Thursday, May 31, 2018

Understanding Atheism

These days it seems fashionable to be identified as an atheist. Atheism has gained an exalted place in our modern culture because it is portrayed as an intellectually superior philosophy. But is it really?

Here's what the Bible says,

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."
I Corinthians 1:18-22

The great British preacher, Charles Spurgeon once said, "There are no atheists anywhere but on earth. There are none in heaven, and there are none in hell. Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice, for 'the devils also believe and tremble' (James 2:19). And there are some of the devil's children that have gone beyond their father in sin. But when God's foot crushes them, they will not be able doubt His existence. When He tears them in pieces and there is none to deliver, then their empty logic and their bravado will be of no avail."

So, what do we need to understand about these who arrogantly deny the existence of God and who demean those who believe in Him?

1) Most of them carry spiritual and emotional baggage that are the real reasons behind their refusal to believe. Unfortunately, their reasons for not believing have little to do with God and much to do with misconceptions about Him. Perhaps they have been disappointed by faith or by a person of faith. Maybe they were hurt by a church or damaged by a parent who used faith to shield their abusive behavior. They project their disillusions onto God.

2) Atheism is often portrayed as the modern and trendy way to think and people of faith are belittled as archaic and backward in their thinking. The truth is that people have been rebelling against God and trying to rationalize Him away since the Garden of Eden. Unbelief is nearly as old as belief.

3) An atheist's claim that there is no God is intellectually dishonest for this reason, it is an attempt to make humans into gods. That, in a way, is the ultimate irony: atheists in their denial of God, cannot help but replace the truly omniscient God with a cheap imitation - themselves.

4) Also, his claim that God doesn't exist is intellectually inconsistent because the only way that could be true is if the atheist knew everything it is possible to know. Otherwise, it would be possible for God to exist but that He existed outside of his knowledge or beyond his ability to know. Since there has never been an omniscient human being, there has never been an honest atheist.

5) God believes in atheists even if they don't believe in Him and He sent His Son to die for them. So we should pray for them and reach out to them in love. We should live our lives in ways that make God seem real.

Lest we be too negative toward atheists, let me remind you that at times each of us behave as practical atheists. How is that? When we know what the Bible says and we fail to obey it, we are acting as though there is no God - or as if we are gods. Before we criticize or condemn them, let's repent of our own disbelief and rebellion. 

God help us, so we can help them.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

May 31, 2018

“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”   Psalm 23

Reading this Psalm gives you an insight into a day in the life of a sheep. I am not sure you ever had a desire to see life through the eyes of a sheep. Personally, I have never paused in the middle of a busy day and wondered, “What would a sheep think of this?" You probably haven’t either, but when you consider that the Bible compares you to a sheep it might be of some interest to you.

From this moment forward, should a similar thought flash through your mind you will have an answer. According to this beloved Psalm a sheep faces each day concerned about: hunger, harm, harassment, and hereafter.

Incidentally, I have known a few humans who worry about the same things.

Fortunately, for this sheep, he has a shepherd who worries about those same things for him. Do you have a shepherd like that? If you are worried about those things, you probably don’t!

Sheep are grazers. Grazing is great as long as there is plenty of grass. But a flock of sheep will tend to overgraze an area until all the grass is gone. Because they are too timid to move far from where they have grazed, they would starve themselves within a matter of days. Hunger is a concern. No one wants to go hungry, even a sheep!

A good shepherd leads his sheep to green pastures each day and then stand guards over them as they graze on lush green grass. After a few days of learning they can trust their shepherd, they cease to worry about hunger anymore. That is a good day!

Do you have a shepherd like that? You could!

Sheep are defenseless. They have no way of protecting themselves against predators and they can’t run fast enough to get away. So, if they have no shepherd to guard them they will become lunch for a wolf or cougar. So, along with daily concerns about hunger, they worry about harm coming to them!

But if he has a good shepherd, that shepherd is on constant guard watching for predators. Should one attack, he is armed with a staff and a rod with which he can ward off the beast. After awhile the sheep learns he doesn’t have to worry about harm when he is with his shepherd.

The fact that the sheep lays down is significant. They are so timid and flighty that they will not lie down unless they feel completely safe from predators, parasites or pests. If flies or gnats or bees are buzzing around them they will not lie down. When you see a sheep lying down he is either dead or he is feeling completely secure! In that case, it would be evidence that he has a good shepherd who cares enough for his sheep to keep him free of harassment!

