A Christian’s Responsibility

As Christians we have responsibility that is given by God in our government. Before you judge this too quickly, let me say that in no way is this a political statement and in no way am I here to tell anyone who to vote for or how to vote on specific issues.

What I would like to do is explore where we should stand as Christians today. We are to take a stand morally, especially when it comes to issues that can effect an entire generation. I hope to shed scriptural light on what we as Christians should stand for and how we can influence a generation in need of Christian example.

1 Peter 2:11-17 gives us instruction on this matter. It states:

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. (1 Peter 2:11-17 ESV)”

In essence, Peter’s instruction to us is to be in the world but not of the world. We are instructed to be careful of how we carry ourselves and not to rebel against the government but to set examples. We are not to stir up discourse in the world. We are also instructed not to use our freedom as tools for evil. We must be servants of God and with that we must be servants to others.

We are called to honor each other and to love one another. We are also called to fear God and honor the government. We should take a moral stand, and as Christians in America we have responsibility to vote and to be involved in the government through that. We can vote and give our say in who is elected as the leaders in out community and country. We can vote based on our morals, morals that are founded upon scripture, and make a difference in our nation.

In saying this, I encourage you to register to vote. I encourage you to take your stand on our morals today. Let your voice be heard today and encourage others to do the same We must all take a stand together on the moral grounds that we know from the Word of God. Through this we can set an example for a generation that is turning away and seeking satisfaction in worldly desires.

Please consider today the stand that you can take and seek knowledge in voting morally as a Christian. Let your voice be heard and stand firm on the Godly foundation that you have been given.

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When We Sing, When God Sings

Something that has been on my mind lately is what happens when we sing and when God sings. I started studying for a sermon this past Sunday, and as I studied, I started meditating on two sections of scripture that I feel can bring us joy and blessing in our lives.

The first is in Acts 16:25-40 where we see the story of Paul and Silas in prison and the opening words of the section tell us that around midnight Paul and Silas began singing praises to God with the other prisoners listening. These men began praising God in their time of weakness and trouble. They were seeking God and trusting Him through one of the most difficult times they had ever faced.

What do you do when you are facing tough times? Do you trust God and seek Him and praise Him? Do you sing to Him in your times of trouble?

In the next verse we see that there was a great earthquake and the prison gates were opened and their chains loosened. These men trusted God and sang to Him in a time of trouble and the earth shook! But how?

I am offering a theory on what may have taken place during this time, but I want register a disclaimer that this is only one of many possibilities that may have taken place during this time. But in studying the scripture we see that when the Lord returns there will be a loud shout of praise and the earth will shake and graves will open. With this in mind I look back to Zephaniah 3:14-17 for this theory:

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.’”

I feel it is highly possible that these words are encouragement to each of us, and feel that Paul and Silas experienced in this moment what happens when God sings. They were singing praises to God, encouraging the other prisoners, and those prayers and petitions made their way to the throne room of heaven. It is possible that God chose to sing along, scripture tells us that God’s voice is like thunder. Again, I am not saying that it is what happened, but isn’t it a wonderful picture, men rejoicing and praising with all their heart and God joining in, singing with them, rejoicing with gladness?

This is what happens when we are obedient to the scripture, when we praise Him, he is faithful to His word. God promises that he will rejoice over us with gladness and will exult over us with loud singing. What an amazing God we serve!

Today, sing in your times of trouble, you never know what will shake the earth and loosen the chains that are holding you back, so sing to your heart’s content. Praise God today for He is good!

Just Four Simple Words

Over the past few weeks we have been in the midst of a Sermon Series at the church about “Growing Pains” in our faith.  As I have been studying the topics for each week, I came across something that I honestly had never really caught before when studying the story of Moses…and that is, how simple the call that God laid on Moses was…and yet it was in this realization that I saw just how closely related to Moses we actually are.

God asked Moses to go back to Egypt and to say four simple words to Pharaoh, “Let My People Go!”

That was it, that was all Moses was having to undertake, just four simple  words…

“Let My People Go!”

