When God seems distant, we must call to Him and trust in His unfailing love.

t those times when it seems as if God has turned His back, we must deliberately trust the fact that He loves us with an unfailing love, and that He will not forsake us, even though it may seem that way for a while. Let’s examine the three parts of the psalm:

1. The problem: God seems distant (13:1-2).

God’s distance in the face of the enemy’s prominence resulted in a lot of inner turmoil for David.

A. DAVID’S GOD SEEMED DISTANT (13:1).

It seemed as if God had forgotten David, had hidden Himself from him, and as if it would last forever. It always seems as if a time of intense trial lasts forever, doesn’t it? The hard thing about waiting is that you have to wait! Don’t you hate to wait? Waiting is especially hard if you don’t have much to do while you wait. If this psalm was written when David was being pursued by Saul, then David had a lot of time on his hands. He was holed up out in the desolate wilderness of Judah. About all he and his men had to do was to get their daily provisions and keep watch. The hours, days, weeks, and months dragged on as David waited for God to act.

Sometimes it seems as if God moves so slowly! We live in a day that says, “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” But so often God says, “Wait! Wait! Wait!” Most of us can relate to a comment by the New England preacher, Phillips Brooks. Normally, he was a calm man. But one day he was clearly agitated. He paced the floor like a caged lion. A friend asked him, “What’s the trouble?” Brooks replied, “The trouble is, I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t.”

Have you ever noticed the difference between God’s timetable and ours? We think in terms of minutes, hours, and days, but God works in terms of years. Do you remember the story of Joseph? God wanted him in a position of influence in Egypt. How did He get Joseph there? First, he had him sold into slavery by his brothers when he was a teenager. He was hauled off to a foreign land. Then, he had him falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison. A long time went by. Don’t you suppose that Joseph was praying fervently, “God, get me out of here?” But God didn’t seem to hear.

Finally, an opportunity came to interpret the dreams of a couple of fellow inmates. To the one man, the king’s cupbearer, who would be released from prison and restored to his job, Joseph pled, “Remember me and get me out of here!” The cupbearer assured him that he would–but he forgot! The next verse (Gen. 41:1) casually reads, “Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream ….” Two years! Think back to two years ago in your life. For two more years Joseph languished in prison. Couldn’t God have given Pharaoh his dream sooner? Why the long wait? As it was, Joseph spent the better part of his twenties either as a slave or in prison in Egypt.

Or take the Apostle Paul. He was God’s greatest apostle to the Gentiles. There was so much work to be done for the Lord, and so little time to do it. Paul wanted to go to Rome and then on to Spain with the gospel.

How did God get Paul to Rome? He had him imprisoned on a false charge. The governor in Caesarea heard his case and knew that he was innocent, but he kept him in custody because he knew that Paul had some influential friends and he hoped for a bribe (Acts 24:26). Acts 24:27 reads, “But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned.” Two years! God’s great apostle was confined in Caesarea. People were perishing without Christ! Why didn’t God do something? Why didn’t He move the governor to release Paul? Wasn’t Paul walking by faith? Wasn’t he praying? Why did he have to sit there for more than two years?

That’s what David was going through. He had been anointed as king by the prophet Samuel when he was a teenager. But Saul was pursuing him like a partridge in the mountains (1 Sam. 26:20). David was perhaps now in his late twenties. This had been going on for years! Where was God? Had He forgotten about David? Perhaps you can relate! When God seems distant, it always affects our emotions:

B. DAVID HIMSELF WAS IN TURMOIL (13:2A, B).

The idea of the Hebrew in verse 2 is that of adding one thought to another in an attempt to get out of the difficulty, but they all fail and just add sorrow to sorrow. At night David made his plans, and by day he tried them, but they were all futile, just causing him more grief (H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Psalms [Baker], p. 135). David had gone from hope to despair so many times that he felt like he was on an emotional roller coaster. He was like a rat in a maze with no exit; God had dropped him in and walked away. Thus,

C. DAVID’S ENEMY SEEMED TO BE WINNING (13:2C).

Saul was still the king. He was enjoying the comforts of the palace, while David was sleeping in caves. What made it worse, Saul was the bad guy! He wasn’t seeking the Lord; David was. Saul was trying to kill David without cause, even though David had spared Saul’s life. Didn’t God know what was happening? Couldn’t He do something? Had He forgotten about David?

Sooner or later you’ll be there! You’re in an extended time of trial. You call out to God, but He doesn’t answer. You try to figure out how to get out of your circumstances, but nothing works. You go from the heights of hope to the depths of despair so many times that your stomach can’t take much more. Meanwhile, those who aren’t following the Lord are living the good life in the palace while you’re seeking the Lord from the cave. There are two vital lessons to remember at such a time:

(1) God has not forgotten you! Note Isaiah 49:14‑15: “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.’ ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.’“ You may suffer for years, but God never forgets you if you are His child. “… He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’“ (Heb. 13:5).

