Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Repent For Salvation

by Michael C. Garrett

Well sometimes we hear about or we learn, or discover, that someone we know – maybe a family member or a dear friend or possibly a member of our local congregation – has perhaps become ill, maybe even life altering or a life threatening situation. We hear about somebody being in a terrible traffic accident, or we hear that their marriage is in serious trouble or maybe a divorce is inevitable, or after the divorce problems continue to follow – legal problems. We hear about people who have alcohol and drug problems. And we understand that that begins to significantly impinge upon that persons life and causes problems. Financial difficulties, unemployment. Troubles at work. Or the seemingly millions of things that can go awry and askew in a persons life. And when we hear those ideas, those situations, sometimes we ask the question – why do bad things happen to people? And sometimes to good people? And sometimes those bad things come crashing down around our own lives, and sometimes we ask – why is this happening to me? And, before I go any further I’d like to share some thoughts about health – or health issues. Health problems.

When most people contemplate the concept of “bad things” happening to themselves and or their loved ones, they normally think of health related issues. Which is why we hear expressions such as – “If you have your health, you have everything. And if you don’t, you have nothing.” Health issues may fall into our discussion today, but not necessarily. But many times health problems are the result of factors such as genetics – beyond our control. Situations, problems, predispositions, that were passed onto you from your parents or grandparents. Maybe environmental reasons, things that are out of your control – things you don’t even know about. I am not a doctor, and I have never played one on television, but I implore all of you to try to maximize your health. And I have some ideas - and I’ve shared some of these things before, and I’m sure you’ve heard them many times – nothing new here, just basic. But it’s something which we really ought to try to be as healthy as we can. We are the temple of God’s Spirit, we ought to take care of it.

1) Healthy food choices. And I’m not going to go into all that. You can go to the library, to the Department of Agriculture, to your doctor, and find out what you should or should not be eating. Many of those we don’t want to hear about. Sometimes we enjoy what we’re eating, even though we shouldn’t.

2) Drink plenty of water. The human body is 50-65% water. You’ve got to have water. And many Americans don’t drink a lot of water. And you should – drink water.

3) The proper amount of sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, it causes a lot of stress and tension and it can acerbate problems of high blood pressure, blood sugar, different diseases that pray upon tension. And, like me, I spend most of my time in a woodworking shop. It’s not a good place to be half asleep when you got a saw about an inch from your finger. It’s good to be real alert.

4) Remove or minimize sources of stress and tension from your life.

5) Avoid the use of tobacco products if you can. Now, I’ve had three or four relatives - dear friends, aunts and uncles of mine – one of which I was named after, and they succumbed to cancer because they smoked all of their lives.

6) Limited or moderate use of alcohol. We understand from the Bible it’s alright to have a drink or two, but we also understand from the Bible that if you drink too much you make pretty much an idiot of yourself. And, if you make an idiot of yourself, that can cause a lot of problems – health problems. And if you think – well, do I have a problem, am I drinking too much? If the question even comes into your mind, you probably have a problem. People like to say, “Well, I’m just a social drinker.” Again, a beer or two, a glass of wine, a margarita with your Mexican food – we’re not talking about that. You know what I’m talking about – the constant use of alcohol and it can cause a lot of problems.

7) Exercise is recommended. Even though many people don’t like to hear about it. It makes the muscles stronger, makes the heart and lungs stronger, and it helps your bones to be a lot stronger, your balance and flexibility.

8) Control and maintain proper weight as much as is possible. And I am one that understands, once you get over the age 35-40 it’s not easy to shed pounds. And, so if you can’t at least shed them don’t add to them. That’s sort of my motto. But we do know if you carry too much weight it can cause problems.

