This is mid-term election day in the U.S. Everyone is encouraged to exercise their right to vote as a citizen of the country. This election, perhaps more than any in the past, has displayed such a great level of anger, and division among our people. Some weeks ago I used the illustration of the number of American flags that are displayed in our town, saying that must mean something in the basic values we hold together. We certainly have different opinions as to how things should be done, but can we deal with those differences as one people who can show a level of respect for all? At least for us who claim the name of Christ it must be so. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other,…”(3:8-9) We express our opinions as citizens of one country in the voting booth. Beyond that we are taught to be “subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”(Romans 13:1) Our primary citizenship is in God’s Kingdom, a Kingdom of peace. We are called to be ambassadors of that peace in our present world.
The opening line of Psalm 108 says, “My heart is satisfied, O God.” I think that is a wonderful expression. There are many things we would like to see happen in life. There are many things we plan for and strive for. Motivational experts tell us it is necessary to set goals in life. And all of that is fine, but above it all, our ultimate satisfaction is in our God. If nothing else ever comes to fruition, we can still be satisfied that our God has called us to be in fellowship with Himself. The priests of ancient Israel were not given an inheritance of land with the rest of the Israelites. God said to them, “I am your portion and your inheritance.”(Numbers18:20) God knows we need the basic things of life, and He provides them. It is fine to set goals and work toward the things we desire. But our God is our portion in this life, and in Him we can be satisfied.
For time saving devices they sure take up a lot of time. I was on the computer. I had a phone call on the land line, and was handling a text message at the same time. Which takes priority? Which do I do first? True, I’m not going to give up any of the devices, but juggling one’s life around them and the other demands of life can be a challenge. Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. I do not give to you as the world gives.”(John 14:27) Sometimes we wonder where is that peace? But it really is there. There is a Bible song we often sing called “Jesus is the rock of my salvation”. A simple song but a real truth. Jesus is the rock, our solid rock, in the midst of life. Things in life are not likely to get any less complicated, but we do have a solid rock on which to hold. Jesus is our peace.
We put a lot of effort into our education. We strive for our best in our occupation. We take pride in accomplishments. All that is fine, and we should, as long as it doesn’t puff us up with pride. Some banter around the phrase “self made people”, but there is really no such thing. Psalm 100 tells us that it is God who created us and we are His. Paul says, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price”.(I Corinthians 6:19-20) As we go along in the various stages of life we need to recognize and acknowledge the hand of God who guides, who opens some doors, and closes others. Self made? No. God made? Yes. And the more we humbly give honor and thanks to the One who cares deeply about us, the more we are able to grow in trust and live in His peace.
Christmas decorations are being put away. Lights packed up and stored until next year. We begin thinking of the next season, or perhaps even a summer vacation. But there is one thing that cannot change, cannot be put in a box and stored away – the truth of Immanuel, God with us. Almighty God became a man in Jesus of Nazareth. He came to redeem the people He created from their bondage to sin, death, and the power of the devil. “For God so loved the word that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life.”(John 3:16) That is the truth at the core of life for all day of every day of the year. May you live in this truth, and know the fullness of God’s peace.
There was a fireworks display in our area last night, and today there will be parades, celebration and more fireworks in the U.S. all recognizing the freedoms we cherish as a nation. We are blessed that our constitution contains a Bill of Rights granting us freedoms as citizens of this country. We have and continue to fight many battles to maintain those freedoms. Our Bible talks about freedom, too, but of a far deeper and richer kind. There is a freedom in Jesus Christ that far surpasses anything worldly governments can provide. There are many dangers, many fearful things in this broken world. There are many ways of being in bondage. Yet through faith in Jesus Christ we know that none of these are the Lord’s last word for us. In a very uncertain time for His followers Jesus said to them, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”(John 14:27) As we grow in understanding of what that really means we find a freedom that nothing in this world can remove.
Yesterday I wrote about the memorial gathering being a foretaste of God’s Kingdom. It is interesting when reading the Gospels about Jesus’ preaching and that of the disciples. They all preached about the Kingdom of God. They didn’t present it as some etherial place of eternal bliss in the sweet by-and-by when we die. It is a real place of the greatest beauty, and fulfillment. In the Book of Revelation it is pictured as the New Heaven and New Earth where righteousness dwells. For a couple of days my wife and I are away at a B and B for a time of rest and refreshment. We all plan such trips and vacations. Get-a-ways we call them. But I also think that the desire for a time of internal quiet and renewal is also a desire God has built into us as a longing for the Kingdom. We were created for the Kingdom and our longing is to return to the Garden of our origin. This doesn’t mean, as some may say, that we are so heavenly minded we are no earthly good. Quite to the contrary. Out desire for the Kingdom’s fulfillment increases our desire to share the love of Christ in as many ways as possible so that many will come into a relationship with our gracious Lord. Our message is as it has been since Christ first came among us. Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
We are in a very turbulent time in our American history. People are divided. Even with the election over people are reacting strongly to the outcome, even worldwide. Christians live in the midst of this. We have our individual convictions about what is the right political direction for our country. But beyond this we are to be a people of peace in the midst of confusion. The Apostle Peter wrote very good guidance for his people in difficult times. “With minds that are alert and fully sober…” think deeply guided by Scripture. “Set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” Neither Trump, Clinton, or anyone else is our ultimate hope. Only Jesus. “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do”.(I P.1:13-15) In the midst of confused times we can show people through our lives that there is a source of hope and peace in the midst of life.
I usually read the morning paper in the late afternoon. The paper was printed about midnight of the previous day. So, when I read the paper the news is already 24 to 36 hours old. I don’t find this a particular problem. Do I really need to know instantly what is happening in politics, the recent shooting, or the latest Hollywood scandal? I don’t think so. If a storm is coming, I would like to have a quick warning, but beyond that I’m not sure that our insatiable appetite for news needs to be satisfied. The Lord has taught us not to worry or be anxious. There is certainly the need for a prudent understanding of the things of the world, but so much of what we take in robs us of our peace, and detracts from our complete trust in Christ. The world will do what the world will do, and the Lord will ultimately bring all things to their right conclusion. Until then, we are to be at peace, trusting in Christ, and sharing the love He has given us.
Casinos are popping up everywhere. Many store in the community have some form of numbers or “scratch off” games. The lure of hitting the next big one is always there. This is true whether with the slot machines, the lottery at the local convenience store, the mega-million jackpot, becoming the next big time talent, or even buying that latest electronic gadget. “This will solve my problems. This will make life easier. This will make me happy. With this I’ll be set for life.” Unfortunately, even if a big one comes in, time proves that its promises were empty. And if it doesn’t come in, it only leave frustration and false hope for the “next time”. There is only one real source of peace, security, and fulfillment in this world. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27) What we seek can never be found at a gaming table, or lottery counter, but only in the One who is the source of life, and hope, Jesus, the Christ.