General

Woe to the Obstinate Nation

“Woe to the obstinate children,”
    declares the Lord,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
    forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit, heaping sin upon sin who go down to Egypt
    without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,
    to Egypt’s shade for refuge.” Isaiah 30:1
-2


God was not happy with his children, the people of Israel. They stopped listening to Him, stopped looking to Him as their light and and His words as their direction. Instead they chose their own ways. They bound themselves to Egypt instead of to Him.

On multiple occasions God had given the people strict limitations on their relationships with other nations and peoples. But their lusts and desires had caused them to ignore God’s instruction and bind themselves to heathens. Invariably these relationships caused compromises. The people God had called to himself to serve in righteousness would find themselves over and over again participating in the other nation’s idolatry and pagan ways. Instead of the protection and blessing of God they would find themselves in the eye of God’s wrath.

The recent Wuhan virus has shown us just how dependent we are on China. During this pandemic that spread here from China we found ourselves scrambling for supplies. There wasn’t enough PPE, enough ventilators and more. Much of the reason for this? We had tied ourselves to China as our primary supply line. While hiding the existence of the virus from the rest of the world, China went from a net exporter of PPE to a net importer of PPE and began hoarding the and profiteering on the equipment.

It goes beyond PPE though. So much of our overall supply chain in many, many of our industries comes from China. Why is that? Because it is so cheap. But we don’t care why it is cheap. We don’t care about the sweatshops. We don’t care about the oppressed peoples living poverty. We care about the insane profit levels. We care about having the newest smartphone. The coolest Nike shoes.

We bound ourselves to a nation that persecutes Christians by telling them how they can worship and when they do not comply, or even sometimes when they just want to shake them down, put them in prison and sometimes even worse. We must pray for and ask God to liberate our brothers and sisters in this oppressive regime. We bound ourselves to a nation that has over a million people in internment camps. We bound ourselves to a government that continues to steal technology from other countries. We bound ourselves to a government that lied to the rest of the world about a virus while it secretly spread across the globe.

“What fellowship can light have with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14

Light and darkness have no fellowship. People who say they live by morality cannot fellowship with the immoral unless they discard their morality. In order for light to fellowship with darkness it must relinquish its light and become dark. We have done this in our pursuit of wealth.

“Can a man take fire in his bosom And his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” Proverbs 6:27-28

If you play with fire you get burned. It happened to us here and it will happen again. God has told us over and over again to depend on Him for our provision and protection. To follow His ways, His words. Over and over again we reject this instruction and we turn to our own ways and then to the unbelievers in compromise. Each time we do, it is only a matter of time before we get burned. Next time it may be worse.

Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.

“Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.” Psalm 16:4

“If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you”  John 15:19.

“This road to peaceful coexistence with the culture is typically paved with a series of incremental compromises…. As the church becomes comfortable with the culture, its witness is compromised and it begins to forfeit the favor of God.” https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/revelation/related-topics/the-results-of-compromise.html

Light has no fellowship with darkness. They are opposed to one another.

In an interview about the Wuhan virus, published April 8th, Pope Francis said “I don’t know if these are the revenge of nature, but they are certainly nature’s responses”. He went on to say, “There is an expression in Spanish: ‘God always forgives, we forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives,'”

No, nature does not forgive. That’s because nature is not a person and has no capacity to forgive. Nature will not, indeed cannot seek revenge . Nature does not have motives or feelings or reasoning. Nature is part of a description of God’s creation. As leader of the world’s largest sect of Christianity, why speak of nature as if it is personal?

Throughout history and still today there are many religions at least partially based on the personal characteristics of nature. Man has often tried to make gods from nature and even make a god of nature. Christians are to have nothing to do with such beliefs. They are an abomination and insult to God.

It is not the role of Christians to meet the world and its other religions (yes, everyone has a religion, even the atheist) half way. It is often said that most all religions have a lot in common. No, Christianity has very little, minuscule amounts, in common with other religions. The differences far outweigh the similarities.

