Freed Slaves

Chain Link

Chain Link (Photo credit: small world)

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God.

                                                            Romans 1:1  

Paul begins his greeting to the Church in Rome with his credentials. In this description he includes the label “bondservant”. The significance of the word is that it describes a slave who has paid off his debts, his required servitude is complete, and they choose to stay a servant of his master rather than being free. Of course a bondservant enjoys a new level of freedom that was not available previously.  

Paul uses this word to describe his credentials as a follower of Christ we can learn a great deal about the attitude necessary for a disciple of Jesus. Paul understood himself to be a volunteer servant for God. Like a bondservant, he understands that his “master” can provide a better life than he can achieve on his own. Because of this, his love for God is greater than his love for self. 

It is important that we understand our service for God to be that of a bondservant. We are free to go, but why would we!? The life that Jesus offers is one filled with purpose and love. This may look different for each of us. God will not force me to do anything; only offer my participation in his plan. He doesn’t need me to complete his will, but he graciously includes me despite my unworthiness of such a calling. Only God knows what the abundant life will look like for me. Only he knows where my fulfillment will come from.  

Paul chose to view his life as that of a freed slave who chooses to continue serving his master. God offers us this position as well. We may choose to be a slave of sin, or we may choose to be freed from sin and the servant of our creator. Paul’s choices led him down a difficult path that ultimately led to his execution. But I believe Paul’s life was fulfilled in his desire to spread the Gospel and reach those who seemed unreachable. He considered serving God in prison more fulfilling than living life free without meaning. 

I pray that I would seek God’s direction in my life, and freely give my liberty to him so that I may live a fulfilled life, to count his work as greater than my life.

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Thanksgiving: Prosperity

English: "The First Thanksgiving at Plymo...

The harvest feast of 1621 is known as the first Thanksgiving of the Plymouth Colony.  The popular account ends assuring us that the Pilgrims went on to live lives of prosperity after that year. However, that is not true. The Pilgrims did enjoy a feast and a celebration for three days with their new friends, but their bellies were only full for a few days. In fact, the winter of 1621 was one of the leanest they suffered. 

The winter of 1623 was a miracle straight from God. The Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony lived through the winter with only a ration of five kernels of corn a day with no deaths.  After that winter the colony was expanded by additional settlers from England. With the increase of mouths to feed they would need twice the harvest as the previous year. How were they to feed so many when they had barely fed everyone the winter before? 

The problem was found in their system of economy. The Pilgrims’ had adopted a system from their original contract with their merchant-sponsors in London that called for everything produced by the colony to go into a common store and each member was entitled to their share. If you worked six days a week you received the same “earnings” as someone who worked four. Obviously, this system was seen as unfair (despite being designed to be fair).

The new settlers only added to the Pilgrims’ frustrations. These new comers lacked the Pilgrims’ work ethic.  Many of them came straight from the debtors’ prisons in England.  The newcomers were lazy and complained about their conditions. They grumbled that they wanted more privileges, more food, and less work.  The moral of the colony was plummeting. Something had to be done.

Governor William Bradford sought the answers to the colonies plight in the pages of his Bible.  He found his answer in 2 Thessalonians 3:10.  “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”  

Bradford quickly went to work and assigned the single men to live with Pilgrim families.  He then divided up the common fields and gave families individual rights to their own tracts.  The corn grown on each family’s tract was for the family’s private use. If they produced more than they could consume they were able to sell or trade it for something they needed or desired. 

At first the slackers tested the Pilgrims. Refusing to work or adhere to Bradford’s audacious rules. But only a few days passed before they were convinced and went to work for the families of Plymouth. 

The colony flourished under their new capitalist society. The Pilgrims found they now had too much food and opened trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. They paid off their debts and their success started the “Great Puritan Migration.” Plymouth became that shinning city on a hill that William Brewsterbelieved it could be. And today we celebrate for the very same reasons those early settlers celebrated.

