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Dealing with Our Problems Biblically: Anger, Part 1

March 25, 2015

Grace to you! We’ve all felt that well known expression of “I’m mad as Hades and I ain’t gonna take it anymore!” At one time or another we’ve all been angry. Anger is such a common problem that there are classes on “anger management.” These classes can vary in their approach about how to deal with them. Scripture, however, not only gives us the way to deal with anger but also why we even have anger. We will begin to look at this very important issue in the weeks to come. First, let’s ask the question, “Is all anger bad?” Or, biblically speaking “Is all anger inherently sinful?”

Scripture tell us “in your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26) Is this just saying as long as I’m not angry when it’s dark, it’s ok to be angry? Not quite. But the verse does teach us that anger can be righteous and legitimate in some contexts. Even God Himself has anger; a very common theme in the bible. (See Isaiah 5:25, Mark 3:5) So God can be angry and be righteous. And scripture seems to say that we can be angry (though rarely!!) and it not be sinful. In short, scripture teaches us that there can be righteous and sinful anger in people. How do we know the difference?

Robert Jones in his book “Uprooting Anger” suggests 3 criteria from scripture for evaluating our anger if it is sinful or not. First, Jesus displayed anger when God’s grace for sinners and kingdom agenda were opposed. When people opposed the gospel or sought to hinder others from hearing about the message of salvation, this got Jesus very angry. Luke 14:21 shows Jesus expressing anger because sinners refused to accept God’s invitation to salvation. Second, righteous anger is always in response to sin, not my agenda, desires, will, or preferences. To the point, scripture has clearly been violated to give me a basis for being angry, not what I am wanting the way I want it. Third, righteous anger is always accompanied by other godly characteristics and expressed in a God-honoring way. Tirades, cursing, ignoring others, etc are not godly responses. Anger with love motivating it, patience, a desire for restoration, etc is evidence of righteous anger. When God expresses His anger, it’s always in relation to His other characteristics. If we are angry and no other godly characteristics are present, then we can be certain we are sinfully angry!

So before we jump to a quick conclusion that the bible says I can be angry and it not be sinful, we need to understand what that means. And that means that we first make sure that any anger in our life right now meets the biblical criteria. If we are honest, we’d have to say by far the majority of our anger is more about what I care about than it is about God’s glory. (See 1 Corinthians 10:31) And any sinful anger is dangereous for us to ignore because it will incite God’s anger against us. So how do we deal with it? How do we move forward? Stay tuned!

Who is God? He is God of the Living

March 17, 2015

Grace to you! “Statistics are alarming! One out of one people die.” It’s hard to think about one’s own demise. We all would choose not to face it if we could. Or if we did, we’d love to go to sleep one night and never wake up. But death can ravage us. It can grind us down and savagely break our bodies. Indeed there is a certain fear of death in everyone.

But here scripture speaks so hopefully. It is interesting that Christians meet every week to think about death. They think of their death and others in relation to Christ’s death. They even praise God for the coming ‘death of death’! Death will one day be ended! (see Rev. 20:14) It will happen by the return of Christ who will put the final nail in death’s own coffin! Christ, who overcame death through His sacrificial death and resurrection, has the power to resurrect all who put their faith in Him. Jesus says to those who believe in Him, “I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:54) But Christians not only wait for Resurrection day for death to be defeated in their lives, it is part of their life even now.

Because we are also spiritually dead apart from Christ, we also need to be spiritually resurrected to life so that we have hearts that will love and trust God rather than run from Him. Hear how God has brought eternal life over into the present time: “Our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2Timothy 1:10) Believers in Jesus have already had their spiritual death abolished forever! Eternal life has come into the here and now for all who believe in Jesus! (see John 3:16) But believers still die. So how has that helped in the long run?

Jesus debated some leaders in His time who didn’t believe in life after death or a resurrection. They only read the first five books of the bible. They didn’t “see” a resurrection or the opportunity to keep living past the grave. Jesus reminded them what God said, “And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.” (Mark 12:26-27) Jesus’ point is that when God spoke to Moses at the bush, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been physically dead for centuries. But Jesus reminds them God is the God of the living for all who trust Him. In short, even though they had died physically, they were still living spiritually with God in heaven as they await their physical resurrection. When death comes for you, will you live with God or be separated from Him forever? It all depends on what you do with Jesus who is the “Resurrection and Life.” (John 11:25)

Who is God? God is Present Everywhere

March 17, 2015

Grace to you! This week we are looking at the fact that God is present everywhere. This characteristic of God is called His omnipresence. One person said it like this: “God’s center is everywhere and His circumference is nowhere!” That can make our heads spin! We have a hard time conceptualizing how God can be in all places equally at once. We are mere creatures who live in physical bodies and as we are reading this are in one place at one time! So how can God be in all places at one time and yet scripture say God is “in heaven”? And if God is in all places at one time, does that mean everything is a part of God? And what does God’s omnipresence have to do with my life?

