Compiled by Paul A. Hughes, M.Div
Note: This collection of scriptures was first published during the 1992 presidential election. A few additions have been made. If only these warnings from Scripture had been more heeded back then, and since, by Christians of all types who decided to vote their own preference instead of God’s! Think, in particular, what better appointments would have been made to the Supreme Court, had truly Christian presidents and other leaders been elected.
As another crucial election approaches, it is important to emphasize the need for Christians to vote according to their Christian convictions.
Some Christians think it is somehow “unspiritual” to participate in molding and influencing our nation through politics. Others have bought the secular line that Christians should keep their religion separate from their politics.
However, it is not only the right but the solemn responsibility of all Christians to exploit every means to influence the world, including electing men of truth, justice, and character to their government, calling all their leaders to accountability, and punishing those who violate the public trust.
Now I cannot tell anyone else for whom to vote [though perhaps I ought to have done so, in retrospect], but I would like to offer a selection of scriptures we should all ponder before we vote. These scriptures speak for themselves [or so I had hoped].
Seek the Nation’s Welfare
“Seek the peace of the city to which I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it; for in its peace shall ye have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7).
“Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way” (1 Samuel 12:23).
“I exhort, therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).
Seek Freedom of Worship
“Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will entreat the LORD. . . but let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD” (Exodus 8:29).
“For we were bondmen; yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem” (Ezra 9:9).
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you; and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:1).
“Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds” (Colossians 4:3).
The World is Ignorant of God’s Truth
“The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
“We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
“Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
Choose God, Not Self-Interest
“No man can serve two masters . . . . Ye cannot serve God and mammon (i.e., money)” (Matthew 6:24).
“If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served . . . or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
“See I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil. . . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19).
“Seek not what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Luke 12:29-31).
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Revelation 12:11).
Declare a Public Testimony
“Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:18).
“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).
“For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28).
“For a long time, then, they abode there, speaking boldly in the Lord, who gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands” (Acts 14:3).
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2).
“And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word . . . And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:29, 31).
“And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region” (Acts 13:49).
Do Not Aid Sinners in Their Cause
“Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them who hate the Lord? Therefore, there is wrath upon thee from before the Lord” (2 Chronicles 19:2).
“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 1:10-11).
“Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
“He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” (Luke 11:23).
Stand Against Evil
“Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).
“Them that sin, rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).
“This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13).
“These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Titus 2:15).
Beware of Deceivers
“Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:6, see also 4:14).
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
“For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22).
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
Distrust Human Counsel
“For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly toward you” (2 Corinthians 1:12).
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (1 Corinthians 3:19).
“My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
“Woe to the rebellious children, saith the lord, who take counsel, but not of me; and who cover with a covering, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin” (Isaiah 30:1).
“We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold, trouble!” (Jeremiah 8:15).
“They say still unto those who despise me, The Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you” (Jeremiah 23:17, see also Ezekiel 13:10, 16).
Seek God for Guidance
“Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk in it, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16).
“Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
©2015 Paul A. Hughes
The lessons of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” are lost on many Christians. The Divine Health (as opposed to Divine Healing) crowd hates the idea that there might be a disease that God chooses NOT to heal. The Deliverance crowd hates the thought that there might be demonic oppression from which God chooses NOT to deliver. The Word-of-Faith, Hyper-Faith crowd hates the notion that there might be a prayer that God might choose NOT to answer in the affirmative, or a presumed legal claim to a promise to which God might refuse to comply.
The blanket lesson of Paul’s thorn in the flesh is that “Christ’s grace is sufficient.” Christ asserts this claim to Paul in spite of contrary outward appearances. The main contrary circumstance was continued mortality manifested by continued need, continued pain, continued oppression, as Paul experienced in his flesh. The fact that Christ’s grace remained “sufficient” in spite of mortality demonstrates many subordinate lessons. One is that Christ’s priorities are not our own. Human suffering in itself is not outside the will of the Lord. The Spirit said of Paul, “I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Peter described those “that suffer according to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:19). Epaphroditus was “sick nigh unto death,” but was praised by Paul for his dedicated service (Php. 2:27).
