Thursday, September 30, 2010
Our nation has fallen prey to the Athenian spirit, always seeking "something new." As result, people drift from social fad to social fad in hopes of stumbling upon that which will satisfy their cravings―always hungry but never filled. We live in a culture that has abandoned the certainty of God's revealed truth for the empty promises of self-proclaimed leaders. "Professing to be wise they became fools and exchanged the truth of God for a lie" (Rom. 1:22). Ethical matters in our society, having no plumb line as a standard, are left to be determined by the latest public opinion poll. Truth is constantly put to the popular vote and whim of the ever-shifting majority. Elected officials and judges at all levels trim their ethical sails to catch the prevailing winds. No standard that rises above all men is allowed; how old fashion and naive. We live in more enlightened times. Those old standards put too many restraints on us. Surely we can have our cake and eat it too.
The sexual revolution provides a vivid illustration of this cultural dilemma. The Bible was unrealistic when it demanded chastity and monogamous marital relationships; how repressive. Christianity simply doesn't take into account human sexuality and its need to express itself. There's nothing wrong with free sex and multiple partners of the opposite or same sex. Freedom from this bondage is demanded. Well, like a train freed from the bondage of its tracks, this sexual ethic soon bogs down under its own weight. Freed from God's repressive law, new social problems emerge. As we may not violate the law of gravity with immunity, neither may God's moral laws be violated without sever results. (There have always been individuals who violate such laws, but we're speaking now of an entire social shift of ethical standards). This new freedom brings with it a harsh task master that demands a price for such liberty. Broken marriages, unwanted pregnancies, abused and aborted children, diseases, and an increased burden on the social fabric are but a few of the personal and social costs for this enlightened ethic.
Having failed so dismally, we might expect a social shift back to those less costly standards found in the Scriptures. However, being wiser than God, men still seek ways to violate God's laws without having to pay the high price for their actions. Education in "safe sex," public distribution of condoms (even to children), abortion on demand, and increased welfare benefits should enable us to sin against God a little longer without facing the consequences for those sins. We'll show God that we can circumvent His law. No one can tell us what to do. Give us more time and we 'll develop a program to make all sin safe.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
At the end of the day there are only two gods competing for the title; it's either the Creator or the creature. If there is no transcendent Creator-God then all that's left is the creature-god. There's no room in the universe for two gods to co-exist; one will ultimately prevail. Everyone has an ultimate authority, and that ultimate authority is their god; and that god will be worshipped (NOTE: a good place to start―look around this Sunday). This god might take the form of a carved idol, or mother earth, or some political ideology, or self-indulgent entertainment, but behind the curtain of every idol, like the Wizard of Oz, is a little man seeking to control all the levers of the universe; assuring himself that he has everything under control. The Bible describes this person as having "exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator" (Rom. 1:25).
Our first parents, Adam and Eve, got us started down the wrong path, as they sought to "be as god"; determining good and evil for themselves (Gen 3). A man's god always sets the standards; determining the ethical norms. Somebody's word will reign and rule. The autonomous (i.e., self-law) man is a god to himself, and so, he will need to save himself. All others will bow the knee to the Creator-God, the One to whom we must give an account (Rom. 14:12; Heb. 9:27).
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
There is no shortage of broken things in our county or our world. When things are broken, we want to fix them. If we're not skilled repairmen we might discover that our efforts only make things worse. Certainly, such unskilled efforts can lead to our frustration. Moreover, our urgent desire to see things fixed makes us vulnerable to all sorts of suggested remedies.
Evangelical Christians (among whom I count myself), have sought a number of solutions to the national and cultural problems of our day, many of which (while well-intentioned) have failed to address them in a distinctively Christian manner. Some of us have retreated into our Christian ghettos and withdrawn completely from the process, while others have become activists and sought a variety of political remedies. For some the family has become the primary institution of redemption while others have wedded God and country―a version of American patriotism―the "Christian nation." In many cases Christians have come to equate their own cause with conservative political ideology, thus becoming one more special interest group in the political milieu.
The Church, however, stands above and apart as the Kingdom of God. She is the "pillar and ground of the truth." She is central; not peripheral. Christ is the Head of His own Body and He remains Prophet, Priest and King. He speaks (through His Church) to the world and to His people. He intercedes (through the Church) for the world and His people, and He rules (through the Church) over both the world and His people. The Church is an outpost of heaven in a fallen world; she is the light shining on the hill. The Christian family or individual is an outpost of the Church (not the other way around).
The world can only be fixed by the Master Carpenter and thus, bowing the knee to Him is our only hope of repair. Worship―acknowledging Him for who He is and for what He has done―is at the absolute center of where we must begin if anything (or everything) is to be redeemed, including politics. We may not blend the teachings of Jesus, and Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr., along with the Founding Fathers, which is to confuse our categories. The worship of the one true and living God is the only organizing principle that can produce loving communities (i.e., societies). It's within those redemptive communities (i.e., the church), where we really live and serve and grow and mature. From there we go out and call others to bow the knee in worship and call them to join the community of the redeemed.
