The Only Hope for Mankind…

My friend, Joe Dallas, over at his blog, http://joedallas.com/blog, has written a moving post entitled, “The Cruelest Lie.”  Always challenging, Joe’s post reminded me of a “visit” I took on a business trip several years ago (I have never written about, although I do not know why).  So, here it is…

In 1985, while on a business trip, I visited Bergen-Belsen concentration camp near Celle, Germany. This was the concentration camp where Anne Frank died, along with 50,000 other Dutch Jews. There really isn’t anything, as the Americans who liberated it burned the camp down because typhus was rampant.

Entering the grounds, there is a small “museum” with pictures of the victims, the Nazis, and the Allied liberators.  It was impossible to refrain from crying, even for a grown man.  Once I was thru the museum, I was struck by the silence.  No one spoke.  Most just stood or slowly moved thru the grounds.  What I observed were several rectangle raised flower beds.  The flowers were in bloom and were quite beautiful.  Then I realized that these “flower beds” were the “pits” dug by the Allied bulldozers to bury the dead.  The American commander was so incensed by what he saw, he sent troops into the nearby town of Bergen and forced the citizens at gunpoint to come and place the bodies into the “pits.”

The townspeople wept as, one by one, they placed the bodies into the mass graves.  They most certainly knew what was going on, but chose to ignore it.  Yet the German people were not alone in their complicity.  The United States as well as many other countries knew what was happening to the Jews, yet “chose to ignore it.”  No one was “innocent.”

When I left the concentration camp, profoundly shaken by the horror of what had occurred and by my own ignorance of history, I noticed bus loads of German Military personnel entering the grounds.  It seems that the German government requires that Military personnel see for themselves what was done years earlier so that no one “forget.” For a moment, I thought, perhaps there is hope for mankind after all.

Fast forward some 50 plus years later and my naiveté of that day has been revealed over and over again.  Throughout the world the same horrors are continually being repeated.  From the Sudan, to the Far East, to Russia, to Mexico and Latin and South America and even the United States “horror of abortion,” demonstrate the evil man prosecutes upon his fellow man.  The Bible describes it like this:

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Genesis 6:5-6, KJV

Man has consistently demonstrated his inhumanity to his fellow man.  Yet man is not without hope, for there is a government coming of righteousness and peace through the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  God has invited all to participate in His Kingdom.  The Apostle Peter, wrote of the Only Hope for Mankind, in 1 Peter 1:3-5:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,  who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (NKJV)

Yet this hope is only for all who believe and receive His Son, Jesus the Messiah, the Savior of the World, the Only Hope for Mankind.  Do you have this hope?  God offers this “Hope” as a free gift.  It can be yours by faith today.

Think about it…

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How to have real strength…

John 15:5: “for without Me you can do nothing.” (NKJV)

Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (NKJV)

These are two verses of Scripture that we must commit to memory. They are fundamental to real strength in the life of the believer.

If we depend upon ourselves, we will forget about Christ; if we depend upon Christ, we will forget about ourselves. Then, and only then, can we have real strength sufficient to live our lives for Him.

Think about it…

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A word from the Prince of Preachers…

“Behold, I am vile.” — Job 40:4

One cheering word, poor lost sinner, for thee! You think you must not come to God because YOU are vile. Now, there is not a saint living on earth but has been made to feel that he is vile. If Job, and Isaiah, and Paul were all obliged to say “I am vile,” oh, poor sinner, wilt thou be ashamed to join in the same confession? If divine grace does not eradicate all sin from the believer, how dost thou hope to do it thyself? and if God loves His people while they are yet vile, dost thou think thy vileness will prevent His loving thee? Believe on Jesus, thou outcast of the world’s society! Jesus calls thee, and such as thou art.

“Not the righteous, not the righteous; Sinners, Jesus came to call.”

Even now say, “Thou hast died for sinners; I am a sinner, Lord Jesus, sprinkle Thy blood on me”; if thou wilt confess thy sin thou shalt find pardon. If, now, with all thy heart, thou wilt say, “I am vile, wash me,” thou shalt be washed now. If the Holy Spirit shall enable thee from thy heart to cry

Just as I am, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me, And that thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come!”

thou shalt rise from reading this morning’s portion with all thy sins pardoned; and though thou didst wake this morning with every sin that man hath ever committed on thy head, thou shalt rest to-night accepted in the Beloved; though once degraded with the rags of sin, thou shalt be adorned with a robe of righteousness, and appear white as the angels are. For “now,” mark it, “Now is the accepted time.” If thou “believest on Him who justifieth the ungodly thou art saved.” Oh! may the Holy Spirit give thee saving faith in Him who receives the vilest.

Charles Spurgeon

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Pastor Saeed Abedini

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Pastor Saeed Abedini

Pastor Saeed Abedini, and American citizen who is imprisoned in Iran 2012 and sentenced to eight years in prison for the crime of telling others about Jesus Christ. During his imprisonment, he has been repeatedly beaten and left without medical attention. He was finally put in hospital and given medical attention, only to have been beaten and returned to prison.

Please pray for his release and safe return to his family.

Hebrews 13:3: “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them…” NKJV

Grace and peace…

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Thoughts about correction…

“Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;  Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.  For He bruises, but He binds up;  He wounds, but His hands make whole.” (Job 5:17-18, NKJV)

I don’t know that I am all that happy when God corrects me.  I mean, if we are being honest, we would rather walk the smooth road where everything is without trouble or real effort.  It is the way we are.  We don’t like correction.

