Obey The Government!

Obey the Government

March 27, 2021

“For God is the One who put it there” ~Romans 13:1

Phil, the church’s accountant, was stunned out of a sound sleep by the shrill ringing of his phone. Clearing the fog of sleep he answered and learned, to his consternation, that five of his congregants were in jail and needed him to post bond. The same frustrating five who willingly put themselves in opposition to the government, whether local or federal. As they saw it, the government is corrupt and needs someone to challenge it and they were those someones! But from Phil’s perspective, all these Christians did was stir the proverbial pot, bringing pain and problems, as well as wasting the churches money without any positive change. This morning, he took his time getting dressed.

An hour later, as they left the jail, Phil said, “I’ve got to say my piece here. When are you people going to stop causing all this trouble? You’re giving the church a bad name, not to mention Christians in general. Oh and people’s offerings too. Have you ever thought of that? Do you think the rest of us give tithe and offerings with the expectation of paying your bail?”

“Listen Phil, someone has to stand up for what’s right in our government. We can’t allow these corrupt people to just have their way, overtaxing us, forcing us to follow biased and wrong-spirited laws. We have to force the government to do what’s right!”

“Right according to who? You bunch? If you’re really concerned for the general welfare of your fellow citizens, run for office and really make a difference instead of acting like irresponsible teenagers; not to mention violating the Bible. Have you considered that?”

“What are you talking about, Phil. The last thing we would do is to violate God’s Word. God expects us to defend the downtrodden and those who cannot stand up for themselves.”

“Are you serious? What downtrodden are you helping? As for violating God’s Word, read the 13th chapter of Romans and see how you line up.”

“Well, what about in the Book of Acts when Peter and some others were arrested and they said they had to obey God rather than men.”

“Actually,” Phil replied, “ that happened because the apostles were preaching Jesus as well as performing miracles in His name. They were arrested but an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates, brought them out and told them to “Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life.” and then they were re-arrested and that is when Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)

By this time they had arrived at the church. “I want you to come inside and we’ll have some coffee and share a little more about God establishing governments and kingdoms,” Phil said.

By now everyone was looking forward to what they might learn from the Lord. “Let’s look at Daniel 2:21, “World events are under [God’s] control. He removes kings and sets others on their thrones. He gives wise men their wisdom and scholars their intelligence.” We must remember that God is all powerful and very involved in world events. He is the creator and has a plan for His creations.”

“Now, let’s look at Romans 13:1, “Obey the government, for God is the one who has put it there. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power.” During the Lord’s last three years on earth, did he ever say to his disciples that we must form groups and set about to overthrow this corrupt, evil government? Did Jesus confront any person of authority and demand better civil rights for everyone? Did he confront the Romans who were arresting, torturing, and killing His followers with demands they be released? Just the opposite.

One day Jesus called his disciples together and said, “Among the heathen, kings are tyrants and each minor official lords it over those beneath him. But among you it is quite different. Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must be your servant. And if you want to be right at the top, you must serve like a slave. Your attitude must be like My own, for I, the Messiah, did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28

“So,” Phil began, “what should we do about injustice and social wrongs? Since we have the Holy Spirit to guide us, we should always begin with the advice dispensed by the Book of James 1:5-8 “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it. But when you ask Him, be sure that you really expect Him to tell you for a doubtful mind will be as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind; and every decision you then make will be uncertain, as you turn first this way, and then that. If you don’t ask with faith, don’t expect the Lord to give you any solid answer.”

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will disappear, but My Words remain forever.” Matthew 24:35

Since this is true, shouldn’t our focus be on spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

God’s Gifts!

February 14, 2021

“It is the Holy Spirit who is the source of them all” ~1 Cor. 12:4

I remember it so well as though it happened recently. I attended a growing church and was a novice photographer. I wondered if I could capture the joy and exuberance of my fellow worshipers as they sang and praised the Lord. To accomplish this, I needed an additional zoom or telephoto lens. I prayed and asked the Lord to show me how to find such a lens within my budget. 

It was a week or two later that a man in the congregation stopped me after church and said, “I have a gift for you. The Lord put it on my heart to give you all my camera gear!” The following weekend I met him at his home and he gave me two cameras and four lenses. He told me that he was spending too much time with photography instead of with his family and God directed him to give it all to me. I received his gift with joy!

And what about our relationship with The Holy Spirit and His free gifts to us? Do we gladly receive them with eager expectation as I did with the camera gear? Or do we hem and haw, wondering what gift we may have or if we have a gift at all. This question is easily answered in 1 Corinthians 12. If we believe the Bible to be God’s Word then our question regarding Spiritual gifts is answered in Corinthians.

Verse 1: And now, brothers, I want to write about the special abilities the Holy Spirit gives to each of you, for I don’t want any misunderstanding about them.

