The consequences of ignoring God - Greg Laurie 07/05/2019
I heard about a gallery owner who called one of his featured artists and said, “I have some good news and some bad news.”
The artist said, “Well, what’s the good news?”
“The good news is that a man came in here the other day and was looking at your paintings. He asked whether the value of the paintings would go up if the artist were to die. I told him they would, of course. So he bought every one of your paintings.”
“That’s fantastic,” the artist said. “So what’s the bad news?”
“The bad news is the man was your doctor.”
I think we can all use some good news in a bad world. But even as bad as things are now, they were even darker in Israel in the prophet Elisha’s day. It was, in fact, one of the darkest moments in Israel’s history. Everything had gone wrong. The king had basically become powerless.
A famine had swept the land, and things were so bad that they were actually eating dove dung, or to put it in modern vernacular, pigeon poop. The Scriptures also tell us that a delicacy at the time was the head of a donkey. Even worse, the people actually were turning to cannibalism.
Why had this happened to Israel?
It was a result of their disobedience to God and their repeated worship of false idols. This reminds us of a very important biblical principle: God will not share his glory with another.
You see, God put us on this earth to glorify him. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8 NIV). We were put here for that purpose. God wants us to fulfill that purpose.
And he certainly does not want to share his glory with any other gods. Two of the Ten Commandments deal with the topic of placing other gods before him.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, isn’t that a little paranoid on God’s part?”
It is not paranoia at all.
If you’re married, how would you feel if your spouse went out with a different person every night? That would be ridiculous. You wouldn’t put up with something like that.
But is it any more ridiculous when we turn from the true and living God to false gods? Is it any more ridiculous when we bow down to the idol of success or the idol of money? Is it any more ridiculous when we bow down before the idol of fame or the idol of pleasure?
God is saying, “You belong to me. I am not sharing you with another.”
He basically told Israel, “I am your Lord. I am your God. I brought you out of Egypt. Worship me. That is all I ask.”
But they kept turning to false gods. So the Lord allowed them to reap the consequences of their actions. And when the king heard about the people’s cannibalism, he ripped his royal robes. And underneath those robes was sackcloth.
At that time sackcloth usually was associated with mourning and repentance. We would assume that the king perhaps was truly repentant before God. Hardly. Because right after that, he decided he wanted to kill Elisha, the representative of God.
The king was saying, in effect, “Listen, I tried the whole wait-on-God thing. I have tried the whole faith deal. It isn’t working. I don’t want to wait on God one day longer. I am ticked off. And it’s Elisha’s fault.”
Elisha had done nothing wrong. He simply was the Lord’s representative. What the king and Israel were experiencing was a direct result of their own disobedience.
But whoever said that sin makes sense? When people are sinking deeper into sin and reaping the consequences of it, they strike out at God (and sometimes his representatives, even) instead of repenting and coming to their senses.
Maybe you’ve been minding your own business, loving God and living the Christian life, and a nonbeliever has been hassling you. You’re saying, “What on earth is this all about? What have I done wrong?”
Maybe you’re doing something right, because the Bible says, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12 NIV).
We don’t necessarily want to be persecuted, but as Christians we will be. And we’re seeing it more and more in our culture today.
You’d better not say anything critical against any particular race. You’d better not say anything critical against a gender. You’d better not say anything critical about any particular group. But you can say whatever you want about followers of Jesus Christ, and that is acceptable in our culture.
Writing in the early 20th century, G.K. Chesterton said, “You are free in our time to say that God does not exist; you are free to say that He exists and is evil. … You may talk of God as metaphor or mystification. . . . But if you speak of God as a fact, as a thing like a tiger, as a reason for changing one’s conduct, then the modern world will stop you somehow if it can. … It is now thought irreverent to be a believer.”
If that was true back then, how much more true is it today?
I’ve heard it said that Christians are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good. That is ridiculous. Because the fact of the matter is, those who think the most of the next world will do the most for this one.
