Return of the King

Have you ever wandered what it would be like to live under the rule of a king? Do you think it would be like the movies you see? Do you envision it being like modern day monarchies, with representation? Would you be surprised if it was neither of those?

Kingdoms have existed as monarchies for thousands of years. Some of them ruled by good kings or queens, while others have been ruthless. Some monarchs desire the best for their people, while others only desire to lord their position over their subjects.

There is a King who will rule forever. He is a not just a good king but a great King. He will rule with love, compassion, kindness, power, peace, and justice. He will not just rule one nation but every nation on earth will submit to His rule. His kingdom will extend to the ends of the earth. In fact, He will create a new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem.

Jesus has been crowned the King of kings, and yet, He is a king in waiting. He stands with the scepter in His hands, and yet, the time for His complete rule has not yet occurred. He will come with power and authority, eliminating His enemy, Satan, and set up His kingdom forever.

We sit in a time of waiting. We await His return. We wait for Him to implement His rule over all nations. We wait for God’s perfect timing to set up His throne amongst His people. We serve a rebellious King who is counter-cultural and will institute His kingdom of no fear, no tears, no loss, no frustration, no anger, no hatred, no crime. His kingdom will be a kingdom of love, joy, peace, awe, wonder, serving, worshiping, praising, eternity.

I pray we all look toward the return of our King. I pray we serve Him as He guides us in this life. I pray each one of us fully understand Jesus is King of kings and will institute His kingdom at the right time. Serve the King. Serve Jesus. Be a citizen of His kingdom. Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Wait patiently for His return.

Jeremiah 3:17 At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts.

Keep the Covenant

As we enter the season of Advent, we begin our look toward the coming of our Lord and Savior. The Jews of more than two-thousand years ago were looking toward His coming. We look toward His return and an eternity spent with Him.

We begin our journey with hope. We are encouraged by the hope of God’s promises. We trust in God’s promises having seen him fulfill them in the past. God promised the coming of the Messiah through his prophets of old. He also promised an eternity spent with him.

God’s holy mountain is his permanent dwelling place. Though we do not often think about it, God’s temporary dwelling place is in heaven. He has promised a permanent dwelling place in the new heavens, new earth, and new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-8). God will make his dwelling place among those who believe in him and have accepted His Son as Lord and Savior.

Our hope is built on God’s promises. We know he fulfills them. We trust he will accept everyone who accepts His Son into his house of prayer. We trust we will see people of all nations when we come into his presence face-to-face. Our responsibility? Keep the covenant with God.

I pray we all keep God’s covenant. I pray we trust in God’s promises. I pray each one of us put our hope in the return of Jesus Christ and the coming of the new heavens, new earth, and new Jerusalem. Hold on to your hope. Put your hope in God’s promises. Look forward to spending eternity with God. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

Isaiah 56:6-7

“And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord

to minister to him, 

to love the name of the Lord,

and to be his servants, 

all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it 

and who hold fast to my covenant— 

these I will bring to my holy mountain 

and give them joy in my house of prayer. 

Their burnt offerings and sacrifices 

will be accepted on my altar; 

for my house will be called 

a house of prayer for all nations.”

Do Not Covet

Is there something you have longed for and have been unable to acquire? Have you longed after another person? Have you desired the possessions of someone you knew—a relative or neighbor?

Our culture tells us to go acquire more. It tells us we deserve it, whether we do or not. There are huge advertising campaigns based solely on the premise of telling us we need more.

But look at what God tells us. He says we are not to covet what someone else has. We may want to take this list as being explicit. However, if we did, we would be mistaken. The list in today’s passage is merely a spattering of the more common items we may covet.

No, God does not want us to desire anything anyone else has. Why? God wants us to be satisfied with what he has determined is best for us. That may mean we have less than some and more than others.

God has blessed each of us individually. He has blessed us with a purpose in mind. As we accept his blessing to be what is best, we do not desire to have what others have but cherish what we have as a blessing from God.

By forgoing covetousness, we remove the danger of seeking to acquire what we desire by mischievous means. We eliminate the possibility we will sin to gain what we do not have. We trust God.

I pray we all trust that God knows what is best for us. I pray we do not covet what someone else has. I pray each one of us counts what we have as a blessing from God. Do not covet. Be satisfied. Be content. Trust God. God has blessed you. God knows best.

Exodus 20:13-17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Truth At All Times

Do you believe the Old Testament no longer applies? Does that include the ten commandments? Do you believe it is fine for people to tell false stories about you? Do you like people spreading false rumors about you?

There are some people who believe the Old Testament is outdated. In fact, there are some who think the entire Bible is outdated. But for some reason, when the ten commandments are discussed, nearly everyone agrees with them.

Back to people spreading false rumors. We don’t like them when they are spread about us. We don’t like them when they are spread about our family or friends. So, why do we continue to allow it to occur? It’s really quite simple. We don’t believe we can stop it. But we can.

