Posts Tagged ‘Billy Graham’


The Danger of an Unbelieving HeartIn 1996, the book Farewell to God,  the author, Charles Templeton, stated:

‘I oppose the Christian Church because, for all the good it sometimes does, it presumes to speak in the name of God and to propound and advocate beliefs that are outdated, demonstrably untrue, and often, in their various manifestations, deleterious to individuals and to society.’3

Who is Charles Templeton? He was one of a group of young men who were on fire for God in the 1940’s. He was acclaimed as a gifted young evangelist, and was more “famous” than his friend Billy Graham. In 1946, he was listed among those best used of God by the National Association of Evangelicals.4

Charles Templeton How important is beliefHe pastored rapidly growing Avenue Road Church in Toronto, which he had started with only his family and a few friends. He became vice-president of the newly formed Youth For Christ International organization in 1945. He then nominated his good friend, Billy Graham, to be field evangelist for the new ministry. Templeton, Graham, and a few others regularly spoke to thousands, winning many to Christ both in America and in Europe.

Newspapers and magazines carried reports of his meetings informing readers he was winning 150 converts a night. In Evansville, Indiana, the total attendance over the two week campaign was 91,000 out of a population of 128,000. Church attendance went up 17%.

All was not well with Charles Templeton. He was beginning to question the essentials of the Christian faith, because he could no longer believe God’s Word beginning with Genesis.

In a conversation with Billy Graham, Templeton stated:

‘But, Billy, it’s simply not possible any longer to believe, for instance, the biblical account of creation. The world wasn’t created over a period of days a few thousand years ago; it has evolved over millions of years. It’s not a matter of speculation; it’s demonstrable fact.’5

In his autobiography, Farewell to God, Charles Templeton lists his ‘reasons for rejecting the Christian faith’. Most of these relate to the origins issue and thus the accuracy of the book of beginnings—Genesis.

How important is Belief?

So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

Belief is important for RestA whole generation of Jews died in the wilderness because they refused to believe God.

Two Things are Evident in Hebrews 4:

1. There is a (Secret) Rest of God that people can find on Earth.
2. Most people live their entire lives without finding God’s rest.
Why do I say most people will not?
  • Because God tells us most people will not…

1 Corinthians 10:5-6 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

In the Exodus we find the real life story of God using Moses to bring the Jewish Nation out of Egypt and into the Land which God had promised Abraham over 400 years earlier. God worked miracle after miracle on behalf of His people. The Plagues, the death of the first born, the Passover meal, the spreading of blood, the parting of the Red Sea, the crossing on DRY ground, the death of the mightiest Army on Earth by drowning in the Red Sea. Then we have the miraculous manna, quails, fire, cloud of smoke, and thunderous voice from the mountain.

You could not have made a more tremendous movie to demonstrate the REALITY of the LIVING GOD! If you would have been there you would have told those Jews that wanted to give up and go back to Egypt that they were crazy! Didn’t they see that God is real and all-powerful?

1 Corinthians 10:1-12 For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

 My Daddy used to say that hind sight is 50/50. Truth is, that of at least one million people over the age of 20 desired evil rather than believe God! Only two (and maybe their families) believed God! That’s like saying that out of the roughly 7 Billion people on Earth, only 14,000 are real followers of Christ!

These Jews who experience so much, instead of reaching the Rest which God had promised, as symbolized by the Promised Land, fell in the wilderness, having been overcome by their desire for evil.

How Do You Reveal an Evil Heart?

How do you reveal an evil heartNow how did the Jews illustrate their evil hearts? Through what they did? Through heinous crimes? NO!

Evil hearts are revealed by what you believe about God and what He promises!

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12

No! They revealed their evil hearts by not believing God! No way, you say! Surely it took something much worse, like murder or assault or robbery! No, they did not believe God was with them! They did not believe God would do what He said He would do.

Numbers 13:30-31  But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.”  Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.”

Numbers 14:3-4

 Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Numbers 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

These Jews failed to believe the power of the Word of God, even though they had seen mightier miracles than anyone ever had! God promised to be with them as they went to conquer the land, but they focused on the size of the inhabitants rather than the size of their God! Only Caleb realized the Power of God, and his life was marked by a “different spirit!” Caleb represents the believer who sets his mind on the Spirit of God rather than the world!

Life with Jesus Christ is different than life without Him

1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Life with Christ is differentHebrews 4 uses another word for victory and overcome, the word REST!

