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Worship Message - Don't Take for Granted

Do Not Take for Granted!

A devotional I read recently tells of a woman who lived in an apartment. Some repair

work on the block where she lived required the turning off of the electricity in her

building. With that, the woman very quickly realized how many conveniences she took

for granted. In fact, many day-to-day tasks became impossible. For instance, there were no lights and no TV. 

She could not do the laundry. Neither the refrigerator nor the freezer worked. Neither did the stove or oven 

work, so she could not cook. She could not work on her desk top computer. 

The woman reports it felt as if her life was paralyzed.

That reminded me of a time several years ago when a storm struck Lincoln. I was home

alone when the power went out. The outage pretty much took care of the TV show I was

watching. It also made it tricky going from the upper level to the main level of the house.

There was still a bit of light left in the day, but the stairs were very dimly lit. !

But you know what I noticed the most? It was so quiet. I guess I didn’t know how loud

the hum of a refrigerator is and how loud some clocks that were electric were with

ticking. I don’t know. Maybe lights have a bit of a hum as well. !

All those sounds were gone, which made it so quiet. As mentioned, I was home alone, so

there was not another voice to break up the silence. Since the outage came during a

storm, the cat was hiding. Not even he broke the silence. !

It was so quiet. Oppressively so. What a reminder that incident was of how nice it is to

have sounds around us. Sounds of comfort. Sounds of convenience. How nice to have

lights and refrigerators and stoves and computers available to us. !

It seems so easy to take things for granted, including the things mentioned. But as the

devotional continued, some other things were listed that the author also tends to take

for granted. What about us? Do we do the same? !

Air, water, and sunlight. How good it is have fresh air, at least in this part of the country.

And to have clean water. There are a whole lot of places in the world that do not have

that luxury available to them. And isn’t it nice to be where we can see the sun? As in the

open spaces we have around us? !

Are we thankful for fresh air, water, sunlight? And what about the changing of the

seasons? !

And the songs of birds. Which reminds me of the gift of hearing. I hope I never take that

gift for granted.

And flowers. Actually, it seems that allergies have hit me harder this year than I

remember any other year. Flowers sometimes cause flare ups of allergies. But what

beauty flowers give us. Beauty created by God. !

The list continues. Food. Roofs over our heads. Even in Lincoln there are some who do

not have housing. Hence the importance of places like the People’s City Mission. May we

who have housing be thankful for that. !

Health. Tat is a gift given to many of us. Are we thankful on the days we feel healthy? If

we are sick, are we thankful when we get better? !

And how about a good mood? Do you ever get grumpy? I do. Fortunately I know it when

it happens, so I can be careful what I say. But good moods are great. May we thank God

for them. !

The point of the devotional I read is this. How often we delight in all the conveniences

and all the beauty we have around us. Such delight is fine, but may we remember to

thank God for our blessings. We need to thank God because it is He who gives us all the

good things we have. !

Including, as we will consider now, the freedoms we enjoy in this country. !

Of course, there sometimes at least seems to be a fight going on to limit our freedoms.

That includes the freedom of religion that has been and is one of the most important

freedoms we have. What with calls for tolerance of anything and everything, it is

sometimes uncomfortable - sometimes dangerous - to speak up for what God teaches is

right. !

There sometimes at least seems to be a fight going on to limit our freedom, which means

we need to be vigilant to do what we can to keep our freedoms. But compared to so

much of the world, we are, in this nation, blessed so much with freedom. May we never

take our freedoms for granted. May we be thankful for them. In fact, may we be willing

to make sacrifices to retain them. !

Which reminds me of what our Founding Fathers - what those who, in 1776, signed the

Declaration of Independence - what they sacrificed. What they endured so even today

we can enjoy the freedoms we have.

!

There were 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence. According to historical

records, five of them were captured by the British and charged with treason. They were

tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and then burned. Two lost

sons to death in the Revolutionary War. Two others had sons captured by the British

army. Nine signers died as they themselves served in the American army.

Many of those who signed the Declaration of Independence lost their wealth. One, a

planter and trader, had his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his house and other

properties to pay his debts. He died in rags. Another was so hounded by the British he

was forced to move his family almost constantly. He lost his possessions. He, too, ended

up in poverty. Eight others were victims of British soldiers or vandals looting their

property. !

