Daily Light – January 31, 2019

Let God Blow Away Your Anxiety

Three Big Promises for the Fight

(article by David Mathis:  Executive Editor, desiringGod.org)

Fifteen years ago, I was a senior in college. I hadn’t wandered far from home after high school (just 45 minutes away). I was born and raised, and lived all 22 of my years of life so far, in a small region of a small state. But now as a senior, an exciting and scary prospect stood on the horizon: leaving the motherland.

As I entered that final collegiate fall, I had narrowed the field to four post grad options, and all four would require me to move hours from home, if not overseas. In some sense, I would be “setting out on my own.” I felt an unusual anxiety about it.

The worries I battled that senior year of college had much excitement in them; the great opportunities just came with fear of the unknown — of not messing up, not taking a wrong step, not making a false start on adulthood. My anxiety was spiritual and emotional, not clinical. It never became so acute that I sought professional help. But it was a trial of faith, and a chance to grow and learn. Instead of letting anxiety eat my joy alive, I had to find a way to fight back. Could there be any better way to fight than with the very words of God?

That fall, I found three clear texts where Jesus, Paul, and Peter each take anxiety head-on. I printed them out on blue cardstock and pasted it next to my bed. I rehearsed the passages first thing each morning, and last thing each night. It didn’t take long to memorize them cold. Even now, fifteen years later, when anxiety rises to the level of my consciousness, I go back to these three tried and true passages.

Matthew 6:25–34

“I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,” Jesus says, “what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25). He knows, and cares, about food, drink, clothing — such basics! If you’re not worried about where your next meal is coming from, or how you’ll clothe your body, let that put your present concerns in perspective. “If we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8). Jesus talked to men and women worried about food and clothes. Gratitude for what we’re notworried about is a great first step in the fight.

Hear Jesus, the Lord of lords, say to you, “You are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 6:31). His words are powerful because they’re so practical and obvious. Sometimes we need Jesus to blow away the delusion of anxiety with a simple rhetorical question, like this one: “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:27). In other words, your worry will gain you nothing. Your being anxious about your life is not helping your life. In fact, it’s poisoning you. It’s robbing you of joy. It’s dragging down your life. Turn to me, he says. Roll your burdens onto my broad shoulders and strong back.

Spiritual anxiety is a faith issue: “O you of little faith” (Matthew 6:30). And by calling for faith, Jesus is not telling us to muster up strength within, but to acknowledge our own weakness and inability, and lean afresh on his strength and power. “Your heavenly Father knows” (Matthew 6:32). The world seeks after mere things. But in Christ, we have been set free to seek after God. And to trust him for whatever he adds and when (Matthew 6:32–33).

Philippians 4:6–7

Lest we think that battling against anxiety only relates to the basics of food and clothing, Paul makes the universal application explicit with an “anything” and an “everything”:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)

It’s not enough to distract ourselves — to try to turn our worried minds elsewhere and forget our troubles, uncertainties, and fears. Rather, we need to go Godward. “Let your requests be made known to God.” And as we go to him, grateful prayer and inner peace go hand in hand. This is a promise to those who go Godward with their anxieties: “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Fighting anxiety, and coming into respites of spiritual and emotional peace, doesn’t mean all our questions are answered. God gives peace beyond calculation. His peace transcends easy explanation, and even our most generous anticipation. He gives a peace that “surpasses all understanding,” that doesn’t make sense on mere earthly terms.

1 Peter 5:6–7

Matthew 6 laid a massive foundation for me, and Philippians 4 reminded me of the vital place of prayer, but it was 1 Peter 5:6–7 that seemed to burst most often with the most refreshing grace.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

“Humble yourselves” is the reminder that our anxieties often rise with our pride and sense of self-sufficiency. To lose sight of God is to decline in humility. It’s a timeless summons to the anxious: humble yourself. You can’t control this. Your anxiety is rising with a swollen view of self, and a diminished view of God.