God paints a picture of Rest in Exodus and Joshua. God paints a picture of Rest in Ephesians.

  • Rest doesn’t mean you lie back and do nothing. Rest means you stand and do everything in full reliance and full confidence of the Life of Jesus Christ in you.
  • Rest means when the boat is rocking and the winds are blowing your heart is calmly trusting in Christ, even while He is sleeping in the back of the boat.
  • Rest means that when you are facing giants, and you are swinging your sling, you know God is directing the stone.
  • Rest means that when a battle is raging, that you simply must rely on strength from God.
  • Rest means that whatever the pain, whatever the circumstance, whatever the pressure, that God will see you through it, and that it will benefit your Eternity.
  • Power to overcome the Giants of sin.
  • Courage and Confidence in the face of trials and hardships.

Are you Resting in the Reality of a life in Jesus Christ?

  • The FOCUS of your belief is to actuate the REST we have in Jesus Christ.
  • The FOCUS of the Jews in the Wilderness was to get to the Promised Land, a place of REST

Let’s see what lessons God wants us to learn:

1 Corinthians 10:15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Are you sensible people? Then discern what God wants you to learn:

I want to talk to you about REST and How you obtain it!

Read Hebrews 4

1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands,1let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. 9 So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 2Let ustherefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, 3let ushold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 164 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:1-16

1. God’s Rest is Promised:

  • vs 1  “while the promise still stands!”

Enter into Gods Rest and promisesIt is promised, but it is not guaranteed. “fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Imagine what your Christian Life would be like if you would simply believed God’s Word…

Leonard Ravenhill:  I don’t want to stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and God say to me, “I left you a book of blank checks signed in the blood of Jesus and you didn’t use half of them!”

Too often, we start and end our Christian walk with only this promise: And this is the promise that he made to us— eternal life.” 1 John 2:25

WHAT PROMISES ARE YOU NOT RESTING UPON?

If you can believe Him about that promise, what about these others? Does your daily walk reveal that you are trusting God in these areas of your life?

  • My-Joy-Your-JoyWhat about His promise of Peace.
  • What about His promise of Joy.
  • What about His promise to care for you.
  • What about His promise to clothe and feed you.
  • What about His promise to Love you.
  • What about His promise to cast our fear.
  • What about His promise to be free from the power of sin?
  • What about His promise of victory, about being more than conquerors?

If we were resting in His promises, we would be holy, for He says:

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 7:1

by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:4

2.  God’s Rest is His Plan for Man

Gods Rest is the Plan for ManGod has a plan for his people to join him in the wonderful restfulness of heaven where all weariness and burdens will be lifted. The writer focuses on five points in history to show how God’s plan is for mankind to find rest in Him.

  • Creation (Genesis 2:2) and says in verse 4: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.”
    • If God rested, what is the lesson for man? His people can rest and enjoy fellowship with him. He will call it a “Sabbath rest” because on the seventh day God rested.
  • Jews in the Wilderness: The promised land is a picture of God’s ultimate rest, and their unbelieving rebellion excludes them from it.
  • Joshua, who took the people into the promised land.

„  Is that the final, ultimate rest God in mind for his people? Verse 8 answers no: “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.”  In other words, even though Joshua gave some relief to the people of God in the promised land, that was not the final rest God has planned for them. How do we know that? God spoke of another day — another rest centuries later.

  • David writing in Psalm 95. Verse 7: “He again appoints a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.'” In other words, long after the people enjoyed the rest of the promised land, David says that God is still holding out to his people an offer of salvation rest: Don’t harden your hearts, and you will enjoy God’s rest (referred to at the end of the Psalm, 95:11 = Heb. 3:11 = 4:3)
  • The fifth time period is NOW — Verse 9: “There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” In other words, Today, the rest is still open.

And that is the foundation of God’s message to you today: There is a rest open to you today. God offers rest. The door is not shut. The time is not past.

3. God’s Rest is Present  Reality

Gods rest is present realityFor we who have believed enter that rest[1],

“not are entering or are on the way to, but entering into the rest is a fact which characterizes us as believers” Our enjoying the Rest offered by Christ is proof of our Christianity. It characterizes our Christian LIFE.

I WILL GIVE YOU REST

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:27-30

Jesus offers TWO Rests…One is Conditional…

Christ offers us TWO rests. One is unconditional, and is offered to all who by weariness simply come to Him, admitting their weakness and need. The second rest is conditional. The rest for your soul comes only as you yoke your life with His, and then pay close attention and learn from Him! 

