Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary Petty] It helps to always keep in mind, the sovereign creator and ruler of the universe has already predicted the failure of all human efforts to try and live outside His Kingdom. You see this isn't the world God designed for you. He is sending Jesus Christ to replace this worn-out dysfunctional world by restoring God's Kingdom on earth.
You probably wish someone could help you find answers to the chaos. You can. It will mean taking a hard look at the real underlying causes of our political, social, racial, and economic problems. In the process, you can discover the only solution for a nation in a world that's tearing itself apart. We live in a world where no one can solve the problems because no human society truly acknowledges their Creator. This isn't the world God designed for us. If this isn't the world He designed, what political agenda should we embrace to bring change to a troubled world? The answer has to do with what motivates your citizenship. You know our country and the world is divided over who's the blame for the political confusion and hatred, violence, international health crisis, racial conflict, economic distress, and ever-present anxiety that the fills the news cycle and plagues our mental health. It seems everyone is finger-pointing and angrily shouting at those they believe are responsible. And you know you can pick who you want to blame, right? The Democrats, Republicans, the Chinese or Russians, a secret society of billionaires who are trying to rule the world. Internet conspiracy theorists, millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers, the deep state, or maybe it's capitalists, socialists, communists, the medical profession, racists, anarchists, or of course, Google or Facebook. Everybody has their own list of who's responsible. Who is responsible?
We're going to answer that question. But first, let's ask an even more provocative question. How would you describe God's dealing with humanity? I mean where is God in this mess? Is this really the world God designed for us? It would seem that of all people Christians should be able to explain God's solutions. But in reality Christians are deeply divided over the answers to know what does God want to solve these problems? I mean how does He want to solve the problems of poverty, and governance, and injustice, and race relationships. The starting point to finding answers is found in Psalms 103:19. “The Lord has established His throne in heaven and His Kingdom rules overall.” All important questions and answers begin with accepting the God of the Bible as the Creator and Ruler over all the earth. Now it also means you have to have a clear definition of your true citizenship. Now God's sovereignty doesn't mean that He created this violent self-destructing, dysfunctional human condition. The story of Adam and Eve isn't a nice fairy tale about how to understand good and evil. Their story is the reality of how evil became part of the human experience. Our first parents lived in perfect peace and happiness as long as they followed God's instructions. Satan came along into their lives and everything changed. It is necessary to understand that Satan is a real being. He was one of many angelic beings created by God before the creation of the physical universe. He rebelled against God. And he now desires to destroy God's purpose for humanity. And that means, understand this, that he wants to destroy God's purpose for you because you have one.
Satan influenced our parents and they became separated from God. Now according to the Apostle Paul, from that point forward the descendants of Adam and Eve, all of us, have been spiritually blinded by, "the god of this age." That means that all human history has been a sad, dysfunctional experiment in creating religions, governments, and social systems to ensure fairness, equality and safety. It also means that the God of this age who is the author of all evil is attempting to manipulate human history through spiritual blindness. And this spiritual blindness is at the root of the human inability to govern ourselves. Because all we end up with is conflict, injustice, and violence. Now understand something. God still reigns over the universe. His Kingdom still exists. He is still involved with human beings. But He has allowed humanity a specific length of time to experiment with every kind of government, systems of justice, and economic theories that we can come up with. Now God has a plan for humanity which includes a personal plan, by the way, for your life. And you can discover God's designed purpose for you. And surprisingly it has to do with your citizenship. God isn't someplace of afar off ignoring what is happening in this mess. He is interacting in the human tragedy to carry out His destiny, a good destiny, a wonderful destiny for humanity. Now one example of God's intervention is found in Isaiah 45:1. Here's what it says. "Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held." Cyrus is a famous King from ancient Persia. But here's what's interesting about this verse.
