Attention, Leaders!

“It is an abomination for *kings* to commit wicked acts, For a throne is established on righteousness.” – Proverbs 16:12 NASB

We don’t have a King in the U.S.A., but we do have layer upon layer in our government: Mayors, sundry politicians, Governors, Senators and Representatives – both State and Federal, Judges, Legislative leaders, Cabinet members, President.

As I watch all the negative news coming out of our states and our Capitol, and lately, especially from the State of Virginia and Washington, D.C., I just want to take up arms and defend our country against those “leaders” who are undermining everything these United States was founded on. The

For We the People, the Bill of Rights should be our touchstone, inviolable. The first two items listed in the Bill of Rights are Freedom to exercise Religion and freedom of Speech and the Press; and the Right to Bear Arms. Without these two, we are no longer citizens, but we become subjects, required to do whatever the government deems “proper”, rather than the people. As Christians, we are to obey authority, to “submit.”

“Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:2 NASB

Does that remain true when our authorities themselves oppose the ordinance of God? Paul goes on to write this:

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.” Romans 13:3‭-‬5 NASB

Here in the United States, we thankfully live in a Republic. In a Republic, by the votes of the people, we can change who is in authority. In fact, we have the responsibility to change who is in authority when those people, those leaders, become sources of fear and evil. There are no good or perfect humans, no one who is truly wise, so we must search God’s Word for our answers.

No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God.” Romans 3:11 NLT

“But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” James 1:25 NASB

I challenge everyone reading this to consider these words, especially the Scriptures, to determine the best course of action. For myself, praying for our leaders is critical. If the times call for action, then I will respond, and not sit by while evil takes over.

Last Hour

“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior…”

1 Timothy 2:1‭-‬3 NASB

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is Righteous, you know that everyone also who practices Righteousness is born of Him.”

1 John 2:18‭-‬23‭, ‬28‭-‬29 NASB

WOAH. Last days? Antichrist?? Last hour?? Am I a Bible thumping, stand on the street corner, wear a placard to announce “The World is Ending!”…… Chicken Little? You know who Chicken Little is, right? In case you are unfamiliar, Wikipedia ststes “it’s a European folktale known in Europe as Henny Penny. It is a cumulative tale about a chicken who believes the world is coming to an end. The phrase “The sky is falling!” features prominently in the story, and has passed into the English language as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that disaster is imminent.”

John is not crying out “The sky is falling!” but he is warning us that it could, at any moment, in the form of our Saviour returning for us. He doesn’t mean for us to run around like Chicken Little, screeching that the world is ending. He warns us to be aware of who it is that we are following. If they do not embrace Jesus, the Son of God, then we are to reject following that person. It’s difficult, at times, to know what to believe, or rather, what someone else believes. As Christians, it is up to us to make sure that those around us understand how critical it is to test those leaders, and ensure that those leaders confess the Son as the Christ. Words alone don’t cut it. We have to look at actions. My Dad used to say, “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.” Truth. It is our job to pray for our leaders with entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority.

We are in the last days; approaching the last hour. Are you ready to face your LORD and your GOD?

Of Love and Justice

A Psalm of David.

“I will sing of Your Love and Justice, LORD. I will praise You with songs. I will be careful to live a blameless life— when will You come to help me? I will lead a life of integrity in my own home. I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar. I hate all who deal crookedly; I will have nothing to do with them. I will reject perverse ideas and stay away from every evil. I will not tolerate people who slander their neighbors. I will not endure conceit and pride. I will search for faithful people to be my companions. Only those who are above reproach will be allowed to serve me. I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house, and liars will not stay in my presence. My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked and free the city of the LORD from their grip.” – Psalms 101:1‭-‬8 NLT

Sounds pretty harsh, right? There aren’t any people today who could honestly say that they are blameless, and we know that David was far from being blameless himself. He was a murderer and an adulterer…. I wonder how many people younger than the Baby Boomer generation even know what being an adulterer means.

Reading these verses, it’s difficult to imagine many business people can say that they apply these principles to their business. In corporate offices, even in Christian-led companies, I can bear witness to to all of those things that David was against occurring on a constant basis. Coworkers and management alike using gossip and slander to get ahead; dishonestly taking credit for someone else’s work, and accepting rewards and kudos for it. “In my own home …” Whether in my house or my vehicle or my office or my cubicle; at the movie theatre or amusement park …. it is a struggle to live these words.

