September 14, 2012
Terrorism is no longer just another news story that America hears from a far away place on the nightly news. As of September 11, 2001, terrorism is now a national reality on American soil.
The World Trade Center towers that represented American financial ingenuity and power disintegrated before our eyes. The Pentagon, the very symbol of American strength, was pierced by another highjacked airplane. And over the skies of Pennsylvania, people risked their lives to overtake terrorists bound to destroy another American landmark. They succeeded in preventing even greater destruction, but they lost their lives in heroic acts of courage. On our watch, almost 6,000 lives were lost in a single day to terrorism.
How does one define terrorism? Here is the FBI’s definition: “Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
Here is how the Bible defines terrorism “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10a). The ultimate reason for terrorism is Satan. He is the thief who masquerades in robes of flesh called terrorists. They are mere pawns in the hands of the ultimate terrorist; Satan.
God’s Word tells us, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan is the mastermind of terror.
Someone asked me, “Where is God when terrorists strike?” I said, “Friend, I’ll tell you where God was not. God was not up in heaven pacing about and ringing His hands. Nor was He saying, ‘What am I going to do?’ “ God was and is on the throne. He has never left.
Another person asked me, “Why did God do this?” And I emphatically responded, “God did not do this.” Men, in the clutches of Satan, did this. Terrorism, whenever and however it strikes, does not take God by surprise. God knows the wickedness of human hearts. As a result of the great love of God, man and woman have perfect freedom. It’s one of the greatest blessings and yet, one of greatest dangers that we have.
When Adam and Eve chose to sin, all of creation fell into a bondage that the Bible calls “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21). Man's free will gave rise to the evil in this world. God did not create evil. God created perfection, but sin entered into that world. Adam and Eve sinned, and when they did, they dragged all of creation down with them.
God’s Word tells us, ”In the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1b). There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Indeed, we are living in dangerous days. Jesus said,
But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. (Matthew 24:37-42).
Jesus said if you want to be able to read the signs of the times, go back in the Scripture and see what it was like in the days of Noah before God destroyed the world with a flood. In Noah’s day there was secular philosophy. There’s more ungodly philosophy in the world and in America than ever before.
Second, there was scientific progress. The Bible says that “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4). We’re so proud of our genetic engineering, cashless society, virtual reality, and instant communication.
Third, the days of Noah were filled with sexual immorality. Does God step in to judge people who live in sexual immorality? To the contrary, oftentimes God leaves them alone and they judge themselves.
Selfish indifference is another of the signs from Noah’s day. Everybody was having a party. America has been living in prosperity, soaked with sin, and oblivious to the needs of so many.
And finally, Noah’s day was marked by a stunning measure of violence. We are living in an age of skyjackings, kidnappings, guerilla warfare, and needless murder. Terror is stalking the streets of every major city in this world.
No other nation has had such a Christian beginning as America. When the pilgrims came to these shores, they wrote the Mayflower Compact. And within that document they said their stated purpose was for the glory of God and the propagation of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I believe at that time, that God put a hedge around this country.
The Bible teaches that God places hedges around individuals and nations. We see it in the life of Job. “Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land” (Job 1:9-10). Satan said, “I’ve been trying to get at this man and I can’t because God has built a hedge around him.”
The same was true of ancient Israel (see Isaiah 5:1-5). God had put a hedge around this nation, but instead of sowing obedience, Israel sowed disobedience. And God took down the hedge.
May I tell you why America has been so strong? America’s first line of defense has not been the military, but God Himself. But we have politely told God, with the aid of the ACLU and others, that we can handle things ourselves and to take His hedge and go back to heaven.
Do you remember when the Supreme Court of the United States of America said it’s wrong for little children to begin their school day with this prayer? Here was the prayer that was ruled illegal in the United States in June 17, 1963: Almighty God. We acknowledge our dependence upon Thee and beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our country.
We must remember why America has the problems it has. “The thief comes to steal and to kill and to destroy.” Humans can be pawns in the hands of Satan, but he is the master terrorist.
What is Satan’s main objective when he strikes out in terror? To cause you to doubt God by giving you a spirit of fear. If Satan can put the chains of fear around your heart and mind, he’s got you. Hebrews 2:15 says, “And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Yet, God has commanded, not suggested, that “in nothing be terrified by your adversaries” (Philippians 1:28). Satan wants you in bondage through an unhealthy fear for your life and the lives of others, but God has said clearly, “don’t be terrified.”
Now, don’t confuse the unhealthy fear with which Satan wishes to imprison you and the healthy fear of God that is needful for every believer. The one who fears God most is the one who loves Him best. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” What is the fear of the Lord? It is reverential, awestruck love on its knees.
