How To Vote For A President by Larry W Peebles

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The year of 2016 is a big election year.  In addition to the local and state government offices, governors, and the national House of Representative and Senate positions, this year we will vote to fill the office of the President of the United States of America.  Although the elections are not until November, many of the candidates started even prior to 2015 to posture themselves for the election in hopes of winning this all important office of President.  Some would say this position represents the most powerful position of authority in the world.

As we watch the debates, and the candidates’ comments on themselves and the other candidates, the question then becomes “Who do I vote for?” The purpose of this article is not to give a name, but rather to point to the eternal and infallible Word of God for wisdom and instruction on how to vote, rather than who to vote for.

Deuteronomy 17: 14-20 speaks to this very point.  By way of background, the children of Israel had been set free from hundreds of years of Egyptian captivity.  Moses was appointed by God to lead them not only into freedom, but into the land God had promised their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Moses was also appointed by God to act as judge over the people to provide structure and authority in settling their disputes.  Other judges such as Joshua would follow Moses, and both would learn to appoint lesser judges to settle smaller disputes and assist in governing the people. In Deuteronomy 17, Moses is looking ahead to a time when judges appointed by God would no longer rule; rather the people would want to have a king rule over them as other nations did.

Moses wrote these seven criteria for the nation of Israel to consider when appointing a king:

  1. We must seek God, pray, and ask God His choice.  “When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, ‘Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,’ be sure to appoint over you the king the Lord your God chooses.” (Verses 14, 15).  God would give the people what they wanted, namely the ability to appoint their king.  But when He shifted the responsibility for the appointment to the people, He then made it clear we should ask Him for the wisdom to appoint.  His Word is clear He will supply the wisdom.  James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  This is the first and most important criteria concerning how to vote.
  2. Our choice must be a “brother”.  Verse 15 goes on to say “He must be from among your own brothers.  Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not a brother Israelite.”  In the Hebrew, brother is the word Ah, and it means brother, cousin, relative, but also fellow countryman, neighbor, companion or colleague.  It signifies a person who is similar to another, and is generally a term of affection.  To be close enough to be called a brother, a candidate for office would have to be known (as much as possible), probably through previous experience.  The candidate should have similar likes and dislikes, and similar interests and causes beginning with love for country (“brother Israelite” or “brother American”).  There would of course be other similar interests, some of which are discussed below.  The relationship is more like a neighbor or a friend, where both sides feel free to ask the other for help, whether they actually do or not.
  3. The candidate must trust God more than he does his military.  Verse 16 says “The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself…”  In Moses’ day, horses were a distinct military advantage, used to power chariots of war, move troops rapidly, or move supplies.  God wanted the people to consider a king who placed his trust in Him more than he trusted the strength and size of his military troops, and the number of horse drawn chariots.  When documenting the enormity of the catastrophe that fell upon the Egyptian army pursuing Moses and the Israelites, Moses wanted history to record that 600 of Pharaoh’s best horse and chariot units were destroyed in the Red Sea.  Psalm 20:7 says “Some men trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”  Pharaoh trusted the power of his military; he had no regard for God or his people. Israel had no use for a king with a similar attitude.
  4. The candidate for king should have a heart focused solely on the nation and its people.  Verse 17 says “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.”  The king was not to use his position, power or influence to gain the attention of women.  God says in His Word that a man cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).  He can only be devoted to one.  God wanted that devotion to be directed toward the people, and not toward the lust and flesh needs of the king.  Such needs would be too big a distraction.
  5. The king must place the needs of the people above his own selfish needs for wealth.  Verse 17 goes on to say “He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.”  If wealth becomes the obsession/distraction, the king is once again in the position of serving two masters.  Taken together, criteria 3-5 speak of three strong driving temptations that can derail any human, especially a ruler: power, lust or sex, and money.  God warns that if one detects these character flaws present in a candidate, we are not to consider that person as a ruler.
  6. The king must know God and carefully follow His law.  He must take a copy of the law, keep it with him, and read it every day of his life “so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.” (Verse 19).  The President of the United States is charged by the Constitution to enforce the laws of the land.  To do this, he or she must know the law, and respect it.  God places His law above the law of the land, and in the event there is a conflict, advises we choose leaders who will do the same.
  7. According to verse 20, the king should “not consider himself better than his brother and turn from the law to the right or to the left.”  The king is subject to the same law as the people, and cannot turn aside from it or make exceptions for himself or anyone to whom he is indebted.  To the extent the borrower is a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7), the candidate is a slave to anyone to whom he owes a debt of money, gratitude or favor.  Again, he or she cannot serve two masters.  The good of the people and the nation must be the king’s primary focus, and this focus cannot be compromised even the slightest by repaying a political favor.   Bending the rules to the right or to the left does not set a good example before the people.  A good leader displays integrity in fact and in appearance.

