Reflecting on the Gospel

You and I communicate the gospel we believe by the way we live our life.   Whether it’s in our conversations, our associations, what we hate or what we admire.  Reflecting on your conversations, your passions and your life will give you great insight into the gospel you believe and the gospel you share with others.  

A woman shares about a wedding she attended.  The wedding was beautiful, gospel centered yet the strongest point made was both the bride and groom came to the altar virgins.  Coming to the altar virgins is a glorious gift to your spouse and a way to honor God but it is not a noble badge to wear.  I’m not undermining the importance of honoring God with your bodies.  God’s ways are good and to embrace them is right.  However; when we boast in virginity we unintentionally disqualify others who are not from thinking they are worthy or able to have a meaningful, gospel-centered, God honoring wedding.  Statements focused on obedience to the law convey a gospel that is all about self-righteousness and right living.  Yes, the Holy Spirit in believers does a glorious work in our messy, stain-filled, corrupted heart despite us.  Holiness is God’s glorious work, not ours.  Many may get defensive saying we make choices and we need to be obedient.  Yes, we do, but don’t you see…even our obedience is God’s work in us; we’d never be obedient on our ownAny good in us is only God and God, not the “Good Christian”, should be glorified.  When we communicate right living is what matters most, we communicate a moral gospel.  A moral gospel disqualifies sinful people from ever thinking Jesus could love them.  This is not the true gospel, because Jesus came to save sinners.  While we were still sinners He saved us.   There is  no doubt the woman at the well could have one amazing God glorifying wedding and she would not be coming as a virgin.  The true Gospel redeems lives despite past choices.

A  woman is passionate about a cause or particular people group.  Her heart is incredibly passionate about justice for select people.  In her passion,  a hatred arises of anyone who may be contributors to the wounds or injustice of her select cause or group.  The gospel being communicated is only good for those who are oppressed, not the oppressor.  This is not the true gospel.  Jesus saves wicked people, not just under privileged people. Jesus gospel is for both the oppressor and the oppressed.  Paul is a clear example of this.  We read and recite his letters yet hate those who are like him.  If this is the gospel you communicate, I challenge you to love those who are not in need of you.  Love those who don’t want anything you have to offer.  Love those who won’t follow you, but may follow Jesus.  Love those who won’t jump on your bandwagon.  Love those who you can’t make a project or a part of your work. Love the oppressor and the oppressed without partiality or favoritism.  Loving the oppressor may not feel as noble, but your nobility is not the point, loving others is.

Jesus has given us clear commands and demonstrated in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension that His Gospel is for everyone.  It isn’t for a select people group or a reward for behavior.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t exclude and elevate people based on their passions and lifestyles.  It’s not purpose driven, its heart driven.  God so loved the world He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.  World includes everyone.  Whoever believes is not a people group, formula or moral code.  It’s those who have put their faith not on what they do, but on what Jesus did.

Take notice of the gospel you communicate and check it with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Where are you communicating an exclusive gospel?

The Gospel is faithful to work in us as we seek to share it with others.  If we aren’t seeing our need for the Gospel in sharing the Gospel, we can be sure we are communicating a wrong gospel.  Genuine desire to know Jesus and make Him known will purge us of our biases, our crooked thinking and our corrupted hearts.  That is what the Gospel does…it saves sinners and makes them right with God.

Moms Give Hope

As I think about Mother’s Day this year and all the emotions and expectations surrounding it, I come back to the incredible hope I’ve seen unfold through moms.  Hope shines bright light into those emotions and expectations that can feel discouraging and unrealistic.

♥        To the mom who is celebrating her first mother’s day after years of fertility specialists, your story gives hope to moms who are trying to conceive and haven’t yet.

♥        To the mom who has walked through a rebellious year with your child and you are still beside them, loving them, praying for them and seeking to understand their hearts, your story gives hope that love endures.

