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Posts Tagged ‘evil’

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The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.

“What?”

“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.

AMEN.

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discourage

God had called Moses out of Midian, away from his family, and back to the place he’s run away from as a criminal refugee forty years earlier.  God has listened to Moses’ objections, dealt with his refusal, and answered his doubts.  Moses has spoken to his people, the Jews, about God’s plans to deliver them, and brought his brother, Aaron, on board with God’s orders.  Finally, in Exodus chapter 5, we find Moses and Aaron approaching Pharaoh and asking that God’s people, which just so happen to be their people, too, be given leave from their slave labor for three days.

Moses and Aaron tell Pharaoh – the most powerful ruler in the world at the time – that God himself wants them to hold a feast in the wilderness and then they’d be right back.

Consider that request for just a moment.  It is quite absurd when you think about it.  Imagine going to the highest authority you can possibly think of and telling him that God himself needs to “borrow” thousands of his subordinates – who just so happen to be all your friends and family – for a few days.  As a dictator set on accomplishing goals and dealing out work, are you really going to oblige these two nobodies?  Pharaoh’s reply is not at all surprising:

But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” ~Exodus 5:2

Who said I should let all my workers leave?  God?!  Um.  I don’t think so.  Why should I obey this so-called “God?”  I don’t know him.  No slaves are leaving their work.

God is just about to show Pharaoh exactly who he is, but first God’s prophets try to tell him.  Again, Moses and Aaron petition Pharaoh.  They warn, “…what if God sends pestilence or sword…” because of your disobedience to him?  All the while, they knew that that was exactly what God was about to do.

Still, not surprisingly, Pharaoh disregards them.  He accuses them of being lazy liars and trying to get out the Israelites out of work.  Flexing his worldly power in defiance, he sends his own plague upon them by failing to give straw to make bricks.  The leaders of the task were beaten for failing to produce the same amount of bricks as when they were given the straw.  The leaders went to Pharaoh crying “injustice” upon deaf ears.  Next, they went to Moses and Aaron, cursed them, and complained of the hardship their request to leave had brought.

Moses went back to God completely discouraged and doubtful.  He asks, “Why?”  “Why have you done evil, God?”  “Why did you send me, God?”  “You haven’t delivered anyone at all, God.”

Even though God had told Moses up front that Pharaoh would initially refuse him, Moses was unprepared for this seeming failure.  The world hit him with a blow he wasn’t expecting – no straw and beatings as a result of his request – and instead of blaming the evil ruler for his evil, he automatically defaults to blaming and accusing God of evil.

Why?

Moses understands God’s sovereignty.  He knows beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is in control of all things.  Therefore, evil dealt in response to his obedience to God – from both his enemies as well as his friends – is unbelievably difficult to understand – even when you’ve been told the future by God himself beforehand.

Been there, Moses.  I feel you.

What are we to do when our obedience to God is met with worldly injustice, evil treatment, pain, suffering, and even accusation from the very people we are seeking to help?

Moses asks why, accuses, and blames God.  These are the most human, natural responses, but they are what we ought not to do.  Instead, we must try to remember God’s plan and trust in him no matter what happens as a result of our obedience – and that’s scary.  It includes many unexpected hardships.  It requires an extra helping of courage and a great resolve to put away our natural instincts to duck and run from obedience to God when things go wrong.  If we find ourselves in this kind of situation, let us remember the words of Matthew Henry:

“What strange steps God sometimes takes in delivering his people; he often brings them to the utmost straits when he is just ready to appear for them.  The lowest ebbs go before the highest tides; and very cloudy mornings commonly introduce the fairest days.” 

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moses2

In Exodus 1, we find Jacob’s descendants relocating in Egypt.  In chapter 2, we meet Moses, a descendant of the tribe of Levi.  Introduced as a baby endangered by a bloodthirsty government, Moses is born, just like Jesus, under an edict of death.  Both’s lives were miraculously preserved in Egypt.

The baby Hebrew boys in Egypt were being killed because the Pharaoh at the time was worried that there were too many Hebrews populating there.  He feared losing his position, his control, and his power over Egypt.  So he sought to destroy them all in an effort to save himself.  Selfishness and self-preservation always precede the murder of innocent children.

Likewise, every child born in our country today is born in a culture of death, complete with bloodthirsty government.  Then, it was just boys and was a 50% murder rate.  Now, it is both boys and girls with a 22% murder rate.  Progressive, aren’t we?  If you’re alive, be thankful.

Moses’ mother knew the law.  She knew the risk involved in keeping her son as opposed to giving him up to be butchered by the enemy.  She likely faced fines, prison, and even death.  She still did  not comply like so many others did.  Instead, she hid her baby for as long as she could.  She finally sent him off in a makeshift basket on the river entrusting his life to God alone.  Moses’ mother clearly feared God more than she feared man or anything this world could do to her.

Pharaoh’s daughter found him and sent him back to – get this – his mother to be nursed and even paid her to do so!  God often blesses those who trust him in faith despite all odds.

