Friday, November 13, 2009

Hands Busy with the Earth, Hearts Occupied with Heaven

On the back jacket cover of Dr. David Jeremiah's new book, Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World, six familiar words from Jesus are quoted:

"Let not your heart be troubled..."

That phrase can be found in two verses from the book of John:

Jhn 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

Jhn 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

In the current atmosphere of chaos which is wreaking havoc in our nation today, the truth of Jesus' words cannot be missed. Jesus does not give "peace" as the world might define it - or even try to give it. Instead, the peace that Jesus is speaking of "surpasses all understanding."

Phl 4:7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Notice that the verse expresses such peace "will guard your hearts and minds" ONLY through Christ Jesus.

Back to Dr. Jeremiah's book.

The rest of the book jacket cover:

Confidence can be hard to come by these days. People are losing their jobs, their houses, and their life savings at an unprecedented rate. Violence, natural disasters, and moral depravity seem to be skyrocketing. In the midst of all this chaos, we need to know...what on earth should we do now?

In the follow-up to the New York Times bestseller What in the World Is Going On? Dr. David Jeremiah brings a message of hope and confidence from the priceless counsel of the Word of God. He answers our most urgent questions, including:

* How can we weather this storm with a calm heart?

* What does it truly mean to "wait on the Lord"?

* What is Jesus saying to our chaotic world today?

* How on earth did we get into this mess?

* Can we take a broken world and rebuild it into something fruitful?

Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World shows us all that with the power and love of Almighty God, we can live with confidence in this age of turmoil.

I am only in the second chapter right now, but before I even read the section of the book that is described by the last point above, I wanted to discuss the concept of a "reprieve."

There are MANY end times writers, blogs, websites, preachers and pastors who are pointing out how close we are getting to Jesus' return. The signs of the times are all around us. Hundreds of prophecies have been fulfilled - and many are being fulfilled right before our eyes. The prophecy of the rebirth of Israel was the major indicator that we should be watching, waiting, and working for the return of Christ is imminent.

The definition of a "reprieve" is as follows:

Main Entry: reprieve
Function: noun
1 a : the act of reprieving : the state of being reprieved b : a formal temporary suspension of the execution of a sentence esp. of death as an act of clemency
2 : an order or warrant of reprieve
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
Cite This Source

But that particular definition didn't fit for what I wanted to say, so in a further search, I found this:

Main Entry: 1re·prieve
Pronunciation: \ri-ˈprēv\
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): re·prieved; re·priev·ing
Etymology: probably blend of obsolete repreve to reprove (from Middle English) and obsolete repry to remand, postpone, from Anglo-French repri-, past stem of reprendre to take back
Date: 1596
1 : to delay the punishment of (as a condemned prisoner)
2 : to give relief or deliverance to for a time

"To give relief or deliverance to for a time" describes what is meant when we perceive God giving man "a reprieve."

In a post that I did called "True Ministry", I described the reprieve that my dad received from God several months after seeing him bedridden and weak from lung cancer.

I also believe that God can give reprieve to our entire nation. That is one of my prayers. I don't know how He will do it. I don't know exactly when He might do it. I don't even know whether or not He will grant that prayer. However, I know that in His Sovereign Will, whatever is done will be done ultimately for our good.

In Chapter 2, Dr. Jeremiah writes:

[T]ime magazine asked Christian author Philip Yancey for his take on how Christians should pray at such times. Yancey said the first part is simple: Cry, "Help!"

[T]hen, he explained, the second stage was that of listening to God in meditation and reflection. The question here would be, "What can we learn from this catastrophe?" One possible lesson would be that we're foolish when we place our ultimate trust in governments and economies.

How true! The election of 2008 was an example of putting trust in not only a new "government," but much more implicitly, people put their trust in a man who mostly wore a mask while campaigning and lied his way to the presidency.

Dr. Jeremiah expresses that we are to remain compassionate on the truly desperate. However, the method(s) used for compassion (churches and individuals helping their neighbors rather than the current government plan to force "giving," a.k.a "redistribution of wealth," through high taxes imposed upon the people and government then choosing how to spend it) differ profoundly according to political ideology.

