Lucia's Blog: November 2016
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

GRATITUDE: ALWAYS THANKFUL

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever!
41 With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and expressly named to give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever."
1 Chronicles 16:34, 41

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 
Serve the Lord with gladness!  Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; 
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.  
Psalm 100


The traffic is getting hectic. The stores are filling with shoppers. The sound of “jingle bells” is in the air. It must be … Thanksgiving! It is one of the noblest and most non-controversial holidays of the year. The giving of thanks is fundamental to the worship and honor that we offer to the Father of lights from whom all blessings flow. It is a good time for us to meditate on some of the good reasons we have for giving thanks every day of our lives on this earth.

This coming Thursday, many tables across the country will be set for the celebration of Thanksgiving. The day can be either a careless event or a deeply rewarding one. It all depends on what we make of it.  We will offer words and prayers of thanksgiving.  We are grateful for our abundant food, good health, our freedom, our homes and our children.  It is so easy to give thanks when life is smooth, and everything is going our way.  In fact, in such times we find it easy to thank God for all He has done for us.  I have prepared some thoughts on the Biblical concept of Thanksgiving.  I hope you find them edifying.

It is my hope, that we as Christians may be thankful to our Almighty God every day of our lives, and not just on Thanksgiving Day.  As grateful children of God, our gratitude must be perpetual, choosing to be grateful each day and not wait until the end of November to do so.  We have so much to be thankful for even when it seems there is much to complain about.  We must praise God and be always mindful of the many blessings our loving God showers down upon all of us.  When the church first began in Acts 2:46, the disciples broke bread daily from house to house and ate their food with gladness.  They were so thankful to be partakers of God's family that they ate together with joy (gladness and sincerity of heart).

Sadly, life has become mundane for many of us. It is a constant search for thrills in worldly and sinful habits (drinking, drugs, spending, pornography, affairs, etc.).  Many refuse to be grateful for what they have. A grateful heart makes the ordinary extraordinary.   It is vital that we examine our hearts and focus on gratitude.  The grateful heart is always positive.  Such a heart knows and acknowledges God's manifold ways and blessings.  There is so much that we as His children need to be grateful for since He has blessed us so richly.  The right attitude always leads to a heart of gratitude toward our Jehovah God.

So what does it mean to be thankful and how does one develop the right attitude (spirit) of gratitude?  How can one overcome an ungrateful heart or spirit?  Let us consider:


I.   WHAT IT MEANS TO BE THANKFUL:

Indeed, ingratitude is an awful sin.  An ungrateful and foolish heart is darkened by fleshly pride, human wisdom, and indulgence, (Rom. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:2).  It refuses to acknowledge God as the Giver of every good and perfect gift, (Psalm 103:1-5).  It is God's will that we be thankful for everything, (1 Thess. 5:8).  It is a command that is as important as the command to repent and be baptized or to worship correctly, (Acts 2:38; John 4:24).

Unfortunately, we live in a secularized culture that is very ungrateful and does not honor God, (Romans 1:21-22; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).  They forget that a heart that is thankful is richer and fuller, (Heb. 3:15).  Their lives are constantly darkened with doubt, worry and sin.

Those of us who are Christians must always be thankful since Christ is our reason for living,  (Col. 3:3, 10).  Being thankful or grateful is the opposite of self-centeredness, arrogance, and rebellion.  A heart that is not thankful will always abound in anxiety and lust, (Eph. 5:20).

The heart that is grateful always acknowledges the benefits received.  Blessings come to us when we are thankful.   When one recognizes the Giver, our God and that all blessings come from Him, there will never be room for boasting.  We are not worthy of God's blessings, and we do not deserve a single one!  (1 Tim. 1:12-13).  

One of the worst things for us to forget is to be thankful.  We seem to be a forgetting people.” Oh yes, we celebrate Thanksgiving to encourage gratitude once a year.  But let's face it, it is not enough to be thankful or grateful one day out of the whole year.  We must be thankful every day!

In James 1:17 we are taught that every good and perfect gift comes from above, God the Father of lights.  All that we have and possess (our families, beautiful homes, health, skills, jobs, etc.) God has made them possible for us.  So why not praise our Lord for such blessings and all His marvelous ways?

In Deuteronomy 8:6-20, Moses warned the nation of Israel about not forgetting the LORD and urged them to remember God's blessings toward them.  Moses stressed the importance of honoring, obeying and not forgetting God over and over.  God had blessed and would even bless them more abundantly once they entered the Promised Land.  That is exactly why Moses felt compelled to remind them so they would not forget.  He knew they would likely remember all their past struggles and how God carried them through.  Moreover, there would be a temptation for them, when remembering God's goodness that they would boast about earning all of those blessings by their own power and might! This passage concludes with Moses predicting the consequences of forgetting the LORD and glorifying themselves.  As a result, they were going to perish as a nation just like the other nations that God was about to destroy in Canaan.

So what is the point I am trying to make with Moses' exhortation to the nation of Israel over three thousand years ago?  That today men and women have the same tendencies that the Israelites had back then.  When one reads Deuteronomy 8, it is not difficult to apply it to our present day.  Many Christians today have fallen prey to the same failures and errors that the Israelites did.  Isn't it true that many Christians don't acknowledge God when they're striving to live a life of luxury and riches?  Many care so little about where their blessings originate from!  Many deceive themselves because of their abundance in life, and think that their success is from their own power and might!  

You see, the nation of Israel became more corrupt as they grew and prospered.  God eventually punished them and allowed other foreign nations to conquer them because of their sins (which of course grew out of their ingratitude).  We in our country are no different.  We have forgotten to be thankful toward our God!  How long will God tolerate our kind of idolatry:  self-worship (the altar of self) coupled with a thankless and ungrateful heart toward our God?!

The problem of ingratitude has been around since the beginning of mankind.  It will be good to remind ourselves frequently what is of real value; that life does not consist in the abundance of things a person possesses, (Luke 12:15); that all physical things are temporary, no matter how much we enjoy them; that those blessings we enjoy now originated from our heavenly Father; that we must take time to be thankful day in and day out for all physical and spiritual blessings and finally that our God is the fountain from which every blessing flows.  


II.   DEVELOPING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE, THE SPIRIT OF GRATITUDE:

To maintain and develop the right attitude, the spirit of gratitude, we must personally examine ourselves.  
  • Gratitude Requires Counting All of Our Blessings:
In Psalm 103:3-5 we read of God's blessings or benefits toward us.  “who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”

This passage reminds us of what our Jehovah God has done for us.  I cannot help but be reminded of John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  In Psalm 103:3-5, David thanks God for six things which he regards as blessings:
  1. God forgives our sins.
  2. God heals us.
  3. God redeems us from death.
  4. God surrounds us with favor.
  5. God satisfies us with good things.
  6. God renews us with strength.
Undoubtedly, without God on our side, none of these blessings could take place.  We are God's sheep in His pasture, (Psalm 79:13).  He cares for us and calls us to put our faith in Him, (John 10:27-28). All these blessings are worthy of a lifetime of gratitude and praise toward our God.  So count all of your blessings one by one!

  • Gratitude Requires God's Goodness:
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.  He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.  8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  9 He will not always chide,  nor will he keep his anger forever.  10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,  nor repay us according to our iniquities.”  (Psalm 103:6-10)
God's goodness is an excellent way of expressing God's righteousness, mercy, and grace.  David was thankful for God's goodness and so should we.  We need to be grateful for God's righteousness and justice.  Though our lives might be difficult here on earth because of oppression, God will make things right on that Final Day.  He will indeed execute justice for us.  David was thankful for God's longsuffering and for being slow to anger.  He was aware of this since God could have certainly destroyed him after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband.  But God didn't!! Let's face it, if God was not longsuffering, how many of us would still be alive today?  I assure you, none of us.  He does not deal with His children according to their sins.  He does not punish us the way we deserve!  And though He does not ignore sin, out of His goodness, He gives us plenty of time to repent.  So let us be thankful that He is slow to anger, but realize that He does get angry.  His longsuffering and tolerance have a limit.  May we never take that for granted, but rather show gratitude toward Him all the days of our life.

  • Gratitude Requires God's Forgiving Love:
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.  15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.  17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.  (Psalm 103:11-18).

