Defend a Lion?

As Christians, we are sometimes asked to defend why we believe what we believe.  Many point to their upbringing.  Some point to experience.  Others say “because the Bible says so.”  This doesn’t really help us explain our faith.  Should we have to?  According to Scripture, yes we should.  We should be able to give a defense for our faith.

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 1 Peter 3:14-16

Roughly 75% of America claims to be Christian.  You might be thinking with that large percentage as Christians who are we defending against in the USA?  Well, Jesus said “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.   He did not say “just make sure the majority knows who I am.”

We must be prepared to give a defense for our faith.  Sometimes this may even be to a person claiming they are Christian or to a Christian who is reborn and has questions.  This is why it is not only important we read the Bible, but that we also study it.  We must seek what God is telling us in His Word.  We can use other tools such as commentary, concordance, and study groups.  There is so much depth to God’s Word that it requires more than a glance.  It requires more than a one time read.  It is designed by God to be a living, breathing, Word that holds truth.  It is spiritual food.  As a believer we must eat it up. Even Jesus read and quoted Scripture.

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

The One, who we follow as Christians, read and studied the Word of God.  As followers, we should too.  It should not be a chore.  Do not do it because you think it will get you points with God.  It won’t.  God looks at your heart.  Reading the Bible, for believers, is something that should come over you like drinking water.  When you get thirsty you drink.  You need to drink everyday to survive.

Being in the Word allows you to know how we are to live.  How we are to be salt and light.  As we read it, it reflects the standard of God and we see how we really are.  This is why it rubs people the wrong way when they read it and don’t understand.  It shows us our true reflection.  I once heard a pastor talk about how some people argue that they are good people and don’t murder or anything like that.  The pastor compared that to looking at your reflection in muddy water and saying you look ok.  But when you look in a clear pool of water you see how you really are.  That is what reading and studying the Bible does.  It shows us we are sinners in need of a Savior.  We need Jesus.

What does this have to do with defending our faith?  Some opposition will attack the Bible with different arguments.  Some will call it outdated.  Others will say it is sexist, racist, and demeaning.  They will say the God of the Bible is mean and doesn’t really value people.  People will tell you that the Bible has contradictions.  (By the way, this is all stuff I used to say before I was saved.)  Being able to answer these and other arguments, is something you may have to do.  Will you have all the answers?  Probably not.  I sure don’t but I welcome the questions.  It allows me to study deeper and find these answers.  More importantly, it allows me to keep engaging someone in the conversation, and with gentleness and reverence, share the Gospel of Jesus.

One of the best apologetics ( a field of Christian theology which aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defending the faith against objections) you can have is your life.  The Irish evangelist Gypsy Smith once said, “There are five Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the Christian, and some people will never read the first four.”  Be salt and light.  Live the Gospel in your life.  Allow the Holy Spirit to have every aspect.  Show kindness and gentleness to all people.  This does not mean conform to their ways, but be understanding of their lifestyle and share the Truth with them.

I recently got into a discussion with an atheist whose videos I found on youtube. He has been trying to show me why he doesn’t believe in God and how science has disproved Him.  I have been sharing why I believe and how science does not disprove God. It has been interesting and I noticed as we got along in our correspondence it was leading into a heated debate.  This was not the intention.  So we decided to back off and discuss life topics.  We will see where it goes.  I just pray I can be true to the Gospel and true to Jesus.

In reference to my opening quote, the Bible truly does not need our defense.  We should be able to defend our faith and our belief in Scripture, but the Bible itself, needs no defense.  When it is read and studied it will defend itself.  It will show you who you really are.  It will show you the Truth, the Way, and the Life.

“I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical  documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses.  They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific  prophecies, and they claim to be divine rather than human in origin.”  Voddie Baucham

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:16-21

Why Daniel Didn’t Eat That

I recently did a Daniel Fast with a few other people.  If you don’t know what that is you can click the link.  I will explain briefly.  It is based on the prophet Daniel and how he fasted for 21 days eating no pleasant food.  During the fast there are certain foods you cannot eat like meat, dairy and anything processed.  You can, however, eat as many great things like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains as you want.

A big point of this fast, aside from the nutritional benefits, is the spiritual journey. I used this time to get closer to God. There are things in my life that I am trying to get straight and in this time I prayed and focused on them and my relationship with the Lord.  I noticed as I did this, my faith was tested,  I know that anytime you get closer to God, the evil one does not like it.  He comes to tempt you to break away from the Lord. He comes to tell you that what you are doing in meaningless.  He comes and messes with your faith in Christ.  He comes to mess with your family.  But a faith not tested is no faith at all.