But God does seemingly forget some of His choicest servants, as we have seen. Joseph, Paul, David‑‑all of them were shut up in unpleasant circumstances for years during which it seemed that God had forgotten. Do you know what was happening during that time? God was building maturity into those men as they learned to trust Him. Just as it takes years to grow a sturdy oak tree, so it takes years to build the godly character qualities needed to be an effective servant of the Lord. That’s the second lesson:

(2) There is no such thing as instant godliness. We have instant everything in our society, but there is no instant godliness. David was anointed as king in his teens. He had a strong faith at that time, as seen in his victory over Goliath. Did God put him on the throne when he turned twenty-one? No. Twenty-five? No. Twenty-six? Twenty-seven? Twenty-eight? Twenty-nine? No. Through all those years of running from Saul and living in caves, David learned to wait upon God. God was developing His man.

That’s so out‑of‑joint with our rush‑rush world! But that’s how God works. If God has you shut up in some frustrating circumstances; and you have racked your brain trying to figure a way out, but nothing has worked; and you see the godless prospering while you suffer; and it seems like God is far away; hang on! Let God do His perfect work in you. He hasn’t forgotten you. Learn to wait on Him.

2. The Petition: Call to the Lord (13:3-4).

Do you know why many Christians do not grow to maturity and why they are not used by God in a mighty way? It’s because when God seems distant to them, instead of calling out to Him, they just shrug their shoulders, say “Oh, well,” and go back into the world. Or, they go buy the latest self-help book that promises to fix their problem, but it doesn’t help them to trust in God alone.

David didn’t do that. When God seemed distant, he called on Him to answer him. Instead of turning from God, he turned to Him. Instead of complaining to men about God, David complained to God about men. Matthew Henry wisely observes, “We should never allow ourselves to make any complaints but what are fit to be offered up to God and what drive us to our knees” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary [Revell], 3:282). Four lessons from 13:3-4:

A. OUR PRAYERS SHOULD BE CONCERNED FOR GOD’S GLORY, NOT JUST FOR OUR HAPPINESS.

David wasn’t just praying for deliverance so that he could escape from his problems and be happy. His fear was that the enemy would rejoice (v. 4). Since David was God’s anointed king, if he died at the hands of his enemies, it would make God look bad. God’s honor was tied up with David’s deliverance. If you profess, as David did, to trust in God alone, then your defeat becomes God’s defeat. To defend His own honor, God will defend you. So in a time of crisis, you can call out to God to rescue you, not just for your relief, but for God’s glory. God delights to honor such prayers.

B. WE MUST SEEK GOD ESPECIALLY WHEN HE SEEMS DISTANT.

David was sensitive to the presence of God in his life. If he lost the sense of God’s presence, he went after it with a holy fervor. The test of your faith is not when God’s presence is real, when you see God at work in your life. The real test of your faith is when God seems distant. Do you seek Him then? If you seek Him, you will find Him, but if you turn to the world or look for a quick fix for your problems without seeking God, you won’t find Him. Seek God especially when He seems distant.

C. WE MUST KEEP AN AWARENESS OF GOD AND THE ENEMY BEFORE US AT ALL TIMES.

Derek Kidner writes: “Awareness of God and the enemy is virtually the hallmark of every psalm of David; the positive and negative charge which produced the driving‑force of his best years” (Psalms [IVP], 1:78). We need to keep both realities before us as the factors which motivate us to holiness and put us on guard against sin. As Christians, the honor of our God is at stake through us. If we fail Him, the enemy will rejoice. Satan is trying to drag the name of our Savior through the mud by getting us to forsake the Lord or fall into sin. We need to keep God and His honor and the reality of our unseen, evil adversary before us at all times so that we will not disgrace our Lord.

Dr. Howard Hendricks said: “When you are doing what Jesus Christ has called you to do, you can count on two things‑‑and you can stake your life on it: you will possess spiritual power because you have the presence of Christ, and you’ll experience opposition because the devil does not concentrate on secondary targets. He never majors on the minor” (Leadership [Summer, 1980], p. 114).

D. GOD ALLOWS US TO COME TO THE END OF OURSELVES SO THAT WE MUST RELY ON HIM.

David was fearing for his life. For the Hebrews, “dim eyes” were a sign that the vital powers were growing dim and that death was approaching. Bright eyes were a sign of life. David calls out to God to enlighten his eyes, that is, to bring him from the brink of death back to life again.