Isaiah wrote this prophecy about 150 years before Cyrus became the king of Persia. Early in his reign, Cyrus issued a decree sending Jews who had been scattered by the Babylonian captivity back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. The Jews returned and years later, Jesus the Messiah came into this world as a Jew exactly as the prophecy said He would. You see Cyrus was used by God to make sure Jesus was born in Judea. We find another intervention in the book of Daniel. And this well-known story, Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had a troubling dream. Daniel who was a young Jew was forced to serve in the king's palace and he was told by God to tell Nebuchadnezzar that his dream had been divinely inspired. So Daniel goes to the king and describes how the dream involved a strange image of a man whose head was made of gold, arms and chest of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and a large stone smashed the feet of the image and it came crashing down into a heap of rubble. The king is told by Daniel that this dream reveals how various empires reaching across centuries into the future would be involved in God's plan for humanity. Daniel declared that Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian Empire, was the head of gold. History shows us that Babylon was followed by Persia, Greece, and the Roman Empire. The silver, bronze and iron of Nebuchadnezzar's image. The first of these three empires interacted with ancient Israel, the people of the Messiah.
The fourth Empire interacted with both Israel and the church founded by Jesus. The prophecy ends with the hope of a future event when, "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed." You know when we look at this story, it's a prophecy but we also see Daniel, who was a man who lived in a foreign land and yet he understood his true citizenship. These two prophecies are examples of how God is interacting with history to carry out a plan for mankind. If you're struggling with trying to cope in an ever-changing world with chaos and political leaders who don't seem to know what they're doing and it seems like nothing but religious clichés, then you need to get the free study guide, "Why Were You Born?" You can find ways to cope with pandemics and economic uncertainty, and a constant noise of political confusion. The answers you see are spiritual. And it begins with understanding why you exist. "Why Were You Born?" will open your eyes to God's purpose for your life. It will also help you understand why you and governments always fail. Get your free copy of "Why Were You Born?" Very easy, call the number on your screen right now or go to beyondtoday.tv and download the free study guide, beyondtoday.tv.
God's interaction with human history doesn't mean by the way that He's controlling all human actions. He is allowing us under the benevolent influences of the God of this age, to create religions, and government’s social systems. None of which produce justice, prosperity for all, peace, or shines a light through the spiritual blindness that we go through all the time, the spiritual blindness of war, and crime, and hatred, and anxiety, and suffering, and broken lives.
Now one example of how God allows human beings to create their own destruction is found in the history of ancient Israel. Israel was a major kingdom in the Middle East and God selected their kings in order to carry out his plan on Earth. Those include Saul, David, Solomon, three of the most famous kings of ancient Israel. After Solomon's death Israel sled into lawlessness and anarchy. By the time of the prophet Hosea, and Hosea came on the scene about 200 years approximately after the death of Solomon, he brings a message to those people. Now God had been very active in their nation. And now here's what He says to them. He says, "Set the trumpet to your mouth," in other words, blow a trumpet blast which was a warning. So He tells Hosea, warn the people. “He shall come like an eagle against the house of the Lord." This means that there's an enemy that's coming and it's going to come against the people of Israel, "because they have transgressed my covenant and rebelled against my law. Israel will cry to me, "My God, we know You, but Israel has rejected the good and the enemy will pursue him." And then here He says is part of what the problem was. "They set up kings but not by me. They made princes but I did not acknowledge them." Because of their rebellion against God's ways, God was no longer involved in Israel's government or society. This shocked Israelites who cried out, "My God, we have known You.” God's response was, He didn't accept them. You live in a world where humanity can't solve its problems because no human society or government is under the rule of God.
If this isn't the world that God designed for us then what political agenda should we embrace to bring change to a troubled world? The answer to that question, if you really want to answer it in your life, you have to find or first answer another question. How do I define my citizenship? In the New Testament the Apostle Paul defines Christian citizenship. Here's what he says. I want you to read this with me. "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly await for the Savior, the Lord, Jesus Christ." Our citizenship is in heaven. You know Paul had been a prominent leader of the Jewish religious government. He was also by birth a citizen of the Roman Empire. But his primary citizenship was in the Kingdom of God. He understood that no political or social movement can solve a human condition. You see the real problem lies in the mind and hearts of each of us. Since the core problem is in the human heart only God can supply the solution. And this means that the solutions to society's problems begin with God actively interacting in your life and bringing about a fundamental change in the inner person. This is part of the gospel message. This is the good news. We could keep trying to change the people around or change the government or change the culture. But until we submit to God and His power to change the inner person we will always end up with the same problems. You know you and I can't change anybody else but God can change you. We all must humbly realize that as long as Satan is the god of this age as Paul said, no human effort will be able to free humanity from their spiritual blindness.
