesus Christ and she will obey Him, no matter what comes her way. She finally escaped to the United States and wrote a book about her experiences.

God works in mysterious and powerful ways!
Let me remind you of what God did through Joseph.
God gave dreams to Pharaoh. God kept the cupbearer silent for 2 years, then God convicted his conscience.
God empowered Joseph with dream interpretation and wisdom. God brought Joseph to reign instead of being a slave. God controlled everything to accomplish what was predicted! God did all of this for Israel!

Yes, God works in mysterious and powerful ways, but God always has a purpose! God works in mysterious ways but He is not random! If you’re going to pick a god, pick a good one!! The God of the Bible is perfect and always has a purpose! God desired Israel to be blessed, to be holy, and to be with Him! This was God’s plan for His mysterious ways with Pharaoh and Joseph!

And God still works in mysterious and powerful ways in people’s lives today for the same reasons!
What does this all mean to us?

1. Let us expect God to work powerfully in our lives everyday! Do not be surprised with what God can do in your lives! Do we actually acknowledge God’s work in our daily lives or do we chuck it as coincidences, luck, or with our own efforts?

A missionary friend taught May and I this and I encourage all of us to do at the beginning of each day; Rub your hands briskly (do it right now); feel the warmth of God, and ask God, “Lord, what do you have in store for me today?”

2. God has a purpose for His works in our lives! We are to agree and commit to God’s purposes. God desires His people to be blessed, to be holy, and to be with Him always! How committed are we to these?

Be blessed and bless others!
Pursue holiness!
Walk with God daily!

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