What Rights?

“You will be enriched in every way
so that you can be generous on every occasion…”
2 Corinthians 9:11 (NIV)

We live in an age in western society where people demand their “rights”. However, some of the “rights” we claim seem ridiculous when carefully examined. What “right” do we really have to anything?

What “right” do I have to be born into a rich western country when so many more people are born into extreme poverty? What “right” do I have to live with free medical care?

What is this notion of our “rights”? I really believe that we need to review our thinking on the matter of “rights”.

It might be of interest to us in western society that most people in the poorest countries in the world do not talk about their “rights”. There seems a much greater capacity to accept adversity among people who suffer the most.

We who live in the richest countries seem to think we should have even more. Does prosperity breed greed? Why do those with arms full of blessings seek to clutch them all and then reach for more?

Do I have the “right” to health, a job, a home, a retirement plan and do not other people deserve the same? I am so grateful I do have financial stability when billions do not. But I am willing to say I do not deserve it any more than any other person on earth.

Some people who gripe about God allowing people to suffer hunger never contribute a penny during their lifetime to the support of the needy. Such criticism of God is hypocritical to say the least. Those of us who can relieve suffering from our resources should feel obligated to make a difference where we can.

Has our Creator given some more so they can share with those who have less? That seems to be what our verse today is saying. I believe in voluntary assistance of the suffering among others. I am happy that some of my tax money goes to relieve suffering in other countries. I do seek to give from my after tax resources to alleviate the suffering of others.

But what of the privilege of giving time, compassion, talents, and other personal resources we possess to help others in need?

A hospital visit, a letter of encouragement, a phone call, a meal for a family, lending your cottage to a family in need of it, are just some examples of how we can give even without spending money.

Will you go and serve others in need from the generous resources God has given you? God gave to you so you could in turn give to others. Go and give, and do so today.

Bumblebees Can’t Fly, Or Can They?

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Genesis 1:31 (NIV)

During the course of the twentieth century some people, Christians included, laughed at scientists because these people were under the mistaken impression that science proved that bumblebees could not fly. Of course science proved no such thing, nor did scientists ever suggest such nonsense.

The truth of the matter was that scientists did not understand how these creatures flew given their small wings. Now science has explained clearly how these creatures do manage to fly, given their set of wings.

Through science we have made remarkable medical advances. Scientists have uncovered some of the great glories of the universe, as telescopes reach farther and farther into deep space. Great discoveries concerning the wisdom of the Creator in putting together such a finely tuned world all come to us through scientific research.

For a galaxy to have solar systems with planets that could sustain life, the right kind of black hole is needed at the center of the galaxy. After that, the solar system needs to be placed in just the correct position in the galaxy. Then the sun in the particular solar system has to be of the right class.

The correct materials in the proper proportions need to be present on and in the planet. The planet must be the right distance from the sun and it needs to rotate at the correct speed on its axis. It needs a strong magnetic field to shield the surface of the planet from harmful radiation from the sun, and on it goes.

As we learn more and more from science about the finely tuned world we live in, it becomes increasingly difficult to believe that there are other planets out in space that could support complex life.

So science demonstrates that our planet is very good in the way it was constructed. Everything necessary to sustain our lives is provided in the organization of the planet we live on. Our planet may be exceedingly rare or unique in the universe but it is very good in its construction.

With all the beauties of our world there are some cracks showing such as death, the problem of evil and so on. Somewhere, somehow, something has gone drastically wrong with the world that began very good.

Only in the Bible can we find a satisfactory answer to the problems of evil and death. The simple, elegant explanation of creation and the subsequent story of how evil entered a perfect creation is told in a way that contrasts with the ancient and fanciful creation stories of primitive societies.

If you struggle today to understand how the good creation went bad and what the Creator is doing to correct the problem, start your reading in Genesis the first book of the Bible. Then turn to the Gospels and read about the second Adam who came to reverse what the first Adam messed up (see also Romans 5).

There is hope, there is light, and it is found in the Carpenter Who lived and walked among us so many years ago.

Peace of God

The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:5-6 (NIV)

At times, we all enjoy being fooled by magicians. We wish to see the impossible happen right before our eyes.

The magic trick many of us enjoyed most as children was to see the magician pull a rabbit out of his hat. The animal appeared to be much too large to come out of the hat but we saw it happen, or did we?

Then we find in life situations where we are expected to do the impossible and cannot.

We may be very ill and wish to become well instantly but we continue on our bed of sickness. There may be some other sorrow in your life and you wish a magic wand could be waved and the whole difficulty would then disappear.

