From the Pulpit: Put trust in the Lord, his Word during these uncertain times
To say that we have had an unusual year is a huge understatement! We have experienced a pandemic that has altered our way of life and brought hardship, and financial difficulty to thousands, a campaign/election unlike any others in our history and are now facing a very uncertain future. What is a believer to do?
The precious, unchanging, life-giving Word of God is able to give us instruction in righteousness; as well as a hope that endures and encourages. In the New Testament the Lord does not refer to his people as “thinkers” — but as believers! This doesn’t mean that those who trust in the Lord lack in mental acuity, or that those of faith are foolish and out of touch with reality. Believers simply know that faith is the victory that overcomes the world.
As Christians we put our trust entirely in the Lord and in the counsel of his word. Throughout the ages, believers have faced trouble, trials and even persecution in a manner that the natural mind has difficulty comprehending. While we are sober-minded people who live responsibly in the world — there is a characteristic/attribute that enables the believer to approach things with a different mind-set. Now is the time for this quality to manifest in American Christians. It has everything to do with how we handle hard times.
I’m talking about the three gifts from the Lord to his people that enable them to walk through tests with dignity and calm assurance. Those gifts are: peace — joy — and hope. To begin with, we have a peace that passes all understanding. It might even be said that we have a peace that doesn’t make sense to those who do not know Christ as their Lord and savior. Jesus went to great lengths to assure his people of peace. He specifically “gave” it to his disciples — and still does. This peace doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of war or strife — but rather rest and quietness in the midst of it. To the believer the secret is that peace is not a thing but a person — Jesus Christ is our peace. In fact, he is the Prince of Peace, and when there is a relationship with him based on faith and obedience; the peace of God abides and calms the storm.
Jesus gives to those who trust and serve him “… joy inexpressible and full of glory.” Joy is not a fickle happiness that depends on circumstances. At the heart of joy is contentment based on a spiritual relationship. That is why we sing every Christmas season: “Joy to the world, the Lord is come …” Joy is a supernatural gladness that abides regardless of the conditions around us. Joy is the absence of gloom because of the spirit of gladness that is part of our redeemed nature. It doesn’t deny reality or take things lightly — but it sees everything in the light of the person of Jesus Christ and the assurance of his promises. Joy is why we can say: “Though he slay me; yet I will trust him.”
Romans 15:13 says: “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” In that one verse are all three of the gifts I am writing about. Peace that comes from Christ in us — joy that keeps us strong no matter what — and hope that we have better things in our future. Hope is the anchor to the believer’s heart that keeps us from drifting.
Hope sees through the veil of tears, all the way to victory. We can all say as did Job in the Old Testament, “I know my Redeemer lives…”. Even in the most intense times of testing that is enough!
(From the Pulpit is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of the Weirton Ministerial Association)