Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Biblical Response to America's Tragedy, Part 4

Leslie Basham:

There has been a tendency in our culture to downplay the reality of sin, but the events of the last few weeks remind us that sin is real, and it's devastating. Today Nancy will lead us in some introspection and help us realize that sin not only is seen in the actions of terrorists, it resides in our own hearts as well. Here's Nancy.Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

We're looking this week at several psalms that have been ministering grace to my heart in the wake of these recent crises. Today we look at Psalm 11. The psalmist begins by saying, "In the LORD I take refuge." When the towers and the buildings and the mountains of the world are crumbling, when everything is falling apart, there is a refuge. His name is the Lord. "In the LORD I take refuge."

But then he says, "How can you say to me: 'Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?'" The psalmist is saying, "In the midst of my trying to take refuge in the Lord (I'm trying to do what I know to do, which is to trust in the Lord), there are other voices coming into my head." These may be voices coming at us from the media or from friends, and they're saying, "Now is the time to run. Now is the time to hide. Flee like a bird to your mountain. Get out of here!" These voices go on to say, "Look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the upright in heart." "The foundations are being destroyed," these voices are saying. "The situation is so bad, the battle between good and evil is so intense that there's nothing we can do. The foundations are crumbling."

It's easy for us to look at the news and say, "There's no hope. This is just a time of evil and danger. It's hopeless. There's no chance of survival. This is overwhelming." We feel that way sometimes--not only about national catastrophes but about the circumstances of our own lives. We may think that to others it would seem so little it's not even worth mentioning, but when we're in the midst of it, those circumstances can seem overwhelming. And so the tendency, the temptation is to say, "Run. Hide. Get out of here! There's nothing you can do. It doesn't seem like God is doing anything. The foundations are being destroyed."

In that line "What can the righteous do?" the marginal reading in my Bible says, "What is the righteous one doing when the foundations are being destroyed?" Whichever way you read it, "What can we do? or "What is he doing?" it can seem like a hopeless and depressed situation.

But verse 4 goes on to tell us what the righteous one is doing. It says, "The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne." He has never gotten off for one moment. God hasn't abdicated power to the terrorists. And neither has He abdicated control to you or me. He's on His throne, and peace comes from realizing who is in control.

"He observes the sons of men," verse 4 says, "his eyes examine them." He is watching. Verse 5, "He examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates." In our modern-day theology, we don't like to talk about the hatred of God. We want everything to be about the love of God. And we could never have enough words to describe the incredible, infinite love of God. But neither are there words capable of describing the intensity of God's hatred against wickedness.

Verse 6 tells us, "On the wicked God will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot." This is one of the themes of Scripture: the final judgment of the wicked. Now the reason we get discouraged sometimes is because the judgment doesn't come sooner. The consequences are not played out now in many cases. That's why we have to go back to the Word of God and read the end of the book, read the last chapter and realize that in God's time, in God's way ultimately all wrongs will be righted. The wicked will be cut off. Now some of us may think, "That's right. Go get 'em, God! God hates those terrorists. He's going to rain violence on them, fiery coals and burning sulfur. That's what they deserve."

But as I have meditated on this passage in the last few days, I realize this passage isn't just talking about terrorists who are sending airplanes into buildings but that, in fact, there is a terrorist inside my heart. There's a terrorist inside your heart--because the Scripture says that apart from Christ, the thoughts and imaginations of all our hearts are wicked continually. You see, this whole series of events to me has been an incredible picture of the depravity of man--and not just the depravity of other men but the fallenness, the wickedness of my own heart, and the fact that not only do they deserve judgment but I deserve judgment. Apart from finding my righteousness in Him, I am doomed to the same ultimate judgment and destruction that will fall one day on those terrorists.

Let me say that the devastation we've seen played out, that took place on September 11th, is just a pale, faint picture. As horrible, as shocking as it was, it's nothing compared to this final, ultimate judgment this passage talks about. We cannot escape the judgment of God if we have never been made righteous. That's why we must prepare for Judgment Day: "It's appointed to every man once to die." The means of that death, the time of that death, may differ. It may be in a crumbling building. It may be at a terrorist attack. It may be through the ravages of cancer. It may be peacefully in our sleep. But we will die. And after that is what really matters. "After that," Hebrews says, "comes the judgment."

