Saturday, May 30, 2009

Obama and His Administration - Frail, Mortal, Humanist, and Insignificant

Who is Obama and Does it Really Matter?

Who is Obama? I know you have a lot of names you might call him, but who is he really? Well, only God can know exactly who the man is and what is in his heart. However, we can go over a few things that he has in common many others who have been given earthly honor, fame, and fortune.

First, he is a frail man. Psalm 49 speaks of such men. They cannot prevent their own death. They will die and their flesh will rot, just like everyone else. No matter his current health, strength, and the length of his days, death is his end. He will not automatically ‘morf’ into a higher being who lives forever.

Second, he breaths the same air that you and I breathe. The breath in his body is a gift from God. It is God who sustains life. It is not the earth. The earth itself is sustained by God Almighty. We cannot ‘save the earth’ any more than we can save God. The life of every individual is a direct gift to that person from God. (Genesis 2:7, Isaiah 2:22, Ezekiel 37:5, Daniel 5:23, Acts 17:25)

Third, he has put his trust in man instead of in God.
Jeremiah 17:5 says, ‘Thus saith the Lord, ‘Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm and whose heart departeth from the LORD.

To trust in man instead of the Lord is a trap the Christians often fall into as well. It is so easy to see the things that government officials do that are wrong according to the word of the Lord. It is easy to see the power of the government and how it is able to arbitrarily raise up some people and put down others. Government in action is the picture that is always in front of us. We are like people trying to get a good view at the movie theatre, but the crowd keeps getting in our way. Keeping our focus on the Lord is hard with everything that is going on around us. It is easy for us to begin to see the government and its officials as our only hope for salvation from whatever mess the world is facing at the moment. But, this is wrong on our part.

Isaiah 31:1 says, ‘Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are strong, ; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!’

Well, the government looks strong; it definitely has a lot of employees doing the bidding of the head henchman of the day. But, the duty of the Christian is to ignore the apparent strength of the government and look to God for help.

Those who continue to look to government for help in any matter will find themselves in the same place as the Israeli’s who looked to Egypt for help in Isaiah 36:6 which says, ‘Lo, thou trusted in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.’ The very hand the foolish people trusted to help them actually hurt them. Christians trusting the government to help them will ultimately be hurt by government. In the United States, the government has only been favorable to Christians in the past because the government was made up largely of Christians, who had the same set of values as mainline churches. They had an understanding on at least some level that it was God who set the rules, and their duty was to abide by God’s rules.

Fourth, he has no lasting significance. Every evil that he may do will be remembered no more in eternity. The only legacies of eternal value are those that somehow point people to Jesus Christ as the way of salvation.

Obama, along with every member of his administration, and every official the world over, will stand at the judgment seat of Christ just as will you and I. (‘And, as it is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.’ (Hebrews 9:27)) He will have no special importance there. He will be one of many. He will either have made reservations to spend eternity in heaven with the God who created him; or he will not. At that moment in time, his eternal destiny will have already been set. He will have no chance to repent of his sins in light of the ‘new information’ or ‘changing political winds’. He will find that he is really just a nobody like everyone else, and that he missed his chance to actually be somebody when he rejected Jesus Christ. (I know, he claims to be a Christian, but his daily actions, and the actions of most government officials clearly repute that claim.)

Seeing as how the Bible foretells the awful end of those who reject Christ, what should be our response to this man and all those who sit in seats of power and authority?

Since God Himself has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, neither should we. Ezekiel 33:11 says, ‘Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from you evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?’

Christians should plead with these purveyors of wickedness to turn from their wicked ways and turn to the Lord.

Christians should not fear this man or any other current world leader. Proverbs 29:25 says, ‘The fear of man bringeth a snare, but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.’
Fearing a man paralyzes the actions of a Christian. It is sort of like looking into the eyes of a snake charmer. Pretty soon, that is all you can see. I know it is hard to ignore the world leaders and their despicable actions, but through continual prayerfulness, Bible study, and attention to personal actions, it can be done. I don’t think King Hezekiah was able to trust the Lord to save his kingdom from the Assyrians without having led a life of prayer and faith prior to the attack of the Assyrians.

Hezekiah may have read Psalm 71:3 daily which says, ‘Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou are my rock and my fortress.’ 'Continually resort' - meaning constantly putting the Lord first in your thoughts and line of vision.

Honestly, the more we live our lives with our thoughts continually on the Lord and His promises, the less we even care who Obama is and what he is doing. The more Christians focus on the Lord, His power, His promises, His love, the more we care about pleasing our Lord and Savior. Also, the more we care about doing the will of God, the more we see elected officials just like everyone else. They either are saved through Jesus Christ, or they are not. If they are not, the job of the Christian is to follow the example of the Apostle Paul given to us in Acts 26:18. Paul was telling King Agrippa of his vision. In the vision Jesus Christ commissioned Paul to go the gentiles ‘To open their eyes, and to turn them from the darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.’ (That is sanctification by faith that is in Jesus Christ)

That is the job of the Christian today. Forget the divisions of society by political power, social or economic level. Just tell the world that Jesus Saves. Tell them that ‘ye must be born again’’

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Killing the Soul

‘Killin me soul’

