Tuesday, May 31, 2016

June 1, 2016

We learned the song as kids, "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Faith is easy for us. The Bible says it and we believe it, case closed! It never occurred to us to doubt the existence of God. That's always been a given.

Ask us if God exists and we'd reply, "Does oxygen exist? Does gravity exist? Of course God exists!"

However, for many in our world God is grouped in with Santa, Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Santa leaves toys under the Christmas tree, EB leaves colored eggs and the Tooth Fairy slips some coin under the pillow, what evidence do we have of God?
I'll deal with two proofs in this article.

Every Effect Has A Cause

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands." Psalm 19:1

The law of cause and effect is best described as the law of life. It is the law by which all the other universal laws are based upon. Understanding that everything in the universe is energy and therefore everything is connected. Then we can see how through these interconnections, what happens to one thing must effect another thing. The old saying “what you give is what you get” is entirely true of life and directly describes the law of cause and effect.

In the entire universe, nothing exists independently. Everything has been created by something else and nothing is permanent. The law of cause and effect is commonly known throughout science. For every action there is a reaction or similarly, for every cause there is an effect and from every effect there must have been a cause. This law is an inescapable truth and until you learn and accept it you will be like the cat chasing its tail. 

Here is a point of agreement between believers and unbelievers - the universe is vast and awesome and is the result of an incredible cause. Everywhere you look you see the wonder of our world and it came from something somewhere. That is undeniable and not debatable. From there the opinions vary widely.
Atheists and agnostics usually align with the evolutionary theory of a "Big Bang". Christians accept the Biblical record of a Creator, God, speaking the world into existence according to His plan.

As Alex McFarland writes in the text we are using for this series, "So the question up for debate isn't whether the universe has an origin, it's who - or what - prompted that beginning. Imagine you are in your living room, enjoying a peaceful afternoon while reading the paper. Suddenly, a baseball flies into the room, shattering your window. Obviously, your first question wouldn't be, 'How did this get here?' It would be in a highly-bothered tone, 'Who did this?!'" The baseball didn't just smash through your window for no reason. Some agent acted upon it, causing a "disturbance in the force" that ruined your perfectly good afternoon.

Just as that baseball didn't launch itself through your window, but it was propelled by a person either accidentally or in anger. There is zero percent probability of a baseball throwing itself through a window.

Likewise, as the baseball could not throw itself the universe did not generate itself. To believe either of those could happen is to defy significant mathematical odds. And as that baseball had to be thrown by a person, so Christians believe the Biblical explanation that the universe was created by a Person, God. It is a far more reasonable and logical explanation.

Every Creation Has A Creator

I have been around for quite awhile but I have never heard of anything that created itself. Everything on earth is made by something or someone. I did not create myself. You did not create yourself. We were created by our parents who were created by their parents all the way back to the original parents, Adam and Eve. Where they came from is a point of some contention.

Either they spontaneously constructed from some random convergence of flesh and bones and blood or they were created by Someone. Which sounds most plausible to you? Which one takes the most faith to believe?

If you feel confident with the probability that your Honda constructed itself from raw iron ore, bauxite, petroleum based materials and fibers, and assorted electronic components, then you can be comfortable with the atheist and agnostic ideas of creation.

Personally, I'll line up with the Genesis account.

So, why would someone align with the highly improbable concept of the origin of the universe when it defies all the odds and many accepted laws of physics? Maybe because they desire control and no consequences more than they desire truth.

How could someone subscribe to a random, irrational, demeaning, and impersonal version of creation when you it makes more sense to believe the Biblical account? It makes no sense unless they are more committed to being in control and escaping consequences than to the truth.

May 31, 2016

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy,  for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him."   Psalm 67:1-6

One of the interesting things about the Holy Land is you've got the Jordan River going right down and on either end you have large bodies of water. On one end you have the Sea of Galilee. On the other end you have the Dead Sea. And you can't imagine two bodies of water that are more different than one another. The Sea of Galilee is the place that we always think about the fishermen with their nets. From all the stories in the New Testament, a place of abundance where people can earn their living by catching the fish there. They provide for their families and provide for others, because of the life that's in Lake Galilee. But, you go to the other end of the Jordan River and you find the Dead Sea. A place that has so much salt content in it that large life, life that we would consider useful and part of our abundance, just doesn't even exist. It's dead in that regard. They both receive the same water. They both receive the same abundance, but the key difference is, Lake Galilee receives, but it also has an outlet and the water flows through it. But in the Dead Sea there is no outlet and so the water just accumulates, year after year, century after century, getting more and more salty and less and less hospitable to life. I think that is a good image for us to ponder about our lives.

