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Which god?    God or god?

“Thou shalt have no other god before me.”  (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

High court ruling favors prayer request at council meeting

May 5, 2014

Prayers that open town council meetings do not violate the Constitution even if they routinely stress Christianity, a divided Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The court said in 5-4 decision that the content of the prayers is not significant as long as they do not denigrate non-Christians or proselytize.

From news.msn.com

OK - sounds good, right?

Actually - it is good.  There’s nothing wrong with this - at least on the surface.  

Prayers at places like this don’t need to try to convert people to Christianity - there are other times and opportunities for this.  Besides which - people of other religions will also be open to praying at the same types of meetings - and if one was allowed to try to convert people - the same would have to be true for all.

There’s also no reason to be denigrating any religion at a council meeting.  Like the example above - if it was allowed for one, it would also have to be allowed for all.  On top of that - in some cases - it would get violent, as other news stories indicate.

To indicate that this is the case - here’s another excerpt from the article -

From 1999 through 2007, and again from January 2009 through June 2010, every meeting was opened with a Christian-oriented invocation. In 2008, after residents Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens complained, four of 12 meetings were opened by non-Christians, including a Jewish layman, a Wiccan priestess and the chairman of the local Baha'i congregation.

No - the problem with this decision is behind the scenes - what the minority ruling says -

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court's four liberal justices, said, "I respectfully dissent from the Court's opinion because I think the Town of Greece's prayer practices violate that norm of religious equality — the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian."

Check this out -

The breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian."


That’s very generous indeed.

Sorry - I need to take a side trip here.

In looking up the text of the u s constitution on the Library of Congress Web site - I found dates entered using “CE”.  Remember when we used to use “BC” and “AD”?  I had to look this up - and here’s what I found - from wiki.answers.com -

CE simply means Common Era or Christian Era - a reference to the calendar first adopted by the Christians, and now by the world as a whole. In that calendar, years were noted as AD (Anno Domini or 'the year of our Lord'). As a universal, world calendar, this is understandably controversial, as Jesus is not recognised as the Lord of all religions, or of atheists. Hence, the optional designation of CE in place of AD.

Common Era (also known as Christian Era and Current Era; abbreviated CE) is a designation for the period of time beginning with year 1 of the proleptic Gregorian calendar. An earlier date is then designated BCE, described as "Before the Common," "Christian," or "Current Era." The numbering of years is identical to the numbering in the Anno Domini system, neither system using a year zero.

So - even though AD was Latin - it is apparently too much for some people to tolerate.

Even the CE has to have two definitions - one for the Christians and another for everyone else.  Not that anything really changed - the years are still the same - we just call it something different to try to remove any references to God.

(Or did something change there?)

I’ll just let that sink in - as the conclusion I would come to will be quite evident in the remainder of the article as it relates to the original topic.

Just goes to show that God’s timing is amazing - finding this abbreviation and reference while working on this article.


So - back at the Constitution -

What it really says about religion -

Nothing - in the main body of the Constitution.

In the first amendment - it says -

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


But - the minority opinion actually had quite a bit to say about establishing “ownership” rights of various religions -

our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian."

Really?


From a Christian point of view - let’s see what the Bible says about “ownership”.  
In (M. A. Powell, Ed.)The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated). New York: HarperCollins

ownership, the legal right of possession, which allows the one possessing it complete dominion over property to the exclusion of all others. Theologically, the Bible is consistent in insisting that everything belongs to God (e.g., Job. 1:21; Ps. 24:1; 1 Chron. 29:14; 1 Cor. 4:7). In a more mundane sense, however, the Bible does recognize human ownership, as inheritance laws and prohibitions against stealing imply.

So - let’s look at those verses - in context -

Job 1:21 -

Job’s First Test

Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.  The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”

Job 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

Job 1:9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.  “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.  But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Job 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

Job 1:13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,  a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby,  and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house,  when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship  and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,

and naked I will depart.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;

may the name of the LORD be praised.”

Job 1:22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

So we see God allowing Satan to destroy Job’s property, servants and even his children.  And Job responds by saying everything was from God - God took it back - praise God.


Ps. 24:1

Psalm 24

Ps 24:1 The earth is the LORD'S, and everything in it,

the world, and all who live in it

Ps 24:2 for he founded it upon the seas

and established it upon the waters.

Ps 24:3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?

Who may stand in his holy place?

Ps 24:4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

who does not lift up his soul to an idol

or swear by what is false.

Ps 24:5 He will receive blessing from the LORD

and vindication from God his Savior.

Ps 24:6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,

who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

Ps 24:7 Lift up your heads, O you gates;

be lifted up, you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

Ps 24:8 Who is this King of glory?

The LORD strong and mighty,

the LORD mighty in battle.

Ps 24:9 Lift up your heads, O you gates;

lift them up, you ancient doors,

that the King of glory may come in.

Ps 24:10 Who is he, this King of glory?

The LORD Almighty—

he is the King of glory.