Also, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth” (Proverbs 8:13). You see, the fear of the Lord is a clean fear, not a filthy fear (see Psalm 19:9). When we come before His presence with holy reverence, then God is blessed, honored, and praised (see Psalm 89:7).
A legitimate, healthy fear is like a thunderstorm. The wind howls, the lightning streaks across the sky, the thunder rolls, the rains pounds. And then it passes. The blue skies reappear, the birds sing, and the sun shines.
The spirit of fear from Satan is like a stationary front. It settles with darkness, dreariness, and coldness. It is like a heavy fog that just stays over us and takes all of the blue out of our skies.
How do we muster strength and sustain hope when we are threatened by terror? Second Timothy 1:6-7 says, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” We have to replace the spirit of fear, with the Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.
When Paul wrote this exhortation to Timothy, he was being abused, neglected, threatened, and waiting to be killed in a filthy, dark prison. And yet with all of that around him, Paul didn’t succumb to the spirit of fear. Instead, he spoke words of faith to press on in the truth that God is the answer to our fear of terror.
Our Nation has been shaken to her knees, but I want to tell you there are some things that cannot be shaken. Though buildings may crumble, earthquakes may shake, and mountains may fall, there is Someone who cannot be shaken.
Romans 11:36 says, “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever.” God’s sovereignty is the theme of the Bible. Almighty God brought everything into being, controls everything, and will consummate everything. For example, Genesis 1:1 begins, "In the beginning God." And then in Revelation, Jesus said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end."
God from eternity past to eternity future is in charge. You and I dwell in time. God dwells in eternity. The past, the present and the future are all alike to Him. Colossians 1:16-17 tell us, “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.”
I had a meal one time with Corrie Ten Boom. One thing she said I’ll never forget. She said, “There’s no panic in heaven, only plans.” The holy Trinity never meets in emergency session. God is sovereign. Nothing is out of control. God knows exactly precisely what will happen. And I'm going to tell you, we're on the winning side.
Hebrews 12:28-29 says, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”
I read a story of some sailors who were trying to steer their boat at night in the middle of a stormy sea. They didn’t know which direction land was and then the clouds opened. One sailor looked up and saw the North Star and said, “Now, I know the direction to land.” They manned the oars and began to pull in the direction of the shore. He continued, “Keep your eye on that star, for if we lose sight of it, we’re gone.” There is a star in the heavens. It is God himself and His kingdom cannot fall.
Not only are God’s sovereignty and kingdom not able to be shaken; God’s Word cannot be shaken. First Peter 1:23 says that the Word of God “liveth and abideth forever.” Jesus said of the Word of God, “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.”
When things are unsure and there’s bad news all around, I want to know that the solid, sure Word of God stands firm and will never fail. I’m not so interested in what some philosopher, politician, scientist or mathematician have to say about current event. I want to know what God says.
I’ve often said there are four categories of people in the world today: those who are afraid, those who are not afraid, those who don’t know enough to be afraid, and those who know their Bibles. God’s kingdom can’t be shaken. God’s Word cannot be shaken.
There are twin towers of God’s Word that can never be shaken. One is faith. The other is hope. And both stand upon the foundation of the grace of God. God is a loving God and He wants to forgive and heal America. How I thank God that we can stand on God’s grace.
Second Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” And again in Second Corinthians 12:9, Paul affirms the unshakable grace of God, “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
One hymn that always comes to mind when I think about the unshakable character of God is the timeless hymn by Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress.”
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Its one thing to say to a person, don’t be afraid. It’s a whole other thing, to give that person Someone in whom they can trust and not be afraid. The Holy Spirit is that Someone God has given us to help us in times of trouble. How does He help us? In three ways He energizes us with power, He enriches us with love, and enlightens us with a sound mind. Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Do you know why we get terrified? Because we feel weak and inferior. We feel that a greater force is coming against us than we have. But when you recognize that you are on the side of Almighty God, then He takes away the terror.
Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?” Paul said, “I am not ashamed: for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
Paul didn’t say I know what I believed. He didn’t say I know why I believe. Paul knew the Living God who was able to give him power. First John 4:4 says, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”
Some people get nervous when they look to their circumstances. For example, when the stock market takes a nosedive. Why would you panic? Because that’s where your confidence is. You need to know whom you believed. Put your confidence in God.
If a terrorist can terrify you, he’s won. That’s why we need to rest in the Holy Spirit who energizes us with power. If the terrorist can make you hate him, he has won. That’s why we need the Holy Spirit who enriches us with love. What did Jesus say about our enemies? “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
When the Romans were nailing Jesus to the cross, what did He do? He was praying, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” If there was ever a time for us to have a mighty baptism of love, it is during a time of crisis. When the world is at unrest, it is the time to show the love of the Lord Jesus. And the question is not am I brave enough; the question is do I love enough?
