I Win – You Lose

The Chinese authorities recently arrested more than 100 people suspected of selling pork from pigs that died from disease. A network of 11 groups apparently bribed staff from the supervising authorities so that they would be able to continue functioning. Diseased pigs would be bought from farmers at low prices and then sold to markets or processed into bacon, ham or cooking oil. In 2013, when authorities cracked down on some of these groups, more than 10,000 dead pigs were found floating down the river that supplies tap water to a portion of the city in Shanghai.

Just last year some workers in an unlicensed slaughter house in China allegedly decided to increase the water weight of their meat. They started injecting the freshly killed sheep with water, but there was a problem. They did not get the water from the tap, but from a bacteria-infested outdoor pond.

In each of these cases, and more around the world, I’m sure, someone tries to gain while an unsuspecting person loses. The Bible states that the Lord detests dishonest scales, but an accurate measure finds favor with Him. If everyone strived to live life the way the Lord desires, there would not be any losers. Some strive to live the way He wants, which is the opposite of how most people live today.

Ebola Hiding?

The World Health Organization recommends the spread of the Ebola virus could be declared over if there are no new cases in 42 days. This past weekend, the Malian government and United Nations made this declaration about the west African country of Mali. The Health Minister, Ousmane Kone, said on state television that the Ebola epidemic in Mali was over.

A few days after that statement a news item was released that said the deadly Ebola virus is changing. When a virus keeps changing it could diminish the effectiveness of experimental drugs that some pharmaceutical companies are beginning to develop. Presently there is no vaccine to prevent Ebola and there is no drug on the market to treat it. Only recently, drug companies are beginning to invest in Ebola treatments thinking there is no cash return working on a virus that pops up sporadically in Africa.

It would seem that the viruses of today are giving medical science a real run for the money. It appears science can’t quite keep up. If that’s the way it is now, imagine what it will be like when God uses pestilence to bring judgment to the earth in the future. The Bible tells us many will die as a result of these plagues and God will show His strength by bringing some plagues in one day. It says during this time there will be much mourning. The Bible also talks of a time in the future when the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem. It says their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet. Their eyes will rot in their sockets and their tongue will rot in their mouth.

As one can see, when God brings judgment He doesn’t fool around. It is important not to be present for the judgment that is coming on the whole earth. Signs indicate it is not that far away.

Asteroids and Judgment

A large asteroid is approaching earth at 35,000 mph and will be closest tomorrow at 11:20 am ET. The big rock, dubbed 2004 BL86 is about five football fields across and will be about 745,000 miles away. Some think it could be viewed with a quality set of binoculars. Among the known space rocks, it is the closest an asteroid will come until 2027 and it is the closest this rock will get for 200 years.

When thinking about asteroids we can’t help but think about what will happen when God uses a celestial object to bring one of several judgments on the earth. The Bible says a large object will fall from the sky burning like a torch and falling on a third part of the rivers and springs of water. A third of the waters will become bitter and many people will die from it.

The Bible also says there is a way to escape being in this judgment. There is a way of escape for those who will take it before it’s too late.

Wealth Imbalance

It has now been predicted by Oxfam International that the wealth accumulated by the richest 1% of people on the earth will exceed that of the other 99% in 2016. The Oxfam organization takes on campaigns to find innovative solutions to lift people out of poverty and become self-sufficient. It believes the scale of global inequality is staggering with the gap between the richest and the rest of the people in the world widening fast.

When we think about how the countries of the world operate their economies we also think about God giving Israel principles to govern its economy. The Bible tells us that after 49 years of Sabbaths there was to be a Year of Jubilee. This would occur once every fifty years. The Year of Jubilee was to be a time of rest for the soil and the people. The original distribution of land was to revert to the original owner with few exceptions. If the original owner had been obligated to sell his land, it would revert back to him in the fiftieth year. If any Israelite sold himself because of poverty, that individual would be freed in the fiftieth year. In this system loans would become less valuable as the fiftieth year approached since both the lender & borrower would know when the balance would have a mandatory cancellation.

Imagine what a system similar to this would do to interest rates and wealth distribution if it were observed worldwide. But what would motivate people to comply? The only reason this type of system would be observed by a large people group would be because of their respect and fear of the God of the Bible. It is something that seems to be diminishing in our world today.

Relationships Need Forgiveness

A son allegedly killed his millionaire father when his allowance was reduced. In another news article we also read that a mother gave her autistic son a meal, allowed him to watch television, and then killed him with a drug-cocktail. The Bible tells us that family members will be against each other in the end times. Genuine love seems to have little place in our society today. But it is important to assess the primary act in these news articles, which is murder.

