Seven Spiritual Principles for Transcending Suffering

Suffering is pervasive.  No one goes without facing suffering.  The whole of creation came under the tyranny of suffering as a consequence of sin. In this world there are many sources of suffering.  Stress in fact has become a less threatening word to describe facing varied forms of suffering.  There are many degrees and shapes of suffering. There is the suffering of trauma and disaster, there is abuse inflicted on others, disease, poverty, and so on.  Most of what is offered in the world related to stress and suffering is all about coping.  Yet, there are spiritual principles that can lead beyond just coping with suffering and actually transcend whatever the experience is.  There can be peace in suffering.  In examining the Bible, there are seven principles that God has given us that can help us transcend suffering and stress.

Before getting into the examination of principles there is a need to acknowledge that this discussion is a basic overview of these principles.  A lot more time can be spent expanding on each principle in far greater detail; the objective here is to lay a foundation of understanding. While reading, take some time to pray and think over each principle.  God may emphasize a particular point for you.  Please take the thoughts outlined here as a starting point for further study and pursuit of understanding.  Wherever you are at and however stress and suffering are currently affecting your life, may you find words of peace and encouragement that lighten the load and burden. So let us now take a look at the seven spiritual principles for transcending suffering.

Recognize: The starting point is really recognizing that God is sovereign. He is, was, and will always be in control.  The climax of the book of Job is that God is in control.  Now recognizing this fact is key to making it through the suffering.  It is not just about God being in control, it is about what God allows in his sovereignty he allows to bring himself Glory.  The fact is it is easy to lose sight of God’s sovereignty and control. It is really easy to focus on the pain and difficulty and wonder where God is in the midst. All things happen for God’s glory.  Not only does it happen for God’s glory but also that we may grow in maturity.  Here are some verses that emphasize this needed recognition:

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV) Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

1 Peter 4: 11, 12 (ESV) Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

 So we need to recognize that God is in control, that what he allows he allows for his glory, and what he allows works to refine us and build us up further in him.  These are important facts to recognize when in the midst of suffering.

Remember: This step is related to recognize for the things we need to recognize are also important things for us to remember.  But the principle of remembrance does not stop with bringing to mind the truths of what God has said but also what God has done.  The Old Testament is filled with examples of people engaging in establishing ways to remember what God has done.  Two ways reported over and over were setting up altars and naming places and children related to what God has done. God also created for Israel feasts such as Passover to be continual reminders of His faithfulness and ability to deliver.  Remembering what God has done, his love, his faithfulness, and even his discipline is important because it directs us to God’s love, dependability, and faithfulness.  If we remember how God has provided and delivered in the past, when under a current trial or form of suffering it gives encouragement that He who proved faithful before, will do so again. God is always true. Yet sometimes we forget that fact.  We most often forget that God is faithful and capable of accomplishing all that He promises and says.  When we forget, we struggle more.  So take time and remember what God has done in your life, the ways He has proved faithful. Remember the ways God has shown and revealed Himself in your life.  A key Bible verse for this spiritual principle is Hebrews 10:23 (ESV) Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  So take time to remember what God has done and review God’s faithfulness, for that which He promises, He will make certain. 

Faith: Any form of suffering brings with it a challenge to faith. Suffering ultimately reveals our depths and limits of faith. The Bible gives us some clear understanding of what faith is in Hebrews 11:1 (ESV): Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Faith is acting on that which is not visible, that which is beyond our comprehension.  It is during suffering when what is seen is the pain and hurt that faith is most critical; for it is during suffering the faithfulness and love of God comes into question, for what is seen is pain.  Peter when he got out of the boat showed great faith in the unseen. The great waves did not bother him, as He had faith in God to uphold him.  The disciple’s faith was shown to be limited when they were overwhelmed with fears while in the boat in a storm while Jesus slept.  Yet, faith is not just the certainty of what is unseen regarding God’s faithfulness.  Faith is our response to what God directs.  Romans 10:17 (ESV) states: So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.  Faith is founded upon what we hear of God and his word. It is founded on our relationship to God’s authority and our position in the Kingdom of God.  Faith is following God’s direction and resting in His authority.  When we walk in fear rather than faith, we doubt God’s goodness, faithfulness, and love.  Take a look at Hebrews 10:23 again.  We are able to stand firm in faith when we believe that He is faithful.  

