Pastor's Ponderings - Bulletin Boards
Question: "Does Satan have the power to control the weather?" GotQuestions.org
Answer: The increasing number of natural disasters and terrible storms have many people wondering, who controls the weather, God or Satan? Some point to the descriptions of Satan as the "www.gotquestions.org%2Fprince-power-air.html
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" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-family: Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 16px; background-color: rgb(250, 250, 250);">prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2
and the "www.gotquestions.org%2FSatan-god-world.html
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" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-family: Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 16px; background-color: rgb(250, 250, 250);">god of this world in 2 Corinthians 4:4
as evidence for Satan having control over weather. An examination of Scripture reveals that whatever influence Satan and his demon angels have over the weather is restricted by God's ultimate sovereignty. The Devil, our "adversary," must be taken seriously; we should acknowledge his existence and his limited power over the secular world. At the same time, Satan, a defeated fallen angel, is super-human but not divine, having only the power that God ultimately allows (2 Thessalonians 2:6-11
).If Satan could impact the weather, it would only be by God's permission, and restrained, as in the case of Job. Satan was allowed by God to torment Job in order to test him, and this included "the fire of God" (probably lightning) which "fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants" (Job 1:16). This was followed by a "mighty wind" (possibly a tornado) that destroyed his home and killed his children (vv. 18-19). So if the fire from heaven and the tornado were somehow caused by Satan, they were still under the ultimate control of God for His purposes.It is God, not Satan, who controls the weather (Exodus 9:29; Psalm 135:6-7; Jeremiah 10:13).God controls the skies and the rain (Psalm 77:16-19).God controls the wind (Mark 4:35-41; Jeremiah 51:16).God upholds and sustains the universe (Hebrews 1:3).God has power over the clouds (Job 37:11-12, 16).God has power over lightning (Psalm 18:14).God has power over all nature (Job 26).God is in control of all things, including the weather. Through His providence, God provides for and protects His children, but He also permits Satan, demons, and mankind to exercise their limited will to commit acts of sin, evil, and wickedness. These same beings are fully responsible for any and all man-made disasters and tragedies they cause. We know that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:36), and therefore His invisible hand is in our pain, even though He cannot sin or be the perpetrator of evil (James 1:13-17).There can be no meaningless suffering for the believer, whether the suffering is caused by mankind or by a natural event. We may not always know why evil acts or natural disasters happen, but we can be assured that in all our trials and tribulations God is working all things together for His glory and for our everlasting good (Romans 8:18-28).
Question: "What does it mean to be a stumbling block to someone else?". GotQuestions.org
Answer: In the midst of a series of laws
regulating the treatment of others, we find "Do not curse the deaf or put a
stumbling block in front of the blind, but fear your God. I am the LORD"
(Leviticus 19:14). Obviously, putting a rock or brick in front of a blind
person is cruel, but the New Testament takes the practical adage and turns it
into a spiritual metaphor.
After Peter rebuked Jesus, denying the crucifixion would take place, Jesus
said, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not
setting your mind on God's interests, but man's" (Matthew 16:23). Peter,
under the influence of Satan, tried to distract Jesus from what He had come to
do. He tried to make Jesus "stumble" in His path to the crucifixion. Paul
reiterates the idea: "…but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling
block and to Gentiles foolishness" (1 Corinthians 1:23). The idea that the
Messiah would be crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews - something that
tripped up their beliefs of what the Messiah would be like.
But most of the time, a "stumbling block" refers to something or someone who
keeps another from a relationship with God. In Matthew 18:5-7, Jesus says, "And
whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one
of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him
to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth
of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is
inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the
stumbling block comes!" Just as it would be better to chop off one's hand than
to sin (Matthew 18:8), in the Kingdom perspective, it would be better to drown
than lead a child into sin. Similarly, in Romans 14:13, Paul points out
that God alone judges; we are not to judge others but be concerned that we are
not the ones leading them into the sin we're so concerned about.
