We all know the story, or at least many of us do. You know, the one about what everyone thought Jesus had come to do, when in fact He hadn’t come to do that at all. Conquer Rome. Free the Jewish people from an oppressive government and restore to them a kingdom that was rightfully theirs.
We can all see it now. Jesus had something else in mind. Something no one imagined.
Jesus barely even mentioned Rome. Don’t you find that odd? That the biggest issue in the lives of His people at that time isn’t even addressed? That they were being taxed to death simply brought “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”. He showed zero indignation toward Rome. There was not a word mentioned of Jewish rights as the people of God, no talk about protesting what was happening, no call to resistance.
I assume you know where I’m going with this. We are the people of God. Just for giggles, let’s call our government Rome.
I know some people can rattle off perfectly good reasons (in their mind) that the Church needs to be involved in politics, needs to have their finger on the pulse of culture, needs to push back for our “freedoms”. There’s a lot of talk about taking back the seven mountains, taking back the government, standing up for righteousness, but the problem I keep running into is this: I can’t find it in scripture. I can’t find that part where Jesus told us we have rights and freedoms and that we are to dictate the culture of the world. I see this…
A scribe approached him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus told him, “Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”Matthew 8:19-20
Jesus isn’t saying “if you choose to follow me, it could get uncomfortable”. He’s saying that when we choose to follow Him, we relinquish our right to have a place to call home here on earth. No right to a roof over our head.
In Matthew, chapter 10, the first time He sent out His disciples on mission, He sent them with no provision. He told them they would be beaten and imprisoned for His sake, that they would be brought before people in authority, but they were to be His witness in that situation.
In other words – unfair and unjust treatment is not something to fight against, it is to be used as an opportunity to be His witness.
When I read the gospels, I do not see rights. I do not see a call to resist or a call to take something back. I see a laying it all down, a giving it all away.
I see “sell everything you have and give it to the poor and follow Me.” (Matthew 19:21)
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me”. (Matthew 5:10-11)
It is clear from the scriptures that the people of God do not have a “right” to comfort, to fair treatment, to be respected, or to be treated kindly or justly (except by the other members of the family of God. There are big expectations in that category).
Beloved, we have not been tasked with conquering Rome. Frankly, that is a far too narrow a vision. Our assignment is simple, but has profound eternal consequences – love God with everything we’ve got, and love people as ourselves. Carry the gospel to all the nations. Make disciples (not just converts). Trust God in all things. Fix our eyes, minds, and hearts on heaven, not on earth.
We are a people called to lay down and give away, not demand and take back.
I know it seems radical and uncomfortable and goes against so many things ingrained in us as earthly citizens of this nation (or any other free nation). But we have something so much bigger on us than constitutional rights and allegiance to political parties. We have a call to allow the Holy Spirit of God to pursue the hearts and salvation of people, through us. A call to co-labor with Jesus to build His Kingdom, not a political kingdom with political power and authority. That is way too small and narrow. We are increasing the territory of the spiritual authority and power of heaven, on the earth. But that power and authority is not against men (flesh and blood), it is against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6)
Our battle is not with Rome, it is with hell.
It is a battle fought through prayer, and through our obedience to the Word of God. It is fought best by those who are fully aware of who they are in Christ, and what they are actually fighting for – the souls of men. Not their political views or their opinions on current cultural issues. We are fighting for their eternal destinies.
The days are getting darker, and nothing in scripture tells us that evil will be vanquished or that the darkness will recede, until Jesus returns, no matter how bad we want it. That is not our fight.
Our fight is to pillage the darkness with the gospel that can save the souls of men and women held captive there, and to love one another while we do it.
God with us. In the garden. In the cloud and in the fire. On the mountain. In the storm. At the cross. In us. Your Name is Immanuel, and You are with me.
You lead, protect, and provide for those who are Yours. You go in search of the wanderers and bring them home. In green pastures, still waters, and the valley of the shadow of death I trust Your goodness.
Messiah. Lamb of God. Taking my guilt and my shame, enduring the wrath that should have been mine. You have saved me to the uttermost, through and through, now and forever, and You will raise me up on the last day to live forever with You. You are Savior and I am saved and it shall not be undone.
Faithful & True
No guile. No deceit. No shadows. No changing, no going back on Your word. Utterly and completely faithful. My covenant keeper. Above suspicion. You are faithful and You are true and I will not fear You to be otherwise.
Solid ground. Firm foundation. Unmoving. Unshakable and unbreakable. No shifting ways, no sinking sand. You are my Rock, my higher ground, and the safe place on which I stand.