The Apostle Paul said that he and his co-workers in the gospel “despaired even of life”; “we had the sentence of death within ourselves, in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:8-9). Sometimes God seems distant and allows us to go right to the brink, to come to the end of ourselves, so that we learn to trust Him more. Whatever their intensity, all trials are designed to bring us to a deeper trust in the Lord. If we dodge them without learning that lesson, we missed what God had for us. David came to that point of trust. Thus, we see that David’s problem led to his petition which led to his praise:

3. Praise: Trust in God’s unfailing love (13:5-6).

David has not yet been delivered, but he trusts in the lovingkindness (NIV = “unfailing love”) of God, and a calm assurance comes over him. His heart is filled with joy as he thinks of the deliverance which God will bring about. By faith, David counts God’s future deliverance as past and says, “I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (v. 6).

Please note that David’s circumstances had not changed one bit from the start of the psalm, when he felt confused, depressed, and forsaken by God. David was still hiding in caves; Saul was still on the throne, trying to kill David.

So what changed? David’s focus! From focusing on himself and his problems at the start of the psalm, David shifted his thoughts to God’s loyal love and salvation. That shift in focus moved him from confusion and depression to joy and praise!

It didn’t happen accidentally, either! “But I” (v. 5) is emphatic (in Hebrew) and points to David’s deliberate choice to rely on God’s loyal love. He chose to interpret his circumstances by God’s love rather than to interpret God’s love by his circumstances. In a time of trial, Satan tries to get us to doubt God’s love. But we have to resist that temptation and affirm with God’s Word that He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). With Joseph, we must affirm that even though those who wronged us meant it for evil, God meant it for ultimate good (Gen. 50:20). So we deliberately choose to trust in God’s loyal love.

This Hebrew word for trust has the nuance of relying or leaning upon someone or something. You ask, “Then is God a crutch?” Yes, and we’re cripples! One of the main reasons people do not trust God is that they’re too proud to admit their total need. Or they mistakenly think that they must earn God’s love. But His love does not stem from any merit on our part, but only from God’s nature. Thus it is pure grace, undeserved on our part. But since God’s love stems from His unchanging nature rather than from our feeble effort, we can trust in it.

Conclusion

The famous preacher, Charles Spurgeon, was walking through the English countryside with a friend. He noticed a barn with a weather vane. At the top of the vane were the words, “God is love.” Spurgeon remarked that this was an inappropriate place for such a message, because weather vanes are changeable, but God’s love is constant. But Spurgeon’s friend disagreed. “You misunderstood the meaning,” he said. “That weather vane is stating the truth that no matter which way the wind blows, God is love.”

When God seems distant, join David in deliberately trusting in God’s unfailing love, however the winds of circumstance are blowing. As David wrote in Psalm 103:11: “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” You can count on it, even when your circumstances seem contrary. He is only taking you through the difficulty to develop maturity and godly character. “But it’s been months! Years!” Yes, that’s the way He works. He builds things to last, and that takes time. But the finished product is so much better in quality than quick imitations that don’t develop trust in the living God.

If you are distant from God because of known sin, the answer is the same: Call out to Him and put your trust in His unfailing love as supremely demonstrated in the cross of Jesus Christ (John 3:16). He died as your substitute, taking the penalty you deserved. If you will flee to Him for refuge, He will never turn you away (John 6:37).

“What does the Bible say about knowledge?”

Answer: The word knowledge in the Bible denotes an understanding, a recognition, or an acknowledgment. To “know” something is to perceive it or to be aware of it. Many times in Scripture, knowledge carries the idea of a deeper appreciation of something or a relationship with someone. The Bible is clear that the knowledge of God is the most valuable knowledge a human being can possess. But it is also clear that simply being aware of God’s existence is not sufficient; the knowledge of God must encompass the deep appreciation for and relationship with Him.

We know from Scripture that knowledge is a gift from God. Proverbs 2:6 tells us that the Lord gives wisdom that comes from His own mouth—the Word of God—and that the wisdom of God results in knowledge and understanding. James adds that those who lack wisdom have only to ask for it and God will give it abundantly and generously. God’s desire is for all to know Him, appreciate Him, and have a relationship with Him; therefore, He grants to all who truly seek Him the wisdom that leads to knowledge. Further, because knowledge is God’s to give, those who reverence Him will receive it. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). The word fear here is not dread or terror but a reverence for God, respect for His law, His will, His rule in our lives, and the fear of offending Him, which will lead us to obey, worship and praise Him.

God gives the gift of knowledge out of His infinite store of knowledge. Psalm 19:2 tells us that God’s creation reveals the Creator’s knowledge: “Night after night [the skies] display knowledge.” The vastness of God’s knowledge and creative power are on display continually and are clearly seen in what He has created, as Paul reminds us in Romans 1:19-20. Not only is God’s knowledge infinite, but it is absolute: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! / How unsearchable his judgments, / and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33). When God came to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ, He became the embodiment of knowledge: “. . . Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).

