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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:   Lamentations 3:17-42(NLT)

17 Peace has been stripped away,
    and I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 I cry out, “My splendor is gone!
    Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!”

19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness
    is bitter beyond words.[a]
20 I will never forget this awful time,
    as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends![b]
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
    to those who search for him.
26 So it is good to wait quietly
    for salvation from the Lord.
27 And it is good for people to submit at an early age
    to the yoke of his discipline:

28 Let them sit alone in silence
    beneath the Lord’s demands.
29 Let them lie face down in the dust,
    for there may be hope at last.
30 Let them turn the other cheek to those who strike them
    and accept the insults of their enemies.

31 For no one is abandoned
    by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion
    because of the greatness of his unfailing love.
33 For he does not enjoy hurting people
    or causing them sorrow.

34 If people crush underfoot
    all the prisoners of the land,
35 if they deprive others of their rights
    in defiance of the Most High,
36 if they twist justice in the courts—
    doesn’t the Lord see all these things?

37 Who can command things to happen
    without the Lord’s permission?
38 Does not the Most High
    send both calamity and good?
39 Then why should we, mere humans, complain
    when we are punished for our sins?

40 Instead, let us test and examine our ways.
    Let us turn back to the Lord.
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
    to God in heaven and say,
42 “We have sinned and rebelled,
    and you have not forgiven us

 

Is this election going to fix everything?  Or ruin everything? Are you afraid? Are you confused by so much noise?  Everything I had hoped for from the Lord is lost!  If this is you, then this word from the King of All Nations is for you!

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”

You will wake up the morning after the election to fresh mercies. That is why we continue to live in hope. The King of All Nations is still King.  And if you don’t believe that, then let us test and examine our ways: Let us turn back to the Lord.41 Let us lift our hearts and hands to God in heaven and say,42 “We have sinned and rebelled, and you have not forgiven us—and He will!

Prayer: Every morning of our lives, every morning of our history, we have awakened to your mercies afresh. Too often—perhaps most days–we have not noticed. Our rebellion has blinded us to your goodness. Today we lift our hearts and hands to You, and we believe you are willing and eager to forgive. Through all the political noise, we hear you, our Lord and our God, so we have hope.  Amen

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Day 37

Word:  1 Kings 22:1-28(abridged)(NLT)

22 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel. Then during the third year, King Jehoshaphat of Judah went to visit King Ahab of Israel. During the visit, the king of Israel said to his officials, “Do you realize that the town of Ramoth-gilead belongs to us? And yet we’ve done nothing to recapture it from the king of Aram!”

Then he turned to Jehoshaphat and asked, “Will you join me in battle to recover Ramoth-gilead?”

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “Why, of course! You and I are as one. My troops are your troops, and my horses are your horses.”Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.”

So the king of Israel summoned the prophets, about 400 of them, and asked them, “Should I go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should I hold back?”

They all replied, “Yes, go right ahead! The Lord will give the king victory.”

But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not also a prophet of the Lord here? We should ask him the same question.”

The king of Israel replied to Jehoshaphat, “There is one more man who could consult the Lord for us, but I hate him. He never prophesies anything but trouble for me! His name is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Jehoshaphat replied, “That’s not the way a king should talk! Let’s hear what he has to say.”

So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Quick! Bring Micaiah son of Imlah.”

10 King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah, dressed in their royal robes, were sitting on thrones at the threshing floor near the gate of Samaria. All of Ahab’s prophets were prophesying there in front of them. 11 One of them, Zedekiah son of Kenaanah, made some iron horns and proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says: With these horns you will gore the Arameans to death!”

12 All the other prophets agreed. “Yes,” they said, “go up to Ramoth-gilead and be victorious, for the Lord will give the king victory!”

13 Meanwhile, the messenger who went to get Micaiah said to him, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king. Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”

14 But Micaiah replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, I will say only what the Lord tells me to say.”

15 When Micaiah arrived before the king, Ahab asked him, “Micaiah, should we go to war against Ramoth-gilead, or should we hold back?”

Micaiah replied sarcastically, “Yes, go up and be victorious, for the Lordwill give the king victory!”

16 But the king replied sharply, “How many times must I demand that you speak only the truth to me when you speak for the Lord?”

17 Then Micaiah told him, “In a vision I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep without a shepherd. And the Lord said, ‘Their master has been killed. Send them home in peace.’”

18 “Didn’t I tell you?” the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. “He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.”

19 Then Micaiah continued, “Listen to what the Lord says! I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the armies of heaven around him, on his right and on his left. 20 And the Lord said, ‘Who can entice Ahab to go into battle against Ramoth-gilead so he can be killed?’