Once he has been relieved of his concerns over hunger, harm and harassment, a sheep’s worry turns to the hereafter. What will happen tomorrow? Will he be hungry? Will he be harmed? Will he be harassed? Not having to worry about today will not keep him from worrying about tomorrow. Know the feeling?

But, once again, being under the care of a good shepherd over time, the sheep will come to trust his shepherd so much that he ceases to worry and is content and comfortable following his shepherd anywhere!

Life through the eyes of a sheep!

What does it have to do with you?

It IS you! That is, if you know the Good Shepherd. If not, you know hunger, harm, harassment and concerns about the hereafter.

When you follow the Good Shepherd – life is good and your future is your friend!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Impact of Small Things

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!" Matthew 25:23

One of the big myths of Christian growth and church growth result from spectacular manifestations or major breakthroughs. Many of us tend to overlook the importance and the impact of small things, especially small things done consistently over time.

Remember the Challenger disaster? The official conclusion on the cause of that tragedy was the failure of a few small and inexpensive "o" rings. Just a couple of little things but one big failure.

I'm sure you recall the Columbia space shuttle tragedy. It was caused by a few missing tiles from the heat shield designed to protect the craft from the intense heat during re-entry to the earth's atmosphere. Again, small tiles but huge impact.

It would be hard to completely assess the impact the automobile has had on the modern American lifestyle. But Henry Ford, to whom we owe a great deal, made one small mistake in the design of his first Model-T - he forgot to build reverse into it. Correcting that seemingly minor error launched the ever-expanding love affair between Americans and their cars.

Those are just three examples of small things that made huge, even historic differences. So, why would spiritual growth be different? Should you sit around waiting for big things to happen? It that how it happens? Is that what you should expect? Or should you run around to gospel concerts and attend charismatic conferences until you experience and amazing breakthrough? Is that how it happens?

Not usually. It almost always happens one small victory at a time. A new discipline like starting a prayer journal, or finding a prayer partner can make a big difference. A new commitment to a ministry or conquering a negative attitude show significant growth. When you replace a bad habit with a good behavior, that's real growth. And the result of winning those little daily battles is often that big breakthrough others are chasing!

What is the growth point in your life right now? 

What little victory could you win that would make the biggest difference? 

When will you stop wishing and start winning?

May 29, 2018

"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing." Psalm 23:1 

When the Psalmist identifies God as a Shepherd He is, at the same time, implying that we are sheep. In fact, He is and we are.

You don't have to know much about sheep to know you wouldn't want to be one. Sheep are dumb, dirty, and defenseless. The fate of a sheep depends upon his shepherd. If he has a good shepherd the future is his friend. If  not, his future is not so bright.

The 23rd Psalm is an amazing Psalm. It is the favorite of many many people. This Psalm is a sheep bragging about his shepherd. And it begins with the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd." In the Hebrew it is "Jehovah-Rohi." The Eternal God is my shepherd.

He is our guide. He leads us. He feeds us. He comforts us. No other name of God carries the tenderness and intimacy of "Jehovah-Rohi".

When we need to be reminded that the Lord is taking care of us, we can come to the 23rd Psalm and praise Him as "Jehovah-Rohi".

The second part of that verse should be translated, "I shall not have needs." Actually, you're wants aren't even discussed here, except in the translators' choice of words. The whole point is that taking care of our needs is God's responsibility. That's His job. He's volunteering for it. He's good at it. We need to let God do His job without needless harassment.

Herein is the inspiring point of this Psalm. If you are a sheep, and you are. And if a sheep is only as good as its shepherd, and he is. And if the Lord is your shepherd, which He is. Then you are one blessed sheep! And as long as you keep following "Jehovah-Rohi", your future is your friend!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

May 28, 2018

"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 favorites! 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!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

May 27, 2018

"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 rathr 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 favorites! 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!

May 26, 2018

"Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:  I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.  It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud;  and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”  And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” Genesis 9:11-17

Promises are simple to make hard to keep and easy to break.

Broken promises can break hearts and shatter trust. No doubt you have suffered a broken heart as result of a broken promise. Or, perhaps you have hurt someone else by not keeping a promise.

Most promises are not broken because they are forgotten but because someone promised more than he could deliver.

God made a century long promise to Noah that if he would build an ark to the exact specifications that he was given, God would save his family from the impending judgment via the flood. A Noah promised he would do it. He kept his promise and God kept His.