God Is Working In Your Waiting - By Jade Mazarin 02/20/2017
Most parents would agree that their children don’t want to wait for anything. The last thing kids want to hear is Mom say, “Not now.” It can prompt anger, frustration, even hopelessness. This “dis-ease” of waiting follows most of us into our adult years. We may not respond with the same emotional outbursts as children, but most of us still hate waiting for what we want.
And our modern society just makes it worse. We want everything done quickly — and new devices constantly spring up to meet those demands and encourage our impatience. We are not used to waiting, and the more our technology caters to our immediate desires, the less we feel willing to wait.
Such is our dilemma as Christians. While society makes every attempt to make our life easier and faster, God works on a very different timetable. In his mind, nothing is wrong with waiting. In fact, waiting can actually be a positive good that he often uses to make us more like his Son.
God Works While We Wait
Something actually happens while nothing is happening. God uses waiting to change us.
The story of Adam and Eve is a story of rebellion against God. Once they believed that God didn’t have their best interests in mind, they decided to go ahead without God and do what they wanted. They became, in effect, their own god. Too often, this is exactly what we do today. When God tells us to wait, we don’t trust him, but go ahead and find ways to accomplish what we want to happen.
This tendency to push God to the side goes against his plan for us. It creates distance in our relationship with him. It causes us to get into trouble and brings pain. What good is it to gain the whole world now — whatever it is we think we want — and forfeit our souls’ intimacy with God (Mark 8:36)?
God wants us to learn how to follow him and put down our demanding selves — to calm that screaming child in us. One way he helps us do this is to say, “Wait.” That miserable, uncomfortable, sometimes painful state of silence is one of God’s most powerful tools to set us free.
If we are willing, that is.
Choosing at the Crossroads
We don’t start out willing to wait. Our natural response to waiting is often anger or doubt. Fortunately, God is gracious and merciful, understanding of our tendencies. Simply feeling deep, complex emotions in waiting — especially for significant things, like a pregnancy or a job — is not necessarily sinful in itself. But we can decide where those emotions take us.
We can decide to exalt these feelings. We might act on them by taking matters into our own hands. Or perhaps we will not act, but we’ll make an idol out of the good for which we are waiting — every passing day is another log on the fires of bitterness, impatience, ingratitude, perhaps even resentment against the God who won’t give us what we want.
Or, by God’s grace, we can choose to wait as he intends. “Waiting on the Lord is the opposite of running ahead of the Lord, and it’s the opposite of bailing out on the Lord,” writes John Piper. “It’s staying at your appointed place while he says stay, or it’s going at his appointed pace while he says go. It’s not impetuous, and it’s not despairing.”
We have the choice, then, to take a deep breath, release our clenched hands, and let God be God. And we are invited to continue hoping in his greatness.
Pray for God to Work in You
Certainly, only one of these options will bring us joy. As we seek to accept and rejoice in God’s handling of our lives, including his timing, we can ask God to work in us two main things, so that our waiting is not in vain: humility and trust.
Sometimes, when I’ve found myself getting impatient and upset, I will remind myself that God is the one who put me here. My life is not my own. This is humility. It is coming to realize that we are a breath and God owes us nothing (Psalm 39:5; Luke 17:7–10).
Then comes trust, which means believing at least two things about God: he is powerful, and he is loving.
Believing God is powerful means that we know he is in charge of what’s happening; things are not arbitrary or out of his control. He is capable of both helping us and changing things. Much of our anxiety in waiting is because we forget that “God is able to make all grace abound to you” (2 Corinthians 9:8). You are not at the mercy of your circumstances.
Believing God is loving means that there is care and purpose behind all that he does. It means that he is faithful to help us right now and bring us blessings later. It means that his judgment and timing is always perfectly good. True, he owes us nothing, yet he has promised to give us everything we need (Philippians 4:19).
Even during that long road of silence, God cares deeply for us. We can be like David and remind ourselves, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).