Ultimately our actions during suffering reveal our level of faith. We can claim to have faith, but unless we act on that faith the faith is meaningless. We can say we trust God to see us through our darkest suffering, but it our actions that really reveal the sincerity of that faith. How we manage day to day.  And guess what, each of us do have limits to our faith.  At any time God can turn to us and respond “Oh ye of little faith.”  For when you compare the depth and limits of our faith with the goodness and faithfulness of God, it will always come up short.  We all like Peter can show moments of great face soon followed by great weakness.  So in the midst of suffering we will learn our limits to faith and be challenged to continue. And ultimately, it is the times of suffering that draw us into deeper awareness of God’s love and faithfulness and result in growth and maturity of faith.  So what to do when your faith is at the limits? Confess your unbelief and lack of faith to God and ask Him to grow your faith and help you in your unbelief.  Also do not be surprised by your own limits to faith, for we all have them.

Focus:  The word focus really entails an essential spiritual principle.  Focus has to do with where our attention is centered.  Suffering of any sort will test our focus.  An amazing thing is that we can start out with strong faith, we can step out of the boat and walk toward Jesus, yet like Peter we also quickly can lose focus.  Jesus is to be our central focus, but the difficulties of life, the stressors and sufferings can often divert our attention.  Actually the bible directs us to maintain two types of focus: on Jesus and eternity.  There are two key verses that point to keeping focus on Jesus:

Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Hebrews 12:2 (NIV) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Focus on Jesus in a key to peace in suffering. When we are thinking about Jesus and serving him, we look beyond our pain, troubles, and  difficulties.  Part of focusing on Jesus is that when we look at what God did at the cross and Jesus suffering greatly, suffered so that we may be redeemed and set free, we can see that God does truly work things out for His glory. 

The second area we need to place our focus is away from this world to matters of eternity. In other worlds it is looking past the Kingdom of this world to God’s Kingdom.  Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV):  Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

That verse really captures the differences between focus on the eternal or the things of this world. Everything of this world is temporary, lasting but a moment.  This is true of suffering as well. And yes, a person can endure suffering the rest of their life, but it is still always but temporary in comparison with eternity.  This is spelled out even more clearly in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV): So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

It is truly difficult to focus on the eternal and that which is not temporary. For we know what we see, we know what we feel. We are easily drawn to give our full attention to these temporary things.  In order to transcend the suffering, it requires looking beyond self and this world to that which is eternal.  The need for eternal focus is also outlined in Colossians 3:1-4 (ESV): If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 

If one cannot readjust focus to that of Jesus and eternal matters then any suffering will be insurmountable and all-consuming.  When we take focus off of this world and self, we are uplifted. There is no burden that can weigh us down or cause us to sink, rather we are buoyed through any storm and uplifted when we have our focus centered in the right direction.

Love: This principle really grows out of taking eyes off of the focus of our own pain and looking toward God and others.  When engage in loving others we engage in actions that build them up.  When we love others we touch the hurt and pains that they experience are touched.  It just takes a simple act.  It is also a fact that a good portion of suffering is related to choices other people made that have hurt others. In other words, actions of self have resulted in hurting others.  Actions of love have an impact that far outweigh the actions of harm as seen in Deuteronomy 5:7-10. The effects of sins of fathers have impact to three or four generations but that actions of love lasts thousands. Love is far more powerful and long lasting.  Sins bring pain, love brings blessing and healing. It is not just the actual suffering we experience that cause us difficulty but also the perception of a threat of suffering. The perceived threat elicits the emotion of fear.  I John 4:18(ESV) states: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.  The bible goes at great length to encourage us to love others, in particular those that are poor or in unfortunate circumstances.  Now here is an amazing thing. When you are engaged in focusing on helping and loving others, the perception of pain or your level of stress or suffering reduces. It does not change the source or cause of the pain, but when you take your mind off of self, the felt pain reduces. It even helps to be around others going through similar struggles and to mutually support one another through the suffering.  As you do so and focus on the concerns of others, there is a reduced perception of pain.  Test this principle out, focus on loving others and then check on your perception of pain. Ultimately remember, that what we learn from and the change and growth that occurs during struggles can in turn be used to reach and impact others.  In such away not only do we gain from our struggles but others gain and are touched as well. 

