Month: September 2014

Is the iOS 8 Comparable to the False gods of the Bible?

imageJoshua was a noble leader and a man of God. After the death of Moses, he led the Israelites on a military conquest, waging war against God’s enemies. He fought in many battles and conquered numerous cities, including Jericho (Josh. 12:10), Ai (Josh. 8), Hebron, Kedesh, Tirzah (Josh. 12:10), and 27 more. According to the Bible, Joshua was able to lead the Israelites to several victories, securing much of the land of Canaan.

Historical Background

Toward the end of Joshua’s life, at the age of 110, he admonished the elders and chiefs of the Israelites to have no fellowship with the neighboring cities because it could lead them to be unfaithful to God. During a general assembly in Shechem, he exhorted the men to be loyal to Yahweh since He took great care of them and protected them from evil. As a witness of their promise to serve God, Joshua had the Israelites verbalize their commitment and set up a great stone under an oak by the sanctuary of God as a visible reminder.

After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of God. They abandoned the Lord, who brought them out of the land of Egypt, to serve and worship the false idols of Baal and Ashtaroth (Judg. 2:12-14). God’s faithfulness was the counterpoint to Israel’s apostasy. Despite Israel’s continual disobedience, God continually delivered his people by raising up judges. This was not because Israel was sorry and repentant, but because of God’s compassion and pity (2:16) and his promises to Abraham and his descendants (Deut. 6:10-11).

Application

When I read this story, I am amazed at how quickly the Israelites turned away from the living God. Their trustworthy leader Joshua led them from victory to victory against their enemies, securing their confidence that God would protect them from their enemies. Moreover, Joshua constantly warned them not to serve false gods and even set up a stone under an oak as an extra reminder of God’s grace. Despite these efforts, they fell into sin. The same was true when Moses led his people out of slavery in Egypt.  Shortly after the Israelites witnessed the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army, a miracle by God, they created a golden calf and worshipped it instead.

Is it possible that you and I are just as easily tempted as the Israelites to serve false gods instead of the living God? I believe so. Today, the Huffington Post wrote an article entitled, “iPhone Fans are Deleting the Bible to Make Room for iOS 8.” The iOS 8 is an operating system produced by the Apple company for phone, computer, and tablet devices. Apple states on their webpage, “This new operating system has functions that let you do things you could only imagine before, like using Siri to control the devices in your home or using your health and fitness apps to communicate with your doctor.” Many people are heralding it as the next savior for the followers of apple.

A professing believer wrote on Twitter, “Literally had to delete everything for iOS 8. Sorry God.” Another individual said, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I deleted my Holy Bible app to make room for the iOS 8.” Lastly, a man named Elliot posted, “iOS 8 is greater than the Bible.” To me, this sounds like people are willing to compromise their relationship with God to serve the false god of Technology and innovation. Even the secular media has stated that apple is the new god of worship in our culture today. I pray that none of us would get to the point where we find more satisfaction and hope in a tiny device that fits in our pocket than the God who spoke the universe into existence.

Avoid the False gods of Power, Fortune, and Fame

imageThe Bible addresses 4 categories of people as it pertains to their socioeconomic status and relationship with God. First, there are the godly rich. In the Old Testament, Abraham was a godly man of great wealth. Lot and Him owned so much land they decided to separate in peace because “their possessions were many, and they could not dwell together (Gen. 13:6).” Abraham continued to trust in God and chose to focus his attention on the promised land while Lot’s decision was based upon his covetous desire to possess land that would not honor God. In the New Testament, Joseph of Arimathea was described as a “rich man and disciple of Jesus (Matt. 27:57).” He donated his own prepared tomb carved out of rock for the burial of Jesus after the crucifixion. Tombs carved out of rock were expensive and therefore purchased only by wealthy families. Job, King Josiah, King David, Solomon, and Lydia are just a few more examples of godly rich people in the Scriptures.

The second category includes the godly poor. Ruth was a poor and godly Moabite woman who married an Israelite family and eventually converted to Judaism. Their family was so poor that during a famine they gathered food that had fallen on the ground while harvesters gathered the crops (Ruth 2). The gospel of Luke mentions a beggar named Lazarus who was covered with sores and longed for scraps from the rich man’s table (Lk. 16). When the poor man died, he went to Heaven, demonstrating His good relationship with the Lord. Of course, the greatest example of a godly poor man was Jesus Christ. His parents were so poor that they sacrificed two turtle doves in the temple, which, according to the Book of Leviticus (Lev. 12:2-8), was the sacrifice offered by poor people. Moreover, Jesus did not have a home to call his own. Jesus once said to a religious leader, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but I, the Son of Man, have no home of my own, not even a place to lay my head (Matt. 8:20).”

