I Don’t Want to Render to Caesar

caesar

Today’s Passage – Mark 12 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 106 – 110; Proverbs 22

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:6

“And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? … And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.” – (Mark 12:14, 17)

You will probably not enjoy reading this post as much as I won’t enjoy writing it. In our reading today from Mark 12:13 – 17, we see the Pharisees attempting to corner Jesus by getting him to say something that will get him in trouble. They specifically asked him about paying taxes. They thought that they had Him in a secure trap. If Jesus said that the people should not pay taxes, then they could get Him in hot water with the Roman government (Caesar); but if he said that the people should pay taxes, then the Jewish people would be furious with Him, because they hated the Roman government, and were expecting their Messiah to overthrow it. Jesus’ answer was marvelous. He simply said that the people owed a debt to the government, and that they should pay that debt. He also was careful to add that they were also to pay what was expected of them to God.

Nobody likes paying taxes; I certainly don’t. However, taxes are a necessary evil. We all enjoy the protection that we receive from our police and military. We all make use of our infrastructure: we drive on our roads, cross our bridges, etc. All of these services make our lives better. On the other side of the coin, we can all see where our government is spending too much money on things that we wish they would discontinue. Our government is voted in by the people it represents, and the people need to be part of the process. I also believe that believers should be involved in our government process. We should vote, and speak our minds regarding the issues that are important to us. We should participate in community events. Our church has done some road clean-ups in our community in the past. We do blog drives, and the town uses our building for polling. It’s our town. We live in it, and we should do our part to make it a better place.

It is interesting to me, however, that Jesus didn’t concern himself much with trying to correct the abuses of government. He was far more concerned with teaching doctrine, and speaking out against the corruption in the religious community. The Apostle Paul, likewise did not seek to correct or rally to correct the wrong policies of the Roman empire. For instance, in Paul’s day slavery was tolerated. Paul did not protest the government or the slave owners, trying to abolish slavery. He simply instructed the Christian slave owners to treat their believing servants like brothers; and in the case of Philemon and Onesimus, he was persuasive in the granting of liberty to a runaway slave. He also instructed the servants regarding how to love and serve their masters. I am sure that Paul did not condone slavery, however. My point is that he was more concerned about instructing, exhorting, and admonishing Christians, then he was about straightening out the world, or it’s government.

Getting back to taxes. I believe that believers should cheerfully and honestly render to Caesar (the government) the things (taxes) that are owed to Caesar. Don’t cheat on your taxes. Don’t try to hide any income “under the table”. Remember, God will take care of all of your needs, including your tax debt. He owns it all anyway. In another similar story regarding taxes, Jesus instructed Peter to go fishing, and in the first fish’s mouth he would find the tax money. (see Matthew 17:24 – 27) If we keep fishing for men, Jesus will continue to provide us with all of the coins that we need to pay our debt to Caesar, and meet all of our other needs as well.


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Servant Leadership

towel-and-basin

Today’s Passage – Mark 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 101 – 105; Proverbs 21)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read the “1021 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” – (Mark 10:43-45)

When I was in Bible college, I went to work for a supermarket chain in the East Texas area. This company had a unique, but refreshing leadership style that I was unaccustomed to at the time. My store manager, and all of the assistants were people that worked hard alongside the employees of the store. They didn’t just bark out orders to the clerks, they were willing to get their hands dirty themselves. It was not at all unusual to see the store manager with a mop in his hand, cleaning up a spill; or out in the parking lot gathering up the buggies (shopping carts). Their philosophy was that in order to be a leader in the company, you first had to demonstrate that you could be a great servant.

I find that in the ministry the same principle should also be true. The pastor, deacons, and other leaders in the church should not be beneath any task that needs to be done within the church. If the bathrooms need to be cleaned, or the lawns need to be mowed, the leadership should be more than willing to pitch in at times to do it. Now, I understand that it may not be the most efficient use of time and talents to have the leaders doing these things that could be done by others, but the leadership should be willing to do whatever needs to be done in order for the cause of Christ to move forward. There are no “big shots” in the ministry. The Lord we serve is the only superstar. The rest of us are merely servants.


