Conceived, Not Born, In December.

So, many people have stated that no one can REALLY know when Jesus was born, and that is true.  No one can pinpoint the exact date that Jesus’ birth took place.  But we can pretty much pinpoint the month in which he was born.  In doing some study and research and listening to my pastor and a few others, it’s easy to see that Jesus was NOT born in December, but was most likely CONCEIVED in December.  We can figure this out by going back to the Bible when it talks about Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, and when he performed his priestly duties before John was conceived.

Luke 1 says that Zechariah was of the priestly division of Abijah.  The priests were divided up into 24 separate divisions.  Zechariah’s priestly course was carried out the first time sometime around mid-late June (www.christinprophecy.org/articles/when-was-jesus-born/).  Each course ran twice a year from one Sabbath to the next (8 days).  We know that it was during his time of temple service that he was visited by the Angel Gabriel who told him his wife would bear them a son.  Of course, we also know that Zechariah did not believe this news and was struck mute.  After Zechariah returns home, he and Elizabeth conceive their son, John.  So, this takes place around mid-late June.  Fast forward six months and now we’re in December, possibly at or near the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) and Mary is visited by this same angel who tells her that she, too, will bear a son and that her cousin, Elizabeth, is in her sixth month of her pregnancy.  Now, Mary leaves and goes to visit Elizabeth and stays with her for her final three months.  This will put John being born in mid March-early April.  Since we know that John is six months older than Jesus, we can safely say that Jesus was born in mid September-early October.  More than likely mid-late September because we read that there were shepherds in the fields on the day/night that Jesus was born and if Jesus were born in December, shepherds would NOT be in the fields.  It would be too cold for them.

It just so interesting to study and research this stuff because this is not anything mainline pastors will break down and teach from their pulpits.  Not sure why unless they don’t see the importance of it.  They go with the man-made, Roman Catholic tradition of celebrating Christ’s birth in December.  It’s study and research like this that makes me want to dig deeper and learn more because it’s all these “little things” (like when Zechariah performed his priestly duties) that changes the whole narrative on Christ’s birth.

 

 

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John 6:65

And He said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”  John 6:65.

Imagine going to the White House, or maybe Buckingham Palace, and you want to go inside to see what it looks like and to meet the President or The Queen of England.  Imagine taking it upon yourself to TRY walking through the front gate.  How far do you think you’ll get?  Not very far!  If you’re at the White House, you’d have armed police/security on top of you in no time.  If you’re at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s Royal Guard stands in front of the entrance to the Royal Palace grounds and would prevent you from going any further.  No matter how much you plead or beg, you’re not getting in to either of those places without the proper permission to do so.  Now, imagine you do have permission.  The White House security nor the Palace Guard will just take your word for it.  I imagine that a representative of the President or Queen would have your name written down on a special form letting security know that you have been granted permission to come inside (with proper ID, of course).

Both Revelation 13:8 and Revelation 17:8 talk about the Lamb’s Book of Life and those whose names were NOT written in it BEFORE the foundation of the world.  Those whose names WERE in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world are those who were chosen to be saved.  Ephesians 1:4 says that we (Christians) were chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him…”.  I believe the Lamb’s Book of Life is like that special form with our names on it granting us access into the Kingdom.  But how do we get that access?

I believe it is through the work of the Holy Spirit.  God sent His Holy Spirit to draw us to Himself.  The Holy Spirit opens our spiritual eyes and illuminates our minds giving us comprehension to understand the gospel so that when the gospel is preached, we respond to it.

Many people claim to be Christians.  Many think just because their names are on a church membership roll, that makes them a Christian.  Some think that showing up to church on Christmas and Resurrection Sunday every year is all that’s required.  Others think that just mere intellectual assent to God’s existence is all they need.  That’s like saying we know WHO the President is, but the President has no clue who we are.  We may see him on the TV on a daily basis and someone will mention his name and we say, “Oh yeah, I know who he is.”  But, mention to the President who I am and he’ll say, “Sorry, I don’t know who that is.”  There will be many people who will come before God thinking they’ll be able to waltz right in and have a seat at the table.  But, their names were not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world.  They’ll say, “But I know who you are because I heard about you in church when I was a child,” or “I know who you are because I heard a preacher on TV talk about you.”  But they will only hear, “Depart from me for I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).  Why?  Because their name was not in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Just as no one can take it upon themselves to walk into the White House or Buckingham Palace unannounced and without the President and Queen granting them entry, no one will be able to come to Jesus and enter into Heaven unless God has granted them the ability to do so.

