Hope…Where’s It Come From?

Where does ‘peace’ come from for you?

From what source do you find ‘joy’?

Where do you get your ‘hope’?

hope

If it is anywhere except the Lord, you are asking for trouble!

It will not last.

It can’t.

 

The truth is that many of us find our peace, joy and hope in our circumstances.

If our circumstances are good, then cool–we’re at peace.

The minute our circumstances change, however, we get anxious, we lose sleep, we chew our fingernails, etc.

We all do this–to one extent or another–at times.

As long as there’s money left at the end of our month, as long as we’re (relatively) healthy, and our main relationships are good, we think everything’s fine.

But if those things are where our trust lies, we are trusting in something that cannot last.

Even on a national or global scale…as long as there’s peace on our borders, the world economy is humming along, and no major natural disasters have hit our area, we think things are fine. That changes very quickly, however–with even one terrorist attack, one threat of cyber-terrorism, or one spike in the global fuel prices.

Even in our current Presidential race…if ‘our’ candidate is in the lead, we think things are fine. If the polls change, or some new scandal comes out, we fret and worry about our future.

We must learn to get our Peace, Joy, and Hope from the One Source that does not change–our God!

 

Psalm 33:10-17:

“The Lord frustrates the plans of the nations
    and thwarts all their schemes.
11 But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever;
    his intentions can never be shaken.

12 What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord,
    whose people he has chosen as his inheritance.

13 The Lord looks down from heaven
    and sees the whole human race.
14 From his throne he observes
    all who live on the earth.
15 He made their hearts,
    so he understands everything they do.
16 The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
    nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
17 Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory—
    for all its strength, it cannot save you.” 

Nothing–not our economy, our military, our constitution–NOTHING is as secure as Him!

“But the Lord watches over those who fear him,
    those who rely on his unfailing love.
19 He rescues them from death
    and keeps them alive in times of famine.” (Psalm 33:18-19)

We can rest, trusting Him to watch over us–IF we are trusting in Him and putting Him in His rightful place (#1 above all else in our lives).

“We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
    for our hope is in you alone.” (Psalm 33:20-22)

Today, and every day, may You (and I) find the peace that comes from KNOWING that God is watching over us, and may we reaffirtm our trust in the One and Only Source of Hope–HIM!

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What Can We DO?

Last week I shared a post that probably irritated just about everyone. In that post, I made clear my feelings about the Presidential Candidates this year–and the character concerns I have re: each of them. I observed that this slate of candidates was the predictable outcome of a culture which increasingly rejects God and elevates ‘self’.

I also called for the Church–those of us who love Jesus and worship Him as Savior and Lord–to ask God to ‘revive’ us–meaning to show us our sin, our apathy, and to stir us up so that we love Him and Worship Him with all our hearts, and that we let His light ‘shine’ through us.

So…how’s that going?

I have been doing some things, personally, to help myself focus more on the ONE who rules above all nations, and less on this election, but I’ve been wondering–and some have asked, ‘What can we DO?’.

Let me suggest 5 things:

1) PRAY!pray

  1. Pray for the candidates! That’s right–pray for them. Pray that God would show them their need to humble themselves and seek His wisdom.                                                                                                                                               King Solomon, regarded as the wisest ruler of all time, earned this reputation primarily because, when asked by God what he wanted above everything else at the beginning of his reign, he answered this way:“Give me the wisdom and knowledge to lead them properly,[e] for who could possibly govern this great people of yours?”11 God said to Solomon, “Because your greatest desire is to help your people, and you did not ask for wealth, riches, fame, or even the death of your enemies or a long life, but rather you asked for wisdom and knowledge to properly govern my people— 12 I will certainly give you the wisdom and knowledge you requested. But I will also give you wealth, riches, and fame such as no other king has had before you or will ever have in the future!” (2 Chronicles 1:10-12)These candidates are surrounded by people who make them think they’re the most brilliant, wise, powerful people in the world, and they don’t need anything but for the rest of us to follow them. They need to humble themselves before the Lord. (James 4:10: “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.”) I encourage you to pray for these candidates–all of them.
  2. Pray for US–the American People! Pray that we would ‘push back’ from the ‘conventional’ wisdom, to step back from the way we’ve done things before, and to SEEK THE LORD! May we have a heart to know His will, to do what honors Him!