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Hear Ye Him!

Matt-17-Transfiguration-Picture

Today’s Passage – Mark 8 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 96 – 100; Proverbs 20)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “1020 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid. And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.” – (Mark 9:5-7)

In our passage today we have the account of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus where a select few of His disciples were privileged to get a glimpse of the Lord in His resurrected glory. But something else that was very strange occurred on the mount that day that caught the attention of the disciples. Appearing to talk with Jesus was Moses and Elijah, two of the greatest men of the Old Testament. It seems that Peter was more impressed with the appearance of the two Old Testament men than he was with the Lord Jesus in all of His glory. He wanted to make three booths on the mountain: one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus. In all fairness to Peter, however, notice that it said in v 6 that “he wist (knew) not what to say”.  One lesson that we can learn from this is that if we don’t know what to say we should keep our mouthes shut. At any rate, what happens next is amazing. God the Father booms from Heaven, This is my beloved son, hear ye him.He sternly rebukes Peter for even considering the other two men in the same category as His Son. Peter was willing to include the Lord, but he did not give the Lord the place of preeminence.

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” – (Colossians 1:18)

I believe that most Christians today are in a way guilty of the same thing. We want God to be part of our life; but we do not give Him the place of preeminence either. He is included in our decision making, but He is not the final authority in our lives. We give Him part of out time, treasure, and talent; but we do not recognize His sovereign right to dictate wholly what we do with them. I believe God shouts down from Heaven, through His word, the same thing to us today. He is telling us to listen to His Son. Forget about all of the other voices of influence out there and give God exclusive rights in your life.

Notice that the Father commands the disciples as well as us today to “hear Him”.  Jesus said that His sheep hear His voice. I wonder how many Christians today are listening for the voice of the Saviour. It is a wonder that we can hear anything at all with all of the noises and distractions that are a part of lives today. God wants to speak to us, and He will if we will simply get alone with Him and open our hearts up to Him.


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Are You For Real?

John the Baptist prepares the way

Today’s Passage – Mark 6 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 91 – 95; Proverbs 19

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 19

Read former posts from this pasage – “Don’t Lose the Personal Touch” & “Politicians”

“For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.” – (Mark 6:20)

In our text today, we read about the execution of John the Baptist by Herod. I will not rehash the story, as most of you are probably familiar with it, and if by chance you are not, you can read it for yourself in Mark 6:14 – 29. John was arrested by Herod because he had been preaching against Herod’s immoral relationship with his (Herod’s) brother’s wife. People who sin willfully do not like to be pointed out, or reminded about their sin. Most people do not have the option of silencing their critics, but when you are the mistress of the King, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Thus, Herodias eventually got what she wanted – John’s head on a platter.

Herod did not want to arrest, or kill, John the Baptist. He was actually afraid of him, because he knew that John was real. He knew that John, unlike the rest of the religious crowd of the day, was genuine in his faith and holiness. Men will fear a genuine believer who walks with God, and practices what he believes. Unfortunately, they will fear the crowd more. Herod feared Herodias, and the people who were watching, more than he feared God or John the Baptist. Pilate also feared the people more than he feared the Lord Jesus. However, the fear that Herod had for John continued even after John was gone. He actually thought that Jesus was some kind of a reincarnation of John, coming back to get him.

The thought I have this morning is that Herod feared John because he knew that John was the real deal. He was genuine. He wasn’t just playing some religious game, or using religion to advance his own personal agenda. The question I have for you (and me) this morning is, are you real? Is your faith making a difference in the lives of the people around you. Are there some Herodias’s in your life that just can’t stand you because of what you stand for? Are you poking some holes in the darkness around you, or are you just going through the religious motions, playing the church game? Just a thought.