The wife of one of the signers was arrested. I guess her crime was being associated with

her husband. She died a few months later. !

Another signer was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. He and their 13

children fled for their lives. He eventually died from exhaustion and what is reported as

a broken heart. !

Those who signed the Declaration of Independence did not take freedom for granted.

They fought for it. They sacrificed for it. !

And get this. This occurred to me, and I looked up and read through the Declaration to

confirm what occurred to me. The men who signed the document knew God was the

source of freedom! In fact, God is referred to four times in the document. !

First as “God.” God is named as “the maker of nature.”

Then as “Creator.” The Declaration states that “all men are endowed by their Creator

with inalienable rights.” The Creator is God.

Later, reference is made to “the Supreme Judge of the World.” That is who was appealed

to for the purpose of making sure the Declaration was the right thing to do. The

Supreme Judge is God.

And this. The Declaration states, “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine

Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred

honor.” Divine Providence? That is God. !

The signers of the Declaration knew God is the source of freedom. They recognized God

as the Creator of all people, including those who yearn to be free. They recognized God

as the Supreme Judge and invited Him to make sure their cause was correct. Everything

they did, they relied on God’s protection.

! It was with that the signers were willing to make the sacrifices they made. It was with

that they were thankful. Thankful to God for all they had, including their thirst for

freedom. Freedom in a nation with good air, sunlight, and water, birds, flowers,

changing seasons, opportunities for food and housing.

!

Again, some of the signers gave up a lot, including housing and freedom. Some gave up a

lot in the fight to have the Declaration hold up. But they never took any of the things of

life - all the good things God, the Creator, the Supreme Judge, and divine Providence

gave them - for granted.

Neither should we. Which leads us, as we are thinking of the freedoms we have, to three

passages that tell us what to do so our freedoms are more likely to continue. How we are

to be vigilant to do what we can to keep our freedoms. Things that will keep us from

taking our freedoms for granted. !

First, I Timothy 2:1-3, the first passage for today that addresses what our response it to

be concerning the freedoms we enjoy. First, I Timothy 2, which begins with the

challenge that we who are Christians are to pray for those with governmental power. !

The wording is this. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions,

and thanksgivings be made for all men, including for kings and all who are in high

positions.” !

Supplications are requests that are spoken because of the knowledge God’s help is

needed. As that applies to us, we are to pray that our leaders will know they need God’s

help. Such help is the only way they can rule well. !

Prayers, in the context of this passage, refer to requests for things only God can give,

such as strength and wisdom. We are to pray that our leaders will have God’s strength

and God’s wisdom. !

Intercessions are prayers on behalf of someone else. We are intercede - we are to pray

for - our leaders. !

Thanksgivings. Those are expressions of gratitude to God, which means that when God

gives help, strength, and wisdom to our leaders, we are to thank Him for His answers to

our supplication, our prayers, our intercessions, thereby not taking those things for

granted. !

Now, did you notice what you did not hear - or, if you are following along in the Bible,

what you do not see? There is no mention of praying only for the leaders you like. Only

for those leaders with whom you agree. No. We are to pray for all leaders. !

Why? According to the last part of verse 2, it is so we may lead “a quiet and peaceable

life, godly and respectful in every way.”

!

Of course, things are not very quiet and peaceable right now. It seems like the world is

kind of blowing up all over the place. Actually, I do not know if conditions are any worse

now than they ever have been. Maybe it is just more media coverage. But there are a lot

of wars. There are rumors of more wars. And though things are pretty peaceful in our

country, there is still a lot of political turmoil.

!

Things are not very quiet and peaceable right now. But we are to pray for our leaders. As

we do so, it is more likely things can be quiet and peaceable. !

And even if that does not happen, listen to verse 3. Praying for our leaders is “good.” It is

“acceptable in God’s sight.” If nothing else, praying for our leaders will be evidence that

we are not taking our freedoms for granted.

!

Titus 3:1-2. There, more things are listed that we who are Christians are to do. Things

that will show our willingness to be good citizens. Citizens who do not take freedoms for

granted.

!“

Be obedient.” Of course, if anyone, including a leader, tells us to do something that is

wrong - something that is opposite of what the Bible teaches - we are not to be obedient.

