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Listen to the 10 min audio
Read the transcript:
TOM LAMPRECHT: Harry, on today’s podcast, I’d like to do a follow-up to Monday’s program, as well as Tuesday’s program. Monday, we talked about the Doug Jones/Roy Moore election out of Alabama. Yesterday’s broadcast, we talked about the fact that American citizens are starting to lose trust in their government. We see it through the fallout of partisan politics at the Department of Justice and the FBI.
Today, I want to ask how does the believer react? So often when we’re faced with these situations where we’re disappointed, we’ll see fear, we’ll see despair, and we’ll see believers losing hope. Harry, obviously, that’s not God’s intention for us, so how do we react to these news stories?
DR. REEDER: Yesterday, we talked about how the believer does not assign trust to a government, although they want a trustworthy government, but let me say something else now. Our hope isn’t in government, our hope is not in a pastor, our hope is not in an elected official, our hope is not in any institution – that’s not our hope. Our hope is in Christ. I have met people who, during the election of President Obama – what it represented with the Democratic platform – they were just utterly angry, fearful or they were utterly in despair.
DON’T INDULGE FEAR
Let me just say to every Christian, no matter what happens in this world, we are never allowed to fear. There is only one fear we have and that is the wonderful blessing of the fear of the Lord.
The Bible says to us, “Perfect love cast out all fear,” so we’re not allowed any of that. What you fear will control you. You’re not allowed to fear the outcome of an election, you’re not allowed to fear the demise of the government and, if you do fear that, that tells you that you hold the government at a higher place than you hold your God.
What you fear indicates what you have worshipped. I understand concern. The same Paul that says that we are never to fear – “Be anxious for nothing” – is the same Paul who says to us that he had concerns for the churches so sanctified concern is fine.
Fear must be banished. Believers out of this past election or out of the shenanigans that are going on in Washington – we can’t fear because the Lord, our God, is our refuge and our mighty fortress. What happens in this world does not affect us. He is sovereign over it and our trust is in Him.
DON’T INDULGE SINFUL ANGER
Secondly, we are not allowed the anger of man. There is a place for God-given sanctified outrage. I’ve got it over abortion – that evokes within me an outrage and I believe there’s a place for lament and I believe there’s a place for outrage.
Therefore, as a believer, I am not saying don’t have lament over the brokenness and sinful acts in this world. I am not saying we don’t have outrage, but the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. We ought to be anti-phobia except for the fear of the Lord, which brings wisdom.
And, thirdly, while we may have sanctified outrage over sin and its consequences, we do not let the anger of man control our lives because it will not achieve the righteousness of God.
HOW THEN DO WE RESPOND?
What do we do? First of all, we nurture our hope in the Lord and we realize that our God is not shortened by bad elections. We do not fear because, “The Lord, our God, has a hedge around His people and He will protect them and what He allows into their life of adversity is ultimately for their good,” Job 1:10.
We do not let the anger of man direct us and control us because it will not promote the righteousness of God, so what do we do? Well, No. 1, we pray and, No. 2., we nurture our hope in the Lord, we nurture our confidence in the Lord and then we nurture our passions for the Lord, not for ourselves.
FOLLOW THESE BIBILICAL EXAMPLES
Tom, let me try to illustrate this two ways. You’ve got a young man of great promise who is dearly loved by his father and his brothers are jealous and they sell him into slavery. And he gets sold into slavery so when he shows up, the guy that owns him, he becomes the best slave the guy’s ever had and rises up over his entire house.
His name was Joseph and the guy that owned him was Potiphar. The wife that tried to seduce him and he said, “I will not sin against my master and I will not sin against the Lord,” what does that get him? A kangaroo court. He is disciplined by Potiphar and now he is put in a place of destitution so what happens to Joseph?
Well, eventually, he becomes the prime minister of Egypt and he saves that nation of Egypt, he saves the people of God, God uses his people to bring his people there for discipline and then, with the memory of Joseph in their mind, 400 years later, they’re brought out for the promised land.
But, in the midst of all that, his brothers who realized what they had done and how they fearfully, in despair, come to Joseph and they say, “Joseph, now that our father is dead, what are you going to do to us?” and he says, “I’m not going to do anything. I’m going to provide for you,” – I’m paraphrasing but – he said, “I know what you did was evil, but what you meant for evil, God meant for good.”
When Paul got arrested and thrown into prison, he didn’t go die in a self-pity pile. He started worshipping with Silas and the result is the conversion of prisoners and the conversion of a Philippian jailer.
One of my favorites is Daniel and the three youths that were with him, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, when they were brought into slavery by the Babylonian Empire, they would have been in my junior high youth group. And so they get there and, what happens?
They treat the King Nebuchadnezzar and his officials with respect, but they are faithful to the Lord and the result is King Nebuchadnezzar gets converted. Instead of fearfulness, instead of despair, God gives them hope and direction, God becomes their confidence and, even when they’re going to get thrown into a fiery furnace, “Hey, King, you can throw us in the furnace, but our God is going to deliver us either from your hand or through your hand. Our God isn’t shortened by you.”
Ultimately, Nebuchadnezzar, I believe, is converted as revealed by Daniel, Chapter 4, but let me tell you something else that happens. Daniel and, perhaps the three young men – although we don’t know – he now is in a position to affect two pagan empires, the Babylonian Empire and then the Mato-Persian Empire. He not only affects two empires, he becomes a primary counselor to pagan kings and he serves in five dynasties through two empires.
Through this, the people of God are disciplined, and refined and sent back to the Promised Land and men like Nehemiah are developed through the courts of these pagan kings who God will use and men like Ezra, Joshua, and Nehemiah – who become a key part of the restoration of God’s people, the line of the Redeemer that we celebrate at Christmas – the line of the Redeemer is preserved, the Temple is rebuilt, the city of Jerusalem is rebuilt.
And God uses these men because they refuse to be in despair. They lived unto the Lord and for the Lord in the midst of a culture gone bad. They didn’t go die in a pile – they just did the next right thing and put their trust in the Lord. Their hope did not waver because of their circumstances. The anger of man did not dominate them, but the fear of the Lord is what surrounded them.
That’s the way they lived and the result is some of their own number, hundreds of years later, show up at the stable of Jesus. They were the royal counselors of what was left over of the Persian Empire, royal Magi, that showed up at the birth of Jesus and, by the way, they get converted.
That’s what happens when you make the Lord your hope, not the last election. That’s what happens when the fear of the Lord is in your life, not the fear of man – when, instead of the anger of man, the love of the Lord fills your heart and your soul and we go to our knees in intercessory prayer for God to bring revival and Gospel awakenings to us and to our land.
Tom, I believe that’s the way we ought to respond. Let’s never let fear guide us, never let the anger of man destroy us and never let despair find a place in our life. Our hope is in the Lord. The love of the Lord casts out fear and our service to the Lord leads us to passion for Jesus, not the anger of man.
Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.
This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.