March 2009

  from Pastor Blain  

Responding Courageously to Difficult Times

Our Nation and a good portion of the developed world are in the midst of very severe financial difficulties. As God’s children, we can confidently look forward to a secure and blessed future. There is great consolation in the prophetic sections of God’s Word which speak of our rapture, Christ’s Second Coming, the creation of new heavens and earth and the blessed, indescribable enjoyment of an eternity in the immediate presence of our glorious God and Savior.

Notwithstanding this blessed hope, we cannot escape concern for our Country given the economic difficulties which have come upon us like a sudden storm. Almost all of us are experiencing the consequences of this recession, and certain families, especially where the main financial providers work in the housing industry, are facing great trials. We need to pray fervently for these dear families.

But we are not to lose our composure or allow our hearts to be faint. Rather these trials are an opportunity to see the greatness of our faithful Provider in action. As Christ declares in John 16:33 – "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."

Christ describes tribulation as an expected and normative experience for all His children as long as they are in the world. Our Lord is saying that it would be unusual for us not to experience tribulation as long as we are in the world.

The encouragement Christ gives in this passage is liberating. He is commanding us to grab hold of our courage because He has personally overcome the world. Throughout the NT, we are taught that through His death, burial, and resurrection Christ defeated the power of sin and the rulers of darkness who reign over the world. Christ’s victory over the cross is the means by which His children are able courageously and confidently to face tribulation.

This is not to say that things will be easy. The word “tribulation” is a description of great affliction that we will experience until God brings us home. But God is declaring that in the midst of this affliction we have power in Christ to respond to our difficulties with “courage”. This is true of us because the Lord has defeated any circumstance in the world that could harm us spiritually.

Jesus Himself is the ground of our courageous confidence,

Hebrews 13:5-6 - Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," 6 so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?"

We are to be emboldened by the triumphant truth of 1 John 5:4-5, 18-19 - 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? . . . 18  We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him. 19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

John is not stating that no physical harm can come to us in the world. He is stating that our faith in Christ enables us to overcome the world. As a result, God is our keeper and thus the evil one “does not touch us”. This does not mean God has promised us protection from all physical harm. The truth declared is that all who have placed their faith in Christ for salvation have entered into a protective relationship with Jesus Christ such that the world cannot “touch” us. This is not a literal reference. Rather it is a promise that there is no difficulty in the world that can come upon believers that can cause us spiritual harm. We are kept through faith by the power of our omnipotent God.

To bring this encouragement to a fitting closure, I refer you to 1 Peter 1:11 - 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Here we are promised protection through our faith. Consequently our safe arrival in heaven and the reception of our inheritance in Christ is a given. Let us then be Christians of courage who rest through faith in Christ during these financial difficulties.

Finally, with Easter only a few weeks away, let us also look to the present financial trials as an ideal context for us to give a defense for the hope that resides within us as we interact with unbelievers and consider inviting them to our Easter service, 1 Peter 3:15!

15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;

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Community Church of the Santa Ynez Valley
240 E. Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427