True Hope for Change

Yesterday Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family, discussed some of the major changes taking place in our country and declared the only true action for Christians to take is to pray.  He offered the following quotes:

I want to tell you up front that we’re not going to ask you to do anything, to make a phone call or to write a letter or anything.

There is nothing you can do at this time about what is taking place because there is simply no limit to what the left can do at this time. Anything they want, they get and so we can’t stop them.

We tried with [Health and Human Services Secretary] Kathleen Sebelius and sent thousands of phone calls and emails to the Senate and they didn’t pay any attention to it because they don’t have to. And so what you can do is pray, pray for this great nation… As I see it, there is no other answer. There’s no other answer, short term.

Last week we had the National Day of Prayer where most of us lifted up our country and leaders to God, that he would hear our prayers and heal our land.  II Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  I implore those of you Christians that are reading to drop your political affinities and stand united on the Word of God and lift up your voice to Him that He might heal our land.  What’s taking place transcends politics and goes to the heart of good vs. evil.  When we combine a country in moral disarray with leaders who lack Godly wisdom, we’ve created the perfect storm.

So is anyone paying attention to what’s going on in our country or is everyone just asleep at the wheel?  It’s almost as if people are following anyone who steps in front of them.  Kind of like those old cartoons or movies where the hypnotized person wanders aimlessly, arms-outstretched, declaring, “Yes master” to do their bidding.  Yeah it might bring a comical image to mind, but this is reality and it’s far less funny.  I could sit here and rattle off item by item of the drastic changes that are taking place, some you’ve heard about, some soon to come, and still some the results of those changes.  But really does it matter?  I mean it matters in a sense of the direction this country is heading, but is there anything we can do about it?  Where is our voice?  Maybe you heard about the “tea-parties” that took place on April 15th and you might well know that there are much larger ones planned for July 4th, but are they our voice?  Do they represent the Christian voice?  Hardly.  These groups, while noble in their cause, are trying to be the political voice of reason to our government leaders.  Are these men and women in our government under any obligation to listen to these demonstrations?  Their responsibility was to be the voice of the people, after all that’s why they were elected.  But if they’ve already neglected that, do you really think they will listen to demonstrations?  Sadly, the answer is no.  Only God has the power to change our current path.  Only God can put the brakes on the drastic changes taking place in our democracy.  Disagree with me if you want, but our charge as Christians is to call out to God and unite as a voice of Christians, not demonstrators.  He alone can stand up to the powers at work.   

Romans 13:11-12 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.  The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

What are you waiting for?

There was a man once that had refused to leave his house during a flood.  He had decided that he was going to wait out the flood and that he would be safe from the rising waters.  As the rain continued to poor down and waters continued to rise rapidly, the man started realizing he had made a mistake.  Since he failed to heed the emergency crews warnings, they were no longer available to help him, promising only to return after the storm had passed and the waters had begun to crest.  Soon, his first floor was overtaken by the water.  With little chance for survival inside his house the man retreated to his attic where he began chopping through his ceiling.  Once through, he climbed out onto his roof to safety, knowing that the waters would not likely climb that high, though now he was on his own island.  Nearly in panic mode the man bowed his head and prayed that God would send him a sign of rescue.  That God would reach down and carry him to safety.  It was only a few hours before a neighbor’s boat came by and yelled to the man to come aboard.  The man replied, “No, its ok.  I prayed and asked God to deliver me from the flood waters; He is going to send me a sign.”  So the neighbor rode off.  Next an emergency services helicopter flew over yelling down to the man to climb in the basket.  The man gave the same response that he was waiting on God and the helicopter flew off.  By now the waters had continued to rise and the temperature had dropped significantly.  He was facing the real threat of frostbite and potentially drowning.  Finally, a large coast guard boat pulled right next to the roof and said to the man, just step on to the boat and be rescued.  The man again denied the help saying that he was waiting on God.  In his frustration he looked up to heaven and declared, “God, I’ve been faithful in waiting on you to send me a sign; to deliver me from my dire situation.  Why haven’t you responded to me in my time of need?”  To his surprise, the heavens opened and he heard a voice say, “I sent you two boats and a helicopter.  How could I have made it any clearer?  While you have been waiting on me, I’ve been waiting on you to step off of that roof in faith, reach out, and take the hand that I’ve offered you.”

Now I know this is an old joke and maybe you’ve already heard it (and realized that I probably butchered it), but the moral is very important, one I’ve given a lot of thought to.  David says in Psalm 40:1, “I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry.”  God hears our prayers and we know that we should patiently wait for His answer with spiritually sharp ears to hear His voice.  Again in Psalm 27:14 we’re told, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”  In our desperation to hear back from God, I wonder if we’re not like the man in the story above.  So intent on seeing a miracle, that we miss God’s subtle, or sometimes not so subtle, hand working in our lives. 

In the movie Facing the Giants, there is a prayer warrior named Mr. Bridges.  Daily he walks the halls of the school praying.  One day he stops to talk to Coach Taylor, the head football coach.  During their conversation, Mr. Bridges tells him of two farmers and how each of them has been praying for rain.  One farmer goes inside and sits on the couch, waiting for God to send him rain.  The other farmer is outside tirelessly working in the field, preparing the soil, weeding the garden, getting everything ready for the rain.  Both are God fearing, prayerful men.  But I ask you, which one is more faithful to receive the rain?

Are your fields prepared for rain?  Are you more than just praying for rain, but are actually prepared for it?  Has God sent you a rescue boat that you refused because you thought He would send a cruise ship?  The Bible tells us to wait patiently on the Lord, but sometimes, He’s really waiting on us…to step out in faith.

Lamentations 3:23-25 “They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;”

Micah 7:7 NKJV “Therefore I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; My God will hear me.”

He Restores My Soul

Think about what David is saying here in the 23rd Psalm.  It’s a phrase we’ve heard repeatedly, likely even memorizing from a young age.  But have you ever stopped to think about exactly what this means?  In one sense David is saying that the Lord refreshes us or renews us, clears out the things of this world from our mind, if only we spend time with Him by reading His Word and praying daily.  When we’re overwhelmed by the things of this world, problems that seek to literally drain our soul, we can call on the Lord as our Rock, our Refuge.  He has the power to restore our soul and make it whole. 

To restore something means to return to its original state.  Our original state was that of one created in the image of God.  This image was wholly perfect and righteous, but being born into sin, we needed God’s restoration of mercy and grace through faith in His Son Jesus.  Titus 3:5-6 ESV tells us, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”  There’s our same concept again of restoration, or renewal of the Holy Spirit.  In either implication, the source of restoration is clear, and that is God.  As C.S. Lewis stated, “God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.”  Seek God with all of your heart that He might give you restoration of your soul.   

Job 22:23a If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored:

Jeremiah 15:19 If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me

I Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"