Let me tell you why this story matters so much. The Christian life is a life of faith and faith is built upon your expectations of God. Your expectations of God grow out of the experiences you have with God. When we you inexperienced in your walk you can learn from the experiences that others had with God - people like Moses and the disciples and Joshua and Noah. One thing you learn from them is they believed the promises of God and God kept His promises.

When the flood was over and Noah's family was delivered from the flood God had kept His promise and Noah had done his part, God put a rainbow in the remnants of the storm. The rainbow was a visible symbol of a promise kept and the seal of a new promise made. Never again would God destroy the earth in this manner.

Think a moment about what a rainbow is. Rainbows appear as you look back in the direction the storm came from. It is the result of the sun shining through the clouds in the aftermath of the storm. It is the promise that the storm is over and the sun is coming out and you will be safe. As you remember that you begin to understand what a perfect reminder the rainbow is! God's rainbow reminds you that this storm is over and His Son is coming and you are safe!

The Christian life is lived in promise-land until you get to THE Promised Land and the rainbow is the reminder you can trust His promises in life's storm and between the storms. So, if you are in the storm right now, remember the rainbow. God does!

So you can trust the promises of God, you can know what to expect from Him and you can be sure what He expects from you. God gave His rainbow as a reminder that He keeps His promises. That reminder is primarily for you to remember since God always remembers His promises. I guess you could say that the rainbow reminds you that He remembers to remember His promises. God will never forget His promise nor can He ever make a promise that He is not able to keep. So, His promises are as good as gold! The gold at the end of the rainbow?

May 25, 2018

Now the flood was on the earth forty days. The waters increased and lifted up the ark, and it rose high above the earth."  Genesis 7:17

What can you expect from a God Who can do anything, anytime, to anyone when ever He wants to?
From the perspective of Noah, you can expect God to keep His promises!

And, indeed, He did! And trusting in God's promise strengthened Noah before the storm. But that is not all! Noah also found that trusting God's promise also supported him IN the storm!

Can you get your mind around what Noah did? He spent 120 years preparing for an catastrophic event that would be caused by a meteorological phenomenon never seen before! That's faith! That is believing God!

Noah expected that the same promise that strengthened him while he prepared for the storm would also support him IN the storm!

What do you trust during your storms? What supports you?

This stirring story of Noah reminds us that life is stormy! As you read this you are either in a storm, coming out of a storm or headed to the next one! When those storms come you will either sink or swim! That's the way it is! Where will you look for support?

There are so many great lessons to learn from this story, but one that I want to focus on is this: when you expect God to support you in the storm He will use the flood that would have destroyed you will lift you up!

Faith floats! When you claim the promises of God and live by them every day, faith will keep you afloat! When you base your decisions on the promises of God, faith will keep you afloat! 

God's promises will lift you above your doubts! His promises will lift you above your despair! His promises are based in His character and guaranteed by His power so you can hope in them like Noah did.

Don't be fearful in the storm! Don't sink and don't get swamped. Cling to His promises and they will support you!

I promise!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

May 24, 2018

"Noah did everything just as God commanded him." Genesis 6:22

What can you expect from God?

You can expect Him to keep His promises! All of them.

When you believe that it strengthens you! It strengthened Noah!

How do I know?

I read the story! You read it! You think about it.

God asked Noah to build something he had never built (a boat) and maybe something he had never even seen before. And it was not just a boat, it was a big one!

And Noah was asked to build this big boat to save himself and his family from something no one had ever seen before (a flood) caused by something no one had ever seen (rain). How hard is that? Would you do it?

What would motivate a farmer to become a boat builder who prepared for an unprecedented catastrophe and do it for 120 years while his neighbors ridiculed him on a daily basis? Faith! Faith in a promise of salvation for his family. Obviously, he expected God to keep His promises!

Imagine a day in the life of Noah. He is up early each day to do his farm chores so he can feed his family and then out to the building site to begin sawing wood and pounding nails and pitching tar. As he does these physically demanding tasks a neighbor stops by and the conversation begins:

"Noah, what are you doing?"

"I am building an ark as the Lord has commanded."

"Oh. What's an ark?"

"An ark is a large boat."

"But why build a boat here? There is no water anywhere near."

"There will be!"

"What? What are you talking about? Everyone says you're nuts and I am beginning to believe it! There is not enough water around here to float a boat that big!"

"There will be!'

"Say, what? How?"

"There is going to be a flood!"

"What is a flood?"

"It is a lot of water caused by a whole lot of rain."

"What is rain?"

Can you imagine how tired you would get of having that conversation day after day after day for 12 decades? I can't.

