Why do bad things happen to good people?

We’ve all been asked that question. Perhaps we’ve at least asked it ourselves. The answer is hard. It’s hard to understand why seemingly bad things happen to seemingly good people.

I would like to say that this is entirely the wrong question to ask. It’s not a Biblical question. I recently saw a quote on facebook from R.C. Sproul. He said, “why do bad things happen to good people? It’s only happened once, and He volunteered.” (note, I have not checked the validity of this quote actually being from Dr. Sproul, regardless it is a good thought no matter who said it).

Truly the only one ever “good” was Jesus and truly the worst thing imaginable He volunteered to do on our behalf. I read from Isaiah 53 this morning and it speaks of how it was “the will of the Lord to crush Him” (vs 10) and yet  “he poured out his soul unto death” (vs 12).

He willingly volunteered to take our sin and our punishment when He was was totally undeserving. 2 Cor 5:21″For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Truly a bad thing happened to the only person who was ever good.

So maybe the question we need to ask is why do seemingly bad things happen to those who are seemingly good (or perhaps innocent is a better word). Why was Joseph sold into slavery and hated by His brothers? Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Sometimes bad things happen for the good of others. Sometimes bad things happen to serve as reminders of how totally depraved we as humans are, Gen 6:5 “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (not much has changed since the days of Noah).

I think ultimately though seemingly bad things happen to both the seemingly good and the seemingly bad to show us the goodness of God in our salvation. We aren’t good enough to be saved. We are good enough for “bad” things to happen to us. God would be just in sending us all to hell. Yet, Rom 5:8 ” but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God is good when good things happen to us, and God is good when bad things happen to us (see book of Job). We might not understand it (see book of Habakkuk and Job). Yet his ways are not our ways nor his thoughts our thoughts (see Isaiah 55).

We were created for His glory, to give Him glory. Let’s do that by rejoicing in the hard times, by weeping when bad things happen to the innocent, by pointing others to our good God who saves and rescues us from the ultimate “bad” (hell).

I am thankful for a savior. I am thankful for the cross. I am thankful for the worst “bad” in human history, that happened to the best “good” person that ever existed. I am thankful for my Jesus.

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Multiply Movement

Some have asked me what I enjoy most about ministry. I think that’s a really difficult question to answer because there are a lot of things I enjoy. Primarily though, I enjoy teaching others about God, His Son; Jesus, and His Word. Yet in that I find that I enjoy teaching one on one or in smaller groups a little bit more than I enjoy teaching larger groups. There is just something about learning and growing together and being used by God to help facilitate growth in someone that is so enriching and encouraging. 

Before Jesus ascended to heaven He told us to “Go and Make disciples of all nations…”(Matt 28:18-20). I found that I love obeying this command. It’s not just I am obeying what Jesus has called us to do, but rather that I find joy in the process of obedience, and in the process of making disciples. My greatest joys and my greatest disappointments have generally come from the working out of this command, or the failure on my part to follow through with this command.

I’m writing this to say that not only are we commanded to make disciples but that we receive so much benefit when we obey. Some might raise the question, well what is discipleship? Might best attempt at answering that question would go something like this,
“discipleship is – one person who has walked(lived, followed, loved, and obeyed) with Jesus longer sharing with another person how to walk (live, follow, love, obey) with Jesus in every aspect of their life, using God’s Holy Word as the guide book to influence their life.”  In essence its sharing one’s own life with someone, like Jesus did with His disciples, and using the Bible to influence their life as it has influenced yours.

 

Some might think that this is difficult and they don’t know where to begin. Recently I have come across a free discipleship program called “Multiply Movement” that I found to be solid and a great place to start. They have video’s, a book, an other resources all available on the web for free. They do a good job of explaining what the material is about, and how to use it, so I won’t go into detail. I’ve posted a video about it below and would encourage you to check it out on your own at http://www.multiplymovement.com

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Isaiah 37

As I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah I came upon a passage in chapter 37 that I thought I would share. The Assyrian army is encamped around Jerusalem and Hezekiah has called upon God for deliverance. In verse 26 God tells us that “Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what I now bring to pass, that you should make fortified cities crash into heaps of ruins…”

God had ordained that Assyrians would march against Israel and destroy many cities. He had planned it from long ago. 

