The Legacy of A Stress-free Life

By Brian Shilhavey

David, the second Jewish king lived a thousand years before Christ.  He was a man who faced tremendous stress in his life. Few of us today will face the kind of anxiety David experienced for more than 10 years of his life when he was constantly on the run from his enemies who were trying to kill him.  His psalms reveal keys that unlock powerful solutions even for today’s high stress world.

“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger. My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.”

Psalm 55:1-8

One of the realities of life that our current physical science-based medical system has had to admit in recent years is that there are non-physical causes to poor health and disease. One widely accepted non-physical cause is “stress.” It’s quite well known today that the presence of stress in one’s life, and how one deals with that stress, has a direct impact on one’s health. Unfortunately, the solutions the medical system most often prescribes today for mental and emotional health are expensive drugs with serious side effects. So many people are “stressed out” that anti-depressant drugs have become a growing and prosperous business for pharmaceutical companies.

King David wrote in Psalm 55 that it wasn’t just his enemies that caused problems, but also his “friends” and fellow believers:

“If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.”

Psalm 55:12-14

Notice the signs of stress he wrote in that Psalm: “My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught… My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me.” If David confessed these feelings to a psychiatrist today, he would have been prescribed anti-depressant drugs immediately to try and stabilize his emotional condition. He had all the signs of “mental disease” including the temptation to try and escape from all of his problems by running away from them: “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” He was unstable, neurotic, and desperate. He would probably be labeled as “insane” today and be committed to a mental health hospital.

What was David’s solution to his enormous stress?

David did not seek out physicians in his anxiety. He appealed to God for help, trusting that God would hear his prayers and change his condition. If you read the psalms of David you will notice that David consistently took two approaches to dealing with anxiety and stress.  Both approaches involved prayer and a personal relationship with his Creator.

  1. David prayed to God, asking him to intervene in the circumstances of his life that were causing the stress:

“Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence and strife in the city… Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave, for evil finds lodging among them. But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. God, who is enthroned forever, will hear them and afflict them— men who never change their ways and have no fear of God.”

Psalm 55:9-19

As strong and powerful as David was, in many circumstances he was powerless against his enemies and the rulers of his day. But he knew first hand that God was not powerless, and so he appealed to God to intervene.

  1. David cast all of his worries and cares on God. He trusted in Him to take care of them all, and to sustain him with strength to endure everything.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

Psalm 55:22

These two ways of using prayer to deal with stress are just as relevant to us today.  We are in the age of the New Covenant – Instituted by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The believers in the early church were often arrested and persecuted, suffering tremendous stress. The same two principles were used to deal with their anxiety and stress.

Principle 1 – pray for God to intervene in the stressful situation.

Here is an example of what was prayed after the believers were arrested and released for preaching about Jesus and miraculously healing a man (they didn’t follow the routine protocol for the healthcare of their day!):

“On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”

Act 4:23-31

Principle 2 – cast all our anxieties and care on God, trusting him to take care of all our problems and to sustain us with his strength:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 – prescription for mental health

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.”

1Peter 5:7-11

These are the two biblical principles for dealing with anxiety and stress, and they are the guiding principles for mental health. No drugs are needed but there is a requirement. It requires a relationship with God through Jesus.  And this is not just an intellectual knowledge about him. So the first step is the spiritual rebirth.  That’s something we need to seek and find for ourselves.

How do you deal with anxiety and stress? The two principles written about here are time-tested principles that have been used for thousands of years, long before modern-day pharmaceuticals came into the market place with our current medical system. They are backed by a guarantee from the Creator himself, the one who formed and fashioned you while still in your mother’s womb. Best of all, they are free!

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

1Peter 2:24-25

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 6:23

Do you want a prescription for drug-free mental health?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Reclaiming Your Legacy of Thanksgiving

by Dennis Petersen

reagan-1st-congress-prayerMuch has been researched and written lately about the proven personal benefits of expressing genuine gratitude.  It turns out that thankfulness is not typically a result of being happy, but rather the opposite is true.  People who deliberately and openly confess their thankfulness to others are the happiest of people.  And isn’t it interesting that those who recognize that their lives have a purpose are the ones who are prone to give thanks to their Creator and to those around them.

Have you discovered your purpose?  Do you have a clear reason why you’re excited to get up in the morning?  If you have a mission to drive your daily goals, you’re a much happier person than those who are just being driven by survival mode.

