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Personal from the President: January 14, 2020

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Personal from the President

January 14, 2020

Being About Our Father’s Business Continues . . .

What a week and beginning of a new secular year! Just when many were breathing a sigh of relief from the most tumultuous year in recent history, the events of Jan. 6 rushed the United States headlong into an all-new maelstrom. What Paul described as a hallmark of the last days—“perilous times,” times of “great stress” or “very difficult times,” depending on which English translation you prefer (2 Timothy 3:1-13 2 Timothy 3:1-13 [1] This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. [2] For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, [4] Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; [5] Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [6] For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, [7] Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. [8] Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. [9] But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest to all men, as their's also was. [10] But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, long-suffering, charity, patience, [11] Persecutions, afflictions, which came to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. [12] Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. [13] But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
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)—seemed to materialize before our very eyes.

Intolerable mob violence—which we as a called-out assembly of God firmly condemn—exploded, wreaking godless havoc, betraying trust and even taking lives. Make no mistake: as I have written in various ways across this past year, nothing will be solved by violence and rioting. The Bible is plain: “The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence” (Psalms 11:5 Psalms 11:5The LORD tries the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence his soul hates.
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, New Living Translation, emphasis added throughout).

I ended my last column with the positive focus of being about our Father’s business. I wrote that the Bible—particularly the words of Jesus, Paul and Peter—teaches us that God Himself is responsible for setting up leaders or allowing them to rise to power in this world, Republican or Democrat, Tory or Labor, or whatever form of government.

We are to pray that God’s will be done, and that we be able to preach the gospel and do God’s work—as Paul wrote: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority.”

Why? “So that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:2 1 Timothy 2:2For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
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, NLT).

That means that if we are truly and humbly committed to being about our Father’s business, we will be praying for soon-to-be President Joseph Biden, that God’s will be done for him and all human leaders.

But, let’s also remember that “our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20 Philippians 3:20For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ:
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). When we acknowledge that Jesus Christ is indeed Lord, we openly declare our everlasting commitment to Him as King of Kings. We acknowledge that in the coming Kingdom of God, “the government will be upon His shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6 Isaiah 9:6For to us a child is born, to us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
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).

Why is this so important? As Paul proclaims: “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9 Romans 10:9That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.
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, ESV). Our eternal life is tied to this loyalty.

What can we expect when we become citizens of the Kingdom of God? Allow me to relate a biblical story. When Paul wrote to the Romans, it was only a few years after the Jews had been allowed to return to the capital city of Rome. By the direct order of the Roman Emperor Claudius, the Jews had been forcibly banned a decade earlier.

Paul learned firsthand of that banishment in the Greek port city of Corinth, where he met and became friends with the married Jewish couple Priscilla and Aquila, who had been part of that forced exodus (Acts 18:2 Acts 18:2And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came to them.
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, ESV).

After sailing 350 miles across the Mediterranean Sea to Ephesus with Paul (Acts 18:18 Acts 18:18And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brothers, and sailed there into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow.
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), the married couple eventually returned to Rome, where Paul asks the Roman believers to “Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well” (Romans 16:3-4 Romans 16:3-4 [3] Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: [4] Who have for my life laid down their own necks: to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
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, ESV).

Why is this relevant to the “perilous times” we now live in? Because when Paul wrote to them, this assembly of disciples—from the previously banished Jews to Priscilla and Aquila—had led tumultuous lives, courtesy of the Roman government. Knowing that, what did Paul write to them?

“We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
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, ESV). So, disciples can be forcibly threatened and kicked out, travel 617 miles from Rome to Corinth, meet an apostle, sail across another stretch of sea, then move again another 830-some miles back to Rome, and then—with those Roman disciples who had returned from being forcibly banished—cheerfully accept the words “all things work together for good.”

No wonder Paul can write about the Christian response, then and now: “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37 Romans 8:37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
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, ESV).

When it comes to human government, we must consider this: our assembly takes as our stated mission that we are to be “Preaching the Gospel—Preparing a People.” When we came up from the water of baptism, we effectively declared our allegiance to a coming Kingdom. By birth or naturalization, we may be temporary physical citizens of any given country on earth, but our declared fidelity is with the coming King of Kings, whom we recognize as Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We should look above human politics. We condemn all violence, particularly mob violence. As loyal citizens, we faithfully pray for and support the work to which we have been called, the marvelous work of announcing that a new Kingdom is coming, led by a King who loves us and who will truly set us free.

Don’t Touch—Sermon by Steve Myers

I urge you to listen to a sermon given by Steve Myers in Cincinnati last Sabbath titled “Don’t Touch.” He explains well the Church’s stance on involvement in politics and the points I emphasize in this column. You can access it here at https://youtu.be/_Vxye392phI.

We practice the principles taught by our King, so that our minds—the way we think—may be transformed by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:1-2 Romans 12:1-2 [1] I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. [2] And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
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), thus enabling us to openly put those principles into action, becoming true lights to this chaotic world and its human governments (Matthew 5:14-16 Matthew 5:14-16 [14] You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. [15] Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. [16] Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
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). As we grow in love, we find peace (1 John 4:18 1 John 4:18There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear: because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love.
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).

We earnestly pray that God will free us from temptation, from the siren lure of human personalities, and that He will protect us from the god of this world and the evil that erupts. And we know that our faithful God responds!

Prayer and Fasting

Many express concerns about more violence at the U.S. Capitol and in state capitals in the United States this coming weekend. So, in the days ahead and in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14 2 Chronicles 7:14If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
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, let’s come before God in earnest prayer, even fasting, and ask for His favor, His protection and His direction. I suggest choosing either this Sabbath (Jan. 16) or Sunday (Jan. 17) to commit yourself to extra time in prayer, and also to fast if possible on either one of those days (or before or during Inauguration Day on Wednesday, Jan. 20).

In particular, let’s pray for our leaders, whether in the United States or abroad. Pray for the Church and pray for one another, that we may be strengthened and receive more of God’s Holy Spirit—that we may truly love and encourage one another (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
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). Pray that God will lift up our weary hands that have been weighed down from the onslaught of continual woes upon America and the world. Pray for protection from those who ridicule and persecute those who follow goodness and decency. We need this extra strength right now. So, let’s take the time to do this properly (Isaiah 58).

The work of God has never been easy. We live in a world controlled by an evil power whose days are numbered. We have much to do—let us be about our Father’s business!