Have you ever felt overwhelmed with something in your life?
We are continually faced with news reports of war in the Middle East, world-wide terrorism, and the growing threat of militant Islam. Just this morning, I read a threat to America from a zealot saying that it was too late to defend ourselves against the various threats; they were already too big and continuing to grow.
But you know, the truth is that we are going about this all wrong!
Oh, but before I go further … then we have movies and books telling us that Christians are all about to escape these life events. That’s what is really scary because such teaching provides a false hope of escapism.
Now I DO believe that Jesus IS COMING to meet His bride BUT…
There are people groups RIGHT NOW facing horrors that many of us cannot even imagine.
Tell the Christians in Syria that they are going to escape the threat and reality of being murdered for their faith.
Tell the families of victims of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Senegal that they are going to escape sickness, pain, and death.
We are looking for an escape …
… and missing the reality of the NOW hope of Jesus Christ.
He is with us when we are overwhelmed.
He is with us when terror strikes.
He is with us when sickness attaches to our bodies.
He is with us when death enters of familial homes.
He is with us regardless the circumstance and His Word tells us that He never leaves us or forsakes us (Matthew 28:20b).
Again, Jesus IS COMING to meet His bride BUT it is a false hope for us to believe that we (as Americans) are somehow going to escape all of this when Christians all across the earth are facing a NOW reality of these things.
So here is my plea:
1) Let’s put a renewed trust in Christ. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” (NLT).
2) Let’s pray with a fervency greater than we have ever known. James 5:16 reminds us that God DOES hear the pleas of His people- “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (NLT). That means that if we will really mean business with God, He means business with us. He hears us. He answers us.
Go ahead, lose sleep while you’re praying.
Go ahead, weep some tears while you’re praying.
Go ahead, see God move while you’re praying.
3) Let’s do our part in the trust process. Solomon had just finished the construction of the Temple and God appeared to him in the night with certain words. (2 Chronicles 7:11-22) Among these words, God set forth some conditional statements. He told Solomon that there would be times of disaster and horror in the earth. And then He introduced a VERY IMPORTANT word, “Then”.
“Then” means “at that time” or “in that given event.” In other words, God was telling Solomon that difficult times would still be ahead … but that WAS NOT time to turn FROM God; instead, it was time to turn to Him as never before. 2 Chronicles 7:14- “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land” (NLT).
So God sets this before His chosen people who are called by His Name:
A) They are to humble themselves. This means that they are to recognize WHO God is and in turn, they are to recognize who they are. They are, in fact, nothing without Him.
B) They are to pray. Not only are they to speak with God BUT they are to listen to God, and they are to be willing to respond accordingly to what He tells them.
C) They are to seek God’s face. Remember, this was written to the people who had heard the following blessing often:
‘May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NLT)
They equated the Face of God with the favor and grace of God. So in other words, they were to seek His face or His favor in their lives, in their people, and in their land.
D) They are to repent. They are to turn from their wicked ways. And in this sense, wickedness is further stretched to mean ALL thoughts, words, and actions that are displeasing to God. They are to change their ways of thinking AND their corresponding actions.
E) And in turn, God will heal their land.
Now many would tell us that this is Old Testament and therefore, no longer applicable to God’s people. But Jesus NEVER disavowed the Old Testament; in fact, He Himself told us that He came to fulfill or complete the Old Testament. And His continual quoting and referencing of the Old Testament clearly indicates His approval of what was written therein.
So when we are overwhelmed, when we are threatened, when we are fearful … it is not time to look for the big escape. It is not time to put our trust in the doctors or in the military (although we ARE thankful for both the medical profession AND the military profession.) Instead, it is time to put our trust in Him.
Will you join me in taking this endeavor to task … to humbling ourselves and recognizing His magnitude and simultaneously, our smallness … to praying to Him with a preparedness to listen to and to obey … to seeking His face, grace, and favor … and to repenting of ALL of our sins, wrong-doings, wasted words, and uncontrolled thoughts.
We live in a world of uncertainty … and we DO look forward to being with Jesus … but let’s don’t wait until that time of His returning to do something.
Let’s not get caught up so much in watching for His return that we forget to maintain a close relationship today.
Let’s do something NOW!
Let’s stay prepared NOW!
Hope in the future is always a NOW hope.
Let’s trust HIM!
Let’s put our hope in Him … Now!
Write Pastor Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org