The spiritual dimension to life determines how we act and react in any given situation. For many decades we have been undermining the foundations of society, today we are reaping the harvest in all areas of life including the social, economic, environmental, and political. Unless we have the courage and integrity to face issues and facts head on we will never resolve the issues that concern us.
We are facing times of great uncertainty, confusion, conflict, instability, and difficulty. We will need wise leaders, calm heads, courageous action, a commitment to justice and truth, and self discipline to come through the storms in the best shape possible.
Solutions to our problems become vastly easier when we remember the injunction 'when all else fails read the instructions". It is common sense to read the instructions for any complex piece of equipment, at the lower level to get it working, and at a higher level to make sure we get the best out of the equipment. We humans are the most complex 'thing' in the world. Life becomes much simpler when we accept that God is the creator and he has given us his instruction handbook in the Bible. Jesus summed the message up "Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbour as you love yourself". His purpose and teaching while on earth was firstly to bring salvation to mankind, to make those who wanted it and acepted him children of God and citizens of His kingdom, and secondly to teach us how to treat each other on earth. Whether you believe in the religious foundations or not the overwhelming social evidence is that when we "follow the instructions" and teachings of Jesus society is much better off.
We create the society we live in. We can change for the better. The biggest factors in the decline of society have been the obsession with self, lack of respect for others, and the lack of a foundation of values. The pursuit of pleasure for ones self has been the hallmark of the collapse of past societies and empires and will be in ours.
BELOW ARE 16 PRIMARY FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIETY
COMPASSION COURTESY RESPECT TRUST
FIDELITY RESPONSIBILITY SELF CONTROL THRIFT
SANCTITY OF LIFE CARE OF THE ENVIRONMENT COMMUNITY TEMPERENCE
TRUTH JUSTICE FAMILY GOD
BELOW ARE 16 DESTRUCTIVE ACTIONS THAT DESTROY THE FOUNDATIONS
ANGER GREED LYING HATRED
BITTERNESS SELFISHNESS SLANDER THEFT
VIOLENCE DRUG ABUSE INFIDELITY INJUSTICE
DRUNKENNESS ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION JEALOUSY LAZINESS
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS GIVEN BY GOD TO MOSES 3,500 YEARS AGO AND STILL VALID TODAY
1. Worship no God but me
2. Do not bow down to any idol or worship it. I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals
3. Do not use my name for evil purposes because I, the Lord your God, will punish anyone who misuses my name
4. Observe the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have 6 days in which to work but the 7th will be a day of rest dedicated to me.
5. Respect your father and your mother
6. Do not commit murder
7. Do not commit adultery
8. Do not steal
9. Do not accuse anyone falsely
10. Do not desire another persons house, wife, slaves, cattle, donkeys, or anything else they own.
Jesus Christ summed it up almost 2,000 years ago "Love the lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength and love your neighbour as you love yourself".
Consistent with the rest of the bible we can summarise it in a modern context as
PUT GOD FIRST AND TREAT HIM WITH RESPECT, REVERENCE, AND AWE AND KEEP A DAY TO REMEMBER HIM.
GIVE NOTHING AND NO-ONE A HIGHER PRIORITY THAN GOD WHETHER IT BE FAME, FORTUNE, POWER, ENTERTAINMENT, SELF GRATIFICATION, WORK, STUDY, SEX, CLOTHING, FOOD, ETC
SHOW RESPECT TO ALL OTHER PEOPLE - ESPECIALLY YOUR PARENTS,
DO NOT COMMIT MURDER OR USE VIOLENCE AGAINST ANY OTHER PERSON
BE CELIBATE OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE AND FAITHFUL WITHIN IT. ALL SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE BETWEEN A MAN AND WOMAN COMMITTED TO EACH OTHER FOR LIFE IS WRONG. (Social evidence shows overwhelmingly that those who obey this rule have much longer and happier marriages than those who are sexually active outside of marriage. "Till death do us part" is actually fulfilled)
DO NOT STEAL - includes sickies, the bosses stationery, time, as well as property, money etc
DO NOT LIE
DO NOT BE JEALOUS OR GREEDY
OUR SOCIETY WOULD BE VASTLY DIFFERENT IF WE KEPT THESE BASIC RULES. THEY ARE NOT SOME RELIGIOUS IDEAS OUTSIDE OF A SUCCESSFUL SOCIETY - THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL AND INTEGRAL FOR IT.
