Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Biblical Perspective on the Election, Day 2

Leslie Basham: In a year of political turmoil, your heart can be at peace. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth tells you why.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: God can always change the hearts of kings. Proverbs 21 tells us that “the king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord like the rivers of water, and he turns it (God turns it) wherever he wishes.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Friday, November 11, 2016.

Yesterday, we began part one of a series offering biblical perspective on the presidential election. Last week Nancy addressed a group of women a few days before we went to the polls. She didn’t know the results, but she did share some solid truths she knew for sure.

Her perspective can help all of us focus on the Lord instead of the tumult of the election season. Let’s listen.

Nancy: Well, as many of you know, I am married to a Cubs fan. And for those of you who may not know what Cubs are . . . One of our staff told me recently, “Cubbies, that’s Awanas.”

I said, “Well, it’s something else. We’re talking about baseball here. Okay? Got that?”

Now, having been married for a year to a Cubs fan, I have become a Cubs fan myself over the past year. And just to prove that, I’ve got here a Cubs cap. It just happens to be in my purse next to the stand where I’m teaching.

On occasion, Robert and I will watch a game together, and we groan when the other team scores or when it looks like we’re losing. Sometimes we hold our breath to see how it’s going to turn out. And then, sometimes after the game we’ll go back and watch highlights from the game. Robert sometimes says, “This is fun. We know how it ends. There’s no tension, no holding our breath, because we know how it ends.”

Well, I’m recording today’s program, as I mentioned yesterday, five days before the presidential (our national) election, here in the United States. We’re holding our breath as I’m recording this. We don’t know what’s going to be happening. By the time this airs, we know what has happened.

But there’s a story unfolding in our nation and our world that is bigger than the story of the election. As followers of Jesus who hold to the truth of His Word, at times it looks like we’re losing, and we hold our breath to see how it’s all going to turn out. But God already has the highlights’ reel. He knows how it ends. He has told us enough to encourage our hearts even when it seems like everything is falling apart.

Now, I think it would be accurate to say that most of us, no matter what your political affiliation or tastes, that most of us are relieved that this election is now behind us. But now we’re wondering: How do we move forward? Where to from here?

Because, you see, regardless of who will be the next occupant of the White House, we can expect that, humanly speaking, there are even more difficult days ahead. The issues that divide our nation have not gone away—issues of injustice, oppression, racial tension, economic challenges, disregard for the value of life, the flaunting of immorality, the rejection of truth, the breakdown of marriage and the family, marginalizing of the Christian worldview and of Christians, erosion of religious liberty in the work place and in the public sphere.

These are just some of the things that are plaguing us and are not going away. They’re getting worse, not better. So I want to share today some perspective to help us navigate the days ahead. And let me say that this program and the one yesterday, these are not just for our listeners here in the United States.

We have people from many other countries around the world who listen to Revive Our Hearts by means of the Internet, and the things we’re talking about today can be applied to your country, to whoever your leaders may be. I want to remind us, wherever we live, whatever circumstances we are facing, I want to remind us of what is true and what will be an anchor for our hearts in the days ahead no matter how bad things may get.

Let me encourage you, as you contemplate the news, as you wrestle with these issues, to go to the Word of God before you go to the world to get your news to find out what’s really going on. If you want to know what human beings are prone to, what’s happening, and how to understand what’s happening, and how to understand what’s going to happen, then go to the Word before you go to the world.

This world is on a collision course with Christ. But here’s what we know: Jesus wins! Every knee will bow.

This world is on a collision course with Christ. But here’s what we know: Jesus wins! Every knee will bow.

Here’s what else we know: As we read the Scripture, this may not seem like it if you just read the news and look around at our world, but we know from God’s Word that no people, no nations, no leaders, no followers can shake their fist in the face of a holy God and get away with it. There will be payday. There will be justice. There is a Judgment Day coming.

So when it seems that those who perpetuate evil, whether it’s in your nation, our world, or in your home, when it seems that those who perpetuate and promote evil are winning, take heart and know that that will not be true forever.

And, by the way, know also from God’s Word that our concern should not be just about their sin, but about ours. Judgment must begin in the house of God. Repentance must begin in the house of God.

