Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘national elections’

Words:  2 Kings 22 (abridged) (NLT)

22 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, … He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.

Shaphan went to the king and reported, “Your officials have turned over the money collected at the Temple of the Lord to the workers and supervisors at the Temple.” 10 Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king.

11 When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. 12 Then he gave these orders … 13 “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do.”

Truth can just disappear!  It can be missing for generations. How difficult it must have been for this young king. He was committed to restoring the temple, which was already a big step and something his forefathers had not done.  He wanted to do right by God—everything that he could think of! Perhaps it is God waiting for the right king before he allows the Book of the Law to be found.  Another king might have simply burned it!  But not Josiah.

Josiah’s response is to believe that it is the Word of God. He does not challenge its authenticity. He does not attempt to rationalize whether the nation should listen or not to words written hundreds of years earlier. He says, so this is the reason we have so many national troubles!  We are not doing what God has always wanted us to do.

Banning the posting of the ten commandments does not invalidate them. Keeping prayer out of schools does not keep prayer out of schools nor make prayer ineffective.  We can begin to ignore God nationally, but that does not diminish God nor make him impotent. By losing God’s book, we might return to the spiritual dark ages, but one day—according to his plan—He will be found.

 

Prayer:  O Lord, make this a national day of finding your words and your will, not of losing them. And when we find them, Father, give us first penitent hearts for having lost your words, but then eager hearts to restore your reign. Your kingdom come, your will be done.  Amen

Read Full Post »

WordIsaiah 29:16(NLT)

How foolish can you be?
    He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay!
Should the created thing say of the one who made it,
    “He didn’t make me”?
Does a jar ever say,
    “The potter who made me is stupid”?

Jeremiah 18:1-10 (abridged)(NLT)

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

Then the Lord gave me this message: “ . . . can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom,10 but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.

Isaiah 64:7-9 (NLT)

Yet no one calls on your name
    or pleads with you for mercy.
Therefore, you have turned away from us
    and turned us over to our sins.

And yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
    We are the clay, and you are the potter.
    We all are formed by your hand.
Don’t be so angry with us, Lord.
    Please don’t remember our sins forever.
Look at us, we pray,
    and see that we are all your people.

If you have been to any museum of ancient history, you have seen pots and clay vessels of all kinds, some finely painted, others quite plain and ordinary.  The most common artifact found at virtually any archeological site are the shards, the broken pieces of pottery, and these pieces of broken clay reveal much about the times and the lives of the generations who lived at that site.

Isaiah and Jeremiah draw on one the of most common, most familiar images of the ancient world, the relationship between a potter and the clay with which he works, to reveal the nature of the King of All Nation’s relationship to a nation—any nation—all nations!

In these three passages, the prophets speak to three very different lessons nations should learn from potters and their clay. 

First, it is a stupid jar who claims to have been spontaneously or self-generated! Nations are not just clay, they are potter’s clay, not just any clay. This clay has been found and prepared by the potter in order to be molded into something useful.  The clay, prepared for molding, then is kneaded and sculpted, pressed upon and turned, until it is exactly what the Potter intended it to be.  What about the nations?  These ancient words are specifically intended to teach that nations who believe they exist by either their own will or by some random act of history, that these nations are stupid!

Second, the Potter’s hands that make or break the clay have complete control over the beginning and the end of this creation.  We don’t really like this image very much because we want to be in control of our own national destiny.  We want to believe that the freedom we enjoy extends absolutely into every national issue. That is not the lesson of the potter and the clay.  If a nation fails to become what the Potter intended, does He not have the right to abandon that design and start over?

Third, for a rebellious nation, the power of the Potter is frightening. The threat of annihilation is real. But for a submissive nation, the possibility of being renewed and restored brings hope! If the Potter is the nation’s father, then his absolute power over the clay proceeds from a father’s love, the reshaping is done by the hands of one who cares, who wants to create beauty, not destruction. The power to reshape even misshaped clay into something new and useful is a blessing to the nations who submit to the Potter King of All Nations.

