So here's another one. This is from Michael. It's dated September 3rd. So this is not too far removed for somebody who's going through what he's going through.
"My wife recently died. Since then, I've done more than go to our usual church - I've immersed myself in the sermons of Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, John Hagee." I mean, that's basically your who's who of radio preachers. "I can't tell you how many others. I'm seeking a word from God - His Son and my Savior - the Christ, the Holy Spirit and my conscience." So, "I'm seeking a word from God." "I'm seeking a word from His Son, Christ." "I'm seeking a word from the Holy Spirit." "I'm seeking a word from my conscience." He's seeking a word. "Here's my question: When I feel, hear, sense, or imagine a voice telling me the direction I should go, what I should do, how I should live, or a choice I should make, how do I know which voice I should heed? Do I do what I want? Do I oblige the voice that causes me the most earthly suffering in hopes it's the direction to salvation? Do I needlessly deny myself and the life lessons I have learned? Do I accept the advice of people around me not knowing if they're good or evil in heart? How can I be sure whether it's a voice to which I should attend? Or the temptation of the enemy? Or to borrow a line from Dickens, 'You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are.' To compound my dilemma, I'm now writing this question to an unnamed, unknown, unfamiliar online pastor. I just want an answer. I just want hope. I just want direction. I'm lost. My anchor and the rock to which I had dedicated my life has died. She died. It should have been me." I mean, what you hear is a man - he's looking for something, for substance, answers, truth, a voice. And you know what? The reality is in this world - we know it - there's a thousand voices. And they will come at you. They will come at you from all these preachers. Yes, I'm an online pastor - it's just another voice, it's another voice. He's obviously empty. He's hurting. He's sad and full of sorrow. He's longing for something to fill the emptiness. He's asking, how can I know? Where do I look? I mean, I think most us here, we know the answer to that. I mean, look, he's right. I'm just another voice. But the reality is this, there is a place in this world where we can find truth. And there's really only one place that we have the guarantee is truth. And what you find is that even when somebody like the Apostle Paul came along and preached, those people at Berea were commended because they went to Scripture to prove it. Listen, Zeke preached on Sunday morning. Do you know what he dealt with? He dealt with Luke 7, right? Isn't that where he was? Luke 7? He was dealing with John the Baptist. Do you remember John the Baptist? He sent his disciples: "Are You the one, or should I look for another?" Here's a man - think about this - here's a man sitting in jail. It's not exactly the same situation, but it's similar. He's not certain. He's not certain. Reports are coming back. Different things - he has his own experience. He heard that voice say, "The One upon Whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, that's Him." That voice spoke there that day when He was baptized. You know what? Supernatural things happen. There are many voices. There is much supernatural. He's looking for something perhaps even supernatural. But I'll tell you what Jesus did. Jesus didn't say to those disciples of John the Baptist: Hey, John was there at the river the day I got baptized. Go remind him of what My Father spoke from heaven. Go remind him of Who the Spirit fell upon. He didn't do that. You know what He did? He roughly appealed to about three verses in Isaiah. And He basically said this: You go tell John that Scripture is being fulfilled. You know what's interesting? Peter does the same thing. Peter was up on the Mount of Transfiguration. You remember that? He heard the voice. He saw the glory. But you know what? When he's writing his epistles, he said there's a more certain word than that. Miracles, voices, whatever. It doesn't matter who it is that's preaching. It doesn't matter who the voice is coming from. It doesn't matter how well known the preacher is. There's one place that is a sure anchor. It's not to be found on mounts of transfiguration. It's not to be found down at the river where the Spirit of God fell upon Jesus Christ at His baptism. You know what? Those things are true. Those things happened. But that's not where we build our faith. It's not on miracles. It's not on these voices - unless we test those voices like the Bereans. They were more noble. Why? Because they sought to find out from Scripture if those things were so. There's one place where we can go where we know we're going to encounter truth. And I would just say to Michael, you need to go to Scripture. It's time to turn off all the voices. Because you know what? Some of those people will give him truth, and some of those people will give him damnable lies. And some of those people will give him truth in some areas and not in other areas. And we have to test. We have to go to Scripture. If he wants an anchor for his soul - because what's happening is he said, "I'm lost." I don't know that he means that so much as far as he really thinks he's spiritually lost as much as he feels like he's lost without his wife. He's lost without this anchor in his life. He's just kind of wandering now. Ruby and I were just talking recently about people losing their spouses, and just the level of difficulty that people experience with that. And I know he's going through a really hard time. And sometimes when you're going through that kind of difficulty it's like all you really want is the pain to stop. Sometimes all you really want is to get back what you lost. But what's critical is that he go to that rock (incomplete thought). You've got to go be exposed to the Word of Christ and actually bow to what you see there. I mean, that's his only hope. In this world of a thousand voices, we've got to know our Bibles. That's where Michael's got to go. (incomplete thought) Look, it can be real easy when we come across people like this to want to tell them something that we think is going to make them feel better. We feel pity. We feel sorrow for them. We can enter in. I mean, I was feeling that as I was reading that. But look, if you really want to be faithful to people, there's really only one place where there's hope. There's one place where he's going to get confronted by truth. And that's in Scripture. And you know the reality is if he truly comes face to face with Scripture, he may find (incomplete thought). You know, there's a season to mourn. But the thing is if you mourn too long, do you know what that probably says? It probably says that there's a wrong idolatry. And Scripture will expose that. (incomplete thought) Have you ever read the Old Testament and you just thought about the prophets? You have God tell Jeremiah: Don't marry. You have God tell Hosea: Marry a harlot. You have, was it Isaiah, that God said - James: That was Ezekiel.
