Standing in the Strength of the Lord

ICCEC Foundation Day, Sunday 26 July 2022

by Canon Terry Gensemer

Many people around the world, catholic and non-catholic, are celebrating the fact that now in the USA babies in the womb have protection from being killed by abortion.  We continue to fight for the sanctity of human life throughout the world, and we are very thankful to God for moving on the hearts of the US Supreme Court.

There are still many things happening in the world:

  • Teenage suicide: 14,000 people in the USA aged 10-34 took their lives last year
  • 2,000 young people are killed in gang violence every year, mostly under twenty years old
  • Teen pregnancy is rampant
  • The war in Ukraine
  • People are dying every day
  • People are starving all over the world

A lot of things in this world are sad and heart-breaking, and hurt many people.  The World Health Organisation says 40-50 million babies are aborted every year, over 125,000 every day, in the world.

I’m here to encourage your bishop and this Church for standing for thirty years, preaching the Gospel and bringing the message of the sanctity of life to so many people; I applaud what you’ve done in Europe.  But there’s still an ongoing battle for life.

Into chaos God brings order

Genesis 1:1-2 says,

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”[i]

Some translations say there was “chaos”.  God looked and saw chaos in the earth, but into that chaos He brought order, because He is a God of order (Genesis 1:14-16).  When we see chaos in this world, we can be assured that God is not surprised, and that He is ready to bring order.  Order brings peace, and the peace God gives is the peace that surpasses understanding: it’s not the peace of man but the peace of God.  In the midst of chaos, He began to speak about seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.  He began to show this world that His desire was to have order and peace in the earth, and He continues to do so.

God calls us in His strength

In Jeremiah 1:5-7, Jeremiah was told some things about His calling.   God rebuked Jeremiah, who had said he was a child: he was nothing to anyone and could not change anything.  Sometimes that’s how we think of ourselves: we think we’re a child, that we can’t accomplish anything, and we’re not worth much.  God says, “No!”  He told Jeremiah: This is who you are: “a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall””.[ii]  Symbolically, God was saying, “You’re a strong person, you’re fortified and protected, you stand tall like an iron pillar and strong like a bronze wall.”  He said, [People] will fight you, but they shall never overcome you”.[iii]  God didn’t stop at rebuking Jeremiah: He sent him.  When we think of ourselves as less than children of God and followers of Christ, when we think we are nothing and not important, God says you are.  You’re a child of God, the crowning glory of His creation.[iv]   We’re more than who we think we are or who someone else says we are.  We’re strong in the Lord.  God has a desire for us: Isaiah 42:5 says that God put His Spirit in us so that we may walk in Him.  God has a desire for His people everywhere to be who He created us to be. 

His desire is for us to reverse the curse that’s in the earth: the curse of death, teen suicide, gang murder, teen pregnancy, venereal disease, war, and abortion.  God can change and reverse those things through His people by His Holy Spirit; He calls us to a higher place.  We sing powerful Christmas hymns, full of meaning.  Joy to the world says, “He comes to make His blessings flow…”: He didn’t just allow His blessings to flow – He came to make His blessings flow, “far as the curse is found”.  His desire is to reverse the curse.

God is bringing it to pass

Those of us who have fought for the sanctity of life in the USA for more than thirty years are seeing things we never thought would happen.  I’ve spent my ministry helping women in crisis pregnancies, helping to build pregnancy centres where they can receive financial and spiritual help and support, a place where they can be loved.  We’ve built them all over the USA, and now in different parts of the world; but we never thought we would see a day when Roe v. Wade would be overturned and life would again be allowed in many places in the USA.  We never thought we’d see it happen; but it happened, and we rejoice in that.  We rejoice in God’s strength and His desire for His people, and in seeing it actually come to pass.

Today is a day to sing songs of peace, because we’re seeing God’s peace begin to be manifested in different places all over the world in the midst of all this mess and craziness.  David sang a song in II Samuel 22:1-2.  This is a song God wants us to sing in our hearts, in this Church, and as Christians all over the world: that our lives at different times were a chaos and a mess; but God came to us to show us His ways, and as we follow Him, we’ll begin to see His deliverance, how real and strong it is, and how infectious it is to others, so that we can share the love of God and the peace of God with them.

Be strong in the Lord and overcome

David said,

“My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour—
    from violent people You save me.

He parted the heavens and came down…”[v]

This is what God does for us: it’s what He did for David, what He’ll do for you, and what He has done for many of us already.  It was His desire and intention: even when we didn’t want Him to invade our lives and be part of our lives, He came down.

Read verses 11-15.  Have you ever felt you had enemies in your life? Not just human enemies, but the enemy of your mind that says you don’t need to follow God, you don’t need God in your life, you can do this on your own.  Those are enemies of our life, and God speaks to those enemies.

Read verse 16, and Jeremiah 1:7-10.  Here’s the word of the Lord to us, as it was to Jeremiah:

“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.  Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall…”[vi]

Iron, bronze, and a fortified city are elements of strength.  When I read this passage, I think of Avila: its walls are still there, a fortified city, almost impenetrable, after many centuries.  That’s the way God does things with us: He fortifies us and builds protection for us against the evil one so that we can walk in His light and be His light in the world.  “They will fight against you, but they will never overcome you”.[vii]

I’ve shared with you before what I believe God has impressed into my heart:  A people who seek the will and the purpose of the Lord are a people who will see the power and the strength of the Lord.  Those of us in America who have been praying, crying out to God, seeking Him, seeking His strength to end the child-killing – It is not the order of God, to destroy your own child; God is reversing those things – The people who have sought Him and His will and purpose are seeing that He will reveal to them His power and strength.  Whether it’s about that issue, or something in your own life, or you’re seeking His will and purpose for your life, you’ll see that He will give you His power and strength.

Study questions:

  1. What do the various problems in the world listed at the beginning of this message have in common?  What is the common solution?
  2. Do you see yourself, our family and your church, as weak, unimportant, and not able to accomplish much; or as strong in the Lord and able to overcome?
  3. What curse has God called you to be part of reversing and turning to a blessing?
  4. Do you see that God is moving in your life, your family, the Church, and the world, and bringing change?
  5. Are you more afraid or courageous?  Who is stronger – you or your enemies?  God or your enemies?
  6. Are you willing to seek God’s will and purpose for your life, your family, your church, and your community?  Are you expecting to experience His power and strength?

[i] Genesis 1:1-2, NASB 1995

[ii] Jeremiah 1:18, NRSV

[iii] Jeremiah 1:19

[iv] Psalm 8:3-8

[v] II Samuel 22:3, 10a, NIV

[vi] Jeremiah 1:17-18, NIV

[vii] Jeremiah 1:19

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