Saturday, July 22, 2017

In Quietness and Confidence is Your Strength

As I look out over the landscape of where we are today, I am reminded of four important constructs that we must keep present in our minds as we go about our daily routines. They should guide our thoughts and actions. They form the framework of a proper mindset as we approach our lives each day.

The first construct we need to keep in mind is knowing that we are –

11. Behind Enemy Lines

When God created the heavens and the earth all was beautiful and the angels applauded the beauty that God had created.

God announced his plan to make man in His image and to create a family. One of the anointed cherubs that covered God’s throne, Helel, the one who would become Satan, rebelled and convinced a third of the angels to rebel with him.

God cast them out of heaven to the earth and restrained them here in Tartarus. (Jude 6) Satan and his band of infidels wrecked God’s creation (Leviathan) and it became tohu and bohu, without form and void, a place of darkness, until God said, “Let there be light” in Genesis 1:3.

God refreshed his creation and prepared it for the man he would make out of the dust of the earth. Out of all the planets and places God could have put man, he chose to put him on Earth, the very place he had cast Satan and his demons. Why would he do that? Wouldn’t it have been far easier to create and nurture his future family on some other planet far away from the place he had imprisoned the rebellious angels?

God wanted to prove a point. God will do all his pleasure and no one, not even a recalcitrant, childish, hothead will stop him. What better way to prove his power and omnipotence than to raise up sons and daughters in the midst of those who hated him most?

That old serpent, Satan the devil, was in the Garden of Eden and through guile and deception got Eve to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that God had said that if they ate of it they would surely die.

It was at the very moment that Adam willfully ate, that man lost dominion and was brought into bondage to the fear of death. Ever since, man has lived under the shadow of death, in the valley of the shadow of death.

Psa 23:1-4 KJV  A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  (2)  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  (3)  He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  (4)  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

When King David wrote the 23rd Psalm he wasn’t talking about the Kidron Valley or the Valley of Jezreel, or any other singular valley in particular. He was talking about this existence of ours, here on Earth.

We live in the Valley of the Shadow of Death! Turn over to Psalm 44 and we’ll see that this is the place where dragons dwell and this shadow covers man.
Psa 44:18-19 KJV  Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;  (19)  Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.

We have been dropped behind enemy lines and live in hostile territory! Yet, God tells us we are to fear no evil. He will provide for and comfort us.

We have been broken. This place is perfectly suited to taking willful man and through trials and pain and fear of death breaking him. Breaking his willful, rebellious spirit, breaking his pride, and turning him back to God.

And now those of us who live God’s way of life, rely totally on him while we live, work, and breathe amongst spiritual dragons in the valley of the shadow of death.

Just look around us at the prevalence of sickness, hunger, and disease. Crime and death. Wars and rumors of wars.

Can there be any denying that Satan is the god of this world? (2Cor 4:4)  Satan has been allowed to walk up and down in the earth as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour but only as God allows, only within the boundaries and confines set by God. (2 Thes 2:7; Rev 9:14)

1Pe 5:8-11 KJV  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:  (9)  Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.  (10)  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.  (11)  To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Though we traverse the valley of the shadow of death every day, God will establish us, strengthen us, settle us, and perfect us.

We wait on the LORD and put our trust in Him; as we rest in the LORD our God and put our faith in Him, he makes us to lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside the still waters. He restores our souls. He has saved us out of darkness and brought us out of the shadow of death.

Psa 107:8-15 KJV  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!  (9)  For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.  (10)  Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron;  (11)  Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High:  (12)  Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help.  (13)  Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses.  (14)  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder.  (15)  Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Ever since the Garden of Eden, ever since the Flood of Noah, ever since the tower of Babel, we have resided in darkness, in the valley of the shadow of death.

How have we been brought out of the darkness and the shadow of death?
By that great light, that great light that shines in darkness, the true Light, the light of men, Jesus Christ! (John 1:4-9) We still live in the valley but we walk in the light and the bands that held us captive have been broken asunder.

Isa 9:2 KJV  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
Mat 4:16-17 KJV  The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.  (17)  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

We are in the world but we are no longer of the world.

On the night before he died for us, Jesus prayed that we not be taken out of this world. Why not? Why would he do that? Why didn’t he take his believers with him?

Joh 17:11-21 KJV  And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.  (12)  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.  (13)  And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  (14)  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  (15)  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil [one].  (16)  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  (17)  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  (18)  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  

We are sent into the world even as Jesus was sent into the world. How was He sent into the world? He had a mission. To preach the Kingdom of God! 
And so has he sent us into the world. (Matt 28:18-20)

(19)  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.  (20)  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  (21)  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

He left us here to bear witness of that great Light! That God may be glorified and His family increased.

