Last week, the Holy Spirit gave us insight into the Ring of Fire in the Middle Eastern and North African Muslim countries surrounding Israel, God’s nation, into which we are en-grafted by faith in Jesus Christ, and of which we are spiritual citizens. And the Holy Spirit revealed the farce, the deception, of the clamor for democracy in the countries of that Ring of Fire: a farce because they clamor not for the liberty of democratic ideals, but for submission – Islam – to Sharia Law, and they clamor also for the opportunity, even more so, to be part of Jihad against Israel and its supporters; and a deception, because so many in the rest of the world are swept along in a euphoria of delight that “democracy” is finally coming to that region.
It is time for us to recall the voices, the wisdom, of our nation’s founding fathers, and of other philosophers of those times in the late 1700’s, clarifying that true freedom was found in the protection of the God-given, “inalienable” rights of man, extending to the minority, not just to the majority. Because, in its results, true and pure democracy does not protect the rights of the minority, but only the desires of the majority, and so democracy is, as the founding fathers and philosophers knew, just mob rule, or as they often put it, the “tyranny of the majority”. Thus, our government is set up as a republic, not a true and pure democracy, so that we have checks and balances, and a system of representation, to provide for protection of the God-given, unalienable, rights of individuals – of minorities, not just free rein and submission to the will of the majority. Many people confuse these important concepts and we need to be reminded of these important concepts in order to see more clearly what is happening in the Middle East and in North Africa, in the Ring of Fire, and to pierce and remove our own veils of deceptions about what is going on in that region, and in the applauding world. Truly, this push to democracy there is a farce and a deception, greatly increasing the risks to the security of Israel and of the United States and of the protection of the God-given, “unalienable” rights of individuals, minorities, such as freedom of religion, speck and assembly.
When we have such deception, we have confusion, because things are not as they seem to be, and when we have confusion, we are obviously double-minded, and therefore unstable in all of our ways (James 1: 5-8).
So, today, the Holy Spirit has spoken and said of these world circumstances in which we are all personally caught up, “Be of Good Cheer”, and that is the title of our message today, Be of Good Cheer.
Does that mean for us to adopt a simplistic, “What? Me worry?” (Mad Magazine, Alfred E Neuman) attitude and philosophy of life? No, it means that we need to get such focus, such a grasp, on the reality of the supernatural, spiritual, and spirit- filled lives that God has promised us, and makes available to us, that we are not again, in any way, deceived by the confusions of our times, and that, through it all, we know God and His word, and, through it all, we know and believe in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and, through it all, we are led, comforted and trained by the Holy Spirit.
If we get out of our habits and ruts of double-mindedness and confusion, and un-clear thinking and hoping, we will, through our faith, be empowered to join God in His clarity of knowledge and thought as He considers, Psalm 2, the vain schemes of nations against Him, and scoffs and laughs, knowing that those very nations – ours and those in the Ring of Fire and all across the globe – are now (Matthew 28: 18) given to the authority of Jesus Christ for (Psalm 2) His inheritance and possession, and that (Psalm 2) He shall break the offending nations to pieces like clay, and,Revelation 21, in the dialectical timing of God’s march through history, He will bring forth a new heaven and a new earth, and the old heaven and old earth, with all of its nations, will be no more.
So, like it says in Psalm 2: 10-12, “Now, therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” So, my fellow Christians, let’s be wise kings over our own, personal lives! Wise up!!
Part of wising up, or “getting wisdom” is to gain the understanding that, usually when there is a collision/a conflict, between belief and unbelief, between idolatry and obedience, then doubt, double-mindedness and instability create confusion in the minds of many people, if not of most people.
Let’s look at the experience Paul had, Acts 19, in Ephesus, where he had been preaching and teaching and ministering for over two years: Ephesus was the home of the Temple of Diana, a pagan goddess, and considered itself to be the “temple guardian” of the goddess Diana, and “of the image which fell down from Zeus”, another pagan god (Acts 19: 35). Some in the town tried to copy the supernatural healings and exorcisms that God had worked, by the authority of the Name of Jesus, through the hands of Paul (Verses 11-17), but it didn’t work out too well for them. Here is what happened (Verses 15-16), “And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know but who are you?’ Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them (seven sons of a Jewish chief priest, Verse 14), overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of the house naked and wounded.”
This event made the news of that day, and became widely known to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus, and two really important things happened: fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, Verse 17. But then, the leader of the “workers union” that made silver idols/shrines of Diana and sold them throughout Asia for what is slyly termed “no small profit” (Verse 24), called his fellow craftsman together and said, Verses 25-27, “Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade. Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands. [See, Exodus 20: 1-5] So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.” This union leader, leader of the silversmith craftsman’s association, or whatever it was, proclaimed that Paul’s teachings about God and Jesus would hurt the union members financially.
This produced a union full of wrath (Verse 28) and brought the entire city of Ephesus into “confusion” (Verse 29), and the “whole city” (Verse 29) “rushed into the theater with one accord, having seized . . . Paul’s travel companions”. Verse 32 confirms the continuing confusion: “Some therefore cried out one thing and some another, for the assembly was confused, and most of them did not know why they had come together.” Well, the Jews pushed forward into this mob scene a Jewish fellow named Alexander, after Paul was persuaded by his disciples not to go into the mob at the theater, and Alexander persuaded the mob to break up and to pursue any remedies they might have in a court of law. So, the theater emptied.