Human knowledge, apart from God, is flawed. The Bible also refers to it as worthless because it isn’t tempered by love (1 Corinthians 13:2). The knowledge man possesses tends to make one proud. “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). Therefore, the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, without seeking God, is foolishness. “Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom . . . but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief” (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18). Worldly knowledge is a false knowledge which is opposed to the truth, and Paul urges us to “Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21). Human knowledge is opposed to God’s knowledge and therefore is no knowledge at all; rather, it is foolishness.

For the Christian, knowledge implies a relationship. For example, when the Bible says that “Adam knew Eve his wife” (Genesis 4:1, NKJV), it means he had a physical union with her. Spiritual relationships are also described this way. Jesus used the word know to refer to His saving relationship with those who follow Him: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:14). He also told His disciples, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). By contrast, Jesus said to the unbelieving Jews, “You do not know [my Father]” (verse 55). Therefore, to know Christ is to have faith in Him, to follow Him, to have a relationship with Him, to love and by loved by Him. (See also John 14:7; 1 Corinthians 8:3; Galatians 4:9; and 2 Timothy 2:19.) Increasing in the knowledge of God is part of Christian maturity and is something all Christians are to experience as we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-knowledge.html#ixzz3IxwZFyri

What Does the Bible Say About Faith?

What Do “Faith” and “Believe” Mean in the Bible?
Wherever we see the words “faith” or “believe” in the New Testament, they are usually a translation from the original Greek root word pistis. The noun form of the word, pistis, is usually translated as “faith” and the verb form, pisteuo, is translated as “believe.”
The ordinary definitions of “faith” and “believe” imply intellectual agreement with an idea or accepting something as truth, but pistis means more than that. As used in the Bible, it also implies trust in and reliance on God or Christ, surrender of our wills to God or Christ, and conduct consistent with that surrender1. All those elements are present in any mention of “faith” or “believe” in the New Testament, but from the context we can often see that some of the elements are emphasized.

Unfortunately, there are no words in the English language that capture the full meaning of the original pistis and pisteuo, so we are stuck with the often inadequate words “faith” and “believe.”

Examples of Faith in the Bible
In the New Testament, the words “faith” and “believe” often imply confidence, trust, reliance and humility with respect to God or Christ. That is the case with Jesus’ healings. In the story below, the woman had confidence that she would be healed if she could merely touch Jesus’ clothing. She put her trust in Jesus and relied on Him, because all worldly attempts to cure her had failed. She approached Jesus with utmost humility – in fear and trembling. Jesus’ power healed her, but her faith enabled that healing.
Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (NRSV, Mark 5:25-34)

The story of the woman with a hemorrhage also has a lesson. If we approach God with humility and put our confidence and trust in Him instead of in worldly things, our faith will enable our spiritual healing and salvation.

John 3:16 is one of the best known and most beloved verses in the Bible, but it must be read in context to appreciate its full meaning and implications:

14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

17 “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. 20 For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed.

21 But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.” (NRSV, John 3:14-21)

From the verses immediately before and after John 3:16, we can see that the word “believe” (translated from pisteuo) brings to mind these ideas:

Verses 14-16: We can trust in Christ and rely on Him for salvation just as the Israelites trusted in Moses and relied on him while wandering in the desert. The image of a serpent that Moses lifted up on a pole was the cure for the snake bites suffered by the Israelites (Numbers 21:4-9). Similarly, Jesus was lifted up on the cross and then “lifted up” into His glory for the salvation of sinful mankind. That salvation is now available to the whole world, not just Israel.
Verses 17-18: We must put our trust and confidence in Christ as the way to salvation. By implication, our wealth, earthly power, intelligence, popularity, good deeds or obedience to rules and laws cannot save us from being condemned to hell.
Verses 19-20: People who do evil deeds have not come into the “light” of Christ – they are not true believers and do not have true faith. A thief works by night to avoid being seen in the light of day. Similarly, many people prefer their sinful ways and avoid facing the “light” of Jesus’ teachings about love, greed, morality, arrogance, etc. (Matthew 5:43-45, Mark 7:21-23, 12:28-31).
Verse 21: Although we are not saved by doing good deeds, good deeds and holy living will show clearly in the lives of those who do have saving faith.
Faith Vs. Works of the Law
The apostle Paul was not one of Jesus’ original followers or disciples. In fact, he despised the growing Christian movement and fiercely persecuted the early Christians. Then, several years after Jesus was crucified, raised and ascended to heaven, Paul had a dramatic encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). After that, he spent time learning from some of Jesus’ disciples and became the most energetic disciple of all. He founded many Christian communities among the Gentiles (non-Jews), and his letters to these communities are among the earliest Christian documents preserved in the New Testament.
A group of people known as Judaizers opposed Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. They told the Gentile converts to Christianity that they must observe all of the Jewish Law – circumcision, dietary restrictions, and all the many other rules and laws. But Paul said that was wrong; salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ, not by observing the Jewish Law.

