Archive for April, 2011

Give God what is His


            Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle him in his talk.  And they sent to him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and teach the way of truth; nor do you care about anyone, for you do not regard the person of men.  Tell us, therefore what do you think?  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? 

            But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites?  Show me the tax money?”  So they brought him a denarius.  And he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

            They said to him, “Caesar’s.”

            And he said to them, “Render therefore to Ceasar the things that are Ceasar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 

            When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him and went their way (Mathew 22: 15-22.)


            The Romans conquered the Nation of Israel in the first century prior to the birth of Jesus Christ.  Like all empires, they survived by forcibly imposing taxes on those they had conquered.  The Jews were a very prideful people; they despised the Romans and hated paying them taxes.   Pontius Pilate (Roman Governor of Judea), like many predecessors, was continually putting down attempted rebellions through displays of extreme violence.  In the midst of this chaos God’s Son was teaching throughout the nation; the people loved him.  The religious leaders hated him; they were constantly searching for ways to discredit him.  Jesus taught openly for all to hear, answering all the questions he was asked.  The Religious leaders sought to exploit this openness; they came to him with a ‘loaded question.’  ‘Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?’  The people of Israel loved Jesus, but despised the Roman taxes.  If Jesus had said, ‘Yes,’ the religious leaders would have defamed him before the people as being ‘pro-roman.’  If Jesus answered no, then the ‘Herodians’ could accuse him of insurrection and rebellion against Roman Rule; a crime punishable by death (the religious leaders had purposefully brought a group of ‘Herodians’ with them when they asked their question in case he said ‘no.’)  His answer was far more correct than just a ‘yes’ or a ‘no,’ and it left his accusers speechless, and inspired awe in the hearts of everyone who was listening.  “Give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s, but give to God what is God’s.”  In his answer there were two distinct value systems; worldly possessions and heavenly possessions.  They had been paying their taxes to Caesar, but they had been withholding their hearts from God.  God created every man woman and child, just as Caesar had created every Roman coin.  They were willing to give Caesar what he had created; in like manner, Jesus called them all to acknowledge God as their creator, and to place their lives back in to His possession.

            There are many necessities for living.  Working is one of those things.  Everyone has to work; if you don’t work, you can’t eat.  A paycheck is necessary; you buy food with it, you pay your rent with it; you exchange it for whatever it is that you need.  God does not want his believers to run out and quit their jobs because they appear to be ‘worldly.’  Work is giving to “Ceasar the things that are Caesars.”  People who make a decision to follow God need to pay bills; this is the way of the world.  A believer submits and gives to God the things that belong to Him.  When a believer gives God their heart, whether they sell tile, or serve food in a restaurant, the work they do is no longer done selfishly just for financial gain; instead, work becomes a way to serve God by serving others.  Not everyone needs to change careers to serve God; they can change their hearts and keep their careers.  When I was out of work for a short time, I kept trying to get a job at a church because everything else seemed menial.  My mother said to me, “You can serve God wherever you work.”  Her statement was very true; my heart was what God demanded, at all times.  I didn’t need to be a pastor or a priest to be Godly; we all have to receive worldly wages, but in so doing we can also receive Godly wages because our hearts belong to Him.

            Today, the number of possible careers is seemingly endless; in order to live and survive, Christian and non-Christian alike must “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”  However, only a believer can also “give to God what is God’s.”  Give your heart to God continually; wherever you are; you can serve God by serving others; in the workplace, at the coffee shop, even at church.  You will never know what is truly valuable until you give your whole life over to God.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we know that we must be in this world, but we ask you to possess our hearts; take control of our lives, no matter where we are.  Help us to bring glory to You, and to be motivated, knowing that You are always watching us.  We give our lives to You now, for You are our God, and we are Your people.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Taking a break


             Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught.  And he said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”  For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  So they departed in the boat by themselves” (Mark 6: 30-32.)


             Jesus had commanded his apostles to go on a short missionary trip.  He sent them out alone to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and preach the gospel throughout Israel.  They returned with good news; under his authority they were able to produce his miracles.  The crowds did not allow them to rest.  The Lord saw that they were wearied from the long hours, and needed to relax.  He called them away from the crowds, and away from the clamor of the ministry for their own bodily and spiritual health.

             Nowhere in the world is work more highly esteemed than in the United States of America.  Many put their careers ahead of their families, their friends, and sadly, even their God.  Seventy hour work weeks at the office are not uncommon.  Currently, because of technology, the problem has gotten worse; people aren’t just working at the office, but everywhere they go.  People work while driving; they work at the gym; they even work while on vacation.  All of this work has caused large numbers of people to neglect their need for rest.

             Jesus Christ recognizes that every human being needs rest.  Many of us walk through life without taking time out to recuperate.  Many of us have pushed ourselves too hard.  We need to remember that like the apostles; we need time to fellowship with God and to allow our minds, bodies, and our spirits to regenerate.  When we are still, God will speak to us.  May we all give God quiet time; time, in peace, when we can focus on, and listen to Him speak to our hearts.

             “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to rest, and to take time out to fellowship with You; speak to our hearts when we are being overworked, and help us to step away from our work and to rest.  In our moments of rest, we ask that You speak to our hearts, and give us new strength and new energy to continue doing Your work.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

‘Letting Go’ and ‘Grabbing Hold’


            “Again, the kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

            “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Mathew 13: 45-46.)


            The message of ‘The kingdom of God’ is a great treasure; a treasure far more valuable than any earthly piece of property.  For within the message, resides the gift of eternal life and the love of God.  Many people heard Jesus proclaim the message; those who recognized the truth were willing to trade in all of their possessions to receive an invaluable and everlasting gift.  Believers sacrificed their wealth, time, and future plans to grab hold of true riches.  Many let go of their families, their jobs, their homes, their positions in the community, and even their earthly lives, to grab hold of a new life with God in His future kingdom. 

            Circus performers make a living letting go of one thing so they can grab hold of another.  For trapeze performers, timing and precision can mean the difference between life and death.  Two men, swing back and forth high above a cold concrete floor; the man who risks his life spinning through the air, must know when to let go of his swing and grab hold of his partner dangling from the opposing swing.  The gospel is a message about ‘letting go’ and ‘grabbing hold;’ no one can ‘grab hold’ of the Kingdom of God unless they ‘let go’ of whatever they are clinging too in this world.  For the Christian, the pursuit of worldly rewards must end, and the pursuit of Godly rewards must begin.

            Sadly, during the years of the Lord’s public ministry, thousands of people simply passed by him as he spoke; they chose to hang on to their lives rather than to grab hold of God and the true life He had offered them.  Today, the Lord is still speaking; his message is still being proclaimed throughout the world.  Many, just as in the days of Jesus, choose the temporary pleasures of this life over the eternal peace of God.  Great sacrifice is required of all followers of Christ; there are many trials and many hardships that accompany faith.  Self denial isn’t always easy, but it is necessary.  Today, may we all let go of our selfish pursuits…may we loosen our grasp on the things of this world…and may we grab hold of the things of God.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You give us the strength to not live selfishly; we desire to serve others, and to sacrifice our lives to do Your will.  Give us the gift of the Your Kingdom Father, and help us to let go of anything that is stopping us from completely receiving Your eternal offering.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”  God bless all of you.

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