Today we thank God for his guidance and protection in our lives. We praise him for the journey that we have been on and for how he has kept us during the hard times. We thank him for when he has changed our course for our own protection, and for the new opportunities that he has provided. Today we thank God for his work throughout history. How he has consistently used men and women to blaze a new trail, and teach us about love and compassion. We thank him for this nation, those who serve it, those who cherish it, and those who protect it. But most of all today, on this Thanksgiving Day, we thank him for that ultimate sacrifice that was made so that all men could know him not only as the Creator but as our Father.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Thanksgiving: When LIfe’s Difficult

Thanksgiving: When Life’s Difficult

Squanto

Squanto (Photo credit: *cHARLIe 2112(^:*)

In 1604 a young, Native American named Squanto and four others were taken from their tribe and sent over seas to England. Those who took them planned to teach them English and then return to America with them as guides. After nine years, Squanto was returned to his homeland and his people. But he was kidnapped again and taken to Spain to be sold as a slave. Squanto escaped and made his way back to England. In 1620, Squanto joined a passage back to New England. Fifteen years had passed and Squanto longed for his homeland and family. When he arrived in his village it was empty.  The only remnants of his people were bones and skulls. His village has suffered a vicious disease.  Squanto sought shelter with Massasoit, the chief of a neighboring tribe. And it was there that he mourned his people for six months. 

English: Squanto or Tisquantum teaching the Pl...

English: Squanto or Tisquantum teaching the Plymouth colonists to plant corn with fish. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One day, Squanto was requested to help some English settlers who had colonized the tribal lands of his people. They were described as kind and peaceful people, with little hope of surviving. The settlers had little food and even less knowledge of farming in the strange climate of New England. Squanto, Chief Massasoit, and all sixty warriors from his tribe visited the Plymouth Colony. Squanto helped interpret for the chief and aided in establishing a treaty between the two groups. When Chief Massasoit and his warriors returned to their village, Squanto stayed behind to help the settlers. They were closely approaching the end of the corn planting season, and Squanto knew if they did not get to work immediately the colony would meet the same fate as his own people. Squanto taught the settlers how to survive, plant corn and pumpkin, to catch eels and fish, stalk deer, and how to find herbs for food and medicine.

The Pilgrims in the Plymouth Colony shared with Squanto the Good News of Jesus Christ. Squanto found his life’s purpose within the passages that told the story of Joseph. How he was sold into slavery, imprisoned, and then later made second in command of Egypt, just under Pharaoh. Squanto’s life’s purpose could be found in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Suddenly, years of pain and meaningless disappeared and Squanto began to see how God could take the evil things that men do and bring good out of it. Had Squanto never been taken, he would have never learned English.  Had he not been taken again the second time, he would have perished with the rest of his village.  Had the settlers not sought help from Massasoit when they did they would have missed the window for planting the corn harvest. Squanto chose to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and as the author of his life’s story.   

The spring following Squanto’s help to the settlers was their first harvest banquet where they praised God and their new friends for their harvest. But that harvest was not that great. It was not the abundant harvest that would come a few years later. It was not the harvest that marked the colonies’ prosperous times. That celebration was a few more years away.

Much of Squanto’s life had been stolen from him. He spent years as the property of another individual. Squanto lost everything. His family was dead, and he had very little to live for. But he found hope in a similar tale to his own. What he learned of Joseph’s life mirrored his own. He saw how Joseph had been unjustly imprisoned and forgotten. But he saw every agonizing detail had been with the purpose of saving a people. Squanto found solace from his depression in knowing that his life had meaning. He began to understand how the pieces fit together and this knowledge gave him a new drive in life.

Sometimes it is hard to see past our hardships. Maybe this year has been difficult for you and you are having a hard time mustering up a thankful heart for tomorrow’s celebration of Thanksgiving. Take a moment and ponder on the stories of Squanto and Joseph. Our lives often contain low points, but low points simply separate the high points.

This Thanksgiving, we should remember that God has a plan that he put into motion before Adam and Eve even sinned. He has provided us with everything that we need to experience life o the fullest. Most of the time there is only one person in the way of us enjoying that abundant life, us. So we should be thankful for the difficult times this past year because we know that God has plans for those hurts. We know God never wastes a hurt.

