Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Our Only Hope and Strength

Isaiah 10:20 NASB - "Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel."  

Isaiah prophesied of a time when God’s people would look to Him alone as their source of strength and comfort. The prophecy comes in the context of the great threatening storm of invasion upon Israel. Did they look to God for their refuge? No, they looked to the Assyrians, the very ones who would oppress them. King Ahaz renounced his dependence upon God and sought the aid of the Assyrians. "Ahaz sent messengers to Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, saying, ‘I am your servant and your son; come up and deliver me from the hand of the king of Aram, and from the hand of the king of Israel, who are rising up against me’” (2 Kings 16:7). It might have seemed like a reasonable course of action. The Assyrians were a powerful force. Perhaps they could deliver Israel from the invasion of the Arameans. In doing so they committed treason against the one true God. They abandoned the only one who could deliver them. When carnal wisdom replaces faith in God the results are always disastrous. God gave them over to their sin and crushed them under the very forces they had trusted. 

Isaiah looked forward to a time when God’s people would turn to Him as their only Deliverer. Isaiah is ultimately looking forward to the New Covenant. As God’s holy remnant, we have forsaken every earthly hope and have declared our dependence upon Jehovah God. We can say with King David, “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust” (Psalm 18:2). As we sing in the great hymn, “Hidden in the hollow of His blessed hand, Never foe can follow, never foe can stand; Not a surge of worry, Not a shade of care, Not a blast of hurry, touch the Spirit there. Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed; finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest.” 

We are the chosen people of God. Nothing shall separate us from His love and care. Why would we look to another for our hope and strength? There is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved. Christ alone is our great Deliverer, our Savior and King, the Holy One of Israel.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Exercising Caution with Social Media

I've recently been given a gift subscription to Ligonier Ministries' "Tabletalk Magazine." I came across a brief article by Matt Smethurst, an elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY that provides wisdom as we wander through the fields of social media. The article is titled, "Honoring One Another Online." (Feb. 2019 issue, pages 17-18). Here is an excerpt:

     "Jesus' words in Matthew 7:12--'Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them'--are so familiar that they're easily forgotten. But the Golden Rule is in effect each time we pull out our phones. 
     One of today's most insidious temptations--amplified by social media--is to slander and to shame. Why assume the best? we quietly think. Why not pile on? It's not like they know me. Plus, there are retweets to be had.
    The word slanderer appears thirty-four times in the Bible as a designation for the devil. He is the great accuser. Mirroring his methods in social media is not unfortunate. It's not mistaken. It is Satanic.
    Slander is a form of vandalism, too. It defaces God's most valuable property on earth--human beings, divine works of art who bear His image. No wonder James says reckless words arise from hell (James 3:6). No wonder he anchors the whole discussion in the imago Dei (vv. 8-9).
    Crafted in God's image, every person possesses divinely granted dignity and worth--and should be treated as such. This can be easy to forget when scrolling through a comment section or staring at a blurry head shot. But pixels can never shrink our personhood. Our online interactions must reflect this."

Technology is a wonderful blessing from God. The internet is a tool that can be of great use in advancing the Gospel, but there are many dangers. Social media should be of particular concern. It can foster pride as we desire others to read what we have to say. It encourages gossip as we share information that is best kept private. And social media can quickly become an obsession, where we become glued to our phones, always looking for the next post. People become "friends" with people they hardly know and refuse to de-friend those of whom they should not associate. May God grant great discernment. If we choose to involve ourselves, we must exercise great caution. "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).