2) Get Informed!

  1. Do NOT accept the media narrative on this election–Yes, these are two SERIOUSLY flawed candidates…but what is more important–their personalities or their positions on the issues? Do you know what they are?
    1. For example, what does each candidate think about the Constitution of our great country–is it something to be ‘updated’, or something to be held to? Is it something which limits our freedom, or which limits the government’s power?
    2. What do they think about the ‘Free Market’? Do they want to leave businesses largely alone, depending on the American people to ‘vote with their wallets’, or do they want to regulate things and increasingly take over American businesses?
    3. What are their positions on Moral issues? What do they think about Abortion, for example? Are they in favor of any limits, or do they think abortion should be legal and unrestricted–even to minutes before full-term birth?  What do they think about marriage–is it a sacred institution, instituted by God, or is it a conventional construct of society, which can be changed to fit society’s definitions? There are many more of these issues–do you know the Candidate’s positions?

3) Be a Good Steward of your vote!

  1. Pretend your vote was actually a $100 bill–and God would hold you responsible for what you do with it. Would you give it to Hillary Clinton? Would you give it to Donald Trump? Would you give it to Gary Johnson, or one of the ‘other’ candidates? Or, would you elect not to give it to anyone, prayerfully turning it back over to God without ‘spending’ it?                                                                                                                                            I have been praying about this very thing, and I’m still unsure exactly what I’ll do. There is one reason I may end up using my ‘$100 bill’ and casting a vote, however, and that is…

4) Consider the long-term implications of your choice.

  1. What difference will it make if ‘your’ candidate wins…or another does?MUCH! whichever candidate wins will have enormous influence for decades–on things like the Supreme Court nominations, Religious Liberty and the right to Free speech; Economic recovery (long overdue) and economic freedom; Health care freedom and the very survival of Health Insurance companies; Military strength and policies; Immigration–legal and illegal–and whether our ‘borders’ (and therefore, citizenship) mean anything at all…the list goes on!

5) Therefore, I bring you back to #1: PRAY!

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

Do not fear, pray! God is on His throne, and that will not change–no matter who wins!

One thing is for sure: If we will humble ourselves and pray, stand boldly on His word, and love others to the very best of our ability, that will have enormous impact on the future of our country, and our world.

If we don’t, then the determination of who becomes President will not matter all that much.

 

WHO Will Stand Tall?

UGH!

What a mess this is!

I have held back somewhat on expressing my opinions on this election. I’ve tried to be as civil and respectful as possible to all points of view, but I’ve also made it known that I am not a ‘fan’ or supporter, on a personal level, of either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

Yet, I think it’s time I expressed some of what I’ve been praying on and thinking about.

In future blogs, I’ll eventually share my opinions on the candidates’ positions and proposals, but since so much of this campaign has been about each candidate saying, in essence, ‘Vote for me because the other one is worse’, I think I need to share.

Here goes:

We have a political campaign in which 2 of the worst candidates ever are debasing the process, debasing the office, and debasing the country.

And we’re getting exactly what we deserve–and exactly what we’ve asked for!

For decades, our society has thrown off all restraint and has given self-centeredness, sexual promiscuity and immoral behavior a place of honor and esteem.

Our media has celebrated this, and reveled in it–from our t.v. shows to the lyrics to our songs, to the subject of our books. With each passing year, that which seemed ‘controversial’ has been pushed and prodded so that it seemed ‘commonplace’ the very next season.

Our schools have, at times, taught our children to elevate ‘self-expression’ above virtually all other values, and to shun any hint of authority which seems to call them back to  ‘moral standard’, even to the point where kids are encouraged not to go to their parents, who ‘won’t understand like we do’.

