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Contemplating God’s Sovereignty

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How Should We Then Live?

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Not a Timid Christianity

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Because the Time is Near

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Revelation Song (YouTube)

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Recognizing a False Prophet

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Created for Relationships

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The Paris Terrorist Attack and the Problem of Evil

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So Goes The Culture

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Idols of the Heart

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Divisions Are Not Always Bad

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ

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After The Rain

rainbow and boatA few days ago I wrote a blog post titled, Before The Rain,” using the story of Noah and the Ark (Genesis 5:32-10:1). The story of Noah details the destruction of the entire earth by a flood back in Noah’s day; however, the real story behind the flood has to do with obedience (as in Noah’s obedience to God to build the ark–see Genesis 6:22), and the lack thereof (as in obedience to God in general) in the rest of the human race (see Genesis 6:5; 6:11-12; 8:21). Obedience to God has never been popular among humans starting with the first humans (Adam and Eve) in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 2-3) and continuing right on through to today. And God stated in Genesis 8:21 that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood” so that comes as no surprise. However, in Genesis 6:8, it is stated that “. . . Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

In the Genesis account, the rain and flooding lasted for 40 days (Genesis 7:17-23), but the whole earth was actually covered by the flood waters for 150 days (Genesis 7:24; 8:1-4). And once the earth was completely dry (Genesis 8:14), God told Noah and his family to come out of the ark (Genesis 8:15-19) along with all of the creatures that had been on the ark with them, and Noah built an altar to God and sacrificed burnt offerings on it (Genesis 8:20). And it was at this point that God said in His heart (Genesis 8:21-22):

Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

And God made a covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:1-11) and stated at the end of the covenant, “I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Genesis 9:11).

And then God placed a sign in the sky which still shows up after the rain to this very day (Genesis 9:12-17):

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

And every time we see a rainbow in the sky it is a reminder to us of that original “everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

Besides the issue of obedience to God regarding the account of Noah, there is a second issue at hand in the story, and that issue is one of preparedness (as in being prepared for the “as yet” unforeseen). Jesus Christ talked about it in Matthew 24 when his disciples asked him what would be the sign of his coming (as in his second coming back to earth again after his crucifixion and resurrection which was very soon to take place at that time) and also the end of the age. The “end of the age” is not about another “destruction of the earth.” Rather, it has to do with when Jesus would be coming back again to reign on the earth during the Millennial period when he sets up his kingdom here on earth (see Revelation 20). And that kingdom culminates with the creation of “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” ~Revelation 21:1 (see full description in Revelation 21 & 22).

In Matthew 24, Jesus gives a number of warnings to his followers (and that includes those of us who believe in Him throughout the ages since that time). He warns us to “watch out that no one deceives you” and he stated many will come in his name and deceive many (verses 4 & 5) and that there would be “wars and rumors of wars” but that we should not be alarmed by this as “the end is still to come” (verse 6). He said “nations would rise against nations” and that “there will be famines and earthquakes in various places” and that “these are the beginning of birth pains” (verses 7-8).

Jesus further states in his answer to his disciples (again, this includes those of us who believe in Him throughout the ages since that time) that “you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me” (verse 9), and “that many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and that many false prophets will appear to deceive many people” (verses 10 & 11). And, “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (verses 12 & 13). And the most telling sign for our own generation to take heed of is this one found in verse 14:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

The further a society drifts from the truth quoteNever in the history of the world has there been a time like now, when the gospel of the kingdom is literally being preached throughout the entire world as a testimony to all nations about Jesus Christ through the use of technology and the internet.

Jesus went on to state a number of signs that will occur during the period of time known as The Tribulation (the seven-year period of time which includes the last 3 1/2 years known as the Great Tribulation period) culminating in his second coming back to the earth which are found in Matthew 24:15-31. You can read about those signs at this link but I don’t want to get off the topic of this blog post by going into the details of that portion of Matthew 24.

To sum up all of the things that Jesus said would be the signs of the end times in Matthew 24:1-31, he stated the following in Matthew 24:32-44:

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Since these things obviously did not happen during the lifetime of the disciples who were with Jesus at that time he explained these things to them, the reference to this generation that Jesus makes in Matthew 24:34 when he stated: “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” is, obviously, the generation that is living on the earth at the time all of these things in Matthew 24 do actually take place (see answer to the question, What did Jesus mean when he said, “This generation will not pass”?” at GotQuestions.org at this link).

