July 22, 2016

God is Still in Control

It is Friday here in sunny and "very hot," Phoenix. Yes, we have another excessive heat warning, which is sort of laughable, because heat is heat in the desert. The high today is supposed to be 114, and in some desert locales, I am sure it will be higher than that (115 plus). The day is shaping up to be what is a "normal" summer day. I am so over this heat. I am so tired of the highs, the sun, and the never-ending shine. I would love a little rain right about now. Please, Lord? May we please have some rain?

My morning started very early today. I am not sure why, but I was awake at 6:30 this morning. It was still "dusky" out my window. I am thinking it is because I have been going to be earlier. I have turned in before 10 most nights, and well, since I am getting in my 9 hours of shut-eye, my body is starting to "rise and shine" earlier and earlier each day. It is funny, but I remember this happening to me when I was in Hawaii. Yes, the early sunrise always did me in. No matter how hard I tried to sleep in to 8 or even 9 a.m., my body clock would strike the alarm at 5-5:30 every day I was on vacation. Thankfully, this summer has been not like that at all. I have routinely been awake before 8 a.m., and just recently, started getting up before 7. Sigh!

I do have to say that I feel "well" today. I am feeling good, in a general sense of the word. I woke up without a headache (yay!), a stiff back (double-yay!) or aching hips (a triple yay!) What is more, Ike was no where to be found. He didn't saunter out to the kitchen until I was already out there getting the Keurig warmed up. Then, of course, he and Winston took up their normal "wait" positions while I cleaned their food bowls and rinsed their placemat. They were treated, as usual, and together we had a very quiet start to our day. I emptied the dishwasher, put the dirty cups and saucers from last night in, and then scrubbed up the counters a bit. My Mom used to leave the kitchen spotless before she went to bed at night, but with her dementia now, she most often forgets to put things away. I follow after her, cleaning as I go, but sometimes I don't get around to it until the morning. I like for the kitchen to be clean before my parents get out there. I normally scrub up, get my Mom's coffee ready and my Dad's cup out, and leave things ready for them when they finally get up and moving. I don't know, I guess I just like things to be a certain way. I am picky like that, very orderly, and I just do not like clutter on my counters or around my home.

Today is a good day, despite what seems to be happening in the world. Trump is our candidate for President, and like him or not, he is going to run against Clinton, and well, if you are a conservative like I am, you pretty much are stuck with this guy for your vote. A no vote is a yes vote for Hilary, and well, I just cannot go there. No, I will not go there. She hates women, is anti-right to life, and generally, is a socialist in sheep's clothing. I know many Christians who support her, and frankly, I think they are deceived. I am not saying that I am pro-Trump, because I most certainly am not. I don't like the man at all, and I think he is dangerous and runs perilously "close to the wind," so to speak. But, I do respect his business sense, and for that, I think he has the right kind of power to run this country.

Anyone who says that power is not a key ingredient to run for office is ignorant. The highest office of our land exists to feed the need of the power hungry. Black, white, or other; conservative, liberal or socialist -- the office of the President is for all intents and purposes -- the power seat of this nation. The days of hoping for a good man or woman to run are over. No, this is our future. Power hungry ideologues that are so grotesquely arrogant and over-the-top -- and yes -- that imagery does spring to mind visions of "The Hunger Games."

I pray for the Lord's grace as we transition through this next season of American political life. Oh, Lord, that the people would return to you! Zechariah 1:3 says, "Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty." And in Joel 2:12 says, "Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." May America and the American people return to the Lord so that our land will be healed, the people restored, and our future hope, reassured. Selah! Amen, so be it! Thy will be done!

In Whom Do YOU Trust?

As I think about my life today, one thing is certain: I must remember who is in control -- of everything. I can easily become dismayed at the thought of what "might be" with our next presidential election or I can take hope in the One who is in control, who is on heaven's throne, and who already knows the outcome. I can be afraid of what is to come or I can wait patiently and keep on trusting God, my Savior and King.

In Psalm 146:2-3 NIV we read, "I will praise the LORD while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation."

O, Christian, in whom do you trust this day? 