Do we understand what it means to be behind enemy lines? We are not of this world. We are in enemy territory and the enemy is continually seeking to devour us.  We have been given a mission to accomplish. As good soldiers of Christ we obey our orders and endure hardness for his name’s sake and for the sake of others who live in darkness and fear. We are behind enemy lines. We must be vigilant.

The second construct we need to keep in mind is knowing that –

  2. A Thousand Shall Fall

There is chaos and confusion all around us. There is suffering, pain, famine, and disease. At the same time, we witness the foolish, the wicked, and the ungodly prospering. Our mission requires that we do not entangle ourselves in the affairs of this life by allowing our emotions to rule our hearts but let the truth and promises of God guide our way. But we must accomplish our mission in the middle of the war-torn battlefield filled with chaos and corruption in which we find ourselves.

We live, work, and breathe in the valley of the shadow of death but we abide in the secret place, hidden under the shadow of the Almighty, under his protection and care.

Psa 91:1-7 KJV  He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  (2)  I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.  (3)  Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.  (4)  He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.  (5)  Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;  (6)  Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.  (7)  A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

This is a certainty if we live long enough. I used to mis-quote this as, “a thousand may fall” however as I was preparing this sermon I noticed it doesn’t say “may”, it says, “shall”. When God says something shall happen, you can count on it!

What do we see today? We see the ungodly and the wicked who have prospered through corruption and exploitation. We see pride, and violence, and corruption everywhere.

Psa 73:3-17 KJV  For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.  (4)  For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.  (5)  They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.  (6)  Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.  (7)  Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.  (8)  They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.  (9)  They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.  (10)  Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.  (11)  And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?  (12)  Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.  (13)  Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.  (14)  For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.  (15)  If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.  (16)  When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;  (17)  Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

Until I came before God’s throne, then I understood their end…

Isa 30:12-14 KJV  Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon:  (13)  Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant.  (14)  And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit.

Sounds like where the nations of Israel are today. Ephraim, Manasseh, Judah, and the rest are tottering because they have trusted in their own might, their own knowledge, and science so called. (1Tim 6:20)

Hold your place in Isaiah 30, we’ll be back.

Hos 5:3-7 KJV  I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled.  (4)  They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.  (5)  And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.  (6)  They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them.  (7)  They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.

When the time comes it will only take a month for the nations of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Judah to fall, swelling out like a great wall whose breaking comes suddenly in an instant.

If we are mindful that the world’s man-made systems will crumble and a thousand shall fall at our side, we have no need to be anxious when we see things leading up to it. We will adjust our expectations in accordance with what God and Christ told us to expect. We can count on God’s exceeding great and precious promises and not be distraught by the chaos around us.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isa 26:3)

The third construct we need to keep in mind is understanding that –

  3. In Quietness and Confidence is Your Strength

The nation of Israel was a chosen people that God would train and instruct in his ways that they would prosper and grow in character and virtue. They were to be an exemplary nation to the other peoples around them of how to live God’s Way. They would see their prosperity and want to emulate them. As we know, the history of the nation of Israel was one of ups and downs, vacillating back and forth between prosperity and destitution. First one and then the other in synchronization with their moral fortitude and obedience to God’s Law or lack thereof.

God just wanted them to live in peace and quiet enjoying the blessings that come from putting their confidence and trust in Him. But they would not. Instead they despised his word and did whatever was right in their own eyes. Went their own way, man’s way, the way of Cain.

Isa 30:15-17 KJV  (15)  For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.  (16)  But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.  (17)  One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.

For the nations to be astonished and hiss at. (Jer 50:13)

We keep trying to make things happen by ourselves, by our power, by our might, by our strength. When instead we need to yield ourselves to God. Surrendering our ambitions, our goals, our striving to him. Aligning our motives and our ambitions with His.

What would God have us do when it all falls apart? Will we struggle and strive in our own might to fight our enemies? Or will we wait on the Lord?

Psa 27:13-14 KJV  I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  (14)  Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

That doesn’t mean we sit in the big chair with our hands out and our mouths open waiting for God to provide our every need. That means we seek His will with all diligence and then step out in faith knowing that we are in good stead with God. Knowing we have a good conscience before Him. The just shall live by faith and faith without action is dead.

Notice in the story when Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt and they were trapped between the mountains and up against the Red Sea what God said to Moses. This passage has always fascinated me.

The people are whining and crying, “O woe is me”. Why didn’t you just leave us in Egypt as slaves rather than lead us out here into the desert to die.