Jesus clearly stated that “no one knows about the day or the hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36) of his return; he did clearly state in the very next few verses, Matthew 24:37-40:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of Son of Man [which is Jesus Christ]. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark: and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. This is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. . . .”  

Going back to the actual days of Noah, the two main issues at hand back then, as they still are today, are (1) obedience to God, and (2) being prepared. There is much in our own society today that takes the focus off of both issues (as we tend to live in the “here and now” and mostly for what we want in this life) and also from what God has stated from the beginning, in Genesis 8:21 that “every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood.” We get so easily sidetracked at every turn. For example, just look at how easily sidetracked we get with smartphones and technology. They have literally transformed us (and our communication skills, which hasn’t always been a good thing) and taken hold of our attention spans very rapidly and in a few short years (especially with smartphones and iPods, etc.), and they keep us almost constantly distracted from the reality of what is really going on all around us.

However, back to the issue at hand. God has already stated that the inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And we don’t have to look very far to see just how true this statement is and has always been. Also, we have an very powerful adversary in this world who is at work in and around us, too, so it’s a “double whammy” against us. Regarding this adversary, Ephesians 6:10-18 states:

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God,so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Also, many folks have a caricature in mind of our adversary or mock that he and those powers even exist although with the presence of evil being so pervasive in our world today one would have to go to great lengths to believe that evil–beyond what is already a part of us–doesn’t exist. The source of our evil is two-fold–internal (within us) and external (as in spiritual forces as stated in the above verses–Ephesians 6:10-18). For more information on spiritual warfare, see this link at GotQuestions?org.

“As it was in the days of Noah,” so it still is today. . . . Some things never change, like human nature. However, there is a cure for it. God hasn’t left us helpless if we truly desire and want/seek help from Him. And it’s a free gift, too, but it’s not easy, and there is a cost associated with it, too (there is no “coasting along for the ride”). And that cure is found in Jesus Christ and stated clearly in John 3:16-18:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], 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.

followme_jesusWhen Jesus said, Follow me,” he meant it. If we truly want to follow Him (and only God knows our real heart attitude and motives), He empowers us with the Holy Spirit to do His will and not our own. Too often today we’ve been sold a bill of goods in some Christian circles that we can have anything we want if we just learn to say the right words and rarely is there ever talk about a transformedlife (see Romans 12, for example, to see what that life involves). Well, Jesus did say that one of the signs of the end times would be many false teachers who would come in his name (claiming to know Him–see Matthew 24:10-13) with a lot of deceptive teachings (see 2 Peter 2, Jude) to make Jesus Christ seem to be more palpable to our senses and much more appealing to our human flesh and desires. However, the cross of Jesus Christ is about dying to self; it’s not about appeasing self or giving into it.

One of the signs of the end of times that is increasingly more apparent in our day is found in Matthew 24:12-13 when Jesus stated, Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” A sure sign of a follower of Jesus Christ is his or her genuine love for others. And that’s much more then just acting nice around others. I Corinthians 13 gives us a picture of what that love looks like, and without it, nothing else will even make a difference. So I’ll end this post with a reminder of what real love looks like from that passage (specifically verses 4-8):

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails . . .

So let’s just do it . . . .

YouTube Video: “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here
Photo #3 credit here

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Before The Rain

rain scene in the cityIn a blog post written by Billy March in December 2007, he starts off his post with a question retiring CIA agent Nathan Muir (played by Robert Redford in the movie, Spy Game) asks his secretary, Gladys (played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste). Muir asks Gladys, When did Noah build the Ark? March continues with the answer Muir gives and his explanation of it:

‘Before the rain . . . before the rain.’ I first heard this aphorism in one of my favorite Robert Redford movies, ‘Spy Game.’ He quoted it to his secretary near the beginning of the film as he began to make preparations for some of the foreseen obstactles and conflicts that he was about to face. Most certainly, there is much more to the story of Noah and the Flood in Genesis [see Genesis 5:32-10:1] than merely extracting this principle, but still, it is a simple, witty way of communicating the great need to be ready for anything in the Christian life.” (Quote source here.)

“. . . the great need to be ready for anything in the Christian life” . . . . But are we really ready?

I read a devotion this morning in My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day (2013), by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963), compiled and edited by James L. Snyder, that speaks to this very issue of why we are so often not really ready for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that come our way. Here is what Tozer had to say:

It is my prayer that the evangelical church will discover that salvation is not a light bulb only, not an insurance policy against hell, but a gateway into God and into His heart.