 “So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too.”

—Kurt Vonnegut, American Writer (1922-2007)

The cardinal virtue of today has become compromise. It is more important to get along than to stand with truth. The truth is often not popular. We must never compromise the truth with the false gods and religions of the world. Spiritual compromise happens when we view salvation as a human endeavor rather than as an act of God. The world’s religions, in one way or another, all teach us to walk up the mountain to salvation. Christianity is about a Savior who came down the mountain to us to save us.

What are we to Learn from this?

Since almost the beginning of the current pandemic this question has been going around in my head. Sometimes when things happen I get frustrated with God for letting them occur. I usually figure out later that God knew what He was doing all along – I am thankful He is patient with me. As I experience the Wuhan virus along with the rest of the world, there has been no such frustration. Oh, I have absolutely been frustrated with the series of events that blend together to to form what we call the pandemic, but not with God. Instead, there has been the on-going question of what are we to learn from this?

I am confident God knows exactly what He is doing and is doing exactly what needs done. Do not misread this and think I am saying God is causing this world crisis. I have no idea whether God has brought this upon us or has let it come upon due to our actions and negligence. Either way, it is here because of us. In a general, universal sense, sickness is in the world because of sin and we are the sinners, the ones who have sinned and fallen short of God’s plan for us. In a more specific sense, the horrors this world experiences at different times are here because of our sinful actions, including this Wuhan virus; whether sent by God or allowed by God, it matters not.

God uses times and events like these to instruct us and correct us. All through the scriptures, especially in the Old Testament history of Israel we see God instructing and correcting Israel through trials and hardships. What are we to learn from this time?

I do not claim to know all the answers to that question and it is quite possible (and even likely) with God that there are not only multiple answers, but perhaps even different answers for different peoples in some cases. Some of the answers will be broad in scope, encompassing whole nations and groups of people, perhaps even the whole world, while some may be more specific to a smaller group; perhaps the church or a church, or a family, or even an individual. We need to seek these answers in prayer.

One answer is our greed. Through our desire to make more profit, regardless the consequence and ignoring the human cost, we placed ourselves in a dangerous position.

For years we knew about the sweat shops in China. We knew about the human rights abuses. We knew about the internment camps. We knew about the persecution of the church. But we didn’t care, we loved our Smartphones and sneakers too much to care. And it goes beyond that. It was cheaper and more profitable to have the oppressed workers in a nation led by Godless leaders make our medical supplies and so much more of our supply chain. We were good with that. Until a pandemic started in that country and put a terrible strain on the items we so desperately needed to fight the virus. Not only did it drastically slow the production capacity there, but the Chinese needed large amounts of these supplies that would have been shipped to us. Our greed tied us to a country that oppresses its citizens and persecutes the believers. Not just corporate greed – but all of us.

There is more to be learned from and during this time of struggle. What will God show us? You must be looking.

Some Crazy Mixed up Values

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man whose name we have all come to know during this pandemic recently said this about shaking hands. “I don’t think we should ever shake hands again, to be honest with you. Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease, it probably would decrease instances of influenza.” So shaking hands, something that has been a part of cultures for thousands of years is something we should do away with.

Interestingly, the same Dr. Fauci was asked in an interview with Snapchat, “If you’re swiping on a dating app like Tinder, or Bumble or Grindr, and you match with someone that you think is hot, and you’re just kind of like, ‘Maybe it’s fine if this one stranger comes over’ What do you say to that person?” Here is Dr. Fauci’s advice, “If you’re willing to take a risk – and you know, everybody has their own tolerance for risks – you figure out if you want to meet somebody…”, “If you want to go a little bit more intimate, well then that’s your choice regarding a risk.”

From the doctor leading America’s response to the current pandemic, shaking hands with others should not be something we do but having sex with strangers, well that’s your choice. Where’s the science here? Where’s the logic here. And for certain, where’s the morality here? Let’s get this straight. We can choose for ourselves to have sex with strangers, but we are told we shouldn’t shake hands. We can choose to engage in risky sexual behavior with known health dangers, including mental health, but we cannot make our own choices when it comes to going to church, going to work, and more.

