Acts 5:34,35,38,39—A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while He said to them, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re going to do to these men . . . And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” So they were persuaded by him.
1 Timothy 1:3,5—As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, continue to remain at Ephesus so that you might command some to teach no other doctrine . . . Now the goal of this command is love from a pure heart, and from a good conscience, and from sincere faith. (Modern English Version)
The word, “command” in verses three and five is a military term which means “to give strict orders.”
As the shells rain down on hapless soldiers trembling in their foxholes, a man completely unknown as religious to his squad mates begins reciting the Lord’s Prayer. He remembers it from growing up attending Mass. Now in their time of desperation he delivers it up to God. Considered the most beloved prayer in Scripture and taught by Jesus to His followers, we would be wise to unpack it, study it and apply it rigorously to our lives. So let’s embark upon a prayer journey and take joy in 69 life-changing words.
Angst is probably a great word to describe the mood of hundreds of millions of people who wearily wonder who their next leader will be. After a political process that takes too long, an ugly trail of tawdry politics and professional dirt-slinging, most of the nation just wants this election to be over. Compounding the problem is the almost universal cry, “With over 323 million people, these are the bestcandidates to emerge?” It would seem the world’s third largest nation has a huge problem when it comes to electing a leader with integrity.
Those of us who meet the requirements for voting, and who carry out the responsibility to vote, will cast our ballot and hope for the best outcome possible. While we might not always like the choices available, or feel good about the state of our political system, we ought to always remember the following.
Romans 1:1—Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news.
Doesn’t seem very flattering to be called a slave does it? I don’t want to be a slave to anyone. I want to be free—to do whatever I feel like doing, whenever, however. I want the right to control my life. I want the ability to choose my circumstances, pick my fun, decide when to work, and nobody should be able to make me violate my own will. Do you see the trend? “I want . . .” And just how well does my plan work?
There are those who scoff at the reality of demons. The whole notion of religion or the existence of God seems like relics of an antiquated belief system. Tell that to the four men who on September 20, 2011 stood around Vlad and prayed for him, watching as he writhed on the ground as one and then another demon left him. Two days later Vlad called Dad and said he was again under attack. So the two met near my parent’s home and walked together up a nearby mountain.
Brian dreamed for a long time of building a house for his family on a wooded, five-acre plot of land nestled within the city. Notice I used the word dreamed. Brian did not just want to put up a simple home for his family of five. He wanted to build a ten-thousand square foot ministry center. I remember many of us thought he was overreaching. Why not just build a modest home and then as God provided continue to expand?
Often when I am driving on the road for long periods of time, I will tune in to listen to different radio talk shows. I have observed a pattern across the spectrum of those who claim to represent conservative America. Often they speak disrespectfully of politicians with statements like “he is an idiot” or “she is a moron.” They mockingly belittle the mental competency of their intended targets or accuse them of evil motives. Several of these hosts skillfully move between humor and anger and it is easy to be sucked into the emotion-charged airwaves.
As the Apostle Peter neared the end of his life he wrote powerful words of instruction to those who were leaders of God’s people. Coming alongside special men, Peter urged them to shepherd God’s flock. Then he carefully defined what their motives and attitudes should look like. Those same penetrating words of truth ring applicable to us today.
On December 30, 2007, President Kibaki, of the Kikuyu tribe, was again sworn in as the winner of the Kenyan Presidential election. According to most reports and the opposition candidate Raila Odinga, of the Luos tribe, the election was rigged and the incumbent should have lost. Immediate fighting broke out across the country. In Eldoret, gangs of youth set fire to an Assembly of God church killing fifty Kikuyus seeking refuge there. This was the first reported attack of a church in Kenyan history.
Luke 6:47,48-- I will show you what someone is like who comes to Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built.
Often as a young officer in the Army, my unit would deploy to the field for training. In order to communicate with everyone else in the Battalion, we used radios. But before we could talk on the same channel, the commo officer in charge of running the net tested us to ensure we were genuinely part of the unit and not the “enemy.” He did this by giving us a code that we then had to apply to our own code matrix to find the appropriate response. Once the proper reply was given we were allowed to join in with everyone else already authenticated.
Luke 4:36--Amazement came over them all, and they kept saying to one another, “What is this message? For He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they come out!”
Sam walked from the studio into the sanctuary. The amplifier levels were set incorrectly and the sound in the room from the instruments was unbalanced. So he adjusted the levels on the soundboard and moved the amp volumes up to full power. He removed the old paper arrows taped to the board assigning each channel a specific level. Now the system sounded great. Sam was pleased he had helped the church.
Morning comes and Chris is tired. He spent a restless night battling the accusations of people who disagree with him. His character has been questioned. His actions are constantly scrutinized. His leadership is eroding and he feels angry. So, he contemplates how he should defend himself. Rather than talk to God about His pain, Chris reviews the weaknesses of his detractors and how he can prove them wrong. No longer can he minister effectively for his motives are based on a personal agenda.
So this is war. All airline flights were cancelled—an unprecedented occurrence. For days I couldn’t leave Georgia. The worst terrorist strike America has ever experienced induces bewilderment, anger, sadness, vulnerability, fear and a host of other emotions.
September 11, 2001 is our new day of infamy. Across the continent my wife explained to our three children the significance of what they observed on television. This is not some historical aberration, some freakish blow in a new millennium. This is not the isolated work of a depraved band of people. This is the calculated fist of evil and freedom is just one of its targets.
The uniform can be a source of great inspiration or it can be the veneer of tyranny it all depends on the heart of the one clothed. There is a man who cannot advance in his job. His ability to move up in his organization is stifled by the hands of a Napoleon-pretender, one with an insecurity complex too radioactive to handle. Perhaps you know the type?
CPT Bob climbed the tower. His soldiers were there to rappel off the tall wooden platform. At the top he inspected the training and noticed that the end of one of the ropes was improperly anchored with a simple granny knot. So he pointed out to the Lieutenant, Officer in Charge (OIC), the problem. The LT disagreed, said the knot was fine and ordered Bob off the tower. By rights as the OIC he could do so. Bob reminded him that safety was everyone’s responsibility and that he would not allow his soldiers to go down under such unsafe conditions. Again, the LT told him to leave. After more heated words, Bob descended the stairs and walked over to the nearest phone to report an unsafe condition. While he was on the phone, one of his soldiers leaning over the edge shrieked as his rope came loose. He fell straight to the ground. Today that injured soldier remains a quadriplegic.
I wonder if every church has them. Their profile is not hard to spot. They wear the cloth of disenchantment with authority. They chaff at rules or the appearance of any type of rigidity. They love to question the motives of those who make decisions. They take pride if the crowd goes left in going right. They wear their stubbornness as a badge of courage and refuse to bend. Don’t ever tell them they must do something for the word “must” is a dirty word.
Matthew 8:2,3--Right away a man with a serious skin disease came up and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Reaching out His hand He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean.” Immediately his disease was healed.