On a bright sunny day, when you first walk into a dark movie theater, you would notice how dark it is. If there was no floor lighting to guide you to a seat, you would probably have to stand in the back for a few minutes until you got used to the dark. Before long, you could see without difficulty. Indeed, you would seem to be able to see normally. "Normally," that is, until you walked out into the sunlight again and the bright glare forced you to cover your eyes.
We Christians are often in the same predicament. We live in a dimly lighted world, where sin is the rule and not the exception. And yet we are really children of the light. We must always be on our guard that we do not become so accustomed to the darkness of our world that we think it is normal and conform to its guidelines. It is not normal. The dim moral and spiritual insight of the world is not the standard that the Christian is to walk by.
We are living in the days of the new normal, where things are out of order. Where the existence of God is denied and where right is wrong and wrong is right. The Bible says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21)
The biblical world view is that the world is corrupted and decayed, that it is dark and darkening. Paul stated in 2 Timothy 3:13 that "Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." Man is infected with sin, which has no cure apart from God. The world loves its own way and hates God’s way. However, because of Christ, believers are "a people for His own possession" (Titus 2:14).
The believer influences the unbeliever by what he is, not by what he has. Jesus did not say, "You have salt and light to dispense," but rather "You are the salt of the earth, you are the light of the world" (Matt. 5:13, 14). The believer’s very presence in the world acts as salt and light, preventing corruption and exposing error. The only question, as Jesus goes on to say, is whether we are tasteful salt and effective light.
We are God’s salt to hold back corruption and His light to reveal truth. God has changed us from being part of the corrupted and corrupting world to being salt that can help preserve it. He has changed us from our own darkness to be His agents of giving light to others. By definition, an influence must be different from that which it influences, and Christians therefore must be different from the world they are called to influence. We cannot influence the world for God when we are worldly ourselves. We cannot give light to the world if we revert to places and ways of darkness ourselves.
There are ten plagues of the church today. The history of Christ’s church is inseparable from the history of Satan’s attempts to destroy her. While difficult challenges have arisen from outside the church, the most dangerous have always been from within. The Ten Plagues that struck Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus are the Biblical epitome of indisputable signs of divine intervention.
Today, we begin to examine ten modern plagues that afflict the people of God in our adversary’s desperate attempt to thwart divine intervention in the world through the church. The church is so important. Why is the church important? If you were to ask the person in the street, “Why is the church important?” you would probably get a wide range of answers. Some would laugh at the question, because for them the church is not important in any way. Others might see the church in the same category as a museum. Others may view the church as a powerful voting block.
The church is so very important because God has left it here to reveal His Son to the world, even as Jesus revealed God when He was on this earth. As the household of God, the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth, we are the current expression of Jesus Christ in the world until He comes. What a staggering job description! Nothing could be of greater importance!
These ten plagues, if you will, are not the only ones. But they are big ones. Conspicuously absent from the list, reserved for separate treatment on another day, is sin itself.
We are plagued by busyness. We are like hamsters on a wheel. The faster we run, the faster the wheel turns. We are overworked, overwhelmed, and spiritually undernourished. Our culture promotes “bigger and better” and subtly challenges us to keep up. Who made these rules anyway? Satan loves to keep us running around in circles trying to beat the clock. If he can distract us, he can minimize our usefulness in the Kingdom of God.
Busyness kills devotion and quiet time. Busyness kills service to Christ. We become so wrapped up in our routine we have no time to serve in the church.
Our priorities must be in order and nobody knows that better than ourselves. It is hard for another to judge whether your busyness is the avoidable result of time squandering or sloth, just like your financial need may be due to a leak in the bucket of your budget.
We must be intentional about making time to rest in Jesus. Let the phone ring, the chores can wait, and social media could use a break. Those things are not eternal. Jesus is eternal. Let us make the effort to sit at His feet and enjoy Him rather than miss Him like Martha did because she was fussing over the dishes. Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” Jesus says, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)
Do not feel badly if you are engaged in works of mercy and necessity on the sabbath but be wary if you have an option and you exploit Sunday as “money day.” And do not swallow the bait that sees the sabbath as the day for entertainment, ignoring holy rest. They call it “Sunday Funday.” Jesus warns, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” (Luke 21:34)
We are plagued by loneliness. Many find themselves isolated and alone. They become
introspective and moody. In self-pity, they will refuse fellowship with others. Imagine what living in this world was like for Jesus. “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3) Jesus was a sinless person living with sinful parents, sinful siblings, sinful extended relatives and sinful neighbors. No one on earth could identify with him. No human being could put an arm around him as he sat in tears and say, “I know exactly what you’re going through.” His sorrow and grief began way before Gethsemane.
But Jesus’s loneliness reached its apex the moment he became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) on the cross and was “forsaken” by his Father (Matthew 27:46). First, he was estranged by sinlessness and then, from being sin. Jesus knew supreme rejection and loneliness.
Which makes him perfectly suited to understand yours. He is a high priest who can sympathize with this weakness (Hebrews 4:15). But Jesus doesn’t just understand your loneliness; he’s destroying it. Because He died on your behalf, you are no longer truly a stranger or alien, but you are a fellow citizen with the saints and a member of God’s family (Ephesians 2:19). Because Jesus was alienated from God and man, you will enjoy the full family fellowship of God and all of his redeemed saints forever.
Child of God, your loneliness is passing away. The day is nearing when you will know as you have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12). And the fading loneliness you still feel Jesus understands. So “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that [you] may receive mercy and find grace to help” with every lonely need (Hebrews 4:16).
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deut. 31:8). “Fear not for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous hand” (Isaiah 41:10). There is help for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
One day, it will come to pass as it stands written, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev 21:5).
We are plagued by stress. Life and stress go hand in hand. We will experience lots of stress in our life. There is no getting around it. But the degree to which we effectively manage and cope with the stress in our lives will determine the degree to which we are healthy, spiritually and physically. If we turn to unhealthy behaviors to cope with the stress, our physical and spiritual will suffer.
Many people turn to food as a way to cope with stress. Others turn to the use of drugs. Some turn to alcohol. Some burn the midnight oil surfing the internet and pay for it the next day because they have had inadequate sleep.
Stress can kill trust in the Lord and can result in one becoming a control freak. Most Christians share the belief that God is sovereign and in control of our lives. We believe he has given us everything we need for living. So, when stress dominates our lives, somewhere along the way we have lost some ability to trust in God. That's not meant to imply that a stress-free existence in Christ is easy to obtain. We must fight it with faith.
“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22). Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives but to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)