Hudson Taylor had a distinct moment when he entered into that second rest. He writes about it in his autobiography.

Bear not a single care thyself,
One is too much for thee;
The work is Mine, and Mine alone;
Thy work—to rest in Me.[2]

From His Spiritual Secrets Autobiography:

hudson taylorTo let my loving Savior work in me His will, my sanctification, is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving nor struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power; . . . resting in the love of an almighty Savior, in the joy of a complete salvation, “from all sin”—this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me. I feel as though the dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a boundless sea; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me, now, the power, the only power for service, the only ground for unchanging joy.

How then to have our faith increased? Only by thinking of all that Jesus is and all He is for us: His life, His death, His work, He Himself as revealed to us in the Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not a striving to have faith . . . but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity.

We do not know just how the miracle was wrought; but, “As I read, I saw it all,” Mr. Taylor wrote. “I looked to Jesus, and when I saw—oh, how joy flowed!”

He was a joyous man now [Mr. Judd recorded], a bright happy Christian. He had been a toiling, burdened one before, with latterly not much rest of soul. It was resting in Jesus now, and letting Him do the work…[3]

Do YOU Have a New Heart?

Black_Heart_by_pushOK_12Ezek.18:31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?”

4. God’s Rest is our Prospect for Eternity!

  • anápausis vs katápausis

Gods rest is prospect for eternityChrist promised anápausis (inner rest) in this age, not katápausis ([2663], structural rest), the Sabbath rest of the age to come, which “remaineth…to the people of God” (Heb. 4:9–11). Anápausis is rest and peace of soul in the midst of hard labors, while katápausis is a periodic cessation from labor.[4]

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Revelation 14:13

VS

(Remember Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous)

 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Revelation 14:11200px-Lifestyles_of_the_Rich_&_Famous

How Do We Enter This Rest?

Salvation is much more than a ticket to heaven. It is much more than asking Jesus into your heart. Actually Jesus wants permission to take over your life. He wants to be Lord!

lettuce


Remember Popeye? Remember what gave him his super strength? 
Well to enter God’s Rest, you need to eat plenty of LET-US!

God’s Rest is built upon a bed of LETTUCE!

A. LET US FEAR

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest a

ny of you should seem to have failed to reach it

.

This fear is  not the terror felt by a slave. This is deep reverence and respect. This is what Paul tells us in Philippians.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13

Plenty of Lettuce to enter Gods Rest

Why should we approach our salvation with fear & trembling?…because the thing we have to watch out most for is “unbelief or faithlessness.”  If 99.9% of people who saw the greatest evidence of God EVER can fall away through unbelief, how easy is it for us to fall away?

  • “there is only one thing to fear: faithlessness. Fear unbelief in the promises of God. Because as long as you are trusting in the promises of God you can be utterly fearless in the face of anything, even death, even God (see 4:16).

 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:19

  • Since so many have fallen, we have cause to fear (Heb 3:17-19 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

B.  LET US STRIVE

Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest,

  • STRIVE: to be diligent, earnest, or eager[5]..
  • Do our utmost to focus on the rest. There is no room for mental laziness. Think with all you have on Gods rest.[6]

so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

  • Fall means that “everything is naked and open before God: opened — literally, “thrown on the back so as to have the neck laid bare,” as a victim with neck exposed for sacrifice. The Greek perfect tense implies that this is our continuous state in relation to God. “Show, O man, shame and fear towards thy God, for no veil, no twisting, bending, coloring, or disguise, can cover unbelief”[7]

Be in the Word of God!

