Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
A popular mindset in our culture is to rebel against authority. We love feeling autonomous, independent, stubborn, and in control. We dislike anyone telling us what to do. But remember what Samuel told King Saul: “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (1 Samuel 15:23).
According to the Bible, God ordained authority to maintain order in the world, the nation, and the home. That’s why Romans 13 tells us to obey those in authority over us. Being ready to carry out the will of God sometimes means being ready to carry out the will of someone over us—like a child wisely obeying a parent. The exception comes when the authority tells us to do something contrary to the will of God, and then we must say, like Peter, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
Has someone in authority over you—a parent, a boss, a public official—told you to act in a certain way? Wisdom listens, submits, and seeks God’s will with humility. Don’t let a rebellious spirit overtake your heart.
The modern world detests authority but worships relevance. Our Christian conviction is that the Bible has both authority and relevance.
But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.
James A. Garfield has a remarkable history. He grew up in an Ohio log cabin—poor and fatherless—a youngster who worked in the fields to help feed his family. Wanting to improve himself, he read and attended school whenever possible. He enrolled in the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute in Hiram, Ohio, where he also worked as a janitor. The once student/janitor ultimately became the school’s leading professor, and in 1857, its president. A quarter-century later, he became the 20th President of the United States. In his teens he gave his heart and life to Jesus Christ—adding teacher and preacher to his resume.
The progress of his life—from poverty to humble service to knowledge to leadership—is a lesson for us. Everyone wants to be a leader in some form or fashion; but serving comes first. Serving others, in fact, is the very essence of leadership. Just as Garfield’s leadership was enriched by his years as a farm boy and janitor, so our leadership is strengthened in the humble acts of kindness and care we perform daily.
If you have the opportunity of either serving or leading, and you can only do one—serve!
Let me ask you to choose the undying Jesus as your everlasting Friend and Helper. Let me urge you to follow Him.
James A. Garfield
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
One of the first photographs ever taken (1839) was of an American photographer taking a picture of himself—perhaps history’s first “selfie.” Fast forward to today—there are tens of millions of selfies posted on social media sites around the world every year. Many of the pictures record events and relationships. But far too many are of individuals taking images of themselves alone—the “Look at me!” variety of selfie.
The problem with any picture, selfie or otherwise, is that it only records what is on the outside. The camera has yet to be invented (and never will be) that can photograph the spiritual status of the heart, soul, or mind. And that is the part of us God is most concerned about. When Samuel was sent to anoint Israel’s new king, God told him not to anoint a man who looked like a king. Instead, he was to anoint a man who had the heart of a king, a heart after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22).
Those viewing your photos can’t see your heart, but God can. Make sure He finds in you a heart that is pursuing Him.
A man’s heart is what he is.
R. B. Kuiper
And the street of the city was pure gold.
South of Cairo, travelers can walk about seven miles to a harbor on Lake Qarun. This little stretch of roadway has the distinction of being the oldest paved road in the world. People have been treading it for 4,600 years. It’s one of several ancient roads that still exist and conjure up feelings of wonder. Think of the Silk Road that traversed Asia, the Appian Way outside Rome, and the Inca Road system that linked South America and created an empire. Civilization needs roadways, and some of them are breathtakingly beautiful and even enchanting.
But none of these roads are as beautiful, enduring, breathtaking, or dazzling as the golden boulevard that links the neighborhoods of New Jerusalem. In Revelation 21:18, we’re told that the entire city is constructed of “pure gold, like clear glass.” Verse 21 adds, “And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”
Those are visual terms, and the Lord revealed this information so we can begin to picture heaven in advance and anticipate its glories. If you’re taking to the road today, look at that black asphalt beneath your tires and compare it with the glory to be revealed. Your heart will glisten.
What wonderful visions of beauty, what glorious scenes shall unfold; / And what dazzling splendors surround me, when I walk up the streets of gold.
From the anonymous hymn “When I Walk Up the Streets of Gold”
My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD.
Joe Beam described what he thought his first moments in heaven might be like. “I’ll see angels of all kinds, godly people singing, and the Loving Light streaming from the throne. Somewhere, sometime, in that introduction to the home of God, I expect to hear an angel call my name. He’ll know me, though I won’t yet know him. ‘Joe. Good to see you here. Welcome home.’”
When we study the biblical descriptions of heaven, we realize such a scene isn’t far-fetched, and Joe’s eagerness for heaven is healthy. Heaven is a precious place, and we should anticipate it to the utmost. On weary days, it can energize us. Amid anxiety, it can console us. In sickness, it provides an anchor of hope. In poverty, it reminds us of our coming wealth.
The Bible tells us to look forward to His coming (2 Peter 3:14) and to long for His courts (Psalm 84:2). One day, we’ll hear an angel call our name and say—“Good to see you here. Welcome home!”
I would not give one moment of heaven for all the joy and riches of the world, even if it lasted for thousands and thousands of years.