Dr. Jeremiah writes:

Yes, it's clear that our next step forward in tough times is to protect and even extend our spirit of compassion. The apostle Paul wanted the church at Thessalonica to understand that during its own rough period. As Paul wrote them a letter, he broke into prayer: "Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all of His saints." (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13).

Concerning that last phrase, the New Testament teaches us that Jesus will return. That is a 100 percent biblical certainty, and it could happen any day. It's Paul's context for the instruction he gives here. So does he advise the Thessalonians to shut everything down, put on their Sunday best, and sit patiently in their pews until the wonderful day? Not in the least. He consistently commands believers to be busy in the interim period, doing kingdom business - our hands busy with the earth, our hearts occupied with heaven.

This particular letter to the Thessalonians, perhaps the second of all his letters (the first being Galatians), is one of the essential documents pertaining to our Lord's return. Paul wanted to visit Thessalonica and help the believers work through some problems. But it was evidently not God's will for him to do so. Make no mistake; this was not a rejection slip from Paul to one more congregation competing for his time ("We regret that present scheduling will not allow for a visit from the apostle"). His language in this letter betrays his intense personal desire to be with his friends.

The problem was that "Satan hindered us" ( 1 Thessalonians 2;17-18). That's a common occurrence. The devil will present obstacles to God's work whenever he can - though God, who uses all things for His glory and our good, turns the worst crises to His own advantage. Here is how God did it in this situation: if Paul had gone to the city as he wanted, you could erase the amazing letters to the Thessalonians from your Bible. We wouldn't have the invaluable teachings we've enjoyed for twenty centuries. The devil, you see, has a way of winning the battle but losing the war. Now we have two incredible letters to the Thessalonians that tell us what we need to know about the return of Christ and what on earth we should be doing as we wait.

Paul couldn't see how God would use his letter; seldom do we live long enough to see the ultimate fruit of our service to God. That's something to remember when we feel discouraged. Paul couldn't have dreamed that his private correspondence would bless untold billions of people in the future. From his perspective, the church at Thessalonica was a group of his friends who were suffering - persecuted for loving Christ - struggling just to get by.

That last sentence could very well describe Christian Americans across our entire nation today! Americans have friends who are suffering. Americans have friends who are persecuted for loving Christ. Americans are struggling just to get by.

I started to think about all of the dismissed lawsuits that attempted to expose Obama's ineligibility to hold the office of the presidency (see sidebar for brief explanation). I see this as another example of "Satan hindered us" in that struggle. However, I DO KNOW that the truth will eventually come out and within God's permissive and sovereign will, it will be at just the right time. God's timing is always perfect. Ours is not.

Perhaps God's timing for the truth to come out will "bless untold millions of people here in the United States (or perhaps billions of people around the world?) in the future," just as Paul's letters in the Bible have done so for over twenty centuries.

Why do I think this way? Because I had seen so many people put their hope and trust in a flawed human being - going so far as to label him "as a kind of god" (e.g. calling him "the anointed one," "the messiah" etc.) who was going to solve all of their earthly struggles, problems and worries. After only 11 months, many are seeing the mistake of their ways and need to call upon God for mercy and forgiveness.

The abortion issue was enough of a red flag to warn Christians not to vote for Obama. But many ignored his radical position on that one issue, as well as his radical positions on dozens of additional issues.

But this post isn't just about the election or Obama. It is about where are hearts are and what we are doing until Christ returns.

We are told about "treasure" in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Notice how Jesus' words - as recorded in Matthew and Luke - inform us that "where our treasure is" - "there will your heart be also."

Exd 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine:

Exd 19:6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These [are] the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Mat 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luk 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Reference Source:

Living With Confidence in a Chaotic World by Dr. David Jeremiah, Published in Nashville, Tennessee, by Thomas Nelson in association with Yates & Yates, LLP, 2009, pp. 24-26.

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