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Weekly Devotion with Beckyjohn – CAN REMOVAL OF GOD’S COMMANDMENTS FROM S PUBLIC PLACES ERASE THEM FROM THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE?

CAN REMOVAL OF GOD’S COMMANDMENTS FROM S PUBLIC PLACES ERASE THEM FROM THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE?

  • The Gospel of Jesus teaches men that a mere profession of faith alone is no sound evidence of salvation (Paul Washer)
  • When we lie to ourselves, a dangerous blindness begins to grow within us (Stephen Arterburn and David Stoop)
  • We feel we are making a difference because we are so important to ourselves. We have created a phenomenal subculture with our own media, entertainment, educational system, and political hierarchy so that we have the sense that we’re doing a lot (Bob Briner)
  • The nature of Christ´s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a Savior from hell rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness (Arthur W. Pink)
  • To escape the error of salvation by works we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience (A.W. Tozer)
  • The highest of aims pursued apart from the power of God will end in failure in his eyes (Jim Denison)

 TEXT: Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

 What makes some people remain holding on to the faith in God in spite of the popularity of overwhelming contradicting beliefs?  Think of Daniel, Shadrack, Misheck and Abednego, serving as captives in a kingdom where the living God was neither known nor revered. Yet they remained firmly rooted in God. Their lifestyle made God known and honored.   What those Hebrews went through would traumatize anyone. They had to give up their identity, and instead they learnt the foreign language, literature and even had their names changed.  Yet, they made God known and proclaimed in that foreign land. King Nebuchadnezzar confessed, ‘Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever, His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation (Daniel 4:34). No foreignness or hostility could take God’s commandment from the young men who knew their God. They lived their faith and that resulted in the king's public proclamation. God’s commandments in this text is every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Human beings are so dependent on each other that they cannot survive and flourish without interacting with others.  It is in the interaction that beliefs that become light within are shared. Recently, in a discussion of young ‘Christian’ men and women, it was shocking to hear that it was acceptable for a man to share a bed with a woman who is a colleague at work ‘without any ungodly consequences’. I am not sure whether such a behavior is not taking a big risk or it is self-deception that the gender differences are not real. It is dangerous when a person who has known God’s mercy assumes he/she has unreasonable resolve and strength and so deceives himself. ‘The lies we tell ourselves and ­others are familiar: “I could stop anytime I want to.” “I’m in control; this one won’t hurt anything.” And all the while, we are inching closer to disaster. Samson was especially blinded to the dangers he faced in his relationship with Delilah’ (Stephen Arterburn &David Stoop). I was born at a time when both the bible and my culture had no contradiction in relation to the definition of boys and girls. Boys were encouraged to be boys and girls to be girls and had dignity in their girlhood. Might the critical gender theory that revolves around the belief that gender is a social construct intended to subjugate women have taken root without reference to God’s command? The concern is how to remain firm in faith and ‘hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful’ (Hebrews 10:23). In addition, Christians have a mandate to make the hope they have known to all nations, including the younger generation. We need to learn that it is in storms, where all around do not know God’s commandments, that Jesus  does His finest work to those who hold on to him, for it is in storms that He has the believer’s keenest attention.

 WHAT IS WITHIN MATTERS

The memory of what one knows is what guides a person in times of turbulence, changes and instability from rigidity and that recalibrates settled postures of belief and points of view.

The location of the commandments of God – The commandments may be removed from the schools, and all public places, but if they had been ingrained in the heart, they remain irrespective of the outer changes. ‘I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.’ (Psalm 119:11).  The glue that makes the word stick is love that is not contestable.  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:5), then wherever one is, in heat or cold, one’s actions are informed by what is within.

When the word is located in the heart/mind – What is imprinted on the newborns in the home, not nursery or Sunday school, becomes deposited within. Belief perseverance is the clinging on to what one believes however awkward or limiting and filtering out evidence to the contrary. If God’s commandments are lived in a way that a child internalizes as ‘our way’, it may be difficult to ‘uproot’.  What a person saw, lived and heard defended is firm and protected. That means commandments applied and explained early in life, maybe removed from schools and public sectors, but remain a firm source of influence.

