A Caucus Prayer

“Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses,
who trust in chariots because they are many
and in horsemen because they are very strong,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!”
(Isaiah 31:1 (ESV))

Last night I had the privilege of opening our local Caucus meeting with prayer.  I knew this wasn’t an opportunity to preach a sermon, and I didn’t want to campaign for a particular candidate or cause – but there was something on my heart that needed to be said. 

I’ve heard it again and again, “This is the most important election our nation has faced!”  Really?!?  I’ll admit that this is an important election.  Our nation stands at a crossroads; financially, philosophically, politically.  The election of the next president will advance the nation one way or another.  But does the election of a president really have that much bearing on the future of our nation?  In the proper balance of powers, the executive office is just one of three, and our legislative and judicial branches are equally important in determining the direction of the country.

I think what frustrates me most, and what I wanted to communicate last night in my prayer, is that as a Christian, our sense of security and purpose in life should not at all depend upon who sits in the Oval Office, but rather, who is seated on the throne in heaven.  Our hopes and fears are not met in the perfect political candidate, but in the sinless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  Contrary to popular belief, America is not the Kingdom of God.  As Christians, we are called to be good citizens, and we may love and serve our nation patriotically.  But we possess dual citizenship.  For we are also citizens of a great Kingdom, a heavenly realm, with Christ as our Lord and Savior.

So I’ll say this from the onset, and it will bear repeating throughout this election cycle: It matters not who is elected, for God is on His throne, and all is right in Heaven.  Be active and informed citizens.  Cast an informed and faithful ballet.  But regardless of the outcome, do not let your hearts be troubled.

Here is the prayer from last night.

Sovereign and gracious God, you are the God of all nations, in your providence and wisdom you cause nations to rise and fall, in the light of your wisdom you guide us through times of abundance and times of want; we thank you for your guiding hand which has lead us in our pilgrimage, and for your graciousness that has blessed our land.  Keep us ever mindful of those in this world who do not share such blessing and live under tyrannical oppression; may your justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Almighty God, we thank you for our freedom – given in your grace, secured in your Son Jesus Christ, and defended by the generations who have gone before us – our freedom to gather in peaceful assembly tonight to choose delegates to represent us and to speak to the nation regarding the field of candidates in our upcoming presidential election.  Grant that those who are chosen tonight may be guided by your wisdom, and faithfully represent the people whom they serve.

We confess that too often we tend to trust in the strength of our candidates and elected officials rather than in your Almighty hand; our sense of security and provision depends on whether our political party is in power; and we forget that we depend on you for our daily bread.  Teach us to trust in you, and in you alone, for our safety, our security, our liberty, and our happiness in life.  Raise up for our nation men and women who, in humility and gratitude, will serve you as they serve this state and this nation.  We lift before you our president, and all who have been elected to serve this nation and state, that they may be led by the light of your wisdom, guided by your truth and justice, and that your providential hand may work your sovereign purpose in and through them. 

Gracious God, we thank you for your grace and mercy which has guided us through the manifold changes of this life; but most of all, for the love that we know in your Son, Christ Jesus our Lord.  In all that we say, in all that we do, in all that we are, may we give you praise, glory, and honor, this day and forevermore.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Grace and peace be with you!

SDG

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Lord…

“Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”
(Luke 12:29-31 (ESV))

Sometimes, it’s the simple things that Jesus says that are the hardest to follow.  Take, for example, the passage above.  This is surely one of the most beloved sayings of Jesus.  We can imagine Jesus, while standing in the midst of a prairie jeweled with wildflowers, the birds singing in the background, calmly teaching, “Consider the lilies of the field…”  We read the passage and say to ourselves, “Oh, that’s really nice.”  But do we apply it to our hearts?

If you stop and read this teaching (Luke 12:22-31) it will radically change your life.  Jesus tells his disciples that they are not to be anxious about anything – what they will eat, what they will wear.  The kingdom of heaven is about more than just food and clothing.  All the anxiety and worry spent in providing these things, does it really help?  The birds of the air don’t store up food, but God still feeds them.  God clothes the flowers of the field, which are here today and gone tomorrow.  If God so cares for the birds and adorns the grass, are you not worth more to God than these, will God not also provide for you?  You can’t add an hour to your life by stressing, fretting, and obsessing over it, so why do you worry about the rest.  When Jesus says, “the nations of the world seek after these things” he’s making a clear distinction.  The nations of the world are not the kingdom of God.  Without the assurance of faith that our heavenly Father will provide our needs, even our daily bread, then it would be only natural to worry and stress and even freak out a little bit.  But since we have such a loving and sovereign God who provides for our every need, such behavior is unbecoming.

That’s why I think this passage is so difficult for us.  How many of us know this passage but still get overcome by worry and anxiety?  Tim Keller, in his book King’s Cross, says that worry “is rooted in an arrogance that assumes, I know the way my life has to go, and God’s not getting it right.”  How many times have we said that to ourselves?  We’ve got our lives all planned out.  We know what needs to happen to find joy and success in life, to be secure and satisfied.  Now why won’t God get with the plan?  If God really wanted what was best for me, what’s with all this pain and loss, hardship and setback.  If this is the way it’s going to be, can I really trust God with my life?

I think that’s really the heart of the matter here, what Jesus is really driving at.  Do you trust God?  Do you take Him at his word?  Do you trust that God will provide your every need, your daily bread, that God has a plan to prosper you and to secure you in His fold? 

That’s what it means to seek the kingdom of God.  In the gospels, when Jesus talks about the kingdom of God, he is referring to God’s reign, rule, and God’s provision for His redeemed that flows from this rule.  We are told to seek first God’s kingdom, not our own.  We are told to seek first God’s kingdom, not the kingdoms of this world.  When we seek after, long for, earnestly desire the kingdom of God, then everything else will be added to us.  Unless you fix your eyes on Christ, the author and perfecter of your faith, you will, like Peter, look to the waves and be overcome by worry and anxiety.   

So how do we seek first the kingdom of God and overcome all the worry and fears of this world? 

First, know that Christ reigns and rules over you and for you?  Ephesians reminds us that God has put all things under [Jesus’] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church” (1:22).  The one who left the glory of God to dwell with us, to live for us and to die our death, lives now and reigns over us.  He is the Lamb who was slain, who is now enthroned in power and might as our High King of heaven.  If He lived for us, if He died for us, if He now reigns in power over us, what comfort and contentment, what rest and peace may we find in Him!  He who proved his love again and again, will He not continue to prove His love to those who seek after Him?

Secondly, trust that the Lord will provide, and rest in his care.  Knowing that our Lord reigns and rules over us gives us an endless source of contentment to face all situations, (Phil 4:11) and to rejoice in all our troubles (Rom 8:35).  We know that even in adversity, God is working our sanctification (Heb 12:5-11), developing Christlikeness (Romans 5:2-5), and strengthening our faith (1 Peter 1:7).  Because He has proven His provision in the past, we know that our God “will supply every need… according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:19).

Finally, turn to the Lord, cast your cares upon him.  James tells us that one of the reasons we get anxious and begin to worry that God won’t provide is that “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2).  Do you take your concerns, your worries to the Lord in prayer?  It saddens me when Christians don’t take their troubles to the Lord because they don’t think God cares.  Paul tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6). 

Friends, I know how difficult it is to let go of the worry, the anxiety.  Without it, we feel like we’re not in control.  But, honestly, if we cannot add an hour to our lives by being anxious, why do we worry about the rest.  Oh, what release, what comfort, what peace we find when we lay these burdens down, and seek after the kingdom of God. 

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
(Psalm 55:22).

SDG