My Country, ‘Tis of Thee

Image by Ingi Finnsson from Pixabay

“Hear the supplications of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” – King Solomon, 2 Chronicles 6:21 (NIV)

Over the 23 years I’ve written my weekly newspaper column, and hence this blog, I’ve avoided controversial topics. I figure you all get enough—more than enough, perhaps—of that elsewhere. My purpose has always been to give hope, to show that faith and life go hand in hand, that God cares intimately for each of us and is with us every moment of every day.

But I’ve had a heavy heart for my country—and it’s getting heavier.

No, I still will not address the hot button topics here, but I will address what I believe our response, as Christians, should be.

First, read, meditate, know, and obey the Word. Let it permeate every fiber of your being. Allow God to use His Word to transform you from the inside out—heart, mind, and soul. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).

Next—pray! For revival to sweep the nation, one soul at a time. For the Holy Spirit to ignite the faith of believers and fill our places of worship—and us. For eyes to be opened to the truth, for hearts to be softened to receive the seed of the Word, for strength and courage to be Psalm 1 men and women.

Finally, be salt and light. “You are the salt of the earth,” Jesus said. “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?. . .You are the light of the world. . . .Let your light shine before men” (Matthew 5:13–16).

How can you be salt and light? Simple: Live the Word.

And while we must stand up for that which we know is right, we must be careful not to judge other folks.

“Do not judge,” Jesus said, “or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you too will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1–2).

“For I did not come to judge the world,” Jesus said, “but to save it” (John 12:47). “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him” (John 3:17).

Judgment Day is coming, be sure of that. But until then, remember the words of Billy Graham: “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”

I just keep asking myself, “What would Jesus do?”

May we continue to pray as George Washington did on the inauguration of this country (April 30, 1789):

Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy Holy protection; and Thou wilt incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field.

     “And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

 Read and reflect on 2 Chronicles 6:12–42.

(Source for prayer: http://www.propheticroundtable.org/ForeFathers/GeorgeWashington/A%20Prayer.htm)

A Little Leaven, A Lotta Heaven

“The kingdom of God is within you.” –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 17:21 NKJV

Friday night at our house is-pizza-and-a-movie night. It began when the youngest left for college, and my husband and I ate out at a local pizzeria. Eventually our date night morphed into dining on frozen pizza at home. After a while frozen pizza lost its appeal, and I rooted around in my recipe box and retrieved my old pizza dough recipe.

Years ago I learned the secret of making good pizza dough. It’s in the kneading. First I dissolve the yeast in warm water. Warm, not hot, because hot will kill the yeast. Then I add the sugar, salt, and oil, mixing it well so the yeast, sugar, and salt dissolve. Then I add about half the flour, mixing it with a wooden spoon until it’s just past the gooey stage.

Then I knead in the rest of the flour by one-half cupfuls—and I don’t pay attention to the recipe! I pay attention to the dough. I’m done adding flour when the dough is just past being sticky, soft like a baby’s behind, and springs back when I lightly indent it with my finger. I rarely use all the flour the recipe calls for.

Now, you’re asking, what does this have to do with the kingdom of heaven? Everything. You see, Jesus spent a lot of time teaching the people about the kingdom of heaven, or the kingdom of God, using analogies of things they understood so they would grasp what He was trying to tell them.

“The kingdom of heaven,” He said once, “is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough” (Matthew 13:33 GW). The kingdom of heaven is like yeast.

The older versions use the word “leaven.” Leaven, according to my trusty Webster’s, is “any influence spreading through something and working on it to bring a gradual change.” In bread dough, the leaven causes it to rise and gives it a delectable flavor. Ever eat bread that failed to rise? It’s useless, isn’t it? Fit only for the trashcan.

In this world, the leaven is the kingdom of heaven, or the rule of God over all who accept and submit to Him (see John 3:3,5). In each believer, the leaven is the words of the Master, found in Scripture, that gradually spread through our minds and hearts, transforming us, transforming our lives, ever so gradually.

First, though, the leaven must be added carefully then worked through the dough of our lives. Just like bread dough, the secret is in the kneading. Ever knead dough? It takes time and patience—and just the right touch—not too heavy and not too light.

God is the one who kneads His Word through our lives. If you’re dough being kneaded, though, it doesn’t feel too good to be twisted and turned and folded and pushed and pulled. But the Master knows what He’s doing. He’s not following a recipe because we are individual lumps, each needing a different touch, a different amount of flour to be added, and a different amount of kneading time. The Master works us until we’re pliable, soft, resilient—not too sticky or gooey and not too dry or tough. Then He sets us aside for a while for the leaven to do its work.

But we’re still not ready. Like bread dough, we must be punched down, worked again, shaped, and left alone, covered with a soft cloth, so that the leaven can finish its work. It’s a long process.

Child of God, are you being kneaded? Don’t despair. Just remember—a little bit of leaven, worked just right into the dough of your soul, means a whole a lot of heaven.

Dear God, thank You for kneading me in the way I need to be kneaded. Amen.

Read and reflect on Matthew 13:33 and Luke 17:20–21.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Photo courtesy of ABSFreePic.com.