December 5, 2010

Crisis

Mark 6:14-29.

Herod had married his brother's wife. John the Baptist had told him it was unlawful. The woman Herod married hated John for telling Herod the marriage was unlawful, and wanted to kill John. Herod believed John to be a righteous man, so she was unable to persuade Herod to kill John. But she did have him jailed.

Herodias had a daughter, and the daughter danced at a party Herod held for his friends. The dance pleased Herod, so he promised the girl anything she wanted that was in his power to give her. Upon advice from her mother, she ask for John the Baptist's head on a platter.

26 And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.

Some time later, Herod heard of the fame of Jesus. Herod then faced a crisis of fear — he feared that John had come back to life. He was fearful that Christ was John the Baptist back from the dead, and vengeance would be taken.

14 And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him. 15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.

A crisis can be defined as a crucial stage or turning point in the course of things.

I have also heard that the Chinese ideogram for crisis is "a dangerous opportunity."

The exceptional circumstances of life, the crisis of life, are educational.

Crises comes very unexpectedly; so they will reveal the truth.

We do not have time to prepare for a crises when they arrive. A good example is an automobile accident. It takes place in only a few seconds, but it can easily change the course of our lives.

15 or so years ago, I promised an elderly lady in Linden that I would do her funeral. She even gave me the scripture she wanted to use. It was a long day's drive each way, and the funeral went very well.

Of course, I was anxious to see how the church was doing. About 11 years ago now, shortly before my wife was diagnosed with cancer, a young man, Steve Covington, and his friend visited us. They lived at the far end of the county from us, about a 45 minute drive. Carol and I visited them, and they told us that they had come out of the Arminianism as they studied Scripture. However, the Baptist church there were in at the time was very committed and radical arminians.

I knew the pastor. Jessica had gone to school with his daughter, and the man was a contractor, and we had had him put a new roof on the church.

The pastor had removed these two men from any position of responsibility, and finally told them they would be happier some place else. He was very fearful of their Calvinist, reformed influence in the church.

They were both at very lose ends, and faced a crises in their lives. I urged them to travel to the other end of the county to fellowship with us. They did, and joined the church. It wasn't long before one of the men moved to Linden. Then a few years the other moved much closer also. We worked with them until I resigned the church, and moved out here. Bettie and I encouraged them to homeschool, which they did. Their daughter got married here recently.

The one young man who moved to Linden refused to tithe. The refusal to tithe was not the real problem; the problem was his reasoning. He worked in a factory, and he owned some rental houses. He said his goal was to be a millionaire, and then he would tithe, because he wanted to prove to the Lord that he could be faithful with a million dollars. He lost his family in his pursuit of his million. I believe they are back together, and I did not check on how they are doing now.

Steve, however, stuck it out. The steel mill where he worked went bust, and the church tried to help him by providing some work around the buildings for him to do. It was not much, but it helped.

He then got another job at a new steel plant that was build in Crawfordsville, NewCore mini-mill, which processes scrap into usable steel coils.

We left, and he stayed. Over the years, several obstacles arose, but he remained faithful. Two years ago, they finally got a good pastor. The man had worked as a guard. He was promoted to a supervisory position, and when the Chaplin position opened he applied. With no theological degree, he got the position.

He had pastored a fly away arminian church. And like me and the two young men, through study of the scriptures, had to depart from that doctrine. The church removed him.

Divine providence brought him to the attention of the men of the Linden church, and he became pastor two years ago.

They now have a plurality of elders, three, of which Steve is one. The Lord is blessing them greatly with young families, all homeschoolers. They run 40-50 for their Wednesday night Bible study.

It is worth mentioning that their growth is not from so called, "door to door soul-wining", but from the influence upon friends and family. Over the years, I have seen that real church growth comes through the influence of faithful church members upon their family and friends.

In other words, it is not the "pastor" who builds a church, it is the church members who catch a vision of their Godly responsibilities, and take their influence to all they know. The job of the pastor is to build the people.

When I went there in 1983, the church was very much arminian pre-mil dispensational. Just recently, they have renamed the church, Sovereign Grace Baptist Church. In fact, the sign out front has not been changed yet. He made it clear to me that they are reformed, holding that the Old Testament law has the same authority today as it did then, and that they hold to the 1689 Confession.

All of that to say this: What was a serious crises, including being asked to leave a church and job loss, has turned into a great blessing that could not have even been imagined 11 years ago at the time of the conflict with the arminian pastor.

What does a crisis do in the lives of individuals and of nations? What are the purposes of the crises?

Let me give some simple points about the crises that arise in the lives of individuals and of nations.

1) It is important to realize that the crises of life are worked out by God:

Ephesians 1:2 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Ephesians 1 clearly presents the gospel of faith in Christ, redemption through his blood, v. 7. V. 9 talks of God making knowing to man the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself. V. 11 speaks of obtaining an inheritance, and the inheritance is redemption through Christ.

V. 11 also points out that God WORKS ALL THINGS AFTER OR ACCORDING TO, HIS OWN WILL.

Then v. 12 speaks of trusting Christ.

Here he shows us that events, particularly crises in the lives of individuals and nations, are for the purpose of calling men to himself.

