The Gospel Then and Now

The gospel message

Jeremiah 43-44 Israel had come from captivity to freedom, yet they wished to return to Egypt. What irony and foolishness is this! In 1776 our nation was born out of conflict and bondage to a foreign government. Yet here in 2020, we find some that want us to return to that same bondage. They burn, loot, and say let us turn to socialism even though the evidence is overwhelmingly negative. It seems that men never learn except through hardship.

 Jeremiah 42 is an example of men who refuse to believe their prophet even though his words have come true repeatedly. They have lived through the desecration of their temple and palace. Their leaders are no more, and the Babylonians have set up a provisional government, yet these rebels would have none of it. They seek guidance from God, but when it does not match their ideas, they rebel, kidnap Jeremiah, and force him and Baruch to march to Egypt. What a show of hypocrisy and foolishness!

But, God, in His grace, speaks again to their heart. At the outset, God had said they would not listen, and today it is the same. Yet, like Jeremiah, we must steadfastly keep our eyes on God because He has sent us to tell that gospel message even when men blatantly say, “We will not listen to you!” Remember this:

“the gospel is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes.” [Rom 1:16] 

Oh the grace and mercy of our God.

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Hypocrite! Hypocrite!

Jeremiah 40 to 43  In the NT, Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites meaning one who has the form of godliness without the power. But these religious leaders were not the first; Jeremiah meets them in our reading today. They came to Jeremiah feigning piety seeking God’s counsel about the next step.

Standing before him, they said: please pray to the Lord “your” God that He will tell us where we should go. We promise that whatever he says we will do. Ten days later Jeremiah emerges from his prayer closet with God’s counsel and it is resoundingly rejected. Those who were so pious showed their true heart when they said the Lord “our” God did not send you to tell us to stay here. How quickly they changed from ‘your’ God to ‘our’ God.

Setting piety aside they said, we are going to Egypt and guess what, you are going with us. How often are we like these people? We ask others to pray but when the answer comes we say no way did God say that. That is the height of hypocrisy!Jeremiah 40 43 hypocrisy2

God demands that we listen and obey. Proverbs 3 says ‘trust in the Lord’ with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. We say the first phrase but omit the second. God is not pleased.

 

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The Empty Manger

empty-manger2aRevelation 3&8 Part 6: “The Empty Manger”

The Alpha and Omega’s solemn pronouncement to the Church in Sardis. I hold the seven spirits of God and the seven stars and thus can see your vulnerability. Your walls appear strong and impenetrable but the enemy without sees with his binoculars that your watchman failed to stay alert. While retrieving his dropped helmet, he revealed your secret entrance and now the enemy has infiltrated your midst. Take a lesson from Habakkuk who stood at his watch without wavering.

To the outside world, your church appears alive but inside, I who searches the mind and heart see that you are like whitewashed tombs with dead men’s bones. Like the Pharisees of old, you are a hypocrite because you do not hunger and thirst for righteousness. Instead, you have a high opinion of yourself and are relying upon your works to earn your salvation.  In addition, I see your Christmas traditions with the nativity replica but the manger is empty. Where am I? Will you invite me to your Christmas celebration?

Oh Father, forgive us for relying on traditions, lights, and gifts which are temporal rather than on the Eternal Wonder of Your coming to earth as Emmanuel. Forgive us for being satisfied with the victories of the past and failing to see the fields are truly white for harvest. Come and fill our manger hearts with your presence.

Photo Credit: Udra11 http://tinyurl.com/z8l8jl8

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Romans 14 “Scarred Hearts”

broken heart2We have heard it said over and over and over: you are judging and that is wrong. Now to be sure there are times when we are to judge and to judge righteously when we discern error. However, in this chapter Paul over and over and over is trying to get our attention that when we judge or criticize another’s spiritual walk we have crossed the no-man’s zone of hypocrisy.

