WHO DO WE TRUST, GOD OR MAN?

Those who believe in Jesus Christ are called to place their trust in the promises of God, not in the promises of man. Our government leaders pretend to listen to us but pursue their own goals. Only God our Creator loves us enough to be worthy of our praise.

  • Colossians 3:2 (NKJV): “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
  • Psalm 118:8 (NKJV): “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.”

POST-ELECTION FOLLIES

NOW THAT THE 2020 presidential election is over and the fractious aftermath has begun, those of us who confess our faith in Jesus Christ are called to lead our country as Christ wants us to.

Are we doing that?

From what I see, Satan has infiltrated the church and is sowing lies and discord. Take a look at the divisions within Christendom between those who support the  Trump-Pence Administration and those who support the Biden-Harris team.

Those of us who support the former President and Vice President are still being labeled “deplorable,” “racists,” “fascists,” and “haters,” even by those within the church who claim the mantel of Christ. 

Even the innocuous cry to ensure accountability in the election process sets the “religious left” off. Their calls for “unity” sound good but are really a cover for stifling dissent. Unity around one set of ideas is not unity, it’s conformity.

INFLAMMATORY RHETORIC

WE’VE SEEN THE INFLAMMATORY rhetoric of a false prophet, Beth Moore, who has shown more distain toward Christian conservatives than she has toward those openly living in sin and proclaiming their “pride” in so doing. 

Then people who claim the mantel of Christ use her false testimony against fellow Christians and promote their hostility toward us through the secular media.

Didn’t the apostle Paul show his disgust with Christians who dragged fellow Christians into pagan-run courts because they refused to settle differences in a peaceful and brotherly manner? (See 1 Corinthians 6).

How is it, then, that so many of our fellow Christians, who worship each week beside us, use the tools of anti-Christian pagans to denigrate fellow believers? 

Should we assume that those who make those charges are not true followers of Christ but merely the tares among the wheat?

DESCENT OF DARK AGES

AT THE OTHER END OF THE DIVIDE are confessing Christians who told us the world would end, or at least civilization would cease, if Trump-Pence lost the election. They said the Dark Ages would descend  upon us once again. 

They pointed to policy proscriptions the Democrats offer that include, but are not limited to: 

  • government-run health care, 
  • government-imposed redistribution of wealth,
  • increased welfare benefits, 
  • expanded abortion “rights”,
  • porous borders, 
  • same-sex marriage,
  • citizenship for illegal residents, 
  • voting rights for convicted felons, 
  • lowering the voting age to 16, 
  • ending America’s reliance on fossil-fuel energy, 
  • forcing employers to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing measures, 
  • placing stricter limitations on religious liberty, and
  • opposing Israel’s sovereignty.

They also noted Democrats said they might, among other measures:

  • eliminate the Senate filibuster,
  • add three or four Supreme Court justices (all leftist activists),
  • extend statehood to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to ensure four more Democrat senators, and
  • expand “ballot harvesting” to ensure a sufficient number of Democrat ballots are provided to overturn any election at the national or state level won by Republicans.

Regardless of which administration is in power, God remains sovereign, and He will chart our course. As Christians, we are to pray for wisdom and lead by example.

DEPEND ON GOD

This is a gift, and only those who have placed their trust in Him for salvation can appreciate it. Those who are not “in Christ” cannot appreciate the gift, don’t recognize it as a gift, and, sadly, may not even want it.

How else are we to get through the days, weeks, months, and years ahead when the multitude around us are heading in the wrong direction, rejecting the voice of God, and pursuing their own ends. 

We can rest assured that God’s promises are good because He is faithful. May our hearts join together in song:

STANDING ON THE PROMISES

Standing on the promises of Christ my King

Through eternal ages let his praises ring

Glory in the highest, I will shout and sing

Standing on the promises of God

Standing, standing

Standing on the promises of God my Savior

Standing, standing

I’m standing on the promises of God.

O LORD GOD, OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, our King, our Righteousness, our salvation, we rest secure in Your promises to love us, protect us, and care for us, especially when we encounter troubled times. We pray for strengthened hearts that will proclaim Your glorious name and willing hearts that will live out Your commands. May we be Your hands and feet, O LORD, going about Your will. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. AMEN

I AM SO NOT LIKE JESUS – I WISH I WERE

God initially chose the Jewish people as a conduit through which He would reveal Himself to the world He created. When they rejected His Son as their long-anticipated Messiah, God then called the Gentiles to join His movement through the church. We are privileged to play a part in God’s will, and it becomes our responsibility to follow His lead. Today, God is calling Jews and Gentiles alike, and He will hold us responsible for how we respond.

Ephesians 3:6 (CSB): “The Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and partners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” 

Acts 1:8 (NASB2020): “You shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and as far as the remotest part of the earth.”

