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Dangerous Thought on Tax Day: A Day of Repentance

Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand 2  No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. Titus 3:1-2 (MSG)

13  Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; 14  they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. 15  It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. 16  Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. 17  Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. 1 Peter 2:13-17 (MSG)

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and some of the Herod-party to trap him in an argument. They came up and said to him, “Master, we know that you are an honest man and that you are not swayed by men’s opinion of you. Obviously you don’t care for human approval but teach the way of God with the strictest regard for truth – is it right to pay tribute to Caesar or not: are we to pay or not to pay?”  15  But Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, “Why try this trick on me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” 16  So they brought one to him. “Whose face is this?” asked Jesus, “and whose name is in the inscription?” 17  “Caesar’s,” they replied. And Jesus said, Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God!” a reply which staggered them. Mark 12:13-17 (Phillips NT)

67 The scene of the parable is being repeated: it is the same as with those people who were invited to the wedding feast. Some are afraid, others have their own concerns, many… make up stories or give silly excuses. They put up resistance. That is why they feel the way they do: fed up, all in a muddle, listless, bored, bitter. And yet how easy it is to accept the divine invitation at every moment, and live a happy life, full of joy!  (1)

It is April 15th, the day annual tax documents are do in the USA.

It’s also a day where we should confess our sins, and be absolved for them.

For disobeying the law, not man’s law (though some of us are guilty of that!), but God’s law.  The law which tells us the government is something God has established as a blessing for us.

Now some of you are thinking – but the government uses our money for evil, the government is trying to persecute the church, the government is giving our hard earned dollars to those that do not deserve it, the government is, and the slander and disrespect goes on and on, without end.  Unlike Jesus on the cross – who could have called down 10,000 angels while he was hanging on the cross, we want to call down God’s wrath on those who would take our idols, our Benjamins, Franklins and Lincolns.  Heck we begrudge even the littlest Lincoln upon which the government has a claim.

Dare someone quote the words from scripture above, and ridicule and scorn will shift, from the government, to the one writing them.  People (and pastors too) will start justifying their actions, and especially their words and their thoughts.  In do so, they deny that sin occurs in thoughts and words, beside in the things we do.  We toss our theology out the window – in order to protect the “rite” to free speech.  Even when that speech is sinful.

It’s time to repent, its time to realize that in keeping the fourth commandment, (honor thy Father and Mother) that includes the blessing of the government God established, the government that has the right to tax us, and to set what those taxes are.  It’s time to stop stealing, stop bearing false witness, to stop coveting our governments stuff.  Instead we should pray for them, bless them respect them (and not just “the office).

We’ve got a much better thing to be doing, we can revel in the presence of God, we can rejoice at His love and mercy. That’s what it means to find our place in the wedding banquet, rather than in the marketplace complaining and slandering.  It is what it means to live as forgiven, baptized children of God – to do things (like obeying the government) that we do – for God’s sake.

It’s a time for us to hear our sins are forgiven, that God has rescued us, that we no longer need to protect our idols.

It’s a day to know God’s mercy so well, the we show it to others….

May our Lord Jesus Christ walk with us this day, and may the Spirit of God, dwelling within us, empower us to keep these words above.

AMEN.

I am tired of it. 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 500-505). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

 

A Christian’s Attitude Toward Government? Optional?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

1 Peter 2:11-17 (MSG) 11  Friends, this world is not your home, so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. 12  Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. 13  Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; 14  they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. 15  It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. 16  Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. 17  Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.  

 Titus 3:1-2 (MSG) 1  Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand 2  No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. 

Yesterday, because of our government’s way of doing business, the government is starting to shut down.   Lots of political debating is going on, lots of blame games, lots of finger pointing.  I sort of expect that, it is the way the world works, when it is based in competition.

What I do not get, is the role I see many followers of Jesus taking in this battle.  Not that I think we shouldn’t be advocates for that which si righteous.  Or that we can’t, during such times, find ourselves on opposite points of view, because of that which lies close to our hearts.  (For example – one side is very concerned about the unborn – a nobel cause.. and the other is very concerned about the poor and elderly – also a nobel cause )

But what bothers me is the rancor, the hatred and mockery that spills out of us at such times.  That we become diabolical in the truest sense of the word – throwing mud and accusations in the worst possible construction towards those we oppose.  ( see my sermon on Spiritual Warfare for more understanding of diabolical)  We literally and literarily try to destroy our opponents.  We call them names – make accusations, assume their insincerity and basically make this a war of good and evil- and assume we stand for good.

