Friday, December 18, 2015

These Are The Days That Try Men's Souls

I stumbled on this interesting and timely reflection and it is definitely worth reading. Below are just a few of the quotes, but this is worth reading in full:

We live in a world in which many people if not most, are engulfed with fear and anxiety. Some fear the future; and they’re anxious about what’s going to happen in that future. Others fear the past and they’re anxious about what has happened. And still others fear even the present as anxiety has gripped their souls and they cannot imagine how they can cope with the ugliness of present circumstances in their lives. Thousands of people each day wake up with untold burdens to bear and anxiety with which they must deal with.

Are you one of these? Are you bearing secretly a heavy burden? Are you worried about the future? Are you worried about your finances? Do you see your way of life slipping away, your families future, or the present world around you? Do you worry about the world stage with ongoing terrorism, the failing world economy (at home and abroad) and life in general with all its trials? 

The world is fearful of the rise of Islam with it's indiscriminate attacks on a peaceful people. The world has been rocked lately and are fearful with the latest terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, or the attack in Paris, France of armed Muslim thugs who kill “infidels” for their false god, Allah and submit to a god that is the antithesis of a loving God found in Christianity. We fear the loss of freedom and the life we have enjoyed up to this point, as our government appears to be stripping away our basic freedoms.

Now look at yourself and what are you trying to do? You may have gone through school, some college, got married, working hard, following what is required to make a living in a peaceful world, but you still are anxious about the future and life in general. You have good reason. How should we respond? The most important question then becomes, “how does God want me to respond to the anxiety in my life?”  Thomas Paine wrote the above passage calling on the citizen's physical response to a world ruled by tyranny. I wish to look at how we should respond today, in our time to our world and look at the source of our strength in these troubling times.

Like all the great questions of life, scripture affords us an answer.

In Psalm 23, David gives us the example of how we’re supposed to trust in God. Most Christians have put to memory this “pearl” of the Psalms, but never take time to ponder its deep meaning and how it applies to our everyday life. Let us jump back in time, to another time period that was fraught with evil and men that shed blood quite easily. 

 Psalm 23 then provides a model for us. It is one of the many paradigms of truth to be followed though-out our lives that is found in your Bible as we respond to all the difficulties and worries that come our way.

Even though the soul is tossed about with events that are beyond our control, we have solace in the One who walks with us through it all. I am a firm believer that God allows nothing to come against His chosen “sons of God” unless it is in His will and for our ultimate good. I am reminded of the verses found in Romans, and as you may know, one of most favorite chapters that Paul wrote and I must repeat it here:

“For we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God, to them that are the called, according to His purpose.

For whom He foreknow He also predestined to be conformed the image of His Son, that He may be the first born among many brethren,

And whom He foreknew, those He also called, and whom He called, these He also justified, and these He justified, He also glorified.  

What shall we say of these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not, along with Him, give us all things? (Romans 8:28-32)

Did you catch that? “along with Him, give us ALL things”....what has God given His only begotten Son? Answer: everything and we will share in that glory. Mind boggling, is it not? It is emphasized in prior verses and these confirm one another:

It is a glorious promise that God has given to each of us, who call upon the name of Jesus in faith and believing for His Atonement on Calvary's cross and His ultimate resurrection and glorification, sitting now at the right hand of the Father for each of us who embrace this truth. 

But you ask, when reading this lovely, poetic verses that Paul wrote, “what can I do right now, in these troubling times?” As mentioned, you need someone to guide you through the mine fields that are the sin soaked earth your feet rest upon. Let us take God's promises, one of thousands listed in the Bible, that let you know God is with you. Jesus leads you and Psalm 23 is a God given promise of being led by God's Holy Spirit in a place where we do not fear, but rely on our Shepherd, Jesus Christ. 


“The LORD is my shepherd: I shall not want”. Psalm 23:1. 

There is security in the presence of the good shepherd. The Psalmist David dares to reach out and call Jehovah his very own Shepherd. It is intimately personal. Our God is a personal, loving Father. He is my Shepherd, and He is YOUR Shepherd. You must have faith, as King David did, that God is your guide in this life. 

Remember Romans 8:32 quoted above? If you possess the LORD, who possesses all things, then you lack nothing.

David looks forward to the future. He will never “suffer any want.” Just as the good shepherd provides all that his sheep needs, the LORD will provide all that His people will ever need. 
Some people mistake what the Psalmist is saying here. I had the same problem at one time. Looking back, this troubled  me as a small child. I thought that David was saying “I shall not want” or David didn’t want God as his shepherd, but I came to understand that he was not in “want of anything”.

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still water: He restores my soul.” 

Our God meets the needs of the inner man. Meditate a minute on that verse and the symbolic picture a flock of sheep beside a still, crystal clear pool of water. There is lush green grass all around and perfect peace and harmony. The sheep are in no fear. For men, it is the feeding on His Word. We draw upon Him and we are satisfied. 

“He leads me in paths of righteousness for His names sake.” Psalm 23:3.

The Hebrew word translated “paths” means “a well-defined, well worn trail.” That indicates again how easily led astray sheep are. Because even when the trail is well laid out and well work from use, they still need a shepherd.

The Good Shepherd knows the trail. He has been there before, and the sheep trust Him.

Like a good shepherd, our Lord and Savior delivers us from the feelings of anxiety and promises that He will always be with us, and will never forsake us.

But first we have to submit to His direction, His leading and realize that we don’t know the way through this crooked path in front of us, which is our daily lives, We need a shepherd that does know the way. We must look to Jesus for our guidance through this world in which we are but pioneers, sojourners in a land that is not our home.

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