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THE CALM ASSURANCE THAT CAN COME WITH KNOWING THE LORD

A SERMON DELIVERED AT THE
HIGH HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
AND
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

9 AUGUST 1992

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 14:4-7
Jeremiah 18:1-11
Luke 12:35-40
Galatians 5:22-23

It is a contradiction in terms to say that a Christian is fearful or nervous or anxious.

But Christians do get fearful and nervous and anxious, don't they?

Then, if they do, there must be something wrong.

Christians should have a consistent calm assurance, simply because they are Christians; because they know and follow Jesus Christ.

Do you remember what we are told in Galatians 5:22-23?

22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

23. gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

To be a Christian means that we know and follow the Lord Jesus Christ.

And we can't truly know the Lord unless the Holy Spirit indwells us and witnesses to us of the things of God.

And with His presence comes the fruit of the Spirit.

If we know Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have the fruit. It is automatic.

So, if we fear, we lack love.

And if we worry, we do not have peace or patience or faithfulness.

To be a Christian means that we should have a calm assurance at all times; that God is still in control, no matter what the circumstances are around us or how evil other people may be.

And just as we, who are Christians, know this truth, so do the evil people of this world know the truth. But they just fight against it.

Note what we are told in Psalm 14:4-7.

4. Do all the workers of wickedness not know,
Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
And do not call upon the Lord?

5. There they are in great dread,
For God is with the righteous generation.

6. You would put to shame the council of the afflicted,
But the Lord is his refuge.

The wicked people of this world know what they are doing, and it is they who truly fear and worry.

These foolish people fight with the righteous of this world, as if that would prevent their ultimate destruction.

They think, or want to believe, that truth is limited to the physical life of believers.

So they try to intimidate us, to make us fear and worry, so that we would become less effective in bringing love, compassion, and peace to the world around us.

And if we forget the Lord in the midst of our strife, and become as they are, then they succeed for a time.

But if we hold fast to the Lord our God, knowing that He is with us, and we exhibit His love in our life, not fearing or worrying, even if we die…

Then our witness of the truth, our lives, will haunt the evil people of this world all the days of their lives; for we will have confirmed the truth that they feared all along.

Now, note what we are told in verse 7:

7. Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord restores His captive people,
Jacob will rejoice, Israel will be glad.

Think for a minute.

Where is Zion?

Isn't it within Israel itself?

Of course it is; and the presence of God is within all believers.

Our salvation isn't just through some spectacular miracle of God; it is all around and through us.

We should have a calm assurance of this truth, even in the midst of evil and strife.

If we are true believers, we don't need to be delivered from evil by some outside force, or from an outward act of God. We have already been delivered.

Don't we know that we are going to heaven, to a place where there will be no more evil?

This alone should give us the calm assurance that we are talking about.

The power of the Spirit within us is enough to change this world; that is, if we are willing to use it.

More than 2,500 years ago, Judah and Jerusalem forgot this truth, and they gave in to the ways of the wicked; and they were led away into captivity, but the truth was still there.

Let's turn to Jeremiah 18:1-11, and listen to the message of the Lord:

1. The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord saying,

2. "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I shall announce My words to you."

3. Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel.

4. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.

We may not have had the Lord show us the symbolism of a potter, but I know with certainty that He has shown each and every one of us similar things, with just as much of a message.

We may not have wanted to recognize it for what it was; but inside, we knew, just as each of us knows the way of life the Lord desires us to live.

5. Then the word of the Lord came to me saying,

6. "Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?" declares the Lord. "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.

This message wasn't only for Israel 2,500 years ago.

It is a continuing message that we are to be listening to today.

7. "At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it;

8. if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.

Remember that the nation of Israel was, and still is, the chosen people of God.

It is the believers in Jesus Christ who have been grafted in to that covenant. It is not the reverse.

And God will continue to graft in new believers and prune out the non-believers.

He is trying to mold us into a people worthy of bearing His name.

9. "Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it;

10. if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.

How do you think God is viewing our so-called Christian nation?

Do you think He is pleased with us?

Do you think He's pleased with our churches and synagogues?

Is he pleased with us, individually?

Our answers will tell us why we have the calm assurance of knowing the Lord, or why we don't.

11. "So now then, speak to the men of Judah and against the inhabitants of Jerusalem saying, 'Thus says the Lord, "Behold, I am fashioning calamity against you and devising a plan against you. Oh turn back, each of you from his evil way, and reform your ways and your deeds." '

Do you hear the loving, concerned plea of a Parent calling to His wayward children?

There isn't one of us who doesn't need to be called.

But if we hear and obey, we remain in this calm assurance of knowing that we are with the Lord our God and, thus, in His care.

We are to keep ourselves anointed with the moisture of the Lord's lovingkindness, in order that we will remain is a state of flexibility, so that the Lord can keep on repairing us and molding us into the person He wants us to be.

We can not let ourselves dry out spiritually, or we can become hardened to the point where we can no longer be worked in the hands of the Lord and, thus, we will find ourselves being discarded.

It is when we allow ourselves to begin to dry out, that we also develop our fears and worries.

The more we learn to live in the presence of the Lord, the greater the love and peace and assurance will be within us.

To keep or develop our calm assurance is really not difficult. It only takes faith and love.

We, ourselves, know what to do.

So, do it!

Don't worry about what the other person is doing or not doing.

Don't even worry about what they think of you.

For your part, just do what the Lord desires of you.

Be the peacemaking child of God we are called to be, and for whom the whole of creation anxiously awaits to free it from evil.

Trust the Lord to take care of the other person's attitude.

We are just to set the proper example.

We are to be as the Lord tells us in Luke 12:35-40.

35. "Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps alight.

36. "And be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks.

37. "Blessed are those slaves whom the master shall find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.

Do we hear what this is saying to us?

If we shine forth with the glory of the Lord, and remain steadfast in our love and faith, the Lord Himself will serve us.

Yes, He will serve us!

He will do this because He loves us.

He will do this because we are returning His love, and because He is pleased and happy with us.

38. "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

39. "And be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.

40. "You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect."

Have you ever crammed for a test?

In this process we have anxiety, and are usually fearful about the grade we will get.

We react this way because we have not been fully committed to that subject, and have not applied it to our lives. We have focused our attention on other things.

Not so, if we are experienced in the subject.

Then, we just apply our previous knowledge to the questions posed to us, and we do very well, without the fear or the anxiety.

The same thing is true of our relationship with the Lord our God.

We need to be fully experienced in His ways, so that we would just naturally do as He does.

In this way we will always be ready for His coming, or just His call to us, or perhaps with some trial.

In any of these cases, we will have that calm assurance of knowing that what we do in any situation will be pleasing to Him.

These are just the basics of being a Christian.

And I know that every one of us could do more, if we just tried a little harder.

Remember, we can make a difference in this world.

That's probably why God still has us here.

Amen.

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