Nov 13, 2011
A Shelter In the Time Of Storm
Nov 13, 2011
A Shelter In the Time Of Storm
In the first chapters of Genesis, God had no competition for the affection of His creatures. Humanity found its meaning, purpose, and happiness in God. God was God; everything else wasn’t. And everyone knew it. The fall tragically changed that.
We turned from God, the one true source of happiness, to false gods of every imaginable description. False gods are anything we praise, celebrate, fixate on, and look to for help that’s not the true God. One term describes and unites them all—idols. To grasp a biblical theology of happiness, we must understand the nature and extent of our constant temptations toward idolatry.
Because we all sinned in Adam (see Rom. 5:12-14), we all became idolaters in Adam. Idolatry is woven into our very nature. John Calvin said, “The human heart is a factory of idols. Every one of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.”1
God created things as means to help us delight in Him. The problems start when we believe we can find more happiness in God’s creation than in God Himself. Those who seek happiness in false gods end up sacrificing their integrity, their families, their culture, and the very happiness they crave.
The Devil is incapable of creating, so he uses God’s good creation to tempt us, twisting it to his evil purposes. He never acts for our good, since he hates us just as he hates God, who made us in His likeness.
When we see the fulfillment of a desire as a gift and gratefully enjoy it for God’s glory, we find satisfying happiness. When we chase only the desire, we become miserable, enslaved to the very thing God intended as a gift. Idolatry isn’t just wrong; it also doesn’t work.
Those who argue over whether to use cheese or peanut butter in a mousetrap agree on one thing: the stronger the attraction, the better chance of catching the mouse. Every temptation uses false happiness as bait. A woman told me, “I left my family to find happiness. It didn’t last, and I sacrificed the greatest happiness I’d ever known.” In the name of momentary happiness, she made choices that brought her despair.
Satan always works this way. He’s been trapping and devouring people for millennia; he’s good at it. That’s why the Bible warns us to “be alert. … Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8, NIV).
John Piper says, “We all make a god out of what we take the most pleasure in.”2The one way to avoid idolatry is to take the most pleasure in the one true God. Once we recognize our idols, we must destroy them, exalting God alone. Only then can we know true and lasting happiness—the kind that all lesser pleasures are only shadows of. God calls each of us to demolish our idols and live our lives bringing glory to Him alone.
1. John Calvin, as quoted in Andy Park, The Worship Journey: A Quest of Heart, Mind, and Strength (Woodinville, WA: Augustus Ink Books, 2010), 40.
2. John Piper, “We Want You to Be a Christian Hedonist!” Desiring God [online], 31 August 2006 [cited 30 October 2015]. Available from the Internet:www.desiringgod.org.
Have you ever wondered why God didn’t decide to save us without having His only Son die the gruesome death of crucifixion? Surely, you think, the Lord could do anything, right? Yes, He can do anything, but He cannot violate His own character.
God is holy. We know that all people have disobeyed His law and fellowship with Him has been broken. Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” From the beginning of time, He has required a penalty for disobedience to His commands. In fact, our sin actually deserves payment of our own life. (See Gen. 2:17; Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 6:23.)
However, because of our heavenly Father’s great love for us, He allowed another life to be offered as a substitutionary payment for our sin debt. In Old Testament times, people would sacrifice animals to atone for wrongdoing. However, this gracious provision was just a temporary solution. Jesus’ death was the final and permanent sacrifice for sin. Our loving Savior took that penalty upon Himself, dying in our place—the Son of God willingly became our sin and took the Father’s wrath upon Himself.
And then Jesus did something that we could not. Three days after dying, He rose from the grave. Jesus conquered death! We now have direct access to the heavenly Father through Christ’s death on the cross. Once we accept His free gift of full forgiveness, our entire sin debt is canceled.
There’s nothing you can do to make yourself right with God. But you can be forgiven of all your sin and receive eternal life by trusting in Christ’s death on your behalf.
“But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4)
A town will give great honor to a “hometown boy” if he makes good in athletics or the entertainment world. But if he becomes known as an influential Christian, the hometown folks usually are embarrassed about it.
Jesus Himself experienced this. He grew up in Nazareth, and it was there that He had “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). When He returned to Nazareth, however, after the early days of His ministry, “as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16). He was already recognized there as proficient in the Scriptures, and they had heard tales about His miracles, so the invitation to speak was natural, but there were certain mumbles. “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” they asked. “Whence then hath this man all these things?” (Matthew 13:55-56).
At first, “all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22). But then, as He applied a key prophecy to Himself and rebuked them for their unbelief, they “were filled with wrath” and tried unsuccessfully to slay Him (Luke 4:28-29). “Neither did his brethren believe in him” (John 7:5), and only His mother was with Him when He was crucified (John 19:25). As David had written prophetically, “I am become a stranger unto my brethren. . . . For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Psalm 69:8-9).
Perhaps those Christians who have been rejected by their family and former friends can identify with Jesus when He said: “For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother” (Mark 3:35). We still have a family—an eternal one! HMM
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. —Ephesians 1:17
The gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move
toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.
Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow.
Lord, give Your Church and its leaders a spirit of wisdom and revelation, that we might indeed have an adequate appreciation of who You are. Amen.
It is time, O God, for Thee to work, for the enemy has entered into Thy pasture, and the sheep are torn and scattered. False shepherds abound who deny the danger and laugh at the perils which surround Thy flock.
Lord Jesus, I come to Thee for spiritual preparation. Lay Thy hand upon me, anoint me with the oil of the New Testament prophet. Save me from the error of judging a church by its size, its popularity or the amount of its yearly offering.
Help me to remember that I am a prophet—not a promoter, not a religious manager. Let me never become a slave to crowds. Heal my soul of carnal ambitions and deliver me from the itch for publicity.
