Tag Archives: standing for the Truth

August 11; Are We Them?

Ezekiel 5-9

You know what struck me as I read Ezekiel’s vision and heard God talk about the detestable things that were happening, and the way He was going to punish them? God is talking about His people! He’s not pointing out the sins of unbelievers. He’s pointing out the sins of His chosen Israel. And they are doing these detestable things right there in the temple.

It makes me sad when I read a bunch of them in the inner court of the house of the Lord, turned their backs on the temple, and bowed down to the sun in the east. They’d turned their backs on God right in the middle of God’s House.

Dear Church, please take the warning. God sees what goes on behind closed doors. He hears the conversations we’re having about compromising, tolerating, accepting all manner of sin in order to get people inside the walls of His house. He is very aware of the sin in my life – and in yours.

I’m afraid we’ve begun to turn our backs on God right in the middle of His house in 2019. Every time we back off a little on our message, every time we embrace a casual worship, or a feel-good theology, or ignore sin in our own lives, we make a shift toward worshiping the sun in the east.

I hope you’ll read Ezekiel’s vision. I think you’ll hear God’s anger, His rage. “Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah (or the Church) to do the detestable things they are doing here?… Therefore, I will deal with them in anger, I will not look on them with pity or spare them…” (8:17-18)

I can’t help but believe these chapters are not just about an ancient people. What was true for them is true for us today. God may be talking to and about them, but, dear one, we are them.

April 2; Eyes Wide Open

Joshua 18; 3:7-4:24

I don’t think I’ve given much thought to the Levite Micah hired to be his personal priest, until today. It struck me that when the Danites came to town, they recognized the priest’s voice. So they knew him as a member of the tribe of Israel chosen by God to be the keepers of the Truth.

“What are you doing here in Ephraim?” they asked.

“Some guy named Micah hired me to be his personal priest. Sweet gig,” he answered.

The priest even had the nerve to speak for God, but I don’t read where he asked God first. He had become a pagan priest, serving idols in the privacy of Micah’s house, yet passing himself off as a priest of the One True God.

As Christians, God’s kingdom of priests, we are chosen by God to be the keepers of the Truth. People recognize us as “religious,” or “church-goers,” and assume we have a direct line to God. Some may assume that what we do, how we live, must be God-approved by virtue of our identity with Him. (I’m pretty sure that’s where the term “hypocrite” often comes into play)

It occurs to me that the sin of this Levite is grievous. A Levite should have known better than to serve an idol. He couldn’t use the excuse, “I didn’t know,” because he was most likely taught the Ten Commandments before he was potty-trained. He did know. And he chose disobedience with both eyes wide open.

We all know we must live in this world. God does not snatch us up into heaven the moment we accept Jesus as our Savior. We must live in this world – but we should not be living like this world. Maybe the whole town was worshiping idols. “Everybody’s doing it.” But that Levite should have been the one to keep the Truth, and refuse to bow to those images, much less become a priest of evil.

Sometimes it might seem “everybody” is going the way of Satan. It seems people are happier with a church that’s relaxed its standards. Some church-going people talk and act like their unsaved friends six days a week, but still call themselves Christians.

We could point our fingers all day long at a sinful world and a weak church. But what about me? And you? How are we doing protecting the Truth in our own day-to-day?

Does my life, my choices, my words speak the Truth to people who look at me as someone who represents Christianity, who wears the name of my Savior when I call myself a Christian? I know the Truth. I read the Truth every day. So when I choose to blend in with the world (even if I try to convince myself it’s what God wants) I disobey with eyes wide open.

I have been this Levite we read about here in Joshua. I’m not proud of that. But today I stand before you and proclaim that I want my life to stand apart. I want to protect the Truth. I want to live a life that throws a light on my Savior. And I need God to give me the strength and courage to do it.

I’d like to leave you with Paul’s declaration of his own stance. May it be true for all of us:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

March 7; Stand Strong

Numbers 22-24

I love this story. I confess I laugh out-loud nearly every time. I get to where the donkey speaks, and Balaam answers it as though it was the most natural thing in the world to be having a conversation with a donkey, and I just can’t help myself. It cracks me up.

Today, however, my heart is heavy after reading these chapters. It’s not just a story about a talking donkey. It’s a message for us in 2019.

Balak wanted the Israelites gone, so he sent a delegation of men to Balaam, a prophet of God, and asked him to put a curse on the Jews. God, of course, told Balaam not to do such a thing, and Balaam made that clear to Balak’s men.

But Balak wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. He sent another delegation, this one more impressive than the first. They, too, asked on behalf of Balak for Balaam to curse Israel. Again, Balaam said he would not go against God, but then he agreed to go to talk to Balak in person.

