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Ethics

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Image source GNPI

I’m sure they meant well, but Jesus has some choice words for His Disciples in today’s Bible reading. Parents bring their children to Jesus and the Disciples try to turn them away. Jesus responds in a way we wouldn’t expect — at least those who see Jesus as only a mild-mannered only-loving Savior.

Mark says that Jesus was indignant, a “strong word of deep emotion”. (Mark 10:14) AT Robertson adds, “Surely it ought to be a joy to parents to bring their children to Jesus, certainly to allow them to come, but to hinder their coming is a crime. There are parents who will have to give answer to God for keeping their children away from Jesus.”[1]

In fact, Jesus said that if someone does not receive the Kingdom of God as a child, they will not enter it. The word Mark uses for child means a child under school-age. There is an innocence in that age group. An innocence that is so trusting, so vulnerable and there’s no pretention.

Children are a big deal to God. In the Bible, children are seen as blessings from God. (Psalm 127:3) The concept of Gentiles as being adopted children of God is central to the Gospel Message. (Romans 8:15, 23; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5) Yes, as Robertson points out, parents will give an answer to God for keeping their children away from Jesus.

In contrast, in Western Civilization in the Twenty-First Century, children are merely commodities. Look at the way children are abused and trafficked. Look no further than Hollywood’s Michelle Williams. Last week as she clutched her “Best Actress” Golden Globe trophy, she said “I wouldn’t have been able to do this without employing a woman’s right to choose. To choose when to have my children and with whom. … I know my choices might look different but thank God or whomever you pray to that we live in a country founded on the principle that I am free to live by my faith and you are free to live by yours.”

Application

Yes, children are a big deal to God. We will give an answer to God for keeping children from coming to Jesus. We will give an answer to God for putting up obstacles in our own lives that would prevent our own children from coming to Him. And we will give an answer to God for the way we have treated children as pawns in our lives.

Everyone who comes into a relationship with Jesus Christ has to do so by laying aside agendas. Laying aside pretentions. Laying aside themselves. Coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ requires that we come on His terms, not ours. (Mark 8:34-36)

Yes, the Gospel Message is about forgiveness. The Gospel Message is about grace. The Gospel Message is about mercy. But forgiveness, grace, and mercy are only available as we come to terms with our guilt as sinners. As sinners, we deserve punishment. We deserve death. We owe a debt we cannot pay. But Jesus has paid a debt He didn’t owe.

Have you laid aside your pretentions? Have you come to God, simply trusting Him at His Word?

[1] Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1933. Print.

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humble repentance

In today’s Bible reading, we see more trumpets blown and more calamities sent to earth. Each is worse than the previous one. One-third of the people died. (Revelation 9:18)

And yet, those remaining two-thirds of the people do not repent.

If you’ve ever read 2 Chronicles 7:14, you’ll remember that God promises to hear from heaven, forgive sin, and heal the land if His people will simply humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their evil ways.

That’s a tremendous promise! But the promise comes in the context of a response to God bringing calamity on His people because of their wickedness. Before this verse, God promises to bless His people. But if they turn away from Him, He will bring hardship. If they respond with humble repentance, God promises to act.

In our reading, God brings calamity, but no one repents. (Revelation 9:20-21)

How incredibly sad.

Application

Indeed, God’s promise to answer the prayers of His people, forgive their sin and bring restoration to their land is a tremendous promise.

As I type this on Tuesday Night, the US House of Representatives has handed down two Articles of Impeachment against the President of the United States. I’m not going to go into my feelings about this other than to say that the Articles — even if glaringly true — do not qualify as treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors, the only provisions in the US Constitution for impeaching the President.

The United States is in a crisis. It’s (past) time for God’s people to cry out to Him in humble repentance, to pray, to seek God’s face, and to turn from our wickedness.

Nothing short of this will restore civility to our beloved nation.

This is not a Left vs. Right political problem. This is a spiritual problem. And spiritual problems can only be remedied with spiritual solutions.

Spend a few minutes right now, asking God to bring conviction of your sin. As He reveals areas where you have sinned, confess those sins (“God, I am a sinner. I was wrong. I did ___.”) and repent (something like, “God, forgive me. Give me a renewed heart and fill me with your Holy Spirit that I might follow you.”) If God leads you to periods of extended prayer and/or fasting, don’t delay. Obey Him immediately!

Ask God to unite His people and draw us to Him. Ask God to raise up a mighty army of men and women who are committed to following God’s prescription in 2 Chronicles 7. Ask God to bring another Spiritual Awakening and revival to our country.

The big application here is to repent whenever God brings correction.

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semper armatus: always ready

I’ve heard many people tell stories of their mother warning them to always wear clean underwear, because you never known when you’re going to be in an accident. If you’re like many people, it won’t matter whether you’re wearing clean underwear before the wreck because you may not be after the wreck. If you just could know when that wreck is coming, you could make double-sure … if you could.

If you knew when a thief were coming to break into your home, you’d make sure that your home security system is armed. Or you’d make sure that you’re armed. But you’re never given advanced notice when you’ll have a wreck or when someone’s coming to break into your home. So you always have to be ready.

