1 Samuel 7:12 (NKJV) Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."
After the Israelites pulled off an upset victory over the Philistines, the prophet Samuel built an altar and named it Ebenezer, signifying that the Lord had helped them up to that point. He built the altar so that they would remember that it was God who helped them achieve the victory.
The altar was a way of saying to the people remember that “The God who did it before can do it again”.
The word “remember”, depending on the version of the Bible you are reading, is mentioned between 138 and 168 times which indicates that the Holy Spirit wants us to remember some things.
However we often forget, we lose sight, we lose hope, we lose faith. Maybe that’s why many in the Old Testament built altars to remind themselves and those who would come after them.
Genesis 8:20 (NKJV) Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Genesis 35:6-7 (NKJV) 6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him.7 And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.
Joshua 4:4-8 (NKJV) 4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe;5 and Joshua said to them: "Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel,6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, 'What do these stones mean to you?'7 Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever."8 And the children of Israel did so, just as Joshua commanded, and took up twelve stones from the midst of the Jordan, as the LORD had spoken to Joshua, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, and carried them over with them to the place where they lodged, and laid them down there.
We all need reminders that the God who got us here will get us there, wherever or whatever “there” is. You’ve need to surround yourself with those reminders so you don’t forget what God wants you to remember.
What Does God Want Us To Remember?
Psalm 103 tells us not to forget (remember) all the things that God has done for us.
Psalm 103:1-22 (NKJV) 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.6 The LORD executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed.7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him.14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children,18 To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.19 The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word.21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.22 Bless the LORD, all His works, In all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Remember He’s provided forgiveness and clean consciences.
1 John 1:9 (NKJV) 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Micah 7:19 (NKJV) 19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea. ( see Promises of God To Forgive Your Sin)
Remember He promised eternal life and hope in the midst trials tribulations and death.
1 John 2:24-25 (NKJV) 24 Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.25 And this is the promise that He has promised us--eternal life.
Titus 1:1-3 (NKJV)
1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began,3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior; (see God’s Promise of Eternal Life)
Remember to always be thankful.
1 Chronicles 16:34 (NKJV) Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.Remember to Focus on Him not the circumstances.
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Remember to trust Him
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV) Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths
Remember that you are never alone
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV) Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."
Why Do We Need To Remember?
We need more Ebenezers
Life gets rough sometimes, and we forget where we’ve come from. An Ebenezer is a way of recognizing and celebrating the success God has given us along the way. We need things like post it notes with Bible verses, computer or cellphone wallpaper, refrigerator magnets, voice mail greetings, bookmarks, and other things to remind us that the Lord is our shepherd and that He will never leave us or forsake us. We need the company of other people who love the Lord, to encourage and remind us that we are not alone.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV)24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
We need Ebenezers
2 Peter 1:12-15 (NLT)12 Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.13 And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.14 For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life,15 so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.
Don’t forget to remember!
In Psalm 17 David is praying for deliverance from unjust treatment from his enemies. This prayer is probably one during the time that David was running from Saul. In his prayer he presents his his case and cries out for justice. He appeals to God’s love for him, and asks that He keep him safe. He talks about the difference in himself and his enemies who he describes as wicked, murderous, people who are without pity who like hungry lions want to team him apart. He asks God to defeat them so decisively so that there will be no doubt that it was God who delivered him.
He ends his prayer with confidence that God will answer his prayer. The statement, “When I awake", may refer to the next morning after this experience or to a vision of God after the resurrection.
Vindication Of The Righteous
Psalm 17:1-15 (NLT)1 O LORD, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips.2 Declare me innocent, for you see those who do right.3 You have tested my thoughts and examined my heart in the night. You have scrutinized me and found nothing wrong. I am determined not to sin in what I say.4 I have followed your commands, which keep me from following cruel and evil people.5 My steps have stayed on your path; I have not wavered from following you.6 I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God. Bend down and listen as I pray.7 Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.8 Guard me as you would guard your own eyes. Hide me in the shadow of your wings.9 Protect me from wicked people who attack me, from murderous enemies who surround me.10 They are without pity. Listen to their boasting!11 They track me down and surround me, watching for the chance to throw me to the ground.12 They are like hungry lions, eager to tear me apart— like young lions hiding in ambush.13 Arise, O LORD! Stand against them, and bring them to their knees! Rescue me from the wicked with your sword!14 By the power of your hand, O LORD, destroy those who look to this world for their reward. But satisfy the hunger of your treasured ones. May their children have plenty, leaving an inheritance for their descendants.15 Because I am righteous, I will see you. When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.
It is always my desire to give you my readers information that will uplift, inspire, and give you knowledge from the Word of God, and godly writers and other contributors that will help you through life’s circumstances.
On of the most stressful times in anyone’s the life, especially the life of we seniors is the loss of a spouse. The loss of someone we’ve spent most of our lives with is something that generates tremendous, grief and often, along with it, tremendous stress. We often don’t know where to turn or what to do. Having lost my wife of more than 40 years I can tell you that it is a very difficult time. My wife, Ruth, was a child of God and I know that she is now with the Lord but I still miss her.
2 Corinthians 5:8 (NLT) Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.
We know that God said that He will never leave or forsake us, and He doesn’t, and He will give us His peace that passes all understanding, but we still must deal with the reality of someone who was a part of us is not missing.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT) So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
In today’s post I’m publishing an article written by Jackie Waters. Jackie sent me an email about three months ago asking if she could share what she had learned ,after the death of her mother-in-law, of how to help a grieving spouse deal with their loss. Here’s Jackie’s email’
“A few months ago, my husband’s mom passed away. She had cancer, and spent her final days in hospice. I have to admit watching my father-in-law deal with the loss has been truly eye opening.
