A Secret Source of Strength 6/14/98

Psalm 31:19-24
Page 820 Come Alive Bible

JESUS CHRIST loves the hopeless. He loved Zacchaeus who was hopelessly lonely. He loved Mary Magadalene though demon possessed. He loved Mary and Martha whose brother Lazarus died.

A sense of futile hopelessness is so foreign to the Lord that the word “hopeless” does not occur in the Bible.

Knowing human nature our Lord realizes it exists and proposes an antidote. The Psalmist describes himself as a person for whom persons have set a snare and caught him in their net. Have you ever felt trapped, hopeless? Framed in such a feeling three release principles are noted.

God’s people need to know God’s word in order to know what to do in times of uncertainty. Recently we visited the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem to see the famed beautiful stained glass windows by renowned artist Marc Chagall. The twelve Jerusalem Windows in the synagogue represent the twelve tribes of Israel. The captivating window of the tribe of Issachar is stunning. Issachar was an agricultural tribe that loved the land so much they would not even leave to go to war (Genesis 49: 14,15). Tradition says that Zebulun and Issachar made a pact. Zebulun would enter the commercial arena in order to allow Issachar time to study the Torah. Therefore, the gift the Issachar tribe gave David was that they “had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (I Chronicles 12: 32).

God’s people need to study God’s Word in order to understand our times and know what to do. In this time of uncertainty and apprehension let’s explore a rich passage.

I. BE OF GOOD COURAGE (Psalm 31: 24a)
This brings to mind what has been called Jesus’ favorite text: “Be of good cheer.” This He said to the helpless paralectics, the woman who touched the hem of His garment, the terrified disciples in the storm, before His ascension – “In this world you shall have tribulation but be of good cheer.”

Fear of conditions might cause some to try to retreat into the past or flee into the future, but reverence for God brings us to confront the current with courage. Almost anyone can show physical courage. It refuses to stand by convictions. Don’t be a moral turn-coat. Be courageous enough to die rather than compromise.

In the day of Charles II, Margaret Wilson, a woman of great faith, was falsely accused and sentenced to death. She was tied to the stake on the beach at low tide and offered release for recanting as the tide rose. Her last words – “Christ only is my Master.”

Our word COURAGE comes from the Latin word meaning resulting from two basics: cor and ago. “Cor” is the word for “heart” and “ago” the word for “to put in motion.” When the heart is put in motion there is courage.

Courage refers to the condition of the heart. Richard I, King of England, was called Richard Coeur de Lion, Richard the Lion-Hearted. Meaning King Richard who has the heart of a lion. It was a reference to his courage in battle.

The opposite of courage is not only cowardice, but conformity. There is a story of a soldier in Alexander’s army with an incurable disease. He was always at the front of the fight. Alexander ordered his doctors to spare no effort to find a cure for such a brave warrior. Miraculously they did. Once healed he coward toward the rear of the ranks in protection of his life. It is better to be stunned into courage by pain than healed into cowardice.

II. HE SHALL STRENGTHEN YOUR HEART HEART is the Hebrew word for mind, purpose, intention, or insight.

If you have been mentally wandering these last few minutes come on back and fix your mind on what is about to be said. It is a revolutionary concept that can change your life.

It is said of God “He will strengthen your heart.” Such a concept has been veiled in meaning. The organ of the heart is a marvel. This rugged four-chambered, four-valved pump which handles 5,000 gallons of blood a day, almost enough to fill a railroad tank car. It supplies the circulatory system through 12,000 miles of vessels, and in the course of the average lifetime beats two and one half billion times. There is an additional strategic function of the heart long unknown.

Now without regard for that statement a British researcher at Southhampton University and author Dr. Alan Watkins help our understanding. In his book Mind-Body Medicine: a Clinician’s Guide to Psycho/neuro/immunology he speaks of the heart as the body’s powerhouse which has a “hitherto unrecognized role in balancing the entire human system.” He states the heart produces 50 times more electrical energy than the brain and a thousand times more electro- magnetic energy. Being the strongest power source in the body it coordinates all the other body systems, including the brain, commonly thought to be the dominant organ.

