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How To Trust In God While Your World’s Falling Apart | What Christians Want To Know

How can we hold on in a world that’s falling apart, even when financial or physical hardships hit us hard?

Pandemics and Economics

Who would have thought just a few months ago that a deadly pandemic would sweep the globe, ruining or closing thousands of businesses, forcing millions to the unemployment lines, and have families scrambling to make it through the month. Boy, hasn’t the world changed in the last few months…and things may never be the same. Some of the largest entities (sports, entertainment, etc.) and companies have been hit the hardest, and the things we took for granted just a few months ago, are now not as easy to access or we have no access at all. The ripple effect this pandemic has created has hit every nation in the world; some harder than others, and Covid-19 hasn’t even peaked yet! The sobering thing is, this situation is still fluid so long-term planning just about becomes impossible. No one really knows where this pandemic will end…if it does end! So what are believers supposed to do when things really get difficult and it hits close to home? When we end up with too much month left and too little money, we can quickly get into serious financial hardships. And this pandemic’s effect does not discriminate. Some of the biggest companies have suffered just as bad as some of the lowest paid employees have.

Should Christians Receive Unemployment Benefits

A Lack of Trust

I know you’ve heard this verse which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path” (Prov 3:5-6), but do we do that? God does not want us to trust in ourselves. The Pharisees trusted in their own righteousness, which was actually self-righteousness, so they did not trust in God for their salvation (Luke 18:9) but in their own works. That’s dangerous ground to stand on. We cannot stand on our own merit. It must be on the merit of the perfect Lamb of God. That’s the only way we can be seen as righteous before God (2 Cor 5:21). But trusting in God does not only include our salvation…it includes are destination….our entrance into the kingdom; our trust in God includes every facet of our lives, and that includes our finances. He knows exactly what the situation is, and if it looks dire right now, remember, He holds the future. He won’t forsake you when you really need Him the most. We must take God at His Word and He tells us to

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). The author of Hebrews quotes an Old Testament Psalm (118:6), writing, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me” (Heb 13:6). Claim this promise my friend. God cannot lie, so this is true for you and it’s true for me, even in an economic depression.

Fear versus Trust

Maybe you can look at fear this way; fear is a lack of trust. If we trust something or someone, we’re reassured that things will go well, but if we fear something or someone, its means we’re not trusting it and not trusting God too. I’m not sure you can be really fearful about something and say you trust God. That is, I don’t see how we can fear our financial state and still say we trust God. I’m not accusing anyone, but rather, I admit to this sin. I know God’s got this, but yet I sometimes lay awake at night, thinking, “How am I going to get through this?” But then I realized, I shouldn’t be saying, “I don’t know what I’m going to do now?” but rather, “God, I don’t know what you’re going to do, but I trust you and praise you in the storm.” With this, God is very much pleased. I just wished I was better at it, so I admit it’s hard to trust God at times.

Building Trust

How can we build up our trust in God? We can remember the former things He’s done in the past. Many people have prayer journals they can look back to and see how God has been so faithful in answering prayers in the past. This means, He’ll be faithful in the future. If our faith is in our pocket book, and we depend on our bank balance to give us peace of mind, then we’ve never read, or forgotten about the truth that “Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf” (Prov 11:28). To build your trust in God, read His Word, which is truth. Solomon said, “Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord” (Prov 16:20). I don’t trust myself with the future for one second, because“Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool” (Prov 28:26a), and I don’t want to prove to be a fool. I bet you don’t either.

Conclusion

To have strong faith, we can read accounts in the Bible where God did the impossible. I know we must all “hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught”(Titus 1:9a). I will claim God’s promises to be faithful to His children, and “again, “I will put my trust in him” (Heb 2:13a), day after day. In my heart I know that I can trust God with everything, even when “everything” seems to be falling apart, so “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). What about you? Do you trust in God? If you’ve never trusted in God, you will be judged after death (Heb 9:27) or at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:12-15), so make today your day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2), and put your trust in Christ, because “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” (Rom 10:11).