9) And also, regular and frequent trips to the fountain of joy and happiness. Even such things as these can contribute to your health. Your attitudes and emotions can have a profound influence upon your health and your state of being. And having joy and happiness promotes good health and the absence of joy and happiness can contribute to serious health issues. Let us remember the wise word’s of King Solomon – Proverbs 15:13 – “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” And then in Proverbs 17:22 he says, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones.” – and dries the organs and dries up everything else.

10) Seek spiritual health, that you may also enjoy mental, emotional, and physical health. As Peter taught, ‘grow in grace and in knowledge.’ Ask God the Father and Jesus Christ to pour out Their Spirit upon you and grow in the fruits of God’s Spirit. We all know them – Galatians 5. But these contribute to health, or the lack of them contribute to ill health. And, we’ve talked about how on a regular basis you should examine yourself. (Be sure to read the Warnings of Jesus Christ to the churches of God – Revelation 2 & 3: Messages to the Churches). And, ask yourself – am I growing in these traits!? Or, are they very seldom a part of my life!? Remember, Jesus said, ‘By their fruits you shall know them.’ And I would ask ever so often – ask yourself the questions – Is my life full of love!? Or, the opposite, arguments and contention and bitterness!? Is my life full of joy!? Or, am I basically a very unhappy person!? Is my life full of peace!? Or, am I always anxious and just wound up about something!? Is my life full of patience!? Or, am I in fact a very impatient person!? Again, that can cause a lot of problems – even health wise. Blood pressure problems, blood sugar problems, cholesterol – because of that tension. Am I a gentle person!? Or, the other!? Is my life filled with goodness!? Is my life filled with faith!? Is my life filled with meekness!? Do I have self-control!? That’s a part of God’s Spirit – just being under control.

‘at the wrong place at the wrong time’

Now, sometimes bad things happen to people because they are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when – of what I like to say – the monster attacks. And that monster can be anything! It can be traffic accidents – and all of a sudden you’re in the hospital. Storms – rain storms. Lightning, wind damage, tornados, hurricanes, ice storms. You’re in the wrong place at the wrong time and some bad things happen. Contagious diseases. You might be in a grocery store and the person behind you sneezes on you. And, all of a sudden, two or three days later, you have what they had. And it wasn’t your fault, you’re just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Accidents of all sorts. You walk down the steps and your grandchild’s toy is there and all of a sudden down you go – and you have a broken leg. You were just at the wrong place at the wrong time – on all of the different things that could happen. It’s just a matter of timing many times.

James Tissot, The Tower of Siloam
Jesus talked about this in Luke 13 – a very poignant example. I knew a fella one time that was under the assumption that anytime anything bad happens to you “God was gettin’ ya!” And, that’s just not right, and it’s not necessarily true. “There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.” – these were apparently some sort of religious zealots and they got cross-wise with the local authorities and they were murdered. Verse 2 – “And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3) I tell you, no; …’” – no, they weren’t worse than others, “…’but unless you repent you will all likewise perish [die]. 4) Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?’” – it was a construction accident. And Jesus said in effect, ‘they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.’ Some of our misfortunes are just nothing more than bad luck – as you might say.

Sometimes it’s our own fault

Sometimes bad things happen to people because the individual brings it upon himself or herself. It’s nobody’s fault except their own. An example – if a person smokes three or four packs of cigarettes a day from the time they were a youth. That person has no one else to blame – when the doctor comes in and says, “I’m sorry, you have chronic emphysema.” Or, “You’re dying of lung cancer, and you have six-months to live.” You brought it on yourself. And, like I say, I’ve had some relatives who did that to themselves, and they died before they had to. And the end of their life was very tragic. Very painful. And I wish they hadn’t gone through it.

If a person engages in physical activity, or no physical activity, and makes a steady diet of fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, Philly cheesesteaks, Big Mac’s, and Cheetos – well, if you do that, it should come to no big surprise if you develop a serious heart disease. And there’s no one else to blame. You did it yourself.

If a person takes a gun and attempts to rob a liquor store, that person should not be shocked to find themselves in a small room locked up behind iron bars. Because they have no one else to blame but themselves.