 

Prayer:  Mold us and make us according to your will, not ours, Sovereign Lord. We long to be objects of beauty and usefulness because you have put this into our hearts—even as a nation. Keep our national identity from the ignorant belief that we have created ourselves, and bring our national will into harmony with yours. You are the Potter; we are the clay—and we are glad!  Amen.

 

Read Full Post »

Word:  Isaiah 12 (NLT)

In that day you will sing:
    “I will praise you, O Lord!
You were angry with me, but not any more.
    Now you comfort me.
See, God has come to save me.
    I will trust in him and not be afraid.
The Lord God is my strength and my song;
    he has given me victory.”

With joy you will drink deeply
    from the fountain of salvation!
In that wonderful day you will sing:
    “Thank the Lord! Praise his name!
Tell the nations what he has done.
    Let them know how mighty he is!
Sing to the Lord, for he has done wonderful things.
    Make known his praise around the world.
Let all the people of Jerusalem shout his praise with joy!
    For great is the Holy One of Israel who lives among you.”

 

Do you remember your parents being angry with you for something you did?  Of course, some people had abusive parents, and that’s all they remember, that is, the anger.  But in happier families there were those angry times as well, always followed by better times that told us as children, “My mom and dad aren’t angry anymore; they still love me!” And mostly, the memories of anger don’t frighten us, but offer just enough contrast to make the memories of love even sharper.

And so it was with ancient Israel and the King of All Nations. It was a new and wonderful day—a day of national victory, so with joy they drank deeply from his fountain.

But it was not enough for ancient Israel to celebrate their own victory; they were to share it with other nations: “Tell the nations what he has done!”  If national pride, however, were based in its own native strength and prowess, then such boasting over victory would likely stir jealousy among nations, a sense of threat, a fear that such national boasting would lead to greed, entitlement, or a miscalculated sense of security.

If, on the other hand, national celebration is giving honor to the King of All Nations, then our nation is praising and honoring the King of all nations—of their king as well, so naturally they delight with us that we are honoring their king!

Not every nation knows who the King of All Nations is. Have we forgotten to tell them! Have we forgotten to celebrate with them!  Was the Good News of his salvation ours to horde?  Did we claim the victory as our own?  If so, we have endangered world peace.  But we know what to do to begin to repair this damage. . . .yes, just celebrate more the King of All Nations. Give him the glory and tell all the world!  That’s all.

 

Prayer:  O Lord, forgive our failure to acknowledge that it is you who has given us victory, who has blessed us, who is the source of all good that we as a people and nation enjoy.  And because we have claimed too much credit, we have boasted mostly in ourselves. Forgive our national egotism. Give us a clean heart, boldness and willingness to celebrate your salvation with all the nations—all of your nations! Amen.

Read Full Post »

Word:  Isaiah 11:1-10

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
    yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
He will delight in obeying the Lord.
    He will not judge by appearance
    nor make a decision based on hearsay.
He will give justice to the poor
    and make fair decisions for the exploited.
The earth will shake at the force of his word,
    and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.
He will wear righteousness like a belt
    and truth like an undergarment.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;
    the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.
The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,
    and a little child will lead them all.
The cow will graze near the bear.
    The cub and the calf will lie down together.
    The lion will eat hay like a cow.
The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.
    Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.
Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
    for as the waters fill the sea,
    so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.

10 In that day the heir to David’s throne
    will be a banner of salvation to all the world.
The nations will rally to him,
    and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.

Christians believe this to be a prophecy about the coming Messiah Jesus. Ancient Israel believed it to be a word from God about their political future, about some future prince/king/messiah—the Anointed One, who would make them a powerful nation again and free them from oppressors. Sceptics believe it is wishful thinking by a pie-in-the-sky poet of an ancient nation in chaos, confusion, and imminent danger.  Do you believe the King of All Nations could create such a peaceful country, such an unimaginably perfect place?

The images of wolves and lambs lying down in peace together, even a baby playing near the deadly cobra, could be replaced in our time with images of a racially diverse society living at peace, with nuclear powers invested in peace, not war, or maybe even as simple as images of neighbors caring for each other.  But these fantastically peaceful images are not the goals, but rather the consequences, the results of something else even greater, the rise of a great leader.

