I'm sure that you are aware of the fact that we live in a very insecure world, we are reminded of this almost daily. Some of the insecurities we face are; Y2K - New Year's day is only five days away, will the Y2K bug really be a problem? While many are saying that the Y2K bug poses no problem to us, others devise contingency plans.
Last Monday Chesapeake's Emergency Services Coordinator, R. Stephen Best said, "To prepare for potential Y2K problems, police will deploy more than twice the normal number of street officers on New Year's Eve, while dozens of city employees will monitor computer systems for glitches."
Chesapeake City officials and regional utility providers, including Virginia Power, do not expect disruptions, but say the contingency plan is necessary to prepare residents for unforeseen problems.
If service goes out, the plan includes using generators to provide drinking water, opening shelters, and creating 28 temporary sites where residents can come for help if telephones are out.
The city has already erected stop signs at the city's 123 lighted intersections, in case power goes out and traffic lights go dark.
There is a lot of insecurity over the Y2K problem. There is also insecurity caused by all the talk of terrorist's attacks on the U.S.
While cautioning that there were no known specific threats against U.S. targets, the National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, said Monday that Americans should watch out during the holiday season for signs of terrorist activities.
And the U.S. Customs Service said it is putting on duty 300 extra inspectors at high-priority entry points, including 150 along the porous U.S.-Canadian border. To increase security incoming vehicles and individuals are being subjected to extra scrutiny and increased random searches.
U.S. authorities are also concerned about the potential for domestic terrorism. Already this month, authorities arrested alleged terrorists in California and in Florida for allegedly plotting to blow up public facilities in connection with the change of the millennium. Two men who were members of a militia organization were arrested Dec. 3 in Sacramento, accused of plotting to bomb a suburban propane-storage tank. They allegedly hoped to cause the imposition of martial law as a first step in inspiring a revolution against the U.S. government. They currently await trial.
In Florida, another militia leader was arrested Dec. 8, and charged with plotting to steal explosives to blow up transmission towers and power lines. A federal grand jury indicted Donald Beauregard, 31, on six charges of conspiracy, providing support or resources to commit terrorist acts, and four weapons violations.
So, terrorist attacks cause us insecurity, as does the Y2K bug. On top of this, some are predicting that the stock market is about to crash as it did in 1929. We truly live in an insecure world. But this shouldn't be cause for fear if we realize that God created us insecure and placed us in an insecure world so that we would find security only in Him.
What peace and joy it brings to trust in God in the midst of our insecurity. Trusting God is the very essence of what Christianity is all about.
In one of the truly great statements of the Bible, the writer of Hebrews tells us:
Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
There is no way our relationship to God can be pleasing to Him unless we trust Him."But without faith it is impossible to please Him...." Here the writer lays down an axiomatic truth. He uses the aorist tense in the infinitive "to please." The statement is universal in its application and timeless. The idea is; without faith, it is impossible to please him at all.
Multitudes of believers have trusted Christ for their salvation, but are not living in faith, trusting God each moment in each and every area of their lives.
We should be people who live by faith. Everyday and in every way we should be trusting God in our daily lives. But are we? Do we really trust God? Trusting God is of major importance in the Christian life. God was angry with and judged the Israelites because they would not trust Him.
Psalms 78:21-22 (NKJV) Therefore the LORD heard this and was furious; So a fire was kindled against Jacob, And anger also came up against Israel, 22 Because they did not believe in God, And did not trust in His salvation.
We need to learn to trust in God, because faith pleases Him. And, we need to trust Him because life is uncertain. Who knows what tomorrow holds? You might feel good about your financial security, but how secure are you if you're only trusting in your money? The stock market could crash. You could loose your job. You could loose your health. Who knows what tomorrow holds? Tomorrow your wife or husband could leave you. Tomorrow you or a loved one could be diagnosed with cancer. Tomorrow you could be robbed and killed. Tomorrow a hurricane could destroy your house and kill your family. Who has any guarantee of tomorrow?
We do much to protect against uncertainties by purchasing insurance, but there are some things you cant insure against. What if meat you bought at the store is contaminated? The food you eat could kill you. I saw a news special about a child who contracted e-coli from eating salad. With all the uncertainty in life, how do you keep from living in fear? David gives us the answer:
Psalms 9:10 (NKJV) And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.
