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In fact, He may lead some to get rid of the television altogether. From the bookshelf to the closet, Jesus will penetrate the whole life. When He is in the heart, He influences every other area. This is a basic teaching of Christianity. The apostle Paul warned Titus of those who "profess that they know God; but in works they deny him.

And James is crystal clear that a relationship rooted in Jesus will produce external evidence.

From the Preacher's Heart

You can't be a Christian in your heart without it showing on the outside. God's Ambassadors We, the Church, are the hands and feet, the eyes and mouth, and yes, even the ears of Jesus in the world today. We are the Body of Christ. Our Lord said, "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. We have been sent into the world to demonstrate who Jesus is and what He is like. Through the Holy Spirit we become His representatives-to reflect His image in everything from the way we talk and work to the way we eat and dress.

In 2 Corinthians , God says that "we all Those opposed to Christianity rejoiced, mocking the immorality and hypocrisy exhibited in the lives of these men and their wives who professed to speak for Jesus. During this tragic time, the secular media often made reference to their flamboyant dress and gaudy jewelry as proof that these professed Christians were not genuine.

These inconsistant TV preachers even inspired one famous musician to write a popular song entitled "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex? It is a sad day indeed when Christians win the medal for opulent external adornment! Wearing Our Wealth Let's take a look at the origin of jewelry. God made all of the gold, silver, and precious jewels in the world, and He intended for them to have a practical use. Since even small amounts of these minerals are so rare and valuable, long ago they began to be used as money.

Over time, people began wearing their money in order to impress others with their wealth. When shoppers went to the market to buy an expensive item, they would simply pull off one of their rings or bracelets to pay. After Rebecca had watered the camels for Abraham's servant, the Bible says that he paid her in this way.

When the children of Israel brought an offering to the Lord to build the tabernacle, they used the jewels they had received from the Egyptians. It was their money. There is obviously nothing wrong with having money. But the question is, does God want Christians to wear their wealth for all to see? Of course not. Since it is a sin to covet, why would you want to entice a brother or sister to covet your money by wearing it for all to see? What could possibly be the motive for a Christian to do this? The reason gold and jewels are so valuable is that they are rare and expensive to mine from the earth.

Angels must marvel when they see us put on jewelry to signify value and wealth. In heaven, gold is used for pavement, and diamonds are the stones that form the walls of its mansions! Just think of it. From heaven's perspective, gold is asphalt and diamonds are blocks! How silly it must appear to heavenly beings when we dangle asphalt and bricks on our ears and wrap them around our fingers.

Wouldn't you look twice if someone walked into your church next week wearing a black asphalt pendant and a matching tar ring? In evangelism, I've met many sincere people who had attended the popular churches in their towns only to turn away disappointed because they discerned a spirit of pride and display among the members. These genuine seekers of God entered the sanctuary hoping to find a church home, but instead they found extravagance with which they could not compete.

How happy I've been to offer them a church where the wealthy and the poor choose not to parade their status by wearing fancy clothing and jewelry. These individuals have been thrilled to worship where they don't feel that they're looked down on if they don't wear the latest fashions. I hope that my church will always stay with the Bible truth on this subject. We have too much to lose otherwise.

Those who seek to justify the wearing of jewelry usually point to Bible stories in which God's children wore gold, silver, or jewels. For example, the Scriptures report with no comment that Joseph wore a ring and "a gold chain about his neck" Genesis , that Saul wore a bracelet 2 Samuel , that Mordecai was given a ring by Ahasuerus Esther , and that King Belshazzar gave Daniel a scarlet robe and "put a chain of gold about his neck" Daniel But, remember, just because we see something done in Bible times does not mean that God condoned it.

The Scriptures simply record a faithful history of God's people-including all their failures. Noah drank wine and became drunk Genesis , Lot had sex with his daughters and got them pregnant Genesis Judah hired a prostitute for a night, impregnated her, and later discovered she was his daughter-in-law Genesis We cannot assume that God condones such unsavory practices just because these incidents were mentioned in the Bible. Other passages of Scripture clearly tell us that God condemns alcohol, incest, prostitution, and jewelry as anti-productive to accomplishing His purposes for humanity.