If a person consumes five or six beers or more and then attempts to drive a vehicle, and then they’re pulled over, and they’re arrested, and subsequently convicted of DUI, they should not be shocked. They brought it on themselves.

Or, if a person is argumentative and disrespectful, contentious at work, always arguing with the boss and fellow workers. You can’t really be surprised if you end up out of work. And sometimes people do lose their jobs because they’re just too ornery – they’re hard to get along with.

Sometimes people end up in very unfortunate situations because they do not control their emotions. Their thoughts. Their passions. Their desires. Their words. James 1 we read, verse 14 – “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15) Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth DEATH.” – and then he adds, verse 16 – “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” Well, if we do not diligently monitor and control our thoughts and our emotions we can and often will slide off the path of righteousness into a ditch of doom, despair, and destruction.

The Works of the Flesh

The works of the flesh. We’ve all read these, but we’re supposed to stay away from this folks! You’ve all heard this – Galatians 5 – “… adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, [wantonness], idolatry, [witchcraft], hatred …” You know hatred is not good, it’s emotionally bad and it’s spiritually bad. Bad for your health, bad for the people around you. “… Variance, …” – meaning one day you’re this way, the next another way. I know some people and you can be with them and they can walk out of the room and come back five minutes later, and they are a totally different person. They can be happy one minute and the next moment they’re just snarling and growling. It’s not fun to be around those type of people. “… Emulations, …” – that’s a fancy word for jealousy. And jealousy does afflict people and even afflicts people in the Church. “… Wrath, strife, seditions, …” – trying to go off and form little weird ideas or weird little groups. “… Heresies, …” – ideas which are meant to divide and split off people. And there are people who practice that, they make a livelihood out of creating heresies. So that they can gain them for themselves. “… Envying’s, murders, …” – and we’re told if you hate somebody you’ve already murdered them in your heart in John 8. “… Drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you before-hand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” These are emotional situations or emotionally laden components, and we need to stay away from them!

We must continually monitor our thoughts and our emotions and ask God to help us to stay clear of that danger zone. And it is our personal duty, it is our responsibility. And sometimes we have Church people who are seemingly are making little effort to grow and to change. Now, anybody can have a moment – all of us have had a moment – we’re just having a bad day, and we’re not in a good mood or we’ve received some bad word’s, or we’re uptight and we’re tense, and we lash out at somebody, maybe somebody we love very dearly. And, within a short time we know that we done something we never meant to do, we said things we never meant to say. And we go back, and we ask for forgiveness, and apologize, and we try to make amends. Well, it’s one thing to have a moment – any of us can have a moment. But when that moment happens day after day, week after week, month after month – that’s not a moment folks, that’s a pattern, that’s a lifestyle. And if you are in that situation, you need to go to God and CHANGE, and ask for some help. Maybe even get some professional help – if that’s what it takes. But, something’s wrong, and if you don’t correct it, it’s nothing but downhill.

The wheat and the tares

Sometimes problems fall upon people because other people go out of their way to make trouble. And these troublemakers do not realize nor understand – but they are indeed doing the work of Satan and doing his bidding!

Matthew 13 – we’ve talked about it before, but if you would turn there. Verse 24 – “…’The Kingdom [from] Heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25) but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares [weeds] among the wheat and went his way. 26) But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares [the weeds] also appeared.’” – just like in a flower garden. Verse 27 – “’So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares [weeds]? 28) He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29) But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares [the weeds] you also uproot the wheat with them. 30) Let both grow together until harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares [the weeds] and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” And on the next page in my Bible, He gives an explanation. Verse 36 – “…’Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.’ 37) He answered and said to them: ‘He who sows the good seed [is indeed Jesus Christ] the Son of Man. 38) The field is the world, the good seeds are the [children] of the Kingdom, but the tares [the weeds] are the [children] of the wicked one. 39) The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40) Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41) The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His Kingdom all those that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42) and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.’” – but, verse 43 – “’Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!’