Uplift: The action that we can take that is the most in opposition to suffering is praising and uplifting God in the midst of stress and suffering.  It is something we are commanded to do.  Philippians  4:4 (ESV) states Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say Rejoice! James 1:2 (NIV) states: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.  We have a biblical example of being joyful in the time of trial.  In Acts 16 Paul and Silas sang and worshiped God while in prison after being beaten. Yet they surrendered and focused on God and uplifted God. They did not complain about their circumstances or pain.  They knew God was worthy of praise regardless of circumstance.  They chose to uplift him.  Now, it is a hard thing to do in difficult times.  It involves a surrender of self.  When we hurt and are in pain it is difficult to praise God. We know the hurt we endure. We may even doubt the love of God.  The Bible gives us multiple directions to stand firm for a reason.   It is not just the New Testament that directs us to thank and uplift God no matter what the circumstance; the Old Testament makes frequent references to offering the sacrifice of Thanksgiving.   The sacrifice of Thanksgiving is closely associated with the peace offering, which points to Jesus as our salvation. The reason we can uplift God is what He has done for us at the cross.  Remember, all suffering ultimately is a result of sin.  All sin was addressed at the cross, and while we still face the ongoing twists and pain that sin caused, Jesus dealt with it at the cross.  He suffered all, died, and rose again that suffering comes to an end. This is why we can praise.  It is worth noting that the sacrifice of Thanksgiving involved both things that are pleasing, and those that are unpleasing, and even that which is impure.  They all are uplifted to God, thanking Him for all: good, bad, unpleasant, impure, or joyous.   Now, if you understand that God wants us to lift all before Him and understand that it is because of Jesus and what is yet to come that we can praise, the need and value of uplifting God is more clear.  As Hebrew 13:15(ESV) directs: Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Uplifting God with praise and worship is an ongoing, continual process. It is a setting aside of self and giving Honor where it is do, to God alone.  It is continually surrendering of self.  In pain and suffering of any type this requires an act of will. It is not an easy task to look beyond the pain and circumstances and praise God. In fact, it requires a willful, sacrificial act of turning from self to God.  And when we are obedient and able to follow God’s command in such a manner, He shows up and is present.  He showed up in a might way for Paul and Silas. He can in each of our lives as well.  If the circumstances do not change, God will change you and fill you with His Joy and Peace.  But it starts with surrender such as setting aside the self in pain and uplifting the Most Holy One.  There is power in uplifting the Father who loves us beyond measure; power in uplifting Jesus who is the Lamb worthy to be Slain who has redeemed us and set us free: and there is power in uplifting the Holy Spirit who empowers us when we are weak and draws us unto repentance. So continually uplift and praise God. Continually surrender in worship.  Give your all to Him no matter what the circumstances.

Rest: This principle is powerful but we often fail to recognize the importance of rest. Transcending suffering only really occurs when you are able to be at a place of rest.  People really do have a hard time entering rest or even understanding it.  Resting is all about coming to a settled state where there is no striving to obtain.  Hebrews 4:9-11(ESV) states:   So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.  True surrender to God involves being at a state of rest, which is a ceasing focus on self and looking to God.  It is being at a state that no matter what situation you are in, whatever you endure, that looking to God comes first.  Paul’s reported secret of contentment really points to this rest principle: Philippians 4:13 (ESV) I can do all things through him who strengthens me. In good times, in pain, in suffering God gives us the strength and peace to endure and stand firm.  Resting in suffering is ceasing the focus on what is not right and turning to God regardless of any change.  Those following God and rest in Him are able to move beyond whatever happens in this world.  It is in such rest and turning to God that He provides the strength to stand.  We cannot do it of our own accord, we truly need to know the meaning of when I am weak He is strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10b)   His power is strong when we are weak, when we cease the striving, then God’s strength can move in our lives regardless of any change in sources of suffering.