In verse 29 we read that, “because you have raged against me.  and your complacency has come to my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came”.

God is in complete control of raging armies. He tells them where to go and what to do. He tells them when to turn back. In fact in this case it was The Angel of the Lord (Jesus) that comes out and destroys 185,000 of them and they flee. 

If God so controls the political realm of the entire earth, and has planned it from long ago. why then do I not trust Him for my meager needs? This is the question that I have been asking myself. We so often make plans and ask God to bless them, when we should let God plan and we follow. His plans will bring blessing. His plans are better than ours. I’m thankful for a God that controls the paths of kings yet cares enough to make the path straight for me. 

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Isaiah 25

I’ve been reading through Isaiah for my devotions. During my reading I’ve been asking 3 essential questions. 1. What can I learn about God? 2. What can I learn about man? 3. How can I apply these truths?

As I’ve been reading I’ve been stuck by how magnificent God is. Isaiah tells us so much about Him it is quite remarkable. We learn a lot about the justice of God. We learn a lot about His heart for the nations. We learn about His zeal for His own glory and name.

We also learn a lot about mankind. Mankind is wicked. Mankind is sinful. Mankind is unjust. Mankind is selfish. Mankind is in dire need of redemption. Mankind cannot save itself.

(I’m only in chapter 25, but I’m pretty sure that when I keep reading I’ll see how God has planned for His people to be redeemed)

So this morning I read from the 25th chapter of Isaiah and I was struck by the many blessings and promises that are laid out in this chapter for us. It’s only 12 verses and I’d encourage you to read it on your own. Here were some highlights for me.

  • Isaiah praises God vs 1
  • Isaiah notes God’s praiseworthiness vs 1
  • God has planned things from of old vs 1
  • God’s plans are faithful and sure (so we can be sure and have faith in Him) vs 1
  • Fortified cities and palace walls are of nothing to God vs 2
  • The nations of the earth no matter how strong they think they are or how ruthless they are will fear God vs 3
  • Even the strongest cities do not compare to the strength of God therefore we can put our faith in our strong God vs 3-4
  • God is a refuge to the poor, needy vs 4
  • God is a shelter from the storm and shade from the heat vs 4
  • When the enemies pursue we find our strength in God vs 4
  • The ruthless stand no chance against God vs 5
  • God has a heart for “all peoples” vs 6
  • God will make “this mountain” a place of feasting vs 6
  • God will swallow up death forever (and the fear of it) vs 7-8
  • The LORD himself will wipe away tears vs 8 (personally)
  • God has a plan for His people vs 8
  • The people will rejoice at these things vs 9
  • We must wait vs 9
  • We must wait for our salvation vs 9
  • God will destroy his enemies vs 10-12

So we must wait for the return of the king; the Lord Jesus Christ. We will know Him and He will know us. He will be our God and we will be His people. Then we will rejoice and be glad and praise the God of our salvation.

Until then we labor and struggle to tell people of our great God who will(not might or maybe, but most assuredly and certainly) save us from our enemies and death. He has prepared a feast for us and we know it to be true.

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The Lost Chainsaw

                About a week or so ago my Father-in-law and I were cutting down some tree’s in preparation for the septic tank that will be put in at our new house. We had finished up and headed into lunch. We put the chainsaw on the back of the pickup and didn’t close the tail gate. We proceeded to drive back to the Borth’s house which is less than a quarter mile away. We went in and had lunch, cleaned up a bit and after about 2 hours we came back and noticed that the chainsaw was not in the back of the truck. We immediately got in and drove the route back to where we had started to see if we had left it somewhere. We didn’t find it. The next logical idea was that it had fallen out on the drive. We didn’t see it in plain sight, so we got out the mower and weed whacker and started cutting the grass down in the ditch. Pretty soon the neighbors started to ask what had happened and began to help us look. They got on their ATV and drove through the ditch hoping to run over the chainsaw. No luck. This neighbor also had a metal detector and so we scanned the entire area with it and still no chainsaw. After a good 2 hours of searching the chainsaw was nowhere to be found. It had done a Houdini and completely vanished. Our last gasp effort was to put a sign on the road explaining what had happened and hope someone had picked up the chainsaw and would return it.