One story that is often cited to justify jewelry is that of the prodigal son. Since the father "put a ring on his hand," some say that we can assume God wants us to wear jewelry. Obviously, as we've just seen, this parable is not an inspired comment on whether Christians should wear rings. Furthermore, the ring the father gave his son was most likely a signet ring.

Signet rings contained the family seal. People used them to press this unique seal onto official documents. It was the family's signature. Rather than an ornament for display, signet rings were a tool for officiating documents and were usually worn on the index finger. Before the prodigal son left home, he asked his father for his share of the inheritance. Once he received his money and goods, he left home to spend it all on "riotous living.

Out of money and destitute, the foolish prodigal later found himself flat broke, hungry, and poorly clad. In desperation he returned home, trusting in the goodness of his father to at least take him in as a servant. The prodigal felt that he no longer deserved to be a son, since he had squandered half of his father's hard-earned savings. But instead of rejection, his father showed him unlimited acceptance. He replaced the prodigal's rags with a comfortable and clean robe and put shoes on his bare feet. He filled his son's empty stomach with a feast.

And to the son who just wasted his riches, this father gave the signet ring-the family checkbook- with free access to his remaining fortune. One reason I do not drink any alcohol is because one person in seven who imbibes will eventually become an alcoholic. Even though I might be able to drink moderately, I do not want my bad example to cause another person's downfall-especially for something so unnecessary as intoxicating beverages. The same principle holds true for jewelry. We have all seen people who cover themselves with gold and precious jewels-gem-aholics, if you will.

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Most people who wear lots of jewelry do not sense their personal worth. They hope to feel more valuable by covering themselves with expensive articles. Others believe they are unattractive and hope to increase their perceived beauty by adorning themselves with beautiful gems. They can't control themselves. They think that if one is good, then 10 would be better.

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Just for the record, I have never heard a man say: "Isn't she beautiful? Just look at her jewelry! Well, here is the big question. What is that point? If it's okay for women to wear earrings, then who is to say it's wrong for men? If one ring or earring is acceptable, then why not three or four? If the laymen can wear jewelry, why not the clergy? If a ring in the ear is all right, then what's wrong with a bone in the nose? Perhaps you have noticed the modern craze of body piercing. Four earrings in one ear and rings in the nose with a chain between them.

People are now piercing their flesh and wearing rings in their eyebrows, navels, tongues, and other places we can't mention in a Christian publication. Why would a Christian want to be a stumbling block for someone else and encourage this trend by wearing any jewelry? It's all unnecessary. Especially for people who are preparing to meet Jesus.

Speaking of people living in the time of the end, the prophet Ezekiel warns, "They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity. If I were to wear any jewelry, I would instantly open the floodgates of inconsistency by my example and cause many to stumble. If I really love my brother, why would I insist on taking that risk for something so frivolous and unnecessary as jewelry?

Whenever you are unsure about which course to take on a spiritual issue, take the safe position. I know that on the judgment day, God will not condemn anyone for not wearing enough jewelry. So the safe thing is to not wear any. Modesty and Humility The original purpose for clothing was to cover the nakedness of our first parents. Adam and Eve never would have dreamed of hanging gold or silver on their bodies to accent their fig leaves! Clothing was for modesty and to protect them from the changing climate. Someday God will place a golden crown of victory on the brow of the overcomers.

Yet even then the saved will remove their golden crowns in God's presence Revelation , Notice what God told the prophet Isaiah about jewelry and fancy clothing. A woman in Bible prophecy symbolizes a church. In this prophecy, the women churches were to be severely judged because of their pride, which is directly connected with external adornment. Because we wrestle with sin and temptation, now is not the right time to glorify our exteriors.

The supreme goal of the Christian is to attract attention to Christ, not to self. Decorating our mortal bodies with glittering gems and minerals usually springs from pride and is diametrically opposed to the spirit and principles of Jesus. Pride of appearance was a large factor in Lucifer's fall and rebellion. When God originally created Lucifer as a perfect angel, He gave every precious stone as his garments-"the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold.

Unfortunately, Lucifer chose to misappropriate God's gifts. Filled with pride, he decided he was beautiful enough to have God's place on the throne of the universe.

