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“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness (adultery and lust), not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:12-14)
 
sdMany people believe in parachutes. That is to say they know what they do and believe (for the most part) that they’ll perform as advertised, but they would NEVER put one on. Myself included.
 
And for many people, it’s the same way with Jesus. They believe Jesus is who God says He is, but they’re not going to ‘put Him on’ because to do so would mean to alter their lifestyle.
 
Some believe that they can put Jesus on just before they die. That’s like saying they’ll jump out of the plane just before it crashes, but having no idea when that will occur or that it’s happening now.
 
When the Bible talks about belief (or faith), it’s with the understanding that the ‘believer’ trusts to the point of obedience. In other words, if you truly believe (if your faith is real), you will do as Jesus (God) has commanded.

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“Everyone must submit to governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1)
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Not every Bible verse we read may give us peace and comfort initially. A good portion of Scripture is instructional, designed for our well-being particularly when we’re unable to see the bigger picture. This was the
ecase for me four years ago. Romans 13:1-5 was not a comforting piece of Scripture to me, but I discovered peace and comfort in God in my obedience to His word. Like it or not (and I did not) Barack Obama was my president and I was going to submit because God said so. To put it another way: I feared not the man, but the Lord. I still do, therefore #Notmypresident was never an option.
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Now (for me) the tide has turned and I have a sense these Godly directives will be a bit easier for me to follow, but for you maybe not so much. Perhaps these last four years for you were smoother, but now you’re faced with submitting to folks you may very well despise. As I’ve previously outlined – I feel your pain and I can relate to what you’re going through. I am here to tell you that if you truly fear God, you would do well to comply with His directives. In so doing there is peace and there is comfort.
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do.” (Romans 13:1-5)
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Now of course this is all grand counsel if you are a Christian. If you are not, the Bible and all of God’s tenets are foolishness to you, which happens to be another position I can relate to. The solution for me was to submit to Jesus Christ and His perfect will for my life. Prior to receiving Jesus as my Lord and Savior, there was no peace or comfort, only temporary solutions to problems that I had absolutely no control over. In Jesus I discovered the solution.
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If you’re still reading and you’re not a Christian, I suspect that perhaps you’re feeling God attempting to draw you closer into a relationship with him. If that is the case, the onus is upon you to respond to Him and I’d encourage you to investigate further.
Please don’t hesitate to comment or ask a question.

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Do not forget my law, But let your heart keep my commands; For length of days and long life And peace they will add to you. Let not mercy and truth forsake you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart, And so find favor and high esteem In the sight of God and man — Proverbs 3:1-4

There is no sense in rehashing all that’s been said regarding the Duck philDynasty, Phil Robertson, and A&E debate. If by some chance you don’t know what the fuss is all about, just Google the last half of the previous sentence and you’ll be up to date. What I wanted to address is how this event is going to effect your faith walk. In other words, what can we as followers of Jesus Christ glean from our brother Phil? I believe the answer to that question is found in the following sentence, spoken by Phil Robertson in a recent prayer.

“I will not give or back off from my path because you conquered death, Father, so we are not worried about all the repercussions.” 

I’d like to share with you what I took away from this historical event (yes, I said historical) and of course, preface my remarks (as Phil did), with the Word of God.

Boldness

Since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech — 2 Corinthians 3:12

Anyone can be bold. Boldness is a unique trait in that it requires fuel to function. What is fueling your boldness? Is it arrogance, anger, or hatred? They can fuel boldness, but when they do they manifest themselves in ugly ways, such as ‘Westboro Baptist‘ rallies that only succeed in spewing the very things that sustain them: arrogance, anger, and hatred.

Not so with Phil’s example. His boldness is fueled by his hope in Christ. Oh not a worldly version of hope; the wishing for and yearning, without certainty or assurance of getting that which you ‘hoped’ for. No, a Christian’s hope is much different. It can be described as a strong and confident expectation. We know, based on the past performance of our Lord and Savior, that He will faithfully provide everything He has promised. Jesus isn’t our insurance policy, He’s our assurance, positively.

Shame-less-ness

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes — Romans 1:16

Phil is quite obviously not ashamed of Jesus Christ or his faith. This is apparent because he openly shares about Jesus on a regular basis. There are no apologies either, because there is this recognition that when Biblical truth is shared, there exists the opportunity for salvation. Phil would likely remind us that saving a man’s soul trumps everything else.

Truth

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth — John 17:17

Bible truth will always be perfect, proper, and pure. Some folks might not agree that the Bible is truth, but that does not negate the fact that it is. Jesus said that He is truth and that obedience to truth is the only way that leads to life everlasting. When Christians share the truth, we don’t do so to win debates, but to win souls. For this reason we must leave our opinions at home and rely solely on the Word of God, lest we muddy the waters.

