Why so much evil in the world

19 Reasons Why There is so Much Evil in the World - YouTube

 

THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION is very simple but not liked. The question always arises after such violent tragedies as was seen this last week in El Paso & Dayton (just 2 of many in recent years). In reality, millions of people have suffered under tyrannical evil from the time after the Garden. [Gen 3]

Evil exists because of the fall in the garden of Eden. It entered the world through the tempting by the serpent.

Since then, mankind has had to struggle with sin (evil’s real name). EVIL does not exist unless there is something that is GOOD (it’s the absence of good). For us to distinguish between the two there must be a moral law. A moral law that doesn’t move with the times requires a MORAL LAW GIVER. We call Him GOD.

Paul wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “There is none righteous, no, not one:” [Rom 3:10; Ps 14:1-3; 53:1]. This being true, mankind is not generally good. Neither are they generally evil as the error of inherited sin proposes. Babies are innocent (2Sam 12:23; Mark 10:14), as are those born with stunted mental ability & remain with a childlike maturity. What this means is that sin is in the world, and man learns to sin. We all sin, if we say we’re without sin we lie. [1John 1:7]

So, where does all of this evil come from? It comes from sin. James gives more information about the source of wars & fighting;

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” [James 4:1-4]

Therefore, evil comes because of selfish, narcissistic lusts & desires. Now that we’ve established that sin is in the world, which is evil, let’s approach it from another direction.

Witnessing the terrible evils of our day give us much grief, perhaps anxiety. Definitely frustration and anger. The next question is this; “HOW DO I COPE WITH THE EVIL?”

This question is a bit more difficult to answer as each person must wrestle with their own emotions & reasonings. However, there may be help by understanding a major reality of this life. (This is just one of five things to help you cope. The other four will be in this morning’s sermon.)

PARADISE has been lost. It was lost within 100 years of creation and will no longer be found on earth.

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” [Gen 3:22-24]

We will never be able to eradicate EVIL; no laws will stop it. There’s no place on Earth you can go to avoid it. Therein lies the key, no place ON EARTH. Utopia, bliss, peace, whatever word you want to use shall not be found on the Earth. This is awaiting the faithful in HEAVEN.

God has provided a way of escape and a way to cope with the evil of this world by providing a rescue plan in Christ Jesus. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Rom 5:21, cr. Rev 21:1-8]

This is the first of five keys to coping with EVIL in this life but, it’s one of the most important. Let me sum in up this way; EVIL angers & frustrates us because we think we can get rid of it. We can’t. We CAN make things better in this life by working on brightening our own lights in the Gospel and teaching others to obey the Gospel also. This is the only proven way to fight evil.

HE IS ABLE TO DELIVER THEE

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An enormous golden statue was raised up in the land of Babylon, and King Nebuchadnezzar commanded that all the people should worship the image upon hearing the sounds of the “cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up: And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” [Dan 3:5-6]

At least 3 captive Jewish men ignored the command and were set to face the furnace for their faith. They were Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (their Israelite names), better known as, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego [Daniel 3:12]. Faithful men who refused to bow down to any image or person except God.

What’s interesting to me about this whole event are the words spoken by these young men as they faced the fiery furnace being given the chance to worship the image & live or stand fast & die.

O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” [Daniel 3:16-18]

Here’s a summary of what they were saying…

  • We have no need to give you a new answer
  • Our God whom we serve
  • Is able to deliver us, and He will deliver us
  • But if not, (if God doesn’t deliver them)
  • Know this, we WILL NOT serve false gods, nor worship the golden image.

This is a remarkable response from these 3 young men to an all-powerful King. They understood that all Nebuchadnezzar could do was kill their body, but not their souls. [cf. Mt 10:28] In other words, never let fear override your faith.

There are 5 lessons we can learn from this simple example:

  • There is no amount of pain on earth sufficient enough to match the severity of hell.
  • There is no amount of worldly pleasure great enough to surpass the joy of heaven.
  • God is able to deliver us & reward us in this life, but if He doesn’t, don’t miss heaven over it.
  • Standing firm in your faith is going to make someone very angry, stand firm anyway.
  • Standing firm for your faith may change someone’s mind.