Then that phrase “at the proper time.” Oh, what clarity and hope I’ve found in these words. Clarity in that my sense of timing is often not God’s perfect sense of timing. He knows all my needs (Matthew 6:32) and has his “proper time,” so I shouldn’t rush to judgment when my prayers, prompted by my worries, are not immediately answered in the way I would like. Rolling my burdens onto him doesn’t mean he gives me what I want right away, but that he gives faith, which prepares me to wait patiently for his perfect timing. And not just clarity, but hope — because his “proper time” often comes suddenly and unexpectedly. He relieves me of the burden of being my life’s master of ceremonies. I don’t need to watch the clock, but trust the Lord of time.

The four most anxiety-dispelling words for my soul over the years come at the end of 1 Peter 5:7: “he cares for you.” The coming of Christ, his sacrificing of himself for your sake, his rising again in power, his coronation as King of kings at the right hand of his Father, the sending of his Spirit — it all bears witness that “he cares for you.” The Father demonstrates his care for you in this: that while you were still a sinner, Christ died for you (Romans 5:8). The Father did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for you — how will he not graciously give you all you need, in his perfect timing?

He cares for me. Anxiety, be gone.

Sweet Imperatives

Looking back, it is remarkable what comfort God gave in that otherwise harrowing senior year by his Spirit through particular promises in his word. Even today, as I turn regularly to Matthew 6, or Philippians 4, or 1 Peter 5, I taste afresh the gracious comfort God siphoned to my worried heart in those days.

Just last week I came again to Matthew 6:25–34, and Jesus’s words fell on me as pleasantly as any commandment ever has. “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.” That’s a command: “Don’t be anxious.” Modern people can chafe so quickly at commands, and yet the promises of Christ from over the years flood that sweet imperative for me with the strong and gentle tenor of Jesus’s voice and compassion. Your heavenly Father knows all your needs, and he stands ready to meet them beyond what you can ask, or think, or imagine, all in his perfect timing.

Daily Light – January 30, 2019

Invincible in Christ

How Believers Never Die

(excerpt from message by John Piper)

One of the most powerful moments in my seminary life was the funeral of Jaymes Morgan, my 36-year-old professor of systematic theology.

Lewis Smedes was preaching his funeral message. Morgan’s wife and four little children were there. And at one moment, Lewis Smedes, in his magisterial voice, lifted it up and cried out, “Jaymes Morgan is not dead.” And I remember, to this day, the tingling in my spine as the truth just crashed over that moment. I’ve never forgotten it. It was just one of those unforgettable moments.

So, if Jaymes Morgan is not dead at his funeral, and Jaymes Morgan was not dead a few months earlier when I was listening to him teach theology, what happened in between? What was that? Well, let’s let Jesus explain it. I’m going to take you to two passages of Scripture, where Jesus owns the paradox that I’ve just articulated. You’re not going to die, follower of Jesus — you’re not.

In John 11:25–26, Jesus is talking to Martha, the sister of the man who’s in the grave.

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.

“Believers in Jesus who keep his word have passed already out of death into life.”

Yes, we die. The text itself says, “though he die, yet shall he live.” But no, we don’t die, because it says in verse 26, “everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Lazarus’s body lay dead in the grave, but Lazarus was not dead. His body was dead. He was not dead. He had not died.

Now here’s the other verse. This one is even more important. Jesus says in John 5:24,

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life

Believers in Jesus who keep his word have passed already out of death into life. They now have what’s called eternal life. Eternal life cannot, by definition, stop for a second. It cannot stop. You never lose it. It is eternal. There’s not a five-minute pause in the hospital or anywhere.

Believers do not see death. They do not taste death. Our bodies die. They lie there. They look like they’re sleeping. That’s why in the New Testament death is called sleep sometimes. It’s not because we go to sleep and don’t have any consciousness but wake up at the resurrection. That’s a very bad interpretation. It’s because they look like they’re sleeping. It’s just an analogy. “The trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

When our bodies die, we do not die. We have passed from death to life — eternal life, unbroken life, unending life. And what that means is this: When we are born again, chapter 3 of John,

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:6)

Until you are born again by the Holy Spirit, you have no living spirit. You are flesh — mortal flesh. When you are born again, spirit is awakened. Life is given — eternal life. The Holy Spirit lives within you and imparts the life of God to you. This life is indestructible. That’s what happens.

