Sunday, August 24, 2008

Waiting Patiently for the Lord

The Holy Spirit recently blessed me while I was reading through Psalm 41. The psalmist is experiencing intense difficulties that brought him to the point of despair:

12For evils beyond number have surrounded me; My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see; They are more numerous than the hairs of my head, And my heart has failed me.” (NASB).

Have you ever felt like that? I have been in the place where evils have surrounded me; where my heart aches and I can no longer make sense of my circumstances.

But this psalm doesn’t begin here at verse 12. He doesn’t start by expressing his worry. Quite the contrary, he describes how he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord was faithful to hear him (vs 1). As Christians, this is precisely what we’re supposed to do when we encounter difficulty. Whether we need to make an important decision or face difficult circumstances, we are first to pray to our God. The glorious thing about these encounters with God is that He cares for us in the midst of these times. The Maker of heaven and earth condescends far to hear us! What comfort and joy this brings the regenerated heart! To have the knowledge from the holy Scriptures that our Creator desires to hear us is overwhelming, for He “inclines” Himself to us.

When we place this truth in its proper perspective we are able to be truly grateful for such a communion with God. The Bible informs us that all men are guilty from the moment of our conception. Not only that, but we daily offend God by breaking His Law. Even after experiencing salvation we continue to disregard His righteous standard and live as though there were no God! Because of our many sins it is a wonder that God’s patience does not run out toward us.

Of course we know that God’s wrath was appeased because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on behalf of His elect people. Praise be to our triune Lord of majesty for such a perfect work of salvation!

David continues throughout the psalm, expressing thankfulness to God for the ways He has provided deliverance. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm” (verse 2, NASB).

One of my prayers of late has been to ask God for wisdom in my life, which we know He grants liberally (James 1:5). Faithfully, in the same sitting, the Holy Spirit again ministered to me as I continued my study time in Proverbs:

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:5-8, NASB).

If you are a faithful Christian, I imagine you are well acquainted with these words. I grew up hearing them. The danger with being overly familiar with the words of Scripture is that we do not allow them to impact us as we ought. We zone out because we have become so accustomed to this admonition from the Lord.

As I read over these words, the Holy Spirit answered my prayer asking for wisdom. Rather than leaning on my own wisdom – as though my thoughts and feelings were somehow more intelligent than God’s – I should lean on the Rock of ages.

Once I acknowledge Him, then He will make my paths straight. Have I done that? Have I acknowledged Him in all my ways, or just some? Do I consider myself wise? Do I fear the Lord’s anger and turn from evil? The answer to each of these questions will bring about specific consequences. When I trust in the Lord with all of my heart and lean on Him, He will heal me and refresh me. When I do not trust in the Lord or look to Him for wisdom to make decisions, He will not heal me and refresh me. The text could not be clearer.

The promise that God offers to His saints is marvelous, isn’t it? God, the sovereign Ruler of the Universe, wants His creatures to rely on Him and His strength. It is the nature of sinful men to trust in themselves, to rely on their feelings and emotions, and their way of thinking. We are not like the world in this regard. No, we filter our thoughts, ideas and feelings through the filter of God’s holy Word. I confess that this is something I must work hard to improve on, because I have no choice. I am a slave of righteousness now, and I want nothing but to always please my King, the Lord of Glory.

I hope this was an encouragement to you,


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

World War III, or the next Cold War?

I was a little tyke during the Cold War, and by the looks of it I will have a chance to understand what it is like living during a second one. Russia’s aggression towards Georgia is unbelievably barbaric. First, a couple things: Russia invaded Georgia while claiming to support Georgian rebels seeking independence. My best bud, Scott, compared this little rebellion to the L.A. Riots not too long ago. Obviously it doesn’t fit perfectly, but I still think this is an excellent comparison! From the first moment of Russia’s unwarranted invasion of Georgian territory, Georgia has repeatedly refused to accept a Russian presence there. The Georgian President, an ally with the West, met with 9 presidential leaders from other nations who were formerly part of the Soviet Union. This meeting was quite unusual because it is difficult to acquire that many presidential figures in one meeting place. I’m sure they all know that unless a firm response from western nations is given Russia may not stop with Georgia.

Experts have pointed out that the kind of invasion performed by Russia’s military would have taken months to plan, which means that the Russian government was waiting for the right opportunity to invade and potentially reacquire Georgia.

What is Russia thinking? Some political analysts have speculated that Russia has no intention of reorganizing into the Soviet Union, but would like to expand the Russian empire.

Also, I’ve heard other speculations that Russia’s current president, Medvedev (try saying that 10 times fast), is only a figurehead and that Putin is the real power behind the curtain (no pun intended). If you know more on this, please let me know.

Just last week the United States finalized a deal to install a missile defense system in Poland. The Polish Prime Minister commented on the deal, “‘It is no good when assistance comes to dead people. Poland wants to be in alliances where assistance comes in the very first hours of – knock on wood – any possible conflict," Tusk said.” LOL! This is one of the single greatest statements I have ever heard.

What was Russia’s response to this deal? Moscow had this to say, “Poland, by deploying (the system) is exposing itself to a strike – 100 percent.” So let me get this straight … if Poland doesn’t have a missile defense system they are open to attack. If Poland installs a missile defense system they are open to attack. What a lose-lose situation for Poland!

It has been a sad thing to turn on the news recently because I know that there will be some difficult things to read about. If Russia keeps up this behavior we will either enter into World War III, or the next Cold War.