It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in people. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. -- Psalm 118: 8-9 (NLT)
There is no question to believers that we are living in the end times which the Bible warns us about thoroughly. Jesus is coming back soon for His church; His bride. Until then we will see what God has clearly warned us about.
And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. -- Matthew 24: 10-14 (NLT)
So it came as no surprise to me yesterday when our president, an avowed liberal in his politics, bowed to the pressures from the pro-gay marriage lobby and officially endorsed the practice. What does this mean for believers? It simply means that God always is true and every man a liar. It simply means that the warnings from Matthew 24 are coming true -- just as Jesus told us they would. This should not come as any surprise or shock. Yet the reaction in blogosphere from Christians seems to intimate that many need to read their Bibles better. Calls for returns to holiness in the country, pleas for revival in the world, and prayers for God to delay His wrath is all I have seen. Allow me to redirect our efforts where the Word of God says they should be by pointing out what He has said to us already.
First of all, it is time for the church to stop looking outward for holiness and start looking inward. The people in the world are walking in darkness beloved. The Bible specifically says that the things of God are foolishness to them. Quoting Leviticus to them is not going to solve anything. Quite frankly there are too many Christians you can't quote Leviticus to. The reality is that we would prefer to look at the sinful world so we do not have to focus on the sinful church. It is far easier to look at the sin of homosexuality in the world than it is to look at the sin of adultery in the church; and that is just an example. The verse I hear overly abused in this realm come from 2Chronicles:
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. -- 2Chronicles 7: 14 (NLT)
This verse deals with God giving the recipe for healing our land. I say it is abused because it is usually used in context with the sins of the world instead of the sins of believers. Those verses start with -- if the people who are called by my name would humble themselves, turn from their wicked ways"
The people called by His name are Christians. It is our wickedness that God seeks a change in. It is our lack of humility that is at the core of the problem. It is the people who claim the mantle of Jesus Christ and the laud themselves over a fallen world in judgment that is reserved only for God Himself. All the while not repenting of their own sin. The land is healed when the people on the outside of salvation looking in sees something different. When they don't see the Gospel compromised in churches. When they don't see rampant hate from Christians. Jesus said that they would see us for our love. That love would make them want what we have. That is how souls are drawn to the foot of the cross so that God can save them. That is how the land is healed. Not through grandiose political statements and faux piety. What did Paul always say? Of these I am the LEAST. Unfortunately the impression most in the world see from Christians is "of these YOU are the least."
Secondly, we need to stop reacting to things as if God is not on the throne. Do you think for one second that the events of yesterday surprised God? Did He not see it coming? While we are on the subject, we need to remember that regardless of who is in what office, God will not be mocked and He will be glorified. Regardless of who is in what office -- they are only there because God willed it. Wait a minute preacher; are you saying that Barack Obama was God's choice? I am not saying it -- God is saying it:
He said, "Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. 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. -- Daniel 2: 20-21 (NLT)
God controls the course of world events -- NOT Barack Obama. Not George W. Bush. Not Bill Clinton. All of which were God's appointed choices for their appointed times. Should the church stand for what is right? Absolutely -- the Bible says to not call evil good. But God is infinitely more concerned with two things above merely stating opposition. He is infinitely more concerned with how you deliver that message and how you are doing in your own life with the sins you so quickly want to denounce with others. That is what the "judge not" passages really deal with:
And why worry about a speck in your friend's eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, "Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can't see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye. -- Matthew 7: 3-5 (NLT)
Most in the church today incorrectly use this as a blanket excuse to not judge their brothers and sisters when it comes to sinful activity even though other verses clearly instruct them to:
It isn't my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, "You must remove the evil person from among you." -- 1Corinthians 5: 12-13 (NLT)
Yet there we go as the modern church often condemning the world for behaving like the world. For behaving like the things of God make no sense to them, as the Bible tells us. But then when the lens is dared to be turned inward all we hear is -- "judge not lest ye be judged!"
Lastly we come to the key verses today which remind us that we need to stop placing our faith, trust or hope in any man. That includes any man of any political party. John McCain would have fared no better than Barack Obama. Eschatology is not going to be changed by who is in the White House. God already has His plan and there is nothing we are going to be able to do to change it. The only thing we are charged with doing however is to bring people to the foot of the cross before He does return. Instead we condemn the very people we are charged with helping to find God! Listen to the Word of the Lord today -- stop seeking refuge in man! Take a look at this quote:
"Well, first of all, I believe in an Almighty God, and I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That's what I believe. I believe that Islam is a great religion that preaches peace."