Now, just to reset from yesterday, we talked about a comforting, encouraging, confidence-boosting verse that’s repeated many times in the book of Daniel. We read Daniel 5, verse 21, that says, “The Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will.” And we repeated that here in this room again and again to remind our hearts: Who’s in charge? It’s the Most High God. He rules! He sets over the kingdom of mankind whomever He will.

And so we remember as we read Scripture that political leaders, our civic leaders, our civil authorities are God’s servants, whether they realize it or not, and one day they will give account to Him.

We also know as we read the Scripture that we have deeply flawed leaders—every last one of them. And we’re reminded that we are all deeply flawed people. It’s not just our leaders. It’s us.

And by the way (this could be another session sometime), but I learned in the Scripture that God often gives people leaders such as themselves. So if we think leaders are atrocious, we need to look in the mirror and say, “What kind of people did God give these leaders to?” We’re all deeply flawed people.

We’re reminded as we look at the political landscape that no human leader can save us. We’re prone to look for a savior. We have economic problems. We have other issues and problems, and we want someone to save us from our problems. But government was never meant to be our savior.

We’re reminded as we look around us of our need for the gospel, for a Savior (capital “S”), for a Redeemer.

And we’re also reminded that God works through the most flawed rulers and leaders to accomplish His redemptive purposes in our world.

There’s an old saying that God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick. It’s true.

Over the past week or so, I’ve been reading in the book of Exodus and seeing Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, this wicked, stubborn, rebellious king. But God says in Exodus 9, verse 16, “For this purpose I have raised you up." King Pharaoh. Wicked king. Ungodly king. Proud, arrogant king. “For this reason I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”

God raises up kings and rulers and leaders, and He has reasons for doing it. Ultimately, it comes down to wanting His name to be proclaimed throughout the earth. If God raised up Pharaoh in Egypt; God raised up Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon; God raised up Cyrus in Persia, all of them to accomplish His purposes on behalf of His people and to glorify Himself.

If God can raise up and use wicked, pagan, secular rulers such as these to accomplish His purposes, don’t you think He can handle our modern-day leaders—and whoever our new President-elect is? Of course He can!

I love this quote I’ve heard from John Piper, and I’ve used it many times and many circumstances. I think it applies appropriately now. He said, “In every situation, God is always doing a thousand different things that we cannot see and we do not know.”

So if we can’t see and we don’t know those thousand different things God is doing, what do we do? We trust—we trust. God is always doing. Today—three days after our national election—God is doing a thousand or more different things that we cannot see and we do not know.

I also know from God’s Word that God is always working in and through all circumstances here on this earth to advance the gospel.

I’ve been reading recently in the book of Philippians, and the apostle Paul says from a Roman prison cell, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” And Paul says, “That’s all that matters. I’ll sit here in this prison. I’ll waste away here. I’ll die here. I’ll rot here if need be, if it can advance the gospel. All that has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”

And then he says in verse 16, “I am put here for the defense of the gospel.”

“I’m put here. It’s not the king who put me here. It’s not the pagan authorities who put me. It’s not the opponents of the gospel ultimately who put me here. God put me here. I am put here. Why? For the defense of the gospel.”

So God uses circumstances in our world, in our nation, in our lives to advance the gospel.

And then I want to remind us, something that sometimes really seems impossible, that God can always change the hearts of kings. God can change them. He changed Paul’s heart—as a religious leader.

Proverbs 21:1 tells us the kings’ heart is in the hand of the Lord like the rivers of water, and He turns it—God turns it—wherever He wishes.

God turned Nebuchadnezzar’s heart. God changed that wicked, vile, arrogant, God-resisting king into a God worshiper, into a man who feared the Lord. Now, he went crazy first. God knew what it took for him to come to the place where he would worship God. But when he worshiped God, his reason returned to him, and he became a proponent of people following the God Jehovah.

So with all of this as backdrop, what’s our responsibility at such a time as this? Well, I just want to give you some thoughts and comments about that over these next moments.

For example: I want to remind us that we are citizens of heaven. We are foreigners and aliens here on this earth. This world is not our home; we’re just a passing through. We’re citizens of heaven. And yet, we’re also citizens of this country, of this world.

