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They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. (John 17:16 )

Heaven

We live here, we walk here, we eat and drink here, but may we never call it home. The ground beneath our feet and sky above our heads are the scenery we enjoy momentarily, but they will pass away (Matthew 24:35). Our family is more than people with the same last name (Mark 3:35), as believers we are united by blood, literally the shed blood of Jesus the risen Savior. We, the family, walk as sojourners (1 Peter 2:11), as travelers, loving and serving the people around us, all the while remembering we will one day be home. A home that has been prepared for us (John 14:3), where we will live in ever increasing joy.

Our lips will never again say, “It was fun while it lasted”, as the smile fades from our face. In our home there is no sorrow, there is no disease, there is no end to joy (Revelation 21:4). In our home our treasure does not fail, there is no thief to steal, no moneybag to grow old (Luke 12:33). In your heart, and in your head, where is your treasure and your home? For “there will your heart will be also” (Luke 12:34).

Where is your home?

Why does God allow earthquakes, tornados, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, mudslides, wildfires, and other natural disasters? Tragedies cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is distressing that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. God created the whole universe and the laws of nature (Genesis 1:1). Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados are the results of divergent weather patterns colliding. Earthquakes are the result of the earth’s plate structure shifting. A tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake.

The Bible proclaims that Jesus Christ holds all of nature together (Colossians 1:16-17). Could God prevent natural disasters? Absolutely! Does God sometimes influence the weather? Yes, as we see in Deuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17. Numbers 16:30-34 shows us that God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgment against sin. The book of Revelation describes many events which could definitely be described as natural disasters (Revelation chapters 6, 8, and 16). Is every natural disaster a punishment from God? Absolutely not.

In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. Romans 8:19-21 tells us, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The fall of humanity into sin had effects on everything, including the world we inhabit. Everything in creation is subject to “frustration” and “decay.” Sin is the ultimate cause of natural disasters just as it is the cause of death, disease, and suffering.

We can understand why natural disasters occur. What we do not understand is why God allows them to occur. Why did God allow the tsunami to kill over 225,000 people in Asia? Why did God allow Hurricane Katrina to destroy the homes of thousands of people? For one thing, such events shake our confidence in this life and force us to think about eternity. Churches are usually filled after disasters as people realize how tenuous their lives really are and how life can be taken away in an instant. What we do know is this: God is good! Many amazing miracles occurred during the course of natural disasters that prevented even greater loss of life. Natural disasters cause millions of people to reevaluate their priorities in life. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is sent to help the people who are suffering. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ! God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies (Romans 8:28).

 

Article from gotquestions.org This is a great site.

Have you ever been in one of those “Ruts” where it seems like nothing will ever go right again? If you answered yes then take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. I wish I could say that this is usually an isolated incident, but quite often, it’s not So waht do we do in the middle of a rut?

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9 ESV)

With the advent of 24/7 news, the internet, facebook and everything else, we are bombarded with most of what goes wrong in the world. A woman is abducted and we learn immediately of sex trafficking. An earthquake devastates a developing nation and we see the hundreds of thousands who have lost loved ones, don’t have clean water and no longer have a home. We can be overwhelmed with all of the hurt in the world– we can be paralyzed by it. How can we make a difference through the pain? Does my $10 donation really do anything?

Andy Stanley, in his sermon called “One, Not Everyone”, gives us some practical advice when we become overwhelmed by the suffering that surrounds us:

1. Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. By focusing on one person, we aren’t as spread out and see the little things we do will make a big difference in their life.

2. Go deeper, not wider. It might be easier to throw $10 at everything that comes our way, but we can usually make a greater change for good when we do more than just giving money. When we focus our time, talents, and money on one person or family, there is a greater reward.

Don’t forget the last part of today’s verse also, we will see results in the end if we don’t give up! So, don’t give up and continue to ask God where He has prepared good works in advance for you.

fearThe post below is written by a Facebook friend of mine, the Praying Medic. How aweome is this?

 

I receive a lot of prayer requests from friends who admit, ‘I’m worried’, ‘I’m afraid’ or ‘I’m fearful.’

I was asking the Holy Spirit about this yesterday. ‘Where does fear come from and how do we deal with it?’

He said ‘fear is a spirit’. And it is not from God. It’s from the enemy.

There is a spirit called fear. “We have not received the spirit of fear, but the spirit of peace, love and a sound mind.’

There is a spirit that causes fear and when you feel fearful, it’s because this spirit is controlling your thoughts and actions.

I’ve come under this spirit’s influence a lot. I’m not throwing stones at anyone. It affects all of of us at some time.

Imagine our mind is a car…

When we allow our mind to think about God, we allow the spirit of peace, love and a sound mind to take the keys to the car and steer our thoughts.

