OPEN: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Presidential election is officially this Tuesday.
How many of you have taken part in early voting?
(About 2/3s of the church raised their hand).
Whoa. That’s a bunch of you.
But I’ve got some bad news for you.
In Indiana – if you die before Tuesday – your vote won’t count. They literally take your vote out of the machine.
Unlike some places, Indiana is one of those states where, if you die before election day, you don’t get a vote.
Anyway, as I was preparing for today’s sermon I searched through my illustrations for quotes and stories to use. I have several 1000 illustrations in my files and my computer allows me to search through them by typing in any word I'm interested in in the search box. The computer then shows me where to find illustrations that contain that specific word.
So I typed in the word “VOTE” and, of course, I got every illustration that had that word in it.
But I also got illustrations that had words that had “VOTE as part of that word.
And found the most intriguing thing:
I typed in "VOTE",
And I got "DE-VOTED”
Isn’t that interesting?
And it makes sense, because when people vote for a politician or for a political party, they often vote because they are “DEVOTED” to that specific person or party.
Now that truth got me to thinking about a question I'm going to ask you in just a minute.
Let me be very clear before I ask the question that I do NOT want you to answer in any way. I don’t raise your hand, don’t say a word… just think about my question. Got it?
• Are you a Republican?
• Are you a Democrat?
• OR… are you a Christian?
Whoa. Wait a minute.
Do I mean to say you can’t you be a Republican or a Democrat… AND be a Christian.
That’s what I mean to say.
You can’t be both.
Well, because you can’t serve two masters.
Now I’m not saying you can’t vote a straight party ticket or even be signed up with or work for a political party.
What I’m saying is that you can’t be equally a Republican or Democrat AND a Christian.
There are a lot of Church goers out there who will go into the ballot box and they’ll vote Republican/Democrat because they are Republicans/Democrats. They DON’T vote as Christians because they believe that God has nothing to do with their political decisions.
Their vote belongs to THEM… not to God.
That’s what I’m talking about.
Now Devoted means “loving or loyal”.
With that thought in mind… let’s take a look at one of Jesus’s teachings.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be DEVOTED to the one and despise the other…” Matthew 6:24
Then I did a search through the Bible.
I wanted to see how the word Devoted was used.
And guess what?
Almost every time the word “Devoted” shows up in Scripture – it is applied to things devoted to God:
Cities, fields, livestock, sacrifices, even their hearts, minds and lives were spoken of as devoted.
For example, David wrote: “Guard my life, for I am DEVOTED to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.” Psalm 86:2
But by contrast, 1 Kings 11:4 tells us As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully DEVOTED to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.”
The fact that Solomon’s heart was not fully devoted to God led to his kingdom being ripped apart in the days of his son Rehoboam’s reign.
The Bible repeatedly drives home the fact that our God is a jealous God.
He refuses to accept anything but our total allegiance.
Thus, if a Christian says it doesn’t matter TO GOD how they vote… they’re fools.
Whatever motivates you when you vote, reveals who you are devoted to.
And if you are not devoted to God EVEN when you vote… then you shame your God.
Now I’m going to give a couple illustrations about this from Facebook.
I’m going to leave the names of the candidates out… because they aren’t my point.
This isn’t about the candidates or parties.
This is about how Christians become devoted to politics.
ILLUS: One of the minister’s groups I was part of had a man who had a ministry to preachers. He was always advertising the products he would share with us.
I liked him. Not a bad fellow.
I’ll refer to him as “the minister guy.”
Well, this “minister guy” was seriously DEVOTED to one of the presidential candidates and he would repeatedly share questionable posts telling how great his candidate was and how evil the other candidate was. I found that inappropriate on occasions and I would often challenge him on his stands.
Well, one day one of his FB “friends” posted a fairly offensive comment in support of this candidate and used foul language (REALLY FOUL language) to make his point. So I sent a private message to the “minister guy” explaining that this wasn’t appropriate for a man who represents God to have someone post something so foul on his FB page. I asked him to talk to this man and delete this comment.
The “minister guy” said I needed to “Grow up”. He said that if I was offended by how worldly people talked I wasn’t much of a minister.
Now, I’ve been insulted by the better men than he is, and his comment didn’t offend me nearly as much as the fact that it was apparent that he cared less about whether this man went to hell or not… just as long as the guy supported his politician.