  • bible-is-word-of-godIt is Living – (not dead) Alive!
    • It lives because it endures forever, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Ps.119:89)
    • It lives because it has life in itself, “God breathed.”
  • Powerful – (not weak) Energetic, active, productive, effective.
    • Activity which produces results. Often used for Divine activity which produces effective results! – It does what it promises!!!
    • Is.55:11 “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
  • Sharper – (not dull) God’s Word can cut through anything!
    • The Sword of God is a sin slayer! – It has stains of blood all over it…even up to the hilt!
    • It is 2-edged thus it cuts us 2 ways – 1st deeply that we might die; then it cuts us again that we might live!
  • Piercing – (not sheathed)
    • (i.e.) the extreme power of penetration of the Word of God, to the very core of man’s being!
    • A man named Thorpe was a member of the “Hell-fire Club”. (a group of men in the 1700’s who tried to detract the work of George Whitefield) – One day Thorpe jumped upon a table & started mimicking Whitefield, delivering his sermon with brilliant accuracy, perfectly imitating his tone & facial expressions, when he himself was so pierced that he sat down & was converted on the spot!{he went on to be a prominent Christian leader in the city of Bristol}
  • Discerner – (not ignorant) God’s Word sifts through the hearts thoughts & attitudes w/unerring discrimination!
    • Do you ever feel I’m talking right to you & a situation that you are going through? I hope you take it personal. I hope you get cut from God’s word while I’m teaching…else I am not wielding it properly!
  • (13) naked & open – (not hidden nor veiled) there is nothing to hide in or behind.
  • Open – different suggestions to this words meaning.
    • Refers to the wrestler’s art of seizing one by the throat rendering him limp & powerless.
    • The meaning is clear, all creatures are in the grip of God, totally vulnerable, helpless, & laid bare before his eyes, of Him to whom we must give account!
    • Prov.15:3 “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Keeping watch on the evil and the good.”
      • God sees everything…This can be discomforting…IF you have something to hide!

C.  LET US HOLD FAST

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. Hebrews 4:14

  • hold fast — the opposite of “let slip” (Heb 2:1); and “fall away” (Heb 6:6). As the genitive follows, the literally, sense is, “Let us take hold of our profession,” that is, of the faith and hope which are subjects of our profession and confession[8]
  • Take Hold of Christ, even in your weakness.

Gary Eagle Take-OffFor we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

D. LET US DRAW NEAR

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Conclusion

Are you a Crazy Loon or a Majestic Eagle? Who are you believing in and relying upon for life?

Ever Heard the expression “crazy as a loon,”

Loon or Eaglewithout any wind blowing it was almost impossible for them to take off and fly. I took his word for it, but it didn’t seem to make sense to me until one evening some time later when my brother and I were out fishing. Not a breeze was stirring, and the surface of the small lake was like glass. The quietness of the moment was suddenly broken by the loud flapping of wings. Evidently we had scared “Mr. Loon,” and he decided to get out of there. Yet, despite his heroic effort, he just skimmed along the surface of the water unable to gain altitude. Reaching the other side of the lake, he still wasn’t high enough to clear the trees, and, executing a fancy turn, he came back toward us still flap-ping his wings with all his might. We held our breath as he reached the opposite shore, barely missed the treetops, and disappeared from view. He had made it — but what a struggle! Re-calling that experience, the thought came to me: what a contrast there is between that struggling loon and the majestic eagle which ascends high in the heavens with wings outstretched, gliding effortlessly to new and thrilling heights. The flapping loon and the soaring eagle portray two kinds of Christians. There are some dear souls who seem to be always “flapping” without making much headway, while others can truthfully and joyfully sing with the hymn writer, “New heights I’m gaining every day.” The latter are those who have learned to wait upon the Lord, have renewed their strength, and hence “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31).


[1] Ἐισερχόμεθα categorical; not are entering or are on the way to, but entering into the rest is a fact which characterizes us as believers. Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 4:3”.

[2] Hudson Taylors Spiritual Secrets

[5] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “spoudázō”

[6] Kent Hughes; pg.113

[7] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary – Heb 4:1 Heb 4:1-16. THE PROMISE OF GOD’S REST IS FULLY REALIZED THROUGH CHRIST

[8] Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “HEBREWS”.


jason-bourne

Jason Bourne is my kind of hero. He is a man with an awful past, a trained assassin who has lost his memory. I like him because he is like a maniacal energizer bunny, he just keeps on killing and killing. He can kill a man with a bic pen, he can kill a man just by singing “Makes me feel like a woman”. In the Bourne movies, he is after the men who made him what he is, and they are out to kill him. It is but another movie showing how corrupt our government is, and it’s subtle message is to trust no one!

reagan-government-helpRonald Reagan said the most terrifying words in the English language “I’m from the Government & I’m here to help you”. Indeed many in America regard the Federal Government, in fact any government, with scorn and contempt. I confess that my attitude has been wrong on several occasions. But God has issued the Scourne Ultimatum to Christians. (I made the spelling like Bourne)

SCORN: lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike. Similar to contempt. To show scorn for the court is to be held in contempt.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Psalms 1:1 (KJV)

The Scourne Ultimatum applies to Being Blessed. If you want to have God’s Blessing in your life You must not sit with those who scorn God’s Ways. If we as a Church want God’s blessings on our efforts to grow and reach out and serve, we must not be Scorning God’s Ways nor God’s Government.