After he’d grown, Moses’ mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter and he was raised and taught by her and in the royal places.  He grew up to become Israel’s deliverer.

With the school starting, I consider the faith and courage Moses’ mother displayed for all mothers.  In these ten short verses, she rejected the sinful laws of a corrupt government at her own risk in order to preserve her child.  She entrusted her child to God when she felt she could no longer resist them without being caught.  She believed in God’s providence when she could not be the one to provide for her child.

This is the story of a strong, faithful mother.  It is a great encouragement to every one of us who cares for children amidst a world ruled by evil.  We cannot always escape evil laws and governments, but we can overcome them by faith.  When it comes to our children, we must decide whether we are going to live by faith or by fear; by courage or cowardice; by trusting God’s providence or by worrying about our needs.

God took care of Moses under the worst possible circumstances.  He took care of Moses’ mother.  He will take care of our children as well.  Do not worry.  He is faithful.  Trust Him.

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infanticide

After Joseph, the Hebrew slave turned respected Egyptian leader, died, the people of God remained living in Egypt.  Exodus 1 tells us they grew strong and multiplied greatly just like God had promised their ancestor, Abraham.  In fact, from the time God made his covenant promise to Abraham to the time he delivered them out of Egypt was 430 years.  The first 215 years saw an increase to only 70 men.  The second half of that time – the time they spent in Egypt – the men multiplied to 600, 000.  This was good news for God’s people but the Egyptians saw it as very bad news.

But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. ~Exodus 1:12-13

Fulfillment of God’s promises to his people cause the ungodly to fear.  Their solution is persecution.  Nevertheless, God’s will frustrates human efforts no matter how powerful, forceful, or barbaric they may be.

 Just like today, we see here that evil, corrupt rulers, leaders, and governments purpose to paint God’s people as dangerous, untrustworthy, and disobedient to common law so they might have some pretense for the wicked, unjust treatment they deal to them.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Furthermore, as if the enslavement wasn’t enough, the Egyptian king was so terrified of losing ground to the ever more numerous Hebrew people that he resorted to genocide.  Not just genocide though, infanticide.  The king of Egypt so feared losing his position and power that he gave orders to kill all the male Hebrew babies.

Not much has changed after all these years, has it?  Fear of losing control over one’s life – an imaginary commodity, by the way, that no one possesses apart from God’s allowance – and personal power and position has always been the driving force and greatest temptation used by Satan to encourage and accomplish murder through infanticide.  The only difference is that now not only are the powers that be seeking children’s lives, mothers, too, in their fear and cult of individualism and false freedom are as well.

Yet here, in the midst of such great evil, still, we find great blessing.  Consider verses 16-17, 21.

 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live…And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.”

And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.  Because the midwives feared God more than they feared man, he blessed them.  Because they blessed his people, he blessed them.  Where evil rulers seek to make others just as evil as they, God seeks to bless those who refuse to do harm on account of him.

 “Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” ~Exodus 1:22

The Hebrew babies still died.  Egypt’s king gave a new order to cast every baby boy into the river.  But the midwives had no part.  Here, the Lord shows us that though evil may indeed prevail for a time here on earth, it does not have to prevail through us.  It is better to risk our lives avoiding evil than to obey evil men and seek to save ourselves.

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Just so that everyone is clear about what sin actually is, Paul makes a list for the Galatians in chapter 5.  Herein, he also lists the fruits of the Spirit.  Again, this is not so much intended to be a list of dos and don’ts (although it is), rather, a plumb-line to gauge where we really are in regards to Christ.  

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~Galatians 5:16-24

Little wonder why Paul begins and ends with sexual sin.  Think about that for a moment.  Really let it sink in and consider the implications.  

Four of the actions listed are related to the 7th commandment.  You shall not commit adultery.  We are so severely inclined to do so that Paul wanted to ensure that we could not miss this in regards to our spiritual health.  He wanted Christians to understand that our very salvation hangs in the balance of the choices we make about our sexuality – not just in deed, but most certainly in word and thought as well.  He isn’t just pointing at homosexuality or fornicators here like so many Christians seem to do.  He’s pointing at each and every one of us enjoined in holy matrimony as well.  Surely, nowhere are men and women more impure than inside our own minds.  This warning is sobering, heavy news for the culture in which we live. The sexually impure will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Paul didn’t stutter.  Hear him.    

Two of the actions listed (idolatry and witchcraft) are related to the 1st and 2nd commandments.  Clearly, one cannot worship God if he is actively worshiping something else – namely self, Satan, or stuff.  Again, quite sobering news for we who live in this self-serving, indulgent generation of surplus.  The idolatrous will not inherit the kingdom of God.  

The rest of Paul’s list has to do with offense given to others by us (save drunkenness which is primarily against oneself but can and does certainly lead to offense against others as well.)  We who claim to love God cannot hate our brothers.  Hate-filled abusers will not inherit the kingdom of God.  

These are fearful, sobering warnings.  Oh, how we need the Lord who saves and keeps us to enable us to heed them!

 Matthew Henry writes, “It is not enough to cease to do evil, but we must learn to do well.”  