My mother-in-law not only did most of their cooking and cleaning, but managed their finances as well. We’ve been helping my father-in-law work through his grief while also helping him learn to live on his own. I’ve shown him how to cook some easy recipes, my husband has taken over his finances, and we’ve tried to get additional help here and there to fill in the gaps.
I’ve learned a lot about what I need to be doing to help my own parents as they age, and I’d love to share what I’ve learned with others. If you’re open to it, I’d like to write an article for your website on helping seniors deal with the loss of a spouse.”
After reading it I felt that I should share her article with you.
Helping a Senior Loved One Cope with Losing a Spouse by Jackie Waters
The Holmes and Rahe stress scale is a list of life’s 43 most stressful events, and topping the list is the loss of a spouse. Unfortunately, some of the ripple effects of losing a spouse are also on the list, including a change in the following: financial state, living conditions, social activities, eating and sleeping habits, number of family get-togethers, and more. Each stressor has a numerical point value, and as the total score increases, so does the risk of illness. While your loved one is in bereavement, it’s important to help him or her through the experience of mourning and to ensure his or her health is taken care of and that a strong support system is present.
Mourning takes time, especially when grieving the loss of a spouse. Many people experience a rollercoaster of emotions. Your loved one may feel sad, irritable, angry, misunderstood, anxious, fearful, guilty, remorseful, ambivalent, or numb. Remember that there is no normal way to grieve. He or she can fluctuate between any of these emotions or stay stuck on one.
Your loved one may also have a hard time making decisions, difficulty concentrating, and a lack of energy and motivation. It’s a good idea to hold off on making any major changes or big decisions, such as moving. Two common effects of grief, especially in the elderly, are difficulty sleeping and poor appetite. It’s very important that your loved one focuses on maintaining his or health and practices self-care.
The Importance of Self-Care and Health
During bereavement, it’s important that the grieving individual takes care of himself or herself. Grief takes a toll on the body, and it can be harmful to one’s health. The body’s immune system is weakened during mourning, and grief can aggravate physical pain and increase blood pressure and blood clots. The risk of heart attack or stroke after losing a spouse increases during the first month following the loss.
To combat these side effects of grief, encourage your loved one to exercise regularly, eat a well-balanced diet, and get an adequate amount of sleep. They can take a walk with a friend, attend a yoga class, or partake in gardening for exercise. Having lunch with friends or watching TV while eating can encourage your loved one to eat well.
Research has found that people are likely to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol following the loss of a spouse, regardless of whether or not they had a previous bout with addiction. These bad habits can put your loved one’s health at risk. Be sure to watch out for signs of depression or substance abuse.
Friends and family are the first line of support for most people and can just sit and listen, which allows the grieving individual to talk about his or her feelings and reminisce about the deceased spouse. They can call and check in on the loved one, and they can stop by to help with chores like grocery shopping, lawn care, and cooking.
Your loved one can benefit from visiting with members of his or her religious community as well. Many people find comfort in their faith during bereavement, and research has found it can help people come to terms with the loss more quickly and completely. Praying, meditation, reading religious or spiritual texts, or listening to uplifting music can help boost your loved one’s mood.
A grief support group can also be beneficial. Speaking with others who are dealing with the same emotions is helpful, and your loved one may feel more comfortable sharing feelings and concerns in that setting. Ensure your loved one maintains regular visits with his or her healthcare provider, and discuss seeking short-term talk therapy with a counselor if he or she is struggling with the emotions of grief.
Losing a spouse is ranked as the most stressful event a person can deal with in life, and experiencing the grief and changes that come along with it brings additional stress. Be there for your loved one during the emotional rollercoaster of grief and help build a strong support system around him or her. Ensuring your loved one stays healthy is of the utmost importance, so encourage him or her to get plenty of sleep and to eat well and exercise. With your help, your loved one can move forward and stay healthy during this trying time.
From Jackie's website;
My name is Jackie Waters, and I am a mother of four beautiful and energetic boys. I live with my family on our three acre hobby farm in Oregon. My goals are to feed our family as much fresh and home-grown food as possible, focus on sustainability while doing so, and practice simplicity.
I am here to tell you: you can have it all. With diligence and balance, you can achieve a beautiful, clean home. My journey has been full of challenges, but I learned so much along the way. I would like to share with you my ideas and tips on how to be
If you want to know more about Jackie you can email her at email@example.com, or visit her website Hyper-Tidy.com .
Editor's note: This post was originally published before the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. We can add this natural disaster to the cause of fear, anxiety, worry, and depression.
Here in the United States, and throughout the world we are going through a season of fear, anxiety, depression, social unrest, religious, racial, and ethnic, division. During these times it’s easy to become stressful and even more fearful because it seems that everything is out of control. It's at these times that we need to be reminded that God is still in control.
Psalm 27:1 (NLT) 1 The LORD is my light and my salvation-- so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?
The Lord is near you right now. He’s not far off, not absent, not unaware. He’s right with you. Don’t be afraid!
Joshua 1:9 (NLT) This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
This world can be a difficult place for Christians, and that fact is nothing new. Today’s headlines of wars, persecution, and fighting echo the history poured out in the Bible. But when you start to feel angry, frustrated, and hopeless, remember this: God wins! God always wins! - Jesus I Need You
In his book Anxious For Nothing Max Lucado says; The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others, “God is in control.”
In Contagious Calm, an excerpt from the book Max recounts a true story that shows how the calmness of one person may have saved the world from a devastating nuclear war. This same calmness can be yours and it will infect those around you. Your calmness will become contagious too.
Contagious Calm - by Max Lucado, from his new book Anxious For Nothing
Disaster was as close as the press of a red button. Four Russian submarines patrolled the Florida coast. US warships had dropped depth charges. The Russian captain was stressed, trigger-happy, and ready to destroy a few American cities. Each sub was armed with a nuclear warhead. Each warhead had the potential to repeat a Hiroshima-level calamity.
