Summary: We hear stories like that & shake our heads in dismay. It is hard to realize that there are millions living in such superstition & fear. You see, we have been taught that God is love – that He knows & loves each of us... (Powerpoints available - #155)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(The Powerpoints used with this message are available at no charge. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #155.)
One day, almost 4,000 years ago, God spoke to a man named Abram, who was later called Abraham, & said to him,
“Leave your country, your people & your father’s household & go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation & I will bless you;
“I will make your name great, & you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, & whoever curses you I will curse; & all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
Now why did God do that? What was His purpose? And why did He place such an emphasis on the subject of being a “blessing”?
ILL. Well, as most of you know, I spent the first few years of my life with my parents on the border of China & Tibet. And the 2 Tibetan women that you see projected on the screen may help us understand why God was doing what He did.
You see, the great majority of Tibetans are followers of Buddha & believe that there are thousands of different gods - gods of the mountains & fields, gods of the wind & rain, gods of the skies & seas – gods for everything.
There are rooster gods, & gods of every kind of animal imaginable. And they make idols to represent each of them. They also fashion idols in human form - bald-headed gods, & gods with long black hair & bushy beards.
How about this idol? It is almost 9 feet tall, & they say that it is made of solid gold. They worship it as a “Thousand-armed goddess” involved in almost every aspect of human life.
Day after day, year after year they bow down before these idols & offer sacrifices – not because they love them, but because they fear them & are seeking to appease them. You see, they believe that every bad thing that happens in life happens because some god is angry & has sent evil demons down to punish them.
But which god, & why? And how can you appease that god? Well, of course, you can offer sacrifices to one god after another until finally you hit the right one. Or you can go to the Lama priests & for a price have them determine which god is angry & then offer sacrifices for you & intercede on your behalf.
Here are some Lama priests preparing to take part in the annual new year’s “devil dance” festival. For 3 days the people bring offerings & sacrifices to the Lama priests as the priests do their “devil dances” to drive away the evil demons from their village.
Finally, on the 3rd day of the festival, when the priests have collected all they can from the people, the high priest comes & does his grand finale, the “stag devil – king of hell” victory dance & announces that they have successfully driven the evil demons away from their village for another year.
But for these 2 Tibetan women, nothing seemed to help. No matter to which gods or how much they sacrificed, their troubles & the evil demons that they believed had caused them did not go away.
Finally, the priests told them that somehow, someway, they had so angered the gods that nothing they had done so far was sufficient to appease them. There was just one thing left to try, the priests said.
If they would make a pilgrimage to a holy mountain that was about 3½ months journey away; & when they reached it, if they would crawl on their hands & knees over the rocks for the 11 miles around its base, praying “Om mani pad mi hum” over & over again as they crawled, then the gods would surely be appeased & send the demons away.
We hear stories like that & shake our heads in dismay. It is hard for us to realize that there are millions of people living in such superstition & fear. You see, we have been taught that God is love – that He knows & loves each of us & that we are precious in His sight. And all our lives we have heard these words:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17)
PROP. With those words ringing in our ears, may I suggest that more than anything else, God loves us & yearns for us to love & follow Him, & in doing that to be a blessing & an example to all around us of the difference that God can make in our lives.