National Sovereignty and God – Nehemiah 13:1-3

It Is Not In The Best Interest Of A Nation To Allow Those Who Hate The Nation And Its People To Dwell Among Them

1 On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God, 2 because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.) 3 When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent.

Enlighten Everyone

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge

There has been a great disservice done to the people of the United States of America.  In an attempt to socially engineer an entire generation of people to forget and reject their country’s past as evil and antiquated, for years educators have been excluding the founding documents of the nation from the public instruction of the children.  These documents shed light on the foundation of the nation, as provided by the Lord God Almighty Himself, and provides the basis for which the nation has since been, for the most part, a place where people who yearned to be free from the oppression of tyrants and religious persecution to come and live without the fear of repercussion the practice of hard work and righteousness.  That era has passed, and now even their children have been deprived of the knowledge of what led to the formation of the nation, as well as the character and intent of the founders of the nation.

In this passage, the Israelites had listened to the reading of the word of God.  It is critical that we know our founding documents and laws.  For the Israelites, it was the word of God.  As disciples of Christ, it is STILL the word of God.  We are strangers in this world.  As inhabitants in a strange land, we have an obligation to follow the rules of the land where they do not conflict with the word of God.

But how can you follow the rules of the land if you do not know what they are?

How can you know if the leaders of the nation are following the rules of the land if you do not know what they are?

The Israelites, after learning again what was in the law of God, realized that they were not following God’s law, and attempted to make the necessary changes to begin to follow what God had required of them.

Unconditionally Unite

One of the first things that they did was to recognize that the word of God had authority in their lives.  We too must realize that not only does the word of God have authority in our lives, but that the leaders placed over us have implemented laws to help govern us in our day to day actions.  And while not every rule of man is righteous, every directive of God in His word IS righteous.

The people in Jerusalem at that time united together.  They had several common bonds:

  • Genetic ancestry (they were all family through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)
  • Geographic residency (they were living in Israel, specifically in Jerusalem)
  • Godly instruction (the word of God was their law)

United we stand, divided we fall – Aesop

It is important that the people of a nation be in agreement with the laws of that nation.  In the case of the United States of America, no one has a gun pointed at their heads instructing the people that they may not freely move nor forbid them to leave to go elsewhere.  They live there by choice.  If people live in a nation by choice, should they not unite in agreement with the laws that govern how they are to behave in that country?

Practice what you Preach

For the disciple of Christ, it is imperative that we practice what we preach.  Hypocrisy is a terrible sin and a temptation that each of us faces each and every day as we are presented with the challenges of life.  Joseph faced grave consequences for upholding the law of God when Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him and he declined.  We too must take the time first to know the law, to obey the law (where it is not in direct contradiction to God’s law), and to not only obey the law, but encourage and exhort our leaders to do the same.

The laws of men are not perfect, but should be in place to protect the citizens of that nation from the harm that happens when sinful people seek to take advantage of, harm, impede, or otherwise cause damage to others.  If we do not follow the laws set before us, are we not being hypocrites?  In the United States of America, the people there have the ability to change the law.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  It is a blessing when an unjust law is changed so that the people can live in peace and freedom.  It is a curse when evil people seek to impose their will upon others by getting into the positions of power that permit them to manipulate the switches and levers of power to their own benefit rather than the freedom of their people.

The law of God is clear and concise.  It is not written in legalism, wrapped in an enigma, and shrouded in mystery.  It is plain and easy for all who read it to understand it.  So it should be with the laws of men.

In the case of the Israelites, the word of God told them to exclude the Ammonites and Moabites from them because they had not helped the Israelites in their time of need, but intended harm to the Israelites, even hiring Balaam to curse them.  In the same manner, nations should be permitted to exclude those people who ignore and refuse to respect the laws of that nation who are seeking entrance to live in that nation.

