Psalm 84

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 22, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young — a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you” (Psalm 84:1-4)

Is there anything in life that you yearn for like this psalmist yearns for God’s presence? Even the things that I’ve wanted most in this life don’t compare to God’s presence, and it’s what we should long for with all our being - to be in the presence of our Creator God.

In Old Testament times, it was believed that God’s dwelling place was the temple, or the tabernacle prior to when the temple was built. The Israelites believed they needed to go to that physical place to truly be in God’s presence and to worship Him. We know that God is omnipresent, but God can make His presence known in certain places, such as the temple.

Have you ever felt closer to God when worshiping Him with His Church, rather than throughout the rest of your week? That’s often because of where our attention is focused. God has not gotten more distant as we go to work, cook dinner, clean the house, or perform the other responsibilities in our daily lives, but we’re simply less aware of His presence because we’re focused on other things.

Here in the beginning of this psalm, the psalmist’s total attention is focused on the Lord Almighty, his King and his God. That’s what his soul is truly yearning for. Even while he does not feel as though he is in God’s presence, his soul longs to be with God in that place.

Verse 3 mentions the sparrow and the swallow finding their homes near God’s altar. These were very common birds, so that seems out of place to connect them to the Almighty God and His dwelling place. But, this shows the psalmist how blessed we as humans are to also be in God’s presence! If even these lowly, common birds get to be near God, how much more blessed are we who get to serve God and be blessed by Him too!

The psalm continues in verses 5-7 to ask God’s blessing on those who travel to and from the temple to experience this presence of God. It continues in verses 8-9 to ask for God to hear his prayer and to bless His anointed one, pointing to the ruler of Israel at the time.

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (verses 10-11).

Here, the psalm again returns to how amazing it is to be in God’s presence. Even a lowly position, such as a doorkeeper, in God’s house is way better than dwelling in the tents of the wicked, which symbolizes receiving public recognition and material wealth. Spending time in God’s presence is a thousand times better than anything else!

The psalmist knows that God blesses His people who honor Him. God restores and protects His people. Simply by being in God’s presence, the people have the opportunity to experience God’s favor and honor in their lives by walking in His ways.

This psalm closes with “Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you” (verse 12). The psalmist began the psalm by conveying his strong desire for being in God’s presence, and he ends it by encouraging everyone to seek God and trust in Him to be blessed by Him.

How great is it that we don’t need to go to a particular place to be in God’s presence! We can worship Him and spend time with Him anywhere we are. While it can help us get rid of distractions to have a designated place to focus on God, that’s not a requirement.

This psalm makes me ponder what it will be like when we’re able to be in heaven, worshiping God every moment of every day. Especially when I’m struggling through the stresses of life, I can’t think of anything more wonderful than just being able to focus on God and experience His lovely presence all the time!

Wherever you’re at right now as you’re reading this blog post, I encourage you to stop and take some time to get rid of distractions and focus on the amazing presence of God. Express to Him your desire to be in His lovely dwelling place, where it’s a thousand times better than anywhere else!

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His Judgment Cometh

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 21, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Anyone who is even a marginal fan of The Shawshank Redemption should know what comes immediately after the phrase in the above title: “AND THAT RIGHT SOON." That sentence just about sums up the plot of what is, in my opinion, one of the top five movies of all time. Andy Dufresne is the intelligent banker who is erroneously convicted for the murder of his wife and her lover and sentenced to life behind bars at Shawshank Prison. Warden Norton is the man who runs Shawshank with abuse, corruption, and dishonesty all while pretending to care about the inmates and quoting favorite passages of Scripture as if he follows it. When he learns of Andy’s financial prowess, he realizes he can take advantage of it and use Andy to “cook the books” to the warden’s direct benefit. Warden Norton gets rich while the innocent Dufresne gets nothing more than a few minor privileges for his forced participation in the crimes.