Let me tell you the difference between love and fear. Love looks for opportunities to give; fear is self-protecting. Love thinks no evil; fear sees nothing else. Love focuses on today; fear focuses on tomorrow. Love causes us to move toward other people; fear causes us to withdraw from others. Love is the sign of a trusting Christian; fear is the sign of doubt and a lack of love.
Faith is not built on fear. Faith is, is built on love. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love .” Let God love you in times of fear. Then, rely on His power to love others.
When God tells us that He has given us “a sound mind,” He’s not talking about intellectualism. Instead, He is talking about a disciplined mind a mind that is under control and has discretion.
If you don’t have a sound mind during times of crisis, not only are you going to be afraid of the original cause of the terror, but you’re going to become afraid of everything. Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” What happens when you get caught in the grip of terror? You become gripped with a spirit of fear.
Robert Lewis Stevenson told the story of a ship that was struggling to stay afloat in a tumultuous storm. The sailors were afraid, and before long one man couldn’t stand it any more. He left his job and went up to the control room to see the captain. There he saw the captain, with his great strength and keen mind, wrestling to keep the ship from the rocks and steering the ship safely on.
The captain turned and saw this sailor cowering in fear. What happened next was life-changing. What did the sailor see? A smile. The captain was smiling. The sailor returned to his shipmates and said, “We’re all right.” But, the others said, “How do you know?” He said, “I’ve seen the face of the captain and he smiled at me.”
There are only two places where there is no hope. One is in hell, because when you are in hell you have no hope. The other is in heaven where you don’t need hope. As long as God reigns (and He always will), there’s hope. We need not be terrified by our adversaries.
Gaze at the face of Jesus, glance at all else. God is still on the throne.
Psalm 56:3-4 says, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?"
All believers know that God is necessary. We know we could not exist without Him, yet how often have people become overcome with the cares of this world because they question whether God is enough.
I talked about a reverential fear of God earlier in this booklet. When I exhort you to trust God, the basis of that trust is founded upon a fear of God as Isaiah 50:10 talks about, “Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God.”
What does it mean to “stay upon” God? It means to trust Him to lean upon Him with all your physical and emotional strength. It is to cast yourself completely upon Him. In the midst of crisis, our first response should be to trust God. He is in control.
God’s alarm clock has gone off. It’s time for every person in every nation to seek God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” We can host a prayer meeting on the hour every hour for the next 100 years, but all the prayer in the world is not going to do any good unless we humble ourselves before God and seek Him.
Do you think we can ask God to bless the immorality in our society, abuse against our fellow man, a disregard for the needy, and mayhem committed against the unborn? No. We, as a nation, must repent. We, as individuals, must repent.
How do we get an audience with God. Psalm 24:3-10 has our answer:
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face. Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory?The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.
This is an opportunity for the diamond of God’s love to shine on the dark velvet of terrible wickedness. It’s time for believers to show the world what true love is.
It’s time to walk down your street and tell a neighbor about the God who cares. It’s time to step across the hallway of your apartment building and share the love of Jesus Christ. It’s time to have a cup of coffee with a coworker during break time and discuss the unshakable grace of God. It’s time for believers to get out of our comfort zones and make sacrifices.
If all we’re doing is enjoying the good life we’re just making America a better place from which to go to hell. With all of our heart and soul, each of us needs to preach the glorious gospel of Jesus.
Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). The hour has passed for believers to be ashamed and cowardice in the sharing of their faith. It’s time to call upon God for holy boldness, divine appointments, and open hearts. Would to God that every person reading this booklet would live the truth, tell the truth, speak the truth, believe the truth, and love the truth.
As the night grows darker, the saints need to grow brighter. May I tell you something else? Acts of terror are based on an idea. And you cannot kill an idea with a bomb. You cannot shoot it down with a bullet. The only thing that will overcome an idea is a better idea. And that is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Before the world falls apart, believers need to come together. It is time to unite for the cause of Christ. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who led the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor said: “I had intended to deal a fatal blow to the American fleet by attacking Pearl Harbor. I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Is America a sleeping giant? Or are we a splintered factions of special interest groups?
Our strength is not in the Pentagon, the White House, the halls of Congress, the school house, or on Wall Street. Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Deuteronomy 32:31, “For their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.” There was a time when our enemies would look at this nation and say, There’s something different. Has that time passed? Or can we unite and work for peace as one nation under God?
There’s a God in the glory who rules over all and come what may, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).