Archive for March, 2008

Conditional Obedience

Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

“Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” (Jeremiah 7:24)

My dog practices selective listening.  When he doesn’t like what I am saying, he acts as though he doesn’t understand me.  If he is in my room at bedtime and I tell him to leave, he looks at me as if to say, “What?”  It’s as though his hearing is gone.  On the other hand, he can be asleep behind closed doors, and if I go downstairs, open the cupboard, and pull out his leash, he suddenly has supersonic hearing.  He is right there at my side. 

When he likes what I want him to do, my dog hears and obeys me.  But when he doesn’t like what I want him to do, my dog doesn’t hear and doesn’t obey.

We can be the same with God.  When God tells us to do something we like, we say, “Yes, Lord!”  But when He tells us to stop doing something, we say, “God, I think you’re cutting out on me.  I’m not hearing you clearly.”

Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14).  He didn’t say, “You are My friends if you do the things that you personally agree with.”  God has told us in His Word how we are to live.  It is not for us to pick and choose sections of the Bible we like and toss the rest aside.

If God tells you to do something, He says it for good reason, and you need to obey Him.  If God says not to do something, He also says it for good reason.  Even if you don’t understand it, obey Him.

Giving God a Makeover

Monday, March 17th, 2008

“And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’ ” (1 Corinthians 10:7)

At first glance, the sins that brought the children of Israel down in the wilderness don’t seem to have any rhyme or reason. But a closer examination reveals that the root problem was a lack of relationship with the true and living God.

When Moses was temporarily taken out of the scene when he went to meet with God on Mt. Sinai, the people wanted something to take his place. It was only a matter of time until they were bowing before a golden calf.

When you get down to it, Moses was their first idol, and the golden calf was their second. Moses was like God to them, so when Moses was gone, they created a god of their own making.

We do the same when we start remaking God in our own image. When we give God a 21st-century makeover, when we make God politically correct, when we start changing His Word to fit the perverted morals of our time, this becomes idolatry. We are remaking God because we are not comfortable with what He says. We don’t like His standards. Thus, if we can remake God in our image, we can live the way that we want to and do as we please.

We want a celestial salad bar where we can casually stroll up, choose the attributes of God that most appeal to us, and leave the rest behind. It’s religion á la carte.

When we mold God and His Word into our image, it is as much an act of idolatry as it was when the children of Israel worshiped the golden calf.

The Master Arsonist

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

“God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3)

When wildfires swept through Southern California in the fall of 1993, I noticed a photograph in the newspaper of an entire neighborhood that had been leveled by the fires.  All that was left were the foundations.  In the midst of all the burned, charred, rubble stood one house that remained completely untouched, even by smoke.  This gleaming white house stood in stark contrast to all of the ruin around it.

When asked why his house was left standing when all the others fell, the homeowner explained how he had taken great care to make his house flame-retardant.  This included double-paned windows, thick stucco walls, sealed eaves, concrete tile, and abundant insulation.  Firefighters said, “It made it clear to us that this would be a place to make a stand.”  This man went the extra mile and, as a result, his house survived when the fires came.

Today, our country is being devastated by the wildfires of immorality.  Satan, a master arsonist, is causing massive devastation.  It destroys homes.  It devastates families.  And if we aren’t careful, we could become its next victims.

The writer of Proverbs asked, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap and not be burned?” (6:27).  The answer is no.  Fire can burn out of control so easily.

If we as believers allow temptation to infiltrate our lives and allow our sinful natures to prevail, we will likely fall, as surely as a fire spreads by putting gasoline on it.  But if we take practical steps to guard ourselves and stay close to the Lord, then we don’t have to fall.  Let’s go the extra mile to protect our homes and our lives against the wildfires of immorality.

Keep Moving!

Monday, March 10th, 2008

“Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1)

It is clear that we are living in the last days.  All around us, the signs that Jesus and the prophets told us to look for are taking place before our very eyes.  The devil and his demons are doing their dirty work, and this should not surprise us.  The Bible warns that in the last days, things will go from bad to worse.

One of the signs will be an abandonment of the faith, or an apostasy.  Some will fall away and will follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Could you or I ever become one of these spiritual casualties?  Could you or I ever fall away from the Lord?  Without question, the potential and even the propensity for sin lies within us.  I have the potential to fall.  You do to.

That is why we must give careful attention to potential pitfalls for believers that are given to us in Scripture.  There are things we must be aware of as we live in the last days.  As the apostle Paul wrote, “The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here.  So don’t live in darkness.  Get rid of your evil deeds.  Shed them like dirty clothes.  Clothe yourselves with the armor of right living, as those who live in the light” (Romans 13:12).

Your relationship with Jesus Christ needs constant maintenance and cultivation.  The day that you stop growing spiritually is the day you start to become weak and vulnerable to the devil’s attacks.  The best way to not go backward is to keep moving forward.

The Absence of God

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

The first day of class started, and the atheist professor wanted to make his first point, and let his students know where he stood.

“Let me explain the problem science has with Jesus Christ.” The professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

“You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?”

“Yes sir,” the student says.

“So you believe in God?”

“Absolutely.”

“Is God good?”

“Sure! God’s good.”

“Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?”

“Yes.”

“Are you good or evil?”

“The Bible says I’m evil.”

The professor grins knowingly. “Ahhh, The Bible! He considers for a moment….

“Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?”

“Yes sir, I would.”

“So you’re good!”

“I wouldn’t say that.”

“But why not say that? You’d helped a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.”

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. “He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?”

The student remains silent.

“No you can’t, can you?” The professor takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the stu dent time to relax.

“Let’s start again, young fellow. Is God good?”

“Er…yes,” the student says.

“Is Satan good?”

The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. “No.”

“Then where does Satan come from?”

The student: “From…God….”

“That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in the world?”

“Yes sir.””Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?”

“Yes.”

“So who created evil?” The professor continued, “If God created everything, then God created evil. Since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.”

Without allowing the student to answer, the professor continues:

“Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in the world?”

The student: “Yes.”

“So who created them?” (more…)