Every night when Dufresne is done with the paperwork, he has to put it in a safe that is behind a picture on a wall. The picture has a design along with the word, “His judgment cometh, and that right soon." Warden Norton sees it as a reminder to Dufresne and others not to cross him or challenge him, because he has the authority within Shawshank to pronounce judgment on his prisoners. Dufresne, however, knows that he has something very special planned for Norton that he is preparing for 19 years. He bides his time and endures many unfair hardships, trusting that the true, righteous judgment will pounce on the unjust soon enough. When the time comes and he escapes from Shawshank with proof of all of the warden’s crimes, the warden and his minions can no longer hide from the judgment that is coming soon.

The fictional story portrayed in this great movie is pretty close to what James had in mind when he warned the rich about the judgment that awaited them in his letter to the early church. The biggest difference is that Andy Dufresne accomplished his own revenge and justice on the warden this side of heaven, while James urges the oppressed and mistreated to trust in the God who says, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35 and Romans 12:19). James understood that in his day, there were many wealthy individuals who had neither earned their riches nor received them from God, but they had swindled and manipulated their way to affluence. In James 5:1-6, he wanted to make sure they understood, as they continued to revel in their dishonest gain, that God was not pleased with them and would not overlook their oppressive actions unless they repented.

It’s not that being rich is a bad thing automatically. Jesus definitely had some followers who were pretty well-off, including Zaccheus, Joseph of Arimathea, and Barnabas. However, if you go back and read each of those men’s stories in the Gospels and in Acts, you see that their wealth did not stand in the way of their obedience to Christ. Zaccheus was a tax collector who no doubt ripped people off, but when Jesus came to his house, he repented and agreed to pay back anyone for what he had cheated them, plus interest, and he also gave half of his remaining possessions to the poor (Luke 19:1-10). Joseph of Arimathea, who may have been among the Jewish authorities, owned a new tomb cut out of rock and used it to bury Jesus’ body for just a couple of days because that’s all was needed (Matthew 27:57-60). Barnabas owned a huge piece of land, but he sold it and gave the money to the Lord’s work in the early church (Acts 4:36-37). In the Old Testament, Job was one of the wealthiest men of all time, but he loved God more than his riches and didn’t hesitate to worship Him even when everything was lost.

Rest assured that you can still follow Jesus and obey him even if you are wealthy. The question is, how much do your riches mean to you? Who did you have to step over or step on to get them? If God is calling you to abandon it all for a life of service to Him, are you willing? James specifically addressed some individuals who only focused on what they could gain in this life and not on treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20). He urges them to weep and wail because the riches they have treasured are going to disappear very soon and they’ll have nothing left (James 5:1-2). Their condition before God will actually be even worse than that. What could be worse than losing everything to moth, rust, and corrosion? James tells them: “Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days” (James 5:3). The point here is that on the day of judgment, it will be revealed that they did not concern themselves with the things of God but instead lived their lives arrogantly independent in the way James just condemned at the end of chapter 4 (see last week’s post).

Anyone who focuses solely on earthly treasures, whether by intention or a lack of care for God and others, should heed the warning in this section of James’ letter. By nature, we all seek comfort and try to avoid suffering, and we know that riches do alleviate some suffering for a little while. But if we really understand the judgment and eternal suffering that could be coming our way, it’s a no-brainer where our efforts should be focused during the short time we have here. English commentator John Trapp said, “Better weep here, where there are wiping handkerchiefs in the hand of Christ, than to have your eyes whipped out in hell. Better howl with men than yell with devils."

While James directs his warning toward the rich in this section, his words are also a comfort to the poor, especially those who have been cheated by the wealthy. In those days, the poor were willing to work wherever they could find it. Those who were wealthy enough to own land would hire workers to tend it. When the work was done and it came time to pay up, the laborers had no recourse if the landowners would choose not to pay. The rich would occasionally take advantage of the lack of accountability and either pay the worker less than the agreed upon wages or just not pay them at all. James has this travesty in mind when he writes, “The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty” (James 5:4). In other words, the rich might think they are getting away with their oppression, just like Warden Norton thought he was getting away with his crimes. But as Numbers 32:23 assures us, “You can be sure that your sin will find you out." The “Lord Almighty” could be more accurately translated “Lord of hosts." He is the God of angel armies and He’s got a whole fleet - though He needs no one else - that is ready to take the fight to anyone who oppresses another.