The third category involves the ungodly poor. These were people who wouldn’t work, drink and gamble, and were jealous and envious of one another. Proverbs 10:4 condemns the ungodly poor for their laziness. It states, “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” In addition to this, the Apostle Paul states in his epistle to Timothy that if someone doesn’t provide shelter, food, and clothing for their own family, they have denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Tim. 5:8).

The final category comprises of the ungodly rich. This pertains to the Pharaohs, wicked Kings, and rulers who worshipped the false god of power, fortune, and fame. Herod the Great was the epitome of a man of great wealth. He built pagan temples, amphitheaters, vast building enterprises, temples, a beautiful tower, royal palaces, and even built the holy temple in Jerusalem. However, money and power were his idols and this caused him to become a proud, boastful, and ungodly man. This idol culminated in his blasphemous statement of claiming that all that he built was his rather than Gods. God struck him dead for this.

The fourth category is who Pastor James is addressing, the ungodly rich. They were hoarding for themselves power, fortune, and fame on Earth. Instead of storing their acts of kindness, love, and generosity for treasures in Heaven, these people were accumulating material possessions for their own divine kingdom ( Prov. 30:8-9; Matt. 19:23; Lk. 16:13). James warned these rich people that their covetousness and riches will send them to Hell: their possessions will “eat their flesh like fire.” Moreover, James calls them out for taking advantage of the poor and not paying their laborers a decent wage. This type of injustice is the reason why many of these people were getting wealthy. They were holding back so much money and keeping it for themselves.

The two major points I want to address are this: First, it doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, but if you are godly or ungodly. You can be the poorest person in the world and worship the god of money more than the wealthiest person on Earth. I like what Solomon says in the book of Proverbs: “Lord, give me neither poverty nor give me riches, but give me only my daily bread (30:8).” As Christians, we are called to make enough money to provide for our family while resisting the temptation to worship money. Our security, satisfaction, pleasure, and safety should come from God first and not from what we have.

The second point I want to remind ourselves is this: Our possessions do not belong to us, but are owned by God. Therefore, we need to be good stewards of the resources God has given to us. This mindset is a paradigm shift. Instead of saying, “Nothing I have belongs to the Lord. I deserve all that I have. I only answer to myself, we should be saying: “I belong to the Lord (Rom. 1:6). Everything belongs to the Lord (Hag. 2:8). All I have is a gift from God (1 Cor. 4:7). I am the Lord’s steward (1 Pet. 4:10).

Application 

I want you to first ask yourself, Am I living with an attitude of ownership or stewardship? Then, carve out a time in your daily schedule to sit down with a pen and pad of paper. For 10 minutes, write out all the possessions that Jesus has given to you. Some examples may include family, health, work, this planet, my brain, etc. I hope that after this challenge you will be more grateful to God for the things that you have and not allow the idol of money to control your life. God bless!

Don’t Allow Fear to Choke your Joy in God

image“Be anxious in nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all human understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

I have flown on numerous airplanes throughout my lifetime. When I was a young boy and teenager, I had the luxury of flying to Florida, the Bahamas, Cancun, Mexico, and Germany. Now as an adult, I fly every year to my wife’s native land, Ukraine. Despite my numerous adventures 36,000 feet above sea level, my heart still beats excessively and my hands get sweaty before take off. I notice my prayers are more fervent and passionate than normal.

This year, when flying from Amsterdam to Detroit, we experienced some bad weather. The pilot told the passengers before take off, “A storm is brewing in the area so make sure your seat belts are securely fastened.” As we jetted down the runway, lifted up and soared into the clouds, all of a sudden there was a loud bang that shook the plane. I looked to my left and the young man sitting next to me said, “I think our wing got struck by lightning.”

A wave of fear struck me as I anticipated for the worst. A couple minutes later the captain announced on the intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen, our plane has been struck by lightning. However, do not fear because no damage was done. Also, our aircraft is built with special material to withstand an electrical discharge as strong as a lightning bolt. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of your flight.”

The captain’s voice was so reassuring that the frog in my throat dissipated, my heart beat diminished, and my hands stopped shaking. As I looked around the flight deck, the facial expressions were filled with relief and joy. Everyone had a peace and confidence that everything would be okay because the captain was calm.

The same is true when we seek God. He is our captain in life, and when he informs us that “all things will work together for good to those who are called to His purposes” it brings instant relief and a peace that transcends human understanding. When you experience turbulence in life, whether it’s depression, loss of a loved one, being fired from a job, or physical malady, don’t ignore your captain Jesus Christ. He is your Creator, sustainer, and knows how to land your life safely to its final destination: heaven. God’s word informs us that if we ask, it will be given. If we seek, we will find. If we knock, the door will be opened. Don’t ignore the only one who can save you. Put your trust in faith in Him today!

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