Friday, March 25, 2011
Many of us wondered what would happen in 1984. Maybe we were a little nervous. We asked “Will it be nuclear war in '84?” “Will our government take over everything in our lives?” “Will the Lord Jesus return this year?” He didn’t return then, and I do not know, nor do you, just when He will return, but we know that He will, but we must be careful regarding predictions, for "no man knows the day and hour" (Matt. 24:36). 1984 came and went; at least the real time 1984 came and went. But, whatever your eschatology, you have to be blind not to see that right now in 2011 our world is a powder keg ready to explode in many sore spots. We might say there are many fuses. Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, etc…any one, or all, at any moment ready
to ignite chaos. In our own land, literally thousands of churches and pastors are experiencing unprecedented government encroachment. The economy is in a tailspin.
In China, a country reported to have over 60 million Christians, persecution is being stepped up at the present time, as it once was in the former Soviet Union, and its satellites. So, 1984ish things are happening. How far have we come toward Orwell's 1984? Do we Christians really care? Are we hiding our heads in the sand hoping the issues of our day will go away? Are we claiming to be too super-spiritual to be interested in things happening in this life? Do we even speak against government encroachments on our freedoms? A warped conception of “health care”, hurting more than can ever be helped, was attempted to be slammed through the liberal congress. The government also attempted to take over the auto makers. For now, that too has failed. We get a lot of “double speak” from our liberal politicians. All of this is what has happened in the socialist countries of the world, and is very 1984ish.
My friends, Christ must have preeminence in all we do. I do not advocate any other solution! There must be a spiritual revival for our nation's survival — even for world survival. Our heritage is the Word of God and includes religious liberty. It is worth preserving. God must help us to preserve it. Can we not, at least, "Cry aloud and spare not"? If we remain silent while our world is overrun by evil forces, what will we tell our children and grandchildren about why we did not stand? These are vital questions that cannot be answered with a simplistic "The Lord will rapture us away before things get too bad"! Things are already bad! Sodomy is being financed by American taxpayers! Gay “marriage” has been legalized in some states. The families of the nation are under attack! Divorce and living in fornication are out of control, and almost totally accepted. Over 60 million unborn babies have been destroyed!
We cannot hide behind God's Sovereignty either! He is absolutely sovereign, but He uses human instrumentality to accomplish many of His purposes. He used John Knox in Scotland, the Wesleys and Whitefield in England, and the USA, Martin Luther in Germany, etc. Can He use you? Are you willing to be used of God no matter what He wants to do with you? “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I. A clear conviction that our times are in the hand of God WILL CREATE WITHIN US A SENSE OF THE NEARNESS OF GOD. If the hand of God is laid upon all our surroundings, God himself is near us. Our Puritanic fathers walked with God the more readily because they believed in God as arranging everything in their daily business and domestic life; and they saw him in the history of the nation, and in all the events which transpired. The tendency of this age is to get further and further from God. Men will scarcely tolerate a Creator now, but everything must be evolved. To get God one stage further back is the ambition of modern philosophy; whereas, if we were wise, we should labor to clear out all obstacles, and leave a clear channel for drawing near to God, and for God to draw near to us. When we see that in his hand are all our ways, we feel that God is real and near.
"My times are in thy hand." Then there is nothing left to chance. Events happen not to man by a fortune which has no order or purpose in it. "The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." Chance is a heathenish idea which the teaching of the Word has cast down, even as the ark threw down Dagon, and brake him in pieces. Blessed is that man who has done with chance, who never speaks of luck; but believes that, from the least even to the greatest, all things are ordained of the Lord. We dare not leave out the least event. The creeping of an aphis upon a rosebud is as surely arranged by the decree of Providence, as the march of a pestilence through a nation. Believe ye this; for if the least be omitted from the supreme government, so may the next be, and the next, till nothing is left in the divine hand. There is no place for chance, since God filleth all things.
