Community in Action January 14, 2021

For to us a child is born, 

to us a son is given, 

and the government will be 

on his shoulders. 

And he will be called 

Wonderful Counselor, 

Mighty God, 

Everlasting Father, 

Prince of Peace. 

Isaiah 9:6

    God is with us here and now, just as God was with Israel back in the time of Isaiah. This prophetic word we usually accept as telling us about the coming of Jesus. Yet, this word also tells us about the coming of the kingdom of God. I believe as Jesus told us in Mark 1:15, “The kingdom of God has come near,” so we can catch glimpses of God’s kingdom here on earth now.

    That may not seem like it in our country currently, but I believe in times of turmoil God walks with us and beckons us to embrace his design for our world. Will we ever experience the peaceful reign of God? Probably not until the Messiah returns to earth, but it doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying to follow God’s ways, “in the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23).

    God’s kingdom will be ruled by someone wise, powerful, compassionate, and one who seeks well-being for all. This is a high calling and certainly we know is not attainable without Christ in our hearts, but we have seen in history times when governments have had the best interests of its citizens as their primary objective.

    As I thought about reform in government I thought of King Josiah. He was the sixteenth king of Judah (c. 640–609 BCE) who, sought to bring renewal and a reformation of belief to the people of Judah. In 2 Kings 22:8 we read that the priest Hilkiah found a "Book of the Law" in the temple during the early stages of Josiah's temple renovation. Hilkiah then gave the scroll to his secretary Shaphan, who took it to King Josiah. According to the Bible, King Josiah then changed his form of leadership entirely, entering into a new form of covenant with the Lord. His heart was changed. He wiped out all of the pagan cults that had formed within his land. He, along with his people, then entered into this new covenant with the Lord to keep the commandments of the Lord.

    We can make all the resolutions we want for the new year. We can strive to keep “the commandments” we read about in the “Book of the Law,” but if we don’t have a change of heart, if we don’t seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit we will fail every time.

    Cultivating the Spirit can be our way of listening to and following the Holy Spirit which will help us ‘keep” those commandments. Let me remind us that the “Book of the Law” actually found in this passage in Hebrew is the Torah and a better translation for “Torah” is instruction. Instruction means words of guidance. It means not following the letter of a law, but following the spirit of the law.

    This is one of the main teachings of Jesus. “You have heard it was said . . . but I tell you” (found in the Sermon on the Mount chapter five of Matthew). If fact Jesus also says in this “Sermon” he is the one who is living out the “law.”

    So I look forward to changes in our hearts this coming year. I look forward to seeing how God will be involved in our lives. I pray that we will do our part to find better ways of peace, justice, compassion, and wisdom in our lives and for our country.

    I believe God hasn’t given up on us and we can’t give up on each other. Let us “Cultivate the Spirit” so that the instruction we read about in the Bible and the instruction we hear about from our religious leaders will help us strive to bring the kingdom of God here more aligned with the kingdom God intends.

    Seeking a new heart with you,

    Pastor Randy

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