Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fix the Economy? Try Believing and Applying Deuteronomy 28!

The president focused much on the issue of the economy in his state of the union address. And yes, there was mention of the subject of spending and the need to "cut" spending. It amounted to what some would call a "pep rally" with a bizarre political twist to it! --- wide variety of news releases on the state of the union speech

"Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God..." --- Deuteronomy 28:1,2

I've been around the block enough times through the years to know that what is being suggested in these comments stands much less of a chance of becoming a reality than a proverbial snowball has of surviving intact in that very, very hot place you have heard about and is sometimes used by name in profane conversation. It is also a place that is totally denied in terms of literal existence by some theologians, church leaders, and pastors! But I'm going to go ahead and state them anyway.

So here we go -- if our elected officials, starting with the president, and the members of the U. S. Congress really want to fix the economy in this republic, then they need to start believing and intentionally start applying what is revealed in Deuteronomy 28 of the Old Testament Scriptures.

There are statements made that have to do with a nation's economy. There is a specific requirement spelled out if a nation's economy is going to grow and the blessing of great prosperity is going to be experienced by the citizens. Actually, the requirement is rather simple -- listen to and carefully obey God!

Deuteronomy 28 is a very interesting chapter in the Bible. God declares at the beginning that if the people obey Him, then He will bless them richly in many different ways. The people will receive benefits that are difficult to fathom, ranging from an abundance of food, financial prosperity, and a balanced weather system, to a very important matter of concern -- protection and deliverance from all potential enemies -- they will live peacefully! All conditioned upon their obedience to God.

God indicates that His blessing will be upon the people to the extent that other nations will be afraid of them. An expression used to indicate the place of prominence that the nation will have is seen in God indicating that they will be the "head" and not the "tail."

And then the positives so described come to a conclusion and God proceeds to reveal what will happen if the people choose to disobey Him. He takes about three times as much space with a lot of graphic details as to what will happen if they defy Him and rebel, rejecting His commandments and standards as set forth for a sane, sensible, serene, sober, shielded, and satisfying living experience.

Calamities are described with nothing left to the imagination which God will bring on the nation that has made the deadly choice to no longer honor and obey Him. A common word used to describe conditions no matter where a person may be is the word "cursed!" God does have the authority and the power to do such things you know.

One thing among many is evident as the calamities run their course -- the economy will eventually collapse as conditions worsen through time. God puts it this way at one place in the description:

"The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.
He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail." --- Deuteronomy 28:43,44

No culture has ever survived over extended periods of time when it has chosen to accept an ungodly way of life and existence in defiance of the Creator of this mighty universe.

There will be objections to the use of Deuteronomy 28 and the fact that it has much to do with how we as a nation fare, presently and in the future ahead. There will be those who would say that in context this is in reference to the ancient Israelite people and God's dealings with them at the time of Moses. That is true. But how about the larger context? Is a nation of people bound to seek to know and do the will of God, depending on the light of revelation they have available at any given time?

Our republic has had available from its very beginning God's revelation -- His holy Word, the Scriptures. So we are definitely, as a nation, totally without excuse. Our leaders, political and religious, are accountable and responsible in setting the example of obeying God. Citizens likewise are personally accountable. That is what Deuteronomy 28 is all about -- obeying God and experiencing the best by way of benefits, or disobeying and witnessing the sure and certain disintegration of a rebellious nation! That complete revelation confronts us with the claims and call of God's Son, Jesus Christ, Who sacrificed His life and atoned for the sins of the entire human race - woe to the people and the nation which rejects Him and His offer of total forgiveness!

At this stage, the evidence is overwhelming that we are in that area of Deuteronomy 28 that follows verse 15:

"But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you..." --- Deuteronomy 28:15

Or do you have another explanation for all the calamities that are striking this nation plus the fact that we are wallowing in such a horrendous debt that we can't even begin to comprehend the extent of it! Further, are you willing to go on record as well and say that whether the nation obeys God or doesn't obey God doesn't really matter at all? And our elected officials need not concern themselves at all about such an issue as obedience to God, in their private lives as well as corporately in the affairs of our republic?

Oh, yes - about that flag picture at the beginning -- it's a bit symbolical -- since the prevailing spirit throughout our republic is one in which the commandments and standards as revealed by God for our benefit have been thoroughly shredded, then a shredded flag sends out a message -- "Look, all you who pass by - our shredded flag tells how we as a nation feel about God's commandments!"

How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow is she, who was great among the nations! The princess among the provinces has become a slave! She weeps bitterly in the night, her tears are on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her. All her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies. --- Lamentations 1:1,2

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Foolish President! He Rolls Out the Triple Red Carpet....