The process is known as “entrainment.” It produces harmony throughout all of the body.

He illustrates it by observing a flock of birds. Have you ever seen a large dense flock of birds flying along and all at once they all instantly dart in the same direction in response to a threat. That togetherness is entrainment. Dr. Watkins says biological systems entrain. The heart sets the pattern. In humans it only happens in response to a positive emotional state. All body systems have their body clocks which have their own rhythm. When there is a positive emotional state these rhythms synchronize. When this happens the brain works better, the immune system functions better, and your hormonal systems is at its best.

Have you ever been engaged in an upsetting conversation and when it is over and you have calmed down you think of so many good things you wish you had said. Well during that upset state your entrainment wasn’t good and your brain wasn’t at its best.

When our Lord says He will strengthen our heart He is saying He will help your brain, immune system, and hormones work together to your fullest advantage. All of this happens when the Lord is allowed to strengthen your heart by you thinking with the mind of Christ. That is, having His thought on each issue. Such positive thoughts impact all of your life.

When Stephen (Stefano) of Colonna, a man of great faith was captured by assailants they asked him in derision, “Now where is your fortress?” Placing his hand over his heart he said, “Here is my fortress.” It is our citadel of defense against all opponents.

Little wonder the Scripture says, “Man looks upon the outward appearance but God looks upon the heart.”

Your heart is the center of your intellectual, moral, emotional, and spiritual life. Is it right with God?

Anxiety is replaced by acclaim. Praise acknowledges the Divine Person. Love accepts His purpose.

HOPE is the happy anticipation of good, favorable and confident expectation. Earnestly anticipating and expecting through experiencing delay and disappointment.

Little wonder God calls hope “the anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19 [NASB]).

Hope realizes that it sometimes takes God time to work. It is the catalyst which makes divine ferment possible. It is the incentive which leads to unrealized perfection. Without hope man is less than a beast, he is a malfunctioning organism.

The media has exposed us to persons devastated by hurricanes, tornadoes, raging fires, floods, and crimes in homes, schools, and streets. Many have been absolutely inundated with sorrow and grief resulting from these tragedies. Some have rebounded some have not. Often one thing makes the difference —- hope.

Doubts often slip into our lives like termites in a building. These termite-like thoughts eat away at our faith. This happens when:

A. Things I think should not happen, happen.

B. When things I think should happen don’t happen. Then what do you do?

C. When things I think should happen NOW, happen later.

God knows what He is doing regardless of the waiting period.

These three things cause termites of doubt to work. It is then the All-Pro of termite extermination is needed. That is, hope.

Famed American cardiologist, Dr. R. McNair Wilson remarks in his autobiography, Doctor’s Progress, “Hope is the medicine I use more than any other …. Hope can cure nearly anything.”

“Saturday Review,” reported, “Hope …. is medicinal. This is not merely a statement of belief, but a conclusion proved by meticulously controlled scientific experiments.”

To be most effective this hope must be Christo-centric. Timothy expresses this in four all- inclusive words: “Christ Jesus our hope….” (I Timothy 1: 1).

Victor Frankel in writing of his days in a Nazi prison camp wrote: “The prisoner who lost faith in the future – his future was doomed. With his loss of faith in the future, he also lost his spiritual hold; he let himself decline, and become subject to mental and physical decay.” Hope ties us to eternity.

There are two ways of looking at life’s defeats and delays:

THE WAY OF THE DISILLUSIONED – Some attribute the disillusionment of hope to youth. Life having not fulfilled the disillusioned one’s aspirations, thus, they resolve to make the best of it by being tough. Such a one guards self against the awareness of hope. They become fearful that it is a sign of weakness. They become oblivious to it as a source of strength.

Hope in the future fills the present with energy.

THE WAY OF THE CHRISTIAN – Hope accepts trials. It exists alongside the potential for despair. Hope isn’t blind – it sees through the eyes of God.

“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”