Friday, March 25, 2011

Don’t Get Angry At God

Mark Loughridge, Pastor in Letterkenny County, Donegal, Ireland has a blog called three17. The blog was named after his favorite verse Zephaniah 3:17. 
The following is quoted from his blog of March 5, 2006 based on 2 Kings 6:24-33.

"Then we come to King Jehoram. We read something interesting about him in v 30:  "When the king heard the woman’s words, he tore his robes. As he went along the wall, the people looked, and there, underneath, he had sackcloth on his body."
"Surprising! Sackcloth was the sign of humbling yourself before God. And Jehoram seems to be going about it in a right way – he doesn’t display his sackcloth or all to see. Indeed no-one would have known about it except he is so distressed at the awfulness of the situation that he tears the royal robes which were covering the sackcloth."
"The Bible condemns outward show of religion, and the king certainly wasn’t putting on an outward show. But sadly his words in the next verses demonstrate that this wasn’t a humbling that led to repentance. We see him take an oath that his own life would be forfeit if Elisha wasn’t executed that day. And in v33 you can hear his impatience, “Why should I wait for the Lord an longer?”
"It would seem as if Elisha has already told him to wait on God, to humble himself and to turn back to God. And Jehoram has come along with that. But its only skin deep. Its not repentance, its bargaining with God. Its almost as if he’s saying, “You told me that if I put on this sackcloth stuff, that God would sort it all out in his time. Well I’ve done all that, and it hasn’t worked.”
"He’s like someone who says, “my wife was ill and I prayed and prayed, but God didn’t answer my prayers, so therefore he doesn’t exist. I’ve tried religion and it doesn’t work.”
"But God isn’t impressed with bargaining. If I do this, will you be happy with me. Look at what I’ve done. I’ll pray to you, but you give me what I want. Why should God give you what you want? You haven’t given him what he wants – he wants a broken and contrite heart, he wants you to repent and trust him."
And what is missing from it all is genuine biblical repentance. 
And amidst the judgment Jehoram gets angry at God. And we see a man more concerned about starving people, than about sinful people. And we see a man shake his fist at God and blame God. And things haven’t changed. In our world God has promised that if we ignore him he will pull back his hand, and then when he does exactly what he said he would do, and there is a disaster, an explosion, people start shouting and blaming God. When if they would humble themselves, and repent of their sin God would return. In Zec 1:3 we read:  "This is what the LORD Almighty says: `Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, `and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty."
Have you been angry at God over something? Anger at God is never right. You may need to humble yourself and repent, and seek God’s forgiveness. Perhaps some of you think you can bargain with God. God hates to be bargained with. Bargaining only works when you have something the other person needs. God does not need you. You on the other hand need God. And you must come on his terms."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

When the earth shakes, tsunami’s roll, and reactors melt…God's word...

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4  "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,"

Daniel 4:34-35   "At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"

Acts 17:24-28   "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

Lamentations 3:37-38   "Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?"

Isaiah 45:7   "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things."
Psalm 31:15   "My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me."

Exodus 4:11   "The Lord said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord?"

Matthew 10:29-31   "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

John 9:1-3   "As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

Hebrews 12:5-6   "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

Amos 8:11-12   "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD, "when I will send a famine through the land-- not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it."

Romans 8:26-28   "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Romans 11:33  "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!"

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Watson the computer—not made in the image of God

Recently a super-computer named “Watson” beat the two veteran “Jeopardy” champs Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter.

The computer is impressive. Remember, it is just a machine that is programmed with a ton of “useless” information. The computer has the ability to retrieve the stored information when needed but can it do anything else?

Man is made in the image of God but man is not God. Man has the ability to remember but not everything. God has the ability to remember everything. He controls everything (Isaiah 44:24-26 "This is what the LORD says-- your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, 'It shall be inhabited,' of the towns of Judah, 'They shall be built,' and of their ruins, 'I will restore them,'

Watson better watch out, the man made machine better not smart off. God could fry it in an instant. Watson exists by God given intellect, given to man. It exists because of God’s sovereign choice. Ah, so do we!

What does this all mean? Probably nothing; before computers there were books that held information we didn’t know or couldn’t remember, but in the process, the world seems to want to “tarnish” man’s made in God’s image reality. Yes, they want to be God for a day, and make something superior to man’s intellect, next they will try to make something superior to God’s intellect. If you are a man or woman pursuing this conquest I would advise you to be careful. Isaiah 42:8-9 says, "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you."

1 Corinthians 1:20-21: 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.”

The computer Watson is very adept at retrieving useless information. Useless information—it’s cheap entertainment for people. Watson can retrieve information in an impressive manner but can it wipe away a tear from a child’s eye?

Yes, we as humans are limited in some area’s (example, remember some useless information) but we are made in God’s image. We care for the needy, encourage one another, and we suffer with one another. Watson will not be found at that party.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Psalm 139:14“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Watson is impressive but it is a man-made machine. It is dead with no soul, life or breathe. It just babbles… It is just a product of man’s God given intellect, nothing more.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Joy of Answered Prayer—Healing on the Jesus Premium Plan

James 5:13-16 (ESV): “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Note: Names and places changed since I do not have permission to use the people’s names.

Last fall I spoke at a church in Central Minnesota. After the service, two elders asked me to go with them to lay hands on a dear brother who had liver cancer.

I will call the man Dan; not his real name. I knew him from the past. About six years ago he needed a liver transplant; God provided Dan a liver in answer to many prayers on his behalf. Some five plus years later, the “new” liver had cancer. We confessed our sin, laid hands on the man and prayed in faith with expectation that the man would be healed. Immediately the man said, “My head feels better.” That was good but how do you know if your liver feels better? He felt good and we visited. Later I drove home into the full moon night singing praises to God.

I called one of the elders two weeks later; Dan’s health was improving. This last week, I received a call from one of the elders—Dan has no cancer what so ever!

Dan was in desperate shape when we laid hands on him and God healed him completely. Praise God from who all blessings flow. Thank you, Jesus. Halleluiah!

One point is this, I wish you could hear the phone call I received; over and over the man repeated “No more cancer; no more cancer! Isn’t God good? The Lord is amazing!” The caller repeated this over and over. I stood listening to the message with a tear filled face.

James 5:14 (ESV) says in part…“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the Church, and let them pray…”

Why aren’t we calling the elders more? Why aren’t we laying on hands more, anointing with oil and confessing sin, believing God can and will heal. God has healed and He will continue to heal!

The Gentle Healer has come; His Spirit is and will be with us. Come to Jesus and live. Isn’t God great! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Do not fret over health care. Jesus is the only true healer and His premium plan is simple. Humble yourselves before Him confess your sin and pray. We all can and should do that… To God alone is the glory.