by site founder, Connie Rice
Why is it that some people seem to be able to weather every storm that comes their way with their faith intact (or even deepened) and others are challenged in a way that causes them to doubt their faith and in some cases, even walk away from it? After 30 years of ministry, I have seen both ends of the spectrum and everything in between, so I’ve thought about this a lot. Admittedly, I am not a pastor or a theologian – just a continual student of God’s Word who has been seeking after Him with my whole heart, mind, strength, and soul while trusting in His plan for my life. What I have personally experienced of God is that as I give Him first place in my life and choose to keep Him there, the love, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, patience, grace, and power He freely gives continues to amaze me. God tells us in His Word that He wants us to know Him and He reveals Himself in the Bible. If we do not read the Bible, it puts us at a disadvantage for knowing Him. That can cause us to develop a view of who God is that differs from who He says He is. I wonder if that would be considered by God to be idol worship. Bowing down to statues is only one example of idol worship – anything that we hold in first place in our lives can be an idol.
“This is what the Lord says:
‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strengthJeremiah 9:23-24
or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know Me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.“
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.”2 Chronicles 16:9
If we go through life depending on our own wisdom, it can cause us to miss the blessings and sense of purpose that God has for us and we can also miss the miraculous work He does in and through those who choose to trust Him, obey His commands, and submit to His will and Lordship in every area of their lives. Some have misunderstand God’s hatred of sin – He hates it because of the destruction it causes His children and all people. Our human (sinful) nature causes us to have a tendency to justify our own shortcomings and rationalize our attitudes and behaviors instead of agreeing with God, confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, and asking for His help to better reflect Jesus Christ.
“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are His deeds, and His righteousness endures forever. He has caused His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. He provides food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever. He has shown His people the power of His works, giving them the lands of other nations. The works of His hands are faithful and just; all His precepts are trustworthy. They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. He provided redemption for His people; He ordained His covenant forever – holy and awesome is His name. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding.Psalm 111:2-10
To Him belongs eternal praise.”
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;Psalm 84:11-12
no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in You.“
We can misunderstand God’s incredible patience for His approval of sins that we minimize in our own lives and in the culture of this world. His Word is true and can provide us with discernment so that we will not be deceived. God is holy, set apart from everything and everyone else. It is He who defines what sin is just as the creator of a sport or board game gets to determine the rules of the game.
“Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’ We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did – and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did – and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”1 Corinthians 10:7-13
Christians are to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ who accurately reflect Him on earth so it will gain the attention of those who don’t yet know Him so they can also find salvation made possible through His voluntary death on the cross. He offers those who believe the free gift of eternal life. It seems that many people hope they will be in heaven when they die, but the Bible wants us to have confidence, knowing that we will be in heaven. Jesus told us how we can be saved.
“There were some present at that very time who told Him [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish’.”
“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”Jesus answering Nicodemus’ question of how can a man be born again of the Spirit: John 3:14-21
With so few Christians reading God’s Word every day and allowing it to miraculously transform them more into Christ’s likeness, we can easily become influenced by the world’s teachings more than we are influenced by God. This is not only sad for individual Christians because it hinders them knowing God and prevents them from developing an enduring faith, but it is tragic for those who do not yet know their Savior. The prince of darkness is very adept at making sin look appealing and even making it sound right and compassionate. He’s had many years of experience studying humans and identifying vulnerabilities of which he can take advantage. We are no match for him, but he is no match for God. Once we accept Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of our life, we also receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to guide us, help us to understand Scripture, empower us to live a life pleasing to God, and we no longer have to be slaves to sin. Our purpose in life is to know and love God and to give Him glory. As we reflect Christ, His light is seen through us. For those truly in darkness, this light affects them the same as a bright light turned on in a dark room – they don’t want to open their eyes, but turn from the light. Those who are truly seeking the Lord will be drawn to the light.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. ‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”Matthew 5:13-16
The article, “How Can I Be Saved?” from “Got Questions” may prove helpful in understanding all of this. While on their website, check out answers to other questions you may have. None of us know how long we will live and none of us know the timeline of God’s judgment on evil, so I pray that you will desire to know the truth and that the truth will set you free. What the world offers is temporary and counterfeit to what God offers. A close relationship with the One who created us is more valuable than anything else. Unfortunately, many will not accept it because its value is not realized until we actually test it out – by placing our trust for salvation in Jesus Christ and He opens our eyes (having eyes to see). The more we know God through His revealed Word and find Him faithful as we trust in Him, the more in awe of Him we become. We can have an enduring faith because of God’s faithfulness. Even though this life has much trouble, our hope is in our Savior and in knowing that God is sovereign and just. He will conquer evil and make all things new. This concept is explained in another “Got Questions” article, “What is the significance of Jesus saying, ‘Behold I make all things new’.”
“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then He said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End’. ‘To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be My children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death’.”Revelation 21:1-8
In the book of Matthew, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say I am?” Peter responded with, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” That question is one that each of us will need to answer and how we answer it has eternal consequences. We are given free will to choose our own destiny. I pray that you will choose wisely, that you would know for sure that you will live with God in heaven someday, and that you would experience enduring faith in the meantime by seeking God in His Word with your whole heart, mind, strength, and soul and trusting Him with every aspect of your life.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways’.”Isaiah 55:6-9
If you haven’t read through the Bible before, my personal recommendation is to start in the book of Psalms, then the first eleven chapters of Genesis, then the book of John, then the rest of the New Testament, then the rest of the Old Testament. Always pray before reading that the Holy Spirit would help you understand (assuming you have accepted Jesus Christ as you personal Lord and Savior), and allow the passages to speak to you rather than approaching the Bible with preconceived ideas. Set a time and place every day and pray for God to give you a love and passion for His Word. He will honor that heartfelt request. Once you finish the Bible, celebrate your accomplishment and continue to read through the whole Bible again and again until the Lord takes you home. I have found that reading through chronologically at times can help with understanding. A study Bible offers additional context, but remember that notes and commentary are not Scripture and therefore are not the inspired word of God. When reading the Bible, pay attention to who, what, where, when, and how as well as the grammar used. Remember that Scripture should be interpreted with the support of other Scripture and that verses and/or passages should not be taken out of context. Notice things that are repeated and respond to commands. Ask yourself if the passage applies to a particular person or group in a particular time or if it applies to all people all the time, being careful not to claim promises that God made to others and take note of any conditions that apply to any of His promises. May the Lord reveal His awesome power and majesty and His love for you more and more. We love Him because He first loved us – we know this because Jesus sacrificed Himself so that we could enjoy Him in this life and then forever in heaven. 🙂
© Constance Rice 2021