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On Presidents' Day, let me ask, do you pray for the chief executive, Congress, governor and mayor? There's much bluster about them, but the Bible tells us to lift up petitions for our leaders.
"I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence," 1 Timothy 2:2 says.
Being a leader is a difficult job at best in many circumstances. While we may not agree with what our officials are doing at all times, we need to pray that they will have the mind of Christ in doing their work and make decisions in line with the Word of God. This blesses them, our neighbors and ourselves.
Going on the offensive spiritually? "Take ... the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Holy Ghost," Paul says in Ephesians 6:17-18.
When we go out witnessing or making Christ known, we use the Bible, telling others of Christ and observing the rest of Scripture in the manner he told us. If we are attacked, we do not attack back, but remain in the armor of God, claiming promises of Scripture as our sword of the Spirit.
Note that most people trying to undermine Christianity do not go after Jesus but the Holy Bible. I've heard ad infinitum that Scripture contradicts itself, but no one has yet offered me an example when challenged. The truth is that it does not. Others say the Bible has been rewritten so many times it can't be trusted, another complete falsehood; in actuality, it has by far the most manuscript evidence of any ancient text.
Satan, the father of lies, cannot defeat God's Word. Sharpen your sword and eviscerate him!
Happy Valentine's Day! You may be surprised to know this occasion has a Christian root, back almost to the formation of the faith.
While there are up to three possible St. Valentines, the one celebrated most likely served as a bishop in central Italy in the third century A.D. He was visiting Rome when his witnessing came under scrutiny of the Roman rulers. An official, hearing his testimony, challenged him to heal his blind daughter in order to gain favor. Valentine prayed and God restored her sight. The official converted, as did his whole household of more than 40.
So far, so good, but St. Valentine later came up before Caesar Claudius. The saint's witness rubbed the ruler the wrong way and the bishop ended up tortured to death. His faithful followers came and took his body back home.
Modern valentines are an invention of the 14th century, likely an outworking of literary license. However, one tale about the saint states he sent a last note to the first ruler's daughter and signed it, "Your Valentine."
When you talk of love today, remember the venerable Christian leader who gave his life on Earth that others might enjoy theirs in eternity.
Break the cycle of spiritual double-mindedness: Trust the Lord today. "They believed God’s words; they sang his praise,” says Scripture's Psalm 106:12.
This psalm is intriguing as a summary of the Jews' cycles of obedience and sin in the Old Testament. Time and again they saw God's mighty works and rejoiced, as here, describing the stirring of faith by the deliverance through the Red Sea. However, they then would rebel and complain, riling the Lord and bringing calamity.
The Hebrews are not the only ones to drift toward and away from God; we do it ourselves today. A blessing comes and we're happy and thankful, then a problem comes and we're sad and in unbelief.
Let's ask the Lord to break such cycles and help us onto a continuous path of the upward call of Christ Jesus. This narrow way is not the easiest, but it is the best.
“Walk in love, as Christ has loved us,” Paul says in Ephesians 5:2. Until we center upon the Lord and live in his peace, it is difficult to fulfill this verse. Once we are convinced of God's never-ending, selfless affection for us personally, going forward in love is much easier.
If we find ourselves touchy, constantly circling on possible slights and looking for the worst, we must pray for the Almighty to fix our gaze upon him and cleanse us of our negativity and self-absorption. He will do it as we persist in asking and obeying.
Can you imagine how gracious and powerful a church would be where everybody achieved this?The Word and Spirit of the Lord would move forward in power!
Today's biblical author made a bold statement. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," says Hebrews 11:1.
When we say we believe there is a God, we become witnesses that there is something more than what we call everyday reality. In changing our lives due to that knowledge, we give the Lord a tangible presence on Earth. We make the world without excuse as to its Creator; how will people hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14).
We cannot simply speak things into existence, but we can work on them with God's unction and see them come to pass. That's what this verse implores us to do: be living, breathing, striving disciples who see their prayers and the Bible come to life. Let's live Hebrews 11:1!
"I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment," says Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10.
Our world is divided as never before with half the nations at war, the other half often torn by conflict such as the USA is with race and politics. The church should be a place of unity because the Holy Ghost and Scripture are the same everywhere; they do not contradict themselves or each other.
In the Bible, those causing dissension were swallowed up in earthquakes, excluded from the assembly and even struck dead on the spot. Before speaking against the pastor, other leaders or fellow members of the congregation, talk with them about any problems or questions.
There are times we must stand on principle to resolve issues, but most difficulties can be concluded with a simple conversation. Let's be forces for unity in the body of Christ instead of authors of schism.
We have a world engulfed in controversy, but we as believers are not to seek it with each other or others outside (though we are not to be apologetic about Christ or the Bible).
"Avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless," Paul warns us in Titus 3:9.
The church and world are each too often involved in Meribal and Massah, the waters of contention that cost Moses his entrance to the Promised Land and the spirit that killed a whole generation in the wilderness for disobedience. Let's not allow ourselves to be drawn off our mission by catcalls from secular forces or false religions.
The devil talks a good game but is powerless to defeat God. Regard what others do, not just what they say.
We are to be not just hearers, but doers of the Word also (James 1:22). But are we going about our work with the wisdom of God?
I've at times seen Christians and their groups working fanatically hard for the Lord, but the effort seeming to result in little benefit to the Kingdom. The key to being, as I often pray, "efficient, focused and effective" for God is seeking what tasks he wants done and how to go about them.
Before getting into a major project, spend time in prayer with the Lord about it, asking, "Is this what you want me to do?" After you get the go-ahead, ask him about next steps. Petition him to "send out laborers into his harvest," giving you the right people (Matthew 9:38).
Second Corinthians 10:5 tells us the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but spiritual. We Christians need to discern God's will and way; then, we'll be the most fruitful possible for his glory.