Stumbling blocks also arise when the path is a little more ambiguous. The
mature Christian life allows some freedoms that seem contrary to an obedient,
disciplined faith. The Corinthians were concerned about eating meat sacrificed
to idols. Modern issues include drinking alcohol in moderation or dancing. "But
take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block
to the weak" (1 Corinthians 8:9). Our liberty is not worth another's walk with
God. If something God allows would lead another to sin, we need to avoid it. We
are given great freedom as Christians, but the greatest is the freedom to
consider others' welfare over our own.
Refraining from being a stumbling block means not leading another into sin. How
we accomplish this depends on the situation and the hearts of those around us.
The security we have in God's love and provision, both now and eternally,
allows us to show concern to those who are weaker - those who need specific
encouragement to understand who God is. In some situations, that means living
in those freedoms to exemplify that God is a God of grace. In others, it means
disciplining ourselves to building up weaker believers and not pushing them
into a liberty they're not ready for. But, always, it means not encouraging
another to act in a way the Bible specifically identifies as sin.
Question: "Is it wrong to have pictures of Jesus?" (from GotQuestions.org)
Answer: When God first gave His Law to mankind, He began with a statement of who He is: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt" (Exodus 20:2) with a warning that Israel was to have no other God but Him. He immediately followed that by forbidding the making of any image of anything "in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below" (Exodus 20:4) for the purpose of worshiping or bowing down to it. The fascinating thing about the history of the Jewish people is that they disobeyed this commandment more than any other. Again and again, they made idols to represent gods and worshiped them; beginning with the creation of the golden calf during the very time God was writing out the Ten Commandments for Moses (Exodus 32)! Idol worship not only drew the Israelites away from the true and living God, it led to all manner of other sins including temple prostitution, orgies, and even the sacrifice of children.Of course, simply having a picture of Jesus hanging in a home or church does not mean people are practicing idolatry. It is possible that a portrait of Jesus or a crucifix can become an object of worship, in which case the worshiper is at fault. But there is nothing in the New Testament that would specifically forbid a Christian from having a picture of Jesus. Such an image could well be a reminder to pray, to refocus on the Lord, or to follow in Christ's footsteps. But believers should know that the Lord cannot be reduced to a two-dimensional image and that prayer or adoration is not to be offered to a picture. A picture will never be a complete image of God or accurately display His glory, and should never be a substitute for how we view God or deepen our knowledge of Him. And, of course, even the most beautiful representation of Jesus Christ is nothing more than one artist's conception of what the Lord looked like.As it is, we don't know what Jesus looked like. If the details of His physical appearance were important for us to know, Matthew, Peter, and John would certainly have given us an accurate description, as would Jesus' own brothers, James and Jude. Yet these New Testament writers offer no details about Jesus' physical attributes. We are left to our imaginations.We certainly don't need a picture to display the nature of our Lord and Savior. We have only to look at His creation, as we are reminded in Psalm 19:1-2: "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge." In addition, our very existence as the redeemed of the Lord, sanctified and made righteous by His blood shed on the cross, should have Him always before us.The Bible, the very Word of God, is also filled with non-physical descriptions of Christ that capture our imaginations and thrill our souls. He is the light of the world (John 1:5); the bread of life (John 6:32-33); the living water that quenches the thirst of our souls (John 4:14); the high priest who intercedes for us with the Father (Hebrews 2:17); the good shepherd who lays down His life for His sheep (John 10:11, 14); the spotless Lamb of God (Revelation 13:8); the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2); the way, the truth, the life (John 14:6); and the very image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). Such a Savior is more beautiful to us than any piece of paper hanging on the wall.In her book Gold Cord, missionary Amy Carmichael tells of Preena, a young Indian girl who became a Christian and lived in Miss Carmichael's orphanage. Preena had never seen a picture of Jesus; instead, Miss Carmichael prayed for the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to each of the girls, "for who but the Divine can show the Divine?" One day, Preena was sent a package from abroad. She opened it eagerly and pulled out a picture of Jesus. Preena innocently asked who it was, and when she was told that it was Jesus, she burst into tears. "What's wrong?" they asked. "Why are you crying?" Little Preena's reply says it all: "I thought He was far more beautiful than that" (page 151).
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