Saturday, October 25, 2014

Living in Reality

Isa 47:10  You felt secure in your wickedness, you said, "No one sees me"; your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray, and you said in your heart, "I am, and there is no one besides me."

Isaiah 47:8-15 would be a great passage for family worship and good for all of us to consider from time to time.  In this section of Isaiah he is prophesying that soon the Babylonians will have to answer for the way they lived.  Since that is a general theme in Scripture it has application for us all.  What we have in this passage is a look at the two ways we can approach life. 

Notice along with vs. 10 above, vss. 7-8 also, Isa 47:7  You said, "I shall be mistress forever," so that you did not lay these things to heart or remember their end. Isa 47:8  Now therefore hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely, who say in your heart, "I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children":  We see that the Babylonians didn’t have any sense of reality.  They assume that they can do what they want and never answer for how they live and that they can continue like this forever.  It is to live in the moment and for the moment as if there is nothing more to life than doing whatever you want.  It is interesting that in both verses they refer to themselves that way God refers to himself, “I am”.

And of course this is the problem.  They see themselves as accountable only to themselves and ignore our accountability to God.  One reason why I see this as a good family worship passage is because parents are to train their children to be able to live on their own when they leave the house.  It is sad to me that even many Christian parents assume that being a good parent is to train their children to get a good job and be able to have money in life and if they do that, they were successful parents.

Unfortunately many of them evidently think that spending inordinate amounts of money and time (which always means missing church services) so that their children can play sports is their primary role as a parent.  My point is that neither of these should be the main goal of a Christian parent; it is to live in the same state of denial that these Babylonians did.

We are to train our children to know and serve God to the best of our ability.  This is done firstly in teaching them in God’s Word so that they can understand what life is all about.  Life is about getting right with God and glorifying him with the life he gives us.  It isn’t about country, family, job or sports; these are merely the circumstances God puts us in so that we might serve him. 

Part of physical adulthood and spiritual maturity is to be prepared --first prepared to meet God and second prepared for retirement and those physical needs.  It couldn’t be more evident that to many Christians these are reversed in importance.  Even more unfortunate are those that live in the moment and not in light of the future consequences. 

The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood but spiritual enemies.  The only legitimate worldview realizes that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from God.  How much time do we spend preparing for our spiritual enemies compared to the time spent to ward off hunger and physical needs?  None of us are going to escape deep and painful trials.  Ignoring reality is not preparing for it.  We must build ourselves up in truth and train ourselves to think biblically so that we can be strong in those days.  We are still going to go through them but we want to go through them to the praise of the Lord and not look like every lost person around us.  I fear that many of our children are better soccer players than students of God’s Word.  If this is the case we have failed our children.  ( By the way, I like sports but they are well down on my list of priorities)

In the latter part of Isaiah 47 God tells Babylon to keep checking their horoscopes and see if this helps them prepare for judgment, Isa 47:12  Stand fast in your enchantments and your many sorceries, with which you have labored from your youth; perhaps you may be able to succeed; perhaps you may inspire terror. Isa 47:13  You are wearied with your many counsels; let them stand forth and save you, those who divide the heavens, who gaze at the stars, who at the new moons make known what shall come upon you. 

And so again we are reminded of the two ways to approach life, check the daily horoscope or daily check the Word of God.  Only one prepares us for reality.  God’s Word makes it clear that there are two vastly different ends that await these two groups of people.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

When We Don't Have Handles

Isa 45:9  "Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?' or 'Your work has no handles'? Isa 45:10  Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting?' or to a woman, 'With what are you in labor?'"

These verses and the whole context of Isaiah 40-48 are classical passages used by those who believe that God is utterly sovereign (I agree that is a redundancy but a necessary one when dealing with people who believe God is “sovereign” in everything but salvation or “sovereign” only when good things happen, etc.).  To support our position, even Paul uses them to prove his point in Romans 9 that God is sovereign in salvation as well as everything else.  These verses teach us a fundamental fact that God has every right to make us for whatever purpose he desires and that it is sinful for us to dare question his purposes in such a way that questions his wisdom.  It is one thing to question the Lord so that we might understand and appreciate him more; but it is quite another to stand as his judge.

At once we see both a statement of doctrine but also a huge “clue” as to how we are to understand ourselves and the world around us.  So there is no doubt that the above passage couldn’t be more important for us creatures to know and to understand and believe if we are to live God honoring lives. 

What these verses are telling us is that it is not enough for us to stand up during praise time at church and affirm that God is sovereign in all things.  They are also teaching us that we must be willing to submit to these truths when we find ourselves in adversity instead of just when watching someone else going through great trial.  We must be careful of putting all the emphasis on believing the doctrines of the sovereignty of God as if all God cares about is whether we believe truth but he cares little if we live out truth in our lives.

Plainly stated, can we be content when God makes us “without handles”?  When every pot around us has handles and we don’t, will our love for our Savior enables us to be content and useful in the kingdom of God?  I was recently reminded of this when some good friends visited us with their son who has Williams Syndrome.  They have been faithful parents for 40 plus years with a child who requires much energy and patience to care for.  When I see situations like this the thought naturally comes to me as to whether I would have been such a good parent.  Would I have been able to accept God’s will in my life and my family’s life and the life of my child graciously and fully embrace such a thing as an opportunity to serve?  Or would I be consumed with complaining to God for making my child “without handles” and so demonstrate an attitude that God doesn’t know what he is doing and I could have done better?  

And that really is the awful sin of the above verses.  Sour attitudes ultimately question God’s wisdom and love.  It not only causes unbelievers to question our faith but discourages saints who have to listen to you and watch you live out your life.  Right now I can think of Christians who are not handling adversity well at all and I see the discouragement and spiritual harm they impose on others.  And I see others saints who are such great testimonies of the Lord’s grace in the midst of the fire and I have been greatly encouraged by them. 

I don’t know why the Lord allows some of us to fail miserably and others to excel in these things but my prayer is that I will be used to encourage others in the kingdom by honoring the Lord in my life and not be one who constantly struggles to accept God’s providence.