The deep rest that transcends suffering is a level of even letting go of our own protection and depending on God letting His peace guard are heart and soul.  The Psalms are full of references to finding refuge in God.  Psalms 94:22(ESV) is one such example:  But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.  Striving for our own defense is natural.  The more stress and suffering we face, the more prone we are to find ways to defend ourselves from threats.  God wants us to set aside our own defense and rest in His defense of us.  He wants total trust and dependence on him.  This is the essence and nature of rest.   There is a well used verse that really sums up the nature of rest God asks of us.  Psalms 46: 10a (ESV) “Be still and know that I am God” The verse is really nothing about our communicating with God, it is all about resting in Him.  The Psalms really describes God’s coming wrath with the whole of Earth in travail.   It really points out to rest in God, for while his wrath is coming, you can depend on Him and must, for ultimately all will be exalted before Him.  Is that not a glorious thought? God will be exalted about all.  There need be no fear of any suffering or bad things to come, as God is our strength and defense. He is in control, so rest in Him. 

My hope is that you have taken time to slowly read over this article and come back at it a piece at a time.  Each principle really builds upon each other.  The more each of these principles are evident in your life, the more you grow and the less power the sources of suffering have in your life.  Now if you read these principles and feel overwhelmed and small, know that in our lives these principles are ongoing and that once you think you got one principle understood and evident in your life, God will reveal how shallow the depth of understanding really is.  We are all a work in process. Personally, in writing this article and taking time to sort through what God has stirred up to share with others to help, it really does become clear the need for growth. Nevertheless, it is also apparent how God has made each principle real and taught lesson through the varied stress and sufferings of life.  In closing, taking time to pray over each principle and asking God to make them more real in your life.   

Please feel free to copy or republish any part of this article. Feel free to print the article and pass it on to whoever is in need.

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Passion Week Musings: The Darkest Sabbath

Today in my mind and heart is best referred to as the dark Sabbath.  During this Passion Week, it is the day Jesus was in the grave.  He breathed Has last breath, declared it is finished, and was taken to the grave. Since he was in the grave on the Sabbath his body was not even properly addressed, that was too be finished on Sunday. The day of Jesus laying in the grave is a dark day with the emotions of those who followed and placed their faith in Jesus as Messiah in a dark, dark storm.

During the arrest and crucifixion the disciples responded their ways in similar vein, they just did it differently.  Some just ran. One ran so hard and so fast in fear that he left his clothing behind.  Some followed and watched it all, shocked. Some followed but defended self to the point of denial.   Fear, shock, and self-protecting denial occurred on the day of crucifixion.  Then Jesus died.

Imagine if you will your own storm of emotions that would occur as the one you left all to follow. The one you placed all hope and faith died the most horrendous death possible. He did not fight back. He did not defend himself to lies.  He just died.  Before he died he said confusing things like “My God, My God, why has though forsaken me.” and “It is finished.”  He even took time to assure His mother was cared for and attended to.  It would be absolutely devastating.  Then you take this man, this one you loved and put all trust, and see his dead, bloody, lifeless body placed in the grave. All your hopes, dreams, and faith seemed for naught, empty, and shattered.

We at some point each have tasted some measure of grief, but no grief ever experienced matches the grief of the disciples on that day.  They had to feel immense shock. They had thoughts such as:  How could this have happened?  Why didn’t he save or defend himself?  What does this mean? How could this happen if he is the Messiah?  Those questions and emotions would likely quickly turn to anger, even anger at the father.  Thoughts such as: God how could you let this happen? How could you give us the Messiah only to have him die?  How dare Jesus not defend himself, didn’t he know we all depended on him, gave up everything for him?  The emotions would quickly move toward despondency. There would be thoughts like: Now what? There is no place left to turn?  There is no hope for anyone? This doomed us all?  God cannot be real, so what is the point?  There also had to be lots of confusion and aimlessness. Thoughts would arise such as: What now?  What do I do tomorrow?  Where do I go from hear? Do I return to my old life?  I cannot go back, where do I go?    There are probably many more thoughts and emotions experienced on the darkest of Sabbaths.  For there is no other day in time where there seemed to be less reason for hope, more confusion about what lies ahead, more reason to question God.  The darkest Sabbath had it all.  For the disciples were shocked, grieved, and wounded. 