And now we experience God. We speak with God. We hear from God by his Spirit through his word — very personally, experientially. We love God as the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This is the work of God the Spirit. We’re alive to him. We have fellowship with him. We walk with him. We know him. We taste and see that he is good. We’re alive.

“This fellowship that we enjoy with God cannot end. It cannot be broken.”

When somebody asks you if you were born, you shouldn’t show them a certificate; you should breathe in their presence — speak, touch them. Don’t look for your birth certificate as proof you’re alive. And when somebody asks you if you’ve been born again, don’t look for your certificate — breathe, speak, pray, love, touch, enjoy God in front of them. You’re alive. You know him, you enjoy him, he’s real to you. This is what never, ever ends. It just gets perfected in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when we meet Jesus face to face.

Sometimes it just hits me — older people, you know exactly what I mean — how close to that moment I am. Just a few years, and I will sin no more. I will enjoy him face to face forever. I’m sixty-five. Suppose I live to eighty. Let’s say I have fifteen years. I can remember fifteen years ago like it was yesterday. That’s not very long, and I’m probably not going to live till eighty. This fellowship that we enjoy with God cannot end. It cannot be broken. It is eternal. When our bodies die, we do not experience one millisecond of break in fellowship with God through Christ; it is in that instant perfected (Hebrews 12:23).

The life we have with Christ in God today because of the new birth will never end. We will not see the end of it. We will not taste the end of it, because there is no end of it.

Daily Light – January 29, 2019

Immortal Till His Work Was Done

John Paton (1824 – 1907)

(article by John Piper)

When John and Margaret Paton landed on the New Hebrides island of Aniwa in November 1866, they saw the destitution of the islanders. The native people were cannibals and occasionally ate the flesh of their defeated foes. They practiced infanticide and widow sacrifice, killing the widows of deceased men so they could serve their husbands in the next world. “Their whole worship was one of slavish fear,” Paton wrote. “So far as ever I could learn, they had no idea of a God of mercy or grace” (Autobiography, 72).

In the next fifteen years, the Patons saw the entire island of Aniwa turn to Christ. Years later, Paton would write, “I claimed Aniwa for Jesus, and by the grace of God Aniwa now worships at the Savior’s feet” (Autobiography, 312). When he was 73 years old and traveling around the world trumpeting the cause of missions in the South Seas, he was still ministering to his beloved Aniwan people and “published the New Testament in the Aniwan Language” in 1897 (Apostle to the New Hebrides, 238). Even to his death, he was translating hymns and catechisms and creating a dictionary for his people even when he couldn’t be with them anymore.

The sacrifices and the legacy of the missionaries to the New Hebrides are stunning, and John Paton stands out as one of the great ones. In telling his story, we will focus on one of the most inspiring aspects of his character: his courage.

Cannibals and Criticism

Paton had courage to overcome the criticism he received from respected elders for going to the New Hebrides. A certain Mr. Dickson exploded, “The cannibals! You will be eaten by cannibals!” But to this Paton responded:

Mr. Dickson, you are advanced in years now, and your own prospect is soon to be laid in the grave, there to be eaten by worms; I confess to you, that if I can but live and die serving and honoring the Lord Jesus, it will make no difference to me whether I am eaten by Cannibals or by worms; and in the Great Day my Resurrection body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer. (Autobiography, 56)

This is the kind of in-your-face spiritual moxie that would mark Paton’s whole life. It’s a big part of what makes his story so invigorating.

Dreadful Loss

Paton originally arrived in the New Hebrides on November 5, 1858, when his first wife, Mary, was pregnant. The baby was born February 12, 1859. “Our island-exile thrilled with joy! But the greatest of sorrows was treading hard upon the heels of that great joy!” (Autobiography, 79). Mary had repeated attacks of ague, fever, pneumonia, and diarrhea with delirium for two weeks.

