by pastor david
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
If there is a watchword that describes the Western mind-set today, it is the word tolerance. Many folk, in the Western world, worship at the shrine of tolerance. In the shaping of public opinion and the forging of national policy, many esteem a broadmindedness, which says any values, if sincerely held, are equally valid. There seem to be no absolutes today. The only absolute is that there are no absolutes. In our day, people tolerate everything except intolerance.
Webster defines the word tolerance like this: “The allowable deviation from a standard, sympathy, or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing or conflicting with one's own."
That, in a nutshell, is the Western world. There is an openness that embraces almost anything morally, politically, or educationally.
George Gallop, America's pollster, says that 67% of Americans today believe that there is no such thing as absolute truth.
In other words, right and wrong vary from situation to situation. It may be wrong for me, but right for you. For instance, they say if homosexuality is right for you, then that’s fine. If it is not right for you, well, that is fine, too. Whatever works for you is right for you. If it feels good, do it. However, the consequences of that way of thinking are terrifying.
Like ancient Israel, we have become a people who have forgotten how to blush. Nothing shocks us anymore. Tragically, we have become desensitized to sin. In the name of tolerance, we have now opened the floodgates to embrace every form of wickedness. An absolute standard of right and wrong is becoming a dusty page of ancient history. Who is to say which abnormal perversion will be accepted next? Will it be polygamy? What "alternative lifestyle” will be next to be embraced?
As the church, we are beginning to feel the tightening noose of the world around us. If we are not careful, we will soon be choked to death by public consensus. Yet, Paul warns us, "Be not conformed to this world…” (Rom 12:2)
I am certain you know the difference between a thermostat and a thermometer! A thermostat regulates the temperature while a thermometer simply registers the temperature. If given the choice, a wise person would always choose a thermostat over a thermometer. A thermostat is much more valuable than a thermometer because of its power to bring about change.
It is time for the Church of Jesus Christ to begin to transform the world around us rather than allowing the world to conform us.
"Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-make you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.” (Romans 12:2 - The New Testament in Modern English, J. B. Phillips)
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
For more than ten years, the Lord has been repeatedly emphasizing one essential truth in my life. Again and again, from a variety of Scriptures, God has been teachings me one simple and yet profound principle. That often-repeated axiom is this:
All that God does or allows is designed to drive us to greater dependence upon Him.
The wise writer of Proverbs, in Proverbs 3:5-6, under the inspiration and superintendence of the Holy Spirit, underscores this truth when he warns us, "lean not on your own understanding" and commands us, "in all your ways acknowledge Him". This is the essence of trusting "in the Lord with all your heart".
We might be tempted to question the accuracy of the truth stated above in light of the all the tragedies, troubles, and temptations in the world around us. However, in spite of how difficult it might be to believe what God is saying, these situations should always remind us that there is a God who is still in control of this universe and everything in it. To add an exclamation point to the original premise and to help us see the scale of God’s control over His creation, the Psalmist said, “The Lord sat enthroned at the Flood” (Psalm 29:10). There has never been devastation on the earth as horrific and deadly as the great Flood, recorded in the Book of Genesis, and the Psalmist David said that God was seated on His Throne, even in the midst of this catastrophic event.
If God allows such things as wars, disease, tragedies, and upheavals in nature like earthquakes and tsunamis, then He apparently does so for a reason. I would never pretend to understand all God's reasoning in these matters but one thing is clear from the Scriptures. God wants the men, women, boys, and girls He created to live in constant and trusting reliance upon Him.
Again, I do not pretend to know all the answers to those questions but I know that one of the benefits was a greater dependence upon God in the lives of those involved. I also know that what is true on an international, national, and Biblical scale is also true on a personal scale. Why is God allowing you to face the difficulties you are facing right now?
Think about it. What has God been doing or allowing in your life in recent days? Whether the things that came to your mind were good, bad, somewhere in between, please know that God has a purpose for your life and a plan to bring about that intended goal.