Yet another lesson is that while we have received “the earnest of the Spirit,” and in the eschatological sense Eternal Life, believers have not yet received the fullness of that “inheritance” (2 Cor. 1:22, 5:5; Eph. 1:13 ff.; 1 Peter 1:3 ff.). Not until the Parousia (“appearing in person”) of Christ will we be “changed” to “see him as he is” and “be like him” (1 Cor. 13:12, 15:51 f.; Col. 3:4; Php. 3:21; 2 Tim. 1:10; Titus 2:13; 1 Jn. 3:2). Immortality remains a future promise and a “purchased possession” yet to be redeemed (Gal. 3:14 ff., Eph. 1:14, 1 Tim. 4:8, 2 Tim. 1:1, Heb. 10:36 f., 1 Jn. 2:25). Therefore, the Church can at times expect to experience a “foretaste” of immortality, but never its fullness, as the Spirit “divides severally as he wills” (1 Cor. 12:11).
In particular, Paul was taught a lesson pertinent to “the abundance of the revelations” that he had received. Christ’s purpose was “lest I should be exalted above measure.” Paul needed “self” to be deflated enough to keep his feet firmly planted on solid ground — or rather, enough to realize that the power working in and through him was that of Christ and not a product of his own human strength, intelligence, holiness, or pedigree. No, the Lord declared, “my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Only in the failure of “self” does humanity turn to God, and only in his utter inability would Paul learn and be reminded to rely solely on the Lord.
Thus we come round to the sticking point wherein self-reliant and self-actualizing people dismiss the lessons of the thorn in the flesh. People hate not getting what they want. Even more, people hate suffering. The flesh bridles at being denied. We see everywhere people going to great lengths, trodding over laws and over other people, insensitive to principles and the rights and welfare of others, in a never-ending quest to get what they want at all costs. Christians are hardly immune to this propensity. In arguing with the lessons of the thorn, those who hate it actually demonstrate the need for it by their own carnality and lack of consecration to the Lord. They will not put up with any such burden! They sacrifice New Testament principles while stubbornly misappropriating others, in self-seeking and spiritual pride. In so doing, they risk a mighty downfall when brought to the end of their own devices by their own thorn, which is sure to come in time.
Paul came to his thorn in all earnestness. The thought of the thorns facing the carnal and rebellious is too horrible to contemplate.
© 2014 Paul A. Hughes
Watchman Nee likened God’s training in humility to being backed against a wall and having one’s foot crushed, like Balaam. A Christian leader, he said, cannot represent God until being emptied of the motivation of his own opinions and thought processes, but being in active subjection to God and his Word.
Indeed, the author of Hebrews (ch. 12) harks back to Job 5:17 and Proverbs 23:22 in describing God’s chastening. He says in 5:8 that Jesus “learned obedience by the things He suffered.”
We must not rebel against God’s correction and training in humility. The Lord tries to get through to us, but if we rebel, we “kick against the goads” (Acts 9:5, 26:14).
But as far as recounting how one was made humble, there is a risk of being like the man whose church gave him a medal for humility, but then took it away because he wore it — or the man who wrote the book, Humility, and How I Achieved It.
© 2014 Paul A. Hughes
Soul salvation begins with acknowledging before God that we can’t save ourselves. That principle extends to everything else that is beyond human means.
Clearly, there are things we are required to do, as Christians, in our own strength. Yet the very fact of prayer implies inability to do everything ourselves.
There are more things beyond our means than most of us care to acknowledge. We try from day to day to fulfill our responsibilities and achieve our goals. Many of us have dreams we are working toward and longing for. We want to prosper, be happy and fulfilled. Yet we can’t guarantee our own health, that of loved ones, the security of our income, the fidelity of our spouse, freedom from tragedy — you get the drift. As Jesus said, “You can’t make one hair white or black” (Matthew 5:36).
Prayer not only implies that we can’t, but that God can. We go to the Lord to ask for added strength, special provision, protection, guidance, healing, miracles, and a multitude of other things we want or need. Typically, however, we make prayer our last resort: or worse, our backup plan, hedging our bets, our ace in the hole. We go to God when all else has failed, and we are needy, desperate, on the ropes. We beseech God mightily to clean up the mess we have made, and set everything aright. Often we blame God for the results of decisions we made without truly consulting him.
So what we should do is revise our inbred can-do policy to one of can’t-do. We should lead with our best pitch, which is to call out the only one who is truly able. In acknowledging our inability, not only to do, but to know what to do, we set ourselves on a path of blessing and provision. As James wrote (4:15), “You ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” Only by asking God “according to his will” can we be assured our prayers are answered (1 John 5:14 f.).