News media flooded the citizens of the U.S.A. with details upon details of the recent state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao --- variety of news reports during Hu's visit

Complete title of this piece reads:

"Foolish President! He Rolls Out a Triple Red Carpet for the Chinese Leader, But Not Even a Moth-eaten Rug from a Two Bit Yard Sale for the Israeli Leader!"

The way the news media kept hammering on the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao one would almost be persuaded that we should start taking language courses and learn to speak Chinese! Indeed from the White House point of view this was about the biggest thing yet to take place under President Obama's watch. No expense was spared -- have you wondered at all just what the cost to us tax payers was in regard to that much publicized state dinner alone?

Was it mere coincidence that Hu Jintao closed out his visit by going to Chicago -- hmmmm - where have I heard that name before in the wild, wacky and very slimy game of politics? Further, it was revealed that Chicago will likely profit greatly in doing business with China -- well, it was stated this way -- Mayor Richard Daley is "building ties with China!"

Yes, the Chinese leader was treated to the very best during his visit to the U.S. That is in sharp contrast when one looks at how the leader of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was treated on his visit to Washington DC. The president of the U.S. treated the prime minister about as rudely as is possible for one head of state to treat another. But being as sympathetic as he is to the Muslim world, it is understandable that Obama has little time for an Israeli!

His foolishness in this regard is due to his ignorance of God's plan for the Hebrew people. A good place to start on this issue is to look at the covenant God made with Abraham in the book of Genesis. A great nation would be descended from Abraham with a large piece of territory involved -- much, much more than is presently occupied by the state of Israel. One of the interesting statements made by God was that He would bless those who blessed Abraham and his descendants and He would curse those who cursed Abraham and his descendants! (Genesis 12:3).

Sadly the history of the Israelite people is one of constant conflict. No other people have such a history of being despised and hated, nor has any other experienced such concentrated efforts to exterminate them from the face of the earth. In that circus known as the United Nations the one main bad guy and the one that is constantly being reviled is the nation of Israel. There have been times that only the United States has stood by and supported Israel when being under fire for something they did or failed to do. But it is a question as to how long that support will continue with the mood in Wasington DC changing in regard to our relationship to Israel.

God has great plans in store for Israel and Jerusalem. The future, if you look far enough ahead, is very bright for Israel because God has stated great promises about the destiny of Israel. Many are the prophecies that speak of peace and prominence for Israel. It will be dominant over all other nations inhabiting the world at that time. Just sift through the prophetic writings of the Old Testament scriptures and see for yourself. A time is coming when all implements of war will be dismantled. Nations of people that are living at that time will seek to be instructed in God's ways at Jerusalem. Obviously that time is not now -- you couldn't pay a lot of people enough money, much less world leaders to go to Jerusalem for the purpose of learning about God's ways! But it will happen -- not by negotiated agreements worked out at the United Nations circus, but by divine intervention on the part of the Son of God, Jesus Christ!

The wise leader of a nation will be extremely careful how he/she and his/her people relate to the nation of Israel -- it will impact a nation's destiny in ways the human mind is incapable of comprehending. And it all started many centuries ago with a man by the name of Abraham who had a son in his old age named Isaac who had a son named Jacob whose name was later changed to Israel -- and now after a few thousand years, a special people known as Israelis continue to exist with a wonderful future ahead, because God has a plan that is focused on that nation of people!

But China, in spite of politicians giving its leader that special red carpet treatment? No such future is mapped out for it as in the case of Israel.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, Prosperity within your palaces." For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, "Peace be within you." Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good. --- Psalm 122:6-9

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Alabama Governor Stirs Up a Proverbial Hornet's Nest!

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told a church crowd just moments into his new administration that those who have not accepted Jesus as their savior are not his brothers and sisters, shocking some critics who questioned whether he can be fair to non-Christians. --- from AP release on the Internet

It was bound to happen with remarks such as the new governor of Alabama has made about non-Christians not being brothers or sisters to him. It is true, of course, and in spite of a barrage of objections and accusations spewing forth from the non-Christian crowd this man will approach his responsibilities with greater sensitivity and greater wisdom than will his non-Christian counterparts.

The objections come because non-Christians do not understand how it is in the life of a person who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of his/her life. What it means is that God is now dwelling in the life of that person in a special way -- a term used in Scripture is that a Christian becomes a temple of God -- that is, God takes up residence in the life of the follower of Jesus Christ. This is referenced from time to time in the New Testament.

There is a life transformation experience going on, starting with the beginning decision to repent of all sin, ask God's forgiveness, and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. There is daily intereaction between the believer and the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a seeking of His will to be done, which will always be best for all concerned.

And how about the relationship to non-Christians? It matters not whether one is a governor, a president, member of a legislative body, a judge, or an average citizen walking the streets with an ordinary and very average type of employment -- there is a new dimension which involves love and compassion which non-Christians do not have and can not experience until they too come to know Jesus Christ!

