It’s Time to Render

tax-ime

As the end of February nears, it’s that time again.

If you use the term “render,”
you give away that you realize
you’re not just doing taxes.

You are being audited
for whether you can do it in a good attitude
and with total honesty. 

Some people ask me how I’ve managed to do my own taxes for over 47 years.  That’s the same time I’ve  been a Christian and understood that I’m rendering unto Caesar.

The Secret to Doing Your Own Taxes

Just get out your sword and slay the dragon!  Real life beats any video game!  Then next year, after first reading “what is new this year,” besides that you’ll just be plugging in new numbers in the same way you did the year before.

Then it’s time for just one more hopeful deduction:  You weren’t audited so you must have done it right!

That’s why the last thing you want is for somebody to “simplify” it.   After 47 years we’ve seen what that’s like!

Who wants to decipher again the likes of “If A, B or C = D and/or E = only one of A, B or C, then be sure to input the lesser of X, Y or Z as long as one of them equals A, B or C.”

Help!

When Jesus said to render unto Caesar, too bad if that’s more than salad, render it anyway!  So what if taxes might seem like a sin to you, Jesus said pay it forward—or whatever twisted direction doing taxes has left you in!

The best advice I can share for a Christian doing taxes

is to first list and calculate what you honestly have to report—before you look in the table to see what the consequence is.  That will stop you from being tempted to alter the data because you see that only $1 less would mean $50 less taxes.

It’s pretty rare to get called in by Caesar.  Rest  assured  God is auditing!

Jesus also commanded to

Render unto God what is  God’s

From rich or poor, He asks for 10% of your net gain.  Now that’s simplicity!   Part of the simplicity of Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).  I’ve been happily tithing since a little boy making my  first dollar.  It’s so easy you happily give offerings too!

And your reward?  Avoiding audit?  Chump change from Caesar compared to God!

Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Mal. 3:10 New International Version).

One of those blessings is to have the mind-numbing privilege of  figuring out taxes each spring so we get to live in this country that has surely been blessed by God more than any other in the world because of the obedience of Abraham, Isaac  and Jacob!

If you can’t joy in doing taxes, at least be thankful that it hasn’t yet come to:  How much did you make?  Send it in.

rev-11-15But one day soon, this much is as certain as you know what:  Caesar’s part will cease (Rev. 11:15).

God speed that day like April 15 always seems to do!

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More Judges to be Confirmed Besides Gorsuch

gorsuchThe Senate is deciding whether to confirm 
Judge Neil Gorsuch 
to the U.S. Supreme Court.

God is looking for judges to serve
in Christ’s millennial government and kingdom,
which will administer justice over the whole earth
and ultimately the universe.

MillenniumGod is looking for kings and priests (Rev. 5:10) and teachers (Heb. 5:12, Isa. 30:20) to serve as resurrected servant leaders in Jesus Christ’s soon-coming 1,000 year reign on earth.  God’s also training and confirming judges. (Rev. 20:4).

Perhaps the resurrected saints will serve in one or more capacities.  God knows our abilities, gifts and where we can best serve.  God blends righteous authority, worship, education and justice—and the people rejoice (Prov. 29:2)!

Gorsuch would answer to no higher physical judge.  The Father has delegated all judgment to Jesus (John 5:22, 27) because He lived as a human and knows us inside and out (Heb. 4:15).  He knows we should be benched all right!  But He’s willing to let us serve in His courts which will be truly supreme on the earth.

Gorsuch’s confirmation could have long-lasting consequences because he would be expected to outlast the President who appointed him.  God’s judges will serve for eternity.  Gorsuch’s foes might think the same!

Paul told the saints of his day that they should learn how to judge within the Church because one day they would “judge the world” and

“Judge angels” (1 Cor. 6:2-3)

Paul’s brief didn’t specify how we would judge angels.  The Bible already pronounces the sentence for Satan and the demons:  “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone … tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10), “for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13).   Funny, their fate is what they have conned humans into thinking awaits them!  This is Bible justice:  If a witness testifies falsely, “then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so shall you put away the evil from among you” (Deut. 19:18-19).

For now we are a little while lower than the angels (Heb.2:7), but then perhaps we will be in charge of judging them in the sense of managing their service.

white-horseActually, our tenure as judges will start not sitting on the bench but riding white horses—as ten thousands of saints accompany Christ at His second coming “to execute  judgment on  all” (Jude 14-15).