Seven things God Hates

Now, the powerful admonition from King Solomon is still in affect today, it still rings true. Proverbs 6 – and again this is nothing new, you’ve heard these things before. We’ve read them, we’ve talked about them. But this is still in affect! And yet there are some people who just seemingly don’t get it. They don’t hear it – it just bounces off their thick little noggin. Or, they think the preacher is talking to somebody else, or maybe God – He’s talking about somebody else. He can’t be talking about me. Well, examine yourselves and see if this is a part of your life. Verse 16 – “These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17) A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18) A heart that devises wicked plans, …” – now there aren’t too many people who go out with a knife and kill people. But there are people who devise wicked imaginations. They come up with plans to split churches, to pull off members, to cause problems. “…Feet that are swift in running to evil, …” – yes, within the Church, there are people who at times are just too swift to run to mischief. Verse 19 – “A false witness who speaks lies, …” – and number seven, “…And one who sows discord among brethren.” These are hateful things in the eyes of God! He calls the seventh one an abomination! And, point six was a false witness. A false witness who speaks lies. There are a lot f people who seemingly do not understand nor appreciate the ninth commandment.

If you would, turn to Deuteronomy 5 – the Ten Commandments. Verse 20 – it’s very simple, very short – “’You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’” Now, to me that’s pretty clear, but in case you need a more thorough explanation, turn to Deuteronomy 19, where Moses gives us some more information. Verse 15 – “’One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. 16) If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17) then both men in the controversy shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18) And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19) then you shall do to him [the accuser] as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. 20) And those who remain shall hear and fear, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you.’” – and the next part, a lot of people don’t really understand where it fits into the Bible, but here it’s very clear. Verse 21 – “’Your eye shall not pity: [but] life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.’” – and so the idea being – let’s say you accuse your neighbor of committing a murder and burying the body in their backyard. Well, if that false accuser makes that accusation and it was found out that he lied, the one who did this would be subject to the capital punishment in this day of Moses. The person who made the false accusation, he would be killed. And so, you gotta be pretty slow to make up a story when if they find out what your doing, you’re going to be on the receiving end.

We are not to speak or testify a false hood or a lie, or a fabricated manufactured story about a fellow human being, or a neighbor, or for us – even more importantly – a fellow Church member. Within the environment of the Church there have been people - and there are people, and there probably will be people in the future – who create and concoct, contrive, stories about fellow Church members, sometimes even ministers. And they spread their manure via the rumor mill. And others are seemingly stupid enough to believe them, and then spread it further. Bearing false witness against a fellow Church member is in the eyes of God a capital crime! Worthy of death! And if true repentance is not sought and found it will result in execution in the lake of fire. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

‘the god of this world’