I think we can all be honest and admit that we don’t want to find ourselves in a fight against God and all His angels. That’s not going to end well for any of us. For this reason, it would seem to be in our best interest to make absolutely certain we are not cheating anyone else in order to succeed in the world’s eyes, and also that we are doing everything we can to assist those who are in need. If we stand before God and all we have to show for our time on this earth is a bunch of “stuff” that is corroded and destroyed, then the judgment we assumed we’d never face is coming our way. Since we never know how “soon” it’s coming, let’s make an effort to store up treasures in heaven, starting today!

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Miracles: Mastery Over Weather

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 19, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Over the past two weeks, I have written about how God has mastery over time and distance. There is so much more to what God controls. Today, I am going to talk about the weather. God has mastery over the weather. The first explicit statement about weather patterns in Scripture is found in Genesis 8:22 (though one could make an argument about Genesis 2:5 and a statement of no rain). In describing the world post-Flood, God promised the seasons would continue until all would come to pass. The earth has gone through numerous cyclical seasons of warming and cooling since then, however the seasons in general still continue precisely as God promised.

Many skeptics have asked me whether God direct and controls the rain or whether the water cycle sends rain. The real answer to that question is “yes.” Both are true. God did set up the water cycle to give the land rain on its own cycles, but he also controls the situations that enable to the water cycle to operate. He can send the rain with the water cycle, or He can withhold it. In either case, the water cycle is under the direct control and management of God.

There are numerous examples of God intervening with weather in Scripture. Perhaps the most famous case of God demonstrating His mastery over weather is when Jesus calmed the storm. When the storm took place, Jesus was sleeping in a boat with His disciples. The storm didn’t bother Him, while His disciples, four of them expert fishermen and masters of the sea, were scared for their lives. When they woke Him up, Jesus just shook His head asking, “Why are you doubting?” He simply spoke to the storm and said, “Be quiet!” Immediately, the storm stopped. This was not a case of a storm ending normally. The disciples knew how storms ended because they endured their share of them. This was different. This was a powerful storm ending suddenly upon command.

This wasn’t the only time Jesus controlled the weather. Right after He fed the 5000, Jesus followed His disciples across the lake by walking on the water. It was stormy that night too. Peter followed Jesus and walked on the water too, but the storm caught his attention and he began to sink. Jesus caught him, and the moment they arrived back on the boat the storm stopped.

God controlling the weather happened in the Old Testament too. When Jonah ran from God in attempt to escape from going to Nineveh, he got on a ship for Tarshish. So, God sent a storm to stop him. Jonah thought he could escape again but being tossed into the sea, but God prepared a great fish to swallow him and deliver him at Nineveh.

God did not stop controlling the weather when the Bible was completed either. Numerous reports of snow or fog or storms fill the history books which stopped advancing armies or enabled other armies to get out. One classic case was the battle of England against the Spanish Armada. England, having far weaker and few vessels, had longer range weapons. However, the day of the battle, a massive storm prevented the Spanish from getting close enough to hit their targets. It is widely reported that the Spanish general said, “We came to fight the English, not the winds and waves of God.” This battle paved the course of European history, which would eventually lead to the founding of America.

I have personally witnessed God change the weather for his purposes. A notable case came on Easter Weekend in 2001. I was with a mission team in Juarez, Mexico, and we had a VBS club, Bible study, events, and food at a local church and the surrounding neighborhood. We decided to give them a rare treat: ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, and other goodies for Easter Weekend.

The day of the event, a storm hit. It was one of the strongest wind storms in El Paso/Juarez history with regular gusts up to 88 mph. Those who know the area know what that means in the desert: DIRT! Those who live in the north understand blizzards so bad you can barely see a few feet in front of you. This is not a “white out,” this is a “brown out.” Virtually no one showed up for the event or the food, which meant we had a lot of leftovers that we could not bring back across the border into the U.S. So, we asked who needed food and we received word of an orphanage on the other side of the city. It turns out it was one we knew about but never could seem to find it. Now we knew where to go. When we arrived, they were down to their last bucket of carrots, praying for food. This fed them for at least another week, and we maintained a relationship with this orphanage for the next 10+ years.