 

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Thanksgiving: Prosperity

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Winter wilderness 2

When they Pilgrims set foot on the beach of their new home they broke out in praise to God once again. They were thankful for a fairly uneventful passage, for God’s guidance to the cape, and for the new charter they had ratified. So far it appeared they had made the right decision in leaving the old world.

In his journal, William Bradford wrote this about the Pilgrim’s landing; “They fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.  And no marvel if they were thus joyful.”

In spite of their enthusiasm, the Pilgrims faced many woes that first winter. The delays in their departure cost them weeks of clear weather that would have allowed them to begin their colony. What they found inland was a cold, barren, desolate wilderness with no shelter.  One half of the colonists died that first winter, including Governor John Carver.  To succeed Carver, William Bradford was chosen.  However, things looked grim for the Pilgrims of Plymouth. 

On the last Thursday of November we celebrate Thanksgiving Day in America as reminder of all that we have to be thankful for. The Pilgrims of Plymouth would go through many days of anguish before they could celebrate their days of feasting that we model our celebrations after.  

Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes we sit high on the mountain, and sometimes we look up from the valley unsure if we will ever make the climb. My pastor often says that you are either going through a storm, coming out of a storm, or nearing a storm in your life. This is true. But for those who believe in Christ we have something to be thankful for even during the hardest of times. True, you may be thankful for your family, friends, your job, and other relationships or belongings that you posses. But all of those things fail us at times. We might have to deal with losing our family, our friends may move, and our job… well many of you may be dealing with a loss of work right now in your life. This life is temporary, and thankfully so are its storms. 

English: Minnesota Snow Storm

English: Minnesota Snow Storm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pilgrim’s faced their new life with a faith in God that would rival most church members today. This Thanksgiving don’t forget to be thankful for the storms that he has brought you through. Just as he did for the Pilgrims of Plymouth, he has a plan for you. And although he does not want you to go through the hard times, they are part of life on this earth. One day, in eternity, those storms will seem to have been pretty small. If you are in the middle of a particularly trying storm that might seem difficult to comprehend. It may even make you angry. But this life is not all there is, and we have much to anticipate in the next.

 

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Thanksgiving: When LIfe’s Difficult

Thanksgiving: Prosperity

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Richard Warren, among 10 passengers in the lan...

Richard Warren, among 10 passengers in the landing party, when the Mayflower arrived at Cape Cod, November 11, 1620 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pilgrims were contracted into the governance of the Virginia Charter by signature when they chose to journey to America. Because the Pilgrims planned to settle in Cape Cod instead of the colony of Jamestown the Virginia Charter could not govern them. They believed God was guiding them to what would later be known as Plymouth (See Thanksgiving: Closed Doors and a Change of Direction). Elder William Brewster called a meeting with the Pilgrim leaders and explained that without a charter of their own there would be no laws to govern and no one to enforce decency.  Some on the ship had already heard others boasting of their freedoms to do whatever they willed once on land.  The Pilgrim leaders agreed that without an established civil government with a firm Christian base, they would soon have sedition and lawlessness.  There was a call to prayer for God’s guidance in the creation of a new charter.  William Bradford declared that he believed God had led them away from Virginia just for this very reason.  Bradford believed God wanted all men to see what He could do with a people who totally relied on Him for everything including their government. 

William Brewster quoted “You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden… let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14).  They recalled what their pastor in Holland had taught them about the governing of the early church. 

Bradford declared, “The Lord Jesus is King of His Church and holds all power in haven and earth.  Christ the Lord gives each Christian the power of self-government.  Christians then elect representatives, or elders, from among themselves to serve them and be examples to them.”  

Page from William Bradford's Of Plimoth Planta...Thus the Mayflower Compact was written and the members of the Plymouth Colony chose to relinquish their individual independence, and live as a covenanted people. The Mayflower Compact is one of the pillars of American constitutional government. This is the first time in recorded history that free and equal men voluntarily covenanted together to create their own civil government.  Along with the ratification of the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims elected John Carver as their first governor.

