Here Is Hoping

The devil wants you to lose hope because that is the first step toward loss of faith resulting from a feeling of disappointment regarding something God did or did not do.

Scripture urges believers not to be “dismayed,” which means don’t give up. Even if you have a cause and it seems defeated, there is hope. It enables you to see the light in the darkest environment.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Observe and practice the sequential steps in that text. They are:

Do not be anxious about anything. The following will mitigate anxiety.

Express prayer and supplication (to supply your needs) with thanksgiving.” Find what you can thank God for.

So you can’t see any good in the present situation. Well – – – –

 “Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:24-26)

The Holy Spirit ups the horsepower of your prayer, even that which you can’t even articulate.

Read this, stop, and do it. In prayer do what follows.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Do it now, then you will realize …

“…those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”  (Isaiah 40:31)

Even if your future is seen as littered with negativity, that doesn’t mean there is no hope for the future with the Lord.

Hope helps resume living optimistically. Hope inspired by God can help you develop a mind-set enabling you to face your current disappointment and move on with the Lord to a brighter day.

Dreams die, hope lives, God reigns.

In Times Like These

(Note: This post was originally authored after the 2020 Presidential Election.)

After an unsettled and unsettling night America shutters. How now, America?

There is nothing more uncertain that the emergence of the introduction of the new order of things.

Your uncertain tomorrow won’t cause you anxiety if you meet it with the God who blessed you yesterday.

The future is uncertain, but our God isn’t. From His Word we read:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Richard Hofstadter in one of his essays wrote descriptively of our hour.

The nation seems to slouch onward into its uncertain future like some huge inarticulate beast, too much attainted by wounds and ailments to be robust, but too strong and resourceful to succumb.”

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower reminds us of how we should respond personally in such a time. “Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”

Lift up your downcast heart. True faith resides in the ability to trust God. This is our hour to prove we do.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” (I Peter 5:6-7)

The storm clouds of World War II were gathering when young Princess Elizabeth, aged 13, handed the following poem to her father, King George VI, as he prepared to address the British Empire in his 1939 Christmas broadcast. His quoting of it calmed his uncertain nation. May it do the same to all who read it now. It is entitled “God Knows.”

“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied:
‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.”

Take this text as your by-word:  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.”  (Psalm 56:3)

How To React To Disappointment God’s Way

Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump, what do all these presidents have in common? It is that I prayed for the welfare and leadership of each. Did I like them? By no means. What will President Biden have in common with them? That I will pray for him.

We need to keep one thing in mind, regardless of the president, God is still God, and there is no indication He is about to be up for a vote or abdicate His throne.

It is hard to find a paragon of virtue among those Presidents listed here, but we survived them all.

When evangelical Christians speak of praying for a leader, not of their liking, it is assumed by some they are praying the worst for them, even death. Let me tell you what I pray, according to Scripture, for such a one. It is found in the Bible book of I Timothy 2: 1-4.

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior….” (I Timothy 2:1-4)

Love for opponents is the pinnacle of obedience to God. 

The instruction is to pray for “all men.” There is no loophole allowing for not praying even for the unpopular.

As a humorous aside, Mark Twain was seen reading the Bible and asked why. He replied, “I am looking for loopholes, but I can’t find any.”

At a time Christians were being persecuted the early church leader Tertullian explained: “We pray for all the emperors, that God may grant them long life, a secure government, a prosperous family, vigorous troops, a faithful senate, an obedient people; that the whole world may be in peace; and that God may grant, both to Caesar and to every man, the accomplishment of their just desires.” Note, not all their desires, but all of their “just desires.”

A reason is given, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” (vs. 3) It is what God instructs us to do, it is acceptable to Him.

This gives a second reason for praying for leaders as being that they may “…be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (vs. 4) If they come to “the knowledge of truth” they will govern according to God’s laws. If God and secular society expect believers to pray for all in authority it is reasonable that we pray all that Scripture instructs us to pray regarding them. That is not bigotry, it is obedience.

It is foolish not to pray for leaders, because as their followers we are really praying for our own benefit.

We should not abandon those leaders with whom we disagree, we must pray for them. I am not going to pray once according to this text, but many times during their administration. I always have, and I always will, in the good times and the bad, “That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence….” (vs. 2)

As a post script, I am going to apply this principle to all national and local elected officials.

