Fireside

I Believe in God

Ten reasons that strengthen my Christian faith

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When Thomas met the other disciples he said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it” (John 20:25). Does your faith also need reasons or evidence? I notice that for some people faith comes easy. For others, however, before they can bring themselves to believe it must in some way ‘make sense’, ‘feel right’ or ‘fit somehow into their worldview’. Normally I believe strongly in the existence of a good personal creator God. But sometimes I encounter situations that cause me to doubt, for example, when God does something or allows something to happen that I disagree with. When I doubt and also when I don’t doubt I find that reasons and arguments strengthen my faith. What can be proven about God? What are we looking for? What can we expect to find? I see in this natural, physical world, the fingerprints of a powerful, intelligent outsider.

  1. About reason:

Everything in the known universe has a cause. The universe itself also needs a cause. Even the ‘big bang’, if it actually occurred, must have had a cause. We can choose to call this initial cause ‘God.’

  1. About complexity:

Our body is very complex machine! It is amazing how complex our world is. There are just so many necessary details. The amazing complexities that I see in nature fill me with wonder and encourage me believe in the existence of an intelligent designer. We can choose to call it designer ‘God.’

  1. About good and evil:

What is good? What is bad, wrong or evil? Can ethics simply be the product of our changing public opinion? The fact that most -if not all- people are conscious of good and evil suggests that ethics and morality go beyond socially learned behaviour. The fact that some kind of moral code appears to be burnt onto every human ‘hard-drive’ suggests the existence of a moral lawgiver. We can choose to call this moral lawgiver ‘God’. It therefore seems reasonable to me to believe in the existence of a powerful initial cause, an intelligent designer, a universal legislator. You can call this ‘great entity’ God or give it any other name. What else can we discover about this ‘great entity’? Is it likely to be a thing, like energy, or a person, something like you and me?

  1. Over logic:

I see a person as something more, higher or greater than matter and energy. I also notice that it is the greater that creates the smaller. For example, a person creates a computer; a bird builds a nest – but never the other way round. Who or what could create people like you and me? Our creator must also have a ‘personhood’ equal or in some way greater than that of ours.

  1. About beauty:

Why do we see and enjoy so many different colours? Why can a sunset be so beautiful? Why does our planet have such a diversity of flowers? Why do we have so many attractive flavours and aromas? Why does music exist? Not everything in our universe needs to exist. Since beauty is part of this creation, it must also be appreciated in one way or another by its designer. The appreciation of beauty is a trait of ‘personhood’. The fact that beauty exists, suggests to me that God is a person, who can also appreciate and enjoy it.

  1. About virtues:

The process that we call evolution is a value-free process. A mechanical universe has no room for virtue; it has no need for morality. But something in us knows that virtues such as love, humility, empathy, self-sacrifice, generosity and forgiveness are real. The existence of such virtues tells us something about the Creator. Ethics and virtues are things that are valued by persons. The fact that virtues exist suggests that God is a person who also values them. An important characteristic of ‘persons’ is that they have a strong desire to communicate with others. If God is a person it should not be considered as odd that this God should want to communicate with us. In fact, we should actually expect it. Christians believe that God has communicated a number of times with humans and that his supreme revelation came in the person of Jesus Christ. How Jesus help us to believe in God?

  1. About Jesus:

Did a person called Jesus really exist? Was he a myth? Most historians believe in a historical Jesus just as much as in Aristotle or Constantine. Has the Church made Jesus ‘divine’? Jesus himself was clearly not confused about his own identity. He came to this earth with a mission. The disciples of Jesus became slowly convinced that Jesus was God in human form: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1-14). That is why the enemies of Jesus accused him of blasphemy and wanted to kill him. The life and words of Jesus help me believe in God.

  1. About the resurrection of Jesus:

Friends and enemies of Jesus agreed that his tomb was empty. How did it become empty? The evangelists say that Jesus rose from the dead. Alternative explanations are quite weak. Moreover, after the resurrection, many people saw Jesus alive: “He [Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep [have now died]. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:6-8). The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the explanation that best fits the facts and it helps me to believe that Jesus was a genuine revelation of God.

