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Posts Tagged ‘national election’

Day 40

Word: Jeremiah 16:19-21

19 Lord, you are my strength and fortress,
    my refuge in the day of trouble!
Nations from around the world
    will come to you and say,
“Our ancestors left us a foolish heritage,
    for they worshiped worthless idols.
20 Can people make their own gods?
    These are not real gods at all!”

21 The Lord says,
“Now I will show them my power;
    now I will show them my might.
At last they will know and understand
    that I am the Lord.

 

Prayer:  For forty days now, O God, we have listened to your words, we have heard your stories of kings and nations, and we have knelt in prayer for ourselves and our country.  We know now, O God, that you are King of All Nations. We know that all nations rise and fall at your word. We know that you call us to be just, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you through our brief moment in history. We do not want to be our own god; we do not trust each other or ourselves—but while we were once afraid and confused, now we are not because YOU are our strength and our fortress—our protection from the day of trouble.

Now, O King, we belong to your kingdom first before all others, but we also pray that you will show our nation your power and your might, so that we will know that YOU are LORD. May our nation join all the nations who will come to you and say, we have followed false and pathetic gods—but no more! 

And may tomorrow’s results be a reflection of your will for our country. Some of us will celebrate and some of us will cry, but we will not be afraid because YOU are our God, the King of All Nations. Amen

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Word:  I Samuel 8:1-9 (NLT)

As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel.Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.

Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”

Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”

After Moses and Joshua, God gave the nation strong national leaders to judge them and to deliver them from their enemies.  Some of these judges were outstanding, but others were very flawed. As the nation entrenched itself in the land and grew more comfortable with itself, people began to look around at the really successful nations around them who all had kings—not judges.  Judges began to seem like a relic from an earlier time when the nation’s leadership had a more spiritual tone.  As a more mature nation, international security and posture seemed more important. God-appointed judges seemed a bit parochial or provincial, and besides, there was an immediate power vacuum since Judge Samuel’s sons were so corrupt.

What the nation had forgotten is that their judges were appointed by their King!  Yes, they already had a king.  Yahweh, the Sovereign Lord, was their king and had been since the moment they had become a nation (Numbers 23:21), so their desire for a king was in every way a rebellion against their current King.

So who is the King of our nation?  Who is the Sovereign Lord of all nations?  What would a nation do which was in rebellion and trying to overthrow their Sovereign King?  Are we still—or were we ever—one nation, under God?

PrayerFather, you are the King of all nations and the Lord of ours, whether we know it or not. Open our hearts to the reality of your sovereignty and let that guide us in our national and political activities. Keep us from either desiring to lead ourselves or looking around for godless leaders or leadership styles. You are our King. Amen

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Habakkuk spoke to the nation during a time of threat and invasion by the current superpower, the Chaldeans, thus the language of war.

Word:  Habakkuk 3 (abridged) (NLT)

This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk:

I have heard all about you, Lord.
    I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need,
    help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger,
    remember your mercy.

I see God moving . . . .

His brilliant splendor fills the heavens,
    and the earth is filled with his praise.
His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise.
    Rays of light flash from his hands,
    where his awesome power is hidden.
Pestilence marches before him;
    plague follows close behind.
When he stops, the earth shakes.
    When he looks, the nations tremble.
He shatters the everlasting mountains
    and levels the eternal hills.
    He is the Eternal One!

Was it in anger, Lord, that you struck the rivers
    and parted the sea?
Were you displeased with them?
    No, you were sending your chariots of salvation!
You brandished your bow
    and your quiver of arrows.
    You split open the earth with flowing rivers.
10 The mountains watched and trembled.
    Onward swept the raging waters.
The mighty deep cried out,
    lifting its hands in submission.
11 The sun and moon stood still in the sky
    as your brilliant arrows flew
    and your glittering spear flashed.

16 I trembled inside when I heard this;
    my lips quivered with fear.
My legs gave way beneath me,
    and I shook in terror.
I will wait quietly for the coming day
    when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the heights.

This song was sung at a time of national desperation! Though not entirely conquered, Habakkuk’s nation was subjected to partial destruction, deportations, and a puppet government. The future of the nation looked bleak.  Habakkuk turns to the only Power he has ever heard of who had ever been victorious in the face of such a dominant enemy.

But even though Habakkuk knows of the Lord’s great victories of the past, there is absolutely no evidence that he will intervene in the current battle. All Habakkuk can do is to “wait quietly for the coming day.”

How do we hope when security is threatened? How do we hope when the economy is bad and the poor are unemployed? How do we hope when society is disillusioned and distrustful? How do we hope when those who govern cheat or disappoint?

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;
    he makes me tread on my high places.

 

PrayerLord of the nations, we confess that we walk by sight most of the time—and that is scary. We see trouble and despair, we see poverty and illness, we see injustice and bigotry, and we are afraid. Give us greater faith in your sovereignty, O Lord, so that we can know where our security and salvation lie. When we are on the edge, Father, make us surefooted, not by our own strength, but by yours–not because we can control chaos or expect our leaders to, but because You can—and will. Amen

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Word:   Joshua 23 (abridged) (NLT)

23 The years passed, and the Lord had given the people of Israel rest from all their enemies. Joshua, who was now very old, called together all the elders, leaders, judges, and officers of Israel. He said to them, “I am now a very old man. You have seen everything the Lord your God has done for you during my lifetime. The Lord your God has fought for you against your enemies. . . .

 6 “So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.

“For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. 10 Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God.

12 “But if you turn away from him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, 13 then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given you.

14 “Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed! 15 But as surely as the Lord your God has given you the good things he promised, he will also bring disaster on you if you disobey him. He will completely destroy you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you break the covenant of the Lord your God by worshiping and serving other gods, his anger will burn against you, and you will quickly vanish from the good land he has given you.”