Many of our churches have capitulated, adopting the standards of this world, in order to be ‘relevant’, trading in the Truths of God for the ‘moving target’ of what’s ‘acceptable’ to our culture.

Not surprisingly, our families have disintegrated, devolving into a tug-of-war, in which every person involved is seeking ‘their way’ above all else.

 

Into this environment two people come who bring out the worst in everyone.

One, a woman who has been corrupt for years, using the power of her name and her office to line her own pockets, running over any individual who stands in her way. She has lied, stalled, obfuscated, blamed, connived and deceived her two-faced way to the top of the ticket.

On the other side, a man who seems to be an especially poor choice–at least from a morality standpoint–has shown himself to be an arrogant, bullying, petulant, materialistic, and ridiculously self-centered man who apparently thinks he can do no wrong and has never even had to ask forgiveness from God! Every revelation of ‘who he is’ and ‘what he’s said’ seems to bring a new low.

THESE are the two people who would run our country?

Let me sum up my emotional response to this situation again:

UGH!

Head in Hands

Yet…this was predictable, and is the inevitable outcome of a society which elevates ‘self’ and ‘feelings’ above all moral values and adopts the mindset which says that other people–especially the government–owes me everything I want.

We have become a nation which has turned it’s back on everything that made us truly ‘exceptional’ and ‘great’–starting with our ‘corporate’ identity as a ‘Christian nation’– and have ended up a choice between a ruthlessly self serving tyrannical candidate or an adolescent bully with money in a suit.

We have attempted, as a culture, to kick God out of the corporate identity, and now have the mess left to clean up!

This CANNOT be blessed by God!

Isaiah 5:20-21:

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!”

Sound familiar?

IF there is ‘hope for America’, this must change!

But it will not change easily.

This is going to require real  personal humility, real brokenness in our hearts, and actual REPENTANCE before God!

Note: By this I do not mean simply ‘sorrow’ because we’re in a mess (like most politicians do), but actual Repentance–the willingness to turn around and go back to God.

Where’s it going to start?

 

With me. With you.

With the Church in America.

We–Christ’s followers–must be willing to admit that we’ve grown too ‘worldly’ and too ‘apathetic’ to God’s priorities in our world. We’ve become lazy, unmotivated, worldly.

As a result, we have forgotten Jesus’ words when He prayed for His disciples (and us) before being betrayed and crucified:

John 17: 13-19: “They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.”

We need to remember again that, as Jesus’ followers (and children of God, by faith), we have a calling to represent Him in this world–through our actions, attitudes, words and deeds.

How have you been doing on that–especially with respect to the election, or the other chaotic and divisive things going on in our culture?

We need to remember, again that we are Christ followers first, before anything else.

Ephesians 5:8-9: “For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!  For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”

In the next few weeks, the mud-slinging, name calling and accusations will get worse…that’s just ‘what it is’ this time.

But WE–if we are children of God, through faith in Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit–do not need to employ this strategy–especially at one another!

We must try to push back from the negativity and focus on issues. When we disagree, we must try to do so with respect, self-control, and a commitment to loving one another.

…and we must Fast and Pray!

We must “humble ourselves and pray, and seek (His) face, and turn from our wicked ways”. (“2 Chronicles 7:14), and then to trust God to “hear our prayer, forgive our sin, and heal our land”, and to bring about the result that is in keeping with His plan.

I believe that the future of our country–and more importantly, our churches–depend on our response to this challenge. Will we stand? Will we fall?

THIS is the time! THIS is the hour!

It’s up to you and me!

Please join me in praying on behalf of our Nation, our Presidential (and others’) election, our culture, our churches, our families and ourselves.

We need to ‘seek God’ again. We need to give Him back His rightful place.

However, before it can happen anywhere ‘out there’, it needs to happen first ‘in here’–in our hearts.

So I want to ask you to join me in praying, fasting (in whatever way God leads you), and asking God to…

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:23-24)

May God Start a Fire within us!

Pastor DaJo