Thursday, January 26, 2017

Wisdom Principles: Dealing with Those in Authority

The king's wrath is the herald of death, but the wise will appease it. 15 When the king's face brightens it spells life, his favor is like the rain in spring.
Proverbs 17:11
The wicked person thinks of nothing but rebellion, but a cruel messenger will be sent to such a one.

Like the roaring of a lion, the anger of a king, but like dew on the grass his favor.

Like the roaring of a lion is the fury of a king; whoever provokes him sins against himself.

Fear Yahweh, my child, and fear the king; do not ally yourself with innovators;22 for suddenly disaster will loom for them, and who knows what ruin will seize them and their friends?

In the presence of the king do not give yourself airs, do not take a place among the great;7 better to be invited, 'Come up here', than be humiliated in the presence of the prince.

Obey the king's command and, because of the divine promise, 3 be in no hurry to depart from it; do not be obstinate in a bad cause, since the king will do as he likes in any case.
4 Since the word of a king is sovereign, what is the point of saying, 'Why do that?'
5 One who obeys the command will come to no harm; the heart of the sage knows the right moment and verdict, 6 for there is a right moment and verdict for everything; but misfortune lies heavy upon anyone 7 who does not know what the outcome will be, no one is going to say how things will turn out.

If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your post; composure mitigates grave offences.

Do not try to carry a burden too heavy for you, do not associate with someone more powerful and wealthy than yourself. Why put the clay pot next to the iron cauldron? It will only break when they bang against each other.
3 The rich does wrong and takes a high line; the poor is wronged and has to beg for pardon. 4 If you are useful the rich will exploit you, if you go bankrupt he will desert you.
5 Are you well off? - he will live with you, he will clean you out without a single qualm. 6 Does he need you? - he will hoodwink you, smile at you and raise your hopes; he will speak politely to you and say, 'Is there anything you need?'
7 He will make you feel small at his dinner parties and, having cleaned you out two or three times over, will end by laughing at you. Afterwards, when he sees you, he will avoid you and shake his head about you.
8 Take care you are not hoodwinked and thus humiliated through your own stupidity.

When a powerful man invites you, be reserved; and he will invite you the more often. 10 Do not push forward, lest you be repulsed; and do not remain at a distance, lest you be forgotten.

Do not affect to treat him as an equal, do not trust his flow of words; since all this talking is expressly meant to test you, under cover of geniality he will be weighing you up.

And if anyone requires you to go one mile, go two miles with him.

Pray for those who persecute you

Pay Caesar what belongs to Caesar -- and God what belongs to God. See also Mark 12:17, Luke 20:25

When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come, and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Everyone is to obey the governing authorities, because there is no authority except from God and so whatever authorities exist have been appointed by God.2 So anyone who disobeys an authority is rebelling against God's ordinance; and rebels must expect to receive the condemnation they deserve.3 Magistrates bring fear not to those who do good, but to those who do evil. So if you want to live with no fear of authority, live honestly and you will have its approval;4 it is there to serve God for you and for your good. But if you do wrong, then you may well be afraid; because it is not for nothing that the symbol of authority is the sword: it is there to serve God, too, as his avenger, to bring retribution to wrongdoers.5 You must be obedient, therefore, not only because of this retribution, but also for conscience's sake.6 And this is why you should pay taxes, too, because the authorities are all serving God as his agents, even while they are busily occupied with that particular task. 7 Pay to each one what is due to each: taxes to the one to whom tax is due, tolls to the one to whom tolls are due, respect to the one to whom respect is due, honor to the one to whom honor is due.

Remind them to be obedient to the officials in authority; to be ready to do good at every opportunity

I urge then, first of all that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving should be offered for everyone, 2 for kings and others in authority, so that we may be able to live peaceful and quiet lives with all devotion and propriety.

For the sake of the Lord, accept the authority of every human institution: the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 and the governors as commissioned by him to punish criminals and praise those who do good. 15 It is God's will that by your good deeds you should silence the ignorant talk of fools. 16 You are slaves of no one except God, so behave like free people, and never use your freedom as a cover for wickedness.17 Have respect for everyone and love for your fellow-believers; fear God and honor the emperor.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Praying for Leaders: That They Truly "Serve" and That They Do So with Humility

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that good leaders recognize that they are to serve those put in their charge and that they are to do so with true humility. They also recognize that they have not been put in their positions to benefit or aggrandize themselves.

