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Archive for the ‘Old Testament’ Category

The other day a strange feeling came over me.

Don’t get me wrong about what I’m about to talk about here. I’m not claiming any powers of discernment or certainty.

I got the distinct feeling that there’s something wrong with a lot of people who say they are Jesus-followers/believers.

If you wan to supply your own vocabulary, like “aren’t saved” or “aren’t Christians,” do so at your own risk. I’m not saying that. (There’s other blogs for that, if you want to pursue that game).

No, but it was plain as daylight to me that when I hear a lot of people talk about Jesus, I feel like I’m hearing… an abridged version… an abbreviation if you will…

I said abbreviation. A shortened version of a real word. You see the abbreviation, you’re supposed to know what it means – yes, we all agree, we know what abbreviation means –

Don’t we?

We all know what the shorthanded version stands for.

Right?

Or perhaps, we don’t.

I’m beginning to think that when people say Jesus, the definition they mean can’t be trusted.

I’m getting the feeling that we’re talking about a kind of “mini-Jesus.” A diluted, declawed, demoted savior who is a symbolic representation for a kind of anemic, watered-down, unbiblical, culturally acceptable Jesus.

I get the feeling that if you move beyond the standard biographical paragraph, you’re going to discover that the Jesus you’re hearing about has considerably less to say than the Jesus as we meet him in the Gospels.

You’re going to discover that he has little or nothing to do with most of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, and the more demanding parts of the New.

You’re going to discover that there’s a remarkable resemblance between the abbreviated Jesus and the current version of political correctness. (Isn’t it unusual how Jesus takes an interest in whatever happens to be the current rage of the mainstream media these days?)

I’m not sure this abbreviated Jesus believes in hell.

He seems considerably more flexible on sexual matters that one would believe reading the Bible.

Living together before marriage? The abbreviated Jesus seems to have not issued a statement on that one.

I actually think the abbreviated Jesus doesn’t like to be bothered with issues of morality, character, or behavior. He’s mostly interested in larger political and cultural issues, or your experience at your local church, or how you’re doing in your relationships.

The abbreviated Jesus has quite a bit in common with contemporary “life coaches,” talk show hosts, political apologists, faith-based advocates, teachers of “principles,” community organizers and family value lobbyists.

The people who talk about the abbreviated Jesus don’t seem to know much about the Bible. Not at all.

But they still have a surprisingly strong opinion about the meaning of all kinds of things Jesus said and did in the Bible.

The abbreviated Jesus can convincingly seem like the real Jesus, until you look and listen closely. Then it appears that he’s lost his laptop, his luggage, and his cell phone. So for right now, he’s reading it all off the teleprompter.

The abbreviated Jesus doesn’t vary much from the script.

In fact – and this is what really got my attention – the abbreviated Jesus would only get crucified if there were some terrible mix-up.

The abbreviated Jesus is Jesus without the Biblical context, Jesus without church history, Jesus without Jesus theology, Jesus without costly discipleship, Jesus without offensive teaching or mysterious parables. The abbreviated Jesus is so easily explained, so comprehensible and user-friendly that anyone can follow him, even without instructions.

In millions of cases, the abbreviated Jesus is Jesus without the church. He’s Jesus who lets your pick your friends, pick your community, and pick your comfortable seat. He’s OK with whatever your plans are for the weekend. He’s not making demands of your time. He’s a major spokesperson for unplugging the fourth commandment. He’s not making any demands on your money that don’t follow your emotions. He wants you to feel personally fulfilled about whatever you choose to support. The abbreviated Jesus seems to always need one more book to really get down to what he actually means.

He has a lot of preachers who understand him, and a lot of churches where his way of doing things has become very popular.

Aside from abortion and gay marriage, the abbreviated Jesus is pretty happy in America. There’s so much for his friends to do and enjoy!

I don’t trust this abbreviated Jesus.

Sometimes, he’s been in my house, my head, my heart, and my ministry. I don’t like him.

He’s flat. Empty. Easy. Moldable.