According to Isaiah, a leader will arise and the King of All Nations will give him wisdom and understanding, so that he can give justice to the poor and protect the exploited. This Anointed One will judge fairly, not based on appearances because he delights in obeying God! He speaks the truth and fights evil.

While such perfection and peace seem completely unattainable through any political means that I can imagine, it does make sense that every leader a nation chooses that is more like this Ideal, every national leader that delights in obeying God, who seeks to judge fairly, not based on appearances, who works to give justice to the poor and protect the exploited, who fights evil, the more leaders reflect these qualities, the closer is the realization of this peaceful kingdom.

These leaders will be good news for the whole world. They will be followed by other nations toward peace–and “the land where he lives will be a glorious place.”

 

Prayer:  Sovereign Lord, raise up for our nation leaders who delight in you. Raise up for our nation leaders who judge fairly, who want justice for the poor and who will protect the exploited. Raise up for our nation leaders who will fight evil and who speak the truth.  And help us to recognize these leaders, even in their imperfections.  We long for a peaceful nation that brings peace to every nation.  Amen.

 

 

Read Full Post »

The northern nation of Israel was defeated by Assyria and all of the citizens were carried away and forced to live in other countries. Foreign people were then brought into the land and settled in their homes. The destruction was so complete that people still talk about the “lost tribes” of Israel when referring to this nation. This unusual passage is the explanation of Scripture itself.

 

Word:  2 Kings 17

This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God…. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations … .as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. 10 They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. 11 They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. 12 Yes, they worshiped idols, despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings.

13 Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: “Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees—the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets.”

14 But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them.

16 They rejected all the commands of the Lord their God and made two calves from metal. They set up an Asherah pole and worshiped Baal and all the forces of heaven. 17 They even sacrificed their own sons and daughters in the fire. They consulted fortune-tellers and practiced sorcery and sold themselves to evil, arousing the Lord’s anger.

18 Because the Lord was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence.

As a nation, they completely forgot!  They forgot Moses and Joshua. They forgot Samuel and David. They forgot Sinai, and they forgot Jericho.  And they had filled the place of those things forgotten with what they saw around them.

They saw big, wealthy nations who worshipped “all the forces of heaven”—nature, science, material things!  They saw powerful nations who sacrificed their sons and daughters—seeking success, control, prestige!  They turned to the occult, giving preference to karma and zen and crystals and auras.  They practiced sorcery—deception, calling things true that are false, and calling false things true!

And they sold themselves to evil—were addicted to it, enslaved by it, and profited from it. These were the worthless idols and sinful practices that brought the nation to a place where the King of All Nations could not tolerate them any longer. He swept them away from his presence.

What should we as a nation do so that we do not forget what the King of All Nations has done for us?  What do those of us do who remember?

 

Prayer:  Lord, what have we forgotten?  Restore our memory of all that you have done for us. Restore our memory of all the words your prophets and priests have spoken to us for you.  Do not let us be deceived by what we see around us, by nations who believe in wealth or raw power or revenge or other gods.  Help us to recognize evil, Father, and deliver us from it.  Do not sweep us away, but continue to show us mercy until we remember!  AMEN.

Read Full Post »

Ancient Israel divided into two kingdoms. This northern kingdom existed for a little over 200 years. As you read through the summary of each of their national leaders, ask yourself why they were chosen and why they were such bad leaders. Most have a much longer story if you want to read about each one individually. These abridged verses are from the NLT.

Jeroboam (I Kings 14:7)   Give your husband, Jeroboam, this message from the Lord, the God of Israel: ‘I promoted you from the ranks of the common people and made you ruler over my people Israel. I ripped the kingdom away from the family of David and gave it to you. But you have not been like my servant David, who obeyed my commands and followed me with all his heart and always did whatever I wanted. You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made other gods for yourself and have made me furious with your gold calves. And since you have turned your back on me, 10 I will bring disaster on your dynasty’”

Nadab (I Kings 15:25) But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his father, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. 27 Then Baasha …plotted against Nadab and assassinated him

Baasha (1 Kings 15:32) There was constant war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel. 34 But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Elah (I Kings 16:9) One day in Tirzah, Elah was getting drunk at the home of Arza, the supervisor of the palace. 10 Zimri walked in and struck him down and killed him. They provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols.

