It was about 2 AM and I couldn’t wait to collapse into bed after David Platt’s 6 hours of teaching Saturday. About the same time Nepal was collapsing. A 7.8 earthquake leveled homes and took the lives of over 5000. Poor, poor, poor is the life of most of Nepal’s 29 million people. 1/3 live on less than $1/day. Most are Hindus, some Buddhists. Less than 3% follow Jesus.
ReachGlobal’s Kevin Watterson always says a mission field’s created in the wake of every disaster. You can help give to the relief effort through the Free Church. Either online at https://my.efca.org/NetCommunity/SSLPage.aspx?pid=359&des=Earthquake%20Response%2021709-39708, or send a check to:
901 East 78th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55420-1300 (designate it for Earthquake Relief 21709-39708)
A Free Church missionary living in a nearby country quietly works with Nepalese pastors (Christianity is not viewed favorably) in Nepal and gives this report: Greetings! It is with heaviness of heart that I write to you because of the devastation in Nepal. As you know, we have been working with pastors and church planters there for the last four years and have built precious friendships. In this picture you see some of the brothers and sisters whose lives have been changed because of the earthquake. You have seen the situation on the news.
Nepalese Christians worship on Saturday, rather than Sunday. The earthquake hit at noon on Saturday when many Christians were still worshiping. People ask if any of our partners are among the victims. To my knowledge, all our partners have come through safely, although we have been unable to reach some of them. Some have lost their homes or church buildings. What can you do?
First of all please pray:
· Pray for a Christian leader, K. He is safe but their church building is badly damaged.
· Pray for a church planter, Kr. He and his family are OK but one of the walls of his house collapsed.
· Pray for S and R who lead an inner city church and are reaching out to the people in need.
· Pray for Stephen Chandra of ReachGlobal and Gil Nash of OC International going in the see how best to channel help for long-term relief and gospel transformation.
· Pray for people to turn to the true and living God now that many of the temples and statues they have revered for centuries have been destroyed.
· Pray for the Church to be strong and full of God’s love.
Second, give (see above)
At the end of tomorrow’s sermon on prayer, I’ll suggest that enriching our understanding of our Heavenly Father enriches our love for Him–a weapon in fighting the devil who’s trying to separate us from Dad. Because He loves us, the Father told us a lot about Himself in the Bible so we could worship Him and love Him back. The quest to knowing Him is lifelong. The following Bible verses may aid your journey.
What’s true of God that’s not at all true of us?
- He is Spirit: John 4:24. The Father is not hampered by a body, but He sometimes take on one. Genesis 18:1-2, 16-23
- He is Invisible. John 1:18; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:16; Colossians 1:15
- He is Sovereign. Daniel 4:32; Isaiah 46:10; Acts 17:26
- He is Eternal. Isaiah 26:4; Romans 16:26; 1 Timothy 1:17
- He is Unchanging. James 1:17: Malachi 3:6
- If this is so, is the God of the OT different from the God of the NT? Does He evolve? Improve? No! God OT is identical to God NT. However, the fulfillment of God OT’s plan by the coming of the Messiah, does change a lot of things. (Like, no more animals to sacrifice!)
- He Knows everything. 1 John 3:20; Hebrews 4:13; Psalm 139:1-2
- What is going on that He is ignorant of? Is He aware of how unjustly you are being treated? Of the awful crimes being perpetrated against innocent children?
- What secret do you think you’ve been able to hide from Him? What façade doesn’t He see through? Isn’t it startling that God knows every major and minor detail about you…, every good and horrible thing about you…, and still loves you with an everlasting love!
- He Is everywhere. Psalm 39:7-10. Can’t run from Him; can’t hide from Him (although Adam tried).
- He has unlimited power. Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26; 2 Corinthians 6:18 [anywhere in the Bible God is called “Almighty”, it refers to His limitless power.] (also Job 42:2). There is nothing He can’t do—INCLUDING raising the dead.