Moreover, the power of God is unleashed when we fully surrender to the will of God and seek his guidance through Spirit-led prayer. “When I am weak, then am I strong,” Paul writes (2 Corinthians 12:10), finding greater reliance on the Lord in the midst of suffering. By laying on God’s altar our paltry human strength, along with our stubborn human will, God can work his will in us, and for us.
But by nature most of us won’t pray: not in earnest, before trying to do things ourselves. We want what we want, when we want it. We might say a few token prayers, or ones designed to get the Lord on board our agenda. Instinctively we know that asking God’s help obligates us to do his thing, his way. We have in hand a typically long list of things we have decided we won’t do, no matter what God says — right next to our wish list.
In telling the Lord we won’t do his will, we remove ourselves from the path of blessing, and set ourselves up for ultimate failure. Contrary to that cute little household plaque, God will not bless a mess. How much better to submit our desires humbly before the one Being who truly can, and will.
© 2012 Paul A. Hughes
Reference: 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
Please excuse my bit of doggerel (bad poetry):
Here I sit on the griddle,
Not at the edge but the middle,
Awash in hot grease,
Can’t you just hear me sizzle?
Sometimes the Lord gives us a need, something to pray for, something to believe, a promise, conviction for sins, consequences of our human weakness or disobedience; and rather than giving quick release, He holds us there, sizzling, perhaps for a long period. We squirm, we try to jump out, we ask God why.
We rebuke Satan for persecution, and pray for deliverance.
Yet when the Lord holds us on the griddle, He has a higher purpose. On the griddle, we are tried by the fire. Every perishable and flammable thing in us, and in the baggage we carry, is seared, and burns away, a little bit at a time. We begin to learn what is tried, and true, and precious, and worthy, and eternal. We are melted down, and the dross that rises is skimmed away. We choose whether to become bitter or better.
If we escape the griddle prematurely, we interrupt the process. We might need to return later.
Do not shun the griddle. The Lord is treating you with discipline, as his child who carries his name (Hebrews 12:5-11). He has a higher purpose, and a higher calling than leaving you where you are, as you are. He works in you a work of submission to him, as well as trust, endurance, and faith.
Hebrews 5:8 “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”
© Copyright 2012 Paul A. Hughes
No doubt most of us embrace the concept of praying about our needs “until we hear from God.” But how does that happen?
My Sunday AM message was on “a Word from the Lord”: not in this case Scripture, or even prophetic gifts in the congregation, but seeking to hear from God oneself — directly — in guidance, especially in times of decision and acute need.
I believe all Christians are meant to be Spirit-filled, and consequently to move in charismatic gifts of the Spirit. Paul tells us to “be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph 5:17), and elsewhere that the Spirit helps us because “we know not how to pray as we ought” (Rom 8:26-27); and John, further, says that if we ask anything according to God’s will, we will receive it (1 Jn 5:14).
The Lord does not always tell us what we would like to know, for we must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). But there are times when the Spirit definitely wants to get through to us, to guide as well as comfort and instruct us, and we definitely need to know whatever it is He wants to tell us. Otherwise, we might easily get off-track and make mistakes, even in lifetime decisions.
Hearing God speak is not an exact science. One of the things that makes the Spirit’s voice distinct from our own thoughts is that it is not always the same, and often at an unexpected moment. When He does speak, in my experience (as others in the congregation nodded in agreement), it is kind of like the ringing of a bell: sudden, surprising, causing a start or a thrill, getting our full attention, then the message follows, often in a mere moment — a concise thought, or sometimes specific words.
Of course, the Spirit does not speak on demand, but as He wills. If, however, there is any way for one to prompt receipt of a Word from the Lord, as Scripture and experience suggest, it is by expending the time and effort in “prayer and supplication,” worshipping the Lord, and most of all placing oneself — and one’s free will — on the altar in earnest and complete submission to His will. In my experience, it is AFTER such a time, not necessarily DURING, that a Word from the Lord will come, if He so chooses, clear as a bell.
The sticking point, for all of us, unfortunately, is the submission. We really want what we want. Like everyone else, my will must be “pried out of my cold, dead hand,” as the saying goes. Consequently, the earnest prayer and supplication must begin with “dying to self” and “mortifying the flesh.”
But that is another sermon.
© 2012 Paul A. Hughes