What is the Greatest Need in the World Today?<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The Present Situation
The Middle East is aflame at this moment in time. The American Ambassador to Libya brutally ambushed and killed along with others in Libya. American policymakers confused and blaming the violence across some 20 countries on an obscure little film that almost no one has ever seen. Seemingly unaware of the coordinated attacks against United States embassies on the anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Even Libyan leaders saying the attack was planned and coordinated. Our National Security and Administration people appear to be completely oblivious to what is going on on the ground as well as to the Word of God. Is it not time to realize that God's Holy Word is truth itself? These ungodly people who have attacked us are really after Israel. They are merely the most recent tool and a part of the ages-old conspiracy against Israel. Psalm 83 details this conspiracy as follows:
1. "Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
2. For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
3. They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
4. They have said, 'Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.'
5. For they have consulted together with one consent;
They form a confederacy against You:
6. The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites;
Moab and the Hagrites;
7. Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek;
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8. Assyria also has joined with them;
They have helped the children of Lot." (Psalm 83: 1-8)
The Nation of Israel
The avowed, stated purpose of the radical Muslims, epitomized by numerous statements from Iran and others is seen in the 4th verse, to wit, "They have said, 'Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.'" People who do not know God's Word, or do not believe it, cannot see these eternal truths. They also fail to comprehend that "light and darkness cannot have fellowship together." Many of our church leaders have abandoned the preaching of God's Word and Christ crucified. At a time when Israel is greatly threatened as a nation, our foreign policy and the present administration has chosen to give Israel no help. Once again, this president has refused to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel and has turned a cold shoulder to Israel. The Lord God told Abram thousands of years ago that he was to leave his country and go to a land that He, the Lord, would show him (Genesis, Chapter 12).
God said to Abram:
"I will make you a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you . . . In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Genesis 12: 1-3)
God's Blessing to All Who Will Receive It
Jesus is the fulfillment of God's blessing to all the families of the earth, to bring to salvation all who will receive Him through "repentance toward God" and "faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." Who would not desire to be blessed by God? Who would choose to be cursed by Him? Yet, we are seeing before our very eyes the fulfillment of these ancient prophecies. Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, and many others are declaring their desire, no, their intent, their plan to "cut Israel off as a nation"! The leaders in the United States, in their collective ignorance, are refusing to stand with Israel; blaming current unrest and terrorism on some obscure film which almost no one has seen. Is our president's refusal to meet with Israel's prime minister the cursing of Israel? If so, he will be cursed! We need to repent as a people from all of our known sins. See what the Apostle Paul writes to the Church at Corinth:
"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (I Corinthians 6: 9-11)
The greatest need in the world today is to know God! Whether one is "near" or "far off," one's need is identical. In Paul's epistle to the Church at Ephesus, he tells them that they are "redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus." (Ephesians 1:7). Christ Jesus came into the world to fulfill God's promise to Abram. Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom Paul says he is chief. No matter what our record, whether "near or far," it is our record that we need saving from! Jesus gave His life a ransom for many. He was the Passover Lamb, slain before the foundation of the world. He lived a perfect life and was, like the Passover Lamb, without "spot or blemish." He who knew no sin actually became sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Another way to look at it is that Jesus took our "sorry record" and gave us His "perfect record" through His death on the cross.
The Invitation to Receive Rest: Peace With God
Here is the really amazing thing. As Paul said in His letter to the Church at Corinth set out above, each of us were unrighteous. We were dead in our trespasses and sins and were, by nature, children of wrath. God's Word says we were "carnal" and at enmity against God. We were actually at war with God! This is what is going on in the Middle East now. All of these people need to know the one true God. The majority of the people in this country need to know the one true God. There is no other solution anywhere, whether it's Libya or Louisville; Gaza or Georgia; Iran or Idaho; there is no alternative solution. Jesus is our peace and our hope.
Jesus, who is truth itself, said:
"Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls, for My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Rest is the absence of labor. You are given rest in Jesus! Why?
