Silence and Centering Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; - PSA 37:7 Confession: O Lord, we confess that we believe we are fully yours until we turn the page of the Bible and discover some teaching that we either we don’t like, don’t understand or with which we simply don’t agree.Your thoughts are not like our thoughts and your ways are not like our ways. You are God and we are not. Forgive our arrogant intellect and our willful disobedience. Because of our rebellion, we approach you with deep regret and humility Please forgive our sins and restore our innocence, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen PAUSE FOR 5 MINUTES OF SILENCE Reading & Devotional: 1 Peter 2:13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. We live in a day when it is becoming increasingly difficult to respect many of our governmental leaders. The Christians of the 1st century faced a similar day as well. Though many of the early Christians were Jews, they lived under the authority of the Roman government. History teaches us that many of the Roman emperors were extremely wicked. Not only did they hate Christians, many of them demanded to be worshipped as though they were god and would put to death anyone who refused. History also teaches us that many of them filled the empire with sexual sins such as homosexuality, pedophilia, and incest. Was Peter trying to tell Christians that they should accept the sinful practices of the Roman government? Not at all. Scripture says that there was a time in Peter’s life when he was commanded by the Jewish Sanhedrin (government) to “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.” To this demand Peter replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (see Acts 4:18-19) Christians of the early church would not stop living out their Christianity in order to please those in authority; even if it meant more persecution and death. What then was Peter trying to tell these Christians? Peter was telling them to strive to be model citizens. Scripture teaches us that unless the laws of our land contradict what the Bible teaches, we are to strive to obey them. Though we may not always be able to respect ‘those’ in authority, we are to always respect their ‘positions’ of authority. Not only that, Paul tells us that we are to lift them up in our prayers. “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2) We are to pray for our leaders’ salvation. We are also to pray that God will cause them to do His will. Can God do that with a wicked leader? The Bible says – “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1) Scripture is full of examples of where God used a pagan leader to do His will. Peter gives us another important reason for living as honorable citizens. “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.” (1 Peter 2:15) As followers of Jesus Christ, our lives should be so above reproach that if we are accused of doing evil, how we have lived will testify that we are innocent of any wrongdoing, and it is those who are attacking us who are the ones who are guilty. - 5 minutes of SILENT PRAYER & REFLECTION. Waiting on God (which word or phrase stands out to you. What might God be saying to you?) Prayer Of The Day O Lord You are my strength Before you begin, sit quietly before the Lord. Ask to be given a ‘willing spirit’– willing to repent, to change, to listen, to obey. Father, thank You for the promise of Your Word that those who hope in You will renew their strength. You alone are the source of all strength for You are the ruler of all things and in Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to me. Strengthen me to stand firm, to stand for righteousness, to stand for Your kingdom! Like Daniel, may my life be characterized by integrity and ‘above-reproach conduct’. Even in the midst of unjustness, may I be one who turns to You in worship and thanksgiving. May I always run towards You and not grow weary. Empower me I pray, to walk and not faint. Help me to not fear or be dismayed, regardless of the situations that I am in, or the condition of the world around me – for You are God and You hold all things together. Hold me together I pray! Strengthen me and help me – uphold me with Your righteous right hand and with power through Your Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart in all of His fullness - in all His fullness! Have mercy on me Father and help me to lean on You and find my strength in You alone for my spirit is willing but my flesh is so weak and I confess to You Lord – The weakness of my faith and flesh… O Lord have mercy! the undisciplined use of my mind… Renew and strengthen my mind by Your Word! the sin that I yet hold on to… Wash me and cleanse me the timid ways in which I still live… I turn from a spirit of fear and trust in Your Name! Increase my faith – destroy doubt and unbelief in my heart and mind and empower me to live boldly. May the sphere of influence in which You’ve planted me resonate with the praise of Your Name and the imprint of Jesus be left on all that I touch. For Your name and Your renown are the desire of my heart. In Jesus’ powerful name I pray. Amen. The Our Father (slowly pray this) Our Father which 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 the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever, Amen.