Zimri (I Kings 16:15)  Zimri began to rule over Israel …but his reign in Tirzah lasted only seven days. 16 When they heard that Zimri had committed treason and had assassinated the king, that very day they chose Omri, commander of the army, as the new king of Israel. 17 So Omri led the entire army of Israel up from Gibbethon to attack Tirzah, Israel’s capital. 18 When Zimri saw that the city had been taken, he went into the citadel of the palace and burned it down over himself and died in the flames. 19 For he, too, had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit.

Omri (1 Kings 16:21) But now the people of Israel were split into two factions. Half the people tried to make Tibni son of Ginath their king, while the other half supported Omri. 22 But Omri’s supporters defeated the supporters of Tibni. So Tibni was killed, and Omri became the next king25 But Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 26 He followed the example of Jeroboam in all the sins he had committed and led Israel to commit. The people provoked the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, with their worthless idols.

Ahab (I Kings 16:29) But Ahab son of Omri did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, even more than any of the kings before him. 31 And as though it were not enough to follow the sinful example of Jeroboam, he married Jezebel, and he began to bow down in worship of Baal. …33 Then he set up an Asherah pole. He did more to provoke the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than any of the other kings of Israel before him.

Ahaziah (I Kings 22:52) But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the example of his father and mother and the example of Jeroboam, who had led Israel to sin. 53 He served Baal and worshiped him, provoking the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, just as his father had done

Joram (2 Kings 3:1) He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as his father and mother. He at least tore down the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had set up. Nevertheless, he continued in the sins that Jeroboam had committed and led the people of Israel to commit.

Jehu (2 Kings 10:31) But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Jehoahaz  (2 Kings13:1)  He reigned in Samaria seventeen years. But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He followed the example of Jeroboam, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. So the Lord was very angry with Israel, and he allowed King Hazael of Aram and his son Ben-hadad to defeat them repeatedly.

Jehoash (2 Kings 13:10) But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Jereboam II (2 Kings 14:23) He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Zechariah (2 Kings 15:8) Zechariah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestors had done. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Shallum (2 Kings 15:13) Shallum reigned in Samaria only one month. 14 Then Menahem son of Gadi went to Samaria from Tirzah and assassinated him, and he became the next king

Menahem (2 Kings 15:18) But Menahem did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. During his entire reign, he refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Pekahiah (2 Kings 15:23) He reigned in Samaria two years. 24 But Pekahiah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.

Pekah (2 Kings 15:27) But Pekah did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.29 During Pekah’s reign, King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria attacked Israel again,

Hoshea (2 Kings 17:1) He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as the kings of Israel who ruled before him. King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, . . . for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. . . .

 

Every national leader worries about his/her legacy—as they should because they leave behind a unique history that can have repercussions for generations. This list of rulers is horrifying and seems to be the primary legacy of the first king Jeroboam.  He was chosen king in a moment of reaction and rebellion. That moment and that choice left its mark for 200 years. If we don’t want this kind of legacy, we need to choose wisely and prayerfully now.

Prayer:  O Lord, this list is so discouraging! Give us wisdom not to choose leaders who will leave such legacies. Give us foresight to choose leaders who can withstand the tides of political history and turn their nation into your path. Amen.

 

Read Full Post »

Word:  Isaiah 61 (NLT)

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
    repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
    though they have been deserted for many generations.
Foreigners will be your servants.
    They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
    and tend your vineyards.
You will be called priests of the Lord,
    ministers of our God.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
    and boast in their riches.
Instead of shame and dishonor,
    you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice.
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants will be recognized
    and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
    the Lord has blessed.”

10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
    For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
    and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
    or a bride with her jewels.
11 The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
    Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
    with plants springing up everywhere.

 

Warnings after warnings after warnings were delivered by the prophets. Opportunities to turn away from evil and injustice accompanied every message . . . until punishment was the only option for the King of All Nations.  Even punishments were accompanied by mercies. A remnant seems to have always been saved because the King of All Nations has never delighted in destroying that which He created.