How do we stop the false rumors? We stop spreading them ourselves. We stop putting any credence into them. We stop reading them online. We stop allowing false rumors to rule our lives and start living in the truth. When we believe something is false, we research it to determine the truth, and correct the false rumor by telling others the truth.

God has commanded us not to give false testimony. That does not mean only in a courtroom. It means at all times. Spreading false rumors is false testimony—even when we are repeating what someone else told us. As we obey God’s command to not give false testimony, we combat the false rumors in the world.

I pray we all commit to telling the truth. I pray we decide to stop spreading false rumors. I pray each one of us will do the research needed to combat the false rumors being spread. Do your research. Stop spreading false rumors. Combat the false rumors. Tell the truth. Obey God’s commands.

Exodus 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

Greed vs Contentment

Are you greedy? Do you continually desire to acquire more? Do you work harder to earn more money so you can buy more stuff? Have you given thought to the possibility that you don’t own the stuff, but it owns you?

If you desire more, you are normal in today’s American culture. If you work harder to earn more money, you are normal. Our culture has been one of hard work, earn your pay, and spend it almost as fast as you get it for a long time.

Jesus warns us about greed in today’s passage. He explicitly tells us that life is not about having a lot of possessions. As we approach our Thanksgiving holiday, perhaps we should ponder His statement a bit longer. Who do you eat your Thanksgiving dinner with? Do you have conversation with your possessions? I dare say we eat with family and friends. We talk, laugh, and enjoy one another’s company.

But life isn’t only about other people. It is about serving God. Honestly. Stop for a few minutes. Maybe spend several minutes thinking about all the people you know. Who is the most content? Who has the most joy? Who appears to be calm no matter what happens? I’m guessing it is the people with a good relationship with God.

The closer our relationship with God is, the more content we are. The more we trust God, the less anxiety we have. The more we spend time communing with God, the more peace we have. A close relationship with God, a dependence on him, brings about an understanding that he is in control, and everything will work out according to his plan, which includes his follower’s spending eternity with him.

I pray we all spend more time with God. I pray we find the love, peace, joy, and hope that only comes from God. I pray each one of us commune more with God, achieving a close relationship with him. Know that God is in control. Spend time with God. Grow your relationship with God. Accept God’s love. Experience God’s peace. Experience joy. Put your hope in God.

Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

Do Not Give False Testimony

How often do you lie? Have you falsely accused someone? Do you spread half-truths or unverified rumors? Have you purposely told part of the truth? Are you deceitful? Have you considered that gossip is slander? How do you feel when you discover someone has lied about you?

I don’t believe any of us can claim we have never lied. We may have spread half-truths unknowingly. We may have purposely withheld a portion of the truth. Maybe we think we are protecting ourselves or someone else in doing so. We may have even heard it is okay is certain circumstances.

We are commanded by God to not bear false testimony against another person. We may like to think that only means in a court of law under an oath. Sure, that is one situation in which we should not bear false testimony, but that is not the full intent of the command.

There are opportunities to speak falsely on many occasions. It may be during a discussion with friends. We hear something and repeat it without verifying it. We may have a grudge against someone and create a false story to stain their reputation. We may falsely accuse someone based on limited information.

We are warned against giving false testimony. There are repercussions for it. Those repercussions may come in the form of our friends discovering us and abandoning us. We may be labeled a liar. Our false testimony may not be discovered at all, but God knows when we are not telling the truth.

I pray we all commit to telling the truth. I pray we do not give false testimony against others. I pray each one of us will determine to verify rumors before we repeat them to others. Do not slander. Do not gossip. Do not be deceitful. Do not speak falsely. Tell the truth. Be upstanding. Be beyond reproach.

Psalm 101:5, 7

Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, 

I will put to silence; 

whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, 

will not tolerate….

No one who practices deceit 

will dwell in my house; 

no one who speaks falsely 

will stand in my presence.

Do Not Steal

Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you? Have you cheated someone out of something? Do you shortchange your employer by giving less than 100%? Do you borrow from your neighbor with no intent on returning what you borrowed?

Most of us despise thievery. Yet, we steal at times without thinking twice about it. Oh, we don’t call it stealing. We may even convince ourselves we are owed it. The charge for some of those offenses is fraud. We have cheated someone out of something, often an employer.

We see cases of fraud in the news quite often. They usually involve someone posing as someone they are not or fraudulently taking money from their employer. Sometimes the fraud is so subtle it goes undetected for months or years. The false pretenses are kept up for a while to cover up the fraud, but sooner or later it is discovered.

By and large, fraud is just another word for stealing. The difference is it isn’t armed robbery. It is sneaking money out of an organization, sometimes right under their noses. But make no mistake about it, whether we call it fraud or thievery, it is still disobedience to God’s commands.

I believe we have all stolen something at some point in our lives, even if it was merely taking a pen from our employer without permission. I once knew a Marine who did not even use government pens for his official duties. He bought and brought in all his pens because he did not want to mistakenly take a government pen home.