The whole time this had happened we had been praying that God would allow us to find the chainsaw. This is a pretty expensive tool and the Borth’s heat with wood all year round, so the chainsaw is probably the most essential tool they have. This all happened on a Saturday. Sunday rolled around and we kept praying, but no chainsaw. Monday around noon the neighbor called and said your chainsaw is at the end of the driveway go and get it. Someone had returned it! (Praise God). Later a neighbor from about a mile away called and said He had picked it up from the middle of the road and was going to set it on the side, but then thought that anyone might just pick it up so he took it home instead (while we might not understand why He didn’t just knock on people’s doors right then and there, it doesn’t really matter).  God had returned the chainsaw.

I was thinking about this and just how awesome God is. In a world that is pretty obsessed with the “outcome” of things as to whether they are successful or not, God is just as concerned with the process.

Just think about this for a moment. The outcome of the situation was this; we had the exact same tool that we had two days before. We didn’t gain anything. We started with a chainsaw, and ended with a chainsaw. But in the process we learned so many things.

  1. God is in control. He knows where our things are even when we don’t.
  2. God is faithful. He answered our prayers!
  3. God is good. He didn’t have to return the chainsaw to us, but He did.
  4. We need to be careful not to hold on to our possessions to tightly. In the end it’s just stuff. It’s God’s stuff. We need to be good stewards. But it’s not ours.
  5. We can trust God to give, and to take, and to give back!
  6. God answers prayers.
  7. This was a testimony of God’s goodness, for His glory!

In the end we had a chainsaw. Because of the process we love God more. Praise be to God!

Jas 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

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The Nature of True Faith Part 4 (and closing)

This is our last post on the Nature of True Faith.

Our Fourth and final point is that “True Faith is Following Faith” We see that specifically in  Vs 28-30 of Luke Chapter 18.

Simon Peter is known for speaking up. Here is says, “see we’ve left our homes and followed you. Going back to the rich young ruler, this was something that he wasn’t willing to do. He didn’t want to leave his home and follow Jesus. That’s what Jesus asked he was unwilling to do it. I think Peter sort of wants some reassurance here. He says look, we did what you asked this man to do, will we inherit eternal life then?

What Jesus says is remarkable.

Luk 18:29  And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”

Jesus does in fact reassure them of their eternal life. If they truly have left the things of this world for the sake of kingdom of God, then they will receive more in this life and in the life to come. I don’t think this is a magic fulfillment formula. That if we forsake our house and family then we receive back in the exact same way.

What I take this to mean is that if you seek God’s kingdom first, then all things will be added unto you. I don’t think Jesus is necessarily saying we have to literally leave our house and family for His kingdom. What I do take Him to mean is that we need to love Him more than our house and our family. We need to find our security in Him more than our house and our family and our stuff.

True faith is a faith is willing to give up everything and follow Jesus.

I feel a lot of times like I get this backwards. I want to take Jesus with me wherever I want to go. If I’m going to go play soccer, I’ll pray before the game. Or I’m doing school and it’s hard so I’ll pray. While there’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, I think for me I probably needed to pray before I even make the decision to go play soccer. I needed to ask Him is this something you’d have me do? And if so, how can I do it for your glory? I need to seek Him first in making these decisions, not just do what I want to do because I want to do it and then ask Jesus to bless what I’m doing.

Let me ask you this, if Jesus called you to go, to pick up and move somewhere else to do something for His kingdom, would you do it? I’m not talking about something glamorous or something great. Rather just something ordinary, but something that made an impact for Christ, would you do it? If we can’t answer that question with a yes, then we need to evaluate our lives and see if we really are following Jesus or if we are merely asking Jesus to follow us.

It takes faith though. It’s hard to say I’ll go where you want me Lord. But True Faith is following Faith. It’s completely trusting in Jesus for every aspect of your life and every decision that you make.

One of my favorite verses is 2 Peter 1:3 which says,

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,”

God has given us everything we need for life through the knowledge of Jesus. If we know Jesus, if we seek Jesus, if we love Jesus, if we follow Jesus, the Bible says we have everything we need.