Had it not been for the contagious calm of a clear-thinking officer, World War III might have begun in 1962. His name was Vasili Arkhipov. He was the thirty-six-year-old chief of staff for a clandestine fleet of Russian submarines. The crew members assumed they were being sent on a training mission off the Siberian coast. They came to learn that they had been commissioned to travel five thousand miles to the southwest to set up a spearhead for a base near Havana, Cuba.
The subs went south, and so did their mission. In order to move quickly, the submarines traveled on the surface of the water, where they ran head-on into Hurricane Daisy. The fifty-foot waves left the men nauseated and the operating systems compromised.
Then came the warm waters. Soviet subs were designed for the polar waters, not the tropical Atlantic. Temperatures inside the vessels exceeded 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The crew battled the heat and claustrophobia for much of the three-week journey. By the time they were near the coast of Cuba, the men were exhausted, on edge, and anxious.
The situation worsened when the subs received cryptic instructions from Moscow to turn northward and patrol the coastline of Florida. Soon after they entered American waters, their radar picked up the signal of a dozen ships and aircrafts. The Russians were being followed by the Americans. The US ships set off depth charges. The Russians assumed they were under attack.
The captain lost his cool. He summoned his staff to his command post and pounded the table with his fists. “We’re going to blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all — we will not disgrace our navy!”
The world was teetering on the edge of war. But then Vasili Arkhipov asked for a moment with his captain. The two men stepped to the side. He urged his superior to reconsider. He suggested they talk to the Americans before reacting. The captain listened. His anger cooled. He gave the order for the vessels to surface.
The Americans encircled the Russians and kept them under surveillance. What they intended to do is unclear as in a couple of days the Soviets dove, eluded the Americans, and made it back home safely.
This incredible brush with death was kept secret for decades. Arkhipov deserved a medal, yet he lived the rest of his life with no recognition. It was not until 2002 that the public learned of the barely avoided catastrophe. As the director of the National Security Archive stated, “The lesson from this [event] is that a guy named Vasili Arkhipov saved the world."
Why does this story matter? You will not spend three weeks in a sweltering Russian sub. But you may spend a semester carrying a heavy class load, or you may fight the headwinds of a recession. You may spend night after night at the bedside of an afflicted child or aging parent. You may fight to keep a family together, a business afloat, a school from going under.
You will be tempted to press the button and release, not nuclear warheads, but angry outbursts, a rash of accusations, a fiery retaliation of hurtful words. Unchecked anxiety unleashes an Enola Gay of destruction. How many people have been wounded as a result of unbridled stress?
And how many disasters have been averted because one person refused to buckle under the strain? It is this composure Paul is summoning in the first of a triad of proclamations.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything. — Philippians 4:5 NIV
The Greek word translated here as gentleness (epieikes) describes a temperament that is seasoned and mature. It envisions an attitude that is fitting to the occasion, levelheaded and tempered. The gentle reaction is one of steadiness, evenhandedness, fairness. It “looks humanely and reasonably at the facts of a case.” Its opposite would be an overreaction or a sense of panic.
This gentleness is “evident to all.” Family members take note. Your friends sense a difference. Coworkers benefit from it. Others may freak out or run out, but
the gentle person is sober minded and clear thinking. Contagiously calm.
The contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others, “God is in control.”
This is the executive who tells the company, “Let’s all do our part; we’ll be okay.” This is the leader who sees the challenge, acknowledges it, and observes, “These are tough times, but we’ll get through them.”
Gentleness. Where do we quarry this gem? How can you and I keep our hands away from the trigger? How can we keep our heads when everyone else is losing theirs? We plumb the depths of the second phrase.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything. — Philippians 4:5 NIV
The Lord is near! You are not alone. You may feel alone. You may think you are alone. But there is never a moment in which you face life without help. God is near.
God repeatedly pledges His proverbial presence to His people.
To Abram, God said,
Do not be afraid… I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.
— Genesis 15:1
To Hagar, the angel announced,
Do not be afraid; God has heard. — Genesis 21:17 NIV
When Isaac was expelled from his land by the Philistines and forced to move from place to place, God appeared to him and reminded him,
Do not be afraid, for I am with you. — Genesis 26:24 NLT
After Moses’ death God told Joshua,
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. — Joshua 1:9 NIV
God was with David, in spite of his adultery. With Jacob, in spite of his conniving. With Elijah, in spite of his lack of faith.
Then, in the ultimate declaration of communion, God called Himself Immanuel, which means “God with us.” He became flesh. He became sin. He defeated the grave. He is still with us. In the form of His Spirit, He comforts, teaches, and convicts.
Do not assume God is watching from a distance. Avoid the quicksand that bears the marker “God has left you!” Do not indulge this lie. If you do, your problem will be amplified by a sense of loneliness. It’s one thing to face a challenge, but to face it all alone? Isolation creates a downward cycle of fret. Choose instead to be the person who clutches the presence of God with both hands.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? — Psalm 118:6 NIV
Because the Lord is near, we can be anxious for nothing.
This is Paul’s point. Remember, he was writing a letter. He did not use chapter and verse numbers. This system was created by scholars in the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries. The structure helps us, but it can also hinder us. The apostle intended the words of verses 5 and 6 to be read in one fell swoop.
The Lord is near; [consequently,] do not be anxious about anything.
Early commentators saw this. John Chrysostom liked to phrase the verse this way:
The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety.
Theodoret of Cyrus translated the words:
The Lord is near. Have no worries.
We can calmly take our concerns to God because He is as near as our next breath!
Excerpted with permission from Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
Editor’s note: There’s a good reason that Max Lucado is called “America’s Pastor.” He has his finger on the pulse of the nation and words of healing and hope to share.
Anxious For Nothing will be released 9-12-17 to pre-order click or touch any link or image.