The "minister guy" was not devoted to Jesus.
He was devoted to his political candidate.
ILLUS: Now let me tell you of another FB friend – he’s a preacher in our brotherhood.
He's a nice guy and I like him a lot.
He supports the other candidate for President.
But that OTHER candidate has gone on record as supporting abortion, homosexual marriage, and transvestites using girl’s bathrooms.
At one point, another of the preacher’s friends challenged on that writing:
“How can you vote for this person when they stand for such things?”
The preacher’s response was: gay and transvestites have RIGHTS that should be defended.
In other words, gays should be allowed to marry, transvestites should be able to use women’s bathrooms and abortion on demand should be the right of every woman.
Let me be perfectly clear here – God destroyed entire nations for that kind of thing.
But then my preacher friend wrote:
“God doesn’t care how I vote.”
(PAUSE) This is supposedly a servant of the most high God.
He is a preacher who is supposed to be standing for Jesus Christ.
But he’s more DEVOTED to his political party than he is to Jesus.
The problem for Christians is that we are spiritual beings but we live in a physical world.
And part of that physical world is politics.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but people can get a little carried away about their politics.
I’ve heard people on both sides of the political divide go on and on and on about how evil the leaders of the OTHER party are and defend the evil of their own candidates.
And this is not a new phenomenon.
ILLUS: In my files I have a story from the mid-1800s about a Church of Christ over in Ohio. Their church history tells of a fist-fight on the front lawn between 2 men of different political parties. An eyewitness account wrote:
“Two of our best men fought to a finish. One wanted to know if the other had enough. He said he had, so he let him up.”
The anger between the two groups in church was so intense that it eventually split the church.
When it comes to politics and Christians I’m reminded of the story of James and John.
Luke 9:51-55 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for (Jesus) to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him.
But (the Samaritans) did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?"
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them…” NKJV
What that tells me is that our focus (as Christians) has got to be different than the world’s.
We follow Jesus, so we’re called to be of a “different spirit” than world!
Now, how will we know if we’ve got that different spirit when it comes to our politics?
Well, first we have the right attitude about politicians.
I just saw this meme on FB a couple days ago.
It shows Trump and Clinton and says
“These people are made in the image of God
Both of them.
The point? Jesus died for them.
They are important to God and you need to be careful how you talk about them.
When I reposted this meme on my FB page I had one man try to argue that they weren’t really made in God’s image because they’d sinned and thus they no longer bore that imagery. But once you accept that thinking, you begin to allow yourself to believe you now have the excuse to say whatever you want about them.
James 3:9-10 tells us “With (our tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
And again in James 4:11-12 we’re told: “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Who is the only lawgiver and Judge?
That’s right – God.
Someone once said it this way: “Only God is in a position to look down on anyone.”
But you’ll find Republicans smearing Democrats.
And you’ll find Democrats smearing Republicans.
But YOU (and I) had better NEVER EVER do that.
Jesus did not save us so that we could go on behaving like pagans.
Do you know why so many people attack politicians?
Because they don’t trust God.
Let me repeat that - people attack politicians because they don't trust God.
And people attack politicians because they don’t believe God will deal with these leaders.
They think: "God won’t deal with them - so I have to."
And they’ll use the best tool they think will do any good.
They’ll use insults and demeaning jokes and personal attacks.
And why do they use personal attacks?
Because they work!!!
Yeah, that’s why political parties use them so often. They know this stuff effects elections.
But that’s not the spirit of which you are.
God explicitly commands us not to engage in character assassination
But if we can’t make fun of those politicians.
If we can’t attack them and demean them and insult them… what are we to do????
Well, I thought you’d never ask. Paul writes:
“… I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, (WHY?) that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” I Timothy 2:1-2
You mean… I’ve got to pray for these guys?
That’s what it says!
ILLUS: I want you to think back over the past 20 years or so.
How many of the Presidents (of the party you don’t like) have you prayed for?
And I don’t mean praying that they would DIE!!!
ILLUS: One preacher friend told of and Elder in his church becoming angry because the preacher was challenging the congregation to pray for different things every week. But when the Elder found out that they were going told to pray for a President he hated - HE REFUSED!!!