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MY STRUGGLE TO BE LIKE JESUS

LET ME ADMIT UP FRONT that I find it difficult to be like Jesus, especially when it means being like Jesus 24 hours a day, every day.

I cannot match the incredible love He displayed toward everyone, even his  enemies. He 69.Love_Godforgave the Roman soldiers nailing Him to a cross because they did not know what they were doing! (Luke 23:24) 

I’m more like the Bob Dylan song of old: “You say you’re lookin’ for someone … Someone who’ll die for you and more, but it ain’t me, Babe; it ain’t me you’re lookin’ for.”

The more you follow Jesus, the more you’ll see that He takes what we do, that which seems natural to us, and turns it upside down—turn the other cheek, walk the second mile, pray for those who harm you, love those who hate you, be last instead of first, serve others instead of expecting others to serve you, bear one another’s burden. 

Everything Jesus did — and expects us to do — is completely opposite, upside-down, and inside-out from the way most of us live.

The problem is this: Too many Christians have turned following Jesus into a religious pursuit instead of a life pursuit. To them, He’s a Sunday morning ornament to decorate their self-image, when He wants to be a guide who leads His people in all righteousness.

JESUS HOLDS US ACCOUNTABLE

With great privilege comes great responsibility.

Jesus proclaimed it this way: “Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given.” Luke 12:48 (GNT)

In His Great Commission, Jesus gave His disciples — and us — the task of taking His message of salvation and reconciliation to the entire world, but He assured us that He would stay with us and help us through this  process.

That brings us to the critical question: During times of trouble, what are Christians called to do? 

THE ISSUES OF OUR DAY

What should our response be, as believers, in the aftermath of, say, a mass shooting?

CLASSROOMWe watch in horror as news reports come in of young lives being snuffed out at a school, or worshippers at a church or synagogue being shot, or shoppers at a suburban mall mowed down like ducks at a county fair.

What do we say about the images of left-wing rioters breaking storefront windows, while scores of looters cart off electronics, sneakers, and other coveted items? 

How do we handle the often acrimonious postings and counter-postings on social media? Do we speak up? Let comments slide? Rebuke the intemperate?

Many of those comments come from unbelievers, who have not received the Holy Spirit, but believers also express themselves publicly, and there should be a difference in tone and substance, but is there?

Are we Christ-like in our reactions and comments about the affairs of our time?

FOLLOWING GOD’S PLAN

How would our culture differ if we lived the way Jesus lived?

Our text source reminds us that God grafted the Gentiles (non-Jews) into the “natural olive tree” of His people when the Jews rejected His Son as their Messiah. 

God, speaking through the apostle Paul in Romans 6:22, tells us that through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, we are freed from the power of sin and live under God’s grace … so we should resist the natural temptation to “act out” as the unbelievers do.pointing_to_gods-word

Instead, we are called to show grace. Grace in our actions, grace in our speech, and grace in our thoughts. Why our thoughts? Because we learn in James 1:15 and Matthew 15:18 that the evil that grows in our hearts  drives our actions and words … unless we come under God’s restraining power. (See “Exposing Our Secret Lives”)

 EMBRACING THE PRIVILEGE

It’s a Privilege for God’s People to be a part of His Plan, even though God’s plan often does not line up with our plan. 

God’s love is for everyone. God is calling on both Gentiles and Jews to proclaim His will for the world. (Ephesians 3) Once God allowed His Son to die on the Cross for our sins, we should see everyone we meet as a potential child of God, not to judge them or condemn them, but to show love and grace toward them.

God wants Jew and Gentile to “share equally in the riches” of being God’s children. (Eph. 3:6) The body of Christ would have Jews and Gentiles together. For centuries, we’ve lived in animosity toward one another, but God wants us to come together under the banner of Jesus Christ.

POSTSCRIPT

Jesus calls us to engage in ministry with Him to reach lost souls.

That is a privilege! The apostle Paul praised God for the privilege of his calling to take the message of salvation to the Gentiles, a people despised by him and his fellow Jews.image-16

Imagine. The God of the Jews proclaimed His love for all of His people. He calls us today to reach all of the “others” we see with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and to treat them with love and grace.

For me, it means stretching beyond comfortable limits if that’s where God is calling me.

What does it mean for you?