The Pilgrims were blessed with great leaders who sought to serve God first, their families second, and each other third. Their story inspires me to be a better man. The choices they made while still on the Mayflower have influenced America for nearly four hundred years. They chose a fresh start guided by God and his guiding hand. They did not yet realize the hardships before them. They were ill-prepared for the coming months. But they chose to settle this barren wilderness, and to allow their God to be their guide.

This Thanksgiving let us be thankful for the new beginnings that God offers us, and remember to follow the one who knows the outcomes of every decision. Only he knows what lies in store for us in coming days, and only he can guide us.

 

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Thanksgiving: When LIfe’s Difficult

Thanksgiving: Prosperity

Thanksgiving: A Change of Direction

Landing of the Pilgrims by Cornè, Michele Feli...

Landing of the Pilgrims by Cornè, Michele Felice circa 1805. Displayed in the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During the early 17th century the Church of England, led by King James I, persecuted anyone who did not recognize the churches absolute civil and religious authority. Those who disagreed with the church were hunted down, imprisoned, and sometimes executed for their beliefs.

A group of Separatists, those who believed that the Church of England was beyond repair, fled to Holland and lived for 11 years until they decided to flee to the New World. It was no doubt a difficult decision to make, but they were absolute in their pursuit of freedom to worship God in a manner they believed he approved. These future colonists decided their religious freedom and identity were worth the treacherous journey across the ocean and a difficult life in a new frontier.

On August 6, 1620, after many delays the Mayflower set sail with 102 passengers including 40 of the Separatists who we know as the Pilgrims. The voyage took seven weeks. On the day the lookout spotted land, the passengers rushed to the deck. The sight of land was overwhelming for those who had spent so long at sea and they burst forth with praise and gratitude to their God. Their moment of celebration lasted so long that the Captain was forced to order them below the deck.

The travelers were weary from their journey, but what lied ahead for them was two of the most difficult years of their lives. The land they celebrated seeing for the first time was already in the early stages of winter. The delays they experienced in England had cost them two months of mild, autumn weather. They were surprised to find their journey had only led them a few hundred miles north of their destination of the Virginia colony. They were less than a week’s journey from landfall! The Virginia colony offered a fresh start for the Pilgrims. They started south, but their progress was slowed by the dangerous weather and low tides. The coast line was a treacherous passage. The trip became frighteningly perilous, and the Pilgrims began praying feverishly for the safety of the ship.

Elder William Brewster called a meeting with John Carver, William Bradford, and Edward Winslow. Brewster felt that God was intervening in their passage to the Virginia Colony. The men discussed their own feelings about the situation and decided that it must be God’s providence that was discouraging their progress southward. They referred to the account of God’s intervention of Paul and Silas’ journey into Asia recorded in Acts 16:6-10. The Holy Spirit instead directed Paul and Silas to Macedonia, which led to the creation of the Philippians Church. During their meeting, Captain Jones interrupted their assembly with his latest assessment. The journey south would have to be halted. They would return to sea and wait for the weather to improve.

The four asked that he wait until they first spoke with the others. After much discussion and prayer, the Pilgrims unanimously agreed to the change of course. They then sent word to Captain Jones, and he redirected the course back north to Cape Cod. On November 11th, 1620 they dropped anchor in a natural harbor inside of the cape.

Isn’t it funny how we often feel so comfortable when our lives are planned out? We like when our lives seem to be in order, and according to plan. But I have found that God often changes the course of our lives drastically. The Pilgrims thought they were settling in the already established (although struggling) Virginia Colony, but God had other plans for them. Our lives are often like that. Sometimes God closes doors in our lives. We may believe that we have missed out, but God knows what he is doing. This Thanksgiving lets celebrate the doors that God closed and the new doors that he opens because we chose to follow his course.

Thanksgiving Posts

Thanksgiving: New Beginnings

Thanksgiving: Promised Hope

Thanksgiving: When LIfe’s Difficult

Thanksgiving: Prosperity

God Will Uphold You!

