We all deserve the flood!

 

I have recently been appalled by a specific post on the topic of gay marriage and it’s apparent relevance to the recent floods in Britain. 

The blog post in question is:

http://eveningharold.com/2014/01/19/god-blames-ukip-for-flood-of-stupidity/#comments

It was posted in response to a now ex-member of UKIP, Councillor David Silvester. After he said

“Disaster would come of Gay Marriage.”

And that

“Mr Cameron acted arrogantly against the Gospel.”

When asked for more of his opinion on blaming the floods and storms on the gay marriage bill, he said:

"The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war."

Find this article here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25802437

The issues to discuss are the way the author of the Evening Harold conducted themselves in their counterargument to Councillor Silvester. In addition, exploring if there is any scriptural evidence of God using natural disasters to ‘punish’ a nation.

So who is right here? Is either right?

Firstly, what scripture says about the writer and their attitude.

Romans 2:1-3

1Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?

Before continuing, for the sake of clarification, to point out that this topic has an ambiguous line that will not be crossed, as it may be misconstrued that judgement is also being passed. It is right to make it clear that is not the intention of this post. The objective is to use the method of a Biblical approach to highlight the issues as aforementioned. We find in the The Evening Harold blog post a judgemental and unchristian attitude towards people they disagree with. Paul says in our passage from Romans that if we pass judgement on people that we condemn ourselves. Therefore, when the blog author states at the end that people like the Councillor will be going to ‘warmer places’ (that being hell) is potentially bringing judgement on them. Paul says that you have no right to do that, only God can judge. If we judge we are walking into danger and bringing ourselves to condemnation. The author of this post has gone about this in the wrong way with their judgemental attitude. The post instead should be filled with loving forgiveness and gentle rebuking. The way to convince is not by angry blog posts, but with posts filled of hope and loving grace .

 

Through grace we were saved, by the help of grace we forgive.

 

Secondly, the examination of how the Bible addresses God using a flood to judge the mistakes of the people of the world.

 

 

 

Revelation 18:4-8

4Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; 5 for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Pay her back as she herself has paid back others, and repay her double for her deeds; mix a double portion for her in the cup she mixed. 7 As she glorified herself and lived in luxury, so give her a like measure of torment and mourning, since in her heart she says, ‘I sit as a queen, I am no widow, and mourning I shall never see.’ 8 For this reason her plagues will come in a single day, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for mighty is the Lord God who has judged her.”

 

In this passage God sees the sins of nations, he remembers them, especially those of an unrepentant nation like Babylon. So is it possible that God could use floods and natural disasters?

Well, to answer this simply, yes God can. Why? …because God is just.

Psalm 111:7

The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;

God is perfect, just and righteous. There was only one man that could be this and that is Jesus. It is something no human can claim. We can not judge and we should not question anything that God does, because we are imperfect fallen sinners. We can not say if what God decrees is just or not. We do not have that right.

We need to remember we are all imperfect. We all deserve the flood.

However, God declares this statement in Genesis:

Genesis 8: 21-22

21 …the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

In this passage, just after the flood which destroyed everything but Noah, his family and two of every animal, God declares never again will he do this on such a large scale.

God instead chooses to give life. Not to take it.

1 Timothy 1:15

15The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Instead of wiping the world clean, God came into the world, he dwelt on Earth and then gave himself as a sacrifice for us. He dealt with sin directly. He paid the price for us.

Jesus took the judgement that we deserve out of love for us.

That does not mean that God will not punish people for sins. There are two ways to live. Those who follow Christ and those who don’t. With this in mind, think carefully if you have yet to make the decision and let God in to your life. To feel the love of his forgiveness and grace.

If you would like to ask a question on this or any topic related to Christianity please follow this link to the Word to Life Answered YouTube series:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5555nGRE6A&list=PLYc9iVzgdUC-KOTsjMjFEdHq0j2874T6T&index=1

God Bless

Gareth

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I want to tear my hair out!

