Dear Friends,

We are facing the midterm elections on Tuesday.  So many Christians are divided over party politics with neither side willing or able to see the viewpoint of the other.  I weary of American politics because I don’t believe the answers to the problems we face in our nation are to be found in Washington, D. C.  I will vote because I believe God has given me a vote as a stewardship—I believe all Christians should vote—but I know God is in control of the outcome.

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God” (Romans 13:1).

The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1).

God raises up kings and places them in authority, He then turns the heart of the king to do what He has determined.  Our leaders are an indicator of God’s blessing or God’s discipline, but in either event God does not give up His sovereign control when an election happens.

This past week I was reading the best selling book Knowing God written by J. I. Packer.  One concept that struck me was how Dr. Packer discussed the “goodness and severity” quoting the Apostle Paul in Romans 11:22, “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22a). Providing some commentary Packer says, “The Christians at Rome are not to dwell on God’s goodness alone, nor on his severity alone, but to contemplate both together…People have gotten into the practice of following private religious hunches rather than learning of God from his own Word.”

Many Christians want to think of God as very much like Santa Claus.  They like the idea of God being kind of fluffy—harmless to the point of almost being inept.  Believing that He exists to indulge their wants and desires, He winks at their sin and ignores their disobedience.  In reality it sounds more like senility than kindness.  But this image is dashed when we look around at the hurt and evil around us.  We realize that this Santa idea of God must be very wrong.

The world is filled with every kind of evil and violence—not indicating God has lost control—but as proof that He allows the consequences of our disobedience.  As an illustration of the corruption of our world consider the cheetah and Thompson’s gazelle.  The cheetah is an incredibly beautiful animal.  It amazes me that they can reach speeds of up to 70 mph.  The gazelle is also a beautiful animal, graceful and nimble, with spectacular designs in their coat.  But the decay of our world because of sin means that we watch these two glorious creatures locked in a life and death struggle as the cheetah chases, catches and strangles her prey when she sinks her teeth into the neck of the gazelle.  I do not believe that this was God’s original plan for the creatures of His creation.  I love the truth that when Messiah comes back to the earth to reign one of the things He will do is make the lion and lamb be together in peace.

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot— yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root…6 In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.  The cow will graze near the bear. The cub and the calf will lie down together. The lion will eat hay like a cow.  The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.  Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1, 6–9).

Our God is strong, He does not get tired and sleep.  He does not get distracted so that He misses what’s going on.  He is in control.  However these elections turn out (and about half of the Christians will be very happy with the election results, and one half will be unhappy), I want us to remember that God is still in control.  He is bringing all things in conformity with His ultimate plan.

He is powerful—the almighty God.  He carved out the Grand Canyon with His hand.  He held Mount Everest in His palm.  He created the stars like finger painting.  T-Rex cowered at his Creator, and was neither a king nor a tyrant in God’s presence.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers— the moon and the stars you set in place” (Psalm 8:3).

Even light obeys the command of His word.  Oceans flee from His presence and stay where He has ordained.  Continents split apart and hastened to the place where He intended.  The windows of heaven fell earthward and brought the floodwaters upon the entire world.  Fire and sulfur fell from the sky and destroyed the cities of the plain.  The Red Sea opened like a canyon at God’s decree.  The waters of the Jordan River stood up on piles when God commanded.  Are you getting the idea?  God is not Santa.  God is severe and kind.  He wounds but He also heals.

Look now; I myself am he! There is no other god but me! I am the one who kills and gives life; I am the one who wounds and heals; no one can be rescued from my powerful hand” (Deuteronomy 32:39).

He didn’t break a sweat in all He created.  He rested on the seventh day of creation because He was done, not because He was tired.  He didn’t break a sweat until, because of His goodness, God determined to redeem you and me from the power of sin and death.  To do this required God to roll up His sleeves, get down and dirty with us, and sweat (as it were) great drops of blood.

The Lord will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:10).

And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

As you process the election results this coming Tuesday evening, don’t forget that God is good.  To illustrate: When I was at my lowest point after Donna was killed, I complained to God often.  One day I railed at the Lord in my pain and said, “God, I can feel your power.  O, I have no doubt about your control.  But God I don’t feel your love!”  God’s gentle Spirit spoke in the quietness of heart and answered, “I’m sorry you don’t feel my love, Gary, but I’ve already proven my love to you in that while you were yet a sinner, my Son died for you!”

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Have you experienced God’s goodness and severity?  His goodness has provided redemption for all who will come to Him in repentance and faith.  His severity means that He will punish evildoers.  Don’t mistake God’s goodness to mean He is not severe!

So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3).

SO WHAT will you do?

That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame…for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved‘” (Romans 10:9–13).

I am looking forward to the day when Jesus is ruling on His throne in Jerusalem and brings His creation back into right order.  Until then our leaders will only ever be flawed people—broken by sin.  If we put our hope in them, we will be greatly disappointed.

However this election comes out, be encouraged that God is still on His throne.  He is ultimately in control.  He will decide our election results and His will will be done.  I am glad to put my hope in Him who is unlimited in goodness and severity.

Onward in awe of the goodness and severity of God,

Pastor Gary