Exo 14:10-15 KJV  And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD.  (11)  And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?  (12)  Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.  (13)  And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.  (14)  The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.  (15)  And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:

What are you crying to me for? Go! Get on with it! “Stand still”, means “Stand fast!” Not just “stand there”. Move forward! Step out in faith trusting in God to make a way. Keep going. Enough of this “O woe is me” attitude. The just shall live by faith. But faith without works is dead. So… weary not in well doing. (Gal 6:9) Despite the chaos and corruption all around…

If we are mindful that in quietness and confidence is our strength as we put our faith and trust in God, we can calmly carry on with our daily routines focused on the mission at hand without being distracted and frustrated. We don’t need to be anxious feeling that we have to make it happen ourselves. Weary not in well doing, carry on, knowing that it is God who brings it about in his time. Not by our power or might, but by his Spirit.

The fourth construct we need to keep in mind is that having done all we can

  4.  Stand Therefore

We’re in a spiritual battle. It’s spiritual warfare for the hearts and minds of men, against the forces of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places.

Eph 6:10-18 KJV  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  (11)  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  (12)  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  (13)  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  (14)  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  (15)  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  (16)  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  (17)  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  (18)  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Do all we can to prepare. By the time we’re ready to face the day we should be fully prepared to do so. In full gear, “battle rattle” as the Army calls it. So stoked with gear, 70 pounds or so, that they rattle when the run. We too should be so stoked with faith and full of the Spirit of God that nothing can shake us. Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and be filled with hope and faith. (1Pet 1:13)

We’re in a spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of men beginning with our own. We must prepare our hearts and minds every day against the rulers of darkness in the valley of the shadow of death.

The sword is our only weapon, the rest of the gear is protective in nature. Keep it sharp, keep it polished, and keep it ever ready. Daily bible study is paramount to staying sharp, rightly dividing the word of truth.

And keep the lines of communication open, calling on each other for support when needed. Praying for each other persistently. Calling on God for backup whenever you need an airstrike to subdue a particularly fearsome foe.

But fear not what man can do to you. (Psa 118:6)

Heb 13:5-6 KJV  Let your conversation [conduct] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  (6)  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Stand therefore!

The night Jesus was arrested, he said that even though his disciples would be scattered, he was not alone. God the Father was with him. If God be for us, who can be against us?

Rom 8:31-39 KJV  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  (32)  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?  (33)  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.  (34)  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  (35)  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  (36)  As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  (37)  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  (38)  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  (39)  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God loves us. Nothing can separate us from that if we are faithful. We have nothing to fear.

Perfect love casts out all fear. If we love someone, we’re not afraid of them, are we? If we love someone and have compassion for them, we don’t fear them, do we?

1Jn 4:17-18 KJV  Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  (18)  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

We have been commanded to love –

1. Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength
2. Love your neighbor as yourself

If we have not love, we have nothing.

1Co 13:1-3 KJV  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  (2)  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  (3)  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

We are the sons and daughters of the Almighty Sovereign Ruler of the Universe. Let’s start acting like it. Not with a condescending arrogance but with a quiet confidence and a sense of love and service to others. We know troublous times are coming. A thousand shall fall.

Stand therefore. Not in defiance. But in confident assurance of God’s love. 

Stand with them and stand for them.

Be there for them when they fall. Be there for them when they falter.

With a selfless sense of inner peace and confidence and love. Seeing them through God’s eyes. Helping them to understand. Revealing the Truth to them as much as they’re able to comprehend. Let them see Christ in you. With faith in our God who is ever faithful to us.

Put on the whole armor of God recognizing where we are, behind enemy lines, in enemy territory. Girding up the loins of our minds. Bolstered and confident in God’s word, his promises. Going forth in a humble and quiet spirit carrying out our day to day routine ever mindful that we are representatives of God’s Kingdom, Ambassadors of Jesus Christ.

We can stand knowing that God will carry out his purpose in us. We can stand firmly on the Rock, unwavering in the storms of life. We can then help others who are struggling. And there’ll be times when we’re struggling too. Care for one another.

It is through daily preparation now that we can be certain that during a crisis we will respond in accordance with God’s will. Without it we are tossed about with every trial. We must prepare ourselves if we’re to have the proper mindset.

We are behind enemy lines.

A thousand shall fall.

In quietness and confidence is your strength.

Stand therefore!



Who Am I

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I strive to be as the Bereans spoken of in Acts 17:10-11 receiving the word with all readiness of mind, and searching the scriptures daily, whether those things are so. Check up on me in your own bible. Should you find me in error please let me know immediately. We must prove all things (1Thes 5:21) and rightly divide the word of truth (2Tim 2:15) together lest we be deceived. (Matt 24:24)

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Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

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