“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” 2 Timothy 1:8-10 -> me: By the way that Paul speaks to Timothy, we get the sense that Timothy was timid in spirit. Paul is constantly telling Timothy to be strong, deliberate, confident, and now without shame. Even though we WILL suffer for the testimony of the gospel, Paul says that the suffering is by the Power of God. This means that the intention was never that we would endure suffering under our own strength. Paul also reminds Timothy that he was not just saved…he was also called. We are not just saved from sin but to a life of holiness. You can never leave that off. Said another way -> We saved from sin into a life of holiness. We did nothing to earn this saving grace. Our works in holiness are paved in a preceding call through genuine faith; not the other way around. Because we are in Christ through our Salvation, Paul can say that God gave us this saving grace before the dawn of time, because Christ has always been. Just dwelling on these points this evening gives me a confidence in witness. Today is Brooklyn’s first birthday and she, like Prim, is another gift God has given me; not just in the amazing little kiddo that she is, but also in a new testimony of God’s working hand in our lives.
“I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 -> me: The last several weeks can only be described as inconsistency. Today I started 2nd Timothy. I started my quiet time with a pray of repentance and asking of forgiveness to my Lord in being distance and complacent the last several weeks. Then, here I read “fan into flame the gift of God”. That is exactly what pursuing God and His will for your life is…the Amplified version says “rekindle the ember of…the inner fire that is in you”. My whole time in prayer was recounting to my Lord and Savior the confidence in spirit I have when I am in His word [DAILY], praying for the needs of others [HOURLY], and seeking His will [EVERY FREE MOMENT]. Just yesterday I was talking to Sophie in the car on the way back from church; encouraging her not to snuff out or quench the sensitive heart she has….that it is a gift from God that she needs to hone and sharpen by seeking God’s power through daily reading and prayer. That there will be a day that she will get that ‘ET Feeling’ in her heart and instead of fear, she will be filled with an awesome sense of God’s closeness to her through this open portal to His Spirit and will for her. When we got done with our car ride, I just sat there thanking God for His word into MY heart through what I was telling my own daughter…I need to practice using the gifts and tools He has given me in my life to do His work; to impact His kingdom for eternity. So not only did God speak to my heart in what He laid before me to tell Sophie, but then He one-upped it by giving me a verse in my quiet time today to share with Sophie as a verse to focus on in regard to this special gift she has. Humbled….
“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 2:13-17 -> me: This topic of ‘When is Civil Disobedience Appropriate for Christians?’ continues to consume my time with the Lord. For the last several days I have, again, been petitioning my God and Savior for answers to the current situation we face as a church. We continue to be thrown around by worldly leaders in state government who seem to be making decisions on data different than what has been made visible to us. Even though Washington state has remained in a good place (compared to other states) the governor persists in making tighter guidelines for houses of worship. We have been enjoying an outdoor setting to our Sunday worship services the last 3 weeks and it has been awesome, but just yesterday, the governor tightened guidelines to 200 people max for outdoor services and 200 people max for indoor services…which does not make sense. Outdoors has proven to be a better environment for limiting viral loads much more than indoors yet they are now the same numbers. Now I get that we are learning more about the virus every week, and I have to imagine that being in a leadership position like Inslee has got to be tough but this is getting a little crazy and making it truly a ‘Strength of God’ situation to continue to be subject to these requirements and guidance. I hardly ever do this but I am asking you for something this time – if you feel comfortable, please share with me scripture references that you believe supports bucking the Governor’s constraints making it difficult to meet as a church body.
“Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.” 1 Timothy 6:1 -> me: Over the last several days both Marianne and I have had more and more understanding of God’s plan for us (as a church and as Christians) in this pandemic. More specifically around our response to Government authorities in regards to guidelines placed on the church.
What has become such an awesome realization is that you MUST be a reader of God’s entire word in order to see the through-line of His character, will, plans, and purposes for our lives…yes, you can get a lot out of specific verses, but the collating of multiple passages is the primary way we gain understanding and confidence in direction for crazy times like this.
Here today in 1 Timothy 6:1-2, we see Paul’s instruction to his apprentice about a Christian slave’s respect of his master; even more so when his master is also a believer. Without going into too much detail, here is what God is revealing to me more and more about our response to authority:
- Respect all who are in authority [believing and non-believing]
- Our witness is more important than our circumstance.
Here we have Paul talking about slaves and we all know that God does not approve of slavery. He has gone to the greatest length to free us from the slavery to sin by sending His own Son to die on the cross for our sin. However, Paul is not telling the slaves to mount a revolution to free themselves, no – he is telling them that their witness and testimony should glorify God where they are and not be a reason that God or the teaching of Christian Faith can be slandered.
Please read Marianne’s post (https://bourlandweb.com/2020/08/01/mariannes-notes-because-we-are-free-we-are-subject) on what the Lord revealed to her this weekend through her reading in 1st Peter. You will see how complementary our quiet times are. I am so thankful for God’s sovereign grace to give us these reinforcing messages.
My desert is receiving rain…and just like God, it’s not in the ways I expected. It’s revival time. As He is my Shepherd I will hear His voice…it is not my prompting that will cause the Shepherd to speak, rather it is of His timing and of His desire when to speak to His sheep. As His sheep I will patiently wait. He is speaking. Our consistent pursuit of Him in the desert, our faithfulness to remain in Him always reaps reward.
I Peter was my reward today…God is working. He is stirring His people. He is making it clear that being a casual Christian, a lukewarm believer, is not going to cut it in the days/months/years ahead. Our allegiance is to the One who gave His life for us. Period. I’ve been wrestling with how to respond to our current political climate and desiring to KNOW how to bring God glory by my voice & life in these times and today I was brought to I Peter2:13-17
“Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to the governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men-as free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” To continue that message read further in I Peter 2:18-25…that will be unpacked tomorrow! 😊
- *I am, no matter my country, a citizen of heaven but I have a responsibility here on earth and I am “subject” or “submitting” myself to every ordinance of man-(government, institutions like police, military, education…etc)
- In the verse before, I Peter 2:12, it refers to me as a “sojourner” or one of “exile”…because this world is not my home…and in verse 16 it states that I am “free” yet I’m subject or bound.
- “They” (the foolish people) will speak or accuse me of being “evil”…but instead of fighting or waging war, I am to prove them wrong by my “good deeds”.
- *God has placed the kings and the governors in charge of us…even if they are opposed to God.
- He has placed them in authority to do two things: 1-“punish evil” and 2-“praise those who do good.”
- We should excel at doing good because it’s the will of God.
- The result of doing good will be to “silence the ignorance of foolish men.”
- *Why do we do this?
- “For the Lord’s sake”…if we are being subject to those rulers for the Lord’s sake then that would elevate the Lord above those. It is because of the Lord, we can be subject. That’s why we were sent.
- *In verse 16, we are “free” from the rule of the king and governor…we don’t fall under them because of who they are, rather, we submit to them for the Lord’s sake.
- Matthew 17:24-27 live as people who are free but pay the tax as not to offend. We can render to Cesaer what is Caesar’s because we are subject to God who owns ALL things, including what we give to Cesaer. We are not anarchists who feel that they are not subject to governing authorities! We are free in God in order to go back into submission of the establishment.
- *Fear God.
- I fear God far above my fear of institutions. Our behavior isn’t out of fear of man rather fear of God.
- He has commanded this…so we better do it.
- *Honor EVERYONE- justice and fairness honors all people even if they have committed an grievous offense! The honor they can receive is a truly fair trial…Honor doesn’t mean that we cower to demands.
- *Love the brotherhood-create special treatment/expression of love for our brothers and sisters.
- *We should be overflowing in good deeds.
- All of I Peter oozes our need for doing good deeds…there is something powerful in our witness when we are driven to do good to others…to ALL people as a way to honor and glorify God & His name.
- Don’t do the minimum required…no shoddy ethics…go above and beyond to serve.
- *Silence the ignorance
- People who are ignorant of what Christianity is and what we stand for will be revealed by our good deeds.
We “bear witness to the truth”…God will reign again and we do not need to fear man.
May this be us…may we desire to be in the world to do GOOD. Let’s not get wrapped up in the chaos…rise above it and see that God has instructed us already in how to handle where we are.