What can one person do to help change the direction of our country? I’ve struggled with that question. Maybe you have too. I talked to God about it, and the Spirit gave me some good and needed advice. Maybe this is just for me. Maybe it’s for you. Maybe it’s for everyone. See what you think.
The apostle Paul’s encouraging letters to Timothy, his son in the faith, oozed with great intention. As far as we know, these were his last letters. He knew his time was short, so he carefully chose words that would instruct, encourage, and motivate Timothy to carry on without him as a faithful servant of their Lord.
With great intentionality Paul wrote: “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2, NLT)
Timothy did not have a leather-bound copy of the New Testament filled with red letters and gold-edged pages. He couldn’t pass out paperback copies to all the church members so they could study more at home. He read the scrolls of the Old Law numerous times and discussed their finer points with Paul and others. Timothy most likely heard Paul passionately recount his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road, being blinded by the light, and how his heart had been transformed during those three days of darkness. Paul surely shared the many stories he had heard from Peter and James. (Just imagine the stories James, the brother of Jesus, could tell!) Timothy knew what God had done and could do again. However, Satan had a different plan.
As diligent as Timothy was, Satan still wielded a sharp double-edged sword against the Ephesian church where Timothy ministered. With one edge, it sliced the from outside with fables and myths. The other edge sliced and diced the heart of the church with meaningless “discussions”. Many had forgotten all about the instruction on love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. They wanted to be teachers of the law, but they didn’t have the slightest idea what they were talking about. They simply loved to argue! (1 Timothy 1:3-7)
Paul’s warning to Timothy holds true for us today: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NLT)
Satan has again wielded the same sharp sword against today’s church, but the Word of God is sharper than ANY two-edged sword. The message of hope for better marriages, better parenting, a unified church, and even a purer country lies within the pages of Scripture. As the world sees our transformations and hears our testimonies, it just might be inspired to investigate the Word that makes us tick. That may sound like a pipe dream, but it’s how the apostles did it.
Time in the Word causes the desire for transformation to slowly trickle from our minds and drip onto our thoughts. From there, it seeps into our hearts and sweetens our words. Finally, transformation matures and can’t help but burst out through our hands and feet. In other words, the more we read the Word, the more we know God. The more we know God, the more we think about Him. The more we think about Him, the more we love Him. The more we love Him, the more we love others – parents, spouses, children, grandchildren, friends, neighbors, and yes, even those who have different ideas about right and wrong. It’s a process!
When we read God’s Word, the Spirit comes alongside and teaches us. He helps us connect Old Testament passages to those in the New Testament. After a few trips through both volumes, we see how all of it points us to Jesus. We begin to make connections we’ve never seen before, and we find amazement in those gold-edged pages.
I wonder if Paul remembered King Jehoshaphat in the Old Testament when he penned his words to Timothy. Jehoshaphat, one of my favorite O.T. kings, became king of Judah after his father Asa died. Jehoshaphat followed the example of David and refused to worship idols. He sought God’s favor and received it. As a result, he was blessed immensely. Jehoshaphat assembled a vast, humongous, ginormous (get the idea?) army that could have intimidated any enemy. However, it wasn’t the massive army that put the fear of the Lord into surrounding nations, it was the teaching of God’s Word to the people!
King Jehoshaphat had wisely sent his officials, Levites, and priests to all the towns of Judah. He wanted everyone on the same page – literally! Read how 2 Chronicles 17:9-10 describes the Word’s effect: “They took copies of the Book of the Law of the Lord and traveled around through all the towns of Judah, teaching the people. Then the fear of the Lord fell over all the surrounding kingdoms so that none of them wanted to declare war on Jehoshaphat.”
So, how can we change the direction of our country?
1. Read the Word
2. Read the Word
3. Then read it all again and again
Let’s meditate on the Word of God so it can continue to change us. Then, our stories of transformation might become the catalysts for someone else to begin their own journey through the Scriptures. The more familiar we are with the Bible, the better prepared we’ll be; not to defend a position or prove someone wrong, but to offer Jesus to a struggling friend. If all of us point others to the Word, introduce them to Jesus, and let the Spirit do the rest, we will help change the direction of our country one person at a time.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14, NLT)
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1:1-3, NLT)