Like our nation, the nation of Israel was broken and in need of repair. Peter healed a lame man by pointing him to Jesus. The political leaders demanded an explanation and so, Peter delivered a political speech in Acts 4:11-26. Here is part of what he said to the rulers:
Monday, September 27, 2010
- "To do is to be." – Descartes
- "To be is to do." – Voltaire
- "Do be do be do." – Frank Sinatra
- When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty, I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I am finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong. – Buckminster Fuller
- The covers of this book are too far apart. – Ambrose Bierce
- Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung. – Voltaire
- Isn't it sad how some people can't be funny, so they have to settle for being obnoxious? – Unknown
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
"There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe, and every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause. Einstein wrote, "The scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation." This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized. As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications—in science this is known as "refusing to speculate"—or trivializing the origin of the world by calling it the Big Bang, as if the Universe were a firecracker."
"Now we would like to pursue that inquiry farther back in time, but the barrier to further progress seems insurmountable. It is not a matter of another year, another decade of work, another measurement, or another theory; at this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
[God and the Astronomers, Robert Jastrow, pp. 113-116, 1978. Dr. Jastrow was the founder and director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor of Astronomy and Geology at Colombia University, and Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmoth College.]
Friday, September 24, 2010
Have you ever been absolutely certain that you were right but then it turned out that you were wrong? What else would we expect from sinful pea brains? Yet we persist (from time-to-time) because we've lived all of 15 or 25 or 55 years, have met a few hundred people, traveled to 25 or 50 places, received a high school diploma, a bachelors, masters, or doctorate degree, and we've read some books and seen some movies. What else is there for us to know? Of course we're ready to pronounce (with certitude) on every subject e.g., economics, politics, childrearing, marriage, theology, pop culture and more.
Like Job, we often think we have a grip, but when God turned to question Job, he gave the only proper response, and one that we should give far more often: "Then Job answered the Lord and said: 4 'Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. 5 Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; yes, twice, but I will proceed no further" (Job 40:3-5). After God finished asking Job a number of questions he couldn't answer, Job said: "You asked, 'Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?' Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know" (Job 42:3).
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Pr. 16:18). Humility and grace, however, are always attractive.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
It's common, when new people join a new church, for there to be great excitement, in part because it's new. Everyone has on their best face and there's hope, peace and lots of smiles. Over time, however, the new wears off and reality sets in. People start to know us and we start to know them. There's an irony that in a very large church it's possible for us to remain unknown (or even anonymous), whereas in a smaller group this is difficult to maintain. Little-by-little we're seen in a variety of situations; interacting with our spouse, our children and with others in the covenant community. We see one another's sins and failures and, inevitably, conflicts arise. We're exposed for who we really are and that can feel scary and threatening. We liked it better when we could manage our image and feel in control. When this happens we might be tempted to withdraw and seek cover. This can be done in a variety of ways and to varying degrees. For some, this can even become a pattern in all their relationships.
To be fully known and fully loved is the greatest sense of security. God knows us and He loves us. He's not going to discover something about us tomorrow that will jeopardize His love for us. Part of His love for us is demonstrated in that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). Moreover, Christ died for the church and He places His people in local churches (communities) where they can also be known and be loved. If every time we start to be known we retreat, then we can never experience the satisfying security of being known and loved by the Body of Christ. True fellowship involves two or more fellows on one ship, and in the case of a local church, it involves a number of sinful fellows on the same ship. This can be (and often is) a humbling experience, but this is a good thing. God exalts the humble in due time.
To be truly known is difficult for us. To love those who we know is also difficult. It's much easier to love people that we don't know very well and to keep our relationships superficial and manageable. Loving the world is easier for us than loving our neighbor. Therefore, God exhorts us to not only love our neighbors and to love one another, He has emphasized that we must, "love one another fervently with a pure heart," (1 Peter 1:22); and "above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins'" (1 Peter 4:8).
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Click HERE for a link to a video of John Lennox reviewing the new book: Stephen Hawking and God. It's worth the time to hear what he has to say. HT: David Alders
John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford. He is also an adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford university and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and is a Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum. In addition, he teaches for the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme at the Executive Education Centre, Said Business School, Oxford University
Monday, September 20, 2010
- A bore is a man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company. – Gian Vincenzo Gravina
- I'd rather be rich than stupid. – Jack Handy
- The suburbs are a place where people cut down trees and then name streets after them. – Unknown
- You don't have to like it. You just have to eat it. – Randy Booth
- What is written without effort is generally read without pleasure. – Samuel Johnson
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Each week the church has about an hour and a half to instruct her members by way of the Bible study and sermon, or about six hours per month. A typical 3-hour college course is scheduled for 3 hours per week for fifteen weeks, for a total of 45 hours per course. So, at that rate, it takes 7.5 months of Bible study and sermons to equal one 3-hour college course. A college student can finish their bachelor's degree with about 120 hours (360 hours of class time), and (if they went to summer school), can finish that degree in about 3 years. Therefore, an equivalent amount of class time for church would take 60 months, or 5 years. Now if someone skipped half their classes (let's say Sunday morning Bible study), then that bachelor's degree would take 10 years. Oh, and with church, it's easy to skip the homework, and thus the number of "A" students is very small. One other difference, at church the pastor generally does not give tests. However, God does give tests.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
There are many times when we need to speak up and make sure we have communicated with others concerning our concerns. Mature adults ought to be able to have adult conversations and work to resolve conflicts, which always involves speaking and listening in love. And, since we are raising children to become adults, we should also be training them in this necessary work.
