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Cause And Effect


"24 When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" 25 He *said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" 26 When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. 27 However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me."
Good Morning my beloved, 
We welcome you to worship in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. What an honor and a privilege is to come together with you today for the study God's Word. I thank God for those of you who have been so moved by His Spirit to support us in the ministry, whether by sharing the ministry website, and social media platforms with your family and friends, or financially. God has continued to bless your efforts in reaching the lost and the deceived. We are reaching people and places as never before imagined, bringing more people to Christ. I ask you will continue to join us in praying, asking God to continue to bless this ministry in reaching the lost, the broken and the hopeless. May He use each and every of us mightily to reach the lost, that they come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. 

God ordained all government for the good of man, however, not all governments function according to the model that God ordained. Generally speaking, when government abandons their divinely specified function and begins to set up and operate by it's own rules, government exists outside of what has been instituted by God. Though they may not be equitable or even sensible, when we live right, submissive to those who are in authority, we silence the mouths of the critics who are looking to find fault in us. More importantly, we give honor to God. The way you change a society, is from the inside out. We do that by bringing people to Christ. That’s pretty straight forward. That said, there's a lot about our society that ought to have been changed, but that's another sermon in itself.
In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul wrote "Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor." Paul makes it clear that we are called by God to be good citizens, in doing so, we honor God.
In this life, we all have to deal with the unpleasant realities, even our Lord Jesus Christ was not exempt. Benjamin Franklin, commenting on his hope of the new U.S. Constitutions permanency, wrote in 1789: "Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Ironically, he died the following year. My here point is, certain things in life that are unavoidable. That includes rendering to the IRS what is due them, the powers that be are ordained of God. I suspect that’s enough explanation for most of you. Pay your taxes. As Christians, we are to graciously and responsibly face unpleasant realities.
Our loyalty is to Jesus Christ and to the kingdom of God above anything else. What a great truth for us to remember in our day and time! You should have a greater bond with the body of Christ, than a political party. You should have more loyalty to a Christian from a different political party than you do with a non-Christian of the same political party. I believe one of the biggest issues in the modern church today, is our divided loyalties. This is especially true in the area of politics and the broader topic of race, sexuality and gender, all of which is an unconscionable act of idolatry and manipulation injected into the church by the father of lies, the deceiver himself, Satan. Our faithfulness, our loyalty is to God and the Word of God, over and above our feelings about our sexuality, gender, and any other ungodly issue that divides our culture. Is your commitment to God is the most important thing in your life?
Let us pray
Heavenly Father,
Father, as always we thank You for Your Word, for the clarity of this much needed Truth with which Christ has spoken. Thank You for this great reminder, that in honoring You, we are never to tolerate sin, whether at an individual level or a national level. You have called us to live in this world, to firmly stand uncompromisingly against evil. Lord, confirm this Truth to our hearts, that when we stand before You, we may give a good account for our lives. Let us remember, Christ submitted to authorities and bore our sins in His own body for our sake, help us do the same, for the salvation of others, as we lead others to Him by our example, just as Christ Himself is our example. May we willingly choose to suffer unjustly at the hands of the unrighteous for the sake of Him, Who suffered for us. May we seek to live to this end, be it year or next, or ten years from now; until Christ returns. For Your glory and for Christ's sake.
In Jesus' precious name we ask and pray