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Go Home To Thy Friends

Studymassillonchurch1

Today’s Passage – Mark 4 – 5 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 86 – 90; Proverbs 18)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Micah 6:8

Read the “1018 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading passage – “Good Ground

“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Mark 5:19)

The testimony of this man from Decapolis that was saved by the Lord was incredible. He was delivered out of an horrible pit of the worst kinds of sin. He then volunteers by asking the Lord if he could stay with Him. You would think that the Lord would have this man travel with Him full-time sharing with the whole world what he had done for him. However, the Lord had different plans for this man’s life. Instead of taking him with Him, He told the man to go back home and tell all of his friends and family about his testimony. The Scripture tell us that the man “published” in Decapolis all things that the Lord had done for him.

I got to thinking that the Lord has different plans for all of our lives. Some of us He will call to minister for Him full-time as a pastor or missionary, etc. However, the vast majority of His children will be asked to stay home and tell their friends, family members, and neighbors about the Lord. We all have a testimony if we are saved; and the best place to start in sharing Christ with others is simply telling them what that Lord has done for us. Have you shared with your friends “how great things the Lord hath done for thee”? If you haven’t, there is no time better than today to start.

A note to you who have been saved and serving in a particular area for a long: If you are like me, when you were first saved all of the people you knew were lost, and you had many wonderful opportunities to influence the people with the love of Christ, which was literally bursting out from within you and your new and exciting faith. Now that you have been saved for some years, most of the people that you know are also saved people. You have the challenge to intentionally seek out opportunities to interact and impact the lost people where you live for Christ. Get out into your community, meet new people, and share Christ with them.


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Daddy

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Today’s Passage – Mark 14 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 111 – 115; Proverbs 23)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “1023 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.” (Mark 14:36)

 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)

“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6)

In our passage today, we read of the heartbreaking story of our Saviour in the hours leading up to his crucifixion. Can you imagine what Jesus must have felt as He was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and forsaken by the rest? The nation that He came to save was about to humiliate Him, beat Him, spit upon Him, and kill Him. And, in verse 36 above, He is in the Garden of Gethsemane with the three disciples who were His closest friends, and they could not even stay awake to pray with Him. I don’t think that we can fully comprehend the weight of sorrows that our Saviour bore for us that night.

However, in the Garden, He still had His daddy. The word “Abba” is an Aramaic word that most closely resembles the word “daddy” in our English language. It speaks of a warm, intimate relationship, as opposed to cold formality. It reminds us of the times as children when we could run and jump up into the arms of our earthly dads. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus entered into the arms of His daddy; and though the Father did not remove the cup, I am sure that He comforted the Lord Jesus and loved on Him as He was about to do what He came to earth to do.

Notice the verses above from Romans and Galatians, which teach us that we, too, have the same privilege of jumping up into the lap of our Heavenly Father, and receiving the comfort, love, and help we need in our hour of need. It is wonderful to think that we serve a God, a Father, that wants to be called “Daddy”. God is not a cold taskmaster that demands only your service: He is a loving, Heavenly Daddy that wants an intimate relationship with His children.


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Who Is In The Driver’s Seat?

drivers-seat

Today’s Passage – Mark 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 81 – 85; Proverbs 17)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 51:11

Read the “1017 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this morning’s Bible reading passage – “What Does It Mean To Blaspheme the Holy Ghost?

“And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.” – (Mark 1:12)

Years ago, I used to see bumper stickers on the back of tractor trailers that would say, “God Is My Co-Pilot”. As a lost man, I remember thinking that it was a clever slogan, but now that I have thought about it, I am sure that God does not want to be a passenger in your life: He wants to drive. We see in our text that Jesus was “driven” by the Holy Spirit of God into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. While Jesus walked this earth He was filled with the Spirit, lead of the Spirit; and He performed all of His miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit.