This does not, however, meant that everything that could be said should be said in every situation. As those who are pursuing peace and who cover sins with love, there are many times when we should not say what we're thinking. Sometimes this is simply a matter of kindness and courteously. At other times its the evidence of wisdom. The fact that something is true does not mean it must be spoken. Moreover, even truth can be used in such a way as to harm others or exacerbate a bad situation. Tongue-biting is often a grace (James 3:2). We are called to edify with our words; even the words of disagreement (Eph. 4:29). The use of our words, which like other tools, can be used to build or tear down; to improve or harm. Wisdom insists that we make sure our words are used to the glory of God (Col. 4:6).
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The world is constantly laying claim to us and to our children. Vanity Fair is still in full swing. The barkers and big stuffed animals are always distracting our attention. Vanity Fair is a nasty place, but it does have a certain appeal. We're often tempted to think that if we could just elect a new mayor of Vanity then Vanity Fair could be cleaned up and all would be well. Some imagine that we're just one election away from a family-friendly fair; then we could settle in and be comfortable. This is a vain imagination. We do desire, however, to stifle the fair's activities and frustrate the fair's founders so that we can pass through in peace (1 Tim. 2:2), and therefore, we should vote in the upcoming mid-term elections. Nevertheless, we would do well to remember the nature and purpose of Vanity Fair and press on to the Celestial City, "which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10).
It's good to remember John Bunyan's description of Vanity Fair, which includes some of the political implications:
"Then I saw in my dream, that, when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. It is kept all the year long. It bears the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where it is kept is lighter than vanity, and also because all that is there sold, or that comes there, is vanity; as is the saying of the Wise, "All that cometh is vanity" (Eccles. 1; 2:11, 17; Isa. 40:17).
This fair is no new-erected business, but a thing of ancient standing.
I will show you the origin of it. Almost five thousand years ago, there were pilgrims walking to the Celestial City, as these two honest persons are; and Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion, with their companions, perceiving by the path that the pilgrims made that their way to the city lay through this town of Vanity, they contrived here to set up a fair; a fair wherein should be sold all sorts of vanity, and that it should last all the year long. Therefore at this fair are all such merchandise sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts, as whores, bawds, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.
And, moreover, at this fair there are at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind.
Here are to be seen, too, and that for nothing, thefts, murders, adulteries, false swearers, and that of a blood-red color.
And, as in other fairs of less moment there are several rows and streets under their proper names, where such and such wares are vended; so here likewise you have the proper places, rows, streets (namely, countries and kingdoms) where the wares of this fair are soonest to be found. Here are the Britain Row, the French Row, the Italian Row, the Spanish Row, the German Row, where several sorts of vanities are to be sold.
Now, as I said, the way to the Celestial City lies just through this town where this lusty fair is kept; and he that would go to the city, and yet not go through this town, "must needs go out of the world." The Prince of princes Himself, when here, went through this town to His own country, and that upon a fair day, too; yea, and as I think, it was Beelzebub, the chief lord of this fair, that invited Him to buy of his vanities; yea, would have made Him lord of the fair, would He but have done him reverence as He went through the town. Yea, because He was such a person of honor, Beelzebub had Him from street to street, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a little time, that he might, if possible, allure that Blessed One to cheapen and buy some of his vanities; but He had no mind to the merchandise, and therefore left the town without laying out so much as one farthing upon these vanities (Matt. 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8). This fair, therefore, is an ancient thing of long standing, and a very great fair."
