Give Thanks for All Who Are in Authority

In 1 Timothy 2: 1- 4, Paul wrote, “Therefore 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. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

As Christian we often use this passage to encourage one another to pray for our President and elected officials. And if ever there was a time that our President and elected officials need our prayers, it is now. Supplications and intercessions go pretty much hand-in-hand with prayers. I am quite happy, and usually diligent, to pray, intercede, and supplicate for our leaders.

Today, however, as I read this passage, the fourth command jumped out at me–‘giving of thanks.’ Now, that is a harder pill to swallow. I give thanks regularly for our President and other elected leaders with whom I agree and support. However, I can’t say that I give thanks for those who oppose the President and the important changes he is trying to implement to keep our country safe and prosperous.

When it comes to praying for those politicians that I believe are moving our nation away from God, I do pray for their salvation. I ask God to remove the blinders from their eyes so that they will see the truth and repent. I pray for revival for our nation, and particularly among those in position of authority and influence. But, I don’t give thanks for those with whom I disagree.

Paul tells us in this passage that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for ALL men, for kings and ALL who are in authority.” And the reason for these prayers, supplications, intercessions, and thanks is that we may live in peace in godliness and that people will be saved and come to know the truth.

So, starting today, I will give thanks for all men and women in positions of authority, whether I agree with their politics or not. And, I believe that by giving thanks, and interceding on behalf of all our politicians, that we will enable God to move in the hearts and minds of our politicians to work together so that we as Americans can live in peace in godliness and reverence.

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Will you join me in supplicating, praying, interceding, and giving thanks for all in authority?


Knowing Who You Are

I’d like to share a story by H. B. Kelchner that illustrates the importance of knowing who we are and not being defined about what others think of you.

“One time I was holding a meeting in a certain city and somebody attended my meeting who did not like me or what I preached. He sent an open postal card through the mail to the pastor’s home. He called me a liar, with everything else he could think of, and signed his own name and put it through the United States mail. When I came to the pastor’s home that evening, he said, “Preacher, here is some mail for you.” But when I looked at it, I said, “I am sorry, this is not me.” Another preacher sitting there took it. The longer he read it, the more angry he became. He said, “Brother, you could make yourself some easy money; you can sue him.” “But,” I said, “Brother, when I do that, I have to admit that it is me; and it is not me, so why should I worry?” So many people do not know who they are. I have heard people say, “They called me a liar; and I am not a liar. I’ll take them to court and sue them.” Well, if we are not a liar, then surely they are not talking to us. If I go down the street and someone runs up behind me saying, “Mr. Smith, you old Mr. Smith,” they can say all the things about Mr. Smith they want to; it is not going to bother me because I know my name is not Mr. Smith. My name is Kelchner. Many saints of God have not learned who they are and every time the devil sends a little dog barking along their Christian pathway, they get out of victory. As the common saying is, “They lose their sanctification, ” and want to start a fight. It pays to know who you are.”

From “Living Your Christian Life NOW in the Light of Eternity” Book 1, by H. B. Kelchner

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you are:

  1. tA Child of God–“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1
  2. A New Creation–“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ” 2 Corinthians 5:17
  3. Heirs of God–“And if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him” Romans 8:17
  4. Chosen, Royal, Holy, Special –“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9
  5. Valuable–“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? ” Luke 12:24
  6. Precious–“Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you.” Isaiah 43:4
  7. Loved Forever by God–“For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you.” Isaiah 54:10

Don’t let others try to define you. If someone says something untrue or unkind, remind yourself that they are not talking about you. You are not that person. You are a valuable, precious, loved, chosen Child of God.

Photo by Luiz Paulo on Pexels.com

My One Word for 2019–Commitment

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3 (NRSV)

My sister-in-law posted this verse on her Facebook page recently, and it spoke to my spirit instantly. I felt that this would be my verse to focus on for the year, and Commitment would be my One Word for 2019.