Scripture says God is in heaven as a way of emphasizing where specifically the display of God’s presence is at. Although God indeed is everywhere, when the bible speaks of God being “somewhere” it is stressing there is a special display of God’s presence at that place. In short, heaven is the particular “place” that God displays His presence even more even though He is in all places at the same time.

But if God is everywhere, does that mean everything is a part of God? First of all remember that God by Himself made all of creation. (See Genesis 1:1) It is not a part of Him nor is He a part of it. The bible clearly over and over makes a huge distinction between the Creator and creation. If creation was a part of God, then we could worship things in creation since they are ‘part of God’. But we are forbidden from worshiping anything other than the Creator because He is different than creation. Second, if God being everywhere present meant that creation is part of God, then God Himself would be changing with creation. But scripture is also clear that God is unchangeable! (See Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8) We see then that although God is present everywhere that does not mean creation is a part of Him!

So what does this have to do with my life? First, no sin of ours is ever done in secret but in the full presence of God. He knows, He sees, He is there! Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Second, anyone who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ and His death, burial, and resurrection have this promise from Him: “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” God is present everywhere, but His special presence is made known to His people. And that’s what salvation is! It’s having God’s presence, God Himself with me in a loving relationship both now and forever because of Jesus Christ!

Who is God? God is All-Powerful

March 3, 2015

Grace to you! This week we are going to look at God’s power. His power is not like ours. We have a beginning, we grow a little in strength, then we get older, and as we pass from this world we lose any remaining strength we had. Not so with God. His power has no beginning, boundaries, or end!

Scripture speaks of God’s power in various places. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth!” (Genesis 1:1) From nothing! From the mere speaking of His word! The ability to truly create is only an ability of the One who has all power! Creation all around us speaks about the incredible, limitless power of Almighty God! (See Isaiah 40:26) Nothing is too difficult for the Lord. He often rebuked His followers for not understanding how powerful He really is! Jeremiah 32:27 captures this well: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything to difficult for Me?” Again, “But our God is in the heavens, He does as He pleases!” (Psalm 115:3)

So how should we think about God being all powerful? Several lessons come to mind. First, we should be moved to deep humility and worship. Often we boast in things we’ve accomplished or know. But the simple fact is there was a time when we were non-existent. And there is coming a time when what little I actually do know and what little strength I do have in comparison to God will fade away. I can’t even keep myself alive right now. I need oxygen, blood, working organs, clothes to say warm, food, water, and many more things just to live. Not God. He is self-existing. He gets the power to live from no one but Himself! That’s humbling for us. That’s reason to worship the One who is our Maker, Sustainer, and Redeemer!

Second, we should believe God in what He says to us that He is able to do it! How can I have as many sins as I do and they all be forgiven in Jesus Christ? How can I pray along with countless other Christians and God hear us all equally? How can the millions who have already died in the Lord one day have their physical bodies raised to walk with Jesus in the New Heavens and Earth? Same way God created all things from nothing. Same way God parted the Red Sea and let a whole nation pass through on dry ground. (Exodus 13) How? Because God’s power knows no limits is how!

Third, this kind of power should absolutely terrify anyone who has not placed their own faith in Jesus Christ. God’s power, instead of working for you, will be turned against you on judgment day if you fail to commit your life to the only One who can forgive all of your sins and give you all the life you need to able to enjoy Him and glorify Him forever. Who is this all powerful Savior? His name is Jesus.

Who is God? God is the All-knowing God

February 23, 2015

Grace to you! We spend our lives learning new things, sometimes whether we want to or not! But when it comes to the Lord, He doesn’t learn anything. Why? Because He knows all things! This characteristic of God is often called God’s omnipotence. ‘Omni’ is the word that means ‘all’. And the ‘science’ part simply means ‘knowledge’. Putting them together it means that God has ‘all knowledge’.

Multiple verses in the bible point to the fact that God knows all things. 1 John 3:20 says, “God knows…all things.” “God’s understanding is unsearchable.” (Isaiah 40:28) “For the Lord is a God of knowledge.” (1 Samuel 2:3) These are just a sample of the overall bible’s teaching of the extent of God’s knowledge.

The comfort of God knowing all things is that He understands our life, struggles, and challenges. Not only that but He has ordained them to lead us to a greater dependence upon Himself. He is not unmoved by our struggles. He Himself took on human flesh and underwent suffering to show that He loves us. He gave His life so that our lives can escape the judgment of God when we place our trust in Him. (John 3:16)

The bad news of God knowing all things is that He knows all that you and I have ever done, thought, or desired in the secret recesses of our lives! Jesus said we will give an account for every little word we speak! (Matthew 12:36) Another warning from Jesus about God’s omniscience is from Luke 12:2 “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all.”