Here is some related reading for you: 6 Ways to Praise God During Hard Times

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

— Read on www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/how-to-trust-in-god-while-your-worlds-falling-apart/

The Theater of God’s Redemption | Ligonier Ministries

In every generation, every culture there is a dominant prevailing spirit. The Germans coined a word for it, Zeitgeist, a term that joins two common ideas together. Zeit is the German word for “time,” Geist is the German word for “spirit.” So Zeitgeist means “spirit of the time” or “spirit of the age.”

The contemporary Zeitgeist in which the Christian lives is one of secularism. The emphasis is on this world, on this time. Little attention is given to things that are above and beyond this world. Eternity is rarely considered, save for brief moments at a graveside. What counts is the here and now. To live for the moment, for the gusto of the present, is the spirit of this world.

The secular spirit of this world has its own modern trends and emphases, but in its essence it is not new. Every generation has its own form of secularism. We are earthbound creatures. Our focus is on this world.

The same was true in Jesus’ day. He repeatedly called His disciples to look beyond the present. He lifted our gaze to the eternal. “Store up treasures in heaven,” He said. He called us to weigh the matters in the balance of eternity “What is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

The world or the soul? Please the world or please God? This is the issue of every generation. To be conformed to this world is to risk the loss of one’s eternal soul. The world places little value on the soul. A body in the hand is worth two souls in the bush, according to the Zeitgeist of our generation. The world spirit invites us to play now and pay later, though the emphasis is on the now. This is the popular way to go.

For the Christian to resist the seduction of this world he must risk going against the tide. He must be willing to risk the loss of pleasing men to gain pleasing God. Hence Jesus said, “Blessed are you when they shall revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).

The key words in this beatitude are “for my sake.” The nonconformity we are called to is not simply nonconformity for nonconformity’s sake. Anyone can call attention to himself by being a maverick. It is the “for my sake” that separates cheap nonconformity from the genuine article. There is no virtue in being “out of it” indiscriminately. Our nonconformity must be selective. It must be at the points that matter.

It is easy to trivialize nonconformity. We can reduce this to simplistic externals as the Pharisees did. Authentic nonconformity rests upon transformation. The apostle Paul adds a positive mandate to the negative prohibition. He said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

It is the prefix that must be changed. The prefix “con-” (“with”) must yield to the prefix “trans-,” which means “across,” “beyond,” or “over.” It is not enough for Christians to drop out of society. The call to transformation does not mean withdrawal from the world. We need no more monasteries. We are to go beyond the forms of this world. We are to effect changes in the world. The perspective of Jesus is beyond the forms of this world. We neither surrender to the world nor flee from the world. We are to penetrate the world with a new and different spirit.

There is a timeworn Christian saying that has become a cliché through its use: “We are to be in the world, but not of the world.” To be of the world is to be worldly. It is to conform to t his world. To drop out of the world is to be a nonconformist without transformation.

The theater of God’s redemption is this world. It is to this world that God came in Christ. Christ refused to allow His disciples to hide in an upper room with the doors locked by reason of fear. No booths were allowed to be built on the mountain of Transfiguration. We are called to be Christ’s witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Jerusalem is in this world. Judea is in this world. Samaria is in this world. The ends of the earth are still on this earth. So we should not flee this world. But, oh, how many Christians try to do so. And in doing so, they may actually be displeasing the God who wants the world to be redeemed, not escaped.

This excerpt is adapted from Pleasing God by R.C. Sproul.

— Read on www.ligonier.org/blog/theatre-gods-redemption/

The Signs of Christ’s Coming, Part 2 | Grace to You: Radio Podcast

Living in the expectation of Christ’s return changes your approach to everyday life. Today on Grace to You, John MacArthur explains how that mindset is crucial to true godliness. Don’t miss his message “Jesus Is Coming!”

cdn.gty.org/podcast/20200706.mp3

The Centrality of Man in Creation — Grace to You Blog

The creation of the human race was the central object of God’s creative purpose from the beginning. In an important sense, everything else was created for humanity, and every step of creation up to that point had one main purpose: to prepare a perfect environment for Adam.