For this purpose, I am using as the definition of Commit, “to give in trust or charge.” I will ‘give in trust’ all my works to the Lord, and He, in return, will permit those works to come to fruition, so long as my works are in harmony with His word.

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This principle applies regardless of whether the work involves (1) doing my job, (2) improving my health, (3) taking control of my finances, (4) learning new skills, (5) building new relationships, or (6) stepping out into new areas of service and/or ministry.

The One Word concept is that one should focus on one word for the year, rather than making a bunch of resolutions that will be quickly broken. So for this year, I will focus on committing to the Lord whatever work I feel led to pursue. And, I will be certain that He will bless the efforts I commit to Him.

What word will you choose to reflect on in 2019?

It’s a Wonderful Time for Giving

It is now 3 weeks until Christmas.  For those of us who like to prepare well in advance, our shopping is down to those last few hard-to-buy-for loved ones.  Procrastinators still have 20 shopping days left and some have 18 or 19 days until they begin shopping.

Whether you have been done with your shopping for weeks or haven’t begun, there is still time for you to think of others who are less fortunate.  It isn’t too late to put some money in the Salvation Army kettle or buy a gift for a needy child.

In case you haven’t decide which worthy charity to support this year, I am offering up a few of my favorites.

Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child–The ministry founded by Franklin Graham has provided shoe box gifts to 157 million children in impoverished countries for 25 years.  It’s too late to drop off a box at a collection point, but there is still time to build a shoe box online.   For a $25 donation, you can select items for a boy or girl.   You pick the age range and are lead through the process of picking a Wow item, 2 small toys, and 3 accessories.  Essential items, including toothbrush, comb, crayons, colored pencils, and a notebook, are added to each box.   https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

Prison Fellowship Angel Tree Ministry–Donations to this ministry provide gifts to children who have an incarcerated parent.  2.7 million children in American have a parent in prison. Prison Fellowship provides gifts to more than 10 percent of those children using donations collected.  To learn more about this ministry and/or make a donation, go to https://www.prisonfellowship.org/about/angel-tree/.

Toys for Tots–The Toys for Tots toys collection drive sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps since 1947 has another week or so left in their toy campaign to provide toys to less fortunate children.  You can drop off a new toy at a collection bin and the toy will be given to a child in your area.  Or you can make a cash donation.  97% of donations go to provide toys and 3% is used for fundraising expenses.  To find your nearest collection site, go to https://www.toysfortots.org/donate/toys.aspx

These are just a few of the many organizations that are devoted to helping children in your community and around the world have a very Merry Christmas.

“The Lord Jesus himself said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35.

May your family be blessed as you share His blessings with others this Christmas Season.

That the Works of God Should be Revealed

The entire ninth chapter of John is devoted to the story of Jesus healing a man who had been blind from birth.  As I listened to my pastor preach from this text on Sunday, I was particularly impressed by the first few verses in which the disciples assumed that the man’s blindness was the result of sin, either by the blind man himself or his parents.

Jesus responds to their question in verse 3, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.”

What a powerful statement.  This was a grown man who had spent his childhood and some portion of his adult life blind, in order that Jesus could heal him on this particular day and reveal to the world that He had the power to forgive sins and to heal infirmities.

This struck a personal chord with me.  When I was 5, my mother gave birth to my brother John.  In the weeks after his birth, we came to realize that John could neither see nor hear.  The doctors said that John’s birth defects were due to my mother having contracted German measles while pregnant. When John was 3, however, it became clear that he was born as he was in order that God might reveal Himself to our family.

 

My mother casually asked the wife of my father’s commanding officer to pray for John, as he was to undergo surgery in an attempt to provide him with some limited sight.  The woman responding by coming over to our house immediately and sharing Jesus with my mother and encouraging her to read the Gospel of John.  My mother read John that very night and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

Over the next four years, all the members of our immediately family accepted Jesus as their Savior.  Soon after my father’s salvation, God called John home to Heaven.  John did not receive his sight or hearing while on Earth.  He never learned to speak and never shared the Gospel with anyone, yet we know that the salvation of our family and many others is credited to his account in Heaven.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful to God for revealing Himself to our family by sending us John.

Saving, Spending, and Gratification

Do you remember as a child saving up your allowance and birthday money to buy something special that you really wanted?  Perhaps it was a bicycle or a video game system.  You probably had a jar or a piggy bank that you put money into every time you got your allowance.  You asked your parents and neighbors if you could do chores to earn some extra money to help you reach your goal a bit faster.  Every so often, you dumped out you collection of dollar bills and change and counted it carefully to see how close you were to reaching your goal.  Finally, you had enough. With great joy and anticipation, you went to the store to make your purchase.  You treasured the item you had worked so hard and so long to be able to obtain.

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If you ever did this, then you understand the principle of delayed gratification.  The things which we work hard to obtain mean more and bring greater satisfaction than those things that come easily and without sacrifice. You worked hard and you waited to get your dream item until you could pay for it.  And, in return, you had the reward of owning it without being indebted to someone else.

As an adult, you have access to credit cards and payment plans that were not available to you as a child.  As a result, you may have fallen into the habit of buying immediately anything that catches your interest.  Many times the pleasure of the purchase is gone before the item is fully paid off, and on occasion, before you even get the item home.  Our closets and storage rooms are stuffed with clothing we don’t like and items which we didn’t need.

Saving and waiting are two words that many of us don’t like to apply to our lives, yet there are tangible rewards to be achieved by incorporating them into our spending decisions.

  1. Lower levels of credit card debt.  By delaying a purchase and saving up the money to pay for it, you will keep you consumer debt in check and lower you overall level of debt. This saves you interest, improves your credit score, and allows you to have greater access to financing when you really need it.
  2. Fewer extraneous purchases.  People who are saving with a goal in mind are less likely to spend money on small extravagances. They recognize that any money not spent can be added to their savings and help them achieve their goal sooner.
  3. Fewer regrets about purchases.  Saving up for a purchase allows you plenty of time to decide if you really want and need the item, which will result in wiser purchase decisions.
  4. Greater enjoyment.  Delayed gratification truly does lead to greater satisfaction.  When you finally are able to purchase the item, it is debt-free and you have thought through the purchase decision carefully.

If you are trying to improve your financial situation, employing the tactic of delayed gratification is an important first step to get you on the right track.

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I Serve A Risen Savior

This past weekend Christians around the world celebrate the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.  The Easter season begins Lent and culminates with Easter Sunday.  During this time, we focus on the events of the last week of Jesus’s life leading up to His atoning death on the cross, where He bore the burdens of our sin.  And on Easter morning, we celebrate the most remarkable event in world history–the resurrection of Jesus and His victory over death and the grave.

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The glory and power of Christ’s resurrection is what sets Christianity apart from other religions.  Christian serve a living God who sent His son to take the punishment that we deserve for our sins.  The Son now sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf.  Many religions have been created to try to meet people’s spiritual needs, but none of them worship a risen Savior.  That is why other religions fall short and fail to meet the needs of their adherents.

Jesus is the only answer to the need for a Savior.  And He is alive!  This truth should spring forth from our hearts every day.  Jesus is alive!  Jesus intercedes for me!  Jesus loves me and wants to help me every day as I journey through life. When I take the time to focus on this truth, my heart burst forth with the words of the Easter hymns which so joyously celebrate Christ’s resurrection.  I particularly love “I Serve A Risen Savior” by Alfred Henry Ackley.

 

I Serve A Risen Savior

I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy;
I hear His voice of cheer;
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart.

In all the world around me
I see His loving care,
And though my heart grows weary,
I never will despair;
I know that He is leading,
Through all the stormy blast;
The day of His appearing
Will come at last.

Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian,
Lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs
To Jesus Christ the King!
The Hope of all who seek Him,
The Help of all who find,
None other is so loving,
So good and kind.