So what are the implications of all this? First, no sin will ever be forgotten or overlooked by God. Our accountability before Him will be 100% on judgment day. Second, because this is true we stand under great judgment from God for the wrongs we have done. Third, God also understands us as we suffer in this world, even if it’s by our own sins. God is not unmoved by our plight in this world. The cross of Calvary shows God’s willingness to do something about our sin and the judgment we will face. Fourth, God’s knowledge has provided the way that sinners can be accepted by Him so that on judgment day, all those who have their trust in Jesus Christ need not fear all the things they have done wrong. Why? Because God knows something else. He knows that all those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on Calvary have had all their sins paid for by His blood. So on judgment day, God knows all about our sin. He knows whether we are going to have to answer for it ourselves or if we have asked Him to pay for all of our sin debt. The question is that now that you know this, what will you do with your sin? Come to Jesus and find life in Him!

Who is God? God is the Speaking God

February 23, 2015

Grace to you! Words. Sentences. Language. These are things we use everyday (even now as I’m writing!) to communicate. We communicate to express ourselves, to inform others and for a whole host of reasons. Yet we hardly think about something so basic as the ability to communicate. Why is it that all of humanity ‘speaks’? Sure, we take it for granted but did you know all of creation speaks? Animals communicate to one another in their own language. And scripture says even creation ‘speaks’ in a sense. “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1) This means that creation testifies to the Creator just as a painting testifies to a painter. But at a more fundamental level, why is there communication at all?

As we continue looking at “Who is God?” we see in God’s very nature that He is and always has been a ‘speaking God’. In eternity past there is the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three Persons, but One God. There has always been loving communion and communication between the members of the Trinity. An absolute One God where there is no trinity of Persons could not have a God that speaks because there isn’t anyone else to speak to in eternity past! Only the Christian view of God accounts for the communication we see in all of creation. Why? Because creation reflects the one True God’s nature: He is the God who speaks!

From the very beginning of creation we hear these important words: “And God said…” (Genesis 1:3) We can’t get past the first three verses in the Bible without being told that God speaks. Then we understand more about God speaking because the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, in His eternal nature is also called “the Word of God”. (John 1:1-3) This is not to say that Jesus is the Bible. But it does show a connection between them. The Bible is the Word of God in print but it always testifies to Jesus Christ. (Luke 24:44-47) So the Bible is God revealing Himself and that communication about Himself is located in Jesus Christ. (John 14:9)

So what does all this mean? First, God speaks to us in His Bible that will always center on who Jesus Christ is. Many churches focus on different things such as experiences, certain types of music, or an undue emphasis on the Holy Spirit. A church or an individual if they are in communion with God through the Scriptures will always be Jesus-centered and Jesus-exalting in what they do. The Holy Spirit is God, yes indeed, but His job, like the scriptures He inspired do, is always to point to the resurrected and glorified Jesus. (John 16:13,14) Second, it means we are made to communicate with God. Our speaking is not just for us to speak to other parts of creation, but to our Creator the Speaking God. Speak to Him in prayer and hear Him speak to you in His Word (the Bible) about the Word (the Lord Jesus).

Who is God? God is Patient

February 23, 2015

Grace to you! This week we will look at God’s patience. It is one of His characteristics or attributes. God’s patience is often only partially understood. The Lord reveals this facet of Himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai: “6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” (Exodus 34:6) God describes Himself as slow to anger to a stubborn and rebellious Israel. His patience leads Him to endure with sinners who habitually disobey Him and reject His grace.

His patience also led Him to not destroy the world immediately when sin entered it by the sin of our first parents in the garden of Eden. It was God’s patience the moved the Lord to send forth His Son born of a woman under the law “at the right time.” (Galatians 4:4). It take great patience on God’s part not to immediately devour the world in judgment in light of His holiness with all the sin that man has done since the Fall. God patiently waited to send His Son in the world so that sinners may have the opportunity to put their trust in the Lord Jesus and His death on the cross as punishment for their sins. If it were not for God’s patience, then all humanity would forever be lost. We need to understand that God’s patience is not slow in carrying out His will. It’s His very patience towards you that allows you time to turn from your sins and to Christ so that you will not perish in your own sins. (2 Peter 3:9)

But God’s patience also has strong warning that comes with it. Many assume that because God has not already called them to account or brought immediate punishment for their sins that God is not going to punish them for their sins at all. This can be an eternally damning mistake. What’s more spooky is that those who resist the grace and mercy of God offered to them in Jesus may find that God will use His long term patience to allow them to build up more sin so that their judgment will be even greater! (Romans 9:22,23) God’s patience will either result in a person seeing God’s goodness towards them as a sinner which then leads them to turn from their sin to Christ as their Savior and Lord. Or, God’s patience will be abused by others resulting in them having more sin to answer for on judgment day.

How will you respond to God’s patience? Will you use it as a motive to turn to Christ now before it’s too late? Or will you continue your rebellion against God knowing that you are adding sin upon sin to your account resulting in greater judgment for you? May God’s patience lead you to everlasting life in Jesus!

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