Pray for America

There is a shift in the atmosphere. It has been moving for quite some time but the shift is getting louder and the images are becoming more clear. Do you hear it? Do you see it?

There are forces moving beyond our natural visibility that may not be recognized. But if we look closer to the situations of the hour we will see the heads of deceit and anger and unrest. This is not the unrest of a people group or of a nation, this is an unrest of demonic influences. These forces are fearful of the days ahead as they know their time is short. So their fury is unleashed into the hearts of people who will listen, causing the havoc that we are witnessing during this hour of time.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorizes of the unseen world, against mighty powers in the dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”  Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)

Though I will never choose to make my blog political, politics obviously plays a huge part in our world. We may not be of this world but crazy enough we live in it. Besides, God has used people in the political scene or who carry authority in this earth, for his purpose. So it is worthy of discussion.

Politics has always been in play. Look at Moses. The Lord told him to bring the children of Israel to a place where they could worship outside of the city. He petitioned (familiar word) pharaoh many times. Pharaoh unwittingly played a huge part of that move. Because he fought against the voice of the Lord plagues covered the land and brought the eventual destruction of the Egyptian military, setting the children of Israel free.

Even during the days of Jesus Rome was a city of power filled with political unrest. Some people believe that the disciples first assumed that Jesus would be part of a movement that would overthrow the strong political power of the day.  It made sense as Jesus was a descendent of King David and many times was called the son of David. A couple of the disciples longed to sit on his left and right side in his kingdom. But he informed them that his kingdom was not of this world.

During the Roman Empire religious leaders argued amongst themselves regarding doctrine and beliefs similar to what the church does today. But they united as they used their given power of that time to motivate the crowds to loudly petition the death of Jesus. There was chaos in the streets.

Pontius Pilate gave the Jews a choice which prisoner they would like released during the Passover. He assumed the people would prefer to release the kind teacher who did many miracles. It surprised him that instead they wanted Barabbas who was known for being part of an uprising. Perhaps he was part of the Zealots, a group of people who were bent on overthrowing the Roman Empire–which had become a government of oppression.

This may have caught the first Christians off guard. They had seen the miracles Jesus had performed and believed that he was their answer. Hadn’t Jesus come to deliver them from this political turmoil and oppression as Moses had delivered the children of Israel?  Wasn’t he the one who would help them attain freedom from the mayhem that was swirling around them?

Today when we look at the streets of our towns in America we are appalled by the violence and the hatred. Where is all this anger coming from? Why has there been such a loud shift in the last couple years in our land regarding life, regarding unity, regading respect for our land and our freedom?

Instigators who wanted Jesus killed whispered pandemonium and lies into the ears of those in the crowd to stir up anger and dissatisfaction. The same people who had honored him only a week prior now chanted words of death to Jesus. Today our quiet cities have been stirred by the same sinister voices. There seems to be an underhanded plan to tear down America from the inside out. Those silent initiators may be thinking that they have incited the crowd, but the forces behind their motivation have a much more evil intent, as satan’s only intent is to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10)

I live in a community where races of all colors and creeds work together, shop together, go to the parks together, attend school together and even worship together. All is fine. So I don’t believe that this hatred is all-encompassing.  I think that it has been purposely inspired by those determined to destroy our nation through discord, anger and dissatisfaction.  And the media is playing into the hands of this upheaval, as predicted.

Unfortunately there is already anger and discourse in the hearts of men and woman today. So it doesn’t take much encouragement or coercing for these individuals or groups to attack and scream and lash out and to even kill one another. They may not even be aware of why they are angry or that they are being used as pawns for a greater cause.

I think of Judas Iscariot, known for betraying Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  He apparently wasn’t aware that what he was doing would bring such destruction to Jesus nor to himself. He just knew he would be paid greatly for his services, but he ended up paying a greater price. What is the price people are willing to pay who are demonstrating with such rage?

You may feel some exasperation brewing in your souls. You may be frustrated that this attitude of rage and disrespect is playing out in our streets and getting so much attention, knowing it isn’t the voice of the majority. Be careful that you do not fall prey to the anger and become as guilty as those who are creating so much strife.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 (NIV)

Where are we, as believers, suppose to stand in this line of fire? Fortunately we can still express our views without retaliation, I hope. We can protest (though I am beginning to believe that is asking for a playground of violence).  If you feel called you can join those in the political areana or speak out regarding your opinion. And of course, we can always ignore it and put our heads in the sand and “pretend” all is well.

But above all we should PRAY!

Pray together with others; pray without stopping. Pray for truth. Pray for peace. Pray for wisdom. Just pray because apparently prayer moves heaven!!! Go figure.

Remember the story of Peter who was miraculously set free from prison? People had gathered together to pray for him after they had learned that James had been killed. An angel came to his rescue, releasing him from prison. The prayer group was so astonished that he had escaped; that their prayers had actually been answered.