Sometimes people have their lives turned upside down and severely altered because of the handy work of Satan the devil and his demons. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 we read that Satan is called, ‘the god of this world.’ Which is why, many times, when bad things happen Satan might very well be behind it. And we have some examples in the Bible where Satan caused an awful lot of trouble. We have the story of Adam and Eve. You’ve all heard it, and Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong loved this story! You couldn’t get through a sermon of Mr. HWA without hearing about Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden, the things which happened there. Now, haven’t recently went back there, but really quick, let’s turn back to Genesis 1 – and read a few highlights. Verse 26 – “Then God [Elohim] said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, …” – and so forth. Verse 27 – “So God [Elohim] created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28) Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘ Be fruitful and multiply; fill [replenish] the earth and subdue it; have dominion …” – well, then later on, chapter 2, verse 15 – “Then the LORD God [the One we now know of as Jesus Christ] took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend it and keep it.” – I was on the gardening crew for two years out at AC, and on a regular basis our supervisor would remind us, “Back in Genesis you were told to dress it and keep it! So, go out there with your rake and your pruning sheer!” One time they asked me to prune a bush right in front of Mr. Al Portune’s house! And it faced out on Orange Grove. And I had never pruned a bush in my life! And they gave me a pair of snippers and they said, “Well, just prune it!” Well, I started pruning, and about two-hours later my supervisor came back and almost fainted! Because there wasn’t much of a bush left! And I was told later that when Mr. Portune walked home later that day, he was sort of startled at his front door! His beautiful bush didn’t quite look like a bush anymore! And I thought – well you shouldn’t have let me loose on it! Well, anyway the thing grew back, and it was beautiful again in about a year or two. So, they didn’t ask me ever again to prune a bush. I don’t know why!? Verse 16 – “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17) but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil …’” – and if you go into some of the Hebrew there, it wasn’t just the knowledge, it was the idea that you could determine the knowledge – you could determine what was right or wrong. And that “tree” man had no right to be a part of. It was only for GOD [Elohim] to decide that! “…’you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’” – and to my knowledge Adam and Eve are not with us anymore, so somewhere they died. Chapter 3, verse 1 – “Now the serpent …” – the cunning little salesman, the enchanting whisperer, the magical enchanter – and some of the Hebrew has those connotations. “…was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’? 2) And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3) but of the fruit of the tree which is in the [middle] of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ 4) Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.’” – and that’s a LIE – he is lying to YOU!! Verse 5 – “’For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you [shall be as God’s], knowing good and evil.’ 6) So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also [talked her husband into joining her].” – and so Adam made a big mistake in that spot! Verse 7 – “Then the eyes of both of them were opened …” – and you know how the story goes. But they got hoodwinked by Satan! Verse 16 – this is what happened because of that little stunt. Because they wouldn’t obey God, and because they didn’t control their emotions and their passions – this is what happened! They brought it on themselves! And, Satan had a big hand in it! “To the woman He [the LORD God] said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.’ 17) Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18) Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field.’” – so, because of that, and maybe even down to TODAY, the process of childbirth became much more difficult than it had to be, and many farmers had to really grind out an existence. And maybe even this curse has continued at different times to this day. And Satan was in the middle of that! He caused that problem!

Job and His Friends by Ilva Repin (1869)
Well, you know about the story of Job (pronounced Jobe), let’s turn back there quickly. Job – where Satan had a direct hand in causing a whole bunch of problems. In Job 1 – and I’ll summarize this really quickly – in affect, as I guess it says here, Satan was allowed to walk up to the very throne of God, and verse 6 – “Now there was a day when the sons of God [or rather the angels] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7) And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ 8) Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ 9) So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’” – even there Satan was sort of being cunning and double-tongued, even as he was talking to the LORD. Verse 10 – “’Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11) But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ 12) And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.’” – and so the day goes on, and everything that Job had was destroyed. His farm, his animals was stolen, his workers are killed. And then we read about how his son’s and daughter’s – verse 19 – and these were not good children. Earlier we see that Job made daily sacrifice to God for his children, because he knew they weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing. They were spoiled little brats living off their fathers name and income, and had no respect for their father or GOD. So, they’re not innocent little victims – but anyway – because God lifted that hedge and because Satan was allowed to get at them, notice verse 19 – “and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; and [only one made it out alive to tell the story]!’” – and so Job’s children were destroyed. Probably, by what Mr. GTA would often say, “A tornado.” It makes sense.

Well, John 13, we read about how Satan entered into the very heart and mind of Judas Iscariot! And before it was over, Judas betrayed his Master – we’ve read about that story. And, in Matthew 27 – Judas, when it was all said and done, committed suicide – he hung himself. And, we read in the Book of Acts that he just hung there until the gases in his body caused his bowels to burst and his intestines fell to the ground. That was Judas’ reward. And Satan manipulated him and used him, and then when he was through with him, he threw him away. You think about these people who enter into a building or shopping mall, loaded with all of their armaments, empty as many bullets as they can – taking as many people as they can with them – what do they almost always do in the end!? They commit suicide. Because Satan got all he could out of them, and they just murder themselves. Terrible. And we hear about it all the time – tragically!

