♣ A Governing Perspective That Disarms Fear

Psalm 49

“WHY SHOULD I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?  Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”

Verses 5-9

Yet again we live in times of acute uncertainty and great turbulence. A plethora of fears protrude our lands and nations of freedom with the threat of an imploding world economy, the rise of a political dictatorship, strong assumptions of a third global war and the increasing widespread belief that 2012 ‘may be’ our last.

Despite the words of Christ’s, Who commands us not to be alarmed (Matthew 24:6) – to give way to anxiety and panic, many Christians are still swept away by the undercurrents that dominate our present world. Rather than be alarmed and caught off guard, the Christian is to stay alert, sober-minded and expect such things to take place. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ words are filled with poignancy, “No Christian should be surprised at the state of the world today; he should expect it. What is surprising is that the world should ever have periods when it is a little better.” That didn’t come from a leader who lived in a generation immune to wars, tyranny and economic collapse, but one who lived through both World Wars I and II, the great depression and the birth of a nuclear age that posed the greatest threat, so far, of world catastrophic events.

With world news at the touch of our fingertips 24/7, we are quick in jumping to conclusions, believing that the world has never been as chaotic, dark and depraved as it is today. Although there is some truth in that perception, there is also an ignorance that fails to take into account the centuries that have long passed. There are many epochs in history that reveal how desperately violent and wicked society had become. Somehow, we allow Hollywood to gloss over the atrocities of our last world war, but a careful study of the horrific details will soon correct our misguided conceptions. Even prior to the 1st World War, no one would have dreamed of nations colliding after having almost reached ‘perfect‘ civilization. They were the years of profound disillusionment after all the sophisticated education and the sharp governing reign of an ethical conscience. Our most advanced world leading nations in the 16th and 19th centuries both witnessed their bloody civil wars. Nation rising against nation is not a novelty of our day; it is a cycle that has continued up until the present day from the very first civilization recorded in Genesis. We read of the continual depraved lifestyles that had become prevalent in the days of Noah. There is nothing new so much in the days in which we live. What makes it look so acute is our media. Within seconds or minutes of world events taking place they are streamed live into our homes and phones, whereas decades ago people may have been fortunate enough to catch news of what happened half way around the globe that may have taken days and weeks to reach headlines. Our journalists are now seemingly ‘omnipresent’; nothing goes unmissed, and most of what we see and hear is downright pessimistic – and so it is, without Christ. Did not the Son of God say that nation would rise against nation, kingdom against kingdom, there will be wars and rumours of wars and that we would hear of many natural disasters taking place – but that the end is not yet? What really will the end be like? Will Christ return at the brink of a nuclear war or when civilization is once again at ‘peace’ and ‘rest’? It is interesting to note that in Matthew 24:37-38 Jesus said He would return when society is carrying on with its normal way of living. The greatest deception of satan will be nations uniting under a peace other than God’s and an order independent of God. “The Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Are we not witnessing again leaders, governors, nations blatantly defying and denying God, boasting in their lifestyles and their riches? Does not Psalm 73 verses 1-12 bear resemblance to our current affairs? “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyes swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. And they say, “How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?” Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches.” Man in his pomp without understanding… yet they set their mouths against the heavens and their tongue struts through the earth… always at ease… increasing in riches, yet the innocent and the poor suffer amidst the strife, greed and oppression. Psalm 49 makes it clear that in this present life the righteous (believers) may have a raw deal. So many Christians have such a hard time reconciling these truths assuming that to walk with God is to be in a state of perpetual bliss. God does bless but He also permits trouble for His glory and our ultimate best. The apostle Paul encouraged and strengthened many disciples to continue in the faith stating that, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), but we seldom hear such exhortations from our ‘gold plated’ pulpits today. The New Testament – the very blueprint of Christianity – has never been misunderstood and misapplied as much as it has today. We have never, in all the history of the church, had so many theological aides, conferences and seminaries and yet many are still spiritually malnutritioned! Does that, in and of itself, not say something?

The New Testament Christians knew that this life was nothing more than preparation for eternity. How are we holding up? The Psalmists knew that what mattered most of all and what differentiated men among others was whether or not they belonged to God. All men, good and bad, the wise and the foolish, die, but only God can ransom those from the grave (a perpetual state of death) who belong to Him. One of the most subtle traps and temptations that a Christian faces is a predominate focus on the ‘here and now’; many live for the temporal and are consumed with the present. There can be only one result from such a mentality and that is to be miserable and misunderstand God’s ways and say with Asaph in Psalm 73 – “In vain have I kept my heart clean while the wicked are at ease and increase in riches.” Remember how Asaph came to his senses in the presence of God and saw himself as being ignorant like a beast, without understanding until he rightly discerned the end of those who are wicked, boast in themselves and their riches while defying God – man in his pomp void of wisdom!

Psalm 37 is a wonderful dynamite of truth that speaks authoritatively into our present day and exhorts the believer to turn from fretting over those who are prospering in their oppressive and corrupt ways, but to wait on the Lord Who does not forsake His people but also preserves and prospers them. God has numbered the days of those that arrogantly oppose Him and prey on the meek. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, Who neither slumbers or sleeps, Whose eyes are ever on the righteous and Whose wrath is laid up for the ungodly.

No matter what befalls the child of God – ill or good – God is ever still in control, fulfilling all His purposes. He works all things together for the good of those that belong to Him. All the corrupt laws that are put into place by a tyrannical dictatorship are made subservient to what God has decreed; no plan of His can ever be thwarted. He will even turn the hearts of wicked rulers to bless His chosen people (Ezra 6:22) and all the while, whoever comes into office to lead, drive and govern a nation, “The kings heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He will” (Proverbs 21:1).

Does this mean that Christians are exempt from any involvement for a political cause? If God has ordained certain things to take place that no man can reverse, is there really the need for anyone to attempt to counter injustice, oppression and immorality within society? To answer such a question, let me ask another: Because God has elected whomever He will save, is there really any point in evangelism? Silence and non-activity over the wrongs we see daily is cowardice and downright irresponsible; to remain quiet or passive in the midst of injustice is an equal crime to the wrongs committed. There is balance and we would do well to ponder over these too-well-known words:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

The abolition of slavery in Britain and America was not passed overnight; it was a hard, long struggle led by godly men and whose fight was blessed by God to result in an overwhelming victory. Had nothing been done, maybe you and I would have been born into such inhumane conditions. Yes, God’s omnipotence does not require our efforts as if He were helpless without them, but He has ordained and chosen to work through them to demonstrate how a selfless society should live in a God-orientated way.

Not every battle has its victory and every dream its realization, but let us be assured of this, that God, Who has already won the war, will continue to unfold His purposes beyond whatever we ask, desire, imagine and dream. What may seem as a defeat in the blackest hour, God in His wisdom has foreordained it to give rise to an unprecedented victory in His perfect time.

Paul says in Ephesians 6:13, “…and having done all, to stand firm” [Knowing that our fight is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenlies]. To remain standing firm, we are to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, praying, staying alert with all perseverance – knowing that our labours within His will are not in vain, and in due time we shall reap what we have sown. There are times when situations turn way beyond our capabilities and understanding; we can go no further as they are taken out of our hands. We are to wait trustingly and patiently on the Lord, committing our way to Him Who will act, no matter how the ungodly may increase in riches, power and status. Their time is short and whose future shall be cut off eternally to reap the misery and corruption they have sown.

Why should we fear when we are eternally secure in the hands of the One Who has laid up our eternal and glorious inheritance that does not fade or spoil – the God Who has the power to ransom or destroy both body and soul in hell?

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Posted on January 20, 2012, in ♣ Devotional and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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