The cults like to play this little religious game. They like to offer a form of security similar to buying an insurance policy. Unfortunately, what they offer is far less than what the Scripture offers us.

My concern is that the evangelical church has come perilously close to this sort of attitude. For some reason, the whole purpose of conversion has degenerated to this level. It is not so much what a person has been saved from, although thank God for that, but what he has been saved to.

The heaven that has been offered lately is a heaven most people want to go to. It is a place where they will have everything right; a split-level home, two cars, a fountain and swimming pool and golden streets to top it off.

That heaven does not appeal to me at all . . . heaven will be heaven because the Trinity will fill our hearts with joy without end. Here is what we must get into our heads and hearts: Jesus Christ is a full and complete manifestation of the Trinity. (Devotion for August 3rd, p. 228).

Nowadays, the heaven that Tozer described is often what we expect to get in the “here and now” before we ever actually get to heaven. It is as if this “insurance policy” mentality has given us the right to everything we want and expect now, in this life, and not just waiting for it to come around in eternity. And we too often tend to stop at the point of salvation and not move on in Jesus Christ (as in the cost of discipleship) and the life He would have us to live through Him, which in reality has nothing to do with the modern image presented to us of “successful Christian living” that often includes that split-level house with all the trimmings and personal accolades to go with it. That may or may not end up being a part of our life in the “here and now,” but we are totally missing the point if we expect it or think that that is the basis of our Christian life and what “success” as a Christian should look like. Even nonbelievers can and do acquire much if not more of what we think is our “right” as a Christian to receive. Believing in Jesus Christ is not based on our material world and what’s in it for us. And our lives often don’t look any different from those around us who don’t claim to believe in Jesus Christ.

“As it was in the days of Noah . . .” (see Matthew 24:37). Today we live just like people lived back then, living in the “here and now” and not giving much thought to anything else. In answer to the question, What was it like in the days of Noah? GotQuestions?org answers with following statement:

The biblical account of Noah begins in Genesis 6. Approximately 1,600 years had passed since the creation of Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:26–27). As the earth’s population exploded in number, it also exploded with evil. Long forgotten was the righteous sacrifice of Abel (Genesis 4:4) as “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Verses 11 and 12 say, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” However, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (verse 8).

When Jesus described the events that will surround His second coming, He said, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26–27). Jesus was pointing out that, although the people of Noah’s day were totally depraved, they were not the least bit concerned about it. They were carrying on the events of their lives without a single thought of the judgment of God. Noah is described as “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), meaning he had spent years warning his friends and neighbors what the Holy God was about to do. No one listened.

The depravity and ungodly lifestyles of the entire world at that time were enough to cause the Lord to “regret that He had made man” (Genesis 6:6). Many scholars believe that part of the need to destroy every human being except Noah and his family was the sin mentioned in Genesis 6:1–4, when “the Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them.” As evil reproduced and overtook the world, the most merciful act God could perform was to start over.

It is interesting that God allowed Noah nearly one hundred years to complete the building of the ark. Through all that time, God patiently waited (1 Peter 3:20). Scripture seems to imply that Noah preached to the people of that time about what was coming (Hebrews 11:7). They did not believe Noah and were content with their wickedness and idolatry. Their hearts were hard and their ears dull. No one repented, and no one cared to seek God.

Jesus said that the world will be much the same before He returns to set up His earthly kingdom (Matthew 25:31–33). He warned us to “be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Second Timothy 3:1–4 gives us a clear picture of the state of the world before Jesus comes and most likely also describes the world in the days of Noah. That verse says, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” It is becoming increasingly obvious that, to understand what the world was like in the days of Noah, we only need to watch the evening news. (Quote source here.)

Trust and ObeyNoah spent over 100 years building the ark and everyone around him thought he was crazy. However, Hebrews 11:7 states, “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.” Faith doesn’t look to others but only to God. We too often are conformed by the “others” around us and what they think of us then we are by God (and that includes churchgoers, too). Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

In our churches today we don’t hear much about having a “holy fear” of God. We hear a lot about grace and love, and we sing our worship songs, but the fear of God has lost its meaning in our daily lives (if we even understood what it is), and the way we live throughout the week often indicates this problem. In answer to the question, What does it mean to have the fear of God?GotQuestions.org states:

For the unbeliever, the fear of God is the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31). For the believer, the fear of God is something much different. The believer’s fear is reverence of God. Hebrews 12:28-29 is a good description of this: “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ’God is a consuming fire.’” This reverence and awe is exactly what the fear of God means for Christians. This is the motivating factor for us to surrender to the Creator of the Universe.

Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Until we understand who God is and develop a reverential fear of Him, we cannot have true wisdom. True wisdom comes only from understanding who God is and that He is holy, just, and righteous. Deuteronomy 10:12, 20-21 records, “And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Fear the LORD your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.” The fear of God is the basis for our walking in His ways, serving Him, and, yes, loving Him.

Some redefine the fear of God for believers to “respecting” Him. While respect is definitely included in the concept of fearing God, there is more to it than that. A biblical fear of God, for the believer, includes understanding how much God hates sin and fearing His judgment on sin—even in the life of a believer. Hebrews 12:5-11 describes God’s discipline of the believer. While it is done in love (Hebrews 12:6), it is still a fearful thing. As children, the fear of discipline from our parents no doubt prevented some evil actions. The same should be true in our relationship with God. We should fear His discipline, and therefore seek to live our lives in such a way that pleases Him.

Believers are not to be scared of God. We have no reason to be scared of Him. We have His promise that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). We have His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Fearing God means having such a reverence for Him that it has a great impact on the way we live our lives. The fear of God is respecting Him, obeying Him, submitting to His discipline, and worshipping Him in awe. (Quote source here.)

Also, Proverbs 9:10 states, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” So how is the fear of God the beginning of wisdom? GotQuestions.org states: 

The link between the fear of God and wisdom means we cannot possess wisdom if we recreate God in our own image. Too many people want to “tame” God into a non-threatening nobody. But, if we redefine the Lord as a god that makes us feel comfortable, a permissive “buddy” who exists simply to bless us and give us what we want, we will not fear Him in the way He deserves to be feared. The Lord God Almighty is far greater than that, and the fear of the Lord begins when we see Him in His majesty and power (Revelation 4:11; Job 42:1–2) The Lord shows Job (and us) a glimpse of His power in Job 38—41 when He describes His absolute sovereignty over everything. 

When the reality of God’s true nature has caused us to fall down in worship, we are then in the right position to gain wisdom. Wisdom is merely seeing life from God’s perspective and responding accordingly. Wisdom is a priority, and we are told to seek it above all else (Proverbs 3:13; 16:16). Proverbs is known as the wisdom book, and the entire second chapter gives a detailed explanation of the value of gaining wisdom. (Quote source here.)

When God told Noah to build the ark, Noah didn’t question God. He built the ark. And he didn’t cave in to the pressure to conform to the rest of the crowd nor did he pay attention to the ridicule and mocking he received from them, either. Too often we question what we don’t understand, and when it comes to God and what He would have us to do, that questioning can get us into trouble. God wants our obedience, not our questions. If we give Him our obedience, He does the rest in His way and for His purposes . . . .

It saved Noah’s life and the life of his family . . .

And it will save us, too . . . .

YouTube Video: “He Reigns” by The Newsboys:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

For The Greater Good

Faith“Just as it was in the days of Noah . . .” (see Luke 17:26, Matthew 24:37-39). We human beings really haven’t changed much over the centuries, even with all of our technological and scientific advances. We may think we are more sophisticated and civilized then our ancestors, and knowledge has certainly increased over time, but basic human nature hasn’t changed since Adam and Eve walked around in the Garden of Eden (see Adam and Eve, Fact or Fiction?), or apes if you prefer (see the Evolutionary Theory of Charles Darwin) depending on which “theory” you choose to believe in as to the origin of the human race. I personally prefer the former to the latter, and that takes faith in God (see 2 Cor. 5:7, Romans 10:17, Hebrews 11), and not the type of “faith in the inferiority of having faith” as stated by the New Atheists, like Richard Dawkins (see source quote here).

It takes faith to believe in God and in His Word (the Bible). And all the arguments in the world don’t hold a candle to faith in God. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). It’s not about trying to win any argument, but believing that God is who He says He is, and that the whole of human creation and existence is wrapped up in several key verses stated by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John (John 3:16-21):

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], 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.