Well, in 2nd Corinthians 12 – there’s a little bit of information that helps us understand that Satan at time’s can indeed afflict your health because God doesn’t stop him. Verse 7 – “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations [he talked about that early in the chapter], a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8) Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9) And He said to me, [this is Jesus speaking directly to Paul], ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak [with Christ’s help], then I am strong.” – and Paul, he’s a stronger man than I am. But it points out – and we can read in other places – such as Galatians 4 & 6 – you can pretty well figure out that Paul had problems with his eyesight. Mr. GTA often theorized, maybe he had cataracts or something. He just couldn’t see well. And, he said it was from Satan himself. ‘A messenger of Satan to buffet me.’ So apparently Satan was allowed to torment Paul. And I’m sure Satan thought – well boy, I’m really gonna get him! But Paul just turned around and said, ‘God, make me stronger! Help me! Work with me!’ And Paul got even more done than he would have before, because he knew he had to have God to help him. And God would indeed carry him through all that.

We know from Ephesians 6 that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but we wrestle against spiritual wickedness in high places. And, we need to be on our toes. We need to be alert, because if we’re not careful we can allow Satan to enter into our life and get too close to us, manipulate us, and cause a lot of problems for us. So, some of our problems do indeed come from Satan.

God will correct!

And the last section here – I want to talk about God. We do not like to think about God in this respect, because we like to think of God as a forgiving, merciful God, gracious God, patient God. And He is – He’s all of those things! But there are times when God says, “Enough! I’m done with it!” “No more patience, no more time! Here’s My judgment!” And we just hope and pray that He doesn’t do that to us – prematurely. But God says He will correct us. Turn back to the Book of Hebrews. Again, it’s not an aspect of God’s nature we like to dwell upon. And if we really cared about it we wouldn’t put Him in the position where He had to correct us. Just like any son or daughter with their parents – if you don’t want your mom and dad mad at you, don’t do the stuff that makes them mad. And in the same situation must reside with God. Hebrews 12:5 – “And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to [children]: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6) For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.’” – so there are times when God does intervene in and out of our life and cause a little mischief so that we will get our heads back to God and our hearts back to God. Verse 7 – “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with [children]; for what [child] is there whom a father does not chasten?” – well, in today’s age, that might not happen too often. I get the feeling, when I talk to my school teaching friends, that parents don’t discipline at all! And then the poor teachers have to deal with the classroom, and it becomes quite burdensome. Verse 8 – “But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are [bastards] and not [children].” – so if God doesn’t occasionally correct us then we aren’t his child, but if He loves us, there are times when He will nudge us back into the main street – the main path. Verse 9 – “Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10) For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He [God the Father] for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” – and so when God does correct you, He’s doing it to try and help you! Verse 11 – “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness …” – and that’s what God is after, ‘the peaceable fruit of righteousness.’

Well God does say He will intervene. Back in Deuteronomy 28, we’ve read it before, He talks about the BLESSINGS and He also talks about the CURSES! God is a generous God – we know that. But He also at times said, “I’m tired of fooling around with you! Here’s what you get!” And there are curses listed back in Deuteronomy 28, and they’re a bit chilling. And I have a feeling as a nation we aren’t far away from finding out what that means.