Finally, the prophet Isaiah is given Good News to deliver: relief for the poor, comfort for those who despair, freedom for those enslaved, and justice for the enemies of the righteous.  Rebuilding, repairing, and revival take the place of destruction and death, honor takes the place of shame, and blessing replaces cursing!

Who wouldn’t be “overwhelmed with joy!!” And the Sovereign Lord, the King of All Nations, will show his justice to the nations of the world, so everyone will praise him. Eternal Spring!

We, the people of the King of All Nations, when we champion relief for the poor, comfort for those who despair, freedom instead of enslavement or addiction, and justice for those who do evil, when we rebuild, repair, and revive rather than destroy, when we act honorably rather than shamefully, and when we bless the world rather than curse it, then are we not preparing the way for the King of All Nations?  Are we not serving in His Name?

When our nation, our people, when we are like great oaks, then won’t the King of All Nations also be overwhelmed with joy! And won’t the nations of the world notice!

Prayer:  We have heard your warnings, O Sovereign Lord, and we have taken notice, but today the promise of your blessing motivates us even more to imitate in our nation the goodness that will bring you overwhelming joy!  And may all the nations observe so that they too may enjoy the eternal spring that the King of All Nations is bringing!  AMEN.

 

Read Full Post »

The prophet Isaiah spoke the message of God to ancient Israel in the time just before the Assyrian empire invaded and conquered it, taking most of the people into exile in other countries, never to return. In this passage, we have a glimpse into the mind of God as he uses nations to accomplish His will.

Word:  Isaiah 10:1-5 (NLT)

What sorrow awaits the unjust judges
    and those who issue unfair laws.
They deprive the poor of justice
    and deny the rights of the needy among my people.
They prey on widows
    and take advantage of orphans.
What will you do when I punish you,
    when I send disaster upon you from a distant land?
To whom will you turn for help?
    Where will your treasures be safe?
You will stumble along as prisoners
    or lie among the dead.
But even then the Lord’s anger will not be satisfied.
    His fist is still poised to strike.

Words: from the prophet Zephaniah about Ancient Israel

Chapter 3 
No one can tell it anything;
    it refuses all correction.
It does not trust in the Lord
    or draw near to its God.
Its leaders are like roaring lions
    hunting for their victims.
Its judges are like ravenous wolves at evening time,
    who by dawn have left no trace of their prey.
Its prophets are arrogant liars seeking their own gain.
    Its priests defile the Temple by disobeying God’s instructions.
But the Lord is still there in the city,
    and he does no wrong.
Day by day he hands down justice,
    and he does not fail.
    But the wicked know no shame.

“I have wiped out many nations,
    devastating their fortress walls and towers.
Their streets are now deserted;
    their cities lie in silent ruin.
There are no survivors—
    none at all.
I thought, ‘Surely they will have reverence for me now!
    Surely they will listen to my warnings.
Then I won’t need to strike again,
    destroying their homes.’
But no, they get up early
    to continue their evil deeds.

Some things make the King of All Nations furious!  Unjust judges who issue unfair laws that show disregard or take advantage of the needy are at the top of the list. Next come religious leaders who disregard God’s instructions, usually because they are interested in their own advancement more than helping others or serving God.  So if the judges of the nation disregard the needy and the religious leaders disregard God in favor of promoting themselves, the nation is in serious trouble.

The King of All Nations is still there! He is not instantly offended, quick to exercise His wrath; no, instead he continues to minister day after day, causing it to rain on the just and the unjust, providing for the sheep and the goats—but not forever.

Apparently when the Goodness of the King fails to win the hearts of the people, then His justice demands punishment. “I have wiped out the nations . . . . Surely they will have reverence for me now!” What does God have to do to a nation to win its heart and its obedience?

Prayer:  O God, forgive our judges for corruption; capture again the hearts of our religious leaders. Teach us to obey your instructions because your love and mercy and fairness overwhelm us. You and you alone are our King!  Amen.