And yet, it was in this that I saw how much like Moses we tend to be.  He immediately responded by saying that he “wasn’t good with speech and tongue.” Moses made an excuse….he questioned the calling because, as he put it, he didn’t speak well.  Sure sounds like a lot of us, making excuses as to why we can’t be involved in the church, why we can’t talk to our friends and families about Christ, or even why we can’t take a stand on social issues because we feel we aren’t good enough to accomplish what needs to be accomplished.

God’s answer to Moses is the same to each of us today, and it can be found in Exodus 4:

“Then Moses said to the Lord, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”  So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?” – Exodus 4:10-11

God responds to Moses by simply saying, “I don’t need your excuses, I am the one asking you to go.  I will be there, I will handle it, I just need you to follow my plan.” And He is saying that to us today!  God is calling us to do things for His Kingdom, He isn’t calling us because we are the most qualified…He’s calling us because He needs us to follow through.

In essence, God is simply asking us to say four simple words…He has a plan to carry out, and He needs us to accomplish the task when asked to do it….stop making excuses as to why you are not good enough to follow through.  God doesn’t want our excuses, he just needs our service…He will take care of the rest!

Seeking Perfection

As a new year starts and everyone takes a deep look at their life to see what type of changes need to be made to better life as they move forward.  As this happens, one thing that many seek to do is perfect their goals, and as Christians, this is something we must do as we enter a new life with Christ.

This being said, we find ourselves sometimes getting comfortable in the early stages of a walk with Christ, but we never “grow up” in our new life.  There are many, as addressed in Hebrews, who get comfortable in the “milk” of the Word, but never push themselves to move into the solid “meat” that is needed to grow deeper in our relationship with God.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” – Hebrews 5:12-14 (NKJV)

The word translated as “full age” here is the word Teleios which is translated two different ways in the scripture…as either “perfection” or “coming of age”.

For us to realize all that God has for us to experience in life, we must challenge ourselves to dive into the deep end with God as our goal.  We must begin to keep our eyes on Him, so that we will adapt and begin to look like him.

It is like when we are younger and we watch our father and follow him around. We long to follow in his footsteps, at times even putting on his shoes and stumbling around in the oversized shoes just to feel what it is like to walk in his footsteps.

In the same way, God invites us to do the same – we are invited to put His shoes on and to begin to walk in His footsteps as we grow.  The thing is, just as with our earthly fathers, as we grow we begin to find a way to begin to fill those shoes a little better each day.  We grow into our own footsteps as we mature, and walking in this way ensures that we let go of the milk and begin to crave the meat of the message.

So as the year begins, I encourage you to seek perfection…seek to love one another as God loves us…show mercy and grace to each other.  Handle life’s situations with gratitude and grace, stop bickering with one another, and allow the love of God to shine through in the difficult situations. Show maturity in how you handle all things and allow yourself to grow up through the Spirit.  In doing this, we will do as Jesus states and become perfect or come of age, “just as your Father in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48)

Seek that perfection or maturity in your life today…allow the Spirit to guide you into a deeper relationship with God in the coming year.

New Year, New Plans

Face it, we’ve all found ourselves evaluating our lives at the end of each year, wondering what we could have done to make our lives better and figuring new ways to improve ourselves.

With the passing of each year comes the passing of old ways.  Many make resolutions in an effort to succeed in the coming months.  There are those who plan to lose weight, those that are dead-set on starting that new workout plan, and those that vow to make little improvements on their daily life.

The Christian life is one that is similar to the coming of a new year.  In the years of our lives, we face a new year when we accept Jesus as our personal Savior.  The old is passing away to the new, and our resolution is simple…to become like Christ!

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.”

— Romans 8:28-30 (NIV)

This statement to the Romans by Paul tells us as Christians that we all have the same “New Year’s” resolution.  God calls us His children; he has known each of us since we were in our mother’s womb.  David tells us in Psalm 134 who was foreknown –

“13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

— Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

So we know that God has made the resolution for us, and Paul tells us what that is letting us know that we are to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus, and we are called, justified, and glorified according to his will.  So this year make the resolution to be what God has called you to be….put away the old, and let the new come in.

“17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

— 1 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

It’s CHRISTmas Time!