Paul asks “who are you to judge the servant of another?” and “why do you judge your brother?” And in the context of this discussion Paul is referring to three non-essentials of food, days and drink. Not one of these will keep us from heaven’s door but alone or together they may cause a brother/sister to stumble in their walk with Jesus. The problem is us not them. We have this urge to change others rather than accepting them as they are. Instead of a gentle quiet spirit we become a gonging cymbal as we beat our drum of “no, no, no” to those who may not be at the same maturity level as us all the while forgetting two essentials:

  1. We all will stand before God to give an accounting
  2. We will give an account of every idle word we have spoken

What we need to remember is that God looks not on the outward man as we do but on his heart. Let’s let God do the judging and we do the accepting lest we scar hearts God has already healed.

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“Honoring God with the Heart”

ImageWhen you read the word “defilement” what images come to mind? Is it some picture of a far off land and people searching through the dump looking for food? OR Is it some picture of a church with people dressed in their finest taking communion who have yet to take this step: Psa 51:2 Wash away my wrongdoing! Cleanse me of my sin! Or this one: 1Co 11:28 A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. No matter which picture comes to mind, Jesus has a word for all of us: it is not the outward life but the inward life. If ever there were a picture of outward purity but inward defilement it is the hypocritical Pharisee…note it is not the Pharisees of the time of Jesus but it is the Pharisee within all of us. It is then that the words of Jesus should pierce our hearts and that we begin to look and see what He sees. He sees we have escalated traditions to the above inspired scripture. That was the problem of the first century Pharisees and why Jesus took such offense at them.

Wisely the Pharisees sought to protect Israel from the false prophets and teachers that they may never have to do another “lap around the wilderness” or Babylonian captivity again, but in their quest they had closed eyes to see and closed hearts to hear. Thus Jesus points them to their practices of washing and Corban (which is to set aside a gift to the temple which cannot be touched until an appointed time even if a need arises to care for one’s parents) to show them the true defilement is as Isaiah said: this people honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me. Their outward practices had become so ingrained that the washing of hands superseded the washing of the heart. Both Moses and Jeremiah pleaded with the people to do that step before they began to worship. Deu 10:16 Therefore, cleanse your heart and Jer 4:14 “Oh people of Jerusalem, purify your hearts .”

Today as we continue our journey to the cross let’s take time to do a spiritual heart check. Will you examine your hypocrisy as I also have to do? Where have I or you set aside what is good as Corban but have yet to set aside our sin?

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The word of the day: Postiche???

Image“Is Your Postiche Showing?”

Today’s good word is “postiche” [pahs teesh] which comes from the French and carries with it the idea of fake or counterfeit. In Luke 12 Jesus reveals the postiche of the Pharisees to his disciples and provides warning signs that they too could become just as counterfeit in their faith. To remain pure and true Jesus over and over says “do not and do” in light of how they are to walk and live in the world. These are valuable lessons for us as well especially since: “Nothing is hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing is secret that will not be made known”

Jesus pointed to the Pharisees as hypocrites. They said one thing but often did another. To be sure, there were those who did not but Jesus is warning the disciples against those who wore their “postiches” of long robes and flowing tassels as evidence they were seeking God’s approval through works not the heart. Jesus pointed to them and said: Be on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees. Their walk and talk did not mesh.

Secondly, Jesus said do not deny me before men nor fear those who kill the body because after your death they are powerless. Later John the Apostle would write: “the one who kills you will think he is offering service to God.” Down through the centuries that has proven to be true and today we are seeing martyrs across our globe. Therefore, prepare your mind to not be fearful knowing this truth: your death at their hands will only usher you into the presence of the Lord God Almighty “Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.” [Ps]

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Thirdly, do not lay up treasures here on earth where moth and rust destroy but rather store up treasures in heaven where no thief can steal and no moth can destroy. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Luke 12]

Fourthly, be a faithful servant awaiting the return of the Master.” Blessed are those slaves whom their master finds alert when he returns!” [Luke 12]

As Jesus began he ended: “You hypocrites.” Your postiches are showing. You “know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but how can you not know how to interpret the present time?”

Beloved, are our postiches showing or are we true and faithful?  

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