Devotions

People Rule

Gather • Devotion #3: People Rule
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

The Founders of the Constitution said, “The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrine and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” They sincerely held to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a shame that I might sound politically incorrect or intolerant to quote our founding fathers. We cannot let history be rewritten.

An aspect I like about our government is that there was an importance placed on governing self and family as the first level of governance. This can be seen in several of the Amendments to the Constitution.

  • The First Amendment says, “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.” This Amendment shows a trust in people. People are to work things out together peaceably and go to the Government as the last option, not the first.
  • The Second Amendment adds, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Again people are to settle issues and not expect the Government to handle everything.
  • The Ninth Amendment continues the thought, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” People are the focus, not the Government.
  • The Tenth Amendment also says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Power is delegated to people. We need to figure out how to live together.

This concept of people going to each other first is clear in Scripture. Matthew 18:15-17 says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” When wronged, we are encouraged to go to the person, not the court.

1 Corinthians 6:1 discourages us in taking others to court. It says, “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?”  Suing is not to be the first option. We need to try and settle things outside of the court.

Our country was founded on Christian principles with an emphasis to live correctly. The founders emphasized “pure doctrine and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” We are blessed and need to be a blessing to God.

Equality

Gather • Devotion #2: Equality
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

The Constitution of the United States’ First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” From the start, the goal of our founding fathers was to protect the church from the state. It was not to keep them separate or to protect the state from the church. Psalm 33:12 says it so well, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.”  Our nation, government, legal system, and authorities need God. It is God who blesses and who withholds blessings.

There were twelve pre-draft variations of the Constitution, which are all expressed in the sentiments found in this one, “Congress will pass no laws making one denomination of Christians higher than another denomination.” It is interesting that it does not say religion; it says denomination. By definition, all denominations hold to Jesus being God, while religions vary. Our country was not founded on the choice of any religion; it was based on Christianity.

Another concept that shows our Christian heritage is how the founding fathers viewed all men as being created equal. The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence says, “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.” All men are created equal. Realize the theistic aspect of the reference to people being created and God being referenced as the Creator. That is awesome. God is the creator. You were created by Him and therefore have value, meaning, and purpose.

All men being created equal was not a new concept. Our founding fathers would have found this in the Bible. Acts 10:34 says, “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.’” As Americans, we probably cannot fully appreciate the depth of this concept. God treats us all the same and our government was set up to treat all people the same.

Galatians 3:28 also reminds us, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We are all equal in Christ. There is no favoritism. God loves you no matter what your gender, color, race, height, width, and personality portrait. We are all the same. We all need Jesus.

“He who made all men hath made the truths necessary to human happiness obvious to all…  Our forefathers opened the Bible to all.” Samuel Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Schooling

Gather • Devotion #1: Schooling
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 Bible was important to our founding fathers. In a ten-year study undertaken at the University of Houston, researchers examined 15,000 documents from America’s founders and determined that:

  • 34% of their quotations came directly from the Bible,
  • 94% of their quotes were based on the Bible,
  • 60% used the Bible to arrive at their conclusion. 

The founding fathers studied, knew, and applied the Word of God. They knew it was important and that the Bible changed lives. Scripture became a part of primary and basic steps in the formation of our country. The Northwest Ordinance makes sure that children gain an appreciation for God and His Word. Section 14 Article 3 starts, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” New areas needed to have schools. Those schools needed to incorporate religion, morality, and knowledge. Schooling is not just to be of the mind. It needs to involve the heart and soul of our children.

Religious education was encouraged. This is not about whether our kids should go to Christian, private, parochial, or public school. It is not whether or not they should be homeschooled. It is that our children need to be taught the Bible and character development. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” We are responsible for teaching our children about God and His Word. It needs to be a natural and intentional part of our lives.

Ephesians 6:4 adds, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Our homes, our schooling, and our country need Jesus. Our leadership, our children, and each of us need Jesus. Be intentional. Pray specifically.

George Washington said, “What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” Benjamin Franklin insisted that schools should teach “the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern.”

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!



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