So part of the nature of true faith is a repentant humble faith that sees oneself as a sinner in need of a savior. Another aspect is that it is simple faith that is wholly dependent on Christ for everything we need. Thirdly it is impossible faith because it comes from the Holy Spirit and results in doing impossible or supernatural things.  Lastly it is following faith since one must follow Christ in order to be saved.

I hope these blogs have been good to reassure you in your own faith or to help you see areas that maybe you need to work on. I know for me it has shown areas of weakness in my life where I can live a life of faith in Christ for His glory better than I am doing now. I pray that each one of us will consider what it means to have faith in Christ and to love Him first and foremost.

My prayer for all of us is that when we get to heaven Christ will say “well done my good and faithful servant”, and not “oh you of little faith”.

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The Nature of True Faith Part 3

Our Third Point in the series of The Nature of True Faith is that, “True faith is impossible faith

This comes from Luke chapter 18 verses 18-30.

True Faith is Impossible Faith – What I mean by that is, that true faith comes from God working in us, not from us working toward God.

Let me explain the story then elaborate on that.

A Very very rich ruler (probably ruler of the synagogue) comes and asks Jesus a very good question, but in his question we see something about him. He asks “What must I DO to inherit eternal life”? We see from his question that he is seeking some action to do in order to have eternal life. While there are actions that accompany true faith it is primarily a gift from God.  Jesus knows this man’s heart and responds accordingly.  Yet, in a way that is very different than how you and I would respond.

I mean really, if someone came to me and asked this question I would say something more like, Repent of your sins, and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, follow Him and be dependent on Him for your every need. But that’s not what Jesus says. Jesus asks him about the commandments. Notice the commandments that Jesus lists here. They all have to do with our relationship not to God, but to other people.

The man’s response is I believe honest. I don’t think He is lying here. I think he truly believes He has kept the commandments. That’s because he like the Pharisee that we saw earlier doesn’t understand the heart of the commandment. That when it says do not murder it means don’t even get angry in your heart (Matt 5 -7), or do not commit adultery it means also do not lust.

Jesus knew that this man had not really kept the commandments, but instead of pointing that out, which again is probably what I would have done, He tells the man to sell all his possessions and give the money to the poor and then to follow Jesus. Jesus knew that this man would struggle in giving up His stuff. This young man had made his money and his things his god. He couldn’t give them up. He was seeking a different way to heaven. A way that would allow him to not follow Jesus, a way that would allow him to keep his things.

The 1st commandment is that you shall have no other gods before me. This young man had other gods. The man left very sad because what Jesus told him wasn’t what he wanted to hear.

Jesus being the master teacher knew that and He used this as an example for His disciples and for us. He said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Scholars debate as to exactly what Jesus meant by the camel going through the eye of the needle. Some say there was a gate that was small and called the “needle” gate that Jesus must have been talking about. I don’t think I really agree with that.

I take this literally to mean an actual camel and an actual needle. It’s impossible for something that large to go through something that small. So I think Jesus’ point is that it’s impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. We also see that here when the disciples ask, “who then can be saved?”

At that time period it was thought that the rich were blessed by God and had a greater chance of getting to heaven because they could give more alms and that meant a greater chance to go to heaven.  But what does Jesus say back?

What’s impossible with man is possible with God.

This where I get my point from. True faith is impossible faith. I mean that it is not a faith you can muster up yourself but rather comes from the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit working in your life. This young man couldn’t give up his god of money on his own. He couldn’t merit his own eternal life no matter what he tried to do. It’s only when the Holy Spirit works in a person’s life that a person is soft to the things of the Spirit and will truly understand what it means to be a sinner and in need of a savior.

This impossible faith carries on though long past the moment you are saved. We need to continue to have impossible faith. Faith so strong that it can only come from God. Because Jesus asks us to do things that are impossible to do on our own. Jesus asks us to leave our families, give up all our stuff, to love our neighbors, to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, to not have fear, to live at peace, to forsake sin and a whole host of other things that are quite impossible to do on our own.

But what’s not possible on our own is possible with God.  Php 4:13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I’m not saying we need to just “let go and let God”, no there is definite action that accompanies true faith. We have to actively repent of our sin; we have to actively be dependent on Christ for our needs and for our strength.

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