“On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?”
“Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?”
“They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free! However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.” Matthew 17:24-27 NLT
My Thoughts: Taxes…, I remember my first paycheck and the shock I felt when I saw the net amount after taxes were deducted! Yikes! Welcome to the working world and reality kid!
This is a simple lesson—like it or not—no matter where we live there will be taxes, government authorities, and laws to guide us. We are required as citizens to follow those laws and pay taxes. This should be a blessing for citizens of the United States of America. We are a privileged society (for now!) that is free to vote on who we want in office, and what we want to guide our country. Once those government officials and mandates are in place, based on our votes, we are called to be under the umbrella of the authority that was chosen by the majority. Most of the time it’s not that hard to be obedient, even if we aren’t crazy about the majority vote.
That is until this last presidential election. Wow. Oh, I know trouble has been brewing for years, however, the American people went wacko in 2016 and it hasn’t stopped yet!
I’m so sick, and weary of all the divisiveness and sin. I can no longer watch or listen to the news. I’m horrified by what people are saying and doing out loud with no shame, especially when that person has lived as or claimed to be a Christian (for real!). I truly don’t believe we have seen this much selfishness and open sin (in my lifetime) as we are seeing right now in our country. It’s discouraging and upsetting.
However, while I am broken hearted and shocked about what is happening in our world right now, the LORD warned us these very days were coming:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” 2 Timothy 3:1-4 ESV
Sounds exactly like what we are facing as a nation every day, doesn’t it?
Before you go crazy and think I’m accusing everyone but myself, I am not. I’m a sinner, and worse than that, I’ve allowed the disgrace of our despicable national behavior and other life challenges surrounding me to resurrect old enemies: fear and discouragement. Those weaknesses have given wings to my feet and I’ve been running from the battle instead of doing what I was called to do by God.
As a victim of child abuse the old me—before I became a Christian—would run from things that would cause me pain or make me uncomfortable. However, as a believer and follower of Christ, I was freed from my past so why in the world did I bend over and pick it up again? God took that burden and replaced it with a new heart, one that prepared me for all sorts of things, including battles and trials.
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT
Knowing in advance that I will encounter battles should have prepared me to stand firm with solid assurance I have the Lord’s mighty power to fight the battles with me!
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10 NIV
Alone, I am powerless, but with Christ, I am filled with his mighty power!
Sadly, instead of clinging to these truths I’ve been begging God to take me out of the battle rather than remember I have all I need to face the battle! God didn’t choose me so I could hide from uncomfortable things, he chose me to specifically represent him IN the battle!!!
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” John 15:16-17 NIV
I gave Satan a foothold in my heart and believe me, he’s been relentlessly taunting me. I’ve been confused, hurt, tired, discouraged, and I’ve given up my calling. Why didn’t I remember my victories and call on the Lord? Why did I just lie there and let evil throw those lies at me? I was reminded in my church class last Sunday; I wasn’t putting on my armor every day. Had I done that I could have withstood his lies!
Jesus asked [her], “What do you think, [Cecilia]?”
I think I better snap out of it and remember who I belong to and it isn’t Satan!
So, my wrap up is this: Jesus was a good citizen and he mirrored that for us more than one time in the Bible. Likewise, it’s our job—my job—to take a stance and stop being complacent. We have a major election coming up (not to mention taxes!), so I need to:
“Put on all of God’s armor so that you [I] will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:11 NLT
“Now that I understand where that trauma came from, I can see it for what it is. And by finding the courage to turn and face it, I have the opportunity to stop it in its tracks.” The Dressmakers Gift by Fiona Valpy
Closing Prayer: Father God forgive me for returning to my past which is no longer a part of my life. I choose You, because You chose me. Thank you, LORD! Father help me to set healthy boundaries, so I don’t get pulled back into the black hole of bitterness and depression. Let me represent you in all that you have called me to do using Your armor*, Your strength, and Your love. In the name of Jesus. Amen.
*Ephesians 6:10-18 NLT
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”