Is God Dead?

Jeremiah 32:26-27 “Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?”

Genesis 18:13-14 “And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Job 42:2 “I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.”

Sojourner Truth was born a slave with the name Isabella Baumtree. She accepted Christ as her Saviour in her early 30s, shortly after escaping from the inhumane lifestyle of slavery, and became an influential American abolitionist, women’s rights activist, speaker, and author.

In 1847, Truth attended an event featuring the prominent speaker and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. That night, Douglass was uncharacteristically pessimistic about the prospects for the eradication of slavery in the United States, and Truth could not sit silently in the midst of a speech with such a discouraging tone. In the midst of Douglass’ speech, she stood to her feet and proclaimed three powerful worlds – “Is God dead?”

This rhetorical question, with an obvious answer of NO, quickly snapped Douglass from his pessimism and changed the tone of the entire meeting. It also became a rallying cry for the abolitionist movement in America and the cause for freedom for all people.

As we consider the challenging conditions of our day, we too might find ourselves slipping into an attitude of uncharacteristic pessimism about our future national prospects. When we do, we must stand to our feet and declare a similar sentiment to Truth’s – “Is God dead?” As we remind ourselves of the obvious answer of NO, it should quickly snap us from our pessimism and change the tone of our entire environment. In fact, it should be a rallying cry for our Christian movement in America and the cause of freedom for all people.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO REMEMBER THE POTENCY AND POWER OF A LIVING GOD. There is nothing too hard for Him! He can do anything and everything! And, we must regularly remind ourselves and those around us of those powerful words that demand an obvious answer of NO – Is God dead?

That One Solitary Life

Psalm 20:7 “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.”

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

I John 4:4 “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

In the dark depths of 1942, Pastor Thomas Williams recalls the following thoughts attributed to an unknown author (from “Strength for Service”):

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never had a family of His own. He never went to college. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did a single one of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself. He had nothing to do with this world except through the naked power of His divine manhood.

While still a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them betrayed Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves. His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying, and that was His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed tomb through the pity of a friend.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.”

Our Lord and Saviour demonstrates the power of God’s plan over any finely tuned calculations of human rationality. It also proves His preeminence, and the powerful potential for impact of those who rely upon Him.

Our resumes, our circumstances, and our positioning may not seem to meet the minimum requirements for revolutionary, lasting impact. But, Jesus has called us to serve and represent Him in the places and the times of His selection. And, He has empowered us to do so effectively. After all, He is greater than the world and has overcome it through His divine sacrificial power.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO TRUST THE DIVINE POWER OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR TO IMPACT OUR SOCIETY. All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.

Everything Sad Is Untrue II

John 1:14-17 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”

II John 1:3 “Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”

As described in last week’s PLUS post, “Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story)” is a powerful book about Christianity and the nature of our Lord and Saviour. The author, Daniel Nayeri, describes the following about the nature of a true God: 

 “There are gods all over the world who just want you to express yourself. Look inside and find whatever you think you are and that’s all it takes to be good. And there are gods who are so alien to us, with minds so clear, the only thing to do would be to sit at their feet and wait from them to speak, to tell us what is good.
A god who listens is love.
A god who speaks is law.
At their worst, the people who want a god who listens are self-centered. They just want to live in the land of do-as-you-please. And the ones who want a god who speaks are cruel. They just want laws and justice to crush everything.
I don’t have an answer for you. This is the kind of thing you live your whole life thinking about probably.
Love is empty without justice.
Justice is cruel without love …
Oh, and in case it wasn’t obvious, the answer is both.
God should be both.
If a god isn’t, that is no God.”

The Lord God simultaneously and continuously listens and speaks. He is both love and the law. His love is full because He embodies justice. His justice is righteous and gracious because He embodies love. He deals with us in truth and love – in grace and truth.

As believers, we should desire a God who both listens and speaks. We should squint with our eager ears to hear what He has to say, and strain with our importune voices to provide our praise and petitions to Him. And we should recognize the power of a Saviour and real God who is full of grace and truth.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO TRUMPET THE UNIQUE COMBINATION OF CHARACTERISTICS OF OUR JUST AND LOVING GOD. God should be both, and if a god isn’t, then that is no God. Our Lord is both, and so much more!