World Acting Like The World

Something I’ve learned over the years is that many Christians can be pretty haughty.  They are quick to point out the sins of the world as if they haven’t sinned themselves, but if every single one of those Christians were to have their inner thoughts played out on a jumbo screen for everyone to see, they would have to hide in shame.  I know I would.

Christians shouldn’t be shocked at how the world acts.  They are only acting according to their nature.  I’ve seen Christians berate non-Christians for acting ungodly.  Ungodly people are only acting according to their nature.  They don’t have it in their nature to act godly.  That’s like telling a lion to not hunt down and eat an antelope.  It’s in their nature to do so.

Many times when I watch Christian pastors and lay people on TV I cringe at some of the things they say about how we need more laws to curb the “sin” in our country.  We cannot legislate morality.  I don’t care how many laws you make, not everyone will obey them.  How many Christians go the speed limit every…single…time they drive a car?  I know I don’t!!  If speed laws don’t work, how can they expect other laws to work?  How many people still murder despite there being a law on the books that states it’s against the law to kill someone?  How many teenagers still gain access to alcohol and cigarettes even though there’s laws against them being able to purchase them?  Laws can’t make people act right.  Only when there’s been a spiritual change in someone can we expect them to live godly lives.

Telling a lost person to “act” better doesn’t get them saved.  We can act high and mighty and criticize them for their behavior, but we forget that we still sin ourselves.  Christians have forgotten that salvation is of grace, not morality.  It’s a gift given to us freely, not something we earn by doing good deeds.  So, if we ever find ourselves getting up on that high horse that we should just shoot and put out of it’s misery, we need to think about the sins we’re guilty of.  Every lustful thought, every unkind word we speak or unkind thought we think about another person, and every prideful word, deed, or thought we may have, are still sins and the only difference between us and those who are lost is that we have been given grace and forgiveness for those sins.  It doesn’t make us better than anyone else.  It should make us humble knowing that we did nothing to deserve that grace, not prideful and arrogant in how we treat those who aren’t Christian.  God didn’t command us to be their judge and their conscience.  He commanded us to love them.  Sometimes we may have to give some “tough love” and they may not like that, but through that love, we are to point them to Christ.

Jeremiah 29:11

Once again, I saw someone who took Jeremiah 29:11 out of context, so I thought I would post it here within the context in which God spoke those words:

 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29:10-14.

These words were spoken by God to the prophet, Jeremiah, who then wrote them down in a letter to be delivered to the exiles who were in Babylonian captivity through the sovereign providence of God.  King Zedekiah, who was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to be his representative in Judah, decided to turn and rebel against Nebuchadnezzar and in turn, Nebuchadnezzar seized Jerusalem and took many Israelites into captivity.  This was God’s judgment upon Israel for their idolatry and rebellion against Him.  They would be held captive for 70 years, but then He would fulfill the promise He made to them that He would visit them after those 70 years and would return them to their homeland and restore to them all they had lost.  That was God’s plan for Israel and it was prophesied in earlier Old Testament writings.

In the original Hebrew, the verse reads, “plans for peace, not of evil.”  The Hebrew word for “peace”, of course, is Shalom.  The main definition of “Shalom” is  “completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace.”  Some translations use “peace”, some use the term “welfare” and others use the term “prosper”.  Now, if we think in American terms, to “prosper” means to have financial and material wealth.  Another definition is to “flourish physically; grow strong and healthy”.  I believe we need to use the original term “peace” so that we can get the true meaning of the verse.  So, is this peace referring to peace from war?  All you have to do is look at the news every day and see that’s not the case.  Or does this have a spiritual meaning in that they will have peace with God?  I say it’s a spiritual peace because we know there hasn’t been much earthly peace in Israel since they became a nation.  The peace Christ gives is peace between man and God, not between nations.

What about Israel’s “future and a hope”?  God made a covenant with Abraham that was made up of three parts:  (1) The promise of land; (2) The promise of descendants; and (3) The promise of blessing and redemption.  I believe in Jeremiah 29:10-11, we see God keeping all three promises.  First, the promise of the land.  He gave the Israelites the Promised Land and He was not going to take that away.  He was going to send them back after the 70 years was up.  Their future and their hope was in the promise of descendants and the promise of blessings and redemption because it was through Abraham’s descendants (future) that the Messiah (Blessing and Hope) would come and bring redemption not only to Israel, but to the Gentiles.