Proverbs 16:20 reminds us that there is joy in trusting the Lord, and that joy comes from obedient, nay heedful listening to His instruction. We read, "Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the LORD will be joyful." Let us not be forgetful; let us remember that it is the Lord who calls us to account. We are to be responsible to Him first and foremost, and that means that we are to heed the instruction in His word. So often, Christians get caught up in the political machinations of our current environment. We lose sight of the practical truth of Scripture, which is to obey the voice, nay the Word of the Lord. This means that despite what we hear on the news or read online, we are to always wash everything through a biblical lens, and to consider the rhetoric from a Christian worldview. Sure, it is right and proper to elect officials that are honorable and good, but we must remember that neither our president or anyone who "promises" to deliver "goods and services" is really able to do what they say. We need to be wise, and we need to remember that the only One who keeps His word is the LORD. Thus, as a Christian, we must always consider our candidates as fallen men and women, heathen workers who are not seeking God or His word or His way. Rather, they are self-seeking proponents of the enemy, and individuals who are only out for their own glory. Of course, there are good men and women, Christian men and women who serve in political office, yet despite this fact, rarely do we find even these good people being motivated to seek and to serve the King. I know I am generalizing here, but I haven't seen many politicians who put God first in all things. I had hoped a couple of our presidential candidates (early on) could have sustained momentum to be on the platform, but as usual, it is only the powerful, hungry, and yes, the wicked who seem to triumph, are the ones to outlast the others. The good ones' get churned up, chewed, and spat out long before the conventions begin. Sigh - I digress!

Spurgeon's Gems

Charles Spurgeon wrote one of his "gems" titled, "In Whom Do You Trust." Yes, even in 1859-60, when things were about to get really nasty here in America (with the coming Civil War), Rev. Spurgeon was already asking Christian's to consider this very question, to consider in whom do they place their everlasting trust. In light of all the political uproar today, I think it is worthy of another read.

“Now on whom dost thou trust?” — Isaiah 36:5

Reader, this is an important question. Listen to the Christian’s answer, and see if it is yours. “On whom dost thou trust?” “I trust,” says the Christian, “in a triune God. I trust the Father, believing that he has chosen me from before the foundations of the world; I trust him to provide for me in providence, to teach me, to guide me, to correct me if need be, and to bring me home to his own house where the many mansions are. I trust the Son. Very God of very God is he—the man Christ Jesus. I trust in him to take away all my sins by his own sacrifice, and to adorn me with his perfect righteousness. I trust him to be my Intercessor, to present my prayers and desires before his Father’s throne, and I trust him to be my Advocate at the last great day, to plead my cause, and to justify me. I trust him for what he is, for what he has done, and for what he has promised yet to do. And I trust the Holy Spirit—he has begun to save me from my inbred sins; I trust him to drive them all out; I trust him to curb my temper, to subdue my will, to enlighten my understanding, to check my passions, to comfort my despondency, to help my weakness, to illuminate my darkness; I trust him to dwell in me as my life, to reign in me as my King, to sanctify me wholly, spirit, soul, and body, and then to take me up to dwell with the saints in light for ever.”

Oh, blessed trust! To trust him whose power will never be exhausted, whose love will never wane, whose kindness will never change, whose faithfulness will never fail, whose wisdom will never be nonplussed, and whose perfect goodness can never know a diminution! Happy art thou, reader, if this trust is thine! So trusting, thou shalt enjoy sweet peace now, and glory hereafter, and the foundation of thy trust shall never be removed.

When we read these words, sincere and devout Christians are hard pressed to disagree. How can we not place our trust in our ever faithful God, our ever watchful Savior?

Today, I am reminded that what God has started, He will indeed finish. The good work He has created in me will continue until my time on earth is at its end. Until then, my faith must continue to rest in the One who died to save me. My trust, thus, sits securely with my Lord and my Savior, Jesus. The world may spin further out of control, but my God is at the helm. He is the One who calls me to account, and He is the One who will see me through to the end. Amen, so be it. Thy will be done! God is good, so very good. All the time, He is good. He is good, all the time! Selah!