- In His being He is a Unity: Deuteronomy 6:4; 1 Timothy 2:5 (also 1 Corinthians 8:6)
- He is Free. Romans 11:34-36; Psalm 115:3; Acts 17:25; Daniel 4:35
What’s true of God that in some small way we can mirror?
- He is Holy. 1 Peter 1:16; Exodus 15:11; Psalm 29:2 (also Joshua 24:19); Revelation 4:8. Holiness is not just something that’s true of Him, it’s His identity.
- Holy means “Other,” set apart, separate. Hosea 11:9: I am God and not man, the Holy One among you. Leviticus 10:8-10 (learning to distinguish between the holy and the common); Leviticus 20:26.
- Sinless perfection (purity); fire often represents this such as the burning bush Moses saw, Mt. Sinai on fire as God visited, fire of punishment on Israel’s camp [Numbers 11], chariot of fire…, works tested by fire [1 Corinthians 3:12-15], final plague (scorched with fire [Revelation 16])
- How others have reacted to an encounter with Holy God.
- Isaiah 6:1-7
- Luke 5:1-11
- Revelation 1:9-18
- The natural response to God’s holiness is reverent awe, wonder, even dread. Psalm 96:9
- He is Just. 2 Thess.1:6-10a. Ps.9:16
- Conforming to a standard of correctness. Acting or being in conformity to what is morally upright or good. (Justice: Deciding guilt or innocence with complete impartiality, with absolute fairness.)
- 2 Chronicles 12:1-8. If God is just when he orders judgment, is He unjust to then relent when people humble themselves?
- Romans 9:14-18 (Because God is just, no one will ever be judged with a judgment he/she does not deserve. But because He is merciful many will escape the judgment they do deserve.) [The only Christians who grasp their justification enough to leap and shout with joy, are those who grasp God’s justice.]
- He is Merciful. James 5:11; Ephesians.2:4; Titus 3:5; Nehemiah 9:31When God shows mercy He withholds the punishment that we rightly deserve.
- He is Loving. 1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Romans 5:8; Galatians 2:20 (also Psalm 25:10; 1 John 3:1; Psalm 62:12) How wonderful! How have you seen the love of God in your life? God didn’t need to love us, He chose to.
- He is Gracious. Exodus 34:6; Ephesians 1:7-8; 2:8; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Titus 2:11; 2 Corinthians 9:14. Grace is everything good that God gives us which we do not deserve.
- He is Kind. Romans 2:4; Isaiah 54:8; Titus 3:4
- He is Good. Mark 10:18; Psalm 107:1; Psalm 145:9; Romans 8:28. This is why His sovereignty is reassuring instead of terrifying.
- He is True. Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; 1 John 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:9
- He is Glorious. Ephesians 1:17
- He is Wise. Romans 11:33; Colossians 2:3. Anything He recommends you do, become, say, avoid or devote yourself to, is pure wisdom.
- He is Patient. Exodus 34:6; 2 Peter 3:9 (& 3:15). Without God’s patience, each of us would feel the weight of God’s wrath at the first breath we took as sinners (which would be our very first breath!). If He were not patient, we would know no mercy, no grace, only wrath.
- He is Wrathful. Ephesians 5:6; Romans 12:19; Psalm 7:11; Jeremiah 21:5; Revelation 19:15; Romans 2:5. That God expresses wrath does not in any way checkmate God’s love, mercy or grace. His wrath it is neither constant nor haphazardly applied. But when its fullness is one day experienced by the world (Revelation 6-19), all people will know just how violently God objects to being ignored, despised, unloved and unworshiped. Hell is the fitting fulfillment to His righteous wrath.