An ELDER REFUSED to obey God in this matter!
There’s no excuse for that.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane shall we?
Who are we supposed to pray for?
That’s right – KINGS, and those in HIGH PLACES.
Now… who do you suppose was the King in Paul’s day???
Have you ever heard of a man named … Nero?
For those of you who may not have been awake that day in history class - Nero was not a nice guy. According to historians of the day, he poisoned his step-brother, murdered his mother, and kicked his pregnant wife to death.
On the political front, he manipulated the Senate to point where they no longer had any power, and he assassinated anyone who stood in his way to power.
Then there was his hatred of Christians. He ordered the torture and execution of numerous believers and may even have ordered the executions of Paul and Peter.
I don’t care who gets elected this Tuesday… even the worst of them is a piker compared to Nero.
So why would Paul ask Christians to pray for Nero???
Well… because Paul trusted God.
Paul may have been thinking of this passage out of Proverbs 21:1
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.”
Do you believe that?
Yeah, in theory we do… but in practice it gets hard.
But IF we work hard at it, we begin to realize our God is more powerful than any politician or political party.
In fact, begin to realize our prayers are even more powerful than our votes.
Let me tell you a Bible story.
Back in the Old Testament - God punished the nation of Judah for their sins by sending allowing them to conquered by Babylon and carried into Captivity. Among the captives who a young man named Daniel who was singled out for the privilege of being a servant in the King of Babylonian’s court. Of course, in order to do that he needed to be made into a Eunuch… he lost his manhood.
In a short period of time Daniel has lost his home, his family and his manhood.
How did he deal with that loss?
He stayed faithful to God. Several times in his life Daniel stood up for things that could have cost him his very life and every time God rewarded him. In fact, God ultimately helped raise Daniel to the position of being one of the King’s most trusted advisors. When David spoke – things happened.
But Daniel’s prominence at court made him real UNpopular with the other advisors to the King. They were evil men who set out to destroy Daniel.
They knew that 3 times a day Daniel kneeled in prayer to God… and so they approached the King and appealed to his vanity. No one was as great as the king, so it wasn’t right that anyone should pray to any god or man except him. And so they convinced him to “issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or man during the next thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be thrown into the lions’ den.” Daniel 6:7
Now do you think Daniel knew about the law?
Of course he did - he was a close personal advisor to the king.
So what did he do?
Did he engage in political maneuvering?
Did he use attack ads to undermine his opponents?
Did he try to hide his faith?
No. Daniel prayed… and he prayed… and he prayed.
And can you guess what part of his prayers were about?
That’s right - he prayed for the King. Prayed about the decision.
And do you know why Daniel would have prayed that?
Because Daniel believed that the heart of the King was in the hand of God and God would turn it like a watercourse wherever He wished.
Of course, you remember the rest of the story.
Daniel is arrested and he’s thrown in the Lion’s Den.
On the day of his execution, the King goes with Daniel to the den of lions and says
“May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” Daniel 6:16
Then on the following morning the King rushed to the den and cried out:
“O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Daniel 6:20
Daniel cries out from the den: “It’s all good. An angel closed the mouth of the lions and I’ve been having a nice rest down here.”
Do you remember what happened to Daniel’s enemies?
They were thrown into the Lions’ den – I mean, the lions were hungry and somebody had to feed them.
Then we’re told that: “King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: ‘Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God, enduring forever; his kingdom shall never be destroyed, and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues; he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, he who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.’” Daniel 6:25-27
Did you what happened here?
The King’s heart was changed.
And it wasn’t changed because Daniel engaged in political maneuvering, or character assassination.
What changed the King’s heart?
It was a man on his knees.
It was by the prayer of a humble servant of the Most High God.
This kind of story is repeated throughout the Bible.
We read about it in the life of Daniel.
We read about it in the life of Esther.
We read about it in the life Joseph.
Over and over and over again God shows us the power of faith in God.
That’s the power God says WE have now.
A power that is more potent than well-funded political ads.
A power more persuasive than the most well-oiled political machines.
You have more power in your prayers than an entire nation that votes.
Because you appeal to the God who know how to do this kind of thing.
But your prayers won’t have much power if you don’t belong to Jesus.
That’s why we give an invitation at the end of every service.