Monday, July 28, 2008

Why So Much Evil & Suffering cont.

Question: If God is ALL good and ALL mighty, WHY is there so much evil and suffering?

#1. This is a legitimate question.

#2. Christians don’t have all the answers.

#3. Neither does anyone else – this is an ancient issue that goes way back.

We can find some answers, but we can’t answer every question fully.

Some additional observations (from Scripture and from experience) on evil and suffering.

I. A Biblical view says: God is not indifferent to Evil and Suffering.

A. He has acted in the past. Ex. 3:7 & 8 “…..I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt,…… I have come down to deliver them……” This is a typical example of God’s acting in the past.

The CLASSIC example is that God cared enough about mankind that he came to earth as a man, and died as sin’s sacrifice on the cross.

B. He is acting today – partly though His people. Ex. 3: 9 & 10 – “Now… behold, the cry of the children has come to Me,…….. come now,… and I will send you to Pharoah……” It is not any different now. God is looking for His people to do something about the evil and suffering. We cannot escape the responsibility to try to make changes and eradicate evil and suffering.

C. He will act (thoroughly and completely) in the future. Rev. 21: 3 – 5 “ ……. Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, ….. and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. ….Behold, I make all things new.”

In the end He WILL eliminate evil and suffering.

D. He suffers with us/feels our pain/understands. The Incarnation - Heb. 4: 14-16 “……for we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are…..” Jesus in the flesh lived as a human.


II. God uses evil and suffering to His purpose(s). (see last week’s message) Rom. 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God,….”

Note the verbs used: produce, achieve, develop

The objection, “It’s not enough!” The answer: It’s not all revealed. Rom. 8:18 – “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

The argument is based on what we see, not what we will see.

The Christian hope (expectation) is that we WILL see and understand and be satisfied!!

This is something that the atheist or agnostic doesn’t have.

We still want to know “Why?”, but….

III. God’s final answer is a question! Job 38:1-7, 18, 40: 1-8, 42: 1-6 Job wasn’t condemned for asking questions or complaining.

To assume we’ve asked a question that God cannot answer is the ultimate intellectual arrogance.

His final answer is: Do you know everything? Can you fix everything?

God’s answer (or response) implies……

IV. Our greatest need is not an answer, but a presence. Example: Job’s satisfaction came when God showed Himself to him.


V. When we suffer well, we inspire others.

Some examples: Christ, martyrs, people on our prayer list, who went through trials and sufferings and uplifted others in the midst of it all.

This is not only physically, but emotionally, mentally, spiritually as well.


VI. In addition to asking “Why so” we should be asking “what now?” Luke 6:46 – “But why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do the things which I say!” Is this for the good times only???

We should ask, “What now Lord?” – as a sufferer

- as an observer

- as a Pain Reliever

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Why Does God Allow Suffering and Pain?

Question: Why does God allow suffering and pain?

Answer: We don’t know.

But, we do know that: “Sometimes the blessings of God come wrapped in the rags of a curse.” (credit Ron Dunn)

Gen. 32:22-32 The story of Jacob (deceiver, trickster) wrestling with a divine messenger from God.

Question: #1. Who was this? An angel? God? Not sure, but definitely a divine being from God.

#2. What was his purpose or intent? To bless? Or to harm?

#3. What (do you suppose) was Jacob’s first reaction? Why? First, probably wanted to throw him off. Then changes to hold on to him when he recognizes who he was dealing with.

#4. As Jacob limps back to camp, does he look blessed?? What happened looked like a curse at first.

The point is: Sometimes blessings come wrapped in the rags of a curse.


Joseph’s troubles – Gen. 50 Summary verse – 20 – “…You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good,…..”

Israel’s wanderings – Deut. 8:16 “…..that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end----…..”

Peter’s sifting – Luke 22:31 & 32 – “……Simon, Simon, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat,……. And when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Jesus allowed the sifting to strengthen Peter – from Simon (unstable one) to Peter (the rock).

The Ultimate Example: the cross – the greatest blessing to man came through the greatest curse – death of Jesus Christ on the cross.

Additional Scripture examples: Psalm 119:67, 71, 75

Romans 5:1-4

James 1:2-4

2 Cor. 4:16-18

Summary Verse: Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Not all things are good, but God works for good in all things.

APPLICATION: Paul’s thorn. 2 Cor. 12:7-10

#1. When you appear cursed, Pray for Relief!!! Paul pleaded 3 times, at least.

#2. But, be open…..listen for God’s reply.

#3. Don’t be too quick to judge which it is – blessing or curse.

#4. Accept God’s answer as His will and wisdom.

#5. Trust Him for the outcome – even if you can’t see it!

2 Cor. 12:9 – “….My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”….”

Monday, July 14, 2008

Imprecatory Psalms

Psalm 109:1-20

Definition: praying down a curse on someone or some group/nation.

32 Psalms contain some of this kind of prayer. There are around 100 verses in those 32 psalms.

It is found in scripture - Old and New Testaments
It is never condemned. Jesus put His stamp of approval and the entire book of Psalms.


#1. Be Careful
with this stuff. It is NOT to be used lightly. It is not designed to use when someone has just "ticked" you off.

#2. It's used only in extreme situations.
In other words, A. constant, continual attack
B. attack when attempting to do right.

#3. When used personally, it's not for personal/petty offenses.
It's easy to abuse scripture to our own personal end. A good example: the health and wealth gospel.

#4. The 'cursed' is not only attacking the prayer but also attacking God (His goodness, Godliness, righteousness) In Psalm 83:1-4, the one being cursed is not only attacking the one praying, but God, and all that He stands for.

#5. Imprecatory prayers voice pain/indignation/etc.... and thereby serve as a catharsis. Psalm 137.

#6. Though the imprecatory prayer often suggests punishment due, it always leaves all the action and revenge with God!
It asks God to intervene and make a difference. Psalm. 94:1-3, Psalm 35:22-25, James 1:19 & 20
Generally, in anger, we act unrighteously. God doesn't give us permission to react to the situation. The command to the individual is to "turn the other cheek."

#7. The prayer for revenge is typically based on God's promises to us.
Genesis 12:2 & 3 - ".....I will bless those who bless you and curse him or curses you..."
Deut. 32:35 "Vengeance is Mine, and recompense, their foot shall slip in due time;...."
Therefore it must be OK to pray this.

#8. Imprecatory prayer is not merely a call for vengeance but also for God to reveal Himself. (as a God of power, justice, defender)
Psalm 83:13-18 - ".........Yes, let hem be put to shame and perish, that they may know that You, whose name alone is the LORD, are the Most High over all the earth."

#9. Imprecatory prayer is not entirely Old Testament.
Acts 8:20-24 - "But Peter said to him, 'Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!...... Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.' "
2 Tim. 4:14 - "......may the Lord repay him according to his works..."
Rev. 6:9-11 -
martyrs are asking for justice. The implication is: I will avenge.

#10. The imprecatory psalm does not dismiss, override, annul the call to love neighbor and pray for enemies.
Psalm 35:12-15a I Tim. 2:3 & 4 2 Pet. 3:9

The biggest problem with these prayers is our own sinful nature.

The Biblical Complaint

Opening Scripture: Psalm 88:14-18 This is a lament or complaint.

The book of Psalms was the Hebrews’ hymnbook. They sang the chapters in Psalms.

1/3 of the book of Psalms are lament songs – songs of crying out, grieving, questions, etc.

QUESTION: Is this legitimate? Acceptable? Is it OK to cry? To cry out? To grieve? To express bewilderment/anger/frustration/confusion/despair, etc.

The only people who don’t feel this way from time to time are either idiots or liars. EVERYONE experiences these feelings now and then.

THE BIBLICAL COMPLAINT - a few observations.

#1. It’s in the Book. 1/3 of the book of Psalms are laments, and the entire book of Lamentations is a lament to God.

Ezek. 19:1 – 14 This is a funeral dirge for the nation of Israel.

The Bible says there is a time to rejoice, and a time to mourn, etc.

#2. It’s never condemned. It was and is an acceptable form of worship. This is NOT about WHINING about insignificant and trivial things.

Phil. 2:14 – “Do everything without complaining, etc.” Christians are NOT immune to problems.

#3. It’s human. We are created to:

A. ask why? Gen. 1:28 We were instructed to have dominion over the birds of the air and fish and animals. Where would we be if we DIDN’T have an inquisitive nature.

B. feel. Jesus exhibited feelings. Example: He wept over the death of Lazarus.

C. Cry outPsalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?...”

D. be noticed – when we hurt, we want some other person to know that we’re hurting.

There are many examples in scripture of people who hurt: Moses, Elijah, David, Job, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, Jonah, etc.

#4. It’s reasonable. (logical).

Question: Is God all good? Is God all powerful? Then why is there evil, suffering, injustice, inbalance, etc.) Any thinking person has to realize that there is a problem here.

We cry out to God with questions for answers that we can’t find?

#5. It’s healthy. It’s an emotional catharsis.

A. It directs the complaint properly. – to God, not to spouse, kids, etc.

B. It typically results in restored relationship and a renewed confidence in God. Psalm 13

The truth is: God is ultimately responsible. Not that he caused the problem or willed it, but He did allow it.

A good example is Job: when all the tragedy came on him, he went directly to God with his questions and complaints.

#6. It’s a statement of faith. Examples: Job, Jeremiah. They went to God because they BELIEVED in Him.

Psalm 88:1-3 “You’re the God who saves me….. so ….save me!”


1. Be careful. This is NOT a license to gripe and complain.


2, Be Biblical. Grant self and others permission to practice complaining/venting according to Biblical models. Don’t deny someone the opportunity to mourn or vent.