Tim: Yeah, that was Ezekiel. James: I have it right here.
Tim: If you've ever thought about how God dealt with the prophets concerning wives, it's hard. (Incomplete thought) Man is looking for hope. We're all looking for hope. And we've got this sure anchor. I mean, there really is hope to be found in this book if it's the kind of hope we're looking for. I remember meeting with a woman. She wanted to meet. She was basically living with a guy. I don't know if they were common law, but the guy ended up cheating on her - not that they were married, but he moved out, he left her. It was a sister to somebody in the church and I met with her. And after talking to her for a little bit, I said, you know, I think all you really want is the pain to go away. And she said yes! She didn't even deny it. She said, yes, that's exactly what I want. I just want the pain to stop. She really wasn't interested in a Savior. She really wasn't interested in being healed spiritually. She just wanted the pain to stop. I saw when my mom divorced my step-dad, he got religious. People go to church. People seek out religious preaching because they're looking for something to stop the hurt. The thing is in the midst of all of it what we really need is not for the hurt to stop. What we really need is somebody to cleanse our soul. Now He comforts - we have a comforting God. But the thing is if we're looking for His comforts aside from looking for His healing, then we're looking for the wrong thing. We'll never find the one without the other. Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people. That's what Scripture says, but you've got to be one of His people. And to be His people, you've got to be one of the sick who needs Christ to help. Sick. You see, that's the issue. Knowing that I myself am sick - not just that I know that I have lost my spouse and there's this emptiness. I know I hurt. Lots of people seek God when they're hurting, but not because they actually are looking for healing. Anything more to say on that one? James: I think like you said - the idolatry - because he said: the rock to which I dedicated my entire life. I could never say that about my spouse. If one in the church told me their life is dedicated to their wife? We'd be like, brother, that's not right.
Tim: Yeah, there was that sense in there. And if he really goes to Scripture, his idolatry will be confronted. Because you know, if he reads Scripture from end to end, he'll read an account like Ezekiel. And that's a hard thing. I just read Ezekiel not long ago, maybe a month ago. And it just struck me. In fact, when I read that specifically, it made me think about how God dealt with all the prophets concerning wives and how at least three examples of something unusual there. I think of the single people who really desire to be married. And can you imagine if you're the prophet? And then, you have Isaiah - was it Isaiah? Or am I mixing that up with Ezekiel again? And you think, if you really just stop and think, God wants me to actually do this for like two years of my life. He wants me to whatever or He wants me to go marry a harlot. Or it's just like the delight of your eyes - she's gone, just like that. And didn't God say not to mourn for her? James: He said, "Yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall tears run down. Sigh, but not aloud. Make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turbin. Put on your shoes on your feet. Do not cover your lips nor eat the bread of men." And he says, "So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at the evening, my wife died. And on the next morning, I did as I was commanded."
Tim: Yeah, I read that and I just stopped and thought... (incomplete thought). But those are the things we're confronted with in Scripture. And those are the things that we're all confronted with. Look, the reality is we have an immensely kind Father and a giving Father, but He also takes. I mean, that's what Job learned. And every one of us He teaches to say, "The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken." And coming to the place: "Blessed be the name of the Lord." He lost all of his children. And his wealth.