When we steal, it shows our lack of trust in God. If we believe we need to steal to provide for ourselves, we are not trusting God to provide. This is no simple decision. It is often a result of years of buildup. A small bit of doubt creeps in and grows into a distrust that convinces us there is no other way. We need to be aware of the doubt as soon as it starts creeping in.

I pray we all are aware of doubt when it first starts. I pray we put our trust in God to provide. I pray each one of us commits to keeping ourselves from fraudulent and thievery actions. Be on guard for doubt. Trust God. Do not steal. Do not defraud. Do not rob. Love your neighbor.

Leviticus 11a, 13a

“Do not steal.”…

“Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.”

Avoid Lust

How do you look at others? Are there some who appear attractive to you? Do you look at them with a longing for intimacy? Does this longing occur, even if you are already married? Have you acted on your internal desire?

There are some people who not only view someone else with a lustful look but act on their desire. If the person is married, it is called adultery. Others can restrain themselves from taking action and think highly of themselves for doing so.

But look at how Jesus clarifies the seventh of the ten commandments. He states that merely looking at another person lustfully is the same as committing adultery. This doesn’t mean we cannot find another person attractive. It does mean that when our thoughts go beyond attraction to lustfulness, we have crossed the line Jesus draws.

It is not merely the mind at work. It is also our heart. It is our heart that God sees. It is our heart that becomes corrupt. It is our heart that betrays us. How do we combat a heart of desire? We fill it with Jesus. We fill it with the love of God. How do we combat a filthy mind? We fill it with the word of God. We fill it with his thoughts rather than our thoughts.

Jesus purposely makes this distinction. He knows our weaknesses. He knows how destructive lustful behavior can be to us as individuals and our society. He knows the impact reaches more people than we think it does—even some who are not personally involved.

I pray we all fill our minds with God’s thoughts. I pray we fill our hearts with God’s love. I pray each one of us guard ourselves from lustful desires and avoid destructive behavior. Guard your mind. Guard your heart. Fill your mind with God’s thoughts. Fill your heart with God’s love. Avoid destructive behavior. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Do Not Be Angry

Do you anger easily? Is your temperament to be angry when the smallest thing doesn’t go your way? Has your anger gone so far as to wish ill of another person? Have you attempted to inflict injury on someone else? Do you want to eliminate these thoughts?

Some of us are quicker to anger than others. But make no mistake about it, we all get angry. If we are not careful and disciplined, our anger can get the best of us. Our anger can cause us to act in inappropriate ways, perhaps even physical confrontation.

God initially gives the command that we are not to commit murder (Exodus 20:13). Some believe Jesus extended the command further when He said we are not to be angry. However, when we remember Jesus is God, we might need to reevaluate that line of thinking. We might consider that Jesus was merely clarifying the command.

Why should we not grow angry with our brothers and sisters in Christ? God is working in them in the same way he is working in us. Additionally, not one of us is perfect. We are called to show grace and mercy to one another. Rather than getting angry, we might first attempt to understand why someone did what they did that might cause us to be angry.

If our first reaction to someone doing something we do not like is to understand why, we would see a lot less anger in this world. If we were to seek to see the situation as the other person does, we might find they had a justifiable reason for what they did. Now, make no mistake about it, this will not always be the case. However, more times than not, people do not just do things out of the blue to upset us.

I pray we all seek to understand one another. I pray we recognize that God is at work in our brothers and sisters. I pray each one of us do our best to keep our anger in check, relying on God to help us. Seek understanding. Know that God is at work. Do not be angry. Show grace and mercy.

Matthew 5:21-22 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister, will be subject to judgment.”

Honor Your Parents

Do you honor your parents? Do you argue with your mother? Do you think your father is too strict? Have you wished you had different parents? Have you thought of running away?

There are many children in this world who do not know their parents. There are others who wish they did not. Some live hard lives with parents who are abusive, addicts, or disengaged and selfish.

Our parents may not be perfect. In fact, it is sure they are not. After all, there has only been one perfect person who walked this earth. However, God tells us to honor them. Yes, we are to honor them regardless.

Honoring our parents, even bad parents, does not mean we must agree with them at all times. It does mean we hold them in high esteem, if for no other reason than they are the reason we were given life. It is not always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult. But look at what God promises when we do. We are blessed by God.

God desires to bless us. However, he will not simply give us every blessing possible without us playing a part in it. God requires us to obey him, including honoring our parents.

Think about this for just a moment. Do you want your children to honor you? How will they know how to do that if you do not model it for them? Each of us is to be an example, a positive example, for our children. If our parents are not a positive example for us, we should start anew with our children and be a positive example for them.

I pray we all choose to honor our parents. I pray we obey God’s commands. I pray each one of us will be a positive example for our children. Respect your parents. Treat your parents well. Bless your parents. Honor your parents. Obey God’s commands.

Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”