As I think about these seven criteria or guidelines, I can recall people in my lifetime who held government offices where these problems were eventually revealed.  God knew of these problems from the infinite past.  He warned Moses so he could warn the people when they wanted a king.  He warns us today.  I encourage all to keep these criteria handy, and to pray as we watch all the candidates’ debates and campaigns.  We must particularly keep these criteria in mind as we pray before we vote.  He will give us the wisdom to choose a leader if we ask.

 

Never Give Up by Kay Keith Peebles

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When I was 12, my parents gave me a Chihuahua.  She weighed 4 pounds and her height was 10 inches tall at adult age.  She had a lot of fire and was not afraid of a challenge.  One night I opened the front door of the house to let her outside before bedtime.  I stood at the door waiting for her but instead, she shot off the porch barking fiercely.  Swiftly she rounded a hedge at the corner of the house and disappeared into the darkness.  Instantly I heard the all familiar snarl of a cat and then my Chihuahua released a terrifying shrill, notifying the world that she was mortally wounded.

She bounded back to the porch and into the house without stopping to acknowledge me.  I closed and locked the door behind me and ran to see the extent of her injuries.  Looking at her I found no visible signs of blood on her fur and at a quick observation, she appeared to be alright.  Suddenly, I looked into her eyes.  They were filled with horror and almost crossed as if directing my gaze to something on her face.  It was then it caught my glance.  Scanning down to the end of her snout, everything became very clear to me.  I saw a long scratch across her small, brown, delicate nose.  It was screaming for pity and attention.  She gave herself a sloppy lick lathering her nose with warm, moist saliva while begging me to do something to make the pain and disgrace go away.

The cat probably could not have chosen a more sensitive place to plant her sharp claws.  The cat was undoubtedly warning my dog to keep her nose out of her business!  My Chihuahua soon realized she would live to fight again.  She slowly slinked to her basket and snuggled into her pillow, having been sufficiently consoled by me and my mother.

A few months later, I was with my Chihuahua in the back yard when a fully-grown German shepherd strolled into our space!  My dog bounded toward this larger dog in attack mode.  She was barking fiercely while attempting to protect her territory.  Wiser since her encounter with the cat, she suddenly stopped short of running into the towering, muscle bound, male shepherd who looked down at her with mild curiosity.  He did not advance to her challenge.  Standing a few feet away from the shepherd, my dog pushed backward with her 2 rear feet kicking up grass and dirt, attempting to make him intimidated.  He probably chuckled inside at this noisy, miniature fur ball begging for a fight.   He obviously did not take her challenge seriously because he graciously gave her a stay of execution, as I breathed a sigh of relief.

The encounter with the cat did not cause my Chihuahua to give up her willingness to defend her yard, but it did cause her to more wisely choose her approach, weighing the options carefully before committing fully.

Reliving this story as I was writing it caused me to have an interesting observation about my dog’s aggressive behavior:

1)     She never looked to me to cover for her.  I was certainly willing to do just that, and did one time when she was in the alley behind our house.  A speeding car would have killed her had I not intervened.  At any moment, I would have protected her, but she took off after her enemies without appealing to me or allowing me to become involved.