Which are you like, Lake Galilee or are you like the Dead Sea? God is pouring all this abundance into your life. How much of it leaks out? How much of it is passed on? Because one of the things that you can't escape is that a basic rule of life is that you have His life in you and as you receive abundantly and as you pass that abundance on in some measure to others that life is the blessings of that life is shared by other.

So when God looks at your life, what does he see? Does he see something that's full of life, where his blessing to you pass on through and become blessings in the lives of others or is there something stopping it up and making it become more and more inhospitable to the life of the Spirit? You are blessed to be a blessing. So as you focus on this what worship means and as you thank God, will you recommit yourself to being a channel, a channel of good things to the incredible variety of people that God has put around you? Because even as you share this life with others, you receive it more abundantly in your own life.

That is the central truth of this great Psalm! It elevates the role of worship in your life and the life of your church. Worship done right will change your world!

May 30, 2016

I hope you are enjoying your holiday week-end. 
I share this devotional thought I found online this evening.
Memorial Day – to some it’s merely the beginning of summer and to others it’s a solemn day to remember those who have passed from this life. However, to the war veteran and to the families of fallen soldiers, Memorial Day carries significance so deep that words cannot express their hearts.
When we look into the eyes of those who still mourn these once vibrant men and women, we often sense their loneliness and pain. We hear them choke back tears as they simply say the ranks and names of their military brothers and sisters at a Memorial Day service. White gloves, dress uniforms, rigid posture, and perfectly precisioned salutes represent the reverence and respect flowing from within. Those who have been personally affected by war understand and appreciate this day of remembrance.
What should we say to those who sincerely honor this day? "Happy Memorial Day" doesn't seem fitting. "I'm sorry for your loss" may be closer to appropriate. What would the fallen soldier want from their comrades and the rest of the country on this day?
In an often quoted Memorial Day speech given in 1884 by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the speaker ended his address with these words, “Our dead brothers still live for us, and bid us think of life, not death -- of life to which in their youth they lent the passion and joy of the spring. As I listen, the great chorus of life and joy begins again, and amid the awful orchestra of seen and unseen powers and destinies of good and evil our trumpets sound once more a note of daring, hope, and will.”
The American soldier who gave his or her life for U.S. citizens to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness won’t be telling us how to observe the holiday. But I believe that Holmes’ proposition to “think of life, not death” would honor the fallen soldier. Their sacrifice follows the example of Jesus Christ laying down His life for our freedom. It's selfless love for others – not so they can mourn forever, but live!
"We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters." 1 John 3:16
Notice that in scripture and in military service, the willingness to give up one’s life is not dependent on the worthiness of the people who benefit from the honorable act. In a perfect world, all who receive freedom and grace would be worthy of such a sacrifice and full of gratitude. But that’s not the way it is anywhere on earth.
"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." Romans 5:8
We are blessed to be living in a free society. May we honor our American soldiers for the liberty we have in this country. May we also give thanks to Almighty God for the freedom we have to spend eternity with Him because of His gift of forgiveness through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

May 28, 2016

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us—so that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations."  Psalm 67:1-2

Is it proper for me to ask God to bless me? Is that selfish? Is it conceited?

In I Chronicles 4:10, a man named Jabez prayed this prayer requesting God's blessing, "Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request."

Jabez boldly asked for God's blessing and he received it.

We have a God Who is exceedingly gracious and kind! He delights in blessing His people!

The Psalmist mentions several ways He wants to bless you!

He will bless you with His grace! Grace is His undeserved kindness and goodness to you. When you deserved judgment for your sins, God sent Jesus to take your guilt and suffer the penalty so you could receive mercy rather than judgment.

Have you asked Him for his mercy? Have you received His grace?

Also, God wants to bless you with His favor.

What does that mean?

Essentially, it means you become one of His favorite ones. He picks you out of the crowd because you have chosen Him to be your Lord. He directs His attention and His protection and His pleasure in your direction!

God's greatest blessing is His salvation - saving you from your sin and selfishness - delivering your eternal soul from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. When you receive His salvation you come into possession of His greatest blessing, for when you have His salvation you have His grace and His favor!