- He is Zealous. Ezekiel 39:25; Isaiah 9:7
- He is Jealous. Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Joshua 24:19; Nahum 1:2
- He is Righteous. Daniel 9:14; Romans 3:4; 1 John 2:11; Jeremiah 12:1
- He is Faithful. 1 John 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 25:10
- He is Orderly. 1 Corinthians 14:33
- He is Peaceful. Isaiah 9:6 (also possibly John 14:27 & Micah 5:5)
Occasionally I use my phone’s YouVersion Bible app but mostly just if my paper Bible isn’t within reach. In private worship time, study, or preaching, I’m all paper except for comparing translations. Admittedly, I’m old school but I think there are some good reasons for being slow to abandon paper. Several months ago the elders started a conversation about whether digital Bibles are a plus or a minus. We also discussed the concern others have that putting Scripture on the screens Sunday mornings may be reducing a person’s interest in his/her own Bible, in bringing it to worship, even in reading it. That discussion is ongoing.
One elder said he is now bringing his paper Bible for worship more often after being digital for some time. Notes are more readily made–and remembered/reused. A few days ago I read the following by a Canadian pastor who is also leaving digital more often in favor of paper. His 5 reasons are worthwhile considering: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/252327-five-reasons-im-starting-read-paper-bible.html?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=clnewsletter&utm_content=CL+Daily+20150420+4/16/2015+4:34:20+PM.
After slipping across Somalia’s border, on Thursday, four Al-Shabaab militants in suicide vests padded across the grounds of Kenya’s Garissa University to a lecture hall where Christian students were praying. With a hail of automatic weapons’ fire they cut down worshipers. Fanning out, the killers stalked dormitory halls, promising students in hiding they would be spared if they came out. But those who came out were immediately shot. The attackers promised not to kill “ladies”. That too was a ploy and many were shot. Witnesses say Christian students were targeted and Muslim students were permitted to leave unharmed. The attackers laughed at their handiwork and chanted in Swahili, ‘We don’t fear death, this will be a good Easter holiday for us!”
When Kenyan soldiers arrived the terrorists took dozens of hostages. 13 hours after the horror began, soldiers gunned down the attackers and moved in to assess the carnage. It was unspeakable: 147 dead, over 65 wounded.
Al-Shabaab claims to serve Allah. Islam is the fastest growing faith on the planet. A just-released Pew Foundation study suggests it will also surpass Christianity as the largest by the middle of this century. Yet the most extreme of its practitioners zealously believe a doctrine of death: slaughter those who don’t believe–often in the most gruesome of ways, and suicide/death during jihad is one of the few sure paths to heaven. No wonder Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of the book Heretic and former Muslim herself, labeled Islam “…a destructive, nihilistic cult of death…”
This weekend Christians celebrate the God who not only rescues His people from death, but out of love willingly dies Himself to liberate rebels like me from His wrath. How different these doctrines: one calls people to hate, kill and seek death, and one calls people to love, offer life–and be willing to die so that others might live. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on [Jesus] the sins of us all. Isaiah 53:6
Disclaimer: I’ve seen porn but never been a porn addict. I wish I could say it’s because of my great faith but it’s probably easier for me to avoid because what I have seen is so artless and crude–which isn’t that appealing to a romantic like me. Then again, I have to be on guard against the pull of erotic stories.
Having dealt with numerous men under the spell of porn–and I think “spell” may be a better word than “addiction” since it’s pull is not just biological but supernatural and occultic–I remain unconvinced that techniques and gimmicks will end porn use–or keep men from it. In general, the benefit of running from something bad has clout only if we’re running to something better. Jesus is better.
I sometimes read Michigan blogger and pastor Noah Filipiak who battled porn for years. Covenant Eyes just posted this fantastic piece by him on porn that is written to husbands. http://www.covenanteyes.com/2015/03/31/porn-is-not-your-problem-entitlement-is/?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=16822649&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–s_PH68KiDaoWVhDgDU2On2WLvZ8TjgdN4gQNMtH5U2Khxu_dAKLNz5JxwC1Qid0F4xam6sDfrCugbq-d9bYgfcfkrNA&_hsmi=16822649