2)     She may have become aggressive not only to protect her territory but also to defend me.  She did not seem to realize that I could have defended myself and was much larger and more powerful than she, fully capable of protecting her and myself.

Having walked many journeys in life up to now, I have realized that I do not have to fight my own battles.  God has been there for me even before I knew Him and acknowledged Him.  He has always desired for me and all His children to cry out to Him for help in our time of trouble, even when we felt the need to “defend” Him.  He is certainly bigger and stronger than all of us.

King David comes to mind as I ponder the lesson from my dog’s story.  David was a warrior at a young age.  We know from scripture that he had successfully killed a lion and a bear while defending his father’s sheep.  In 1 Samuel 17 we find the story of David, still a youth, defeating a 9 foot giant named Goliath, who made all the great warriors of Israel shudder.  He was fearless going into battle and he never considered the possibility of defeat.

His secret of success was not trusting in his own tenacity and strength like my Chihuahua.  It was his faith in God and His strength that gave David victory in battle.  David knew when trouble arose, he could call upon the name of the Lord for help and deliverance.  By doing so the weight of the battle was not upon his shoulders, it was on God’s.  Although David trained and grew strong and skilled in battle, he depended upon the Lord to give him supernatural strength above and beyond what any natural man could wield.

When David found himself in great distress, he knew if he cried to God for help He would answer and deliver him out of all his troubles.  Psalm 18 is a beautiful recant of David’s faith and trust in God and the Lord’s faithful and sure response to his child in danger.

“I love You fervently and devotedly, O Lord, my Strength.  The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.  I will call upon the Lord, Who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.”  (Psalm 18:1-3).  In verses 4-6 David describes his dilemma as he cries out for the Lord’s help and deliverance.

In verses 7-17, David discourses with great detail the Lord’s willingness to move heaven and earth on his (our) behalf to rescue His child from danger and distress.  “Then the earth quaked and rocked, the foundations also of the mountains trembled; they moved and were shaken because He was indignant and angry.” (On David’s behalf) verse 7… “He bowed the heavens also and came down; and thick darkness was under His feet”…“He sent out His arrows and scattered them; (David’s enemies) and He flashed forth lightenings and put them to rout.”  (Emphasis mine) verses 9 & 14.  The whole chapter is a must read.

“They confronted and came upon me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay and support.  He brought me forth also into a large place; He was delivering me because He was pleased with me and delighted in me.  The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness (my conscious integrity and sincerity with Him); according to the cleanness of my hands has He recompensed me.  For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God…”  (See verses 18-28) (Emphasis mine).

David then revealed the source of his strength in verses 29-45.  “For by You I can run through a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall (Verse 29)…He is a shield to all those who take refuge and put their trust in Him.  For who is God except the Lord?  Or who is the Rock save our God.  The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect?  He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places.  He teaches my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”  (Verses 30b, 31, 32, 33, 34)  (Emphasis mine).  “For You have girded me with strength for the battle:  You have subdued under me and caused to bow down those who rose up against me.”  (Verse 39).

Psalm 18 ends with David praising the Lord for His greatness, His faithfulness, and love.  David knew his God and understood God’s great love for His people.  Even when David’s sins of adultery and murder were exposed, he trusted God to be just in His judgment toward him, and fair as He meted out the consequences David would have to face for his transgressions.

The devil must laugh at us, like the German shepherd in the story, when we try to fight our own battles using our own strength.  Our victory is sure when we seek the Lord for His wisdom and strength using His strategies.  Having true faith in God and obeying His commandments grants us immunity from the enemy and assures us all the power of heaven will come to our defense.  It doesn’t mean we won’t see trouble, but like David, God will deliver us out of all our trouble and set us in a high place of refuge.  It means we have an open heaven allowing our cries for help to go upward and our deliverance to come down to us in due time.