Luke Sermons | Precept Austin

Pride led to rebellion. Rebellion led to war in heaven. And war in heaven led to sin on earth. Ever since Adam and Eve's fall into sin, we humans have had to struggle with the same sinful nature that has pride at its root. God, therefore, has commanded us to not wear jewelry. In our sinful condition, we are no better able to resist the tendency to sinful pride than was Lucifer. When our physical bodies are changed at the second coming of Jesus, we will no longer be tempted to sin. Only then will Jesus consider it safe to place a crown of gold on our heads.

So until then, we would do well to follow the counsel given by the apostle Paul on the subject of adornment: "In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Poor "Investments" Christians are to be faithful stewards of the means God entrusts to their care.

Some display gems on their bodies that, if sold, could build an entire church in the mission field. Our money should be spent to spread the gospel in a practical, effective way. The Lord asks, "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? See also Matthew No doubt you will find glaring examples among church members and in churches where money has been squandered on some needless extravagance. I confess that I too have been guilty of this. But one inconsis-tency never justifies another.

God's money should not be spent for parading diamonds and gold or even cheap costume jewelry. All the jewelry will melt when Jesus comes, and I would prefer not to be wearing any when that happens! The Bible declares the folly of such "investments" in James "Your gold and silver is cankered [corroded]; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire.

Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Little Idols When I present the Bible truth regarding jewelry, I rarely hear complaints from those who are newly converted. But the folks who have been in the church for years will often pout and argue, "Doug, it is such a little thing! Perhaps the most striking demonstration of this fact was the experience of the Israelites with the golden calf.

The Bible records: "And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

When the children of Israel passed the offering plate, they had enough jewelry to make a small calf. I fear that if we were to pass the plate today in the churches of those who profess to follow God's Word, we would have enough jewelry to make a whole golden buffalo! After the golden calf experience, God commanded the people to remove their jewelry lest they be consumed. And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.

Notice the similar warning God gives to His people living in the last days: "In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the rugged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. Dressing for the Occasion There was a time when God winked at the wearing of jewelry and other evils such as slavery and polygamy.

It was not because He approved of these practices, but because His people had bigger problems to deal with at that point in time. Acts , 31 tells us: "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent. As an illustration of the judgment process, God gave to His people the Day of Atonement.

It fell on the tenth day of the seventh month in the Jewish year and was a solemn day on which the Lord would sanctify and judge the children of Israel. In preparation, the people conducted a thorough personal examination. They were filled with an attitude of confession, repentance, and humility.

For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest -- who normally wore a jeweled vest and fine garments that were symbolic of the glories of heaven -- changed into a simple, white linen robe. It is his plain dress that we should emulate, because we live during the prophetic Day of Atonement.

Just as the entire camp of Israel was required to clean and change their clothes on Judgment Day, so are we who live in the judgment hour just before Jesus returns to earth called to purify our hearts and to separate ourselves from all pagan influences. Other Bible stories further illustrate how people changed their dress when they prepared to meet God. Here is one from Genesis "And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.

Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange [foreign] gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. We forget our past failures, and we fail to acknowledge our current struggles. We forget the patience, forgiveness, and opportunity others have shown to us, and we place ourselves on the pedestal of self-made perfection which others are expected to attain.

Honesty with ourselves promotes humble patience towards others. The most critical people are those who have never experienced genuine love and forgiveness. Though we fail him, he loves us still. Unlike Adam, Jesus loves his bride, the Church, unconditionally, washing away her stains with his sacrificial blood.

Its weight is so great that no human can lift it. Only God could lift such a burden. Run to Jesus, and ask him to forgive you and transform you into a person who loves, forgives, and shows mercy. Jesus not only lifts our shame onto himself, he also clothes us with his robe of righteousness Isaiah As long as we live for the approval of others, we will trend toward hypocritical self-aggrandizing and harsh criticism of others. Exhaustion and despair eventually overcome us as we strive to live up to what we think others expect from us.

Jesus welcomes us to experience his rest and favor. He invites us to hear his approval of us as adopted and loved children in his family. When our image is found in Christ, we experience the freedom of loving others without seeking their constant approval. Rather than simply talking about our image in Christ, Christians must practically receive their renewed image in Christ. Walls are a hot topic in the news media and political world these days. We do not know what is going on behind.

Though neither designed by governments nor guarded by human soldiers, it proved to be most impenetrable. Any time Adam and Eve approached Eden, there stood the cherubim reminding the couple of their isolation, mortality, guilt, frailty, and foolishness. The cherubim served as an impenetrable wall separating life in the Garden of Eden from death in the wilderness.

When sinful men and the holy God interact, a violent explosion occurs, instantly killing sinners cf. Leviticus The curtain stood between them as a reminder of inaccessibility. It is this baffling question God decisively answers on Good Friday in the death of Jesus. We must come to grips with the cost of our sin and our inability to do anything about it. Good Friday is the day God sent the wall tumbling down, crumbling the iron curtain separating the Creator from his created.

Good Friday is about God crucifying the God-man so that we may experience his welcome and hospitality. Ultimately, this is the story of Scripture: God making a way through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ so you and I can enter the house of God to dwell with God, beholding, glorifying and enjoying him forever. Only as our appreciation deepens for what Christ accomplished on our behalf will we be motivated to remove the walls of hatred and hostility which exist between us and others. We are quick to construct walls founded on arrogance, ignorance, and fear, thus alienating us from our spouse, co-workers, church family, and other nationalities.

Because we fail to understand and savor the hospitality God has shown us, we often offer hostility to those around us. To burn any oil at all is never a good thing, but to use 1. So, I took her car to the local dealership and thankfully learned Toyota has acknowledged certain engine models have a piston ring defect and will be repaired at no cost to the customer.

They told me it would be a day process. Upon hearing this news, I figured I would surf the internet to see if I could find a manual showing how complicated the process is to replace piston rings. I found the repair manual, started reading it, and got a headache! It was a 13 page manual containing parts, procedures, and tools of which I had never heard.

I quickly closed the page and went back to ESPN. Perhaps there are times when you open your Bible and feel as I did reading the repair manual. It gives you a headache and heartache. However, to forfeit time in the Scriptures is to forfeit the life only God can give.

So, where do we find this longing to saturate our lives with this life-giving and life-sustaining Word? Here are three foundational questions to ask and evaluate about our lives if we are going to learn to savor the Scriptures.

The church is the people in whom the Word of Christ finds a welcoming home Colossians The Apostle Paul states that the Holy Spirit illuminates our minds and hearts to see and receive what the Scriptures teach 1 st Corinthians The natural man will not and indeed cannot understand spiritual things. Just as salvation is a gift of God, so also is the ability to behold wonderful insights from the Scriptures. Sadly, prayer and humility are scarce in the lives of many Christians and churches.

Bible intake and prayer should work harmoniously. The Scriptures form the content of prayer even as prayer is preparing us for further understanding in the Scriptures. Through introspection of the three foundational questions listed above, I am confident many of the deficiencies in our Bible reading, understanding, and savoring can be corrected.

More to come on this subject next week…. Sitting in a theatre, we become engrossed in the two-hour drama on the screen as we appreciate the finished work of actors, actresses, and directors. Standing in a stadium, we celebrate three hours of athleticism and competition as players and coaches match skill and strategy. As much as we enjoy the finished work of actors, players, and painters, we often ignore the years of behind-the-curtain detailed planning and practice-facility repetitions that are required from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Peyton Manning, and Michelangelo.

Yet, it is rehearsals and repetitions that make the experience in the theatre, stadium and art gallery so remarkable and memorable. Those six hours on Good Friday provide the point of all reference for the Church. Christ on the cross reveals that cheap grace and the God of the Scriptures are removed from one another as far as the east is from the west. Christ on the cross boggles the mind with the truth that the God-Man being crucified is God saving us from God, his wrath that is to come.

The cross must remain the focus of the Church. However, Christmas provides an opportunity for the Church to reflect on and appreciate the life of Christ that leads up to the cross. We need both atonement for sin his substitutionary death and a perfect righteousness that comes from outside ourselves his righteous life. The two can never be separated.

I am fully aware that there are details of this messy affair to which I am not privy. However, there are numerous aspects of this crisis in its relation to the Church that I do know.

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Here are a few:. What role can my church play in ministering to the refugees? Why am I feeling such tension in my soul about this? What about the responsibility I have to protect my family? As concerned as I am for those in Syria who are being killed and persecuted, I am also deeply concerned that the people I have been given the joyful charge to pastor approach this crisis with the mind of Christ. In response to the four items listed above, here are four things that you and I need to be searching during this time. Yes, we need to be informed about the current events in our world, but how will our response to these events be Christ-like if we never seek to filter them through the Scriptures?

