When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”. And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” (Joshua 6:13-14, ESV).
The church in America is so entrenched in politics that it is often difficult to tell whether a sermon is an endorsement of a political party or the unfiltered word of God. We take sides and bludgeon others simply because of their political affiliation, regardless of God’s purpose in the way events unfold. We call the other party names and use language that Christians should not utter.
I do not believe that Christians should take sides but that we should simply vote based on our Christian beliefs, rooted in the word of God. I do not belief that we are to identify ourselves as Independents, Libertarians, Democrats, nor Republicans but that we should be, simply, Christians. When we choose a party, we essentially take sides; I acknowledge that this is not the case for everyone but that because of the way our law-makers have arranged the system, we must at times register as one or the other to be able to cast our votes. This law itself reveals the deception in politics and we should not have anything to do with deceitful behavior. Vote, yes, and challenge those who are in office and those who are running for office, but we must be mindful that what matters to us may differ from what matters to others. If we vote based on our Christian beliefs and values, rooted in the undefiled word of God, we should be free from the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Regardless of how we vote, we are called first to serve God and to love one another; to honor God with our whole being.
We are to honor God with our thoughts, words, and deeds. Some of the language I have heard among my brethren is indistinguishable from that of the uncircumcised world. Does this behavior honor God? The church has become just as partisan as the political hub of this nation. We are separated into small denominational groups by our political beliefs. Some churches have essentially closed the door to others in the way they exude their political beliefs. Some pastors cause members of their congregation to squirm in the seats as the spew their own political thoughts. This too is true for members who try to persuade pastors to deliver political messages to the congregation. I don’t recall reading of Jesus giving a political speech but I do remember him saying “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
When challenged with the question of whether to pay taxes to Caesar did Jesus give a lengthy speech about Caesar’s politics and the Jews beliefs? No, He didn’t, that was not His message, even if it was a ploy on the part of the Pharisees. So why do we fall for that trap today? Why do we bite into the temptation to spew political agendas and why are we so easily swayed by the media.
Where is love in today’s politics? It is difficult to see where actions are being taken out of love for others and where it is another selfish political move; I mean this for all sides of the political spectrum. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. There is so much evil in politics that I cannot but wonder if it is not one of the agents of the devil that will, and has acted against the church. Laws that are passed and even the abominable things that are celebrated in our politics run counter to what Christians believe.
So consider carefully what we are aligning ourselves to when we allow politics to influence our thoughts and actions. We are called to consecrate ourselves; reconciled to God through Jesus Christ. That is not possible if we hold fast to the things of this world. We are to be in the world but not of the world. Politics does not distinguish between believer and unbeliever except when chasing after votes. Why do we fall for the traps of the evil one who seeks to destroy the church by creating divisions among the members? Why do we buy into the politics of the day when it is filled with deception, guile, greed, and all manner of ungodly motives?
Beware of the leaven of politics!
Vote your conscience but look to God, not man, for deliverance. “By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be make known to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Flee from those things that dishonor God and “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you you” (Philippians 4:8-9).
Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man? The goodness of God endures continually. Your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good, lying rather than speaking righteousness. You love all devouring words, you deceitful tongue. God shall likewise destroy you forever; He shall take you away and pluck you out of you dwelling place, and uproot you from the land of the living. The righteous also shall see and fear and shall laugh at him, saying, “Here is the man who did not make God his strength but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.” (Psalm 51:1-7).
Open you eyes, lift up your heads, listen, pay attention for God is about to do something in Zion. He has spoken and His word has already accomplished that which was spoken. The nations have acted deceitfully toward each other and the people of the nations have done likewise to their neighbors. Their tongue have sliced each other to bone and marrow and fruits of their lips have been evil continually.
The Lord is about to cleanse His people; He is about to wash and renew His church. No longer will we continue to wash ourselves in the standing pool of filthy water. God is about to bring us to his stream of righteousness to cleanse us, purify us, and send us out to do his will. No longer will He tolerate watered down sermons and filthy pulpits; He desires our broken and contrite hearts. “Whoever offers praise glorifies me; and to him who order his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:23).
God has looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God (Psalm 53:2).
Our corrupt ways have gone up to the Lord; we have turned aside from Him and have considered ourselves greater than He who created us. We continually look to our own strengths and knowledge for answers; patting ourselves on the back for discovering what God has revealed to us. We have altogether cut God out of our lives and called ourselves wise but “the fool has said in his heart, there is no God. They corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who goes good”. (Psalm 53:1).
Look around you and search also your own heart, what do you see? Is the righteousness of God in and around you? God has spoken; He is about to sit in judgement of His people. He has called together the chiefs of His people and the Chiefs of His angels. His word has gone out from Him to cut away the excess fat from among His people. He is cleansing the church; cutting away the fruitless and those whose fruits are borne of evil. Look to your left and your right; to upon the pulpit of God. They are become but strangers to you; no longer will they occupy the space they hold; no longer will they come before the God of righteousness out of selfish desires and with deceitful hearts. No longer will his church bathe itself in filthy water.
God is about to destroy and divide their tongues to rid his church and land of iniquity, trouble, destruction, oppression, and deceit.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Prepare your hearts you His people!
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor (Isaiah 61:1-2).
I have heard these words recited over and over for the past three nights with an emphasis unlike I’ve ever heard them before. No, I did not finish the second verse but neither did Jesus when he emerged from the wilderness anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit to boldly speak these words in the hearing of the deaf; spiritually deaf that is. So I began to think on them; on how significant these words are over two thousand years later. Jesus is still bringing good news to the poor, He is still healing the brokenhearted, He is still setting the captives free, and prison doors continue to fold in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
Oh how wrong you are; you who say “I am not poor, never been brokenhearted, has never been a captive, nor have I ever been in prison”. Yet you are quick to declare the Lord’s favor in your lives.
Since Cain, sin has been crouching at the door but God promises us in Genesis 4:7 that if we do well, we will be accepted. This same sin causes many to be spiritually bankrupt, broken, bound, and imprisoned in a world that does not enjoy the Lord’s favor. But by the blood of Jesus, we have overcome sin and “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Yes, if we believe and learn to activate the Holy Spirit we can move mountains for it is not by our hands that these things are accomplished, but by Him who lives in us; by the power of the Holy Spirit.
God continues to pour out His spirit on us, even in these days when so many are deaf to the Spirit and skeptical of His word. In a time when faith is simply an after thought; a nice conversation starter when God has already moved miraculously even when others were leaning on hope for the answer. The time is coming and is upon us when Jesus will unfold the rest of Isaiah’s scroll and continue reading:
“and the day of the vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness. The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:2-3).
So will you continue to shake your head at the faith of the saints and the power of the Holy Spirit? Will you continue to deny the Spirit access to your heart while leaving the gates, door, and windows open to demons and their seed of doubt? Or, will you believe in the promises of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ so that when He returns you will escape his vengeance and instead be given a new headdress and be wrapped in the garment of praise?
God will be glorified and by His grace, we will receive the oil of gladness and all that he has stored up for us. This is my confidence for all his saints!