After they were thrown into the furnace with haste, God did deliver them, and Nebuchadnezzar became a changed man. Let’s read what happened. [Daniel 3:26-28]

Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.”

Today we face different challenges to our faith. However, the lessons of these faithful 3 can help us. Peter wrote about the suffering that Christians face and how we ought to respond.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15]

You see, people see the confidence in our hope during the persecutions of Godly living and want to know why.

 

–spencer

TOMORROW’S TROUBLES

Image result for are its own troubles

 

We only worry about 3 days of our lives; YESTERDAY, TODAY or TOMORROW. Since last weeks article looked at letting go of YESTERDAY, let’s see how to handle the worries of TODAY & TOMORROW.

Everyone, at one time or another has had anxiety about some future event. We worry about making our payments, our health, or facing someone that we need to face. There are more emergency room visits & heart attacks on Sunday night & Monday morning than any other day of the week. Why? Because people are worrying about tomorrow. (I confirmed this on a recent hospital ER visit.) People are dying to go to work.

Jesus had much to say about worry over TOMORROW’S things; “Take therefore no thought for the morrow:” [Mat 6:34].  The command is for us not to fret over tomorrow, but did He give us any instructions as to how? I think He gives 2 steps, and we find them in the same passage of Mat 6:25-34.

THE REMEDY TO REDUCE WORRY

The FIRST thing we learn about reducing stress & worry is in finding PERSPECTIVE. Jesus gives 3 examples to help us gain perspective.

  • Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? [v26]
  • Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? [v27]
  • And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: [v28]

These 3 examples are there for us to have PERSPECTIVE on life. As faithful children of God, we can trust in His promise of care [cf. Psalm 37:25; 1Pet 5:7].

The SECOND thing we learn about reducing stress & worry is in taking PRIORITIZED ACTION. Jesus said it this way,

  • But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. [v33 emphasis mine seb]

This remedy is so simple that we overlook its great power. He is teaching us about having the right PERSPECTIVE and then taking PRIORITIZED ACTION. When a person devotes himself to “seeking the kingdom of God, and His righteousness,” that person will discover the prescription from the creator on how to live, how to survive this life and how go to heaven.

Without His guidance we’re left to worry & stress over how to wander through a broken world. Jesus continues saying, “Sufficient for today are its own troubles.” [v34] This is just another way of telling us to have PERSPECTIVE and to take PRIORITIZED ACTIONS. The only affect we have on tomorrow are the activities we do today. If we seek God’s way of doing things, we’ll have made the best use of today giving the best chance for tomorrow.

This strategy helps us to better understand what is meant in James 5:14; “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

The context is about concern over tomorrow’s work without having PERSPECTIVE about the frailty of life and taking notice of the PRIORITIZED ACTION needed today. That FIRST action must be getting ourselves right with God. Paul reminds the child of God, “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [2Cor 6:2b]

Would you desire peace today with release from worry? Prepare today to go to heaven and make that the first decision you make each day. Having PERSPECTIVE and deciding on a PRIORITZED ACTION, then all the rest of your decisions will have already been made. You’ll be free to concentrate on, enjoy & fully live each and every day.

Whether tomorrow comes or not, you’ll have done the very best you could possibly do. If it comes, it will begin on the very best possible footing, His righteousness.

If it doesn’t come, you’ll have ended today on the very best possible footing, having sought the kingdom of God and obeying the gospel.

—-spencer

What are you Doing about it?

We can all agree that Jesus the Christ did not sin. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:” [1Pet 2:22]. The rest of us have “sinned and come short of the glory of God” [Rom 3:23].

We’re not alone. The great bible characters dealt with this realization:

Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter & Paul. Each of these faced the reality of their own sin, Paul saying; “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” [1Tim 1:15].

This fact is no authorization to continue in sin even as Christ came to save sinners. Paul also wrote; “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? [Rom 6:1-2]

Through our obedience to the gospel we have found redemption through Christ Jesus, having our sins washed away in water baptism [Acts 22:16]. Although we’ve been washed, sin leaves a terrible mark on our psyche and scars on our bodies. What are we to do with this?

Paul wrote to the Philippians about this, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” [Phil 3:13-14]. However, in another place he reminded the church of their past sins, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” [1Cor 6:11]. What are we to do with that?