Everything Sad Is Untrue I

Acts 16:30-31 “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

“Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story)” by Daniel Nayeri is a true narrative written from the perspective of a 12-year-old refugee boy from Iran living in Oklahoma. It was recognized as a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR. Those periodicals rated it so highly because it is a stunning book about humanity. But, it is also a powerful book about Christianity. 

Daniel’s family were forced to become refugees from Iran because his sister and his mom accepted Christ as their Saviour. Doing so was a capital crime, punishable by death after a guilty verdict in a religious court. And so, before they could be slaughtered for their faith, they left their wealthy lifestyle in Iran to live a humble lifestyle in Oklahoma.

Daniel describes the conversion in this way:

“Sima, my mom, read about him [Christ] and became a Christian too. Not just a regular one, who keeps it in their pocket. She fell in love. She wanted everybody to have what she had, to be free, to realize that in other religions you have rules and codes and obligations to follow to earn good things, but all you had to do with Jesus was believe he was the one who died for you. And she believed.”

He then goes on to describe the ramifications of her relationships with Christ:

“It’s true and it’s more valuable than seven million dollars in gold coins, and thousands of acres of Persian countryside, and ten years of education to get a medical degree, and all your family, and a home, and the best cream puffs of Jolfa, and even maybe your life … If you believe it’s true, that there is a God and He wants you to believe in Him and He sent His Son to die for you – then it has to take over your life. It has to be worth more than everything else, because heaven’s waiting on the other side.”

Young Daniel goes on to say this: “What you believe about the future will change how you live in the present.”

As American Christians today, may we not just keep Christ in our pockets, but instead fall in love with Him. May we want everybody to have what we have. May we value our relationship with Him more than everything else. And, may we allow His truths to truly take over our lives.

PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO INVEST OURSELVES FULLY IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST IN OUR LAND. After all, what we believe about the future must change how we live in the present.

The Possibility of Perishing

Esther 4:14-16 “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer. Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in, unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”

Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

Isaiah 6:8 “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.”

Esther 4:14b is the theme of the PLUS ministry – “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” It provides a powerful reminder to us today, like it did to Esther when Mordecai challenged her. Each of us have been sent here specifically by God to fulfill His unique purposes in our time and in our place. In the context of PLUS, it means that we have been directed to represent Christ in our land, serving Him for our good and His glory, and striving to return Him to the center of our lives, our communities, and our society. It challenges Christians to pray to change our national spirit so that the Lord can change our national direction.

With all the attention on verse 14, I never properly lingered on the power of verse 16. Convicted by Mordecai’s words, Esther sets forth a plan to implement her unique role in her time and her place. She is convinced that she is doing the right thing via her bold and faith-filled stand, but in verse 16 she acknowledges the risk and that the results are left up to God. Undeterred, she takes the large step of faith regardless of the potential consequences. Faithfully and not fatalistically, she walks into the unknown, boldly acknowledging: “and if I perish, I perish.”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego respond in a similar way, implementing their unique role in their time and their place. They are convinced that they are doing the right thing via their bold and faith-filled stand, but in verse 18 they acknowledge the risk and that the results are left up to God. Undeterred, they take a large step of faith regardless of the potential consequences. Faithfully and not fatalistically, they walk into the unknown, boldly acknowledging: “but if not … we will not serve thy gods.”

We need American Christians to follow this path today, believers who stand up and speak out. We have been placed here with unique roles in our time and our place. We must do the right thing via a bold and faith-filled stand in our situations while acknowledging the risk and that the results are left up to God. Undeterred, we must take large steps of faith regardless of the potential consequences. Faithfully and not fatalistically, we must walk into the unknown, boldly accepting the challenges through words of faith like Isaiah: “Here am I, send me.”

PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD TAKE LARGE STEPS OF FAITH, UNDETERRED BY THE POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES. We live in a time where our reputations and our livelihoods are at risk if we stand up and speak out for what is right. The possibility of perishing lurks around every corner and as the result of each decision. In spite of that risk, may we serve God boldly and faithfully.

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