We Exist

May 12, 2020

Hebrews 11:6

(6)  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 Human nature is such an extraordinary thing, unprecedented in the universe.

A writer named G. K. Chesterton said one of the reasons he became convinced about Christianity is because it captures the fullness and the mystery and the contradiction and the paradox of life…especially of persons. He says that when it comes to human nature, there are some approaches like Stoicism that are kind of pessimistic about human nature… “Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t expect too much.”  Then there are some approaches, certain forms of humanism that teach Man is the measure of all things and they have an exalted, optimistic view of human nature.

When it comes to human nature, Christianity is not just pessimistic or optimistic or blandly “middle of the road.”

It is wildly pessimistic:

Jeremiah 17:9

9 “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

And it is wildly optimistic and hopeful:

1 John 3:2

2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

Naturalism says that human beings are just a collection of atoms. Some people believe that Darwin showed that human beings are different in degree, maybe, but not in kind from any other creatures.

The Bible says we are a different kind of being, and we are made in the image of God…possessors of a soul.

In our hearts, we know this to be true about ourselves. I’ll tell you one of the ways that we know this to be true. The illustration is a little bit odd, but I couldn’t think of another one.

One of the ways that we know that human beings are a unique kind of creature is: We never put an animal on trial. When someone is attacked by a lion or a bear we just say, “That’s nature. That’s the nature of a bear. That’s the nature of a lion. They can’t help it, nature has trained them to be that way, it’s just the way they are.

Human beings we put on trial, because we know they are not just products of instinct and training. Humans have reason. Humans have freedom. Humans are moral agents. What’s at stake here is nothing less than the notion of personhood: that there is something wondrous and mysterious and God-breathed and holy about a person. A person ought not to be enslaved.

Materialism, or Darwinism promote the idea people do not have a moral nature. They are not free. They are just products of causes and forces. It’s just that we don’t know all the details yet. But nobody raises a child like that. Nobody makes a friend like that. We know better. The existence of persons tells us there is a God.



Am I Right?

May 11, 2020

Hebrews 11:6

(6)  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 I want to start with a question:

We know there are Christians in a variety denominations. There are Hindus. There are Muslims—Shiites and Sunnis. There are Confucianists, Shintoists, Buddhists, Bahaists, atheists, agnostics, nihilists, humanists, deists, pantheists, and New Agers, and every one of them thinks he or she is right. They all think they’re right, and a lot of people are going to find out, when they die, that they’re wrong. For thoughtful people, that raises the question:

What are the odds that I’m right? So many people with so many different ideas and opinions… Why do I think I’m right?

 Here’s the questions: You have a life. You have a choice. You will die and then you’ll know. So you have to decide the answers to these questions:

  • What will I build my life on?
  • What will my character become?
  • What cause will I serve?
  • What legacy will I leave?

 

These are all “God” questions. Whether we want to think of them that way or not, they are all “God” questions. This is not the kind of issue where I can just stand on the sidelines and say, “I think I’ll take a pass on this discussion.” If you just drift, you become a practical atheist, and that is its own decision.

 I believe that the greatest opportunity ever offered to a human being is the opportunity to trust Jesus, to know Jesus, to learn from Jesus, to follow Jesus, to love Jesus.

 I think that’s “IT.” And I believe that life and death and Heaven and Hell hang in the balance—for you, for me, for our neighbors, for people who live here where we are—and for people all around the world.

This week I want to tell you why I believe that—my own reasons for belief. Other people have other reasons, but I want to tell you why faith in God and, in particular, faith in Jesus makes sense to me.

Take a minute, right now and jot down your own reasons for belief? If you are not a believer, jot down a few reasons why not? Then we will take this week and compare. Jesus said if you hear his words and do them… you will be building your house on a rock, and it will stand the test of the storms. Doing begins with believing.



Encouraging Letters

May 8, 2020

2 Corinthians 3:3-4

(3)  And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (4)  Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.

Today we are looking at what Paul said to the Corinthians because he is also saying this to us as well. He was encouraging them to be like a letter you might receive from God.

Have you ever opened up a letter that lifted your spirits and encouraged you because it was from someone who cared for you and was thinking of you? Maybe it was “congratulations on that new job” or “hope you are feeling better” or even “I wanted to say what a nice job you did…” All of these encourage you and give you strength to move on.

Paul says we are to be letters from God to the people around us. But not written in the normal way letters are written, God has given you a message for someone else and He has written in your heart. All we have to do is deliver it!

The Bible is full of these letters delivered by God’s people to the people who needed encouragement around them. Here is a small sampling:

Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in God (1 Sam. 23:16);

Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to the Levites (2 Chr. 30:22);

Hezekiah encouraged the officers (2 Chr. 32:6–7);

Josiah encouraged the priests (2 Chr. 35:2);

Barnabas – ‘son of encouragement’ (Acts 4:36);

Barnabas encouraged them to go on (Acts 11:23);

They encouraged the disciples to continue in the faith (Acts 14:22);

They encouraged the disciples (Acts 15:32);

They rejoiced at the encouragement of the letter (Acts 15:31);

They were all encouraged and took food (Acts 27:36);

That we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith (Rom. 1:12);

That their hearts might be encouraged (Col. 2:2);

I have sent Tychicus so he may encourage you (Col. 4:8);

These fellow workers from the circumcision have been an encouragement to me (Col. 4:11);

We exhorted and encouraged you (1 Thess. 2:11);

The brethren have been encouraged to speak the word (Phil. 1:14);

When Paul saw the believers he took courage (Acts 28:15);

If there is any encouragement in Christ (Phil. 2:1);

The word translated encouragement is the Greek word paraklēsis.  It means to encouragement, the act of emboldening another in belief or course of action,

How important is encouragement in our Christian life? It is the key ingredient in a happy satisfying life. It is the “secret sauce” that transforms you into a person other people want to be around. The word in the New Testament is translated “comfort, consolation, exhortation and encouragement.

Encouragement is also the name of God. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit and described Him as the paraklētos which means our encourager, our comforter, our advocate, our counselor… the one who comes along side of us. Because of Him we also can also be an encourager to the people around us.

This is what we have been called to do. You can’t live a life that honors God without practicing this foundational truth. A life that cannot be shaken when the storms come is a life that relies on the Spirit of God for encouragement and then delivers that encouragement to the people around them.

 




Daily Devotions 2020