A challenge we all face is learning how to relate to people and events that don’t meet our expectations. When our expectations are not met, many of us respond in anger. Unchecked anger can cause a person to react in unhealthy ways. Decisions made or actions taken while angry usually lead to greater problems and more frustration in the future.
Proverbs 14:29 (NLT) People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.
Everyone has to learn to put these matters in God’s hands and allow Him to bring about a good result in His own time. Releasing the disappointment to God allows you to maintain a clear head and protects you and others from making foolish decisions.
The Bible has much to say about anger—not only about anger itself, but also about how we are not to respond in anger. Some anger is righteous, but other anger is unhealthy and unholy. God wants us to see things from His perspective and respond as He would.
Ephesians 4:25-27 (NLT)25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.
But Don’t Be Phony
I’ve been teaching on prayer this year and one of the things I’ve learned is that we shouldn’t try to hide our emotions from God. I preached a sermon, Stop Faking It where I said we should stop faking it with God.
God doesn’t hide His emotions from us.
Psalm 7:11 (NLT)11 God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day.
Romans 1:18 (NLT) But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
Jesus didn’t either
John 2:12-17 (NLT)12 After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.13 It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!”17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”
However we should control our emotions and not let them control us.
We should be controlled by the Holy Spirit not our emotions.
Ephesians 5:17-19 (NLT) Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
Often in denying our emotions we internalize anger which can morph into self-condemnation, depression, and shame. When we internalize anger we are in danger of being abused or taken advantage of.
Look To Jesus For Ways To Handle Your Anger
When we get angry, we should check ourselves to see if we are angry at the things God hates. Otherwise we may be angry without just cause and give opportunity to the Devil. Anger, even if it is godly at first, it can become malice. When this happens, we are in danger of becoming bitter.
Hebrews 12:14-15 (NLT)14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.
Jesus has shown us that being angry, in itself isn’t evil. It’s what we get angry about and how we respond that is often the problem. The Bible does not tell us to suppress, ignore, or avoid anger but to handle it properly and quickly.
Ephesians 4:26 (NLT) And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,
The Scripture says, "Be angry and do not sin," it also says don’t get angry too quick.
James 1:19-21 (NLT)19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.20 Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.21 So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.
Instead of anger, let’s ask God to give us patience and kindness. When life doesn’t go as planned, instead of getting angry, see these as opportunities for God to break through in your situation and to transform you and strengthen you, causing you to grow in faith, exhibit the character of Christ more fully, and see God break through on your behalf.
Romans 12:21 (NLT) Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
Proverbs 19:11 (NLT) Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.
Romans 12:19 (NLT)19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the LORD.
While writing this post I read Jesus, I Need Your Grace from Jesus, I Need You , a devotional published by Zondervan. The prayers and devotions are written to inspire you to have unwavering faith in all circumstances including anger. (To get a copy click any link or the image at the end of the post)
That Difficult Person
Dear Jesus, I need Your help. Someone is making my life difficult. I have tried to be kind and patient — You know I have, Lord. But there have been times when I’ve lost my temper — You know that too. I’ve said unkind things and thought even worse things.
Our relationship needs healing; it needs You.
Jesus, show me what to do. I pray for You to step in and make this right. Teach me, Lord. How would You handle this person? Please take away these feelings of anger and hurt and replace them with grace and love.
“Seventy times seven”: That’s what You said to Peter when he asked how many times he should forgive the one who sinned against him. Am I capable of forgiving that many times? Oh, but how many times have You forgiven me?
Soften my heart, Lord, and help me forgive as You have forgiven me.
If anyone can mend this relationship, Jesus, it is You. Guide my every word and every action with Your perfect love. I need You, Jesus. We need You.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. — Romans 12:18
At some point in your life, you’ll encounter a difficult person — someone who, no matter what you do, makes your life miserable. When you run into such a person, call on Jesus. He understands and will know just how to help. As you think about that difficult person, ask yourself if you’ve contributed to the strain. Are there things for which you need to seek forgiveness? Come up with at least one thing you can do to bless that person’s life — and then do it.
Dear Jesus, Sometimes it’s really hard to love people, especially when You ask me to love those who hate You and do evil things. I know You love them, but I struggle to follow Your example. Please show me how can I hate the evil while still loving those who hate You.
Jesus, when You were beaten, mocked, and crucified, You could have rained down wrath from Heaven, but You didn’t. Instead, You asked God to forgive Your enemies because they didn’t know what they were doing. That is pure love. Fill me with that kind of love.
Jesus, You are always in my heart, guiding me and leading me to be more like You. And for that reason, I must pray for those who hate You and do evil things. I don’t love what they do, Lord — but I want them to know You. Please, Lord Jesus, open their eyes to see You and their hearts to accept You. They need You so much... and so, Lord, do I.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” — Matthew 5:43-44
Love doesn’t mean that you accept acts of hatred and evil, but love does require that you pray for those most in need of salvation. Consider Paul. He didn’t begin life as a disciple of Christ; in fact, there was a time when Paul — then known as Saul — hated Christ. Read Acts 9:1-19 to discover how he changed. How might you be an Ananias to a Saul in your life?
Excerpted with permission fromJesus, I Need You, copyright Zondervan
Editor's Note: Have you written a love letter to Jesus? Or cried out a prayer for help? Do you have conversations with Him regularly? This brand-new devotional, Jesus, I Need You, is a collection of prayers to Jesus, written as letters, that will inspire you to have unwavering faith in any circumstance, in every season. Each letter is followed by a short devotional and encouraging message. We pray that this inspires you to write your own letter to Jesus this week - He longs to hear from you!
Back in May I published a post, Discipline Versus Punishment. In it I said that God uses discipline and not punishment with His children. I know that some think that discipline is punishment and it doesn’t make any difference which word that you use. However if you take a closer look at the two words I think that you’ll find a big difference in them.
