Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Better Than I Deserve

Not ignoring pain, suffering, loss, etc.  BUT = point out the blessings.

How are you doing??
Materially - in top 10% or wealthiest people in the world
Physically - health, health services
Politically - freedoms in USA
Geographically - Southeast Oklahoma, your community
Relationally - marriage, family, friends, neighbors, community, church, etc.

Most will acknowledge - in spite of trials, pain & suffering going through,
I'm recognizing I have "more than I deserve"

NOW shift to Spiritual Blessings
ie:  undeserved and unearned favors that we receive 'in Christ"

Eph. 1:3-14
1 Pet. 1:3-5
2 Pet. 1:3

My list - "10 Spiritual Blessings" - (from God to Ed - related in 1st. person)

#1.  He chose me.  On one hand, there is much mystery about "election", however, this I know - HE CHOSE ME!!

#2.  He Wooed me - patiently, persistently pursued me. = Work of the Holy Spirit = ACT of Agape

#3.  He Received Me as I was, with a reluctant surrender - Example:  Hymn #307 - "Just As I Am" - many verses

#4.  He Saved Me  - Luke 19:10
    forgiving, cleansing, reconciliation, restoration - Eph. 2:4-10

These first four all past tense.

Now, shift to present tense.
#5.  He continues to Receive me. (not saved again)  - Heb. 4:15-16 - approach the throne with confidence to find grace in time of need.

#6.  He Keeps me. - Jude 24 & 25 - He's the only one who can.

#7.  He Grows Me.  He will not give up on you.  Indiscernible growth doesn't = no growth. - Phil. 1:6

Note:  Future blessings. - when this life ends - Heaven.
I'll receive:
#8,  Deliverance - from pain, suffering, doubts and fears, sinful tendencies, relational conflict, etc.

#9.  Justice - ie:  all things set right - all those things that are not right here will be righted there.

#10.  Satisfaction - contentment "Rest"

On one hand, these are future blessings.  On the other hand, I HAVE the Promise(s).,  Therefore, I currently  possess - hope, expectation, anticipation, confidence, comfort, etc.

This is NOT an exhaustive list, so clearly, I'm blessed "beyond what I deserve".

What about you?
Not to minimize your pain, problems, etc.
Rather in the midst of them to   1) recognize the blessings  and 2) thank the Blessor

IF you can't claim these spiritual blessings, Then you need to give serious consideration to the call of Christ on your life.

IF you can claim theses spiritual blessings, then you need to thank Him - Psalm 107:1-2

Give Thanks, not just be grateful!!!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Making Sense of Suffering

The Bible declares that God is:
Sovereign    Good    Active    Personal

Problem:  IF God is (all) good - righteous and just ALWAYS
AND, IF God is (all) Sovereign,
THEN  Why is there (so much) evil and suffering???

The question is ancient - ie:  Job - (probably oldest book in Bible)
                        common - ie:  Ruth
                     extensively addressed - Theodicy - defense of God's goodness in light of Evil & Suffering in world
       BUT - remains unanswered!!!

Clarify - On on hand there are many answers (reasons),  however, the question is never completely answered.  (not ONE answer)

No "1" answer.
Many partial answers.
BUT, the sum total of all the answers does NOT = 100%

Sample Answers in Scripture
1)  Retributive Suffering - (punishment for sinful behavior)
2)  Consequential Suffering - (because of FREEWILL)
3)  Character development - God is more interested in our character than in our comfort.
4)  Corrective discipline - example:  Father/child
5)  Redemptive Suffering - to lead to greater good
6)  Suffering for the manifestation of God's glory - ("that you may know") - tragedy so people will know that God IS.

Put these all together and might be satisfied --- until we encounter "senseless suffering"

So...... the believers' response to evil and suffering?

#1.  Admit your confusion - example:  laments - over a third of the Psalms - Psm. 22:1
Be honest with your pain and with God.  He already knows how you feel anyway.

#2.  Accept the Mystery (of suffering)  AS you accept -- God's eternalness, creation ex-nihilo, virgin birth, incarnation, resurrection, prayer, new birth..
Cannot have transcendence w/o mystery - if finite human mind could explain it all, would have no need of God.
Because we have no answer doesn't mean there is no answer.  Isa. 55:8-9
He has chosen not to answer for various reasons.

#3.  Continue to trust the One you've come to Know.
John 6:66-69, 2 Tim. 1:12 - I know Whom I have believed, Job 13:15
Don't let what you don't know trump what you DO know!!!
Deut.  29:29 (reverse) - 'the things that are revealed to us (in special revelation - the Bible) belong to us, but the secret things belong to the LORD'

#4.  Continue to walk - (to live and lead a Christian life)
        in faith - (trusting, believing)
        in expectation - (Revelation)
        without all the answers
Mark 9:24

He is righteous, He is just, and He will make all things the way they should be.

Is it wise to deny the Person of God because of a Mystery we cannot solve?

Which is greater?  More valuable?  - The Answer or the Presence?

2 Pet. 1:2-3

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

God Is ... Sovereign, Good, Active

Has God revealed Himself to us?
Yes:  General Revelation (nature, reason, design, etc.)  AND
Special Revelation (specific truths, written down = Bible) AND
His Son - John 1:18 - He unveiled (exogited) things about God

What can we Know about God (through Specific Revelation)???
Answer = A LOT  (a lifetime of study) - inexhaustible - new understanding, new enlightenment

3 Things about God that are:
1)  clear (in Scripture) - declared over and over again
2)  relevant (to us)


I.  Sovereign - HE is the final Supreme Power and Authority.  THE Ruler of all that is.
ie:  things, circumstances, situations, beings -- material and immaterial.

Illustration:  Jer. 32:24-27

His Sovereignty is:  A)  Absolute - in control of EVERYTHING - if a single atom is beyond His control, He is NOT Sovereign.
                              B)  Eternal - ie:  Both ways!!!  Always has been , always will be.  Rev. 22:13
Therefore:              C)  Current - in control NOW!!!  He did not create and then lose control, as in the case of Frankenstein.

II.  Good  Psalm 106:1, 107:1 - hundreds of references regarding the goodness of God.
= good news!!!  Because if He was Sovereign and not good, what then?????
But note:  He is NOT good as WE are good - human, limited

HIS goodness = Righteous - always does what is right
Deut. 32:3-4

III.  Active - (involved)  Did not create and withdraw
His activity is:  A)  Ongoing - John 5:16-17, Col. 1:15-17
                       B)  Comprehensive - Matt. 10:29 - doesn't happen without His knowledge and permission
                       C)  Personal - Matt. 10:30-31

His is:  Omnipotent (all powerful)   Omniscient (all knowing)  Omnipresent ( everywhere)  Jer. 23:23-24

So... He sees, knows, cares, interacts - Matt. 6:9 - "Father" - wants relationship

Conclusion:  this is good news!!!
ie:  God is Sovereign, Good, Active, Personal

This is 'the God' who "woos" you!!   Who invites you to accept, believe, trust, follow - 1 Pet. 5:6-7

So:  #1 - have you trusted?  (initially? w/yourself/, with your soul?) - cast all your anxiety on Him? 
have you verbally declared it? - Rom. 10:10

#2.  do you need to re-trust Him? - not for salvation, not re-saved, but re-dedicate

#3.  Do you need to trust Him further?  fuller?
typically encounter more things to trust Him with as we age. 

Psalm 34:8 - "taste and see"  "blessed is he"

There are blessings found in trusting Him that are not found anywhere else.