Now we know the Holy Spirit gives each of us special abilities (gifts).

Verses 4-7: Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. 5There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. 6There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are his. 7The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church (Body of Christ).

How wonderful, the Holy Spirit is the source of all of God’s Gifts and—He displays God’s power through us as a means of helping the entire Christian Church! How powerful and essential. Am I still a doubter? Or do I trust God. It’s all Him. There is no begging, no pleading on our knees night after night. God freely gives gift to benefit the Church.

Verses 8-11: To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; someone else may be especially good at studying and teaching, and this is his gift from the same Spirit. 9He gives special faith to another, and to someone else the power to heal the sick. 10He gives power for doing miracles to some, and to others power to prophesy and preach. He gives someone else the power to know whether evil spirits are speaking through those who claim to be giving God’s messages—or whether it is really the Spirit of God who is speaking. Still another person is able to speak in languages he never learned; and others, who do not know the language either, are given power to understand what he is saying. 11It is the same and only Holy Spirit who gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have.

Contemplate these gifts: giving wise advice; studying and teaching; special faith; power to heal the sick; performing miracles; power to prophesy and preach; discerning evil spirits and God’s Spirit; speaking an unknown language; power to understand what the unknown language says.

These gifts are beyond our human efforts which is why the Holy Spirit “gives all these gifts and powers, deciding which each one of us should have.” The key is, He gives us spiritual gifts. God is the originator and the Holy Spirit is the dispenser. 

When my friend said he was giving me all his camera gear, I was thrilled and filled with anticipation. Once I unwrapped the gift, so to speak, I put it into action quickly, becoming familiar with how it all worked; learning everything I could about each piece of equipment. So should we be concerning God’s gifts—filled with anticipation, walking in faith. Verse 7, above says, “The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church (Body of Christ).”

Hope Springs Eternal

Sitting in their third-floor apartment, the couple dreaded what awaited in the mailbox below. Either a check sent from a friend in California, or the reality of an eviction. They were befuddled and discouraged. Neither had jobs yet but knew in their hearts that God had given them the stamp of approval to move to Oregon. 

 Their friends were mostly perplexed when they said, “No, we don’t have jobs and don’t know yet where we will live, but God has promised us that He will provide all our needs. Just like He told Abram to move to a land that He would show him, He has said the same to us.” And now what of their former testimony? What will their friends think of God who they said would be their provider?  

Well, it was time to face the mailbox, to see if God chose to provide through a restaurant owner in California. He was too agitated to go so she trekked downstairs alone. As soon as she entered the apartment, he knew the check had not arrived. His final hope flew out the window. He was crushed. Devastated. Discouraged. She hated to see her husband like this. Her normally upbeat, encouraging, man of faith was sitting head-in-hands on the couch, lifeless.  

Shaking his head back and forth, he muttered, “What will we do now? What happened to God’s promises, His provision?” And then it happened, slowly his head raised up, his eyes focused and he said, “I’ve got to remind myself of Gods promises to us. What does His word say about who we are, who He is in our lives, and that He will provide for us. I must come against this feeling of failure and discouragement and take courage from God’s words to us. Oh, forgive me Lord. Let me remind myself of your precious promises that never fail or fall short.”  

And that was it. He leaped off the couch, headed for his bookshelf and took his Bible to the dining room table. And there he sat until he was washed from head to toe with God’s never-failing promises and words of encouragement. And some of them that spoke to his heart were as follows:  

And by the time the rent was due again, his wife was employed. And another month later, he was starting a new job too. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:1 

Glory to God!

Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone) | Courageous Christian Father

Soli Deo gloria is a Latin term for Glory to God alone. It has been used by artists like Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, and Christoph Graupner to signify that the work was produced for the sake of praising God. … Christians are to be motivated and inspired by God’s glory and not their own.

Anxious and Uncertain

Strange how life presents itself to us. New schools, friends, jobs. All the while, we look for satisfaction and happiness. Occasionally we find it. It lasts for a short while. Obstacles and problems seem to wait around each corner. You find a job, buy a car, meet a friend or two, fall in love. And then, your job ends (company closes or you get fired), girlfriend thinks your best friend is cuter which brings the end to a friendship and a sweetheart. Contentment has eluded you once again. All of a sudden your world collapsed and took away your hopes for the future. To top it off, your car was stolen. Who would steal a car like mine? Maybe leaving the keys in the ignition was to blame.

Expecting life to satisfy our needs and bring contentment is an illusion. Life as we know it presents human efforts minus the life-changing redemption of Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ brings absolute forgiveness, all sins washed away, contentment through our faith.

According to the apostle Paul, “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” Book of James, chapter 1, verse 12.