No matter what we are facing today, we must KNOW that God desires to show Himself strong on our behalf.  (See 1 Chronicles 16:9).   He will give us the victory when we put our faith and trust in Him, therefore, we need never give up!

The Never Ending Christmas by Larry W. Peebles

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As the Christmas season and the year 2015 draw to a close, here is perhaps a final thought on Christmas that will carry us through the year.  This Christmas was very special in that I had the opportunity to see all three of my grandchildren on my daughter’s side of the family perform in a traditional Christmas play at their church.  It was a simple, humorous, and yet endearing performance that made their pawpaw’s heart burst with joy and pride.  On Christmas morning, I had the privilege of reading the account of Christmas from the Bible to my two grandsons on my son’s side of the family.  I read the version from Luke Chapter 2, and they were very attentive.  This put the whole importance of Christmas morning in the proper perspective.  As I read, I saw a note in my Bible from Christmas Eve 1996 which tied these two recent family experiences together.  That year of 1996, the Lord pointed out something from the Christmas scriptures I had never noticed before, and it had to do with the Christmas play.

The Luke Chapter 2 version in the Bible is the one that contains all the people you would see in any traditional Christmas play.  There is Mary and Joseph, and the baby Jesus born in a manger where cattle and sheep might feed.  Angels told nearby shepherds what had happened, and they visited the baby and worshipped Him.  The heavens were filled with a multitude of angels who praised God for their Savior.  Matthew Chapter 2 tells of the visit of the wise men from distant countries.  These three men came to seek the Son of God, and they brought valuable gifts with them.  These are the characters we expect when we think of a Christmas play.  It is not hard to visualize these individuals and the roles they portray, and this may take one back to a time when he or she played one of these roles in a Christmas play.

In 1996, the Lord pointed out to me there was another role in the Christmas play that is overlooked, yet everyone gets to play that  part at some time in their lifetime, not necessarily at Christmas.  That character usually missing from a traditional Christmas play, and only subtly mentioned in the Luke Chapter 2 account, is the innkeeper.  Joseph knew the Son of God was about to be delivered, so he knocked on the door of the inn looking for a room to see if that is where Jesus could be born.  The inn was already crowded and full.  The innkeeper said there was no room for Jesus to be born there.  Jesus would have to be born somewhere else, maybe down the street at the stables.

The Bible says that before the end of this world would come, the Gospel of Jesus Christ would be preached in every nation.  That means that everyone will have the opportunity to have heard the good news of the Gospel, and to decide if Jesus would be invited into their hearts.  Everyone will be given the opportunity to accept or reject their own new birth, which would include welcoming Jesus into their hearts.  This is done by confessing He is the Son of God, and believing He is raised from the dead after dying for our sins.  We further say He is the Lord of our lives, and invite Him to come anew in our born again hearts.  This is happening every day and every hour all across the globe, and in that sense, the events of Christmas are continuing to unfold.  It never ends.  It certainly is not over on December 26.

When the Holy Spirit knocks on the door of our heart, will there be room for Jesus to come in?  Is it crowded in our heart with other matters, cares and concerns?  Is it full of other activities such that there is not time or thought for Jesus?  Everyone will have the opportunity to answer these questions.  Jesus will come alive in someone’s heart this hour, this day, this night.  If we say no to Him, He will have our answer, and will go on down the street to be “born” somewhere else.  We simply cannot send Him away as the innkeeper did.  We may not get a second chance, and the consequences of our decision are eternal.  We must say “yes”, even if it means throwing out some things that have previously crowded Him out of our hearts.

My prayer for all who read this is that this matter is or will be settled in your heart in 2016, and you will allow Jesus to fill your heart to overflowing with His grace, mercy, forgiveness, power and love.  May you feel like a new person, truly born again into a new eternal life.  Say “yes” to Jesus and invite Him in.  You are the innkeeper, and the lock on the door to your heart is on the inside.  Only you can open it.  Will you continue to make Jesus’ birth the Never Ending Christmas?