I was 19 years old and at a very confusing point in my life. I had grown up in the church and could quote any number of verses that could be used to lead someone to the Lord by the time I was 10 years old. Yet, here I was, feeling like I was ready to get saved but also feeling like I couldn’t grasp how to actually accept Christ. Talk about frustration!
I had made a profession of faith when I was around 5 years old but began to doubt the sincerity of that decision by the time I was a teenager. I came to be pretty convinced that though I had prayed the “sinner’s prayer”, I lacked any conviction of sin or a real understanding of the gospel. I wrestled with my true spiritual condition off and on as a teenager but always figured I would deal seriously with that issue “tomorrow.” Yet tomorrow would come and go and nothing changed.
Then God began to graciously work in my life and through a series of events, reached a point of knowing I had to deal with this decision. I couldn’t put this off forever and became increasingly aware of the fact that God’s mercy on my life would not last forever. However, in my often over-thinking analytical mind, I became very confused about the simplicity of the gospel. Was I convicted of my sinfulness and willing to trust in Christ for my salvation. Yes! But why when I prayed and asked Christ to save me did I feel no assurance I had just gotten saved? Over the course of weeks I prayed repeatedly for salvation yet only became more and more confused and frustrated. Was my time done? Had I pushed salvation off too many times? So many thoughts crowded my mind, leading me to a point of confusion and despair.
And then one day I read Titus 1:2, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” and this verse hit me like a ton of bricks. There was my problem! I was asking Christ to save me yet I was simply hoping He would, not actually having faith in His promises that He actually would save me. On that day in February 1996, God graciously gave me the faith to believe that if I put my faith in Him to save meHe would save me. Why? Because He promised He would and it is impossible for Him to lie! As the truth of this verse overwhelmed me, all of my confusion and despair lifted and the heavy burden was gone. Thank God for this promise and for allowing me to see its life-changing truth!
I tire of people referring to this planet as “mother earth”. The concept is warm and fuzzy but it does not hold water. “We must protect our mother,” the environmentalists rage. I’m all about protecting my mom, my children’s mother, and other mothers too. And I will acknowledge we need to protect our environment reasonably. But I draw a line when folks try to make this planet part of my family. Some of our environmental extremists give you the feeling that if we do something to offend “mother earth” the rolling pin is coming out or we will be sent to our room. Equally false is dear old “father time”. Such ascribing of human traits to inanimate objects or animals is known as anthropomorphisizing. Think of it this way; movies have bears, squirrels, vampires, and dogs talking and they live in houses, go to school, and eat at dinner tables.
As far as the anthropomorphism “mother earth,” it is no more than an attempt to take glory from the Creator and His Creation. The Bible says right from the start, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Gen. 1:1). Venture to say, most people who espouse evolution refer to our planet as “ mother earth”. They have created their own “planet” albeit a facade. God wanted us to know right from the beginning (literally) that ”…the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves…” (Ps. 100:3).
Psalm 107 shows not only has God created this world, but He sustains it, controls it and cares for it. The Bible proclaims, “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths…” (Ps. 107:23-26). He created the seas, the waves, the winds and their bounds. God commands the winds, the rains and the course of rivers and streams (107:33).
Israel is in the middle of a desert, yet God has power to…”turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase” (107:35-37). We serve a God who is omnipotent. “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hardfor me?” (Jer.32:27). This Psalm repeats this verse 8 four times, “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps. 107:8,15,21&31). I suppose God knows we need frequent reminding.
D.L. Moody was an evangelist whom God used in a mighty way to shake two continents with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Growing up, Moody faced many obstacles in life. Moody grew up in a fatherless home, was raised in very poor conditions, and lacked a complete education. However, one day, Moody was challenged by a man who said, “It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him.” In spite of the obstacles he faced, Moody accepted the challenge by faith, gave himself wholly to the service of God, and became one of America’s greatest evangelists.
In Numbers 13, we see a group of twelve spies who had been sent out to survey the land that God had already promised to the nation of Israel. God told the Israelites in Exodus 23:28 that He would “drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.” All they had to do was trust in the promise of God and take the land. This group of twelve spies searched out the land for forty days and brought back a report to Moses and the people of Israel. Tragically, however, just as they were on the verge of entering the land God had promised them, ten of the spies chose to dwell on the obstacles that stood between them and the land rather than the promises of God. These spies chose to walk by sight and view the obstacles (strong people, walled cities, giants) of the land as insurmountable. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, chose to walk by faith. Caleb said in his report, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” The ten spies saw the obstacles that stood in their way. The two spies saw God’s faithful ability to bring them into the land if they would simply trust in Him.
In spite of his obstacles, Moody chose to see what God could do with any man that was fully surrendered to Him. Joshua and Caleb chose to see what God would do if they would simply trust in Him to keep His promises. As believers, we are called to “walk by faith, not by sight.” When we get our eyes off God and forget His promises, difficulties and problems are quickly magnified in our sight. When unbelief fills our hearts, our eyes begin to focus on the “giants” around us, rather than the God who is with us. When we view life from God’s point of view,however, we are given the faith to overcome whatever obstacles are in our path. 1 John 4:4 reminds us that “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” When we walk by sight, we see giants. When we walk by faith, we see a faithful God who is working all things together for our good.
Have you ever been disappointed by someone? I mean, really disappointed? Where someone did something that left you hurt, confused and wondering who you could trust anymore? I had a really good childhood friend from about the time I was 5 until I was around 13. We went to the same church/school and our families were very close. When we were around 13 or so he started to get involved in trouble and around the same time his family left the church so our friendship came to a pretty abrupt halt. About 3 or 4 years later, our family came home from the Sunday morning service to find out that someone had broken into our home while we were gone and stolen quite a few things, most notably our hunting rifles which were kept in a wood/glassrifle safe. At first we assumed we were the victim of a random break-in but in the end we came to find out my old friend had orchestrated the theft, knowing we would be at church on a Sunday morning and knowing about our stash of firearms. Ouch, what a friend!
On a similar note, we read today about someone who disappointed Paul. In 2 Timothy Paul is nearing the end of his ministry and life and is giving Timothy some final thoughts and charges before he passes off the scene. He references that the time of his “departure is at hand” in 4:6. Reading down to verses 8-11 we see Paul saying, “Do thy diligence to come shortly to me, for Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me…..”
Can we read between the lines here? The great apostle Paul is nearing the end of his world-changing ministry and I think it is very clear that he is very likely experiencing both disappointment and loneliness. Demas had been of Paul’s closes associates, having been mentioned in Philemon and Colossians. And now, at the end of Paul’s life at a time when he is in prison, Demas left him, having “loved this present world”. What a disappointment for Paul! He was very much in need of the encouragement that Timothy would bring, essentially begging him to come to him in verse 9.
But through it all, we see what sustained Paul through all his tribulations and problems. In verse 17 he wrote, “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.” While people came and went, sometimes bringing joy and others nothing but grief, Paul was able to rest in his strong relationship with the Lord and find the strength that he needed to move on. After all, He is the “friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”