(Originally posted 1-10-19)
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken. Psalm 62:6
One of the saddest things to witness as a Christian is to see brothers and sisters grow cold in their faith. Hearts that once burned bright for Christ can sometimes fall away and become numb to the truth of God’s Word. The older I get, the more I see and hear stories of outright rejection of God after years of faithfully walking with Him. It’s sad because you realize how much potential has been lost. Some of the most “on-fire” believers I have seen (whether personally known or witnessed from afar) have forsaken the faith and abandoned the love they once knew.
It makes a person ask several questions:
Did they ever truly believe in the first place?
What was it that made them doubt?
Is it possible for them to believe again?
We still love on and pray for those who have chosen not to follow Christ. We pray that their hearts would be softened once again and open to the message of the Gospel. We believe that if something truly did resonate at one point, it will come back around again. Perhaps in a crisis moment or a point where they call out to God in desperation. We don’t pray for bad things to happen…but we do pray for opportunities for the cold heart to start beating once again.
Even in starting out this year “In It For the Long Haul” I can say for certain that a question arises in my brain after pondering all of the sad stories of lost brothers and sisters. The question is this: If it happened to them, what’s to say it won’t happen to me? That’s a question that can rock me if I allow it to. If I start to question all I’ve known and ponder the thought of whether or not it’s really real, I can go down a rabbit trail of thoughts. I’m not against raising questions or addressing doubts. But I know that if my foundation is secure, that foundation is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It can withstand the questions and the doubts. It can be there waiting in the morning after I’ve faced the dark night. With Psalm 62 as our backdrop today, I want to look at some of the ways we can stand strong and even thrive despite seeing others who have fallen along the wayside.
1. Put your hope in nothing else but Christ
He alone is my rock and salvation...
I believe we often fall prey to disbelief or backsliding because of one thing: misplaced hope. We look to the world to fulfill us. We somehow expect that this world is meant to fulfill us and bring us contentment. We see people around us who seem happy and we desire what they have. Today’s modern equivalent to “keeping up with the Joneses” is in the virtual realm: glorified Facebook or Instagram profiles that portray a life that we want but can’t seem to attain (they’re all fake BTW).
In all of this, even as Christians we look outside of God for something that only He can provide. We misplace our hope in Him and put it in other things. Family, jobs, careers, money, fame, love…the list is endless. But the list will never satisfy and will never bring peace. It sounds simple and trite, but the God-shaped hole in our hearts can only be filled by one thing: God. He created us and put within us a need for Him. The Psalmist says that He alone is where our hope belongs. If we get this, life may still not always make sense but we trust in the One Who knows the number of our days. He is in control.
2. Know where to turn when the storms hit
Tragedy has brought to ruin many a life that once claimed faith in Christ. In the aftermath of divorce, death, financial ruin or other hardship, it is easy to ask “Where was God and why didn’t He care?” That is another question that can rock us if we allow it. Yes we can ask God tough questions. We can bring Him every doubt. But we can’t allow difficulties to shake us to the point of rejecting Him. Why? Because I believe He is faithful to show us Himself if we continue to seek Him beyond our need to understand.
Psalm 62 mentions several times the attribute of God being either a rock, a strong rock, a stronghold or a refuge. These are things that should bring us comfort even when the walls are crumbling down around us. We don’t have to hold it all together. We just have to trust in the One Who laid the foundations of the Earth and is BIG enough to keep us from falling. Tragedy will come in this life; it’s really not a matter of if but when. So in those moments, will you be ready to stay the course and allow God to be big enough for your need? He wants to show you He is more than able.
3. We don’t know what tomorrow brings, trust God today
Men are only a vapor; exalted men, an illusion. Weighed in the scales, they go up; together they are less than a vapor. Psalm 62:9
I love the honesty of the Psalms. It’s something that is often absent from many of today’s best-selling Christian authors or church “motivational” speakers. The reality of pain is not avoided in Scripture. Additionally, the brevity of life is not avoided. We are just vapors: mists that pass along the Earth and then are gone. Our time is so short.
In a sort of carpe diem (seize the day) type of charge, I share this fully out of love accompanied by truth: do not forsake today. It is all we have. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is not promised. We have to be fully in the moment and engaged with what God has before us today. This means that even though there is a time and place for doubt and questions, there must be a point at which we move forward in trust. Even blind trust is still trust. And that is the faith we often have to exhibit; a blind faith that simply says “God I don’t know why I’m facing this, but I’m going to trust You. I believe You have a plan.” From there, we move forward putting one foot in front of the other, one step and one day at a time.
In closing, there’s a final reason why I have to share this message and be obedient even though it’s not a comfortable topic. I believe God’s Word is real and living. I believe when it speaks of a Heaven and a Hell, those are literal, real places. Places that we as humans are destined for based upon what decisions we have made in this life. Psalm 62 finishes up with these last verses and it’s here where I end today:
God has spoken once; I have heard this twice: strength belongs to God, and faithful love belongs to You, Lord. For You repay each according to his works. Psalm 62:11,12
I believe God is a loving God. In that love, He desires that all would come to know Him. Sadly the choice many make even after professing faith, is to say no to Him. “For You repay each according to his works,” is the footnote to all that Psalm 62 has described (and I encourage you to read its short 12 verses). That repayment of what we have done is really not a good works vs. bad works type of scenario. It means that what we have decided to live for in this life, whether for Christ or not, will be repaid to us in the next life. Did we serve the Lord and profess His name in good times and bad? Did we keep the faith when others choose not to? If we did, I believe the prize will await us when we finish the race. The prize will be Heaven; surrounded by His presence and glory.
Guys, I know this is a tough message today. It’s not an easy message to type as I sit in a crowded Starbucks…seeing the faces of many strangers and wondering, “Do they know Jesus?” But the hope that we can bring in response to this message is something we must embrace. God’s heart is for the prodigal. He goes after the 1, leaving the 99. He searches the entire house until He finds the lost coin. He is always seeking and pursuing us. That’s the heart of the Father and He’s calling us to continue following Him for the long haul.
Are you in? Let’s not be shaken today.
Love you much!