But my best example of God having master over weather was in February 2011. It was my final semester at college before graduation and I spearheaded bringing Steve Lillis, a profession pool player who uses trick shots to preach the Gospel, to come to a couple shows in El Paso. We had one show scheduled for the UT El Paso Union Building and another at a pool hall. That week, El Paso was hit with the worst winter storm in history. Three straight days of sub-freezing temps plus snow and ice. Northern folk would laugh at that, but keep in mind that El Paso is not built for those temps. The entire city had to shut down. Literally. The pumps for the power stations froze, cutting power to the city, and that cut off the heaters to pipes in which 90% of the city’s stored water was lost due to pipes breaking. The city endured rolling blackouts for four days and had to boil water because of leaks in the pipes.

Well, we lost our venue at UTEP. But God opened the door for the show to move to the dorms and when one of the dorms lost a pipe and the city shut down, we had a captive audience, they couldn’t go anywhere. It was a powerful show, but not as powerful as that night. When we went to the pool hall, not a single person we invited showed up. But it was happy hour and Steve Lillis was a former pool shark who really knew the culture. He did his show, battled through hecklers, and when it was all done, one of the hecklers came up to him and asked “Why did you do that?” The answer was Jesus Christ. God took the plans we make, allowed a storm to hit to change them, and used it for His glory. Steve wrote an autobiography about his journey from pool shark to professional to the “Pastor of Pool” and this story is part of it.

Now a skeptic may come and say, “But what about those tsunami victims, or those killed by a tornado?” I cannot answer for why God does what He does unless He reveals it afterwards. I do know that God lets the rain fall on the just and the unjust. I know that as we fast approach the End Times, there will be earthquakes, storms and wars as the earth groans under the sin that man subjects to it. I know that God will allow a storm to take out the righteous and the wicked at the same time. But I also know He will direct and guide weather to work out little details in our lives. When such storms happen, our response is not to shake our fists at God in defiance as many will do going through the Seal, Trumpet, and Bowl judgments. Our response should be to repent, lest we too perish. Take notice that while storm deaths have increased, much of that is due to people building and living where storms hit. God can’t be put to blame for that.

God has mastery over the weather. While He can and does let the water cycle run its course, it is ultimately in His hands to use as He pleases. He may send a storm due to sin. He may let it run its course. He may send a storm to redirect people. But He has full control. The seasons will continue to run as they have been, and he cycles of the seasons will continue until the end comes.

Next week, we will look at how God has mastery over quantity.

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Psalm 83

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 15, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:43-45).

Today’s psalm, Psalm 83, was written centuries before Jesus spoke the words above. In it, the psalmist is praying for his enemies, but not in the way that Jesus commanded. This is technically a psalm of lament, but the writer is pretty angry toward his enemies and is praying for revenge on them.

The psalm starts out in verse 1 with the writer urging God to listen and take action rather than being silent about the situation. In English we see simply “God” twice, but in Hebrew those are two different words - Elohim and El. While both do mean “God,” Elohim is the more majestic or kingly name for God, whereas El refers more specifically to God’s power and might. The psalmist is recognizing God’s authority and power over all the earth and asking Him to use those in this situation.

So what is the situation at hand? Verses 2-4 tell us that there are enemies conspiring against God’s people Israel. The enemies “growl,” “rear their heads,” “conspire,” and “plot against” Israel. The enemies want to make a name for themselves and to erase the name of Israel. In those days, a nation’s name was the same as their reputation. Having a nation’s name destroyed would be effectively like destroying that nation.

In verse 5, the psalmist turns the tables and bit and says that the nations are not only against God’s people, but they’re plotting against God Himself! He wants God to get personally involved and take care of the enemies.