PRAISE GOD!
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PRAYER

FATHER GOD, all praise, honor, and glory are yours. Thank You for loving us so much that You sent Your Son to die for our sins. Forgive us, Lord, for judging others, for harboring hostility in our hearts, for distancing ourselves from others who do not look like us or think the way we do. That is our sin. O Lord, make us Your disciples, spreading the love, compassion, forgiveness, and grace that You shower on us so that the world will see You in us and give You the glory. In the mighty name of Jesus, AMEN

EXPOSING OUR SECRET LIVES

We are badly mistaken when we think our “secret” lives are “secret.” God sees everything and assures us in Luke 12:3 that what we say in the dark will be heard in the daylight and what we’ve whispered in the inner rooms will be shouted from the rooftops. We know that some men and women whom we respect and admire are what Jesus in Matthew 23:27 called “white-washed tombs” with pristine exteriors hiding decay within. Being forewarned, we should avoid tripping over those snares. Proverbs 27:12 tells us that prudent people see danger ahead and take precautions, but “simpleton[s]” press “blindly on” and suffer the consequences.

Romans 2:16 (NLT): And this is the message I proclaim — that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.

Luke 12:3 (ESV): Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Proverbs 4:23 (NCV): Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.

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GOD KNOWS OUR SECRET THOUGHTS

EVEN OUR MOST PRIVATE THOUGHTS will be made  public!

65.Hidden_ThoughtsHow comforting it is to let our minds roam the extremes, darting past the boundaries of respectability and decorum, venturing into forbidden territory, flirting with danger … because no one knows and, therefore, there’s no harm!

Right? Wrong.

Yes, the God we serve knows everything about us. He knows what we do, what we say … even what we think.

While we may believe our thoughts are hidden, and that we can maintain a good facade simply by watching what we do or say, God tells us that even our thoughts are important.

MISTAKEN ASSUMPTIONS ARE COSTLY

YEARS AGO, BEFORE becoming a Christian, I assumed that what we thought lodged safely within our heads, with no impact on our  lives or those around us unless we acted — or spoke — in response.

Therefore, I reasoned, our minds were free to explore the darkest corners of dreams and ideas, with no repercussions.God's Glory Fills the Hills

As a parent of two children, I allowed them to watch whatever television programs they wanted, even when the children’s programs flirted with filth. One day, my younger of two daughters pushed me out of their TV room with these words: “Daddy, you have to leave the room. They’re talking about sex.”

Stunned, I stumbled into the kitchen, blurting out to their mother, “Do you know what they’re watching?”

She said, “Yes, it’s on all the time.”

That was 30 years ago. All that’s changed since then is the situation has gotten worse.

OUR SINFUL THOUGHTS HARM US

SIN IS BORN in our thoughts.

When those thoughts, or desires, become strong enough, they lead us to act contrary to God’s will (James 1:14-15), and that leads to death because death is the payment for sin (Romans 6:23).

In the days before my conversion, I didn’t realize that the thoughts that populated our minds — mine or, in this case, my children’s — would, or even could, find their way out through our speech or future actions.

Without the Bible’s teaching, I was content to follow my own desires for my purposes and would find a way, if I could, to neutralize any opposition, from whatever source — wife, employer, neighbor. It didn’t matter. I was the “captain” of my destiny, and I took great pride in getting my way.

As the *natural man* (1 Cor. 2:14), I was unable to see a higher purpose in which I could be called to serve others (Mark 10:45) or not think of myself more highly than I ought (Rom. 12:3) or to bear another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).

I also paid a heavy price for my insolence, although I did not immediately attribute any failings to my conduct or mindset.

GOD’S GRACE SAVES US

GOD’s GRACE is so amazing.

He not only wants to forgive us for what we do, but He wants to forgive us for every intemperate word and errant thought! (Romans  5:20)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

More than that, He wants to redeem us and teach us so that we won’t continue along the path that leads to destruction. (Matt. 7:13) We learn through His Word that our paths, our desires, may seem right to us, but we take them at our peril. (Prov. 16:25)

Once we receive the Holy Spirit, He goes to work to remake us in His image. (2 Cor. 5:17; Phil. 2:13)

Then, we see more clearly the strong connection between our errant thoughts and our behavior, and we strive to change our thinking, with His help and under His grace, to thoughts honoring our Savior. (2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 4:8)

POSTSCRIPT

WHEN I LOOK BACK at those days before conversion, I shudder to see how selfish I was, how prideful, how ungodly.

Then I read that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, the Godly for the ungodly (Rom. 5:8), that we might have fellowship again with our Creator, the way He designed us before our Fall from Grace (Genesis 3).

That, my friends, is love.

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PRAYER 

Dear Heavenly Father, You know us better than we know ourselves. You know what is in lone_crossour hearts, what  motivates us, what consumes our passions and energy. You are not fooled. We confess to You our selfishness, our envy, our judgment of others. Please forgive us and cast our sins away, as far as the east is from the west, and remember them no more. Lord, Your Word was given to instruct us, to rebuke and correct us, and to train us so that, as children of the Most High God, we will be adequate for every good work. We pray, O Lord, that You will soften our hearts to make us more obedient to Your will. In Jesus’ holy and matchless name we pray. AMEN