We all have bad days. Some worse than others. But there is nothing worse than having a problem resting on your shoulders, making you worry, stressing you out. You lie awake a night wondering what you should do. Sometimes stress and anxiety may been seen as something that you don’t discuss with faith, maybe you even feel embarrassed that you are stressed. In this post we are going to look at what Christianity has to say about Stress and anxiety.

But first lets define stress and look at some statistics. Stress as defined by Anxiety UK:

The word stress is usually used to describe the feelings that people experience when the demands made on them are greater than their ability to cope. At such times people can often feel overloaded, under tremendous pressure and very tense or emotional. Stress affects everyone, young and old.

http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/about-anxiety/stress/

Here are some statistics on Stress and Anxiety taken from http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/anxiety/anxiety/anxiety-facts-and-statistics.html

  • Anxiety affects around 16% of the population at any one time.
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (see Types of Anxiety) affects 2-5% of people but accounts for 30% of the mental health problems in people seen by GPs (Source: Department of Work and Pensions).
  • In our Uncovered report we found that 67% of the British population state that money worries cause them anxiety.
  • 34% of the UK population agreed that they use alcohol for this purpose. Broken down, this relates to 37% of men and 30% of women admitting that they are likely to turn to alcohol to cope with low mood, anxiety or depression.

http://www.mentalhealthy.co.uk/anxiety/anxiety/anxiety-facts-and-statistics.html

So as we can see from the statistics that stress and anxiety are a big issue in a busy modern day way of living. We have family commitments, work takes up more and more of our time and with the frailty of our economic system, we have financial concerns on top of that. 

the world would say go on holiday, have a break go for a spa weekend. But at the end of the holiday and the spa, the financial worries are still there, the only thing that has happened is that you have been distracted from them.

So what does Christianity have to say to stress.

First off God takes stress seriously. Secondly if you are suffering from stress you are not sinning, it is not a sin to be stressed. Finally God is not ashamed of you and he hasn’t turned his back on you. With this in mind lets see what the gracious loving God of the Bible has to say about stress.

Stress is never mentioned by name in the Bible, but the effects of anxiety are. Jesus talks about it. The worries that lead to stress, the worries which keep you up at night. Jesus says:

 

 

Matthew 6:34 (ESV)

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

 

Jesus says here that you should expect to have anxieties, that we will encounter them. That we should not trouble ourselves with more than we can handle. We tend to in our busy lives try to solve all our problems in one day. Because of this self induced pressure with unrealistic personal deadlines.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

 

So you may be thinking well what can God do?

Clearly nothing, apart from telling us not to worry.

 

Well not quite. Jesus also says:

 

Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

28 Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

This may leave you confused, especially as a believer struggling with stress, you may be thinking “I believe, why is my burden still there?”  But I ask you the question, have you given your worries to God? Have you trusted that Jesus will deal with it? This is a difficult thing to do. But worthwhile. On the road to becoming more Christ-like, we want to do what Christ did and give your problems over to God. Jesus prays continually for guidance and intervention from The Father. If Jesus did, why cant we? Is your problem to big for God to handle? Give it over to God to trust that he will equip you to get through the problem and that he will take the stress away.

 

Giving your problems over to God may not immediately solve your problems and worries. What then do you do as you are lay in bed at night awake?

 

Focus on our great hope.

 

Having given your problem over to God, think of the future hope that you have through Christ.

 

 

 

Revelation 21:3-4 (ESV)

3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 

The great hope that we have in Christ is that all of the worries that you have now. All the problems, financial, emotional, family. All those problems will be gone. No more tears shed. No more pain.

 

There is hope in Christ.

 

In these uncertain times, of worry and stress. Take comfort in Christ. Take comfort in the hope.

I do hope this helped.

God bless.

Gareth.

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Has mission and evangelism failed?

