Holding It Together When the World is Unraveling Around You
Study Guide, June 7, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
We had planned on continuing our study of the wonders of Pentecost. Pastor Robert led us through a fascinating look into some of the great implications and inspirations that come out of this celebration of the birthday of the Church. And I’m thinking that we can explore some more of this as well. But because of what we have recently been witnessing in our ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ we thought we needed to review some Biblical reminders and helps on holding our lives together when the world is unraveling all around us
One of the advantages of living in this information age is that we have so much real time access and information as to what is going on in our world. But one of the disadvantages of living in this information age is that we have so much real time access and information as to what is going on in our world. It can be both a blessing and it can also be a curse at the same time. In journalism there is a saying about what is first and most posted and printed: “If it bleeds, it leads!” No wonder we hear first and most about any and all messes and problems everywhere. Societal media and social media are pre-occupied with conflict and chaos and anger and strife. Or as my Dad use to say, they are ‘pre-occupewed’ with it all. Yeah, so many are just stuck in what Zig Ziglar called it: “Stinkin Thinkin!” Our country is filled with ‘stinkin thinkin’ about most everything it seems! And all of this ‘stinkin thinkin’ keeps fueling the fires of personal conflicts and social strife and societal malice and clamour, and on and on.
Certainly, it is important to be informed about what is going on around us. But it is infinitely more important to be informed and occupied with what is going on above us…with what’s going on in the heavenlies…with what’s going on in the spiritual realms all around us. For that is not only the way to be most informed about what’s going on in our world, but it is also the way to be best prepared to hold your life together while the world is unraveling around you.
And so, right away, lets inject one central Biblical teaching into our thinking about how to hold your life together when the world is unraveling around you. It’s this: Dwelling on ‘Who’ has got a hold on you will determine ‘what’ gets a hold of you. For if you don’t dwell on God’s hold on you then most anything will likely get a hold of you. One of my favorite ‘go to’ verses is
Isa 41:10- “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” NASU I usually always go to this when sharing Scriptures with others, say before surgery or other crisis times. How amazing of God to tell us that He has a special hold on us…God has a special hold on His born again children. Right there is the reason that we can get a grip on anything…it’s because our God has a grip on us. We are in God’s grip!
How about what Jesus reveals about that in John 10:27-30? “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” NASU Once you give your life to Christ, Christ takes hold of your soul, takes hold of your life, takes hold of the real you. And Jesus says the Father also has a hold on us as well. We are in the Father’s hand, and no one is able to snatch us out of the Father’s hand, or snatch us out of the Son’s hand either. Now, think about this. We are in the Father’s hand; we are in the Son’s hand; and the Holy Spirit indwells us, indwells our Spirit in eternal union with God’s Spirit! Do you know what that means? That means that at all times, wherever you are, and every place you go, you are surrounded by the Triune God! You are always surrounded by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! Your soul, your new created spirit, the real you, which will live forever, is in the grip of God, the hands of God, and nothing, and no one can snatch you out of God’s hands. There is a part of you, your soul and spirit, the real you that the world can’t touch. The real you, the new nature that is united to Christ, that is going to live forever, that is even going to one day be clothed with a new immortal body…is safe, secure, and can never be separated from the love and grip of God.
How great is that to know, that there is a part of you, the real spiritual you, that this world can’t touch? Remember that Colossians 3 passage that said that our lives, our real selves, were ‘hidden’ with Christ, ‘hidden’ in union with God? That’s a statement of our eternal security, a statement that we belong to another world, God’s world, and the new world that God is about to establish. We don’t belong to this world. We are just passing through this present world. We are aliens and strangers in this broken and decaying world. No wonder this world seems so weird and strange to us! We don’t belong here. We don’t belong to this world, and this world’s got no grip on us. God is the One that’s got a grip on us. We are in God’s hands, and so we can say to any problem, any crisis, any conflict… “Hey! You can’t touch this! The real me is in the hands of my God. My soul and spirit belong to God and to God’s world. So you can’t touch this!”
That used to infuriate the persecutors of martyrs who would say to them: “You can do whatever you’re going to do with this shell of mine, this exterior body of mine, but you can’t touch my soul…you can’t touch the real me, my eternal spirit. For I belong to God. My soul and spirit belong to God, and you can’t touch that!” That would drive the persecutors crazy, and there was nothing they could do about it!
