2013-o8-20: Previous

2013-08-21: Is the worry the enemy of faith?

Do you know which sin is the subtle enemy of simple faith? Materialism and greed?

Anger?

Lust?

Hypocrisy?

No. All of these sins are certainly our enemies, but none of them qualify as subtle enemies.

The most notorious faith killer in all of life: worry. “For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25).

Being something of a wordsmith, I find the term worry fascinating. To begin with, the word used by Matthew (translated here as “anxious”) is the Greek term merimnao. It is a combination of two smaller words, merizo, meaning “to divide,” and nous, meaning “the mind.” In other words, a person who is anxious suffers from a divided mind, leaving him or her disquieted and distracted.

Of all the biblical stories illustrating worry, none is more practical or clear than the one recorded in the last five verses of Luke 10. Let’s briefly relive it.

Jesus dropped by His friends’ home in Bethany. Martha, one of those friends, turned the occasion into a mild frenzy. To make matters worse, Martha’s sister, Mary, was so pleased to have the Lord visit their home that she sat with Him and evidenced little concern over her sister's anxiety attack.

As Luke tells us, “Martha was distracted with all her preparations” (Luke 10:40). But Martha didn’t have help, and that was the final straw. Irritated, exasperated, and angry, she reached her boiling point, and her boiling point led to blame. “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me” (10:40).

But Jesus was neither impressed by her busyness nor intimidated by her command. Graciously, yet firmly, He said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (10:41–42).

Worry occurs when we assume responsibility for things that are outside our control. And I love the Lord’s solution: “only a few things are necessary, really only one.” What a classic example of simple faith!

All Mary wanted was time with Jesus . . . and He commended her for that. Mary’s simple faith, in contrast to her sister's panic, won the Savior’s affirmation.

Worry and faith just don't mix. 


2013-20-08: What is the “Abomination of Desolation”?

In Matthew 24, Jesus gave us some clear connecting points between Daniel 9 and the Book of Revelation. If we are going to be diligent about Bible reading, we are going to have to learn how to read prophetic passages. God is very clear that a prophet speaking for Him must be exactly right or he should be killed! (see Deuteronomy 18:20–21) This means the “prophets” featured in the supermarket papers wouldn’t last long!

Some of the things that happen through church history to make the fulfillment of prophesy apparent to the people of God are what are called “touchdown fulfillments.” Not the ultimate fulfillment, but an intermediate fulfillment. Take, for example, the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, “A virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” There was a fulfillment of that in Isaiah’s day; and then ultimately in Christ.

The prophesy of Joel 2 mentioned in Acts 2 about young men dreaming dreams and old men seeing visions. That was fulfilled in Joel’s day and again in the birth of the Church, and there will be an ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy in the time ahead.

So it is with the Matthew 24 passage and the “abomination of desolation” that Jesus mentioned. Interesting, in 175 B.C., Antiochus IV, a Syrian king, took the name Theos Epiphanes which means God Manifested. He marched through the Holy Land, down to Egypt. But because he was turned back (in 170 B.C.), he had such anger that he took it out on the Nation of Israel. He went into the Holy of Holies in the Temple and offered a pig on the altar there. And then he forced Jewish people to eat that meat and to bow down to him.

Now Theos Epiphanes had a bit of an ego problem, right? “Just call me God Manifested.” Eighty thousand Jews refused to bow down to him and they were all murdered in the streets of Jerusalem. Daniel’s prophecy was fulfilled and will be fulfilled again in the end.

Biblical prophecy is not a fantasy movie script. These are realities. And God has given us times in history to see a touchdown fulfillment of it. So we’re like, “That could totally happen. I can see that happening. It has happened—It will happen!” Like that. The ultimate fulfillment of the abomination of desolation is yet future, as Matthew points out when he notes, “let the reader understand.” Let’s anticipate God’s promises every day!