So, while we believe that God has a plan for each of our lives, this particular verse is speaking directly to Israel who was in captivity and God was reminding them that He had not forgotten them.  He would still keep His covenant and give their land back to them and they still had a future and a hope, but at that particular moment, they would have to remain in captivity as judgment for turning their backs on Him.

Philippians 2:12-13

“12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 – for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:12-13.

This is a verse that many seem to misinterpret.  Those in the “salvation by works” camp point to this verse and say, “SEE!!!  You’re supposed to do good works to gain salvation!”  And those who disagree with them point to the fact that they stop at verse 12 and fail to continue on to verse 13 that puts the verse in the proper context.  So, I’m not trying to say that our salvation is earned if we do good works.  The works that Paul is speaking of here are not works that are done to earn salvation, but works that come AFTER salvation.  I believe this verse goes hand in hand with James 2:26 where James tells the Jewish church, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.”  And this verse, also, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’  Show me your faith without deeds, and I’ll show you my faith by my deeds” (James 2:18).  If we claim to be in Christ, our life will prove that claim through our works.

In my study on this verse, someone posted a better wording that I think shows the correct meaning of the it.  They broke it down to one simple phrase:  “Work out(wardly) what God is working in you.”  In other words, the work that God is accomplishing in us, we should be showing outwardly.

Some people profess Christ, but their daily lives don’t reflect that.  How we speak around others and how we act around others are a good indication of whether that profession is true.  I’m not saying that we stop sinning.  We sin everyday.  But I believe the amount of time we spend reading His Word or listening to His Word being preached and how much time we spend in prayer, will be reflected in how we live, because it is through the exposure to God’s Word that we can see how He is working in us.  And when He works in us, it will show in how we live.  And as verse 13 says, it is God who works in us, “both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

And I believe all this is contingent upon how our relationship with Christ is.  The saying “You get out of it what you put into it,” could be used in this situation.  If you’re in a relationship with someone, you can’t grow and deepen that relationship if you spend more of your time away from them than with them.  We can’t expect to grow and deepen our relationship with Christ if we’re unwilling to read His Word and pray.  And I will be the first to say that I am lacking in that department.  I think all of us at some point let other things get in the way of that.  But, I desire to do better.  We can’t be angry with God for not growing us like we think He should if we’re unwilling to put more effort into the relationship.  We can’t put the Bible up to our heads and expect the teachings to infiltrate our brains like osmosis.  It doesn’t work that way.  It takes effort on our part grow and to learn, and in that growth and learning, God works in us and through us to do His will and good pleasure.

Salvation is all of God.  But our growth as Christ’s followers requires work and diligence on our part.  And through the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish that knowing that God will work in and through us to accomplish His work.

God Commands Us To Forgive

When King David took Bathsheba into his palace and slept with her, he knew that he had to do something to cover up his sin.  She had become pregnant and he brought her husband, Uriah, home from battle so that he could have time with her, that way people would think the child would be Uriah’s, not David’s.  But, Uriah, being the good soldier that he was, could not think about being with his wife while his fellow soldiers were still out in the battlefield fighting.  This upset David, so he came up with another plan.  He sent Uriah back to the battle and told the commanding officer to put Uriah on the frontline so that he would be killed.  Once the prophet Nathan confronted David about his sin, David prayed to God saying, “Against You, and only You, have I sinned.”  That is the way it is with all of us.  When we sin, our sin is ultimately against God alone.

In Matthew 6:15 Jesus specifically says, “If you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  I’m reminded of the parable where the debtor who owed much money to his master begged him to forgive him of his debt.  The master showed compassion and forgave the man’s debt.  But, then this man turns around and goes to another man who owed him money (which wasn’t as much as what the first man owed his master), and demands to be paid back.  The man who owed the money begs to have more time but is refused and he is thrown into debtor’s prison.  Word gets back to the master of what had transpired and he immediately has the first debtor thrown into prison also.  He reminded him of how he was forgiven because he had owed so much money, but since he was unwilling to forgive the other man what was owed to him, then his debt would not be revoked and he would go to prison.

When someone does wrong to us, we tend to forget that our sins are no better than theirs.  We think that just because we haven’t done something “as bad” as what was done to us, that it’s our right to not forgive them.  But the reality is, our sin(s) are just as bad because God doesn’t see any difference.  It really is very prideful to think that our sins aren’t like someone else’s.