These people intend harm to the people of the nation; for if they are unwilling to submit themselves to the laws of the nation through the established processes that the nation has set for entry into the land, they certainly will ignore any other aspect of that nation’s laws when it conflicts with their own interests.  Such people are to be considered dangerous, and are to be excluded from the possibility of ever being permitted entrance into the nation, even for the purposes of visiting.  The Israelites took action, and excluded those foreigners from among them.  Nations who have leaders who are wise should consider doing the same.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I take the time to know the laws of my nation?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for Your word.  Thank You for freeing me from the bondage of sin.  Thank You for Your great mercy and compassion.  Thank You for being holy and righteous in all that You do.  Help me to better understand Your word so that I may live in a manner that better glorifies Your name.  Help me to understand the laws of my nation so that I may obey them and thus bring glory to Your name.  Help me to encourage the leaders of my nation to obey the laws of the land and act in righteousness towards all.  Give me the courage to do so, even if doing so may bring about my imprisonment or death.  Help me to fear no man, but only to fear You, Lord God Almighty.  Grant me the strength and courage to live a life that loves my neighbor, but doesn’t excuse or ignore their evil.  Help me to stand up to wickedness through righteousness as You empower me to do so.  Give me the words to say to all who ask why I do this.  Remember me today, Oh God, as I seek to step out for You.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

In The World… Matthew 9:9-13

Jesus Came To Call Sinners, Not The Righteous

9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Particular Pattern

Jesus, in His ministry, sets up an interesting pattern:

  1. He first calls us to follow Him
  2. He then eats and dwells with us
  3. He then teaches us
  4. He sets us free to replicate His success.

First, Follow

In another shocking event in the ministry of Jesus, He calls Matthew, a Jewish Tax Collector for the Roman Empire, to follow Him.  It was one thing for Jesus to call fishermen and other Jews to follow Him.  But to call a Tax Collector?  Stop the presses!

The Jews who became Tax Collectors were among the most despised people of the Jews.  They were considered traitors by most Jews who believed that they threw their lot in with the oppressive Roman government rather than stand against such villainy by uniting with the financially, socially, and otherwise persecuted Jews.

The Romans had inflicted terrible rules upon the Jews, including (among others) a forced census every fourteen years (the Roman Census forced all of the Jews [as well as the rest of the world] to return to their hometowns to register, imposing travel expenses and losses of revenue from their occupations due to the time (and goods) lost while they and their families [and their workers if they were employers] were off complying with the Roman dictates…), forced servitude (a Roman soldier could conscript a person to carry their possessions up to one mile),  and humiliation (the Roman soldier was permitted to slap a Jew on his/her face).

With this in mind, imagine the shock of all of the Jews (Matthew included!) when Jesus called out to Matthew to “follow me”.  Note that Matthew IMMEDIATELY got up and followed Jesus.  We too should have the same frame of mind, and constantly seek to follow Jesus in all that He said for us to do (and continues to tell us to do through the Holy Spirit within us and the word of God).

Second, Sup

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

After we begin to follow Jesus, we are to sup with him.  Jesus (God the Son), God the Father, and the Holy Spirit (God the Spirit) take up residence within us.  They make Their home in us.  The Holy Spirit is our down-deposit on our inheritance provided to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as heirs to the Kingdom of God.

Since He dwells within us, we can partake of the food which others do not know, and drink of the spring of Living Water that flows within each of us.  As we yield ourselves to God, we are able to partake of His character and know Him better.

Third, Teach

As we grow in our spiritual life, we begin to get a foothold on the truths of the word of God.  We then begin to overcome, then mature into adulthood.  When we mature, we should be seeking to handle the Word of God correctly.  When we handle the word of God correctly, we will then be able to teach others the word of God.