Paul gives us the alternative to these actions.  We are not simply to avoid sin.  We are to exhibit spiritual fruit in its place.  The question is not “Why?” or “What?”  The question is, “How?” How do we love like Jesus?  How do we have peace in strife?  How do we do good when we are altogether bad?  How do we offer kindness when we are angry?  How

As pleasant and beautiful as they are, these actions and attitudes are neither automatic nor blissfully easy.  Paul tells us to live by the Spirit; walk by the Spirit.  These are his instructions.  It isn’t do and don’t; it’s live and walk.  The only way we can live and walk in the Spirit is by daily death to ourselves.  It is a bloody war complete with compound casualties and corporate crucifixion.  Therefore, the answer is only through Christ.  We cannot do these things apart from him.  We cannot do anything apart from him.  Nor can we stop sinning.  

Live by the Spirit.  Walk by the Spirit.  These are Paul’s instructions regarding proper human behavior, complete with his referral to Our Counselor.  But doing it Paul’s way takes faith, prayer, and a whole lot of full on fighting with a side of blood, sweat, and tears.  Without the Spirit of God we will fail despite any future victories in morality.  With the Spirit of God we will succeed despite any past failures in morality.  

The proof is in the pudding.  Let us consider which list characterizes the gist of our lives and run to our Savior.

 

 

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With 19 days and counting until I set out to run the Pittsburgh Marathon, I consider Boston.  I recount the past year.  My thoughts turn to Newtown, Aurora, and our very own Western Psychiatric Hospital.  I try to console myself thinking, “At least my kids are home schooled.”  One less worry, right?  But then I remember the warning about the man in the van trying to snatch kids out of their yards in my neighborhood from yesterday.  I remember how I felt sitting in the movie theater watching Batman after Aurora.  I recall a night I sat with my newborn baby for hours waiting on paperwork in the very space where a shooter opened fire at Western Psych.  I realize that all attempts to feel secure are vain.  No place is truly safe.  I have a choice to make.  I can stand around singing, “I Miss Mayberry” and hope we somehow teleport back to a time when it was safe to leave the front door open and let children play outside alone, or, I can sing another song.  One that recognizes the world in which we live – complete with bombs, baby-snatchers, and brokenness beyond belief – and I can go in faith knowing that no matter what evil transpires today against me, my family, or those just like me, my God is still in complete control.  It goes like this:

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing

A mighty fortress.  A bulwark.  Our helper.  Mortal ills may prevail, but they are just that – mortal.  They will pass.  My God is immortal and he will help me in all circumstances.

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

We have but one foe.  His name isn’t Kim Jong Un or James Holmes or Kermit Gosnell or Adam Lanza.  His name is Satan.  He is the one who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy with his great power, craftiness, and influence over those who know not God.  He is armed.  He may often use a missle, a gun, or a bomb in the hands of a man, but his weapon of choice is always the same – hate.  Never take up his weapon.  

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

We are no match for this enemy.  We will always lose if left to fight him ourselves.  But God choose the right man to help us.  He has already won on our behalf and a day of reckoning is coming soon to all of those who fight against his good will.  We need not take revenge.  Judgement will come.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:

Demons fill our world with threats, creating fear and unrest in us all.  But God teaches us to fear nothing but he alone.  His truth will be seen in us in the midst of tragedy, chaos, and tears.  Spreading his truth matters infinitely more than my living in comfortable circumstances.

The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

Though Satan rules this earth as prince, Christ rules the entire universe as King.  Do not be afraid of devils.  God is greater.  Call on Him for salvation.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

His name is above all names.  The devils may take our material things, our families, and even our own lives, but God’s truth remains forever.  Believe it.  Cling to it.  Live in it.

I don’t need a bunker or a fort.  I won’t avoid a marathon, an airplane, or a movie theater.  My Fortress stands in front of me wherever I am.  If I live, I live in Him.  If I die, I die in Him.  Thank you for reminding me, Mr. Luther.  A Mighty Fortress is Our God.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bONV_YZCKdg

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ImageDavid is riding out to battle with the Philistines.  They are in pursuit of Israel, who is still being led by none other than David’s worst enemy, King Saul.  When Saul sees them, he is terrified. His fear drives him to his knees but God is silent.  What’s a terrified unbeliever to do?  Saul seeks the services of a fortune-telling witch.

Note, pulling God down off the shelf in times of great need or trouble is not wise.  If we’ll refuse to know him daily, he’ll refuse to know us transiently.  The Great I Am will not be molded or reduced into a genie or a good luck charm for men’s convenience.  Someone should have informed Saul of these things.

Oh, right, they did.  Saul knew the sinfulness of necromancy.  So much so that he himself had excommunicated all such people from the entire land of Israel.  The penalty?  Death.  What Saul was willing to execute others for, he found himself involved with.  Saul knew the wickedness found in pursing this evil rather than God.  (Coincidentally, when we are pursuing evil it is always instead of pursuing God.)  Saul simply refused to listen to even his own scarce wisdom.  Here’s what he did instead: (more…)

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