In my time, I have acted in all of those ways. In my last job, I was in a close working relationship with people claiming to be Christian, yet seeming to take delight from gossiping and spreading lies in order to promote themselves over their coworkers, and who were full of conceit. Again, I must emphasize that I have also been full of conceit and lies in my past. I am far from perfect; I am guilty of many sins. It is difficult to miss the vulgarity in today’s society with billboards and signs proclaiming it in large format, and with television and radio, social media and the movies rampant with it. Clothing styles shout out perversions and prejudice and lack of modesty, and we just follow the crowd – instead of the cross.

Yes, I’m preaching again!

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” – Galatians 1:10 NLT

This verse from Paul’s letters to the Galatian church is how I struggle to live. I say “struggle” because it isn’t easy for me. I am a people pleaser from my childhood; a classic codependent whose life revolved around whoever I was with. A few years ago, I began to understand this about myself through a church program called Celebrate Recovery. Many people think/assume that because it’s a 12-step program, you must be an alcoholic or drug addict if you participate. Not true. In fact, one of the leaders said this: “There are 2 types of people in this world. Those who are in recovery, and those who need to be in recovery.” I absolutely agree! Being a codependent isn’t something you just shake off, any more than you can shake off any other addiction, and there are lots of addictions. Shopping, eating, sports, work, animals, and even our children can all be addictions.

It’s something for us to think about.

WORK : A Four-Letter Word

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26 NASB

God created Man to rule over the earth; to care for it (everything in and on it) and to cultivate it; to subdue the earth – we are a contractor for God the Creator. In other words, we are to work the earth. The LORD God is all about work, and He created us in imitation of Him, in His image: the Bible opens with God working. From Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 NKJV) to the end of Revelations, God is working. Creator Potter Shepherd Builder Judge ….. we are created in the image of God, therefore we are created to work.

“Who does great things, unfathomable, And wondrous works without number.” Job 9:10 NASB

“For the LORD will rise up as at Mount Perazim, He will be stirred up as in the valley of Gibeon, To do His task, His unusual task, And to work His work, His extraordinary work.” Isaiah 28:21 NASB

“He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which GOD has done from the beginning even to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NASB

“Then the LORD GOD took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15 NASB

Work is an integral part of our lives, and all work is included, from the CEO to the janitor, to the “housewife” to the farmer, to the homeless person picking up cans to sell. No work is better or worse than any other. If the CEO thinks he/she is too good to clean up a spill, or to clean their bathroom or pick up trash, then they have the wrong concept of work. The concept goes far beyond our paid workplace, individually and collectively, as we go about our daily lives. Do you stop to pickup that piece of trash to dispose of it properly, or do you step over it (I’m not getting my hands dirty!)? Are you careful to make the most of our resources, reducing waste, and not being wasteful with food?

We are under a mandate of work – it is a calling, and should never be considered a curse. As our pastor said, “Before Jesus was known as the Christ, He was known as ‘the carpenter’.” From Genesis, we know that work was present before the fall.

“Then the LORD GOD took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it….. Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life.” Genesis 2:15, 3:17 NASB

The work is not cursed, but it falls under the curse, making it more difficult, as “marked by thorns”. It’s interesting to note that the Greek word for “to cultivate” can be used for work, worship, and service. We are coworkers with God. It’s not for Him to do everything, and not for us to do by ourselves, but to work together in partnership. He wants us integrated with Him and His Will: everything we do is important to God, not just ministry or church work. All work is equally valuable and pleasing to God. There is no sacred/secular or blue/white collar division; in fact, it has been said that a Sacred Place is wherever God has placed us, and according to William Tyndale, all work is sacred.
“Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him… Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything, should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. We can therefore properly say as a matter of secondary calling that we are called to homemaking or to the practice of law or to art history.” – Os Guinness

I like this, too: “Divine service is done here three times a day” hanging over the kitchen sink of Ruth Bell Graham.

“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God.”
Ecclesiastes 2:24 NASB

I Am Strong

From God’s Not Done With You, a devotional by Tauren Wells, on http://www.Bible.com:

“When we admit that we are prone to failure, that our strengths aren’t strong enough to save us, we find the power to live righteously through Christ….. When sin affects our opportunities to use our strengths, a perfect situation can become a perfectly wrong situation.”

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12‭-‬13 NASB

Did that hit you like it did me? It’s when I stand on my strength, and rely on my abilities, that I fall. It’s that old “I can do it” attitude. When I rely on me, I fail. I’m a “fix-it” person. If there’s a problem, let’s fix it. Don’t wait, don’t take time to pray about it, just get it done. I’ll do it if it kills me.