Christmas is a time to spend with your families…it’s a time when we all sit back and analyze our lives.  We reflect on family members that pass on, we reflect on family and friends, and we reflect on our lives as a whole.  A number of people use their Christmas cards to send mass letters to update family and friends on their lives over the past 12 months.  We use Christmas to reflect on a majority of things, but due to the commercialization of Christmas, are we forgetting to reflect on the reason we celebrate all together?

Christmas in many cases has become about that perfect present, the perfect tree, and the perfect light show…but with all the hustle and bustle…where is the Perfect Son in all of this?  With all the hoopla around Christmas these days, are we making time for Jesus?  I can remember when I was younger seeing signs everywhere that said, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”  Now, those signs have faded into the background; those signs have been replaced by signs that read, “70% off”, “Buy one, get one Free”, and “Financing Available”.

Why have we let the materialism of Christmas override the Reason we celebrate?  Why have we seemingly become like Peter in his denial of Christ, by taking Christ out of Christmas?  What was so hard when Jesus was the Center of our Christmas Experience?  What has changed?

We can blame it on a number of things…but it all comes down to one thing…YOU and I!  We need to refocus our Christmas; we need to refocus our lives…we need to refocus on Jesus.  Not just for December 25, but everyday of our lives…if our day revolved around Christ as the centerpiece, our Christmas would revolve around the reason we celebrate.  Everyday should be CHRISTmas … Everyday we should celebrate the birth of our Lord.

Everyday we should be thankful for the love of a Father who would send his Son to this world with a plan for salvation.  God looked at the world, saw OUR sin, and knew there was only ONE way to save us from ourselves…JESUS CHRIST!  This Christmas, remember your focus…remember the reason…remember Christ this CHRISTmas.

C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S.

I can remember growing up and hearing a song that my dad sang in church once when I was a young child.  In fact, I can remember hearing the chorus and taking it all in to view the true meaning of Christmas as a young man.

The chorus was simple, yet powerful when discussing Christmas day, and I would encourage each of you to take a moment this week and truly focus on what Christmas truly means.  If you have children, share it with them, and let us all get back to the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas…let’s remember this Christmas to keep Christ in it and tell the story of a Savior that was born to save the world.

The verse of the song talks about being a child and Christmas meaning just one thing…getting presents.  I feel this is the common thought that goes through the mind of children everywhere…you can see it in their eyes when they enter a room.  For many of them, the first place they head is to the tree to count how many presents they have.  The song continues with the writer mentioning their mother sitting them down and teaching them to spell C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S. The Chorus of the song fits into the acronyms that I have been doing over the past few weeks, and goes like this:

“’C’ is for the Christ child, born upon this day; ‘H’ for herald angels in the night.  ‘R’ means our Redeemer, ‘I’ means Israel. ‘S’ is for the star that shone so bright. ‘T’ is for three wise men, they who traveled far; ‘M’ is for the manger where He lay.  ‘A’’s for all He stands for, ‘S’ means shepherds came and that’s why there’s a Christmas day.”

As we approach the Christmas season, let us look upon Christmas by remembering the real reason for why we celebrate the birth of the Savior.  Another song that can help put it into perspective during this season is “Christmas is all in the Heart” by Steven Curtis Chapman.

Chapman touches on the subject of Christmas with sincerity and heartfelt reality that can hit home during the times we are in during the Christmas season.  One set of the song’s lyrics sum it up this way:

“No, it’s not in the snow that may or may not fall, and it’s not in the gifts around the tree. It’s in the love heaven gave, the night our Savior came, and that same love can still be found wherever you are, ‘Cause Christmas is all in the heart.”

I would encourage each of you to look over every aspect of the season, focusing on the true meaning.  You may not have the money to have a great Christmas (in the eyes of the world), but in the eyes of the Lord, you can have the best Christmas you have ever had when you realize the most amazing gift that you have ever received – Jesus Christ.

Is Jesus the focus of your Christmas season?  Are you able to celebrate Christmas, even if only in your heart?  Focus on the true meaning of Christmas this year and share it with your children and those around you.  Take the time to read the Christmas story, but remember that Christmas doesn’t end with the manger; Christmas ends with the Cross of Calvary, where the joy of the Christmas season ends with the redemption of the world.  Jesus came to the world to save the world, and it all started in a manger in Bethlehem.