 

This post is in response to a BBC article I found recently. One which is filled with an unresponsive heart to mission and evangelism, a sometimes hate filled attack on mission and evangelistic work.

Having seen this post may have lead some people to think has mission and evangelism failed? Is it dead? Is there a place for it today?

Well my answer is that Mission and evangelism has not failed, and there is still a great need for it today.

Why has it not failed? Well we see countless times through the New testament, that the Church comes under a lot resistance, this is most clear in the Book of Acts. In this book devoted to the story of the early Church, we find examples of the church under persecution and a line that crops up again and again is the line:

Acts 19:20

So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

This showed that through riots, through persecution, through executions, the word of the Lord, that is the Gospel was not stopped, and in God’s infinite sovereignty he allowed his Gospel to spread further and faster. What does this mean? First off it means that we need to trust what The Bible says. So when it says the Gospel spread more EVEN after persecution and resistance, that it did. Secondly because we believe that we need to trust that God is still doing that now. That though we may be living in a seemingly more anti-God world that even through this resistance and persecution in some parts of the world, that God is working out his plan, and nothing can stop it as Jesus says:

Matthew 16:18 (ESV)

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

This means that what God has started can not be stopped, so for Christians this is a great encouragement, to keep trusting in God, that he will work out his plan in this world.

This however leads us to a second point of is there a place for mission and evangelism today? As we have seen from scripture God works all things to good, so even as the Church is persecuted it grows and gets stronger and the good news of Jesus spreads more. But is there a need to go on missions, is there a need to run evangelistic events at your Church, to hand out leaflets, to even tell your friends? The answer to that is simple and is found at the end of the Gospel of Matthew;

Matthew 28:16-20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

This is the great commission, the task set out before all Christians, to go to all nations of the Earth, to baptize all those who believe and to teach them the way of the Lord Jesus. Now the key here is that, Jesus has not said stop doing this when it gets tough, he hasn’t said just till 2014 because after that it will be to hard with all the atheists running around. He has not said stop following this command but instead says in Verse 20 that he will be with us always to the end of the age. Which means we need to keep to this task till he returns and that it will be tough and we will face resistance but Jesus will be with us the whole way. Brothers and sisters as you read this, do not be put of by the media that may they think they have scared us off talking about Jesus, we need to stand up for our Lord and do as the Great Commission says, to go and make disciples of the nations till such a day that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

I do hope you have taken from this Blog post, and that you have been encouraged by it. If you would like to discuss more feel free to leave a comment or follow the link below to the Facebook page to comment there.

God bless

Gareth

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/scriptureguides?ref=hl

The article discussed above:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25561810

The greatest Christmas present.

 

 

 

It’s Christmas time again, it comes around every year, shops are packed with people, Christmas music playing everywhere and TV channels taken up mostly with Christmas films. Then someone comes along and makes a video or writes a blog saying:

Put Christ back into Christmas.

Save Christmas!

In this post I am, in a way, asking for those things… but I am not here to attack the commercialisation of Christmas. Instead, I will try to make clear some truths about Christmas. That, yes indeed we want Christ back in Christmas, but not just little baby Jesus meek and mild. We need to think of Jesus as Lord and saviour, King of kings.

I will base a lot of this post around the verse:

 
 
1 Timothy 1:15 (ESV)

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost

 

Yes Jesus did come as a baby but we cannot and should not stray away or dwell on that which will take us from the real reason of Jesus’ coming and that he was to be a sacrifice, as a sacrifice for our sins, so that in his coming he would save all those who trust in him. We must remember this “oh so familiar story” of a child being born in Bethlehem but see it as the coming of a king, The King of Kings, the coming of The Lord of the Earth, the one who would come and save all those who believe in him. We must stick to this, we must not stray or focus for too long on little baby Jesus, but see what this whole event points to…

It points to the child who is a king.

It points to a child who will become a sacrifice.

