Life doesn’t have to be so discouraging

When I read the news these days I cannot help but to shake my head and wonder what is going on in America. I am discouraged by decisions that are being made as well as reactions to decisions being made. In a nation that is supposedly comprised of almost seventy percent of its people that claim Christianity as their religion, roughly 226 million people, it continues to astonish me how we act toward one another and in regards to our leaders.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, “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. 2 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.” We live in a country that is by large a peaceful country in which we are very privileged and blessed, but how often do we pray for our leaders? How often do we give thanks for what we have?

When I go out into the public the majority of conversations that I hear are comprised of nothing more than discouraging remarks and complaints. I must admit that I can easily fall into this category as well, but as Christians shouldn’t we act differently, shouldn’t we respond differently?

Romans 13:1-5
Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. 2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. 3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. 4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. 5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

If we are truly following God then we have nothing to worry about. If we are truly praying for our leaders than we have nothing to worry about, because God’s Word tells us so and has proven the faithfulness of God when His people humble themselves and follow Him.

2 Chronicles 7:12-22
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. 13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. 14 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. 15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 16 For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.

17 “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 18 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’

19 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, 20 then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. 21 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’

22 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.’”

If we truly want to see change in our country we need to stop complaining with one another and start kneeling with one another. We need to start fasting with one another and we need to start loving one another.

1 John 4:16-19
16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the Day of Judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other because he loved us first.

Following God in love and actions is not a futile act, it is life giving and life changing. When we follow God in trust and love our lives are changed and the circumstances surrounding our lives are changed as well. We receive God’s favor because we are His chosen children. We have the power to change what is happening around us, but it’s not going to happen by complaining or rioting or by being hateful. It will ONLY happen if we will humble ourselves and submit to God who created all things and who sent Jesus to die on the cross so that we could have life. He did this out of His love for us and when we truly understand the depth of His love for us we will be humbled and will follow Him out of reverence and adoration. We can follow faithfully knowing that He loved us first.

May God bless you as you humble yourself before Him and turn from your wicked ways. May He strengthen you and encourage you as you seek His face in prayer and follow where He is leading you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Numbers 6:24-26
24 ‘May the Lord bless you
and protect you.
25 May the Lord smile on you
and be gracious to you.
26 May the Lord show you his favor
and give you his peace.’

A Prayer for ISIS

This is urgent news from Samaritans Purse. (Received 3/6/2015)

Dear Friends,

Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from [the leader of] Crisis Relief International (CRI). We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts. “We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food to. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated its staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!”

Please pray sincerely for the deliverance of the people of Northern Iraq from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians across this region. May I plead with you not to ignore this email. Do not forward it before you have prayed through it. Then send it to as many people as possible. Send it to friends and Christians you may know. Send it to your prayer group. We need to stand in the gap for our fellow Christians.

As I read this request yesterday I couldn’t help but to think about how disengaged I have been about how I have barely even prayed about the killing and those who are in the path of destruction that ISIS is leaving behind. As I prayed I became convicted that not only should I be praying for those who are in danger, but I also need to pray for those who are surrounded by demons that are causing such harm and fear to individuals. As Christians we are told that we will be persecuted if we want to live a godly life in Jesus (2 Tim. 3:12). That is not to say that we should just accept it as fate and not pray for those who are persecuted, but it does say that we should expect to be persecuted, just as Jesus was persecuted. We are called to live a different life; a life in which we are to turn the other cheek when stricken (Mt. 5:39) and to bless those who persecute us (Mt 5:44) for even evil doers love those who love them, but the righteous will pray for those who are persecuting them.

I admit that it is difficult to pray for the people that are involved in such heinous acts, but this is what we are called to do. In fact Romans 12:14 goes a step further in saying that we are to bless and not curse those who persecute us. Steve Bell, the director of Interserve said this, “We see it as ‘more Christian’ to be the Good Samaritan and pick up the pieces rather than praying for the people who attacked in the first place. Traditionally and historically, we’re not equipped as the Church – we don’t know what to do about the bad guys.”

It may be true that we do not know what to do about the bad guys and may even fear, but God knows what to do and is waiting for our hearts to be turned. He longs to see all people to come to him and the reality is that those who are not for God are surrounded by demons sent by Satan to cause fear and destruction. Our response needs to start in prayer. Beneath the covering of the enemy displayed through ISIS lies a human being who was created by God for a purpose, just like you were. What if you were driven by the dark forces of hell to commit such acts? Would you want Christians to immediately search for justice rather than to pray for your very soul? We have an obligation to pray and fast for all who are involved, not only for those who are being persecuted, but for the persecutors themselves.

Tomorrow is Sunday March 8th, at the time this is written, and I will be in prayer and fasting and I invite you to call others to join us as we stand in the gap for those who are being persecuted, but also for those who are plagued by the enemy that they would see the light. You have a choice to make. Will you just talk and complain about what ISIS is doing or will you join in with what others are already doing to bless all those involved and to actually make a difference? Will you step outside of your comfort zone and engage in the battle? Jesus made a choice to fight for your soul so that you can fight for the souls of others.

The choice is yours as to how you will respond…

Father we thank you for your grace and your mercy and we pray that you will stir the hearts of Christians around the world to engage into battle against the forces of darkness. Father, we know that through your Son, Jesus Christ, that we have already won the war and we are no longer slaves to sin, but there are still those who are plagued by the enemy that need your help. Father, we pray that you will reach down and bless them. We pray that you will show them who you are, not only in your power and might, but in your grace and mercy that even they who have brought such death and destruction may find life in you. God we need you. We love you and trust you. Protect our fellow Christians and bless those who are surrounded by Satan and his demons. It’s in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.