During this fast, I read again through the book of Daniel.  I noticed some things I have not before.  I remembered hearing a sermon once on Daniel and the pastor pointed out that Daniel is one of two people written about in the Bible that there is no mention of them committing a sin.  The other is Joseph.  This does not mean they did not commit sins because only One was sinless and that is Jesus Christ.  Daniel just has no documented sin.

Daniel did however have a tested, tried, and true faith in God.  In the beginning of the book, he and his three friends choose to not eat from the king’s table showing that they would only eat the clean food God said he could eat.  For their faith God rewarded them with the gift of knowledge as well as giving Daniel the ability to interpret dreams and visions.

 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds. Daniel 1:17

In Daniel 2 we see the gift from God used to help Daniel interpret the King’s dream.

We see the faith of Daniel’s friends being tested in chapter 3 as they refuse to worship the statue of king Nebuchadnezzar.  The penalty for not doing so was one would be placed into the fiery furnace.  The king had the furnace burn seven times hotter for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  But their faith saved them and a fourth person appeared in the furnace with them.  Was it Jesus?

He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” Daniel 3:25

Then, of course, there is probably the most popular story of Daniel and that is him in the lions’ den found in chapter 6.  Daniel was favored by King Darius and others in the kingdom didn’t like that.  They tried to find dirt on Daniel to get rid of him.  They could not find any.  So they manufactured some knowing that Daniel faithfully prayed and worshiped God.  They tricked the king to make a decree saying only he can be worshipped.  The penalty was being thrown into the lions’ den.  Daniel, being faithful to God, was caught praying.  He was thrown into the lion’s den and God saw to it that he was unharmed.  As a result, king Darius saw that Daniel’s God was real.

Then King Darius wrote to all the nations and peoples of every language in all the earth: “May you prosper greatly! “I issue a decree that in every part of my kingdom people must fear and reverence the God of Daniel. “For he is the living God and he endures forever; his kingdom will not be destroyed ,his dominion will never end. He rescues and he saves; he performs signs and winders in the heavens and on the earth. He has rescued Daniel from the power of the lions.” Daniel 6:25-27

Something I focused on during this fast was trying to have the faith of Daniel.  I have faith, but enough to be tested after ten days of eating only vegetables?  Is it enough to be put into a furnace?  Is it enough to survive in the den of lions? I made it through and I believe my faith is stronger.  It is growing stronger everyday. I do have days when it is tested and tried to the point of breaking but it does not.

This I so, but not because my strength, but because of His.  The One who was truly without sin.  The One who became sin for me and you.  The One who gave Himself as a blood offering for our sins.  I know Him.  His name is Jesus Christ.

Do you know Him?  He can set you free.  One thing I know in having my faith tested is that we are all sinners.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23

But Jesus Christ came to free us from our sin.

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. Romans 6:18

I pray that in all you do, you meet and follow Jesus.  I pray He works in your heart.  I pray you have a faith like Daniel.  I pray you put your faith in Jesus.

True Miracle

This past week a friend of mine lost his sister to cancer.  I did not know her but he told me she fought hard.  She never gave up.

My friend is a fellow believer in Christ Jesus.  He gives his life to Christ.  As a believer he prayed without ceasing for his sister to win her battle.  He talked to his sister about the healing power of Jesus and what faith in Him can do.  He even found a church where the pastor had a personal physical healing by Jesus and took her there.  He said she began to gain greater strength to fight for her life.  In the end though her life on this earth has gone.

After losing a loved one after praying and believing in miracles many would lose faith.  Many would turn from God.  But my friend is an inspiration.  He knows the truth.  He demonstrates true faith in Christ Jesus.  Instead of turning from God he boldly turns to Him.

At the viewing he said a few words about his sister.  He spoke of how he and many other family and friends had been praying for a miracle.  He said that many prayed for her life.  Then he spoke more truth of how in her battle with cancer he saw her grow closer and closer to the Lord.  He saw her faith grow.  You see, he knows the truth.  He knows the true miracle.  He knows the true promise of Christ Jesus. He knows that when we believe in Him we never die but we have eternal life.  Life without pain.  Life without suffering.  Life without cancer.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26

While we all prayed for a miracle of her life continuing on earth, another one happened.  She came to truly believe in Jesus.  We prayed for her to live and now she lives forever.  If we believe, we will live forever as well.  My friend believes.  He will see his sister again.