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
- Women do not find it difficult nowadays to behave like men, but they often find it extremely difficult to behave like gentlemen. – Sir Compton Mackenzie
- Absence is to love what wind is to fire: it extinguishes the small; it inflames the great. – Roger de Bussy-Rabutin
- A diplomatist is a man who always remembers a woman's birthday, but never remembers her age. – Robert Frost
- To really enjoy the better things in life, one must first have experienced the things they are better than. – Oscar Homolka
- The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Monday, September 13, 2010
"…We ought to obey God rather than men." ―Acts 5:29
The Bible has much to say about our obligations to submit to legitimate authorities. Indeed, the clear command of Scripture is: "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves" (Rom. 13:1-2). Nevertheless, there is One authority that is above all other authorities and that is God Himself. No human authority is authorized to command disobedience to God. We know that all human authorities (i.e., civil authorities, church authorities, husbands, parents, bosses, etc.), are sinful, and God knowingly requires us to submit to those sinful authorities. He doesn't, however, allow these human authorities to demand sinful conduct from those who are under their care. Not only can a human authority not require someone to sin, but all those who are under such an authority have an obligation to disobey such demands. For example, a wife cannot excuse her sinful conduct by claiming she was just doing what her husband said to do. Neither can an employee engage in fraud at the behest of his boss. Moreover, the church cannot submit to sinful requirements from the civil magistrate, etc. There are often negative consequences for disobeying unlawful commands, since sinful authorities possess the power to inflict some sort of pain upon us. The persecuted church has known this for 2,000 years. Nevertheless, we may not compromise our loyalty to King Jesus. He is the one to whom we must give an account.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
"He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Eccl. 3:11).
The activities of Ecclesiastes (chapter three), are to be conceived of as forms of divine activity. There is a proper time for God to do things. Therefore, since the right time for all things has been determined, everything rests on God's will and good pleasure. Both the timing and the doing are of God. There is no blind fate driving the events of tomorrow. The events of 2010 are uncertain to us, but not to God—His hands are not tied. All things are not only open and clear to Him, they are part of His perfect plan. No matter what happens tomorrow, we find comfort in knowing that God will make it beautiful in time.
- But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. ―Genesis 50:20
- And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. ―Romans 8:28
- In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. ―1 Peter 1:6-7
- And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. ―Galatians 6:7
- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ―Philippians 4:6
We are participants in the plan of God. These words, at first, might steal our confidence since it means that we are not in control of the events of tomorrow. As mere men—as creatures—we have no ultimate power. If we could, we would predestine every event of the future to suit ourselves. Yet, such providence is not within our grasp—we're powerless to control the future. Such thoughts might lead us to hopeless despair. Considered alone, we're but sand in the cogs of time. Yet for the one who trusts in God, these words become our complete comfort. The all-wise, all-knowing God, who loves us with an everlasting love, is in complete control of all events. His timing is perfect. His plan is perfect. We are part of that perfect plan. No event of our life is without purpose, and He is working all those events together for our good and His glory!
Saturday, September 11, 2010
A Wolf of the Deserts Shall Destroy Them
The Apostle Paul's words to the polytheist of his day are apropos to America today: "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' " (Acts 17:23)
"When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses. 8 They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor's wife" (Jer. 5:7-8).
Both physical and spiritual adultery fill our land. Covenant-breaking, or unfaithfulness always invited covenant-curses; self-gratification at the expense of others. God has been faithful to us—He has filled us as a nation—He has cared for us. We have not only turned away from Him in unfaithfulness, we have constructed institutions—harlot's houses—dedicated to dishonoring Him and we have lined up to participate in this harlotry. We want to separate God from our national life until it becomes politically expedient to call for His help.
"Shall I not punish them for these things?' says the Lord. 'And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? 10 Go up on her walls and destroy, but do not make a complete end. Take away her branches, for they are not the Lord's" (Jer. 5:9-10).
It is this spirit of national arrogance that is so fatal to nations: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18); "Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it? As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up, or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!" (Isa. 10:15). This is an evil spirit that diminishes the fear of God and propels us into greater and greater dangers. As the years go by, and if we continue under this arrogance and false confidence, then it does not take a prophet to predict a greater judgment upon this nation as it has come upon so many others before us.
God brings calamities: "I blasted you with blight and mildew. When your gardens increased, your vineyards, your fig trees, and your olive trees, the locust devoured them; yet you have not returned to Me,' says the Lord. 10 I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; your young men I killed with a sword, along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me,' says the Lord. 11 'I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; yet you have not returned to Me,' says the Lord. 12 'Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel! 13 For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, Who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth—the Lord God of hosts is His name" (Amos 4:9-13).
They Have Lied About the Lord
"For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously with Me,' says the Lord. 12 They have lied about the Lord, and said, 'It is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine.' 13 And the prophets become wind, for the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them." (Jer. 5:11-13).
I fear that this accurately describes our own beloved nation. We too "have dealt very treacherously with the Lord," i.e., we have been unfaithful to Him. We too have "lied about the Lord." "God wouldn't judge us. He wouldn't let this happen to us." "God is on our side." But when an assault like the one we saw last week comes against us, on what grounds are we outraged—to what principles do we make our appeal? Are we not left with a vain philosophy and arbitrary system of morals, public opinions and platitudes? Or do we stand on the firm foundation of the words of Christ: "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." 28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes" (Matt. 7:24-29).
The prophets have become windbags. God's holy and authoritative Word has been replaced with sweet and sentimental platitudes. If we get no further than this, then I fear that a greater and more complete judgment awaits us. "Woe to the multitude of many people who make a noise like the roar of the seas, and to the rushing of nations that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters! 13 The nations will rush like the rushing of many waters; but God will rebuke them and they will flee far away, and be chased like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, like a rolling thing before the whirlwind" (Isa. 17:12-13); "They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:5).
