There are Consequences

Headline: Lebanese government quits following Beirut port explosion.

Without question what happened in Beirut is a great human tragedy. Lives were lost; homes destroyed; families plunged into grief and days of uncertainty; 300,000 were left homeless. In an instant a nation has been placed on the verge of total collapse.

Actions and Consequences go together. In fact it seems to be an unwritten law of the universe that Actions always produce Consequences.

We see it all of the time, but it seems to have become more pronounced in recent days. Hollywood moguls have fallen. Cities have been plunged into chaos. Politicians have lost their careers. All because of the consequences produced by actions.

In the case of Beirut, 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, a highly explosive material had been inadequately stored for the past seven years at the Beirut port (action). Between 2014 and 2017 six letters were sent to the Beirut Urgent Matters Judge by customs officials but nothing was done (action). On August 4th the unimaginable happened and a major part of the city was destroyed in an instant (consequences).

The pictures showing piles of twisted metal and destroyed buildings are all over the internet. The shock was felt on the Island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. Pray for the people of Beirut.

I bring this up because we normally think of our own actions producing consequences that affect only us. So, we reason, I can do whatever I want to do because I’m not hurting anyone else.

But that is never the case. The Apostle Paul wrote, None of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself (Romans 14:7). In the context he was telling Christians that they live or die for the Lord, but his statement is general, the application is specific. All men, whether Christian or not affect the lives of other people by their actions.

And we are at least partially responsible for how our actions play out in the lives of other people. That can be a good thing or a not-so-good thing.

The writer of Hebrews addressed the not-so-good side when he wrote; Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many (Hebrews 12:15). Your bitterness has the potential to defile many other people. But so does your kindness.

And that’s the issue that is so often overlooked. While bad actions produce bad consequences, so good actions produce good consequences.

Love produces love. Kindness produces kindness. Mercy produces mercy.

The power to bring about good lies with us as does the power to bring about evil.

Yes, There are Consequences but they don’t have to be of the not-so-good variety. Choose to make them of the good variety. Better yet, choose to make them of the godly variety.

Stay in the Word,
Pastor Steve

The Point of Problems

On July 17, 2020 the evangelical Christian world lost one of its best-known contemporary theologians, J. I. Packer. Packer was primarily known through the books he wrote. Two of his better-known books were Knowing God, and Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God.

He was also known for his pithy sayings, such as:

To know that nothing happens in God’s world apart from God’s will may frighten the godless, but it stabilizes the saints.

A half truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.

The life of true holiness is rooted in the soil of awed adoration.

There are many more and they’re worth reading and meditating on. Just Google his name.

One of my favorite Packer quotes is:

If you ask, ‘Why is this happening?’ no light may come, but if you ask, ‘How am I to glorify God now?’ there will always be an answer.

Think about it.

Several things jump out of this quote:

1. When you face a difficulty, to ask Why is this happening?, is to ask the wrong question.

2. When you ask the wrong question, you don’t get the right answer.

3. Glorifying God is the aim of the entire Christian life, even the difficult parts.

4. That means that the Christian life is not primarily about us – it’s about God.

5. When you ask the right question, you get the right answer.

I know that I have often been guilty, in the stressful, difficult times of life, of asking the wrong question. Which means that I didn’t get the right answer. And I blamed that on God instead of seeing that the problem was mine.

I’m sure that Packer backed up his quote with Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 10:31:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Including how you respond to difficult times.

If, 1) God wants us to glorify Him in everything, and 2) God is in control of life, then the problems of life are designed to give us the opportunity of bringing glory to Him.

So the next time you (or I) are tempted to ask God Why is this happening to me?, change the question and ask how you can bring glory to Him through the circumstances of your life.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve