Comfort In The Valley – Tony Evans

(2 Corinthians 1:3-4) “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

You may be going through something today and have a picture of what “deliverance” from that situation means. Don’t set yourself up for discouragement by creating conditions that God must meet. Don’t set up the circumstances of what “answer to prayer” means. Deliverance from the shadow of the valley may mean you have to go through it clear to the other side.  God is teaching you how to trust and rely on His Word and Himself.

Wise Men Still Seek Him

(Matthew 2:1-2)  “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

The first question asked in the New Testament comes from men who are seeking God. This stands in stark contrast to the first question asked in the Old Testament that comes from God seeking man:

(Genesis 3:9)  “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?”

After mankind fell and became by nature a sinner, God was the first to respond. The created humanity He loved and declared ruler of this earth-realm had turned away to worship the creature more than the Creator. But God sought man and made a provision for him through a blood sacrifice (Genesis 3:21). God knew that man’s greatest need was now for a provision that he could not provide for himself. Man’s response to God  was to hide in shame and cover it up with his own self-effort (Genesis 3:7). Human viewpoint was invented – It was someone else’s fault for the failure!

We do not know how many wise men came seeking the Lord Jesus. But they sought Him out the need to worship. They understood who He was as King of the Jews. Their gifts demonstrate they understood deeply who He was as the Messiah. Their gifts were a result of their belief rather than a religious effort to gain His approval. Wise men do not run away from God. Wise men realize their position before God and where true worship should be directed.

Each one of us must decide whether we are going to be like the human being in the garden covering up our sin in shame and religion or like the wise men who realize our deepest need for God. Which one are you?

Renewed Thought – “Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God.” A.W. Tozer

The Church and Gun Control – Part 3

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series The Church and Gun Control

(I realize this is a hot topic right now. I also realize that many readers of The Renewed Mind hold a variety of views. But unlike many posts and articles I’ve read recently, this is not an attempt at commentary or political positioning. I intend to put forward a Biblically-based approach. Sometimes, no matter what you intend, people receive what you write the wrong way. For this I apologize in advance for my failure to communicate clearly.)

(2 Timothy 1:7)  “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Just in the last week there have been events of enormous significance. The gun control argument is once again in the headlines as the U.S. Senate decided against a bill yesterday.  Most of us probably know about recent tragic bombing in Boston (and we pray for those victims and those responsible would be captured and brought to justice). Even in what we call “modern times”, we see plague, famine, war and incomprehensible crimes against humanity. There is a lot to be afraid of in the world. But what kind of mindset and lifestyle does God call us to live?

From Paul’s day all the way down to our own times those who speak the name of Christ have been persecuted under oppressive regimes. Paul’s letters to Timothy are addressed to a young pastor who suffers persecution. Yet there is encouragement to gain spiritual strength in the calling rather than be drained of the motive and motivation to preach. We can all take away the intent of this epistle and apply it to our own thinking. The focus is not on those who want to do harm but rather the focus is on ministry and calling. Giving in to a mindset of fear and focusing on those things that are meant to cause it drains the life and power out of what God intends for us to be in this life.

We should step back once in awhile and examine our own lifestyle to determine the motivations and basis on which we live. Is my lifestyle and focus in life around those things that cause me to be afraid? Is the message I communicate with others born out of fear? Are my words aligned with the gospel or are they aligned with a focus on the world? As we apply this mindset to the position of gun control, we should ask ourselves – Is my position on gun control based on fear or is it based on common sense and a desire for something positive?

Regardless of how you come down on the issue, the Bible gives us God’s position on the mindset and motivation for living in a violent world. The Church has always existed in this type of world. Ultimately, fear is an individual issue. You must determine whether fear or faith will determine your lifestyle and life decisions. As goes the individual…so goes the Church.