  1. About good changes:

In Jerusalem, the city where Jesus was crucified, just a few weeks after the resurrection, 3.000 people believed the Christian message. This explosion of Christianity and the testimony of millions of changed lives also today cannot be accounted for without the real, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. In addition, sometimes I see extremely unlikely and otherwise unexplainable answers to prayer. The God of the Bible is still active today. In order to believe, Thomas wanted some evidence. The resurrected Jesus appeared to him and said, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe”. Was this evidence proof that Jesus was God? No, but it helped. Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27, 28). Certainty about His resurrection helped Thomas believe that Jesus was God. Like Thomas, we have no evidence to prove that God exists, but the evidence and reasoning do help. Faith is a choice, for God or against God. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:1).

  1. About the meaning of life:

Christian faith is a rational faith. It is not a blind step in the dark. It makes sense. It is worthy of our faith and trust. Furthermore, genuine Christianity works and is existentially satisfying: it gives me hope when facing the brokenness in this world, it gives meaning and direction to my life, and I am sure it makes me a better man. When Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), he was speaking the truth.

By Philip Nunn

Courtesy: www.philipnunn.com

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Grace for humble

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It is significant, too, that the Scripture assures us that the same God who must resist the proud always stands ready to give grace to the humble, The Bible advises men and women to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God. It is my opinion that if our humility had to show itself only under the hand of God, it would be a relatively easy gesture.

If the Lord should say to me,”lam coming and will stand at the front of the church and I will expect you to come and kneel before me and humble yourself,” it would be an easy thing for me to do because I know that no one will ever lose face in kneeling humbly before God Himself.

Any man would feel just as proud as ever even though kneeling before the eternal Majesty on high. But God knows our hearts and He doesn’t allow us to fulfill His demands for humility with a mere gesture.

God may use people whom you think are not worthy to shine your shoes and in a given situation He will expect you to humble yourself meekly and take from them whatever it is they are pouring on you. In that spirit of meekness you would be humbling yourself under the mighty hand of God!

Think of the example of our Savior, cruelly beaten and cut with the lash. That whip was not wielded by an archangel but by the hands of a pagan Roman soldier. The abuse that was heaped on Jesus did not come from any multitude of the heavenly host-but from wicked, blasphemous and dirty-tongued men who were not worthy to clean the dust from the soles of His sandals.

Jesus willingly humbled Himself under the hand of men and so He humbled himself under the hand of God.

Taken from the book “I call it Heresy” by A W Tozer

Published by Gospel Literature Service

 

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Good Habits for Happy Marriage

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American Calvinist Baptist Minister and Author John Piper’s wife Noel Piper writes about their successful marriage. An article ‘Will you cleave and leave your man? – letter to a would-be adulteress’ in desiringgod.org, talks about her convictions and habits for keeping her marriage from turmoil and sensual  encounters.

She writes, “I understood — as well as a person can at the beginning of the rest of her life — the happy, solemn weight of promising to be faithful to him until death parted us, no matter what challenges God might bring into our lives. It didn’t seem possible I would ever want anything else.”

And she willfully and wholeheartedly took the oath, “Noël, do you take John to be your wedded husband to live together in holy matrimony? Do you promise to love him . . . and forsaking all others, be faithful only to him so long as you both shall live?” There was not a doubt in my mind or heart when I declared, “I do!”

Like many others she also experienced the tempting storms in which their marriage could have been ship-wrecked. But God held them together.

“How could I have known that the worse of “better or worse” would lead to a season of sleepless nights when I wondered how I could keep on? I felt desperate for something different. That’s the time in our marriage when I would have been most likely to turn to someone else. But thank God, it didn’t happen. He held us together. There were a few habits that helped.”

She formed some practical and tough habits which is the embodiment of love and dedication to her husband John Piper.  These habits are still relevant in these post-modern times where people tend to be unfaithful at least in social media.  Try these habits to keep the marriage safe and pure.

  • “Not flirting with other men.
  • Avoiding men who seemed too interested.
  • Not meeting alone with any other man.
  • Having regular devotions together with Johnny.

Faithfulness required more than four habits, but these four have been central and essential.”

Men can also follow the habits. For her the hardest habit was the last one; to having devotions together with her husband. What she learnt from her parents – togetherness in prayer inspired her to keep the promise.

“The last is the hardest, but most important. My appreciation for it began, as with many things, with my parents. It is amazing my parents stayed together. About twenty years into their marriage, their rampaging differences seemed about to rip them apart.