"My times are in thy hand" is an assurance which also puts an end to the grim idea of an iron fate compelling all things. Have you the notion that fate grinds on like an enormous wheel, ruthlessly crushing everything that lies in its way, not pausing for pity, nor turning aside for mercy? Remember that, if you liken Providence to a wheel, it must be a wheel which is full of eyes. Its every revolution is in wisdom and goodness. God's eye leaves nothing in providence blind; but fills all things with sight. God works all things according to his purpose; but then He himself works them. There is all the difference between the lone machinery of fixed fate, and the presence of a gracious, loving Spirit ruling all things. Things do happen as he plans them; but he himself is there to make them happen, and to moderate, and guide, and secure results. Our great joy is not, "My times are in the wheel of destiny"; but, "My times are in thy hand." With a living, loving God to superintend all things, we feel ourselves at home, resting near our Father's heart.
"My times are in thy hand." Does not this reveal the condescension of the Lord? He has all heaven to worship him, and all worlds to govern; and yet "my times"—the times of such an inconsiderable and unworthy person as I am—are in his hand. Now, what is man that it should be so? Wonder of wonders, that God should not only think of me, but should make my concerns his concerns, and take my matters into his hand! He has the stars in his hand, and yet he puts us there. He deigns to take in hand the passing interests of obscure men and lowly women.
Beloved, God is near his people with all his attributes; his wisdom, his power, his faithfulness, his immutability; and these are under oath to work for the good of those who put their trust in him. "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Yes, God considers our times, and thinks them over; with his heart and soul planning to do us good. That august mind, out of which all things spring, bows itself to us; and those eternal wings, which cover the universe, also brood over us and our household, and our daily wants and woes. Our God sits not still as a listless spectator of our griefs, suffering us to be drifted like waifs upon the waters of circumstance; but is busily occupying himself at all times for the defense and perfecting of his children. He leads us that he may bring us home to the place where his flock shall rest for ever.
What a bliss this is! Our times, in all their needs and aspects, are in God's hand, and therefore God is always caring for us. How near it brings God to us, and us to God! Child of God, go not thou tomorrow into the field, lamenting that God is not there! He will bless thy going out. Come not home to thy chamber, crying, "Oh, that I knew where I might find him!" He will bless thy coming in. Go not to thy bed, dreaming that thou art left an orphan; neither wake up in the morning with a sense of loneliness upon thee: thou art not alone, for the Father is with thee.
Wilt thou not feel how good it is that God should come so close to thee, and handle thy bread and thy water, and bless thy bed and thy board? Art thou not happy to be allowed to come so close to God, as to say, "My times are in thy hand"? There is a great deal in this first point as to the nearness of the Lord; and if you will turn it over, you will see more and more that a conviction that our times are in God's hand tends to create a happy and holy sense of the nearness of God to us. (Part one of a sermon on Psalm 31:15, from the Metropolitan Tabernacle on May 17, 1891). Full Sermon available http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/2205.htm
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
(Some good thoughts from David Jeremiah, via my friend Charles Rosson in Arkansas. In introducing this article Charles Rosson said "In our culture of growing atheism when few things are considered holy and sacred, this is a very timely and much needy statement" )
It's almost impossible to turn on the television without hearing someone exclaim, "Oh my G--!" In the popular culture, it's even been reduced to an acronym: OMG. Even many professing Christians use His holy Name in vain.
There are times when such an expression is an appropriate prayer in a crisis (the phrase "O my God" appears twenty-one times in the Bible), but for the most part it simply represents a degrading of His holy Name. Our pagan society wants to reduce our Lord to a profanity and diminish His name to a vulgarity.
Jesus said, "Hallowed be Thy Name." The Bible says, "Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon His God" (Isaiah 50:10).
The name of our Lord is to be hallowed, feared, reverenced, trusted, and loved.
"Praise the name of the LORD! Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its going down the LORD's name is to be praised" (Psalm 113:1-3).
“How we use the name of God reveals more clearly than any creed we ever
confess our deepest attitudes towards the sovereign God.” (R. C. Sproul)
-David Jeremiah, Turning Point Ministry