How the word is located in the mind – The communication maxim that 'One cannot not communicate' is so true in relation to the word of God. It is worth noting that as soon as humans perceive each other, they are already communicating.  Whether one is aware of the signals he/she is sending, they are having an impact on others. God’s command is for people to cultivate a loving relationship with him that will be so passionate that they talk about it, have images that reflect their beliefs; their clothing will reflect their love of God and everything about them.(Deuteronomy 6:4, 7-8). God’s love has privileged those who have accepted the grace of God given through Jesus Christ to live above the ordinary human plane of life. It is in that daily living that Christians are witnesses of God’s saving grace; as they live the full gospel for those who have no knowledge of who God is. ‘You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone’ (2 Corinthians 3:2). It is those who have internalized God’s command that share with others intentionally and unintentionally. .

 THE COMMANDMENTS CANNOT BE REMOVED FROM THE PUBLIC SECTOR

 It should be a joy to know that as long as there is one believer, and then the commandments are visible wherever the believer goes. The question that should concern the Christians is whether there is increase in ‘The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like’ (Galatians 5:19-21). It is the Christian who has a role to shape the culture.  Christians should be explaining the steps they are taking as led by God in regard to the rot wherever they are. The Christian cannot afford to shrink from playing their God given role in today’s world.  To be a Christian, redeemed by the blood of Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, one has to run headlong into the culture with excellence, integrity, and conviction.

Earn the right to be asked questions – To be ostracized from what is happening in one’s world in the name of being called or not called into ‘full time’ ministry’ is not to love the Lord. ‘But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15).  The angry, frustrated people have a deep longing for anyone who knows what to do and the concern is whether they can identify Christians in similar situations but having hope because of their relationship with Christ. It is very unfortunate when Christians progress professionally and socially while having little impact as a witness of Jesus Christ.  That means God’s commandments are not visible where they are needed to light the world. To be highly committed or to live a highly committed life with integrity but have no ‘saltiness’ in the world where one is, should be of more and urgent concern to the organized church and all who care for the cause of Christ..

  Offering self as sacrifice – There are people who are willing to offer God service rather than offer themselves to God. ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God’ (Romans 12:1) . Activities and titles distract attention from what matters yet they cannot replace an intimate relationship with God.

 Discipline on every aspect of life– To engage the culture one has to be selective on dietary issues also. Daniel, Shadrack, Misheck, and Abednego were intentional about what they ate (Daniel 1). Prayer was getting access to the throne of mercy. Family conflicts, diminishing markets and job opportunities, depressive thought are all subjects that should be brought before God.  Daniel, sentenced to death, urged those who shared in his faith to plead for mercy from the God of heaven while he went to his house to pray.’ Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’ (Philippians 4:6). It is not the changing circumstances, but knowing who God is that changes fortunes.  Having a habit of prayer in good or hard times is a mark of having God’s commandment in your heart. ‘Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before’ (Daniel 6:10). Reading the word of God and living according to that information is what gives courage to be light and salt of the word.

I remember hearing a senior church leader publicly complaining to the head of the state about the increasing corruption.  His assumption was that God’s commandments were not taken seriously. Think of it, it is the head of state that needed to ask the head of the church why there was an increase in societal decay.  When Nebuchadnezzar’s son was shaken to the core and frustrated that the people he hoped would help him could not, his mother knew where to get help. ‘She said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale! 11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods’ (Daniel 5:10-11). What was inside Daniel shone to places that made him sought after to sort out complicated issues. Where there is misplacement of God’s command, the professed ‘Christian faith’ fails to be light and salt of the world. Instead of the sick getting healed, they get wounded in their gatherings. The deeply wounded and unhealed people start seeking ‘blessings’ from their ancestors and traditions. Political representation is viewed as the ‘light ‘that brings relief; unfortunately it leaves greater gaps and wounds.  God’s commandments are needed in the hearts of men and women who love God and are living in obedience to His command. Smith Wigglesworth shares four principles that are needed to maintain the believer in a position to be the plaque of God’s commandments, ‘First, read the Word of God. Second, consume the Word of God until it consumes you. Third believe the Word of God. Fourth, act on the Word of God.”  It is certain that if God’s people brought His light more fully into the world, the world would not remain the same.  However, for the believers to bring His light, they have to remain connected to Him who is light. As a moon must remain aligned with the sun to reflect its rays at night, so Christians must remain aligned with the Son to reflect his love in this dark world today. ‘If the room is dark and I have the only flashlight, whose fault is the darkness?’ (Jim Denison).  It is when Christians realize the problem is not out there, that they examine what is making the absence of light pervasive and persistent. Do you believe that every maturing Christians has what it takes to be a world changer?

  What if instead of asking God to do something for us, we asked God to use us? 

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