What does it mean to forgive?  Well, it doesn’t mean we can forget the wrong done to us.  Sure, over time, we may not think about it as much as we did at first, but there will be times when something will trigger that memory of what that person did.  Second, it doesn’t mean we have to be friends with that person.  Forgiveness doesn’t obligate us to have any kind of relationship with them.  We don’t have to buy them gifts for their birthday or Christmas; we don’t have to invite them over for coffee or dinner.  What it does mean is that we are not going to be a slave to bitterness for what they did to us.  The more we allow that memory of their action(s) to fester and stew in our brains, the more bitter we become and we find that the very thought of that person affects how we live our life.  Ever known of someone who refuses to go to a family reunion/gathering because someone who hurt them in the past was going to be there?  Oh, they were going to go at first but as soon as they got wind of Uncle Jimmy or Cousin Beth being there, they quickly changed their minds.  Why?  Because they are allowing that person and their past sin to control their life.  They keep hanging on to that bitterness and refusing to forgive.

To withhold forgiveness from someone is like us telling God “I expect You to forgive me, but I don’t have to forgive this person for what they did.”  God don’t play that game.  We’re not above God.  We’re on the same level playing field as the one who wronged us and I’m afraid that many will find out that those sins they thought were wiped clean, aren’t.  We can’t expect God to treat us one way while refusing to do the same to others.

Nothing New Under the Sun

I’ve heard people say, “What is wrong with this world?”, or “What is the matter with people these days?”  Well, let me tell ya…..this world is no different than it was centuries ago.  In the book of Ecclesiastes, it says in chapter 1 verse 9, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”  In other words, nothing we see going on in this world is anything new.  It has been going to hell in a hand basket since Adam and Eve took that first bite of the forbidden fruit.  It’s just that those of us who are living in this day and age are seeing things happen that we’ve never personally seen before, but that doesn’t mean it’s never happened previously.  There have been cultures and kingdoms that have flourished and fallen because they have allowed all forms of perversion to become the norm whether it’s homosexuality, or pedophilia, or beastiality.

People haven’t changed over the millennia.  People want to do what they want to do with no consequences and no retribution.  I don’t care what it is, they think they can do anything without having to accept responsibility for it and that others should just let them go about their merry way without so much as suffering consequences.  But, it doesn’t work like that.  You steal money, you go to prison.  You rape a child, you go to prison.  You pull a gun on a cop, you get shot.  If you live, you go to prison.  If you die, you get put six feet underground.  People don’t like to live under rules/laws and they believe they should be able to live however they want and everyone else can just get over it.

The world is like it is because people have always been pushing God out of the way.  They don’t like the idea of there being a God because they know that He has a standard and they don’t want to live up to it.  But, none of this is a surprise to Him because He knew it was going to be like this.  He knows that people are full of pride, hatred, malice, and just pure evil.  But, as I said earlier, this is nothing new.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Just as we have read in the Old Testament how the Israelites forgot God and turned to idol worship and all kinds of perverse living, so we’re seeing people in this day and age do the same thing.  The sad thing is, many churches/denominations are ACCEPTING of these perversions.  God cannot and will not bless a nation that has turned its back on Him and allowed all this to become the norm.  I think we, as Christians, have been silent way too long.  And we have shown our hypocrisy.  We can criticize actors/politicians and other well known people for their sexual perversion, yet have no problem tuning in to a TV show that allows it to be shown.  If we’re going to laugh at what’s happening on our favorite TV shows but get condescending towards what people are doing in real life, that is being hypocritical.  Yes, I’m speaking to the choir.  Guilty as charged.

I hate to know how far down the toilet we’re going to have to go before we finally see people turn to Him.  God hasn’t left us.  He’s still here.  It’s just that we’ve turned away from Him.  God hasn’t abandoned us, but there are times when people are so stubborn in their ways that God throws up His hands and says, “You want it your way, you can have it your way, but you have to suffer the consequences of your actions.”  And I truly believe what we’re seeing in our country and world today is the result of God pulling His hands away and saying, “You’re on your own.”  The phrase “you reap what you sow” is true.  We are reaping the effects of abandoning the faith and doing things our way instead of God’s way.  I hear of people getting angry and saying how could God allow bad things to happen, but it’s not God.  It’s us.  God doesn’t just sit back and say, “Oh, that’s okay.  You do what you want.”  Actions have consequences and we are seeing that taking place in our society.

A society that turns it back on God will see the adverse affects and its eventual demise, unless it repents and turns back to Him.  At the rate it’s going now, it won’t be too much longer before that happens in our country.