Let us give thanks to Jehovah for His mercies and the opportunity for a bold Gospel witness facilitated by the darkness of the deed done today. Perhaps the Lord is offering America a wake-up call. Perhaps there is a window of time in which we can seek His mercy. We pray that God will, in the midst of judgment, remember mercy, remember His people, remember the faithful who have prayed for this country.
Our God, Our Help in Ages Past; Our Hope for Years to Come
"Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain" (Ps. 127:1); "Then Peter opened his mouth and said: 'In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40 Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins'" (Acts 10:34-43).
William Cowper's Poem:
For "that effeminacy, folly, lust,
Enervate and enfeeble, and needs must,
And that a nation shamefully debas'd,
Will be despis'd and trampled on at last,
Unless sweet Penitence her pow'rs' renew,
Is truth, if history itself be true.
There is a time, and justice marks the date,
For song forbearing clemency to wait:
That hour elaps'd, th' incurable revolt
Is punish'd, and down comes the thunderbolt."
The word once giv'n,' "and mutiny soon roars
In' all her gates, and shakes her distant shores;
The standards of all nations are unfurl'd,
She has one foe, and that one foe, the world.
And if He doom that people with a frown,
And mark them with the seal of wrath, press'd down,
Obduracy takes place; callous and tough,
The reprobated race grows judgment-proof,
Earth shake beneath them, and heaven roars above,
But nothing scares them from the course they love;
To the lascivious pipe and wanton song,
That charm down fear, they frolic it along,
With mad rapidity and unconcern,
Down to the gulf from which is no return.
They trust in navies, and their navies fail,
God's curse can cast away ten thousand sail;
They trust in armies, and their courage dies;
In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies;
But all they trust in withers, as it must,
When He commands, in whom they place no trust.
Vengeance at last pours down upon their coast,
A long despis'd but now victorious host;
Tyranny sends the chain that must abridge
The noble sweep of all their privilege,
Gives liberty the last, the mortal shock,
Slips the slave's collar on, and snaps the lock."
Friday, September 10, 2010
THE JUDGMENT OF A NATION
"Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her. 2 Though they say, 'As the Lord lives,' Surely they swear falsely" (Jer. 5:1-2).
Righteousness Exalts a Nation
The Bible teaches that there is a clear connection between national judgment and national sin. "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Prov. 14:34). Count on the fact that when a nation experiences calamities of this magnitude, the events are meant to get her attention. We should first look to ourselves, and then to our enemies. We should be examining ourselves as a people to see if we have been faithful to the God of our spiritual fathers who forged this nation. If we hope to enjoy the protection of God against our enemies, we must seek His favor by turning from our materialistic idolatries, our perversions and our child sacrifice. Last week thousands died, but every day thousands of innocent children die grizzly and horrible deaths in the State-blessed abortuaries of our nation. Surely this grieves God—surely this is an abomination in our land. From the grave, the voice of the innocent cries out for justice.
Success breeds a spirit of invincibility. The history of Israel demonstrates this over and over.
Americans also live in a dream world of false security. But all earthly security is illusory. The amazing thing is not that this calamity happened last week, but that it has not happened before. America has long been vulnerable, not only from terrorist bombings, but also from technological and biological attack. It only takes one terrorist and a couple of vials of Anthrax to kill an entire community.
We must proclaim with every fiber in our bodies, that absent the blessing of God, our defenses are useless. As the Titanic testifies, there are no unsinkable ships—and there are no invulnerable nations. The only absolute security is eternal security in Jesus Christ. We must flee to Him and beg Him to be our strong defense and our shield. "No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. 17 A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. 18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, 19 to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. 20 Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. 22 Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us, just as we hope in You" (Ps. 33:16-22).
Surely They Swear Falsely
We hear a lot of talk about God right now, but is this true? Men frequently boast that God is on their side. Osama bin Laden believes God is on his side too. We were told on Friday, during the prayer service at the National Cathedral, that we were calling on the "God of Abraham, Mohammed, and Jesus Christ." Do we really think that this is the God of the Bible? We have "God" in our mouths, but it's a false god and a vain hope. This pretext for self-righteousness is a disguise that will yield no blessing from God, but rather, it provokes Him further. God's name is precious to Him, and He will not allow it to be profaned.
Poor and Foolish
"O Lord, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return. 4 Therefore I said, 'Surely these are poor. They are foolish; for they do not know the way of the Lord, the judgment of their God." (Jer. 5:3-4).
God's sees what we do not and will not see. "For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7). The pomp and the show of ceremonies cannot be a substitute for substance. "For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise" (Ps. 51:16-17).
