The Encourager

The Encourager

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A Challenge to God

Saturday, September 11, 2021

A Challenge to God

by Jeff Curtis

At least two passages in the New Testament are relevant to the scene of the three friends of Daniel 3 and the fiery furnace. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for men to die once.” This passage is often quoted in regard to the certainty of death. While that application is valid enough, the author was trying to build the faith of people who were being persecuted; therefore, he was really saying something more assuring. Everyone has to die; but no one has to die twice. Also, Revelation 14:10-11 refers to idolaters who will be thrown into an eternal fire. Other passages in Revelation refer to this fire as the “the second death.” Daniel’s friends had something of this concept in their minds. They believed that their God could deliver them out of the fiery furnace alive; but they also knew that if He chose not to do so, He would still deliver them from a second death that would be certain if they violated His law and worshipped the idol.

 

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar defiantly challenged God. He set up an image to be worshipped in contradiction to God’s commands. Man has been contradicting God ever since Adam and Eve violated His first commandments in the garden. Only the patience of God has spared any of us from the wrath which we have stirred (Romans 1:18).

 

Then, Nebuchadnezzar challenged God defiantly saying, “What god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” Although this ultimately happened, the king didn’t believe it was possible. “Will God save?” is a challenge that, when spoken or silent, conscience or not, is asked by sinners. This challenge is to the grace of God.

 

Faith was challenged. The three Jews declared that God was able to save them in spite of appearances to the contrary. There is a difference between trying to “test the Lord your God” (Deut. 6:16) and declaring one’s faith in God to keep his promises. In and earlier day, Elijah had “reminded” God of His declaration that He would eventually shut off the rain if Israel turned to idols. At Elijah’s request God did just that. Earlier still, Moses had reminded God of His promise to make a great nation of the fathers. In effect, he challenged God to save a stubborn and rebellious people.

 

Some challenges defy God, and He will not tolerate them. Other challenges, God takes on, through us, to show His power, honor, and glory. He did so in this instance with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.

 

 

“Let Us”

by Heath Rogers

An important theme woven throughout the book of Hebrews is the admonition to endure and remain faithful. Several of these admonitions are introduced with the phrase “let us.”

· Let us fear (4:1).

· Let us give diligence to enter our rest (4:11).

· Let us hold fast our confession (4:14).

· Let us draw near the throne of grace to find help (4:16).

· Let us go on to perfection or maturity (6:1).

· Let us draw near with purity and faith (10:22).

· Let us hold fast our confession without wavering (10:23).

· Let us consider and exhort one another (10:24).

· Let us lay aside every weight and let us run with endurance (12:1).

· Let us have grace by which we may serve God acceptably (12:28).

· Let us go forth to Him (be willing to bear reproach with Him and for Him - 13:13).

· Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise unto God (13:15).

The phrase “let us” indicates these are things we are to be doing together with other Christians. Faithfulness is something that can be achieved much easier if it is done along with the right kind of people. As faithful Christians, we are to work together and help one another towards the goal of reaching our eternal reward.

Seeking for that Which is Lost

Saturday, September 04, 2021

                                 SEEKING FOR THAT WHICH IS LOST

                                                     by Fred Newman

All of us have lost something at one time or another.  Sometimes the lost item is of little consequence so we might spend only a minute or two looking for it.  If we do not find the article then we resume our business with the assumption that we may find it later, but if not, "No big deal."  On the other hand, we will make an exhaustive search when we have lost something of great value to us.  I remember on one occasion I lost a hundred dollar bill.  For several hours, I scoured our house and car from top to bottom seeking my lost money.  The money was never found.  This caused me a great deal of anxiety because it was a substantial loss.  Jesus spoke about lost sheep and a lost coin as He addressed the scribes and Pharisees because they complained that He was receiving sinners.
   
So He spoke this parable to them, saying: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? "And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. "And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:3-7 NKJV). 

"Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? "And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!' "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:8-10 NKJV).

The lesson of each of these parables was to show the tremendous value that God places on one lost soul.  Jesus emphasized this point when He was scorned for going home with Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector. "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10 NKJV). Peter was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV). The value that God places upon each of us prompted Him to offer His only Son on the cross of Calvary to save mankind from their sins.  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16 NKJV).

There are two very important lessons to be derived from these texts:

1] Everyone, including you, is of such value to God that He went to great lengths to make possible our salvation from sin.  God didn't just sit up in heaven and wait for us to come to Him, rather He sought us out for salvation because of the deep love that He has for each of us.  Don't allow yourself to be deceived into buying into the devil's lie, "I am of no value."  God values you enough to allow His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer unimaginable pain in order to make it possible for you to be in His presence for all eternity.

2] Christians, like God, are to place an equally high value on those who are lost in sin. True disciples of Christ will understand the value that each individual possesses, therefore will not be complacent when it comes to trying to retrieve these lost souls.  We will see beyond ethnic, educational, and social differences and recognize the intrinsic value of each soul.  An unquenchable fervor to share the gospel message of Jesus will pervade in the lives of those who understand the worth of each soul that needs to be saved.  As a disciple of Christ, are you exhibiting this same zeal in searching for those who need the saving message of the gospel?

God is lovingly seeking those who are lost.  If you are one of those whom He seeks, will you answer His call?

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