Galatia, a region of central Asia Minor (modern Turkey), was one of the places the Judaizers were active. Paul wrote this to the Galatian Christians to correct the false teachings of the Judaizers:

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. (NRSV, Galatians 2:15-16)

Paul’s teaching has sometimes been interpreted as meaning that if we have faith, nothing else matters; we don’t need to repent of sin or do the “good works” of obeying God’s commandments and helping other people. But that was not Paul’s interpretation at all. He said if the Spirit of Christ is truly within us, we will turn away from evil deeds:

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (NIV, Galatians 5:19-26)

Faith Vs. “Good Works”
Church officials of the Middle Ages had fallen into the corrupt practice of selling indulgences to raise money. In return for the “good works” of a monetary contribution to the Church, it was often implied that people could virtually guarantee their entry into heaven, or even purchase release from the pains of purgatory for a deceased relative.
Martin Luther (1483-1546), was a Catholic monk and Professor of Scripture at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. From his study of Scripture, Luther knew that the “good works” of giving money to the Church did not have the power to forgive people’s sins. Instead, Luther taught that we can be justified (made acceptable to God) only by faith.

But Luther did not deny the importance of other good works such as obeying God’s commandments, helping other people, etc. He wrote, “For grace and faith are infused apart from our work, and when they are infused, then the works follow.” In other words, when one is saved by the grace of God, through faith, he or she will practice good works as a result of that transformation. He also taught that a believer must practice repentance throughout his or her whole life.

In 1517, Luther tacked his famous 95 theses entitled “On the Power of Indulgences” to the door of the castle church at Wittenberg. That document was a scathing indictment of the practice of selling indulgences, and it set off the chain of events that led to the Protestant Reformation. However, the Catholic Church soon undertook its own reforms and the practice of selling indulgences was abolished.

It is a great comfort to know we do not have to be perfect to find God’s favor. Even the worst of sinners can become a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) through faith. Then, through good works and repentance, the light of Christ will shine brightly in our lives (Matthew 5:16, Luke 15:7).

How to Find and Keep Faith
Proof That God Exists
The Bible takes it for granted that God exists, and it does not attempt to prove it. There is no proof of our faith that we can see or touch, and there is no evidence that will convince someone who does not want to believe. Knowledge of the physical world is based on things we can observe with our senses and analyze with mathematics and logic. But knowledge of God and Christ is a different kind of knowledge based on faith.
Some people see evidence of God in the life and teachings of Jesus. Some see evidence of God’s creation in the intricacies and wonders of the universe and life. Some may perceive God in the gift of life and the miracle of birth. Some see evidence of God in the beauty of the world. Some see God in unselfish love (1 John 4:7-8).

Other people see the sometimes hypocritical and cynical actions of Christians and religious leaders as a reason not to believe. However, the failures of some Christians does not disprove the existence and goodness of God.

Some people see the evils of war, crime, prejudice, greed and poverty and the tragedies of natural disasters and death as reasons to reject God. But others see the gift of life, the gift of unselfish love, the opportunity to serve others and the promise of a glorious eternal life as reasons for faith, hope and optimism.

Finding Faith
A conscious decision and a “leap of faith” are required to put our hopes and trust in God instead of in worldly things. But those who sincerely take that leap often develop a sense of peace, security and joy that confirms the correctness of the decision.
The person afraid to get in the water will never learn to swim. Similarly, the person afraid to believe without knowing all the answers will never find faith.

Facing Doubts and Growing in Faith
Everyone has questions and doubts about their faith from time to time. It is in working through those questions and doubts that our faith can become stronger and more mature and continue to grow throughout life. As mere humans, there are many things about God that we will never understand. It is through faith that we can trust that God is the One who has all the answers and knows what is best. As it says in the book of Isaiah,
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
(NRSV, Isaiah 55:8-9)
And the apostle Paul wrote this:

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (TNIV, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12)

6 Ways to Fight Temptation

6 Ways to Fight Temptation
by Ram Sridharan
If you’re interested in fighting temptation – whether it’s to do drugs, have sex, or something else you think you shouldn’t be doing – then I want to tell you “Congratulations!”