Then in a moment, altogether unexpectedly, she died on March third. To crown my sorrows, and complete my loneliness, the dear baby-boy, whom we had named after her father, Peter Robert Robson, was taken from me after one week’s sickness, on the 20th of March. Let those who have ever passed through any similar darkness as of midnight feel for me; as for all others, it would be more than vain to try to paint my sorrows! (Autobiography, 79)

He dug the two graves with his own hands and buried them by the house he had built.

Stunned by that dreadful loss, in entering upon this field of labor to which the Lord had Himself so evidently led me, my reason seemed for a time almost to give way. The ever-merciful Lord sustained me. . . . But for Jesus, and the fellowship he vouchsafed to me there, I must have gone mad and died beside the lonely grave! (Autobiography, 80)

The courage to risk the loss was remarkable. But the courage to experience the loss and press on alone was supernatural.

Mortal Enemies

The most common demand for courage was the almost constant threat to Paton’s life from the hostilities of the natives. This is what makes his Autobiography read like a thriller. In his first four years in the New Hebrides, when he was all alone, he moved from one savage crisis to the next. One wonders how his mind kept from snapping, as he never knew when his house would be surrounded with angry natives or whether he would be ambushed along the way.

One of the most remarkable things about Paton’s dealing with danger is the gutsy forthrightness with which he spoke to his assailants. He often rebuked them to their faces and scolded them for their bad behavior even as they held the axe over his head.

One morning at daybreak I found my house surrounded by armed men, and a chief intimated that they had assembled to take my life. Seeing that I was entirely in their hands, I knelt down and gave myself away body and soul to the Lord Jesus, for what seemed the last time on earth. Rising, I went out to them, and began calmly talking about their unkind treatment of me and contrasting it with all my conduct towards them. . . . At last some of the Chiefs, who had attended the Worship, rose and said, “Our conduct has been bad; but now we will fight for you, and kill all those who hate you.” (Autobiography, 115)

As his courage increased and his deliverances were multiplied, he would make it his aim to keep warring factions separated, and he would throw himself between them and argue for peace. “Going amongst them every day, I did my utmost to stop hostilities, setting the evils of war before them, and pleading with the leading men to renounce it” (Autobiography, 139).

The list could go on as to how Paton displayed courage through his decades on the mission field. But we turn to the question, Where did this courage come from? The answer Paton would want us to give is that it came from God. But he would also want us to see what precious means God used and, if possible, apply them to ourselves and our situations.

God of Sovereign Goodness

Just months after arriving on the field, Paton wrote over his wife’s and child’s grave: “Feeling immovably assured that my God and Father was too wise and loving to err in anything that he does or permits, I looked up to the Lord for help, and struggled on in His work” (Autobiography, 85).

Over and over this faith sustained him in the most threatening and frightening situations. As he was trying to escape from Tanna, another island of the New Hebrides, at the end of four years of dangers, he and his native friend Abraham were surrounded by raging natives who kept urging each other to strike the first blow.

My heart rose up to the Lord Jesus; I saw Him watching all the scene. My peace came back to me like a wave from God. I realized that I was immortal till my Master’s work with me was done. The assurance came to me, as if a voice out of Heaven had spoken, that not a musket would be fired to wound us, not a club prevail to strike us, not a spear leave the hand in which it was held vibrating to be thrown, not an arrow leave the bow, or a killing stone the fingers, without the permission of Jesus Christ, whose is all power in Heaven and on Earth. He rules all Nature, animate and inanimate, and restrains even the Savage of the South Seas. (Autobiography, 207)

After getting away with his life and losing everything that he had on earth (“my little earthly All”), instead of despairing or pouting or being paralyzed with self-pity, he moved forward expecting to see God’s good purpose in time — which he saw in the ministry that opened to him, first of missions mobilization and then of work on Aniwa.

Prayer That Claims God’s Promises

The prayer that made all the difference was the kind that submitted to God’s sovereign wisdom. How do you claim the promises of God for protection when your wife was equally faithful but, rather than being protected, died? How do you bank on God’s care when the Gordons, missionaries on another island, were equally trusting in God’s care and were martyred? Paton had learned the answer to this question from listening to his mother pray, even before he learned the theology that supports it.