The news media presents the news; the Scriptures provide Christians with our response to the news. The news media often thrives on the fear of the population; Christians thrive when our paralyzing fears are met with the providence and promises of God. The most remarkable display of hospitality, love, and compassion in the midst of evil is God coming in the flesh.

We are living evidences of the power of sacrificial hospitality. We have been saved out of this evil regime, only to be sent right back into it to do the same thing for others that has been accomplished for us Leviticus ; Leviticus ; Deuteronomy ; Matthew As we search the Scriptures, we are immediately led into seeking the heart and wisdom of God for ourselves and others. We are so quick to make our thoughts known that we fail to stop and know the heart of God. As our leaders attempt to decipher the best policy for the protection of our nation and showing compassion to the hurting, we need to pray that they would submit themselves to God and seek heavenly wisdom.

Yesterday, Dr. The Scriptures remind us to pray for the hurting and oppressed, as well as for our Christian brothers and sisters who are imprisoned and being martyred. The most influential thing a man or woman can do is pray. Let us not simply give lip-service to this oft-ignored responsibility we have as Christians. As we search the Scriptures, we are faced with the reality that our patriotism and personal security can be detrimental to following the Lord Jesus.

I like the comforts and conveniences as much as anyone, yet God is showing me that personal security can quickly morph into a personal idol that we protect at all costs. The Good Samaritan counted the numerous risks involved in helping the stranger on the cruel Road to Jericho, yet he cared for the man as if he were his own brother. These idols are articulate, biblically-literate, and applauded by the public, yet they are not to be trusted.

Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Screaming that the United States should receive Syrian refugees and compassionately caring for those refugees are two separate ideas. It is hypocritical for a person to demand that the government receive refugees when he or she does little to help the hurting in their own backyard. There are numerous individuals and families who are hungry and hurting in Walker County, yet they often go unapproached, untouched, and unloved by the hundreds of churches throughout this county.

However our nation responds to the Syrian refugees, searching the Scriptures should lead us to a more proactive stance in ministering to our community. In the years leading up to her death, my own grandmother furiously battled emphysema. A short walk to the garden would leave her breathless and fatigued. Work was almost completely out of the equation.

Jesus knew the dangers of stuffocation for all humans, which is why he taught so frequently about wise stewardship and generous giving. We allow the gifts to eclipse the Gift, who is also the Giver. The fresh wind of revival is neglected in favor of the stale, polluted air of materialism. Without the breath of Christ, corporate worship becomes mundane, discipleship seems dull, and the passion for ministry, evangelism, and missions is suffocated out.

In fact, it is the only answer. Kenneth Mathews writes,. It is a matter of our desire to give.

Jewelry: How Much Is Too Much

If we desire to give ourselves to the LORD, then we will prioritize our expenditures, ensuring that we give of our possessions freely. Only when we drop the gifts at the feet of the Giver will we experience the life-giving breath for which our lives so desperately long and churches so desperately need.

Giving of our financial resources, time, and talents to Kingdom work in the local church and beyond causes God to heal our spiritual emphysema. Morning doses of surrender remove the pillow that is firmly placed over the noses of so many Christian homes and churches. Do you and I really desire a fresh breath of Jesus? If so, it is time that we take the necessary steps to quit stuffocating ourselves. We hear the words our spouse utters, but we miss the heart message of what they attempt to communicate.

Perhaps this is why Bible reading, particularly Old Testament reading, can be so difficult and dry for us. It is a story from beginning to end of love and sacrifice, salvation and sanctification, community ministry and worldwide mission. Let me provide an example. When we open our Bible to Genesis 10, we read about nations that are foreign to us and names that are difficult to pronounce. At first glance this chapter seems to have no importance for us or message to us. And, we would be wrong. This is where understanding the big story of the Bible is vital. Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel incident demonstrate the sinfulness of all humanity.

Then, the story transitions to more names, but these names lead to a specific person: Abram Abraham. There is nothing special about Abram. Christ becomes the One through whom the promise is ultimately realized. Those who bless Christ are eternally blessed; those who curse Christ are eternally cursed.