We need to be asking, "Am I ready to meet God? Would I have been ready to face God had I been one of the thousands of people working in those towers on September 11th?" It took several days to extinguish the fires at the Pentagon. It took a week or more to extinguish the fires at the Twin Towers. But the Scripture talks about an inferno called hell, where the fires will never, ever be extinguished, where God will eternally rain judgment on those who are apart from Christ. So we've seen a glimpse of an ultimate judgment that will come directly from the hands of God and in which there will be no survivors among those who do not believe in Christ.

Verse 7 tells us, "The LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face." He has been talking about the wicked and the final judgment on the wicked, and we've seen that's a theme through Scripture--that ultimately God will judge all evildoers. But there's another theme that runs through Scripture, and how I love this theme--and that is the final blessing and well-being of those who are righteous.

Just one problem: there's no one righteous, according to God's Word. So when the passage says here, "Upright men will see his face," how can any of us ever hope to see the face of God? How can any of us ever face God without terror and fear of His judgment?

There's only one way to be made upright, and that's through personal repentance and faith, placing our trust in Christ, who is our righteousness. God made a provision so that you and I could be made righteous, so that we would not have to endure that final, ultimate judgment and wrath of God--but that we could see His face and live eternally in His presence. That provision is named Jesus. That's why the Scripture says "the name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run into it." The righteous say, "Oh Lord, I have no righteousness of my own, but I take Your righteousness to be mine. I take Your death on the cross as the payment in full for my sins. And now, having been made righteous by Your shed blood, I run into Your name--it's a strong tower--and in that name I am safe."

Are you prepared to meet God? Have you dealt with the issue of your eternal well-being? Are you one of those righteous ones who will see God's face? Or are you still in the category of those who've never placed their trust in Christ, who will one day experience the wrath and the judgment and the fury of a righteous God. If you're not sure, then I would say to you, as the New Testament does, "Flee from the wrath to come." Where should you run? Run to Jesus. Say, "Oh Jesus, I have no righteousness of my own. I'm an evildoer. I deserve God's judgment. But thank You that You took that judgment on Yourself there at the cross of Calvary. Right now I repent of my sin and I run to You in faith, trusting You to be my righteousness. Thank You that by faith now, I will see Your face."Leslie Basham:

But first, if you've been convicted about your need to repent, we're making a book available to help you know how to respond. Right With God, by John Blanchard, will help you understand what it means to be in a relationship with Christ. We're asking for a $5 suggested donation for the book to help us cover costs. If you've been doing some soul-searching over the last few weeks, this book will help you respond appropriately. To order, call us at 1-800-569-5959.

That's also the number you can use to get a tape of today's program. It's part of a weeklong series called A Biblical Response to America's Tragedy. You can get the entire series on cassette for a suggested donation of $5 when you call us.

You can also order books and tapes on our Web site, ReviveOurHearts.com. And you can also contact us by mail. If today's program has convicted you about your need to repent from a certain sin, or if you have questions about what you've heard, send your letter to Revive Our Hearts.

We hope you can join us tomorrow when Nancy will guide us through some responses to the tragic events we've experienced. What can we do to make a difference? Now to close our time in prayer, here's Nancy.Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Leslie Basham:

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

  "Thank You, Lord, for Your promise that one day we may see Your face, and we may face You bold and unashamed, not in fear, not in trembling, but in confidence and joy--if we've been made righteous through the sacrifice of Jesus, the provision that You've made for our sin. So Lord, may we flee from the wrath to come. May we take eternity more serious than we take even the threat of bombed buildings. May we run to You and in You find safety and eternal refuge. I pray in Jesus' name, Amen." That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss offering hope today. We've all sinned, and we all deserve judgment. But through a relationship with Christ, we can avoid the coming wrath of God. Nancy will be back to pray with us in a minute. Someone told me last night that one of the responses they have encountered from people in the wake of the recent tragedies and crises in our nation is a feeling of depression--sadness that has given way to a heaviness of heart. It is easy at a time like this to be pessimistic and to wonder where is God when you need Him. At those times our emotions are tempted to run for cover. On September 11th we were all confronted with the tragic consequences of sin. It's Thursday, October 4th, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

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