Whoever would be great among you must be your servant

The greatest among you must be your servant. 12 Anyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.

And they came to Caperna-um; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” 34 But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest. 35 And he sat down and called the twelve; and he said to them, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be raised up.

Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and love salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts

He said to them, “Among the gentiles it is the kings who lord it over them, and those who have authority over them are given the title Benefactor. 26 With you this must not happen. No; the greatest among you must behave as if he were the youngest, the leader as if he were the one who serves. 27 For who is the greater: the one at table or the one who serves? The one at table, surely? Yet here am I among you as one who serves!”

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.
When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Give a shepherd's care to the flock of God that is entrusted to you: watch over it, not simply as a duty but gladly, as God wants; not for sordid money, but because you are eager to do it. 3 Do not lord it over the group which is in your charge, but be an example for the flock.

My child, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be better loved than a lavish giver. 18The greater you are, the more humbly you should behave, and then you will find favor with the Lord

You save those who are humble, but you humble those who are proud.

The man of haughty looks and arrogant heart I will not endure.

Yahweh, my heart is not haughty, I do not set my sights too high. I have taken no part in great affairs, in wonders beyond my scope. 2 No, I hold myself in quiet and silence, like a little child in its mother's arms, like a little child, so I keep myself. 3 Let Israel hope in Yahweh henceforth and for ever.

He mocks proud mockers, but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.

There are six things which the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to him…17 haughty eyes…

When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom.

The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility goes before honor.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.

Do not claim honor in the presence of the king, And do not stand in the place of great men; For it is better that it be said to you, “Come up here,” Than for you to be placed lower in the presence of the prince

Do not exalt yourself lest you fall and bring dishonor upon yourself; for then the Lord will reveal your secrets and cast you down in the midst of the assembly.

For the disease of the proud there is no cure, since an evil growth has taken root there.

When a powerful man invites you, be reserved; and he will invite you the more often. 10 Do not push forward, lest you be repulsed; and do not remain at a distance, lest you be forgotten.

I will put an end to the pride of the arrogant, and lay low the haughtiness of the ruthless.

What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, 52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.

“When you are invited by any one to a marriage feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest a more eminent man than you be invited by him; and he who invited you both will come, and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.

But he gives more grace; therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.

Praying for Leaders: That They Recognizes that All Success/Authority Comes from God and That They Must Fear God.

Another dynamic scripture stresses is that leaders must recognize where they stand in relationship to God. They must understand that He is God and they are not, that their status and success comes from God, and that they must conform to God’s ways and will to retain their positions.

Listen then, kings, and understand; rulers of remotest lands, take warning;2 hear this, you who govern great populations, taking pride in your hosts of subject nations!3 For sovereignty is given to you by the Lord and power by the Most High, who will himself probe your acts and scrutinize your intentions.
4If therefore, as servants of his kingdom, you have not ruled justly nor observed the law, nor followed the will of God, 5 he will fall on you swiftly and terribly. On the highly placed a ruthless judgment falls; 6 the lowly are pardoned, out of pity, but the mighty will be mightily tormented.7 For the Lord of all does not cower before anyone, he does not stand in awe of greatness, since he himself has made small and great and provides for all alike;8 but a searching trial awaits those who wield power.

Pilate then said to him, 'Are you refusing to speak to me? Surely you know I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?'11 Jesus replied, 'You would have no power over me at all if it had not been given you from above

Like flowing water is a king's heart in Yahweh's hand; he directs it wherever he pleases.

There is no authority except from God

When Hezekiah and the officials came to inspect the heaps they praised Yahweh and his people Israel.

Blessed be Yahweh, God of our ancestors, who moved the king's heart in this way to restore the beauty of the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem,28 won for me the faithful love of the king, his counsellors and all the most powerful of the king's officials!

David consulted God and asked, 'Shall I attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my power?' Yahweh replied to him, 'Attack! I shall deliver them into your power.'
David again consulted God, and God replied, 'Do not attack them from the front; go round and engage them opposite the balsam trees. 15 When you hear the sound of footsteps in the tops of the balsam trees, launch your attack, for that will be God going out ahead of you to defeat the Philistine army.'16 David did as God had ordered, and they beat the Philistine army from Gibeon to Gezer.

[Uzziah] consulted God throughout the lifetime of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. And as long as he consulted Yahweh, God gave him success.