Plus, that’s another thing about this world. This world doesn’t even see this reality about born again people in this world. The world looks at born again people every day, but they don’t recognize who they really are. They don’t understand that we are citizens of another world, that we are new creations in Christ, that we are spiritually reborn children of God, that are now living out a short time in this lost and dying world. Born again people, citizens of Heaven, are all around the citizens of Earth, but these Earth bound citizens don’t recognize them. It’s kind of like with stars in the daytime. You look at the sky in the daytime and the stars that you see at night are all there, too, but you just can’t make them out. Christians in the world are like stars in the daytime…they’re all around, but the world doesn’t recognize them. I can’t remember where I read that, but credit some cool Bible commentator for that one. It was probably Warren Wiersbe, one of my favorites. Christians are stars in the daytime. But still, even though we are stars in the daytime, others can see our light shine when we practice loving in truth and speaking truth in love, and then carry out Christian service deeds for the glory of God and the blessings for others, as we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
Now think about this help as well, for holding it together while the world is unraveling around you. Think about this: What you see is one thing; but what you perceive is quite another thing. I often think of something that was often said by our dear brother and gifted teacher, Ravi Zacharias, who was recently ushered into heaven to one amazing arrival celebration, I’m sure. But he often reminded us that the Word of God alone is what is able to give ‘insight’ to our ‘sight’. You see that? ‘Insight to our sight’. Recently, our sight and senses have been overwhelmed by the crisis and the chaos of physical disease and social dysfunction. But if that is all you see, and if that is all you look at, and if that is all you think about and talk about, well then not only will you be overwhelmed by it all, but you will also not understand what is really going on, nor will you be equipped to overcome it, nor will you be able to perceive what the solution to it all really is. But all of this and more is what the insights and the perspectives of the Scriptures equip us with and enable us to know and to see.
C.S. Lewis reminded us that discernment is not the ability of being able to know the difference between right and wrong…no, discernment is the ability of being able to know the difference ‘between what is right and what seems right’. For what ‘seems right’ is simply going by human reasoning. And what seems right is so often…absolutely wrong! What seems right if very often dangerous, and even deadly. And Solomon warned us over and over about this: Prov 14:12- “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” NASU Just going by ‘what seems right’ has been the real plague that has damaged and destroyed families and people groups and nations throughout history. Even ‘War’ is simply the violent result of what ‘seemed right’ to some people group at any given point in history. Which is actually another reality check that we ought to be aware of; and that is the fact that world history is in fact the history of our world at war. In research concerning how much of the world has experienced relatively peaceful times throughout the past 3,400 years that they reviewed, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history. Wow! So only 8% of world history has been periods of relative peace…meaning, 92% of the history of Earth has been a history of human beings at war with one another. In just the 20th century alone over 100 million people have been killed in wars. Again, war is the result of human beings acting on what ‘seemed right’ according to human reasoning, which Solomon pointed out; “…its end is the way of death.”
So think about it: Human beings have a history of believing and acting on ‘what seems right’ to them. A question then: Could it be that part of the reason they do that is because someone else is acting on them? That is something that the Apostle Paul wanted us to clearly understand. Notice: Eph 6:10-12- “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” NLT
This passage is not just a Sunday School lesson. This is a Sunday through Saturday battle plan. Know this one thing: Satan lives according to strategies. Do you? Satan lives according to strategies, and these strategies are based upon his overall plan. And this overall plan is his overall plan for your life. Did you know that Satan has an overall plan for your life, and everyone else’s life? Satan’s overall plan for your life is this: It’s to steal, to kill, and to destroy. That’s from John 10:10 Whatever good you are seeking to acquire in your life, Satan is going to try to steal it. Whatever you are seeking to give life to or bring to life, Satan is trying to kill it. Whatever honorable thing you are trying to build, Satan is trying to destroy it. That is Satan’s plan and he is directing evil rulers and authorities, he’s directing mighty powers of this evil world, and he’s directing evil spirits to act upon people across this world, in order to get them to act according to his strategies, that are based upon his overall plan; to steal, kill, and destroy.
Be sure of this one thing: We are at war! In fact, we are always at war. And we will always be at war until we move to that Better Country, or until the King returns to fully conquer evil and establish His Kingdom on Earth. Amen to that? But again, until then, as C.S. Lewis also reminded us: ‘You and I were born onto a battlefield.’ Earth is a battlefield. And until you understand that reality and then also prepare to live in that reality, then you will continually be deceived and will continually be discouraged when your false expectations of peace on this present Earth turns to warfare. Plus, as Paul pointed out; you will not be prepared to battle, nor to valiantly contend against the schemes of the devil.
But, Praise God, in all these things, we can conquer! Rom 8:37-39 “For in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NIV I love that ‘more than conquerors’ part. I mean, it’s pretty great just knowing that we are conquerors through Christ…but Paul says that we’re even ‘more than conquerors’…how about that?
But here is what we are to know about Satan: Satan is a defeated foe. Our King Jesus has already defeated both the devil and death. And as children of God we share in His victory. But now, as faithful soldiers of the King, our King wants us to fight the good fight of faith every day until the battles are final over and done with. And to do that we have to daily surrender to the Lordship of Christ and determine to live by His overall plan for our life, not ours…His. And Jesus said His plan for our life was first to give us life, His eternal life, and to then lead us in living out an abundant life. And, remember, this abundant life is not found in fulfilling our wants, but in fulfilling God’s will. It’s in sharing the saving Gospel of Christ, the real answer to mankind’s problems. It’s in loving our neighbor as ourselves, for without Christ, we could be them. It’s in doing justice according to righteousness, for righteousness exalts a nation, but sin brings it down. And it’s in doing God’s will that we will discover that whatever delights our God is what is going to delight our soul. Remember that: Pleasing God is what genuinely pleases and satisfies you, satisfies your soul. Plus, doing God’s will, obeying God’s Word, seeking to please God, that is how to hold your world together when the world is unraveling around you.