Proof- evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true.
Last night in our men’s Bible study we talked about proof of God. We were mixed on whether or not you can prove that God exists. I say no you can’t. But, you also can’t prove that He doesn’t exist. This all started as we were talking about evidence and particularly the verse in the Bible that says that faith is the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things unseen, (Heb. 11:1) We were actually studying from Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Corinth and he was telling them that Christians need to live their lives as if we believe in this unseen God and therefore provide evidence of His existence to those who don’t believe.
Sadly the most common statement made about Christians by those who are not Christians is the we are hypocrites. Not a great witness if we are trying to provide proof of God. We tell people about a God that loves them and provides for them and is our source of happiness and complain at the first hint of trouble in our lives. We tell people who God has blessed us with a great job but don’t give from the money that the God-given job provides. We say that God made our lives better but are the first ones to post on Facebook how miserable we are at work, school, with our relationship to others. We tell people that we pray to a God that answers us and yet we have no idea what answer we got because our prayers are basically, “Bless them”.
Years ago a man wrote a song called Amazing Grace. Now there is evidence of God. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. We need to live like we have been saved. We need to live like we have been found. We need to live like we received our sight. We need to live like we use to be something that now we are not.
Because we are not made perfect in the flesh there will always be some hypocritical ways left in us. But those need to decrease with time and while we are struggling with this new-found grace, we need to allow God’s grace to cover us. We need to be able to tell others through our actions that God is changing us and let the words be reflective of our actions.
We will never be able to prove that God exists at least in the sense of being able to touch and see Him. We can only offer evidence as we discover Him through the truth of the Bible and put those truths into practice. If the evidence we present is contaminated with lies and inconsistencies then it will be hard to convince others that God is anything more than Santa or the Easter Bunny. But if we live our lives with integrity and true change that comes from God’s strength and words, then over time, as the evidence continues to mount up, people will have no choice but to weigh the evidence and find that the evidence is overwhelming, and the only verdict that can be rendered is that of, yes, there is a God.
How does your life as a Christian present the evidence? Is it convicting enough that you live like you believe it in order for others to begin to believe too?
Proof- evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true.
I saw this on Facebook today: Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. When I read it I thought about our nasty political climate and presidential campaign and it made me think about these verses of the Bible:
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (GW)
1 First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people,
2 for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way.
Christians should really think before they post things on Facebook or anywhere else that are full of hateful words. I think that it is very easy for us to lose our credibility as the people of love that we are supposed to be when all people see or hear from us is hateful slams of those we disagree with. Some of you may quickly say that in America, we have freedom of speech, and that is true, but as Christians, we have freedom from sin and using hate filled speech is sinful.
Years ago, I got out of the Navy and because I needed a job to provide income immediately, I went to work as a car salesman. One of the things I had to do is learn about the competition’s cars. All car makers make a model to compete with the others, like compact, mid-sized, full-sized, and pick-ups. What you learn is that there are subtle differences between each of them and that a good salesman could tell you what they are. My boss told me to learn those differences, not to talk down about the other make of cars, but to point out the ways your make of car was better. For instance I might say to a customer, Yes sir, the Chevy does have good towing capability, but the Ford we sell will tow a thousand pounds more than that. Given the fact that they are both fine vehicles, wouldn’t you get more for your money with our better towing capability?
But for some reason, people like to talk about the bad stuff or the different stuff as if it were bad. I was told years ago that different is not always wrong, it is just different. That is the way our country was built, to respect and give freedom to be different. But in the case where different is in deed wrong, slamming that wrong publicly rarely results in change. That is where Christians need to remember the words written in the verses above. Whatever leader is in place, it is because God has allowed that leader to be there. We are to follow the laws of the land and to respect those who are in authority over us and most of all we are to pray for them. Romans 13:4 The government is God’s servant working for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid. The government has the right to carry out the death sentence. It is God’s servant, an avenger to execute God’s anger on anyone who does what is wrong.
So I challenge you to promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. Love covers a multitude of sin.
Confession is good for the soul, and for your election campaign. From the first time that humans did something wrong, God wanted a confession. He asked Adam, “Where are you?” not because God was ignorant but because Adam needed to confess out loud what he had done and why he was hiding. I think humans have this idea that if we do not speak it, we can act like it never happened. Then you run for public office and watch the dirt come tumbling out of the closet.
If you follow politics at all, you have heard about Herman Cain and his presidential run, or at least his run to get the Republican nomination. I do not know him personally and only know what I have seen on TV about him. That means other than what he has said about himself, I don’t know much, at least if what I know is truthful or not. His campaign began to hit the right notes and his popularity began to soar and the media began to dig into his past. Recently, every time you turn on the TV you hear of another accusation of him committing sexual harassment or some sort of inappropriate behavior with a woman. Now depending on what side of the aisle you are on this is either cause for immediate withdrawal from the race, or it makes you a great president who has the right to privacy when it comes to personal matters, ie, Bill Clinton.
Either way, I want to keep this from being political and focus on how correct God is for requiring us to verbally confess our sins to him and to each other. In case you are wondering where I get this confession to each other thing, James 5:16 So admit your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you will be healed. Prayers offered by those who have God’s approval are effective. I hope I don’t need to show you proof of our need to verbally confess to God, but you know what, here it is anyway. Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Confession does several things that help us. First it keeps us in good standing with God. 1John 1:9 tells us that if we confess, God forgives and makes us righteous. Second, it keeps us humble. Telling someone that we have committed a sin keeps us off the proverbial high horse. Third it allows for accountability. If I have someone who loves me and knows that I sin a particular sin, they can ask me the tough questions if my actions give them reason to doubt my integrity. Fourth, it allows me to move forward with whatever plans that God has for me without worrying about something being dug up from my past that will embarrass me, my family, and most of all God.