What gave Noah that much strength? How did he do it that faithfully and patiently and persistently for that long?

Noah found strength by trusting in the promises of God! He believed that God would deliver him and his family if he did would build the ark.

Guess what? He was right!

Do you need spiritual strength? Are you running low on patience?

Find strength in the promises of God!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

May 23, 2018

"This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.  Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.  Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corruptthe earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.  So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be three hundred cubits long, fifty cubits wide and thirty cubits high.  Make a roof for it, leaving below the roof an opening one cubit high all around. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. I am going to bring floodwaters on the earth to destroy all life under the heavens, every creature that has the breath of life in it. Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark —you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you. You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of every kind of bird, of every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground will come to you to be kept alive. You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.”  Noah did everything just as God commanded him."  Genesis 6:9-22

Do you remember the first time you heard the captivating story of Noah and the ark? I do!

I will tell you why.

The reason I will never forget is because it was the night I accepted Christ as my Savior! I had gone forward at the end of a Sunday night when the pastor gave the invitation to a couple of dozen people at the Bourbon Bible Church in Bourbon, Indiana. The year was 1957.

Being a shy seven-year old I asked my mother to go with me and, of course she did! When we got to the front of the church the pastor seemed a little surprised that someone had responded and was fumbling for a way to explain salvation to a child.

He made a quick recovery and regained his wits. Asking us to come into an office off the side of the church platform he asked me if I knew the story of Noah's Ark, to which I replied, "No" and he proceeded to tell me. I liked it!

Having explained the story to me he then explained that salvation was like the ark and if I would accept Jesus as my Savior it would be like coming into the ark and I would be safe. That made sense to me - so I prayed the sinners prayer with the pastor and became a Christian.

Over the 61 years since that night, I have enjoyed the safety of the Ark of Salvation and learned to trust God's promises like Noah did. And like Noah, I have sailed safely through numerous storms.

One of the great themes of this amazing epoch is that God's promises can be trusted - always!

Because of God's promises and His unchanging character you can always have the hope of His HIMpossibility! Noah trusted God and knew that nothing is impossible with God. Or, to phrase it in the positive, nothing is impossible with God! That means He is the God of Himpossibilities! YOU CAN EXPECT GOD TO KEEP HIS PROMISES.

In fact, not only did He keep His promises to Noah, but He also placed a rainbow in the sky as a reminder!

If you will flee to the ark of His salvation, and stay there, you will ride out every storm of life and enjoy many rainbows!

Monday, May 21, 2018

May 22, 2018

"Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat." Matthew 8:24

Have you ever been so frightened that you physically shook?

I have and it is an awful feeling. It takes a powerful fear to bring that sort of reaction.

From what I see in this story, the disciples might have been shaking with fear.

Interestingly, the Greek word for "fierce" used here is "seismos". You might recognize it in conjunction with "seismology", the study of earthquakes or "seismograph", an instrument for measuring the intensity of earthquakes. So, this was a storm that literally shook the waters! And it got them shaking as well.

Another insightful fact about this word is that it is only used two other times by Matthew in his Gospel.

Once is in Matthew 27:51-54 in reference to Jesus' death on Calvary, "At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people. The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

The other use occurs in Matthew 28:2 - "Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it."

So, God knows how to shake things up! He shook the waters and He shook the earth! People noticed and people changed!

Has God ever shaken your world? Is He shaking it now? What is your response? Is it fear? Maybe He is trying to shake the fear out of you!

The message of the storm is, "Fear not when Jesus is in your boat"! He is stronger than the storm.

The message of Calvary is, "Fear not, Jesus has conquered your sin"! His holiness is stronger than your sin!

The message of the Resurrection is, "Fear not, Jesus has conquered death!" His life is more powerful than death!

God's earth-shaking message is, "Fear not! I have overcome the storm, the sin and the sentence of death!"

So, why should you be shaking? If there is a storm in your life right now, or if something has shaken your world, maybe it is God's "seismos" sent to shake the fear out of you and remind you that Jesus is in your boat! Fear not! Speak to Jesus and let Him speak His power to your fear!

The one who should be shaking is the devil!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

May 21, 2018

"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' " 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' " Luke 16:27-31

This formerly rich man now found himself in hell tormented by the horrors of the place plus tortured by the regrets he had about not taking advantage of the opportunities to prepare his soul for Heaven. He was eternally lost and he knew it.

He was suddenly urgent about the eternal destiny of his five brothers who were still living. He wanted to save them from a similar fate.

