Sunday, February 19, 2012

Desire Marriage? That's Okay!

Today while listening to a sermon by Pastor John MacArthur, I realized something liberating...it's okay to want to be married.

What's never okay is to let our desires become idols and take over our lives. We all must realize that at the end of the day, God holds the trump card. He can and will decide what to do with us--whether we have certain desires or not. And the fact is that we need to be okay with whatever He chooses for us, because He is God and we are not, but also because He is supremely trustworthy and He loves us so much as to choose what is best for us.

But I never have to deny the fact that I want to be married. And I don't have to pretend like I'd rather be single, when in fact that isn't true. I don't have to pretend to not desire a husband in order to seem strong and self-sufficient. I don't have to put on airs. I can admit that I want to be married. I can even admit it to God and pray toward that end.

It's okay, friend, to want to be married.

Just don't let it come between you and God. Be sure to do as John Piper says, and cultivate a strong relationship with God, so that He is your focus and He is the centre of your world. Let Him be your prize! Let Him be your treasure! Let Him be the greatest desire of your heart! Not because then He'll give you everything else you want, but because then you'll be most satisfied in Him and He'll be most glorified in you!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Problem of Evil

Theodicy is an old term. It means the problem of evil: If God is so powerful and so loving, why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? Why is there so much evil?

This is a question that has been around since the Fall of man, and which I do not have an "easy" answer to, but it is an important question that must be answered (to some degree) in the mind and heart of every believer: If I am to trust God, how should I think about the problem of evil?

Here are some, I hope, helpful principles:

#1 - God is good. - God is morally perfect. He cannot sin. Nor can He tempt anyone to sin.

Luke 18:19 -
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
James 1:13 -
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

#2 - God's ways are not our ways. - He is much wiser than we are. No one can search out His plans and decisions to fully understand them.

Isaiah 55:8 -
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
1 Samuel 16:7c -
For the LORD sees not as man sees
Romans 11:33 -
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

#3 - God brings good out of evil. - It is His way. That's what redemption means; all of biblical history is a story of redemption.

Isaiah 47:4 -
Our Redeemer—the LORD of hosts is his name— is the Holy One of Israel.
Jeremiah 50:34 -
Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.
Romans 8:28 -
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

The sum of these principles gives us an idea of God's character: God is absolutely perfect. He does not and cannot sin because He cannot be tempted (this is also why Christ took the form of a man so that He could have a nature that could experience temptation).

God's ways are not our own, so we cannot expect to completely comprehend the ways of God by our own wisdom. There will be many things about God's character that remain a mystery to us which we will have to take on faith, but we can still trust Him because of all that He has revealed about Himself.

Observing the history of mankind, God has always been about the redemption of people (and Creation). He was and is Israel's Redeemer; He is the Redeemer of the Church; He is the Redeemer of Creation and History itself. He makes miracles out of messes and heals what is broken.

Finally, questions of how God could ever have used godless societies to chasten Israel--societies that had no mercy on the helpless and defenceless like women and children (Isaiah 13:17-18)--and how God could use a sinner such as Satan to bring about His purposes (see Job) should always be viewed in light of the singularly darkest and most evil day in the history of the universe: the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

On that day, the greatest evil ever committed took place. The Son of God--God in the flesh--who was absolutely and altogether blameless...was betrayed into the hands of sinners who put Him to death, though He was deserving of no such thing.

If you want to ask how? Ask how God could possibly crush His only begotten Son for the sake of sinners like you and me (John 3:16). Ask how God could possibly say it "was His will to crush Him" (Isaiah 53:10). Ask how He could make Christ to be sin, that we might be made His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21)

The greatest evil ever committed...against the most innocent of persons who ever existed...became the single greatest and most blessed event in all eternity past or present! For, through Christ's stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5), that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29) and bring MANY sons to GLORY (Hebrews 2:10)!

Praise be to God, who even uses our evil for His good ends (Genesis 50:20)! And that it all exalts His most Holy Name (Psalm 106:8)!