Summary: 1. I serve a God who is in control. 2. I stand on the promises of God. 3. I will outlive this world.

There have been several things in the news lately that have caused concern for Christians and other people who have a sense of morality and values. One has been the alarming victories the radical homosexual cause has had in our courts and the effect it is sure to have on our families. It now looks as though gay marriages could be legalized in the relatively near future. There have been other reports to lead one to wonder if there is not a complete moral vacuum in many of our public schools. The Ten Commandments seem to be an unwelcome sight in the public arena. Appointments to federal judgeships are being blocked because the appointees lean toward a moderate or conservative understanding of the law. The Episcopal church has ordained an openly homosexual bishop. After many years of prayer and work, a bill against a particularly brutal form of abortion was passed and signed by our President, but it looks like it may be killed in the legal system.

These are indeed disturbing events. And that is not to mention the pile of personal problems and discouraging situations which people are dealing with today. If you focused on all the things wrong in the world and in your personal life, you could get very depressed. You might lose hope and want to give up. In 1990, a national survey was taken in which seven out of ten people reported having hope in the future. But in a national poll taken in the Fall of 2001 by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research, only one in five report they often feel hopeful about the future. But I believe that there is more going on than meets the eye. I am an optimist. I believe God is at work and will ultimately have his way. I look at life positively and hopefully. And I do that for several reasons.

The first reason I am an optimist is because: I serve a God who is in control. I often think about the early church and the culture in which it not only survived, but thrived. Most early Christians lived within the bounds of the Roman empire where there were persecutions. It was literally a national sport to throw the Christians to the lions as cheering crowds watched them be torn apart. The Roman roads were often lined with crosses on which Christians hung because they would not denounce Christ. Not only was abortion acceptable, a father could kill his child at any age. Homosexuality was completely accepted and practiced openly. The government was completely hostile toward Christianity and anyone who was a follower of Christ. And yet it was during this time of enormous opposition that the church grew and flourished more than at any other time in its history. They did not expect the world to be friendly to them and their values — and neither should we. The movement of the Spirit of God is an unstoppable force. It does not matter how much opposition there is, God is in control and he will have his way. We keep thinking we have to have a “Christian” government for Christianity to thrive, but that is just not true, as history proves. In fact, the places in the world today where the Christian faith is spreading most rapidly are in those countries where persecution is most extreme. I was disturbed by hearing a prominent Christian leader make the statement about a bill he thought should be passed by Congress, “If this fails, Christianity will fail.” Nothing could be more absurd.

The Bible says, “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us ’ He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury” (Psalm 2:1-5, NASB). It is as if God is saying, “Go ahead and rebel, and see if it makes any difference. You are pursuing madness. You are hitting your head against a brick wall, and you will end up destroying yourself.” God is in control no matter how things look. That does not necessarily mean that our nation will always be prosperous or safe. It does not mean that our government will always be tolerant of the Christian faith or those who practice it. But it does mean that there is a God who is control of history, and he will have the final word. This is our hope and confidence. The Psalmist exulted: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46:1-3). As the author of Hebrews reminds us: “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

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