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

wavesandlighthouse

“GOD is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

Many people say they don’t like change.  Well, let me tell you, life is all about change.  I’m used to change.  I grew up moving from place to place due to my father being a pastor.  So, every few years, we’d pack up our stuff and move to another town/community where my dad was called to pastor at a particular church.  I learned to adapt to change.  Some change is good and some not good, but one thing is for certain, there will always be change.

Those who don’t like change are comfortable with the familiar.  But, those who don’t mind change, see it as a growing experience.  Some change happens over an extended period of time.  In cases like that, it makes it easier to handle.  In other cases, change comes suddenly; without warning.  It’s those types of changes that bothers people.  They’re hit between the eyes with the unexpected detour.  They were going down the path of life with certain goals in mind and never giving thought to “what if”, and then suddenly, it all changes.  We all do it.  It’s easy to get in a set routine and live our life as if we’re promised our next breath.  But, that is never a promise we’re given.

My family had to deal with the death of two loved ones in the same week last month.  But, there was a difference in the two.  One was my mom.  She spent a little over a month going from hospital, to rehab, back to the hospital, until she was eventually sent home under hospice care.  We knew once she went home that there was going to be a future change.  A change in family gatherings.  A change in how things would be at home when we went to visit after she passed.  We, in our minds, began to prepare for that change.  We were given time to grieve even though she was still with us.

The second was my brother-in-law.  He was killed in a car accident four days before my mom passed.  We had his funeral on a Friday and mom passed the next day.  Life for my sister and their five kids changed in the blink of an eye.  Life for his parents and his sisters changed in the blink of an eye, too.  It’s times like this that remind us that we need to appreciate our family and loved ones.

And change isn’t just about the passing of someone we love.  It could be the sudden loss of a job.  One day you do life as normal and the next day you’re wondering “How am I going to pay the bills?”  Or, it could be the loss of your house due to fire or natural disaster.  One day you have a nice warm bed with a roof over your head.  The next day you’re living in a hotel or with family because you’re house is gone.  Or, it could be the dreaded cancer diagnosis or a sudden heart attack.  You’re going through life as usual, now you’re faced with the reality that you are now fighting for your life and wondering if/how you’re going to make it through.  Or, you come home to have your spouse say, “I don’t love you anymore.  I want a divorce.”  What do you do now?

It’s in these “blink of an eye” moments that we need to have a refuge to run to.  We may think we can handle whatever comes our way, but when the rubber meets the road, when that moment finally hits, we find out that we’re not as strong as we think we are.  Those who have their hope and trust in God and have experienced those “blink of an eye” moments have found unexplained peace and comfort that only He can give.  I’m not saying we don’t express emotions.  I’ve lost jobs before and went home crying wondering how I was going to pay my bills with no income.  And we all have grieved the loss of friends and family because we feel the pain of their absence.  Yes, we still feel and express emotions of pain and loss, that’s just human nature.  But, in the midst of those times of crying and feelings of grief, God, like a mother bird sheltering her babies from the storm with her wings, will cover us with His peace and comfort.  It’s His strength that carried us through those times that our life had changed “in the blink of an eye”.  So, when we find that life has suddenly changed, we mustn’t think “How am I going to fix this?” or “How can I get through this?”, it’s not for us to fix or to handle on our own.  God never intended for us to handle life on our own.  He wants us to depend upon Him to guide us through the storms of life.  And He will.  He won’t abandon His children when we most need Him.  We just have to stop looking inside of ourselves for the strength because we don’t have it.  It is only by His strength we are able to endure the storms of life.

 

 

Defending God’s Word

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Just some thoughts that came to mind today as I was scrolling through that bastion of culture, Facebook.  I guess you could say I’m just as patriotic as the next person, but sometimes I wonder….when are Christians going to defend the Word of God just as much or more than they do the American Flag?

Please, don’t think I’m trying to be unpatriotic.  I consider myself blessed to live in this country, even though it is becoming more and more entrenched in racial disunity and our society is becoming more tolerant of the most vile and deplorable behavior that we have ever seen in our lifetime.  Sure, this stuff has been around since Adam and Eve ate of that fruit that God told them to stay away from, but the debauchery we’re seeing now is the same stuff that caused many cultures and civilizations to fall.  We were once a great country, but now we’re becoming the laughing stock of the world.

