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JFH Devotionals by J.M. Farro

God's Lines of Authority

"The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."
- Romans 13:1-2 NIV

The last time that my husband, Joe, and I allowed our pet ducks to have babies, two of them were born with "special needs." The one we named Sheldon was born paralyzed from the neck down. And Sidney had an eye that was badly infected. When I told my husband that I wanted to take these little ones to the vet for help, he forbid me to do so. Our vet bills in the past had been high, and Joe flatly stated that we didn't have the money to spend on these ducklings. At first, I was angry. I was the caretaker of these helpless creatures, and I felt it was my duty to get them the help they needed. I entertained the notion of taking our credit card and going to the vet anyway. But something stopped me. I calmed myself down enough to whisper a silent prayer to God, pleading for His help. And His Spirit gave me a "knowing" that if I wanted the Lord's help in this situation, I was going to have to humble myself before my husband and honor his wishes. After specifically praying for God's wisdom and direction, I began making some phone calls. The Lord led me to a man who had access to a large network of animal rescuers. He came to my house and picked up Sheldon, and he brought the little duck to a woman who was equipped to give him all the love and help he needed--for free. Then the Holy Spirit brought to mind that my son's guinea pig had a recent eye infection, and that his vet had prescribed a healing ointment. I borrowed the remedy from my son, and after several applications, Sidney's eye was completely healed. I marveled at how the Lord came to my rescue, simply because I humbled myself and did things His way.

The Bible says: "Don't be quick to fly off the handle. Anger boomerangs. You can spot a fool by the lumps on his head." (Ecclesiastes 7:9 MSG) What we as Christians have to keep in mind is that every time we choose anger over obedience, we are only hurting ourselves and our cause. No matter what our age, there will always be people in our lives who we have to answer to. God Himself has established these lines of authority, and if we refuse to recognize and respect them, we will suffer for it. Scripture says: "The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." (Romans 13:1-2 NIV) If you are a wife, then the Lord expects you to submit to your husband. (Ephesians 5:22) If you are a son or daughter living in your parents' home, then you must honor and obey them. (Colossians 3:20) If you are an employee, God will hold you accountable for your conduct toward your boss. (Ephesians 6:5) We all have "masters" in our lives that we must submit to. But what if our masters are not always kind and fair to us? "Be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable." (1 Peter 2:18 NASB) The only time we have God's permission to disobey those in authority over us is when their will conflicts with the will of God. As the apostle Peter declared, "We must obey God rather than any human authority." (Acts 5:29 NLT)

I often hear from young people who are upset with their parents because they won't accept their boyfriend or girlfriend. I tell them that if their relationship is God's will for them, then He can certainly change their parents' hearts--and I tell them to pray that way. If their situation doesn't improve after praying and seeking the Lord, it's probably because the relationship is outside the will of God. I remember one young man I dated before I met my husband. My mother simply did not like him, and every time he called our house, she would hang up on him. At the time, I was infuriated by her unreasonable behavior. But later on, when I met my husband, Joe, I was thankful that my mom had made it so difficult for me to carry on that other relationship. There are plenty of examples in the Bible that indicate that God can change people's hearts when He has a mind to. If someone in authority over you is blocking your goals and desires, take it up with the Lord in prayer. You are better off risking losing something you want, than offending God by being rebellious. That day I sought the Lord about my sickly ducklings, and refused to disobey my husband, I opened the door for Him to work mightily on my behalf. If you are facing a similar decision today, I urge you to take heed to God's Word in James 4:6 (NLT)--"God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble."

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times I've chosen rebellion over submission. Remind me that when I resist following Your lead, I am only hurting myself. Thank You that as I honor Your lines of authority, I will have great peace--and things will go well for me! (Job 22:21 NLT)

- J. M. Farro


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