Now there are times even know in this life that what God is doing is hard to understand. We have expectations that are shattered. We have expectations of ways God will act, but what God does makes no sense.  We are often left wondering, grieved, confused, and questioning.  But know this; God’s plan is always for His glory. His plan is far better than our expectations, hopes and dreams.  We are not going to always understand or have answers.  Yet, we can always trust God to be faithful.  The darkest Sabbath was but a short moment in time.  Darkness grew and celebrated but that dark day did not last because God’s plan and power is soon to be revealed. The tomb is soon to be found empty.  God’s love and power is made manifest for all.  And the darkest levels of human emotions for those that spent every day following and walking in surrender to Jesus would turn to greatest Joy as the clarity and understanding of confusing words spoken occurs as the tomb will be empty.  If you are currently in a dark day or dark Sabbath, know full well, that when tomorrow does come, it comes with full hope and joy and the period of darkness was but a moment.  For while the day is dark, know that Sunday is coming!

Palm Sunday Musings: Examining Expectations

This past Sunday was Palm Sunday. It is the day that commemorates when Jesus road into Jerusalem on an un-ridden colt. People placed their coats and palm fronds in front of the coat as he entered Jerusalem proclaiming “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Many of these same people, later in the week to come would scream “Crucify Him!” So the question is what changed from shouts asking for salvation to shouts demanding death. The answer comes in that Jesus did not meet their request in accordance with expectations. The people were looking for Jesus to come and remove their political suffering and oppression at the hands of the Roman Empire. They were looking for immediate results. Jesus did not meet those expectations. The failed expectations led to increased anger and hostility. Jesus death was called for because while he came to save, he did not come as a political savior, rather he came as a servant and sacrifice. Today, we still have many faulty expectations as to how God will work in our lives. We want God to meet us on our terms and in our way. If we have pain, we want immediate relief. We want God to give us advantages at the expense of others. We in general often approach God from our perspective and do not take time to consider what God’s perspective may be. Personally, there have been times of great anger toward God, because God allowed or didn’t intervene in what were harmful choices by others. Others have gotten angry at God for allowing a young person to die. Basically, what we ask of God and what we expect revolves around what we consider to be good for us. We can even make our own plans and ideas and then give them to God and ask God to bless them. It is our own wants, desires, and expectations that often distort our view of how God is operating in our life and in the world. So ultimately, each of us, while crying for God’s salvation, can easily turn and shout for his death, if God fails to meet our expectation. Each of us needs to engage in self-examination and ask God to reveal areas in our life we are holding to faulty expectations based on our own wants and desires. We need God to bring our will, thoughts, and heart toward His perspective rather than our own. We need to daily walk in trust and faith, even when times are most difficult. The reason being is ultimately God is in control and works all things together for His glory which is always good, even if sometimes very painful.

If you consider this line of thought even further, it is failed expectations and thoughts about relief from assorted types of suffering that pose a barrier to people accepting God’s gift of salvation.  The focus is often on why there is not immediate suffering relief and that the greatest evil is the ongoing prevalence of suffering. The question is that of “what does God allow pain and suffering and still be loving?”   It was such a mindset that led folks from cries of Hosanna to cries of crucify Him. In other words we attempt to define what God should do by our own concepts of justice, goodness, peace, and love.  All of our own concepts are faulty and what God has in mind and in store is far greater.  All that is needed is turning the self over to God and letting God truly save us in accordance with His will and His plan, not ours.

The Obama Election: How then should Christians respond?

