My Utmost for His Highest

June 2nd

What are you haunted by?

What man is he that feareth the Lord? Psalm 25:12.

What are you haunted by? You will say—‘By nothing,’ but we are all haunted by something, generally by ourselves, or, if we are Christians, by our experience. The Psalmist says we are to be haunted by God. The abiding consciousness of the life is to be God, not thinking about Him. The whole of our life inside and out is to be absolutely haunted by the presence of God. A child’s consciousness is so mother-haunted that although the child is not consciously thinking of its mother, yet when calamity arises, the relationship that abides is that of the mother. So we are to live and move and have our being in God, to look at everything in relation to God, because the abiding consciousness of God pushes itself to the front all the time.
If we are haunted by God, nothing else can get in, no cares, no tribulation, no anxieties. We see now why Our Lord so emphasized the sin of worry. How can we dare be so utterly unbelieving when God is round about us? To be haunted by God is to have an effective barricade against all the onslaughts of the enemy.
“His soul shall dwell at ease.” In tribulation, misunderstanding, slander, in the midst of all these things, if our life is hid with Christ in God, He will keep us at ease. We rob ourselves of the marvellous revelation of this abiding companionship of God. “God is our Refuge”—nothing can come through that shelter.

Streams in the Desert

June 2

“For Abraham, when hope was gone, hoped on in faith. His faith never quailed.” (Rom. 4:18, 19)

WE shall never forget a remark that George Mueller once made to a gentleman who had asked him the best way to have strong faith.
“The only way,” replied the patriarch of faith, “to learn strong faith is to endure great trials. I have learned my faith by standing firm amid severe testings.” This is very true. The time to trust is when all else fails.
Dear one, you scarcely realize the value of your present opportunity; if you are passing through great afflictions you are in the very soul of the strongest faith, and if you will only let go, He will teach you in these hours the mightiest hold upon His throne which you can ever know.
“Be not afraid, only believe.” And if you are afraid, just look up and say, “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee,” and you will yet thank God for the school of sorrow which was to you the school of faith.—A. B. Simpson.
“Great faith must have great trials.”
“God’s greatest gifts come through travail. Whether we look into the spiritual or temporal sphere, can we discover anything, any great reform, any beneficent discovery, any soul-awakening revival, which did not come through the toils and tears, the vigils and blood-shedding of men and women whose sufferings were the pangs of its birth? If the temple of God is raised, David must bear sore afflictions; if the Gospel of the grace of God is to be disentangled from Jewish tradition, Paul’s life must be one long agony.”

“Take heart, O weary, burdened one, bowed down
  Beneath thy cross;
Remember that thy greatest gain may come
  Through greatest loss.
Thy life is nobler for a sacrifice,
  And more divine.
Acres of bloom are crushed to make a drop
  Of perfume fine.

“Because of storms that lash the ocean waves,
  The waters there
Keep purer than if the heavens o’erhead
  Were always fair.
The brightest banner of the skies floats not
  At noonday warm;
The rainbow traileth after thunder-clouds,
  And after storm.”

365 days with Newton

2 JUNE (PREACHED 2 JUNE 1771)

The price of riches

‘And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.’ Genesis 13:1–2, 5–7
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Genesis 13:1–18

Notice the riches of Abraham and Lot. They forsook their own country and went into a strange land at the Lord’s command, and he provided well for them. It is true the promises of the gospel chiefly respect better and spiritual blessings, yet they include the things of this life likewise. I would observe from it that the best way to prosper as to worldly concerns is to observe the Lord’s commandments. I am afraid some of you, yea some believers, think otherwise. To this is owing the profanation of the Lord’s Day, which so sadly prevails amongst us. I know some allow themselves in what their consciences condemn, because they cannot trust the Lord with their substance or character. They seem desirous to serve him if they could do it without offending the world. This is for a lamentation.
Note the inconvenience attending their riches: strife—not immediately between themselves, but their herdsmen strove, and Abraham and Lot were in danger of taking part with their respective servants as to have some difference. We may see from hence that though the Lord will give his people every needful good, yet for the most part he withholds riches from them. It is in mercy. Great possessions are usually accompanied with great cares, troubles and snares. Our life and comfort does not depend upon them; rather, they endanger peace and safety. Abraham and Lot wished to live in peace, but their servants had strife, and strife is like the kindling of a fire, which spreads far and wide from small beginnings.

FOR MEDITATION: ‘They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition’ (1 Timothy 6:9).

SERMON SERIES: GENESIS, NO. 25 [1/4], GENESIS 13:12–13

What is a Christian worldview?

It drives me crazy how inconsistent many Christians are with their worldview. Many Christians claim to believe in God and to trust the Bible as being God’s Word, yet, as soon as the Christian worldview stands in the way of something they want to do, it gets thrown out the window, only to be recovered the next time it becomes convenient. This is the lukewarm faith Jesus spoke of in Revelation 3:16. I, too, would rather have people be hot or cold. If they are hot, I am ready to partner with them in declaring and living the truth. If they are cold, I am ready to attempt to reach them by speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). If they are lukewarm…? [Insert vomiting sound here.]

A worldview is, simply, how we view the world. Our worldview impacts every area of our lives, sometimes purposefully in that we intentionally base our decisions on it, and sometimes ignorantly in that it impacts us even when we are not consciously thinking about it. Our worldview is a core set of beliefs/values that determines how we view everything else in life. The core of a worldview is made up of the answers to the following questions: (1) Why are we here? (2) What is wrong with the world? (3) Can it be fixed? A Christian worldview would answer the questions: (1) God created us. (2) Sin. (3) Yes, through Jesus Christ.