It is only by divine grace that we experience the blessing. And ironically, he chooses to use us who were destined for eternal cursing to bring the gospel of eternal blessing to the world. It is a joy and responsibility from which we must not shrink. The story of God manifests the glory of God to the world. Trials are inevitably coming our way. All of us are well aware that life will slap you in the face, knock your feet from underneath you, and attempt to beat you into bitterness.

Cancer, death, disappointment, persecution, and a whole host of other difficulties arise daily. Yet, the Scriptures repeatedly remind us that these slaps, kicks, and beatings serve as a rich environment in which something, either sweet or bitterly rotten, will grow in our lives. We will either produce the rottenness of bitterness and anger, or we will grow into deeper Christian maturity and Christ-likeness.

They do not lead off a cliff. In all the setbacks of our lives as believers, God is plotting for our joy. Tribulations can shield us from the enemies of self-sufficiency, pride, and prayerlessness that will damage our walk with God and witness to the world. Much like a football team who never plays a legitimate opponent throughout a season, a life without difficult tribulation leads to an erroneous evaluation of how strong, mature, and complete we really are.

Laziness and smug complacency poison the soul, serving as a far greater threat to us than any tribulation we encounter. The antidote rarely tastes good, but it is necessary if we are to become the people God ordains us to be. Anicia Proba, widowed in her thirties, had to flee for her life to Africa during the attack on Rome in AD.

While in Africa she began to struggle internally with the difficult circumstances of her life. During this time, she met Augustine and questioned him about how she should pray in the midst of despair and loneliness. Her difficulties led her to more richly and passionately seek the God who helps.

The grave threat to her soul was being killed at the same time she was growing more complete in Christ. You can click on the link to have your heart encouraged. It issues a call to deep discipleship and intimate fellowship. It serves as a vivid reminder that we are to offer Spirit-filled, fiery worship to our Creator. It provides a timely and necessary push into being faithful witnesses in a land where we are but strangers passing through.

It sounds a forceful warning against idolatry, identification with this worldly system, and indifference toward the Savior. It furnishes a closer and clearer examination of who is the ultimate authority in heaven and on earth. It brings the scales of heavenly justice to those who love worldly injustice. It constructs the stage on which the lion lays down with the lamb. It sifts the wheat from the chaff. It discriminates between those made holy by the Lamb and the unholy hypocrites. It divides the sheep and goats. It paints the unparalleled portrait of the risen, glorified Jesus who was a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles, yet who reigns sovereignly over both groups.

It endures two thousand years later to encourage and embolden us today to be faithful witnesses living in the midst of confusion and chaos. It energizes our oftentimes anemic worship. Maranatha, come quickly Lord Jesus! Webster, Follow the Lamb , 3. An Easter Prayer for Our Community. You have revealed your salvation to us through the life, death, and resurrection of your Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. You have provided clear evidence of his authority through the mighty works and numerous signs done during the time in which he took on human flesh.

Father, this week I ask that you would cause many to believe the Gospel message they hear from us, your Church. I ask that your outstretched arm of salvation deliver and your Spirit breathe life into some soul that has drowned in the sea of sin and death. I ask that they believe and live! May the heat of your intense love melt away the hardness evident within so many hearts in this community. Cause them to see with their eyes the wondrous cross on which Prince of Glory died. May they turn from their sin in repentance and run Spirit-filled down the narrow path of holiness, pursuing Christ-likeness.

Add more to the number who go into the fields and witness to your saving work throughout the nations. As I eagerly long for Christ's return to see your glory fully revealed, I ask that this week many would experience your kingdom bursting into their lives by being reconciled to you, trusting Christ for salvation. There are many well-known Bible verses and passages whose true meaning and message have been brutalized throughout church history. The real meaning and message of the text is sometimes hidden behind our traditional, cultural, and situational interpretations.

Lest we think athletes are the only guilty party, there are numerous other examples of interpretation-brutality that we hear eloquently and confidently flow from the lips of preachers, deacons, youth pastors, and Christian dads and moms every day at funerals, weddings, hospitals, corporate worship services, and places of work. With April 15 th being less than a month away, I think it prudent for us to look at one passage that is often brutalized when discussing government authority for taxation.

Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2 provide further foundation for this responsibility and expectation. The brutality that often comes along with quoting this verse lies not with what is said, but rather in what is not said about the verse. Just as the coins belong to Caesar because his image is imprinted on them, so our lives are to belong to God because his image is imprinted all over and in us.