♥        To the mom who has opened her own business as your children watch you thrive doing what you love, your story gives hope that our example is powerful and life is multifaceted.

♥        To the mom who sent her child off to college last fall and is now bringing them home, your story gives hope that we can survive transition as our children grow up.

♥        To the mom whose building a beautiful family after an unexpected pregnancy, your story gives hope that unexpected timing can become life’s greatest blessing.

♥        To the mom who is raising her children by herself, your story gives hope to all moms that we are so much stronger than we believe.

♥        To the moms who nurtured her children through incredible health challenges, your story gives hope we will be given the wisdom to get through.

♥        To the mom holding a baby in her arms this year after several miscarriages, your story gives hope to courageously try again versus living in fear of never carrying a child to full term.

♥        To the mom who supported her child through the greatest accomplishments and the heaviest of disappointments, your story gives hope that love is not based on what we do but who we are.

♥        To the mom who is experiencing healing in their relationship with a prodigal child, your story gives hope to moms that God rebuilds and restores.

♥        To the mom who is becoming more loving through heart wrenching challenges of motherhood, your story gives hope that yes, God does use our trials to perfect us.

♥        To the mom who doesn’t have her own children but pours faithfully into children around her, your story gives hope that motherhood is way more than the flesh and blood we limit it to.

♥      To the mom who has faithfully and selflessly taken care of her special needs child, your story gives hope that the simplicity of meals, friendship and prayer is some of life’s greatest gifts to each other. 

Stories of hope surround every one of us if we just open our eyes to see beyond the expectations and emotions that can darken our hearts and snuff out the light.  Look for the treasures of hope moms display in all seasons and allow that hope to point you to the One who is our true hope, Jesus Christ.

Silent Sideliner

Shortly after  the New Year and before the inauguration I pulled away from social media. 

Like many others, I found myself becoming someone I didn’t like as I saw smear and hate fill my newsfeed.  Anger and judgment flooded my soul as I saw people who say they love Jesus revealing hate as though the Gospel is only for select people groups. 

As the scripture tells us, if your arm causes you to sin, cut it off.  Facebook got cut off as well as other modes of social media.  What I learned in my time away revealed way more about me than what I pulled away from. 

Quickly, I became a silent sideliner.  In my effort to not offend or get involved in any controversial conversations I became silent. Withdrawing can have a good sweet purpose transforming the heart and transcending soul.  Jesus withdrew to the Father, but Jesus didn’t stay withdrawn.  Unlike Jesus, my withdrawing revealed some deep dark sin that needed to be called out, confessed and cleansed.

While I withdrew and became silent, I still checked Facebook periodically to check in on friends and family.  Silence was a safe space to scroll newsfeeds but not respond.  Let’s be honest that’s either a busy body or disengagement.   Out of fear of arguing, being misunderstood, or saying the wrong thing; my disengagement on Facebook began mirroring itself in my relationships.   Not only was I silenced from controversy, I was also silenced from encouraging.

It wasn’t until someone I care about was insulted and I didn’t respond that God’s conviction stirred deep to face the sin before me.  Do I believe the Truth enough to speak up?  Are my convictions deep enough to handle potential disapproval of others?  Doesn’t love stand up for those who are unable to speak for themselves?   I allowed my fear of conflict to push me onto the sidelines, spiraling into silent spectator. 

I hate conflict and I try to avoid it at all cost.  Whether through people pleasing or withdrawing, overall I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding it.  But here’s a truth that needs to permeate deep in my soulyou can’t avoid conflict in a world stained by sin.  You can’t stay silent while people perish.

Conviction leads to clarity and then choice.  I can either learn to engage in conflict with love, truth and grace or become a silent sideliner who, just like the Priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, intentionally avoid the messy, hurting, wounded and mistreated.  While it is not God’s will for me to engage in useless arguments,  by God’s grace may I never again find myself a disengaged silent sideliner withholding truth God has graciously given to bring life. 