Noah's Ark (1846), by the American folk painter Edward Hicks
And then, in Genesis 6 – at the time of Noah. We hear the frustration in God’s words. And it tells us that there is a limit to God’s patients. There are moments when He says, “Enough! It’s over! It’s finished! I’m taking over!” Notice verse 3 – “And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not [abide] with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.’” – and we have taken that to say that Noah was given one hundred and twenty years to prepare the ark and the animals. Verse 5 – “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, …” – and there is three ways he says this, “…that EVERY intent of the thoughts of his heart was ONLY EVIL continually. 6) And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.” – He was sorry that He’d even started the process. Verse 7 – “So the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, …” – and then at the end He says, “…’for I AM sorry that I have made them.’ 8) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” And you know about the story. His family and the different animals. And then life did go on, but that tells us, there are times when God just intervenes and says, “No more!”

Well, Sodom and Gomorrah got to find out about that too – in Genesis 18. And we’re not going to go into it at a great length, you’ve all heard the story, and I think you understand the story. People in America doesn’t seem to understand it anymore, I guess they’re going to find out in their own due time. Verse 20 – we know that God appeared to Abraham and had two angels with Him, and we know that Abraham prepared almost like a little miniature Passover meal for them. Unleavened bread and
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin, 1852
wine. Fetched a tender calf, and so they ate. And, here, God says to Abraham, “’Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21) I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.’ 22) Then the men [these two angelic beings] turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD.” – and had a conversation. One of the most unique conversations I could ever imagine! God has said, “I AM going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah!” Remember, Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew was living there. And Abraham starts bargaining with God! “Well, if there was fifty righteous people, would You still destroy the city!?” And God says, “No.” And he works Him down, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty. And he gets down to ten. Notice verse 32 – “Then he said, ‘Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?’ And He said, ‘I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.’” – and a lot of people say, “Why!? Why ten!?” Now, I don’t know if you’ve thought about it, but very quickly turn to Genesis 19:12 – “Then the men [the angelic beings] said to Lot, ‘Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city – take them out of this place! 13) For we will destroy this place, … 14) So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, ‘Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!’ … 15) When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, ‘Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.’” – well if you put all that together, there was Lot and his wife, he had two daughters at home – four people. He had two married daughters – that’s six people. He had two sons – that’s eight people. And he had two sons-in-law – ten people. Why did Abraham bargain down to ten!? Because Abraham had ten family members. Lot’s family members. And Abraham was trying to save them. And they had a chance to be saved – some of them did. Remember Lot’s wife, she didn’t pay attention to instruction, and turned into a pillar of salt. But Lot and his two daughters did escape. And Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed. And so once again, God at times just runs out of patience and says, “I’m done with it.” “I’m going to bring forth the judgment that is proper.”

Example Only: Moses marries his 2nd wife
the Cushite (Ethiopian) woman after the death
of Zipporah.
We know about Numbers 12 – where Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses. Very arrogant. “Well, who do you think you are!?” And what were they all upset about? Moses married an Ethiopian woman. She was most likely black. And the brother and the sister of Moses didn’t like it. And they gave him a rash of a hard time. And they were so disrespectful that finally God says, “I’m gonna take care of this!” And you know the story. Miriam was given leprosy and Moses pleaded, “No, pleases don’t!” And finally she was healed after a few days. But God showed, “You push Me too far, and I will intervene.”

There is the story about Korah’s rebellion - in Numbers 16. You’ve all read about it, and for time’s sake I’ll just summarize – there were these prince’s of Israel that thought they were just as important as Moses. “Well, who do you think you are!?” “Who put you in charge!?” And they got uppity, and they got a little mutiny going on and God heard it, and before it was over, those people were swallowed up inside a crevice and just squished like bugs! And thousands of other people who were going along with them were also killed. And what is the words of that old Jim Croce song!? “You don’t pull on Superman’s cape! You don’t spit into the wind.” And you know, when you pull on God’s cape too long, He finally says, “Enough!” “I’m done with it!” And there are times when God does take over!