The last part is what politicians can learn from when they want to run for office. If Mr. Cain had confessed his relationships with these women, even if they were only platonic, then he would have nothing that wasn’t already known. I am not saying that he has done what they say he did, I am saying IF he did, and God, family, and friends new it, forgave it, and held him accountable from the day of confession forward, Mr. Cain may still be leading in all the polls.
When I was a kid, my parents told me that if I got in trouble, I would probably get a whipping. If I lied to try to get out of the trouble, I would get a second whipping that was worse than the first. I am not saying that I never lied, but I certainly thought harder about it knowing the consequences. And, because of their tough love and the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, I can say that lying is much harder for me as an adult than it was as a kid.
We all sin, none are righteous without the Blood of Jesus to cover our sins. But even someone who doesn’t believe in God can use the principle of confession to keep the conscious clear and our ability to live a public life without fear of embarrassing past failures biting us in the butt. There is a need to confess.
I hate getting older, but considering the option, I think hate is too strong of a word. Last night our men’s Bible study group met over at one of our group member’s house and helped rip out flooring in order to put in new sub-flooring. I was working with a crow-bar and my back was yelling at me to stop. There was a time when that stuff didn’t bother me but now I hate to admit that it does.
My dad always told me to work hard at whatever I was doing. He said that the results that you get will be equal to the effort that you give. I wish he would have told that to some of those boards that were not coming up no matter how much effort I put into it. My siblings and I were raise in a very strict environment and were taught that when a grown-up told you to do something, you did it, no questions asked. I am thankful for that now that I am older and trying to be a better Christian by trying to do what God says do. I am not trying to be better to earn favor, because God already loves me as much as He can, but I want Him to be please with my faith.
Faith is a strange thing to some. Many people think that faith is the gauge of how great of miracles you can do, but I believe it is more about gauging anything that you do. The truest of faith comes when we do the things that we don’t even think about. I never think about sitting in a chair before I do it because I have faith in the chair. Faith is real belief, not wishful thinking that it will be okay. Often my faith is tested when I know what I am suppose to do but struggle with the actual task at hand because of my own personal desires being contradicting to it.
So, The Bible tells us to bear each others burdens. Sometimes that is being a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. Sometimes it is answering the call in the middle of the night to help someone who is tempted or even has fallen to that temptation, and other times it means canceling a Bible study to go help someone tear up a floor. As a pastor I have faced each of these and the last was the hardest. My back hurts even before the work and I am not a construction or even destruction minded person. I get intimidated by those things and often feel in the way instead on helping. It would have been so much easier to have the Bible study for those who “couldn’t make it” to help and to send others to do what I was not willing to do. But if that happened, I would have never experienced the joy of seeing almost three fourths of the men in my Bible study show up to work hard for a few hours. I would have never had the prayer that I prayed answered and I love seeing God immediately answer prayers.
What was the prayer? I was in the middle of a great big grunt to pry off this stubborn piece of plywood and all of the sudden a felt a sharp pain in my lower back. The board did finally come up but my back began to have spasms and I said please Lord, don’t let me have to quit right now. What I didn’t notice was that this was the last piece that we had to get up and that we were finished for the night. BAM! God answered my prayer. My back still hurts and the spasms continued for a few minutes, but I didn’t have to quit, it was just time to quit.
We finished the night by thanking everyone for helping and reminding everyone of this verse: Galatians 6:2 ~ Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings.
We did not walk on water and we didn’t heal my back but, our faith was in action by doing what we were told.
A couple of days ago, my good friend tweeted that one of his friends had lost their home to a fire and had gotten out with only the clothes on their backs. They did not have insurance, they lived in an apartment, so they have little means to get back the things that were lost. I know that they are really glad that they survived, but survival can be a scary thing when you have no idea how to move forward and get back on your feet.
Within a day of posting this, he was receiving calls from all over South Carolina and even other states. Some were wanting to donate furniture, some money, some clothes and all were offering prayers. I was overwhelmed with the response because of the magnitude and the swiftness. There is something about Americans that is deep in our nature to help others.
Last night I asked a few folks from my church to help. Within a few hours, we had cash and clothes. I took 4 bags of clothes to the family today and a gift card from Wal-Mart that I bought with the cash. As we stood out in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, my friend told me how overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness this family was. He also told me that he was blown away from the response on one tweet. One tweet that asked for prayers amounted to hundreds of prayers and hundreds of dollars and loads of clothes and furniture. Jesus told His disciples that they did not have because they do not ask. He said ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find and a couple of thousand years later, asking does get results and God should get all the glory.
In the Bible, there are some words that we don’t get the full meaning of unless we study the original texts. The word love is like that. There are several words from the Greek that we translate into love. But the one that is the ultimate type of love is “agape”. Although many modern translations of the Bible use the word love, the King James Version however uses the word charity. Although we think of charity today as some kind of organized group to help the needy, the true meaning has more to do with the pure, unselfish nature of the giving that comes from a heart of compassion. It is the type of love that God has for us and is the reason behind Him giving His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Our disaster of sin left us with no hope of survival unless someone showed us some “agape”. That is the word used in this most famous verse.
For God so loved, (agape), the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life…John 3:16.
Charity is alive and well!