Maybe you can relate…

♥        How are you becoming a silent sideliner in the midst of a spiritual war that has already been won?

♥        Where do you need to ask God to strengthen you to engage in necessary conflict for the good of others?

♥         What if Jesus remained a silent sideliner?

Who’s Your Shepherd?

I am the Good Shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.  John 10:11

In drinking in the truth of Jesus as the Good Shepherd while studying John 10, I’m freshly gripped by the truth that Jesus IS the ONLY Good Shepherd. 

Most of you may be thinking, well of course He is.  But I’m saying to you, no, He REALLY is.  All too often we see leaders,  pastors or someone who has impacted our life as our Good Shepherd.  No one is the Good Shepherd except Jesus. 

Take a peek with me at Ezekiel and see what we can glean from chapter 34.  The Lord is addressing the shepherds of Israel and saying Woe to you who only take care of yourselves.  He then goes out to list all the things the shepherds didn’t do to care for their flock.

  • Shepherds clothed themselves and didn’t take care of the flock
  • Shepherds didn’t strengthen the weak
  • Shepherds didn’t heal the sick
  • Shepherds didn’t bind up the injured
  • Shepherds didn’t bring back the strays
  • Shepherds didn’t search for the lost
  • Shepherds ruled harshly and brutally.
  • Shepherds didn’t go out and find the sheep who were scattered.

I look at this and my heart sinks.  Truth is we blow it!  While we try to care for others well, we unintentionally fall short.

 We are all guilty of not caring for those around us in some way or another

Whether you’re a mom, boss, ministry leader, teacher, pastor or in any way responsible for caring for others, these shepherding responsibilities are for you too.  I remember telling a  friend of mine after hearing how others hurt her, “I would never hurt you” and really meaning it.  Guess what, I did.  It was awful and humbling.

The Lord continues in Ezekiel 24 stating He will hold the shepherds accountable for failing to shepherd the sheep and that He Himself will be their Shepherd.  This is good news!  Let’s look at what God does for His sheep.

  • God will search for his sheep
  • God will look after his sheep
  • God will rescue his sheep
  • God will gather his sheep
  • God will bring the sheep into their own land
  • God will tend his sheep in a good pasture
  • God will search for the lost and straying sheep
  • God will bind up the injured sheep
  • God will strengthen the weak sheep
  • God will shepherd with justice
  • God will judge between his sheep
  • God will save his flock
  • God will make a covenant of peace with his sheep

Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, does all of this for every one of us perfectly!  He is the one to whom we must listen and follow.  When we embrace this truth of Jesus as the only Good Shepherd, we will look to Jesus to lead us, guide us and go only where He leads.  We’ll find ourselves less disappointed with leaders, friends, churches and pastors because while God so often speaks through them, we won’t be hinging our steps on them.

This passage brings both a warning and freedom.  We are held accountable for how we care for others.  Don’t kid yourself ~ it definitely matters to God how you treat people.  Freedom points all to the One Good Shepherd.

If you’re a leader longing for people to follow you, you’re setting yourself up to a standard you can’t keep.  It’s not about leaders, it’s about Jesus.  Good leaders lead people to Jesus, the only Good Shepherd.

When we find ourselves frustrated with people, we may want to ask ourselves “are we looking to them for what only the Good Shepherd can give?”   If so,  run into the loving arms of the Good Shepherd! He will faithfully lavish His perfect care on you like no one else can.

We’re Supposed to be Different

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  ~ 1Corinthians 12:27

As I dwell on the illustration Paul gives in 1Corinthians 12:12-31, I’m captivated by the brilliant design of the body of Christ.  The uniqueness and function of each part illuminates God’s power, creativity and glory.

Chew on this with me.  Think how different each body part is.  Our hearts look, act, and function nothing like the lungs, yet both are desperately needed for a body to live.  How about the foot and ear?  Functioning so differently, yet what we hear impacts where our feet walk.  Parts of the body sprawled out individually don’t look like much, but together they make this wonderful masterpiece created by God.