He’s not full of the Holy Spirit. He’s full of US.

Frankly, he’s seems to be full of … well, my daddy might use those words, but I’m not going to use them, especially in a blog. If you don’t know what they are, ask a farmer who knows the real Jesus what the abbreviated Jesus is full of…

I’m announcing that I’m afraid of the abbreviated Jesus and his followers. I’m afraid of his “church”, his books, and his kind of “discipleship”. I’m uninviting him from my life, and my interactions with other Christians.

I want to know Jesus. The untamed, old school, offensive, mysterious, demanding, awe-inspiring, transformational, life-altering, crucified, risen, ascended, revolutionary Jesus.

I’ll spell it out: He’s the Creator. The Mediator. The Fulfiller and Establisher of the Law. He’s the Passover lamb. He’s the Head of the Church. He’s the heart and key to the Holy Scripture. He’s the meal on the table. He’s the life in the living waters. He pours out the Holy Spirit. He’s the rider on the white horse. He’s the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.

He is the Eternal God.

He doesn’t need my explanations, endorsements, or euphemisms. He isn’t reading my note cards and nodding. He doesn’t tolerate my sins. He’s the life of God for the sin of the world. He’s righteous, sanctification and holiness. He’s the Kingdom bringer, the executioner of judgment, the one who is worthy to open the scroll and read the books. He’s the light of Heaven and the conqueror of hell, death, sin, and the grave.

He’s the one in whom all history, poetry, story, and theology come together into the Great I AM. He’s the mystery and the Word that reveals God to all persons. He’s the Gospel itself, the meaning of every message and the open door of God’s mercy.

You can’t abbreviate him.

You fall at his feet and worship. You get up and follow. You die and he raises you on the last day.

That’s Jesus, and I have a feeling that a lot of people really don’t have a clue.

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Our Lord and Savior, our Superior in the chain of command, has given us a mission. We call it the GREAT COMMISSION. Remember the commanding words Jesus spoke as He was ascending to heaven while the disciples looked on:

“All authority has been given me in heaven and earth. Therefore, go to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I am with you always as you do this.(Matthew 28:18-20 )

Our mission of leading people to accept Christ and become His disciples must take priority in our day to day existence. Lives depend on this. The eternal destinies of men and women hinge on this. We should center our lives as Christians and as members of the church on this task we are called to do and on the essentials that enable us to accomplish it.

If we allow ourselves to be sidetracked into dealing with non-essentials, then we will only slow ourselves down. In fact, we will risk not being able to accomplish our mission. We will hinder our ability to be a part of the greatest task God has ever given to His people. And, to accomplish this mission, there are three essential things we must know and believe.

* We must have a correct belief of the nature and authority of the Bible.

* We must have a precise understanding of who Jesus is. And,

* We must have an accurate comprehension of how a person is saved, converted, how someone comes to be a Christian.

These three beliefs encompass what I believe are the bare essentials that we need if we are to complete the task God has given us. I have always loved the following saying and would love for it to be able to be said about the Christians everywhere ….that in this place we have freedom in the non-essentials, UNITY IN THE ESSENTIALS, and love in every thing. So for the next three posts we will take a close look at these essential beliefs. Today we look at the first essential–our belief about the Bible.

Let’s consider this:

* Why is our belief about the Bible important?

* Why is this an essential?

* Why do Christians revere this book?

We do this because the Bible involves the whole issue of the revelation of God. Think about it. How can we know God exists? How can we know what He is like? You and I are not intelligent enough to even scratch the surface of understanding the nature of God. He is infinitely above you and me. Job 11:17 expresses this when it says, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?”

The answer is no…we can’t. God is simply too big for us to understand.So if we are to have a relationship with God then He must reveal Himself to us. He must take the initiative. And He has. God has revealed Himself in several ways.

* God has revealed himself through nature… Romans 1:20 says, “…ever since God created the world, His invisible qualities, both His eternal power and His divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made.”