Then we will help Christ administer the law out of Zion and His word from Jerusalem—“judge between the nations, and rebuke many people” (Isa.2:3-4).

Bible cloudyThese judges will wield a 2-edged sword (Psa. 149:6).  So they can cut to the chase and chop lawbreakers down to size?   Are we in for an epee epic time?

No, we will teach and enforce the Bible.  “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

God’s judges will “execute on them [kings, nobles, nations] the written judgment” (Psa. 149:8-9).

“This honor have all His saints”:  to serve as Your Honor!

We will be upholding not the Constitution but God’s law and Christ’s written and living Word.  To prepare and be confirmed, we must now be diligently every day “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).  The Greek means “cut straight.”  So we build the family of God square, true and plumb!

“Mercy rejoices against judgment” (James 2:13).  But while Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you,” He upheld truth—“go and sin no more” (John 8:11).  A common phrase throughout the Bible is “mercy and truth.”  This seems the perfect description of true justice.

Who wants to be confirmed as one of Christ’s judges? 

judgmentPeter counseled “the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).   God is deeply interested in us and how we are progressing toward fulfilling His purpose.

We would do well to learn the lessons from the book of Judges.  This book spans about 325 years from the death of Joshua some 25 years after Israel entered the Promised Land until shortly before the coronation of King Saul.  We can learn from the examples of 15 judges like Gideon, Deborah and Samson.

We should regularly ask God what Solomon requested:  “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil.  For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:7-9).

Who will be the next Supreme Court judge?  Gorsuch?

Who will become God’s kingdom judges?  To such as you?

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“Just So You Shall Make It”

franklloydwrightPeople marvel at what makes a Frank Lloyd Wright home so special.

Even more interesting is to consider what kind
of construction and furnishings
the Master Architects like.

tabernacleGod gave Moses a detailed pattern to build
for His sanctuary to dwell among them (Ex. 25:8-9).
Heb. 8:5 says it was a “copy and shadow
of the heavenly things.”
Who can blame Him for wanting His earthly digs to make Him feel right at home!

The real interest here is that God is not really after physical buildings.  He is reproducing Himself, creating sons and daughters for Himself and brothers and sisters for His Son.

We are His temple—The Father and Jesus live in us through Their Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16).   Our Master Architect has a signature style—a “Way” of life (Acts 9:2).  God gives us very precise instructions in His Bible for building His temples.  And just as God told Moses “just so you shall make it” (Ex. 25:9), that applies to us even more.

For His landscaping

Adam & Eve 2God told the first humans that they needed to take utmost care to follow only two instructions:  eat of the Tree of Life and not eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  He didn’t give them the right to decide right and wrong—only whether to choose right from wrong and serve as God’s models for future development of man.

For us today, the Tree of Life represents God’s Holy Spirit, and the other tree Satan’s counterfeit way of living which can have some good and rare times even almost all good, but the net result is evil if he can get us off blueprint in even one small spec.

Driveway & entrance

If we follow God’s approach, we must “enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).   Nobody can come unless the Father draws them and reveals the hidden entrance (John 6:44).

Others think they’ve arrived and are never going to leave but find themselves jostling with crowds, lost in a maze, and wind up off the property.

No matter the spiritual issue, we really should ask ourselves:  If what I believe is the common belief, does it sound like I’m on the narrow path that few find?

door 1Jesus is the door and we must enter by Him (John 10:9).  Trouble is, Paul warned, the gospel of Christ most people hear is a “perverted” one (Gal. 1:7).   People decide for themselves what would Jesus do instead of diligently studying what did Jesus do.

Foundation

A wise person  will build his house upon the rock—Jesus Christ.  How?  By hearing Jesus’ sayings and doing them! (Matt. 7:24-27).

Building Materials

God told Moses to build with only materials like pure gold, silver, precious stones, acacia wood and fine linens.  Paul exhorted Christians to build on the foundation of Christ with “gold,  silver, precious stones, wood” rather than “hay and straw.  Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (vs. 12-13).  Like a blacksmith, deciding how to temper the steel and remove all impurities, knows he’s done when he can see his image in it, the Father wants to see the express image of His Son (Heb. 1:3).