JESUS CHRIST GAVE US THE SECRET OF TRUE HAPPINESS IN THE "SERMON ON THE MOUNT" WHILE HE WAS ON EARTH ALMOST 2000 YEARS AGO
Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor, the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them!
Happy are those who mourn, God will comfort them!
Happy are those who are humble, they will receive what God has promised!
Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires (hunger and thirst after righteousness in another translation); God will satisfy them fully!
Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them!
Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!
Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children!
Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the kingdom of Heaven belongs to them!
Humility, mercy, purity, a desire to do what God requires (righteousness) - these are absolutely opposite attitudes and actions to those in current vogue in society. No wonder society continues to deteriorate. There have been huge efforts over the past few decades to abolish God from Society. He does in fact take us at our word, withdraw, and leave us to live in the mess we create!
IS THERE A GOD? - DOES IT MATTER?
Surely this is the most important question we can ever ask ourselves. We are not talking about where we will take our next vacation, which restaurant to visit to enjoy a meal out, or what movie or show to attend. We are talking about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, is there life after death, if so where will we spend it. We absolutely must take the time and make the effort to come to a decision as to whether there is a God or not, and if there is, who He is, what He wants from us and what is His purpose for this earth.
There is a curious disconnect in society and a huge amount of waffly thinking. Religion is regarded as something disconnected from and irrelevant to daily life. Most will give it some regard at marriages, and even more regard at funerals and ignore any claims of God inbetween. Many people think (hope) there is a heaven and hope to go there but do not take time to know the route or the means of getting there. It is like arriving arriving at Auckland airport as a stranger to New Zealand, picking up a rental car to get to to Wellington, refusing to accept a map or advice and setting off hoping to get there.
Either there is a supreme being or there is not. There are no half measures. The universe was either created by a supreme being we call God or it came by random chance, there are no half measures. A tragedy of our age is the simplistic way in which people accept the theory of evolution without understanding the huge suppositions and blind leaps of faith required to believe that anything so complex as our universe, and especially the little planet we call home, and more especially the complex beings we humans are, could happen by random chance.
Both science and theology agree that the universe had a beginning. Science cannot explain how out of nothing at the 'big bang' matter came and how it formed into life and how in all our known universe only this planet has developed life in the infinitely complex way we know it. The first verse of the bible simply says "IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH". It does not tell us when. If we go to near the centre of the Bible Psalm 33 verse 6 tells us "GOD SPOKE AND THE UNIVERSE WAS FORMED". Now we know how the big bang happened - "God Spoke" (an Almighty big bang! Or a big bang of the Almighty!). If we are to explore this subject fully we need to do some 'mind expansion' and try and come to grips with two realities
(a) THE ABSOLUTE TIMELESSNESS OF GOD. God always was, always is, and always will be. No one created him. He created us. Time is something he created for this universe. It does not exist in Gods never ending eternity.
(b) THE ABSOLUTE HUGENESS OF GOD. This God that we talk about is so huge that he created this universe and therefore is outside the universe yet resident within it. He is infinite, it is the universe in all its awe inspiring immensity (to us) which is finite. Yet this God is also so huge that he knows each one of us by name and can understand us in our multitude of languages and cultures and wants to come into a living, dynamic, personal and eternal relationship with us. This was his purpose in creating this world. We need to understand that this life is not primarily about this life at all, it is simply the preparation ground for the next.
Once we understand the power and purposes of God issues such as whether the virgin birth of Jesus could happen, whether Jesus could heal the sick, raise the dead, cause the blind to see etc become non issues. To God who created life in the first place it is not a problem.
The wonder of it is that this one Jesus through whom God the Father created the universe should lay aside the eternal power and glory that was his from eternity past and go through the process of gestation, infancy, childhood, and manhood for around 3 years of public ministry and then allow himself to be taken by the people he had created and be mocked, whipped, and finally crucified to take the penalty of death which was the just outcome for all of us who have sinned - AND THAT IS ALL OF US! It was the power of God the Father which raised him to life on the third day and thereby opened the way to eternal life for us.