In Ephesus, when genuine fear of God fell on people who believed, and the Name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, and the truth was preached, and the Lord God chose to move supernaturally with healings and exorcisms and the revelation of truth and knowledge, that focus on God and Jesus created a confrontation of genuine belief in God and Jesus with unbelief and idolatry (and those two always go together), and that confrontation produced a great confusion, accompanied by wrath and distrust and fear of circumstances.
We can look at the Ring of Fire in the Middle East and North Africa, and we can look at the looming financial crises in our American governments, unions, businesses and families. When we do this we see the ways in which the people of our country, our state, our county, and our towns, and others in similar places all over the world, have come to rely on and put our, and their, trust in governments of men, despite our public claim that it is “In God We Trust”.
When we see those things with a clear and focused eye, and with a genuine fear of God, and with a heart determined like flint to magnify the Name of the Lord Jesus, we see the wide-spread deceptions and farces, the wide-spread unbelief, the wide-spread wrong-belief, all of which our God names as idolatry, and in the collision of all of these we see the world’s confusion, and sometimes we have it ourselves, and are also confused.
Confusion, or what anarchists, progressives, socialists and Muslims call “chaos”, is what those people want, at least if you read their materials. All of those but the Muslims see confusion or chaos as a means, a hallway, to pass through to get to new world order of government; the Muslims believe that chaos is what they can trigger to bring the Twelfth Imam, Muhammed al-Mahdi.
But that is not what Jehovah God wants. He wants clarity between truth and lies. He has provided a way for us to see through the fog of our earthly lives and wars and conflicts and confusions. He has provided a way, that, if we will choose to believe it and to do it, we will know and see, clearly, that dramatic distinction between truth and lies. That way out of the fog of confusion, the way that God has provided us, is through the Holy Spirit, who, John 16: 13, is here to guide us in the way of all truth, and John 16: 8, to convict the world in regard to sin, righteousness and judgment. That is a big step, even a giant step, forward for mankind, but it will clean up the confusion pretty well for us, if we will choose God’s plan. But, to get there, we have to get deeply renewed in the mind of Christ and focused on Him, our Lord Jesus, and our God Jehovah, and His Spirit.
So, where does this study and revelation from the Holy Spirit bring us; where are we? Are we, finally, like the people in Ephesus, Acts 19: 17, at that place where, after years of Paul’s “up close and personal” ministry, in which it became publicly known that witchcraft was unable to defeat evil spirits, and that Paul ministered supernaturally in the Name of Jesus, that two things happened in the body of believers: Fear fell on them all, and the Name of the Lord Jesus was magnified! Have those two things happened to us? Have we gotten off of our personal agendas, and off of our irreverence, and off of our light-hearted focus on the fun in our lives, and off of our brooding heavy-hearted fears of the circumstances of our lives? Really??
Well, today the Holy Spirit is telling us clearly that we are not there yet. He is saying that it is time for us to renew our focus on our God, in such a profound focus that our fear of the Lord is renewed and refreshed, and that we do magnify His name.
How do we do that? A few reminders, and a little change in the spiritual (not the bio-) rhythms of our lives:
- Hebrews 4: 16, “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” Commentary: Get back in the Word, daily, even multiple times per day. Also, realize that you and your life are completely open to God and you must give Him an account of your life. Focus comes from realizing that you are going in for a job review every day. That will sharpen your focus! And that is what we need. And, also, rely on the Holy Spirit and His work in your life to sharply and powerfully cut away the confusions in your lives, so that you see all issues with clarity as between truth and lies and you trust God in all circumstances, even unto death (Revelation 12: 11).
- Psalm 46: 10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Commentary: Must of us are constantly multi- tasking or planning how we can do so. But only when we are “still”, and not otherwise “tasking” do we take that extra deep breath, and place that extra concentration, to focus on our awe, and reverent fear, of the Lord, and to magnify His name in our hearts. Be Still!! Meditate on Psalm 63, our call to worship today; and for a season, meditate on it daily or more.
- Psalm 66: 1-5, “Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious. Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power your enemies shall submit themselves to You. All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; they shall sing praises in Your name.’ Selah. Come and see the works of God: He s awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.” Commentary: Praise and worship Him daily, constantly, for who He is and for His awesomeness in His doings towards us, the sons of men!
- John 16: 33, despite the confusions and deceptions, and competing self-interests, and farces being played out on the stage of the earth and our lives in it, trust our Lord Jesus, His Father our God and the Holy Spirit that They have sent to be with us, as Jesus said, here, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Conclusion: If our God is for us, who can overcome; who can stand against us and Him? No one can and no one will! Regardless of the tribulations of this world, and we see them everywhere, from Jerusalem, to Cairo, to Tripoli, to the Somali pirates, to China, to Iran, to North Korea, to Washington and Wisconsin, and even in South Carolina, we have the tribulations of this world. Get Wise, Be Still before the Lord your God, Magnify His Name, shout your praises to Him and worship Him, and Know Him and His word intimately. And do not forget the wisdom of II Corinthians 7:1: “Therefore, having (the promises of the things Jesus has told us), let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” And, like the believers in Ephesus, take seriously and reverently the fear of the Lord, knowing that, even today in our lives, Proverbs 1: 7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
Be of good cheer in the promises of our Lord Jesus. God bless you and amen+