When the potato crop failed in Scotland, Mrs. Paton said to her children, “O my children, love your Heavenly Father, tell Him in faith and prayer all your needs, and He will supply your wants so far as it shall be for your good and His glory” (Autobiography, 22). This is what Paton trusted God for in claiming the promises: God would supply all his needs insofar as this would be for Paton’s good and for God’s glory.

His courage, when he was surrounded by armed natives, came through a kind of praying that claimed the promises under the overarching submission to God’s wisdom as to what would work most for God’s glory and his good.

I . . . assured them that I was not afraid to die, for at death my Savior would take me to be with Himself in Heaven, and to be far happier than I had ever been on Earth. I then lifted up my hands and eyes to the Heavens, and prayed aloud for Jesus . . . either to protect me or to take me home to Glory as He saw to be for the best. (Autobiography, 164)

That was how he prayed again and again: “Protect me or . . . take me home to Glory as you see to be for the best.” He knew that Jesus had promised suffering and martyrdom to some of his servants (Luke 11:4921:12–18). So the promises he claimed were both: either protect me, or take me home in a way that will glorify you and do good for others.

A Friend Who Will Not Fail

Where did the joy of John Paton most deeply repose? The answer, it seems, is that it rested most deeply in the experience of personal communion with Jesus Christ mediated through the promise, “Behold, I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20).

The power this promise had to make Christ real to Paton in hours of crisis was unlike any other Scripture or prayer: “Without that abiding consciousness of the presence and power of my dear Lord and Savior, nothing else in all the world could have preserved me from losing my reason and perishing miserably” (Autobiography, 117).

One of the most powerful paragraphs in his Autobiography describes his experience of hiding in a tree, at the mercy of an unreliable chief, as hundreds of angry natives hunted him for his life. What he experienced there was the deepest source of Paton’s joy and courage.

I climbed into the tree and was left there alone in the bush. The hours I spent there live all before me as if it were but of yesterday. I heard the frequent discharging of muskets, and the yells of the Savages. Yet I sat there among the branches, as safe as in the arms of Jesus. Never, in all my sorrows, did my Lord draw nearer to me, and speak more soothingly in my soul, than when the moonlight flickered among those chestnut leaves, and the night air played on my throbbing brow, as I told all my heart to Jesus. Alone, yet not alone! If it be to glorify my God, I will not grudge to spend many nights alone in such a tree, to feel again my Savior’s spiritual presence, to enjoy His consoling fellowship. (Autobiography, 200)

Paton leaves us with a question: “If thus thrown back upon your own soul, alone, all alone, in the midnight, in the bush, in the very embrace of death itself, have you a Friend that will not fail you then?”

Daily Light – January 28, 2019

Friends…This is third song I wish to share with you written by Lauren Daigle.  The three songs I chose are performed by Lauren on her soundtrack entitled Look Up Child.   I believe that God has gifted Lauren with the ability to hear the voice and heart of God in expressing His compassion, understanding, patience, long suffering, forgiveness, His steadfast love, and to express just how ‘safe’ we are ‘in His hands and keeping.  May Lauren’s words minister to your heart.  

“You Say”  (Song #3)

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up
Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?
Remind me once again just who I am because I need to know

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
And when I don’t belong, oh You say I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me
In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity, o-ooh

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
And You say I am held when I am falling short
And when I don’t belong, oh You say I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
Oh, I believe

Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet
You have every failure God, and You’ll have every victory, o-ooh

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing
You say I am strong when I think I am weak
You say I am held when I am falling short
When I don’t belong, oh You say I am Yours
And I believe, oh I believe
What You say of me
I believe

Oh I believe
Yes I believe
What You say of me
Oh I believe

Daily Light – January 25, 2019

Friends…I want to take the next 3 days and share with you the lyrics from three songs written by Lauren Daigle.  The three songs I have chosen are performed by Lauren on her soundtrack entitled Look Up Child.   I believe that God has gifted Lauren with the ability to hear the voice and heart of God in expressing His compassion, understanding, patience, long suffering, forgiveness, His steadfast love, and to express just how ‘safe’ we are ‘in His hands and keeping.  May Lauren’s words minister to your heart.  