And here we have David saying that everything belongs to God -
and He may come in any time He wants.


1 Chron. 29:14

David’s Prayer

1Ch 29:10 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,

“Praise be to you, O LORD,

God of our father Israel,

from everlasting to everlasting.

1Ch 29:11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power

and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,

for everything in heaven and earth is yours.

Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;

you are exalted as head over all.

1Ch 29:12 Wealth and honor come from you;

you are the ruler of all things.

In your hands are strength and power

to exalt and give strength to all.

1Ch 29:13 Now, our God, we give you thanks,

and praise your glorious name.

1Ch 29:14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.  We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.  O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.  I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.  O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.  And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.”

1Ch 29:20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the LORD your God.” So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king.

And here - God’s people are preparing to build a temple for God -
while acknowledging that everything they are giving to build His temple actually came from Him -
while praising and thanking Him.


1 Cor. 4:7

Apostles of Christ

1Co 4:1 So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.  I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself.  My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.  Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.

1Co 4:6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.  For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

1Co 4:8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!  For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.  We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!  To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.  We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;  when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

1Co 4:14 I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.  Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  Therefore I urge you to imitate me.  For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.

1Co 4:18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you.  But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.  What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

And we close with a warning from Paul to the believers in Corinth.

They are losing touch with where they came from -
losing touch with what they should be remembering -
losing touch with what they should be doing.

It’s a rather sarcastic statement of where the Corinthians are -

1Co 4:8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings—and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!


So - what does this have to do with -

"I respectfully dissent from the Court's opinion because I think the Town of Greece's prayer practices violate that norm of religious equality — the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian."

It has a lot to do with it - especially Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

All of these quotes from the Bible establish God as the creator and owner of everything.

True enough - Satan is the prince of the world (for now) -
and things have become corrupted - including us -
but still - everything belongs to the Creator.

And - the warning from Paul is to not forget that -
to go back to living as they did when they really understood that.


For us as Christians -
presumably we knew at one time that everything belongs to God -
the One who created everything -
but do we still live that way?

Beyond that -
do we pay enough attention to even realize that some are trying to give away what is God’s?

As prince of the earth - Satan will accomplish these things -
for a time.
But - the time is coming when God will take things back -
return them to the way they were supposed to be -
and cleanse the world of all the corruption.

Let’s look again at Paul’s words to the people in Corinth -

1Co 4:18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you.  But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.  What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?


Now - look at these words from Jesus - in Revelation -

The church in Ephesus

Rev 2:4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love.  Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.   

The church in Smyrna

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.

The church in Pergamum

Rev 2:14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.  Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

The church in Thyatira

Rev 2:20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.  I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.  So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.  I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.  

The church in Sardis

I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.  Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.  Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

The church in Philadelphia

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.  I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.  Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

The church in Laodicea

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.


Just as Paul was coming back to Corinth -
Jesus will be coming back to earth.

While we cannot prevent - in every instance -
the corruption that is taking place -
we can prevent that corruption from taking hold of us.


With the help of The Holy Spirit - rather than having to deal with the harsh outcomes above -
we can instead have -

The church in Ephesus

   Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

The church in Smyrna

Rev 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.

The church in Pergamum

Rev 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

The church in Thyatira

Rev 2:26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—

Rev 2:27 ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter;

he will dash them to pieces like pottery’—

just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The church in Sardis

Rev 3:4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The church in Philadelphia

Rev 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The church in Laodicea

Rev 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”


And so - the choice is ours to make.

We can choose to not pay attention -
become “arrogant” as Paul says -
even arrogant in inaction -
because by lack of attention and action
we will inevitably follow the way of the rest of the world -
and give away what was not ours to give.

And by doing that -
are we not doing pretty much what Satan did when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness -


The Temptation of Jesus

Mt 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Mt 4:4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’’”

Mt 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,

and they will lift you up in their hands,

so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’’”

Mt 4:7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’’”

Mt 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Mt 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’’”

Mt 4:11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.


Check out that third one -

Mt 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

If we give away what is God’s
or allow it to be given away without a thought as to what’s happening -
are we not putting ourselves in the place of Satan -
and doing the very same thing?

And Jesus’ response -

Mt 4:10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’’”


So -

What’s your response to

Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the court's four liberal justices, said, "I respectfully dissent from the Court's opinion because I think the Town of Greece's prayer practices violate that norm of religious equality — the breathtakingly generous constitutional idea that our public institutions belong no less to the Buddhist or Hindu than to the Methodist or Episcopalian."

While you may not be able to stop it -

Do you want to at least be aware of what’s happening -
realize in your own life that these kinds of things are going on -
be sure your family is aware of it - and lives accordingly -
be sure your friends are aware of it - and live accordingly -
reach out to strangers and be sure they are aware of it - and decide whether or not to live accordingly?


Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Ge 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

 Ge 2:2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.


God made you and I - and everything else.

What are we doing with what He made for us?

Are we giving it away - without a word or a thought?


Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Rev 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.


Are you ready for Him to come?