The reason I begin by celebrating with you is that your keen awareness of temptation is a sign that something has changed in you for the better. Having tasted what Jesus has to offer, you’re craving deeper and greater things.

But dealing with temptation can be difficult for Christians, especially new Christians. As you begin your relationship with Jesus, choosing to say “no” to things that seemed natural, comforting, and even pleasurable may seem painful, contrary, and confusing. It may make you question what you’ve signed up for.

The silver lining of temptation is it reminds you of just how much you need Jesus to keep rescuing you from yourself and from the evil around you. So here are six ways to join forces with Jesus to fight the temptations in your life:

1. Nip it in the bud.
Temptation starts out innocently enough. It’s just a small, passing thought at first. Then, the more you attention you give that thought, the more it grows into an obsession. Eventually that thought-turned-obsession gains momentum and lures you into action, which then leads to shame, deceit, and more sin.

Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:15 (NIV)

It’s a vicious pattern to which even biblical heroes fell prey. King David noticed Bathsheba bathing (thought) and didn’t stop looking (obsession). Next, he invited her over and had sex with her (action). Then it escalated further: David had Bathsheba’s husband killed to cover up her adulterous pregnancy (shame, deceit, and more sin).

What does this mean for your battle against temptation? The best way to fight temptation is in its infancy.

You’re undoubtedly going to have a tempting thought every so often (maybe very often). The key is not to get discouraged, but to choose to squash it while it’s still a thought.

Instead of entertaining a tempting thought, hand it over to Jesus and make the choice to refocus your mind for him. Choose not to look at the trashy magazines on the rack, so you’re less likely to buy one. Choose not to search for provocative videos on YouTube, so you don’t watch one. Choose not to spend time alone with your girlfriend or boyfriend late at night, so you don’t end up under the covers together. Choose not to take a cup at the party, so you don’t drink to excess.

Whatever that seemingly harmless thought may be for you, don’t give it an inch or it will drag you a mile.

2. Arm yourself with Scripture.
Ephesians 6:17 calls the Bible the “sword of the Spirit,” which means you’ve got access to a new kind of weapon! The lifelong process of learning Scripture will continually transform your mind and arm you for the fight against temptation.

Here are three ways to make sure you’re getting a regular supply:

Memorize Bible verses: When you commit verses to memory, you can whip them out any time you need them. A few verses to start with are Psalm 119:11 and 2 Corinthians 10:5. For a book on praying Scripture to overcome common strongholds, try Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore.
Have a regular “quiet time”: Carve out time on most days for studying the Bible by yourself. There are resources listed in the On Your Own tab for the “How do I learn something from the Bible?” session. One particular resource suggested there is to read the article “How do I start reading the Bible?”
Join a small group Bible study: Whether your Launch group has completed all the sessions or not, consider joining another study on your campus or at your local church. Small groups often study a book of the Bible, read a Christian book together, or even gear around topics that interest specific people groups like athletes, artists, business majors or year in school – watch this video to see how San Diego State’s InterVarsity chapter does small groups.
3. Be weak, not strong.
You may think you need to be strong when fighting battles for Christ, but I’d suggest striving for the opposite. You’re always weaker than your weaknesses. You’re weaker than Satan and weaker than the pull of this world. Instead of posturing in strength and making resolutions like, “I will never do that again,” you need to cry out in weakness to the one who can help you. This is the kind of prayer that will help you in temptation. Cry desperately for the one who will do battle on your behalf and deliver you.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)

4. Be honest with your community.
Sometimes you’ll hide your temptations, thoughts, and desires because you feel ashamed of them. But hiding makes you vulnerable to increased temptation. My most helpful relationship regarding temptation is with the prayer partner I’ve had for 15 years. I simply pray, make a list of my sins, and then confess it to him clearly and briefly. He prays forgiveness for me and then I do the same for him. I have experienced more change through this relationship than in any other. You need to make 1-2 trustworthy friends with whom you can openly share your struggles and pray for each other.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 (NIV)

5. Pick your battles wisely.
Peer pressure doesn’t ease up after high school. And it gets harder to navigate when you’ve decided to quit certain habits.

On the one hand, you want to show your friends you’re still accessible now that you’re a Christian. On the other hand, they may still want or expect you to participate in areas you now consider temptations.

Don’t go it alone: ask your Christian community for guidance and accountability. Pray for God to help you know when it will be okay to hang out in certain situations versus when it will be too tempting and you’ll need to bow out. Ask God to prepare you for when the lure of your former life is still too strong for you and you need to find other ways to connect with your friends in different contexts.

For more on this topic, go through the “How do I make lifestyle changes and keep my friends?” session with your Launch group.

