Many Americans are discovering ever new challenges in their struggle to handle the costs of medical insurance (in some cases just finding a decent policy is a major headache) along with the increasing amount of money to put food on the table, provide clothing for the children, increasing premiums for insurance on most everything and then there is that ever looming "fiscal cliff" that we've heard so much about. One thing seems certain - "we the people" are facing higher taxes and likely fewer deductions along with cut backs of government services. In one sense, this is all positive if these circumstances drive us away from trusting more in the government (be it state or federal) than we do in the Lord our God. Our benevolent "uncle Sam" is not the One who provides for all of our needs.
The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul told the Philippian believers that "...my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Phi 4:19 ESV) We either believe that and act upon that promise in faith or we don't - we look to ourselves or the government or some other ill-placed entity to do for us what only our Father in heaven can and will do. That doesn't mean we will not have financial ups and downs or be tested in our faithfulness to faithfully give back to the Lord the "firstfruits of our labors," but it does mean that we should daily commit ourselves to the Lord and trust Him in every aspect of life including life itself.
Al Baker has written a good piece on this and the backdrop of last Sunday's message (Dec. 23) dovetails nicely with what he has written for the encouragement and edification of the Lord's people. I hope you'll take a couple of minutes to read Al's article. May the Lord richly bless us as we enter another year of opportunity to walk closely with our Savior, to serve Him well and to love one another along with those around us who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior.
- Pastor Gary
Persevering in a State Gone Mad by Rev. Al Baker
Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, for they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! It will go badly for him, for what he deserves will be done to him Isaiah 3:10-11.
By the time Isaiah preaches this message to Israel and Judah, the end is near for both of them. He is writing around 750 B.C. and the wicked Assyrian nation is breathing down the neck of the northern kingdom of Israel. The end will come for them in only twenty-eight years or so. Judah will experience a reprieve for another one hundred and seventy years but they will suffer the same judgment at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian empire. What went wrong?Much earlier, after Yahweh's mighty deliverance of His covenant people from Egyptian bondage, after bringing them into the land flowing with milk and honey as He promised, after hearing their cries for help when under the control of wicked nations at the time of the judges, after the wicked priesthood of Hophni and Phinehas when Yahweh raised up good prophet Samuel, Israel cried out for a king like all the other nations around them (1 Samuel 8:1ff). They forgot their privileged status as the covenant people of God. Samuel was grieved over their request and prayed to Yahweh. Yahweh told Samuel not to grieve, that they had not rejected Samuel. Instead they had rejected Yahweh as their king, and this rejection amounted to idolatry (verse 8). Yahweh goes on to tell Samuel what will happen because of their decision. They will be conscripted into the army to fight a wicked king's wars (verse 11). They will be reduced to serfdom (verse 12, 13, 16). They will have their property confiscated and given to others who did not work to secure it justly (verse 14), a forced redistribution of wealth. They will be devastated by heavy taxation (verse 15, 17). And in the midst of such judgment they will finally wake up and understand what has happened, but it will then be too late for them (verse 18).
We can go back still further. In the garden of Eden, the serpent tempted Adam and Eve, convincing them that they could be as God. They bought the lie and plunged the human race into judgment and death. And in Genesis 11 the people decided they would build a city and tower that reached to heaven so that they could make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). In other words, they wished to rival God. They were in rebellion against Him. And ever since that time, man has repeatedly had a decision to make-either he will submit to God and His revelation, trusting Him as his king, ruler, and savior, or he will put himself in God's place. And this always leads to what we find in 1 Samuel 8-the people jettison God, His revelation, and His rule for another king. Man worships the state rather than the true and living God. This tendency has escalated since the French Revolution when men threw off the admittedly wicked rule of Louis XVI and the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and believed in the goddess of enlightenment. It has been downhill ever since.
Today, after drinking the Kool-Aid of leftist, socialist, atheistic, marxist, and communistic college professors, who for forty years have indoctrinated our college students, we now have a nation of twenty and thirty somethings who long for Europe-a society that eschews marriage, preferring instead live-in arrangements; a community of sexual perversion where evil (adultery, fornication, and homosexuality) is called good, and marital fidelity is called prudish or puritanical; a culture of death that embraces abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia; a people who now believe the government owes them a cradle to grave protection including health care, mortgage bailouts, and monthly income; a nation which condemns the rich without discrimination, which believes the rich are unpatriotic when they resist the growing stranglehold of government intrusion; a country willing to drive little cars, to pay higher and higher taxes, and to know nothing of providing for one's family so that their children can have more than they.
God promises those who worship the state, who look to the government for their salvation, who continue in the idolatry of statism, that things will go badly for them. To be sure, anyone who worships the state, or any other god for that matter, can expect eternal perdition, alone, away from the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9); but he can also expect that things will go badly for him while he remains here on this earth. You see, one's idols will also disappoint him. They will not deliver. Consider the people of Greece who have placed their hope in statism! The real tragedy of statism is that the people it says it will help (the poor and oppressed) are actually the first ones hurt, and their suffering is far worse. The examples of such are replete in our culture. We look to the state to educate our children and our inner city schools are almost totally useless. We continue to throw millions of dollars into new school construction but the performance of most students continues to be abysmal. Those with little money have no choice but to put their children in them and generally watch helplessly as their children leave school, unable to read or write. But those with money find another way. They move to the suburbs. They put their children in private schools which put a premium on education. So, unless there is a mighty revival which turns the hearts of our people back to God, unless there is a powerful work of the Holy Spirit which regenerates millions of people, resulting in a transformation of multitudes, then we will surely continue our slide into Sodom and Gomorrah.
But what of those who are righteous, of those who seek to live by God's word, who seek to honor Christ? Isaiah promises that things will go well with them, that they will eat the fruit of their actions. What does this mean for you, assuming you are seeking to live for Christ, looking to Him for your sustenance and not looking to the state for your salvation? Obey the law of God, walk in Biblical holiness, and continue to work hard in providing for your family and God will continue to track you down and bestow blessing on you (Deuteronomy 28:1-14, Matthew 7:24-27). I am not saying you will not suffer financial hardship. This very well may be our lot with the fiscal cliff looming large on our horizon. However it would not surprise me at all if you continue with some measure of financial prosperity. You will continue to work hard. You will find a way to make it. You will not quit. You will not look to the government for your salvation. You will continue to give to the Lord's work. You will continue to support inner city gospel work, including Christian schools which seek to break the cycle of poverty by teaching self-reliance. You will continue to teach your children the doctrines of our faith. You will continue to seek first Christ's kingdom. You will provide an excellent education for your children. You will continue to teach your children the values you have learned from your parents and grandparents. It will go well with you, if you keep covenant with your God.
So, what must you do as you begin 2013? Renew your commitment, no matter what happens, to the God of the covenant of grace. Commit yourself to obey Him, to seek Him, to make Him known to others, to teach your children well, to pray for a mighty movement of God. Do not allow yourself to become bitter, resentful, or anxious. Our God will supply our every need according to His riches in Christ Jesus. Live well on the earth and cultivate faithfulness.