Immigration, America and the Bible

As I try to always do when weighing my opinion about the latest news story, I went to the Bible to see what the Word of God says about immigration. That is how I do my best to maintain a Biblical worldview. Politicians and activists on both sides are offering up a “Biblical basis” for their beliefs. So what does the Bible say?

First of all, I am sensitive to the fact that America must be careful with this issue. We are, after all, a nation founded by immigrants. But I am also sensitive to the fact that without some sort of  laws regulating immigration, citizens of this country can be the ones that suffer. I wish I knew what the best approach to this was, but then I guess I’d be a politician or something and not just a working wife and mom that loves to read my Bible and write.

In the Old Testament, God wanted Israel (his chosen people) to be welcoming and kind to the strangers that lived among them. He repeatedly commanded them to be fair and not to oppress them. God wanted people that came to Israel with a desire to become a citizen (the Hebrew word that was translated as “stranger” or “sojourner” actually referred to someone that immigrated legally with the intention of becoming a citizen) to know the grace and mercy of the one true God. He also commanded that these visitors were to follow the same laws and religious customs as the Jewish citizens of the nation.  To apply this same requirement to America would be to acknowledge that America is God’s nation, set apart to lead people to the one true God of the Bible and by extension, to his one and only Son, Jesus Christ. Is that our calling as a nation? I think everyone would agree that it is not. It is certainly the churches calling, and the calling of those of us that are redeemed in Christ. But it is not the calling of our nation.

The same is true when we see Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39). Or when Paul reminds Christians to extend hospitality to strangers. (Romans 12:13) These commandments were given to individuals not to nations. The Bible does have some instruction for nations, but from what I can tell God is far more concerned about the actions of his people as individuals and as the body of Christ than those of the country they live in. After all, nations rise and fall and eventually Jesus will be ruler them all – but we were created for eternity and God is refining us for that day.

To me this means that the leaders of my country are responsible for implementing and enforcing laws that protect its citizens according to the Constitution under which it was formed. I will vote for people I think will do this fairly. And this also reminds me of a very important Biblical lesson. As a church, the body of Christ, we must do our part to be fair and kind to our neighbors, care for the needy that are not able to care for themselves and most importantly – share the gospel with them so that they can know the one true God and Jesus Christ, the Savior!

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” – ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭28:19‬

Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed. – Revelation‬ ‭15:4‬

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation‬ ‭21:3-4‬ ‭

Advertisements

Drowning in chaos

Here I am again. Drowning in a cacophony of chaos! It amazes me how I allow this to happen. I’m moving along in life just fine. Remaining in prayer and in the Word of God. Dealing with life’s trials as they come. When suddenly it’s like there is an onslaught.  One thing happens. And then another. And another. Then before I know it, I feel as though I’m drowning. But rather than resting in the arms of my rescuer (Jesus) and allowing him to swim me safely back to shore, I’m thrashing about in the currents of my troubles. When did I allow myself to forget that he is right there? All I need to do is quit fighting and rest in the arms of Jesus!

Clearly I need to take a moment and remind myself of his promises. I need to proclaim them out loud so the devil knows I haven’t forgotten them. I am already victorious and nothing that happens in my life can change that fact. The troubles I face in earth are just bumps in the road on my way to eternity with God.

Jesus said…

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – ‭‭John‬ ‭16:33‬‬

So I will remember…

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. – Psalm‬ ‭34:17‬

‬‬For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – ‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭‬

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. – Psalm‬ ‭9:9-10‬‬‬

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance…Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. – ‭‭James‬ ‭1:2-3, 12‬‬

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. – ‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:6-7‬

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

Perfect peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

So I’ve learned a couple of important lessons so far from this passage of Scripture. First of all, do not be anxious about anything! Period! Just don’t do it! Instead, no matter what it is that I’m dealing with that may be starting to cause anxiety, pray about it. Ask God! Beg him if need be! Then what?

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. This is the best part! This is the promise that when we place our hope and trust in Jesus, we will feel peace even in the hardest of circumstances. And it will be a peace that is beyond our understanding. A peace that is clearly a gift from God. A peace that will feel like a loving hug from the arms of our Savior. Quite honestly, I can’t imagine how afraid I would be about the outcome of some of my circumstances if I didn’t have the assurance that God was in control. That he hears my prayers and that he cares for me.