In different senses, our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, the citizenship that matters most and will matter for all of eternity. But in this time and space, we are also citizens of this or some country.

So what does God say to people who are aliens and foreigners living in a foreign country? Well, in Jeremiah 29, He says to His people, “To all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon”—who sent them there? God sent them there. Who has put us here? God has put us here. What does He say to them, foreigners living in Babylon? “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease” (vv. 5–6).

He’s saying, “Go ahead and live normal, everyday life. Don’t go up on a mountaintop and just put your head in the sand and say, ‘Oh Jesus, bring the rapture. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.’” Yes, we should pray that, but in the meantime, we’re supposed to be living life, doing what other people do: building houses, going to school, going to work, having families.

But He says in verse 7, Jeremiah 29, “But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

So how can we seek the welfare of this city, the city of man, this earthly city, this earthly nation where God has placed us? How can we pray for it? How can we serve it well? And how can we find our welfare by seeking the well-being of our country?

I want to look at a passage for a few moments here, 1 Peter chapter 2. You may want to turn there. First Peter chapter 2 tells us, beginning in verse 13,

Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.

And, by the way, this verse explains something about the rightful role and responsibility of human government: To punish those who do evil; to praise those who do good.

It is not the responsibility of human government to take care of people from the cradle to the grave.

It’s not the responsibility of human government to educate our children or to do many of the other things we look to human government to do for us.

It is the responsibility of civil government to punish those who do evil; to praise those who do good.

Continuing verse 15, 1 Peter 2:

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. [And then these three important words] Honor the emperor.

Now that verse was written, as you know, in the days of the Roman Empire, which was not a democracy. It was anything but sympathetic toward Christians. But the believers in that Empire were still to recognize the authority, the human authority under God, of the emperor.

So this verse, “Honor the emperor,” is not just written about authorities who are allied with our values and our priorities.

And what does Peter say to these believers in such a world? He says, “Be good citizens.” What does that mean? What does that look like? Well, first of all, he said in verse 13, “Be subject—be obedient. The authority of government is given to it by God even if they don’t recognize that. Therefore, (he’s saying), obey the laws of the land”—unless, of course, those laws require us to do something that would force us to break God’s higher law. So be subject.

And then, “be known for doing good.” That’s what he says. “Do what is good. By doing what is good, you will put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.”

I read a great quote by Susannah Spurgeon the other day, the wife of the great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon. It was in another context, but I think it applies to this one. She said,

Dear friends, we cannot set the world right. We have not the power to persuade or convince multitudes of their errors of doctrine or practice. But we can see to it that we ourselves are walking worthy of God and letting our light shine so brightly that all may see more plainly the pathway to the celestial city because we are passing along it.

Don’t you love that? We can’t change everything that’s wrong in this world. We can’t set everybody right. We can’t change their confused, muddled, mixed-up, wrong-headed thinking in many cases. We can’t change all that. Now, we can reason. We can be reasonable. We can try to persuade. But we don’t have the power to change their hearts or their minds.

But what we can do is see that we walk worthy of the Lord. We can let our light shine so brightly that everyone around us can see more plainly the way to Christ, the way to the celestial city, the way to heaven because we’re passing on that road. And they see the light of Christ in and through us, and they’re drawn to that light.

So we should be known for being good. And then we should show honor and respect. Peter says, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. And honor the emperor.” Honor the emperor. Would you just say those three words with me? Honor the emperor. This is God’s Word.

So anger, rage, bitterness, malice, evil speaking, they should have no place among the people of God. Now, there are types of righteous anger, but if you’re going to be angry, you make sure it’s righteous anger, that you are not just venting, that we are not just hyperventilating, that we are not just yelling out whatever’s in our brains, we’re just saying it without a filter. That that applies not just to what we say verbally, but to what we say on the Internet and blogs and posts and texts and tweets.

Honor the emperor. And then pray. Pray. Paul spoke to Timothy in 1 Timothy chapter 1 about dealing with false teachers and those who oppose the gospel of Christ. And then he goes right into chapter 2 of 1 Timothy, and he says, “First of all, then,” (in light of these false teachers, these wrong-headed thinking, those who oppose the gospel, first of all, then—what should you do?) . . .