Our nation has had many warnings of impending judgment. The 241 Marines killed by the truck bomb in Beirut, the extended humiliation of the hostages taken by Iran, the war with Iraq, the bombing of the Cole, the destruction of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the devastation of the Starke, the Saudi barracks, and the dropping of airliner after airliner (just to name a few). This calamity that has befallen our nation speaks volumes of instruction to the whole world. From the midst of the ruins we can hear the voice crying loudly in the ears of our nation: "Beware that you do not depart from the living God!" But will we listen—will we hear? May God incline us, as a nation, to give serious attention to His warnings, having known His blessings, lest we fall into utter ruin and disgrace. [Note: we cannot claim that God has blessed us but then refuse to acknowledged His judgments.]
The sins of our country are already more than sufficient, so that every Christian should be alarmed. We should tremble and weep as we consider our national wickedness and the degree to which we have departed from the true God. Insensitivity to sin prevails everywhere, both in terms of what we deserve as well as in our awareness of the repeated manifestations of God's displeasure with us. Is there any form of wickedness that is not named among us, and that in abundance? God has sent warning after warning that has hung over us for a while, and then dispersed. We have flattered ourselves, therefore, that we shall continue to remain unpunished. "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Eccl. 8:11). But as the black sky darkens once again, and we hear the distant thunder of an approaching storm. Still no dread prevails and no reformation is discernable. Instead, we presume upon our false sense of national security and military might, as though divine judgment could be answered with a cruise missile.
Great Men Have Burst the Bonds
"5 I will go to the great men and speak to them, for they have known the way of the Lord, the judgment of their God.' But these have altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds."
This is a reference to the law of God." (Jer. 5:5); "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 3 'Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.' 4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. 5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure" (Ps. 2:2-5).
Men have known what God requires—they have been given His law—but they will not have it restrict them. Some of our national leaders arrogantly flaunt their disregard for God's moral standards, and thereby invite His judgment upon us. "Now the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded. 2 And he went out to meet Asa, and said to him: 'Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin. The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. 3 For a long time Israel has been without the true God, without a teaching priest, and without law; 4 but when in their trouble they turned to the Lord God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found by them. 5 and in those times there was no peace to the one who went out, nor to the one who came in, but great turmoil was on all the inhabitants of the lands. 6 So nation was destroyed by nation, and city by city, for God troubled them with every adversity. 7 But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!' 8 And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and removed the abominable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities which he had taken in the mountains of Ephraim; and he restored the altar of the Lord that was before the vestibule of the Lord" (2 Chron. 15:1-8).
A Wolf of the Desert
"Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; a leopard will watch over their cities. Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many; their backslidings have increased." (Jer. 5:6)
An enemy will come out of nowhere and return into the darkness. He will come when you least expect him. He will come by stealth. Fear shall prevail. The reason: increased transgressions and backslidings. Would anyone deny that this is the case with our nation? Is it not an extra humiliation to have a wolf from the desert bring a nation to its knees?
"How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by those that are not gods" (Jer. 5:7).
Our children have forsaken God, because we have forsaken our children. I speak now of the nation. We give our children to a culture and an educational system that denies God and then we want to call for God to bless us when trouble comes. "And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse" (Mal. 4:6). Psalm 33:8,12: "Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.... Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord...." What we are witnessing in our country is an appeal to a polytheism for blessing upon our nation.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Over the next three days I will be posting the text of a sermon I preached on 9-16-01 in response to the attacks on America. God has given us in His Word an inspired record of His dealing with men and nations, not as a mere collection of curious or interesting facts, but rather to instruct us concerning our own circumstances. As the Apostle Paul admonished the Corinthians, "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Cor. 10:11).
1 "Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem; see now and know; and seek in her open places if you can find a man, if there is anyone who executes judgment, who seeks the truth, and I will pardon her. 2 Though they say, 'As the Lord lives,' surely they swear falsely." 3 O Lord, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return. 4 Therefore I said, "Surely these are poor. They are foolish; for they do not know the way of the Lord, the judgment of their God. 5 I will go to the great men and speak to them, for they have known the way of the Lord, the judgment of their God." But these have altogether broken the yoke and burst the bonds. 6 Therefore a lion from the forest shall slay them, a wolf of the deserts shall destroy them; a leopard will watch over their cities. Everyone who goes out from there shall be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many; their backslidings have increased.
7 "How shall I pardon you for this? Your children have forsaken Me and sworn by those that are not gods. When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses. 8 They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor's wife. 9 Shall I not punish them for these things?" says the Lord. "And shall I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? 10 Go up on her walls and destroy, but do not make a complete end. Take away her branches, for they are not the Lord's. 11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously with Me," says the Lord. 12 They have lied about the Lord, and said, "It is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine. 13 And the prophets become wind, for the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them." ―Jeremiah 5:1-13
An Enormous Wickedness
We can all agree that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were horrifying acts perpetrated by wicked men against our county. The loss of life is overwhelming and we have all been dismayed by the terrible tragedy of thousands losing loved ones in a matter of minutes. We have all witnessed and heard much in the last several days. Some of it has been evil beyond imagination. Some has been noble, moving, and heroic. Some has been foolish and alarming.
