Wednesday, September 16, 2015

"Responding in Faith not Fear" by Sean Malone, Director of Crisis Response International

A reader asked that I post this message from Crisis Response International:
Dear Friends,

There has been a lot of talk and speculation about what is coming upon the world this fall. From N.Y. times bestsellers like the Harbinger and the mystery of the Shemitah (Shemitah years are God's seven year cycles mentioned in Scripture and linked to economic activity) to contemporary prophets and Blood Moon preachers. While we can't draw hard and fast doctrines from any of these things, they are signs that make one wonder. I personally have heard quite a bit about what is supposed to happen in America this September but very little about what we are to do. Is it just me or does it feel like someone just sucked the air out of the room? It's like a collective gasp around the body of Christ right now as many of us are frozen, stuck and unsure of what to do. Some are even locked up in fear while the enemy just laughs. But I believe God is raising up people who understand the times and know what to do.
From the tribe of Issachar, there were 200 leaders of the tribe with their relatives. All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take. [1] Chronicles 12:32 NLT.
Just as God raised up the sons of Issachar who could interpret the times and know what to do, we need to be equipped with knowledge and wisdom on how to take action for the good of the Church and for the sake of the Gospel.

Faith Not Fear

No matter what happens this fall, none of it will take God by surprise. The answer to navigating the potentially troubled waters of this fall is rooted in faith and not fear. If your plan is to hunker down, hoard and just hold on, friends I am sorry you are missing the point. It would help us all to dig into the book of Hebrews to see a bigger picture. In Hebrews chapter 11 we see the many things the heroes of faith endured. By faith Noah, by faith Abraham, by faith Moses, they ran their race well and endured hardship "by faith" and became heroes of the faith. In chapter 12 we are reminded that God disciplines us as his sons and that we are to endure hardship as discipline from the Lord. Discipline is a sign of our sonship. He goes on to tell us that there is a time period that God will shake everything that can be shaken so that we can receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

God's Shakings Are Redemptive in Nature

One thing we need to understand if we are talking about a God orchestrated shaking is that it is redemptive in nature and designed to perfect love for Him and for others. It's ultimately the first and second commandment coming into first and second place. Anything not under the Lordship of Christ needs to be and will be shaken anyway if it is hindering love for Him and others.

Think about that for a second.

What distractions are in your life that keep you from loving Him and others wholeheartedly? Right now is your heart tender and free from the cares of this life? Is He truly your magnificent obsession? Are you living fully for Him and through Him? Secondly, right now do you love others as yourself and carry a burden for the lost among the nations? This should serve as a tuning fork for our hearts because it is what is on His heart.

How Will We Respond?

If this is true, our response to the potential shakings of this fall should look different. Our preparedness for an economic, political or even geological shaking should be more than a desperate attempt to hold onto our western lifestyles. Preparing for the days ahead is so much deeper than hoarding stuff. I have news for you, if that is your response than God may even shake that too. Do you really think He is looking for more western independence? It makes me wonder how many people are paralyzed in fear right now of what's coming and have retreated from what God has called them to do. Our western gospel of comfort that is devoid of the notion that we may suffer has fashioned a golden image of who God is. With the threat that their god may be shaken, people are locked down in fear. Shakings are the litmus test to show who we really serve. Ask yourself this question, how much of my lifestyle did I fabricate and how much of it is built on God's unshakable Kingdom?

Restoring the Second Commandment

The other aspect we need to understand is that in the shakings, God is restoring the second commandment as well as the first commandment. Love for others. What happens in the midst of a disaster or crisis? People come together and help each other. As we prepare for this fall, we need to be preparing to help others.

Today there is a prophecy about global crisis and the response is: determine to prepare for survival and self-preservation. In the 1st century there was a prophecy about a global crisis (Acts 11:27-30) and the response was: giving and aiding those impacted; each according to their ability determined to send relief to the brethren elsewhere.

We love to point fingers at the corporate depravity of our nation and say she deserves punishment while our hearts are just as bankrupt. Let's take this time to examine our own lives and actions before we point the finger at anyone around us and make sure we are caring for the poor, needy and hurting, heeding the warnings of Scripture for the actions of Sodom.

"Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen." Ezekiel 16: 49-50

Folks it is an upside down Kingdom. You give it away to keep it and this is a sign your heart is free. Again, if God is dealing corporately with us in America than our preparedness should be more of the heart than a fear based grasp to hold onto our western lifestyles. Now there is nothing wrong with preparing your home, neighborhood, church and business for crisis and disaster. Here at CRI we hold seminars on how to train people to do so. However as the church we need to take inventory of our hearts motivation to make sure we are not hunkering and bunkering in fear but rather getting ready to help others and be the glorious church in that hour. If something is out from under the Lordship of Christ right now in your life than you want that dealt with now and not later.

Hebrews 11:7 says. By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. It's says that Noah by holy fear prepared for his family.

Are you responding in faith or fear? Let's choose faith. Join us as we call our nation to a fast now through September 23. We are praying and believing for an outpouring of God's Spirit on the hearts and minds of those in our nation. Let's humble ourselves before the Lord and believe that together we'll see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

P.S. If we are going to be looking at the biblical calendar as a way that God deals with His people then remember the Shemitah just ended on September 13th and the year of Jubilee starts on September 23rd. I encourage you to be believing for great things!
I just want to add a bit to the foregoing, because some of the comments are matching certain thoughts I have had lately. I recently purchased a relatively new commentary on the book of Revelations (it was published in 2014, I believe) called The Book of Revelation:Things Which Must Shortly Come To Pass by G. Erik Brandt. Having only started reading recently, I'm still in the section regarding the seven letters to the seven churches. However, it impressed me that in two of the cities mentioned, Sardis and Laodicea, the saints were warned about being too complacent or accepting of worldly things, and therefore lacking the necessary faith to be saved in the last days.

As some background to Sardis, Brandt notes that it had been built on a high mountain for defensive purposes. But the footings for the city walls had been built on shaky, easily eroded rock and soil--essentially compacted mud that was easily dissolved in the rain. The city had been easily taken by armies of Cyras and, later, Antiochus, who entered through a small, undefended crevice on the south flank of the city that had eroded over time. The city leaders had taken no thought to repair the defenses, and so enemy forces had crept into the city at night, unexpected "thieves in the night" that took the city by surprise. At the time John sent his letters, Sardis was wealthy, and "[t]he local population retained a well-deserved 'reputation for luxury and also licentiousness'" from which the local Christian congregation was apparently not exempt. Brandt takes special note that the letter does not mention any persecution against the saints.

Among other items, the Lord instructed John to tell the saints there: "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead." Rev. 3:1. "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Rev. 3:3. Brandt explains:
In their prosperous circumstances, the Sardis Saints had become complacent and tolerant. They were no longer a peculiar treasures unto the Lord (Ex. 19:5; 1 Pet. 2:9), but had been absorbed into society and their garments were soiled with its offensive customs.  ... Now they suffered from a false sense of security, their attention diverted from spiritual matters to the social and commercially prosperous attractions. The apathetic approach of the lax priesthood leadership permeated down to the majority of the Sardis members.
They had become so insensitive to the Gospel that the Lord warned that they would have no warning of his coming.

To saints in Laodicea, John was instructed to write:
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev. 3:15-16. To give a better understanding of this passage, it is helpful to know a bit about Laodicea. The city was located on a fertile valley that provided excellent grazing for sheep (and the basis for a prosperous textile industry), and was also reknown for its legal scholarship, and a medical school and medicines (including an eye ointment). However, the city lacked ready access to a source of fresh water. Brandt writes:
The closest supply of fresh water flowed from hot springs in Hierapolis, a short distance to the north. Engineers designed an aqueduct from Heirapolis to Laodicea to bring a constant supply of water. Water from the hot springs, which was apparently full of minerals, was mixed with water from smaller and cooler sources, It reached Laodicea lukewarm and nearly undrinkable, sometimes causing the thirsty drinkers to vomit.
The use of this simile was because:
The community was also known as the "city of compromise." It suggested that the citizens' propensity for appeasement was a trait developed over time because of their vulnerability in maintaining palatable water. They also used their well-known disposable income as a means of influencing or persuading rival communities to keep the peace--compromise (with worldly values) was the very thing that the members of the Church were guilty of when the letter arrived from John.
You may remember the parable of the wheat and the tares:
24 ¶Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Matt. 13:24-30. We are the wheat; the wicked are the tares. The two plants are nearly indistinguishable as young shoots, but only differentiated when older. We live in the time where the two become easily distinguished. We will have signs--perhaps, including the blood moons this month--to remind us that the time is near, even if it is not yet, so that we may prepare (you might want to refer to the parable of the ten virgins). However, if we become indifferent or compromise, we will be no different from the tares. Don't be a useless weed.

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