* God has revealed Himself through History. The Old Testament is full of expressions that reflect a recognition of God because of His activity in the affairs of men and nations. II Chronicles 33:13 reflects this acknowledgment of God as being active in the history of Israel when it says, “Then Israel knew that the Lord is God.”

* God also revealed Himself through the prophets He sent. These men often used the phrase, ” The WORD OF THE LORD came to me…”

* But God’s fullest revelation came in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1:1-2 says, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by HIS SON.”

So in past millennia God has taken the initiative to reveal Himself in many ways. But what about people like you and me who were not present in years long gone and did not see God’s involvement in history or the events surrounding Christ’s life, death, and resurrection? To reveal Himself to all people something more was required — a WRITTEN RECORD was needed. And so, God has given us this in the Bible… He has revealed Himself to us on the pages of this book.So our beliefs about this book are important because these pages are the written story of God pursuing a relationship with humanity. Suffice it to say that this book is unique. There is no other book like it and never will be.

And today, as we look at the unique characteristics of the Bible you will see why it is so important for us to give it the authority in our lives that it demands.

So the Bible is not just another book…..it is different….in several ways….

1. First of all it is different from any other book — in that it is the WORD OF GOD and not man.

As the verses in our text for today put it, “All scripture is GOD-BREATHED….none of it originated in the will of man….” And the entire Bible beginning with the Old Testament makes this claim. If you were to sit down and read from Genesis to Malachi you would count over 3800 times in which phrases such as “Thus says the Lord” or “This is the word of the Lord” are used. The writers of the New Testament repeatedly recorded their belief that the Old Testament was God’s word by directly quoting the Old Testament over 300 times as being the “Word of God”.

Jesus affirmed the authority of the Old Testament, when He said in John 10:35 — “for we know that the scripture is true forever” In fact every tenth recorded saying of Jesus is a direct quote of the Old Testament. In Luke 16:17 Jesus says, “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the smallest detail of the Law to be done away with.”

2. The Bible is also unique in that, unlike any other book it is a book that is alive.

Remember the words of Hebrews 4:12 that we read earlier, “The word of God is living and active”? Well, it is living and active. And so, when we read its words, they reach out and touch the needs of our lives in an almost tangible way. Isaiah 55:11 describes scripture as being a living agent or messenger that God sends to touch our lives. Listen to what God says in this passage: ” ….My word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

So, unlike any other book, the Bible is living and powerful.

3. The Bible is also unique in that by reading its words a person can come to know God personally.

Remember the words of II Timothy 3:15-17 “….from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. “ Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the WORD OF GOD.” Remember the words of John 20:31. “…these words are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in Him.”

You know…. perhaps the best way to summarize the make-up of this book is to say that it is an invitation from Creator to creation. It is God’s written invitation to all of us. In this book God invites you and me to live our lives according to His wisdom. He invites us to give this book authority in our lives–to adopt it as our guidebook–our instruction manual for life.

In these pages God has issued a written invitation to us–to know Him personally, to walk with Him daily. Like all invitations this book calls for us to respond.

What will your’s be?

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I have recently read on Twitter, and heard on the radio of some people’s refusal to refer to President Obama as “President” and from hence forth they would refer to him as “Mister” – in a desire to protest the alleged issue of his possibly not being a “natural born citizen” of the United States, and thus Constitutionally ineligible to hold the office of the Presidency.

I do not know if the case itself has merit and this is not the topic of this particular post. However, I do have an issue with the denegrating of the Office of the President of the United States by those refusing to maintain respect for the man that does hold the office.

This controversy is not isolated to the United States, President Obama, or even the last 1000 years (yes, that’s right, this issue has been debated more than one thousand years ago) – In the book of Numbers we are told of a similar uprising against the appointed ruler of the nation of Israel.

16:1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:

16:2 And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:

16:3 And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?

Moses was confronted with citizens that refused to respect his appointment, claiming that they were as good as him, and therefore just as entitled to hold the office of leadership. The problem is, that even back then, people assumed that God had no hand in selecting the leader of the nation. This is a grave error in judgement.

