Deliver Us From Evil Within

Unsettled.

That’s the word that has described my spirit recently. Like a swift wind before the start of a torrential downpour whips at the trees and does mayhem to the stray hair about my face, so have the current events facing our world right now blown through my heart and my mind.

The thing is, so many have very different and very strong perspectives on this virus. The opposing arguing has become heated and ugly. I have my own opinions about things. Sometimes I share them, sometimes I refrain. But what I have seen grow within me as of late is something that has threatened to rob me of my firm footing and my peace and my joy. It’s been this unsettling. People are divided. But what is even worse is that Christians are devouring one another for sake of being right and sharing the truth. This should not be.

My question was and remains: As Christians, what should our response be to the madness surrounding us? 

I have been meeting with several ladies from my church on Zoom every Sunday afternoon to study the book of 1 Thessalonians together. It has been so timely, as a good amount of this letter that Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church 2000 years ago deals with the second coming of our Lord Jesus and how the church is to respond and live in light of His coming. In 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul is writing this fledgling church to tell them that because of their trials and persecution, he sent his dear friend, Timothy, to them to encourage them in their faith.

“so that no one would be ‘unsettled’ by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted.” 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4

There was that word, “unsettled”. Didn’t Jesus Himself prophesy that we would have trials and tribulations? But then, He also said, “Take heart! For I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33) He has overcome the world.

Sometimes it really doesn’t look like it. There is still sickness. There are still evil men in high positions. There are still broken lives. There is still sin without and within. It’s the sin within me that I must confront before I confront the evil outside of me. I must continually choose to humble myself and repent of my pride and my self-righteousness and cling to the truth of the gospel.

And here is the good news that we must remind ourselves daily and tell the world as long as we have breath: Jesus has already triumphed on the cross! He has judged the devil and this world by His death, burial and resurrection. And though evil still remains, Jesus is biding His time in order to give the opportunity to the world to repent from sin and to turn to Him and be saved. To be saved from the evil within us!

One day, maybe very soon, the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised, and Jesus will come back to this earth to take His proper role as King. True and final judgment will be issued upon evil and upon death once and for all.

As a believer in Jesus and as a citizen of His Kingdom, my response during these days must be settled conviction that He is with me and He will one day make everything right! I can rest in His sovereignty and His goodness and His justice. That doesn’t mean that we can’t vote or invest in causes that are near to our hearts or even disagree with others. But it does mean that our ultimate hope is in a King and a Kingdom that is coming to this earth.

Awake! Be sober and be watchful for we are children of the Day!

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A song I wrote entitled Children of the Day.

 

 

The First Hundred Years Are Hard

Jason and I visited a Messianic Jewish synagogue last week in celebration of Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets. A new experience for us, we fumbled with the Siddur, the prayer book, as we found it to read backwards to forwards, and we tried to keep up with reading the Hebrew. It was a three-hour celebration and we found ourselves unused to the longevity of the service. Yet, I enjoyed it immensely. We are in the “Days of Awe”, a time of preparation and anticipation of the Return of our Messiah, Yeshua. For the first time I listened, in person, to the shofar, the Ram’s Horn, practicing the final performance of the Ages when the shofar of God will sound and Yeshua Himself shall descend and raise up His bride to be with Him forever! I sang in Hebrew the words from Revelation 22, “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ Whoever is thirsty, let him come, and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”

calm blue sea during golden hour
Photo by Sasha Martynov on Pexels.com

The very next morning, right before my run, I received some sad news concerning the miscarriage of a lady from my church. I don’t personally know this family, but the announcement of death had such a sobering effect on the morning. It seemed to go against everything about the Feast of Trumpets, this celebration and anticipation of resurrection. I put my ear buds in and willed my body down the road, as the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” filled my soul. I remembered the words that my pastor’s wife had spoken to a gathering of women the week before. She was sharing her personal story of how the Lord had pulled her out of her despair over the death of several people in the church. The Lord had said to her heart, “Only I can touch life and death.” It’s moments like these that make me bow to the sovereignty and the holiness of God the Father.

I contemplated the Lord’s sovereignty in the midst of our suffering and our loss. I recalled the stories of so many of my precious friends and family members who are still in the middle of difficult trials of sickness, pain, betrayal, and trauma. My dear friend, Ruth, who is no stranger to suffering, disclosed to me a poignant saying that a wise woman once told her, “The first hundred years are hard.”

Yes. This is so true. Life is hard. Suffering is reality. Sin is still here on this earth. Things do not always go the way we had hoped or prayed. The first hundred years are hard.

But as I ran, scripture from the night before came to my mind. Scripture that speaks of something more powerful than suffering. More victorious than sin and death.

If it is only for this life that we have put our hope in the Messiah, we are more pitiable than anyone. But the fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a man, also the resurrection of the dead has come through a man. For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive.  1 Corinthians 15:19-22 CJB

Paul, the author of these words, had a close relationship with suffering. He understood what it meant to be hungry, poor, imprisoned, sick, burdened, beaten, and, ultimately, martyred for his faith. But he says that if we have hope only for this life here, we are to be pitied! His hope was solidly in the resurrection of Christ and in the eventual resurrection of all believers from the dead.

Listen, I tell you a secret- not all of us will die! But we will all be changed! It will take but a moment, the blink of an eye, at the final shofar. For the shofar will sound, and the dead will be raised to live forever, and we too will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 CJB

The first hundred, or however many years the Sovereign Lord gives us on this planet, may indeed be hard, but after that? After that, for us who love the Messiah Yeshua and have put our faith in Him, we will be forever with Him! And if He returns while we are still alive and remain, we will be caught up to meet our Lord in the air and changed by the resurrection of the dead!

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a rousing cry, with a call from one of the ruling angels, and with God’s shofar; those who died united with the Messiah will be the first to rise; then we who are left still alive will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we will always be with the Lord. So encourage each other with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 CJB

This is surpassing news, almost too good to be true! But it is our blessed hope amid the suffering of our day and why we keep looking to the clouds.