We Love Our Families, Our Churches, and We Love Our Country
It's easy to make quick judgments about our country and our leaders but wisdom calls for careful consideration and deliberation. This is OUR country—we're a part of the whole—we're in covenant with one another—we stand or fall together. Moreover, the fact that we love these institutions will not allow us to overlook their sins—their sins are our sins.
Sin is a reproach, and it invites God's judgment. We must be like Ezra who, when Israel had sinned reported: "So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished. 4 Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel assembled to me, because of the transgression of those who had been carried away captive, and I sat astonished until the evening sacrifice. 5 At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God. 6 And I said: 'O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day." (Ezra 9:3-7).
It would be easy to be lulled by the almost-Christian words we have heard from many of our leaders over the last few days, "…having a form of godliness but denying its power" (2 Tim. 3:5). Nevertheless, we are truly thankful for every Christian who has spoken truthfully and boldly concerning these matters, and we are hopeful as we pray that the events of this past week will be the means to awaken genuine faith in our land. Many men and women have labored, prayed, lived, and died to build this country. Much has been done in this nation in Christ's name and for the sake of His kingdom. God has abundantly blessed us as a result.
Indeed, we continue to be grateful for the many Americans who maintain this godly heritage, even as we speak, and in the midst of these recent calamities. Nevertheless, just as families and churches have sins to be dealt with, so too does our nation. And so, while we assert our deep love of country, we must likewise own and confess her sins, acknowledging God's just judgment on a country that continues to forsake the way of the Lord. On Friday, we were glad to see and hear our leaders eager to invoke and own the blessings of God. It was moving to see the U.S. Congress sing "God Bless America." But to which god were they singing? They stopped short, failing to acknowledge and own the just judgments of the true God, and to repent of our national sins.
Our Dear County has been Humiliated by Our Enemies
Our enemies are now laughing and dancing in the streets over our defeat. Thousands of our fellow citizens are dead, and we can't stop it from happening again. We have heard this called "a cowardly act of terrorism," but was it really cowardly? It required great courage and dedication—which our enemies have, but do we? Our enemies were very good at what they set out to do. They were looking to inflict the maximum humiliation on the U.S., in the most visible way possible, and they did just that. The sight of those two towers collapsing will be forever frozen in our minds.
The Bible teaches us that peace and security are blessings that come to a righteous nation, and that their opposites are the result of God's judgment. Some well-intentioned, but misinformed Christians have made the foolish assertion that God had nothing to do with these recent national events. We must remember what the prophet Amos asked: "…If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?" (Amos 3:6). Scripture comforts us by letting us know that not one single event of this past week, or any other week, happens outside the absolute, sovereign control of the Almighty God of heaven and earth.
Americans have presumed that we are immune from warfare in our own land; that we live in a day where our wars are fought like larger versions of video games, where we as citizens are spectators and our leaders operate the remote control. Yet the events of September 11, 2001 indicate that we would be highly presumptuous to assume that our children will enjoy such security during their lifetime. It is the church's responsibility to offer words of truth and genuine comfort. What then should be the response of the Christian Community? What is our course of action? What should we say to our children at this grave moment?
These Terrible Events Came as No Surprise to God
It is difficult for us to understand God's infinite counsel and decrees, but we can be assured that He is good, wise and powerful. Moreover, we can be confident that even this disaster will ultimately bring glory to Him—He is the sovereign God. We should also remember: that each one of the thousands that perished on September 11th, was already appointed once to die, and that due to sin; that even wickedness will "work together for good for them that love God, to them who are called,' (Romans 8:28); that all things do not work together for good for everyone (if you are not a Christian, you can find no ultimate hope or solace in a tragedy like the one we have just experienced).
We should also be wise in how we set this before our children. Our children must see us praying for our country; they must see us lifting up the grieving families; they must hear us crying out that the Lord would be merciful to future generations and to us; they must know that there are many people around the world who hate God, and that all those who hate God love death. It is our role to stand against the hatred of God and to preach and live a message of life. This is an opportunity for every father to exercise his spiritual leadership in the home by demonstrating the right way for Christians to respond to tragedy and national judgment. It is an opportunity to begin to prepare our children for the awesome leadership and wisdom they must demonstrate as future leaders of the 21st century. God has preserved a record of His dealing with nations in order that we might learn from those examples. He changes not, and so let us consider this morning the lessons of Jeremiah 5:1-13.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
We all have something (or several things) to hide. After all, we're broken and therefore we're insecure. Covering-up our insecurities consumes a good portion of our lives. Like the child who thinks he can spread out the green beans on his plate or cover them with a piece of his dinner roll and his parents won't notice, we too think we can cover-up that which is lacking in us. Our methods vary depending on the person and the particular insecurity but some of the popular (and obvious) covers include anger, indignation, humor, intellect, muscles, hairdos, tattoos, piercings, clothing and much more. [Note: these things are not always covers, but they are sometimes used for that purpose.] We cover things like our ignorance, foolishness, laziness, fear, failures, home life, and other sins; or should I say, "we think we cover them." It's more like the "Emperor's New Clothes." We usually don't have to look too far to see what's being covered-up. There's often a hyper-sensitivity and defensiveness when someone gets too close to the thing we are hiding. Our slip is showing and we don't think others see it, but they do. In logic, these covers are known as a "red herring," which is a deliberate attempt to divert a process of inquiry by changing the subject.