Here’s what I said in my post;
“Think about it, if on the one hand we say that God is love, merciful, faithful, compassionate, and forgiving, and on the other hand say that God took a loved one, or caused a natural disaster just to punish, or teach us a lesson what kind of message are we sending? I have long believed that the Bible teaches that God’s punishment comes at the time of His judgement, and what we call punishment is really discipline.
This does not mean that accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior is license to do whatever you want to do, without consequences. Especially if your actions are in direct contradiction or disobedience to the will of God. Just as children are disciplined by their parents for disobedience, because they love them and want them to learn from their mistakes, God disciplines His children (those saved by grace) because He loves us and wants us to learn from our mistakes.”
Still not convinced? How about this from Rick Warren;
The goal of discipline is to bring about change, punishment merely metes out justice.
The purpose of punishment is to inflict penalty.
The purpose of discipline is to promote growth.
The focus of punishment is on the past — what you've done wrong.
The focus of discipline is on the future — what you can be.
The attitude behind punishment is anger. The attitude behind discipline is love.
Now we can take the fact that God loves us to the extreme to the point that we God
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way I’ll get to the point of this post. We know that there are consequences (punishment) for sin, which is a transgression or an offense of a command from God. The first sin was Adam and Eve’s eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. The consequence of that sin was spiritual and eventual physical death. The consequence of that sin was also passed down from Adam to all of mankind. However God because of His love for mankind, provided a substitute (Jesus Christ) to suffer the consequence of that sin for those who acknowledge Jesus as that substitute.
Later God provided a written code of conduct (Law of Moses) to codify the internal ability to discern between good as evil. As with the first sin there are consequences for violating the written code of conduct. When those who have accepted Jesus sin the consequence for them is discipline not punishment.
When discipline doesn't come immediately after the violation it may seem that God has either forgotten that there should be consequences or that maybe He even approves of the violation. Let me be the first to tell you that is not the case.
Psalm 50:16-21 (NLT)16 But God says to the wicked: “Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to obey my covenant?17 For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash.18 When you see thieves, you approve of them, and you spend your time with adulterers.19 Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies.20 You sit around and slander your brother— your own mother’s son.21 While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care. But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you.
As the title of this post says God is not slow, He’s patient. He’s patient because He loves you.
2 Peter 3:8-10 (NLT)8 But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.
Dr. Charles Stanley says that we often abuse God’s patience. He reminds us that discipline will come and when it comes it will not be pleasant.
Abusing God's Patience - In Touch - August 22, 2017
Romans 2:4-6 (NLT)4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?5 But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done.
Have you ever ignored the press of conviction upon your heart? Maybe you rationalized your wrongdoing with the thought that if God were really upset, He'd put a stop to things by disciplining you. Psalm 50:21 (Psalm 50:21 These things you have done, and I kept silent; You thought that I was altogether like you; But I will rebuke you, And set them in order before your eyes.) reminds us that the silence of heaven does not mean approval. Remaining in sin is an abuse of the Lord's patience.
When God seems slow to react, we might hope He's overlooking our transgressions--we'd like to continue in sin because the momentary pleasure is more appealing than obedience. But thankfully, the Father knows our weaknesses, our innate carnality, and the state of our spiritual growth, and He therefore measures His response. Motivated by love and a desire to gently restore His children to righteousness, God refrains from doling out immediate punishment. Instead, He waits for the Holy Spirit's proddings to impact the believer's heart. The weight of conviction is actually an invitation to turn from wrongdoing and return to godliness.
However, we're a stubborn people. There are times when we persist in sin because the sentence against an evil deed isn't executed quickly (Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.). In this dangerous situation, it's possible to immerse ourselves in sin and harden our hearts against the Lord. Then the Holy Spirit's call to repentance falls on spiritual ears rapidly going deaf.
As we learn and understand more about God and His ways, we are increasingly responsible to live righteously. The Lord is not slow; He's patient. Do not abuse His patience with callous disregard for His statutes. Repent and be holy in the sight of the Lord.
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2016 All Rights Reserved.
God is not slow He’s patient. Repent, God will forgive and restore.
1 John 1:8-9 (NLT)8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Psalm 150 says let everything that has breath praise the Lord. The writer is using the analogy of every living thing praising the Lord.
Psalm 150:6 (NLT) Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!
Psalm 148 says every living thing that breathes praising God isn’t enough. The psalmist calls on the entire creation to praise Him breathing or not. The creation itself shouts praise to its creator. That’s one of the reasons that Paul says that man is without excuse in not acknowledging the existence of God the Creator of all things.
Romans 1:18-20 (NLT)18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
“Let everything, absolutely everything praise the Lord”!
Creation’s Praise Of The Lord
Psalm 148:1-14 (NLT)1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD from the heavens! Praise him from the skies!2 Praise him, all his angels! Praise him, all the armies of heaven!3 Praise him, sun and moon! Praise him, all you twinkling stars!4 Praise him, skies above! Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!5 Let every created thing give praise to the LORD, for he issued his command, and they came into being.6 He set them in place forever and ever. His decree will never be revoked.7 Praise the LORD from the earth, you creatures of the ocean depths,8 fire and hail, snow and clouds, wind and weather that obey him,9 mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,10 wild animals and all livestock, small scurrying animals and birds,11 kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth,12 young men and young women, old men and children.13 Let them all praise the name of the LORD. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!14 He has made his people strong, honoring his faithful ones— the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the LORD!
I’ve mentioned before that the theme for our church this year is Prayer. I’ve led several studies and will lead more on prayer throughout the rest of the year (You can find the notes for those studies at Faith The Evidence - Bible Studies Blog). In our studies we've talked about prayer being a conversation between two friends, God and you. We’ve talked about not being afraid to tell God how we really feel. We’ve talked about praying even when it seemed pointless. We’ve talked about being specific and persistent in prayer. We’re currently in a study on being a prayer warrior. My pastor just finished two sermons on remembering when we pray. But I read something today that “knocked my socks off”, and "hit me like a ton of bricks”. Please forgive me for the metaphors but once you read what I read you’ll see what I mean.