God in His goodness manifests His love toward us.  His steadfast love toward those who fear Him is as high as the heavens are above the earth!  From everlasting to everlasting!  What a beautiful picture!  Notice that His steadfast love, His mercy, is only granted to those who fear Him and not to everyone; those who faithfully keep His covenant and obey all of His commandments, (Psalm 103;11,17,18).

God in His steadfast love removed our sins when we accepted His terms and began to follow Him. As far as the east is from the west!  Notice that He did not say as far as the north is from the south. Now stop for a moment and think about the meaning of Psalm 103:12 and notice the beautiful words of this psalm and be thankful!  Why?  Because our God has removed our sins farther away than we can think or understand!  As far as the east is from the west!!  That is, when God forgives our sins, He washes them away completely and remembers them no more.  What a loving and merciful God we serve!!

Our Father in Heaven is a merciful God toward His children.  He is patient with us not willing that any should perish but that we all should come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9).  He pities His children the way a human father pities his children.  That alone is a good enough reason to be thankful toward Him!

  • Gratitude Requires Faith:
Without faith, it will be impossible to be thankful toward our God for the most precious gift ever given, the sacrifice of His Son who died for our sins, (2 Cor. 9:15).  God cares for the sheep of His pasture and commands us to put our faith in Him, (John 10:27-28; Psalm 79:13).

  • Gratitude Requires Joy and Contentment:
As children of our heavenly Father, we are commanded to rejoice with a grateful heart always despite our circumstances.  You see, rejoicing and gratitude go hand in hand, (1 Thess. 5:16-18).  Likewise, joy and giving thanks go together, (Psalm 97:10-12).  We must learn to exercise our muscle of joy and contentment that we might be able to praise and honor our God always.  Contentment is not easier to learn, but we must learn it and apply it in every circumstance, whatever it may be, (Phil. 4:10-13; 2 Cor. 12:9-10).

The one who is always anxious has a hard time expressing thankfulness in the midst of his anxiety.  It is gratitude (rejoicing always) that nurtures the optimism that replaces anxiety, (Matt. 6:33-34; Phi. 4:13).

  • Gratitude Requires Giving:
When one is grateful to be working, he can easily provide for his needs and those of others, (Acts. 20:34-35).  Generosity leads to unexpected blessings, (Prov. 22:9; 21:13).


III.    THE UNGRATEFUL HEART:

Ingratitude is an ugly sin.  It portrays a heart that is blinded by pride, foolishness, and indulgence.  It often repays good with evil, (Neh. 9:17; Lk. 6:35).  Ingratitude is always thoughtless toward God and implies that one deserves it all.  Ingratitude thinks about all that one doesn't have.  It never rejoices and always shows a frown.  Never smiles!  It is always unhappy and never finds contentment.  Ingratitude is proud and arrogant rather than humble and gracious, (Lk. 14:11).  It focuses primarily on self, (Jas. 3:14-16).  Ingratitude is rude, demeaning, demanding, grudging, ungenerous and thoughtless toward others.  And while thankfulness looks outward, ingratitude looks inward, failing to acknowledge the contributions or good others do for us.  Ingratitude is expressed in the heart of murmuring, complaining, and bitterness.  Have you ever noticed how difficult it is for the complainer and whiner to be thankful?  He is always seeing the wrongs and shortcomings of others and finds pleasure in it, (Num. 11:1; 4:6; 21:4-5).   The one who complains forgets that when he's complaining, He is actually grumbling against God.  

When we grumble or complain, our faith is weak. You see, faith is developed and strengthened when one embraces the Word of God heartily, trusting in it as only truth (Romans 10:17).  This was precisely the failure of the Israelites.  Their faith was so weak that they found it difficult to trust God's Word.  They forgot God's promises to them.  They forgot all that God had graciously provided for them, the marvelous works that provided the food, shelter, and clothing that they needed.  We are no different today.  Why?  Because our faith is fickle.  We quickly forget to remember God's blessings and all the ways He pours out blessings on us day in and day out.  We just seem to lack faith, forgetting that He is in control.  We neglect to be strengthened through His Word as we should and when all is said and done we end up grumbling instead of trusting.  Some think that God is not all-powerful or all-knowing; they believe He doesn't care, so they feel hopeless and helpless and therefore complain. They forget that our God is great and awesome!  He will take care of His faithful children, (Matt. 6:33; Heb. 13:5-6).  May we not fall into the temptation of murmuring or complaining but rather be content and grateful while we walk this path of life.  May we always have thankful and grateful hearts.

So do you complain about your circumstances, your job, your health, your children, the church, God's commands, your responsibilities, etc.?  Why not choose to be thankful and grateful while there is life?  Be thankful that you are still alive, have medical care available to you, have children (our children are God's heritage to us, Psalm 127:3), and finally that you are part of God's kingdom, His church (the church belongs to our Lord Jesus and not to you!).  Remember that blessings bring responsibilities.  Ingratitude deems or regards others with envy and jealousy, (Gal. 5:20-21).  Have you ever seen a jealous and envious person full of joy and thankfulness or gratefulness?  So why not start tasting of God's favor in your life that you might be able to dispose of sinful attitudes and actions, 1 Peter 2:1-3?


CONCLUSION:

We must choose to see the goodness of God, to think beyond this life, eternity.  It is then that we will be able to learn contentment. Contentment is a matter of the heart. We must learn to hope only in God, to ask Him to teach our hearts to be content, to want to trust Him and to be grateful, and mostly to learn to be satisfied with what He provides for us. The danger in discontent and ungratefulness is covetousness, coveting what we do not have. With this attitude in our hearts, we will never be at peace. We must learn this in matters of marriage, family, relationships, possessions, the church and so on.

The apostle Paul tells us that he learned to be content!  It was a process. "Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.... I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13). Contentment is like a muscle–the more you put it into practice, the stronger it gets. It is an attitude inside our hearts that whispers in our ears saying "God, I want to learn to be content, so today, I am going to seek to be grateful to You, for what You have provided and for the eternal life I will share with You, where joys beyond my imagination will be real, will be fulfilled and will be provided by You, because You love me."  We need to choose to understand this contentment with humility and joy, whatever our circumstances. It is a significant gain in our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. It is this contentment, this character of heart in us, that will help us battle whatever our circumstances are and ultimately give us victory! 
“57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  (1 Cor. 15:57). 

We have an abundance of blessings bestowed on us as His children for which we must be thankful. Consider some of the many blessings:  Our families, our good health, freedom to worship God, the Gospel of Christ, the Word of God, our redemption, our hope of eternal life, our many freedoms like being able to home educate our children, air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, and most of all our Lord and Savior who redeemed us, who cares for us, who sympathizes with our weaknesses, and who has sworn never to forsake us.  Therefore, we are more than rich since we have all these abundances of blessings.  
“The blessing of Jehovah, it maketh rich; And he addeth no sorrow therewith.” (Proverbs 10:22)
“Who can separate us from the love of Christ?  Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.  ”Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Even as it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  (Romans 8:35-37)

Being grateful is the key to spiritual victory.  Joy is the result of a grateful heart. A thankful heart is the product of a person who always chooses to give thanks no matter what the circumstances.  It is the person who never compares himself to other people but always to Christ.  It is the heart that realizes he is rich beyond measure because he is a child of God and that in Him he finds His portion. It is the heart that is always looking for reasons to be content and give thanks.

Therefore, we must learn to appreciate and be thankful for God's steadfast love and loving kindness. Notice what David once said:
"Blessed be the Lord, For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city."  (Psalm 31:2)

There is nothing more critical than finding oneself in a besieged city.  It is as bad as one's circumstances can get.  Yet David acknowledges God's steadfast love and loving-kindness toward him.  God heard his cry for deliverance.  He made David aware of His love and compassion for him.
Are we aware and do we acknowledge God's steadfast love and loving-kindness toward us?  Can we fathom the depth of His steadfast love toward us?  Have we forgotten the message of Romans 8:38-39?  

Sadly, many become anxious when things are tough, and life is difficult.  They lose heart and become discouraged.  In those dark moments, they find it hard to understand the purpose of our trials. They become anxious about the unknown.  They are overwhelmed!  Despair is the opposite of a faithful and thankful heart.  When our affections are on earthly things and not on God, we are in danger.  We tend to cling to our immediate circumstances rather than to God.  It makes us not only anxious but also insecure.  Only God can fill our hearts with His peace.  