Part of the Scourne Ultimatum is that not only do you miss out on God’s Blessing and Power, but you also lose God’s ability to keep you from temptation. Those that scorn authorities reserve special judgment for themselves:

then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 2 Peter 2:9-10 (NKJV)

god-over-beltonWell, you say, God isn’t governing Belton (or your city, your country…)! Oh, Yes He Is!

For the kingdom is the LORD’S: and he is the governor among the nations. Psalms 22:28 (KJV)

God is even governing Cass County. He is governing Peculiar, Cleveland, Raymore. God has ordained our civil government, our civil authority.

God’s Directive for Christians is found in Romans 13: 3-7

For rulers are not to be feared by those who do good, but by those who do evil. Would you like to be unafraid of those in authority? Then do what is good, and they will praise you, because they are God’s servants working for your own good. But if you do evil, then be afraid of them, because their power to punish is real. They are God’s servants and carry out God’s punishment on those who do evil. For this reason you must obey the authorities—not just because of God’s punishment, but also as a matter of conscience. That is also why you pay taxes, because the authorities are working for God when they fulfill their duties. Pay, then, what you owe them; pay them your personal and property taxes, and show respect and honor for them all. Romans 13:3-7 (TEV)

Our civil authorities are the ministers of God. The word used is δικονς. The same word we get ‘deacon’ from. Civil Authorities are God’s deacons. We are to give honor and respect to ALL Civil authorities, not just some of them. They are all deacons of God!

burris-confirmedThe impeachment trial for the Governor Blagojevich of Illinois is over. He is out of office. While still Governor he appointed a replacement for now President Barack Obama. The Congress at first said they would never approve the person he appointed. They changed their mind and approved now Senator Burris. Why? You can speculate about why, but they did the honorable thing. They honored the office of Governor that Mr Blagojevich held. He may be a dishonorable person, he was even impeached, but while he was in office, the citizens of Illinois, the United States Senate honored the office that he represented.

Civil Authorities are ordained by God. They are His servants, His deacons. If you give your heart to God and allow His truth to guide your life, then every time you see a policeman, firefighter, councilman, mayor, state legislator, governor, judge, congressman, senator, or any other person in a branch of government, you should find respect and honor welling up in your heart. This is the fear of the Lord residing in your heart. That fear leads you to honor God and those authorities He has ordained. The way most of us encounter civil authority is by those flashing lights in our rear view mirror.

77-impalaI remember driving to Springfield one time near 1980 or 81. We were going to Branson for a little family vacation. We were in a 1978 or 79 Chevy Impala. Big back seat. We had at least four kids then. The baby was up front but the three boys were in the back. It was late at night, the kids were asleep, and one was laying in the back under the window, two were sprawled in the back seat. You looked in our car and it was all kids.

Well, I got caught speeding. The officer came to the window and said his usual, I said I’m sorry that I was speeding and I thanked him for doing his job. He goes back and then comes back. He said. The fine for this ticket would have been 75 or 80 dollars, but I’m just gonna give you a warning. You take that money and spend it on your kids.

I thanked him, and drove away thanking God for His mercy.

Now I have had not so kind encounters with policemen. And I am sure you have too. They have a tough job. You cannot watch TV without seeing and hearing people dishonor policemen, and government officials.

Why should churches and Christians have a good reputation with the city?

1. Honor for Civil Authority is God Directed

Furthermore, he (church leaders) must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap. 1 Timothy 3:7 (AMP)

We bring offense to the Gospel by not having a good reputation. The early church in Jerusalem:

but the people (outside the church) held them in high regard and praised and made much of them. Acts 5:13 (AMP)

westboro-protestsWhen we fail to pro-actively honor our civil authorities, we hinder the advancement of the gospel. Our civil authorities are the gatekeepers of our community. If we want those doors open wide to our efforts to preach the Gospel, we must honor the gatekeepers. We must ask ourselves if the Gospel of Christ is aided by protests and controversy. Certainly the actions of Rev. Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church harm the cause of Christ. They consider themselves to be Biblical, but they frame their action in hatred instead of the Grace of God. God says to honor our authorities so that we may live peaceably with all men.

An unbeliever in early Rome wrote: “They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time, they surpass the laws by their lives. (Letter to Diognetus, chapter 5)

Do we compromise the Gospel to honor and reach civil authorities? Definitely Not!

