Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Terror, Trust and Temptation

Today is 9/11.  Twelve years ago there was nothing special or memorable about today except for those whose birthdays and anniversaries are on this day (Happy birthday and anniversary).  But eleven years ago that changed.  Over 3000 people lost their lives and America was shaken to the core and terror became real.  I remember where we were on that day well.  So do you.  I also remember how people responded.  Church services were swelled over the following weeks as people sought understanding, meaning and hope in the midst of everything.  The seeking lasted a month for most.

Now we face potentially one of the most devastating economic and social crises ever.  And it is not just here at home.  This is a global issue.  And fear enters the picture once again.  When unemployment runs high and people become desperate, we see the effects in various parts of Europe.  Riots, destruction, acts of violence.  There is blame and anger a plenty.  And people again wonder where they can turn.  Who can save us out of this mess?  Who can we trust?

Therein lies the temptation.  Many react to the mess but few ask how we ultimately got here.  In America, we have long served at the altar of rights rather than the altar of freedom.  The founding of our nation was based on the fact that rights, freedom and opportunity come from God.  We were and are not a theocracy like Israel, and we never were.  But we were a people in the beginning who understood the truth that blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.  And in the framework of our culture, including our government at the time, God was recognized and honored.  Over the past two hundred and thirty plus years, that has changed.  Our trust and hope have shifted to men, to ourselves, to our political leaders.  Yet the psalmist warned,  

Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.  Psalm 146:3-5

Since moving away from our trust in Him as our foundation, millions of unborn babies have been killed; jails have become overpopulated, all sorts of excesses have become "normal," the foundations of the family have been eroded, and right has become wrong and wrong has become right. 

So what do we do?  God speaks from His word in Isaiah 57:

10 You wearied yourself by such going about,
    but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
You found renewal of your strength,
    and so you did not faint. 11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared
    that you have not been true to me,
and have neither remembered me
    nor taken this to heart?
Is it not because I have long been silent
    that you do not fear me?
12 I will expose your righteousness and your works,
    and they will not benefit you.
13 When you cry out for help,
    let your collection of idols save you!
The wind will carry all of them off,
    a mere breath will blow them away.
But whoever takes refuge in me
    will inherit the land
    and possess my holy mountain.”

I have been asked if I am going to address our political situation from the pulpit.  I want to move to the fundamental core of why we have the chaos we do.  In the name of rights and freedom even many organized churches in America have moved away from honoring the Lord and are preaching a Gospel that is no Gospel at all.  There is no light in the darkness and no salt in the culture.  If we were as passionate about standing up as believers in our culture, caring for the oppressed, speaking up for the rights of the helpless, visiting those in prison, teaching our children about the Lord, and putting our trust in Him, our land would be reclaimed and we would possess it.

I strongly encourage every person to seek the Lord and exercise your right to vote.  But I plead with every person to put all your heart into seeking the Lord personally, and trusting not in political systems to change our world, but in the Maker of Heaven and Earth.  I'll leave you with the words of the psalmist again from Psalm 146:

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.   

Even so, come and accomplish this through your church in our day, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

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