by Walter Olsen
Certain things cause people to turn aside to look, to see for themselves. A siren for an oncoming storm gets most people’s attention. They want to know where the storm is and what direction it is heading. Flashing red and blue lights as one drives down the highway are very attention getting, especially if the lights are close behind us! Waiting for a medical diagnosis is sure to get our attention.
God works to get our attention in many different ways. When God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, we read,
“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt” (Exod. 3:2-3).
Because we live in a world created by God, He wants to get our attention. We are born without a personal knowledge of Him and so, in His grace, He seeks our attention so that He may draw us unto Himself. It is interesting to consider how God works to get our attention today. The following are just a few of the ways God may use to do this.
He may get our attention as we view the wonders of His creation. Of course, not everybody believes in creation, but the wonders are there for all to see and consider. The Bible message is clear,
“…that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them” (Rom. 1:19). God takes the initiative in making Himself known to man. One of the ways He reveals Himself to all is by the things He has created. Thus we read, “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
Who can help but marvel at the beautiful flowers we see about us, or the gorgeous birds of such a great variety? Consider the beauty of the earth itself with its plants, rivers, mountains and the multitude of animals! I love to travel to the west and drive through the Rocky Mountains or Yellowstone National Park. Then there is Smoky Mountain National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. But one doesn’t have to travel far to see the glory of God’s creation. All about us are the things that God has made. We have marveled at the birds nesting about us, even the little chipmunks who scatter about looking for food.
Of course, there is the wonder of the human body! It is with our body that we are able to enjoy the world about us. Think of the ability to see, hear, smell, feel, and to taste! Perhaps you have some favorite tastes such as strawberries, peaches, or lemonade. What about things cooked on the grill to satisfy our hunger? What about the gifts of knowing, remembering, and planning? The Psalmist said, “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me: give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments” (Psa. 119:13).
As one considers all these things, he might say with the Psalmist, “Be Thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: Thou hast given commandment to save me, for Thou art my rock and my fortress” (Psa. 71:3).
He may get our attention when He reveals his faithfulness to His own word. One cannot really deny the faithfulness of God to what He has declared. For example, God said, “While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” (Gen. 8:22). Indeed, God has been faithful in fulfilling His Word. Summer and winter have always been since the time of creation, though sometimes in the midst of a cold winter we may wonder if summer will ever come! But it always does! Day and night have always come and we can be sure they always will until God decrees otherwise.
Do we ever wonder about the earth falling apart? We don’t need to because the promise is sure, “And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist [that is, He holds all things together] (Col. 1:17).
He may get our attention when He reveals the enormity of His creation. With our eyes we see only a very small part of His creation. When we have the opportunity to see the great mountains, the majestic prairies, the great rivers, and the awesome seas, who cannot but think of a marvelous God who created all things!
But then, when we turn our attention to the heavens, we stand in awe of the great things we behold: the sun, the moon, the stars and a multitude of other heavenly bodies. The spaces between them are way beyond our ability to comprehend!
He may get our attention when He reveals Himself in the life and testimony of Christians. Many people have come to Christ when they have observed the changes that have come into the lives of believers. When a person come to Jesus and gets saved, his life often changes dramatically. What he once despised, he now loves. What he once loved, he now despises. The Apostle Paul is a good example of such a change. Before his salvation, he hated Christians and went about to persecute and kill them. When he got saved, he loved them and their message and was willing to die for the cause of Christianity. The message of the Bible is so true, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Cor. 5:17). The presence of Jesus in one’s life changes everything! There are new desires and goals, a new morality, a new sense of joy and peace.
Paul continues the thought when he says,
“Yes, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them all but dung [refuse], that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8).
A good question for all of us to ask of ourselves since we have personally come to Christ is, how has our life been changed? What are our interests and desires now compared to before our salvation? What about our habits? Have they changed? Yes, we still have the old nature which seeks to draw us away from Christ and His Word, but is there an inner desire for change? Is there truly a hunger for living a righteous life? Is there a desire to sit under the teaching and preaching of the word of God? Is there really a desire to live our lives for the glory of God? Is there a new sensitivity to sin and a readiness to seek His forgiveness?
Also, we should note that such changes are brought by the presence of God, the Holy Spirit, in one’s life. They are not the result of a determination to live a better life, or by some rite or education of a given church. Only God can bring about such a change in one’s life. Without the reality of God, such changes are neither understood nor desired.
It should also be noted that, sometimes when one comes to Christ and his life is changed, it arouses the hostility of those close to him or her. If they are not believers, they will not understand the changes nor will they likely approve of them. But remember, Christ makes the difference between light and darkness and life and death.
He may get our attention when He reveals to us the emptiness of life without His presence and sufficiency. Living life without God, that is, without Jesus Christ as our Savior, may seem attractive to some. They are their own gods and do pretty much as they please. The only problem is, they must live according to their own sinful nature; it is a nature that leads eventually to dysfunction, despair, and great loss. Granted, they may enjoy life for a time if everything goes according to their wishes. However, nothing morally good and eternally of value comes from the old nature. The Bible is very clear on this point,
“For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things wherein ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:20-23).
Maybe this sounds boring and complicated to some, like trying to untangle a string of lights for the Christmas tree. But the point is, trying to live life without God is a most tangled mess!
While life without God is eventually revealed as one of emptiness to the unbeliever, it can also be one of relative emptiness to the believer.