Anger Management, Part 2

Jesus Christ, upon going into the Temple, found behavior forbidden in Scripture. He turned over the tables of the money changers and drove them out. Can you imagine Him doing this passively? Read the account and imagine what emotion might have been involved: John 2:14-17.

In reality there is in Christ that which would horrify the pacifist. He is our Physician, the lover of our souls, and the Prince of Peace, but He also abhors evil.

Can you picture Jesus as being angry? He was and so should you be — AT THE RIGHT TIME AND ABOUT THE PROPER THINGS.

The Bible teaches us of God’s anger. Note:

“His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life.” (Psalm 30:5)

“In that day you will say: ‘O Lord, I will praise You; Though you were angry with me, Your anger is turned away and You comfort me.” (Isaiah 2:11)

“He does not retain His anger forever…” (Micah 7:18)

“I will execute the fierceness of My anger…” (Hosea 11:9)

“But You are God … slow to anger…” (Nehemiah 9:17)

“Return to the Lord your God … For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger…” (Joel 2:13)

God does get angry and so should you. Don’t take that statement out of context, nor apply it apart from the way it is now to be developed.

Failure to become angry over evil is a sign of unlikeness to Christ. If the spirit of Christ is in us, we can’t stand passively watching wrong being heaped upon wrong.

Let’s group anger into two categories. One we will call ventilation and the other indignation. One is good, the other isn’t. One is characteristic of Christ and should be of us, the other isn’t a trait of our Lord and should not be of us.

Ventilation is a term used for improper anger, the losing of the temper, blow-up kind. This is wrong.

John 2 speaks of “rage and anger.”

“Rage” translates the Greek word “thumos” which refers to an inward feeling. It literally means to “get hot.”

“Anger” translates the Greek “orgizo” and signifies an actively expressed emotion.  If “rage” means to get hot, “anger” means to boil over.

This is an appeal to avoid letting something build up in you to a boiling stage and exploding. Avoid this by not being a collector of wrongs done to you. 

Next, three improper ways in which anger is expressed are noted. “Brawling” or “clamor” is one. It means screaming and crying. Don’t do it.  This can turn into “slander” or “evil speaking” where we defame someone. 

Character assignation then turns into “malice” which is a desire to injure a person. 

Jesus was moved by holy zeal. That is, He was zealous for the right thing to be done. That is the kind of anger we are to have. That is what the text means when it says, “Be angry and sin not.”

Indignation is a term for the feelings of Christ in the temple. It is a strong displeasure over unrighteousness. Indignation means you become incensed. When it is vented toward sin it is righteousness indignation and that is good.  As an expression of abhorrence of wrong in loyalty to the Lord it is right. 

Don’t rationalize your inclination toward all anger. Be angry and sin not. Jesus didn’t shed His blood on Calvary that you can go around spewing anger. He did it to save you, and give you the ability of self-control.

Anger Management, Part 1

“Be angry and sin not.” (Ephesians 4:26)

How can you do that, and why is anger forbidden?

First, not all anger is forbidden. The text specifically says “be angry.” It also says “sin not.”

There are some things it is wrong to be angry about and some it would be sin not to be angry about. Differentiating between them is the challenge. This is not a license to give vent to your pet peeves.

According to Scripture not all anger is wrong. Righteous anger should arise when we witness “an offense against God or His Word.” Righteous anger shows that we care about things that matter to God. It is the normal and natural response to certain things. It attacks the sin, not the sinner. 

Anger turns to wrath if not managed by God. It builds if there is no closure. 

Therefore, don’t let it fester. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31) Don’t hang on to your anger, but never forget what it taught you.

“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” (Colossians 3:8)

“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

“…because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”   (Proverbs 29:11 and James 1:20)

“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.” (Proverbs 14:29) Speak when you are angry and that will be the best speech you will ever regret.

As a teen my mom wrote and gave me a Scripture I have kept until this day: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) That has been proven to be good counsel. Don’t respond to an angry person in anger, even if it is deserved, lest that one’s anger becomes your anger. Don’t carry a mirror around to reflect another’s anger.

Avoid the sinful anger that is indigenous in our culture, and instead make an amalgam of these texts in your mind and aspire to live in accordance with them.“Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11)