Why, with the illustration so clear in scripture, is there this tension to make us look the same?  Even in churches that claim be friendly, there is a belief beyond Jesus as the way, truth and life that’s required; a mindset, or you don’t fit in.    As I wrestle this out in my own depraved heart and mind I come to the realization; body parts function so well together because they do one thing…their part.

While every part is vastly different, all function because of one mind.  The head is mighty and powerful and it tells the body what to do in perfect harmony.  Jesus is the head of His body, the Church and He is the one who tells each part what to do when and how.  When we’re functioning as God purposed, it’s not just powerful, but beautiful…the sweetness of unity!

While many things contribute to the breakdown of unity and malfunctioning of the body,  three stand out above the rest.

  1. Jesus isn’t the head. When individuals or churches want to be head of the Church, you will find disunity.  When we exalt anything over the name of Jesus division will follow.  Little tower of Babel’s don’t make for a unified body of Christ.
  2. Pride. When we’re dogmatic about secondary issues, we’re headed for division. There is no perfect individual or church.  Some may function healthier in certain seasons, but none are perfect and able to perform outside their intended purpose.
  3. Envy. Stop wanting what God has given to others so you can receive what He’s given to you.  If our stomach wanted to be a lung, we’d be in trouble!  Likewise, when we’re envious of others, we’re hurting the body and missing out on the glorious part God has for each of us.

Take a minute to check your heart.  Do you think people should think, respond, and act like you?  Do you discount or discredit people or churches in Jesus name because they function differently?  This illustration is convicting.  As we ponder, may our eyes be open to the importance of fixing them on Jesus and doing our part for the glory of God and the good of the body.

The human body is incredibly fascinating!  What it can accomplish is beyond what we could imagine.  Maximizing this potential as the bigger body of Christ comes together under Jesus….unstoppable!

What’s Your Verse?

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock Matthew 7:24

New Year’s Resolutions.  Some people like them, some don’t.  Some get encouraged by them; some see them as a set up for failure.  Fresh starts, new beginnings, clean slates, mercy new every morning…this breathes hope.    

This year instead of coming up with one word or making resolutions I can’t keep, I’m grabbing hold of a bible verse.  It’s a familiar verse, one I could recite and tell you where it is in scripture, but it’s not become a part of me.  I haven’t put this verse into practice and to be honest with you, it’s been a hard year.  Not hard in the sense of trials or tragedy; overall, we are very blessed.  What’s made this year hard for me is what I’ve been dwelling on.   I’ve chosen to let my mind dwell on lies, doubt, things I can’t change, things I wish were, but aren’t. 

Truth sets us free.  Applying God’s truth is how we build lives on the Rock.  We can study God’s word, be in bible study and know the scriptures; but it isn’t how much we know, it’s what we apply.  This is a real danger of bible study, you can get head knowledge and not live it.  I’ll never forget doing some purging in my home.  Looking down I had stacks of bible studies scattered all around me.  It was sobering.  I gazed and thought, does my life and relationships reflect all this time spent in God’s Word?  We must practice and apply or all we are doing is deceiving ourselves.

God’s word is powerful.  As the Hebrew writer tells us, the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  So this year I’m grabbing hold of a verse that has the power to purify my mind and transform what I dwell on. 

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable–if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise–dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

This is my verse for 2017.  Praying about it, processing what it means, and practicing it.  Can you just image with me for a minute the difference this truth embraced will make?   By allowing God’s Word to work through the power of the Holy Spirit, my mind is about to get a makeover and some long time needed cleansing.  I cannot wait!

How about you?  What verse will you grab hold of this year to permeate your mind and transform your heart?  I’ve listed a few to help get you thinking, but don’t settle or do to do.  Ask God!  Seek Him for what He would have for you.    God’s word is powerful…more powerful than any word for the year or resolution.  Power beyond the will power we muster up which fades over time.  God’s word completes what it sets out to accomplish and promises to not return void.