The reference to Noah in the opening line to this post is a statement about just how much we human beings haven’t really improved or changed since his day and time in history. To give you some perspective on how far back we are going in time, Noah was the tenth generation from Adam, and Jesus Christ was the 66th generation from Adam. And regarding the fact that nothing much has changed from generation to generation, King Solomon, who was the son of King David, and was the 33rd generation from Adam, made the following statement in Ecclesiastes 1:4-11:

Generations come and generations go,
    but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
    and hurries back to where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
    and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
    ever returning on its course.
All streams flow into the sea,
    yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
    there they return again.
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

So what exactly were the folks in Noah’s day doing way back then? Well, in his end times discourse in Matthew 24, Jesus describes what was occurring in Noah’s day that was, is, and will continue to be going on until the end of time as we know it in Matthew 24:37-39:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man [referring to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ].

Faith Without ActionsThe folks in Noah’s day were doing the same things we do today–they were eating, drinking, marrying, and generally living life right up until the day of the great flood (see an excellent discussion on the flood and it’s meaning then and now at Bible.org at this link). In fact, it was “business as usual,” much like our days are filled with today. And just like in the days of Noah, the issue at hand was that many folks (except the few who were on the ark with Noah) lived life as if God did not exist and that what they did was inconsequential in the total scheme of life. Much like today, many did whatever they wanted to do without any thought for God. And they were given 120 years while Noah was building the ark to consider their ways, but instead, they mocked and make jokes about Noah, right up until the rain started falling, the door to the ark was closed, and nobody else could get in.

The issue at hand, both then and now, is that we want to live life on our own terms and God gets pushed aside, either out of unbelief that He even exists, or in a pseudo-belief in a variety of ways to try to appease God while still having our own way. Even demons believe that God and Jesus Christ exist, so belief at that level is not enough for believing faith (see James 2:19). In fact, let’s look at that passage in James 2:14-26:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Believing faith isn’t just showing up for church on Sunday morning and singing a few songs and listening to a half hour sermon and then going back home and living anyway we want for the rest of the week. Believing faith is proved out on a daily, moment-by-moment basis in how we live our lives, how we interact with others (and yes, even the sales clerk who was nasty to us), how we talk to and treat others (and not gossiping about them or rolling our eyes when they walk by or giving them that self-righteous look that says we think we are better then they are if we disapprove of them in any way). It’s about our availability to help someone with no ulterior motive of our own attached to that assistance (as in the “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality). And it’s about not going along with the crowd (Christian or otherwise) even if we are the only one not going along with them, especially if what they are doing is dead wrong (and even if they think it’s right).

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post titled, Risky Business,” regarding group mentality or “groupthink” (click here for post). As stated in the first paragraph of that post, Groupthink–a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972)–occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of ‘mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment.’ Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making” (source: www.psysr.org). Any church, organization, business or other group setting is vulnerable to “groupthink,” especially when it comes to shunning individuals or other groups whom they perceive to be “outside their box.”

On the same topic, in a post titled Top 10 Instances of Mob Mentality (July 28, 2013), the author, S. Grant, states the following:

While we all like to believe we have the fortitude to stand by our own convictions during any situation, most of us tend to follow the behaviors of others. But what’s particularly strange is that when enough of us get together, we end up doing some really bizarre, nonsensical, and downright violent things that we’d never consider on our own. Psychologists refer to this phenomenon as herd or mob mentality, and when you consider the past and present, you realize it’s led to some major “What were they thinking?!” moments. (Quote source here which also includes 10 instances of this type of abuse.)

One doesn’t have to look very far to find examples of group/mob mentality as it occurs in every area of society and in all age ranges and ethnic groups and is not limited to any specific group of people or organizations–religious or otherwise. However, whether it is on a group/mob level or done on an individual basis, God doesn’t miss anything, and He sees through to the condition of our own individual heart attitude. Remember what James 2:19 says–even demons believe in God. We can say we “believe” but if our actions don’t bear it out in our interactions with others including those we don’t like, we really don’t believe at all.

“Just as it was in the days of Noah . . .” and it is still that same way today. While no man knows the day or the hour of Jesus Christ’s return (see Matthew 24:36-51), if we’re living rightly with other folks in this world of ours (and that includes those folks we don’t like on either a group level or individual basis), and looking out for them and not just looking out for ourselves, then we should have no fear of when that day or hour might show up.

We can’t just say we believe . . .

We have to prove it . . .

As faith without works is dead . . . .

YouTube Video: “We Believe” by the Newsboys:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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