We have so much to give thanks for.  It is not so much for material things but for God's love in sending His only begotten Son to die for our sins, so that through Him we could be redeemed and have access to eternal lifeWe have all we need in Christ.  He is the fullness that fills all in all.  Why not take a moment to give thanks?

Ingratitude is the opposite of gratitude. It reveals pride, self-sufficiency, self-centeredness, self-satisfaction, and self-love, (2 Tim. 3:1-4).  Sin increases when one is not thankful and grateful (2 Tim. 3:2-5).  Therefore, let us be grateful since God has called us through the Gospel to peace with Him and all men (Col. 3:15).

Since we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, I want to share a poem that I wrote for Thanksgiving.  I hope you find meaning in these words.


Thy Excellence Makes Me Glad!
By Luci Y. Partain

O that my heart may always be grateful to Thee, my Lord,
When wintry winds and stormy seas assail me,
When dreary days and troubled times seize me
And peace is hard to find,
When troubled times come and go
And tears and sorrow abound,
May my heart rejoice in Thee.
When grief and fears surround me,
Let the memory of  sacred strains, Truth eternal and joy divine
Be Thy gifts bestowed upon me, my Lord.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

O that my heart may rejoice and be grateful to Thee
In hope and thanksgiving with a humble heart, my Savior, Lord, and King.
May I always bow before Thee, Lord, in gratitude and gladness
For every gift that Thou hast bestowed upon me.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

For Thou hast given me life and breath.
Thou hast blessed me richly with fruit and grain.
Thou hast given light of day and dark of night, sun, moon, and stars on high,
For that, my humble heart will always shout with joy and gratitude.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

The beauty, splendor, and majesty in Thy creation
Always surround me with joy and serenity.
My grateful heart shouts with joy and love.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

I love Thee and praise Thee and will ever exalt Thee,
My Rock and my Anchor in whom my heart will ever trust.
I thank thee for all the blessings of joy and sorrow and 
For the wisdom that they teach me day by day.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

I thank Thee for all my challenges and obstacles,
For rugged mountains to climb.
Thy Truth teaches me courage and abiding faith to keep me strong,
To face my fears on the fields of battle with honor and strength.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

Thy goodness and steadfast love fill  my heart with gladness and thanksgiving,
Thy strong right-hand helps me to walk in Thy straight path of righteousness.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

My heart thanks Thee for the knowledge of Thy presence, Lord,
My heart can be still, For Thou art with me.
Thy lovingkindness and steadfast love comfort me.
Therefore, my heart will ever praise Thee,
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!

O that my heart may ever praise Thee,
For Thy hand is always beside me to guide me,
Thy hand reaches o'er me... , 
To protect, direct and secure me all the days of my life.
No matter how bad the tempest might frighten me,
I know that in Thee, my soul is secured and anchored forever.
How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!


May our Lord help us to give thanks always no matter what our circumstances are.  May we live in His peace trusting in Him with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. May we always have a thankful and grateful heart that we may see the power of God and our faith in Him working in our life.  May we never forget that God is the Giver of all good gifts.   May we keep calm and know that He cares for us.  May we never forget that He is near.  To Him be the glory.

Luci

Thursday, November 17, 2016

GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

"Remember mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.
My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is bowed down within me.
This I recall to my mind; therefore have I hope.  It is of Jehovah’s 
lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassions
fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.
Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.
It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah."
Lamentations 3:19-26


We have recently elected a new set of leaders for our country, who have made many promises. Will they keep their word or falter like so many before them? I don't know about these men, but I do know that our Lord Jesus will not fail us. This is a good time to remember the beloved words of Jeremiah.

As strange as it is to find a beautiful flower on a dessert cactus, it is likewise strange to find such a beautiful HOPE in the midst of such ugliness and despair, in the Book of LamentationsLamentations 3:19-26 is one of my favorite passages of the Bible because it underlines some precious and powerful principles about the God we serve and the life He gives us to live.  These verses teach us about God's steadfast faithfulness, love, mercy, and forgiveness.  The song, Great is Thy Faithfulness is one of my all-time favorites.  It is dear to my heart because of its message about our Jehovah God's faithfulness toward us day in and day out, no matter what our circumstances might be.  All He asks is that we be faithful to Him as well.  Our God gives us the chance to prove His faithfulness.  The providential care of our God is amazing!

The author of this beautiful song wrote,

Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Chorus:
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!


When we think of faithfulness, we think of one who is firm in his faith, committed to obeying God, steadfast and reliable.  In the Bible, when we think of people who represented faithfulness, the Prophet Jeremiah quickly comes to mind.

Jeremiah is the author of the Book of Lamentations. He is also referred to as the "weeping prophet." The Book of Lamentations was written during the time of the Babylonian invasion and the destruction of Jerusalem.  The book portrays an unending sadness and profound depression. It speaks of Jeremiah's sorrows amidst the tragedy that took place in the city of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah. These were times of mourning, despair, and weeping.  As we read through the pages of the book, we observe the terrible sufferings that the Israelites had to endure in the hands of their enemies, the Babylonians, and King Nebuchadnezzar.  Yet, in the midst of so much chaos, despair, and mourning, Jehovah God called on Jeremiah, His Prophet, to record all the events and bring honor to His name.  He, Jeremiah, knew that God was a God of mercy and compassion. He stood in the gap for his people and urged them to repent and return to God. Jeremiah knew what God would do for His people and himself.  He was aware that God was faithful and that He would do what He said He would do.

In Jeremiah 1: 5-6, God told Jeremiah,

"5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee; I have appointed thee a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I, Ah, Lord Jehovah! behold, I know not how to speak; for I am a child."  

Isn't it something that God's Word calls on us to do things that are difficult, impossible without His help?  However, it is then that we learn that what is impossible for men, is possible with God's help. For with God, all things are possible!

It is precisely here in Lamentations that the Prophet remembered that though he is a man of constant sorrows and afflictions because of God's rod of wrath, there is still hope. Jeremiah knew that God was His portion. Therefore, he had hope. He knew that God was faithful and merciful.  He knew that God was still God.

Let us consider some of this precious man's background:
  1. The northern kingdom (Israel) had fallen because of their lawlessness (apostasy, idolatry).
  2. Jeremiah's message to the Southern Kingdom (Judah) was that they too were going to fall for the same reasons and should submit to the Babylonians as slaves.
  3. God strengthened Jeremiah for this painful labor.  He told Jeremiah, "I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land."  (Jeremiah 1:18).
  4. God put him over nations and kingdoms "to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."  (Jeremiah 1:10, see chapters 46-51).
  5. Though God appointed Jeremiah to the nations, he did not want to minister. (Jeremiah 1:5-6)
  6. He was called to preach nothing but the Judgment of God over the nationsJeremiah 1:9-10.
  7. He reminded them of God's rules and pleaded with the people to repent of their wickedness, but they refused to believe him and repent.  (Jeremiah 2:13,32;8:7, 18, 9:1; 11:3-5).
  8. They trusted in the Temple.  They would say peace, peace and there was no peace, (Jeremiah 7:4; 8:11).
  9. They trusted in men rather than in God, turning away from Him, (Jeremiah 17:5).
  10. The people fought and plotted against Jeremiah, but the LORD was with him to protect him, (Jeremiah 1:19).
  11. They would say, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.”  (Jeremiah 18:18; Mat. 5:11; James 3:9).
  12. They would accuse him of being a bigot like so many do to us today when we take a stand for righteousness.
  13. His so-called friends were his enemies, (Jeremiah 9:3-5; 11:19; 20:10).
  14. His once-trusted friends mocked him, throwing his own words back at him, saying, "terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!"  (Jeremiah 20:10).
  15. He was beaten and put in stocks, (Jeremiah 20:2; 37:15-16).  
  16. He was forbidden to have a wife for himself or have any children, because the sons and daughters born in that place were going to die of diseases, and they were told not to lament their deaths, Jeremiah 16:1-13; 17.  As a result of this, he became familiar with loneliness.
  17. He was a man of deep sorrow.  He wept and mourned openly about the sins of his people, (Jeremiah 9:1).
  18. Because of his severe message of God's Judgment toward his people, he endured depression.  His people would not take heed to his message.  He was so weary and frustrated that he tried to escape the burden of it, (Jeremiah 20:9).  It must be hard and discouraging to proclaim the Truth and Judgments of God and have no one to take heed to them and convert his heart to the LORD.  In Jeremiah's case, he preached for a period of 50 years without converting or saving a single soul (that we know of).
  19. He suffered unmerciful injustice and imprisonment at the hands of King Zedekiah.  The king did not approve of Jeremiah's preaching, (Jeremiah 32:5).  This poor man of God was still suffering in a dungeon when the Babylonians invaded the city.  Notice that he had already prophesied this, (Jeremiah 32:2).
  20. Despite all this, he would compassionately exhort his people, (Jeremiah 8:18; 9:1).
  21. Indeed, he was a tenderhearted man like Elijah. He is an example of how Christians ought to be.
  22. After Jerusalem fell and many of his people were killed or taken captive into exile, he did not rejoice saying, "I told you so."  He instead was broken in heart and deep despair, mourning with the remnant that was left behind.  He fell into deep lament and sorrow with them, (Lamentations 1-5).  This brings tears to my eyes!

