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Archive for September, 2011

As we honor what it means to be a good neighbor today, I reflect upon one of Jesus’ more popular (and familiar) parables: ‘Parable of the Good Samaritan.’ There, he teaches us that a “good neighbor” is the person who gets personally involved in the affairs of others that require assistance or help. Having compassion on others is the operative word.

At some point during your day, please read Luke 10:29 – 37 and take heed to Jesus’s teaching. You’ll be glad that you did…He concludes this powerful parable by saying “Go, and do thou likewise.”

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In one of the key chapters contained in my first book in 2001, I wrote about American citizenship versus Kingdom citizenship. The similarities and differences are unique and captivating.

Last Saturday, the 17th, the U.S. celebrated “Citizenship Day.” As Christians, we enjoy dual citizenship. Below is an excerpt that is intended to offer insight into our rights, responsibilities, and accountability as citizens of both:

BILL OF RIGHTS

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What is a right?  It is a noun which means “something to which a person is entitled, as by just claim or legal guarantee.”

How are rights claimed within the Kingdom of God?

The Book of Deuteronomy, which means “second law”, the Fifth (last) Book of Moses, was written before the birth of Jesus Christ.  It is comprised of a series of farewell messages by Israel’s 120-year old leader.  It is addressed to a new generation who is destined to possess the land of promise – Canaan – at the end of a 40-year journey in the wilderness.  The Book itself contains a significant amount of legal detail.   The entire Chapter 28 (all 68 verses) is devoted to God’s promised blessings and curses as Moses is attempts to remind this new generation of the importance of obedience if they are to learn from the sad example of their parents.

What is most unique and intriguing about the Book of Deuteronomy is that we have more recorded of what Jesus Christ said and did in the last week of His life than in any other.  When Jesus answered the devil’s temptations with, “It is written”, he fetched all his quotations out of this book – see Matthew 4:4, 7, and 10.  Although this is an Old Testament book, it is very relevant today concerning our obedience to God’s Word.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14promised blessings include:

:1 …”set thee on high above all nations of the earth”

:2 …”blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee”

:3 ”Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.”

:4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground…”

:5 ”Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.”

:6 ”Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out.”

:7 ”The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.”

:8 …”The LORD shall command the blessing upon thy storehouses, and in all that thou setteth thine hands unto;…”

:9 ”The LORD shall establish thee an holy people unto himself…”

:10 ”And all the people of the earth shall see that thou art called by the name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of thee”.

:11 ”And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods…”

:12 ”The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure…to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow”.

:13 ”And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath;…”

Deuteronomy 28:15-68promised curses include:

:16 ”Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field”.

:17 “Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store”.

:18 ”Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land…”

:19 ”Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when goest out”.

:20 ”The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly;…”

:21 ”The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it”.

:25 ”The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them:…”

:29 “And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee”.

:32 “Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto other people, and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thy hand”.

:41 “Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity”.

 :43 “The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low”.

:45 ”Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed;…”

:59 “Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance”.

:61 “Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law…”

:66 “And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee; and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life:”

In verses 1 and 15, “if” is the operative word.  It denotes a contract between us and God.  “If” we chose to obey His Word, 14 of the 68 verses in chapter 28 will shower us with blessings.  We have favor in the sight of God and man.  Conversely, by choosing not to obey His Word, we are subject to some promised 54 curses.  These curses are built-in and inseparable from His Word.  God’s Word does not return to Him void and He cannot lie.  We, therefore, must never forget the benefits (rights) that belong to His children (us) through obedience to His Word.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not his benefits:” (Psalm 103:1-2).

American citizenship

Our nationality, citizenship, and sense of belonging are usually determined by birth.  By the fact that we were born in the United States of America (U.S.), we are  “Americans”.  We enjoy certain rights and benefits under the Constitution of the United States17  as drafted and adopted by this country’s forefathers in the 17th century.  Further, the 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution, known as the “Bill of Rights” guarantee certain freedoms to American citizens in which the U.S. Constitution itself had been silent.

The U.S. “Bill of Rights”

During the debates on the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, its opponents charged that as drafted, it would open the way to tyranny by the central government.  These opponents demanded a “bill of rights” that would spell out the immunities of individual citizens.  Thus, several states asked for such amendments while other states ratified the U.S. Constitution with the understanding that the amendments would be offered.

On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the U.S. proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments that met the arguments most frequently advanced against it.  Ironically, the first 2 were not ratified, however, articles 3 through 12 were and constitute what we know today as the “Bill of Rights” – the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  A brief synopsis of the amendments to the U.S. Constitution (The “Bill of Rights”) are as follows:

Article I           –           Freedom of speech, religion, press, petition and assembly.

Article II         –           Right to bear arms and militia.

Article III        –           Quartering of soldiers.

Article IV        –           Warrants and searches.

Article V         –           Individual debt and double jeopardy.

Article VI        –           Speedy trial, witnesses and accusations.

Article VII      –           Right for a jury trial.

Article VIII     –           Bail and fines.

Article IX        –           Existence of other rights for the people.

Article X         –           Power reserved to the states and people.

Christian citizenship

As Christians, we also have covenant “rights”.  We have a right to:

A relationship with God (Romans 5:1-2)

Fellowship with God (1 Corinthians 1:9-10)

Abundant life (John 10:10)

The peace of God (John 16:33), and

Live a successful Christian and natural life (3 John 2).

By faith in Jesus, we are born again.  We are now citizens of the city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and our names are registered in heaven (Hebrews 12:22-23).  We have been translated from the power of darkness (our old ways) into His marvelous kingdom (by salvation) and we now have a new covenant (a legal and binding agreement) which contains all of the covenant rights and benefits that we are to enjoy.

 

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”   (Colossians 1:13).

These rights and benefits are expressly written in the Books of Romans through Jude (New Testament).  Romans, as written by Paul, is placed first among the thirteen (13) epistles in the New Testament.  This Book explores the significance of the sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jude, last among the 13 epistles, encourages us to have faith in God and to fight against our spiritual enemies regarding that faith.  The Book of Galatians, which is one of the 13 epistles, is the Christian’s “Declaration of Independence”.

A giant step toward knowing, accepting, and walking confidently in our rights and benefits as Christians is to know The Holy Bible and to not be ashamed of the truth as it revealed through the Holy Spirit.

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4-5).

“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).

 


17.  The United States Constitution was adopted by a convention of states, September 17, 1787 and ratification was completed on June 21, 1788.  To view the U.S. Constitution in complete detail, visit the website: http://www.law.emory.edu/FEDERAL/usconst.html.

Source: Give God the Glory! Know God and Do the Will of God Concerning Your Life, 2001, Chapter 3.

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In the Book of Habakkuk, chapter 2, the LORD, through His prophet Habakkuk, answered a pivotal question to the nation of Judah in the midst of their sinful ways. The LORD said to him, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” (KJV) 

In our efforts to promote literacy today throughout the world, please join us to enhance our literacy rates to help the next generation to excel.  Suggestions would include reading a quality book once per week, supporting local bookstores, promoting great Christian literature, and joining a writer’s group or book club.

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Today, in the United States, we recognize “Labor Day” as the opportunity to cease from our typical day-to-day labor. For the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens, it is a welcomed day, always on the first Monday of the month, since we only “labor” at a job that we don’t like anyway. To learn more about how this holiday originated, click here:

http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm

For me, this day is quite significant.  It is more than just a day off from work (labor), it is a day of REST and RELAXATION!! Rest is defined as peace and quiet. In the Scriptures, it is descriptive of physical relaxation (Genesis 18:4). Further, our bodies need it so it is recognized in God’s law (Exodus 20:10-11) and by Christ (Mark 6:31). In total, this word “rest” is referenced 275 times in the Bible, beginning in Genesis 8:9 and ending in Revelation 20:5.

On this day, I “rest” upon one my favorite teachings by Jesus:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Enjoy this day of rest.  Even God rested on the seventh day after He created the heavens and earth (Genesis 2:1-3).

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