It should be the same for the followers of Christ today. We should not to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives. We should be living our lives submitted to the will of God, and yielded to the Spirit of God. Consider the following verses regarding the Holy Ghost:

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” – (Ephesians 5:18)

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. … If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – (Galatians 5:16, 25)

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” – (Ephesians 4:30)

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” – (John 16:7-8)

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” – (John 16:13)

When I first trusted Christ as my Saviour, I recognized the presence of the Holy Spirit of God in my life. Though, I did not understand it then (nor do I understand it completely now), I knew that there was something inside of me “driving” me toward the direction of the will of God and the Word of God. I realize now that the Holy Spirit was even working in my life long before I was saved. I used to think that the Holy Ghost was kind of like an unseen force in my life; but I have come to realize that He is not a force, He is a Person, and He is God; and God does not take a back seat to anybody. God wants to drive, and we need to be willing to let Him drive us wherever He wants us to go.


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Have You Ever Been There?

Jesus on the cross

Today’s Passage – Mark 15 – 16 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here  to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 116 – 118; Proverbs 24)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – James 4:10

Read the “1024 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this passage – “Ready, Set, Go“, and “The Just for the Unjust

“And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

The above verse references the time when Jesus was on the cross with the sins of the whole world placed upon his shoulders. In His humanity, He cries to the Father, and for the first time Jesus calls His Father, “God” instead of “Father”. Here at this moment it seemed that everything was against Him, including God.

Does it ever seem to you like God has forsaken you? I have been through some dark valleys in my time, and there have been many times where I have wondered, “Where is God?” At those times, it seemed like God was nowhere to be found. However, in hindsight, I can see that God was there all along; and though I could not see Him or feel Him, He was there. He is always there. If you are going through some kind of a trial today, don’t trust your feelings: they will often betray you. Trust the Word of God. The Bible tells us that He will never leave us or forsake us. Keep trusting; keep praying, even though it seems like you are just talking to yourself. Remember faith is the evidence of things not seen. Though His presence may seem to be elsewhere, He is right there with you. He hasn’t stopped loving you, and He hasn’t stopped working for your good and His glory.


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Ready, Set, Go

 

Today’s Passage –Mark 15 – 16 

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 116 – 120; Proverbs 24

 

“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – (Mark 16:15)

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” – (Matthew 28:18-20)

“And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – (Matthew 10:7)

Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.” – (Matthew 22:9)

“Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” – (Mark 5:19)

“Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” – (Luke 9:60)

“So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.” – (Luke 14:21)

“And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” – (Luke 14:23)

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” – (John 15:16)

Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” – (Acts 5:20)

Got the message?


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Servant Leadership

Today’s Passage –Mark 10 – 11 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 101 – 105Proverbs 21

Scripture Memory for October – Matthew 5:1 – 16

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34

“But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” – (Mark 10:43-45)

When I was in Bible college, I went to work for a supermarket chain in the East Texas area. This company had a unique, but refreshing leadership style that I was unaccustomed to at the time. My store manager, and all of the assistants were people that worked hard alongside the employees of the store. They didn’t just bark out orders to the clerks, they were willing to get their hands dirty themselves. It was not at all unusual to see the store manager with a mop in his hand, cleaning up a spill; or out in the parking lot gathering up the buggies (shopping carts). Their philosophy was that in order to be a leader in the company, you first had to demonstrate that you could be a great servant.

I find that in the ministry the same principle should also be true. The pastor, deacons, and other leaders in the church should not be beneath any task that needs to be done within the church. If the bathrooms need to be cleaned, or the lawns need to be mowed, the leadership should be more than willing to pitch in at times to do it. Now, I understand that it may not be the most efficient use of time and talents to have the leaders doing these things that could be done by others, but the leadership should be willing to do whatever needs to be done in order for the cause of Christ to move forward. There are no “big shots” in the ministry. The Lord we serve is the only superstar. The rest of us are merely servants.


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