Monday, September 14, 2009

Trusting Truth- 40 Days of Psalm 37 (Day 32)

"The wicked lie in wait for the righteous, seeking their very lives;" Psalm 37:32

You know what I'm tired of? Scare tactics. Everybody uses scare tactics to manipulate others into backing a specific agenda or ideology. We see it everywhere, like in College sports where boosters threaten Universities that their pockets will no longer be "bottomless" unless a specific coach is fired or hired. You can't miss it in politics where everything is "extreme"; one silly idea is that we all deserve health care as if it's a birthright. This specific side then scares us by saying that if we don't give everyone health care we're letting all of humanity down (according to Scripture we are born sinners and the wages of that is death, so praise Jesus that we even get to live at all). The other political side argues that to change anything about the health care system is to make this a Communist nation (Why is reforming health care a problem? Isn't the governments role to protect the citizens? Just seems like both parties could meet in the middle, and not do a government plan/Co-op; as a government run anything doesn't seem to work (USPS for example) but make sure the Government oversees that the citizens and businesses are no longer raped by the health care and drug companies). We even see scare tactics by the church. We talk or sing about the "Amazing Grace" of God, and then scare people into giving their lives to Him. The biggest decision they'll ever make, and we expect them to give in without actually presenting the true Gospel of Christ. Instead of accepting a life in Christ, many new believers are so scared of hell they take on their own version of "Pascal's wager" without ever becoming a disciple.

What's worse is when the Christian community gets on their political high horse and acts as if God is not sovereign (I've suffered from this for years). We believe that the United States is Israel "part deux" and because it's "chosen" there is no way that it can fall apart. Sure, we should vote on the things that we truly believe in (we as followers of Christ should understand freedom and liberty more than anybody), but we act as if losing our citizenship in America means losing our citizenship in Heaven. I don't want to see socialism or communism as much as the next guy, but is our hope really in this Country? Today's verse is a great reminder of what Christians can expect in the world around them before Christ returns. We should not be surprised to see everything "coming apart at the seams" in America and elsewhere. We should in no way fear "Global Calamity" even when it is used as a scare tactic for the current (or past) governments to get what they want. Personally, if things were not falling apart (scare tactics or not) I'd be more concerned as I'd have to start questioning whether or not God's word is trustworthy. Two particular scriptures in the New Testament go along perfectly with today's passage.

The first is 1 Peter 4:12-17 which states, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?"

The second is Matthew 24:4-14 in which Jesus states, "...Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

As followers of Christ, we must not fear these times, or be shocked that these things are happening. This also doesn't mean we need to become apathetic in our position towards worldly affairs. What today's message is helping to remind us is that we have a God on the throne who is bigger than all of the worlds problems. We have a God who makes us aware of what will happen in the world, and what will happen to us as followers of Christ before Christ returns. This is is not a message of scare tactics, but of truth, and as Christ says in John 8:32 "...then you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free". Be free in Christ today, glorifying Him as you find your joy in Him. Trust your life to Him and know that not only does He know what's going on around us now, but He predicted it for us to know ahead of time. Find comfort in knowing that a Father who loves you, has a perfect plan and He wants you to be part of it in Christ. Do not fear those who hate you, and take courage as you are part of an army that will be crowned "eternal champions".

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