But eternal life is not given automatically. We have to seek it. It requires a recognition that there is one God, that we have sinned and come short of his standards, and that Jesus Christ has paid the penalty which is ours. It requires repentance (a genuine sorrow for sin and commitment to change for the better), reconciliation with God (asking forgiveness for our sin) and a commitment to follow him for the rest of our lives. Once we make the conscious choice and take the steps to become a christian (follower of Christ) we become his child for eternity, a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Death is not the end - merely a transition into the presence and eternal sinless bliss of eternity. The old negro spiritual sums it up well "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through'. It helps to get this life into perspective - the good things and the bad.
The bible is very explicit that if you do not become a child of God in this life you have no option but to meet him as judge in the next life and be banished from his presence for ever. You need to consider this very very seriously. Your eternal destiny rests on your decision.
One of the most popular passages in the Bible comes from the Gospel of John, chapter 3, and verse 16 - "God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life". For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but to be its saviour. Whoever believes in the Son (Jesus) is not condemned; but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in Gods only Son".
Becoming a christian does not guarantee an easy ride to heaven or simple solutions to all our problems but does provide the foundational strength, stability, and peace to enable us to cope with, and overcome, the challenges of life in the power of God. It also gives us the reason and the power to get our lives in order to follow Christs instructions for a fulfilled life.
God in Jesus Christ reaches out to us in love. It is tragic that His love is so often spurned, mocked, and ignored. If Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 2 invited us to a week as her guest at Buckingham Palace all expenses paid the vast majority of us, if not all, would leap at the opportunity and accept the honour. HERE WE HAVE THE ETERNAL ALL POWERFUL GOD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH INVITING US TO SHARE ETERNITY IN HIS PRESENCE IN HIS KINGDOM. It is your choice as to whether you accept. You cannot blame him, or any other person, or the church, or anything else if you refuse!
IS THERE A GOD? THIS QUESTION MATTERS MORE THAN ANY OTHER!!
WILL THE WORLD END?
This question has exercised people minds and imaginations down through the years and spawned many books, movies, and crisis of faith. The Bible is very specific that this world as we know it will end. There may be differences of opinion as to timetable of events but every true christian has this reality at the core of their faith. The time will come when God will say enough of you people destroying the planet I gave you to live in, enough of your abusing and harming each other, enough of your greed, your infidelity, your murdering of the unborn, your lying and deceipt. I am now going to bring in my perfect kingdom for my children and citizens. Those of us who are Christians look forward to Jesus Christ coming back with eager anticipation and expectation.
When will it happen? No one knows!
Jesus disciples asked him this question (recorded for us in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 24) The disciples came to him privately saying "Tell us when will these things be? And what will be the sign Your coming and the end of the age? Jesus answered "Take heed that no man deceives you for many will come in My name saying I am the Christ, and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, nations will rise against nation, and there will be famines, epidemics, and earthquakes in many places." The passage then goes on with a picture of both great tribulation for many, and also many just going about their ordinary lives without a thought of God until suddenly finding it too late.
The Apostle Paul addressed it this way (recorded for us in his 2nd letter to Timothy Chapter 3) "Know this that in the last times perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers (gossipers!), without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God!!! (how did he know about New Zealand today when he wrote this around 1940 years ago??!!)
A society without God is a society where evil wins and is not a place anyone would want to live in, yet that is where we are headed.
For the christian we are told that when we see all these troubles coming to pass to lift up our heads for our redemption draws nigh! It is a cause for celebration, not fear or sorrow.
Why has it taken Christ so long to return? "God is longsuffering not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance and a knowledge of the truth". He is waiting still for you to give you the opportunity to accept his forgiveness and salvation.
There is absolutely no reason from anything written in the Bible why we could not be in the final stages of Gods plan for this earth as we know it. Should we forget this earthly life then? No. The wisest words I have ever heard on this are to "plan our lives like Christ is not coming back for another 2,000 years but live our lives like He is coming back today!" We cannot go wrong if we fulfil that.
Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ?