Purpose of Guarding the Treasure

The purpose of this blog is to encourage readers to invest their time into the Word of God and "Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you." Paul wrote these words to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14) in his presumed last letter before his execution. May we be those who see the word of God as a treasure, guarding it with our lives, investing in it with our hearts and minds, and reaping the fruit of an abundant life while getting to know the God who loves us and created us for His marvelous pleasure and glory.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Bible on Authorities (including the President of the United States)

In light of the recent election results, I wanted to post this response to provide some key Scriptures on those in authority over us, including our President. I want to encourage you to heed these words of God!

Romans 13:1-7
"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor."
  • Subjection means to come under the authority of another that placed in authority over you.
  • Our President has been given authority by God, been placed in authority by God Himself and is a servant of God.
  • Resisting authorities placed over us is not only a rebellion against man, but a rebellion against God Himself resulting in our condemnation.
  • Our willful subjection will ensure we escape their wrath and live with a clear conscience.
  • We should not fear our authorities, but rather do good while trusting God's authority and protection over our lives.
Titus 3:1-2
"Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men."
  • Subjection and obedience is a mandate of humanity for rulers and authorities placed over us.
  • We are to be ready for doing good deeds.
  • We are not to malign (to speak harmful untruths, speak evil, slander, defame) our rulers, but rather be uncontentious (not quarrelsome), gentle and respectful.
1 Peter 2:13-17
"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king."
  • Submission to human institutions is commanded with the knowledge that that God has established them.
  • Authorities have the responsibility to punish evildoers and praise the righteous.
  • The will of God is for us to do right, hence silencing ignorant fools.
  • Freedom in Christ is to be used for righteousness rather than evil.
  • Every human must be shown honor including the king (hence the President).
  • Fear of God and love of fellow man, especially fellow believers, is our marching orders.
Hebrews 13:17
"Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."
  • Obedience and submission to leaders is commanded once again.
  • Leaders are required to physically protect those in authority under them and will give an account to God for this stewardship responsibility.
  • Our obedience and submission to our leaders will result in a joyful leadership experience that will profit the servants rather than an experience grieved by a disobedient people.
Acts 4:8-22
"Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-- by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. But when they had ordered them to go aside out of the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, "What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any man in this name." And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard." And when they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which they might punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed."
  • Jesus Christ is the only Savior for mankind. He was crucified, died for the sins of the world, and rose again. He is the only name from which salvation is found and by which we are saved. He offers eternal life to those who believe in Him for it.
  • The men were ordered by those in authority over them (the rulers and elders of the Jerusalem Council) to not speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
  • Peter and John respectfully answered that they could not stop speaking and testifying about what they have seen and heard concerning Jesus Christ.
  • God's will triumphs over the will of our authorities.
  • If our authorities command us to do something against the explicit will of God, we have an obligation to obey the will of God rather than the authority of man.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

God Does the Miraculous

Time and time again we see in Scripture a God who promises and a God who keeps His promises. God is all powerful and has the ability to keep His promises. This should give us great hope!

The topic of special births has been a recurring theme for me from my readings of Scripture as of late. I wanted to share with you a couple that I stumbled upon lately.

The first involves a young couple that God hand picks to be His people and lead by the hand to a land He will show them. I'm obviously talking about Abram and Sarai. Genesis 11:29-30 reads, "And Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. And Sarai was barren; she had no child." Being able to produce an heir was a big deal and Sarai not being able to produce an heir must have been very frustrating and demeaning. As hard as they tried, they could not produce an heir and her womb was barren.

It's at this time that we witness an intervention from God. Genesis 12:1-3 contains the following promise to Abram given at age 75, "Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Abram believed God enough to leave his hometown and follow God to a land which He would show him. As God promised, He showed Abram the land. God had also promised Abram an heir through Sarai.

Yet initially Abram and Sarai doubt God's ability to produce an heir. Let's be honest, Sarai was past the child bearing years - she was 65 years old! God reassured Abram of His promises in Genesis 15:2-6, "And Abram said, 'O Lord God, what wilt Thou give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?' And Abram said, 'Since Thou hast given no offspring to me, one born in my house is my heir.' Then behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 'This man will not be your heir; but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir.' And He took him outside and said, 'Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." Again both promises were confirmed and Abram believes God.

As Abram and Sarai continue to attempt to produce an heir and are continually disappointed, their patience wears then. Sarai has had enough. It has been 10 years since the promise and no heir. How long can she really expect to wait on God? She is 75 years old now! In frustration she says the following to Abram in Genesis 16:1-4, "Now Sarai, Abram's wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, "Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children through her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. And after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram's wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight." Perhaps Sarai thought it was Abram's fault that she was not pregnant. Abram chose to sin and heed the instruction of Sarai. Sarai's plan backfired. Notice that there is no mention of God in this section and this was not God's will.

When all hope has failed, God again reaffirms His covenant to Abram in Genesis 17:1-8, "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly." And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."

God said further in Genesis 17:15-19, "Then God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her. Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, "Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before Thee!" But God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." Notice how God's will is not changed by the actions of man.

Shortly thereafter, the couple receives some visitors - the Lord Himself and two of His angels. The have good news - in one year's time they will receive the promised child. At this point, it appears as if Abraham is convinced while Sarah still needs some persuasion. Genesis 18:10-15 gives the account, "And he said, "I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" And the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?' Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." Sarah denied it however, saying, "I did not laugh"; for she was afraid. And He said, "No, but you did laugh."

As promised, one year later to the day, Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac, the son of promise. She was 90 years old. The promise of God was fulfilled in His timing which happened to be 25 years! How long will you wait upon the Lord? I see this birth as not only a miracle, but a picture of the coming Messiah, who would come through the line of Abraham, a gift from God to the world.

The second birth involves the forerunner for the Messiah, John the Baptist. Luke 1:5-20 gives the account, "In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years. Now it came about, while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear gripped him. But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb. And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years." And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God; and I have been sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time." Zacharias saw physically age as a barrier to the work of God. A bigger barrier is those who will not allow God to work in their lives.

A key point regarding these miraculous births is trust in God. Ask yourself, "Is anything too difficult for the Lord?" What in your life have your written off as impossible? Do not give up on our all powerful God. He will fully carry out His sovereign will. Will you allow Him to carry out His will for your life? Let's learn dependence upon the Lord, wait on the Lord and trust Him and His control over our lives. Give up the reigns and bind yourself to Christ instead!