The election has been decided and the citizens of the United States of America have selected Barrack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.  This election result brings up much chagrin to evangelic and conservative professing Christians who tend to side with the Republican party and their touting of moral family values.  Some professing Christians may even look down and be angry if other brothers and sisters chose to cast there vote for President Elect Barrack Obama.  The anger is stemmed in fear of what is a head and what this election will bring and the concerns of the potential polices and direction for the country.

Some of the concerns include the following:

  • The potential for expanding the numbers of abortions and abortions funded.
  • The increasing the powers and scope of government.
  • Increased globalization and following the lead of Europe and the United Nations.
  • Increased influence of the New World Order and New Age Movement.
  • Decreased freedom of speech by re-instituting the Fairness Doctrine.

  These concerns are all legitimate concerns for the Church to have over the current presidency. Of equal concern is the large number of people who put there hope in a man to solve the problems of this country and play a role in solving the problems of the world.  Those of us who have surrender our life to the true King of Kings know that no man can solve the problems of the world.  No man can heal the wounds of our nation, much less the world. 

So given all this angst over the pending Presidency of Barrack Obama, what are those of us who have surrender to Jesus the Messiah to do? Each Christian should be doing three things; submit, pray, and make disciples regardless of who is President.  These tasks are for each of us believers and it is important to consider what each task means.

     First, we need to submit.  This is a very hard thing to do when there are legitimate concerns over the direct the President Elect will lead the country.  Yet, we are Biblically directed to submit to authority as seen in 1 Peter and Romans:

1 Peter 2:13-15 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

Romans 13:1-6 1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.

     Now this does not mean that we submit to laws that direct us contrary to the Word of God. The disciples did not stop preaching the Gospel in spite of being directed to do so by the Sanhedrin.  Daniel didn’t stop praying when the King of Babylon outlawed prayer.  But unless a law directs us to go against God’s commands, we are to submit.

   Second, we need to pray.  This is vitally important.  You can dislike President Elect Obama, but we are to pray for him.  Pray that God works on his heart and leads him to wise and Godly decisions.  Pray that God softens his heart to things he holds that are false. Pray that the Holy Spirit leads him to repentance in the areas God leads.  Pray for his safety. 

    In thinking over how to pray for the President Elect, the thoughts of the story of two sons in Matthew 21:28-30:

28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ 29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. 30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

Now granted, the context of the passage is about belief and unbelief, but what a tremendous thing if a person who states goals contrary to doing the Father’s will, actually does what is righteous.  Especially since leaders that have professed righteous, have not followed through doing what is righteous.  So pray that God’s will and righteousness prevail and pray for President Elect Obama’s salvation and safety.

     And the third thing we need to do is make disciples.  Making disciples is the very essence of everything we do as we engage in the world.  It is our commision, to as we are going, to make disciples.  This means we need to spread the Gospel and build up believers.  We are about the business of building the church.  In modern times, we lose the concept of what a disciple is, it is not simply someone who learns from someone else.  Rather, a disciple is someone who has chosen to submit to the authority of a teacher.  A disciple takes on the “yoke” of their teacher.  We are to take on the yoke of Jesus, to come under His authority, to come under His leadership, to walk in His ways.  We will fall short, but we learn.  By focusing on making disciples, we are focusing on God’s will and surrendering to the yoke of Jesus. 

Now, while these three tasks are simple to write about, it is very hard to do.  It is hard to be submissive when the direction of the government is headed to evil.  It is hard to pray for leaders who appear corrupt, evil, and manipulative.  It is hard to make disciples and focus on God’s will, when our lives, finances, and freedom are threatened.  But yet, this is what God calls us to do.  The disciples lived during times of great evil and immorality in government, yet were given these directions.  We are no different then they were, we are all disciples of the true Teacher.  We are all servants of the King of Kings.  And if you have not yet accepted into the Kingdom of God by surrender to the King of Kings by repenting of seeking your own Kingdom and accepting the gift of Salvation to enter into God’s kingdom, you still have time.  

   In summary, President Elect Barrack Obama may well lead the country down evil and dangerous paths but do not focus on that, rather set your mind on the things of Jesus and humbly submit, pray, and disciple.  This is the will of God for us during this time, regardless how anything appears.