Blessing of Waiting in Faith
Some of the greatest figures in the Bible — Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David — had to wait for many years for God’s promises. Everything that happened in the meantime was used to prepare them, inwardly as well as outwardly. Then, when they reached their promise, they were blessed beyond measure.
God invites us to trust in his goodness today and his faithfulness tomorrow. Relinquishing control to him is the main route to experience his love and peace. It unites our hearts with his. It creates a level of maturity and character that we will take with us into the future, and it enables us to enjoy his future blessings all the more.
Posted 04/18/2019. The teenager whose supernatural recovery is at the center of the new film Breakthrough says he hopes his story helps moviegoers understand that miracles do happen and God does exist.
John Smith, now 18, fell through an icy pond in 2015 and was thought dead until his mother began praying for him at the hospital. Only then did his heart start beating.
Incredibly, 45 minutes had passed between the time he plunged through the ice and the moment he regained his pulse. CPR and shock treatments had failed. The doctor called it a “bonafide miracle.”
Chrissy Metz of This Is Us plays the mom in the film.
The real-life John Smith says he wants the film to be a “beacon of hope” for moviegoers.
“There's 300-plus pages of medical documents of why I should be dead. But I'm alive,” Smith told a panel of Christian media members. “And so unbelievers see that and go, 'Oh, it can't just be another God-based film.' We have doctors that are on our side to pull more unbelievers in to get them to believe that this is a bonafide miracle and the only person that can do this is God.”
Smith says he’s been amazed by the responses he’s received from atheists and unbelievers about his story.
“This has sparked curiosity regarding faith,” he said. “... And I think also the science part of it [has helped attract attention].”
Acknowledging he shouldn’t be alive, Smith said: “There's no answer for me.”
Breakthrough follows Smith’s miraculous recovery but also tackles the often-asked unanswerable question: Why did God heal Smith but not others?
Smith says he gets asked that question a lot.
“The one thing I always say to them is, ‘I'm sorry but respectfully, I don't know, but I'll be praying for you and your situation.’ … You can ask probably the number one pastor in the world and he may not even not know the answer,” he said. “But I always remind them that God is definitely alive and that God definitely loves them and their family.”
Posted On 05/24/2019 - When my son Jonathan was in his early teens, we were driving somewhere when he turned to me and said, “Dad, what is a conscience?”
Defining a conscience isn’t as easy as it might seem. I tried to illustrate it for him. I explained that a conscience is a lot like our ability to feel pain. If you’re walking barefoot and start to step on a piece of glass, you sense pain. You get that signal from the brain telling you to stop. It’s a warning of something that could be far worse. And though you may not enjoy the temporary discomfort of partially stepping on a piece of glass, it beats the alternative, which is to puncture your foot and risk infection and other complications. Yes, there is pain involved, but it’s warning of something that could be far worse.
Our conscience can work that way as well. It alerts us to danger. It warns us of something that’s wrong in our lives. And working in conjunction with our conscience is something called guilt. Guilt is a spiritual pain in our souls that tells us something is evil and needs to be confronted and cleansed.
We all know what it’s like to have a guilty conscience. The story is told of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who stated at a dinner party one night that everyone over the age of 40 had at least one skeleton in their closet, so to speak. This led the group to perform an experiment on a mutual acquaintance whom they all agreed had an impeccable reputation. They sent the man a telegram with this message: “All is discovered; flee at once!” The next day he disappeared and was never seen again.
What if you were to get an anonymous text that said, “All is discovered; flee at once”? Would you run? Is there something that you’re afraid would be found out?
That is called having a guilty conscience.
One person defined conscience as “the inner voice that tells you the IRS might check your return.” Another defined it as “that still, small voice that makes you feel still smaller.”
The Greek word for conscience is found more than 30 times in the New Testament and means “coknowledge.” In other words, conscience knows our inner motives and our true thoughts.
The Hebrew word for conscience is usually translated as the word “heart” in the Old Testament. So when we read in Old Testament passages about having a tender heart toward God, this is referring to a sensitive conscience. When it speaks of being upright in heart, it means having a pure conscience.
