Monthly Archives: July 2012

♣ In ALL These Things…

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him Who loved us.” – Romans 8:37

We tend to imagine that the conditions and evidence of the blessings of God bestowed are only ones where good health, peace, tranquillity and prosperity have supreme influence, but rarely when peril and crises arise, as nations crumble and disintegrate – stripped of their power.

Modern Christianity has presented God in the wrong setting, just as our Christmas Nativity scene is made to look clean and beautiful; our Saviour was actually born in the midst of a stable that represents the stench of humanity’s vileness, which has nothing appealing about it. No ‘five-star’ Inn was available for the King and Messiah, Who was born in conditions of filth and died amongst it. Amazingly, we turn the gore into something gorgeous. In understanding what our Saviour came into, enables us to begin comprehending why He came and the nature in which He died, to stoop to the lowest depth to redeem a depraved human race.

Why do we perceive it differently in our Christian life where we are wrongly informed that no trouble shall come near us, no sickness shall prevail upon us, no financial hardship shall assail us, and no grief and pain will lie at our doorstep? 21st Century Christianity has cleaned up the ‘messy’ parts of the Gospel, the pivotal aspects that do not attract us – the essence and influence of the cross and how that is interpreted through our sanctification; Christ suffered to crown us, but we fail to realise that before wearing such a crown comes our cross that we have to carry daily. It is no pain-free cross as we are led, inclined and prefer to believe which completely disregards the Holy Spirit’s truth mediated through the writing of the apostle Paul that, “…through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). That is not a maybe but a “must” – a definite that cannot be avoided. Many of us expect to be ‘raptured’ out of them all, failing to acknowledge “…all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). There we have the inevitability again.

If we live in shallow waters we will present a depthless Christianity to the world; there is no real convicting substance as we ‘share’ our beliefs. A warrior or soldier with scars will captivate a crowd, but one who has not tasted of loss, pain, blood or tears, but who wants to wear the colours and rank will interest no-one but fools. I remember working with an employee who wanted all the perks, titles and authority that came with management but shirked away from the hard responsibilities and challenges that came with it. The world is weary of con-artists.

We have been indoctrinated and groomed through modern Christian literature to think positively and elevate ourselves when hard, devastating times endeavour to embark upon us, or we are counselled to rebuke opposition and to cast such ‘demons’ back to hell; some insist that to accept and endure hardships is ‘supposedly’ a great lack of faith. Generally speaking, when traumatic times hit and nations start to fall apart, we give way to fear and panic as it threatens the loss of our prosperity and comfort, therefore acting as if God does not exist or denying His sovereignty. Such display lacks not great faith but genuine faith, the kind that is born only of God. The believers mentioned in the Old Testament, who never beheld the Messiah, sometimes exhibited more faith in God than we who have everything in Christ; “Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way…God is in the midst of her; she will not be moved…The nations rage, the kingdoms totter…the Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:2,5-7).

In comparison to present so-called ‘great days of faith’, Paul must have been a lousy failure who experienced a constant array of difficulties, genuine demonic opposition, often in poverty and hunger, not to mention that he came near to death’s door on more than one occasion. It took more faith than all of today’s ‘apostles of faith’ combined to carry on triumphantly as Paul did. On his weakest days, he would have exposed the sham and hypocrisy of many modern celebrity leaders who could not even begin to define the biblical essence of faith; take away their followers and you’ll see where their ‘faith’ is. Paul laboured for Christ when no soul acknowledged him, but rather, they turned their backs; how many of us today are prepared to do that? Many Christians get despondent when no-one gives attention to them on a public forum, which is shameful when contrasted to other Christians suffering physical torture in a concentration camp or about to face death at this very moment and who are feeling deserted and abandoned by fellow believers. 

The gathering black clouds of war, tyranny and persecution should not terrify us or make us feel insecure. It may expose our wrong in whom or what we have trusted in – our government, our military, our economy, our wealth or healthcare system, but instead of causing us to fear for our ‘losses’, it should reveal that in moments of acute opposition and tribulation, that is where God is proved and in Whom our greatest security lies; in the depths of agony, darkness and despair, God is there to show His wonders:

“The test of true religion is the knowledge of the character of God. As long as you think of God in the quietness of a religious meeting you will never know God – what kind of God have you got when you are in touch with the wrong, bad, evil things? God’s Book reveals that it is right in the midst of the very opposite of God that His blessings occur. The very things which seem to be making for destruction become the revealers of God. It is an easy business to preach peace when you are in health and have everything you want, but the Bible preaches peace when things are in a howling tumult of passion and sin and iniquity; it is in the midst of anguish and terror that we realise Who God is and the marvel of what He can do.” – Oswald Chambers.

It is not in moments of ease, peace and with everything going our way that we find God and get to really know Him, but when situations upset our plans and forecasts for a ‘bright’ future. Our ideas and optimistic outlooks are somewhat different to God’s; we focus only on Jeremiah 29:11 at the expense of all the other truths contained in Scripture. Ironically, the prophet himself encountered something other than ‘peace’ and ‘blessing’ and an ‘optimistic’ future as we deem it today; it was tears, agony and heart wrenching experiences – but oh, He knew God! Do we still want to know Him? Come on, let’s be honest! Many approached Leonard Ravenhill expressing their desire to have the anointing that he had. He said the problem is that “many want to wear my mantle, but they don’t want the sackcloth and ashes that come with it…”

Of course, God has an incredible future for each of His children, more amazing than we can ever imagine – but it’s not for our own ends; God has mercifully integrated us into His plan and purposes. “Life has more imagination than we carry in our dreams.” said Christopher Columbus. His journeys and adventures were not just delightful and successful explorations; they were also mingled with defeat and failure, but he would not have chosen a less challenging life’s voyage! He certainly lived life. It isn’t just mountain tops; you’ll hit the valleys so hard which will cause you at times to have your back up against a wall, finding nowhere else to fling yourself but entirely upon God; He will strip you of everything – and that means everything – until you learn that He is your life source. It will not suffice to know it in our heads alone; it must be bought by experience.

It is in all these things, the things that we naturally dread, that we discover God to be faithful and true – what a thousand years of Bible lectures could never begin to explain. It is in such times that we do not cower but, like Gideon, are made to stand as warriors and realise, despite whatever the calamity and chaos may be, we are more than conquerors through Christ Who upholds, sustains and keeps us.

“In ALL these things…” – not in the shallows but in the deeps, beyond our depth, do we behold, in amazement and wonder, what an Almighty, awesome and incredible God we know. This is New Testament Christianity desperately in need of restoration in our generation.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds that ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

(Hymn by William Cowper 1731-1800)

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