This is a peace in difficult circumstances that will cause those around you to ask, “How can you be so calm? Aren’t you freaking out?” To which you will honestly have to say, “I don’t know.” Not because you don’t know where it’s coming from, because you do. But because you don’t know how it’s possible. A peace that transcends all understanding.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. – Isaiah 26:3

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. – Psalm 29:11

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27

In every situation … pray!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – ‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

Recently I had the opportunity to practice the “do not be anxious about anything” lesson and the devil tried very hard to prove that I couldn’t do it. Initially I did pretty well with the help of the Holy Spirit reminding me what the Word of God says. I kept reminding myself what I had learned. Do not be anxious about anything! Put things into perspective and remember that God’s in control. That my life and certainly not my eternity were not going to be significantly impacted based on the outcome of this one particular situation. And not surprisingly, in the end everything worked out just fine. I was pretty pleased with myself for getting through it without as much of the unnecessary anxiety I often experience.

Not to be outdone, though, the devil wasn’t finished. He saw that I had (at least for the moment) figured out how to conquer anxiety over somewhat trivial matters so he thought he’d throw something a little bigger my way. Something he knew would instantly give way to full-fledged anxiety. He got a little further with this one. Even though I saw it for what it was, I just wasn’t able to fight back as strongly in the moment and anxiety took over.

So this leads perfectly into the next lesson to be gleaned from this passage of Scripture. …but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

We will undoubtedly face situations in our life that will cause us to be anxious. So what do we do, then? In every situation we go to God. We come before him in prayer and ask him to intervene. “By prayer and petition…” To petition someone is to request from them what we need. Even to beg for it. And as we come before God, in Jesus’ name, we acknowledge all that he has already done in our life and we thank him! Remembering that he’s proven himself faithful before and he will do it again.

“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” – John‬ ‭14:13-14‬

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:16-18‬

Do not be anxious about anything

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬

I have heard this passage of Scripture many times and it is even one I have memorized and quoted often. But as I read it today I realized that this one passage of Scripture really says a lot and I wanted to break it down and focus on what each part of it means.

Do not be anxious about anything… My Study Bible says that this word for anxious refers to a “self-centered, counterproductive worry”. That summarizes most of my worrying quite well. Worrying about my money, my time, what’s going to happen in my life. That is self-centered. And since the act of worrying itself is not actually producing anything (except sleepless nights and stressed out days) it is by definition counterproductive. There isn’t a whole lot of situation-changing action involved in worrying. So after carefully analyzing the first part of this passage, what have I learned?  Don’t be anxious about anything! (Amazing how I came to that conclusion.)

The Bible is clear that God is going to take care of our needs. He doesn’t promise to always do it the exact way we think we want him to do it or in the perfect timing according to our timeline. But he does promise that he’s got it all under control. Nothing surprises God and nothing is too much for him to work out for our greater good and to accomplish his plan for our lives. God does not want us to fall. But if we do, he will pick us up and put us right back on our feet. 

Jesus said: 

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

– Matthew‬ ‭6:25-34‬

New Day’s Resolutions 

Here we go. Another New Year underway. We have our resolution(s) and at least for the moment, we are motivated to tackle them. We are determined to make this year better than last year. To do the things we wish we would’ve done but never got around to. To quit doing things we meant to quit but for some reason we never did. To be healthier. More successful. More giving and loving. It’s exciting to have a fresh start!

But where will we be in a week or a few months? What will happen to our resolve if we realize we blew it on one or all of our goals for the new year? Will we decide to just give up and try again next year? After all, the new year has come and gone and we’re right back where we ended the last year. Maybe this isn’t our year after all. If that’s the approach we take, then Satan will be thrilled. He will have at least one more year to hammer away at us in whatever area of weakness we determined to give up on.

I’m going to try a new approach. I’m going to change my “New Year’s Resolution” to a “New Day’s Resolution”. I am going to look at every day as the first day of the rest of my life and as a fresh start on getting things right. I’m going to acknowledge where I messed up yesterday, ask God for forgiveness and then ask him to fill me with his Holy Spirit for today. I’m going to resolve for today to do things better. I’m going to set my eyes on Jesus (Hebrew 12:2) and leave the rest behind (Philippians 3:13). I can’t go back and change anything anyways, so there is no sense in dwelling on it. If there are lessons to be learned from my mistakes, I’ll take them to heart and apply them to the future. When the devil tries to weigh me down by convincing me to carry my past mistakes around with me, I will remind him what the Bible says:

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – ‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:21-23‬

And this:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28-30‬ ‭

The Bible often compares the Christian life to a race. I think it would be safe to say we’re dealing with a marathon and not a sprint. And not that I’ve ever run one, but from what I understand – how you finish is more important than how you start. If you trip and fall, you get back up and pick up the pace. Don’t ever let the devil convince you to just give up. Jesus died so that your shortcomings would not define you. When you acknowledge Jesus as your Savior, God covers your sins with Christ’s righteousness. It’s as if he gives you new legs to run the race with. Don’t ever miss the fact that it is Jesus Christ within you that gives you the grace and power you need to finish strong.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13

To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. -Colossians 1:29

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 1 Corinthians 12:9

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” – ‭‭John‬ ‭15:4‬‬‬