12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
24 ¶ Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
The above reveal that Paul likened his Christian walk to a race. This race however was not a race to win, but one to finish. Satan’s focus is to stop us from finishing the race. Fear is his greatest weapon, for fear negates faith, and without faith, it is impossible to please God.
We are living in a time of immense uncertainty, and peoples hearts are even now failing them for fear of what is to come upon the earth. Fear of the unknown is bringing stress and perplexity not only to individuals, but also to governments, and most have abandoned historical solutions and are blindly following ideologies for answers, but finding none.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Perfect love is implicit trust. Trust in a God of care, power, love, devotion, and faithfulness: confidence in God’s willingness and ability to do what He has promised – that is, to see us through to the end of the race.
So can we have confidence in God? As we look around us at a world being orchestrated into a state of induced chaos by the devil through his representatives here on earth, the modern equivalent of the post flood Babel builders, can the Christian believe God is still in control? Or has He lost it? Is the world now out of His hands and under the control of His enemies?
Has God abdicated His authority???
11 Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?
12 ¶ With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.
13 With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.
14 Behold, he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.
15 Behold, he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.
16 With him is strength and wisdom: the deceived and the deceiver are his.
17 He leadeth counsellors away spoiled, and maketh the judges fools.
18 He looseth the bond of kings, and girdeth their loins with a girdle.
19 He leadeth princes away spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty.
20 He removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged.
21 He poureth contempt upon princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty.
22 He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.
23 He increaseth the nations, and destroyeth them: he enlargeth the nations, and straiteneth them again.
24 He taketh away the heart of the chief of the people of the earth, and causeth them to wander in a wilderness where there is no way.
25 They grope in the dark without light, and he maketh them to stagger like a drunken man.
8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.
10 The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.
11 The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
12 ¶ Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
13 The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.
14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
15 He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works.
16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.
17 An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy;
19 To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.
17 The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.
A literal translation of the Zephaniah verse says, He is planning for you in love, for it matters to Him about you”.
As can be seen from the above verses, God’s sovereignty not only applies to the individual, but also to nations. No king, president, prime minister, or chief acts independently of the will of God. What freedom he has is always within the confines of the will of God; they act only by permission. ( 2 Chron. 20:6).
A study of prophecy reveals God’s personal hand in the rise and fall of nations.
The nations are decribed by the psalmist as a ‘drop in a bucket’, in comparison to te glory and power of God. It may appear that the world is in control of God’s sworn enemies, but that is far from the truth. It may appear that the world is out of control, long abandoned by any God who claims sovereignty over the nations, but I have read the end of the Book. I have read the last chapter. The Bible tells of chaos…it is very upfront when describing these last days…it appears as if God is unprepared, perhaps even unwilling to curtail current events, or reluctant to even take an interest in what is happening all around us. In fact, I have read this very thing many times in many places. But I want to tell you… nothing comes to God by surprise. He knows what is going on down to the most minute detail. He told us of this…warned us of all these events over 2000 years ago, and at the same time gave encouragement that He would have the final say. He would have the last word. Not the governments of the world that claim ruler-ship over so many aspects of our lives. Not the despots, the dictators, the kings and queens of this world. Not the banking cartels who rule the international financial dynasties. God rules. Our God still reigns. That is why God desires that we trust Him. This confidence we have in the loving care of God enables us to lay aside all fear. We may take courage and run the race before us, confident in the faithfulness and power of God to see us through to the end of the race.
However, to abandon all faith and trust in oneself, or your fellow man, and place it entirely upon a God you cannot see, takes courage.
It takes courage to abandon your faith in institutions and churches which are fallible and prone to corruption, and place all your trust in your Creator and Redeemer.
It takes courage to speak and act according to your conscience; to use the liberty we so often take for granted to stand for what is right and good; to use our God-given wisdom to protest against wrong, to call sin by its right name, especially in the midst of a world that no longer knows, nor cares for the most part, for the difference between right and wrong.
It takes courage to believe in a personal, caring, loving, attentive Savior in the midst of a world that teaches through its multitudinous media outlets that truth is relative; that to take a stand for a firm belief and speak of it is hate speech; and that has proclaimed from the rooftops of its most vaunted educational institutions that your Savior doesn’t exist.
It takes courage to empty yourself on behalf of others, when those ‘others’ take delight in emptying everyone else on behalf of themselves.
It takes courage to risk alienating your friends and family, and sometimes even your own church, by taking a stand for righteousness and what you conscientiously uphold as Biblical truth.
This race we are in is an endurance race. It is not a sprint, nor does the prize go to the first over the finish line. The prize goes to all who finish the race. To those who endure. To those who have the courage to go on, to continue to trust God regardless of what is going on about us.
Courage comes through faith. In the world of today, and the race of life, self-belief or trust in man or institutions is doomed to failure. What is about to come upon this world is beyond anything man or church can overcome. It is a tsunami of trouble that no-one can overcome without a personal vibrant intimate relationship with God. In these last days we will need courage, focus, and commitment. We take courage from the sure knowledge that the God we love and serve is still in control. As the writer to the Hebrews said, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Let our whole focus be upon Him who has promised to see us through to the end of the race.
Satan will attempt to instill fear. He will lie and deceive. He specializes in half-truths. When we trip up, fall, and make mistakes, he will insist we ought to give up because we are not worthy to be Christians. In this he is half right. We are not worthy. However, our worthiness or unworthiness is not the criteria for our continuing in the race. We are saved by grace. And grace alone. God knows we are but dust. He knows we are erring, fallible, over-emotional human candidates for complete makeovers. He knows that our pasts have at times damaged us, distorted our reasoning powers, blinded us to hope. He knows that we are not righteous beings who occasionally sin. He understands that we are moral viruses who by God’s grace, on rare occasions get things right. And He loves us anyway.
We exercise our Christian faith by often blindly stepping into a future that is unknown, uncertain, but confident in the sure word that God knows the end from the beginning, and that He will look after us. We conquer our fears by trusting in His love.
Ellen White said: “When the religion of Christ is held most in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest, and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, (and they will), to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few – this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason.”
Let us not hold anything back. Let us unreservedly surrender everything we are, everything we have, to our God and Savior. After all, is this not what He did for us?