He did not humble himself before Yahweh as his father Manasseh had done; on the contrary, Amon wilfully added to his guilt. 24 His retinue plotted against him and killed him in his own palace.

You have chosen me to be king over your people, to be judge of your sons and daughters.8 You have bidden me build a temple on your holy mountain, and an altar in the city where you have pitched your tent, a copy of the holy Tent which you prepared at the beginning. 9 With you is Wisdom, she who knows your works, she who was present when you made the world; she understands what is pleasing in your eyes and what agrees with your commandments.10 Dispatch her from the holy heavens, send her forth from your throne of glory to help me and to toil with me and teach me what is pleasing to you; 11 since she knows and understands everything she will guide me prudently in my actions and will protect me with her glory. 12 Then all I do will be acceptable, I shall govern your people justly and be worthy of my father's throne.

The shepherds are the ones who have been stupid: they have not searched for Yahweh. This is why they have not prospered and why their whole flock has been dispersed.

Once seated on his royal throne, and for his own use, he must write a copy of this Law on a scroll, at the dictation of the levitical priests. 19 It must never leave him, and he must read it every day of his life and learn to fear Yahweh his God by keeping all the words of this Law and observing these rules,20 so that he will not think himself superior to his brothers, and not deviate from these commandments either to right or to left. So doing, long will he occupy his throne, he and his sons, in Israel.'

King David then went in, sat down in Yahweh's presence and said: 'Who am I, Lord Yahweh, and what is my lineage, for you to have led me as far as this?

1 Samuel 22:1-7, 21-23, 29-32 
David addressed the words of this song to Yahweh, when Yahweh had delivered him from the clutches of all his enemies and from the clutches of Saul.2 He said:
Yahweh is my rock and my fortress,3 my deliverer is my God. I take refuge in him, my rock, my shield, my saving strength, my stronghold, my place of refuge.
My Savior, you have saved me from violence;4 I call to Yahweh, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my foes.
5 With Death's breakers closing in on me, Belial's torrents ready to swallow me,6 Sheol's snares on every side of me, Death's traps lying ahead of me,
7 I called to Yahweh in my anguish, I cried for help to my God, from his Temple he heard my voice, my cry came to his ears!

21 Yahweh rewards me for my uprightness, as my hands are pure so he repays me, 22 since I have kept the ways of Yahweh, and not fallen away from my God.
23 His judgments are all before me, his statutes I have not put away from me;24 I am blameless before him, I keep myself clear of evil.

29 Yahweh, you yourself are my lamp, my God lights up my darkness;30 with you I storm the rampart with my God I can scale any wall.

31 This God, his way is blameless; the word of Yahweh is refined in the furnace, for he alone is the shield of all who take refuge in him.

32 For who is God but Yahweh, who is a rock but our God: 33 this God who girds me with strength, who makes my way free from blame,

On that day, David was the first to assign to Asaph and his kinsmen the giving of thanks to Yahweh

Hence, in the presence of the whole assembly David blessed Yahweh. David said: 'May you be blessed, Yahweh, God of Israel our ancestor, for ever and for ever! 11Yours, Yahweh, is the greatness, the power, the splendor, length of days and glory, everything in heaven and on earth is yours. Yours is the sovereignty, Yahweh; you are exalted, supreme over all.12 Wealth and riches come from you, you are ruler of all, in your hand lie strength and power, and you bestow greatness and might on whomsoever you please.13 So now, our God, we give thanks to you and praise your majestic name,14 for who am I and what is my people, for us to be able to volunteer offerrings like this? - since everything has come from you and we have given you only what you bestowed in the first place,15 and we are guests before you, and passing visitors as were all our ancestors, our days on earth fleeting as a shadow and without hope.16 Yahweh our God, all this wealth, which we have provided to build a house for your holy name, has come from you and all belongs to you.
17 'Knowing, my God, how you examine our motives and how you delight in integrity, with integrity of motive I have willingly given all this and have been overjoyed to see your people, now present here, willingly offering their gifts to you.18 Yahweh, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel our ancestors, watch over this for ever, shape the purpose of your people's heart and direct their hearts to you,19 and give an undivided heart to Solomon my son to keep your commandments, your decrees and your statutes, to put them all into effect and to build the palace for which I have made provision.'
20 David then addressed the whole assembly: 'Now bless Yahweh your God!' And the whole assembly blessed Yahweh, God of their ancestors, bowing down in homage to Yahweh, and to the king.