God is seeking those who want to come out of the darkness and participate in the only real hope for humanity. God is seeking those who will submit to His rule while living in an age of spiritual darkness. When you embrace God's call to citizenship and to heavenly kingdom there is a fundamental change in your allegiance. This isn't an easy calling. It means a whole lot more than accepting Jesus, singing religious songs, and going to church. To become a citizen of the Kingdom of God, the kingdom Daniel prophesied so many millennia ago would destroy all human governments. You must accept the values of laws of God's Kingdom in your life right now. That means you must become in a very real sense a spiritual stranger in a strange land. The writer of Hebrews describes the lives of so many of the great men and women of the Old Testament, and what they accomplished and what God did through them. And here's how he summarizes all their lives. He says, "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them a far off, were assured of them, embraced them, and confess that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." To be a true Christian you are in a very real sense, a stranger, and a pilgrim on the earth. Those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly, if they had called the mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better that is a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God for He has prepared a city for them.”
I find that statement "God is not ashamed to be called their God," this is the real calling. You see the reality of true Christianity is to be a stranger and pilgrim on this earth. It is to seek a different homeland and to understand that all human attempts to create utopia are doomed to fail. It means embracing a lifelong journey towards the return of Jesus Christ and the chaotic times in which we live. "Why Were You Born?" may be the most important study guide we've ever offered. The main theme of this study guide is how God wants you to be His son or daughter. And it's a real relationship that changes your life. It's why you were created. "Why Were You Born?" will also help you understand what it means to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God. You have a reason to get out of bed every morning and face life with hope and energy. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. To get your free copy of "Why Were You Born?" call the number on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv and download a free copy.
So how does being a citizen of the Kingdom of God change your life? Well, actually it changes everything. Because being a citizen in God's Kingdom is based on accepting the sovereignty of God not over just all humanity, that's a nice concept, but His ownership of your life right now. It is complete submission to His mission in your life. It is absolute allegiance to Jesus Christ as Savior, Master, and King of Kings. And this citizenship supersedes all other forms of allegiance and patriotism.
When you give total allegiance to God and your citizenship is in heaven, you will be transformed by God's direct intervention in your life. And here's what's going to begin to happen. First of all you begin to seek God's purpose and goals in your life. You will know that you're seeking the citizenship that Hebrews was talking about when you start to have this happen in your life. You see God has a purpose for you. And that purpose has a goal. Remember what Paul wrote, "For our citizenship is in heaven, for which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus Christ is returning to tear down all governments and restore God's rule on this creation. When you seek God's future that He has designed for you, you must also accept his directions on how to get to that future. And you know this may be the most difficult thing for human beings to do. I mean all of us want to be masters of our own fate. We want to control our immediate environment and we want to control everyone else around us so that we can be happy and secure. But the foundation of faith is to give control of your life to God as a loving father. And you can only give up the need to control if you trust in God's involvement in your life right now. And you constantly look forward to His promise future. You must pray to God and give Him control over your life which brings us then to our second point.
You begin to change your priorities because they begin to become God's priorities. Time is the great gift that God has given to each of us. When we allow God to set our priorities, the consuming desire to make money and own things is replaced with a consuming desire to become a child of God. The need for status is replaced with the need to love others. The search for self-determination is replaced with seeking God's way of life. The desire for constant entertainment and immediate gratification is replaced with a peaceful understanding of what's really important in life. Having a relationship with God as His child and showing His love towards others.
A third thing that begins to happen, you begin to change how you spend your mental and emotional energy. Think about it. We waste so much of our lives in resentment, selfishness, envy, and other destructive thoughts and emotions. God wants to produce in your life a whole list of things that the Apostle Paul lists. Here's what God wants to produce in your life right now. Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. And this could only happen when you acknowledge that you need God's rule in your life and accept your absolute inability to heal your own spiritual blindness.