Putting these two passages together we come to this conclusion; Remember from where you’ve come and from what you’ve been saved, but close the door on your past so that you can move onward to do the work of God. There are THREE things about our past that need “forgetting” so we can please God today.

FIRST, we need to forget our past sins. Paul had plenty of sins in his past especially as it related to his persecution of the church. “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” [Acts 22:4]. Our past sins are forgiven, but unchangeable. They are what they are and we cannot undo them. Therefore, they are to be forgotten.

SECOND, we need to forget our past successes. Whatever good we may have done, however many people we may have helped in the gospel, we cannot rest on those successes. We must continue to press toward the goal. Nowhere is “once saved, always saved” taught in scripture. Not after faith, baptism or any good deed.

THIRD, we need to forget (in a figure) our past sorrows. We’ve all experienced loss & pain, but those sorrows should not prevent us from moving forward with God. Some let the pains and losses of their past to paralyze them from continued service in God’s kingdom.

Rather than let our past paralyze us, it ought to MOTIVATE us into more & abundant service to our King. Being reminded of the forgiveness we have through Christ; our past sins should MOVE us to continual repentance [Acts 8:22-24; 1John 1:7-9].

Our past wins should continue to MOVE us to do more service for our King. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” [Titus 2:14].

Lastly, the pains of our past should MOVE us to reach out to the lost with the gospel message so that nobody dies outside of Christ. You can feel Paul’s sense of urgency about this for the unconverted Jewish nation; “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” [Romans 10:1, cf 9:2-4].

We have no control over our past selves and we have no control over our future selves except as it relates to our TODAY selves. Today is the largest amount of time within our ability and with that it is our only opportunity to serve God.

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts… Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” [Heb 3:7-14].

Do you remember when you were without hope?

You may be thinking that this title refers to that time in your life when you had great financial distress, but it doesn’t. Or you may suppose that it refers to that time when you may have been in fear for your life at the threat of a thief or a maniac, but it doesn’t. Or you may be thinking it’s referring to the loss of a parent or a spouse, but it doesn’t.

It’s referring to Ephesians chapter 2: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh,… That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”

Too many people are hopeless, and far too many Christians are displaying hopelessness as well. It’s very easy to get caught up in the concerns for this life and to forget that there’s an eternity awaiting us. Paul is saying that without Christ this life is hopeless. Without Christ this life holds no promises.

The writer of Ecclesiastes makes the same point in a very powerful way. He writes about seeking success, wealth, joy and meaningful work, but at the end of the day it’s vanity, “grasping after the wind.” He’s not suggesting that these pursuits are worthless. His conclusion is the same as Paul’s, without God in your life all these things are hopeless. His conclusion of the whole matter is, “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecc 12:13]

Have you ever met someone that appeared to have nothing, no money, had physical disabilities or otherwise devoid of many of this world’s goods but was happy? I have, many times. I met a man, whom I’ve told you about, who had a disease called Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). It is a disorder in which muscle tissue and connective tissue are gradually replaced by bone (ossified), forming bone outside the skeleton. He was one of the happiest guys I knew. I loved being around him because he brightened every room he entered.

How can anyone in a condition like that be happy? It was by no cause of his own, it happened to him beginning from his youth up. He experienced daily pain because of his disease but brought joy to those around him. How did he do it, what’s the key? I’ll tell you, he looked forward to being with God. In other words, he had purpose. This is true of nearly everyone who, despite the difficulties of life, are happy. They have found purpose, meaning and a direction.

THE KEY TO TRUE JOY…PURPOSE

People with purpose are some of the happiest people on the planet. They will endure great pain & struggle because of purpose.

I read about a study where scientists tossed lab rats into a jar of water that had been placed in total darkness to see how long they would swim to survive. In total darkness it took 3 minutes before they gave up. Then they took the rats and placed them in the same conditions, but this time with a small ray of light at the top. How long did the rats struggle this time? 36 hours! When they had a light, a possibility of escape, they were able to endure.