READ MORE

via The Centrality of Man in Creation — Grace to You Blog

The Coronavirus, Humility, and Civil Disobedience — Biblical Counseling Coalition

“God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
(James 4:6)

Civil Humility

As I have observed the discussions and debates regarding the pandemic, both in the political sphere and ecclesiastical spheres, the above verse has continually been on my mind. The pandemic should make all of us much humbler for many reasons. As we sit at home, we all have been reminded that we are not in control of our plans or schedules (Prov. 16:9). In the early days of the crisis, government leaders and medical experts made bold statements, including the assertion that the coronavirus could not be transmitted through social contagion and predictions that the U.S. was not at risk. These proved to be embarrassingly wrong. As the pandemic spread, some experts made dire predictions about contagion and death rates, which appear to have been overstated. At present, there are loud voices saying that it is relatively safe to end the lockdown, and there are those who say that we must continue to apply restrictive measures for many more months until a vaccine or cure is developed (if such is even possible).

I have a great deal of sympathy for the governmental and scientific authorities. No one in our lifetime has had to lead through a crisis of this nature and magnitude. We should, therefore, be very patient with those in leadership. It will be easy years from now to criticize them in hindsight. In addition to praying that they will lead wisely, I am praying that they would be humble, admitting that they can’t be certain as they try to make the best decisions they can based upon the limited data they have at any given moment.

Perhaps our leaders in government, science,[1] and business are having a Nebuchadnezzar moment. The proud king declared, “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dan. 4:30). We have boasted about a booming economy, full employment, peace, and incredible technological and scientific achievements. Yet, in a few months, just as proud Nebuchadnezzar was humbled by God (Dan. 4:31ff), the entire world has been brought to its knees. So, as we pray for our leaders and our nation that they would wisely solve the pandemic problem so that life could return to “normal,” pray also that God will accomplish His good purpose through these hard times. I also realize that the purposes of God’s kingdom may not be best served by a return to “normal” (see the book of Habakkuk).

Personal Humility among Christians

I have been very concerned by how Christians (mostly on social media) are joining in the fray about the coronavirus. Some side with those who believe that the government should lift restrictions immediately. They argue that the economic damage done by the lockdowns is greater than the health issues caused by the spread of the virus. Others side with those who believe that the danger is great and that lifting restrictions should be extremely gradual and cautious. Each side posts articles and expert opinions that support their point of view. There are also some who are attracted to alarming theories that the government is taking advantage of the crisis in order to permanently expand its power over ordinary citizens.

One of the Greatest Threats That the Pandemic Poses Is to Our Unity

These disagreements can impact the unity of God’s people as we consider when and how churches should start meeting again. I speak to pastors who are receiving pressure from congregants from both sides. Some militantly insist that churches must resume meeting immediately both as an expression of our freedom of religion and because they believe that the risks of meeting together are minimal. Others insist that we must continue to livestream our services and not meet in person until the government agrees that it is safe for us to meet again. People on both sides of this issue are passionate. Different churches are taking different approaches.

As of this writing, we are still not sure of the infection rate and the mortality rate of this disease; therefore, none of us knows with certainty how great the risk of meeting together may be. Years from now, we may realize that we were much more restrictive than necessary. Or we may realize that we should have been more cautious. What we do know is that we should be humble (back to James 4:6). We can’t be sure what the outcome of a given decision may be or what the future will hold. “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Prov. 26:12). Just as some politicians and scientists regret their careless misstatements from January 2020, some Christians who are making very strong statements may be embarrassed in the future when more is known. We also should be humble and gentle with each other. The brother who takes a different view from yours sincerely believes that he is right—and you could be wrong (you have been wrong before). Your church leaders are sincerely trying to make wise decisions in the midst of a complex situation with limited data (and sometimes under great pressure) as they decide when and how to start meeting again or how to deal with distributing the Lord’s Supper. Please be humble and patient with one another.

The Coronavirus and Civil Disobedience

As I have observed the debates over what the church should do in the face of government restriction on worship, I would like to put forward a grid (not my unique creation) by which we might process the challenging questions posed to churches in the midst of the coronavirus.

  1. When the government exercises its legitimate authority, we must obey. Both Jesus and Paul taught that we should submit to legitimate civil authority. This may include cases in which our rulers are immoral and unreasonable, like Caesar (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17; Matt. 22:21).
  2. When the government commands us to sin, we must disobey. When the apostles were commanded to stop preaching the gospel, they responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). They had been commanded by Jesus to evangelize the world (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20), and no governmental authority had the right to silence them. We must realize that when we honor God above governmental authority, we may suffer. The apostles were often persecuted for their faithfulness to Christ.