In the time of year when the calendar reminded us to celebrate Mother’s Day and to celebrate Father’s Day in a matter of weeks, millions of people take the time to honor Mom and Dad with greeting cards, a special dinner out and perhaps even a gift. A big hug and an “I love you, Mom (or Dad) later, and it is pretty much over.

Not bad gestures to the ones God used to bring us into the world. Of course, we already understand that honoring our parents should not be limited to “their” one day each year, but should be an ongoing activity. While we are honoring parents, have we thought about “honoring” people generally—not just parents?

Other societies have special words of honor reserved for the elderly. Even an older brother or sister is called by a special term of honor in some cultures. Some peoples have a tradition of bowing to others out of respect and deference, yet we seldom see the like in our “enlightened” countries.

We live in a culture and age of dishonor. This is a time when political cartoons and editorials routinely lampoon our leaders. Turn on the radio—or maybe we should not!—and we find the AM band awash with talk shows from all political stripes. Their theme seems to be discussing whose reputation they wish to destroy today. Their vitriol soon infects even your upbeat attitude. Yes, this is on BOTH sides of the political aisle, even conservative talk-show hosts are not God’s messengers, but reflect the thinking of a segment of this world.

So we try the TV. As we surf the channels, we cannot help catching television’s equivalent of the talk show—but this version comes with fights, flying chairs, accusations and bleeped-out epithets hurled by and at participants. The next channel calls itself “wrestling,” but it’s largely big-mouthed thugs dragging a potential opponent through a verbal cesspool. Soap operas fare no better. Even children’s cartoons often reflect Satan’s anger, his fighting, his insulting of any and all around.

If we are not careful, we can begin to think and talk the same dishonoring way. Nobody is safe from attack or being dishonored. Not the presidency, not members of congress, not school teachers or law enforcement officers. This is an irreverent and disrespectful age. It is time to see what God says about honoring others—something very different from what the world teaches us.

What Is Honor?

According to the thesaurus, honor has these synonyms: “esteem, respect, pay homage to, assigning value to.” The Greek word translated “honor” in our English Bibles, timao, means “to prize, i.e. fix a valuation upon; by implication, to revere” (Strong’s Concordance). Showing honor, then, means treating another respectfully because we value them highly.

So is honor due anyone? Should we put value on any man or woman, or should we honor God alone? What does the Bible say? A study with a concordance reveals just how much God has to say about honoring others. He does not limit it to honoring our parents.

Romans 13:7 tells us clearly honor is due certain ones: “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” That begs the questions: To whom is honor due besides God? And how do we honor others?

The truth is that we will never sincerely respect, prize, value or honor anyone until and unless we start with an attitude of meekness. Honoring and respecting others will not happen when a superior or holier-than-thou attitude is present. Paul tells us to “esteem others better than” ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

When we truly repent of what we are, and how we regularly fall short of God’s holiness, we cannot remain in a pompous mood. Perhaps we can learn from some of those who have lived God’s way before us. John the Baptist says of himself: “He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Paul considers himself “the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle” (I Corinthians 15:9). He also writes that he is “less than the least of all the saints” (Ephesians 3:8). History will conclude otherwise, but it opens a window into Paul’s thinking. When we dishonor others, it is a sure sign we are thinking of ourselves or others wrongly. We are to love others as ourselves, honoring them.

Honoring from a pure motive is possible only when we have a proper perspective of who God is, what we are, and who others are in relation to us and God. It begins with deep honor and respect for God—and thus for all He says. The first four commandments lay the foundation for doing this.

Honoring Parents—and Children

So what does God say about honoring others? What qualifiers does He give before honor is given?

The last six commandments deal with our relationships to other people. A society built on a solid family unit where Dad and Mom are honored, will be a society that will likely also obey the last five commandments. So honoring others comes easier when children are raised to honor their parents. Likewise, a society that honors its parents will conduct itself honorably.