However, His purpose and plan for our lives will never be realized to its fullest potential until we learn to live in complete reliance upon Him. As we learn to live with increasing confidence in Him, we are progressively "conformed to the image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). This always brings glory to "the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise" (1 Timothy 1:17).
With this kind of dependence upon God and His sovereignty, there is always greater peace and more sublime tranquility than you have ever known.
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.
For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'".
Moses first uttered this wonderful promise, "He will never leave you nor forsake you", to Joshua, as recorded in (Deut. 31:6). As his 120 year-old mentor, Moses was preparing Joshua for the enormous task that lie ahead - the task of leading the people of Israel into the Promise Land.
God Himself repeated this promise to Joshua after the death of Moses, just prior to leading the Israelites into Canaan. In (Joshua 1:5), God said to this new leader, "No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you".
This was such a significant promise that the inspired writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews quoted it in his words of edification and encouragement. (Heb. 13:5) "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Most of us, who read the Bible with any frequency, are somewhat familiar with this promise but I wonder how many of us actually take this promise seriously and honestly apply it to our own personal lives.
If we do, then, why are we so often lonely? I realize that many who are reading this feel like you are alone.
However, you are not truly alone, if you are a child of God. When you acknowledged Christ as your Lord, He immediately took up permanent residence within you. He is there with you every moment of every day. You may be alone from a human perspective, but in reality, Child of God, you are never alone!
Stop reading for a moment and let that truth sink deeply into your soul. You are not alone!
Therefore, you never again need to be lonely. That sense of loneliness that you feel at times is God's way of drawing and driving you to greater dependence upon Him.
Hear His words in (Matthew 11:28): "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He is calling you to His side. Turn to Him in prayer. Open His Word and read what He wants to say to you today. "For the word of God is living and powerful..." (Hebrews 4:12).
Christianity is all about a relationship with the living God through His resurrected Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. When you have that relationship, you are never alone and never need to feel lonely. Let that loneliness drive you to the right hand of God to commune and communicate with the Lord of universe. He is calling out your name. He wants to hear from you today. He wants to know how you are feeling and what you are thinking. Go to Him. Go now! You are not alone!
“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.”
“Where was God when I needed Him?” Have you ever heard anyone say that or something like that? Perhaps there have been troubled times in your life and, before you knew it, that very question came bellowing from your lips.
Well, the Psalmist felt the same way on more than one occasion. The background for the passage above is intriguing. The year was 701 B.C.; the King of Assyria was a man whose name struck terror in the hearts of those in the Mediterranean world - Sennacherib. He intended to expand his kingdom. He had already taken Israel to the north and then his Assyrian troops surrounded the walls of Jerusalem.
They hurled their abuse and sent a menacing letter, which King Hezekiah spread before the Lord. The King left it all with God and he waited. The ominous moments ticked by. Then God intervened! One angel, in one night, and 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were slain. You can read the detailed account in 2 Kings 18-19.
When the break of day came, the men of Judah could hardly believe their eyes. It was a landscape of death. The Bible says, “Behold they were all dead corpses,” (2 Kings 19:35). It was a red-letter day in the nation of Judah and this red-letter Psalm was penned to commemorate it.
I have no idea what you are going through right now, but God does. 185,000 enemies may not surround you but it probably feels like it. Well, not only does the Lord know what you are facing but He also knows exactly what you are thinking and feeling right now.
The promise of Psalm 46 is that, for the believer, God is our source of safety and strength. “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”
His presence is the source of protection and power, so you can face your difficulties victoriously. We must accept this truth by faith and act on that faith, by trusting Him in and with every situation.
God’s presence is your source of protection and power.
Does life seem to be tumbling in around you? Is the battle raging? Is the storm blowing? Do you need to hide in the shelter of the rock? Well, do not forget that the Lord hides you, that He might help you! Follow the advice of the Apostle Peter, who said you are to be “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”. (1 Peter 5:7)
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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