Through even the most difficult months — years, really — Daddy and Mother took us all to church every Sunday. And every evening of the week, one of us kids was sent to the front porch to holler down toward the pasture and out toward the woods, “Sto-o-ory and pra-a-yers ti-i-ime!”

After all nine of us kids (later we were ten) had tumbled into the living room from the barn and creek and kitchen, Daddy read the next passage in our years-long path through the whole Bible. Then we kneeled at our chairs and took turns praying”

And she had questions and doubts of wandering away from the sanctity of their marriage. But she chose the path of faithfulness and it yielded great results in their personal lives. And for the millions of people who read and watch John Piper and his family, their life is a perfect example to follow.

She asks herself some important questions, and she picked up the right answer.

“What did it boil down to during my darkest nights? I was saved from wandering by some form of this question: What kind of a cleaver am I? Am I the deadly implement who will split my family — with a husband and five children — into shreds? Because, with or without divorce, that is what unfaithfulness will do to us.

Or will I cleave to the husband God has given me? Will I cling to my marriage and pray desperately for something different? I chose to cling, and God is still proving his faithfulness. He will do the same for you.”

Marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept undefiled .. Hebrews 13:4

By Prakash P Koshy

 

 

 

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Stones of Remembrance

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Psalm 105:5  Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles…

It is so easy to forget what God has done; even those pivotal moments that change us forever. They begin to fade as other things crowd out their importance. This is why God instructed the children of Israel to build a memorial of remembrance after the crossing of Jordan in Joshua 3 & 4. Twelve stones were laid, one by each tribe, as a permanent legacy to what God had done for them.

I too have stones of remembrance. Yes, I write on stones. These stones are my visual reminder of God’s promises to me. They represent ages, stages and life events where the word of God has been an anchor holding me fast during storms. On these stones are scriptures that represent a fresh work in my life; a new turning point. They are tangible reminders that I can touch and hold. Their words bring comfort, strength and hope. I read these stones and I remember all what God has done. They remind me of all that He will do and all that He has promised.

How do you remember what God has done for you?

Meditation by by Maria Egilsson

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Precious One

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“There is joy in the presence of angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:10).

An American F-16 war plane piloted by Scott O’Grady, when flying over Serbia, was shot down by the Serbian army. There was neither any trace of the pilot nor news from him for five days as to whether he was dead or alive. On the sixth day, a faint message from O’Grady’s radio was received by another pilot. He was alive, hiding himself from the enemy. US rescue teams headed towards him with all precaution and in a daring attempt had him hauled up safely by a helicopter. The whole country rejoiced. It was reported that the weapons and machinery used in the rescue operation of this one person was six billion dollars equivalent to rupees 600 crore.

Yes, that is the worth of a human soul. How precious is the deliverance of a soul that is lead to salvation, delivered from eternal death in hell? It is for this purpose that the Lord Jesus Christ gave His life for my redemption and yours.

“Ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold… but with the precious blood of Christ” (1Pet. 1:18-19).

Rom. 3:24; Col 11:14; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:12; Rev. 5 9-10.

Taken from the book “Light for the soul” by Dr. Daniel Sundararaj

Published by GLS Publishing

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Praising in Pain

Manna for the Soul rgb

Praising in Pain

“Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4).
Hanna R. Higgins, the author of the book “Cloud and Sunshine“ was a bedridden invalid for over 50 years. As a young girl, she was afflicted with a strange bone disease, and her legs had to be amputated. She lived through intense suffering and pain, bearing everything patiently and cheerfully as she was a completely committed Christian. She was rooted in Christ, had faith in Him and abounded in thanksgiving. Everyone who came to meet and talk to her, went away feeling blessed. She used to call her bed the “Thanksgiving corner”. She rejoiced in her Lord and radiated Christian joy, peace and glory. Her prayer list for intercession for missionaries and workers included over 200 names and she prayed without ceasing. She used to pray for each one by name and send a letter of encouragement to each one of them at least once a year. Her book was written when she was 77 and she says, “I long for all to prove, as l do, that with our loving Savior’s help, it is possible to be happy under trying conditions.” Read Phil. 4:6; Hab. 3:17-18; Acts 15:25; 1 Peter 4:12-13; Heb. 10:34.

Taken from the book ‘Manna for the Soul’ by Dr. Daniel Sundararaj.

Published by GLS Publishing

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