Some may not see it as a miracle.  Some only see miracles as the blind seeing, the lame walking, the dead rising back on earth.  Once they see they will believe.  But believing is seeing.  Jesus didn’t work miracles in his life to draw attention to himself.  He worked them for the people who already believed.  All throughout scripture there are examples.

They came to the house of the synagogue official; and He saw a commotion, and people loudly weeping and wailing. And entering in, He said to them, “Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.”  They began laughing at Him. But putting them all out, He took along the child’s father and mother and His own companions, and entered the room where the child was. Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded. And He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this, and He said that something should be given her to eat. Mark 5:38-43

I recently listened to a sermon by Alistair Begg about this passage.  He had a lot of eye-opening points.  The one that spoke to my heart about this loss is that after Jesus heals the little girl He tells those in the room not to tell anyone.  This is after He puts out all those who were laughing.  Alistair Begg points out that those who were laughing at Jesus, unbelievers, did not get to see the miracle.  He said something like, “those who laugh at the words of Jesus don’t get to experience the works of Jesus.”

Again I see that a true miracle did take place in my friend’s sister’s life.  She believed and now in her death she finally gets to live.

I pray that his family gets time to grieve.  I pray that when they are done grieving, whenever that may be, that joy comes in the morning.  I pray that they all see the miracle and they all find their way to give themselves to the Lord Christ Jesus.

To my friend, you are a godly man.  Your love and boldness for Jesus is inspiring.  Thank you for setting a great example for so many.

I saw how many people your sister touched with her life.  I am sure there are many more.  She is home now.

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. John 5:25

Perfect

There was once a man who really hated Christians. He would do anything to shut them up. He would do anything to keep them from meeting. He would do anything to stop the spread of the Gospel.

This man went on to be one of the most influential evangelists of all time. He started many churches. He wrote almost half of the New Testament. Hard to imagine the same man who was responsible for the death of many believers became the biggest believer.

This man at one point was known as Saul of Tarsus. Jesus chose him to spread His Word. Jesus chose a man who wanted to stop people from believing in Him to bring the Gospel to the world.

Was Paul the perfect choice? Probably not in our minds. Why would Jesus pick a person who had sinned against Him so much?

Some of us feel we are not worthy of God’s grace. Why would he choose us when we sinned against Him? Even if we are already believers we can ask why would He continue to love us when we can’t completely get rid of our sins?

I asked a friend of mine her thoughts on this. She reminded me of the following.

“The Bible says Paul suffered a “thorn in his side” for all of his ministry. I guess this means we may each have one? It doesn’t make our ministry any less important, just means we all have something we may struggle with even throughout our lives that The Lord doesn’t completely take away for whatever reason. We should not think our ministry is not acceptable unless we are perfect, for only He is perfect. Right? So maybe what you feel is beating you down is something you need to continually pray about the same as for me? Paul’s ministry was amazing, God worked so much into the lives of others through him even though he had a battle within himself that the Bible never reveals to us. I think God leaves us wondering, maybe we can put our own battle in there, kind of like fill in the blanks, but still live a life that proclaims the Gospel in a great way. Whether it’s thoughts, perfectionism, or someone else’s something, we need to be like Paul, pray through it, give it to The Lord each morning, and move on to serve in a mighty way.” Rose Jones

Rose really put it perfectly. Saul was not perfect. He had to be blinded to finally see. Even after being born again as Paul he still struggled with sin but persevered in his faith in the Lord Christ Jesus and proclaimed the Gospel to so many.

So I ask you who feel you are not worthy of salvation. I ask you who feel you cannot be forgiven by Christ Jesus. I ask you are you any worse than Paul? This man killed Christians and Jesus knocked him off his horse, blinded him to let him see, forgave him, and he became a great Christian.

To the believer I ask are you struggling with a sin? Are you feeling you don’t deserve the salvation you already have through the grace of Christ Jesus?

Paul struggled. He prayed. Here is how he explained his thorn and how God answered.

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV

If we don’t struggle. If we have all of the answers. If we are perfect then why would we need God? We need God. We need Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  In our struggles appears the greatest glory of God.

Believers and non-believers remember this: God’s grace is sufficient for us all.