The issue here is not whether the current response to this pandemic is right or wrong. It is about what are the sacred issues to the world? You see, we can talk about social distancing and lock-downs to protect our health and the country as a whole buys in. We can tell people to make sacrifices for some good that we value, i.e the health of ourselves and others we may infect. We even respect a person for telling us these things, whether we agree with them or not. However, we cannot tell people how to live their lives when it comes to sexuality. That is off-limits. That is forbidden.

These are crazy mixed up values. God has made it clear how we are to live our lives when it comes to human intimacy. We choose not to listen to Him though. We will listen to a human ‘expert’ but will not listen to the God of creation?

Its All About Me Right?

How many times have you heard “If I had been the only sinner, Jesus would have died for me”?

Ask people what the core message of Christianity is and most will answer something like, “God
loves me.” While it is absolutely true that God loves us and in a way that is beyond our comprehension, that is not the core of Christianity. Look closely at that answer; the core, the most important thing about Christianity is God loves ME. The subject of that answer is ‘me’.

But that is not the truth. If we look at the foundation of all things we do not find ourselves or even the collection of all humanity. What we find, is God the creator and sustainer of all things. The eternal, almighty, majestic, God of love is the most important. Our society approaches everything as if we were at the center. The reason for that is the fallen nature of man. We are corrupt, corrupted by the lies of the father of lies. The chiefest among those lies, that we can be like God.

Jesus came to redeem us, to restore us. But that redemption comes at a cost. The cost paid by Jesus on the cross. There is a cost to us as well. Consider this, the Bible never once mentions asking Jesus to come into our hearts. It does however tell us that if want eternal life we must take up our cross and follow Him.

Check out the downloads page for a fuller discussion of this topic in the sermon study guide of the same name

You Cannot Throw out What the Bible says About Something and Remain a Christian

The bible is where we find the answer for what makes us a Christian.

Now, some will argue that it is faith in Christ that makes us a Christian. True, but let us consider the following:

  • Where did we get that idea and what makes us believe it is correct? The bible

  • How do we know who Christ is apart from the bible? Is there a separate Christ from the bible? The bible actually calls Jesus the Word. There is definitive unity between Christ and the bible.

  • Faith and the bible are inseparable. There is always an object of faith. When we speak of having faith, we speak of having faith in something or someone. Faith in Christ means a faith in the Christ of the bible.

  • Christ himself validated the scripture by His own words. This Christ that someone says they believe in is the Christ of the bible – by His own admission.

Followers of Christ cannot be selective in what parts they believe and what parts they live. By its own witness and by the witness of Christ Himself the Bible is true. Instead of following the bible based on the filter of our opinions and worldview we should allow the bible to form our opinions and worldview.

Finish the Race

Consider the story Jesus tells of the man who had the demon cast out, only to have it return with more. In Matthew 12 Jesus says, “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

I was contemplating the acts of Jesus and his disciples when they drove out the demons from different people and a thought came to me I had never considered before.  There is nothing in the scriptures that indicates that for every person who is delivered from these evil spirits they became a disciple of Christ, or that they even remained free from demons. What a sad thought.

Every instance we read of Jesus or his disciples driving out the demons demonstrates for us his absolute power of evil. They cannot stand against him. But God is a God of justice and if a person rejects God and wallows in the mud of evil, even though they may have demons driven out, the evil spirit has a right to inhabit their life.

The Israelites grumbled and complained in the wilderness after having seen such incredible demonstrations of God’s power. Ten lepers were healed, to have only one return and say thank you.

So many people have had so much done for them by God,only to turn to their old ways again, “like a dog returning to its own vomit”. This is not what God has for us. He came to give us life, and that more abundant. What will it take in a person’s life to surrender to Him? Finish the race.