Image Source: gracebc.org

Last year I had an opportunity to speak with our church’s children’s ministry at camp Ba Yo Ca for their Camp Extreme event. It was a lot of fun, and only the second time I spoke before a group of children between the ages of 5 and 11. It was probably too lengthy for their age but they were troopers and hung in there with me. I was reading over my notes today and thought it was worth sharing. It was a blessing to me and I hope God uses it to bless you. I was trying something different with my sermons back then. I wrote it out like a speech and practiced it. When I got on site there was nowhere to put my notes, so instead I had a “talk” with them. I believe a “talk” is a better format for my character, and I have since canned the speech writing approach.

Introduction: 

What has been your favorite part of camp so far? 

Hello my name is Mitch; I have been a follower of Jesus Christ since I was 12 years old.  I grew up in Church for most of my life.  I am very excited to have this opportunity to speak with you this evening because I get to talk with you about God.  I love to share about God.   

Let’s take a few minutes to see what God’s Word says about when life gets tough.

 

The theme for Camp Extreme comes from Isaiah chapter 41:10.  It says, 

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

Tonight we are looking at part of this verse that says, “I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

Have you ever had to trust God when it was really tough?  I know that in your small groups today you shared some of the tough things that you have gone through in the past or maybe things that you are going through now.  It is a hard fact of life, Life gets tough. 

 In your groups you talked about there being different degrees of tough times. 

Here are some examples from my life.  I remember when I was little, I mean really little, and I lost my favorite stuffed bear.  This was my favorite toy that I played with everyday, and drug around everywhere I went.  I eventually found him hiding in an old mailbox from where we had been playing hide and seek a few days earlier. 

Some things are a little more serious.  Growing up I only got to see my Dad every other weekend.  When I was two years old my parents separated and divorced.  Growing up seeing my Dad only every other weekend was tough.   

When I was in Middle School I had surgery to correct a heart defect that had threatened my life up until that day!   

These are some tough times that I have gone through in my life, and I am sure many of you have dealt with tough times.  How many of you would agree that life gets tough?   

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life that I could never have gotten through without help from God.  I didn’t know God when I lost my stuffed bear, or when my parents divorced.  But I had been saved for a few months when my heart surgery came around.  I can tell you that there was a lot of fear, and worry going on.  But as the date came closer…I felt God’s love and protection on me.  I knew that no matter what happened I believed in a God who was greater than my circumstances.  I am here today to tell you that God is strong enough to uphold you.   

When I tell you that God will uphold you, or that He is strong enough I am telling you that you can trust Him.  Maybe that raises some questions for you.

 

Like, why should I trust God? 

If you trust God then you believe in His promises even if you can not see that God’s promises are coming true.  Maybe you hear people talk about faith, this is what faith is. 

When someone asks us to trust them we have to make a decision to respond in one of two ways.  We can either say, “Ok, I trust you” or “Why should I trust you?” 

Why should we trust God?  How do we learn to trust God?  We can learn to trust God by getting to know Him. 

Number 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?” 

God never lies, and he always keeps his promises.  God never lies!  When you read through the Bible you will find that God has offered us many promises! 

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not worry about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

God promises us that if we do not worry about things, but pray and thank Him for being with us: then He will give us peace!  

The more we experience God the more we will learn to trust Him.  

Not only is God worthy of our trust because he always keeps His promises and never lies, but he is also worthy because He is in complete control.  There is nothing and no one who is outside of His influence.  No matter what tough situation you are in, God is still in control.  God does not hand over his control under any circumstances.  He is the God who created everything that we know, and things that we haven’t seen yet!  He was there in the beginning, and He set all of the rules

Isaiah 40:12  “Did any of you measure the ocean by yourself or stretch out the sky with your own hands?  Did you put the soil of the earth in a bucket or weigh the hills and mountains on balance scales?”  I mean really think about it, who else can we trust? 

Allow me to share a story from the Bible.  The main character of this story trusted God even though his situations kept getting worse.

Story of Joseph

17 years old

He was his father’s favorite (coat)

His brothers hated him

Joseph shares his dreams (wheat, sun moon and stars)

Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him

They sold him into slavery

He was bought by Potiphar

God blessed him, and Potiphar made him in command of his home

Potiphar’s wife tried to make Joseph do wicked things

She lied when Joseph refused

Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison

God blessed Joseph in prison and the prison guard put him in command of the prison

Joseph meets the Pharaoh’s cup bearer in prison

Joseph interrupts cup bearer’s dream

Cup bearer tells Pharaoh of Joseph

Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream (7 fat and 7 skinny cows)

Pharaoh puts Joseph second in control of Egypt

Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt for food

Joseph tests his brothers and is reunited with his family

Joseph never gave up on God, and God never gave up on Him.  God had a plan, and those tough times that Joseph went through were all part of God’s plan to not only lift him up to the second highest position in the known world but also to save his family, and even to build a nation.  See Joseph’s family goes on to become the Hebrew that Moses leads to the Holy Land.  The same people who later become the nation of Israel, the very same nation that God used to bring the Messiah for all of the world!  Joseph was willing to trust God through the tough times.

Colossians 1:11, “Then God will strengthen you with His own great power.  And you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient.”  

I bet Joseph didn’t have a clue that because of his trust in God through the tough times, we are able to love God in a way that Joseph never dreamed of.  We have been restored to the original relationship that Adam and Eve experienced with God. 

God has a plan for your life too!  Isn’t that Awesome!?  God had a plan for Joseph, and he has a plan for each and every one of us!  Sometimes it doesn’t look like God is still in control in Joseph’s life.  And sometimes it seems like what we are going through can’t be God’s plan.  Romans 8:28 tells us,

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.  Always remember that He has a plan Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you” says the LORD.  “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

How Do We Respond? 

As you get to know God you will realize that you can trust Him.  He has promised to do good works through us.  Sometimes it seems like life is too tough, and that God has lost control.  But always remember, God is still doing a good work.  And sometimes the hard times are preparing us for what God has in store for us.  

God’s Word tells us to bring all of our cares and worries to Him.  Jesus said that He was strong enough to take on all of your burdens.  

Psalm 55:22, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

 

A Christian Response to Election Day 2012

Image Source: CNET

I Have Tried to Stay Out of This

So I have attempted to stay out of the political discourse over the past few weeks. Those who know me personally know this has come with great difficulty for me. But I have learned over the last few years that my political views are insignificant in comparison to the question of the Gospel. Yes I have an opinion on the morality of abortion; I have an opinion on the government’s use of our tax dollars, and I voted this election year based on who I believed would be the best leader.

Gospel Relevance

I do believe all of these things to be important. I do believe the election of the leader of the Free World is important to our daily lives. But I do not believe they supersede the importance of spreading the Gospel. God created man in his own image and blessed us with intelligence, rationality, a sense of morality, and creativeness. God created within us a sense of eternity and a need to be part of something greater than ourselves. He created the love that exists within us, and he did all of this so that he could enjoy our companionship. However, our companionship would be worthless if we were not granted the ability to choose to love God.

So he has allowed us to choose, and he has set parameters on what he constituted as loving him. God chose to show us how much he loves us in that while we were willing to live meaningless lives apart from him, he sent his son to die displaying the extent of his love. Some people question why God would choose such a bloody and painful method, but the severity of the sacrifice demonstrates the magnitude of God’s love for us. Jesus taught that belief in his sacrifice is enough to pardon our rebellion, and that by confessing him as savior we are granted eternity with God.

Wait… I know, you thought this was going to be about politics.

My view of the Gospel does speak into my political belief system. Here is what I believe; it the responsibility of a believer in Jesus Christ to keep his commands. We have been entrusted with instructions on how to live our lives as his followers. He was very clear when he described what it means to be a disciple. It is our commission to love those around us. We must love them whether they agree with us or not. Who they voted for, where they go to church, if they spend Sunday in a bar, if they have chosen a same-sex relationship, how many abortions they have had, or if they deny the very existence of God are not exemptions. We have been commanded to love them. Jesus said that by our love for one another they will recognize us as his followers. It is our responsibility to love one another. Jesus was asked what was the greatest of the commandments and he said to love God with everything that we are AND to love others as we love ourselves.

If we, The Church, were to practice what Jesus taught, would we not have a better platform to speak with those around us about the Gospel? We would not be hindered by stereotypes of hatred and intolerance. If the Church were to focus on spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ first we would see less opposition to our beliefs. People would want our churches to be in their neighborhoods if we clothed their children. They would be excited to see a church move to town if we were feeding their hungry. They would praise God for his relief efforts if we took care of the widows and orphans. As long as we sit in our large buildings demanded the rest of the world to adhere to our moral beliefs we will be asked to politely shut the door and shut our mouths.

And who knows; if the church took care of the hurting, the poor, and the hungry maybe there wouldn’t be a need for the government to do it and maybe young girls would come to our doors instead of Planned Parenthood’s. But greater than that maybe this country would stop requesting that God (would) Bless America, and maybe we would start saying America Bless God.

So, Our Response?

Pray. We need to pray for the man who was just re-elected as the President of the United States of America. We need to pray that he is successful at helping our country to heal from her wounds.

Pray for our divided nation. With the vote totals being so close in the past few Presidential elections it is clear that our country is divided by two ideologies that have a difficult time co-existing. We must find ways to unite and succeed, but I believe that begins with prayer for understanding, and cooperation.

We need to pray for our churches. In the past the church has flourished under persecution, and if the re-elected administration chooses to further alienate people of faith we will need to be prepared. We need to pray that the church loses its focus on politics and refocuses on Jesus and his Gospel.

Conclusion

Whether you supported the president’s campaign or the GOP ticket, one thing is for sure. The man in office owes much of his achievements to God. If your man won, show a little grace to those who do not share in your ideology. They believe they are right just as much as you believe you are. If your “side” is going to lead than be a leader worth following.

If your team is licking its wounds today don’t be a sore loser. None of us believe you are moving to Canada (they have a federal health care system by the way) or Mexico (come on, they have fewer jobs than we do). Take a deep breath, and relax. The King is still in control. And remember, there is always next time (well… if there is a next time).

 

Related Posts

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

God Doesn’t Need a Believer in the White House

 

 

Looking for Eternity

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come the Almighty.”

Revelation 1:8

ClockSo I am horrible at this book review thing. Every time I sit down with A.W. Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy, I find myself immersed in the book again. Last night, actually it was this morning while holding our newborn at the hospital… This morning I was reading Tozer’s chapter about God’s divine attribute of being eternal.

Eternity is one of those concepts that few Christians question, but I believe the rest of the world has some issues with. We see life ending all around us, especially this time of year. The scenery around us begins to change color as chlorophyll starts to draw away from leaves, and eventually they are discarded and become piles of dead material.

This annual death is a reminder that this life is not permanent. It ends. All things have an end in this world. For the Christian we can find confidence in the fact that God does not end. He is our creator, and thus is not bound by the natural laws that exist within it. God’s eternity is an attribute that should lead all who praise his name to worship.

Although we are constantly reminded of death and accept it’s sureness; we live our lives as if eternity is certain. The day will pass but we live as if we will always have a tomorrow. This sometimes frustrates those who refuse to believe in a God who cultivates the souls of men. And it is a good thing that we sometimes face this dilemma. God no doubt uses our longing for eternity to help us to understand who he is.

“We who live in this nervous age would be wise to meditate on our lives and our days long and often before the face of God and on the edge of eternity. For we are made for eternity as certainly as we are made for time, and as responsible moral being we must deal with both.”

A.      W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy.

Death should remind us of the eternity that God offers to all mankind. We are both creatures of time and creatures of eternity. We were ultimately made for eternity, but currently exist within the limits of time. This desire within us should lead those who believe in God to praise him, and allows those who do not to question his existence.

Where Does Your Help Come From?

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I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1, 2

What an awesome truth to read this morning. When we are faced with life’s trials we can face them with the assurance that the creator of the universe is all the help we need.

Do not live life defeated by your circumstances, allow the maker of heaven and earth to be your help. And live a victorious life through all circumstances.

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