Well, King Nebuchadnezzar II. In Daniel 3 we read about how Nebuchadnezzar was all uppity. Had this big golden image, and told everybody they had to bow down and worship him. And there were three young Jewish prince’s that were loyal to God – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were their foreign names. And they refused. And when Nebuchadnezzar found out - and there were some Jewish spies trying to get the lad’s into trouble – he had a big fit and he said, “Get the furnace warmed up, set it seven-times normal and we’re gonna throw them in and burn them up!” Well the soldiers that were trying to pull them in, as the doors were opened, the tongues of the flames licked out and consumed them! And they finally threw the three guys in. And a little later Nebuchadnezzar looks in and he says, “I thought we just put three people in there! Why do I see four!?” And said, “the fourth is like the Son of God.’ And some people might say, “Well, maybe that was an angel.” I tend to take it literally. 1 I think the One we now call Jesus Christ went there. Remember the lad’s told Nebuchadnezzar, “If you throw us into the fiery flame, God can save us! And if He doesn’t, so be it! We’re still going to obey God and not you!” And we find out later that not a hair was singed, their clothing did not smell of fire, they were totally and completely protected. And finally Nebuchadnezzar allowed them to come out, and then he got very respectful. Probably a little scared. Well I guess Nebuchadnezzar had a little haughty spirit, but before it was over, he ended up in chapter 4 with seven-years insane. And I think God said, “Alright, you think you’re tough!? Wait till you find out you’ve lost your mind and your out in the field like a wild animal!” The dew, the dirt, his hair like feathers, his finger nails coming out like claws. And for seven years Nebuchadnezzar was stark raving mad! And then, in mercy, God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to have his mind back. So God indeed can afflict people if He wishes.

In Acts 5 – we read about Ananias and Sapphira. They lied about the possession they sold. They sold some property and they lied to the apostles. They could have kept it all – it was their money – but, they said, “Oh, we’ve given it all and they hadn’t. They lied. And to make a long story short, both of them were killed – just struck down. And God did that!

We read about King Herod Agrippa I in Acts 12. In the first part of that chapter, he slays James – cuts his head off! Had Peter thrown into jail. Well, a little later, he’s at his camp putting on a speech and all the people were screaming, “Oh King Herod, you’re just as wonderful as God!” He was just way too impressed with himself. And God said, ‘Because you didn’t give Me the glory.’ – King Herod Agrippa I dies 2 by the hand of God!

So God can intervene in your life or the lives of others.

Paul tells us in the Book of Hebrews chapter 10 – that ‘it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’ We need to remember that! God is our friend, Jesus Christ is our Savior, He is our soon coming King! But He has limits to His patience! And we need to make sure that we NEVER put God the Father and Jesus Christ into that spot where They have to figure out – ‘What do we do with them!?’ Stay loyal to God. And don’t fall into that position where you fall into the hands of an angry living God!


Well today we have explored and discussed some of the reasons that bad things happen to people. Some are health issues. Sometimes it’s as simple as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes it is the responsibility of the individual of himself, or herself. And sometimes other people are the trouble makers. Sometimes Satan and his demons can afflict a persons life. And sometimes God Himself meeks out judgment and correction. Let all of us pray to God that They will pour out Their Spirit upon us, that They will send Their angels to protect us, that They will bless us and guide us. That They will keep Satan and his demons far away. That They place a hedge about us, as we read in Job. Let all of us strive to become spiritually mature, and to learn to control our thoughts, emotions, and desires. And let all of us grow in grace and in knowledge. And may God bless, protect and guide, and lead, all of us. Remember the words of the song – If He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders. I know my brothers and my sisters that He will indeed carry you!

1 Interestingly, the Jamieson Fausset and Brown Commentary states, “Unconsciously, like Saul, Caiaphas (John 11:49-52), and Pilate, he is made to utter divine truths. pg. 740.
2 Wikipedia states – “He was immediately smitten with violent pains, … He experienced heart pains and a pain in his abdomen, and died after five days. (The Works of Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, XIX, VIII, §2).
Be sure to read today Mr. Michael C. Garrett's Biblical Prophecy Series. Click on Photo for more information.

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