Jesus is our Peace
"For He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the Law of Commandments contained in ordinances, for to make in Himself of twain, one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body on the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." (Ephesians 2: 14-16)
Jesus is our peace! There is no other peace. He and He alone is the only answer to peace with God and peace in the Middle East. Christ alone is our peace. He reconciles us to God, and He reconciles us to each other. God is the God of Peace. Allah is not the God of Peace. The Muslims advocate war; destruction; death; "convert or be killed." In contrast, Jesus says, "Come unto Me." (An invitation.) I will give you rest. I am your peace! Sin produces death! Sin always separates! Paul says in Ephesians 2 that the Gentiles were "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the Covenants of Promise, without hope and without God in the world. But in Christ Jesus we are brought near, and we have peace with God and with others. He is our peace! Do not be deceived!
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Church at Philippi while he is in prison in Rome telling them (and us) what God had taught him through his circumstances. Remember that Jesus says in Matthew Chapter 11, that we are to take His "yoke upon [us] and learn of [Him] . . . ." When we take Jesus' yoke upon us, we're going to go where Jesus goes, and we are going to do what Jesus does. You cannot be "yoked" to a person without that. Not only does Christ command us to be "yoked to Him," but He also commands us to learn of Him. In the gospel of John, he says in the 17th Chapter, "This is eternal life that they might know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent." Hence, the great 20th Century Expository Preacher, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, could say that the greatest need in the world at that time was for men and women "to know God." It is the same today. It is in knowing God that we receive peace with God and peace with our fellow man. When Paul writes to the Philippian Church from prison in Rome, he states the following:
"Not that I speak in respect of want: For I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: Everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need." (Philippians 4: 11-12)
Notice that Paul is careful to make sure that the Philippian Church knows that it is God who has supplied his every need. Yet, he wishes to thank the Philippians for their recent gift to him, while giving glory to God. Nevertheless, he is careful to affirm that his contentment is not based on circumstances. He wants them to know that just as Jesus said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me," that he, Paul, had learned from Jesus to be content in whatsoever state he was in.
In the third chapter of Paul's letter to the Church at Philippi, he had stated that he was not satisfied with his spiritual attainment, that he had "not attained" perfection, but that he wanted to live a resurrection life if, by any means, he "might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." An old Puritan writer by the name of Jeremiah Burroughs wrote a book called The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, wherein he said that "Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and Fatherly disposal in every condition." Note that the first "condition" of Christian contentment is for God to be our Father. God is not the Father of all men. He created all men, but only those who have received Christ as their Savior receive God as their Father. "To as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name," we read in the Gospel of John in the first chapter verse 12.
Frank M. Barker, Jr., Pastor Emeritus at Birmingham's Briarwood Presbyterian Church said in a sermon, commenting on Christian contentment that:
"The opposite of this kind of Christian contentment would be murmuring at the hand of the Lord in our problems as the Israelites did in the wilderness. . . and as we so often do. Rebelling . . . fretting . . . being impatient and anxious . . . being vexed under our situation . . . having sinking discouragement about it . . . sinful shiftings and shirking trying to get out of it in unlawful ways, Biblically speaking. It is not just outwardly not rebelling or complaining. It is an inward quietness so that even inwardly we are not murmuring at God. It doesn't mean that we cannot properly take our case to God, acknowledge that it is painful and ask that the circumstances be changed. . . It is all right to spread our case before God and ask Him to relieve the situation, however, if God does not see fit to do so we are to delight in it. We accept it. We don't just submit to it, but we trust God in it. That is what Paul is saying."
Wherefore, we see that Paul "had learned." He, like us, was also being taught. Jeremiah Burroughs says that Christ teaches contentment in the following manner:
"A Christian comes to contentment not so much by way of addition as by way of subtraction; not so much by adding more to his condition but by subtracting from his desires so as to make his desires and his circumstances even and equal. A carnal heart knows no way to be contented but this: I have such and such possessions and if I had this added to them, then I would be content. A gracious heart is contented by the melting of his will and desires unto God's will and desires."
Burroughs lists the lessons of how Christ teaches contentment as follows:
"Lesson 1. Self-denial. That is the ABC of the matter. No one denied himself as Christ did.
