What is it? Where is it from? Can we do it? How?
Faith is not at all unreasonable. Faith and reason are not mutually exclusive. The story of Noah (Genesis 6-9) is one of extraordinary faith and obedience to God – even when nobody else was faithful. We’ll be talking about Noah’s faith this upcoming Cornerstone meeting.
Some preliminary thoughts:
God created creation for the express purpose of mutual enjoyment. Creation refused to be God’s creation. That fracture resulted in the clean sweep of the flood.
This story is not concerned with historical data but with the strange things which happen in the heart of God that affect God’s creation. It tells us about God’s character and his feelings, such as sorrow and regret. God is emotionally invested in humanity. Whether there really was a historical flood is unimportant.
This story is a warning that God has powerful means at his disposal. It is a warning of the consequences of people who choose sin over the common good.
This is also a story of God changing. His actions of causing the flood and looking after Noah indicate that his actions depend on the situation. He changed – promising to never cause a flood to wipe out humanity again. This, then, places greater importance on prayer. The other things this story tells us about God is that God creates, destroys, judges, saves, and remembers.
Obedience to God may create chaos as fierce as the storm outside the ark. When there appeared to be no more reason for hope, the Bible says, “God remembered Noah.” In the same way, we are never alone. Because God remembers us, we have the courage and strength to endure or to face death with dignity, knowing that there is resurrection.
2019 is starting off with the series Three F Words: Faith, Forgiveness, and Flourishing. God’s desire for us is to flourish! Learn more at Cornerstone gatherings this winter/spring in a friendly non-judgmental setting open to skeptics and dreamers alike.
Why would God lead us into temptation? That would not be a loving thing to do for a loving God!! What gives? The Greek word is the same for test and temptation!!! A test is meant to improve a person’s character. A temptation is meant to entice a person to sin. It matters who is behind it – whether it’s a test or a temptation, and also how we respond.
The evil one seeks to turn tests into temptations. It is very subtle and unrelenting. So the prayer could be translated as, “Father, you know that we cannot stand up to much pressure. As you lead us to the test (all of life is a test) as you seek to prove and improve our faith, do not let the test become a temptation, a seduction to sin, but deliver us from the subtle wiles of the deceiver against whom we are no match.”
So why does God test us? Because life, real life that is worth living, is found in trusting God – letting him be king of our lives, submitting, trusting, loving, enjoying…. So God tests our trust for him by putting challenging circumstances in our life and see how much we actually do trust him and not in ourselves. The quality of our lives is a function of the quality of our trust in the one who made us. A test is a situation in which we may fall, but in which we ideally come out victorious: stronger and wiser, trusting God more.
The evil one doesn’t like God and doesn’t want us to like him either. He wants us to doubt the goodness of God. Once we doubt that, the rest is easy: chaos, violence, addiction… Satan uses 5 strategies:
- Sowing seeds of suspicion
- Focusing on the negative
- Helps us make false deductions from the negative
- Force the Father’s hand – nut God doesn’t play that game at all
- Take things into our own hands.
So Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-16: 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Who is Satan?
In Job 1:6ff. a figure appears who is referred to not merely as satan, Hebrew for “an adversary,” but as hassatan, ” The Adversary.”
The New Testament expands on this theme by describing Satan or the devil as “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30), “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). This is the basis for the church’s claim that Satan has been granted temporary dominion over the earth (see also Luke 4:5-7).
The apostle Peter applies this teaching directly to the everyday experience of believers. He writes, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8, 9).
James agrees: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Satan, then, though he is extremely powerful, has not been given complete control of the earth. People are free to choose whether they will follow him or remain loyal to their Creator.
Luke 10:17-20 refers briefly to Satan’s fall
Why Does God Allow Satan to Attack Us?
Almost everyone wonders why God has done things as He has, but there are almost never any answers in the Bible. The Bible tells us the things we need to know to live holy and moral lives, but it does not attempt to explain or justify God’s actions.
One possible answer is that God allows Satan to test us to see if we are truly committed to practicing our faith (Job 1:8-12, Matthew 7:21-23, 1 Peter 1:6-7). It is easy to say we believe and trust in God and Christ, but our actions demonstrate our true motives and beliefs.
God tells us to turn to him and renounce the occult
Many people, including Christians, think it’s harmless to look at astrological charts or engage in various forms of spiritism. They think it is fun or entertaining.
Others look to astrology, divination, and mediums for guidance, not just entertainment.
But God clearly warns against such practices in many Bible verses. Some reasons the Scriptures warn against engaging in any form of the occult:
- We are opening ourselves up to spirits other than God’s.
- We are not looking to God for guidance, but to the occult.
- We are turning away from true faith in Jesus.
- We are disobeying God’s word, the Bible.
Bible Verses on the Occult – To be forewarned is to be properly armed.
- “There shall not be found among you anyone who makes His son or daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures up spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 18:10-13)
- “And take heed, lest you lift your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, you feel driven to worship them and serve them …” (Deuteronomy 4:19)
- “Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:31)
- “And the person who turns after mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)
- “So Saul died for His unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord because He did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because He consulted a medium for guidance.” (1 Chronicles 10:13)
- The idols speak deceit, diviners see visions that lie; they tell dreams that are false, they give comfort in vain. Therefore the people wander like sheep oppressed for lack of a shepherd. (Zechariah 10:2)
New Testament Christians turned from sorcery. May their example serve as an inspiration and a warning: Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power. (Acts 19:18-20)