    When we lived in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s, the government there forbade all non-Islamic religious activities. Yet, those of us who believe that God commands us to gather together for fellowship and worship (Heb. 10:25) continued to meet in homes, embassies, and even on beaches as an underground church. Occasionally, some of us would be arrested or deported. The house church movement in China operates the same way today. Another example of when disobedience would be necessary was when the authorities in China attempted to compel pregnant women to kill their unborn babies through abortion.

  3. When the government exceeds its authority, we may choose whether to obey or to disobey. When we disobey, we must be ready to face the consequences. For example, I believe that the decision of how many children to have and how to educate them rests with parents and not the State. When visiting Wuhan, China, years ago, I met an amazing couple who courageously chose to go against the government’s one-child policy by having a second baby. Then as their children grew up, they again went against government policy as they home-schooled them. I believe that they were free to make both of those decisions, but they were taking the risk of governmental reprisal. Thus far, the Lord has protected them.

Now let us apply these three principles to our current situation:

  1. When the government is exercising its legitimate authority, we must obey. In the midst of a pandemic, the State might rightly place certain restrictions on large gatherings as a part of its function of protecting its citizens against harm (1 Pet. 2:14). Most of the initial restrictions on public assemblies were not aimed at Christians in particular but were designed to limit all kinds of gatherings for the sake of public health.
  2. When the government commands us to sin, we must disobey. Some would argue that the government’s continuing to prohibit our meeting together, even as other restrictions ease, is preventing us from fulfilling biblical commandments to worship God as we hear His Word, pray together, sing His praises, and observe the New Testament ordinances.[2]
  3. When the government exceeds its authority, we may choose whether to obey or to disobey. I believe that many of our current choices fall into the third category. In some cases, it appears that the government improperly discriminates against religious groups as it classifies certain activities as essential while classifying worship as non-essential.[3] For example, churches have been explicitly told that they may not serve communion. Yet one can go to the liquor store and be handed a bottle of vodka (or in some states, marijuana). Some also believe that many government leaders have exceeded their legal/constitutional authority through some of the unnecessary restrictions they have unilaterally imposed. A church could choose to disobey these “illegal” rules and then fight for their rights in court. It is somewhat ironic that some of our present government leaders have in the past disobeyed laws with which they disagreed.[4]

In cases of government overreach, I believe that we may be free to choose whether or not to obey. For example, a church may decide that they will exercise their freedom to gather for worship, including communion. They would be wise to do so in a manner that would be least likely to provoke a governmental response[5] and would be safest for their members. For example, they could follow the social distancing and hygiene standards practiced in other allowable settings.[6]

Back to Humility

Some churches will choose to push ahead and use their freedom to worship. Others may wait until the government allows them to gather again. These issues are similar to the issues of conscience, which threatened to divide the early church (Rom. 14). We need to be gracious and patient with sincere brothers and sisters who love Christ but reach different conclusions on difficult issues. James, who reminded us that “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6) has one final exhortation for us: Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12).

Question for Reflection

How have your conversations and social media posts promoted unity (or disunity) during this time?

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on May 11, 2020, at www.jimnewheiser.com and has been re-posted with permission from Dr. Newheiser. The original blog can be found here.

[1] In general, I think there needs to be more humility in the field of science. We are often told “science says,” or “you must believe the science.” But the reality is that “science” does not speak with one voice. Different scientists with different worldviews and different personalities will interpret the data differently and reach different conclusions. Many revered scientists have been very wrong.

[2] Those taking this position would probably assume that this can be done in a reasonably safe way.

[3] I also acknowledge that some inconsistencies are just illogical and not necessarily discriminatory.

[4] The governor of California, when he was Mayor of San Francisco, defied the law at the time by issuing same-sex marriage licenses. He also has defied the federal government by declaring sanctuary for illegal aliens in his state. Ironically, there have recently been local officials in California who similarly refused to enforce the governor’s directives.

