Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Dear Christians, So, There Was This Election....

My dear Christian friends who voted for Romney, 

Our nation is watching you. Your family is watching you. Will you pout in a corner? Spew out ugly remarks on FB, Twitter and elsewhere? Jump up and down in a hissy-fit? 
Or will you look to the Lord and say, "I will honor You by honoring the governing authority, as You have asked (Rom 13). I will respect and pray for my country's leaders(1 Tim 2). I will continue to trust YOU as the ultimate Ruler and only Savior of all(Acts 4)."

God is sovereign. He knows the future. We do not. There's no telling what would happen if Romney had won. We've still yet to find out what will happen after President Obama has won. But God is not surprised.

I understand President Obama has chosen to stand for things that are clearly opposed to God's Word (and our country will, without a doubt reap the consequences promised), but please don't forget these things: 

1.Submitting to the authority does not equal agreeing with it. Paul is a prime example of submitting to an authority he did not agree with. You may disagree. It's okay. As an American, you were even able to make your convictions known when you voted, you still have the right to make your convictions known! (respectfully, of course)

2. God didn't write an escape clause when we were given the command to be subject to the governing authorities (Rom 13). We have no excuse to bash, harass, or anything other than pray for President Obama and his administration and to speak up in LOVE, with wisdom when we have the opportunity(Col 4).

3.This election has not so much as nudged God even a smidgen off of His seat on His Holy throne, so nothing has changed for us. We still belong to a kingdom not of this world. This world still belongs to the darkness.

I ask and encourage you to make your focus the furthering of that heavenly kingdom, not the lamenting of this one.

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up! (Gal 6:9)

In Christ and for Christ,

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Can You Fathom This?

Today is a lovely day. For the first time in weeks, I have nowhere to go. I have things to do, but they are not tedious nor are they boring.
I am preparing several themed testimonies, Bible lessons and Bible studies. It’s marvelous and maybe a little nerve-wracking. And as I was reading Scripture, I realized that it has been quite some time since I have been able to justify typing out a blog post here on ako strom.

But today is the day that I will once again return to the keyboard in hopes of encouraging and inspiring a deeper love and desire for God in YOU.

Today’s word comes from Isaiah 44. 
I want to focus on something in verses 21-28, but we need to back up a few verses before because Isaiah says, “Remember these things, O Jacob.” at the beginning of verse 21.

So back up and hear first in verses 6-8 that God is the ONLY God, and then in verses 9-21 how God looks on the foolishness of idols. Check it: He goes through the painstaking process that craftsmen at the time would use to create an object of worship. First, he must choose a tree, tend it, and watch it grow strong, then he cuts it and begins to use it. Part of it he’ll use to make a fire for his every-day needs like baking or warmth. Then he’ll take the rest and carve it into an idol and fall down before it saying, “Deliver me! For you are my god.”
Now, we look at that and go, Wow. Stupid. Who would do that?
But read on and God says that those who worship in such a way have been blinded, so they can’t see the stupidness of what they do. And their hearts lack the discernment to say, “this makes no sense” because they too are darkened.
Verse 20 says, “he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand.”

I know that in American culture, it is not so common to walk into a home and see a hand-carved idol on an altar to be worshipped as it is in other cultures, but we have still made things our idols. An idol is merely something we look to for assurance, rescue, security instead of God.
For some it’s a roof over our heads and a good job. Maybe it’s being accepted in an elite group of people. Maybe it’s having a boyfriend/girlfriend  or husband/wife. Maybe it's pleasure. Anything we put as more important than God is an idol.

The thing that sticks out to me personally, is that these people who were worshipping idols were darkened in their eyes and understanding. I, on the other hand am not. I am free to walk in the light because Jesus has paid the price for my life to be free from darkness and I have accepted that as His gift to me, however undeserving I may be.
Paul insists in Ephesians 4 that we are not to live as the unbelievers do, darkened in their understanding, separated from the life of God. We have put off the old and put on the new, which is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. 
So, for children of God, any idol worship is true foolishness, because we DO have eyes to see.

Okay, that was a longer back-track than I anticipated, but hopefully it will put more weight into what comes next:
Remember these things, O Jacob,
    and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you; you are my servant;
    O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me.

I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud
    and your sins like mist;
return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;
    shout, O depths of the earth;
break forth into singing, O mountains,
    O forest, and every tree in it!

For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,
    and will be glorified in Israel.

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,
    who formed you from the womb:
“I am the Lord, who made all things,
    who alone stretched out the heavens,
    who spread out the earth by myself,

who frustrates the signs of liars
    and makes fools of diviners,
who turns wise men back
    and makes their knowledge foolish,

who confirms the word of his servant
    and fulfills the counsel of his messengers,
who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,‘
    and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built,
    and I will raise up their ruins’;

who says to the deep, ‘Be dry;
    I will dry up your rivers’;
who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd,
    and he shall fulfill all my purpose’;
saying of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be built,‘
    and of the temple, ‘Your foundation shall be laid.’”

God says,
“Look at who I am.
Look at my power.
Look at how I move in the earth, to make things happen.
Look at how human wisdom fails  in comparison to mine.
Look at how my promises come true.
Look at me as the one who made YOU.”

He also says,
“I want YOU to remember this foolishness I have just revealed to you about your worship of other things. Remember also who I am, how great I am.”

But he doesn’t stop with saying how stupid we have been and how awesome He is.
No. He says,
I see where you've forgotten me, but

This elicits a shout of joy, a song of praise from all creation (including trees!!) to the God who has redeemed us.

One of my favorite parts, in fact, the initial reason I decided to post this passage is the second half of that rejoicing verse, where Isaiah writes, 

“For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel.”

Another way it is written says,

“For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will display His beauty in Israel.”

I got butterflies in my tummy when I read that. When God redeems us, it displays His beauty in us. His redemption makes us beautiful creatures. HIS REDEMPTION makes YOU a BEAUTIFUL CREATURE. Do you understand?! Can you fathom it?!

The fact that in my own strength I have nothing to offer but broken idol worship, and a heart bent on chasing after the world, and then he sees me and doesn’t leave me, No, He redeems me. He blots those things away and asks me to return to Him. Through redemption, He makes me a beautiful display of His glory.

Oh, such knowledge is too wonderful for me! How gracious and patient, loving and unfailing is my God.

Believers, children of God, I urge you to examine your hearts  along with me and find if you have placed something before God. Return to Him as your first love. Burn up those remaining idols with the rest of this world that you have already cast aside. Take Jesus. He is all you need. He displays His beauty, His glory in your life, and that brings all eyes that look at you to HIM. 

God wants to bring Himself glory through our redemption in a way that will bring unsure and seeking friends to the same true and only source of life. 

The question is, will we let Him?
Oh, I hope so.