When we look at the Ten Commandments we find that murder is in direct opposition to one of God’s laws. The transgression of God’s law will affect the transgressor’s relationship with God. One could almost think of it as the change in relationship that would occur when a parent explicitly tells her child not to do something and they do it. A wrong action prevents an open fellowship between the two individuals. Someone has been wronged and so there is a strain in the relationship. It separates people emotionally.

The question that must be asked is if I’m that bad. Many people consider anything they’ve done against God’s laws to be insignificant and that they are “not that bad”. Some people actually say they are basically a good person. The question is really “Am I guilty of transgression”. Looking at the Ten Commandments we would have to ask these “good people” if they have ever stolen anything, regardless of how insignificant the item. We could also ask if they have always honored their parents in speech and deed from birth. Another question would be if they have ever told a lie or deceived someone. While these cover just a few of the commandments, any affirmative answer would render the person guilty of sin. Sin is defined as a transgression of God’s law and breaks a person’s fellowship with Him.

When a transgression occurs the only way to restore the relationship is with forgiveness. To gain forgiveness the offending person must acknowledge they have done wrong, which implies they will put effort into not doing it again. Then the offending person should ask for forgiveness. This displays a humble attitude.

A parent may ask the child to clean their room or they may be grounded for a period of time, these actions will restore relationship. The Bible tells us with God no amount of good works will ever be payment enough to restore relationship with Him. Through His love for us He has already provided sufficient payment with the death of His Son on the cross. With that payment we are forgiven and relationship is restored. But how many will trust what God says and accept His forgiveness?

A Generous Gift

It was late at night when a downtown Philadelphia cabbie’s two minute ride turned into a news item. Following the ride and some brief conversation, he looked at the charge slip and noted a $1000 tip for the $4.31 fare. He told his anonymous rider that there must be some mistake. The rider said he knew what he was doing and wanted to do it.

This is one of the more pleasant news stories that makes us think of the principles the Bible teaches on how those who follow Jesus should live. The Bible says the person that has two coats should share with someone who has none. It says the same principle goes for food. It is a principle where people care for each other as well as themselves even if it costs them something. Jesus summed it up when He said “it is more blessed to give than to receive”.

Negative Thinking

While the plot never got to be carried out, some fourth-grade students plotted to kill their teacher with hand sanitizer. The students, who perceived their teacher to be mean, had knowledge that the teacher was allergic to the components of anti-bacterial products.

This reminds us of what the world was like just prior to the flood when Noah built the ark. At that time the Lord saw that every intention of the thoughts of mankind’s heart was evil continually. The Bible tells us that prior to the return of Jesus Christ conditions will be similar to those found in the days of Noah. The more we read the news, the more we see people’s thoughts going to violence over minor issues. A genuine love for others needs to replace what we see so prevalent today. Until then, it would seem time is running out and the return of Jesus is imminent.

Stress

When it comes to stress, health and money usually top the list according to recent research. It was also found that job issues and relationships are also strong stressors.

Jesus said each day would have trouble of it’s own. He also said God would cause the sun to rise on the evil and the good. It will also rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

It seems there is no avoiding trouble, which brings on anxiety and stress. What really matters is how it is handled. Some people carry the burden themselves. Others have confidence that Someone else can carry their burden for them. Jesus said “do not be anxious for anything”. He expects those who put their trust in Him to know He is aware of their stressor and that He will bring them through. While any situation that causes stress is not pleasant, it is easier to handle when you are confident Someone else will carry the load. Those who lack this confidence try a myriad of solutions to alleviate their stress. It might be drugs, over exercise, meditation, or just getting away to a quiet place. For others it might be a nervous breakdown.

Stressful situations will be with us, but I am glad there is Someone to call on to carry the load.

Unexpected Death

When 162 people boarded the AirAsia flight to Singapore, it is doubtful any of them thought they had a short time to live. Debris and bodies have now been found in the Java Sea.

Often times when a death occurs, the living try to comfort each other by saying something like “They are in a better place “. But are they? The Bible says “it is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgement”. Since judgement is next, what is the basis of judgment to ensure the “better place”? Many people believe it is good deeds and if there is an insufficient number there will be an opportunity to add whatever is necessary after death. The Bible says good deeds can save no one. The only acceptable payment for sin is the shed blood of the sinless One, Jesus. The payment for your sin is offered by His action. Do you accept it? If you do, you will never be the same. You, one day, will be in a “better place” and have eternal life.