When you get to a list of names, whether people or nations, in the Bible, do you have a tendency to just gloss over it? That’s so easy for us to do when we’re not familiar with those people or places. But the list of nations who are Israel’s enemies given here in verses 6-8 is interesting and significant when you look at who they are.

The Edomites were basically the archenemies of Israel. Israel was founded by Jacob who had a twin brother named Esau. The Edomites were Esau’s descendants. There was some serious rivalry between Jacob and Esau, which continued through the generations. The Ishmaelites were the illegitimate descendants of Abraham (Jacob’s grandfather). When Abraham and his wife Sarah were not able to have a child, they took matters into their own hands instead of waiting on God. Abraham had a son with Hagar, Sarah’s servant, who was named Ishmael. That didn’t turn out very well, so Hagar and Ishmael ran away (Genesis 16), and Ishmael’s descendants became enemies of Israel.

The Moabites and Ammonites were descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot. We see many instances in the Old Testament of fighting between these nations and Israel: Judges 3:12-30 and Judges 11:6-33 just to name a couple. Not much is known today about the Hagrites or the people of Byblos. The Hagrites were a nomadic tribe living east of the Jordan River. The city of Byblos was located near Tyre south of the Dead Sea, and both were important economic centers of the day. You can read more about the Amalekites here, and the Philistines here. The last enemy listed, the Assyrians, were the dominating power in that area at that time.

Clearly, Israel had a lot of enemies! With so many threats against their small nation, they really did need to trust in God that He would take care of their enemies for them. In the next section of the psalm, verses 9-12, the psalmist relates how God has protected them in the past. The psalmist relates specific events and actions that God had taken.

The concluding section of the psalm, verses 13-18, shares what the psalmist wants God to do to Israel's enemies, at first saying to put them to shame and destroy them. Again, reputation was everything in that era, so shaming enemies would effectively mean to destroy them. But, the psalmist also asks God to use that shame to turn His enemies back to Him: “Cover their faces with shame, Lord, so that they will seek your name” (verse 16). This thought is repeated in verse 18: “Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord — that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.”

While at first glance this psalm appears to be about revenge and anger toward Israel’s enemies, it takes a turn at the end and instead the psalmist is praying for His enemies to turn to the one true God.

So what does this mean for us? While we don’t generally have other nations actively physically attacking us, we all have enemies in our lives. Maybe it’s that coworker you just can’t stand, or maybe you’re being bullied by someone else. Whatever that looks like in your life, you probably would love it for God to just strike that person down, right?

But recall the words of Jesus that I quoted at the start of this post: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). We as followers of Christ are commanded to do exactly that - pray for our enemies. We should pray that they, too, would turn toward God and come to faith in Him. If we’re seeking God and our enemies are seeking God too, they’ll no longer be our enemies, but our brothers and sisters in Christ.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Sinfully Independent

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, July 14, 2019 0 comments

by Logan Ames

One of our most beloved words in the English language is “deserve." No, I haven’t taken a poll of any sort, but I am making that judgment based solely on the sheer volume of people I’ve come across in my life who complain about not getting what they feel they have a right to have. When I worked at Hershey’s Chocolate World as a teenager, I occasionally had the job of handing out FREE miniature candy bars to people after their completion of the FREE tour ride. It always amazed me when, every so often, a person would walk up and ask if we had a specific kind he or she likes and if the answer was “no," that person would walk away complaining. Sometimes, I just wanted to ask, “What’s wrong with you people? It’s FREE!” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve witnessed more and more adults applying the “I deserve it” attitude to jobs, promotions within their agencies or companies, and benefits or rewards for their hard work.