Think about how strong we can be when we have hope, true hope that is in Christ. We can face tomorrow when we know that we’ve been reconciled to God in Christ. Paul finishes his command to remember by saying, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

So, let us be reminded that without Christ we are without hope, without the promise of heaven, but IN CHRIST we have both the promise of heaven and hope that He will return to take us there. [Gal 3:27 put on Christ in baptism]

The next time life gets you down, and it will, look up and be reminded that God loves you, and that He sent His Son to provide you a way of escape.

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful (compassionate), and of tender mercy.” [James 5:11]

Coping with Stress

Life can be very stressful. Everyone faces, at one time or another, something that knocks them down or shakes them up. There seems to be 5 categories of stressors, I call them the 5 D’s…

  • DEATH – when someone close to us dies.
  • DISEASE – when we get sick or hurt and it changes how we live.
  • DIVORCE – when issues in marriage come up (not just a divorce itself).
  • DILEMMA – when non-health related issues arise, like loss of a job.
  • DEPENDENTS – when issues affecting our children.

This is not an exhaustive list, but most difficulties fall within one of these 5 categories. How do we handle it when we get bad news increasing our stress levels?

For a lot of folks, they run away or try to avoid the problem. Here are a few other negative coping mechanisms…

  • Acting out – not coping, but giving in to misbehave
  • Denial – refusing to acknowledge the problem
  • Distancing – moving away from the problem
  • Emotionality – outbursts and extreme emotion
  • Passive Aggression – avoiding refusal by passive avoidance
  • Provocation – getting others to react so you can retaliate
  • Somatization – psychological problems turned into physical symptoms

A clear example of this are those in Acts 7 who had become completely enraged when confronted with the reality they had killed The Messiah.

When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” [Acts 7:54-58]

In another place, when Nehemiah learned of the distress of his people, he wept. “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted,” [Neh 1:4]

Stress is unavoidable, coping with it in a godly way is a choice and a blessing from God. How can we handle stress in a godly way? One of the ways is prayer.

In the Acts 7 passage, when Stephen was under attack, he prayed… “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” [Acts 7:60]

What did Nehemiah do in his stressful situation? He prayed. “and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned..” [Neh 2:4-6]

It doesn’t take much time, it can be done in a moment. When asked about his sorrow by the king… “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” [Neh 2:4]

What is your first response to stress? Is it to run away? Is it to lash out at the one you perceive is the cause? Is it denial? None of these will be of any help in your time of need.

God’s people have the avenue of prayer, let that be our first response.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” [James 5:13]

Rock Bottom

Everyone has some trouble in their life, some more than others. It may be self-caused, natural causes or externally caused. Regardless of the source, living on this planet can be rough.

Another interesting fact about living on this planet; nothing stops when trouble comes. Bills keep arriving in the mail, landlords still want their rent and don’t get me started about what the grocery store wants when you load up a buggy full of food.

Just because the world keeps moving doesn’t mean that we’re not weeping with you in your sorrow, neither does it mean there’s no compassion.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

[Romans 1:15]

Take, for example, Naomi. She was a young widow who was living with her widowed daughter-in-law Ruth. Back in those days it was very difficult for a woman without a husband. I can’t imagine that kind of sorrow, but we can study it and learn from it.

You see, Naomi was down, very down. You might say that she had hit rock bottom. We know she was down because of what she said to those back in Bethlehem;

“Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?” [Ruth 1:20-21]

Her sadness was so deep that she wanted to be called ‘bitter’ which is also translated as ‘grieved’ in verse 13. “for it grieveth me much for your sakes that the hand of the LORD is gone out against me.” Can you imagine the depth of hurt that you would rather people call you bitter, grief or sadness? Her words conveyed no sense of hope. Is it any wonder she wanted her daughters-in-law to return to their father’s home? [1:8-14]

FACE THE FACTS

Naomi just presented them with the facts of the matter. That’s a good place to start I suppose. Many folks try to hide from the reality of their pain.

In another story, Joshua had to face the facts when Moses died. The Lord spoke to him and said, “Moses my servant is dead.” Yeah, Joshua knew that, they had mourned the death of Moses for 30 days [Deut 34:8]. So why did God tell him again? To face the facts. God had something for Joshua to do and it was time for him to get after it. God follows up His restating of the facts by saying to Joshua;

“now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel.” [Joshua 1:2]

Naomi, Ruth and Joshua were in mourning, but life was still moving forward. No one expected them to forget their loved ones, nor was anyone telling them to ‘get over it’ not even God does that. However, what He does expect from all of us, in particular those that are in sorrow, is to keep moving forward. He wants us to keep moving toward Him.

