The last verse of Psalm 119 is piercing in its desperation: “I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.” The lost person in this verse is not someone who has rejected or openly rebelled against God; rather, like a sheep, he simply strayed from the fold. Perhaps the sheep was tempted by greener pastures or distracted by something interesting, like a butterfly floating around him or an unfamiliar sound. The sheep, lost and alone, possibly cold and certainly afraid, helplessly bleats out into the dark night, hoping to be rescued by the shepherd. The situation is not hopeless! The story, while it begins in the Old Testament, finds its conclusion in the New Testament. Jesus once told a crowd of people that a shepherd who has a hundred sheep will “go after the [one] lost sheep until he finds it” (Luke 15:1-7). Jesus later confirmed that He is that shepherd: He came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). No matter how far the lost soul from Psalm 119 had strayed from God, we can be certain that God heard his cry and pursued him until He found him. Perhaps you find that you’ve drifted away from where you once were in your relationship with God. Rest assured that God loves you and that He desires to bring you back into the safety of the fold. Or, perhaps, you’re praying for a friend or a family member who has wandered away from the path of righteousness. Keep on praying! The Good Shepherd will never give up!
I’m looking forward to the election on November 3rd. Maybe you’re like me and are experiencing “political fatigue.” Having gone through many presidential elections, I can’t remember any more divisive and caustic as this one. As a Christian, I pray and think about how I should respond in such a political climate. Here are a few thoughts. Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” There are many issues debated that are not “moral” in the sense that one side is sinful and the other is righteous (for example: raising taxes on gas). I may not like it, but taxes are a part of life and are needed to keep things going. However, there are issues that are addressed in the Bible (directly or in principle) which affect the life and well-being of people. Some examples of this include how an elected official would vote on protecting the life of a baby in the womb or how they would treat those who are poor or elderly. The Bible has a lot to say about the responsibility of the strong to defend the weak. I consider the lives and past records of candidates and vote for the person I believe will most closely represent biblical values. The question I ask is, “Will this leader move our country closer to God and what is right…or further away?” The candidate may not be a Christian in the way that we know, but does he promote decisions that exalt what is right…or does he promote sin? Morals matter! Another thought I leave with you is this: people are more important than their political affiliation. The Early Church stunned the world through the power of unity in our Lord Jesus Christ—not because of their political opinions. It’s not our responsibility to argue with others in order to get them to vote as we do. I wonder, is it possible that we as believers in Jesus can lead the way in this time of deep division? Make no mistake, millions of people are going to be angry and upset after the election. Pastor Andy Stanley wrote, “Your favorite candidate will win or lose based on how our country votes in November. However, the church will win or lose based on our behavior between now and then.” May we speak and live in the Holy Spirit! Perhaps in our divided nation many will be won to Jesus as they witness the love we have for one another…regardless of politics. Our nation needs your prayers!
As we approach election day, I am filled with deep emotions for the future of our country. On the one hand, I am believing God for a great awakening. As in former days, we discover that God’s Spirit can do a great work in a short time. People who are hopeless can find forgiveness and a future. Those enslaved by sin can be set free. Those lost can discover the presence of God and find the power and guidance of the Scriptures. God truly changes lives! On the other hand, when I look with just my natural vision, I see a country running headlong after sin and its deceptive pleasures. I see the majority of Americans ignoring the Lord and His church. I see the leaders of our political parties boasting about how we can solve our own problems. God is hardly mentioned, and, when some politicians are bold enough to speak His name, they are often ridiculed and told to leave God out of their decision making. It’s easy to feel marginalized and isolated. As I read the Book of Jeremiah, I realize the prophet faced far greater struggles than Christians face in America right now. Jeremiah truly was alone most of the time. While reading chapter fifteen today, I was reminded of what kept him going. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. I did not sit in the company of revelers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because your hand was upon me for you had filled me with indignation” (Jeremiah 15:16-17). The hand of God was on Jeremiah. Rather than trying to find joy in the pleasures others pursued, he found delight in God’s Word. May the Lord raise up more Jeremiahs today! Dare to be different. Value God’s Word and His presence. Your life can make a great impact!
The other day I was sitting on the couch worshiping the Lord. I was thinking about the Lord’s wonderful salvation in my life and the multitude of blessings He gives me each day. My praise rose to the Lord with deep gratitude. Then, all of a sudden, my mind turned to the people all around me. How many of them never once share the joy of walking with Jesus? How many of them struggle with life’s issues without the power of prayer? How many of them have no hope as they face the future…and a Christless eternity? This week at Highway, we begin what we call our “Missions Convention.” During these next couple of weeks, we will hear from those called to minister in places far away and close to home. However, the whole idea of a missions convention is a waste of time if we just think of missions as done in special places by a few special people. The Bible reveals that we are in the days of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all who believe (see Acts 2:17 and Joel 2:28). As followers of Jesus, we are called to be people of the Spirit who look at each day as a mission. How would our lives be different if we looked at our time on earth as an opportunity to do the will of God each hour of each day? What if we got up in the morning and prayed, “Lord, lead me to someone today with whom I can share the hope of Jesus”? What if our lives were “mission controlled” instead of being controlled by our agendas? The commission of Jesus was given to all God’s people when he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). May we enjoy the presence and great salvation of our Lord, and, at the same time, pray compassionately for our relatives, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to find life in Christ. My prayer is that every one of us would take the mission of Jesus to heart as our personal mission…not as something “out there” but as something “right here”—in my life and yours. Lord, may Your mission control me!