The “We”

Who is responsible for the condition our nation is in? The anger, vitriol, fear, and war-mongering ideas have now saturated every part of our nation’s fiber so that even our neighbors are looking over their shoulders to be sure they are not a target of the ideologies of their angry “friends”. I believe we have reached a tipping point.

Before you begin to tell me of the corrupt governments, greedy political parties, derelict leadership, and eroding values; before you offer as evidence the quotes, sound-bytes and public statements of candidates, agencies, and major corporations, would you do me a favor? Would you pause and consider these words from scripture?

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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (Emphasis mine)

Before you unfriend that person on Facebook who has opposite views from yours, and before you accuse others of not “being able to handle the truth”, Would you pause and pray this prayer with Daniel, and with me:

Daniel 9:1-19
In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes[a] (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— 2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. 3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

4 I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. 12 You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. 13 Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. 14 The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

15 “Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. 16 Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

17 “Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. 18 Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. 19 Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.” (Emphasis mine)

Now together, the “we” of this nation, with the stones dropped from our hands, as Jesus writes in the sand of our generation, let’s join the “sinner” at the feet of Jesus. Let’s run to mercy.Three crosses

 

All scripture from the NIV version of the Bible

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God Without a Doubt

I first noticed it in the story of Job. Job is a book of the Bible in the Old Testament that tells us the behind the scenes moments in the life of a man who lived righteously and whose integrity was impeccable, and was the victim of a nefarious plot from Satan himself.

Job 2:2-10

On another day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them to present himself before him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

3 Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”

4 “Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life. 5 But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

6 The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life.”

7 So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes.

9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

Did you see it? Look how God speaks about Job. God describes him to Satan as a blameless and upright man who fears God, shuns evil and maintains his integrity. Not only does God accurately describe the character of Job, He speaks as a God who has no doubts about Job. While Satan is looking for the loophole, for the weakness in Job’s character to bring him down, God has a confidence in Job that no one could shake, not even Satan.

From the life stories of Moses, Gideon, Esther, David, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Mary the Mother of Jesus, and the disciples of Jesus comes a recurring theme of a God who has no doubts about the ones He chooses, or whether or not they will succeed in the thing He is calling them to. We hear these people doubting all over the place, sometimes even pretending they have nothing to do with God (Peter for example), and yet God has an unwavering confidence.

I so want to look at each of these people and say “God chose them because of this or that, like their righteousness,” as in Job’s case, but more often I see the reason God chose these people is that He looks for people who will put all of their confidence in His abilities. Because God has unswerving confidence in His own abilities, God chooses people He can transform, who are willling to be positioned in uncomfortable places and lean in to Him with all of their might. These men and women are unstoppable in God’s purposes. And He never doubts them.

There is a lyric to a song that has grabbed my heart these past months called “Mercy“by Amanda Cook, and Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger, and it says this: “Oh Love, Great Love, fear cannot be found in you, and there will never be a day You are uncertain of the ones You choose.” I mulled these lyrics over and over in my head. “there will never be a day You are uncertain of the ones You choose.” These words are true. I see them throughout scripture from the Old Testament to the New.

Jude, a brother of Jesus ends his book in the Bible with this Doxology:

Jude 24-25
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

To Him who is able!! Because of God’s unfailing ability to always do the right thing, because God has committed Himself to you and your eternity when you put your trust in Him, because He is not limited in power, potential, mercy, grace, strength, and vision, and because He loves you, He has no doubts about you, He is able to present you before His glorious presence without fault, and with great joy!!

Have you considered His Credentials? Meditate on a God who has full confidence in His own abilities. Think about how God enjoys sharing His victories with us by inviting us into His plans and purposes. Lean in to His strength, and power. And put your full confidence in this God without a doubt!

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Photo credit: Bethany Morris (c)2016