Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tony Evans: The Kingdom of God vs. Politics


The following quote is from Tony Evans, writing in his recent book, "Kingdom Man."  

     "What is important to notice about the progression of Psalm 128 is that God starts with the individual, moves to the family, moves to the church, and then moves to the society. That is how His kingdom works. His kingdom works bottom up, not top down. Yet everyone these days seems to be more concerned with what the White House is doing than what their own house is doing or what the church house is doing. When society functions according to kingdom principles, though, it parcels out the responsibilities for maintaining a healthy, functioning society into more areas than just the government. 
     A theological view of government is one that keeps the government small while respecting the influence of the church and home on a community. The church cannot afford to have the politics of men determining the operation of the kingdom of God. This is because God does not ride the backs of donkeys or elephants. He has His own kingdom agenda--of which government is a part--yet of which the individual, family, and church also play a large part. Whenever the church gets dragged down and divided over political sides, we have missed the kingdom. Just as the captain of the Lord's army informed Joshua before the battle of Jericho that he hadn't come to take sides, but that he had come to take over (see Joshua 5:13-14), the body of Christ must recognize that, for community impact to occur, we need to follow God's agenda. God's kingdom purposes transcend politics, personal preferences, racial divisions, and all other agendas. Only when the citizens of the King operate by the precepts of His kingdom will we see the transformation of our culture." 
         Tony Evans, Kingdom Man, page 195. 

"Blessed are all who fear the LORD, 
who walk in his ways.
You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours. 
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your sons will be like olive shoots
around your table. 
Thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD." Psalm 128: 1-4

"So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." Romans 14:12


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Spoken Word: Sin

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son." John 3:16-18

"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished--he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Romans 3:22-26

Friday, October 19, 2012

Charles Spurgeon on Religious "Sacrifices"

Charles Spurgeon, 1834-1892, was an English Baptist pastor at New Park Street Chapel in London for thirty-eight years. He has written many books and sermons that I believe to be some of the best Christian writing to be had, not only for its sound handling of Scripture, but its unmatched beauty. The quote below comes from Morning and Evening, revised and updated by pastor and author Alistair Begg.

"Never forget that to keep strictly to the path of your Savior's command is better than any outward form of religion; and to pay attention to His precept is better than to bring animals or other precious things to lay upon His altar. If you are failing to keep the least of Christ's commands to His disciples, I urge you to be disobedient no longer. All the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master and all the devout actions that you may perform are no substitute for disobedience. 'To obey,' even in the slightest and smallest thing, 'is better than sacrifice,' however pompous. Forget the Gregorian chants, sumptuous robes, incense, and banners; the first thing that God requires of His child is obedience; and even if you gave your body to be burned and all your goods to feed the poor, if you did not listen to the Lord's commands, all your formalities would profit you nothing. It is a blessed thing to be teachable as a little child, but it is a much more blessed thing, when one has been taught the lesson, to carry it out to the letter. How many adorn their temples and decorate their priests, but refuse to obey the word of the Lord! My soul, do not share in their deceit." Charles H. Spurgeon

"But Samuel replied, 
'Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.'" 1 Samuel 15:22-23

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord..." 2 Corinthians 4:5

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The God Who Hears Everything

One of the things that amazes me in the marriage ministry my husband and I are involved in is how calm and composed people are when they are with us in a mentoring session, but how opposite of that they say they are at home, when they think nobody is looking.

I’ve heard men and women admit to being snippy, irritated and downright angry at their spouse or children on a consistent basis, yet when they sit down for an hour or two to discuss some pretty tense issues, they remain calm or even downright gregarious. So it’s difficult to imagine this same person losing it at home. But I know it to be true because all I have to do is to remember what I was like before I became a Christian, and when I, too, thought no one was looking.

People can project a jovial, sweet demeanor of integrity in public and maintain it for a few hours through sheer willpower and a deep motivation to promote their best selves. But even that facade, when taken on the road, say, on a weekend trip with friends, a church mission trip, or maybe an extended visit with relatives, can crack. Time, familiarity, and stress win out over all efforts to be an outwardly nice person.

It was only when I was brought into a relationship with Jesus that I understood that God is the God who hears everything. We can't hide how we treat our families from God.

When my thoughts, (which will lead to my actions and reactions) are selfish, self-centered and sometimes downright mean, I don’t like how I feel. I am thrilled that I can immediately repent of them and hand them over to God, in full agreement with Him that these thoughts must exit my person and never be allowed to take root. The actions, mood, and emotional stability coming out of that cleansing process are pleasing to God, and thus, to me.

It’s not easy. It’s not easy to be slighted, misunderstood or ignored. Our flesh wants to lash out. Our flesh wants to get the last word. Our flesh wants to fight for our rights. But God’s way is different, and His Holy Spirit always--I repeat always--lets us know when our thoughts are going opposite of God.

It takes practice to say, “Okay, God, you’ve got this; I give it entirely to you.” For me there was always, and still sometimes is, a “yeah but….” or there is this notion that, “I’ll sit down with God and ask His forgiveness later, but boy am I going to say to this person exactly what I’m thinking right now.”

But God is privy to exactly what’s going on in every situation. Just knowing that allows me to hold my tongue and immediately look to Him to deal so I can let go (of my emotional reaction, paranoia, hyper-sensitivity, irrationality, legitimate hurt, etc.). It doesn’t mean I don’t talk things out with people or that I just sit back and expect God to run my relationships for me. It means I stop reacting to my self and others and respond to God. And responding to God may mean holding my tongue (perhaps until I cool off and take time to pray and read Scripture so I can objectively work out the situation later). That is incredibly freeing and keeps my heart, relationships and standing with God pure.

“And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.” 1 Chronicles 28:9

“O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.” Psalm 139:1-4

“Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5