Indeed, this precious man of God endured a life of turmoil, desolation, despair and sorrow.  The Prophet Jeremiah was overwhelmed with discouragement and affliction. He began to curse the day he was born and wondered why he did not die before birth inside the womb. This is what he says: “Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow so that my days have been spent in shame?” (Jeremiah 20:18).  Do you think this is an exaggeration? Not at all! We read in chapter 20 that the chief officer had him beaten then placed him in stocks. He may have been tortured with such a device that caused his body to bend double.

Imagine this happening after he was beaten!  Why did he suffer all this? Was he guilty of any crime? Absolutely not! He had simply declared the Word of God. He did what was right, but in return, what he received was punishment. That hurt him, no?  His prayers were full of loneliness and complaints: “O LORD, Thou hast deceived me and I was deceived; Thou hast overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long; everyone mocks me.... for me the word of the LORD has resulted in reproach and derision all day long.” (Jeremiah 20:7-8).

His constant loneliness and rejection caused him to be discouraged.  He felt alone, useless, hopeless and discouraged, (Jeremiah 15:19). Jeremiah was emotionally spent, confused, even to the point of doubting God, (Jeremiah 15:18), but God was not done with him.

From his life, we can find comfort in knowing that even great prophets of God like Jeremiah experienced rejection, discouragement, and disappointment as they walked with the Lord.  This is a normal part of growing spiritually.

We can plainly see a discouraged man in despair and anguish. Have you ever felt this way when you were tried, tested and low, feeling as low as you can get, sunk in the mud?  Yet Jeremiah obeyed even when he could not understand the purpose of God's commandment.  He obeyed because of his great faith, humility, compassion, courage, and perseverance, (Jeremiah 20:9,11).  He remained faithful even when he stood alone (like Noah, Joseph, Daniel and many others) in the midst of so much turmoil.  He rose above discouragement and despair!

Imagine living a life of rejection, hatred, mockery, imprisonment, indifference and profound sorrow after seeing his beloved city, Jerusalem, being plundered, desecrated and destroyed into nothing.  Imagine experiencing the horrible results of war, the brutality of the invading enemies and the pangs of hunger.  Still, Jeremiah stood tall amid the debris of the city and the dead bodies, while the city burned, lifting up his voice in praise to Jehovah God for His great, unfailing faithfulness toward His people.  I am getting emotional again! 

How was this possible?   How could Jeremiah still hope in His Jehovah God?  In the faithfulness of his great God?  The answer is not complicated.  Jeremiah knew very well Who his great God was. Jeremiah knew that his great God would still be a merciful and faithful God to those who seek Him and wait for Him, (Lamentations 3:21).

Like Jeremiah, we all go through turbulent times when things are difficult, hopeless, and filled with despair.  Everything seems to fall apart or collapse, but it is during these trying and difficult times that we need to remember that blessed assurance of God's faithfulness toward us.  The word "faithfulness" of verse 23, means "firmness, fidelity, steadiness, steadfastness."  This word "faithfulness" portrays a God on Whom we can totally depend.  I am sure that no matter what storms, trials and valleys of life we might face, God will be there to prove His faithfulness and steadfastness to you and me.  In few and simple words, we can count on Him!

Jeremiah acknowledged that true contentment is found in walking God's old paths.  "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.'"  (Jeremiah 6:16).  The old path was, of course, the Mosaic Law.  For us today, the old path is the New Testament, the Law of Christ which was delivered to us nearly 2000 years ago.  Indeed, true contentment is to live in submission to God, (Matt. 11:28-30).  Most of God's promises are conditional, (Jeremiah 18:7-10).  Most of God's promises are conditioned upon one's obedience to God's commandments, (Deut. 28).

Let us examine in more depth Lamentations 3:22-26 and try to understand why Jeremiah was able to proclaim:  Great is Thy faithfulness!  Though God's people (the Israelites) went into captivity and punishment, it was to be temporary since there would be a restoration!  Our God is always faithful to His faithful children.  This ought to be the great motivator of our hopeLet us consider the precious words of Lamentations 3:22-26 that teach us about the great, unfailing and faithful God we serve.  


  • GOD IS FAITHFUL IN HIS GRACE:
"It is of Jehovah's lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed." (Lamentations 3:22a)
Notice that the word "lovingkindness" is mentioned over 30 times in the Old Testament.  It is a very meaningful word that carries the idea of love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, goodness, and devotion.  This word portrays God as the Divine lover of all men.  In the New Testament, it is found as an equivalent for God's love and grace. 

Jeremiah seems always to remember that it was by God's grace that He brought Israel out of Egyptian slavery.  Likewise, it was also God's grace that had kept them, the Israelites, a redeemed nation in spite of their failures and wanderings.

Let us consider some amazing thoughts about God's Grace:
    • God's grace saves us from the penalty of sin:  It was only through His grace that we were able to be made alive since we were dead because of sin and His wrath was upon us, (Ephesians 2:1-4).  But God being rich in His mercy and grace, sent His only begotten Son, our Lord, and Savior to be our guilt offering, dying that cruel death on the cross.  Our Lord came in the Person of the Lord Jesus to die for our sins, (Phil. 2:5-8).  He came to draw us to God that we might be saved, (John 16:7-11, John 6:44).  Jesus, our Lord, came to seek and save that which was lost, (Luke 19:10).  He came to offer salvation, (I Timothy 1:15, I Thess. 5:8-9).  It is God's grace, His mercy that saves us from His wrath, the second death, (Rev. 20).  God does not want that for us.  He wants us to be saved from sin through His Son.  This is the salvation that our merciful God offers through His Son Jesus under the Gospel of His Son, (Romans 5:9-10; James 5:19-20; 2 Timothy 1:10; Heb. 2:2-3; Titus 2:13-14; Rom. 6:23; Luke 1:77).
    • But God's Grace is Conditional:  We must meet all the conditions of the Gospel our of Lord to be forgiven of our sins.  Jesus is the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him, (Heb. 5:9).  We have been exhorted to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, (Phil. 2:12).  It is true that our merciful God offers salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ to all of us but we must meet those requirements to receive salvation.  There is no room for disobedience; otherwise, we will not be saved, (James 2:14-26).  The conditions we must meet are: a) hear the Gospel, (Acts 11:14; I Cor. 1:18-21; 15:2; 2 Timothy 3:15; 2 Peter 2:20); b) believe the Gospel, (Romans 1:16; Mark 16:15-16; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9); c)  repent of sins, (Acts 5:31; 2 Cor. 7:10)d) confess Jesus as Lord, (Romans 10:9-10); e)  be baptized for forgiveness of sins, (Mark 16:15,16; I Peter 3:21; Romans 6:3 and Acts 2:38) and finally f)  live a faithful life unto death, (Matthew 10:22; Acts 2:47; Eph.1:13; 5:23,25; 2 Thess. 2:10,13; Heb. 10:39; I Cor. 1:21; 15:2; I Tim. 4:16; Tit. 3:5; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 8:11-12).  His grace will be secured if we obey and meet all of His conditions or requirements.  Thanks be to God for His indescribable Grace!