Building Blocks

When I transferred schools in the middle of the eighth grade, I went from an elementary school (kindergarten to 8th grade) to a junior high school (7, 8, 9). By the time classes began for the 9th grade, I felt as though I was pretty important. After all, the 9th graders were top dogs. 

     Unfortunately for me, my imagined importance failed to benefit my lack of attention in Algebra class (why didn’t someone tell me that algebra is the foundation for all math classes from then on? Oh, they did?) Anyway, I studied little and stumbled through with a C average (C means I never fell asleep in class). 

     The following year meant high school and geometry class. A fascinating subject which focuses on shapes, sizes, angles, and properties of space. Guess what! Contrary to what I thought, geometry uses algebraic formulae to work out all the problems. Algebra. The class I barely passed and had little accumulated knowledge about. Instead of a hill, I had a mountain to climb.

     While taking algebra, I had a textbook but used it very little, therefore I was poorly informed regarding its contents. That may describe some Christians; we have the textbook but seldom read its contents which leaves us poorly informed and ill prepared for spiritual warfare. 

     We Christians proudly declare our love of and faith in God’s everlasting Word, the Bible. And yet, when we read those challenging verses which would require life changes, how often are they disregarded or ignored? If I’m honest, fairly often. Let’s look at some examples:

     1 Timothy 2:8  “In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.” Does this accurately describe men in our places of worship? Do we take time for men to pray during service with holy hands lifted up to God? If not, why not? Our textbook instructs us to do so.

     1 Timothy 2:9-10  “And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.”

     What? Are you serious? Women have fought long and hard to find equality in a male dominated world. This is harking back to ancient, caveman ideals. Surely this is not literal. This must be like a parable or thought-provoking words of wisdom, right?

     What do these two verses say? Are they not clear enough? Just because the church has abandoned these instructions does not make them null and void. Rather it makes us haughty enough to believe we can disregard them since they don’t fit into our society today. To please those who find these verses archaic and offensive, the church has relegated them to “that was for those days, for that specific situation.” 

     Really? Remember the textbook example above? Ignoring these verses is like me ignoring the foundational algebraic instructions in my textbook. And how did that work?

     Romans 10:13  “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Let’s take a vote. Everyone in favor of this verse being relevant to today’s world and our society, raise your hands. Don’t be ridiculous, you say. That verse is essential to the Gospel. We can’t just ignore important verses in the Bible. After all, the Bible is God’s Word that lasts forever (1 Peter 1:25).

     And yet, deciding certain verses are no longer pertinent or applicable today is ignoring God’s Word. Somehow we’ve decided by consent that verses too challenging or distasteful should be altered or outright ignored. How can we possibly be that audacious? That irreverent? 

     2 Timothy 3:16  “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 

     If we are followers of Christ, we cannot allow ourselves to ignore sections of the Bible in favor of soothing ruffled feelings. 

     Hebrews 4:12  “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

His Blood

“The blood of Jesus cleanses us from every sin” 1 John 1:7

I had been a Christian for a short time when Victor Ernest, the pastor of my church told me the following story.

“I grew up in a spiritualist family. We believed that God was working through us and did not know it was actually the devil. We held seances in our home. One member of the family was the Medium who gave themselves to the spiritual force at each meeting. The medium, who was my sister, would slump in her chair as the spirit would talk to the people at the table. We could ask questions and the voice would answer. I was chosen to be the next medium in our family.

“Something inside me (I now know it was the Holy Spirit of God) guided me to a department store one day to buy a Bible. This was totally foreign to me but the guidance was strong. I knew nothing about bibles except I had seen very large ones on people’s coffee tables. I only had enough money to buy a small one (I thought it was just part of the bible).

“Secretly I took it home and began to read. Of course I began at the beginning, trying to understand Genesis, Leviticus, etc. I hid my Bible after each reading. One night, as I opened the bible, I was guided to read in the Book of First John and read about trying or testing the spirits: “Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God.” 1 John 4:1.

“Later I read about the blood of Jesus as follows: “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God…For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jersus is the Son of God.

“And Jesus Christ was revealed as God’s Son by his baptism in water, and by shedding His blood on the cross— not by water only, but by water and blood.” 1 John 5:1, 4-6

“I wasn’t exactly sure what I had just read or how important a part it would play in my life until a few days later at our next seance.

“Strangely enough, this seance was a question and answer time. After my sister allowed the spirit to take over and she slumped in her chair, a small megaphone raised off the table and floated in the air. It stopped at each person and we were allowed to ask a question. On this night, the megaphone allowed us to ask three questions in total.

“My first question was, Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?” I had no idea I would ask this question! I did not know that the Spirit of God was directing me. The megaphone answered, “Of course my son,” and passed on.

My second question was, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior?” The megaphone answered, “Of course my son, why do you doubt?” I was stunned and confused by this time.