Humility 

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith — Romans 12:3

Obedient Christianity cannot operate effectively in arrogance. Anyone who took Phil’s comments to be arrogant surely took them out of the context of love and lowliness he presented them.  For this reason, knowing the Gospel message and sharing our testimonies are vital. The Word mirrors God’s love and our witness reflects servility.

Love

Let all that you do be done in love — 1 Corinthians 16:14

If we hated those who hate Jesus, Christians would remain quiet, but it’s because we love that we boldly share the truth. We view communication as an expression of love and silence as the language of hate. Silence is also cowardly; if we hated sinners, we would not subject ourselves to ridicule, insults, and exclusion. We love because Jesus first loved us to salvation; we were hopelessly lost when Jesus reached out His scarred hand to us. We were dead in our sins and Christ’s work on the cross revived us. It’s our desire to share, not shatter.

Revival

If My people who are called by My name will 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

Here’s the sad truth: the Body of Jesus Christ, His church, has by in large fallen asleep. Don’t get me wrong, there are thousands of Christians across this great land of ours who are boldly, shamelessly, lovingly, and humbly sharing the Gospel message. But friends, there are literally millions of people in America who claim Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior who sit idly by. In love, I question their allegiance.

Consider that on September 11th, many souls were aroused and we gathered in the public square professing Christ’s name, crying out to Jesus in our anguish, but we soon relapsed. Since then we have witnessed hurricanes, wars, mass-shootings, and bombings that have brought us back to our knees, but again, when there were signs of recovery, we fell back.

We properly rallied around Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A, buying many knickknacks and chicken sandwiches in support, but yet again we slumbered. Now today, God has allowed yet another event to occur that has caught our attention. In peculiar fashion, American Christians everywhere have become part of reality TV when we opted to stand with Phil Robertson and his right to speak openly about Jesus Christ and all things Biblical, but where will we be standing next week?

Are we poised to fall away once again or this time will we put a death-grip on our revival? Will we embrace boldness and love or return to complacency and compromise? How soon will we forget that thousands of souls are being lost everyday and that God has positioned each of us to make a difference. I submit to you that this is the biggest thing we can take away from the Duck master episode.

Be ye revived!

Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14

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You’ve been shot? Wow, I’m real sorry dude. Didn’t you tell me you believed in bullet-proof vests? I’m thinking maybe you should have put one on.

Of course this isn’t a real conversation, but an illustration of how knowledge alone doesn’t do anything unless it is practiced religiously. In other words knowledge does not become wisdom until it is applied. Just as every intelligent person knows a bullet-proof vest must be worn to work properly, every Christian knows Jesus must be put on in order to be both effective and protective. Knowing what Christ accomplished does not save a person; He must be worn as one would put on a bullet-proof vest or a parachute and kept on until you safely arrive at your destination.

Putting on Jesus also speaks to obedience. Faith without obedience is akin to believing in your bullet-proof vest, but keeping it in the closet. If you truly believe in Christ Jesus, in earnest gratitude you will do what He says to do. If you aren’t seeking to obey Him, then you are not a believer.

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:4-6)

At the end of the day, faith (like love) is an action. We can say we belief in Jesus all we want, but if we purposely disobey His instructions we aren’t believers, we’re deceivers

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh… (Romans 13:14)

But my bullet-proof vest is so uncomfortable. I can’t move around as freely as I did before.

Isn’t that what so many people say about Jesus too?  Well here’s the reality: Jesus said that His yoke (teaching) is easy and the burden He asks us to carry is light. Since we know that Jesus cannot lie, we must take what He says at face value, hence putting Him on will NOT restrict our freedom.  The fact is the opposite is true: fully grasping that we’re saved eternally is the most freeing and comfortable and peaceable thing a human being can experience this side of Heaven.

Do you believe in Jesus or do you believe in Jesus?

If you were arrested for being a Christian today, is there any evidence that could be presented to bring about your conviction?

Is a dusty Bible enough evidence?

  1.  What do these passages say about God?
  2. What do hey say about you?
  3. Are there any changes you need to make?

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Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.  Psalm 103:2-7

“You just don’t understand what I’m going through.”

Have you ever said that?

Did you ever stop to think that maybe it’s a good thing that the person you said that to doesn’t understand and that maybe God has determined that your present situation doesn’t require two emotional wrecks and therefore placed this person in your life to be a spiritual voice of reason.

Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:4

Having said that, it’s also a reality that God might allow stupid, callous, and insensitive people into our lives when we are struggling emotionally. Not only are they oblivious to what it is you’re going through, but they are typically oblivious to what qualifies as Biblical wisdom.