  • GOD IS FAITHFUL IN ALL HIS GIFTS:
"because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness."  (Lamentations 3:22b-23)

The word "compassion" literally means "womb."  It means "to be moved in the heart out of love for another."  What this means is that God's grace give us the strength through counsel of His Word and His answers to our prayers.  It is actively working in our lives because we walk in the Light as He is in the light and we have fellowship with one another.  It is through the storms of our lives that His grace is carrying us.  He bears us through the dark valleys of sorrow and struggle.  We are not alone!  God's grace is giving us all that we need for the journey.  Consider how great God' gifts are:
    • His gifts are faithful:  God never promised us a bed of roses but that His grace would be sufficient for the need, (2 Cor. 12:9).
The word "grace" is not just "the unmerited love and favor of God toward sinners."  It means so much more than that.  It is "the strength of God through His Word and prayer to face all of the battles and to bear up under times of difficulty."

We can surely be confident that no matter what life sends our way, God will give us the necessary strength to face the trying and difficult valleys in our life.  Yes, you can trust Him!  Our God is greater, by far than any problem we might have to face.  He will take care of us.  We must always remember that "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. (Eph. 3:20).  Our God gives us the gift of His provision.  God wants to meet the needs of those who seek Him, (Phil. 4:19; Matt. 6:25; Psalm 37:25).  He also gives us the gift of His Person and presence.  What that means is that He is reliable at all times and that He is also present at all times.  (Heb. 13:8; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20).


  • GOD IS FAITHFUL IN HIS GOODNESS:  
"Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah."  (Lamentations 3:24-26).

The word "good" gives the idea of being pleasant, agreeable and excellent.  It refers to the character of God.
    • God is our Satisfier, (verse 24a).  He is described here as our soul’s portion.  This word means “share” or “booty.”  It also refers to the spoils of war.  Here, Jeremiah is saying, "In the battle of life, God is my reward, my share, and my portion.  He is what our soul needs to be satisfied."  (Psa. 103:5; Psa. 107:9; Rom. 8:28).
    • He is our Sustainer, (verses 24b-25).  Our God would never fail those who seek, obey and place their trust in Him, (Isa. 49:23; Rom. 10:11; Matt. 5:18; Psa. 119-89-90; Isa. 40:8).
    • He is our Savior, (verse 26).  In this context, Jeremiah is saying, "Those who wait upon the Lord will see Him bring them out of their troubles and trials.  He will not fail His children, but, in His time, He will deliver them from all their valleys."  God offers salvation through the sacrifice of Christ to all sinners.  God is our ultimate Savior.  A Savior that wants to rescue or deliver all from the peril or hardship.  God can deliver us from all of our problems that no one else can solve.  It is when we find ourselves powerless, hopeless, and helpless that we need a Savior.  He and no one else has the solution to our greatest needs:  a)  The Lord fed the 5,000, (Matt. 14:30)b)  saved Hezekiah, (II Chron. 32:22)c)  saved Israel when they cried out to Him by sending saviors, (Nehemiah 9:27)d)  saved Daniel from the lions, (Daniel 6:27)e)  saved Israel from their enemies, (Numbers 10:9); f)  saved Israel from the Philistines at Ebenezer and again at Beth-Aven, (I Samuel 7:8; 14:23)g)  saved Jerusalem from the Assyrians, (II Kings 19:34); h)  promised to save the Israelites from assault if they stood before the Temple, (II Chr. 20:9)i)  saved Noah, (Heb. 11:7; 2 Peter 2:5).

CONCLUSION:

In the Lamentations of Jeremiah we see that there is hope in spite of life's heartbreaking experiences. Though Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet, we notice that his bitter tears did not blind him but rather strengthened him with hope, love, and confidence that reminded him of the steadfastness and faithfulness of God toward His people even in the midst of horrible circumstances.  God continued to extend His mercy in the lives of His people even after their destruction caused by their own fault and rebellion.  Just as God's steadfast love and mercy never cease toward His children, so it must be among us Christians.  Love and mercy, compassion must never come to an end. They must be new every morning!

The message of the book of Lamentations is that although the people of  Judah had defied God, rebelling against Him for generations, He still was not through with them.  The candle had not yet burned out. The door had not yet closed. God was still reaching out to His people.  Notice what Jeremiah said in Lamentations 3:19-26 as hope reigned because of God's mercy, 
"19 Remember mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall.  20 My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is bowed down within me.  21 This I recall to my mind; therefore have I hope. 22 It is of Jehovah’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  23 They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.  24 Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. 25 Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  26 It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah."

These precious words remind us of three things about the faithfulness of God:

1.  God's love will never change.  ("It is of Jehovah’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed").  Even when we don't deserve to be loved, God keeps loving us.  Often what we claim to be love is conditional and temporary.  For some, "I'll love you forever," means, "I'll love you until you disappoint me ... I'll love you until it becomes inconvenient ... I'll love you until it's easier not to love you anymore." Instead, God's love is unwavering.  His love is permanent, forever.  Take for instance the people of Judah.  They didn't deserve to be loved by God.  They were ungrateful and rebellious.  But God in His infinite mercy provided for them again and again.  What did they do instead?  Turned their backs on Him over and over.  Today is no different.  Today God shows His steadfast love and mercy through the Gospel of Christ.  "But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).

2.  God will be merciful to us ("because his compassions, mercies fail not.").  God is merciful to us and expects us to show mercy to others.  Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7).  To show and maintain a steadfast love for those that never ceases even when they sin against us, we need to keep in mind what James said on this subject:

"12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful."  

Mercy triumphs over judgment.  If you want God’s mercy, show mercy to others. Our hope is the mercy of God extended to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

3.  Every day is a new beginning. ("They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.  Jehovah is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him." ).   Our hope is renewed every morning.  Therefore, it doesn't matter what happened yesterday.  There is nothing we can do to change it.  It's gone!  Even though we messed up yesterday, we can say with confidence, "that part of my life is over, today I’m going to do better."  It will be wise to remind ourselves as much as possible that today we are starting with a clean slate and unlimited possibilities.  But, we must refuse to hang on to the past. We must let old habits die.  That is to say, we must break all connection to yesterday.  It does no good to wallow in the regrets of yesterday or coward in the fear of tomorrow.  Today is all that matters!!!  Thank God because we have today!  And with God by our side, every day is a new day!!

God will always love us, and nothing will ever change that.  He will always forgive us if we repent from the heart.  He will always pick us up when we fall if we humbly let Him.  He will always give us a second chance to get right with Him if we humbly surrender to Him.  Every day He gives us is a new day, a new life, a new chance or opportunity to be all that He wants us to be: to do all that we are capable of doing.  So when you find yourself struggling to stay on your course, to keep your commitments, discouraged by negative results in spite of your efforts, why not move forward and remember Lamentations 3:19-26 These are very comforting verses. Why not follow Jeremiah's example of great faith amid the wreckage of life?  He praised God in the midst of this wreckage.  Why not imitate his example of hope in God?  Let us never forget that we are His little children, His little lambs and that He can sustain us faithfully during our times of battles, struggles, valleys, storms, and trials.  He can carry us safely through.  
"25 Jehovah is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  26 It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of Jehovah."  (Lamentations 3:25-25).

My hope is that we all may say as Jeremiah did, "Great is Thy faithfulness."
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”  (Hebrews 10:23)

May we always remember that He Who has promised is faithful to all those who seek, wait, obey and trust in Him.


Luci

Monday, November 7, 2016

GOD IS THE KING OF ALL THE EARTH

Clap your hands, all peoples!  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. 
God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!  Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!
Psalm 47


I would like to invite my friends to take another look at some thoughts that I prepared 2 years ago. It is always good to remember who is really in control of our world when we witness the turmoil of an election year. May God bless you!

God's holy remnant certainly has its work cut out for it. The righteous minority in our country grieve over the crass sinfulness of this election season.  Psalm 47 is a beautiful place that we can go to find comfort, solace, and the marching orders of our merciful King. Let's take a look.