When we think of financial troubles, sickness, death, or anything we fear – we give the spirit of fear the keys to the car and it will drive us wherever it wants.

Fear is a spirit and it’s our response when our mind is being driven by the wrong spirit.

Take the keys to your thought life back and hand them back to the Holy Spirit. Don’t allow the spirit of fear to dominate you any longer.

howWhile I was in Seminary, I wrote a Missions paper on the people of Haiti. I was fortunant because a student friend of mine was a student at the seminary as well, and I was able to get a lot of information from him over coffee. One of the interesting facts of life in Haiti is that a very large majority of the people there are what they call Catholics on Sunday morning, but vodoo practioners on the same night. I used to be shocked that this could happen, but as I look around me, I see more and more of this type of behavior among the Christians all over the world.

I titled today’s blog like I did because I saw someone’s Facebook page talking about what a great morning they had at Church worshipping Jesus, but were settling down to watch zombie movies. Now I know a lot of people are going to get a little ticked at me and say I’m overreacting to a little guiltless media pleasure, but please hear me out. One of the easiest ways to take the path of sin is to take the first step in the wrong direction. We may all start off watching something as innocent as vampires, but many, not all, become addicted to that sort of show and then it becomes entwined in their Theology. Now once again, I know there will be a lot of people who don’t believe that this sort of thing could possibly happen to a reasonable person, but take a look around and tell me I’m wrong.

The world is full of snares and traps that Satan uses to lure us into his world of addictive habits. I know I’ve found myself caught up into some of his tricks, and had to reverse direction before it was too late. I urge you, as well as myself, to watch who and what we listen to. Try watching a nice movie with a descent plot that will reinforce what you see and hear on Sunday Morning as you hang out with fellow believers. Try listening to some music that has a Godly message and lifts the sould before you go to work. Now once again, I’m not saying to cut yourself off from the world, I’m just saying to make sure you don’t become like the people I wrote my paper on…Jesus followers in the morning, and the exact opposite at night. Many of them aren’t even aware that they do it becauese they have seen and associated with it so often, they don’t see what’s wrong with it. Don’t fall into that same trap.

I’ve taken the time to post some verses below that will support what the Lord has laid on my heart this morning, I look forward to seeing how they make a difference in your life.

1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

John 17:15-18 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

pridePhilippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

The world, and even a lot of Christians, have become more concerned about their opinion and egos over compassion and concern for others. I look at today’s verse and wonder how many people truly follow this to the letter. We see what was once a unified body of believers now split up into so many denoinations that we fight over the silliest of “Doctrines” that have nothing to do with our Salvation. We have people willing to hurt and act out in name calling over a political part rather than to be polite because they feel their team is right, while so many people suffer because of a stalemate in congress. It’s just gotten to the point of being something I’m sure that God is weeping in heaven about.

This morning I saw something posted on Facebook that I disagreed with. My first instinct was to post something that contradicted it (a nice way of saying I wanted my opinion heard), but the Holy Spirit stopped me just in time because He knew that it would put the other person in a place that they felt they would have to defend their position, and most likely an argument would ensue. The verse that He laid on my heart was, “2 Timothy 2:23-24 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil.”

If we really KNOW that we’re right about something, then we don’t need to shove it down someone elses throat. Now there are times, like defending the name of Jesus, that there are exemptions to this rule, but that’s for a later discussion. I’m talking about having the Spiritual Maturity to smile and love a person even though deep down inside we want to disagree with them over something that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s a hard thing to do sometimes, but believe me when I say it’s for the better. Be the bigger person and swallow your pride when it comes to wanting to place yourself above others.

envy

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.—Galatians 5:26

There’s a legend that years ago the devil was crossing the Libyan desert. While traveling, he came upon a group of his demons trying to tempt a holy hermit. The man had withdrawn from society to live a pious, upright life in the desert. The demons were doing their best to get him to fall. Each tried their best temptation. One tempted him with seductions to satisfy his body. The holy man didn’t flinch. Another whispered to him that all of this devotion to God was wasted, that no one would ever know about it. He was unmoved.

After the devil watched, he said to his demons, “When you’re dealing with a really holy man, ordinary temptations just won’t work.” Then the devil went to the pious saint and whispered in his ear, “Did you know your best friend was just made bishop of Alexandria?” According to the legend, a look of foul envy crossed the holy man’s face.

That’s a legend—just a made-up story. But in it, we know, is a grain of truth. The British actor John Gielgud wrote in his autobiography, “When Sir Laurence Olivier played Hamlet in 1948 and critics raved, I wept.”

So it has always been—and will be.

Unless love steps in.

Love does not envy because love rests in God’s grace.

Prayer:

Father, by your grace, give us such a secure identity that we need not feel envious of another’s success or abilities. Instead, let us celebrate the gifts you give to others. Amen.