We’re a nation of people that has a centuries-old tradition of celebrating annual solemn days of Thanksgiving.  Yet, it seems that our current generation has almost no concept of the deeply personal conviction of the importance of gratitude.  And it’s pretty obvious that that gratitude should most deservedly be directed to the Almighty Giver of every blessing and perfect gift in our lives.

It seems like everybody is scrambling frantically to demand that their comforts and material desires be accommodated.  How often we see people so ungrateful that complaints and cynical dissatisfaction has become society’s normal?  Things haven’t changed much in 2,000 years have they?

Remember The Sin of Ingratitude in Luke 17:7-19?
Jesus healed ten men of leprosy.  One of them was a Samaritan man.  He was the only one of the ten who came back to Jesus and humbly thanked Him for healing him.  Jesus asked him: “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Sadly, my missionary friend in Africa reports that barely 10% of those they help will bother to express their gratitude with even a word of thanks or a note card.  Gratitude may be rare, but those who express it discover the most enriching lives on earth.  Instead of loneliness, poverty and depression, they are the ones most inclined to be enriched, energized, inspired and transformed

Gratitude goes counter to the ‘victim mentality’ that has deceived so many who think they are entitled to everything at the expense of others in our culture.  When we give thanks sincerely, we acknowledge that we have received a benefit that is unearned.  We can’t help but look beyond ourselves.

When you are stunned with the reality that you survived what could have been a fatal event, how does that make you feel?

After the victory of the Battle of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first National Day of Thanksgiving, November 1, 1777.  How did they express their feeling?  Here’s what they wrote in the proclamation:

“The grateful feeling of their hearts… join the penitent confession of their manifold sins…  that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance… and… under the providence of Almighty God… secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace.”

If we want to reclaim our true history, we are going to have to work at telling our children about our real history.  It isn’t being taught in most schools and colleges today.  Thomas Jefferson was the governor of Virginia in 1779.  What did he chose to proclaim for his State after Admiral John Paul Jones captured the British ship HMS Serapis?  The Continental Congress declared a Day of Thanksgiving, which

“Congress… hath thought proper… to recommend to the several States… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for his mercies, and of Prayer, for the continuance of his favour… That He would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory; That He would grant to His church, the plentiful effusions of Divine Grace, and pour out His Holy Spirit on all Ministers of the Gospel; That He would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth… I do therefore… issue this proclamation… appointing… a day of public and solemn Thanksgiving and Prayer to Almighty God… Given under my hand… this 11th day of November, in the year of our Lord, 1779… Thomas Jefferson.”

 

Hear what that same Continental Congress proclaimed after Benedict Arnold’s traitorous plot to betray West Point was thwarted.  It was a Day of Thanksgiving, October 18, 1780:

“In the late remarkable interposition of His watchful providence, in the rescuing the person of our Commander-in-Chief and the army from imminent dangers, at the moment when treason was ripened for execution… it is therefore recommended… a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer… to confess our unworthiness… and to offer fervent supplications to the God of all grace… to cause the knowledge of Christianity to spread over all the earth.”

After British General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown, Congress proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, October 11, 1782:

“It being the indispensable duty of all nations… to offer up their supplications to Almighty God… the United States in Congress assembled… do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these states in general, to observe… the last Thursday… of November next, as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies.”

After the Treaty of Paris ended the Revolutionary War, Congress recommended that the States declare a Day of Thanksgiving.  Massachusetts Governor John Hancock, the former President of the Continental Congress, proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving, November 8, 1783:

“The Citizens of these United States have every Reason for Praise and Gratitude to the God of their salvation… I do… appoint… the 11th day of December next (the day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate… that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel… That we also offer up fervent supplications… to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish… and to fill the world with His glory.”

After the U.S. Congress passed the First Amendment, it requested President George Washington issue a National Day of Thanksgiving, which he did, October 3, 1789:

“Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness; ‘Now, therefore, I do recommend… Thursday, the 26TH DAY of NOVEMBER … to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be… That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble Thanks… for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government… particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed… to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue.”

On January 1, 1795, President George Washington proclaimed a Day of Thanksgiving:

“When we review the calamities, which afflict so many other nations… the great degree of internal tranquility we have enjoyed –    the recent confirmation of that tranquility by the suppression of an insurrection which so wantonly threatened it – the happy course of public affairs in general –  the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens; our circumstances which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the Divine beneficence towards us.  In such a state of things it is, in an especial manner, our duty as people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience…  I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States,  to set apart…a Day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer: and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the great Ruler of Nations.”

