The Tribute Money, by Masaccio, ca. 1427. This fresco from the great cathedral of Florence has enormous importance in the world of art history. Three scenes in story of the temple tax (from Matthew) occur. In the center, Pharisees challenge Christ about paying the temple tax to Rome. On the left, Peter finds a gold coin in the mouth of a fish, and on the right, he pays it to a tax collector. (See full-size..)
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Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
To Take up the Shield of Faith
Heavenly Father, let me take up the shield of faith this morning and carry it before me throughout the day. For the darkness of the world attacks my soul from every direction.
The world wants me to hate myself and hate you, precious Lord. It tries at every turn to seduce me to the emptiness of revenge. It lures me to the love of money. Envy, anger, and vanity are the traps it sets. It tells me to worship myself until I am hollow. Pride is its bait, and death is its reward.
Defend me, I pray, against the constant assault of impurity that life in the world brings. Great and powerful God, I take up your shield, the only shield that can protect me: my hope and certainty that your love and promise to protect me, for all eternity, will be with me for the asking. For the only truth is yours, the only power is yours, and our only hope lies in you, our true and mighty and loving God. In Christ’s name I pray,
Mason Barge 2014
Prayer for Change
Lord Jesus,thank you for dying on the cross for me. I confess those things in my life that aren’t pleasing to you and ask you to forgive and cleanse me. Right now the best way I know how, I open the door to my heart and life and trust you as my savior and lord. Take control of my life, change me from the inside out, make me the type of person you created me to be. Thank you for coming into my life by way of faith.
~ Sam M.
For the Departed
O Father of all, I pray to you for those whom I love, but see no longer. Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and in your loving wisdom and almighty power work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Orthodox Burial prayer 11/21/2014
May the God of hope fill me and all of us with the joy and peace that comes from believing, so that we may abound in hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question
What Bible verse assures us that our temptations are not unique, but are also temptations others face?
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower–strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain, rocky and steep,
Never a river, turbid and deep.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the laborer, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
~ Annie Johnson Flint
Romans 13:1-7 (ESV)
Submission to the Authorities
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.
Notes on the Scripture
n a participatory democracy, today’s passage creates complexities unknown at the time of Paul. We choose the government; they (at least theoretically) answer to us, not vice versa. And, egged on by the media who will excoriate government officials for many reasons—some fully justified, some rather petty, and some just wrong—we develop an attitude of disrespect.
Yet, Paul’s message still stands, and it reflects the teaching of Christ. Keep in mind, first of all, that it is addressed to Christians; it is written in the context of the sacrifice of our body that we have made to God. God’s grace is not a part-time blessing.
There is nothing in the Bible that tells us not to vote or support a political candidate. In fact, one could argue in good faith that voting is a duty. Not to vote actually smacks slightly of disobedience to the governing authority; follow Paul’s admonitions would therefore tell us we should vote, as an act of obedience.
But becoming involved in politics is a slippery slope and it is easy to fall into a trap where earthly power takes the forefront and Christ takes second seat. Where churches or church leaders do it, their Christian beliefs are always warped by their politics. Their credibility is damaged in the eyes of others and their ability to bring people to Christ is lessened. Our lives have one crucial truth and one crucial aim; our salvation by the grace of God, brought about by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Shall we then spend our time vociferously fighting about divisive earthly conflicts?
We seek and know perfect truth, and there is no perfect truth in politics. We seek to love and live in harmony with all, and politics quickly becomes angry and divisive. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.”
Our duty as Christians is to obey and respect, not to control and attack, the government. So let us always pray for humility and remember, when we set out to change the world, that God is in charge. His will is going to be done.
We also see some tension between Paul’s teaching here and the implied teaching in Acts 5, where Peter and the apostles refuse to obey the high priests’ order to stop teaching about Jesus. “We must obey God rather than men,” they say, and continue to teach. Since we are only a few days away from studying Chapter 5 of Acts, we will leave further discussion of this issue until then.