Devotions

Tag Archives: Reach

Respect

Reach • Devotion #6: Respect
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I was raised that there was crude talk and there was swearing. Neither were acceptable, but swearing was against God. In 1811, a man was caught using the name of Jesus Christ in vain. Not only did he swear, but he also started bad mouthing the Bible, too. The man was fined $500.00 and jailed for three months. His crime was blasphemy.

The court said if you have attacked Jesus Christ,

You have attacked Christianity.

If you attack Christianity,

You have attacked the foundation of the U.S.

Therefore, it is an attack on the U.S.

In this case of People vs. Ruggles, the court said, “Whatever strikes at the root of Christianity tends manifestly to the dissolution of civil government.” To go against God was (and hopefully is) synonymous with going against our country. The United States has such a godly heritage. We have been blessed.

The Bible is clear about how we talk. We need to show respect in how we use the name of the Lord. We should not use it in vain or even in a flippant way. The Ten Commandments are listed in Exodus 20. The third commandment says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (verse 7). We see it recorded again in Deuteronomy 5:10-11, “But showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Both passages make it clear that those who use God’s name in vain, will be punished. They will be guilty as charged.

Psalm 139:19-20 adds insight into the topic, “Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain.” Those who use the name of the Lord in vain are viewed as His enemy. God does not take our words lightly.

Matthew 12:36-37 takes our words and careless words to a whole new level, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Be careful what you say, not only can it be held against you in the court of law, it can be held against you in the day of judgment. Do not just stop saying inappropriate things, but speak mercy and truth. Ephesians 4:29-30 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

Tax Exempt

Reach • Devotion #5: Tax Exempt
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I do not know of anyone who likes to pay taxes. Worldatlas lists the countries with the highest taxes in the world. Ireland, Finland, United Kingdom, Japan, Austria, Belgium, and the Netherlands are all at about a 50% tax rate. Denmark and Sweden are about 55-56% with Aruba being the highest at close to 59%.

U.S. Code 501(c)(3) starts, “Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition…” This is part of the federal tax law and explains how churches are tax exempt.

It appears the Bible again came to mind. Ezra 7:24 says, “You are also to know that you have no authority to impose taxes, tribute or duty on any of the priests, Levites, musicians, gatekeepers, temple servants or other workers at this house of God.” There were to be no taxes put on the house of God. Our country was founded on Christian principles. God has blessed America. We need to make sure people do not rewrite the past ignoring our God.  We also need to get our focus back on God. Pray for a revival.

The Chief Justice of the United States is the presiding judge of the Supreme Court. The first Chief Justice was John Jay. He once said, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers and it is the duty as well as the privilege and interest of a Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” Is that not surprising? The Chief Justice told the people to vote for Christians. I think we, the church, bought into a separation of church and state and stopped encouraging our children to get into politics. America needs Christian lawyers, judges, representatives, congressmen, senators, and even Presidents. We need to pray.  America needs Jesus.

In 1892, the Supreme Court stated, “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. It’s impossible that it should be otherwise; and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian.”  I love the word, Redeemer. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” The Lord is our only Redeemer. We should want our thoughts, words, and actions to all be pleasing to Him.

Remember what we are told about the future. Job 19:25 says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.”

Jesus is coming back. He will rule!

Got God?

Reach • Devotion #4: Got God?
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

George Washington made one of the most powerful statements I have ever heard, “It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible.” That does not sound like separation of church and state. The government may not need the church, but President Washington understood it needed God and His Word. Romans 13:1 tells us that government was established by God, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” The government is there to protect us; however, our salvation comes from God. Psalm 118:14 says, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” We should not expect the government to be our strength or salvation.

The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” It was and is important to protect the church from the state. Our founding fathers knew they needed God and focused a lot of our laws and structure based on the Bible. There should be no strife between church and state.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” We need to pray for those in authority. It is not about political party; it is about God and His Word. These verses use some very key words: peaceful, quiet, godliness, and holiness. Peace and quiet are tied to morality and character which is directed and orchestrated by the work of those in authority. The best way to support our authority is prayer. Prayer is so important the passage is almost redundant, “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving.” We need to pray. 