[5] For example, when we lived in Saudi Arabia, we tried to structure our gatherings in a way that would not call undue attention to what we were doing–meeting in multiple locations, avoiding large crowds, encouraging people not to arrive all at once, etc.

[6] The elder serving communion could wear gloves and place individual cups on a sanitized tray which would only be touched by the user.

via The Coronavirus, Humility, and Civil Disobedience — Biblical Counseling Coalition

Down in the Valley (Part 2 of 2) – Programs – Truth For Life

When life doesn’t go as planned, how do we avoid falling into the trap of despair? That’s our focus as we examine a dark season in Elijah’s life. Study along with us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg. 
Listen…

July 6 – Pathway to apostasy — Reformed Perspective

For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, Lies which their fathers followed. – Amos 2:4

Scripture Reading: Amos 2:4-5; Deut. 30:11-20

The nations surrounding Israel and Judah were without excuse for their transgressions. How much more so the people of Judah who had the benefit of His Word! “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48).

Judah had tremendous spiritual blessings: the royal house of David, the temple of the Lord, the priesthood, and the law of God. But they had exchanged these gifts of God’s covenant love for vanity. Amos describes Judah’s descent into apostasy in three steps: despising the law, not keeping His commandments, and following after lies. It began as a heart attitude towards the law, became a settled habit of disobedience, and ended in the embrace of idols.

Apostasy doesn’t happen overnight. It begins unseen in the heart. The heart is the battleground for faithful endurance. “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov.4:23). How do we keep our heart? The Spirit has given us a toolbox for keeping our hearts. These include corporate worship, Bible study, and prayer. There simply are no substitutes for these means. But as we use them, we must not make them ends in themselves, as simply another set of duties to maintain.

Keep your eyes fixed on the goal: knowing God. “Love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.”

Suggestions for prayer

Ask the Father to guard your heart and the hearts of your loved ones. Pray for the Spirit to revive and bless your communion with God through the means of grace.

Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.

via July 6 – Pathway to apostasy — Reformed Perspective

Faith and Courage of America’s Founders – Liberty Counsel

In today’s society where some people are frantically trying to erase America’s history, the signers of the Declaration of Independence, a document which maintained that the thirteen American states were free of British rule, clearly revealed their faith and sacrifice to ensure that this nation was founded upon Judeo-Christian principles and religious freedom.

A few months before signing the Declaration, Patrick Henry, a founder who served as the first and sixth post-colonial governor of Virginia, addressed the Virginia Convention and declared: “We are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.”

John Hancock, the presiding officer over the Second Continental Congress, became the first representative to sign the Declaration on July 4, 1776. Hancock left a sizable signature which started the modern-day idea of leaving a “John Hancock” on paperwork. In fact, according to a popular saying, he signed his name large so that King George could read it without his glasses. While that may or may not be true, it is factual that one of America’s most ardent patriots put his life on the line with that signature. If the Revolutionary War was lost or he was caught, Hancock would have been hanged by the British. Yet Hancock said, “Principally and first of all, I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it: and my body I recommend to the earth. Nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mercy and power of God.”

All 56 patriots who signed the Declaration took their duties so seriously to the people of the new nation that they made a promise “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” They signed the Declaration of Independence knowing that the penalty would be death if they were captured, and that pledge could literally cost them their lives and fortunes.

As a result, 17 men lost property as a result of British raids and 12 had homes destroyed. Five lost their fortunes in helping fund the Continental Army and state militias battle the redcoats, five were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died. One had two sons imprisoned on a British starving ship, one had a son killed in battle, one had his wife die from harsh prison treatment, and nine signers died in the Revolutionary War.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “The founders were deeply influenced by a Judeo-Christian worldview that gave them great courage to sacrifice everything in order to establish this great nation. Yet, for many of them, signing America’s birth certificate was their own death sentence. However, they knew that our rights come from God, not government, and that the sole purpose of government is to protect these inalienable rights whatever the cost. As we celebrate America’s birthday this week, we must continue to protect the priceless gift of our religious freedom and never forget the cost that was paid for it.”

SOURCE: Liberty Counsel

— Read on lc.org/newsroom/details/070120-faith-and-courage-of-americas-founders