It’s when we understand this that we can have a better understanding of Matthew 6:27; “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” Christ then goes onto say;

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” [Mat 6:33]

He is saying, keep moving forward toward Him, and you will have the strength to discover joy again. This is what Paul learned with the trouble he faced while spreading the Gospel. He wrote to the Philippians;

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

[Phil 4:11-13]

With the help of Ruth, Naomi was able to face the facts and move forward. God retold the promise of Abraham & Moses to Joshua as motivation to keep him moving, and Paul found peace and contentment when he heeded the Word of God.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” [Phil 4:6-7]

Keep moving forward.

Are Prayers for Vegas insufficient?

As were all of you, I was horrified to awaken to the news of the ‘deadliest mass murder in US history.’ We were shocked and we grieved. Then we became angry as those who, ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ began the politicization of tragedy. Of course, many of us also prayed. Our thoughts and prayers went out to those affected (one of whom is the granddaughter of one of our own who hid under a table during the rain of gunfire).

With so many thoughts swirling through my mind, and so many arguments being presented, I didn’t know where to begin. But then, a national late-night talk show host said this, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.” There it was, the tired argument that often surfaces after a tragedy, just framed with different words. It’s as if to say, “where is your God?”

This argument is not new, David wrote in the 42nd Psalm, “As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” This argument is offered as proof from unbelievers that God is feckless at best and nonexistent at worst. That the wisdom of man is superior to that of God.

“Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient”

The pure arrogance of this statement. How did he come to that conclusion? Does he have the mind of God? Can this comedian declare the end from the beginning [Isa 46:10]? How did his thoughts become worthier than those of the Almighty?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]

Prayer is essential

Our God is very clear on this matter, He wants us to pray, but He commands us to pray within His revealed will. For many, prayer is nothing more that the rubbing of a magic lamp so the powerful Genie will grant their wishes, this is NOT prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [James 4:3]

We are to pray

  • According to His will [Matt 6:10; 26:42] which would require us to learn of His will.
  • In faith, without wavering, [James 1:6].
  • Not to eliminate problems, but for strength to endure them, [Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19].
  • For our leaders, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” [1Tim 2:1-8]
  • That the word of God may have free course, [2Thess 3:1; Col 4:3]

In a sense, prayer is not enough

…if not followed up by our own obedience. James wrote, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” [James 2:16] We are to act, but what kind, for what purpose? The context of the James passage is not benevolence, though individual benevolence is a command. The main context is SALVATION. Note verse 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

In all the above passages, there is a connection between prayer and the spreading of the Gospel. The enemies of God want the opposite, hence their mocking, “where is thy God?” So often during tragedy, folks begin to ponder their own future [Ecc 7:2].  Now IS THE TIME TO ACT, it’s the time to lead people to the Love of God found in Christ Jesus. Acting as lights of the world, we need to shine that light into this dark world with the truth of God’s word, the truth of salvation and the truth about Heaven.

Why is there so much evil?

I would be remiss if I failed to remind you of the answer. FIRST, there is no such thing as evil if there is no God. Do we call animal behavior of death evil when the roaring lion kills the infant water buffalo? We are more than animals, we have free will, which brings us to the SECOND answer. Free will has been given to us from God. He wants us to love, but with the ability to love, we can also hate. Without free will, choice, we cannot love. From where do wars, murders and fighting arise? They come from our worldly desires…

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” [James 4:1-6]

But James reminds us of the solution

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” [7-10]

In other words, the answer to evil is turning to God. Isn’t that accomplished through evangelism? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

-Spencer

School, Money and Nuclear war

ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR has arrived for our young ones. Parents are scrambling for last minute school supplies, a panic that will be repeated for another reason the day after Thanksgiving. Excitement (or anxiety) is building up in the little hearts as the 1st day of school approaches. Their minds wondering, will the teachers be nice, will their friends be in the same class, will the lessons be difficult, all in anticipation of the chiming bell that brings school into session.