“Your Wings”  (Song #2)

When ten thousand arrows take flight
Remind me that You are my armor
There’s always a place I can hide
When I am desperate for shelter

You’re my covering
I’m safe, I’m safe
Whatever comes at me
I’m safe, I’m safe

You’ve got me under Your wings, under Your wings
I’m under, I’m under Your wings
You’ve got me, You cover me, You cover me
I’m under, I’m under Your wings

With every step that I take
You are before and behind me
In every fear that I face, oh
I’m constantly finding

You’re my covering
I’m safe, I’m safe
Whatever comes at me
I’m safe, I’m safe

You’ve got me under Your wings, under Your wings
I’m under, I’m under Your wings
You’ve got me, You cover me, You cover me
I’m under, I’m under Your wings

You’ve got me under Your wings, under Your wings
I’m under, I’m under Your wings
You’ve got me, You cover me, You cover me
I’m under, I’m under Your wings

You’re my covering
I’m safe, I’m safe
Whatever comes at me
I’m safe, I’m safe


Daily Light – January 24, 2019

Friends…I want to take the next 3 days and share with you the lyrics from three songs written by Lauren Daigle.  The three songs I have chosen are performed by Lauren on her soundtrack entitled Look Up Child.   I believe that God has gifted Lauren with the ability to hear the voice and heart of God in expressing His compassion, understanding, patience, long suffering, forgiveness, His steadfast love, and to express just how ‘safe’ we are ‘in His hands and keeping.  May Lauren’s words minister to your heart.  

“Rescue”  (Song #1)

You are not hidden
There’s never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS
Your SOS

I will send out an army
To find You in the middle of the darkest night
It’s true, I will rescue you

There is no distance
That cannot be covered
Over and over
You’re not defenseless
I’ll be your shelter
I’ll be your armor

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army
To find You in the middle of the darkest night
It’s true, I will rescue you
I will never stop marching
To reach you in the middle of the hardest fight
It’s true, I will rescue you

I hear the whisper underneath Your breath
I hear you whisper you have nothing left

I will send out an army
To find you in the middle of the darkest night
It’s true, I will rescue you
I will never stop marching
To reach you in the middle of the hardest fight
It’s true, I will rescue you

Oh, I will rescue you

Daily Light – January 23, 2019

(Friends…today’s DL is from my friend and pastor of 44 years,  David N.  David uses the S.O.A.P. method in his daily devotion time…Study, Observe, Apply, Pray. Thank you David for using God’s gift and calling on your life to teach, train and open God’s word to me. You have been such a faithful source of ‘light’ to me. Thank you. dh)

Acts 28:17-31  The hope of the Kingdom

28:17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. 20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” …

23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. … 30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!   NIV

For two whole years Paul explained why he was arrested – “because of the hope of Israel.” What was it that all Israel hoped for? The Messiah! (“Your Kingdom come …”)Paul carefully taught the OT to show that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies and was “the stone” Israel rejected, but also the One God said would be “the cornerstone”. He summarized his message as about “the Kingdom of God”. 

As Americans we don’t understand or think about the Kingdom of God. We think of Jesus as our Savior and Friend more than we do as our King. Paul certainly taught the gospel of Grace and in no way believed we earn our salvation. But the Savior he proclaimed is the Creator and Lord of the universe. To “accept Jesus as Savior” without bowing to Him as LORD/King was to re-define the Jesus of the Bible and make Him a god of their own imagination. And we do the same thing. We value our independence and making our own decisions so much that we are very uncomfortable thinking that we should submit to Him as LORD and King.

Dear Savior and Messiah Jesus, I worship You as the Creator of everything with the right to rule as absolute despot over my life. I praise You as the most wonderful Sovereign there could be, and see it as a privilege to submit to Your perfect love and plan for my life, but sometimes I still don’t want to give up my will. Thank You for Your understanding and grace, but please keep drawing my heart to recognize and submit to You in every situation. And as I explain the beauty of grace to others, help me make clear that You, the God of all grace, are also the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen.