♣ Weariness Swallowed in the Awareness of God
THERE IS A present thick darkness over the Church and while very little ground is seemingly taken for the kingdom of God, the world prevalently marches on in triumph and success. Many individual Christians are struggling within and without; a great weariness, like a prolonged damp winter that seeps into the bones has wrapped itself around many believers; a profound disheartening is slowly creeping in among many who profess Christ as their Lord. Yes, we are a victorious people in the midst of a crooked generation, but that is not to say that such victory comes without the dark night, a fight, a conflict that demands every fibre of spiritual exertion.
The daily news is a growing nightmare that no matter how much we wish we could awake from is nonetheless real and if we are honest, has roused great discouragement. Society no longer breathes security as it once did; things have drastically changed for the worst and no positive future is certain but for the hands of tyrants that ‘hold’ and ‘control’ it. And what kind of hope do we have when such authorities advocate and reward evil while the innocent and righteous are marked as the disturbers of ‘peace’? Let us add to that the spread of radical Islam (and no doubt with the aid of government that is supposedly fighting ‘against’ it), the increasing apathy of people and the domineering note of atheism like it has never reared before.
Christianity is now looked upon by society as an outdated and outmoded way of living; it is not compatible with the ‘optimistic’ seeds of change. The world is ‘evolving’, moving on by breaking away from the old ‘rigid’ system that once safeguarded the stability, safety and sanity of what righteous liberty once stood for, but the truth of the matter is that such a worldwide movement, for ‘better’ horizons and enterprises, is wallowing deeper in the corruption it desires. Schools, universities, military and government have never been as anti-Christ as they are now; it is blatant opposition to the message of the Gospel that calls for sound heart-reformation and reconciliation with God. Liberalism and secularism is gaining ground in ways that reveal its very core: the establishing of lawlessness and licentiousness to diabolical degrees. How a blind society despises and destroys those who righteously contend for true moral liberty, but mourn to have them back when it is oppressed by what they were forewarned of. It is just a matter of time to observe how tyrannical liberalism really is in comparison to conservatism – “a political or theological orientation advocating the preservation of the best in society and opposing radical changes.”
The Church appears to be silenced and sinking by the world’s advancement. Many are losing interest in the things of God. A hardness of heart has set in. Unbelief is gaining ground. The Word of God is being undermined. Sin is being excused – worse still: justified. Not only does the world condemn those who call immorality sin, but churches are rallying behind such agenda’s – and God seems ever so silent in all of this. We are living in wilderness times where God’s Word is hardly heard. We might hear and see Scripture almost everywhere, but the living Word of God (Scripture illumined by the Holy Spirit) that is spoken directly into our situation is seldom found. The fire burns so low and only the very few have the glow of God’s Spirit burning in their hearts.
Such days only validate, yet again, the eternal and incorruptible power of God’s Word, that though it may seem to lie dormant in the present age, God is orchestrating everything according to His perfect will. We cannot but help our attention turning to the realities of God’s Word unfolding in our midst: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). There are those who have the appearance of being Christians, but the fires of persecution will quickly reveal what manner of spirit they really are of – the world or God. We are nearing that time of many false converts falling away, but for those who are called and chosen, not by the will of man but God, shall continue running the race and fighting the good fight of Faith. We would do well in reminding ourselves that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness behind all the upheaval in the world that defies God day and night.
The forces of Satan’s legions are ever so ‘quiet’, but they are working in ways so powerfully and yet so subtly, so undetected, except for those who are spiritually learned of his schemes. Nominal Christians are far outwitted by the devil’s wiles, while all the time they are convinced they have him under their feet; they fanatically search and hunt for him and his legions in the most ridiculous ways, but he is all too pleased that such a breed of spiritual quacks provide more ammunition for the world to hurl at the Church. No, my friends, Satan (and his legions) is a supernaturally intelligent foe in unimaginable degrees and we are no match whatsoever to even contemplate withstanding such principalities unless we are clothed in the power of God’s might and with such clothing never comes a cocksureness, but a great consciousness of our own insufficiency and the cleaving of every fibre of our hearts to God Himself. It is a trembling within ourselves but a simultaneous and inexhaustible confidence in God that Christ’s power is truly exhibited. It is this alone that shakes and silences the spiritual forces of wickedness with fear.
We cannot live on yesterday’s grace or on past experiences; we need grace now – momentarily. We must know the presence of God. We cannot lean on Church history – it will not sustain us in the coming hour, ‘fresh courage take’ (God Moves in a Mysterious Way) to be sustained in the trying hour. Church attendance will not uphold us; we must know God first and foremost. How many of us lean too much on others only to remain babes in Christ. Count on this: our intimacy alone with God determines the level of fellowship, in the Holy Spirit, with other believers. Our union with Christ is an experiential union; it is a living encounter with the living God where the truths of His Word become real and active in our lives.
Each generation has to rediscover such glorious truths for itself; a new generation of Christianity cannot and never will survive on the fire of its forefathers, it must know God for itself and it is such experiential knowledge that impacts society. We may well call this revival. A.W. Tozer defined revival as New Testament Christianity. We cannot content ourselves to merely warm our hands in the fires of the past, but we can let them move our hearts to yearn for the power they once testified of. We must live near the Shepherd; we must know daily communion with the living God. How do Christians, unjustly imprisoned, with no bible or hymn book, survive? It’s more than just memorising Scripture that will sustain them; Christ has to breathe through those truths, otherwise the soul will starve. Many today that are well trained in theology wouldn’t stand a day in such an environment, because much of their learning is mere head knowledge; they have no fellowship with God Himself; when they pray it is mechanical; the use of words may be faultless, but they are empty – there is no spirit or life in them.
For the Church to withstand all the present (and escalating) uncertainty, perplexity and scathing treatment of the world, she must know the living God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Paul, Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon, Tozer, Ravenhill and the likes in this generation. If we are to know the falling fire of the living God amidst those who defy God, we must first be real with Him, weak as we are, and plead that God would restore the honour of His name by setting our hearts ablaze with Himself. Too long has the world jeered and mocked – “Where is your God…?” God will move when we are less concerned about our freedom and comforts as to longing for His name to be great among the nations. Of course we will look weak and foolish to the world – the Church always has, but it is another thing for God to confound and bring the world to nought through those who are nothing to it. It has been His ways through the ages of time, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men and the weakness of God is stronger than men…God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:25, 27-29).
It was the Father’s way through the death of His Son in total weakness that wrought the redemption of man. The devil’s way was through strength and popularity, but the magnitude of Christ’s shame through the cross brought to open and shameful defeat all the enemy’s greatest schemes and onslaught. No wisdom of man, no matter how great his intellect may be, could ever conjure up such a way of deliverance and salvation; it is never man’s way to lie down in weakness, but always the way to fight and preserve self with pride at its seat. God’s ways are surely not our ways. No man could ever make up such a story; the very thing society accuses the Church of foolishly believing and adhering to. Man in his pride and arrogance says there is no God, but his very reaction of animosity and vehemence to the cross and what it implies proves otherwise.
It is God’s mercy that we feel our helplessness and weakness, that we become weary in and of ourselves until we look away from our resources to Christ Himself. It is a mark of Spirit-born humility when we can say with Paul, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
We live in sobering days and calamitous times, but the Church should not fear though the earth be moved, for God is a very present help in times of trouble. We shall not lose hope for Christ Himself has said that the very gates of hell shall not prevail against the good work He has begun; the One Who is building never slumbers nor sleeps and the dark days that lay ahead are His appointed ways of manifesting His glory that no man has even begun to imagine. May God give us more grace to wait patiently on Him and in such stillness may we confidently anticipate great seasons of refreshing He has promised.
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 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)
Posted on September 4, 2014, in ♣ Devotional and tagged 1 Corinthians 1:25, 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, A.W. Tozer, anti-Christ, apathy, atheism, calamitous times, Christ’s shame, communion with God, conflict, conservatism, corruption, courage, crooked generation, darkness, devil's wiles, devotional, discouragement, disheartening, encountering the living God, evolving, fellowship, forces of Satan, God moves in a mysterious way, hardness of heart, hope, humility, illumined, immorality, intimacy with God, kingdom of God, lawlessness, liberalism, licentiousness, man's pride, Mark Anthony Williams, moral liberty, new generation of Christianity, nightmare, Nominal Christians, oppressed, outdated, outmoded, outwitted, perplexity, power of God’s Word, principalities, radical Islam, reconciliation, redemption of man, reformation, revival, safety, sanity, seasons of refreshing, secularism, sin excused, sin justified, spiritual wickedness, stability, tyrants, unbelief, uncertainty, union with Christ, weakness, weariness, Weariness Swallowed in the Awareness of God, wisdom of man. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.