May 17, 2011

Get to Know Your Family

“Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God.” ~1 Sam. 23:16


Over the past week, we were blessed with the presence of about 80 brothers and sisters in Christ from across the United States. We got the chance to talk, play, and rejoice together. Our voices were lifted in unison that was not only beautiful to listen to, but filled me with a desire to hear the combined chorus of all the saints and angels in Heaven, shouting praises in perfect harmony to the Most High God. Sometimes, however, due to tiredness, emotions, or merely shyness, we back away from the chance to find out more about our family. We shy away from introductions, convincing ourselves that we couldn’t think of any interesting topics, or that they wouldn’t want to talk anyway, or we shy away because we want to remain in our own close-knit circles of friends without any distractions from others we’ve met only once. Yet ask yourselves this question: If you are nervous about meeting new people, or to put it another way, about meeting your brothers and sisters in Christ, how will you ever possibly be bold enough to share the Gospel with an unbeliever? These are family members, precious children in the sight of God, joint heirs of a kingdom everlasting. If we never meet these people, we will never get a chance to see how truly wonderful they are. But introductions are only the first steps. After that comes the truly fun part: mutual enjoyment, edification, and encouragement. So many times, we find it a chore to think of things to say about the Lord. Yet this is only because we have a wrong relationship with the Lord. When we have a real, strong, one-on-one relationship with Him, we will find it not only easy and natural, but a great joy to speak of the One who has given us the greatest gift imaginable. Look at the verse above: Jonathan arises and travels hundreds of miles to an outlaw who is being sought by the king, for the sole purpose of strengthening David’s hand in the Lord. What an example to us! Like Jonathan and David, our hearts should be knit to fellow believers and we should be willing to risk our lives, possessions, and earthly inheritances to encourage and strengthen them in their stand for the Lord. These past few days, our brothers and sisters in Christ have come to visit us and though we may not have had time to talk to every single one, we at least have had the opportunity, as was said this week, “to extend the right hand of fellowship” to them. Don’t hesitate to meet others you may only see once every year or two. These people are not only your family here on earth, but in heaven, as well. If you are going to spend eternity in their company, why wait to get to know them? When you find a good book, you immediately sit down and begin reading, you don’t set it aside for years until you are retired and have more free time. How blessed we are to start learning and benefiting from the company of our friends so soon! May your friendships here on earth grow so strong that instead of meeting at the gates of Heaven as distant acquaintances, you meet with a shout of joy as you embrace as brothers and sisters! Hallelujah! May God be glorified!

Your brother in Christ,


May 15, 2011

Why do the wicked prosper?

“Now the Angel of the Lord said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?’ … And the Angel of the Lord said to her: ‘Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son…because the Lord has heard your affliction….His hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.’ ” ~Gen. 16: 7-8; 11-12

Brothers in Christ,

Many times in our lives, we will encounter situations in which we will be in dire need of help. For these situations, and in fact every situation, the first one to seek help from is the Lord. The Lord will always help us, but not always in the ways we expect or desire. Sometimes the Lord helps those who don’t even believe in His Name. Though we don’t know the state of Hagar’s heart, based on some statements she makes, it doesn’t seem like she had a firm faith in God. Nevertheless, the Lord takes compassion upon her and gives her a seed that, like the lineage of Isaac, “shall not be counted for multitude.” But look at the ultimate purpose: Ishmael is raised up to be brought down. Why? Why is often a question that many people can’t answer, but by searching God’s Word, He gives us an answer. Ishmael is raised up so that God can show Himself glorious. Examples like Ishmael sober, humble, and remind us not only of God’s justice, but also of His mercy. We were doing a family Bible study the other night and we were going over Judges 3:1-4, which says that the Lord permitted various Canaanite nations to remain that He might test those Israelites “who had not known any of the wars in Canaan.” The Lord did so not only, as the passage says, to train them in warfare, but also to test their loyalty to Him. So the answer to “why?” is so that the Lord may instruct and test those whom He has predestined to eternal life. Kings, criminals, ordinary laymen all may be blessed with riches, success, or power for a time, but they are an example to us. How merciful is the Lord, that He has preserved us from eternal separation from Him! How thankful we should be that He has blessed us with eternal life! I asked my dad a while back if he thought that many Native Americans or ancient North American civilizations were saved. He said that some may have been, but we can’t know for sure. How sobering it is to think that besides a few here and there, the Lord may have seen fit to inflict judgment on all the peoples of the earth, except His chosen people: Israel. Next time you ask yourself why the wicked are prosperous, be reminded of your eternal reward and of the mighty deeds of the Lord. For there is another purpose behind their success: that we might see it and glorify God for His mercy towards us in preserving us from the punishment that they will one day receive.

Your brother in Christ,