  • John the Baptist was beheaded because he warned Herod of the lawlessness of sleeping with his brother’s wife.
  • The Apostles, Peter and John, respectfully decline to refrain from preaching Jesus Christ, becasue they decided it was more important to obey God rather than man.

And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:18-20 (NKJV)

Our attitude of Honor is so important in showing our authorities to fear God.

national-prayer-centerPastor Ken Wilde is the Senior Pastor of Capital Christian Center in Boise, Idaho. 22 Weeks out of the year he spends in Washington DC praying for the leaders of our Country. Ken founded the National Prayer Center is an inter-denominational, non-profit organization dedicated to activating, mobilizing and inspiring Christians across America to become involved in the Biblical mandate to pray for our leaders and for national revival in order to heal our land., with over 2000 attendees. The Center is open to members of Congress and their staffs for times of prayer, devotion and spiritual encouragement.

Ken Wilde tells of meeting with a Congressman for the first time. He brought 15 intercessors from a local church along with their pastor. When they were allowed into his office, Ken could tell by the congressman’s body language that he wasn’t sure what they wanted.

He asked what he could do for them. Ken proceeded to tell him they did not want anything, but were only there to thank him for his service to his country and to pray for him.

He said this is a real gift for me. Every day it is an endless stream of people and groups coming in to his office to request money for this or that special interest. He pictures a digital readout on the wall that totals all the money requests each day. “But you have come to give me something today. That has never happened before.

The group prayed for the Congressman, and when they had finished, he asked them if they would pray for his staff as well. When they had finished, he looked at his watch and said, I just had an appointment cancellation, would you like to go over to the Capitol and have a look around? (A Congressman never does this-only interns and staffers.) He led them on a quick ½ hour tour of the Capitol.

Two weeks later Ken received a call from the local Pastor. He was quite frantic. The Congressman had called and told him he was going to come and visit his church with his wife.

Are we to bring the truth to our leaders?

nathan-to-davidWe must speak the truth, but speak it in love. Sometimes God will raise up servants to speak strong words to a civil leader.

  • Nathan to David
  • John the Baptist to Herod

What good does it do when we backbite against our leaders, when we disrespect and dishonor them. What we say in private God will shout from the rooftops on the day of judgment. Speak the truth in your hearts and you will have a heart burning with honor before our leaders. Otherwise your dishonor will poison your spirit and will be manifested before our leaders.

2. Honor for Civil Authority Restores the Fear of God.

scourne-ultimatum-2Peter illustrates the value of the “Scourne Ultimatum”:

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 1 Peter 2:17

Peter says “how can you fear God whom you cannot see, when your don’t honor the leader he has placed his authority upon that you do see?

In America we say: “You will have to earn my respect” The fear of God says: “I see the authority that God has placed upon you, therefore you already have my respect”. We are not to sit in the seat of the scornful, but we are to walk in the fear of the Lord.

  • Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. Psalms 33:8 (KJV)
  • Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. Deuteronomy 8:6 (NKJV)
  • The fear of the Lord leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction; He will not be visited with evil. Proverbs 19:23 (NKJV)

Honoring our civil authorities opens up our community to the Power and Authority of God!

“and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” Ephesians 3:9-10 (NIV)

God uses the church to display to the hidden authorities of this world His manifild wisdom. In the unseen realm of God’s Kingdom, when the church honor’s God’s Civil authorities, it allows God to display His awesome Power. In so doing, the world, the governors know the Fear of the Lord! If we do not fear our authorities, we demonstrate no fear of the Lord, and our authorities will never fear the Lord. The church, Christians, are to be living testimonies of the Power of God!

Herod Agrippa came into power in 37AD.He helped the Emperor Claudius gain the throne after Caligula was murdered. As a reward he was given Judea nd Samaria. Now his kingdom was as large as his grandfather Herod the Great. Herod Agrippa (I) was the one who persecuted the early church. He killed James. He imprisoned Peter tot kill him. This is the King that Peter wrote we are to honor! The Christians continued to honor Agrippa, even though they feared him and endured horrible persecutions for their faith in Christ. In so doing, the Jews and Herod experienced first hand the “Fear of God”!

The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!” Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died. Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers. Acts 12:22-24 (NLT)

God had his way with Herod! The people feared God!