Now chastisement or correction is defined as, “reproof, warning or instruction; also restraint” (2).  God does not want you to beat your children.  Beating your child amounts to abuse and may result in criminal charges.  When God corrects us, He never abuses us. If you are abusing your children, you need to seek help immediately.

Paul went on to quote Proverbs 3:11, 12:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11, NKJV)

To try to understand this, let’s consider a few things:

  1. God corrects us because He loves us.  “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”  The word chasten means, “tutorage, i.e. education or training; by implication, disciplinary correction”(1).  The paideia (pahee-di’-ah), the child, was under constant training to one day enter adult life.  He received this instruction because his human father loved him and wanted him to be able to enter adult life successfully.
  2. God only corrects His children.  “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons (and daughters!).”  I cannot correct my neighbors children (though sometimes I sure would like too!).  I can only correct my children.  Like God, I want them to grow up fully equip for adult life.  So it is with Him. And, if you are enduring correction, it is because you belong to Him – and because He loves you!
  3. Like our human fathers, God does not correct “the neighbors” children.  “But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”  Correction proves (to us) that we are indeed His children.
  4. God corrects us for our profit.  “Our human fathers chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” Our human fathers did as seemed best to them.  Some corrected us in love, some in anger.  (In fact, if you grew up with a father who wasn’t a Christian or claimed to be one, but wasn’t, chances are you were abused).  To my great shame, I must admit that I verbally abused my children for years by yelling them.  I have no excuse and have apologized and sought their forgiveness.  And they have forgiven me.  Yet, I still struggle with anger (and with much regret).  I no longer yell at those I love (sometimes I still struggle with others though).  I have made progress, by the grace of God.  Yet I have a long way to go, and by the grace of God I will arrive.
  5. We read in Job, “…happy is the man whom God corrects.”  Yet Paul said, “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful.” Happy can be defined as “blessed.”  This corresponds to Gods love for us.  “Blessings” are often overlooked until we endure; then, we realize what a blessing being corrected is.  I did not understand my human father when he said’ “This hurt’s me more than it hurt’s you,” until I had children.  Then I understood.  And while our Heavenly Father corrects us because He loves us, I am sure He takes no pleasure in it as well.  Correction is painful, yet in it we can have joy.
  6. There is always a glorious end result of correction: “…afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” God in all his dealings with us is right and just.  Righteousness is defined as, “the character or quality of being right or just”(3).  The enemy of our faith would try to convince us otherwise.  But the truth is, God corrects us because He loves us.  Satan would have us focus on the circumstance.  God want us to focus on Him and His word.  Only then can we begin to understand the correction of the Lord.

God often corrects us from His word (2 Timothy 3:16).  And sometimes He corrects us with physical suffering.  Sometimes we understand; sometimes we don’t.  There are many questions.  Why do the righteous suffer?  Why does it seem that those who are the closest to Him suffer more than those who don’t?  Why do some suffer so severely while others do not?  I don’t have the answers to these questions.  And the Lord tells us why we often don’t understand His dealings with us:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV).

I have learned two things:

  1. God loves me.  I know this, not because of my circumstance, but from His word.  And He cannot lie.
  2. His dealings with me are always motivated by His love (even when it seems otherwise and I don’t understand) and are intended for my good.

He does not want me to grow up a spoiled brat; rather He wants me to mature as an adult son.

If you have walked away from Him because you have suffered and do not understand why, He is the only one who can heal and comfort you:

“Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.” (Hosea 6:1, NKJV)

Think about it…

Footnotes:

(1) NT:3809 paideia (pahee-di’-ah); from NT:3811; tutorage, i.e. education or training; by implication, disciplinary correction. Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.

(2) OT:4148 muwcar (moo-sawr’); from OT:3256; properly, chastisement; figuratively, reproof, warning or instruction; also restraint. (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

(3) dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo’-nay) is “the character or quality of being right or just.” (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)

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His very best…

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32, KJV)

During my pilgrimage here on this earth, I have had many experiences that I did not understand. However, I have come to realize that all that God allows is intended for my good, even when it seems that it is not.

One thing I have learned is here in Romans 8:32. (In fact, it is my life verse). It would take volumes to plumb its depths. Suffice to say, God has spared nothing, not even His own Son, in pursuing us. So, given that, I need not worry about my present circumstance (or even future circumstances as well. Besides, all too often the things we worry about don’t happen anyway – but that is another post).

Christian, encourage yourself in the Lord. He gave us His very best. What makes us think that He will stop now?

Think about it…

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Beauty for Ashes

“To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:3, NKJV

Yet another “mega-church” pastor has confessed sexual sin. I am not here to judge him. God will do that. But I am here to urge you to pray for his wife. You may or may not know who he is. That doesn’t really matter. The Lord knows and that is enough.

As a former full time pastor, I have seen the results of this type of betrayal. Yet, as a man, I am not equipped emotionally to understand the depth of betrayal a woman feels when her husband commits adultery.

My friend Joe Dallas has a ministry that deals with addictions to pornography and adultery. God has well equipped Joe to minister to those who are hurt and to those who hurt others. His blog is located at http://joedallas.com/blog/.

At times like this the “headlines” focus almost solely on the pastor with his wife just a footnote. Also, almost always, the wife is to blame for not “meeting his needs.” Nothing could be more ridiculous. She has done nothing wrong. Her only fault was not being able to see her husband’s deception. Everybody else “missed” it too.

So, please pray for those who have or are being hurt by sexual sin. And if you are one who has been betrayed, stop in to see Joe.

Grace and peace…

 

 

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