Grab hold of a verse and experience enduring change that will last long beyond 2017.

 

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5
  • It is better to take refuge in the Lord than trust in humans – Psalm 118:8
  • I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5
  • Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  –Ephesians 4:29
  • I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. – Philippians 4:12
  • Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.  –Romans 12:2
  • Do not neglect your gift, which was given to you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. – 1Timothy 4:14
  • My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. – James 1:19
  • The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love – Psalm 33:5

Love Forgives

I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43:25

As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us        Psalm 103:12

For a moment take in the truth that when God looks at you, His beloved daughter, He doesn’t see your sin, He sees His Son. He has wrapped you in a robe of righteousness  threaded in grace. For His own sake, He has forgiven you.

Have you? Have you forgiven yourself the sins you ‘ve committed or are you holding on to them and keeping records?

Have you forgiven others who have sinned against you? What do you see when you see others who have offended you? Do you see the offenses they committed, or do you see a person created by God in need of Jesus?

This week I will be attending my 30th year class reunion. Talk about an event that can stir up feelings and memories of offenses committed. How will I choose to see those who were cruel 30 years ago? What will I bring with me to that reunion? A big old bankers box of all the records of things people did that were hurtful, including the ways I hurt others? Is that what I’ll bring? Talk about a way to sabotage a party! Or, for my own sake, will I come with a cleansed mind, a purified heart and the wisdom of God? When I bring this to the party I can focus on the present with fresh perspective and not live in the ruins of the past. I can love as God defines.

Forgiveness will require us to lean into and put our faith in God who will right every wrong in a way only He can. It’s not easy, it goes against our sinful nature…but when we realize how much we have been forgiven, and how deeply we need God’s grace, shredding those old records becomes a desire that leads to freedom.

When we no longer see the person but the wrongdoing done to us think about how it affects our relationship with God and with others? Love Forgives. Love is why God chooses to remember our sins no more, and it’s why we, if we want to love as God defines will as well.

 

The Silent Killer

Listening to a 6 year old little girl crying and screaming to the 911 operator was horrifying.  Every eye in the room was filled with tears as we heard fear belt through this precious little girl’s voice.  No one should have to live in such fear or see their mommy be treated like a punching bag.  It’s horrific and it’s evil! 

As horrific as that was, something else I learned from this domestic violence certification class left me pondering with God for days.  All the women there, including the experts as well as their many statistics, stated unanimously that verbal, emotional, mental and spiritual abuse is worse than physical abuse.  I’ve heard this before, didn’t fully understand and honestly, I felt offended for the one who bears the outward scars.  For how can we compare one horror story to another and dare to rate them?  Yet with such unity amidst so many who have been through so much I continued to bring this to God and ask what is this about Lord and what am I missing?  Where am I being unteachable or blind? Aren’t we all sinners capable of abusing each other at times by saying things we shouldn’t say?  Help me understand this in light of Your truth.  I love that God is faithful to teach us and what I have learned through this process will forever change me.  It has deepened my love for God and for others. 

Verbal, emotional, mental and spiritual abuse deeply wounds the mind, heart and soul of a person.  It is with our heart, soul, and mind we have relationship with God and others.  When our hearts, minds and souls are beaten and wounded with verbal attacks, withholding of love and mental games, we breakdown inside.  Relationships we were created and long for become scary and twisted.   Isn’t that Satan’s way?  He didn’t physically force Eve to eat the fruit in the garden; he played with her mind to get her thinking differently about God and about herself.  Satan didn’t physically abuse Jesus in the desert where he tempted Him for 40 days, no; he preyed on his mind and his emotions.   It’s his sly way of acting innocent while delivering the crushing blows.  It’s evil and I believe it’s the leading cause of division in our marriages, families and churches. 