“There were many suggestions, 21 and finally a spirit approached the Lord and said, ‘I can do it!’

22 “‘How will you do this?’ the Lord asked.

“And the spirit replied, ‘I will go out and inspire all of Ahab’s prophets to speak lies.’

“‘You will succeed,’ said the Lord. ‘Go ahead and do it.’

23 “So you see, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all your prophets. For the Lord has pronounced your doom.”

24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah walked up to Micaiah and slapped him across the face. “Since when did the Spirit of the Lord leave me to speak to you?” he demanded.

25 And Micaiah replied, “You will find out soon enough when you are trying to hide in some secret room!”

26 “Arrest him!” the king of Israel ordered. “Take him back to Amon, the governor of the city, and to my son Joash. 27 Give them this order from the king: ‘Put this man in prison, and feed him nothing but bread and water until I return safely from the battle!’”

28 But Micaiah replied, “If you return safely, it will mean that the Lord has not spoken through me!” Then he added to those standing around, “Everyone mark my words!”

29 So King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah led their armies against Ramoth-gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “As we go into battle, I will disguise myself so no one will recognize me, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself, and they went into battle.

31 Meanwhile, the king of Aram had issued these orders to his thirty-two chariot commanders: “Attack only the king of Israel. Don’t bother with anyone else!” 32 So when the Aramean chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat in his royal robes, they went after him. “There is the king of Israel!” they shouted. But when Jehoshaphat called out, 33 the chariot commanders realized he was not the king of Israel, and they stopped chasing him.

34 An Aramean soldier, however, randomly shot an arrow at the Israelite troops and hit the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. “Turn the horses and get me out of here!” Ahab groaned to the driver of his chariot. “I’m badly wounded!”

35 The battle raged all that day, and the king remained propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran down to the floor of his chariot, and as evening arrived he died. 36 Just as the sun was setting, the cry ran through his troops: “We’re done for! Run for your lives!”

37 So the king died, and his body was taken to Samaria and buried there.38 Then his chariot was washed beside the pool of Samaria, and dogs came and licked his blood at the place where the prostitutes bathed, just as the Lord had promised.

 

This wonderful text brilliantly reveals what happens with nations and national leaders who do not recognize that the King of All Nations is sovereign! 

First, two kings get together and decide what they need to do politically and militarily!  The king most loyal to God suggests it would be a nice thing to find out what the King of All Nations thinks.  The least loyal king says “why not” and calls all the people he knows who will tell him what he wants to hear—such a tell-tale sign of a bad leader!

The loyal king recognizes the poor quality of the intel just given, so he asks if there aren’t any real, honest-to-God prophets.  The disloyal king says, well, there is this one guy who never says anything positive—the most negative person I know.

They call the Truth-teller and he first plays their game, but they see through that, so he tells them not only the truth, but how the King of All Nations is orchestrating the whole event so that the disloyal king will believe the lie he wants to believe and be killed. The king will die and the mission will fail.

And so it happens!

Real leaders seek out truth.  Real leaders are willing to believe the truth even when it is bad news! Real leaders are willing to act according to the true facts set before them, not just the way they want the facts to be.

Real leaders know that the King of All Nations is in control and seek His Will and His guidance.

 

Prayer:  God of Heaven, we are so eager to do what we want to do. We are so eager to follow leaders who tell us what we want to hear.  Even as a nation we sometimes act on what we want to do and not on what the truth or true facts are.  Forgive our presumptuous hearts—as if our judgment is always right.  Lead us not into temptation! Do not just let us hear what we want to hear; rather, let us hear your Words.  Deliver us from evil.  It is your kingdom, your power, and your glory forever. Amen

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 Word:  Daniel 2 (abridged)(NLT)

 One night during the second year of his reign,[a] Nebuchadnezzar had such disturbing dreams that he couldn’t sleep.

19 That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20 He said,

“Praise the name of God forever and ever,
    for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events;
    he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the scholars.
22 He reveals deep and mysterious things
    and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
    though he is surrounded by light.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors,
    for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you
    and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

27 Daniel replied, “There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.

29 “While Your Majesty was sleeping, you dreamed about coming events. He who reveals secrets has shown you what is going to happen. 30 And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart.

