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Week of Pentecost 8 – Monday Devotion

Readings:  1 Samuel 12:1-25  and  Acts 22:30-23:11

Acts 23:2-5  And the high priest Ananias commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Are you sitting to judge me according to the law, and yet contrary to the law you order me to be struck?” Those who stood by said, “Would you revile God’s high priest?” And Paul said, “I did not know, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’ ”

 

“Respect”

Interesting words Paul speaks in our reading for today, are they not? You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people. These words are a quote reflecting the words of Exodus 22:28, that reads: You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.

Oh, that we would do well to obey these words today. Unfortunately, these words, too often, go unheeded. It has been said that never in the history of our nation has a president been bad-mouthed, criticized, and under such scrutiny as is our current President, the ruler of our nation. Through the years, not just with our current President, it has become more pointed and aimed at the person holding that office than to look at the positives they are accomplishing.  There is division.  It is as though there were a civil (or, maybe uncivil) war taking place in Washington.

Don’t interpret these words lightly or incorrectly. Yes, when an elected official has sinned we, as the people of this land, need to admonish the sin committed. We need to hold the official accountable and call them to repentance. 

At the same time, we need to give elected officials the respect afforded their office. They have a difficult task before them. We need to support them and encourage them. How good it is when they hear someone thanking them for the task they have undertaken and the job they are doing.

But, is what we are facing in our nation, and world, today a political problem? It might be more appropriate for us to look at the spiritual problem that exists.

God is no longer important in the lives of many people.  Lives are lived serving a secular ruler instead of Him Who is King over all kings and Who is Lord of all lords. It is time to turn our hearts, and our nation, back to God. Let us spend time with Him as we read His Word and kneel in prayer. May we give Him charge of our life and our nation, calling upon Him to heal our land.

Called to a living faith in the God of all Creation, be bold in holding to, and witnessing, that faith. Do not back down or cower in the corner when confronted.  By the power of the Holy Spirit be a strong witness to your faith in Jesus. Be a Paul to someone else.

Read down to Acts 23:11. The Lord tells Paul, who has faced many trials and great suffering for witnessing his faith in Jesus, that he is going to Rome to testify. Rome was not exactly a vacation spot for the early followers of Jesus. Nero found many cruel ways to put these followers to death. Yet, as directed, Paul would go to Rome and be a strong a witness to the people there as he had been throughout his ministry.

Can you imagine being Paul’s guard? Connected by chains to Paul so Paul cannot escape. The guard would hear over and over again Paul’s witness. He could not help but experience the joy and excitement Paul held as he witnessed. Do you think this guard became a believer? I would like to think so, but we will not know until we are in heaven with Paul (and, likely, the guard)!

Until then, pray for our leaders. Respect them. Thank them for their service. And ask God to heal our land.

 

PRAYER:  When we would speak evil of another, Lord, give us wisdom and guidance to speak, instead, words of love and hope. Let us encourage one another, especially those who lead, that others would see the joy of faith we have received in You. We ask this for Jesus’ sake. Amen.