My third question was, “Do you believe that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins?” The megaphone fell to the table and my sister was thrown backwards out of her chair. The seance was over and I knew my life would never be the same. Somehow I knew that my spiritual experiences to this point were not of God and I wanted to find out all about God. Shortly after that meeting, I packed my clothes and left home. I was 17. 

Ephesians 1:6-8, “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.”

God changed the life of Victor Ernest when He revealed Himself through the Bible and that dramatic question and answer time in his home. Victor learned about the Holy Spirit and the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, which he freely shared for the remainder of his life. God brought me to hear Victor preach the truth of God’s Word. I gave my heart to Christ as a result of his preaching. 

Ephesians, Part 6



“I rejoice in your Word like one who discovers a great treasure” Psalms

Ephesians Chapter 1

6-8 Now all praise to God for his wonderful kindness to us and his favor that he has poured out upon us because we belong to his dearly loved Son. So overflowing is his kindness toward us that he took away all our sins through the blood of his Son, by whom we are saved; and he has showered down upon us the richness of his grace—for how well he understands us and knows what is best for us at all times. TLB

Do we continually wash ourselves in the Word of God? Do we take time each day to relish our eternal standing in Christ, our complete forgiveness of sins?

Two Christian men in a meeting to discuss the upcoming events in their church:

“Well, let’s begin with prayer.”

“Sure, but keep it brief. I have two more meetings after this one.”

“Don’t worry, my schedule is hectic as well.”

You may be thinking, what’s your point? These men are obviously very busy and know that God hears them at all times so why not get on with their meeting? Take a second and consider Psalm 119:162 above, If one of these men had just discovered a great treasure in his attic or received a notice of a large inheritance, do you think he might find time to share his joy and great fortune with his friend? Would his demeanor be glowing with excitement as he continually thought of what lay ahead? Of course.

And yet, we have discovered the greatest treasure of all. One that will never tarnish, rust or lose its value. Our treasure came wrapped in swaddling clothes, walked upon the earth healing disease and telling the future. And then our treasure willingly died for us, took on Himself the punishment for our sins. But next came His most stunning example of eternal power, He rose from the dead, assuming his position of power at God’s right hand.

Through His actions, Jesus gave us new life both here on earth and, more importantly, in heaven forever with God. Does this sound routine to you? Am I excited by this wonderful truth? Or have I allowed myself to be overcome with life’s busyness; reading the Bible occasionally, attending church, giving my tithe.

I was at a friend’s house lately, watching a sporting event with several people. The teams were closely matched and the score moved back and forth until the final few seconds. My team was slightly behind. There was a spirit of tension and excitement in the room. And then, as the clock wound down to the final seconds, my team scored, winning the game. The room exploded with joy and disappointment, depending on which team you hoped would win. Those who were rooting for the winning team were jumping up and down hugging each other. The others were disappointed and sad. You know the feeling of joy when your team wins at the last second.

After reading the verses in Ephesians 1 above, what sort of excitement and jubilation should I feel— every day?

“All praise to God for His wonderful kindness to us.”

I should be jumping up and down as I recall His words. I am on the winning team forever. God has forgiven all my sins and prepared a place for me in heaven (John 14:1-3). He will wipe away all my tears (Revelation 21:4).

“For the joy that was set before Him” Jesus “endured the cross.” Hebrews 12:2 Savor God’s Word.

Hope Springs Eternal, Part 1

Sitting in their third-floor apartment, the couple dreaded what awaited in the mailbox below. Either a check sent from a friend in California, or the reality of an eviction. They were befuddled and discouraged. Neither had jobs yet but knew in their hearts that God had given them the stamp of approval to move to Oregon. 

 Their friends were mostly perplexed when they said, “No, we don’t have jobs and don’t know yet where we will live, but God has promised us that He will provide all our needs. Just like He told Abram to move to a land that He would show him, He has said the same to us.” And now what of their former testimony? What will their friends think of God who they said would be their provider?  

Well, it was time to face the mailbox, to see if God chose to provide through a restaurant owner in California. He was too agitated to go so she trekked downstairs alone. As soon as she returned, he knew the check had not arrived. His final hope flew out the window. He was crushed. Devastated. Discouraged. She hated to see her husband like this. Her normally upbeat, encouraging, man of faith was sitting head-in-hands on the couch, lifeless.  

Shaking his head back and forth, he muttered, “What will we do now? What happened to God’s promises, His provision?” And then it happened, slowly his head raised up, his eyes focused and he said, “I’ve got to remind myself of Gods promises to us. What does His word say about who we are, who He is in our lives, and that He will provide for us. I must come against this feeling of failure and discouragement and take courage from God’s words to us. Oh, forgive me Lord. Let me remind myself of your precious promises that never fail or fall short.”