Edwin Lutzer, in his book, Life Changing Bible Verses You Should Know, makes a very helpful observation. He says, “We are also frequently deceived about the long-term consequences of sin. We tell ourselves that we can handle sin’s effects, and we figure that as long as we are not addicted, we are quite fine, thank you. We end up filling our lives with enough small pleasures to hide the emptiness that sin has brought into our lives. And we forget that to be at peace with our sin is to be at war with God, and that to love God is to hate sin.”
In Jesus Christ, there is a fullness of life! Indeed, Jesus said, “...I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). For the one who walks in harmony and fellowship with God need not feel that he is missing out on the pleasures of life! The greatest pleasures of all are found in the believers’ walk with God.
He may get our attention by allowing us to go through various trials and hardships of life. When the children of Israel rebelled against God, He sent fiery serpents among them! In His grace, He ordained that a brazen serpent be placed upon a pole and all who looked were healed! Are not our trials an invitation to look to the Savior and be healed? Trials and various hardships are not pleasant, but God can use them to turn our hearts from ourselves to Himself and the blessings of the Christian life. Sometimes it takes a jolt for us to see the error of our way so that we may walk the blessed path of obedience.
He may get our attention by His working in the conditions of the world about us. Life in the world has changed for everyone in the past few months. No one can deny this. We are beginning to see things we have never seen before in our lives. Many of these things are unexplainable and we have no idea where all will end. It causes many to be fearful and unsettled. For most, there seems to be no good answer. Then, too, the things we are seeing are not just local, but they are world-wide! The virus is not contained in one city or one country. We are all subject to its potential assault on our families and on ourselves.
We are familiar with the protests and violence in many major cities, causing many to fear for their property and even their lives. A feeling of helplessness and hopelessness pervades much of the world. Then, too, there are such things as the plague of locusts moving over a major part of the world and destroying ever green thing in their path! What about the increasing number of earthquakes? What about the breakdown of families and the increase of abnormal behavior that God clearly says in His Word that He despises?
Now, for the Christian who knows his Bible, these things are very disturbing but they are not really surprising. Matthew 24 depicts something of what life will be like as the church age comes to a conclusion. More specifically, it reveals life in the world after the church is removed from the earth to heaven. Could it not be that the things we are seeing today are a foreshadowing of the time the Bible calls the tribulation? Yes, there will be life on the earth after the rapture of the church, but it will be a time of unimaginable hardship, trouble, and suffering. The purpose of this time is to prepare the nation of Israel to accept their Messiah and to know His promised blessing.
Could it not be that God is allowing these things to take place now so that peoples’ hearts will be turned to God? We must remember that, “The Lord s not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). If some, hopefully many, will come to repentance, will it not be worth it all? A meditation upon eternity apart from God will help put this truth in perspective!
Remember our primary text,
“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt” (Ex.3:2-3).
The question is, “What will cause people to turn aside and see what God is doing? As said above, hopefully many will turn and look. Unfortunately, many hearts today have been turned aside to see what the world about them offers. Such things lead to ultimate despair and ruin, but because of the nature of sin and the attraction of the world, many never see beyond what they can see with the natural eye.
Now, what is it that God would want us to see? First, perhaps, to see that He is indeed God! There is no other real, eternal, holy God. He would want us to see that Jesus Christ is His beloved Son whom He gave as a sacrifice for our sins. He would want us to see ourselves as lost sinners in need of a Savior. He would want us to see the need for repentance of our sins and that we can come to Him in faith for the forgiveness of our sins. He would want us to see that the attractions of the world cannot deliver what they promise and that our only hope for joy, peace, and eternal safety is in His Son.
As usual, our time and space is used up. There is so much more that could be said. The really good news is that there is still time to turn to God, believe His word, repent of our sins, and receive the gift of eternal life.
All of us have to consider the word and working of God in our own lives. Remember, there will be no excuse for anyone’s rejection of God and His offer of eternal life. If you have never turned aside to see God’s revealing of Himself to you, will you not do so now? To fail to do so is to fail to know the reality and eternal blessing of God. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16).
It would be well to identify with the Apostle Paul who said,
“For our light affliction, which is but for moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal: but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:17-18).
This past July has been a unique month in many ways. First, early in the month, we saw one of the greatest floods ever to hit our area. Baldwin received eight inches of rain! Many bridges and roads were washed out. We had no problem at our place, but many homes had flooded basements. Some farmers suffered not only flooded basements but also crops.
Also, in the month of July we had more than usual the number of very warm days. For several days the temperature was in the 90’s!
A very good friend of mine, Dr. Jerry Isaacs, passed away recently. He was the principal of Chetek High School when I taught there many years ago. Jerry and his wife, Carol, maintained a strong Christian testimony for many years. They were instrumental in the founding of the Bible Baptist Church of Hudson.
In July we were privileged to attend two weddings in our church as well as a few family gatherings.
Both BJ and I stay about the same as far as our health is concerned. We are thankful to be able to be up and about as much as we are. God is so good each and every day!
“The Holy Spirit speaks to neutral hearts. By that, I don’t mean passive or indifferent hearts… By neutral I mean being consumed with discovering what pleases the Holy Spirit rather than working to convince Him of the wisdom and brilliance of our plans. I’m afraid many of us pray with the goal of talking God into things rather than trying to discover His will. As a result, we never hear Him. (Charles Stanley)
If you would like to add anyone to the mailing list for The Sonshine, please give me their name(s) and addresses. There is no charge. We can send The Sonshine either by regular mail or email.