"Those who know Your name...." i.e., those who know God's character. To know God's character is to be able to trust Him. Do you know God well enough to trust Him? Do you know Him well enough to have such confidence in Him that you believe He is with you in your adversity even though you do not see any evidence of His presence and His power? Do you trust Him? God wants our trust. In order to trust God, we must always view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith. Faith pleases God. Without faith, it is impossible to please Him.
Psalms 20:7 (NKJV) Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
What the psalmist is saying is that we are not to trust in our own strength but in God. We are able to trust in Him when we remember His name, i.e. His character.
Isaiah 50:10 (NKJV) "Who among you fears the LORD? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness And has no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD And rely upon his God.
Isaiah exhorted the servants to walk by faith, trusting in the name of the Lord, trusting His character.
If we really know God's character, we will trust Him even when he chooses to send poverty, sickness, and family problems; even while your heart is aching with each beat, you will say, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
As we study the Word of God and learn of God's character, we will grow in our trust of Him. Most Christians don't trust God because they don't know Him! How can we trust Him, believing His promises, if we don't know Him or His promises? And how can we know Him or his promises if we don't spend time reading and studying the Word of God?
If we are going to walk by faith, and thus please God, we must have our thoughts formed and our actions regulated by the Scriptures. We won't believe His promises if we don't trust Him.
Psalms 50:15 (NKJV) Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me."
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Who is the one making these promises? It is the Almighty God, the Creator of the Universe! And every promise of God is backed up by His perfect character, His name. Our thinking about His promises can be related to His divine attributes, for example: Sovereignty; God is in total control of every event that happens in time. Righteousness; God is perfect goodness, so anything that happens to us will be good for us. Justice; Guarantees that His plan for us is fair, that we will always be treated justly. Love; we know that every situation in life is governed by God's love for us. Omniscience; God knows all my needs and pains, and He has already planned what to do about them. Omnipresence: God is always present and available to help. Omnipotence; God is all-powerful so He always has the capability to carry out his promises, and to provide help in time of need. Immutability; God never changes in His attitude toward us, and all of His characteristics remain the same, forever. Truth; God never lies, therefore, what He has promised, He will perform.
The more we know God, the more we can trust Him, and the more we trust Him, the more He is pleased. Can you trust God in the uncertainties of life? Knowing God is not just a matter of theology, it is crucially important for the living of our lives. All conscious behavior is preceded by and arises out of our thoughts. Can you trust Him in the calamities of life? You can if you know Him. I believe that the first and foremost thing we must know about God is that He is sovereign. But most of the church today denies the absolute sovereignty of God. Christians speak of accidents, or of things just happening by chance. We will have a very hard time trusting God in the midst of trials and adversities if we don't understand his sovereignty.
When we say that God is sovereign, we're saying that God is the absolute ruler over everything.
1 Chronicles 29:11-13 (NKJV) Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. 13 "Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name.
Psalms 47:7-8 (NKJV) For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding. 8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on His holy throne.
God did not simply create the world and then walk away. He constantly sustains that which He created.
Isaiah 46:9-11 (NKJV) Remember the former things of old, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,' 11 Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.
Every breath we breath is a gift from God, every bite of food we eat is given to us from His hand, every day we live is determined by Him. Did your car break down when you could least afford the repairs? Did you loose your job? Did a loved one come down with a terminal disease? The God who created and controls the world also controls the machinery on your car; your boss; and every virus, germ or disease.
Whatever it is that we are going through, or will go through, we may be sure that our Father has a loving purpose in it. We need to learn to trust God even when we don't understand. Faith pleases God. Do you know Him well enough to trust Him no matter how painful or catastrophic a situation may be?
Let me give you a flesh and blood illustration of a man who trusted God in the midst of his darkest hour, a man whose faith in God sustained him in the worst possible circumstances. I want to share with you this morning the story of Navy Captain Gerald Coffee. This is what he writes in Readers Digest:
February 3, 1966 was a sparkler of a day. Bombardier navigator Bob Hanson and I made our way across the flight deck of the USS Kitty Hawk and manned our vigilante aircraft for launch. I thrilled as the instantaneous surge took our thirty-ton reconnaissance jet to 170 miles per hour in less than three seconds. We rendezvoused with our F4 phantom escort and headed west. Near Tanwa the overall S curve of the Vietnam coast ran close to true north and south. The bridge there, the target we were to photograph, lay about 25 miles away from us. The mission went like clock work. I bracketed the husky steel and concrete bridge with my camera the way I had taught others as a reconnaissance instructor in Florida. I saw no flak but frequently changed directions to keep any ground gunners from tracking me.