Moving On With Faith

I really have two choices today. One, I can succumb to all the fear-mongering that I read about on social media (the world is falling, the end is near), or two, I can remain steady and steadfast, and keep faith in God. Yes, I can choose to place my trust -- my sincere and abiding faith -- in what I know to be true. Furthermore, since my faith rests in a person and not material things, I can believe what I know to true about that person. I can believe what I know from Scripture, and I can believe what I know from experience (through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit). I can rest in this knowledge, and I can take heart to know that my Savior has me tucked tenderly under His ever present and loving wings of care. I am safe today because He is my Savior. I am cared for today because He cares for me. I am able to rest today because He is at REST. He is seated, and He is at rest. Thus, I too, can rest in Him. My needs are met with sufficiency, and His word reminds me that the plans He has for my life, well, they are good, so very good.

As I reflect on where my trust resides, I am able to take heart, to keep upbeat and hopeful, despite what seems to be a whirlwind of debate and dispute -- nastiness in all forms. I can be happy, filled with joy, and in some ways, completely oblivious to the maneuvering of the wicked who are positioned all around me. Yes, I can continue to do my work, my small and insignificant work, despite the hostile and difficult environment around me.

Is this the right attitude to have? Shouldn't I be more politically active, minded, so to speak? I don't know, I just don't know. I guess in some ways I should take more responsibility for this country and the political role it plays on the world's stage. Yet, I feel helpless to do anything. I do not feel that I can make a difference, not anymore, that is. So, I am not giving up my right. No, I am not saying I will not be a good citizen because that would go against God's word. Rather, I am choosing to serve God before I serve any earthly master. I will place God and His word as first in my life. Everything else will come second. This means that my desire is to seek His will, and in doing so, to follow after His way in all my dealings. I am no longer bound to do what the world says I should do. No, I am only bound to be a law-abiding citizen, but I must always remember that, in truth, I am a heaven-bound servant of the Lord most high. Thus, I have to keep my priorities straight, to keep my head screwed on, and to not lose sight of what matters most to God. And what matters most to God? It is people, of course. God is more interested in the condition of your soul than in the condition of your house. He is more interested in your everlasting salvation than in anything that is happening in the world today. Thus, His focus is on saving His creation, in seeking and finding the lost. Therefore, my desire is to conform to His desire, and as such, my priorities are reshaped toward that end. I function as an extension, a tool and a vessel of my Father, in that, it is His will that determines where I go and the work I do. I no longer seek my own determination or my own desires. I seek only to do His work. I seek to go and do His work in the place of His choosing. I seek to be employed 100% and busy about His business. Consequently, while I may be disgusted with the political hype and the clearly anti-Christian rhetoric, I must remember the state of this world, the predictions of Scripture, and the fact that I am destined for a different ending, a different outcome. Yes, I take rest in the knowledge that my eternal destination has been bought and paid. My ticket to heaven, as it is said, has been stamped "redeemed." I can rest in the fact that despite the world, the hub-bub, and the potential downfall, my life has purpose and has value. God has a plan for my life, and it is very good.

In Closing

As I rest in His sufficiency this good day, I am reminded that everything that is happening in the world today is part of His overarching plan of Salvation. Yes, there is Kingdom-mindedness in everything I see and read this good day. I see His work, and while I may not like the way things are unfolding, I feel like I am watching a grand drama, a la "The Lord of the Rings" in its scope and spectacular design. I am watching this great drama unfold this good, good day. May the Lord of ALL bring to pass His will this good day. He is King! He is King!

In Zechariah 9:9-13 MSG, we read this proclamation of His coming:

“Shout and cheer, Daughter Zion!
Raise the roof, Daughter Jerusalem!
Your king is coming!
a good king who makes all things right,
a humble king riding a donkey,
a mere colt of a donkey.
I’ve had it with war—no more chariots in Ephraim,
no more war horses in Jerusalem,
no more swords and spears, bows and arrows.
He will offer peace to the nations,
a peaceful rule worldwide,
from the four winds to the seven seas.

And you, because of my blood covenant with you,
I’ll release your prisoners from their hopeless cells.
Come home, hope-filled prisoners!
This very day I’m declaring a double bonus—
everything you lost returned twice-over!
Judah is now my weapon, the bow I’ll pull,
setting Ephraim as an arrow to the string.
I’ll wake up your sons, O Zion,
to counter your sons, O Greece.
From now on
people are my swords.”

Come quickly, Lord Jesus, come quickly!

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