Fourth, Free

14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

It is time to free the captives.  Those who know they are sinners and are torn over what they should do about it know that they are slaves to their sin.  It is time for God’s people to get out and proclaim freedom for the captives.  It is time to remember our great calling, and to do what our Lord has commanded us to do.  Is is time to yield everything that we have and are to God, and let Him take care of the rest.  It is time to be proper examples to the lost – Light on top of a hill, and Salt to a culture that needs the savory flavor of freedom when everyone seems to be in bondage.  Let us not be lacking in compassion to those who are in a spiritual prison, but rather, let us be the ones who seek their release and rehabilitation back into the world of spiritual life.  For Christ has come to give us life, and abundantly so.  Let us finish His good work, so that we may claim our reward.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I prepared to be a productive worker in the kingdom of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have given me Your Son that I may be free.  And if the Son has freed me, then I am free indeed.  Help me to extend this freedom to all who would hear.  Help me to remember that I am just the messenger.  Father, prepare my heart for rejection, and my spirit for persecution, for I am not greater than Jesus, and should expect this when I step out for Him.  Give me the same passion and drive that You gave the Apostles and Paul.  Help prepare me so that I may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.  Help me to learn and know Your word, and how to handle it correctly.  Then help me to remember that in the time of challenge, that it will be Your Spirit who speaks through me so that I will be vindicated, for this is my heritage.  This I ask in the precious and holy name of Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Taught by God – Isaiah 48:17

Choose Your Instructor Wisely

This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.”

Time of Teaching

Whether or not we admit it, we are always learning.  We (hopefully) learn from our mistakes.  Technology forces us to learn new skills.  Television shows us new things.  When we read books, magazines, pamphlets, and words put together in any medium, we see new ideas.  People talk to us about new products and experiences.  Satan whispers in our ears.  In everything, unless we close our eyes, put our fingers in our ears, and shout “La la la la la la la” over and over again, we are learning something.

We can choose from whom we will learn.  For those who can see, what you allow your eyes and mind to be exposed to will influence you.  For those who can hear, what people, music, and other audio you allow yourself to be exposed to will influence you.  We choose, whether we realize it or not, what programs our mind.

God states that He is the one who is able to teach us what is best for each of us.  It should be noted that what is best for you may not be best for me.  Being created by God for specific purposes, not every person has the same purpose nor is given the same gifts:

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Because this is the case, we need God, who is all-knowing, to teach us how to use the very gifting that He has provided to each and every one of us.  When we don’t do that, we will not be able to fully honor Him nor glorify His name for His purposes in His timing.

Directionally Driven

Everyone is driven to move in a direction.  Whether that is standing tight, in circles, or towards a specific location which is the goal, we are moving in a direction.  We can choose which direction we want to take.  Do we:

  • Listen to the world where everyone tells us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?
  • Listen to the devil who tells us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?
  • Listen to our own flesh that tells us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?
  • Listen to God who directs us where we should go, what we should do, how we should act, and how we should think, and what we should say?

Each of us chooses one or more of these influences when choosing a direction.  It is only by consciously choosing which influence (or influences) that we pay attention to and heed that will ultimately determine which direction that we will take.

Particular Path

We are told in the Bible that, effectively, there are really only two directional paths that we can take:

Any path that was not entered through the small gate and is on the narrow road was entered through the wide gate and broad road.  Only one path leads to heaven.  Jesus has said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

We all make our own choices because God has given us free will.  We need to carefully examine the advice that we have available to us, and choose wisely, for actions have consequences.  The good news is, if we are on the wrong path, we can stop, ask God for directions, and get on (or back on) the narrow road that leads out of the small gate.  And Jesus is the small gateAllow the Good Shepherd lead you into the way everlasting.  It is only there that you will find rest and provision, not only in this life, but in the next life as well.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What influences am I allowing into my life that are directing my path?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have provided for all my needs.  You seek me out when I am lost and stray from You.  The Holy Spirit provides me with instruction, encouragement, and empowers me to do what You desire.  Help me to stay on the straight and narrow path, that You would be honored and glorified.  Forgive me today of my sins.  Bring to memory all that I have done that displeases You, that I may turn from it, and walk in righteousness.  Show me where I should go, how I should think, and how I should act.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

 

 

A Promise of God – Isaiah 54:17

17 no weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

The Bible contains many promises of God.  This one is very encouraging.  It is comforting to know that we are being protected by God against all of the weapons of the enemy.  It is also comforting that anyone who says anything against us will be refuted, for we have been forgiven all sin.  This is our HERITAGE!  God will VINDICATE us!