But all this is not due to people being unpatriotic.  It’s because people have turned away from God’s Word.  Even mainstream Christian churches are going away from God’s Word.  Oh, they still open their Bibles and read passages from it, but they are twisting and distorting the Word to fit what THEY want it to say instead of what God meant for it to say.  And many times the twisting and distorting comes from popular “Bible” preachers/teachers that have gained the trust of so many people that, when others begin pointing out the flaws and heresies that are being taught by them, their followers tend to get mad.  Not sure why that is.  Is it because they don’t like their favorite teacher knocked off his/her pedestal?  Or, maybe, it’s that they don’t like finding out that they’ve been duped.  Jude 1:4 says, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” 

In that first part, these false teachers who twist scripture crept in unnoticed.  They came in feeding the sheep a little morsel at a time and as time went on, they began mixing some sugar coated poison in with the good stuff until those who kept feeding on it didn’t know the good from the bad.  There’s been pagan practices introduced into the church and many are blind to it.

Sadly, nowadays, people are more apt to defend their favorite “Bible” teacher, rather than defend the Word of God.  No matter how much of their heresies are revealed and how they are shown to twist scripture and how they have introduced pagan practices into the Christian religion, it’s not God’s Word that gets upheld, it’s the one who is mangling scripture that gets defended.

There’s also some so-called Christian artists who have become very popular these days that many would be angry or upset if it were revealed just how badly they twist and distort scripture/doctrine.  And they wouldn’t be angry with the artist.  They would be angry with the one who revealed it to them.  How DARE you talk bad about MY favorite singer!!

Discernment isn’t easy.  It takes study, reading, more study, and more reading…..and maybe a podcast here and there (Fighting 4 The Faith by Chris Rosebrough is a good one) to be able to learn to know when something doesn’t sound right.  I thank God that He introduced me to other Christians who helped me to gain a better understanding of Scripture and to direct me to resources that help me to know who’s the real deal and who the imposters are.

Please, Christian…..I realize you love your country and want people to respect it and the nation’s flag, but there’s something WAAAAAAAYYYYY more important than our patriotism.  It’s our defense of the Gospel and God’s Word.  It’s being picked apart, twisted, and mangled and we turn a blind eye to it because either we don’t want to give up our favorite “Bible” preacher/teacher, or we just don’t think God’s Word is that important.

CONTENDING WITH THE ALMIGHTY

As with any catastrophe, many people question why God allows calamity and suffering to occur.  Well, let me cut to the chase and go ahead and give my main point right here and now so you don’t have to muddle through a whole bunch of words to get to it, okay?  Here goes:  God allows calamity and suffering because He chooses to, plain and simple.

People begin questioning, “If God is so powerful, why doesn’t He stop these storms from happening?”  Probably for the same reason that able bodied people stay and ride out these storms instead of fleeing for safety…..because He chooses NOT to.  God is more than willing and able to stop a storm.  Remember when Jesus was asleep in the boat while the disciples struggled to keep it afloat during the storm?  When they woke him up in fear asking him does he not care that they were about to perish, Jesus stood up and commanded, “Peace!  Be still!”  So, we know that God can calm any storm.  When Job lost his children, all his wealth, and was left sitting in ashes scraping his sores, he began justifying how righteous he was and how God was wrong in bringing this calamity upon him (Job 33:9-11; Job 35:1-3).  In Chapter 38, the LORD spoke up and says, ““Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?  Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”  Then God proceeds to ask WHO was responsible for creation and everything that goes on within it.  Was it Job who causes the sun to rise, or the rains to fall, or causes lightning to fall to the earth, or the snow to cover the ground?  Of course not.  Job was not responsible for any of that.

God created EVERYTHING and He is in sovereign control of it all.  In Job 40:2, the LORD says, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?”  How dare we question God as to WHY He doesn’t stop these storms from causing destruction.  It’s His creation and He can do as He pleases with it.  We could stand and shake our fists at Him all day long demanding to know why He allows these catastrophes to occur, but He doesn’t owe us any explanation.  Compared to Him, we are like a tiny ant walking across a table and at any point He could take His finger and flick us off of it.

It’s not our place to demand answers from Him.  He’s the Creator and we are His creation.  He is the Potter and we are the clay.  Just as a potter has control over how his vessel turns out, God is Creator and He has control over what He does with His creation.  Read Job 38-41.  Those chapters will tell just how in control God is and how puny we are.  God owes us no explanations as to why He does what He does.  He can shelter His people under His protective wing like a mother bird, or utterly consume someone with His hot, fiery breath.  Just know that God is still Sovereign and in control of all things.