Which is simply bullshit.  (Pardon my americanese)

Look at the passages above – where Paul and Peter urge us to respect and work with those who are leaders – knowing our behavior reflects on who it is we claim to trust (have faith in.)  There is no option there for belittling, slandering and gossipping about those in authority.  Can we oppose them respectfully?  Can we pray for them, encourage them, lift them up?

Can we imitate Christ, and Peter and Paul, and those who followed in their steps – knowing something that is more important than who is to blame?

For example – who took all the blame on Himself?

You see – our political statments reveal ultimately who we have faith in, who we trust.  Our publicly displayed rancor and anger reveals a hurt of being betrayed.  It is not only a statement that we feel our government broke trust with us, but a statement that we have lost sight of our God in whom we trust, a God who promised all things – even those things we mean for evil – will work out for good.

We are to trust in God above all things – above all people, above all government.

It’s about Jesus, remember?

I’ll leave you with the thoughts of the Pslams.

Psalm 2:1-12 (NLT) 1  Why are the nations so angry? Why do they waste their time with futile plans? 2  The kings of the earth prepare for battle; the rulers plot together against the LORD and against his anointed one. 3  “Let us break their chains,” they cry, “and free ourselves from slavery to God.” 4  But the one who rules in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. 5  Then in anger he rebukes them, terrifying them with his fierce fury. 6  For the Lord declares, “I have placed my chosen king on the throne in Jerusalem, on my holy mountain.” 7  The king proclaims the LORD’s decree: “The LORD said to me, ‘You are my son. Today I have become your Father. 8  Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession. 9  You will break them with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots.’” 10  Now then, you kings, act wisely! Be warned, you rulers of the earth! 11  Serve the LORD with reverent fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12  Submit to God’s royal son, or he will become angry, and you will be destroyed in the midst of all your activities— for his anger flares up in an instant. But what joy for all who take refuge in him!

 

Can we work together?

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:

I came across the passage after looking at Facebook yesterday, and being in despair. Not because of the election, but because of the responses to it, from both sides of the aisle, and from pastor’s whose hopes were pinned to one candidate or the other.  In despair, because the love and mercy that has been modeled to us by Jesus dying on the cross, was evident no where… I was despondent, and I wondered – has there ever been a time like this, were the people of God were so despondent about their leadership, and about each other?

Preparing for worship services for the next few weeks led me to the readings for thanksgiving Day.  One actually is a parallel to our Bible study in Ezekiel, and is found in Daniel 2.  There – having been taken from their home, having seen what they thought has been gross injustice in the way the government was treating them (Ezekiel 17 shows that isn’t necessarily so) an impossible task is laid on a young leader named Daniel.  He is asked to provide that which others say will require a miracle. TO not only interpret a dream that caused him great anxiety, but to do so without the dream being shared.  The penalty for failure was decapitation after limp being separated from limb.  (and some of us are discouraged by economics!)

Daniel asks for a little time – goes hope – calls the prayer chain (some other young men who will soon know God is their refuge) and they pray, and the prayer is answered.  Here is Daniel’s response to the answer:

“Blessed be the name of God, forever and ever. He knows all, does all: 21 He changes the seasons and guides history, He raises up kings and also brings them down, he provides both intelligence and discernment, 22 He opens up the depths, tells secrets, sees in the dark—light spills out of him! 23 God of all my ancestors, all thanks! all praise! You made me wise and strong. And now you’ve shown us what we asked for. You’ve solved the king’s mystery.” Daniel 2:20-23 (MSG) 

If God is indeed in charge of our lives, if God is truly here, active, our refuge and strength and the King of Kinds, Lord of Lords, and Prince of Peace, then, and only then, is a reaction like this possible.  Only in faith can we find the strength and patience to turn to God in prayer, when Government seems oppressive and wrong.  Only in Christ can we find a way to work with them, loving them, treating them in a way in accord with Phil 4:7-8, that will result in their honoring God.

It can never be about faith in men (see Psalm 2 and 146) or even a lack of faith in man….

It has to be about the faith we have in God, in the expectation we have, because God has vowed to make us His and keep us in His peace.

You want to know how to survive – look to Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith in God….

and then you will know how to work alongside each other, and a leader we didn’t think was God’s will.

We might even find out – like Israel was told by Ezekiel, that it was…  (see Ezekiel 17)

God’s peace, my friends, is yours!

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