6. Explore your wounds.
You cannot blame others for the choices you make. However, past wounds, broken relationships, and abuse can make you more vulnerable to temptation. In many cases, Christ will begin to pinpoint these areas and invite you to extend forgiveness to someone who hurt you.

You may want to find a Christian counselor through your church or InterVarsity staff member who can bring the truth and light of Christ to painful areas. Becoming aware of your wounds and how they can lead you to sin is not only helpful against temptation, it will result in deeper freedom for you.

 

 

 

Deuteronomy 31

1And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel. 2And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan. 3The Lord thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the Lord hath said. 4And the Lord shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed. 5And the Lord shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you. 6Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 7And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the Lord hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. 8And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. 9And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and unto all the elders of Israel. 10And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, 11When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: 13And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. 14And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation. 15And the Lord appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle. 16And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us? 18And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods. 19Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel. 20For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant. 21And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware. 22Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel. 23And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee. 24And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, 25That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, 26Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. 27For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death? 28Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them. 29For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands. 30And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.

How would you apply just war theory to the present international crisis and imminent war on Iraq?

Just war theory is not so much a theory as a set of questions we should ask about any war. I think the questions are good questions. But they almost never lead to a consensus. Those who favor a war can usually argue that there it is being fought for a just end, with public declaration, prospect of victory, etc. Those against it can usually find flaws in the argument. Of course a nation going to war never does so from absolutely pure motives, is never sure about the prospect of victory, etc. So these arguments usually end indecisively.

Of course just war theory isn’t the Bible. It’s a tradition that goes from Aristotle to the Stoics, and it has then been adopted by Christians like Augustine.

But in the end we must make our ethical decisions sola Scriptura. There are some broad biblical principles that bear on war: the sanctity of life first of all. But Scripture is pretty realistic about war. It recognizes that it’s not always possible or desirable to protect all non-combatants, for example. Basically, it recognizes that war is hell and for the most part you just have to put everything into the war and end it quickly.

I know of course that arguments about “biblical principles” tend to be as inconclusive as arguments about just war theory. But I think the Bible is helpful in that it loosens things up. It doesn’t require the ethicist to micro-manage how many weapons are used, etc.

Obviously a Christian will never advocate killing anywhere unless it is a genuine responsibility of the civil magistrate, carried out with a serious regard for human life, even knowing that some human life must be sacrificed to attain the objective.

And I don’t know of anything in the Bible that rules out a pre-emptive strike, though just war theory generally abhors that. (Compare Harold Brown’s article with Arthur Holmes in the book Five Views of War (Zondervan, I think)). Certainly in Israel’s wars in the time of Joshua, Israel took the initiative.

In the present situation, I tend to trust the in I think the civil magistrate may sometimes, in order to protect his own people, make a pre-emptive strike. Or: he can neutralize the enemy with less loss of life by a pre-emptive strike, than by waiting for the enemy to attack. So I would support my government in an attack on Iraq. The agreement of the UN would be a nice thing, but it is morally irrelevant.

“What does the Bible say about Christian tithing? Should a Christian tithe?”

Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing. In some churches giving is over-emphasized. At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the biblical exhortations about making offerings to the Lord. Tithing/giving is intended to be a joy and a blessing. Sadly, that is sometimes not the case in the church today.

Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land—which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system.

The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving.

The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/tithing-Christian.html#ixzz3D7y597zf

What does the Bible say about interracial marriage?

The Old Testament Law commanded the Israelites not to engage in interracial marriage (Deuteronomy 7:3–4). However, the reason for this was not primarily racial. Rather, it was religious. The reason God commanded against interracial marriage for the Jews was that people of other races were worshippers of false gods. The Israelites would be led astray from God if they intermarried with idol worshippers, pagans, or heathens. This is exactly what happened in Israel, according to Malachi 2:11.

A similar principle of spiritual purity is laid out in the New Testament, but it has nothing to do with race: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Just as the Israelites (believers in the one true God) were commanded not to marry idolaters, so Christians (believers in the one true God) are commanded not to marry unbelievers. The Bible never says that interracial marriage is wrong. Anyone who forbids interracial marriage is doing so without biblical authority.

As Martin Luther King, Jr., noted, a person should be judged by his or her character, not by skin color. There is no place in the life of the Christian for favoritism based on race (James 2:1–10). In fact, the biblical perspective is that there is only one “race”—the human race, with everyone having descended from Adam and Eve. When selecting a mate, a Christian should first find out if the potential spouse is born again by faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:3–5). Faith in Christ, not skin color, is the biblical standard for choosing a spouse. Interracial marriage is not a matter of right or wrong but of wisdom, discernment, and prayer.

