If you’re reading this, you survived 2020. And yes, of course you get a t-shirt. Sadly, the t-shirt sizes were determined at the beginning of the year, so if you’re like most of us, it won’t fit. Which is probably a great way to sum up the year just past – it was more than we expected and we’re now carrying the baggage into the New Year.
Since the divisive elections in November and January, the events at the Capitol, and all the turmoil this country is hurdling from and toward, fear seems to be getting an upper hand on everyone including the saints. Our addiction to the news and social media, are making things infinitely worse. The liberal world is leading the charge against all things spiritual, and so many people seem to be taking divisiveness, accusations, cancelations, and outright name calling to whole new levels.
Apparently, conservatives (Christians and non-Christians alike) are now playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, and the ghosts of 2020 past and 2021 future are haunting our nights with choruses of “the sky is falling”, “the end times are here”, “it’s time to stockpile…”, “honey, cancel culture is at the door – they say you’re being cancelled”.
Add to that the taunts and actions of liberal Marxists in corporations and government who are now threatening, “We have the power to______ (fill in the scary blank)? So, what’s a Christian to do in this new world of mudslinging, threats, and cancel culture, when the powerful are preying on those they disagree with and have decided to hate? Well, as for me, about a month ago I just unplugged from all the news media and social media. Yea, people stop by to tell me all the crazy things going on, but I’ve just lost interest.
If you are concerned about the power-mad crazies in Washington, the “we will cancel you” crazies in Silicon Valley, or Soros and the billionaire swamp rats called the deep state bent on taking over the world in 2021, the short answer is: Power and opportunity are short-lived companions. They never last as long as the holder’s dream. And for every grave with weeping mourners, God is walking down a dusty road, arriving too late to stop all of the pain, but early enough to say, “Come forth.”
First and foremost, it’s true, we are at war, and the enemy is powerful and scary, but the question to ask is why do they see themselves as our enemy? “And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” 1 John 4:3-6.
For us, only Satan is the enemy. People, even powerful ones, are held captive by him to do his will, and the Gospel can set them free. They may release their venom at us, but their target is Jesus. To the natural mind it looks like Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, Liberals, etc are attacking, but they are just pawns and puppets to the one who has captured their hearts. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12.
If we battle this enemy in the flesh, we will be unarmed and lose because our weapons are spiritual. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.
One of our greatest weapons isn’t even wielded by us; it’s built into creation. “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception” Proverbs 14:8. The folly of fools is a heavy weight that drags you down quickly because you don’t know you are deceived. For instance, for profit companies have boards who demand profit, not self-righteousness. They rose to power by following the rules of capitalism. Don’t fear their power, their attempts to cancel good people, or their threats. The devil is helping them now, but he is also setting a trap for them so he can destroy them later. Meanwhile, God has plans to bless us, which they cannot overcome. “Joseph told his brothers, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” Genesis 50:20.
They certainly couldn’t and wouldn’t hear it now, but I so wish I could tell these leaders, “Careful. You reap what you sow.” “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. “For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life” Galatians 6:7-8. The worst part about improper sowing, is the fallout, “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” Hosea 8:7.
While I expect heathens to be deceived, God expects much more from the church. Christians are not being wise – they are lashing out instead of planting. Consider your ways and the fruit of your ways. In the Parable of the Sower, the farmer wasted much seed on soil that could not grow the seeds. Our words in times like these should be considered precious seed, not flung about recklessly. Farmers don’t till the soil because their angry. They’re purposeful so that they produce fruit. Everything we are seeing now only looks bad if you don’t know history – it’s all happened before. It only feels bad if you don’t have faith. Be assured the dark cloud you currently see and feel will not bring about the end. God’s plans preceded these schemes of man and His ways are higher.
Psalm 46 is a trustworthy companion for the months ahead: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…”. One day the very earth we are living on will be no more, but we who know Jesus will still have no cause to fear. From childhood, with our hand over our heart, we all declare that America is, “One nation under God…” because it was not founded just by man. If your eyes are on temporary suffering, your ears are probably still attending to the lies flowing from the news media or social media.