Churches….that was another heart wrenching burden I left with that day.  There is so much hurt and bitterness against the church for our ignorance in handling those who are seeking to be heard and helped.  These wounds run deep and prayerfully more leaders and pastors will humbly come and learn despite the scorn they may feel for falling short.   May God bring forgiveness, healing and wholeness as more and more learn and become aware of the deep rooted destruction lurking behind closed doors.

We were given this handout of a tree with the Roots and Fruit of Abuse

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This tree hangs on our refrigerator as a daily reminder and gage.   We hold each other accountable and ask God to rid our hearts of these things no matter how small.   Ultimately, it’s not a behavior issue, it’s a heart issue.  How we treat each other in our homes when we think no one is watching matters greatly to God who is always watching!   Abusive behavior comes from a twisted belief system.  A system of belief that fear and intimidation are needed to control a person instead of a biblical belief of loving God and others as defined in His Word.  An evil heart will justify, blame and have nothing to do with accountability. If that’s you or someone you live with, please, for the sake of yourself, your family and future generations get the help you need with this silent killer.  Focus Ministries has an excellent ministry that will come alongside you to equip you, encourage you and educate you on the seriousness of domestic violence, the deadly disease that’s destroying families.  You can reach them at www.focusministries1.org

While statistics support men are more apt to be abusive, women also abuse their husbands.; either in return for the abuse they have endured or out of a twisted belief that it’s okay or justified.  Men are much less likely to report abusive behavior or call the mental games and manipulation for what it is.  Their lack of reporting doesn’t negate the reality it exists. If we want healthy thriving families, we must take a firm stand against abusive behavior in any form.  

Let God’s words in Isaiah work in your heart ~

“Wash and make yourselves clean.  Take your evil deeds out of my sight, stop doing wrong.  Learn to do right; seek justice.  Defend the oppressed.  Take up the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow”.  Isaiah 1:16-17

Justice & Mercy Meet at the Cross

I’ve been reflecting this Lenten season on the powerful display of JUSTICE and MERCY meeting in full expression at the cross where Jesus died.  While JUSTICE and MERCY seem like two extremes on the spectrum of God’s character, we see them meet and embrace right on the cross.  Jesus, the perfect sinless Lamb, takes on the penalty of our sin to satisfy God’s JUSTICE against sin.  Jesus didn’t deserve to endure the JUSTICE of God; yet He did, so that we, guilty sinners could receive what we don’t deserve the MERCY of God.  Taking the time to sit and reflect on how these two attributes of God, which can seem to be in conflict with one another, meet so powerfully, gives Good Friday a richer depth and commanding expression of God’s amazing love. The JUSTICE Jesus endured is just as undeserved as the MERCY we receive by putting our faith in Him. 

God’s character doesn’t change or compromise with Jesus, it displays it.  Jesus took on the full wrath of sin’s penalty.  He was beaten, spit on, rejected, crucified.   God didn’t spare the penalty because it was His Son who endured it.  Jesus received it in full.  As complete as God’s JUSTICE is, His MERCY is just as complete as we; undeserving sinners, receive this incredible gift of salvation.  Being saved from the wrath of God is something we can so easily take for granted and it’s something we can overlook.  Easter isn’t nearly as meaningful if we don’t take the time to ponder this incredible MERCY we’ve been given.  We can’t experience true rejoicing of Easter unless we reflect and grasp the crucifixion.  I’m not sure we can really love that He rose, if we don’t embrace the truth of why He died. 

No matter how much culture shifts and changes, God remains the same. His unchanging character is good news and should bring us great comfort.  We live among a movement of tolerance yet all we are told to tolerate is sin.  Sin is never tolerated by God.  He dealt with sin’s penalty by sending Jesus to die a death He didn’t deserve so those who believe in Him could receive the MERCY they don’t deserve.  As much as Jesus didn’t deserve to die, we don’t deserve to live.  Because of the JUSTICE and MERCY of God, those who put their faith in Him do get life…life today and life eternally. 