Is this Barack Obama? Bill Clinton? What horrible left-leaning fake Christian"oh, it is a direct quote from George W. Bush. And before some start to play media games in their head the source is the ultra-right leaning World Net Daily. Yet most in the church have some special affinity for someone like Bush because at least he wasn't uncomfortable saying the name Jesus. That is not the point. The Bible says to examine the fruit and when we examine the fruit of any politician in the broken and degenerate system we have set up in this country-- we will find as much fruit as Jesus found with the fig tree. Do not trust in princes -- no matter what party they may be aligned with -- because neither party truly cares about the cause of Jesus Christ.
So what then is the answer? I think again if we go to Scripture we will find all the answers we will ever need. The first thing we need to do is pray:
I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. -- 1Timothy 2: 1-4 (NLT)
Prayer is powerful beloved because it turns over our problems to the only one who has any real power. Princes and kings think they have power but soon they are dust and God is still God. Look at the depth of what we are to pray for here. First of all we are supposed to pray for all people. For God to help them. This includes the very people we would seek to lay our judgment upon so easily. NO ONE is beyond the redemptive powers of Jesus Christ. It does not matter what their sin is. God can still save them. I remember where God found me. I remember how far down He had to go bring me up out of the mire my life had devolved into. Intercede for them beloved. Pray for them. Pray for their eyes to be open to the truth of Jesus. You do not need to pray about their sin. Too often we seek to do the job of the Holy Spirit. Pray that they would have an open ear and heart to listen -- that is all God needs to allow the Spirit to convict them. Secondly here we are to pray for all those in authority. It doesn't say pray for all republicans in authority -- but all who are in authority. Now I have seen so many Christians profess problems with this. Listen, praying for Barack Obama does not mean that you are praying that his agenda is successful. In fact, these verses tell you exactly how to pray for him! Pray that in all his actions we will see the result be that we live our lives in this country in peace and quiet marked with godliness and dignity. This is what is good and pleases God our Savior. Not sending hateful tweets and posting on Facebook as if you have the corner on righteousness. Without the blood of Christ we have no righteousness at all! If you ever truly get stuck about what to pray, remember that praying for God's will is always right.
Secondly, we need to take our responsibility as Christians seriously. I say it all the time but you might be the only chance someone has to see Christ. Their only chance to be brought to the foot of the cross. Are we embodying what God has instructed us to be?
"You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. "You are the light of the world--like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. -- Matthew 5: 13-16 (NLT)
I heard a pastor recently say that we have failed too often to be salt and light. Instead we are much better and being pepper and glitter. Pepper does not preserve anything; only salt does. Are we preserving in our nature towards others? What flavor are we bringing to the table in our lives, our walks, our posts and our tweets? Yes -- those count to. Think about it. If you have 300 friends on Facebook then every time you post something -- that is your audience; not to mention who they then might share it with. Your life is no longer yours beloved. We are supposed to be living for Christ. What do your followers on Twitter see? What flavor do they taste every day? Is it off color jokes on Tuesday and then a self-righteous stance about gay marriage on Wednesday? How do you think that tastes to someone walking in the darkness of this world?
Glitter has no real light of its own -- it can only reflect light. We are not meant to be reflectors. We have Christ inside of us so it is His light that should be shining. I might add here that there really shouldn't be an off switch. The devil does not stop in his efforts and neither should we. Are we being light to a dying world? Do they see our love or do they see our hypocrisy? Let me try it this way -- is what they see enough to make them want what you got? Don't be glitter to a dying world.
Yes, this week saw an avowed liberal president act like a liberal president. It did not shock God, so it should not shock us. It is as much a harbinger of things to come as all of the other signs all around us every day. You cannot miss them. Wars and rumors of wars. Earthquakes and famines. Increase in wickedness and the love of most growing cold. False teachers drawing away people to the broad path that leads to destruction. It is all around us. Yesterday was just another piece. And what should we do as Christians when we see yet another sign of the second coming of our Lord and Savior? I say this because it seems the reaction is always to try and save this dying world instead of stepping up our efforts to bring the love of Jesus Christ to the lost so they will have hope beyond this world. They do not need the morality of our religion -- they need a relationship with our Savior!
This November we will have another presidential election. I can tell you emphatically right now that Barack Obama is not the answer for this world. Neither is Mitt Romney. God will choose who He wants and He will be glorified one way or the other. We on the other hand are supposed to be inward focused when it comes to sin issues to make sure we are right before the Lord. We are to remember the God we serve and never forget that He is on the throne. We are to pray diligently for all people because God does not want any to perish! We are to pray for our leaders sincerely that they would take actions that would lead to peace and quiet in our lives. We are to be responsible for the mantle of Christianity we wear. We cannot be pepper and glitter to a dying world. We need to be conscious of how we portray Jesus in everything we do -- even in social networking. People are watching us and we need to take very opportunity to show them who Jesus really is before the signs stop, the trumpet sounds, and the Lord returns.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- May 10, 2012