Saturday, December 6, 2008

If You Think Life Is Hopeless, It Is

Hebrews 11

I. Trust God

A. There is no way for people to get to God who refuse to believe He can be reached. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)

B. Psalm 78 rehearses the story of disaster flowing from Israel’s refusal to believe God would help. “And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?” (Psalm 78:18-19) “Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:” (Psalm 78:22)

C. Cain, who murdered his brother, is the patron of despair. “And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.” (Genesis 4:13)

D. Revelation vividly describes people who think their punishment is the problem, not the sin which prompted God’s wrath. “And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.” (Revelation 16:9-11)

II. Take the Medicine

A. Jeremiah traced the Babylonian disaster to Israel’s refusal to repent and its unwillingness to connect the problem to heaven’s punishment for sin. “O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.” (Jeremiah 5:3)

B. Ignorant obliviousness to cause and effect magnifies the problem and compounds the punishment God administers for sin. “Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.” (Isaiah 42:25)

C. Hardness of heart makes life brittle to the point of shattering. “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;” (Romans 2:5)

D. A serious believer will consider the possibility that sin lies at the heart of hard times and seek God’s direction to resolve the problem.Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Psalm 19:13)

E. The Lord cannot be bluffed; God always knows who takes the medicine and who does not; people who refuse their medicine do not recover. The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright. (Psalm 11:5-7)

III. Avoid Self-Medicating

A. It is ridiculous to take problems to God and ignore His answers for them; no one cheats death for long. Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken.” (Jeremiah 13:15) Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10)

B. Thinking punishment will go away ranks with thinking cancer will cure itself and is precisely what is taking place when people assume God is unconcerned with sin and righteousness. “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.” (Zephaniah 1:12) “Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down: And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:” (Amos 9:2-3)

C. Psychological, social, cultural, and political solutions are all variations of God-avoiding self-help. “Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” (Jeremiah 17:5)

D. Jesus told believers not to take risks; stay with God’s solutions for sin and punishment. “Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4:7)

Blog Archive