How is your urgency toward the eternal destiny of people you care about?

He became too urgent too late to help the situation. We tend to do the same. Why?

What are some things that cause us to become complacent rather than feeling urgent? What should we look for? What attitudes can we resist?

This rich man, in his earthly life, had all the necessities and many of the luxuries and he wanted for nothing. Good for him! We should be so lucky!

But earthly riches will not get you to heaven. Only those who declare moral and spiritual bankruptcy can find the riches of grace in Christ Jesus! Have you found that gift of eternal life? If you have, are you sharing it with others?

If not, what are you waiting for? 

Time is short and eternity is very long!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

May 20, 2018

"But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ” Daniel 3:18

When you read this inspiring story about Shadrach, Meshach and Adebnego or when you here stories about some of the famous martyrs who boldly died for their faith, have you ever wondered if you have that sort of faith? Have you wondered if you have what it takes to suffer or died for Jesus?

We have been examining that for the last few days, studying what I call "fireproof faith".

Fireproof faith comes out of a relationship with Christ.

Fireproof faith develops righteousness from that relationship.

Fireproof faith determines your reality.

Finally, we will see that fireproof faith is resolved. You don't make faith decisions in the heat of the trial or temptation. You resolve those issues well ahead of time.

The Three Hebrews had decided the moment they heard what the King had planned that they were not going to bow to the King's image. So, when they were confronted by the King in full view of the fiery furnace, they did not waver in their commitment.

Have you resolved that you will not bow to any other gods even if they threaten your life?

Like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, here are some modern day martyrs who were resolved in their faith:

Cassie Bernall was a student at Columbine High School in Colorado. Her last word was, "Yes." The question was, "Are you a Christian?" It was asked with Eric Harris and Dylan Kliebold pointing guns at her head. Her answer was met with a bullet through the brain. She had resolved not to deny her Lord.

This lovely young lady is Rachel Scott. She also became a victim of Harris and Kliebold when she refused to renounce her faith, knowing full well that it would cost her life. She was resolved not to bow to her fears and now bows before the Throne in Heaven!

These three young men are (L to R) Ed McAlly, Pete Fleming and Jim Elliot. They were missionaries trying to make contact with a savage tribe in the Amazon jungles. Before they set out to encounter a small band of warriors, they resolved that if they were attacked they would not defend themselves with the firearms they were carrying; They reasoned that if they died they would go to heaven, but the Indians were not prepared to die. So they took spears in the chest rather than cause one soul to go to hell. Each of them were in their early 30's and they each left a young wife and small children.

Fireproof faith resolves that it will stand for truth and righteousness and never deny Christ even if it means dying. These five people did just that!

Are you resolved to live, or if necessary, die for Christ? 

Do you have fireproof faith?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Fireproof Faith

"At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold,  and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up.”  Daniel 3:8-12

How does your faith hold up under threats or pressure from those who oppose what you believe?

Do you "go along to get along" or are you committed to the right thing regardless of the personal consequences to you?

The three Hebrew men developed a fireproof faith that allowed them to survive the heat of the attacks against them by King Nebuchadnezzar.

Do you have a fireproof faith?

Would you like to develop a fireproof faith?

In the last post I shared how Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego found their faith in a relationship with their God. Faith is based in a personal relationship with God and there cannot be faith without relationship.

God created you to live in relationship with Him and faith is the only way that relationship can happen.

Do you have a personal relationship with Him? Are you living in that relationship?

A second component of faith I see in this account is righteousness. You have been made right with God by entering into a personal relationship with Him. In other words, you have been made righteous. Once you are made righteous you will want to keep right with God by choosing to do the right things.

Faith is concerned about pleasing God. Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God, for those who come to Him must believe that He is and He rewards them who diligently seek Him."

Fireproof faith makes sure it knows what is right and then does what is right, despite the personal cost to him. These three Hebrews knew exactly what would happen to them if they ever disobeyed or dishonored God. AND they also were very clear what would happen to them if they disobeyed and disrespected Nebuchadnezzar.

Bowing before the 90 foot golden image was NOT the right thing to do but it would have made the king happy and saved their lives. Bowing to the idol, the false god, would not have pleased God but it would have taken some heat off of them.

How committed are you to righteousness? Will you please God even when it brings the wrath of the government on you?  Is your faith driven by the desire to remain righteous before God or do you see it as a way to make things right for you?

Fireproof faith develops out of personal relationship and a commitment to righteousness.