We live in confusing times. The two most powerful men on the planet, namely Presidents Trump and Putin are maligned by the liberal western media relentlessly. In many ways there is much to malign them for. President Trump seems to have a prevailing spirit of arrogance about him which unpleasantly, mixes in with moral indiscretions in his private life. Whilst President Putin does seem to display megalomaniacal tendencies where any means are acceptable just so long as Russian power increases.
And yet both seem to have a sound moral compass in many ways. So for a couple of examples:
- Here we have President Trump giving testimony to God’s great salvation workings.
- Here is president Putin saying something immensely sensible about a wholesome upbringing.
I know through being in Ethiopia that Christians are glad that President Obama has gone and President Trump has replaced him. The fact that under President Obama economic support was promised at the end of the gun of moral conformity. So to get the aid there had to be a move towards embracing the LGBT agenda.
It’s all confusing. I think one thing for sure is that the power of the media cannot be underestimated. They have an agenda; and that agenda is focussed on a destruction of Judeo-Christian moral values. I know I make a vast generlization, but that would be my observation.
In Micah 7:1-6 we see portrayed a society which is in collapse. It is headlined with the exclamation “What misery is mine!” (Mic. 7:v1a). We are then told of crop failure (1b), disappearance of the godly (v2a), brutality (v2b), corruption (v3), a land filled with useless people (v4a), a people set for judgement (v4b), relationships (even the closest) filled with conflict and deceit (vv5-6).
Into such a situation Micah emerges with a great affirmation of his trust in the Lord. He says: But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Saviour; my God will hear me. (Mic. 7:7). What a word this is! A word to tell of light in darkness and rescue from a disintegrating world. He tells of a personal relationship with a God who is his Saviour. How remarkable it is that he can have hope in such a mad situation. And, oh to seize the promise that we have a God, who is Micah’s God and that God will hear us.
We live in the West which, with its feelings based culture, is increasingly developing characteristics of Micah 7:1-6. So what a joy to know that there is Micah 7:7 to hang on to and a God who never fails.
I heard Tope Koleoso say, in the context of church leadership some years ago, that “very few things are the end of the world.” As someone who very easily panics and has panicked when things have gone in a certain direction in the church, this was a reassuring statement.
I, therefore, seek to remember this maxim, when things happen in the life of the church which I perceive to be undesirable. Such happenings can be greeted with thoughts that a bad precedent has been set, or this will lead to conflict, or this will unnecessarily upset certain people or this will cost a lot of money to put right or ….. In it all I have sought to remember that “very few things are the end of the world”.
So when others are encouraging panic or quick reactions or generally getting stressed out about something I have sought to continue to get the “very few things are the end of the world” perspective. Moreover, when considering things calmly if decisions have been made which prove to be wrong, they can very often be changed.
And in all this we must remember that our Lord is the sovereign Lord. And He is in charge of all things. So have faith in God Philip
Paul writes to the Philippians and speaks to them about believing and suffering. He says For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for him, (Phil 1:29). How do we respond to that scripture? We might say that believing is wonderful, but we’re not so sure about the suffering? We are so happy that the Lord grants us to believe, but are not so comfortable with being granted to suffer.
As we come to ponder upon this we note that it is not suffering because of being awkward or odd. Rather it is suffering for His sake. So when we take a stand for the gospel, and when we seek to honour Jesus Christ, then we can expect suffering.
Moreover, there is an inherent connection between exercising faith and suffering. We suffer because by faith we have entered another world. That heavenly world has different values. Accordingly this world does not like us standing in Christ (and with Christ) and so we suffer. We are in this present evil age, which is under the sway of the evil one, and this world is set against the beautiful ways of Jesus Christ. So as we affiliate with Jesus Christ by faith, we can expect the onslaughts of the evil realm. Faith brings suffering.
How is it then as regards to my situation and my experience of suffering? Our Lord says: Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets (Luke 6:26). A Christ-less life will be a comfortable life. A faithless life will be a comfortable life. But both end in death. Oh, for Christ, oh, for faith and when those are present with all the glorious things we possess thereby we will surely be happy to suffer with Him, in Him, and for Him.
Here is an interview with Margaret Lee. She is a member of Feltham Evangelical Church. It gives insight into the Lord’s dealing with her over many years including during revival times in East Africa
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord (Ps 112:7). Now that is a big scripture! Why is it so big? It is so big because it taps into the very heart of our lives. Although, we are not always aware of it, or conscious of it, there is a residual fear in our lives of bad news. We wonder what will happen if an illness is diagnosed, the authorities come against us, a child suffers misfortune, a loved one passes away. There are a multitude of bad news outcomes that can come into our lives and cause us distress, alarm, concern and despair.
But the Psalmist speaks here of those who have no fear of bad news. They have set themselves upon God to such a degree, they are strong in faith trusting in the Lord, that no bad news is going to rattle them. At the heart of all this is an awareness of who the Lord is. There is an awareness that He is good and that he is sovereign. The trusting one knows this God as a caring Father who is always working everything for the good of his children.
Not not only is He good, but He also has all power so that He controls all. Accordingly the true believer knows that nothing will be outside of His determining hand.