Today's Message: Cause And Effect

As we return to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 17, we find a very important lesson, particularly for this day and age, when the loyalty of the church is so greatly divided. We will look at verses 22 to 27, a text  like Romans 13, which I've recently learned, is unfamiliar for many Christians. I've previously mentioned, here the Lord is privately teaching His disciples, however, this surely would apply to all of us who follow Him, how we to respond to leadership. Allow me to remind you before we begin, this was not a requirement imposed by the Roman government, it was a Jewish requirement. How much more so is this true of those who belong to the kingdom of God and for those who follow Christ. 
Open our Bibles to the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 17:22-27. I invite you to follow along with me as I read them to you. Let us open our hearts and see what the Spirit of God has to say to each of us. I pray that the Lord would help us to hear and apply what He's saying to each of us today. Matthew 17:22-27. 
"When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" He *said, "Yes." And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt. However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me." 
After Jesus rebuked and cast the demon out of the young boy, Jesus and the disciples are now regrouping after they have been reminded that He's going to die; "The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men; and they will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day." Needless to say, after that announcement, they are in great despair. Even after He tells them it’s going to happen, that it in the plan, they don’t understand. Three times in the Gospel of Matthew, the disciples would be told of this coming alarming turn of events for Jesus. Despite being the Messiah, Jesus would experience death. This is the second time, only a couple weeks after Peter’s Great Confession; that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Jesus is to preparing them for the unexpected, the second half of the Good News, that He would die on the cross for their sins and be raised again on the third day. So when it happens, they understand that was the plan.
I can tell you from my own experience, when God is doing something big in your life, something for your greater good, it rarely looks like what we would expect. I can certainly sympathize with the disciples as to how shocking the news of Jesus' unexpected upcoming death must have been to them. How could God deal with His Son in this way? After the resurrection, they'll see just how important this is, but for now, they don’t understand that only by His death, could the begotten Son of God actually pay the penalty for the sins of all mankind.They needed to understand, because this would become the message that they would ultimately live and die for.
Let's look at verse 24, "When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, "Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?" Capernaum, is the beautiful city where Jesus lived, preached, taught, and healed thousands. Capernaum is the city where Peter lived. They stopped for a few days in Capernaum before heading for Jerusalem. 
Jesus and the disciples were in the house and Peter was out on the street, perhaps he went to get some food. They had been gone  for some time, having traveled through Tyre and Sidon, down to Decapolis, the ten-city area on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee and back up from there, to Caesarea Philippi, back to Capernaum. Back in Capernaum, Peter is immediately confronted by the tax collector, being questioned about whether or not Jesus paid the temple tax. This is not a Roman tax, by the way, it is a Jewish tax relating to the services of the temple.
In every town and village, they set up little booths, and as people passed by, they would collect the taxes from them. This was a very sophisticated operation, they wanted to ensure they didn’t miss anybody, so they would be set up for long periods of time on a conspicuous road. This goes back to when God gave the law through Moses, in Exodus chapter 30, when the tabernacle was established.  
"The Lord also spoke to Moses, saying, "When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the Lord. Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the Lord. The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the Lord to make atonement for yourselves. You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves."
As a footnote, when they came back from captivity, because they were so poor, Nehemiah reduced it to a-third shekel. Now, the half shekel had been re-instituted. The term used here is "two-drachma or the Greek term "didrachma," a silver coin. The half shekel was equal to two Greek didrachma. Because there was no double didrachma, they used a "statēr," which was equal to two didrachma for four drachmae. So, people would normally go together and pay one "statēr," and that would cover their temple tax. It’s interesting to mention, when the temple was destroyed, the Romans carried on that very same tradition of the didrachma tax, forcing the Jews to pay for the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, the most important temple in Ancient Rome. By the way, Jupiter, a pagan idol, was the Roman equivalent of Zeus.
So, the collectors come to Peter and ask whether or not Jesus paid the temple tax. Just like here, the tax collectors make sure to collect their taxes. Verse 25, "He *said, "Yes."─The implication here is Yes, He's not a tax evader." Can you imagine what’s going on in your mind? "He’s God, why would He pay taxes!"
─And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?" Notice Jesus speaks to him first before Peter even mentions the conversation and He calls him Simon, to start the internal process moving. It's a pretty simple question, countries in those days were run by an emperor or king, who taxed basically everyone under his control. This was done for two reasons; to support his kingdom and to support his family.
Verse 26, "When Peter said, "From strangers," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt." Since he's collecting the tax to support his kingdom and his family, it's unreasonable to think that he would tax his own family. Obviously, Peter knew the answer. Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are exempt." Before we move on, allow me to interject something here I've been asked, "If God is our King, and we are His children, why do we have to pat taxes? Kings didn’t tax their own children." Theologically speaking, we're free. We are citizens of heaven. But when Christians attack the policies of the government, we need to be sure it goes against God. I believe when we just attack general policies, because we dislike them, we make God look bad. To be clear, I’m not talking about moral issues, we need to speak against the sin and evil in our culture, whether an individual, the church or the nation.
That brings us to verse 27, "However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me." Jesus is saying, we don’t have to pay that, because we’re free, but we don’t want to offend them. So, the Lord paid His taxes and so should we. Then Jesus says something interesting, "go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel." In other words, Jesus is telling Peter, "Go anywhere you want on the seashore, just throw in a bare hook. I got a fish who’s waiting. This is a fish on a divine mission. Well, that gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "Go fish," now doesn't it?
Jesus did it this way for two reasons: First, He didn’t have anything, no money, no possessions to offer, and secondly, because He wanted to show Peter and the other disciples again, who He really was. Who else but God can say "Go and pull up the fish that first comes along, open his mouth and take out the money you find in it and go pay the tax for you and Me." I'll answer that for you, No One! The Lord paid His taxes and by divine power set a fish in motion to get the job done. That's what I call provision! Just as God uses sinful, deplorable, depraved men to do His work. How can anyone doubt that God can use anything or any one?

Paul says in Romans 8, "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Even though we are Christians first, we represent the humility of Jesus, the love of the Father, and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can, and should still be good citizens, friends, family members, neighbors, classmates, coworkers and more.

In Closing..
Governments, like the people who run them are going to be corrupt. That doesn’t excuse us from submitting to a God-ordained institution, like the government. Jesus said, "Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and render to God what is God’s." When we graciously submit to God’s plan, when you’re humbly obedient to Him, God provides!
It is faith in Christ and our obedience to His Word and God's provision that resolves the problems we face. Even when we don't understand what God is doing, we can trust He's working for our good in all things. That's why Paul say in 1Thessalonians 5, "We can give thanks in all things for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
The longer we procrastinate, whether it’s taxes, or unpaid bills or facing our mortality, the worse our problems get. Ignoring them, or denying them doesn't remove the consequences. Those who live in perpetual denial of their own sinfulness, often miss out on Christ’s saving work on their behalf.
Have you place your trusted in Jesus and your faith in His death for your sins and resurrection for forgiveness and eternal life? If not, I beseech you to confess your sins, repent, and place your trust in Christ, beginning today, right now. It’s time to get right with God..

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,

And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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