Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Quite the opposite. Scripture teaches us that God sends adversity so we may learn we cannot handle it ourselves, but must trust God through it (Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalms 46:1-11; Isaiah 40:29-31). These two approaches can end up having the opposite effects. The correct approach leads to humility, and the opposite can build pride, which is a real spiritual danger (Proverbs 16:18; Luke 14:7-11; 1 John 2:16). Yet I know for myself how easy it can be to slip from trusting God to trusting in myself and my inner strength. Let us watch ourselves in this regard.
It is easy to get two similar ideas confused, but in this case we need to be clear on the difference. The difference is the fall and redemption. The Stoic believes the world is how God intended it to be and we need to be tough to fit in to it. The Bible says the world is a fallen one in rebellion against God and we, as part of it, are sinners (Romans 8:19-23; 1 John 2:15-17; Isaiah 64:6) and God has rescued us from it (Romans 5:6-8; 1 Peter 2:24-25; 2 Corinthians 5:21). So we must trust the One who has rescued us from sin and death to bring us through the difficulties of life (Philippians 4:6,7; Matthew 6:33; Romans 8:18). This makes a fundamental difference in how we look at the trials we face.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Therefore, God does not heal in every case nor has He ever healed in every case. Now many who believe healing has passed away at the present time seem to believe that in New Testament times, God did always heal, and now He has ceased doing it. But I would suggest that while God still heals today (and I see no basis in Scripture for believing He does not), He never healed in every case. Now it is true that faith is a factor in whether an individual is healed (Matthew 13:58; 9:22; Mark 2:5). Though the one case where the disciples failed to accomplish a miracle (it was casting out a demon rather than a healing), Jesus rebuked the disciples for lack of faith, not the demonized boy or his father (Matthew 17:14-20). He then cast out the demon based on the father's shaky faith (Mark 9:14-29). But though faith is a factor, it is also clear that there is in healing a matter of God's will, and to assume that God will heal everyone if they only have enough faith is simplistic. Therefore, we should pray to God that He will heal people but be willing to accept the fact that there may be cases where it is God's will not to heal. And we should avoid jumping to the conclusion that if someone is not healed it is because of their lack of faith.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
"I have not seen you around here before," said the old knight. "New in the area?"
"I just graduated from Knight School," replied the young knight, "where we learned the newest techniques. Just looking at your outfit, you could use a brush-up."
"I've been around the forest a lot of years. I reckon this old armor will take care of me like it always has."
"Maybe," remarked the young knight, "but it looks too worn-out to take a serious testing."
They parted and rode off in opposite directions, each shaking his head at the other. As the young knight rounded a grove of trees, he was startled by a loud roar. He turned his head and saw the huge yellow form of a lion streaking toward him. He reached for his sword, but was not able to bring it to play before the weight of the lion rammed his horse and sent him flying through the air. He was sitting on the ground, grasping his shield, as the lion charged. While he did not have time to rise to his feet, he was able to bring up his shield to deflect the charge. He twisted his shield back and forth, warding off the lion's claws and teeth. One swipe from a claw got around the shield, but was turned back by his breastplate. The young knight was beginning to tire when he heard the sound of approaching hoofs. Before the lion could turn a sword swung down, instantly severing his head from his body.
"That's a good shield you have there," said the old knight, for such was his rescuer. "I'm not sure mine would have held up that well after such a battering."
"It's nothing," replied the young knight. "You really must teach me that sword stroke."
And they rode off together, laughing.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Yet God takes the opposite approach. He says we should put other people before ourselves (Philippians 2:1-4; Romans 12:9-21). He even set the example by giving up His rights in order to redeem us (Philippians 2:5-11; Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16). And if we have been redeemed, we not only belong to God because of His creating us (Psalms 139:13-16), but also because He has redeemed us (1 Corinthians 6:20). Therefore we should stop staking claims to things, but offer everything we have, including ourselves (Romans 12:1,2), to live for Him.