Moms are asking themselves, “will my little baby have friends, play nice and excel in all that he does?” Dads have worries too, “will my kid have the courage to face the perils of the playground, will he stand up for the weak, or will he be one of them, or worse, will he be one of the bullies?”

Let us remember the teachers who are under pressure to teach to a test instead of helping our children to fully understand the 3 R’s in favor of political correctness. The struggles of maintaining order in the classroom as more children enter the school from broken and dysfunctional homes. Just one question…

Did you think to pray?

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. [1Peter 5:6-7]

In many homes, the worries about money loom large as the accounts dwindle under the mounting pressures of debt and doubt. Moms & dads hoping their jobs will still be there tomorrow, fearing what new program the government will roll out to “help.”

Did you think to pray?

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [Matthew 6:20-21]

Then there’s the constant worry about food, water and health. Is our food GMO’d into poison, has our drinking water been contaminated, and when will cancer affect me? All of it seems so impossible to control, what are we to do?

Did you think to pray?

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? [Matthew 6:25]

Did I mention North Korea? The threat of war, the rattling of sabers, by a despot in a foreign country that many of us will never see. A dictator who appears to be channeling the likes of Hitler, Mussolini or Mao. The uncertainties of our own leaders who appear to be more concerned for the next election rather than the current conditions. What are we to do?

Did you think to pray?

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [1Timothy 2:1-2]

There are plenty of things to worry about in this world. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the chaos we call life. But there’s comfort in the scriptures. It tells of a man named Lot whose soul was ‘vexed (tormented) daily’ by the lawless deeds of those around him. [2Peter 2:7-8] The comforting part is in vs 9, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:”

Our world is beset with Sweat, Sorrow & Sin and our Souls are tormented every day to the point we don’t know what to do. Remember, “God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it,” but we’ve got to remember to pray!

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6]

Lastly, we don’t serve a God who doesn’t understand. Our Savior lived on this earth and faced the very same things we face, and He prayed.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” [Hebrews 4:15-16]

Please everyone Lose everything

donkey

THERE WAS AN OLD MAN, a boy and a donkey. They were going to town and the boy was riding the donkey, with the old man walking alongside.

As they rambled along, they passed some old women sitting in the shade. One of the women called out, ”Shame on you, a great lump of a boy, riding while your old father is walking.” The man and boy decided that maybe the critics were right so they changed positions.

Later they ambled by a group of mothers watching their young children play by the river. One cried out in protest, “How could you make your little boy walk in the hot sun while you ride?!” The two travelers decided that maybe they both should walk.

Next, they met some young men out for a stroll. “How stupid you are to walk when you have a perfectly good donkey to ride!” one yelled derisively. So, both father and son clambered onto the donkey, deciding they both should ride.

They were soon settled and underway again. They next encountered some children who were on their way home from school. One girl shouted, “How mean to put such a load on a poor little animal.” The old man and the boy saw no alternative. Maybe the critics were right. They now struggled to carry the donkey. As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the confused animal and he fell to his death in the river.

You know the moral of the story, if you try to please everyone you will never know what to do, it will be hard to get anywhere, you will please no-one, not even yourself, and you will probably lose everything. We can say it another way, DON’T SET YOURSELF ON FIRE TRYING TO KEEP OTHERS WARM.

We spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think about us. We are continually perplexed because we can never please everybody. The English poet, John Lydgate once said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. Another problem that arises from seeking others approval, is when we find out that they weren’t thinking about us at all. STOP TRYING!

We ought rather, to strive to please God and do unto others as we would have them do unto us [Mat 7:12], instead of worrying about someone thinking us foolish. There is a lesson here for all of us. We will be happier if we learn it.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.” [1Cor 4:3-4]

There comes a point when you must realize that you’ll never be good enough for some people. That’s their problem. The only One from whom we need any approval is God and He always knows what is right and what is in your heart. [Heb 4:12; cr. John 8:29; Rom 8:8; 1Cor 7:32, 10:33; Gal 1:10; Php 4:18; 1Thess 2:15; 4:1; 2Tim 2:4; Hebrews 11:6; 13:21]

“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” [2Corinthians 5:9-10]