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GOD’S LOVE REVEALED IN GOVERNMENT

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give account.

The Government of God is His divine order. It is an expression of His Love for His people in the watching out for their souls. Many think of obeying another person as a form of bondage, but the Scriptures speak of obedience as true liberty. Obviously, when we are submitted to leaders there is the possibility of abuse. God’s command of our obedience to His leaders is in the context of leadership being submitted to Christ.   

Earlier in Hebrews 13:7 the writer says “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.” Leadership is called to a high degree of modeling the attitude and conduct of Christ Jesus. We are called to look at the lives of our leaders and consider the results of their faith.

When Paul calls the people of God to a life of prayer, he first directs their attention to praying for all men and begins with “kings and all who are in authority” (1Timothy 2:2a). Government and authority are close to the heart of God. Paul further states the purpose of remembering these in prayer, “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1Timothy 2:2b).

“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” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Peter affirms this to be the will of God for all those who name the Name of Jesus. The Christian is to be known as the most law-abiding citizen in society.

Peter ends his thoughts on honoring authority by saying, Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king (1 Peter 2:18). The Lord has called His sons and daughters to be the example of submitted, law abiding people as a testimony of the “divine order” of His Kingdom in the earth.

Father, I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit in my life to obey Your word in all things. Help me in this area of Divine Order. Grace me to be a good citizen in the society, to be an example of godliness in all I do.

THE LOVE OF THE FATHER, continued

God’s love is manifested through the prophets as they give revelation of the plans which God wants His people to know. “Surely the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile” (Jeremiah 29:11-14).

God desires that His people have such a relationship with Him, so that He can reveal His will to them. He wants them to voice God’s will so that others will know. “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). He reveals His desire that all of His people would “prophesy” in 1 Corinthians 14:31 when Paul says “For you can all prophesy one by one.” Paul goes on to reveal that prophecy has purpose; that it is “for learning and the exhorting” of God’s people. Prophecy is not the natural man trying to figure out God’s will, but the Spirit of God making known His will to the spirit of a person. What one believes the Spirit of God has revealed to them is subject to others hearing God as well. No spirit of prophecy is “private,” but is to be confirmed by what others are hearing God say. “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but peace as in all the churches of saints” (1 Corinthians 14:32-33).

God’s love is revealed in the Son. God so loved the world that He gave His very best – He wants our very best as well. Our best is not our efforts, but His Son revealed in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. His love is revealed in the “Gift of His Holy Spirit.” The Spirit only produces Christ’s life, not our opinions or wants.

In the Spirit, God gave a helper: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16). Through the Spirit He does not leave us as orphans (John 14:18)

Father, I thank You for the spirit of prophecy. I pray for You to stir up the prophetic gift in my life. You want me to convey Your will and Your love. I choose to give You my very best, my utmost for Your highest. I am dependent for all I have from the Helper which You have given.

THE LOVE OF THE FATHER

1 John 3:1 – See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called the children of God, and such we are.

For the next few devotions we will consider expressions of the Father’s Love.  

In the Garden – God’s love is revealed through the boundaries He set for His creation. Adam was given assignments by the Lord. If he stayed within the boundaries the Lord gave, Adam would increase in the favor of God. He was given responsibility for the care of the entire Garden. He was to protect the Garden from any harm, and he was assigned the naming of all the animals. Eve’s call was as a helpmeet to Adam’s work. Proverbs 31 gives us God’s view of the virtuous women. Adam and Eve only had one area forbidden by the Lord. Don’t eat of the tree in the middle of the Garden (Genesis 2:17). Knowledge comes from God through intimacy with Him. Adam and Eve forsook that principle and lost the presence of the Lord’s favor. In God’s love He made a promise of redemption through the seed of the woman.

On the Mountain – God’s love is revealed through Moral Law. Moral law is the foundation for freedom, health, and prosperity which the Father wants for His children. Found recorded in Exodus 20:1-7 are 10 Commandments, four upward and six outward, The Law was not done away, but fulfilled, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt 5:17-19). Jesus summed up the Law when He said, “You Shall Love The Lord Your God With All Your Heart, And With All Your Soul, And With All Your Mind.  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You Shall Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.’  On these two commandments hang the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt 22:37-40).

God’s love is then revealed as He sets boundaries around our lives. These boundaries are to protect us from the schemes of the enemy and to prepare us for God’s purpose and His determined destiny for every believer. His Moral law is the expression of His love for society. Through moral law, God’s people can grow in freedom, remain healthy, and develop financially for their own welfare and to bless others through God’s favor.

Father, I thank You for both “boundaries’ and “Moral Law” to protect and guide me. I receive Your freedom, health, and prosperity in my life.

RETAIN THE STANDARD OF SOUND WORDS

2 Timothy 1:13 – Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard of me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Words are about as important as anything can be. Words form the basis of communication, understanding, and being able to successfully move forward toward a goal. There are many kinds of words spoken among people. There are foolish words, silly words, and meaningless words. There are sound words, educated words, and eternal words. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). It is a worthwhile activity to go through the Book of Proverbs and study all that Solomon writes concerning words.

Paul encourages Timothy, a spokesperson for Paul and called of God, to “retain the standard of sound words” (emphasis mine). When under pressure, it is easy to speak from our emotions rather than sound, well-thought-through words. Timothy was under pressure as Paul’s deputy to the church at Ephesus. Timothy felt pressure because he was young and correcting older individuals (1 Timothy 4:12).  He felt pressure because many were “teaching strange doctrines, myths, and endless genealogies” (1Timothy 1:3-4).

There has never been a day like the one in which we live. It is a day of many words from so many people. There are words coming from books, magazines, cable TV, satellites, videos, and talk radio. Consider the diversity of the Internet, such as YouTube, Facebook, Tweeter and the like. As we read, watch, and listen, we must take Paul’s counsel to Timothy seriously, “retain the standard of sound words.” This standard, of which Paul speaks, is a standard that begins with the “Word of God.” All truth is eternal! Jesus declares, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). What Jesus spoke in Matthew 24 came to pass in 70 AD in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. Throughout His ministry, He gave God’s people, Israel, “sound words.” Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostles gave to mankind the writings of the New Testament.

Western civilization has much of its foundation laid in the writings of the Scripture. The educational system of America was originally grounded in the words of the Bible. Noah Webster, the Father of American Christian education, wrote the first American dictionary and established a system of rules to govern spelling, grammar, and reading. This master linguist understood the power of words, their definitions, and the need for precise word usage in communication to maintain independence. Webster used the Bible as the foundation for his definitions.  

Father, I ask that You help me retain the standard of sound words. Give me an increased love for the Word of God. Holy Spirit, direct my thinking and my words to line up with the eternal truths revealed in Scripture. I ask to be used to help others in their thinking and their speaking as well.

RETAIN THE STANDARD OF SOUND WORDS

2 Timothy 1:13 – Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard of me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

Words are about as important as anything can be. Words form the basis of communication, understanding, and being able to successfully move forward toward a goal. There are many kinds of words spoken among people. There are foolish words, silly words, and meaningless words. There are sound words, educated words, and eternal words. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). It is a worthwhile activity to go through the Book of Proverbs and study all that Solomon writes concerning words.

Paul encourages Timothy, a spokesperson for Paul and called of God, to “retain the standard of sound words” (emphasis mine). When under pressure, it is easy to speak from our emotions rather than sound, well-thought-through words. Timothy was under pressure as Paul’s deputy to the church at Ephesus. Timothy felt pressure because he was young and correcting older individuals (1 Timothy 4:12).  He felt pressure because many were “teaching strange doctrines, myths, and endless genealogies” (1Timothy 1:3-4).

There has never been a day like the one in which we live. It is a day of many words from so many people. There are words coming from books, magazines, cable TV, satellites, videos, and talk radio. Consider the diversity of the Internet, such as YouTube, Facebook, Tweeter and the like. As we read, watch, and listen, we must take Paul’s counsel to Timothy seriously, “retain the standard of sound words.” This standard, of which Paul speaks, is a standard that begins with the “Word of God.” All truth is eternal! Jesus declares, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). What Jesus spoke in Matthew 24 came to pass in 70 AD in the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. Throughout His ministry, He gave God’s people, Israel, “sound words.” Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the apostles gave to mankind the writings of the New Testament.

Western civilization has much of its foundation laid in the writings of the Scripture. The educational system of America was originally grounded in the words of the Bible. Noah Webster, the Father of American Christian education, wrote the first American dictionary and established a system of rules to govern spelling, grammar, and reading. This master linguist understood the power of words, their definitions, and the need for precise word usage in communication to maintain independence. Webster used the Bible as the foundation for his definitions.  

Father, I ask that You help me retain the standard of sound words. Give me an increased love for the Word of God. Holy Spirit, direct my thinking and my words to line up with the eternal truths revealed in Scripture. I ask to be used to help others in their thinking and their speaking as well.

I AM NOT ASHAMED

2 Timothy 1:12 – For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

Paul, more than most, knew the sufferings of Christ. Jesus had brought Paul from being one of the chief persecutors of His church, to one of the most persecuted for the gospel’s sake. Paul, who had been known as Saul, encountered the “Living Christ” on his way to put the Disciples of Christ in jail at Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). On the Damascus road, his life was suddenly interrupted by the King of the entire creation. The Lord Jesus Christ had only one question for Saul, “Why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4).

Acts 9:15 tells us, Jesus sent Ananias to Saul to give him instructions saying, “He is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Saul, whose name was changed to Paul, was appointed by Jesus to suffer for His name’s sake. Suffering is part of the normal Christian experience. We are called to make up what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24). Paul identifies with the sufferings of Christ to the point that he sees his sufferings as part of being a member of Christ’s body.

When we suffer affliction for Christ’s sake, we are partakers with Him in suffering. In eternity, our suffering will become part of His glory that is to be revealed. Paul said, “I rejoice in my sufferings.” Do we have an attitude of “rejoicing” when we suffer for Jesus? It is hard to imagine the sufferings that some believers have experienced for Christ’s sake. In contemporary Christianity there is still a great deal of suffering. Those believers that live under communism have suffered a great deal. Those in Islamic lands have unimaginable hardships because they are identified with Christ. I think of committed Christians seeking a University Education who are persecuted by the proponents of Secular Humanism.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). “Just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5). When we go through sufferings, let us be reminded of all those who have suffered before us. I choose to trust in Christ when suffering, knowing it does not compare to the “glory” God has planned for us.

Thank You Father, for “abundant comfort” that You have promised through Christ, when we experience “abundant sufferings.” My hope is steadfast in You and all Your promises. I am not ashamed of all You have done on my behalf.