In today’s Bible reading, Paul tells the Thessalonians to be ready, because Jesus will return like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) In fact, Paul adds that Jesus will come not just unexpectedly, but at the most inopportune time. You always have to be ready. And Paul actually tells us to always be armored up with “faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation”. (1 Thessalonians 5:8 CSB)

Application

As I said in my last devotional, Paul knew our nature. Just like Jesus, he knew that if we were given a time and date for Jesus’ return, we’d live like the devil as long as possible and then clean ourselves up just in time for His return.

But it doesn’t work that way. We never know when Jesus will return. And if we did, we have no guarantee of when our time on this planet will end. Neither do we know when our friends, family, and coworkers will cross over to the other side of eternity. They need to hear this message! They need Jesus!

Paul’s takeaway application for us is that we need to encourage each other to always be ready. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

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Below is a letter I just finished reading to the Customer Service Representative at Chic fil-A after hearing that Chic fil-A will no longer support the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I was on hold for over thirty minutes. It seems the company is receiving a lot of feedback.

At the end of my call — which was recorded by the customer service representive — she asked if I had seen the company’s 2020 Foundation webpage which explains their current focus of charitable funding and suggested that I check it out. I did. I like the organizations they’re supporting. But I find their decision to no longer support the Salvation Army and FCA to be troubling.

I encourage everyone to call or write Chic fil-A to give feedback. Note: Their web form only allows up to 1500 characters, hence the reason for my call.

Mail:
Chick-fil-A CARES
P.O. Box 725489
Atlanta, GA 31139-9923

Phone:
1-866-232-2040
Monday – Saturday
8:00 AM – Midnight ET


Subject: Feedback on Your Recent Decision to Cease Funding Salvation Army and FCA

I’m very sad to hear that Chic fil-A has caved to the Politically-Correct LGBTQ+ thugs.

Since my first bite of a Chic fil-A chicken sandwich at a church youth event at Duke University in the late 1970s/early 1980s, I have enjoyed your food and culture. I have no idea how many (tens of?) thousands of dollars of hard-earned cash that I have spent at your restaurants across the South, traveling back and forth from Texas to North Carolina and around town in the DFW Metroplex.

I have enjoyed supporting an organization that proudly stands for pro-family values and organizations. It has been refreshing to see one company consistently stand for Christian values. I applauded Dan Cathy’s Christlike efforts of befriending LGBTQ activist Shane Windmeyer. It seemed to be a genuine gesture to prove that he and Chic fil-A are not homophobic, but just prefer to support traditional pro-family organizations.

Chic fil-A has never refused service to any LGBTQ+ individuals; if it had, the mainstream media would have had a field day. Through the years, Chic fil-A has remained true to Truett Cathy’s vision for so many years. And now, barely past five years after your founder’s death, you have caved. You have capitulated. You have betrayed his principles.

You have stopped donating to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. It baffles my mind to try to figure out why you decided to cease donating to these organizations. The only reason I can find is that you no longer support Truett Cathy’s values. You care more about appeasing left-wing activists than remaining true to your base: traditional Americans with traditional values who have made you one of the most popular fast food restaurant on the planet. Your sales would far surpass everyone else if your stores were open seven days a week. Instead, your sales in six days are close to those of stores that are open seven days a week.

You may see it as a small change to appease the LGBTQ+ advocates, but I see it as spinelss behavior. Behavior which will not be honored by God, nor by the millions of traditional Americans who have made your restaurants so popular.

This is one American who will no longer consider Chic fil-A among my top choices for a quick bite of delicious food. I’m confident I am not alone. I am also confident that your franchisees feel betrayed. Your choice will result in lost income by every single franchisee.

RC Beaman
Fort Worth, TX

The religious leaders plot Lazarus' murder.
Image source: LumoProject

Hate will drive people to do hateful things. In today’s Bible reading, we read that the chief priests schemed to kill Lazarus because people were following Jesus after seeing Lazarus raised from the dead. (John 12:10-11) Think about that. The chief priests plotted to kill not just Jesus, but Jesus’ friend, Lazarus.

“Don’t murder” was the Sixth Commandment. (Exodus 20:13) By the First Century, the Jewish leaders heaped on hundreds of additional laws to the Mosaic Law through their commentary on the Law and their commentary on the commentary on the Law. That the chief priests could resort to murder reveals how derranged these men had become.

Meanwhile, Lazarus walks around, telling people about his Friend. Many more people believe Jesus as a result of Lazarus’ testimony. It’s hard to argue about Jesus’ authority as the Messiah when one of His most vocal followers walked out of a tomb the day before.

Application

I’ve said it before, you don’t have to be a trained theologian to tell your story to your friends, family, and neighbors. All you have to do is tell what Jesus has done in your life. You may not have been delivered from a physical tomb, but you can tell people how you have been delivered from a life of sin and death. You can tell people about how you once lived as a child of wrath, as God’s enemy. Tell them what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished for you. And invite them to give their lives to Him as you have.

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