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego honored the King but honored God first. In so doing the King saw the power of God, He feared the Power of God, and S,M, & A were promoted in the land. God’s influence was allowed to spread. The whole Country Feared God!

We see a modern day application of this principle in Nigeria:

nigeria-prayerNigeria is the most populated country in Africa, with over 140 million people. There is a strong Christian movement in Nigeria. The Christians there have a strong sense of honor for their civil authorities. There are monthly prayer meetings where 100’s of thousands of believers gather together to pray for the leaders of the country, and for righteousness to reign in their country.

Abacha took over power from the caretaker government of Chief Ernest Shonekan, who was put into place by General Ibrahim Babangida after his annulment of the 12 June 1993 elections (won by Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola) caused a massive popular uproar.

In 1998 in one of those monthly prayer meetings, a well-known Nigerian pastor, Emmanuel Nuhu Kure had a vision in which he saw the clouds part and two huge angels appear with giant swords. God showed him Abacha’s days were now numbered, in fact he prophesied it would happen within three months.. There would be no escaping if he did not repent.

Word got to Abaca about the vision, and he a “peace offering to Kure, a huge sum of money., to hopefully turn the prophecy around. Pastor Kure said the Lord told him “Do not touch it lest his (ABACHA’s) leprosy come upon you. Pastor Kure refused the money and sent word back to repent and turn to the Lord God.

Three months later, during another large prayer meeting, another Pastor, Pastor Adeboye told the gathering to turn to the people around them and wish each other “Happy New Year”. Everyone was puzzled. Pastor Adeboye told them the yoke was broken and there would be dancing in the streets.

Within 24 hours of his proclamation, President Abacha died unexpectedly of a heart attack.

A BBC news report said that “Nigerians celebrated in the streets across the country at the news of his death.

Today the Harvest is truly Plentiful in Nigeria. God’s Power is truly evident:

nigeria-revivalCharisma Magazine, Jan. 30, 2009 — The counting of the completed Decision Cards from last week’s Gospel Crusade is 803,563. So many people heard the Gospel and decided to receive Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. The local churches follow them up immediately. “Gather up the fragments so that nothing be lost”, Jesus said. (John 6,12). NOTHING BE LOST! That is the will of God.

“The original Gospel comes with signs and wonders, and what we witnessed last week was absolutely glorious! Miracles upon miracles. Without the miraculous the Gospel would be an empty shell. But Jesus Christ is the same…TODAY. Miracles identify Him. If signs and wonders come from God alone, then we cannot be showmen. Christian services are not exhibitions of our religious stature. Christ gives us the victory that He won on the Cross. “From the fullness of his grace have we all received” – that is, “out of” his fullness we receive our supply. “We have this treasure (this power) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). That power flows out as it flows in, the overflowing of God through mortal lives. And this is what we witness.

This Gospel Crusade nearly did not happen because of lack of finance, but the God of Miracles performed another of His wonders and made it possible. A very big Thank You to those who helped us so spontaneously. Imagine if we would not have gone! We love you and pray for you.

More than 800,000 people made decisions for Christ during crusades evangelist Reinhard Bonnke hosted last week in Nigeria’s Delta State. Bonnke, founder of Florida-based Christ for All Nations (CFAN), said 85,000 people gathered the first night of the crusade, held in Isokoland Jan. 21-26. CFAN reported that on the final meeting some 425,000 people attended. Those who accepted Christ were directed to a local church for follow up. “The original gospel comes with signs and wonders, and what we witnessed last week was absolutely glorious. Miracles upon miracles,” Bonnke said in a ministry statement. “Without the miraculous the gospel would be an empty shell. But Jesus Christ is the same-today. Miracles identify Him.” Bonnke said there were numerous reports of the blind receiving sight and the lame walking. One man reported that he had been healed of HIV/AIDS.

3. Honor for Civil Authority is God Rewarding

When we honor a prophet, we receive a prophet’s reward. When we honor a civil authority, we receive a civil authorities award. What is that? It is the key to the community. They are the gatekeepers of our towns, cities, states and nations.

John Bevere in “Honor’s Reward” tells of a church in the Midwest that he used to preach at in the late 80’s. One particular church was about 150 and seemed very stagnant. He preached there three or four years in a row. He stopped going, but decided to go a few years later to a conference they were putting on. The letter of invitation indicated there would be over 800. He was curious, and decided to accept the invitation to speak. When he stepped into their new auditorium it was packed with 8-900 people. He said the presence of God was stronger than he had ever experienced before.

