ImageIn one of his epistles, the Apostle Paul is writing about those who are preaching Christ for the wrong reasons. One expects Paul to say something negative, but he surprises his readers by saying, “It is true that that some preach Christ of envy and rivalry, but some of goodwill.  The latter do in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motive or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:15-18).


Paul could have questioned the preacher’s motives and written a letter forbidding them to preach or admonished the Philippians not to listen to them.  Yet the subject was more important and Paul’s heart was inclusive and much wider than that.


In an Old Testament story, we find out that some of Moses’ friends were upset because other people received the Holy Spirit and prophesied.  “However, two men, whose name were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but they did not go out to the tent.  Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. A young man ran and told Moses, “Eddad and Medad are prophesying in the camp. Joshua, son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said: “Moses, my lord, stop them.”  But Moses said, “Are you jealous for my sake?  I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit in them!”  (Numbers 11:26-29).  When it came to the presence of the Holy Spirit, Moses’ desire was not only for himself but for the whole people to experience the presence and the wondrous work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. 


In one of the prophetical books, God jolted the Israelites by telling them that He was as concerned for the travels of the Philistines, their mortal enemies, as he was with their settling in the land of Canaan.  “Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites, declares the Lord?  Did I not bring Israel from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor (Crete) and the Arameans from Kir?” (Amos 9:7)  Israel assumed that God was involved only with them, and especially not with the Philistines.


Yet God wants us to see that His sovereign involvement is wider than our provincialism and His willingness to extend His shalom covers all the nations.  He sends his natural blessings over all the inhabitants of the earth.


In his memoir, Vincent Peale, the author of Positive Thinking tells of the habit that he had while traveling by train.  He would say a prayer for success and blessings for every person that he would see through the window of the train.  He felt that God was calling him to bless the people that he saw in his travels.


These thoughts came to me as I saw an Internet statistic that showed that close to 40% of the people interviewed did not wish for President Obama to succeed.  This did not have to do with supporting him – it was simply wishing him well in his job.  Political disagreements aside, once a person is elected, he should receive our best wishes. The lives of the kings and the presidents are in the hands of the Lord and our best wishes are the least of the things that we can do. God will bring his plan to fruition regardless of who sits in the chair of the Oval Office, and we should each pray that our president is a vital and willing part of that plan.


I heard a man pray one morning and that prayer stayed with me. It was the Living Bible translation of Proverbs “If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success” (Proverbs 3:4-6).


This is my sincere wish for our President Obama.


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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...