As a pastor, a very common phrase I hear is people at a funeral or going through a tragedy say, “I do not know how people who do not know God would get through this.” God brings peace and direction. We need God; a key way to know God is His Word. As President Washington said, we need God and His Word.

“I entreat you in the most earnest manner to believe in Jesus Christ, for there is no salvation in any other [Acts 4:12]. . . If you are not reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, if you are not clothed with the spotless robe of His righteousness, you must forever perish.”  John Witherspoon, signer of the Declaration of Independence

Tree Branches

Reach • Devotion #3: Tree Branches
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

The United States of America needs Jesus. It was founded on Christian principles. God has blessed America. We need to make sure people do not rewrite the past ignoring our God.  We also need to get our focus back on God. Pray for a revival.

Jedidiah Morse was one of the founding fathers of the United States, and as a geographer, he wrote the first textbook on American geography. He made an interesting observation, “Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present form of government, and all blessings that flow from them, must fall with them.” This is a scary thought, but it makes sense. If the foundation crumbles, the whole structure will collapse. 

The Constitution created the three branches of government: Legislative, Judicial, and Executive branches. The Legislative branch makes the laws. The Judicial branch interprets the laws. The Executive branch enforces the laws. Have you ever wondered how our founding fathers came up with this three-fold approach?

Isaiah 33:22 says,

“For the Lord is our judge,

the Lord is our lawgiver,

the Lord is our king;

it is he who will save us.”

This is a very clear description of our government: “For the Lord is our judge (Judicial branch), the Lord is our lawgiver (Legislative branch), the Lord is our King (Executive branch). I love the closing phrase, “it is he who will save us.” It is the Lord who will save us. He has provided a structure to protect us and provide for us.

The Lord is our only hope. David says in Psalm 39:7, “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” Our hope remains in God. We are so fortunate for our country to be started by a group of people who feared God and based our government on God’s Word. Jeremiah 29:11 is so comforting, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God wants to bless America. The United States needs to bless God. The foundation has been set. We cannot wait for others to make the change. Edmund Burke said it so well, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Moral Law

Reach • Devotion #2: Moral Law
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  2 Chronicles 7:14

The United States of America needs Jesus. It was founded on Christian principles. God has blessed America. We need to make sure people do not rewrite the past ignoring our God.  We also need to get our focus back on God. Pray for a revival.

The sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this… it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”   

Paragraph two of the Declaration of Independence famously starts, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Please catch the phrase, “truths to be self-evident.” We are born with an innate sense of right and wrong. It lends itself to the idea of fixed standards and absolute truth.

C.S. Lewis argued for the existence of God based on this moral law in his book, Mere Christianity. It can be summarized as this:

1. There is a universal Moral Law.

2. If there is a universal Moral Law, there is a Moral Law-giver.

3. If there is a Moral Law-giver, it must be something beyond the universe.

4. Therefore, there is something beyond the universe.

Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 both contain the Ten Commandments. Some have said Moses is the biggest sinner of all time because he broke all Ten Commandments in three seconds (remember, he threw the first set down because of the sin of the people, so God rewrote them). It is interesting to see that countries that do not have a copy of the Bible in their language already had a sense of what is right and what is wrong. Even the 1% biker gangs have a “set of rules.” Moral Law exists.

Only a fool would say, “There are no absolutes” (as that is an absolute in itself). A friend of mine was in college when the professor said, “There are no absolutes.” All he said in response was, “Absolutely.” The professor scowled at him saying, “We are not going there.” There are absolutes. There is truth. God’s Word is the truth (John 17:17), and the truth will set us free (John 8:32).

As our country becomes more and more liberal, we need to hold to the truth. This age of tolerance weakens the mind as one is expected to believe that opposing theories are both right. Some things and thoughts are wrong. We need to share the truth in love. Mercy and truth are walking hand in hand.



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