A couple considering marriage needs to weigh many factors. While a difference in skin color should not be ignored, it absolutely should not be the determining factor in whether a couple should marry. An interracial couple may face discrimination and ridicule, and they should be prepared to respond to such prejudice in a biblical manner. “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him” (Romans 10:12). A colorblind church and/or a Christian interracial marriage can be a powerful illustration of our equality in Christ.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/interracial-marriage.html#ixzz3CSDkLzRC

“Do pets / animals go to Heaven? Do pets / animals have souls?”

Answer: The Bible does not give any explicit teaching on whether pets/animals have “souls” or whether pets/animals will be in heaven. However, we can use general biblical principles to develop some clarity on the subject. The Bible states that both man (Genesis 2:7) and animals (Genesis 1:30; 6:17; 7:15, 22) have the “breath of life”; that is, both man and animals are living beings. The primary difference between human beings and animals is that humanity is made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), while animals are not. Being made in the image and likeness of God means that human beings are like God, capable of spirituality, with mind, emotion, and will, and they have a part of their being that continues after death. If pets/animals do have a “soul” or immaterial aspect, it must therefore be of a different and lesser “quality.” This difference possibly means that pet/animal “souls” do not continue in existence after death.

Another factor to consider is that animals are a part of God’s creative process in Genesis. God created the animals and said they were good (Genesis 1:25). Therefore, there is no reason why there could not be animals on the new earth (Revelation 21:1). There will most definitely be animals during the millennial kingdom (Isaiah 11:6; 65:25). It is impossible to say definitively whether some of these animals might be the pets we had while here on earth. We do know that God is just and that when we get to heaven we will find ourselves in complete agreement with His decision on this issue, whatever it may be

 

“What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?”

Answer: First of all, no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember Malachi 2:16: “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.” According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). God realizes, though, that since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the Old Testament, He laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcees, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because they were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).

The controversy over whether divorce and remarriage is allowed according to the Bible revolves primarily around Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. The phrase “except for marital unfaithfulness” is the only thing in Scripture that possibly gives God’s permission for divorce and remarriage. Many interpreters understand this “exception clause” as referring to “marital unfaithfulness” during the “betrothal” period. In Jewish custom, a man and a woman were considered married even while they were still engaged or “betrothed.” According to this view, immorality during this “betrothal” period would then be the only valid reason for a divorce.

However, the Greek word translated “marital unfaithfulness” is a word which can mean any form of sexual immorality. It can mean fornication, prostitution, adultery, etc. Jesus is possibly saying that divorce is permissible if sexual immorality is committed. Sexual relations are an integral part of the marital bond: “the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31). Therefore, any breaking of that bond by sexual relations outside of marriage might be a permissible reason for divorce. If so, Jesus also has remarriage in mind in this passage. The phrase “and marries another” (Matthew 19:9) indicates that divorce and remarriage are allowed in an instance of the exception clause, whatever it is interpreted to be. It is important to note that only the innocent party is allowed to remarry. Although it is not stated in the text, the allowance for remarriage after a divorce is God’s mercy for the one who was sinned against, not for the one who committed the sexual immorality. There may be instances where the “guilty party” is allowed to remarry, but it is not taught in this text.

Some understand 1 Corinthians 7:15 as another “exception,” allowing remarriage if an unbelieving spouse divorces a believer. However, the context does not mention remarriage, but only says a believer is not bound to continue a marriage if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave. Others claim that abuse (spousal or child) is a valid reason for divorce even though it is not listed as such in the Bible. While this may very well be the case, it is never wise to presume upon the Word of God.

Sometimes lost in the debate over the exception clause is the fact that whatever “marital unfaithfulness” means, it is an allowance for divorce, not a requirement for it. Even when adultery is committed, a couple can, through God’s grace, learn to forgive and begin rebuilding their marriage. God has forgiven us of so much more. Surely we can follow His example and even forgive the sin of adultery (Ephesians 4:32). However, in many instances, a spouse is unrepentant and continues in sexual immorality. That is where Matthew 19:9 can possibly be applied. Many also look to quickly remarry after a divorce when God might desire them to remain single. God sometimes calls people to be single so that their attention is not divided (1 Corinthians 7:32-35). Remarriage after a divorce may be an option in some circumstances, but that does not mean it is the only option.

It is distressing that the divorce rate among professing Christians is nearly as high as that of the unbelieving world. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) and that reconciliation and forgiveness should be the marks of a believer’s life (Luke 11:4; Ephesians 4:32). However, God recognizes that divorce will occur, even among His children. A divorced and/or remarried believer should not feel any less loved by God, even if the divorce and/or remarriage is not covered under the possible exception clause of Matthew 19:9. God often uses even the sinful disobedience of Christians to accomplish great good.

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/divorce-remarriage.html#ixzz3AkyunwR5