There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health. Proverbs 12:18

This is all the more reason that as a follower of Christ Jesus, you should be firmly grounded in His Word, His church, and sound Christian fellowship, so when disaster strikes you’ll know, by the guidance of he Holy Spirit, who you can talk and listen to and they’ll know, by the same Spirit, when to talk and when to listen to you.

It’s written in Proverbs, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.”  These words should be etched upon every tear, for when difficulties come (and they will) we tend to forget that one of the purposes of the church is for restoration. While anxiety, fear, and stress serve to blind us, exercising our faith (receiving sound, godly counsel as opposed to rejecting it), revives our sight and sharpens our vision.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  James 5:13-16

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A smart person believes in parachutes.

A stupid person is one who believes, but refuses to put one on when he knows the plane is going down.

Similarly, many believe in Jesus Christ, but have refused to put Him on.

“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But PUT ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 13:11-14 (emphasis mine)

If you have not put on Christ Jesus, you are crashing, you have no protection and you will not be saved. You can complain that it’s not fair that ‘Jesus is the only way,’ but I bet if a flight attendant handed you the last parachute on a doomed plane you would not point out how narrow-minded she was, but would put on the only thing that could save your life.

If you believe in Jesus, it means that’ll you’re willing to do whatever He says in order that your life will be saved. Jesus on the other hand does not require perfection, only submission.  All He says is, “Put Me on.” 

If you’re not sure what it means to put on Jesus, just ask!

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But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel… Philippians 1:12

As it pertains to joy and our personal walks with Jesus Christ, the fact that Paul was in jail when he wrote so many of his letters is important. By Paul’s model we can recognize that any obstacle is but another opportunity to magnify our Savior. Paul’s attitude and conduct further demonstrates that we can experience the joy, which we have previously received, regardless of our circumstances. Just as the sand in our bathing suits is the natural by-product of having gone to the beach, joy is the supernatural consequence of choosing to walk by faith — it will always be there.

Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs. Isaiah 61:7 

Why So Down?

Is the situation you are going through really worse than that of Paul’s? This man, who at the time was likely shackled to six different Roman guards during the course of any given day, found his joy in the fact that he had six different people he could regularly witness to. Paul’s outlook in prison had such an effect on other believers, both imprisoned and free, they were emboldened to move beyond their comfort zone and share the gospel with others.

It has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1:13-14

Imagine if Paul chose to languish in his condition rather than write letters of encouragement and exhortation to the churches? One thing is for certain: we would not have them as part of the Bible today! The truth is that God allows these things to happen to us because He knows there are opportunities within these challenges to honor and glorify Him.  He also doesn’t want us to remain in the condition He found us and provides the conveyance by which we might excel.

Consider These Words

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ…you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake… Philippians 1:27-29

Did You See it

The stuff you might be going through or likely will go through in the future, is more or less a confirmation from the Lord that you are on the correct path. In this regard it is a privilege granted by Him that we might suffer for a divine purpose;  it’s a process of refinement that we get to endure. As it turns out, our afflictions are the mechanisms through which blessings can flow three ways.

How else could James possibly proclaim:

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

God is telling the submitted Christian that tribulation is not the draining siphon that the world sees, but rather a satiating funnel through which He can supply all our needs. Imagine that!

Don’t Resist

Hear the word tribulation or trial or affliction and it’s our tendency to bolster a defense. We gravitate towards the three C’s: contentment, complacency, and convenience, and often manufacture protective Christian comfort zones for ourselves. Alasdair A. K. White defines these places as,

A behavioral state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.

Don’t the words ‘neutral and limited’ just leap from the text?

The Christian would likely never say it out loud, but their disposition often screams, “I have worked hard to reach this point in my spiritual journey, I have given up a whole lot of sin to get here, and I have reached the point of ‘I’ll-do-this-but-no-more.’

When another brother or sister in the faith comes along, as Paul does, and suggests they could progress, they summarily reject the proposal for the sole purpose of maintaining their nonaligned and narrow position within a fabricated safety zone. I have witnessed the ruin of many a Christian friendship because of this selfish behavior.

 “Get away from me you legalist,” is frequently the response, when in reality, legalism is far from being the substantive issue. This ought not to be.

Where’s the allegiance to Christ Jesus?

Where’s the obedience?

Where’s the submission?

Where’s the scripture that proclaims Christians are to exist in a contrived comfort zone?

Did we so quickly forget that our comfort is found in the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31), the Holy Scriptures (Romans 15:4), in Holy prophesy (1 Corinthians 14:3), in Holy fellowship (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and our Holy Father (2 Corinthians 1:3), and not a zone?

Let us reject spiritual stagnancy and embrace those things that propel us forward to our common goal. Let there be so much joy in our pockets, that when we change our clothes at the end of the day, the floor might be covered with it.

I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. Philippians 3:13-17

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