Then heading back toward the coast I felt a hit. It happened so fast, no tracers and no warning. First a vibration, then the illumination of my master warning light. The vibration became heavier and the control stick sluggish and suddenly we rolled left. I tried to muscle the control stick into effectiveness, nothing. The nose dropped and we picked up more speed...Mayday...Mayday...rolling rapidly, warning lights flashing. No more sky ahead, only the shimmering blue gulf, spinning in front like a propeller...Eject...Eject...Eject.
The water stung like fire. My right arm still wouldn't move. Using my left hand I freed my foot from my sinking parachute. It was all so fuzzy. Green sloping hills met the water ahead of me. I closed my eyes tightly trying to remember. A reconnaissance mission, we had ejected from the plane...it was coming back. The water around me was bright chartreuse from my dye marker. I scanned the ocean horizon and there was a rescue plane heading north a few miles out to sea. `Hey, here I am, here I am.' Instinctively, I pulled out my signal flare and struggled with the ring which had to be snapped down hard. I couldn't hold on to the flare and snapped the ring with only one hand. Frantically I tried to bash it against my flight helmet but the flare flipped out of my grasp, splashed into the water and sank. And by now the retreating plane was a speck on the horizon.
I tried to suppress my rising panic as I scanned the sea wondering what had happened to Bob. Had he made it? Something hit the water a few yards away, bullets were whining above my head and splattering in the water all around me. The rippled surface exploded in mini-geysers. Four boats were coming toward me, each crowded with gunners and their rifles were ablaze and the smoke was thick. The boats drew near and the men inside shouted excitedly, with my arm apparently broken and weighed down by my survival equipment and bulky flotation gear, there was no way I could swim or even thrash. `Don't shoot...don't shoot,' I shouted, feeling like a cornered prey. `I surrender.'
In a flash the muzzle of an AK47 erupted in blue flame and the water exploded into my face. Two more shots in rapid succession. I felt a stunning crack on my helmet as my head was knocked back. A piercing strobe light bleached my brain, followed by an image of swirling blood and green dye. As I came awake, I sensed my surroundings more than saw them. I was in a stable. A water buffalo stood nearby with chickens scratching at his feet. I was struck by the dream-like scene, the serenity of the animals, the low bubbling of an opium pipe, the mixture of smells and finally the incongruity of my own presence. Here I was, 31 years old, a prisoner of war among people we had been bombing and strathing. `God, I'm going to need You a lot, please stay with me.'
I started to raise up on one elbow and tried without success to repress an outcry of pain. My entire body seemed to beg...don't move me again. My face, neck, and both arms were blistered crimson from the rocket flames of one of my jet's ejection seats. My right forearm was broken and the elbow badly dislocated, probably shattered as well. The entire arm and shoulder were swollen to twice their normal size.
The guards then yanked me along the mazes of the hamlet, pushing me twice into smelly ditches carrying urine and feces. I knew my open wounds were attracting deadly bacteria as I groped to regain my footing.
Finally, I was jerked to a halt in front of an open doorway. Five men sat at a table. I was told to take a place outside, opposite the man who was administrator of the province. He spoke in broken but understandable English. `I had been caught red handed,' he began. `And as a war criminal I had no rights, they could kill me or they could keep me in prison for years. It was,' he said, `up to me.'
Eventually an officer shoved me into a dark cavity of a cell about three feet wide and seven feet long. On one wall was a concrete slab, my bed. At the foot were ankle stocks, dark sweat-stained wood on the bottom and a heavy manacle that clamped down over the top. Near the high ceiling in the back wall was a tiny window with a double row of iron bars. I craned my neck upward and all I could see were shards of broken glass embedded in the top of the prison wall. In the corner was a filthy bucket for my toilet needs, a dim light bulb revealed a curious little square patch of letters on one wall that had been white-washed over. The tiny dungeon reeked of decades of human misery. I could smell it in the stale damp air and it permeated my skin. I was fed twice a day a bowl of soup of whatever was in season, pumpkin, gourd or squash. Sometimes there would be a piece of fat the size of a quarter and it was a cause for celebration if there was a morsel of pork still attached. There was also a bowl of rice which I swallowed without chewing because of the gravel and grit that would crunch hard on my teeth. My physical circumstances were abysmal, my clothes were filthy and ragged. I spent a lot of time in the fetal position, hunched close against myself for warmth and trying to support my arm.