 

the-first-prayer-in-congress-september-1774After hearing those inspiring proclamations from national leaders – which, by the way, were entirely inspired by the attitude of profoundly committed preachers in the churches of the American colonies – doesn’t it seem about time that the pastors of our Bible-believing congregations lead the way for reclaiming our lost legacy for the current generation?  Should they not humbly call for days of contrition, repentance and sober thanksgiving?  We have such excellent Biblical and historic precedents to guide our way.

 

Taking God’s Blessings for Granted
Dr. Martin Luther observed: “The greater God’s gifts and works, the less they are regarded.”   It seems that the blessings of life, health, freedom and food are not really appreciated unless they are lost, or threatened. Sunrises and sunsets occur daily so they are taken for granted aren’t they?

Consider the Stars
Ralph Waldo Emerson observed that “If the constellations appeared only once in a thousand years, imagine what an exciting event it would be. But because they are there every night, we barely give them a look.”

The Blessings of Being Hungry and Lonely
Have you noticed that the blessings of rain are barely appreciated unless one has been through a drought?  A hungry man is more thankful for a tiny morsel than most affluent Americans for their table full of choice foods. A lonely woman in a nursing home will appreciate a visit more than a rock star with a crowd of fans. A Christian who has suffered under persecution for decades and receives his first copy of the Holy Scriptures is more thankful for one book than we are for all the Christian books, Bible translations and magazines that overflow our shelves.

You Should Experience Blindness for a Few Days
Helen Keller said: “I have often thought that it would be a blessing if each human being were stricken blind and deaf for a few days for some time during his early adult life. It would make him more appreciative of sight and of the joys of sound.”

A Biblical Command
There are at least 138 passages of Scripture that deal with the subject of thanksgiving. We are commanded: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His Name.” Psalm 100:4.

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8.

“Give thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:12.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.

Joyful, Prayerful and Thankful
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Plainly it is God’s will for us to be joyful, prayerful and thankful.

A Sacrifice of Praise
“Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name.” Hebrews 13:15.

What makes praise a sacrifice?  Could it be that when the blessings we are thankful for have not yet manifested themselves in God’s providence?
A Good Habit
“It ought to be as habitual for us to thank as to ask.” C. H. Spurgeon

The Parent of All Virtues
It has been said that a thankful heart is the parent of all virtues.

What is the Root of Sin?

“The wrath of God is being revealed from Heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness… for although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”  Romans 1:18-21.  Look!  The failure to give thanks to God is the root sin that leads to futile thinking and foolish, darkened hearts.  Think about that.

One of the Worst Sins
In 1 Timothy 3:1-5 the apostle Paul gives a list of some of the most terrible sins including: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, traitorous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power.”  Did you see that ungratefulness is listed in the middle of a list of horrible sins?

A Fruit of Character
What’s one of the first lessons good parents teach their children is to say? “Thank You”. It takes character and courage to admit being in debt to others. It is humbling. However, those who cannot admit their indebtedness to others cannot learn, nor can they seek forgiveness.

Maturity
Failure to express gratitude is more than immaturity and rudeness, it is ungodly. We are commanded to honour our parents, our elders and our leaders. It is a sign of maturity to acknowledge indebtedness.  Have you learned anything?  Then you’re in debt to somebody else, aren’t you?  We are all in debt, first, and mostly, to God Himself, for our life, health, food, talents, family, friends, opportunities and for our salvation itself. We are also in debt to past generations who have sacrificed for the freedoms we now enjoy: Reformers, martyrs, pioneers, missionaries, soldiers, parents, teachers, pastors and so many others have sacrificed for our benefit.
An Attitude of Entitlement
Instead of the Christian character of gratitude, our present culture prefers to promote an attitude of entitlement. This is the very opposite of gratitude. It builds on pride and covetousness. It is fuelled by bitterness, greed and envy. All too many in the present humanistic society take things for granted, demand to get, rather than seeking to give.  It is sheer wickedness, and is a sure road to being led astray by all sorts of empty promises and destructive ideas.

