Luke 21:25-26 tells us of men’s hearts failing from fear and great distress in the nations:
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
We see this today. Many people’s hearts are failing them from fear and anxiety. They are perplexed. But Isaiah 64:1-3 gives us hope:
“Oh, that You would rend the heavens! That You would come down! That the mountains might shake at Your presence— As fire burns brushwood, as fire causes water to boil— To make Your name known to Your adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Your presence! When You did awesome things for which we did not look, You came down, The mountains shook at Your presence. (Isaiah 64:1-3)
When God comes down, the nations tremble in His presence!
Right now, there are global challenges and it’s hard at times to know who or what to listen to or believe. We need to stop, look, and listen to what God’s Word says. We cannot be controlled by the institutions of men, we need to be under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. But that’s not going to happen if we don’t listen to the news of the Lord and the report of the Lord.
“Even in darkness [difficult times] light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous. Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice. Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast trusting in the Lord. …They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.” (Psalm 112:4-9 NIV)
2 Thessalonians 2 tells us that the working of satan will come with lying wonders and that even God’s people, if they don’t keep a love for the truth, will be turned over to strong delusion. If we no longer have a love for truth, we can believe the lies of the enemy. The deceiver wants us to battle with fear and anxiety and stress. Like the Pied Piper, he wants us to follow his tune and not listen to the voice of the Lord.
That’s why we have got to stay in God’s presence. We need the power of corporate worship. There’s something that happens when we get together as one and lift up His name. And when we get into the presence of a Holy, Holy, Holy God, he changes the atmosphere. He changes our hearts. We can argue with our intellect or we can get in the presence of God and watch what He can do.
AN ANTIDOTE TO FEAR
Dr. Edwin Louis Cole said, “Faith is believing those things you cannot see will come to pass. Fear is also believing those things you cannot see will come to pass.” They sound alike, but they’re totally different. Faith is from the Kingdom of God, fear is from the kingdom of the devil. But how do we know the truth?
We have to love truth more than the things that we hear, more than our personal experiences and preferences. We need to remember that we are people of faith, not a people of fear. We’re the people of God’s kingdom, not the kingdoms of this world. So, the antidote to fear, anxiety, and stress is getting into the presence of Lord and holding on to the promises from His Word.
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
That one verse says so much. I love what how Expositor’s Commentary explains it: “Fear is common to man; increased by, if it does not originate in, a consciousness of sin. The text indicates three reasons why the Christian should not be afraid.”
In other words, this verse is telling us to look at all the reasons why we should not be fearful:
- God’s Presence: “I am with you.” He is powerful, wise, and loving. He is with us no matter what’s going on.
- God’s Relationship: “I am your God.” These words imply, on our part, reverence, obedience, and submission; but on His part, they imply guardianship and blessing. God takes care of what belongs to Him, and we are sons and daughters of the King. We are not just hirelings or servants; we carry a family name. We’ve been imbibed into the family of Christ.
Colossians 1:12-13 says, “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love…”
Because of Jesus, the Son of His love, we are part of God’s family. We have an inheritance that comes not by force, but by inheritance through Jesus Christ. We don’t have to be afraid, because God is our guardian. He wants to take care of us.
- God’s Promises:
- “I will strengthen you”: He will fortify our hearts against trial and suffering;
- “I will help you”: He will render to us personal assistance in our times of need;
- “I will uphold You with My righteous right hand”: The right hand of His righteousness is faithful. It is the right hand of friendship. We shake hands (back when we were allowed to shake hands!) as a form of greeting or friendship. We lay hands to anoint and agree with God in His Word over someone’s life calling. There is something about blessing with the hand of friendship and acknowledging with the hand. God says, “I am the one who extends to you My guardianship protection, provision, and love.” He will take care of us with His righteous right hand.
What is the antidote to anxiety and stress and fear? It’s being in God’s presence, acknowledging His relationship, and remembering His promises.
GO BACK TO THE MOMENT…
What are God’s promises in our lives? What were the things He spoke to us when we first came into His family?
The stress over what’s going on in the world has created disagreements and divisions, even amongst leaders in the Church. People are frustrated and they are often looking through the optics of the world instead of the optics of God. I am determined not to allow these differences of opinion take away my love for my family, the body of Christ.
Many of you know, my mother was Japanese and I was born in Japan. My dad, who was from Houston, was in the military. As much as I love my Asian heritage, my foremost commitment is not tied to being an American of Asian descent. My first and foremost commitment is to the family of Christ. Jesus said, his family are those who do the will of the Father (see Mark 3:35).
When my biological siblings and I disagree, we don’t disown each other. So why are we letting the world divide and conquer the Church? Why are we letting the world divide us when we have more in common than that which divides us? We have an amazing gift, so great a salvation, which has been given to us.
Take a journey with me. Go back to that moment when Jesus saved your soul. Can you remember that moment? Can you forget, for the time being, all the noise? And can you remember that moment when you were “bananas for Jesus”? When He revealed His amazing grace to you? Can you remember how you felt then, how the love of God just poured out into everybody you encountered? How you weren’t skewed by the things of the world?
But somewhere along the way, disappointments and distractions and disillusionments happened, and we let the flesh overtake the spirit. Can we just get back, for a moment, to that landmark in time when Jesus became Lord of our lives?
Revelation 12:11 says: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
Do you remember how you overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of your testimony? What is your testimony? What did Jesus do for you? If we get back to the simplicity of salvation, then all the other noise gets drowned out by the voice and the sound of God Himself. His kingdom is unshakeable.
In Light of Eternity is a biography about the late Leonard Ravenhill, who had great influence on the lives of many people, including Keith Green, David Wilkerson, and so many others. I considered him a spiritual grandfather. He used to ask the question, “Is the life you’re living worth Christ dying for?” When he was in his 80s, he wrote me a note that said, “My dearest brother Doug. Let others live on the raw edge or the cutting edge. You and I should live on the Edge of Eternity.” When we look at things in light of eternity, we realize that life isn’t just about the things that we’re going through.
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and bring glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
I pray that today, and in the days ahead, no matter what we see happening, we choose to listen to His voice. And, in light of eternity, let’s not sit back and do nothing! Let’s get up and be a light in the midst of the enemy’s camp.