The fifth commandment reads: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12). God states no qualifier. He does not tell us to honor them only if they are honorable. Simply because they are our parents, we must treat them with respect. In the New Testament, Paul repeats the command, again without reservation, in Ephesians 6:2-3. Jesus makes it clear several times that He honors His Father (John 8:29, 49; 17:4).

Granted, honoring parents can be very difficult if Father is a drunk or Mother is a lying thief. Their actions may sometimes be dishonorable, but because they are Dad and Mom, they are to be respected. The commandment has no loopholes.

Thus, we need to take stock of ourselves on this point. Are we at odds with Dad? Are we angry with Mom for any of her actions? Is it time to lay that aside and listen to the fifth commandment? Is it time to heal, to restore and to honor? When was the last time we really honored our father and mother?

In turn, parents are not to provoke their children “but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Our heavenly Father sets the example by publicly honoring His Son more than once (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). Jesus preaches a heartwarming passage of the closeness He has with His Father (John 5:18-30) and the mutual respect and honor that is present in their relationship. Our heavenly Father honors His Son and expects us to honor Him also (John 5:23).

Those of us with children, especially, should take time to study this section carefully. Do we treat our children with dignity and respect due someone made in the image of God? How we treat our children can indicate how we might lead a city. Are we prepared to receive a city from God (Luke 19:15-24), or do we need to learn more about encouraging and even correcting in a way that maintains a person’s dignity, self-respect and honor?

Honoring Our Spouse

Those who are parents should understand how much easier it is to honor someone who lives an honorable life. It certainly is easier to honor a father who openly respects his wife. Dads set the example for the whole family by showing honor to the woman God gave him to be the mother of his children!

Peter admonishes, “Likewise you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (I Peter 3:7). A husband should give his wife the impression she is the finest in the land. The apostle links this with our salvation and relationship with God. It is that important!

Proverbs 31:29 illustrates how a husband praises his wonderful wife: “Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.” Husbands need to ask themselves, “When was the last time I told my wife she’s the best?” If we desire an excellent wife, we must treat her as if she already is one. Then watch the miracle happen!

Men are often experts at finding fault, at discovering what was not done just right. We think we are helping our mate to be a better wife by constantly pointing out these things. Yet just the opposite happens! Instead, we must try to find ways to praise, honor, encourage, and promote growth and joy in the hearts of our wives. We need to pray for God to help us love our wives as Jesus loves the church, giving Himself for her, and presenting her to Himself as being without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:25-30). Are we without spot or wrinkle? The lesson here is obvious!

Wives are not off the hook either. The same Peter who tells husbands to honor their spouses also instructs wives to submit to and obey their husbands, “as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” (I Peter 3:5-6). Paul reminds wives to submit to their husbands “as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). How would we treat our husbands if he were Christ? That is the standard.

When children see Mom honoring Dad, and Dad praising and honoring Mom, they in turn find it so much easier to honor Father and Mother. Beyond that, this powerful example teaches them how they should conduct themselves when they eventually marry and have children.

Honor Others

Honor must not stop with the nuclear family. All older people should be honored as well. Leviticus 19:32 commands, “You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD.” Again, God includes no reservations or qualifiers.

When was the last time we saw children and younger adults automatically stand when a senior citizen entered the room? God says this should happen. It still does in parts of the world, especially in Asia, but not so in our own country. Some people rise for women. Why do we not do this for the elderly?

Even more important than this honorific action is the attitude of respect for the older generation. Imagine what our society would be like if everyone followed this principle of honor! Our culture will be sorely tested in the next 30 years, when the numbers of gray-headed citizens will skyrocket. We already see the beginnings of the aging boom, as life expectancies climb and millions of Baby Boomers get older.

Whom else should we honor?

Widows should be honored. In I Timothy 5:3, Paul instructs, “Honor widows who are really widows.” Society so often abuses widows, who, because they are vulnerable and often alone, are often victims of scams. We need to note the widows amongst us and give them special respect and attention.