After the meeting, he was alone with the Pastor and asked “What Happened” You were stagnant for years. How did the church grow so quickly? I’ve only been gone three years.

“John, I got so tired about my people complaining about paying their taxes and how wrong our civil leaders were, I had to do something about it. So I took it to prayer and God gave me an idea.” He went to city officials and asked about their greatest need. They shared with him that the fire department needed special equipment to enable the fire fighters to see through smoke.

thermal-imaging-cameraMost fire related deaths are due to smoke inhalation, rather than burning. The smoke is so thick that they cannot see someone even a few feet in front of them. Thermal Imaging Cameras (TICs) use infrared technology to help firefighters and rescue workers “see” through smoke, darkness, fog, dense vegetation, fire and walls to find people and fire sources. A common use for TICs is to quickly and easily locate a fire’s origin without causing unnecessary damage. Thermal Imaging Cameras (TICs) were new at that time and quite expensive. It was going to cost the city $25,000 and they did not have the budget for it.

The pastor preached the next Sunday from Romans 13. In love he corrected his congregation for complaining against city officials. He told the people they were God’s servants and that believers could not be blessed by dishonoring civil leaders and cutting corners on their taxes. Once the scriptural foundation was laid, he told of the cities need for the Thermal Imaging Device, and announced a special offering would be taken. It was a good way to honor those whom God had appointed.

The church responded by repenting of their attitude and giving a 25,000 dollar offering. The pastor called the mayor and asked if he could assemble some of the city leaders so the church could honor them with this check to buy the equipment. When the church people got to the meeting, they were surprised to see how many city officials and workers were present to receive this honor.

At the presentation, the pastor read from Romans 13 and shared how his church appreciated the city officials and workers, and they viewed them as ministers of God. He thanked them all. The city officials and firefighters were overwhelmed by the honor and generosity of the church. (We convey honor by money)

A year later the pastor held a new building dedication. Scores of city workers and officials attended. Many were saved and made the decision to attend the church. “That is what blew open the community to us.”

rick-warrenMany evangelical Christians criticized Rick Warren for catering to Obama and McCain when he had them to his church for his one on one interview. But Pastor Warren was only doing what Scriptures tell him to do, honor our leaders, pray for the President. And because he honored the men running for President, when the time came to invoke God’s blessing on our new President, Pastor Rick Warren received the honor. God unlocked the doors of our nation to a man who saw the value of honoring our civil leaders. Now some criticized his prayer, saying it wasn’t bold enough or whatever, but his prayer was before God almighty and was both honoring to our Creator and our new President. That was not the occasion to get on a soapbox and try to put the fear of God into our country.

But listen to how he closed the prayer:

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

He used the opportunity to honor the one who gave him life, Jesus Christ.

If we dishonor our civil leaders, if we address them like we are better than they, if we try to set them straight so to speak, we are dishonoring God, we are failing to fear God, and we close the door on any opportunity to further honor Jesus Christ.

Look at the life of Billy Graham:

billy-grahamFebruary 2005, Time magazine reported, “He has had the ear of Presidents for five decades, but except for his public disavowal of racial segregation, Billy Graham, 86, has stuck to soul saving and left the political proselytizing to others. He explained his self-imposed separation of church and state in the language of a Gospel preacher: ‘It’s not what I was called to do.’”

Billy Graham never took his eyes from the one who called him to preach, Jesus Christ. He was given the marvelous opportunity to witness for Jesus Christ at the highest levels of government. Former President George Bush said he owes his conversion to Jesus Christ to Billy Graham.

Are You Afraid of God? Are you afraid that one day you will have to face almighty God, Holy God, Righteous God? Are you not sure how you will fare in that meeting? When you revere God to the point of seeing your need for Jesus Christ, you will no longer need to be afraid of God.

satan_fallConcluding thought: When the disciples returned from their special mission to evangelize, they couldn’t wait to tell Jesus about the amazing power they experienced:

“Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” “Yes,” he told them, “I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning! Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20 (NLT)

Jesus said it was no big deal to have authority over demons. Likewise, we can say that it is no big deal to be a civil authority, even the President of the United States! After all, Jesus saw Satan being thrown out of heaven like lightning. He is no big deal! What is a BIG DEAL is to have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! When we honor our civil authorities it works to bring the Fear of God into our society. And wherever the Fear of the Lord is, there the Salvation of the Lord is. People will have their names written in the Book of Life! For that WE REJOICE!