If you are reading this and you are a non believer you may be sat there wondering, “What is this guy going on about?” But I am saying that to a non -believer Christmas is a time of a hope, that because we are all sinners and we all mess up, that God did not just sit back and watch us destroy ourselves but instead gave us hope.

Hope in Christ…

 

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

This child mentioned in this passage is the hope of our salvation, this child is Jesus, prophesised 400 years before Jesus was born. At Christmas time, at the time of Jesus’ birth he had the expectation of being the messiah/ the saviour resting on his shoulders. 33 years later at the cross Jesus has the sins of the whole world upon his shoulders. So that all those who trust in him will be saved. God gave this the greatest Christmas present, this amazing gift of mercy and forgiveness out of love for us.

 

John 3:16 (ESV)

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

So to sum up if you are a believer reading this, stay steadfast and firm to this truth, that Jesus’ coming was the beginning on the steps towards salvation. But don’t sit back this Christmas, tell people about God’s greatest gift, this Christmas share this gift with others, tell others of the love that Christ has for them. If you are a non-believer reading this, please trust in the hope found in Jesus, trust that in him your sins are forgiven. In Jesus you are saved.

Trust the hope of Christ this Christmas.

Have a blessed Christmas.

Gareth

 

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I Could Do A Better Job Than That!

We can not avoid in the news today yet another disaster. Another killing. Another case of child abduction or abuse. This can and does put people off the idea of God. It is easy when you see these things to wonder “if there is a God, why is he idly  watching by? letting these things happen?”

The answer to this is Sin.

The effect of sin is bigger than the damage it has on humans, but also its impact on creation. We live in a fallen world. A world which could be perfect but because of sin is marred.

So where did this all start then, well in Genesis 3.

 

Genesis 3: 17-19

17And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

In this passage then the key verses are 17-18. Because of the sin of taking from the tree of knowledge which God told Adam and Eve to not take from, God cuts them off from all the potential knowledge and power of the tree but also because of their sin informs them that certain things will not work in creation as well as they had done before “The Fall”. When God created the world he declared it good having made it perfect. But now, “Post Fall” the world is not so good, the word used in verse 17 “Cursed” meant the ground was now not considered good but instead fallen, broken.

The way to imagine all this is that now the world is sick from sin. It needs to be given a cure to the disease of sin.

Sin is the cause of all the pain and suffering, all the natural disasters, Pre-fall there is no sign of hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis and suffering and death. It is only after sin entered the world that the world becomes broken, becomes fallen and imperfect. Soon following the first sin is the first murder, so powerful is influence of sin.

So the reason for all the shocking things that we see on the news are because of the fallen world we live in, because of the sin of our first parents Adam and Eve.

But does this mean God has done nothing about it?

No… Quite the opposite.

 

 

Romans 8: 18-23

18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

 

God had a plan. A rescue plan for creation and for us. One in which he would give his only son up for us and creation.  God saw the effect and damage that sin had on the world. To tackle the infection of Sin, God sent his only son to be a sacrifice for our sins. He came to make us and the world right with him. Jesus came to take away the power of sin by dying on our behalf.

Jesus came to make us and creation righteous. Righteous meaning right with God.

In the passage above we see that as we look and long for the return of Christ, the one who has taken the punishment for our sins, so does creation, it “waits with eager longing”. Creation looks for a release from the bondage of sin just as much as we do.

Does all this mean then that as soon as you become a Christian there is no suffering in your life and in the world around you. Well no. Until Christ returns again there will be death, and there will be natural disasters and famine. But when Christ comes again and we are taken to Heaven we will be in a place of no more tears and no more sorrow. 

 

 

Revelation 21:1-4

1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

This glorious picture of what life will be like when Christ returns, shows us that there is hope. There is hope and an end to suffering. We know that through Christ and only through Christ can the world be healed more importantly only through Christ can we be forgiven “healed” of our sin.

God bless.

G.

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