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Citizenship | Pray Vote Pray

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Citizenship | Pray Vote Pray

Monday But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:20

“I can’t believe that new tax law, and those parking restrictions at the courthouse are ridiculous!” Theo roared as he stormed into the room. He kicked a chair and slammed his newspaper on the table. Ella only gazed at him with her luminous eyes. “What?” Theo demanded. Ella gave him a tiny smile. “I’ve never understood why you get so caught up in the affairs of this country,” she said. “When Father brought us here, he warned us that we wouldn’t be staying long. We’re only ambassadors, not citizens. Why do you care whether this country wants more of its money back? It’s worth nothing back home, you know.”

Ella had the attitude all God’s people should have. She lived every moment with the awareness that she was not at home. She was a citizen of another country, so the strangeness of her temporary home didn’t bother her much. Her brother, however, had settled right in, adopting the customs and ideals of a foreign place. He felt only grief and stress while Ella lived in peace, eagerly awaiting the summons from home. When God adopts us as His children, He gives us a new permanent address. We become citizens of heaven. We remain on this earth as ambassadors representing our Father’s kingdom. While we are here, we should do what we can to make earth better for everyone. But our hearts eagerly await our summons from home

Final Thought: Are you being a good representative of your Father’s kingdom?

Prayer: Father, I forget that this world is not my home. I’m a citizen of another kingdom. Help me find a healthy balance between earthly concerns and heavenly priorities. May I live every moment as a faithful ambassador. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Tuesday I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 1 Peter 2:11

An alien is one who belongs to another place or nation. When we hear the word we might think of immigrants, extraterrestrials, or characters from Star Wars. Aliens stand out. They talk differently, act differently, and have a completely different value system. That’s the idea Peter was trying to express in this verse. As God’s children, Christians are to talk differently, act differently, and have a completely different value system. This place says, “If it feels good, do it.” In our Father’s kingdom, we crucify our sinful desires. This place says, “You should decide for yourself what’s right for you.” In our Father’s kingdom, He tells us what is right and wrong. We’re not supposed look, talk, and act like this world because we are aliens here.

However, alien doesn’t mean jerk. It doesn’t mean obnoxious, Bible-waving wacko. Throughout history, Christian aliens have respectfully defied a king’s order to worship a statue. They’ve blessed their tormenters as they were burned at the stake. They’ve refused to stop declaring that their Leader rose from the dead, even when it cost them everything. Godly aliens do good when they are abused, pray when all looks hopeless, and live by God’s word when everyone around them mocks their standards. Aliens die to their sinful urges daily so that they never tarnish the name of Christ. Christian aliens know that this world and its twisted values will soon pass away. So they abstain from fleshly lusts for the sake of the better world to come.

Final Thought:  Do you live as someone immersed in this world or as an alien here on assignment?

Prayer: Father, I haven’t always lived as a good representative of your kingdom and your values. Please forgive me. I am willing to stand alone, be misunderstood, or mocked if that’s what it takes to be an alien for your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Wednesday  conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Philippians 1:27

The father took his son by the shoulders and looked into his eyes. “You’re a Wellington,” he said. “I expect you to act like one.”

The four-star general addressed a sea of cadets. “You are the newest graduates of West Point Military Academy,” he called. “Conduct yourselves in a worthy manner.” What does that mean? In each instance, there was an understood code of ethics associated with a name. West Point and the Wellington family had reputations for honor, integrity, and class. So anyone bearing those names was expected to validate that reputation by their own conduct. When one person who bears the name behaves in ways that desecrates it, they heap dishonor on the rest. They are not living in a manner worthy of the name.

That’s what this verse is about. When we bear the name “Christian,” an understood code of ethics is associated with that name. While Jesus is the only perfect representative, those called to be His are also called to a higher plane of existence. We are no longer our own. We belong to a Name with a flawless reputation. Any person bearing the name who behaves in ways that desecrate it, heaps dishonor on the rest. When we come into the family of God, our new Father takes us by the shoulders and looks into our eyes. “You’re mine now,” He says. “Live in a manner worthy of my Son’s reputation.”

Final Thought:  Do you conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ? What needs to change?

Prayer: Lord, search my heart and my choices. Are they worthy of the name “Christian?” Have I have brought dishonor to your name and to my brothers and sisters who also carry your name? Forgive me. Help me live in a worthy manner.  Amen

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Thursday Work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you… Pray to the LORD for it… Jeremiah 29:7

Julio dropped his heavy bag and stretched his aching back. He frowned at Marco who was humming as he examined each ear of corn before picking it. “Why you always so happy?” he growled. “This is backbreaking work for rich white guys. Why you care whether you do a good job or not? We get paid the same.” Marco paused in his work to smile at Julio. “I know. I don’t do a good job to get paid more. I do a good job because that’s who I am. I picture Jesus picking corn next to me. Would He work hard? So I work hard. If our employer is successful, then we are successful. I pray for him. Do you pray for him?”

What about you? How hard do you work for the peace and prosperity of the city, state, and nation where God has placed you? Because we know that Christians are citizens of another kingdom, we may get the idea that we should check out of this one. “It’s just me’n Jesus,” some say. “Don’t need anybody else.” So they live entirely for themselves, hiding out til they hear the trumpet blast. That’s completely unbiblical. If we’re breathing, then God has work for us to do. Otherwise, He’d zap us to heaven the moment we got saved. We can’t be salt and light like Jesus told us to be if we’re hiding out or ignoring needs around us. Til our last breath, we are to represent truth and life to a deceived and dying world by praying for and serving them.

Final Thought:  What are you doing to further the peace and prosperity of your community?

Prayer: Father, I like to think I’m obeying this verse, but a lot of what I do is totally self-serving. I act nice so people will like me. Show me ways I can work for the good of my community, even if they don’t appreciate me. It’s for your glory, not mine. Amen

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FridayWho knows if perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Why did it happen? How could God allow such a thing? We struggle with the same questions Mordechai did when innocent young Hadassah was taken from his family and placed in a pagan king’s harem. It was unthinkable! Wasn’t God paying attention? On Mordechai’s darkest day, it was hard to believe the sun would ever shine again. Yet, despite the darkness, God was already at work. Not only would Hadassah the Jewish peasant become Esther the queen, but because she was so strategically positioned, her darkest day would become God’s greatest weapon to protect her and her people. 

God wastes nothing in the lives of His children. Every tear, every hurt, every question becomes part of God’s tapestry when our lives are dedicated to His purposes. He places us where He wants us in order to turn our apparent tragedies into a work of art. When we try to find our own purpose, we end up bitter, alienated from God, and in a bigger mess. But when we give to God every heartache, disappointment, and failure, He takes those random threads and begins to weave. We won’t see good in what he’s doing just as we can’t see beauty in a pile of knotted yarn. But if we stay humble, trusting, and obedient to Him, He untangles those threads and begins to create a masterpiece. The random colors start to make sense as a pattern emerges, and when we see the finished product, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Only God can take pain and create purpose. Only God can take the darkest events and build a lighthouse. And only God knows why we are where we are for such a time as this.

Final Thought:  God has you where He wants you for such a time as this. Are you cooperating?

Prayer: Father, thank you that none of my pain needs to be wasted. I hand it to you and ask you to bring good from it. I will trust that your plan is good, even when only you can see it. Hold me fast until I can see it too. In Jesus’ name, amen.