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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Praying For Our New President

I believe in the importance and power of prayer.  Very few times in my life have I had someone refuse it.  Mostly, whether they were religious or not they seemed to welcome prayer.  Elected officials are among those.  I have heard of some who were extremely grateful that people were praying for them.  During President Obama’s administration I was one of probably hundreds of thousands that regularly prayed for him.  I plan to do the same for President Trump as well. 

While reading my Bible I came across a story that highlighted the value of prayer at the highest levels of government.  It took place in the transition of power from David, King of Israel, to his son Solomon who would succeed him.  In the midst of this, King David offered a public prayer for his country.

He prayed for his people saying to God, “. . . direct their hearts toward you” (1 Chronicles 29:18).  The old, wise King knew who was really over the affairs of his country – God.  Therefore, he prayed that the affections of the people would first and foremost be toward Him.  This is something we can learn from.  If our hearts are bent chiefly toward a political party or ideology then we are on a crooked path to an eventual downfall.  However, if we fix our eyes straight ahead and walk according to God’s purposes, the foundation of our nation will be made secure.     

He also prayed for the new King saying to God, “. . . may he keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all” (1 Chronicles 29:19).  Again, the experienced King knew who was the author of blessing and cursing on his nation – God.  And He knew how to remain in a healthy relationship with Him and how to follow His counsel in governing.  He knew all these answers were found in the Scriptures and prayed the next King, his son, would give himself to knowing and following God through His Word.

As the seasoned King prayed, he was aware of the price of neglect.  He knew that each person, his son and the entire nation, could choose to do as they wished.  As a result, he warned them not to abandon God and go their own way.  For the price would be great for his country if they did. 

Join me in praying for our new President.  As we do, let us also commit ourselves afresh toward God.  May our hearts be fixed on Him.  Additionally, let us pray that President Trump will know God personally and walk in accordance with His holy Word for the welfare of his own soul and our nation. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Finding Happiness in a New Year

This year an estimated 139 million Americans will do some type of New Year’s resolution.  That is about half of our nation.  By June, 92% will have failed, leaving only 8% to celebrate victory.     
 
A resolution is a statement of purpose backed up with an initial resolve to make a change like “I make a resolution to lose 25 pounds this year.”  They typically cover areas like our health, finances or relationships. 
 
Why do we do them, especially if the majority of us fall short?  Likely, it is something deeper than the resolution itself.  One driver could be a lack of satisfaction.  When someone looks at different areas of their life, they might not like what they see.  As a result, they might think “If I can just get this mountain of debt paid off I’ll be able to breathe”, while another says to themselves, “If we can just turn our marriage around that’ll make all the difference.”     
 
With that in mind, consider this statement from author and motivational speaker, Stephen Shapiro.  After reviewing the data from a major research project he said, “People who achieve their resolutions every year are NO happier than those who do not set resolutions or who are unsuccessful in achieving them.”       
 
Wow!  What a mind blowing finding.  What is the deeper motivation in setting your resolution or goal?  Is the focus just to lose the weight or do you think it will bring greater happiness or satisfaction to your life?  Consider this - if we believe that working hard on the outside of our lives is going to change the inside, we will be sadly disappointed.   
 
When we achieve what we set out for, yes, we will be happy for a moment or a brief season of time, but then it will wear off.  Eventually we will be right back where we started.  Honestly, are the changes you want deeper than just your health, finances or relationships?   
 
The Scriptures say, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Proverbs 14:12).  This is saying, “I am going to look for happiness here and there, but when I get there I find it is only a vapor – emptiness.” 

Where do we find the answers to the deep things of the heart and soul?  Where do we find meaning, happiness and satisfaction?  They are found in Jesus.  In Him we will find all we need. You will get temporary happiness in your resolutions, but you will find lasting peace through Jesus.                      

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Looking For a King

On the eve of history’s first Christmas, the Jewish people were filled with centuries of hope, rooted in the prophecies of their religious writings.  Hope that one day a King would rise up from among them to deliver their people from the occupation of the Romans.  All the non-Jewish people in the world did not have such a hope.  If they faced a similar oppressive government, all they had to rest on was their own efforts at forging change.  In a sense, for all the world, it was truly the dark ages.  Outside of an inward hope or personal heroism, how would the darkness of the nations be turned to light?
In approximately 4 B.C. a divine earthquake caused a split right down the middle of human history – the birth of Jesus Christ.  It was like the rising of the sun that meant a new day, a new era for mankind.   

The Jewish prophet Isaiah, 700 years earlier, foretold about the coming of a Messiah who would become the hope of all nations.  Isaiah wrote, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7).

As Jesus grew up and settled into His heaven-sent role, the public responded and a movement was built around Him that evolved into a revolution of sorts.  However, His followers became disillusioned at His messaging.  He was not becoming the national Savior they envisioned. 

He told the crowds His purpose was to “seek and save the lost”.  He said if they wanted to follow Him they must “deny themselves”, meaning give up pursuing their agenda and take up God’s.  All this was much different then what they expected. 

Jesus' focus was the hearts and souls of mankind.  He purposed to deliver them from the bondage of sin and lead them to spiritual freedom.  He came to govern the lives of precious souls, not a nation. 

Still today, the world is looking to political leaders and government for societal change.  And if that does not satisfy they escape into entertainment, addiction or self-determination.  The lesson of Christmas teaches us that real and lasting hope is found in one place, Jesus.  He brings us spiritual freedom, where we no longer have to be a slave to our sin.  This kind of freedom the world longs for and it can only be found in the Christ child.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

America’s Only Answer

When we look at the state of America through the lens of news headlines it is not very buoyant.  And if our news sources supposedly reflect the true nature of our country then I must say they are only getting half the story.      
Typically, alongside the daily bad news they report stories about efforts to turn our country around through elections, new laws, religion, education, conferences, summits, awareness campaigns, improved research and analysis, healthcare, poverty relief, volunteerism, social justice and much more.  Yet, America continues to decline and the world with it.  All these attempts are good things.  They have made pockets of progress and been a genuine help.  However, they are lacking and temporal at best.  The Scriptures give us the answer saying, “There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Jesus is the person in which America’s future rests.  When we leave Him out of our efforts for change we do so to our peril.   
Prayer is one practical way in which we can bring Jesus into the middle of our nation’s woes.  Prayer in His name can do the impossible.  People are seeing this and during 2016 our national prayer life has grown exponentially.  This year we have seen news worthy movements of prayer that have largely been ignored by most of America’s top news outlets.  Here are the ones I am aware of:  Azusa Now; United Cry; Burlington, North Carolina revival; Harvest America; Decision America Tour; West Virginia revival; The 8-8-8 God Speaking Initiative; Together 2016; The Gathering and Cry Out.  I am confident there are more.  It is no stretch to say these events have reached millions in America and across the world.  Though unconnected they have four things that unite them.  1) The United States is in a moral and spiritual decline.  2)  The rate of decline is a cause for serious alarm.  3)  There is only one solution – Jesus.  4)  We must seek Jesus in prayer and go announce Him anew boarder to boarder.
These gatherings are producing large swaths of people, scattered all across the nation, to call upon Jesus.  They are calling out for His intervention into the lives of individuals, and for the soul of America.  It is a historic time.
The news headlines are only telling half the story of the state of our union.  It is a time to believe and persevere.  Press onward!  Join the movement.  Gather together with others and cry out to Jesus for revival in the land.  He is our answer.  Turn to Him and see Him act.          
 
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