31 “In your vision, Your Majesty, you saw standing before you a huge, shining statue of a man. It was a frightening sight. 32 The head of the statue was made of fine gold. Its chest and arms were silver, its belly and thighs were bronze, 33 its legs were iron, and its feet were a combination of iron and baked clay. 34 As you watched, a rock was cut from a mountain,[d] but not by human hands. It struck the feet of iron and clay, smashing them to bits. 35 The whole statue was crushed into small pieces of iron, clay, bronze, silver, and gold. Then the wind blew them away without a trace, like chaff on a threshing floor. But the rock that knocked the statue down became a great mountain that covered the whole earth.

36 “That was the dream. Now we will tell the king what it means.37 Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. 38 He has made you the ruler over all the inhabited world and has put even the wild animals and birds under your control. You are the head of gold.

39 “But after your kingdom comes to an end, another kingdom, inferior to yours, will rise to take your place. After that kingdom has fallen, yet a third kingdom, represented by bronze, will rise to rule the world. 40 Following that kingdom, there will be a fourth one, as strong as iron. That kingdom will smash and crush all previous empires, just as iron smashes and crushes everything it strikes.41 The feet and toes you saw were a combination of iron and baked clay, showing that this kingdom will be divided. Like iron mixed with clay, it will have some of the strength of iron. 42 But while some parts of it will be as strong as iron, other parts will be as weak as clay. 43 This mixture of iron and clay also shows that these kingdoms will try to strengthen themselves by forming alliances with each other through intermarriage. But they will not hold together, just as iron and clay do not mix.

44 “During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. 45 That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain.”

Nebuchadnezzar Rewards Daniel

46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar threw himself down before Daniel and worshiped him, and he commanded his people to offer sacrifices and burn sweet incense before him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is the greatest of gods, the Lord over kings, a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this secret.”

48 Then the king appointed Daniel to a high position and gave him many valuable gifts. He made Daniel ruler over the whole province of Babylon, as well as chief over all his wise men. 49 At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court.

 

What could make one of the most powerful kings of a godless nation acknowledge the King of All Nations?  In this case, it was a glimpse into the future.  Wouldn’t every world leader like to know what the future holds!  But who can predict with accuracy the long term results of economic sanctions, invading an enemy country, bailing out a bank too big to fail?  Who can predict the long term results of a Supreme Court choice or a national election?

Daniel says only the God of heaven, the King of All Nations knows because He is in firm control of the future.  Look what Daniel says,

“Praise the name of God forever and ever,
    for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events;
    he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise
    and knowledge to the scholars.
22 He reveals deep and mysterious things
    and knows what lies hidden in darkness,
    though he is surrounded by light.

From those presuppositions, Daniel then can tell the king, “Your Majesty, you are the greatest of kings. The God of heaven has given you sovereignty, power, strength, and honor. 38 He has made you the ruler over all the inhabited world. . . .”

The king of the godless nation thought he had conquered the world, not that it had been given to him, but Daniel knew better.

We need leaders who know the King of All Nations who will speak the truth to people in power, who will tell them what the God of Heaven says is going to happen to nations that do not know their King.

…And sometimes the king will surprise you and be overwhelmed by the inerrancy of the King of All Nations—and the nation will be changed, even if just for a moment.

 

Prayer:  God of heaven, it feels as if our leaders don’t have a clue where we as a nation are going! We go to war, we spend billions here and there, we alienate this nation and befriend that one—and we hope for a good outcome, but we are often disappointed. Our leaders need dreams, O Lord, and wise men like Daniel who believe in and follow the King of All Nations, to tell them where those dreams will lead the nation. And we pray, O God, that some of our leaders will recognize who really holds the future, that they will bow and worship you. Amen 

 

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Word:  Habakkuk 1:1-5 (abridged)(NLT)

This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.

How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
    But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
    but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
    Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
    I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
    who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
    and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
    so that justice has become perverted.

The Lord replied,

“Look around at the nations;
    look and be amazed!
For I am doing something in your own day,
    something you wouldn’t believe
    even if someone told you about it.

 

One Pew Research study summarized its findings that over decades, five topics consistently increased newspaper sales in America:  war, weather, disaster, money, and crime.  What is certainly one common thread in these five topics—and there might be others—is that each of these topics often generates fear! War, disaster, and crime seem obvious, but think about the weather: tornadoes and hurricanes, floods and blizzards?  And what if the stock market crashes or our money runs out??

Even those who believe in the King of All Nations sometimes panic in the face of violence and destruction.  This ancient prophet expressed the existential fear that we all recognize, but he had the courage to raise the question to the King himself:  If you are in control, why are we surrounded by injustice and why does evil prevail?  Why are we afraid?

As is often the case, when we want to look behind the curtain and see what the big picture is, the King’s response is, “Well, I’d tell you but you wouldn’t understand if I did.”