God created us for a purpose. God created us in His image so that He could have a meaningful relationship with us. God designed us so that we would be ideal stewards over His creation. This aspect of a Christian worldview impacts how we view and treat other people. Does human life have any value? Should human life be treated different from other forms of life? Why should I be loving, kind, and compassionate towards other people? We were created in order to have a relationship with God. Life has no true meaning or value without that relationship. Yet, so many treat God as an afterthought, something you talk about one day a week.

Sin is what is wrong with the world. This world, as wonderful and amazing as it still is, is completely screwed up. It is not completely what God intended it to be. While it still contains beauty, and still provides what we need for life, it is a warped and faded image of what God created. We brought sin and evil into the world. We are responsible for all that is wrong in the world. We are completely messed up and infected with a deadly plague (Romans 3:10-23). We are the problem, not the solution. This aspect of a Christian worldview should humble us and keep us from pride and arrogance. The world does not revolve around us. If it did, it would be upside-down, spinning backwards, and shaped like a rotten potato with all those weird-looking sprouts coming out of it.

God is the solution. God became a human being (John 1:1,14), lived a perfect life, taught us the truth, and died to pay the penalty for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus’ resurrection proved that His mission was successful. Through Jesus Christ, our lives can be redeemed and restored. Through Jesus Christ, one day, the universe and everything in it will be restored to glory and perfection. Through faith in Jesus Christ, all of our sins can be forgiven and we can have our heavenly eternal destiny secured. Do you see the pattern? It is all about Jesus! We are the problem, Jesus is the solution. Jesus accomplished it all and offers it to us as a gift, if we will just receive it in faith. How could such a tremendous sacrifice not completely shape our worldview? How could such an amazing gift not be the basis for how and why we live our lives?

Whether it is your marriage, your job, your politics, your hobbies, your morals, or your desires, your worldview should be the foundation. Nothing in your life should be separated from the fact that you are a Christian, a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. If the Christian worldview is true, it demands our all. We should be on fire for God. If the Christian worldview is false, it should be completely ignored. We should be as cold as the south pole. What should be done with lukewarmness? The same thing the whale did with Jonah.

S. Michael Houdmann

Why do many Christians reject the theory of evolution?

Several years ago, my wife and I experienced a wonderful vacation in New Zealand. New Zealand is a beautiful country with many natural wonders which, for us, undeniably point to a Creator God. Only God could design and create scenery so amazing.

During the trip, we went on a whale-watching adventure. Prior to departing on the boat, we were asked to watch an informative video on whales. In this video was a lengthy section discussing how whales evolved. According to the video, what was essentially a large wolf learned to catch fish on the coastlines, began to venture further and further into the water, and over millions of year, eventually evolved into a whale. The absurdity of the idea would have been hilarious were it not for the fact that millions of people actually believe what the video presented.

Christians are not, or at least should not be, opposed to microevolution. Microevolution, which is changes within a species, is an uncontroversial, well-documented, naturally occurring biological phenomenon. Macroevolution, which is one species developing into an entirely new species, is what many Christians are opposed to. Why? For one, it is not scientific. It is not observable, testable, or repeatable. We see species adapting all the time. But, we do not see dogs becoming horses, or lizards becoming birds. When Darwin observed finches on the Galapagos islands, he observed certain types of finches surviving better due to a slightly different beak design (microevolution). He did not observe finches becoming anteaters (macroevolution).

Theistic evolution is probably the predominant view in the world today. While I believe theistic evolution to be decidedly unbiblical, I do not view it as contradictory to the core message of the Christian faith. One can be a true follower of Jesus Christ while holding to theistic evolution. I can see how theistic evolution “makes sense,” as it would take an all-powerful Creator God to turn a wolf into a whale. But, for me, theistic macroevolution is completely unnecessary. If God wanted a whale to exist, why not just create a whale? Why take a wolf and over millions of years transform it into a whale?

Christians reject macroevolution because: (1) it is unbiblical, and (2) it is the “Creation account” for atheism. Now, I am not saying that everyone who accepts macroevolution is an atheist. What I am saying is that for atheism to be true, macroevolution must also be true. If there is no God, then everything we see has to have evolved. Protein molecules became amoebas; amoebas became fish; fish became lizards; lizards became dogs; dogs became monkeys; and monkeys became humans. Despite the absurdity of it, despite the virtually impossible odds of a single protein molecule forming by chance even if given billions of years, this is what many people believe. Why do they believe this evolutionary mythology? Atheists believe it because they have no other choice. Others believe it because they have been taught that it is true and have been told that anyone who believes otherwise is an ignorant and backwards caveman.

The consequences of believing in evolution can be readily seen in the world today. If we teach children they are nothing but highly evolved animals, why are we surprised when they act like animals? If we are told that survival of the fittest is how the world works, why are we surprised when those who think they are the fittest are willing to do anything, no matter how immoral and evil, to make sure they survive? If we are nothing but the most highly evolved creature on this planet, “Let us eat, drink, do drugs, sleep around, you know, do whatever we want, for tomorrow we die” (loose paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 15:32).

In contrast, if there is a Creator God, there is meaning and purpose to our existence. There is a reason for choosing good instead of evil, love instead of hate, and mercy instead of revenge. With God, we can recognize places like New Zealand as beautiful examples of God’s creative power instead of understanding them to be random piles of rock and dirt that just happen to cause our neural synapses to fire in a certain way.

S. Michael Houdmann

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