The directive in Scripture on this is that ALL persons are to be loved by the obedient Christian and no prejudice is to be shown. James in his short letter in the New Testament is one who mentions this issue of showing prejudice and it is absolutely forbidden in the Christian faith.

But as mentioned previously, the non-Christian cannot understand this even a bit, and when remarks are made such as those by the new governor of Alabama, then they immediately load their verbal cannons and begin firing. They will find, however, if they are in his presence and involved in any decisions that he makes, that they will be treated far, far better than they would be by a governor who is not a Christian! And that goes across the board when it comes to a president, a member of a legislative body, or a judge as well!

Consider these statements as written by the apostle Paul in Romans 8:8-17 of the New Testament::

So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors; not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father." The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

God has promised His grace to those who trust Him for every challenge they meet along the way in life's journey in this world. May Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama experience the reality of this promise each day he holds office and may those who have verbally assaulted him have their eyes opened and to behold the fact that Jesus Christ died for them just as He did for the governor, and then make the right decision that they too will become his "brothers and sisters" in the Christian faith!

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent." Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. --- 1 Corinthians 1:18-21

Thursday, January 13, 2011

So Now It Is Time to Pray, Is It?

After the tragedy of the shootings in Tucson AZ there were calls to pray coming from many quarters, including the Congress of the United States, moments of "silence" etc. --- as reported by various news releases throughout the nation

It never fails to happen -- each time there is some kind of a tragedy in the United States in which a number of lives are lost under certain conditions, then there is quite a bit of attention given to the subject of prayer. And having been a pastor for over 50 years, I not only attempt to respond by praying myself, but also urge my congregational members to pray as well.

The last few days have seen the media dominated by the tragedy in Tucson AZ. Terms such as "thoughts and prayers" are often stated. The president and his wife were featured as leading the nation in a "moment of silence" -- you know, a generic term that no person should find offensive as opposed to an announcement, "And now the president is going to lead us in a time of prayer to Almighty God through His Son, Jesus Christ!"

But have you ever considered what God's response might be in these incidents as many say, "We need to pray!" This is especially an interesting phenomenon in a nation that has "officially" placed "No Trespassing" signs up so that the Creator of this universe -- the One Who gives and sustains all life will know clearly where He is permitted to be present and acknowledged and where the off limits territories are located!

Nearly 50 years ago God was informed that He was no longer welcome in the public school systems of this country nor was His inspired Word (the Bible) to be read in the hearing of students attending public schools. I state it this way because the infamous Supreme Court decision on the issue amounted to exactly that! This debacle of the first magnitude was further broadened as years passed and in a sense "refined" as students in graduation exercises were told to make no reference to God or Jesus Christ in the course of delivering their remarks, etc. Many hailed the decision as a great advancement and a very good thing -- there were even a number of thoughtless church leaders that praised this decision!

I remember well a high school student in one of our youth groups telling me that someone put a sign up on the school bulletin board after the Supreme Court's major blunder -- the sign said, "In case of nuclear attack the ban against prayer in this school will be temporarily suspended!" He further told me the sign was not up very long until a member of the school administration quickly tore it down and presumably placed it in the notorious "round file!"

While very few are recognizing it, we are duplicating the behavior patterns of an ancient kingdom which existed over 26 centuries ago in the Middle East. It was known as the kingdom of Judah, inhabited by Israelite people. For some time they were on a course leading to disaster due to persistent ethical, moral and spiritual corruption. Faithful prophets in those times sounded the warning of impending judgment if there was not widespread repentance on the part of the people and their leaders, religious and political. But the prophets for the most part were written off as a bunch of wild-eyed religous fanatics who were candidates for the insane asylum, if there were such an institution -- or better, execute them and feed their bodies to the dogs!

Eventually judgment did come, but not without ample warning by means of calamities of various kinds as well as the faithful appeals right up to the end stated by the prophets. And when a rather universal appeal for people to pray was made throughout the nation, here is how God responded --

"As the thief is ashamed when he is found out, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they and their kings and their princes, and their priests and their prophets, saying to a tree, 'You are my father,' and to a stone, 'You gave birth to me.' For they have turned their back to Me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they will say, 'Arise and save us.' But where are your gods that you have made for yourselves? Let them arise, if they can save you in the time of your trouble; for according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah. Why will you plead with Me? You all have transgressed against Me," says the LORD. (Jeremiah 2:26-29).

In light of the preceding quote and a look at the present ethical, moral and spiritual condition of our republic at the present time, will you dare to ponder a bit on how God is viewing us and what kind of response or lack thereof might be taking place?

"Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble." --- Jeremiah 11:14