We long for the simple life we had before the tragedy struck but it does not return. What do we do now? Who do we call on?

Before we attempt the impossible we need to get some facts straight. We must think before we act. There must be some truth that we hold on to when it appears everything has blown away. When the ground seems to give way under us, we need to find some sure footing on which to base our thoughts and actions.

We find this sure footing in the words of our verses for today. The truth that is so vital and necessary is this, “The Lord is near.” Before launching out on some “impossible” action to deliver yourself get a firm grip on the reality that God is with you.

The greatest truth we can see in the Bible is contained in the name for Jesus given to His legal father Joseph. The record of this naming of Jesus is recorded in Matthew 1:22-23 (NIV)

All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

“I need not know my way to go, my path to see.
Only just to hold Thy hand and follow Thee.”

Pray to the Lord to make Himself known to you. Do not cease your praying until you find the Holy Spirit has spoken to your heart and you know the Lord is near.

Super Conquers

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39 (NIV)

We live in a violent age. There are wars occurring in many countries, we have various accounts of shootings in our own western societies, and movies frequently depict violence and crime which is passed off as “entertainment”. Our children and grandchildren can have violent games to play on various electronic devices.

There seems to be an appetite for murder, torture, explosions, destruction, shooting and so on, even in peace loving countries. If anyone could look in on our world from the outside, they would certainly believe we are addicted to brutality and violence.

In the time of the apostle Paul and the early church, violence was frequently directed against the followers of the Prince of Peace. Today, in some countries in the near east, you can be put in jail for worshipping Jesus. The citizens of those countries are taught in their places of worship that there will be great rewards in heaven for those who murder “infidels”.

Many Christians in western societies know of believers in certain countries being murdered just because they believe in Jesus.

In the verses preceding our text, Paul listed a number of horrific things that had occurred, or might occur to him, in his lifetime here. He spoke of things like famine, persecution, rulers, death.  We wonder how anyone could say this but, as we know, he had gone through dreadful trauma prior to writing these words.

Remember that it is only as you make Jesus your supreme treasure that you can weather the storms that come in this life. We need to grow spiritually until we can say with the Psalmist in Psalm 73:25 (NIV)

“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”

In Proverbs 15:16 (NIV) we read, 

“Better a little with the fear of the Lord
than great wealth with turmoil.”

Stifle covetousness and cultivate contentment, realizing the Lord is your great treasure.

This is the heart of contentment. We have the Lord, that is enough. May that be said of all my readers today.

The bride eyes not her garment but her dear bridegroom’s face
I will not gaze at glory but on my King of grace.
Not at the crown He giveth but on His pierced hand
The Lamb is all the glory of Immanuel’s land.

Anne Cousins

How To Feed Your Faith (3)

Then I remembered what the Lord had said:
‘John baptized with water,
but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’
Acts 11:16 (NIV)

As we consider that our faith is a living reality, it helps to remember that God’s great reason for writing us the Bible (which is a book of history) is to guide us through life. Call to mind what Paul said, 1 Corinthians 10:6,11 (NIV)

“Now these things occurred as examples
to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did…
These things happened to them as examples
and were written down as warnings for us,
on whom the culmination of the ages has come.”

What the apostle is saying here is that we need to recall the history of God’s dealings with His people recorded in Scripture. As we see how the Lord dealt with His people in the past, we can compare it to how we are being dealt with now and learn the same lessons the saints did so long ago.

When people come along and try to tell the suffering saint that they must have sin in their lives to be in such sorrow, the tired saint can point to the believers of all ages and give demonstration that God’s children in every time and locality have been in the furnace of affliction.

Then too, we can point out how over and over again Scripture tells us that we are appointed to suffer but not to ultimate wrath from God (eg. 1 Thessalonians 3:3 and 5:9). We feed our faith as we recall the situations in which God’s people suffered long ago and how they overcame even when they were tortured and died for their faith (Hebrews 11:36-40).

Then we have the accounts of God’s people in this dispensation of grace who have gained glory through great tribulation and paid with the price of their lives. Such people as Stephen (Acts 6), Jan Huss (1369-1415), Jim Elliot (1927-1956) and so many more who can inspire us to live for the Lord regardless of the cost to us.

Christian biography can inspire and encourage us greatly in our efforts to live as we should for the Lord. Include this form of reading in your schedule and you will never regret it!

Read the Scriptures, read the lives of saints of the ages, and feed your faith. You will gain much wisdom as you learn of the ways of the Lord with His people. Never forget that He is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).