Here’s what I read from Judah Smith's book Jesus Is: Find A New Way To Be Human; “John figured something out by watching Jesus. It’s not about how much we love God. It’s about how much He loves us.” He then wrote, "this will change the way you think, the way you talk, and the way you pray". I agree.
This is what I read.
The One You Love
In John 11, we find a moving story about three siblings: Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Most scholars believe Martha was the oldest sibling, Mary was the middle, and Lazarus was the little brother. Interestingly, Lazarus was never recorded as saying one word in Scripture. Apparently his big sisters said it all. Poor guy.
In this passage, Mary and Martha are in the heat of the moment. Their little brother’s life is on the line. The Bible puts it this way:
Now, a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore, the sisters sent to Him saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now, Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. — John 11:1-5
Besides His disciples, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were perhaps Jesus’s best friends. Jesus loved them deeply.
The fact that Jesus had friends at all might surprise a few people who think He floated around two feet off the ground and only had time for healing people and preaching. He was a normal-looking and normal-acting guy. Except He healed the sick, raised the dead, and never sinned. And He was God. Minor details.
In this story, Lazarus is hours from death. He is on the doorstep of death. And Mary and Martha, true to form, are speaking on Lazarus’s behalf. They need to get God’s attention. They have one shot at convincing Jesus to come. They need to come up with their best argument, their most airtight appeal. So they write Jesus a note. It has to be a good one — their brother’s life depends on it.
It’s the heat of the moment, and they aren’t thinking about being polite and courteous and wordy. What they really believe is about to be revealed. How are they going to appeal to Jesus? What will their plea be?
Now, if we were Lazarus’s siblings, a lot of us would have started out by listing all the good things Lazarus had done. We would have talked about how much he loved and admired Jesus and how he was a model citizen who didn’t deserve to die.
Not Mary and Martha. They knew what moved Jesus.
Lord, the one that You love is sick.
That was the realization that welled up from deep within their hearts. Jesus loved Lazarus. It wasn’t their love for Jesus, or Lazarus’s love, or his good deeds that moved Jesus. It was pointless to recite a laundry list of their brother’s achievements. That wasn’t what moved the heart of Jesus. It was His own love that motivated Him. It was His own desire to bless and heal and restore.
The story goes on to say that Jesus responded to Mary and Martha’s request and went to their home. But by the time He arrived, Lazarus had died. That didn’t bother Jesus — He knew it was going to happen. He simply raised Lazarus from the dead. It pays to have friends like that.
John, one of Jesus’s disciples, recorded this story. John understood the importance of Jesus’s love. Five times in his book, John calls himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” He doesn’t even use his own name. He just flaunts that he was Jesus’s favorite.
Was he Jesus’s favorite? We don’t know. It doesn’t really matter, because he believed he was. And there is something strangely healthy about that perspective.
We are all God’s favorites.
Some might call John’s statements arrogant, but John didn’t care. Neither did God, apparently - it’s in His Book. John defined his identity through Jesus’s love. I find that fascinating. A few decades later, John wrote several letters that are also part of the Bible. The letters are manifestos of God’s love toward us. Here’s one example from 1 John 4:9-10:
God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love — not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
John figured something out by watching Jesus. It’s not about how much we love God. It’s about how much He loves us.
That little truth will change the way you think, the way you talk, and the way you pray. For too many of us, life is all about how much we can accomplish. It’s about our plans, our work, our merit, our achievements. That’s gratifying to the ego, but ultimately it’s a dead end. We find ourselves in situations we can’t get out of, in need of favors we don’t deserve. We lose our perspective very quickly when we make life all about us.
Mary and Martha were some of Jesus’s closest friends. John, according to scholars, was probably Jesus’s closest disciple. It seems the people nearest Jesus had an overwhelming awareness of His love for them. Maybe we should take a hint.
Let Me Count the Ways
The message Mary and Martha sent was a plea, a prayer. And notice the basis of their prayer: “the one You love.”
You can find out a lot about what you really believe when you listen to yourself pray, when you listen to what you say in the heat of the moment. How many times have I prayed prayers like this:
Oh, God, I need help. I’m faithful. I help people. I’m generous. I’m holy. I read my Bible. And I’m praying really, really loudly, with big words and Bible verses and lots of praise. So come, Lord, and help me with my need.
In other words, “Lord, based on what I’ve done, now please do...” We think that moves God. No, what moves God is His Son. What moves God is His love.
One of the most famous love poems of all time, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnet 43, starts out: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Don’t count the ways you love God; count the ways He loves you. Your love pales in comparison to His. So when you pray, pray like Mary and Martha: “Jesus, the one You love needs You.”
I was tired the other afternoon, for instance. Maybe not a big deal, but I had some things I had to accomplish that evening, and I really needed strength. So, I got alone for a few minutes, and I said, “Lord, the one You love is tired. Give me energy.”
It was such a refreshing, healthy way to pray. It was incredible. I started thinking, Whoa. That was crazy. That felt good.
He’s moved by His love. Remind Him of His love for you.
“Lord, the one You love is out $250 this month. I can’t pay the bills. But I’m Your favorite. I’m the one You love, so help me with my bills, Lord.”
That’s far better than trying to talk God into something based on our own works or our own merit.
Maybe you are thinking, I don’t really know Jesus. I’m a poor excuse for a follower of Jesus.
Nobody’s an outsider when we pray this way. It’s on the basis of His love, not ours. We have no idea how profound His love for us really is. No matter who you are, no matter what you need, try praying that prayer. And I pray that your heart erupts with an understanding and revelation of His amazing love for you.