Sound familiar?

I’ve known so many people with that attitude. Then there’s the opposite: those who sit back and do nothing, expecting God (or man) to step in and take care of the problem with no effort from them.

In my opinion, both attitudes are equally wrong. The Bible doesn’t say that God takes care of those who take care of themselves. It also doesn’t say to be lazy and expect others to take care of you. God gives us our strengths, our talents, to use in conjunction with Him and His Will. Do I do that? Unfortunately, no, not like I should. Sometimes I’m determined to do whatever it is on my own. No help. Other times, I give up, and want someone to to do it for me. I’ve turned many opportunities into disasters with these attitudes. Even Peter, the Rock, loved by Jesus, fell when he tried to stand on his strength over the Lord’s.

“And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26:75 NASB

We need to weep for the many times we have denied Christ by trying to stand on our strengths rather than His. I weep for all those times, past, present, and future that I stand on my own. I’m human, I will continue to fail, but I am also a child of the King, forgiven for my failure.

Lord God, help me get rid of that stinkin’ thinkin’ that I can stand without You; help me to take heed of Your Will so that I will not fall. I know that no temptation has ever overtaken me, or will ever overtake me, but such as is common to man; and I know that You are faithful. You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able as long as I depend upon You, and with the temptation, You will provide the way of escape also, so that I will be able to endure it. Amen.

All Who Are In High Positions….

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, Who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1‭-‬4 ESV

“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13‭-‬14 NASB

To be honest, this suggestion, especially the part about giving thanksgivings for all who are in high positions makes me choke just a bit (sometimes quite a lot!). From the people who are in “high positions” in the local schools, the “high positions” in every business, landlords, bankers, and one and on, to city government, up to county, state, and federal. From clerks who think they are in control, judges, peacekeepers of all kinds, politicians….. there’s really no end to the people who consider what they are doing to be a higher position, where they are somehow better than the people they are supposed to serve….. but I digress.

I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions…..

We like to imagine that life was simpler when Paul wrote these letters, but I think that those high positions haven’t changed that much in the way those holding them think and act. As much as I would like to have many of the people in those positions removed and replaced, I need to keep this passage in the front of my mind. We don’t really know the minds and hearts of those people. There are many in high positions that are very blatant in their disregard for the people they supposedly care for, but Paul is explicit in asking us to pray for them, and to be thankful.

It’s difficult to be thankful when I perceive that their goals and actions are to bring harm to me and those I care about; when they abuse their power.

My Dad would tell me “If you can’t respect the man, respect the office.”

Easier said than done.

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

There are too many to count in those high positions that I have absolutely no respect for. There are so many who are only out for their own benefit; who couldn’t care less about the people they represent.

Regardless of my feelings, it’s important to pray for those people. Maybe it’s most important to pray for the ones I despise.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from GOD, and those that exist have been instituted by GOD. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” Romans 13:1‭, ‬5 ESV

Do you struggle with this? Conservative or liberal, business owner or newest employed, in a mansion or homeless, whatever the situation, do you lift up those you despise? We can work on this together, because this is a tough assignment!

Heavenly Father, Lord of the Universe, you know my heart. When I’m honest with You and with myself, You know I’d rather do almost anything rather than to give thanks for many of our country’s so called leaders. Your Words says that they are set in place by You. I confess that I struggle with that concept! However, since You have said it in Your inspired Word, I must accept it, and thank You for the governments You have put in place, from our city to our nation. Bless those men and women, Lord, and I pray that they will bow their heads, and knees, to You. Bless our country. Bring us, as a nation, back to the Truth. Amen.

Greed

We no longer are bound by the old covenant, but wwouldn’t it be beneficial to follow a lot of it anyway? Take these instructions from Exodus:

“You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves. Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth.” Exodus 23:10‭-‬13 NASB

Organic farmers, small family farmers, and gardeners might understand these verses better than most others. When we are asking the land to be productive, just as when we ask ourselves and other people to be productive, there needs to be a resting period. Without rest, we lose our abilities. Our brains and our bodies quit working correctly; we get stupid; we become clumsy. We have to rest sspiritually, too.

“As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!” – Psalms 119:7

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” – Psalms 37:7 NASB

I think Paul says it best: “….. rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer …..” Romans 12:12 NASB

Amen.