Sunday, October 16, 2016

What Happens on November 8

Our church is currently studying the book of Daniel. Our pastor is bringing to light some amazing points about how Daniel served the Lord wholeheartedly while God’s people were living in captivity in Babylon. Among a pagan culture, God was glorified through the obedience of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It’s amazing to see the parallels to our own culture, as we are living among a culture that is increasingly pagan while we as Christ-followers are trying to be obedient in living out our Christian faith. It’s not easy to pursue holiness amidst a culture that celebrates immorality and denies God at every turn. When living in a materialistic, self-centered, culture filled with immorality, it’s a struggle to focus on the eternal things of God’s kingdom rather than temporal things that will fade away.

This morning, our message was regarding anxiety, specifically anxiety about the future and the events that we cannot control. Our pastor explained the events that Daniel experienced as he was taken into captivity. He lived among the Babylonian people for most of his life, a people who did not worship the One True God. Daniel certainly could have experienced anxiety over his future. When considering anxiety about the future, immediately, our minds were directed toward the looming events of November 9, 2016election day. The thought of the upcoming election produces feelings of anxiety almost immediately in the hearts and minds of many Americans, as we anticipate what the results will be on that day. Each day as I read the news of more scandals, lies, controversies, and vulgarity, I’m overwhelmed about what the immediate and long-term future holds for America. My mind already travels twenty years ahead as I worry about what America will look like when my children are young adults. What will they face? What will the experience? I can’t imagine.

As the sermon progressed, feelings of hope and peace, rather than dread and anxiety, washed over me as different Scriptures reminded me about WHO is in control of our future. The same God who was sovereign over Daniel’s captivity is the same God who is sovereign over the election results and the future of our country. He is ultimately in control, not the current earthly leaders of our nation.

With that said, let’s take a look at some Scriptures that point us to God’s sovereignty.
1.      2 Chronicles 20: 6: ”O Lord, God of our fathers, are You not the God who is in Heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in Your hand, and no one can withstand You.”
2.    Job 42:2: “I know that You can do all things; no plan of Yours can be thwarted.”
3.    Psalm 33:10-11: ”The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.”
4.    Proverbs 16:4: “The Lord works out everything for His own ends even the wicked for a day of disaster.”
5.    Proverbs 21:30: “There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.”
6.    Daniel 2: 20-23: “Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him. To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you, for you have made known to us the king's matter.”
7.    Acts 17:22-28: “Paul Addresses the Areopagus So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’”
8.    Romans 13:1:  “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
9.    Romans 9:15-18: “For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.”

These verses are so encouraging! They remind us that:
-       GOD is in control of which leaders come to power. It is GOD who “removes kings and sets up kings.”
-       NO MAN can thwart God’s plans. GOD’S PLANS will stand firm forever, even when all hope seems lost and it seems like God’s plans are not being realized here on earth.
-       God has determined the TIMES AND PERIODS for all people, which means He has placed YOU where you are in 2016. He knows the outcome of this election and the future of our country, and He is taking care of you in the midst of the uncertainty and turmoil.
-       God can use unholy people for HIS GLORY (as Romans 9 explains that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart so that God could receive glory for rescuing His people out of Egypt. We may not understand why God hardens hearts and allows corrupt leaders to rule, but we can be certain that the Lord is wise and just and knows the big picture. We have to trust that He knows what is best. Our finite minds cannot grasp the big picture, but we can trust the Lord who is in control!)
-       God plans for and desires for people to FIND HIM, because He is “not far from each one of us.” Instead of complaining or worrying about the fate of our country, let’s PRAY for our leaders to find Him. He is able to save them. Our complaining and worrying won’t do anything productive, but our prayers will!

-       READ: Reread the Scriptures listed above. What truths jump out at you?
-       STUDY: How do these scriptures stir in your heart worship for the Lord? What do these scriptures reveal about the character of the Lord? How can these scriptures give you comfort, peace, and hope amidst the uncertain election results and future of our country? How are you convicted by these Scriptures?
-       EVALUATE: How have you approached this election thus far? Fear? Anxiety? Bitterness? Complaining? Trusting? Griping? Praying? Evaluate your attitude regarding the election in light of the Scriptures listed above. How can you honor God during this time? How can you be an example to others?
-       PRAY: Praise the Lord for the comfort of His sovereignty amidst uncertain times! Praise the Lord that He is unchanging. Praise the Lord that we have an eternal home with Him free from the worries and struggles of sin and pain. Ask the Lord to remind you to pray for our leaders. Ask the Lord to give you an unwavering trust in Him no matter the outcome of the election or uncertainties in our future.

I pray that you will enter a season of deeper trust and faith in God as we anticipate the future of our country with the election growing nearer. I pray that all anxiety will fade away in the light of the peace of Christ. I pray that our minds and hearts will be focused upon the firm hope in the God of all ages who holds our future and has promised us eternity with Him! We were made for so much more than temporal things. A heavenly dwelling place is waiting for us, and no matter the struggles we face on earth and no matter the direction our country is going or who our next president will be, we have a hope in the eternal reign of King Jesus, so we have nothing to fear! We can have peace knowing that the Lord is in control over the leadership of our country. Pray for our country. Pray for our leaders to humble themselves before them. And pray that believers will be found faithful to their King, even when our culture is far from Him. Above all, PRAY and TRUST!

Always, Jacquelyn 

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