Return To Me

“If you will return, O Israel, return to me,” declares the Lord. “If you put your detestable idols out of my sight and no longer go astray, and if in a truthful, just and righteous way you swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ then the nations will be blessed by him and in him they will glory.” Jeremiah 4:1-2

As I write this, the returns are just starting to come in from Tuesday’s Presidential election. At this point, no one knows who won. But even if the most righteous man in the world ran for President, these verses would apply to our nation.

You see, without the Lord we are nothing. As Jesus pointed out, ‘apart from me you can do nothing.’ John 15:5.

Nothing.

We value many things in this world: wealth, freedom, military might, pride in country, entrepreneurial spirit, diversity, tolerance, and yes even our sins. Somewhere along the way God has faded into the distance. We say that God continues to bless this nation, but for how long? It grieves me even to write it.

In the next few hours (or days depending on lawsuits that have become part of the American election landscape), a new President will begin selecting cabinet members and setting up his administration. Pray with me that our nation will return to the Lord, that we will once again seek His face. Pray that the men and women who will lead this nation will have a awesome fear the God.

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The King’s Heart

The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:1

As I write this, it is the eve of the U.S. Presidential election between John McCain and Barack Obama. Tensions on both sides have been mounting for weeks. As you read this, people all across the United States will be going to the polling booths and poking holes in paper or touching a screen to vote for whom they think can best lead this nation over the next four years. A lot of money has been spent and it’s been a long race.

This verse above comes to mind because ultimately it is God who guides and directs the way He sees fit. In this election, both sides will undoubtedly say they were robbed and that the election was stolen from them if they lose. People across this country have been praying for the outcome for weeks and months now. Make no mistake: God knows the outcome. Often He gives people what they want as He did in Israel when they wanted a King (1 Samuel 8). It’s also important to remember, though we live in a democracy, what people want may not be what’s best for them (i.e., giving candy to a child because he wants it usually is not in the child’s best interest).

But God is in control. I don’t think I can state that clearly enough. Our strength and our hope come from God, not the Government. God will use whoever is in place for His glory and honor. In our ever-changing world, we do have a Rock more stable than Gibraltar.

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Caught, Not Taught

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “this is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat. But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” Mark 6:35-37

Jesus, even after spending time with his disciples in a boat and teaching those who followed the boat to the shore, still wanted to minister to the people. His disciples were slow to catch on regarding his mission. Later we’ll see the miracle with the loaves and the fishes, but before that, Jesus needed to teach His disciples. I actually think the miracle with the food was secondary to what Jesus needed to show his disciples.

We’ve heard the phrase “ministry is caught, not taught.” That’s what’s happening here. They’re probably all exhausted because they’ve dealt with people and each other all day. When they’re weakest physically was when their guards were down. They just wanted to disperse the crowd and get some rest. Jesus had other thoughts.

I think this is an often overlooked point about ministry. We may not have the luxury of being at our best at all times. God knows that. Those in ministry know what it’s like to get emergency midnight calls when we’re clearly not at the top of our game. Ministry is about people, and people need help at very inconvenient times!

If you’re in that situation, rest easy knowing that God see and knows you best. Leaning on Him during those times is absolutely essential for maintaining sanity and balance. The disciples obviously had to lean on Jesus because they hadn’t a clue about where they were going to get food to feed the crowds. It was a lesson that was caught, not taught.

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Time and Compassion

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot…When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:32-34

Jesus had taken His disciples aside to teach them and to find out exactly they had been doing (v30). As the disciples traveled in a boat, many followed them on foot.

Picture this scene. Jesus is teaching in a boat on the way to a quiet place, a place where they could be alone and regroup. His disciples are jabbering a mile a minute, probably trying to “one-up” each other in their stories. He and the others see the crowds on the shore rushing to their probable landing place. His followers undoubtedly are watching Jesus closely to see what He would do when He landed. After all, he made the suggestion that they get away (v31) and now that their peace and quiet would be interrupted, what would He do? This moment is as much for the disciples as it is for the people who followed Him.

So what did He do? He had compassion on them and began teaching them. He would eventually feed them from the loaves and fishes.

Don’t miss the significance of that. Even when Jesus had been busy teaching and counseling His own disciples, He made time to minister to others who came to Him.

Their needs were similar to ours. And it’s evident that He’ll have time for us when we come to Him.

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The Love of God

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.

We learned the simple song as kids. We smile as its nostalgia. The years and worries and cares and fears and hurts have changed us. God hasn’t changed.

We sometimes forget that God loves us. We forget that God does what is best for His children. We forget that the God of all Creation is on our side and ready to help at the mention of His name. Yes, we certainly forget about the love of God when we’re in the midst of this thing called life.

Fortunately–fortunately–God doesn’t forget that He loves us.

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