Like I have stated many times in other posts: God is NOT caught off guard. He will use the very circumstances of the day to bring about his truth, his glory and his redemption. It may not be broadcasted on TV or forwarded on social media. But behind the scenes of craziness—- people are still getting set free and saved.

When Jesus died on that cross, circumstances did not look very bright either. What were the first believers suppose to think? The one who promised to deliver them was now dead. But behind the scenes a great story was being played out. The enemy thought he had won the battle. But his plot had initiated the greatest story ever told. Jesus defeated death. He actually went into the belly of hell and took the keys of sin and death from satan. And then he rose back to life and is still offering eternal life for all who want it!

The condition of our country may appear grim. Darkness may seem to have won, but we don’t know what is transpiring behind the scenes. Hallelujah God does.  I have no clue what America may look like in a couple of years. We may see much darker days in this land. Laws may get passed that flabbergast us and go beyond all reason or common sense. Landmarks may come down that defined the history of our country. And our freedom to post our opinions may be monitored or scrutinized.

Should we run? Should we hide? Should we live in fear? I read a book that inspires hope to those in despair. It offers forgiveness to the broken, inspiration to the downtrodden, and eternal life to ANYONE who desires it.

It is the Word of God and it is alive.

“God’s word is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions.” Hebrews 4:12

There is a shift in the atmosphere. It is a shift of God’s hand moving and preparing our hearts. There is a shift of God wooing us to come to him in the midst of chaos. Do you hear it? Do you see it?

Listen: The voice of the Lord is calling his own.

He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 20:22 (TLT)

 

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Broken

 

Having raised chidren and now grandchildren it is inevitable that something will eventually get broken, whether it is fine china, or electronics or just toys.

Besides broken “things” that can be associated with raising children there is also a possibility that there may be accidents and injuries. That was the case the night my 13-year-old son broke his arm while riding his bike down an incredibly dangerous hill. Several doctor visits and operations later his arm was almost as good as new. But he has a permanent battle scar down his arm to prove his injury.

But what happens when your heart is broken? What about those scars? That is harder to fix because it is hidden. “Above all else guard your heart for EVERYTHING you do flows from it.”  Proverbs 4:23. (NIV)  We make choices from our heart that can affect our lives and those around us. That is why we are warned to guard it.

Matthew 15:18 states, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person.”  (NET)

You don’t have to look far to see hatred, violence and anger. It is all over the news these days. Sometimes I wonder what the condition of the heart of an individual is that reacts with such vileness. Were they abused or abandoned? Are there unresolved issues that have lingered from childhood into adulthood? Maybe there was brokenness over a death or disappointment. Bitterness and resentment may have crept into the cracks of a broken heart causing hurt and anger.

We have all gone through situations that were difficult or circumstances that were unfair. Some may be trivial while others devastating. But what is important is not neccesarily the broken heart but what we allow to enter into the cracks that were created through our brokenness.

Do we allow bitterness or healing to enter into our hearts?

We, in the Christian community, have heard the verse, “By his stripes you are healed” found in Isaiah. Most of the time we think of that as a physical healing. And I believe that it was and is. But what about our emotional healing? What about the area of the heart?

I believe that Christ died — gave up his life willingly– for every area of our lives. He freed us from our sin, from fear, from sickness, from heartache, and from bondage of any kind and ultimately from eternal death. That is not to say that we will never experience hard things, but we can accept his healing power in the midst of heartache.

Psalm 147:3 states “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds” (NLT)

How gentle and caring is our God. He heals our broken hearts. He is familiar with heartache and pain. Often times we try to heal the brokenness of our hearts ourselves through relationships, careers, fascinating adventures, money, and substance abuse and even violence. But ultimately only He can heal our hearts completely. It is the brokenness of our hearts that draws him close.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (ESV)

But he doesn’t necessarily replace our brokeness into what it was before. Instead he replaces it with his light, with his love. So it is no longer us that shines, but it is his light that shines through those cracks.
Facebook-20170419-075540Do your remember the light sticks that glow only when they are broken? They are similar to our broken hearts. Sometimes the light only comes through after the brokeness. When we are crushed all we have is the light that is shining within. The broken pieces never get put back together exactly as they were before because we are human and we bear the mark of the injury just as my son did with the scar on his arm. But Jesus can fill that place of brokenness, if you let him. And the light that shines through those cracks of imperfection can actually be used as a beacon.

Have you noticed that insects are drawn to a light shining in the dark of night? That is why those light zappers work so well. But we are drawn to the light that shines in the darkness, as well. And that light is Jesus. We may be cracked pots, so to speak, but if we allow the light of Jesus to bring healing to our souls, that same light can also bring healing to others that are walking through similar experiences. It’s amazing because those very areas of brokenness, those very arrows of destruction that were meant to destroy us and to break us are actually the very things that can be used to draw people to the hope of Chirst.

“Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it.” Genesis 50:20a (GWT)  You don’t minfair01[1]have to be perfect. You just need to let HIS perfection shine through the cracks and brokeness of your life.