An Attitude of Gratitude
A grateful mind is a great mind. “Be thankful, therefore, for the least benefit and thou shalt be worthy to receive greater.” Thomas a Kempis.  Start giving thanks to God and the humblest of servants like your garbage man for the little blessings in life.  Start today to write notes of sincere gratitude to people who have blessed you in any small way.  Ask God to guide your thoughts.  Partner with a friend to hold one another accountable in your new habit of expressing gratitude.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High; To declare Your loving kindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night.” Psalm 92:1-2.

Pride, Ingratitude and Unteachability
Those who do not take advice do not think they have anything to learn. They are often the same people who have a problem expressing a genuine heartfelt gratitude to others. It is a sign of pride to be ungrateful.  It reveals an unwillingness to acknowledge a debt to others.  By God’s grace, when we are humble enough to admit our wrong, He is powerful enough to enable us to change.  We can be a thankful person.

 

Let’s Make this season a Turning Point for expressing Thanks-giving.

List 7 things you are thankful for in your personal life today.

Call 2 people who you can honestly thank for something they contributed to your life.

Privately talk to God about the gratitude you have for His saving grace.

Take 2 minutes to begin pondering the incredible blessings you have to live now.

Promise yourself you will thank the next 10 people you encounter for something they did for you, even if it’s just a common courtesy.

The results of gratitude?

You will become healthier.  Recent studies suggest that gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, improves sleep quality, and reduces inflammation in the body.  Grateful people are also more inclined to eat better and exercise which obviously increases your wellness.

You will become a more compassionate person.  When you make a routine of expressing gratitude to God and to others for tiny courtesies, you are looking beyond yourself.  You will be kinder.  You will be more forgiving. You will find joy in serving others and be willing to bear others’ burdens without expecting anything in return.

 

When you appreciate what you have, it’s impossible not to share it with others.  On the other hand, you can’t give something away when you’re empty yourself.  When you don’t know how rich you really are, you can’t take delight in sharing little insights with others.  The more aware and thankful we are of the good things in our lives, the more we are able to give to others.

 

Your relationships will deepen.  When you relate more gratefully to others you will draw closer and bond more deeply to the people in your life.  When you express gratitude to the people you love, you become more satisfied with your relationships.  You will reach out to others more easily.  You’ll be more generous.  You’ll be more forgiving and less judgmental.

A grateful heart is more content, more happy no matter what his circumstances are like.  And a happy heart focuses more on the really important joys of peace and little blessings that make life worthwhile.  That’s like a healing ointment to restore your health even when modern medicine can’t do it.

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His Name; make known among the nations what He has done… Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:8,34.

Perilous Times – What are we to do?

How do you restore a fallen country, culture, society?

Burke Quote Triumph Evil Prayerful Education of Christians must begin with parents and pastors to restore a fallen culture.

Is there any doubt that we’re living in “perilous times?”

Proverbs 29:2 says: “When the righteous are increased (or flourish in number and authority), the people rejoice; But when the wicked (man) rules, the people groan.”

Is it any wonder we’re hearing a lot of groaning these days?  And it’s not so much because of the ordinary stresses of life really, is it?  A lot of our complaining is the direct result of governing over-reach into the private affairs of citizens.  Corruption in political government is the infection of every nation or organization that is ruled by self-serving leaders.  But the policing part of the public government equation is increasingly necessary only because of the epidemic lack of Godly morality and self control. George Washington, John Adams and others insisted that was absolutely essential for the preservation of our constitutional republic.

Examples of the wretched condition of our ‘modern’ society that has been labeled “post-modern” are filling many books and editorial commentaries today.  Corruption in high government has never been more flagrant.  Lying openly in courts has made a mockery of the judicial system.  Avoiding prosecution because of political status, like so many other nefarious actions, have made plain constitutional laws like ‘due process’ a complete sham.  Bribes, stealing donated funds from humanitarian purposes and penalizing producers by taxation to encourage indolence and immoral lifestyles – we are all wearied with groaning.

Most egregious and offensive of all, is the government supported protection of masses of evil doers while making life difficult for peace-loving hard-workers who just want to be able to do good for those they chose.  The offenses are vast and well known so we don’t have to labor them here.  Isaiah prophesied, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).  They most assuredly will get their just judgment.  But in the meanwhile, the good people are groaning and injustice is rampant.

What concerns me is that all too many otherwise godly leaders are not courageous enough to speak up and challenge the mixed multitude of people that listen to their influence.

Don’t miss it.  The same passage of Isaiah tells us,

“Therefore, my people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst” (Isaiah 5:13).

Whose people?  God’s own chosen nation.  Do you suppose this could be applied to even His church today?

And where do they go?  Into exile… into slavery… into tyranny.  Even honorable men are famished.  What does that mean?  Starving – hungry – lacking life’s ordinary needs. Their multitude is parched with thirst.  Sounds like a dry desolate condition, doesn’t it?

Did you see that prophecy starts out with the word “therefore?”  That means you have to see the preceding passage to see what’s the cause of this, right?

Now there are a lot of conditions Isaiah lists for why God is unpleased with His people here.  But the summary statement in verse 12 is simple enough for any of us to understand and apply today to the family of God, beginning with the leaders.  It says:

“but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, nor do they consider the work of His hands.”

Beginning with the clear Biblical teachings of creation and the flood that the apostle Peter predicted in 2 Peter 3:5-6 would be willfully ignored in the last days, the “deeds of the Lord” are obviously referring to the testimony of what God has actually done in the history of His people and how He has dealt with their enemies.

We’re talking here about education.  Nothing is more fundamental to a society of civil humans than education.  Whose responsibility is it to educate children?  Parents!  (See Deuteronomy 6:7) And whose responsibility is it to educate Christian believers?  Pastors and Teachers! (See Ephesians 4:12)  What happens when parents are lulled into apathy while abdicating their responsibility to the government schools?  Is it any wonder that Germany fell to Nazism, France fell to hedonism and Britain fell to so-called liberal modernism?  America has fallen to secular humanism!  It’s not falling.  It HAS fallen.  And what is secular humanism?  It’s a society where man is the highest authority and God is removed from respect and influence in society at large.

Listen to what Alexis de’Tocqueville wrote about America in 1835 in what is “the most comprehensive and penetrating analysis of the relationship between character and society in America that has ever been written.”

“There is no country in the whole world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence than in America… America is still the place where the Christian religion has kept the greatest real power over men’s souls; and nothing better demonstrates how useful and natural it is to man, since the country where it now has the widest sway is both the most enlightened and the freest.”

“The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other…”

De’ Tocqueville’s book, ‘Democracy in America,’ was required reading in history classes for generations, along with the Federalist Papers and the biographies of founders like Washington and Ben Franklin.  Students were well aware of the sacred aspect of American history that helped us see that the Providence of the Creator was personally revered by the humbly influential leaders of the generation that birthed the United States of America.

Another French writer of the time (Gustave de Beaumont) wrote:

It is a principle of the United States legislature that, to be a good citizen, it is necessary to be religious; and it is a no less well-established rule that, to fulfill one’s duty toward God, it is necessary to be a good citizen…”

Where is that mentality today?  Is it hidden from public view?  Is there any chance it will be revived in today’s highly divided population of secularists and so-called evangelicals?

Secularism has arguably been allowed to rule supreme because of the very observation you may have heard many times quoted from 18th Century British philosopher, Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (in a letter addressed to Thomas Mercer).  You shouldn’t be surprised what he had on his mind when he wrote that… We’ll come back to that later.

But in the providential sense, why are the deceptions of secularism, atheism, and evolutionism so prominent in the thinking of our generation?  The brilliant French scientist Blaise Pascal wrote:

“Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.”

Oh yes… did we forget?  Paul prophesied what happens when men refuse the gift of the love of the truth.

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”    2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

What is that strong delusion?

Depending on your situation it can manifest in endless ways.  But, for sure, the society-wide deception of secularism – that hates accountability and divine judgment – is profoundly destructive to God-consciousness.  You can easily see why those who have given their allegiance to the Evil One are so brazenly ambitious in eliminating the grace and forgiveness of the gospel of Christ from society.

Enemies.  You can’t read much of Psalms without recognizing that God and His people have real flesh and blood enemies.  Here’s where it gets a little confusing.  Aren’t we supposed to pray for them?  Well, if we exercise the discernment that only comes from seeking God’s wisdom and knowledge by reading and studying His Word, then we will know how to pray rightly.  What many miss is that sometimes God’s people need to pray not only for personal wisdom but God’s judgmental intervention against those who are actively working to destroy God’s heritage.

Almost ten percent of the Psalms of the Bible (14 of 150) are “Imprecatory Psalms” (Psalms 5, 10, 17, 35, 58, 59, 69, 70, 79, 83, 109, 129, 137, 140)

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