I have recently been studying and meditating on Psalm 47.  I love the Psalms, and if I had to choose a favorite book of the Bible, I would certainly choose the Psalms.  They speak to us and for us, reaching our deepest needs when everything appears to have fallen apart in our lives. They express our deep despair in times of adversity.  They provide us with comfort and help us to express those words of praise that we need so much to offer to our God in our darkest hours.  They not only speak to us but they help us to draw nearer to the throne of God in worship, in prayer and praise. They help us in our personal growth.  

The Psalms had significant influence in the life of the apostles and the worship of the early church. The apostles and even Jesus often quoted from the Psalms in their preaching and writing as Biblical proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.  Peter quoted Psalm 16:8-11 to prove that Jesus must be raised from the dead, (Acts 2:24-36).  Paul's message was identical (Acts 13:29-30).  The Psalms were prominent in the minds of the New Testament writers, and they should also be of great importance to us today.   They contributed significantly to the early church, and they can help us today to apply them in our lives.  But, we must become familiar with them and develop a deep love for them.   The Book of Psalms helps us to seek after God and yearn to know the heart of God.  They help us to focus on God alone, not in ourselves or others (John 4:20-24; Eph. 1:6,12-14; 3:21).  Likewise, they help us see the fullness of God, the glory of God who sits on His throne, that we might fall before Him in worship and adoration

Psalm 47 inspired me to write about God's rule and authority over nations and governments.  The Word of God shows us time after time God's dealings with the nations, how He brings judgment on the ungodly and immoral nations.  The truth is that God still rules the universe through His Son and continues to bless or curse nations according to their righteousness and godliness or lack of it.

As we read Psalm 47 we notice that God wants all people to come to Him because He reigns, and He is thethe Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.”  God was not just King over Israel, but the real King over all other kings on the earth!


I.   SUBMITTING TO THE HIGHEST KING OF ALL THE EARTH:

God rules in the kingdoms of men, and the Bible declares that He does.  In the Bible, we read of a king named Nebuchadnezzar who was full of pride (over 2500 years ago).  God humbled this king in Daniel 4.  This king found out the hard way that God has everlasting power in heaven and earth. No one can restrain God's hand, (Daniel 4:34).  God taught the Babylonian king that HE ruled in His kingdom. 

“30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles' feathers, and his nails were like birds' claws.  34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation.”  (Daniel 4:30-34).

In Psalm 113:4, the psalmist praises God saying in a similar way,
"The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens!”

God has all authority and power over all (peoples, and nations).  When Jesus was before Pilate, He taught this same concept to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of all Judea.  Pilate asked Jesus (desiring for Jesus to make a defense) if He was aware that he, Pilate, had the power to kill and crucify Him.  In response to this, Jesus replied, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above...”  (John 19:11).  You see, our God is the only real King who has the power and still gives dominion to all the rulers of the earth.  Our God is the LORD and Most High.  No one and nothing is higher than God.  Those who have earthly power and authority have received it from God since He has allowed them to receive it.  As Paul said,

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”  (Romans 13:7).  

However, some wrongfully think that earthly government, civil authorities exist because we determine who will rule by election or revolution.  The truth is that “there is no authority except from God... “  Man did not create government.  God did!

“O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.  (2 Chr. 20:6).  

Hence, all men are called to humble themselves and acknowledge Him with full and absolute dependence on Him.  He is awesome, and He is King!

Those who do not acknowledge Him will be subdued.  We see this portrayed in the history of the conquering of the nation of Israel.  God did not just destroy nations to help Israel expand its border but to bring judgment on these nations because of their lawlessness.  The Canaanites stood in need of God's judgment which eventually God brought upon them.  God used the Israelites to bring that judgment when He used them to destroy the people and to give their land as an inheritance to Israel. God uses everything that is at His disposal to bring judgment on the ungodly, (Deut. 28:15-20).

God subdued the people of Egypt.  He brought plagues, epidemic disease, (Deut. 28:21-22); worms, locusts, and crickets, (Deut. 28:38-39). Fruit trees dropped their fruit, (Deut. 28:40). He brought wild animals, (Deut. 28:26) and various other judgments, (Deut. 29:20).  One of those frequent judgments which God used to warn Israel was that of enemy nations, (Deut. 28:32, 36, 49-51, 64-67).  He likewise subdued the Amalekites, Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, Ammonites, and anyone that came against Israel as long as they were still faithful to God.  But, when the Israelites broke their covenant with God, God used more wicked nations like the Assyrians and Babylonians to destroy Israel, His people.  God subdues nations, and He also chooses His people when they obey Him and remain faithful to Him.

In Psalm 47:5 we read that God ascended (went up) with a shout.  That is, they gave glory to God as He was rising up when the ark of the covenant was lifted up and the people, the Israelites, were shouting and following the cloud of God until it stopped.

“34 The cloud of the Lord was over them by day when they set out from the camp.  35 Then it came about when the ark set out that Moses said, 'Rise up, O Lord!  And let Your enemies be scattered, And let those who hate You flee before You.'  36 When it came to rest, he said, “Return, O Lord, To the myriad thousands of Israel.'”  (Numbers 10:34-36).

So when God rose up, He defended His people and conquered their enemies.  I think that is why so many of the Psalms are prayers calling unto God to rise and defend His righteous ones.  This symbolism began with the ark of the covenant and the glory of God rising up against the nations as the Israelites were advancing to the promised land.


II.   GOD MUST BE PRAISED AS KING OVER ALL THE EARTH:  (Psalm 47:6-9)

Our God is supreme over and above all the kings of the earth.  He makes all events happen in history. He directs history toward His goal for His glory and on behalf of His righteous ones.  God determines the rise and fall of all nations and the length of their rule.  God makes everything possible for nations to seek after Him and His will.  But when nations hinder those who seek after Him, God's patience is tested.  And if repentance does not take place, His patience runs out, bringing His judgment upon nations.  He is well aware of the state of each country, and that includes our nation.  Take heed, because each day of rebellion against His will is a day nearer to God's wrath.  “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”  (Proverbs 14:34).

In Psalm 47:6-7, the Psalmist calls upon the people to praise God because He is King of all the earth. He reigns over all the nations and sits on His holy throne.  He is fiercely ruling over all the earth.  He is not asleep but sitting on His holy throne reigning over all the peoples.  This gave great hope to Israel back them, and it should give us great hope as well.  God is fighting for us and protecting us from all harm.  Don't forget that!

  • God Reigns and He determines Who Rules in These Governments:
In Daniel 4:7,17 we read that “God removes kings and sets up kings... The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.”  So all governments are under His control.  He puts them there, but He can also take them down and out of service.  He does whatever He pleases.  He establishes all civil government and decides who is to rule in those governments.  So, does that imply that the tyrants and dictators of all history are included?  Yes!  They rule with the permission of the sovereign will of God.  We find this in the Bible.  For example in Daniel 4:32 we read, “32 and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whom ever He wishes.

So are evil rulers allowed to rule according to God?  Romans 13:1 applies to all rulers whether good or bad.  “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?  38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?”  (Lamentations 3:37-38).  God is not only sovereign over good but also over evil.  He controls and directs evil rulers to accomplish what He desires, His purpose, for His glory.  He also determines the times of their rule.   In Isaiah 40:23-24 we read,
who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.  24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble.”
So God changes the times and seasons.  He likewise removes kings and establishes kings.  He gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to wise men, (Daniel 2:21)

Therefore, since God rules in and over nations, it should not surprise us that God has set rules and expects nations to follow them.  That is right!  He has set rules for nations just as He has set rules for us as individuals.  Let’s consider some of those rules:

    • Nations Must Be Righteous:
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.”  (Proverbs 14:34).

When God exalts a nation, it is because their people are doing that which is right in God's eyes.  But when a nation gives itself over sin, it brings dishonor to that nation.  Think about what Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 4:5-6.

“5 See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 6 Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'” 

You see, Moses exhorted the nation to observe the laws of God faithfully that they might appear righteous before God.  In so doing, they would be a wise and a great nation.  Notice what verse 8 has to say, “8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?”  

Moses then goes on to ask the people, “7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as is the Lord our God whenever we call on Him?”  I honestly believe the same question ought to be asked of our nation today.  The nation of Israel was special to God.  Our nation acknowledged the existence, respect, and the fear of God when it was founded.  God had given the nation of Israel a unique legal system through Moses which was more excellent than that of other nations at that time. Our nation was built on laws and principles by our forefathers whose view of life, liberty, and happiness was based on Biblical principles.  It was those Bible principles that made our country a great nation.  