Insulation and pillars

With God’s temples, we  are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (James 1:27), coming out of all the spiritual confusion (Rev. 18:4).  That gets harder with each passing day that Babylon rebuilds for the end-time finale.  Yet the  Master Architect explains that He isn’t trying to take us out of the world (John 17:15) but, rather, have us serve as His ambassadors in it (2 Cor. 5:20).  His temples must also serve as His embassies!

Yes, Frank Lloyd Wright homes are special.

plant-the-heavensBut no architect can compare with God the Father and the Word who created the heavens and the earth!  The Word became Jesus Christ and  He says to walk just as He walked (1 Jn. 2:4).

When it came to the tabernacle, and Moses inspected the work, “indeed they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, just so they had done it” (Ex. 39:43).

We can be part of His Parade of Homes when at  the seventh trumpet He changes our physical temples into His glorious spiritual children who will serve as pillars in His kingdom temple (Rev. 3:12).

So, just so let’s do it!

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Dreamers, Planners & God Our Guide

king-dreamA couple weeks ago we honored
Martin Luther King for inspiring
the world with His dream.

Those of us who started
a daily Bible reading program
on Jan. 1—

a highly recommended idea where you could still jump in now—
have recently read the astounding story about how God took Joseph
from herding the family sheep at age 17
to being second in command of Egypt at age 30.

Talk about a dreamer!   God guided Joseph through dreams—the ones He gave him, which Joseph didn’t very humbly share with family, and also through the gift of interpreting dreams for butlers, bakers and pharaohs.

Reuniting with his jealous brothers who started the astounding chain of events by selling him to an Arabian caravan, Joseph told them “it was not you who sent me here” (Gen. 45:8).

Intriguing to me is that Joseph had nothing to do with it either—except that as God took him from caravan to Potiphar’s slave to prison to Prime Minister, Joseph had no choice in it except to obey God and cooperate successfully until God moved him up the next improbable rung on the most unorthodox ladder of success.

This has always been my favorite story from the Old Testament, and many would choose it because

Don’t we want God to guide our lives

the way He did Joseph’s and lead us to meaningful service on His behalf!

No doubt you do, too!  I know God has led my life, but it hasn’t seemed caravanned for me.

joseph-dreamI am not a dreamer.  I rarely remember dreams after sleeping.  I don’t see the moon and stars bowing down toward some great feat I should accomplish.

My life has been a series of junctions where I have to ponder, discern and choose  where God would like me to be and what He would like me to do to serve Him.

I’m doing that right now, at age 66—even as I ask God to write this through me and inspire me with it!

Each day I pray, “God, I’m your son.  Jesus calls me friend.  But like Paul said, I’m your willing slave.  What would you like me to do today?”

Today we have a world of opportunities.  So many options even for a Tim Tebow to run.  The Internet opens up the world for service to God, and Jesus commissioned us to do our part to take His gospel into all the world (Matt. 24:14) and make disciples in all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).

Though Mary and I have chosen to retire in Canon City, Colorado, I tell God sincerely that I would go anywhere He would want if I clearly see His will.  For now He seems content to take my words rather than my body.  And as I recover from hip replacement surgery, which was on Martin Luther King Day, that’s probably a good idea!

On the 23rd of the month when I read the 23rd Psalm, I always share a chuckle with God that I wouldn’t mind if He “makes me lie down in green pastures” instead of  me having to locate them.

But praise God, my life has overall been lush grass and quiet streams—more than this dumb sheep deserves.  In answer to the proverbial question, if I had it to do over, I honestly would do it the same.  I’ve trusted God to guide me.  So I must be where He wants me.

Joseph told his shocked brothers:

“It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you” (Gen. 45:8, New International Version)

And really that’s what He’s doing with us:  calling us now to announce Jesus Christ’s soon-coming government on the earth and preparing us to serve in it with Him.  God is Personnel Director for those of us desiring to do His Work.  As He did with Joseph, God is in the process of transporting us to His royal court (1 Pet. 2:9).  He knows what He wants us to do in His eternal  kingdom and universal plans.

In comparison to our glorious vision  and mission, second in command in Egypt is local government!

heart flowering“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Prov. 16:9).

While planning our course, we must “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Dream as big as we can!  Plan!  And walk humbly with God where He leads.

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