Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Are you Wondering What to do Now?

Facing the Future with Deep Apprehension, Gloom, and Foreboding

If you like the title for this article, I got it from a line in an old movie called ‘Sullivan’s Travel’s’.  I highly recommend the movie.  If you haven’t seen it you need to find it and watch it.  You need a sense of humor to face the future.  A Christian who has both a sense of humor and hope is truly blessed.  (Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.  ‘On Christ the Solid Rock I ‘Stand’. )

 Before we consider all the terrible things facing America and the world let’s first remind ourselves of Psalms 2 – which says (paraphrased) that the heathens and the kings of the earth are setting themselves against God, but God will laugh at them and set them in derision.’

Psalm 37 and Psalm 59 say something similar as well.  When things look dark and we are facing the future with ‘deep apprehension, gloom, and foreboding, we can always encourage ourselves in the word of God.

 Of course we do live in this world and we do have to face the future.  America is facing the natural course of events when many of the people of a nation have turned from God.  When the majority of people have either turned from God altogether or begun to follow a social form of Christianity it follows that ungodly leaders are elected.  Then, I have heard it preached that God simply stops protecting a nation and that is when the decline really sets in.  The end result is always bad.

 Many if not most of the churches have become more of a social institution than an actual house of God.

Church goers in general are ignorant of what the Bible says.  They have no idea of the importance of doctrine.  They don’t know theology.  They generally don’t even understand why there are different denominations, and they certainly don’t understand the theological differences that make up the different denominations.  They are led by feelings instead of God’s word.  They have no leaders to warn them of their stupidity.  Unfortunately, where there are Godly leaders, many people do not want to hear what they have to say.  These people go to a church with a preacher who pleases them but doesn’t really tell the truth.  It is an altogether sad situation.

 Such an ignorant set of Christians, or social Christians, are guilty of putting evil politicians in office by voting economically instead of righteously.  In other words, so called Christians vote for politicians who promise them more.  They do not care exactly where ‘more’ comes from as long as they get a good share of it.  They are without good character.

 By the grace of God, there are some Christians who take their faith seriously.  They actually do work at applying Bible teaching to personal actions.

 It is these Christians through whom God does work and will work.  Their job description is still the same.  They are to conform to the image of Christ, and not to conform to the world.  In times of crisis or national decline there may be more opportunities to preach Jesus Christ than in times of peace and plenty. 

The future of America has no effect on the future of Christians.  I love my country.  I pray for God to bless America and that America will return to God Almighty.  But my first citizenship is in heaven with God.  My first allegiance is to Jesus Christ.  I try to do what I can that will have even a small impact for good on America, but as much as I love my country I am thankful that it is not my eternal home.

Christians need to dis-attach themselves from the things of this world to some extent, even the blessing of being born an American.  We are to be thankful for all our blessings, but to understand how temporary they actually are.  We are to love God, love our families, love the church, and love our country.  That puts our earthly citizenship in 4th place.  Duty to God, duty to family, and duty to our church/evangelism/missionary effort are all above our country. 

 But, it still hurts very deeply to see our country decline.  When we see our leaders making terrible decisions and turning more toward humanism/collectivism, we tremble.  Christians know God is not mocked.  There will be a day the nation as a whole has to pay the piper.  It doesn’t seem fair that we have to pay the price for the rebellion against God by the unbelievers and ignorant Christians.

 We need to remember that God is righteous.  We need to trust Him.  My youngest grandson recently asked me, ‘Bema – what does it mean to trust God?  How do you do it?’  I told him that to trust God is simply to believe Him.  Believe He is telling you the truth.  God is able to make a promise with the full knowledge that He has the power, authority, and resources, and personal resolve to keep that promise.

 In the midst of trusting God, we need to make a new commitment to do what God has called each of us to do.  We need to remember that we are ALL called to stand in reverent awe God and keep the commandments.  We are to do the things God says to do.  We are not to do the things He forbids.  We are to help fulfill the commandment that the Gospel be preached to all the world.  If you are not a missionary to a particular place or particular people, you are to support missionary efforts.  By the way, my personal opinion is that the little churches supporting missionaries around the world are one of the major things contributing to the stay of God’s Hand of judgment. 

 I have seen people facing a difficult situation use their difficulty as an excuse to sin.  There is no excuse to sin.  When Job was in the midst of his unbearable trial, he did not get drunk or take on a mistress.   He didn’t cheat on his taxes.  In a situation where he was totally out of his comfort zone, where he had no idea of what to do to ease the situation, he did what he knew to do.  He continued to love God and try to do what pleased Him.

That is what Christians are to do in these uncertain times.  We are to continue to do the things we KNOW we are supposed to do.  We are to trust God to lead us through the uncertain times ahead.  We are to help preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all the world. 

Our world may be changing rapidly and terribly.

Our job description is still the same.

Set your face like a flint.  You will not be ashamed. 

 For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.   Isaiah 50:7’

An aside here is this:

I just watched ‘Captain America’ with my grandson.  I know it is fiction.  In case you haven’t watched it (and why would you watch it unless you have a fantastic grandson who wants you to watch it with him) Captain America is a normal guy who gets super strength through some impossible scientific experiment.  He doesn’t have spider webs shooting out of his wrists like Spider Man; he is just super strong and has recuperative powers 4 times faster than normal.

Captain America saves the day by fighting evil ones who also have unusual powers.

All this reminded me that there are beings with super powers who are in a continual state of war.  We have a Biblical example of this concerning Elisha the Prophet of God.  Elisha and his servant were in a city under siege by a fearsome enemy.  The servant was afraid.  2 Kings 6:15-17 tells us:

15.  And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
16.  And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
17.  And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Things have not changed today. We don’t see all the fighting going on around us.  They that be with us are more than they that be with them (the enemy).  Remarkable help and deliverance is available to God’s children. 

The story of Captain America began in World War 2.  That war was filled with real hero’s fighting the evil of Nazism.  The war between good and evil will not end until time itself comes to an end.  In the mean time, there are many (usually unwanted) opportunities for heroes of the faith to please God.  I think many of those heroes/heroines will be people of all ages from all the ages who simply did their duty to God in trying circumstances. 

Trying circumstances are coming for all of us in one way or another.  When they come to you, you will face them in a manner their either pleases God or pleases His adversary the devil.  As we face every day, whether it seems good or evil, we need to continually hide in the Word of God.  Remember verses that comfort you personally.  A favorite of mine is Galatian 6:7-10 which tells us:

7. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9.  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

 Verse ten is really a good motto by which Christians should live.  It sort of re-states the ‘ treat others the way you want to be treated’ concept of Christianity with an extra encouragement to treat out brothers and sisters in Christ well.

So, among the turmoil and uncertainty of the world today, we have a firm foundation on which to stand.  Things of the world change with every breeze that changes the direction of a weather vane, but our God does not change.  No matter what the earthly circumstances may be, God Almighty does not change. 

A very fitting hymn for troubled times, whether personally or nationally, is:
How Firm a Foundation’.

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
 Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
 What more can He say than to you He hath said,
 You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

In every condition, in sickness, in health;
 In poverty’s vale, or abounding in wealth;
 At home and abroad, on the land, on the sea,
 As thy days may demand, shall thy strength ever be.

Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
 For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
 I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
 Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
 The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
 For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
 And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
 My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
 The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
 Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

Even down to old age all My people shall prove
 My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love;
 And when hoary hairs shall their temples adorn,
 Like lambs they shall still in My bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
 I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
 That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
 I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.

Barbara Henderson

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