It was late night movie time at my house. I woke up in time to hear a little old lady explained to a young lady that once, in her youth, she had given up the love of her life because he was ‘killin me soul’. Her conscience and the life her boyfriend wanted her to live were in such conflictthat she was dying inside. And, I started thinking, how many Christians today are living a life with such conflict that they are ‘killing their souls’? Christians have been given a code of conduct by which we are to live. The old Christian Hymn says, ‘Nothing between my soul and my savior; keep the way clear; let nothing between’. When the Christian has something between his or her soul and the Savior, they are living with a great conflict between their soul and their conscience. Just like the little old lady in the movie, they are killing their soul. They have shut off the life line between them and the Lord. No, I don’t mean they have lost their salvation. But, they have lost fellowship with the Lord of Life. It is God who sustains us through all the days of our pilgrimage here on earth. It is the Lord who will take us to heaven when we pass through the shadow of death. The closer we are to God here and now, the clearer we will see our eternal future. The more we will long for the life we will live in heaven with the Lord forever.

Separation from God’s fellowship once tormented King David. He had sinned the sin of adultery, and he had already paid a great price with the death of his infant son. He was still paying a great price, for he was separated from the fellowship of God. He was tired of his sin and the sorrow that it brought. King David wanted the joy of his salvation restored. He wanted fellowship with God restored.

Today, many Christians are living with such a conflict between their conscience and their lifestyle that they are killing their souls. Right and wrong are written in the conscience of the individual, but Christians today have exact right and wrong written for them in the Bible. They have no excuse to ignore the commandments, withhold love for one anther that is like the love Christ gave to us, or reject kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness for others who do not deserve it.

In ignoring the most basic of the teachings of the Bible, Christians allow themselves to be led into even greater sins. Every step away from God is a step down the path that kills the soul while one lives.

Other Christians life lives that are sort of lukewarm. They don’t really do anything evil, but neither do they think on the things of the Lord, and act accordingly. They are also shutting off the life line from God that leads to joy.

In Psalms 23, the psalmist writes ‘he restoreth my soul’. There is an old hymn that says, ‘O soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness I see.’ Does this describe you? Is there something going on in your life that is standing between you and your Savior? Do you feel like your soul is dying? Then it is time to go to God in repentance and turn from whatever behaviors you may have that are offensive to God. Unconfessed and unrepented sins are like blood clots in main arteries. They stop the life giving blood. One may live with clogged arteries, but they will not live a healthy and energetic life. They will be pale, and unable to do the things they want to do. When a Christian is living in sin, their soul is deprived of the life giving fellowship that comes from God alone.

Be careful to judge only your own life. The trouble in someone else’s life is pretty much his or her own problem. Remember Job. He did not sin against the Lord, although his friends believed that he did. Help the brethren in need. Obvious sin in the church should be dealt with, but be sure of everything before any steps are taken formally, OR before one word of criticism is spoken against a brother or sister in Christ.

If you, like the Psalmist, find yourself lacking in the joy of your salvation, you will find yourself lacking in joy altogether. You will find yourself continually weary and troubled. That is no way to live when the God of creation is also the God of your Salvation. Psalm 41:6 says, ‘God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.’

The sin of King David was adultery. He was also guilty of disobedience other times as well. Yet, he was the ‘apple of God’s eye’. It is possible that David’s willingness to repent as soon as he was convicted of sin kept him especially dear to God.

There is also weariness of body and spirit that certainly does not come from a sin induced separation from fellowship with God. For instance, my mom just went through several years of caring for my dad, and the last year of dad’s life was almost 100% incapacitated. Dad died in February, and of course my mom is just starting to establish a new normal in her daily life. She is bone weary in every aspect of living. However, the help she needs is the same as that of a Christian in rebellion against God. Mom also needs to draw closer to God. The difference is that mom doesn’t have to restore fellowship with God. In fact, her fellowship grew stronger through caring for my dad. It is God who will carry her through this and strengthen her for the days ahead. So, the soul living through sorrow, and the soul living in rebellion both have the same help available to them. They must look to Jesus Christ for help. The sinner has some blockage that must be dealt with before help comes, but Jesus is still the answer to both sets of problems.

Those Christians who live apart from the fellowship of God because of sin in their lives, are killing their souls. They need to do as the old lady in the movie. They need to turn from their sins. Don’t make the mistake of believing that God will overlook your sins because ‘your heart is in the right place’ or some other such cock-a-mamie psychobabble. God is very clear on the value of obedience. People often excuse sinful behavior by saying things like ‘God wants me to be happy’, or ‘My good works will excuse my wrong behavior’, or equally ridiculous drivel. God requires obedience above everything else. That is because that in obedience to God, the Christian will find joy, contentment, and even a passion for living the life God gave them. They will find focus in running the race set before them, and the prize offered by God.

Today is a good day to choose exactly how you will run the race set before you.
Will you wholly follow the Lord your God as did Joshua? (Joshua 14:8) Remember Joshua’s reward for wholly following the Lord. He and one friend (Caleb) entered the promised land, and lived lengthy lives.

Or will you live a life that kills the soul through sinful actions? If you are a true believer, heaven will still be your home, but your earthly journey will be filled with the sorrows that sin brings.

Psalm 119:175 says, ‘Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me.’

Here are the words and music to “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’. That is the beginning of life filled with joy instead of a life where personal actions crush the soul.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s a light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conquerors we are!


His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!