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions.

It sounds like we’ve got our marching orders. What do we do today? The same thing we should have been doing yesterday and the day before and the day before that and the same thing we should be doing next week and in January and February and next year and for whatever happens. We should be praying for kings and for all who are in high positions.

Why? So “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (v. 2). We feel like our rights are getting stripped? We feel like we’re being marginalized? We feel like we’re being evil spoken of? We feel like people are making decisions that hurt families and hurt marriages and hurt good people? We want to live a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way? Are we praying for these leaders who are making these decisions?

Paul says to Timothy, “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Over the past year or so, as you know, here at Revive Our Hearts, we’ve been burdened about praying, calling God’s people to prayer. Not long ago, September 23, we had a nationally simulcast concert of prayer. We called it, Cry Out! because God just put in our hearts: What might happen if God’s people, God’s women, would really pray?

So hundreds of thousands of women came together from all across the United States, Canada, North and South America, 100-plus additional countries of the world participated in this Cry Out! simulcast. People came together as individuals, as groups, crying out for God to revive us, to revive our churches, to send His presence and His power to our nations, all for His glory.

And now tens of thousands are continuing to pray each day as we’ve given them how to pray for our nation. We’re praying that those prayer efforts will continue, they will not decline. We need them now more than ever.

In fact, my boss for many years, Byron Paulus, the head of Life Action Ministries, which is our parent ministry, said a couple of weeks ago . . . I just jotted this down because I thought it was so true, “No matter who wins this election, we have no reason to get off our knees.” Amen!

So now, no matter who has won this election, or if for some crazy reason they haven’t been able to figure it out yet and it’s still going on, no matter who wins this election, we have no reason now to get off our knees.

Let me say that those of us who do not pray have no right to criticize or tear down our leaders.

Those who do pray will have no inclination or desire to criticize. They will want to trust in all of this—the king’s heart is in the Lord’s hand. They will want to trust God to move and to work even through wrong leaders or leaders who are leading in unwise ways.

And if we do not pray, we cannot expect to be free to lead quiet, peaceable, godly, dignified lives.

Ladies, this world is not our home. This world is not a friend to grace, so we should not expect it to be.

I want to remind you that we’re not promised that things are going to get better. In fact, in many ways, they’re going to get worse. The Scripture tells us that. But it also reminds us in the midst of all of this: Don’t put your trust in human leaders.

In fact, the very middle two verses of the entire Bible—do you know what they are? They’re found in Psalm 118—jot down this reference if you don’t have your Bible right there in front of you. Psalm 118, verses 8 and 9 are literally, the very middle verses of the entire Bible, and I think they’re the verses we need today and every day.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

Don’t trust in man. Don’t trust in woman. Don’t trust in princes. Don’t trust in leaders. Don’t trust in yourself. Don’t trust in anyone in the way that you trust in the Lord.

When people arise around us who do not fear the Lord, who do not seek after Him, whose choices perhaps make other people’s lives more difficult, take refuge in the Lord. “It’s better to take refuge in the Lord.”

Not only have we been facing what I think is a true crisis of leadership and values and morality and justice in our country over these last days, weeks, months, years, really; but, like many of you, I’ve been facing a crisis situation in my extended family over these past months. It has been extremely difficult. There’s no clear sense at the moment where all this is going, how it will end.

One of those family members texted me this morning as I was headed for the studio just this verse from Psalm 31:

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord; I say, "You are my God. My times are in Your hand" (vv. 14–15), 

That was a great verse for my heart as I think about my personal situation. “As for me, I trust in You, O Lord. I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in Your hand.’” That’s a great verse for whatever you may be facing in this season.

“As for me, I trust in You, O Lord. I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in Your hand.’” And for our country, for our world, as for us, people of God, we trust in You, oh Lord. We say, "You are our God. Our times are in Your hand.’”

So God says to our hearts: “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter, He utters His voice, the earth melts. Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth” (Ps. 46:6).

Oh God, with these words our hearts take courage. We go forth as Your people to live these redeemed lives for such a time as this, to pray, to trust You, to take refuge in You, and to believe that in the end, You will be glorified. And for this we give You thanks. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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