Joshua began his life as a slave.  When Moses first brought God’s message of freedom to his people, Joshua, even though a very young man, was such a believer that he became Moses’ assistant (Numbers 11:28). He observed Moses lead the nation for forty years, watching the people being disloyal, disrespectful, even rebellious toward not only Moses, but Yahweh, the Power and Authority from whom Moses drew his power and authority.

God, not Moses, chose Joshua to become the second leader of the nation (Numbers 27, Deuteronomy 3). Moses had been chosen to mold the liberated slaves into a nation, so his main tasks were to give them their defining law and teach them about Yahweh.  The next leader Joshua would need to be the nation’s Commander-in-Chief, leading them into battle—a very different role from Moses.  Moses’ parting instructions to Joshua were to obey the Book of Instructions and to be strong and courageous—not afraid! If Joshua would do this, then he would succeed.

Now decades later, as an old man seeing the end of his term, Joshua directs the nation into their future without him with the exact same words: “So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction.” What Joshua contributes to the national message, however, is extremely important. He reminds them of their history, their recent experiences with Yahweh as their God: “You have seen everything the Lord your God has done for you during my lifetime. . . .  Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true.”

As Moses and Joshua both displayed, great leaders are not only strong, courageous, and unafraid, but they also know the value of history and the national experience. Moses and Joshua passed down a respect for the law and a warning for those who would abandon both the law and/or the God whose Power and Authority are the source of all power and authority.

And they told the nation the truth!  If the nation chose to abandon the Power and Authority that had brought them blessing, they would suffer the natural consequences—disastrous consequences.

Real leaders speak the truth.

PrayerWe pray, Father, for national leaders like Moses and Joshua, who are strong, courageous, and unafraid, but who follow your instruction, who see your hand in history, and who will speak the truth to the nation, whether it is a reminder of national greatness or a warning of national disaster. We long for leaders who acknowledge your Power and Authority and lead according to your will. Amen.

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WORD Exodus 3:3-15 (NLT)

“This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.”

When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

“Here I am!” Moses replied.

“Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt….Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. 10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”

12 God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”

13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

14 God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.

Moses was 80 years old when God appeared to him and told him that he was chosen to become the leader of an emerging nation.  Surely God could have found a more charismatic leader, younger at least, and more eager for the opportunity.

But the backstory is that God had been preparing Moses since birth for this assignment.  Moses was born to Hebrew slaves in Egypt during a dangerous time! His mother hid him from government soldiers for three months, but then could no longer protect him. She did all she knew to do, putting him in a floating basket in the Nile and posting her older daughter there to see what might happen. Pharaoh’s daughter found him and adopted him as her own son, hiring his own mother to be his wet nurse.  Now what would Moses have learned as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter? Exodus 2:1-10

After he had grown up, Moses kills an Egyptian in an attempt to deliver justice to his people. He must have felt strong, empowered, righteously indignant. He was attractive, but not yet ready to be God’s chosen leader.  After fleeing Egypt in fear of his life, he becomes a shepherd for his new father-in-law in the much-less-important land of Midian.  Forty years, he herded sheep, learning perhaps humility, learning how solitary and lackluster leadership can be. Exodus 2:11-24

These forty years were shockingly different from the first forty, but apparently necessary because only afterwards did God determine that it was time to act.  Exodus 2:25

It does seem that God had a plan both for the nation He was creating and for the Leader that He had chosen for it.

As we look around for national leadership, perhaps one of our questions could be who has God been preparing for this role?  What in his/her life’s story would suggest that God’s plan for the person and God’s plan for this nation intersect?

Even the Hebrew slaves often doubted Moses’ leadership, so it is not always easy to see God’s plan, but the more submissive we are, the less independent we desire to be, the more likely we are to find His person, His way.

Prayer Open our eyes and our hearts, Lord, to see those who want to lead our nation with your eyes. Give us wisdom and insight to discern how you may have prepared some person for national leadership, but protect us from mistaking our own wisdom for yours. Amen

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On September 29, I hope many of you will join me in 40 days of prayer and meditating on God’s Word as we move toward the national election on November 8.  I am including a preview today so that you can know what to expect.  If you would like to join us, just subscribe to this blog and it will automatically come to you each day.  My prayer is that we gain clarity and respond to the current political situation in a way that pleases God.

PREVIEW

 

THE WORD OF GOD:  from Isaiah 8

 11 The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, 12 “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. 13 Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble. 14     He will keep you safe.

. . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

19 Someone may say to you, “Let’s ask the mediums and those who consult the spirits of the dead. With their whisperings and mutterings, they will tell us what to do.” But shouldn’t people ask God for guidance? Should the living seek guidance from the dead?

20 Look to God’s instructions and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. 21 They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven 22 and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.  (NLT)

 

During elections or times of national tension, everyone seems to be telling everyone how to think! Persuasion bleeds over into defamation; rational arguments become disingenuous distortions of the truth. All parties have their polls to tell us how everyone else is thinking.  Turning to our national sources of information becomes hopeless.

The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does.  Isaiah was directing his audience, not to a political alternative, but rather to God for their truth.

If you are going to be afraid of what could happen, then don’t create or believe every conspiracy theory, don’t shudder at the dire consequences that talking heads predict, rather look to God’s instructions and teachings and ask God for guidance.  Exchange the polls for prayer; choose to fear God rather than the opposing candidate.

And how do you know which you have chosen?  Isaiah says that the people who ignore the Word of God will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair.

Don’t despair; look to God’s teachings and instructions.

 

Prayer:  O Father, we are surrounded by voices of despair and contradiction.  Turn our hearts to you so that we can walk in the light of truth and not be afraid.  Teach us to trust your word above every other message. AMEN

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