God Awakened Us (NKJV)
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- Size: 3.5 inches x 5.5 inches
- Pages: 6
- Version: NKJV
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MINDANAO ISLAND, PHILIPPINES, December 17, 2011. A typhoon devastated the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan and other areas of this island. The typhoon caused rivers to burst their banks, leading to widespread flooding and landslides. As of December 27, the number of known dead reached 1,249, with many others still missing and tens of thousands homeless. Many who died were sleeping when their homes were inundated by flood waters.
Here are excerpts of an e-mail sent on December 21 by a 21-year old survivor to a Christian friend in the United States: “Our house in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) is 0.60 kilometers from the main river, and we always thought it was too far for us to be reached by a flood from the river. We knew that the wind and rain were strong but people told us that “CDO has never had a great flood,” so when at 12:15 a.m. there was a blackout over the entire city, we decided to go to sleep. At 1:30 a.m. my brother and I were awakened by others in our house. I felt the water at my back. By the time I could rescue some of my clothes the water reached our hips. We made our way to our friend whose house has a second floor. By 6:30 a.m. the flood went down and we returned to our house. It was such a mess with mud on the floor and beds. We walked to the lower areas in CDO and we saw dead people piled up beside the street. I saw many people crying and in grief for their loved ones. I have classmates and teachers whose houses were destroyed and some of my friends had family members who died.
“Many of my friends said that we are so blessed that there were persons who woke us up in the middle of the night. I know that even though other people were involved, God was behind it all: it was God who awakened us! We know that God is with us. He led us to a safer place. We really thank Him. We are now planning how to help people in CDO. Even though we cannot do much, we know it will be a great help for them. Help us in prayer that CDO will have a good recovery.”
Such a disaster not only touches our hearts, it also causes us to ask a lot of questions, such as, “Where was God in all this and why did He allow it to happen?” There are no simple answers to these questions, yet the Bible does give some insights. In Jesus’ day people were asking questions about a disaster of much smaller magnitude: Eighteen people were killed when a tower in Siloam fell on them. Some apparently were wondering if this happened because the people were guilty of some terrible sin. Here is how Jesus answered their questions: “Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but, unless you REPENT, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4,5). He was really saying to them, “THIS SHOULD BE A WAKE UP CALL!” Just as God awakened some in time to escape the flood waters in CDO, He is trying to awaken each soul to their need for eternal salvation.
I believe God has been saying to this world, “WAKE UP! You are pushing Me aside and forgetting who I am. You are representing Me as a permissive God who is tolerant of evil. You ‘call evil good, and good evil’” (Isaiah 5:20). If this terrible tragedy causes us to stop and hear His voice, then at least some good can come from it.
It is true that today the Lord is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to REPENTANCE” (2 Peter 3:9). But the book of Revelation tells us that the day of God’s patience will come to an end. In those days what happened in Mindanao will seem like child’s play. For example, it mentions an event during which one third of all people will be “killed by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone.... And they did not REPENT” (Revelation 9:18-21).
We have quoted three verses that speak of repentance. What is repentance? Literally, this word means “a change of mind.” We need to give up our own generous and tolerant thoughts about ourselves and begin agreeing with God’s thoughts about us. Here are some of those thoughts:
“The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).
“There is none righteous, no, not one.... There is none who seeks after God.... There is none who does good, no, not one.... All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-12,23).
“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), “after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27), “then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14).
Do you agree with God that you deserve His eternal judgment because of your sins? That is a bitter and humbling pill to swallow, but unless you are willing to repent, that is, agree with God as to His bad news about you, you will not be able to benefit from His good news for you.
Here is the good news of the Bible: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “Christ died for our sins ... was buried, and ... rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). “By grace you have been saved through faith ... it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). Yes, the Creator of the universe (John 1:3) came down from heaven to suffer, bleed, and die on the cross for your sins and mine.
You may be one who is depending on your good character, your good deeds, your baptism, or your religion for your eternal salvation. These things are all good in our eyes, but you will search the Scriptures in vain for evidence that they will get you into heaven. The apostle Paul preached “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).
You may be one who says, “I know I am a sinner, but nobody is perfect!” You are exactly right! That is why God says to us all, “You must be born again” (John 3:7).
Will you repent, that is, accept God’s estimation that you are perishing and need to be saved? Will you receive God’s provision of a Savior who suffered so much on the cross that He might rescue you from eternal judgment? Will you place your trust in the Savior NOW, before God’s wrath and judgment fall on you? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). —P. L. Canner