Lesson 2. He teaches us that we deserve nothing . . . except hell. (I deserve to be in hell. I'm not there so I really should be happy. I really should be very content with my lot in life inasmuch as I am not where I deserve to be! If I think I deserve better treatment, I am utterly wrong. I deserve hell. Once that lesson is learned, we have taken a big step toward being content.)
Lesson 3. He teaches us the vanity of the creature . . . that the world cannot satisfy. It is like trying to eat the wind.
Lesson 4. He teaches us what our relation to the world is. We are pilgrims here. (When traveling, if a motel doesn't prove to be as plush as you thought, you don't get too upset about it because you know you will be there for only the one night. One night is like the snap of your finger when compared to your entire life. The length of your entire life is like the snap of a finger when compared to eternity! Earth is not our home, we are just passing through. We are pilgrims and strangers. A soldier in the field does not expect to sleep in a nice, warm bed. We are Christian soldiers therefore we endure hardness as befitting soldiers of Jesus Christ.)
Lesson 5. The danger of prosperity. (If we really believed what the Bible says about the dangers of having riches we would not want them! 'How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!' said Jesus. (Mark 10:23b) 'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.' (Matthew 19:24) When we read these verses, we should say, 'Lord, don't let me be rich!' But that is not the way we take it, is it? Instead we are more apt to say, 'Lord, now that I'm a Christian, I believe I can handle wealth. Try me, Lord! Let me be rich.' That is a terrible attitude!)
Lesson 6. The dreadful evilness involved in being given up to one's desires. . . In Psalm 81: 11,12, the Lord God says, 'But my people would not harken to my voice; and Israel would none of me, so I gave them up to their own heart's lusts.' The worse thing that could happen to us would be for God to let us have the things our hearts want.)"
The Great 20th Century Expository Preacher, "Martyn Lloyd-Jones, says that as Paul got into these circumstances, his logic ran something like this:
1. Conditions are always changing therefore I must absolutely not be dependent upon
conditions. I must not have my joy and peace dependent on conditions
else I will never have a steady peace.
2. God is concerned about me as my Father and nothing can happen to me apart from
His will. Even the hairs of my head are numbered.
3. God's will and God's ways are a great mystery but I know that whatever He wills or
permits is of necessity for my good.
4. Every situation in life is the unfolding of some manifestation of God's love and
goodness. Everything that happens to me is just an unfolding of God's love and
5. I must regard circumstances and conditions, not in and of themselves, but as a part
of God's dealings with me in the work of perfecting my soul. God is making me like
Jesus and that takes a lot of refining!
6. Whatever my condition may be at the present moment, it is only temporary. It can
never rob me of the joy and the glory that ultimately awaits me with Christ."
Thus, we see that the greatest need in the world today is the need for real God-given peace. It can only come through knowing God. Christ is our peace! What this tells us is that revised foreign policy programs and plans, revised economic plans and programs, revised global overtures, revised defense strategies, and other plans of men cannot and will never produce peace. Anything contrary to God's revealed will in His holy scripture will not produce peace. We are indeed seeing the fruit of our failure to support Israel. Our leaders MUST realize that it is the Lord God that rules in the kingdom of men and gives it to whomsoever He will. As we are obedient to Christ, to come unto Him, to take His yoke upon us and learn of Him, to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we realize that He is our peace. He, and He alone, gives us peace and rest, rest from war, and peace with God, and peace with our fellow man. As we make Christ our joy, indeed, our life, we receive and learn the great benefit of Christian contentment. What a privilege that God gives us in the midst of the turmoil that is occurring in the Middle East and the charges and countercharges, claims, and counterclaims, and accusations and counteraccusations of a national political campaign.
Do you know the Lord God? Do you have peace with God and peace with your fellow man? Have you learned the secret of Christian contentment? It is my prayer for you that God would grant that you would know Him, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent, that you may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and receive the peace of God that surpasses all understanding and that rare jewel of Christian contentment.
Now, may the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Your Brother in Christ,
 From a sermon by Dr. Frank M. Barker, Jr., Former Pastor and now Pastor Emeritus at Birmingham's Briarwood Presbyterian on or about April 8, 1973.
 Spiritual Depression, by Dr. D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones.
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