Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Not Judgmental, But Prayer-mental
By Francis Frangipane
Mercy, Not Wrath
The church is created not to fulfill God's wrath, but to complete His mercy. Remember, we are called to be a "house of prayer for all…nations." Consider passionately this phrase: "prayer for." Jesus taught His disciples to "pray for" those who would persecute or mistreat them (Matt.5 44). When Job "prayed for" his friends, God fully restored him (Job 42:10). We are to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Ps. 122:6), and "pray for" each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16).
According to the Word of God, the Lord "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4). Therefore, Paul urged "that entreaties and prayers…be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority" (vv. 1-2). You see, the call is to pray for people.
"But," you argue, "my country (or city) is a modern manifestation of ancient Babylon."
I don't think so. But even if it were, when the Lord exiled Israel to Babylon, He didn't order His people to judge and condemn their new cities. Rather, He said, "Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you…and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare" (Jer. 29:7).
Time after time, the scriptural command is to pray for, not against; to pray mercifully, not vindictively. God's call is for prayer moved by compassion, not condemnation. Indeed, at its very essence, the nature of intercession is to appeal to God for forgiveness and redemption to come to sinful people.
We have studied what is wrong with our society and can prove, with charts and surveys, the trends of sin, yet we have failed to appreciate the influence of the intercessions of Christ. We consider ourselves experts on the nature and cause of sin, but deny the nature and cause of Christ, which is redemption. Friends, being informed by the news media is in no way the same thing as being transformed into the nature of the Savior.
The media sees what is wrong with the world and exposes it; Christ saw what was wrong and died for it. If one could gaze into the image being created within the heart of the church, one would find that it would be more the cynical attitude of the news media than the redemptive attitude of our Shepherd. Righteousness must ascend higher than ascribing to the moral views of our political party; we are called to the standards of God.
Study Isaiah 53. It reveals in wondrous detail the Savior's nature: Christ numbered Himself with the sinners (v. 12). He interceded for the transgressors (v. 12). He is "with us" (Matt. 1:23) and "for us" (Rom. 8:31), even when He is speaking to us of our iniquity.
But the world sees a church with rocks in its hands, looking for adulterers and sinners. We have become the "church of the angry Christians." In the drama that is unfolding in the world today, we have not usually been playing the role of Christ, but more often the part of the Pharisees. Let us drop the rocks from our hands, then lift our hands, without wrath, in prayer to God (1 Tim. 2:8).
"Prayer-Mental," Not Judgmental
God does not want us to be judgmental; He wants us prayer-mental. As instinctively as we have judged people, we should pray for them instead. Today, countless Christians are angry with their elected officials. We say our anger is "righteous indignation." I too feel this troubling that people elected to serve have so misused our national treasure, bringing our nation to near ruin. Yet, if my goal is to be like Christ, I must remember: Jesus expressed "righteous indignation" for, perhaps, a total of one hour during His recorded ministry. Once was for the hardness of people's hearts (Mark 3:5), another was for the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and scribes (Matt. 23:13-36), and other times were at the temple when the Father's house was used for something other than redemptive prayer (Mark 11:17). So, yes, Jesus was angry, but His anger was always replaced with love and intercession for God's people.
How long has your anger lasted? Are you sure your love has not grown cold? Are you sure you are not seeking to justify a root of bitterness and call it righteous indignation?
"Well," some argue, "our government officials have sinned." When Paul called for prayer for kings in 1 Timothy 2:1-2, Nero was emperor of Rome. Nero was one of the most corrupt men who ever lived. He did not have an illicit relationship or two; he had public orgies. He skinned Christians alive. There were occasions when he illuminated his night banquets with living torches, Christians, who were tarred and then set ablaze on poles. Nero and his guests dined surrounded by Christians dying for their faith. Yet Paul wrote that we should pray "for kings and all who are in authority" (v. 2). Nero was king when Paul wrote this command.
Some may misread my words, assuming that I think there is nothing wrong in government or society. Yes, there are many things wrong in our world, and God will certainly call us, at various times, to confront the sins that plague our lands. However, my concern is not as much with the White House as with the Lord's house! If we are not praying for our elected officials, the least we can do is to stop cursing them!
The Father's house is to be a house of prayer for kings and all in authority. We can adamantly disagree with the political views that a leader has, but we must also adamantly cry to God on their behalf and serve as intercessors, even for our cultural enemies.
I can understand the reason for anger toward elected officials, especially if we consider that they are not doing their jobs. But if all we do is judge them, we are not doing our jobs. It is not the Holy Spirit within us that calls for God to judge sinners; it is our frustration with people and the delay in the restoration of righteousness. My friend, beware; for when you pray for judgment to come, remember that it begins "with the household of God" (1 Pet. 4:17). To pray for God to judge a nation or city for its sins actually initiates judgment from God on the church for its sins! And the Almighty will start with those who are quickest to judge others!
When I pray for the political leaders guiding the United States, I ask the Lord to protect them from the influence of ungodly counselors. Where they have failed, I appeal to God to forgive them and to show mercy in regard to the relaxed moral standards of our land and especially concerning abortion, which breaks the Lord's heart. For those who are clearly corrupt, since we are a democracy, I pray that God would replace the evil leaders with righteous leaders.
The Lord desires for us to "stand in the gap" (Ezek. 22:30), positioning ourselves between the failings of man and the sufficiency and forgiveness of God. Then, He calls us to persevere in this intercession until, in one form or another, righteous change occurs in our society.
For all who are embittered with their nation's leaders, remember: each of us must give an account for our sins at the "judgment seat of Christ" (2 Cor. 5:10). Let us consider with holy fear the warning of God: "Judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:13).
Father, I ask You to forgive me for my lack of forgiveness toward our elected officials. Lord, I ask You to forgive, cleanse, and renew them in Your mighty presence. Appear to them, Lord, in the night hours; save them from the lies and plans of hell. Touch and heal their families, and renew them as well in Your love. Lord, I ask You to forgive my harshness toward all who have offended me. O God, this day, deliver me from my judgmental attitudes! Help me to remember in all things and at all times that "mercy triumphs over judgment"!
Friday, August 12, 2011
I want to thank You for what you have already done.
I am not going to wait until I see results or receive rewards; I am thanking you right now.
I am not going to wait until I feel better or things look better; I am thanking you right now.
I am not going to wait until people say they are sorry or until they stop talking about me; I am thanking you right now.
I am not going to wait until the pain in my body disappears; I am thanking you right now.
I am not going to wait until my financial situation improves; I am going to thank you right now.
I am not going to wait until the children are asleep and the house is quiet; I am going to thank you right now.
I am not going to wait until I get promoted at work or until I get the job; I am going to thank you right now.
I am not going to wait until I understand every experience in my life that has caused me pain or grief; I am thanking you right now.
I am not going to wait until the journey gets easier or the challenges are removed; I am thanking you right now.
I am thanking you because I am alive.
I am thanking you because I made it through the day's difficulties.
I am thanking you because I have walked around the obstacles.
I am thanking you because I have the ability and the opportunity to do more and do better.
I'm thanking YOU, God...You haven't given up on me.