“God, because I am the object of your obsession, because I’m the one You love, come now and take care of my needs.”
What is the focus of the Bible? Man loving God, or God loving man?
Many of us would answer automatically, “It’s about man loving God. It’s about humans leaving a sinful lifestyle and turning to God.” And even if we didn’t say it, we believe it - just look at how we pray and how we act.
We would be wrong.
All sixty-six books of the Bible, all forty-plus authors writing over the course of sixteen hundred years, point to the same thing: God’s love for humanity.
If you’re like me, you find yourself time and time again obsessing over your own inconsistencies and inadequacies, over your own love or lack of love for God. But if we spent more time in the Bible, we would discover that it is overwhelmingly about God’s love for us. In fact, God’s love created our love.
Here’s a crazy thought: God’s love is so extravagant and so inexplicable that He loved us before we were us. He loved us before we existed. He knew many of us would reject Him, hate Him, curse Him, rebel against Him. Yet He chose to love us. God loves us because He is love.
The message is clear in Scripture. The gospel is about God loving man, whether we reciprocate it or not. John, the “one Jesus loved,” spelled it out:
We love Him because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:19
The reason that we are even interested in God is that He is hot on our trails. We are His favorites, and He is passionately pursuing us. He doesn’t just love us like a friend, like an aunt or uncle, or even like a dad. His love is far more perfect than any earthly love.
Really, we won’t fully comprehend His love until we enter eternity with Him. And when we get to eternity, we will be undone. We will be overwhelmed and overcome and consumed with the enormity of His love.
Picture that the next time you pray, the next time you fail at something, the next time you are facing a tough situation — it will revolutionize everything.
Go ahead and try to describe the height of His love, the length of His love, the width of His love, the depth of His love. Our metaphors pale in comparison. We have marriages, we have children, we have adoptions, we have friends, but nothing compares to God’s love for us.
I’ve never met a person who exaggerated God’s love. Never. It’s impossible. He loved us first, He loves us best, and He will love us forever.
How does He love me?
I’ll spend the rest of my life counting the ways.
Excerpted with permission fromJesus Is: Find A New Way To Be Human by Judah Smith, copyright Thomas Nelson.
Editor's Note: To purchase the book Jesus Is: Find A New Way To Be Human, click or touch any of the links or the picture of the book..
Because of the words and actions of 45 and members of his administration I’m hearing more and more people pray for his removal. Recently I published the blog post, Like It Or Not The Bible Says We Must Pray For Our Leaders. However 45s actions, over the past week added to the things that he has said and done, starting with his campaign for President, have given me pause and caused me to rethink what I wrote in that post.
I have been teaching on prayer all year and one of the things that I have emphasized is that we should be open with God when we pray and tell Him how we really feel. I even preached a sermon a few weeks ago titled Stop Faking It. So I decided to look at what the Bible says about removing wicked leaders if we feel that their actions are ungodly and against the teachings of Christ. Here what I found.
We Are To Pray For All Leaders While They Are In Positions Of Authority
I do realize, as I said in my post, that we are to submit to governing authorities, and that we are to pray for our leaders.
Romans 13:1-5 (NLT)1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.2 So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished.3 For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.4 The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong.5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT)1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
However We Are Not Prohibited From Praying For The Removal Of Wicked Leaders
The instructions to submit and pray for authorities and leaders are applicable only while they are in these positions. What I have learned through prayer, research, and scripture is that we are also to pray for the removal of leaders and authorities who working against God’s will for His people.
Proverbs 25:5 The Message (MSG) Remove impurities from the silver and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice;Remove the wicked from leadership and authority will be credible and God-honoring.
We as believers are accountable when we see evil and to speak out against it.
Proverbs 24:24-25 The Message (MSG) Whoever whitewashes the wicked gets a black mark in the history books,But whoever exposes the wicked will be thanked and rewarded.
Psalm 94:16 (NLT)16 Who will protect me from the wicked? Who will stand up for me against evildoers?
Proverbs 6:16-19 (NLT)16 There are six things the LORD hates— no, seven things he detests:17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent,18 a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong,19 a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.
Isaiah 5:20 (NLT)20 What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
Ephesians 5:11-14 (NLT)11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them,14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
Matthew 18:15-17 (NLT)15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.
16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses.17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
So How Do I Pray For Removal Of Wicked Leaders?
As you read through the Psalms you will find that many of them call for judgement on those the psalmist considered enemies. Those who persecuted them and others. At first blush you think how can a God who is love do the kinds of things the writers are asking Him to do. Why are these things even in the Bible?
Here are just two examples;
Psalm 109:6-15 (NLT)6 They say, “Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial.7 When his case comes up for judgment, let him be pronounced guilty. Count his prayers as sins.8 Let his years be few; let someone else take his position.9 May his children become fatherless, and his wife a widow.10 May his children wander as beggars and be driven from their ruined homes.11 May creditors seize his entire estate, and strangers take all he has earned.12 Let no one be kind to him; let no one pity his fatherless children.13 May all his offspring die. May his family name be blotted out in a single generation.14 May the LORD never forget the sins of his fathers; may his mother’s sins never be erased from the record.15 May the LORD always remember these sins, and may his name disappear from human memory.
Psalm 137:7-9 (NLT)7 O LORD, remember what the Edomites did on the day the armies of Babylon captured Jerusalem. “Destroy it!” they yelled. “Level it to the ground!”8 O Babylon, you will be destroyed. Happy is the one who pays you back for what you have done to us.9 Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!
Psalm 58 is an expression of dissatisfaction of national leadership
Psalm 58:1-11 (NLT)1 Justice—do you rulers know the meaning of the word? Do you judge the people fairly?2 No! You plot injustice in your hearts. You spread violence throughout the land.3 These wicked people are born sinners; even from birth they have lied and gone their own way.4 They spit venom like deadly snakes; they are like cobras that refuse to listen,5 ignoring the tunes of the snake charmers, no matter how skillfully they play.6 Break off their fangs, O God! Smash the jaws of these lions, O LORD!7 May they disappear like water into thirsty ground. Make their weapons useless in their hands.8 May they be like snails that dissolve into slime, like a stillborn child who will never see the sun.9 God will sweep them away, both young and old, faster than a pot heats over burning thorns.10 The godly will rejoice when they see injustice avenged. They will wash their feet in the blood of the wicked.11 Then at last everyone will say, “There truly is a reward for those who live for God; surely there is a God who judges justly here on earth.”
This Psalm presents a pretty vivid picture of what’s happening in the United States today. 45 is corrupt selfish, greedy wicked and ruthless. He doesn’t appear to listen to advice and is never moved, either by appeal nor threat.
Psalms like these are called “imprecatory Psalms.” They are Psalms which ask God to curse, destroy, or remove an enemy of the writer. They are pleas for vengeance, justice, and equity for those unable to defend themselves.
While these are pleas for vengeance, justice, and equity the one praying doesn’t then go out and carry it out themselves. The Psalmist is expressing himself to God in need. He is saying, “God things are so bad here right now because of this, will you enact vengeance upon them because of their wickedness.”. In praying this way the outcome is left to God. The prayer entrusts the answer to God. This doesn’t mean God will answer at that moment. What it means is that the responsibility of setting things straight is put into the hands of the rightful authority, God.
When the psalmist prayed for God to shatter the teeth of his enemies, or even their his death, he was making the point that God is holy, righteous, and just, and He will ultimately judge the wicked for the evil they do. In praying this way we are giving up our up the idea how to handle our enemies and are relying on and trusting God to protect us. As Christians we know that it is unlikely that God will "shatter to teeth of or enemies or that He will cause bad things to happen to them or their families. But because we know that God is good and hates evil that His will is for good and love. Our imprecatory prayer then is that His will be done. We trust the judgement to God, knowing what He says is the end result of evil and those who do it.
I’ve talked about imprecatory psalms in the studies on prayer I’ve led this year. In the sermon that I preached a few weeks ago I urged the congregation to be real with God in prayer, to “stop faking the funk.” In other words tell God how you really feel. If you want Him to remove 45 tell Him. He will not judge you for tell Him how you feel.
After much prayer and research, I’ve concluded that Christians can, and in fact, should pray for the removal of wicked leaders from positions of authority. We should pray that God will make them powerless, remove them from office, and prevent them from gaining access to power.
We can honor Jesus' command to pray for our enemies and those we disagree with, and for their salvation,
Matthew 5:43-44 (NLT) 43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!
And at the same time pray for their removal from office and positions of authority.
Proverbs 25:5 The Message (MSG) Remove impurities from the silver and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice; Remove the wicked from leadership and authority will be credible and God-honoring.
Editor’s Note: I pray that the members of 45’s Presidential Evangelical Advisory Board read this post and that they pray about their continued involvement with this man who has shown himself over and over to be a wicked leader who has no regard for the truth,or compassion for the less fortunate and suffering discrimination and danger. I can’t understand how they can continue to endorse a man who has shown himself over and over to have no moral compass and one who through his actions, if not incites, encourages hatred. To use the excuse that Jesus did not stay away from sinners is a very weak one. Yes, Jesus spent time with sinners, He came to save them, but He did not endorse them, He did not elevate them, He did not “kiss up” to them. As Judah Smith said; "You don’t have to be good to be Jesus’s friend. You just have to be honest." 45 is not honest. I ask all my brothers and sisters who continue to support 45, to pray and ask God if he is pleased with you and your support of 45, and then wait for His answer. I’m not God but I do know enough about Him from His word, to be sure that His answer to you will be NO!. (At the writing of this post there has been only one resignation from the Presidential Evangelical Advisory Board)
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT)14 Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?15 What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?16 And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.17 Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the LORD. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.18 And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”
Not too long ago, I published a blog post about baptism. In it I wrote that baptism isn’t a requirement for salvation, but an act of obedience after salvation (To read that post click HERE!).
I read something today, written by Dr. Charles Stanley, that really spoke to me about the importance of being obedient after salvation. He wrote in a devotion, published by InTouch Ministries, that when Jesus was baptized He was “sacrificially identifying with sinful humankind”.
Here is the full text of that devotion, Baptism: Identifying with Christ.
Christ began His public ministry with baptism. At the time, John the Baptist was calling people to confess their sins and demonstrate repentance through immersion in the river. So why did Jesus, the sinless One, ask to be baptized? At first, John actually refused, knowing Christ was the "Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). But Jesus wasn't demonstrating repentance; He was sacrificially identifying with sinful humankind.
Matthew 3:13-17 (NLT)13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John.14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
As Christians, we're called to follow His example in all things, becoming more like Him as we grow in our faith. That's why baptism is the first step in following Jesus. As He was willing to identify Himself with us, we publicly identify with Him when we are baptized, which is a symbolic way of declaring, "I have trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and believe that the debt of my sin is fully paid through His sacrifice. I believe that as He rose from the dead, I will also be resurrected through Him. I look forward to walking in God's will while I'm on the earth and living with Him throughout eternity. Since He loved me enough to identify Himself with me in my sin, I will show my love for Him by following His example right now, and for the rest of my days."
Baptism demonstrates our connection not only with Christ but also with our spiritual brothers and sisters--past, present, and future. We're joining everyone who has walked before us in faith, saying that we are members of one body, redeemed and brought to life by the same Lord.
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2016 All Rights Reserved.
Baptism is not necessary for salvation only Jesus can save us. But baptism is very important because it’s an act of obedience after salvation. It identifies us with Christ just as His baptism identified Him with us.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.