Our spiritual elders, ministers, are to be honored. Paul teaches in I Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” Respect for the ministry has eroded over the last decade or so. Again, whether we think they have earned it or not, their position requires respect. Jesus teaches us the principle of respecting those who sit in Moses’ seat (Matthew 23:2-3), even hypocritical Pharisees! Certainly when we see ministers who are truly faithful and hardworking, who correctly teach God’s Word, we should honor them twice as much, as Paul suggests. Not all shepherds are the Ezekiel 34 kind!

Honor All

Is it beginning to become clear that honoring goes way beyond just respecting God and parents? God wants a world where respect and honor of others is the way of life of its citizens. Romans 12:10 says just that: “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”

We are to honor one another, but do we? Perhaps we should challenge ourselves to think of ways to show honor to someone—anyone—each day. When was the last time we actively and consciously honored someone? When did we last thank, write a letter of appreciation, or call someone to show respect? If we are not, maybe it is a sign that we think too highly of ourselves and not highly enough of others.

Honoring one another touches all of our relationships. As we saw earlier, we should honor our ministers. They in turn must treat older members as they would their own fathers or mothers, in other words, with honor. Ministers also have to treat younger men and women like valued brothers and sisters (I Timothy 5:1-2).

Bosses and employers are often the butt of ridicule, sarcasm, cartoons and jokes. Some may seem well deserved, but notice I Timothy 6:1: “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed.” Slavery is not prevalent today, but the principle is obvious: Respect the boss. Ephesians 6:5-8 says we should sincerely obey, respect and serve a boss as if he were Christ Himself. Nowhere does Paul say our boss must first act like Christ before being given that respect.

This is not the end of the matter. The Bible is just warming up on this subject!

The standard is the same for all of us. Honor God, honor family, honor Christ, honor one another. Jesus appears to us today through the members of His church (I Corinthians 12:12-27). He lives in us, so the way we interact with one another is the way we are interacting with Christ Himself. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (verse 27, NIV).

So who is left to honor? God wants us to learn to honor everyone. Imagine a world where everyone honors everyone else!

Here is the Bible’s simple statement: “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (I Peter 2:17). Every time we speak or interact with someone, anyone, everyone, we should conduct ourselves with humble, meek respect.

Even the King?

Peter, in three words, teaches a very difficult concept. He commands us to “Honor the king.” The historical background of his words should give us a better perspective and teach us a powerful lesson.

Peter, having already written that we should honor all people, knew some brethren would resist honoring Nero, the heathen Roman emperor. Nero was a perverted madman, eventually hated by the Romans themselves. He had mercilessly tortured and killed hundreds of Christians in various cruel and demeaning ways. It is very difficult to expect Nero to be honored by someone whose mother had been crucified and used as a human candle for one of Nero’s garden parties!

The pattern that we have seen all along surfaces again here. Nero was king. A king is to be honored, for he represents the office given him by God (Romans 13:1). Whether the king is honorable or not, he is king, and God says we should honor him as such. If we are resisting the power they have, we are resisting God’s ordinance (verse 2). Paul even calls the civil authorities “ministers” or servants of God (verse 4).

In our time, we see a dishonored presidency. We do not need details, as we have heard them over and over. If Peter were writing today, he would say, “Honor the president.” As badly as America’s president has conducted his personal life, it still pales besides Nero’s life, many of whose actions are unprintable. Regardless, Christians are still to honor him.

That is a tough order! Many of the early Christians no doubt despised Nero’s reckless, godless behavior. Some had personal reasons to hate him. The commands from our King, however, remain the same: Forgive those who trespass against you (Matthew 6:14). “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Honor the king.

When we obey God’s command to honor all people, we are following our heavenly King and honoring Him. Then what happens? Jesus answers in John 12:26: “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

So first we humble ourselves, then give honor and respect even those who might appear to be unworthy of honor and respect. The result? God the Highest, the Supreme Being in the entire universe, will personally bestow honor and glory on those who have obeyed this and other commands. This is God’s way: The more we give, the more we receive. The more honor we give, the more honor we will also receive.

Tough as it may be, we should make it our aim to honor everyone—all the time.

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