Lay Thy terror upon me, O God, and drive me to the place of prayer, where I may wrestle with principalities and powers and the rulers of the darkness of this world.
Teach me self-discipline, that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
The love of Christ casts not out the love of relatives, but it sanctifies our loves, and makes them sweeter far. Remember the love of men and women is very sweet. Oh! to have the love of Christ! for his love is “strong as death and mightier than the grave.”
The most overpowering thought of all is that He loved us when there was nothing good in us whatever.
Sept 10, 2013
Chuck Missler is one of the great Bible teachers. Chuck Missler is an author, evangelical Christian, Bible teacher, engineer, and former businessman. He is the founder of the Koinonia House ministry based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. God has Blessed him in order to Bless us with this study.
There is no substitute for personal prayer, fellowship with the Lord, and personal study of His Word.
That’s part of what makes it so devastating when our ministries feel fruitless—no one gives their life to Christ, the financial troubles never end, or the sermons fall flat. It feels as though all our efforts have been for nothing, or a wrong choice put us in the wrong place. We don’t have stories of transformed lives, people meeting Christ, or God’s hand in our work.
One man, who claimed he’d failed more than 10,000 times before achieving his greatest success, said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” That man was Thomas Edison.
In 1707, another man encountered his own series of failures in a different struggle—a mission that shows that God can, and does use even “fruitless” ministries to advance the Kingdom.
God can and does use even “fruitless” ministries to advance his Kingdom.
A lost colony
hans egedePastor Hans Poulsen Egede was a young Lutheran pastor assigned to a remote archipelago, hundreds of miles into the Arctic Circle. The isolated region of Lofoten, Norway rested at the feet of a breathtaking range of mountains skirting the Norwegian Sea. Here, Egede first heard rumors of a twelfth-century Norse settlement of Greenland. Intrigued, he undertook an investigation and discovered that the settlement had fallen out of contact with Europe nearly 300 years earlier.
Imagine the weight of that discovery: an entire colony of people, forgotten by the country that sent them. And no one knew what had happened.
Hans became restless and was plagued by questions. What became of the settlements? Were the Christians who colonized Greenland still following Christ, or had they lost their connection with God as well? Sensing God’s call, Hans obtained permission from Frederick IV of Denmark to re-establish a Danish colony in Greenland. It took 10 long years to raise funds but at last Hans led his family and a band of 40 colonists to resettle Greenland.
A lost cause
When Hans arrived in Greenland, he was crestfallen; nothing remained of the the old Norse colonies. What Hans did find, however, were the native Inuit. Reinvigorated, he undertook a new mission: share the Christian faith with the Inuit people. For 10 years (making a total of 20 years devoted to this mission), Hans and his family labored to bring them the gospel, but the Inuit expressed little interest in the stories of the Bible—except for those of Jesus miracles. “If you are the priest of such a mighty God,” they said, “You must perform similar miracles.” They mocked the Lutheran minister, dismissing his message.
After 12 years of labor with no visible fruit from his ministry, Hans suffered a devastating blow—his wife died without even a hint that her life’s ministry was fruitful. That same year, a smallpox epidemic ravaged the Inuit villages, leaving thousands dead. But Hans demonstrated the same commitment to the Inuit as he had to his late wife. He worked day and night, tending to the sick and sitting by the beds of the dying. He conducted the same funeral rites for the Inuit as he had for his wife. He whispered the words of God’s self-giving love to the dying, in the Inuit language he struggled to learn and teach his sons.
In these desperate moments and compassionate acts of service, Hans showed the Inuit people what he’d been trying to tell them for over a decade.
An eternal legacy
After all the years he invested in the Inuit people, after all the hardships he faced in his ministry, Hans suffered a final tragedy. The country that sent him ordered him to leave.
But before he left, the surviving leaders of the very people who had mocked him said, “You would have done for us what not even our own kinfolk would have done. You have fed us when we were famished. You have buried our dead who otherwise would have been the prey of foxes and ravens. Above all, you have told us of God, and we may now die happily in hope of a better life hereafter.”
A reason to keep going
Hans had every reason to give up on his mission. Every external sign, every metric for ministry success would have indicated that his time would be better spent elsewhere.
But God doesn’t use our metrics, and he doesn’t follow our timelines.
Not every pursuit produces fruit, but we also can’t confuse “not yet” with not ever.
by Ryan Nelson
Many people wear a cross because it symbolizes the Christian faith. But few fully grasp the depth of love that it represents.
The cross stands for what is arguably history’s most painful method of execution. Crucifixion usually began with two soldiers flogging the criminal from the front and back. They used a strap with three leather cords, each containing a piece of embedded bone that tore flesh to ribbons. No wonder Jesus fell and struggled to carry His cross after such treatment.
The soldiers then hammered a long square nail into the hands or wrists; this shape would heighten the already excruciating pain. Another nail was driven through the ankles into the wood. Raising the cross, executioners would then drop it into a hole in the ground; the thud from it falling into place would further tear the flesh. In order to breathe, the convicted man had to push up on his bloody ankles.
Jesus was fully God, but He was also fully man. He experienced the physical agony any human would feel at such brutality. On top of that, He felt emotional and spiritual anguish because the nation had rejected Him and His disciples had denied Him. Worst of all, when He took our sin upon Himself, the Father turned away (Matt. 27:46; 2 Cor. 5:21). Yet Jesus didn’t see Himself as a victim; He willingly offered His blood on our behalf and considered it a joy (Heb. 12:2). No greater love exists.
Stop to consider all Jesus endured on the cross for your sake. As you begin to grasp the enormity of His sacrifice, thank Him for His boundless love.