Moreover there is an awareness of the great truth of 1 Corinthians 10:13 that No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. However bad the news, there is always a way through for those who are of faith and trusting in the Lord.
Oh this is all so major.
Genesis 27 shows us how the blessing of God passed from Isaac to the next generation. Isaac had only one blessing to give and he had two sons he could give it to. However, his heart was set on giving it to Esau. Rebekah, his wife, had other ideas; she wanted Jacob to be the recipient. But neither Jacob nor Rebekah could decide upon where the blessing would go; that was in the control of Isaac. And old Isaac had decided that upon the receipt of some fine fresh stew from Esau he would bestow the blessing.
Rebekah had to act fast and she did so. She got the necessary stew together and got Jacob in the right garb. Her plan was to pass Jacob off as Esau and thus secure the blessing for her favoured son. Jacob went ahead and he was found “in Esau” in order to get the blessing. All this can be read about in Genesis 27.
Jacob at one point challenged his mother about a curse possibly arising from this trickery. Somewhat outrageously she said to him, ‘My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.’ (Gen 27:13). Rebekah was so determined that Jacob would get the blessing she was even prepared to risk being under a curse to get her way.
This in many ways is a synopsis of the whole of human history. There is one Father, God, with two sons Adam and Christ. The Father who has the sole blessing in His control has decided that the blessing is with Christ and Him alone. So the question arises what lengths will we go to, to make sure that we are in Christ in order to get the blessing? I am not saying that we emulate Rebekah with here trickery and deceit; certainly not. But I am saying that we should emulate her in her determination
Further, Rebekah did so much to ensure that Jacob was found “in Esau” to get the blessing. How much will we do to makes sure others are found in Christ.
………..is the right way! It always has been, always will be and is now. So I must always know that. I must know that there is a way that is the Lord’s, whether I feel it or not. Such a way is always the best way to be on. I read these scriptures one morning some time ago:
1) Faith In The Lord.
Though the fig-tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the sheepfold
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. (Hab. 3:17-19)
This is a remarkably encouraging Word from the Lord to spur us on in the walk of faith. It reminds me that my faith is not feelings based or circumstances based, but the Lord based. And that is where faith is happy to place its true lot; with the Lord. That being so we can be happy to know that He enables me “to tread on the heights”. It is His ability and enabling that matters.
2) Money Cannot Buy You Life.
Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the Lord’s wrath.’ (Zeph. 1:18a)
This scripture demolishes so much of the propaganda of this world. “Life is better the more you have” is a mantra which not only fails to match-up in this life, but most spectacularly fails in the next. Money can’t buy you God and it can’t buy you heaven. And it can’t buy you out of the grotesque onslaught of judgement in the Day of the Lord. People triumph by faith in the living and true God and not by money.
3) The World Is Set On Ruin.
This is the city of revelry
that lived in safety.
She said to herself,
‘I am the one! And there is none besides me.’
What a ruin she has become,
a lair for wild beasts!
All who pass by her scoff
and shake their fists. (Zeph. 2:15)
As a nation, although we go through terrorist attacks or other turmoil such as the Grenfell Tower fire, we soon return to our carefree, self-contented, arrogant and self-sufficient ways. But don’t forget Philip that the end of that is always ruin. So you must learn to focus on the better way which is in Christ.
These were three helpful scriptures graciously given by the Lord, to an unsteady saint so as to steady me in the course of grace. Thank you LORD.
So I awoke this morning and soon had something on my mind which troubled my heart. I emerged therefore, out of bed as a somewhat disconsolate figure. But then I started to think why should it be this way? Why should I be cast down? Surely this problem is not too big for my God. In fact my God delights to take such problems and use them for his glory; our perplexities can be His opportunities.
So what do I need to bring this transformation into the situation? I need faith. I need this reliance upon God. So only last evening, at our prayer and Bible Study, we observed that the key thing that distinguishes the godly is their faith. So we read in Isaiah 50:10b Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on their God.
So Philip get your act together or more importantly get your faith together and trust God. That is what the heroes of Hebrews 11 were doing, they were reaching away to trust in the Lord in all their varying situations and circumstances. And Philip you must call to mind the faith-filled assertion of the psalmist which is thrice recorded in Psalm 42:5 and 11 and Psalm 43:5:
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Saviour and my God.
So rise up please my soul and once again hope in your Lord.
In the mercies of the Lord. therefore, my soul brightened, although not without the flickering of some shadows during the day. I must then continue to trust the Lord and see what He will do as the troubles and difficulties of life arise.
This is a scenario which so often transpires in my life:-
- An issue crops up.
- I seek to ponder upon the issue so as to solve the problem or decide on a plan of action.
- My thinking starts to get confused.
- I start to fret about how the matter will be resolved.
- The matter starts to seem even more intractable.
- I start to fret even more.
- I become anxious about the future fearing what will happen.
- I start to lose sleep.
And all the while my Father in heaven is looking and saying “Why won’t you speak to Me about it?” “Hey won’t you trust Me to look into the issue and bring a way forward?”
And guess what? When we stop and give the matter to our Father and speak to Him about the issue we are soon seeing a way forward through (and out of) the quagmire we have got ourselves in. Our hearts are content and the stress is relieved.
Oh Lord, why do I so often fret and not trust You?