For those who refuse to put their faith in Jesus Christ, please look at the penalty for sin as you see Jesus being crucified.  That’s the penalty.  If you don’t put your faith in the One who bore it for you, you will bear it for yourself.  God doesn’t change based on culture, trends or what we think.  The penalty of sin is death.  The penalty is so severe because sin is so severe.  Sin destroys people, marriages, families, towns, cities, countries and worlds.  A JUST God can’t pretend or overlook the reality of it.  And yet, in His MERCY driven by love, He made a way for us to overcome sin, and that way is through Jesus Christ.  Today is His day.  The day He suffered so we don’t have to.

Reflect and remember the cost and the incredible MERCY of our good God that loved us enough to pay God’s JUSTICE for us.   

God Elects!

Let everyone be subject to governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. ~ Romans 13:1

Today it begins.  The race to secure the nomination for the presidential race kicks off in Iowa.  I must admit, I’ve been glued to the debates, listening to the press and doing my best to gain insight and wisdom about each of the candidates.  It’s frustrating, gripping, and might I add, addicting.  Praise God for the Holy Spirit, who, in His faithful fashion brings peace to the depths of this anxious soul through the words of Romans 13:1 “for there is no authority except that which God has established”

Ultimately, the candidates can say what they want; stand for what they want, and tell us what they want but in the end there is no greater peace than the assurance that God who is Sovereign over all things is ultimately the One who will establish the office of President.  There is no perfect candidate but there is a perfect God who will sovereignly rise up the one He has called to serve for this time.

The challenge comes then to believe (trust and commit) God indeed is in control as He says and to behave in a way that aligns with what we say we believe.   Will we bite our tongues and respect the authority God establishes even when it’s not who we would pick or one we think will bring us into ruin as a nation?  Truth is we don’t know all God knows and we don’t see all God sees and His plans are beyond political agendas even though He works through them.  The greater challenge is to continue to trust God, live out His commands, show proper respect and honor regardless who wins.

God doesn’t promise godly leaders.  We see in the Old Testament kings rising and falling all by the hand of God.  Some were God honoring and pleasing to Him, others were not.  God wasn’t less in charge when ungodly leaders rose up.  God continues to move His plan. Some leaders start out good but stray, others start out far from God and become God honoring during their reign.  We can’t afford to lose hope in the One putting these leaders in charge.  We also can’t let politics divide the body of Christ.  The only way to halt this downward divide among Christ followers is to look at our Leader, Jesus Christ, and act in a way that honors Him.  It’s a challenge.  We want our say, we want our views, we want our way…but scoffing isn’t the way to shine light into a broken world.  In a world full of disrespect, and dishonor, our lights will blaze brightly as we fix our eyes on the One who truly is our Authority.  He promises the authorities He establishes are for our good….even when we can’t see it.  We must put our trust in the One who holds all offices in His hand and praise Him that no matter who wins the election, our King is higher and He is faithful to guide His people.   Believing God establishes authorities will keep us from devouring and biting one another and instead free us to love and honor trusting our Faithful God who IS in control.

Prayer

LORD, help me to live a life that honors you even when my flesh wants to scream, this cannot be!  Give me  faith to know that no matter what is happening around me, You are in control.  Help me to show honor and respect to the candidates because it honors and respects You.  Help me stand firm and secure in your truth and not be tempted or enticed to jump on bandwagons that divide your people against each other.  Give me eyes to see, ears to hear and wisdom to understand who you want me to vote for.  Don’t let me be swooped into the hype and not honor you in this hard fought right to vote.  Thank you for placing me in a country where we do have a say, where our cases are heard and where we can speak freely.  Let my freedom of speech be used to glorify You and respect others.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Embracing it!

  • How  does knowing God establishes authorities change how you will respond to all the hype in the race for president?