Read Full Post »

Word: Jeremiah 10:1-10 (abridged)(NLT)

This is what the Lord says:

“Do not act like the other nations,
    who try to read their future in the stars.
Do not be afraid of their predictions,
    even though other nations are terrified by them.
Their ways are futile and foolish.
    They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol.
They decorate it with gold and silver
    and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails
    so it won’t fall over.
Their gods are like
    helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field!
They cannot speak,
    and they need to be carried because they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of such gods,
    for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”

Lord, there is no one like you!
    For you are great, and your name is full of power.
Who would not fear you, O King of nations?
    That title belongs to you alone!
Among all the wise people of the earth
    and in all the kingdoms of the world,
    there is no one like you.

People who worship idols are stupid and foolish.
    The things they worship are made of wood!
Then they dress these gods in royal blue and purple robes
    made by expert tailors.
10 But the Lord is the only true God.
    He is the living God and the everlasting King!
The whole earth trembles at his anger.
    The nations cannot stand up to his wrath.

What god does your nation worship?  Is it made of oil (the god of prosperity) or atoms (the god of power). Is your nation’s god an ideology (the god of political knowledge) or politics (the god of control), or money (the god of materialism), or travel and leisure (the god of self-indulgence).  Are the gods of your nation dressed in royal blue and purple robes as if they were royalty, but, in reality, they are of human invention and must be carried or maintained or supported by extraordinary national efforts. Have nations not fought wars over their gods, murdered millions of people for their gods, and spent decades—even centuries—of national time and energy in an attempt to show that their god is supreme!

There is only one God who legitimately wears the title King of All Nations! He is the Living God and the Everlasting King—all without our vote, all without our effort, all without us!

The gods of nations are just as lifeless as a scarecrow—just as powerless. Ask a scarecrow to be your national leader and your nation will be in trouble.  Nations that follow scarecrows are stupid! What god does your nation follow?

Prayer:  O King of Nations, we acknowledge that you and you alone are God. You are the One who created the world. You are the one who created the nations. You are the One who created us. We will worship and follow You alone.  Give us courage to tell others that You are the only King of All Nations. Amen.

Read Full Post »

After King Rehoboam angered his people and harshly threatened them, ten of the twelve tribes in his kingdom seceded and anointed a new king named Jeroboam.

Word:  I Kings 12:25-33 (abridged)(NLT)

26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “Unless I am careful, the kingdom will return to the dynasty of David. 27 When these people go to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple of the Lord, they will again give their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah. They will kill me and make him their king instead.”

28 So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!”

29 He placed these calf idols in Bethel and in Dan—at either end of his kingdom. 30 But this became a great sin, for the people worshiped the idols, traveling as far north as Dan to worship the one there.

31 Jeroboam also erected buildings at the pagan shrines and ordained priests from the common people—those who were not from the priestly tribe of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam instituted a religious festival in Bethel, held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, in imitation of the annual Festival of Shelters in Judah. There at Bethel he himself offered sacrifices to the calves he had made, and he appointed priests for the pagan shrines he had made. 33 So on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a day that he himself had designated, Jeroboam offered sacrifices on the altar at Bethel. He instituted a religious festival for Israel, and he went up to the altar to burn incense.

Jeroboam had just led a successful coup and won over most of the nation to his side!  He was the new king, but politically he had a problem. The religion of the nation required them to perform their rituals in the capital of the old country—the enemy country.  So, on the advice of his counsellors, he creates a new religion—or perhaps more accurately, a new imitation of the old religion.

To create a new religion, you need a new history: not that old God of the old story, but these new gods are the true gods of freedom, of liberty. Then you must have a new priesthood to tell the new story, of course.  These new priests lacked only the credentials and anointing of the old religion and the old god, so if they are given new credentials and if they dress like the old priests, almost no one will notice any difference. Then the clever new king created new religious festivals “in imitation” of the old festivals, and he chose appropriate days, and he performed the main rituals himself—because, after all, he is the creator of this entire new religion—that looked and felt a lot like the old religion.

Beware of leaders that need to change the national story, who ignore history, and especially who offer new and improved morals and values! Neither goodness nor power reside in this new religion just because it feels like the old one.  Goodness and power are where the real God is!

Prayer:  Lord, You alone are the God who has led us to this day in history. You are the real God who has shaped our nation. Keep us from being deceived by imitation gods, pretending to be good and have power, but who are nothing!  Deliver us from leaders who would create substitute histories and substitute morals/values in order to further their political agendas. Amen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: