NO LONGER BLIND

Soon we will be celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday. You might not know it from watching television or even reading your daily newspaper as Thanksgiving seems to be overlooked. Yet this holiday which is the very heart and soul of who we are as a nation began and must be remembered for the belief system upon which we were founded. A belief in Christianity recorded in the first document (the Mayflower compact) that served as law of this new soon to be nation as well as the writings of the first pilgrim leader Wm. Bradford (‘the Plimoth Plantation’).

Today one would not know that as a small minority of unbelievers have used our Constitution to try and scrub all visible means of faith from the landscape guided by a willing media, government, educational system and entertainment industry. Unbelievers not satisfied in their own ways try to stir up trouble. This has always been the case from the time of the Jews who did not believe in Christ (Acts 17:5). The reaction should be, as it was for Paul and others, not to be intimidated.

Unbelief is caused by sin (John 16:9) and if we do  not believe we do not belong to Christ (John 10:26). No big surprise there. What is truly sad though is that unbelievers are hindered from miracles (Matthew 13:58) and excluded from blessings (Hebrews 3:15-19). Even worse is that one day they will experience the wrath of God (John 3:36).

This day and this season it is time to open our hearts and eyes to Christ. Let the word of Ephesians 4:18 soak in so that we are NO LONGER BLIND.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The ungodly way of unbelief prevents our union with Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 3:36 “God’s wrath is the consequence of unbelief”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I never doubt You and Your will.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What brings on unbelief?
  2. How in today’s world are unbelievers showing themselves?
  3. Have you ever been challenged for your Christian faith?
  4. Have you read the words of the Mayflower Compact?

 

WHEN GOD MAKES A PROMISE!

As complicated as I occasionally make things there is one area I like to keep simple. The old Scriptural saying that we are to “let our yes be yes and our no be no” (Matthew 5:37) is a good principle by which to live. Today politicians by their actions and lawyers by their profession have over-defined what once were simple (and Biblical) understandings of such things as oaths, vows, promises and covenants.

It would seem in reading the words of Christ recorded in Matthew 5:33-37 that taking an oath or swearing on a Bible is not appropriate for Christian believers. The danger of course is in so doing you risk perjuring yourself unintentionally. For Christians life is much simpler. Speak the truth at all times.

There are times when oaths made are superseded by God’s need for our  expression of love or righteousness. In other words when the Holy Spirit is living within us our heart often needs to over weigh the mind.

There are numerous reasons why an oath may not be appropriate. Issues such as being urged toward falsehood, exaggeration resulting from being under duress, our mistaken notions and more all put perjury into the picture and it is for that reason Paul also expressed Christ’s sentiment in James 5:12. In fact this may be the basis for the 5th amendment to our Constitution.

What we can be certain of is our God who is truth fulfills His oaths or covenants with mankind. Indeed we can count on it WHEN GOD MAKES A PROMISE.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Our oath should be one of obedience to our Lord.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Matthew 5:33-37 “prohibition concerning oaths”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may my yes be yes and my no be no.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What is the difference between oaths, vows, promises and covenants?
  2. When does the heart overweight the mind?
  3. Why or why not should Christians swear an oath?
  4. What are God’s oaths or agreements with mankind?

GO TO COURT?

In a perfect world all the members would conduct themselves according to the principles of God’s Word. There would be no credence given to those who want to remove Christianity from the public record. Today we can only dream of a people where all are filled with faith, hope and love. One day in Heaven that dream will become reality.

Until then we live in a society that increasingly wants to separate church and state. That being the case we as Christians must be fully aware of God’s view in our dealings with others. Christ made it clear in Matthew 5:40 that we are not to take to court others with intent to sue.

Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 on litigation between believers. The reason is that Christians are forbidden in a secular court. Ever more so we are seeing pagan judges handing out judgements totally lacking in understanding of God’s will and Word. A person or society not filled with the Holy Spirit cannot and will not apply Scriptural principles in judgment and therefore we must not put ourselves before these judges.

As we enter a more global society with multiple world views, the pagan nature of mankind will grow stronger drawing the time of Christ’s return to earth ever faster. As believers we look forward to that time. Until then remember God’s Word when considering whether or not to GO TO COURT.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Lawsuits are for the lawless who do not labor under the Lamb of God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Matthew 5:40 “Christ speaks on lawsuits”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I seek Your faith, hope and love for myself and the world around me.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Should a Christian ever become involved in a lawsuit?
  2. What is the future of our countries judiciary?
  3. What steps would you take before legal action is considered?
  4. Is there a place where people are filled with faith, hope and love toward one another?

JUST IMAGINE BEING RULED IN THIS FASHION!

If it wasn’t for their power, even unto death, over the physical (not spiritual) lives of people earthly rulers would be amusing. They all carry certain characteristics as history has shown us through the Scriptures. For example all, irregardless of spiritual belief or lack thereof, are under God’s control (Daniel 4:25). If only our rulers would understand this as King Nebuchadnezzer expressed in Daniel 4:37. All rulers rule by God’s permission and always have (Daniel 2:20-21). As it applied in the time of the Old Testament so I believe it applies today. Being a human therefore they need to be watched by we who place them in office for they can do great good as well as great evil.

Scripture lays out their duties quite simply. Since the time of the Old Testament, rulers have been able to make covenants between two parties. I believe those covenants should be carefully written with understanding gained from reading the Word of God as Deuteronomy 17:18-20 expresses. Earthly rulers have and always will, by their very nature, make wars which as Christians we must be careful to understand. These same rulers as they sit in judgment can also show mercy and grace through pardon. King David showed this to us by his action told in 2 Samuel 19:23.

All this being said Kings, Presidents, Monarchs, etc. must always rule righteously. King David perhaps best served as an example for us even today when he spoke the words: “He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he should be like the light in the morning when the sun rises…” (2 Samuel 23:3-4). JUST IMAGINE BEING RULED IN THIS FASHION.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Earthly kings need to learn to kneel before the Almighty.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Daniel 2:20-21 “Earthly Kings rule by God’s permission.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord open the eyes and hearts of all rulers to Your Word.

QUESTIONS TO  THINK ABOUT:

  1. How does today’s devotional affect your view of the separation of church and state?
  2. How does the ruler of our country show governance or lack thereof as Scripture addresses?
  3. What nation rules closest to God’s plan for mankind?
  4. How should we approach our responsibility of oversight?

JUDGING OTHERS

Going through life on earth there is a great deal of judging that takes place. It happens as parents raise children, someone in authority makes a judgment over another or perhaps most evident in a judicial court room.

Certain standards exercised by our better judiciary members are based on Scriptural principles: For example all judgment (esp. involving ending life) needs to be balanced with mercy as Jesus showed us in John 8:1-11. Factors that impact these decisions include the degree of repentance felt and that is honestly shown by the guilty.

Any decision needs to be inspired by God and His Word for in that Word lies a balance of love and justice. This is the tragedy in the courts misinterpretation of separation of church and state for God’s Word is our ultimate judge as Christ shares in John 12:48-49.

Important also is immediacy. Judicial delays help no one. This along with the fact that when an effective adjudicator is in place who has the ability to discern a persons’ spirit be it of God, man or some demonic source it is then along with all else mentioned that judging will be done correctly.

It is important to know that if we have God in our heart our conscience should already be judging us. In fact with God’s law (the Bible) ever present before us we stand in continues judgment (2 Timothy 3:16). Any judging that takes place should then be for a select few (Romans 14:6-12) especially if they cause divisions within the church (Romans 16:17).  It is in this instance that congregational rebuke (1 Timothy 5:20) which was once much stronger than it is now needs to return.

One final matter that will grow with time is the issue of litigation between believers and where the trials should take place (1 Corinthians 6). As a nation found on Judaeo-Christian principles that matter was at least somewhat easier to solve but now with an increasing immigrant population sharia courts making decisions based on their spiritual interpretation are starting to show up.  On the issue of judging there is much yet to sort out but if we understand the will of God all will go well in matters of JUDGING OTHERS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Judging others requires justice for all.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: John 12:48-49 “the ultimate judge”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord guide my judgment.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Is there mercy anywhere in a death sentence?
  2. Should all issues be judged in a courtroom?
  3. How does Sharia law fit into our Judaeo-Christian system of government?
  4. The role of the Bible in the courtroom?

SALVATION CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN JESUS!

Recently a US Senator attacked an applicant for a government position for having traditional Christian beliefs. Thankfully the individual replied to this Senator in a polite and compassionate way despite the Senators loud and angry questions. It made me ask myself the question that we should all ask which is: How much do we really believe what we say we believe? In addition we might also ask ourselves: How much are we willing to suffer for those beliefs? Growing up in the Lutheran tradition I have always appreciated the words of Martin Luther when quizzed about his positions by the Roman Catholic church. He once made the statement (and I paraphrase) “that unless you can convince me on the basis of Scripture I cannot recant (take back) what I have written (or spoken). Furthermore here I stand and can do no other”.

Sadly in our now politically correct world the viewpoint that there is only one way to Heaven which is through Jesus (John 14:6) has now nearly become a hate crime for which Christians must be punished. That experience was one that John the Baptist had and as a result of standing firm on his view of ‘one way’ through Jesus he would loose his head literally. This was told of in Matthew 14:1-12 and is rich with spiritual lessons for each of us.

I believe one lesson which men such as John the Baptist and Martin Luther show us is that when we are truly convicted then the Word of God cannot be silenced. In fact with each such persecution event the message grows ever faster. These times are upon us again as the Senator showed and as so many of the ‘elite’ media and comedians on late night television do as well. In fact the more evil a society becomes the more likely its members will attack and even kill Christians.

The good news is that God is still in control and as is so often seen in the Bible and in our lives those who attack us are in some measure now or later going to receive punishment. In addition we have the good news that no matter what the voice of evil might shout it is still true that SALVATION CAN ONLY BE FOUND IN JESUS.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The one and only way is our Savior Jesus Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: Matthew 14:1-12 “standing firm in the faith”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord may I always stay strong in my expression of faith in You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How much do you really believe what you say you believe?
  2. How much are you willing to suffer for your belief in Christ?
  3. Do you stand on the truth of Scripture alone?
  4. How do you respond to someone who attacks your faith?

WHAT ABOUT GOVERNMENT?

The word government in its Greek form is used only once in the New Testament as I understand. Generally it applies to those given responsibility to guide a ship of some sort through treacherous waters or paths. Interestingly enough the modern word cybernetics comes from this Greek origin which is control by means of computers. For we today I think we can cull at least two primary pieces of information from this topic. One is how we as a society and country understand submission. The second is how we select leaders who are of an even Kiel personally.

It is important to note we must have a voice or say in who leads us in a non or anti christian way. Paul warned us of this in speaking to the church at Thessaloniki (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). The ways of the antichrist are lawless and oppose God’s way of ordering the universe. Those who follow him (and there are many in leadership today) will do whatever they can to destroy Christianity and what it stands for. When necessary they will use methods of deflecting and denying and whatever else is necessary to defeat Christians and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom. One of the first places you will see it is in false teachings and moral decline. Something we are all too familiar with today. These individuals will be ignorant of all matters spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). You will not be able to debate with them logically or even use common sense. Their starting point is an end objective where evil rules. Our starting point is Genesis chapter 1 and begins with an omniscient and all powerful God.

Despite all this it is our responsibility to pray for and be obedient to our leaders as Paul once wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1-3. This must always be the case unless what is asked of us is contrary to God’s Word (Acts 5:29). Just one example of this is smuggling Bibles into places that are not familiar to receiving God’s Word. This and more is what we should consider when we ask ourselves the question WHAT ABOUT GOVERNMENT?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Truly great governments are guided by our Lord God.

DEVOTIONAL VERSES FOR TODAY: 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 “ignorant government”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord speak to the hearts of our leaders.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. How might computers play a role in end time government?
  2. What are the ways of the anti christ?
  3. How are the the anti christ’s ways being carried out today?
  4. What are examples when we should not be obedient to  our government?

WHAT ABOUT EAGLES?

Eagles are mentioned often in God’s Word. As the symbol of our nation I thought perhaps we should look at how it is viewed. We generally see then flying gracefully in the sky or sitting proudly in a tree. On a recent trip to Alaska I also saw how quickly they can swoop down to grab a fish.

In the Old Testament it was made clear that this bird was not to be eaten. The reason for Jewish people was not only was it not kosher but it devoured the flesh of other animals in a non kosher manner (Job 9:26).

In a positive way the eagle is looked upon as a great bird comparable to a King as the parable in Ezekiel 17 shows. It is known not only for its size but its swiftness (2 Samuel 1:23) and keen vision (Job 39:29). Indeed it is majestic and rightly holds a high place in the story of the United States.

Singing in a choir one of my favorite melodies was titled ‘On eagle wings’. That comes from Exodus 19:4 where it is emblematic of God’s care. What a grand picture that is of how God cares for those who call Him Father. In fact if we “wait on the Lord” which for me means to rely upon Him and His Word we will be renewed and lifted up (Isaiah 40:31) as an eagle would rise to the heavens.

Indeed the eagle is majestic and this is how I would answer should someone ask WHAT ABOUT EAGLES?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The elemental traits of an eagle are worthy of study and education.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Isaiah 40:31 “the eagle is symbolic of spiritual renewal”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord lift me up as if on eagle’s wings.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Have you ever taken time to observe eagles?
  2. When doing so what crosses your mind?
  3. Why is the eagle a good symbol for the United States of America?
  4. What are the words of the song ‘On eagle’s wings’?

WHAT IS GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU?

We fill each day with activities that we have somehow convinced ourselves give us fulfillment. Perhaps even meaning and purpose. Yet how many of us look at our journey in this life as fulfilling God’s purpose for having given us our existence?

If we are fulfilling God’s plan you will know it quickly. Much like the time of Cyrus recorded in Ezra 4:5 those doing good were discouraged and frustrated as counselors were hired to block their efforts. Hindrance by those who are evil will always try to stop anyone who wants to carry out the truth of God’s Word. Despite this we must stay true to confronting apostasy (falling away from God’s truth) 24/7 even if we experience what is clearly described in 2 Timothy 3:10-17.

When we do the will of God He will allow our plan to be fulfilled. One of the best examples of this was King Solomon building God’s Temple (1 Kings 5:5). When we sincerely take up doing God’s will we will be blessed in our efforts. In this regard we can learn from David who in Psalm 17:3 shows his determination. We like David will be tried and tested but we must remain resolute in our effort.

There will be delays in our efforts. Rules, regulations, legal challenges and more will be put before us often by those who knowingly or unknowingly are serving as satan’s minions. Satan already defeated at the cross will continue to fight until the last day. As with the Apostles and Disciples of old we must not doubt or be uncertain in our purpose for God has a plan for each of us. Ask yourself today WHAT IS GOD’S PLAN FOR ME?

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: The purpose of mankind is to proclaim God’s promises in all its purity.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Ezra 4:5 “evil will hinder God’s purpose but not defeat it”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord my purpose is to serve You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. Who are the evil who do not want God’s plan fulfilled on earth?
  2. What examples in Scripture show God’s will being fulfilled?
  3. What of God’s will have you taken up to fulfill in your life?
  4. What delays have you experienced in carrying out God’s plan?

RELATED BLOG: What’s my purpose?

DECLARE YOUR CITIZENSHIP!

We are now living in the season of silliness. As this is being written we are in the midst of a political season where many have said they will renounce their citizenship if a certain candidate wins. For me that happened the day I toke on the mantel of Christian. On that day I declared my citizenship in Heaven as Philippians 3:20 proclaims.

Rev. David Jeremiah had a great perspective on this when he proclaimed that we as citizens of Heaven are like foreign governments in another country. We have our embassies (churches) in this land but like embassies they should be free from interference by the host nation. A church should be a safe haven from any attack for all who dwell within.

For we who are citizens of Heaven our role in life is to be an ambassador of God in our host country fully protected under its laws. No restrictions on speech of any kind. As ambassadors we are to proclaim Christ and the need of all of us to reconcile ourselves to Him (2 Corinthians 5:20).

What is most special about this citizenship and our role in it is that we are fellow workers with our Lord and Savior (2 Corinthians 6:1). Imagine your job each day until your final breath in this life being on the front lines with God at your side. I believe now is the time to DECLARE OUR CITIZENSHIP and act accordingly.

THOUGHT FOR TODAY: Christian citizenship requires completely clothing our self with the mantle of Christ.

DEVOTIONAL VERSE FOR TODAY: Philippians 3:20 “spiritual citizenship”.

PRAYER FOR TODAY: Lord I desire to be a better ambassador for You.

QUESTIONS TO THINK ABOUT:

  1. What are some benefits of a Heavenly citizenship (see Ephesians 2:19-20)?
  2. In what way is society mistreating the church and its members?
  3. What is the difference between spiritual and physical citizenship?
  4. What kind of citizen are you?