And then number four, you began to obey God's commandments. You must accept the right of the Creator to have dominion over His own creation. And just as there are physical laws like gravity that govern the universe, there are spiritual laws that govern your relationship with God and your relationship with others. It was rather meaningless to confess Jesus and ignore His teachings because it means that your citizenship is not in the Kingdom He proclaimed.
Dedicated your life to being a citizen of the kingdom of God naturally raises another question. How are Christians to react and interact with the civil government where they live? During Jesus' ministry, He was confronted by a group of Herodians. Okay? The Herodians were a political group. And they came to Him and said, "Should you pay your taxes?" It was a trick question. I mean if He said, "Yes, you should pay your taxes to the Roman Empire," then a lot of Jews would have turned against Him. If He said, "No, you shouldn't pay your taxes," then of course He would have been arrested for sedition, okay, by the Romans. So it's a trick question, by remember, a political party. So what Jesus did is He asked for a coin and then looked at the Herodians and said, "Whose picture is on the coin?" And they said, "Caesar." He said, "Okay, render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." Here Jesus explains the tension of being a citizen of an earthly kingdom and at the same time a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Christians must live in allegiance to God and the laws and values of His Kingdom while trying to live in compliance with the human laws that sometimes come in conflict with allegiance to God and that has to come first. You know Jesus, Peter, and Paul all instructed their followers to be good citizens in the country where they lived. And all of them chose loyalty to God's Kingdom first. That's where their allegiance was. And they were all killed for it. Something to think about. You know all Christians believe that Jesus died for our sins. But why? It's because God wants you. He has a purpose for you. What motivates your citizenship?
You have a calling that transcends all the political and social chaos. There are real answers to today's problems. And they're also real answers to the personal problems that are overwhelming your life. The answers are found in discovering "Why Were You Born?" This free study guide will open your eyes to what God is doing in your life and why He wants to bring you out of this mess. To get your free copy of "Why Were You Born?" call the number on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv and download a copy. Do it right now. You know at the beginning of the program I made a partial list of those who were accused of causing the chaos in our world. Now which groups on that list are responsible? All of them. And don't forget the god of this age. Satan loves to work chaos. Chaos is the breeding ground for evil. When Jesus returns He removes Satan for being able to influence human beings and all people will experience true freedom and happiness for the first time since Adam and Eve are forced to leave Eden. You know all of us should be aware of what's happening in our world. We're all distressed by the chaos and the suffering and the evil. So do this, it helps to always keep in mind the Sovereign, and Creator, and Ruler over the universe has already predicted the failure of all human efforts to try and live outside His kingdom. You see this isn't the world God designed for you. He is sending Jesus Christ to replace this worn out, dysfunctional world by restoring God's Kingdom on earth. The more you focus your life on the chaos, the more you become part of the problem. Instead focus your thoughts, actions, and energy on the hope, salvation, and unity that Jesus Christ brings to all humanity when He returns to restore God's Kingdom on the earth. God is going to create a new world. He is calling all those who want to be part of that great movement to come out of this world and become a citizen of the Kingdom of God.
[Narrator] Please call for the booklet offered on today's program "Why Were You Born?" God has an amazing purpose for your life. But do you know what that purpose is? This free study aid lays out what Jesus actually taught about your destiny. You will learn why mankind is a unique creation. What does it mean to be made in the image of God? What is God really telling us when He calls us His children? The truth is even more amazing than you were probably taught. Order now. Call toll free 1-888-886-8632 or write to the address shown on your screen. God wants you to know what He has in mind for you and your family. And that vision will transform your life today. When you order this free study aid we'll also send you a copy supplementary one-year subscription to our "Beyond Today Magazine." Six times a year you'll read about current world events in light of Bible prophecy, as well as practical knowledge to improve your marriage and family and godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call to receive your free booklet, "Why Were You Born?" and your free one-year subscription to be on Today magazine. 1-888-886-8632, or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with United Church of God. If you're looking for a church that encourages living what the Word of God really teaches, you've found the right place. We're a community of believers dedicated to seeking the truth and preaching the good news of the coming kingdom of God. We'd like to welcome you to come and join us on this spiritual journey. We have hundreds of congregations around the United States and across the world. Visit ucg.ca to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.