But notice what Moses told the nation of Israel in Deut. 4:9, “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.”

So what was Israel's failure?  They refused to diligently keep the righteous laws that God had given them.  Moreover, they failed and neglected to teach God's laws to their children.  Is it not true that this is what's happening in our country today?  Many have forgotten or don't even care about following God's laws of righteousness.  We have utterly neglected and have failed to teach godly principles of righteousness to our children.  As a nation we have failed to take to heart Psalm 33:12, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.”  We have simply forgotten God's number one rule of righteousness!!

    • Nations Must Acknowledge God:
“The wicked will return to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God.”  (Psalm 9:17).
When a nation deliberately forgets God, refusing to acknowledge Him, turning from godliness to ungodliness, God is morally obligated to punish or discipline such a nation in His time.  That is precisely what happened to the nation of Israel time after time as we see it recorded in the book of Judges.  In this book, we see a people, Israel, who went through many cycles of faithfulness and apostasy in their history (cf 2:7ff).  They started out doing what was right before God but then fell into sin.  As a consequence, God allowed other nations to punish them.  You see, God blessed Israel abundantly, but they soon forgot God's laws and ways and began rebelling against Him.  Once they began suffering because of their sins, they repented and acknowledged God.  God would then send a judge to deliver them from their bondage.  How sad that they never seemed to learn from their failures and kept going back to the bondage of sin!  And because of their rebellious heart in forsaking God and His righteousness, they always found themselves in pain and suffering.

What about our nation, the United States of America?  Sadly, our people, at least at the public government level, have sinned, time after time, against God's authority.  Our rulers are turning from the praise of godliness to the praise of ungodliness:  in our professed faith, in our politics, in our public education, in the corruption of our monetary system, and certainly in the standards of morality that we officially embrace.  Alas, the righteous are but a small remnant (only God knows just how small) among the wicked!!  Like Nehemiah said,We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances which You commanded...” (Neh. 1:7).  If we as a nation don't start acknowledging God for Who He is, God will punish us, according to His mercy and kindness, when He decides it is time to do so.

    • God Will Judge the Wicked Nations:
God prophesied that He would use a more wicked nation like the Assyrians to punish the nation of Israel when they willfully insisted on sinning against Him.  Eventually, God used Assyria as His rod of anger and His staff of indignation, (Isa. 10:5).  Moreover, He threatened Israel with captivity in verse 7, “I send it (Assyria) against a godless nation and commission it against the people of My fury to capture booty and to seize plunder.  And to trample them down like mud in the streets.”  There is no doubt at all that Assyria was a wicked and ungodly nation.  They were aggressively oppressing other weaker nations.  I seriously doubt they were aware that God was using them to accomplish His will.  They simply wanted to destroy many other nations.  How can a righteous God use a wicked nation to punish His own sinful people?  God gives us the answer in Isaiah 10:12:  “So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, 'I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.”'  

You see, God used a more wicked nation to punish the nation of Israel in 722 BC.  Then He used the nation of Babylon to punish Assyria in 612 BC.  God can use people and nations without them even realizing it.  He does this to judge and punish those whom He rules!!

Don't you think that God used evil people like Hitler and Tojo as well as nations like Germany and Japan to punish other nations?  How about the nations of England and America to judge and punish them?  Could it be possible that God used the wicked actions of men to punish or at least warn our nation on September 11, 2001?  God may have a lot in store for the US through wicked nations, terrorists, natural disasters, and only He knows what else.

It is arrogant for us to think that we, by our own genius and hard work, have become the greatest nation in the whole world and nothing can bring us down.  If it is God's will, it will happen, and there is nothing you and I can do about it!!  It will not matter how much security or protection we might have.  It will not matter how great our military is.  It will not matter how smart we are.  God will use one nation to bring down another nation, if He determines the wickedness of one must not stand as it is.  No one can deny that a vast portion of our people have become ungodly and deserve God's wrath. Homeland Security cannot save us. The only thing that will save us is our righteous living and our faithfulness toward God, but to do this we must acknowledge Him and all His marvelous ways.

    • God's Longsuffering Toward Wicked Nations Has a Limit!
Though our God is perfect and excellent in every imaginable way, His longsuffering or patience is not without limits.  His longsuffering does have a breaking point.  God is patient and tolerant waiting for all (people and nations) to come to repentance; He does not want anyone to perish (lose their soul eternally), (2 Peter 3:9).  But, He demands all humanity to be right with Him.  Sadly, He gives up on men when they refuse to come to repentance.  Nations can fill up their “cup of iniquity” and reach a point where lawlessness is complete, without the hope of deliverance.  God is patient, but when men stray from the path of righteousness, refusing to repent, He has to punish them.  One example of this is portrayed in Genesis 15:13-16. God intended to punish the Amorites but waited because their sins were not yet complete.  Of what sins were the Amorites guilty that were “filling their cup”? What sins caused God to lose His patience or longsuffering toward them?  The answer is found in Leviticus 18.  The Canaanites (or Amorites) and Egyptians were guilty of fornication, incest, uncleanness, adultery, child sacrifice, homosexual sin, bestiality, and profanity.  God warned the Israelites not to defile themselves with any of these sins, or they would be punished as well, (Leviticus 18:24-25).

Now, don't you think that God can cast out our nation today in the same way and for the same reasons as He did the Amorites?  It distresses me to see our people working so eagerly to fill up their cup of iniquity!  Can you deny that many of our people are precisely committing the same kinds of sins the Amorites were guilty of?  A growing number of our nation are guilty of fornication, abortion (killing of babies), incest, immorality, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and profanity.  Our country officially supports the abortion of her children in the same way that the Amorites slew their children for their man-made gods. Our country slays her children for the sake of the gods of convenience and irresponsibility.  We are no different than those pagan nations.  We are committing the same sins!  So why would not God judge us for our iniquities and punish us?!  Remember, that though God is longsuffering, the day of judgment will come!

    • God's Righteous Remnant is What Preserves a Nation:
Indeed God's righteous remnant can save a nation.  Do you remember when Sodom and Gomorrah and the other neighboring cities of the plain had severely sinned, Genesis 18:20?  What did God say about the few righteous souls?  God said He would not destroy them should there be among them even ten righteous souls, (Genesis 18:22-32).  You see, God would have spared these cities of the plain for only ten righteous souls!!

When a nation crosses the boundaries of lawlessness (that only God knows), God will indeed destroy that nation.  God has a limit for every nation.  With a grieving heart, I know our God has a bottom line in His mind for our nation and all lawless nations.  And if we continue in our sins, crossing the line of lawlessness, falling into the decadence of immorality, there is going to be a day soon when God may no longer be patient and tolerant toward us.  His wrath will be knocking at our door!!  May it never be!!

So why is our God still so tolerant in the midst of so much lawlessness?  Evidently because of those few righteous souls that still have a good influence in our land.  I hope you and I are among those few righteous souls!  I hope that our godly actions are what's preserving our land from being destroyed because of God's wrath.

That is exactly what happened to the people of Nineveh.  Jonah had warned them that they were going to be destroyed in forty days.  What did they do?  They repented and God in His infinite mercy spared them, (Jonah 3:4-10).  You see, repentance from all lawlessness saves a nation from destruction, (Luke 13:3).

So what can we do for our nation?  The greatest and best thing we can do for her is to repent and be righteous!  But we must start teaching the gospel to the lost. We must renew our efforts to raise a godly seed in our homes. Peter said, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality,35 but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”  (Acts 10:34-35). His Word can open the hardened hearts of men.  The gospel can open doors, heal and provide salvation and peace with God.


III.   JESUS REIGNS TODAY AS KING AND HIGH PRIEST:

 The Old Testament consistently anticipated and predicted the coming of the Messiah.  He would reign as King over His kingdom.  He came to earth to establish His kingdom and is now reigning as King since the church began on Pentecost.  The Messiah is King over all the earth and is subduing nations under their feet.  Christ the King claimed Himself to be King.
“7 Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”  (John 18:37).  
But Jesus was not the King that the Jews were expecting.  Why?  Because they assumed He would be an earthly king.  Jesus declared, My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” (John 18:36).