My injury was becoming more and more of a problem. From shoulder to finger tips the limb had turned an ugly shade of red and purple and was still about twice normal size. On one occasion a guard was summoned who dragged out a coil of rope, some handcuffs, and a heavy iron bar with U-irons for the ankles. Short, stocky and strong, this guard had a face like a pig with huge nostrils, and one of his upper eyelids didn't come down very far so the entire iris was visible. I would learn later that this torture specialist was known as `Pigeye.'
He called my name, and as I rose from the stool, he let me have it between the shoulder blades with both hands clenched together. I dropped to my knees. While a guard held me tightly, Pigeye threaded my ankles into the U-irons and cuffed my wrists behind me. Sweating and mumbling he tied the rope around my upper arms, using slipknots. I tried to tense my muscles against the strands but he was patient, pulling between flexes. With his foot between my shoulder blades he tugged with all his might, cinching my shoulders closer to one another. My entire upper body felt as if it were going to crack open.
But Pigeye had only begun. He brought the excess rope over my shoulders and tied it to my ankles behind me. Then he cinched my head toward my feet. My knees were forced wider and wider and I could feel the rending of tendons and cartilage in my hip sockets and lower back. I could hardly breathe, so squashed were my lungs from being bent into an ever-tightening ball. I was panting like a mamma dog in labor, tears and sweat pooled in the grout between the tiles below my face. Pain was all there was. In every joint, bone, and muscle I felt the pressure increase on my shoulders as they hoisted me off the floor with a rope threaded through a hook in the ceiling. They bounced me up and down and I started to blackout. I tried to detach myself with thoughts of my wife, but the pain made it impossible.
It was my faith that helped me through those times. Every Sunday the senior officer in each cell block would pass a signal...Church call. Every man stood up in his cell if he was able, and then with assemblance of togetherness we'd recite the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord's Prayer, and the Twenty-Third Psalm, focusing on the part that says `Thou preparest a table before me, in the presence of mine enemies Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.'
Seven years later on my first Sunday back at church there was a homecoming reception for me. Everyone there embraced and supported my family as their own and the occasion was highly charged, the timbre of my voice reflected that emotion. `Faith was the key to my survival,' I told them. `Faith in my God.'
Our faith in God is a very practical commodity. Believer, if we understand God's sovereignty, we can trust in Him in the midst of the worst possible circumstances. Could our country suffer from a nuclear holocaust or a chemical or biological warfare attack? Maybe, but if it does, it is under the sovereign control of a loving and gracious God and not the whim of a mad man. Osama bin Laden may plan terrorist attacks against the United States, but apart from the sovereign will of God he can do nothing.
Could the Y2K computer problem cripple our nation and cause wide spread looting and rioting? It is possible, but if it happens, it happens because it is part of God's sovereign plan for our nation. God is sovereign over everything and we can trust Him. Our trust in Him will strengthen us in all the circumstances that we face.
Psalms 125:1 (NKJV) Those who trust in the LORD Are like Mount Zion, Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
God, in his goodness and love, always wills what is best for us. In His wisdom, He always knows what is best, and in His sovereignty, He has the power to bring it about.
Trusting God is a matter of the will, you must choose to trust Him. But if we are going to choose to trust Him, we must first have a knowledge of who He is. We must know that God is sovereign, wise, good, and loving. Once we have the knowledge of God, we must then choose whether to believe it, and trust Him, or follow our feelings. In the midst of adversity, we must make a choice, will I trust God or allow my feelings to cause me anxiety and grief?
Psalms 61:1-4 (NKJV) HEAR my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer. 2 From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. 4 I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah
David found comfort in the character of the Lord, and so will you. Get to know your God by spending time with Him in the Word. As you grow to know Him, you will grow to trust Him.
Whatever circumstances the New Year brings us, please remember: God created us insecure and placed us in an insecure world so that we would find security only in Him.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NKJV) Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls; 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk's affirmation of trust in the midst of a world falling apart around him, would be a fitting example for us to follow as we struggle with the problems we face in our lives. God is sovereign over everything, and we can trust Him.