A big part of maturity is coming to grips with our insecurities and instead of covering them up we begin to address them in the light of the gospel of Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. This begins with genuine humility, which is always the place where God does His greatest work. Removing all the covers―being naked before God―enables us to see and be seen so that we can receive a proper diagnosis of our problems or, as we like to say, "our shortcomings." Then, and only then, can we face our insecurities and apply the remedies that come from God's Word.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
NOTE: My daughter, Christin, has collected a few quotes over the years and I plan to share a few of them with you about once a week.
- "Pooh," said Rabbit kindly, "you haven't any brain." "I know," said Pooh humbly. – A.A. Milne
- We haven't any money, so now we must have to think. – Samuel Rutherford
- Never engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed person. – Unknown
- The graveyards are full of indispensable men. – Charles de Gaulle
- Trust everyone, but cut the cards. – Finley Peter Dunne
Monday, September 6, 2010
"Be sure you are not making your judgments based on the "ideas you have derived from novels and films. This is not so easy to do as people think. Our experience is coloured through and through by books and plays and the cinema, and it takes patience and skill to disentangle the things we have really learned from life for ourselves." ―C. S. Lewis
"The Christian religion, by confining marriage to pairs, and rendering the relation indissoluble, has by these two things done more toward the peace, happiness, settlement, and civilization of the world, than by any other part in this whole scheme of divine wisdom." —Edmund Burke
"A wife is easily taken, but to have abiding love, that is the challenge. One who finds it in his marriage should thank the Lord God for it. Therefore approach marriage earnestly, asking God to give you a good, pious girl, with whom you can spend your life in mutual love. For sex [alone] accomplishes nothing in this regard; there must also be agreement in values and character." —Martin Luther
"Marriage has many pains, but celibacy has few pleasures." ―Samuel Johnson
"I pay very little regard to what any young person says on the subject of marriage. If they profess a disinclination for it, I only set it down that they have not yet seen the right person." ―Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
"She is always married too soon who gets a bad husband, and she is never married too late who gets a good one." ―Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders
"It was very good of God to let Carlyle and Mrs. Carlyle marry one another and so make only two people miserable instead of four." ―Samuel Butler
"But there are certainly not so many men of large fortune in the world as there are pretty women who deserve them." ―Jane Austen
Sunday, September 5, 2010
There is no shortage of opportunity to show charity toward others. We are surrounded by neighbors whom we must love. In loving them, we love God. In loving God our spiritual lives are strengthened. The Apostle Paul writes: "I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " (Acts 20:28). The writer of Hebrews says: "For you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven" (Heb. 10:34).
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Christian charity or love must even extend beyond the obvious—it extends even to our enemies. Jesus said, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:43-45). "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful" (Luke 6:35-36).
Friday, September 3, 2010
Jesus taught us that we would always have the poor with us. The Scriptures also taught us that we have a responsibility toward the poor.
"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?" (James 2:15-16). "Defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked. They do not know, nor do they understand; they walk about in darkness." ―Psalm 82:3-5
"The righteous considers the cause of the poor, but the wicked does not understand such knowledge." ―Proverbs 29:7
One of the great sins of Sodom was, according to Ezekiel, was the sin of not caring for the poor: "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." ―Ezekiel 16:49
In fact, one of the main reason given for work is so that we can be charitable: "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need." ―Ephesians 4:28
God promises spiritual blessings to those who show charity to the poor: "You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land." ―Deuteronomy 15:10-11
"Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him and keep him alive, and he will be blessed on the earth; You will not deliver him to the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed." ―Psalm 41:1-3
Charity toward the poor expresses love for God: "He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy" (Pr. 14:31); "He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given" (Pr. 19:17).
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Much is said in the Bible about caring for the widows and orphans. These are the truly needy. "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). To not give the proper charity to widows and orphans is to invite the judgment of God. "You have not given the weary water to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry. But the mighty man possessed the land, and the honorable man dwelt in it. You have sent widows away empty, and the strength of the fatherless was crushed. Therefore snares are all around you, and sudden fear troubles you" (Job 22:7-10); " 'And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien—because they do not fear Me,' says the Lord of hosts" (Mal. 3:5).
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
This might go without saying, but in one sense, charity does begin at home. "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever" (1 Tim. 5:8). Our closest neighbors are our family members, and acts of charity are called for on a daily basis. Moreover, our families should be given to charity. It's in the context of the family that we train our children to be spiritual, charitable servants. God sees and bless such spirituality. "There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, 'Cornelius!' And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, 'What is it, lord?' So he said to him, 'Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God.'" ―Acts 10:1-4