In Luke 1:31-33 we read that the angel promised Mary that she would have a Son that would receive the throne of David and reign over the house of Jacob forever.  His kingdom would be everlasting, have no end.  In Matthew 2:2 the wise men declared that Jesus was born King of the Jews.  In John 1:49 Nathaniel (early in Jesus' ministry) declared “You are the King of Israel.”  Jesus did not deny it (cf. John 6:15).  In Matthew 27:11 and John 18:37 on trial before Pilate, Jesus admitted to being King (See Luke 22:70-71; Mark 15:2; Luke 23:3).

Furthermore, after Jesus' resurrection, He declared that all authority in heaven and on earth had been delivered into His hands, so that now all nations must obey all His commands, (Matt. 28:18-20). The word “king” means “sovereign or monarch; a man who holds the chief authority over a country and people... a person or thing pre-eminent in its class.” Jesus has all authority; therefore He is King!  

The Great Commission by which we are saved from sin is based upon Jesus' present authority.  To undermine His position is to belittle our salvation!!

When Peter was preaching to the Jews about Jesus, He cited David's prophecy but showed that it was not fulfilled by him personally, (Acts 2:27-29; Psalm 16:8-11).
“30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. “  (Acts 2:30-31).  

The prophecy of Christ on David's throne was fulfilled in Jesus' resurrection, not in the future at the second coming as some claim.  Jesus is now exalted at God's right hand (position of authority), (Psalm 110:1-2).  Jesus is now Lord and Christ, (Acts 2:36).   The word “Lord” means ruler, one possessing authority.  “Christ” means the “anointed one.”  Hence, Peter claimed that Jesus had been anointed to be ruler over all.  According to Psalm 110, Jesus must rule at God's right hand until all enemies are put under His feet.  That will be accomplished when the enemy (death) is defeated at the resurrection.  So Jesus must reign before His second coming. He will not begin His reign after the second coming!

Jesus is sitting at God's right hand; that is above all principalities, power, might, dominion and every name that is named on this earth or that is to come.  All things are subject to Him, and He is the Head of all things to the church, (Col. 1:13-18; 2:10; 1 Peter 3:21-22; Ephesians 1:20-21).  He sat at the right hand of God when He made purification of our sins, i.e., after He died on the cross, (Hebrews 1:3-4).  Jesus now has a throne and a scepter in His kingdom.  He has been anointed above His creation, (Hebrews 1:8-9).  

Moreover, the apostles acknowledged Jesus as King even after His death.  “17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”  (1 Timothy 1:17).  Paul also said, “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”  Jesus, the Messiah, rules over the kings of the earth from a heavenly throne!

Christ's kingdom was also prophesied by Daniel, (Daniel 7:13-14).  In Psalm 47:5, in the Messianic context, we read that at the ascension of the Messiah, He would receive an everlasting kingdom and dominion.  In verse 9 of this psalm, we see also another Messianic context.  We see the peoples of the earth assembling themselves as the people of the God of Abraham.  Under the Messiah's reign, the peoples of the earth, i.e., the Gentiles could assemble themselves as the people of the God of Abraham.  To be the people of the God of Abraham is to be Israel in a spiritual sense.  Paul made this point in Romans 9:6-8:  “6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; 7 nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be namedo.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”  Paul affirmed that not all physical Israel was the true Israel.  To be God's people is not about being physically descendant but rather being a child according to the promise through obedience to God.

In Ephesians 2:11-20 we see that Christ fulfilled Psalm 47:9 by reconciling all peoples to Him, making them all the people of the God of Abraham.

In Hebrews 2:17 we read that Jesus became High Priest to make propitiation for our sins.  Through His priesthood, He is able to save us forever, and He is always making intercession for us, (Heb. 7:24-25).  As High Priest, He entered the Holy Place to obtain eternal redemption by offering His own blood as our sacrifice, (Hebrews 9:11-12; 24-28).  And without the shedding of His blood, there is no remission, forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).  In the Old Testament the sacrifices of animals could never forgive sins (Hebrews 10:3-4);  By Jesus offering Himself as High Priest, we can now have forgiveness of sins!! (Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22).

There are many prophesies in the Old Testament regarding Jesus as High Priest:  (Psalm 110;1-4; Genesis 14:18; Zechariah 6:12-13; Isaiah 53:2; 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15; Romans 15:12). Jesus was prophesied to rule on His throne and be Priest on His throne, King, and Priest at the same time.  Salvation is offered free to all through Him.  

Therefore as King and Lord, Christ rules now.  He is in charge over all the affairs of the earth; He is reigning over all the nations now.  He has all power and control over all the nations of the earth.  This is precisely what Daniel prophesied in Daniel 7:27.  “27 Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.”

Paul made this profound statement in Romans 13:1, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”

And just as God made all the nations rise and fall in the Old Testament (Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece) so God made nations rise and fall in the New Testament (Rome and Jerusalem).  He still has all power to establish governments and destroy them.  This is our hope as His children.  We are part of His Son's kingdom.  Though we live in this our nation, we are still under the rule of His Son.  We are fellow heirs and partakers of His Son's kingdom even though we are living on earth.  We cannot see it yet, but we know by heart that it does exist!!!  Christ's power and dominion will never fail even if all the world powers were to come against it.  Therefore, as Psalm 47 declares, let us clap our hands in applause.  Let us also appreciate what God has done for us in giving us such a majestic kingdom through His Son.  Let us live as citizens in God's kingdom offering due honor to our King!


CONCLUSION:

We are so blessed to live in a country where we still have a voice in the election process.  God is ultimately in control, (Daniel 2:21; 4:17; 34-35).  Jesus, our Lord, has the ultimate authority, (Matt. 28:18).  He is Head over all things, (Eph. 1:20-21; 1 Peter 3:22).  He is King of kings and Lord of lords of all the earth and heaven, (Rev. 1:5).  And no matter who is president, king, or dictator, God rules over all!!!  So when the election is over, remember that we must trust in the sovereignty of God.  That all things will work together for good to those who love God, (Romans 8:28).  If God is for us, who can be against us?  (Romans 8:31-34).  Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, (Romans 8:35-39).  No matter who rules and what rulers may do, for good or ill, we are in God's protecting hands!!  Don't ever forget that!!

And though we might not know what is in store for us, we know that He holds the future in His hands.  He will give us both comfort and courage to bear everything.  When we trust in God, there is no need to fear.  The Word of God is the answer for all of our fears, problems, obstacles, and worries.  Remember how throughout all history, God has always blessed His people richly through His mighty deliverance and help. 

Remember also that our citizenship is in heaven and that we are pilgrims, living among the nations of men, (Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:19; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:11).  This world is not our home.  We are just passing through.  We must not become too attached to the things of this world which can render us fruitless (Luke 8:14).  Yes, we must guard our heart against the love of this world, including politics!  (1 John 2:15-17).

Therefore let us seek first the rule of God in our lives, (Matt. 6:33); proclaim His mercies, (1 Peter 2:9-10).  The kingdom of God and His righteousness must be our primary focus.  So why not refocus our efforts on the saving gospel of Christ to make disciples of all nations, (Matt. 28:19-20)?  Are you letting politics render you fruitless in the work of the Lord?  Are you fulfilling the Great Commission?  Or are you being distracted by earthly things?

Though we might be discouraged because of our elected leaders, let us never forget the One who is truly in charge.  So when the election is over, whether your preferred candidate won or not, let us renew our trust in the Sovereign God; let us reaffirm our heavenly citizenship, let us refocus on our primary goal; let us resolve to give leaders their due; let us keep praying for godly rulers; let us keep living righteously and not defile ourselves; and finally let us all resume our role as peacemakers.  Remember that righteousness exalts a nation and sin is a reproach to any people, (Proverbs 14:34).

May we keep ourselves without blame in the midst of a perverse generation.  May we trust in God with all of our heart, mind and soul and not fear.  May we go to Him in prayer, praise, thanksgiving and humility, refusing all fear and worry.  May we never forget, when we are afraid, that He is at our side and that He will help us fight our battles.  May He continue to uphold us and love us.  May we rest in Him, the Rock of our salvation.  May we always seek His kingdom of righteousness that He might take care of us,  He has promised He will never desert us, nor will He ever forsake us!

Luci