And it’s about time we were honest about those names: “news” and “social”. If it’s false information and opinion, then it’s not news – it’s propaganda. If you’re all alone engaging in it or ignoring everyone around you because you’re glued to your phone – then it’s not social. There’s nothing social about it. It’s entirely antisocial. We would all do well to take a crash course on the early 1900’s when the “ism’s” that are now ascending first began. In 1919, just after WWI and 15 years before he became chancellor, Hitler was ordered to infiltrate the German Workers Party. He did so, describing himself as “a propagandist.” The lies and misinformation they created and spread over the next two decades would convince normal people to fear, hate, and then murder. Consider what you read, ponder, and believe – and what you share. Don’t let “a propagandist” be the way you are described one day.
Are you holding your phone or is it holding you? While I am thankful for technologies like the smart phone and our connected world, it can quickly become a new “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” If you’re spending more time on your smart phone than you do with God every day, the evil side is creeping in on you, so don’t be surprised when fear refuses to loosen its grip on you. You can be smarter than your phone…just put it down…walk away…take a break until it no longer grips you.
“But wait…it’s good…it’s how I read devotions and the Bible, etc etc etc.” Yea, me too, but make yourself earn the right to pick it up each morning. Spend time with God – just you. He is the literal Tree of Life. Smart phones can be powerful tools or unrelenting temptations (not an enemy or a friend – but more of a “frien-emy”). If God doesn’t feel like your refuge and strength, then it’s because you aren’t ever-present with Him. He can’t help you “fear not” if you won’t make Him your focus.
“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; He lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” Psalm 46 continued. Is this river in your heart? Are you taking the time to dip your feet in until the earth melts away?
The demonic spirits behind 2020 are very much alive and creating an ever-increasing fallout from Covid, the loss of friends and loved ones, the loss of our rights, antifa, fake news, lies, false accusations of every sort, conspiracy, election fraud, the collapse of a just judiciary, the utter corruption and mendacity that was revealed within both political parties in America, and the list goes on. And it reaches far beyond America’s shores. The result of that fallout is that hope is constantly being swatted away by fear. “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits” Daniel 11:32. All those boasting about how they’ll destroy so and so, have no idea what God has in store for them. Don’t be afraid of 2021.
“Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations He has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress…” Psalm 46 continued.
Nothing else and no one else is God. Psalm 2 famously reminds us, “Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against His anointed, saying, “Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them… Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth…your way will lead to your destruction, for His wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”
Tell your mind, your soul, and your heart to, “be still.” If He hasn’t taken action yet, then wait. Our 45th President wasn’t the first to have an election involve corruption that overruled the desires of the voters. It’s happened at least four or five times before – to some degree. What we call “the swamp”, “the deep state”, and lots of other names has tried since 1789 to remake this nation in the image of European “isms”. And now it looks like our new leaders accept Marxism as a credo. But it was not politicians, rioters, or people of any sort that initiated the flood of suffering, it was the Spirit of Babylon, and her fate has long been sealed. “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great,’ which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries…The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath” Revelation 14 and 16.
When James wrote, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” James1:9. I imagine him thinking back to his time with Simon Peter, who was a man of many opinions and words. After seeing the miraculous catch of fish, he followed Jesus and was first to declare that He was the Son of God. But three years later, after experiencing all the miracles, Peter celebrated the Passover and his time of prayer in the garden with Jesus, not with the peace that passes understanding, but with a sword at his side, and it was his “go to” response. “So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers…They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons…Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear…Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Some years later, as told in Acts 12, as another Passover season arrived a more mature Peter was thrown in jail once again by King Herod, who had just executed James. It looked grim, until an angel showed up and led Peter out of the prison. God didn’t need Peter’s sword in the Garden, and He also didn’t need it to bring judgment to the Roman authorities. “Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the Word of God continued to spread and flourish.”
Whenever I am in Israel, I like to climb to that exact spot in the ancient amphitheater where Herod’s royal seat was stationed, and where he died. From there I can see the area Paul was kept imprisoned and the arena where deep gouges in the walls testify of Christians facing attacking lions. Herod is no more, along with his throne. The gospel advanced and outlasted his murders, his schemes, his crimes, and his government. “He was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.” Israel is currently planted in the land, and the church that began there at Pentecost has covered the earth. Against all odds, she has overcome every government and corporation who tried to defeat her. “Therefore we will not fear…