Rom. 12;15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn."

Prov. 25:20 "Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, and like vinegar on soda, is the one who sings songs to a heavy heart."

3. Be Balanced.

On the one hand, life is the same for us as for the Old Testament saints.

But: on the other hand, we have more light, revelation, understanding in and through Jesus Christ that should add to our faith.

4. Keep Walking. John 10:10 Walk by faith, not necessarily by sight.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Biblical Guidelines for Aspiring Nation

Introduction: Deut. 4:1 & 2/5 & 6/9 Deut. 8 – all

The book of Deuteronomy is largely a retake of the message God gave to the 1st. generation of Israelites. It is filled with instruction, motivation, etc.

In the reading, note the following:

The historical setting

The striking parallel to the USA

The emphatic repetition – when something is repeated over and over again with emphatic language, it is done for a reason.

The audience – this was to common folks who are believers and want God’s blessings on: themselves, their children, their neighbors, and their nation.

This is not unlike people in the United States. The vast majority of our people want the same blessings from God.


#1. Be Reasonable. Deut. 8:17 & 18

Question: Is wealth/prosperity the result of earnings? or blessings (grace)? or goodness?

Answer: Yes, all/both/or a combination

#2. Be Careful Deut. 8:11-14

“Remember” is found 166 times in scripture and 16 times in Deuteronomy, along with ‘don’t forget’/’be careful’/’watch out’/’take heed’/etc….

Why?? Because prosperity tends to breed pride. (which leads to forget Him and focus on me!)

#3. Be Thankful Deut. 8:10 “Praise”

Note: this = both attitude and action. It’s not just attitude. For example: saying grace before meals. Is it necessary? Appropriate?

Why are we embarrassed to give thanks in a public restaurant for the blessings God has so abundantly given us?

#4. Be Wise. Deut. 30:11-16/19

WISDOM = practical/!!! - no matter what the economic status. Compare this to: John 10;10

#5. Be Instructive Deut. 4:9 (common to Deuteronomy and the Old Testament)

This is the basic “salt & light´application. It’s not for just one generation. It means to instill the values into the minds and hearts of children/grandchildren. This is primarily the job of the parents and grandparents, not the church.

#6. Be Evangelical. Deut. 4:6 – the point and purpose fo “showing”. Couple this with the New Testament “Great Commission”.

Note: this is more than simply sharing that “God is good”. It includes showing that…. God’s goodness ultimately displayed in the Cross of Jesus Christ.

…God’s goodness acquired in and through Christ.

#7. Be faithful. Deut. 8:6 “observe” – includes festivals, offerings, etc.

Christian parallel = Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter/etc. as religious observances.

And….Heb. 10:25 - “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as is the manner of some,…..”

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


QUESTION: If God is faithful, then what’s with all the tragedies that occur?

We know that faith is important. Mark 6:5; Matt. 9:22; Heb. 11:6

But, there is something more important that faith – the faithfulness of God.

Our faith is meaningless if God is not trustworthy. (faithful) If He weren’t, it doesn’t make any difference how much faith we have. Deut. 32:4b; Deut. 7:9b

QUESTION: What is He faithful to?

According to Scripture, God is faithful to:

A. His nature & His character. He will be who He is and He will not violate that.

B. His purpose. He’s out to accomplish something and will not violate that.

C. His Word & it’s promises. He is faithful to His people but not in contradiction to His nature, purpose, or Word. (not as we understand or interpret His Word, but as He intended it.)

God is not faithful to give us what we want, or what we think the Bible says.

There’s a higher purpose. He’s faithful to a purpose over being faithful to a person.

EXAMPLE: the story of Joseph – God was being faithful, but it didn’t look like it. He had a higher purpose. Gen. 50:20. He was faithful to Joseph but not over His purpose and intent.

John 2:23-25 God is faithful to His people but not obligated to us.

God is faithful to hear us when we pray. He may not answer the way we want.

God is faithful to save you. Rom. 10:13

God is faithful to keep you. I Thess. 5:23 & 24

God is faithful to be with you – promises never to leave you. Heb. 13:5

God is faithful to protect you from Satan. He won’t relinquish you. 2 Thess. 3:3 He won’t leave you with more than you can bear.

God is faithful to cleanse you. I John 1:9

God is faithful to develop you and continues to work on you. Phil. 1:6

God is faithful to give you a choice in all things – He is not obligated to keep you from problems that result when you make wrong choices.

Our 1st. choice – Trust God as He is – and wait until do understand

2nd. Choice – Don’t trust Him.

Then – who or what do you put your trust in? A god of your own making, religion, other people, family. The Bible calls this idolatry – a god with no power.

Note: Everybody puts their faith in something. The atheist puts his faith in the belief that there is no God.

Faith is putting confidence in the real God and reacting accordingly, regardless of our understanding.