There only appears to be one qualifier – “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.”  Who are the servants of the Lord?

Servants wait upon the master.  They are in His service to do His bidding whenever and wherever He directs them.  They direct their talents to complete the tasks assigned to them.  They are often given guidelines, and are expected to do the work when they see work to do.

There are many gifts given to believers once they accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Here are just a few ( 1 Corinthians 12:4-11):

  • Wisdom
    • The ability to understand the difference between wise and foolish things (think: King Solomon)
  • Knowledge
    • Are you able to absorb great amounts of information and then process it so that it is understandable by others?
  • Faith
    • Do you trust God to move mountains, trusting Him to do things when other people would normally give up?
  • Healing
    • When you pray, do people get well?
  • Prophecy
    • Do you know things about what is going on and things that will go on, when you have no reason to know them?
    • Does God often let you know something that you should share with a person or people He directs you to share with, even if you don’t understand the message?
  • Distinguishing between spirits
    • Do you know who’s who?
    • Do you sense the presence of angels and demons and their activity in this world?
    • Do you know when, if someone is speaking, whether or not what they are saying is Biblical, even though you don’t know why?
  • Speaking in tongues (languages)
    • Are you able to speak in a known (already existing) language but don’t understand what you are saying?
    • Are you able to speak in an unknown language and don’t know what you are saying?
  • Interpreting tongues (languages)
    • When people speak, do you know what they are saying, even if everyone else around you doesn’t because they don’t speak the language (and you may not know the language either)?

This is not an exhaustive list.  There are many others.  Here are eight more to think about:

  • Craftsmanship
    • Can you make a masterpiece out of nothing?
    • Or, can you take a box of parts and with a few simple tools, put the item back together without any instructions?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Hospitality
    • Are you driven to constantly feed and attend to guests at your home?
    • Do you enjoy throwing parties and events?
    • Are you the first one to get up to pour drinks at an event?  If so, you may have this gift.
  • Music
    • Can you play a musical instrument in a way that inspires others to greatness?
    • or, are YOU an instrument (should you audition for “Stomp“)?  You may have this gift.
  • Leadership
    • Do people have a great tendency follow what you say and where you go?  You may have this gift.
  • Teaching
    • Can you take the most difficult subject and explain it to most people so that they have a clear understanding of it?  You may have this gift.
  • Pastoring
    • Do you constantly feel the need to guide and nurture people in their faith and walk with God?  You may have this gift.
  • Service
    • Are you the one who gets great joy from doing the jobs that no one else does, and is content that the job is done and done right, even if no one else notices?  You may have this gift.
  • Prayer
    • Does God wake you up in the middle of the night to pray about something that He then places on your heart?
    • Do you struggle (wrestle) in prayer for individuals, issues, leaders, and/or nations (or other things)?
    • Do you enjoy spending hours communicating with God in prayer about anything and everything?  You may have this gift.

There are over 30 implied and delineated gifts that the Spirit of God gives to us to use to glorify God and help the body.  Are you using the gifts that were provided to you in stewardship by the Spirit of God at the direction of the Spirit of God for God’s Glory?

If not, why do you call yourself a servant?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, we all fall short of perfection.  You have saved us from this, and give us the wonderful opportunity to know You, the only One True God.  You have given us great privileges and responsibilities as well.  Show us what gifts the Holy Spirit has provided to us.  Empower us to act in these gifts, and guide us in the way that these gifts should be used.  Father, do not let me be afraid of these gifts, but help me to embrace them that Your kingdom would grow.  I am your servant, Lord God.  Speak to me that I may do Your Will, in Your Way, in Your Time, for Your purposes, that You may be glorified.  This I ask in the the precious name of your Most Holy Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?