That is not to equate the conscience with the voice of God, necessarily, because our conscience can be wrong at times.
At the same time, our conscience often will point out what is right or wrong long after we have rationalized our actions. We all know what it’s like to say, “I know this is OK for me to do. …” We talk ourselves into it and have it all worked out. Then as we’re on the way to doing that thing, the conscience kicks in, saying, “I don’t know if you should do this.” It serves an important purpose. And when we ignore our conscience and do the wrong thing, guilt will kick in.
We are living in a time, however, when no one wants to accept guilt anymore. We are a society of victims. No one is responsible for his or her actions anymore.
A number of years ago I heard a news story about a man who was suing the American Dental Association, claiming it had failed to warn consumers about toothbrush abrasion from brushing too hard.
That is the way it is in our litigious society. The prevailing attitude is when in doubt, sue. Never accept responsibility for what you’ve done. It’s always the other person’s fault.
But there is that nagging thing called guilt. People who are often troubled by guilt will go to a therapist, who is supposed to boost their flagging self-image or help them realize there really is no such thing as guilt. People don’t want to feel guilt in our culture today.
The media have confirmed this, publishing articles with headlines such as, “How to Stop Being So Tough on Yourself”; “Guilt Can Drive You Crazy”; “Getting Rid of the Guilt”; “Don’t Feed the Guilt Monster.” The list goes on and on. The common thread is treating guilt as some irritant we need to get rid of. Guilt is bad – or so people say.
Ann Landers, whose syndicated advice column was read by millions, made this interesting statement about guilt: “One of the most painful, self-mutilating, time- and energy-consuming exercises in the human experience is guilt. … It can ruin your day – or your week or your life – if you let it.” She concluded, “Remember guilt is a pollutant and we don’t need any more of it in the world.”
I disagree. I think guilt has an important part to play. I think God can use guilt in our lives. Guilt can be something that can remind us that we have crossed the line, that we have done something wrong. God can work with guilt in the human conscience to bring us to our senses.
Maybe your conscience has been troubling you lately. You know you’ve done something you shouldn’t have. Instead of trying to ignore it, listen to it and examine it. If there is something you have done, then God is only awakening you to it so that you can acknowledge it and turn away from it.
The good news is this: The Bible says that “if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).
God wants us to have a clear conscience. So when that warning signal of guilt goes off, it means that your conscience is working. Listen to it. Don’t put off clearing your conscience.
Posted April 25, 2019
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
- COLOSSIANS 3:12
Every day I ask myself the question, “What should I wear?” I have my favorite clothes that I choose based on color (my favorite is blue) or comfort (stretchy pants) or a need to “dress for success.” What we wear says a lot about us, and I think the same is true of what we “clothe ourselves in” as Christians.
Clothing reflects our personality and tends to make a statement to the world around us, either that “I am a well-dressed, confident person who likes herself,” or “I don’t really care what others think of what I’m wearing, because I like it!” For Christians, we may dress to please ourselves, but perhaps we need to think about how what we are wearing affects those around us.
Imagine going to your closet tomorrow morning, and having a choice between anger or compassion, critical spirit or kindness, pride or humility, legalism or gentleness, frustration or patience. Whether you realize it or not, you choose from this list every day by deciding either to live for yourself or to invite the Spirit to manifest his fruit through you. Some of these clothes look really good on you, but some definitely do not! Some make you feel more secure about yourself, but if you are honest, as a Spirit-filled Christian, some just don’t seem to be “fitting” anymore.
We might question why some of these garments would even be found in a Christian’s closet. Perhaps it is time that we started getting rid of some of these old clothes and do a bit of “spring cleaning.”
Holy Spirit, please help me to do some honest closet cleaning and to choose to wear spiritual clothes that honor God and are a witness to the world of my transformed life in Christ. Amen.
Go Deeper — As you stand at your wardrobe or closet today deciding what to wear, also decide what attitude you are going to put on, especially if you are concerned about something that will happen that day.