Lion and Lamb
Worthy to open the scroll. The perfect, unblemished sacrifice of atonement. Conqueror of death. Lion of Judah. Majestic and final King of all kings. Lamb slain for me and now King of my heart.
Both the mercy and the justice of God, poured out upon the sin-filled earth. You are the only way, the only truth and the only life. Manna from heaven, bread of life. You are the light that took away my darkness, the living water that took my thirst. The healer of my heart, lover of my soul and the very image of my Father.
My everything. All in all. The Name above every single other name.
It’s been a tussle of late, a throwdown with the enemy. We’ve given each other the stink eye, circling around, and then he got me on the ropes of fear, anxiety and overwhelming sadness. But recently, I came off those ropes and I came off swinging. On one of my walks I began to declare who Jesus is, speaking truth that my soul needed to remember. I chose to trade in flesh thinking for Spirit thinking, and it made a difference.
I will not bow to fear. I will not bow to the lies the enemy is whispering. I will bow only to You, to Your sovereign will, to Your Lordship over me and mine. Against all else I will take my stand of trust in You.
I will not relinquish my peace by taking the fear and anxiety being offered to me. I will not allow the problem before me to become greater than the peace within me, nor will I seek peace from any outside force.
I will not look anywhere other than Your Word for truth. I will not take a stand on any other ground.
Who You are is good and what You do is good. I will not fear from You unkindness or ambivalence. No matter what I see in front of me, I will trust Your goodness.
Whatever needs to be turned, You can turn it. Whatever requires power beyond me, You have that power. Minds, hearts, lives – can all be changed, because nothing can prevail against You.
My hope is in You and not in an outcome. I will place all of my expectations in You, not in anyone else. What others think, do, or say will not sway me from the hope I have in You.
No matter the plans of man, Your purpose will not be thwarted. You will have Your way, in Your time. I will rest in Your sovereignty.
With these and many more declarations, my faith rose up against my fear, and I am now playing offense instead of defense.
Run devil, run.
“And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.” – Colossians 2:13-14
“Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14
I was dead and He made me live. I had a debt I could never pay and He nailed that debt to His cross and made me debt free. Today, I declare that I am forgiven. All of my sins are under the blood of Jesus and I am free from the debt I owed for them. The penalty for my sins has been paid by my Savior and I will never be required to pay it. I am free to live forever.
Today, I will not dwell on what was. I turn toward home, toward what is ahead of me, not what is behind me. I will not be passive, but will press on, pursuing what God has for me. I will not look back, but will set my gaze on Jesus. Today, I will not sit in guilt and regret, but I will get up and walk in the forgiveness of God.
Today, I will praise God for the life and freedom He has given me.
“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before Him.” – Ephesians 1:3-4
“We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” – Ephesians 2:3-5
Today I declare that He is the One who blesses me. He is the One who chose me. He is the One who makes me holy and blameless.
I will not look to myself or to others for what can only come from God.
I was dead and now I live. I was under wrath, now I am under grace – because there is a great love that exists in God for me.
In the same way, my brothers and sisters in Christ were dead, and now they live. They were under wrath, but are now under grace. There is a great love that exists in God for them.
Today, I will remember that I am not alone in the grace in which I stand. I am not alone in being chosen, holy, blameless, and loved by God.
I will choose to see myself and others in the Body of Christ from the perspective of truth.
My heart is meant to be ruled by peace. Not sadness. Not anger. Not envy. Not discontent. Peace. What rules my heart is my choice. If peace is to rule, I must let it. So today I choose peace. Today I say no to anything else that desires to have rulership over my heart. I say no to discord and to strife. I say no to bitterness and unforgiveness. I say no to pride. And I say a thankful yes to the peace of Christ.
Peace in the day, and peace at night. They are both meant to be mine. I declare that my life and my protection are in the hands of my God. He is the one who keeps me safe. There is nothing else to hide behind that offers the security that I have in God. So I declare peace over my sleep tonight and every night, knowing that God is the One who keeps me safe.
“I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.” – Psalm 62:1-2
They say “no rest for the weary”, but I declare truth today. There is a place of true rest, where striving stops and fear has to wait outside. In God, my body, mind and soul come to a place of rest. In His presence I can stop running.
Today, my feet are on the rock of my salvation, and will not be moved. As the earth shakes, my rock holds steady and I remain unshaken. Jesus is the firm place for me to stand, the strong, steady place for heart to rest. I am surrounded by His love and His grace and in Him I am safe from all that desires to consume me.
Today I will stand with my feet on my Rock. Today I will take refuge in my Stronghold. Today I will not be shaken.
Whatever I will walk through today, I will rest in God.