So it all comes back—as it always has and always will—to trust.  How much do we trust the King of All Nations? Do we trust him to know what is going on?  Do we trust that He has enough power to really be in control?  Do we trust that He is good?  Do we trust that He cares what happens?

Fear is the immediate consequence of having no one in control, being at the mercy of chaos. Don’t vote for fear. Fear is only a question.  Trust the King of All Nations. That’s the only answer!

Prayer: Lord God, we stay glued to our TVs and the internet, looking for someone to trust, something to have confidence in, someone we can believe; we do this–and are still afraid. We as a nation are fearful because we no longer know, no longer trust that You are in control.  Give us trusting eyes, O God, to be able to see what you are doing in our own times. Then help us to know that it is You we are seeing. Amen

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The King of All Nations offers healing and forgiveness, even to a nation that prostitutes itself.  Read the whole story of Hosea and Gomer to understand this.

Word:  Hosea 2: 14-23 (abridged)(NLT)

“But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
15 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.

16 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
    “you will call me ‘my husband’
    instead of ‘my master.’

18 On that day I will make a covenant
    with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
    so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
    all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
    in peace and safety.
19 I will make you my wife forever,
    showing you righteousness and justice,
    unfailing love and compassion.
20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
    and you will finally know me as the Lord.

21 “In that day, I will answer,”
    says the Lord.
“I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds.
    And the sky will answer the earth with rain.
22 Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries
    of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees.
And they in turn will answer,
    ‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’

I will show love
    to those I called ‘Not loved.’
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’
    I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

 

What is worse than adultery?  The story of Hosea the prophet and his wife Gomer is a biblical story that goes beyond the pain of adultery and describes a person who abandons her marriage, turning not to another lover, but to prostitution.  One of the biggest questions raised in this story is whether the pain and shame of this betrayal can ever be healed? And why would anyone want to see such a devastating breach healed?

Nations prostitute themselves, selling their relationship to the King of All Nations very cheaply.  But these verses describe a King that will forgive the worst we can do. His desire is not just forgiveness, however, but restoration and reconciliation.  As fiercely as His anger is when a nation prostrates itself before other gods, His loving kindness is even greater when that prostituted nation comes home.  That is what makes coming home even thinkable!

Prayer:  Lord of All, your anger is just, but terrible–deserved, but more than we can bear. Take away our national desires that lure us to other powers, other houses. Draw our nation back to your house, our home, with these same promises of forgiveness and reconciliation that you have offered to other nations in times past.  Amen.

 

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Word: 2 Kings 23 (abridged)(NLT)

And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people …, along with the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple.The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. In this way, he confirmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. . . .

15 The king also tore down the altar at Bethel—the pagan shrine that Jeroboam son of Nebat had made when he caused Israel to sin. He burned down the shrine and ground it to dust . . . .

19 Then Josiah demolished all the buildings at the pagan shrines in the towns of Samaria . . . .They had been built by the various kings of Israel and had made the Lord very angry . . . .

21 King Josiah then issued this order to all the people: “You must celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as required in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the time when the judges ruled in Israel, nor throughout all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.

24 Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, and every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord’s Temple. 25 Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.

 

The king of ancient Israel had two significant responses when the Word of God was re-discovered after having been lost for centuries.  First, he goes throughout the country—even beyond his own borders—and destroys every semblance of false religion that he could find.  He is not tolerant of idolatry, of immorality, or any of the cultural icons or rituals that have sought to replace the Truth that was lost. He even goes so far as to seek out the very root of national dissipation, the national shrine that his ancient predecessor Jeroboam first created as the first step away from Truth.

But destruction only leaves a vacuum. Josiah is wise enough to re-institute the worship and national celebrations that God had proscribed, both of which had been lost with the Word.  National memory needed to be restored as well—the recollection of what God had done for the nation.

Tearing down national idols is essential—but not enough. Being against the loss of national morality, fighting cultural norms, opposing historical lies, these are all part of what God’s people do when Truth takes hold, but demolition and attack is not enough—not nearly enough.

Perhaps today it is reminding us that Thanksgiving is about thanking God for every good gift, that Christmas is a time for reminding the nation that Jesus came to bring peace on earth, good will toward men, or that Sunday is still the Lord’s Day, not the NFL’s sacred day.

Restoring the ancient national celebration of Israel was as important as removing the idols.  Is this a Truth that we as a nation have forgotten?

 

Prayer:  Lord God of Heaven and Earth. What have we forgotten as a nation?  Teach us again, Lord, what to destroy and what to restore.  Give us the passion to oppose everything you hate, but also the joy to celebrate all that you love.  Amen.

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