At the heart of this attitude is an arrogance that assumes we deserve anything that we have in the first place. It’s the opposite of the humility that James encourages throughout his letter to the early church. He writes in James 4:13-17 that we should never live our lives without knowledge of the reality that our entire existence depends on God. We’ve just recently celebrated our nation’s Independence Day here in the U.S. It’s the time of year that we display our pride as a country that defeated its oppressors and has maintained its freedom and independence from any other nation ever since. God has blessed us with these freedoms. However, notice that we have no day on our calendar when we celebrate or remember our dependence on God. Maybe I’ll start writing to Congress and the president and suggest it. For Christians, we can certainly say that our National Day of Prayer, which is annually the first Thursday in May, fits that bill. But it’s probably not something the nation as a whole or even our leadership will ever agree to enact. Why? Because, as human beings, we all generally resist any insinuation that we are not in control!

James has some cold, hard truth for those who still think they deserve everything they have, and I’m sure his words were quite challenging to his intended audience of boastful Jews in the early church. He doesn’t mince words. Instead, he declares, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). In the big picture, we are only here a fraction of the time and that is why he says we ought not be walking around saying all the things we are going to be doing tomorrow or next year in another city apart from God’s will because we don’t even know if we’ll be given tomorrow (James 4:13-14). James is not against making plans; he is against making plans outside of the will of God, with absolutely no consideration for what the Creator of the universe might want you to do with the life He has given you.

Francis Chan, in a video Bible study shown on Right Now Media, relates James’ statement about the vanishing mist to the steam that comes off of a tea kettle that is only there for a few seconds or minutes until it is gone. True humility is learning to see ourselves this way compared to a God on whom we depend for each day and every breath we take. If you aren’t certain that our very breath comes from God, I encourage you to read the Creation accounts at the beginning of the Bible. Genesis 2:7 tells us that “the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Without the breath that God gives us directly from Himself, we are nothing but lifeless clumps of skin and body parts.

James believes that this realization should make us consider the Lord’s will in everything we do. He writes that we should say “if it is the Lord’s will” before or after each plan that we say we will carry out (James 4:15). Now, I’ve never read this verse to mean that we must actually say those words before every mundane task we plan out. I don’t think I need to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, I’m going to make bacon and eggs in twenty minutes." What James is describing here is an attitude that accepts that not even the next twenty minutes are guaranteed. Charles Spurgeon said, “There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass - one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know." The ones to whom James wrote were talking about their future plans with no regard for what the Lord wanted. They not only considered their future something they knew about, but they also primarily saw their future as an opportunity to travel more and make more money (v. 13). It was all about themselves and what they desired.

There are actually two issues addressed by James in this section, one being the sovereignty of God and the other being our submission to Him. Many believers accept that God is sovereign over everything yet still live as if He is not. We might chalk it up to enjoying our “independence," but the best life is to admit dependence on God and seek to please Him in whatever we do and wherever we go. Once we’ve accepted the fact that He is sovereign, the only logical response is to ask, “What does He want from me?” Since some of the early believers did not demonstrate such an attitude, James wanted them to know that their attitude of independence was actually sinful. He referred to it as arrogance and said that the type of boasting that ignores the need for God is evil (James 4:16). Most of us probably don’t realize it’s that big of a deal to talk about our life goals and plans without first considering the Lord. We don’t recognize it because it is so common. Nevertheless, it is something that God clearly opposes, according to James 4:6 and many other passages in Scripture. If you live your life apart from God’s will, you cannot expect Him to bless it.

James concludes this section of his letter with another statement we don’t typically think about. He says in James 4:17, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them." Most believers are familiar with all the sins of COMMISSION, meaning the person chose to do something that is wrong in God’s eyes. Here, James says there are also sins of OMISSION. Since sin just means to “miss the mark," we can miss the mark God has planned for us because we are choosing not to do what we know we’re supposed to do. This is a lack of submission to God and His will. James 1:27 tells us we must look after orphans and widows in their trouble. Jesus tells us all the things we must do to be considered his followers in Matthew 25:31-46, and our salvation depends on it! These and many other Scriptures regarding good things we must do are not even debatable. Yet, so many believers arrogantly ignore them in favor of wanting to “do their own thing."

Friends, if you have been ignoring God’s will for your life, it’s time to recognize His sovereignty and live in submission to Him. He will equip you for anything He calls you to do, if He hasn’t already equipped you. Get rid of all the other goals in your life that are independent from God and choose, like Paul in Acts 20:24, to simply aim to complete the task God has given you. That’s all that really matters beyond this life anyway.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Miracles: Mastery over Distance

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 12, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the attributes of the true God is that He is omnipresent. He is everywhere, in all places, and all times, all at once. One of the reasons God does not take physical form is because of His nature of being everywhere all at once. He is capable of revealing himself in a physical form as He did in many instances throughout the Old Testament (in such instances like Genesis 18, Joshua 5:13-15, or Daniel 3:24-26, we see Jesus in his pre-incarnate form: the Angel of the Lord). This yields a very interesting aspect of God: He has mastery over distance.

The clearest example of this is in the account of the faith of the Centurion. A Roman Centurion, whom the Jews respected, sought Jesus for help. He had heard of Jesus and knew that what He did came with power and authority he did not know. He recognized Jesus had the power to heal his servant, but he also understood that Jesus could not do what He did in His own strength and power. He recognized that Jesus was submitted to an even higher authority. That is why he told Jesus that He didn’t need to come in person but just speak the word and it would be done. This is perhaps the only time Jesus appears to have been surprised. He was astonished. Here was this Roman Centurion who as far as we know didn’t know God from a duck demonstrated more and better faith than Jesus had encountered from all Israel. Jesus commended that faith and granted the petition right then and there. The Centurion found out when he got home that his servant was healed at the very hour Jesus gave the word.

A similar instance is found in John 4 when an official came to Jesus, about a day and a half away from his sick son. Jesus promised that his son would live, and the official returned home with nothing but a promise. When he got home, again about a day and a half away, he found out that his son was healed that very moment Jesus spoke.

God has mastery over distance. He does not have to be physically present for the miracle to be given. All God has to do is give the word and it will be done. Exactly how will it be done? We can’t necessarily know that. God could send an angel to do the job or due to His omnipresence, He could do it Himself right then and there.

God has mastery over distance, not just physical distance, but spiritual distance too. There’s nowhere to hide from Him. Even when it seems He is light years away, He is actually right there with you. He never lets you go through a trial completely alone. He may stay silent through the trial, but He is there. When we are in rebellion against Him, He is right there with us, either prodding us to get our act together or letting us run wild until we realize how foolish we are. When we are walking with God, He is there leading us, guiding us, protecting us, and showing His glory to us.

Paul understood how God has mastery over distance. Paul concludes Romans 8 with one of the most famous passages in the book: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God has mastery over distance. This is why we can pray for people all over the world. There is value in being physically present for the prayer, but during World War II, Rees Howells gave such a clear picture of how prayer works over distances. He could not fight in the war, however he turned his Bible college into a “war room,” following closely the details of the battles, and he prayed as though he was a soldier. He prayed for Hitler to make military blunders, for weather changes, for anything to give the allies a victory. Throughout the European front, miracles happened. There is no way we should have won many of those battles, including the Normandy invasion. We took the beach because Hitler misplaced his panzer tank divisions, a move he normally would not have made. It was the prayers of Rees Howells and others that brought us that victory.

I don’t remember who it was, but I heard a story of a missionary in the jungles of the Amazon. He had been in the city to get some medicine and came across a homeless guy. After a short interaction, he entered the jungle and camped for the night. The next day, the guy showed up. He told the missionary that he and some friends came to rob and kill him, however surrounding the camp were 26 giant men protecting him. They didn’t know what to do so they fled. The man told him what he saw that next day. Well, while on furlough, the missionary tells his home church this story and a person in the congregation stands up. He told the missionary that very night, he woke up suddenly with a desperate urge to pray for him. Then a woman stood up and said the same thing. When it was said and done, 26 people were standing saying they prayed that very night. God is a miracle worker and He is not stopped by distance.

My brother is another example. He had a significant hearing loss as a child and two of the elders of our church, who were also our family doctors, told my parents of the results of the tests indicating this loss. There was no hope, no solution. Another family overheard this statement, which was not of doubt, but simply what the medical knowledge had at the time, and they spent that afternoon praying and fasting for my brother. The next day, my mom was vacuuming and my brother loved to put his hands on the vacuum because of the vibrations. Instead he put his hands over his ears and ran out of the house screaming because of the intense volume that he could now hear. We didn’t find out they prayed until some time later.

God has mastery over distance. No matter where you are, God is always within reach. All we must do is call out to him. Next week, I’ll look at another area that God has mastery over: the weather.

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Psalm 73

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 8, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Why do bad things happen to God's followers when God is good, and why do the wicked seem to prosper? These are questions that many people have struggled with, including the author of today’s psalm: Psalm 73. I encourage you to go to that link and read it before digging into this post.

The main theme of this psalm is the suffering of God’s children and the goodness of God. Verses 1-3 summarize these themes well: “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; I had nearly lost my foothold. For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” We see the truth that God is good, how the psalmist has sinned, and how the wicked prosper.

Those who follow God know that life can (and usually will) be difficult. Following God does not mean that your life will suddenly be easy and happy; in fact, it’s often just the opposite of that. The psalmist is seeing those who don’t follow God experience the “good life,” and he’s clearly envious of them. After all, who wouldn’t be, right? If you see someone take the easy path, go against God, and seem to be doing really well for themselves, wouldn’t you wonder why you’re struggling so much to do what you know to be right?

We see this prosperity of the wicked in greater detail in verses 4-12. They seem to be so carefree, they’re not worried about life, they’re healthy, and they’re accumulating wealth. Everything seems to be going well for them. They don’t seem to suffer as the righteous do. They don’t regard God and His commandments and they are filled with pride (verse 6). They scoff, they boast, and they threaten (verse 8). They even directly mock God (verse 11).

In the next section, verses 13-17, the psalmist examines his reaction to this prosperity of the wicked. First, the psalmist doubts his own concern for the wicked, since they seem to be doing alright with following God (verse 13). Second, he suffers adversity and doesn’t understand why he’s suffering, so he’s confused about that (verse 14). Third, he is concerned for God’s people, and that’s part of why he strives to continue in righteousness and doesn’t just turn wicked himself (verse 15). Fourth, he realizes that he really can’t understand all this on his own without God’s help (verses 16-17).

It takes God’s presence to overpower the confusion that reigns in the psalmist’s heart as to why the wicked who ignore God prosper and he is so afflicted while trying to follow God. He remembers God’s truth that there will be justice in the end! While the wicked may prosper in this world, it’s only the Godly (those who have received God’s grace) who will prosper for all eternity by living in God’s presence rather than in the fires of hell. This is affirmed in verses 18-20, where he recounts how God will ultimately destroy the wicked.

In verses 21-22, the psalmist realizes he was a jerk to God when he was so bitter about the wicked prospering, before he got his perspective corrected. While this shift in perspective is important, it is also important to confess how we have sinned when we realize what we did wrong. We have to work through those negative feelings and be forgiven to be right with God again.

After this, the psalmist’s negativity transforms into joy with God’s presence in verses 23-26. He realizes that even though his situation on this earth may not be ideal, “earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (verse 25b-26). When God fixes our perspective, nothing else matters besides Him.

The psalm concludes with verses 27-28 fulfilling verses 1-3 that started this psalm. Where he had envy, he now has hope. He has experienced God’s goodness for himself in the form of future justice for the wicked while He has the love and joy of God’s presence. “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds” (verse 28).

None of us are exempt from having bad things happen to us due to sin in this world. I heard it once said that, “No one is exempt from getting a butt whooping from the devil!” The more you surrender to God, the more the devil comes after you. Sometimes problems we experience are because God is bragging on us; just look at Job's life. Being a child of God does not exempt us from the difficulties of the world.

What are you struggling with in this world? Do you envy the lives that others have and wonder why your life doesn’t look like that? Make time to sit in God’s presence and experience who He is. Ask God to shift your perspective to His character instead of on the material things of this world that will pass away.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.