As I look back, I can clearly tell you each crisis that forced me into the ministry back in the early 70s. I can sure tell you the emotional crisis in the last week of October, 1977 that forced me to face salvation.

The first and foremost purpose of the crisis that arises in our lives --- whether financial, physical or emotional --- is to get our attention so the Lord can work his will in and through us.

How many professed Christians need a crisis in their lives to get their attention, or to get them to follow through with their Christian responsibilities, or prepare their hearts so the Lord can speak to them?

2) Crisis in our lives make history.

History does not record the every day, mundane things of life. Whether in our lives or in the life of a nation, it is the special events that are remembered. As I look back over my life, I cannot tell you the events of three weeks ago. However, I can sure tell you about the events that led up to my eye surgery and the decisions I had to make.

I turned the who situation over to the Lord, telling him that if I lost my sight, it was in his hands. The same with Carol, as we agreed that the Lord does all things well. At each crisis, I detirmined that the Lord does all things well as he works out his according to his divine purpose:

Mark 7:37 And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

It is the crises of life that makes up the history of our lives and of our families. The crises is what is burned into our memories.

3) Man cannot tell what he is until some special event makes his soul quake with fear, or brings upon him the light of great joy.

As with individuals, so with nations --- monotony would kill us. All enthusiasm would die out, and and corruption would become universal. God has so arranged his government that monotony is broken up by startling events,--- the thunderbolt, the pestilence, the mildew --- these things suddenly come upon us, and they teach life. The prospect of the grave calls to heaven. That is, the closeness of death reminds us of heaven.

I came so close to being electrocuted, it is not funny.

4) Crises turn theory into action. Talk is cheap. A crisis will clearly reveal what is theory and what is reality in our heart and lives. A crisis will reveal what is down in our souls. A crisis will turn a dream world into reality mighty quickly.

How many people have I heard speak with who have told me of how much they love the Lord and how much they want to do great things for him? Yet when a crisis comes, they fall by the wayside. They are no where to be found. On the other hand, we see many who may not say anything, yet in a crisis, they do great things for the Lord.

I have mentioned many times, Circumstances do not make us what we are --- they reveal what we are. The crises of life reveal the truth about ourselves and about others. The crises of life reveal our character, and we can either deal with what is revealed, or ignore it.

A crisis will not leave us unchanged. They will reveal our strong points as well as our weak points. What are we made of? What do we need to work on? What ruff edges need filing off? The crisis becomes a wood rasp to remove the bad edges, or they will make them worse. The crises of life file off the ruff edges. If handled right, they make us into what we ought to be for the Lord.

But I have seen crises make folks very ruff and antagonistic against the Lord and against others.

We glibly quote Romans 8:

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 ¶ For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

The crises is allowed to come in order to form us into the image of Christ. They will either form Christ in us, or turn us against God.
5) In all great crises, both in individual and national life, there is an instinctive movement toward God.

Probably one of the best things that could happen to the world would be a complete economic collapse. When the crisis aries, normally the first thing a person or nation does is look toward the Lord.

But we see today that our crisis has caused people, even Christians, to cry out to the god of the age for help. Big Government has become the answer for everything. Government owes this to me. How can I get more out of the government? I heard a man on Public Radio the other day as they discussed unemployment compensation:

Why should I work when I can get more in unemployment than I can working?

I used to watch "Real TV." The show was made up primally of videos of a crisis taking place. More often than not, when they interview the person who just went through the crisis, the individuals would thank God for getting them through the crisis.

6) A crisis will clear the field of false friends.

Proverbs 27:10 Thine own friend, and thy father's friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother's house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.

7) A serious crisis today will cause us to leave the not so serious things behind.

A good crisis will remind us of what is important, and what is not.

The financial crisis today is forcing many people to chose the essentials over the non-essentials.

8) Herod was reminded of his evil deed against John when he heard of the fame of Jesus,

Mark 6:14 And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.

A crisis will bring up all the sins which have weakened and deformed us. The crisis in our lives is a call to remember and repent of past sins. John's blood cried out from the ground for vengeance against Herod.

A crisis pricks the conscience. A crisis will cause us to remember the past. A crisis will cause us to seriously examine our past lives and promises.

God controls the crisis that arises: Did we do something to bring it about? Is the Lord trying to get our attention?

8) Crises reminds us that we are hemmed in by God.

They remind us of God's protection of his saints.
They remind us that God is in charge.
Crises remind us we that we cannot control circumstances --- we can do nothing about them or we would .
The crises of life teach us about the sovereignty of God.
They force us to leave things in his hands.

Even those who make no profession of Christ will admit in a crisis that they are in the hands of God, and situations are out of their control.

9) Crises show us how public our most secret life is.

Luke 12:3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

10) A crisis will reveal our Christianity for all to see.

11) They remind us that God counts the thoughts of the mind.

12) The crises forced Herod to look honestly at himself. That honest look can lead to goodness or wickedness. How many folks have we seen when faced with a crisis, turn away from the Lord and his word?

12) All of Herod's best efforts against the truth John proclaimed could not still his conscience.

Conc:

Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

God brings about the crises in our lives whether — financial, physical or emotional. They have a purpose — to draw us to himself. What do they reveal about us? What kind of crisis will it take to get our attention?