God is always to be our highest authority. But usually - in most cases - there is no

conflict, so be obedient. 

Be ready for any honest work.” Hopefully that will be enough to earn a living to support

yourself and your family, but honest work can apply to anything that is helpful to others.

And think of this. If we are involved in honest work, we will have less time and less

energy to get into trouble. 

“Be gentle, and show perfect courtesy to all.” Courtesy means being polite, helpful, kind

- and gentle. 

To accomplish that, “speak evil of no one and avoid quarreling.”

And “be submissive to rulers and authorities.” As that applies to the I Timothy passage

we just looked at, being submissive can include praying for those rulers and authorities.

Do we notice how it is all meshed together. As we pray, there should be peace and quiet.

If there is peace and quiet, we should be better able to find and do honest work. Which

should keep us happy enough to not be at odds with others. Which will give us more

time to pray for our leaders.  And remember. Praying for our leaders is good. It is acceptable in God’s sight. So, too, is following what is listed in Titus. And then Romans 13, especially verses 1 and 7.

Romans 13:1. “Let every person…” Ideally, that should apply to every person. However,

since it is in the Bible, this applies especially to those who are Christians. This is what we

who are Christians should do, whether anyone else does or not. “Let every person be

subject to the governing authorities.”

Listen to the reason. “For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist

have been instituted by God.”

Wow. What a concept. Especially concerning leaders with whom I disagree, it is hard to

understand how they are God’s instruments. But according to Romans 13:1, that is

exactly what they are. Maybe it is not clear to us how that works, but according to the

Bible, that is the way it is.

Be subject to the governing authorities. Authorities who are in authority because of God.

How to do that? Verse 7. “Pay all of them their dues.” Including “taxes to whom taxes are due.” Ouch. I wonder 

if it’s OK to complain about taxes. Like maybe the arena tax here in Lincoln, though I have - once - enjoyed 

thePinnacle Bank Arena. Or any of the many other taxes, which can sometimes seem burdensome. “Pay taxes to 

whom taxes are due. Pay respect to whom respect is due and honor to whom honor is due.” 

 Those two things - respect and honor - do not mean you or I have to like a

particular leader. In fact, we can do everything we legally can to get the person out of

leadership, including trying to keep him or her from being reelected. But we are to

respect our leaders. We are to honor them. Which includes, as it is worded in Titus 3,

being obedient and courteous, gentle and willing to work, which will make the work of

our leaders easier. As it is worded in I Timothy 2, it includes praying for our leaders.

There are so many things for us to enjoy - electricity, clean air, water, sunlight, birds,

flowers, food, lodging, health and good moods - the freedom to enjoy all those blessings

and the freedom to openly praise God for giving us each one. 

May we never take any of those things for granted. Instead, may we always be thankful.

And may we do what we can to maintain our freedoms. What we can do by living at

peace with others, by doing what we do honestly, and by praying for our leaders. 

With that in mind, today’s closing song is the hymn God, Our Father and Creator. We

are going to sing verses 1 and 3, in which we will proclaim that God is the Creator - the

one worthy of praise - and in which we will ask to be taught to give, including giving so

we can have peace with others and giving by way of praying for our leaders.

God, our Father and Creator,

Lord of land and sky and sea;

From Earth’s poles to the equator

Hymns of praise ascend to Thee.

Glory, honor, and thanksgiving

Sing we to Thy majesty,

Sing we to Thy majesty.

Teach us, Lord, the joy of giving;

Tune our hearts to grateful praise;

Stir us to unselfish living,

Serving Thee in all our ways.

Glory, honor, and thanksgiving

Offer we through endless days,

Offer we through endless days.

Electricity. The conveniences electricity makes possible. Air, water, sunlight. Birds,

flowers, food, and lodging. Health and good moods. And yes, the freedoms we enjoy.

What wonderful blessings God gives us. May we never take any of them for granted.

Instead, let’s praise God for each one. Let’s remember to get along with each other. Let’s

remember to pray for our leaders, which is a good thing to do, acceptable in God’s sight. !

May those be the sacrifices we are willing to make as we do our part to be vigilant to do

what we can to keep the blessings we have. Amen.

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