It occurs to me Balaam had two chances to nip this in the bud. Twice he could have (should have) said “No” and stood strong. But he gave in just a little. And that put him in a tough situation. Now he was face to face with a very persistent Balak.

We read that Balaam goes through the motions of doing what Balak is asking of him, getting right up to the actual curse on Israel, but instead pronouncing a blessing on the Jews. Not what Balak wanted to hear.

But Balak is not easily swayed. He suggests they move to a different spot. Maybe Balaam could curse God’s people from over there instead. Balaam follows Balak, but ends up blessing Israel for the second time.

I love what Balak says next: “IF YOU CAN’T SAY ANYTHING BAD, DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL.” (23:25) Doesn’t sound like he was too pleased with Balaam at this point. But not displeased enough to give up on what he wanted.

So, (I’m shaking my head as I write this) Balak leads Balaam to a third spot. Again, Balaam goes through the motions to appease Balak, and ends up not only blessing Israel a third time, but he goes on to spell out what was ahead for Balak and company. And it wasn’t good.

When I read this I find myself asking, why on earth didn’t Balaam stick to his original “No” and not even entertain Balak’s men, much less go with them? Why would Balaam build altars, sacrifice animals, after God told him “No.” And why would he follow Balak around like a lost puppy, doing what Balak told him to do, instead of what God said? Did Balaam want Balak to like him? Did he think he could change God’s mind, or catch God off-guard? Did Balaam find himself wanting to fit in to Balak’s world?

Ok, Church, this one is for us. God has given His Word to us as plainly as He gave it to Balaam. The Bible you have on your nightstand is the Truth. Period. So why do so many of us want to tweak it, or only hold on to the fun stuff while ignoring the Truth that breaks us?

Why, when Satan sends his delegates to ask us to compromise, do we even entertain the notion? Why do we follow the world, even if from a distance? Do we think we will change God’s mind, or catch Him off-guard? Is it more important for us to be accepted by the world than to stand for God’s Truth?

Satan’s delegates sound spiritual, loving, tolerant, enlightened, progressive, even philanthropic. But, friend, they are still Satan’s delegates.

Balak wanted the Jews gone. And he did not give up easily. His persistence wore Balaam down, and because Balaam didn’t stand by what he knew to be true, Balaam found himself in increasingly more difficult situations.

And, friend, Satan wants the Church gone, too. Don’t think for a minute he will give up easily. He is infinitely more persistent than Balak ever was.

This is why my heart is heavy. I see so much of Balaam in us. I think that because we Christians have not done a very good job standing firm on the Word of God, we’ve put ourselves in a very difficult situation. We have followed the world, we’ve entertained the lies, we’ve decided it’s important for us to blend in, and we are finding it harder and harder not only to stand on the Truth, but to even recognize the Truth.

I believe it’s because we Christians haven’t done a good job of standing for God’s Truth that babies are being murdered, that blatant sin has become the norm, that our world is where it is today. Oh, we can blame non-Christians all we want. We can contribute it all to Satan. But, I’m not so sure we don’t have a great deal of responsibility ourselves. We’ve put ourselves in a pretty tough spot because, like Balaam, we didn’t nip this in the bud right at the beginning.

It would have been so much better for Balaam if he had said the original “No” and meant it. It would have been easier for us if we had done the same. But we are in a delicate situation these days, put there by our own doing. What are we going to do about it?

God help us stand for His Truth starting today. I still believe God is greater than all the evil in this world. I believe that He is not ok with anyone dying without knowing Jesus as their Savior. And I believe God not only can, but wants to turn things around in this country and in the world. Come on, Church. Do we believe God’s Word or not?

Then let’s act like it. Let our “No” be “No” and our “Yes” be “Yes.” Let’s stand strong.

January 22; Live At Peace

Have you ever seen someone’s response to something, or read something in the Bible and thought, “Boy, if that had been me I’d have…?” That’s kind of how I felt as I read about Isaac and the wells he dug.

First of all, I am reminded that Isaac wasn’t there by choice. There was a famine, and the king told him to get out of Dodge. “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” So Isaac packs up and leaves. Just like that.

It’s got to be hard moving all those people and animals and everything you own. They’d been traveling for a while. They needed water. They dug a well.

But the neighbors declared their rights to the water. So Isaac packed everyone up again and moved to another location, dug another well, and had to face the protesters once again. “We’ve got our rights! This is our water.”

So Isaac moves AGAIN! Come on, Isaac, grow a backbone.

Why didn’t Isaac stand up for his rights? Why did he let the king and the people push him around? He had the Big Guns on his side, didn’t he? God was on his side, for crying out loud.

As I was thinking about this this morning I was reminded of Romans 12:17-19. Listen to what God has to say to us through his servant Paul:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it  is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written; “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

Absolutely there is a time to stand up for what is right. There are plenty of examples in Scripture of God’s people fighting the enemy. Jesus Himself wasn’t afraid to get in the face of someone who was sinning, to overturn tables when necessary.

The Church may be taking this idea of living at peace with everyone too far. But there is also a danger of turning everything into a battle. If God tells us to live at peace with everyone you can, then do it!

That means living at peace with abortion doctors, homosexuals, adulterers, and liars. Do you think you are likely to win someone to the Lord by hating them, or by fighting them, or by waving your Bible in their faces while shouting John 3:16?

Living at peace means feeding hungry people, giving water to thirsty people. (Romans 12:20) It means offering the Bread of Life and the Living Water to people who are dying in their sin.

I don’t believe Scripture is telling us that to live in peace in this world requires getting pushed around or mistreated, as much as it tells us to love the people who are pushing us around and mistreating us.

Can we stand for the Truth in love? Can we?

Ezekiel 31-36; It’s Not Funny

One of Satan’s tactics against God’s people is seen most clearly in the media, and the entertainment business. When was the last time you saw a Christian favorably portrayed in a show? Not too long ago, a popular talk show host said our Vice President was mentally ill because he’d said he listened to God’s voice. People who hear voices in their heads are insane, she proclaimed. She got a big laugh out of that statement.

Maybe you’ve been the butt of someone’s joke because of your stand for the Truth of Scripture. Satan delights in making us look like fools.

Satan also uses his own hatred of us against us. People have heard so often that Christians are bigoted, intolerant, hate-mongers that they believe it. Satan’s hate produces hate.

It’s a serious thing to speak against, or lie about God’s people. Read in chapter 35 what God said to Israel’s cousins, the Edomites. They had encouraged Israel’s enemies, wanted the Jews to suffer, and were very vocal against God’s people. Hear what God said about that:

You boasted against me and spoke against me without restraint, and I heard it. (35:13)

I HEARD IT.

We Christians are God’s people. He is our Father, our Shepherd, our Champion. He’s the mama bear protecting her cubs, a dad protecting his family against invaders. You don’t want to mess with Him.

But people still mess with God’s children. Listen to how God said He was going to deal with the Edomites who were messing with the Jews:

“While the whole earth rejoices, I will make you desolate. Because you rejoiced when the inheritance of the house of Israel became desolate, that is how I will treat you. You will be desolate, O Mount Seir, you and all Edom. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (35:14b-15)

Here’s what God impressed on me this morning: Before I get too smug thinking people who are mean to me will get what they deserve, I need to ask myself if I’m giving them reason to hate me, or criticize me.

If they say I’m a bigot, do I talk like one? If they call me a hypocrite, am I hypocritical? If they want to see me suffer, is it because I’m not expressing the love of God toward them?

The Bible tells us very clearly how we should live, how we should treat people, what our attitudes should be. It tells us we can stand firmly on the Truth and still love our neighbor, do good to those who abuse us.

Understanding how seriously God views attacks against His children, and how devastating the consequences, I don’t want to provoke an attack by my poor choices. If they make fun of me or attack me because of sin in my life, I need to look at my sin and repent. But if those jokes or attacks are directed at me because I am living my life like Jesus lived His, then their behavior is on them.

People hated Jesus without cause. If people hate me, may they also have no cause. And may I warn them how fiercely God protects His children.

It’s not funny to our Father.

Jeremiah 16-20; And Yet

Have you ever felt you can’t win for losing? That if it weren’t for bad luck, you’d have no luck at all? That no matter what you do, someone is going to be mad? I think Jeremiah was right there.

God gave him a message for the people. And the people wanted to kill the messenger. Shouldn’t God give him success if he was only doing what God told him to? Hear what Jeremiah tells us the people said about him for telling the truth:

So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says. (18:18b) (Sometimes it seems the Bible could have been written in 2018)

Reading these chapters, you can feel Jeremiah’s despair, his frustration. He was ready to cash it all in.

And yet, he said something in chapter 20 that convicts me:

But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more of his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (20:9)

That begs the questions: Am I ingesting God’s Word to the point where I’ll just burst if I don’t tell someone? Is God’s Word like heartburn that can only be belched out to bring peace? Am I aching to tell someone the good news of Jesus? Am I tired of holding it in?

So last night, I went to Chick fil A and ordered a spicy chicken sandwich and fries. I ate the whole thing and loved every bite. But about 45 minutes later, I had such heartburn I thought I was having a heart attack. It hurt so bad. I was bloated, and miserable. (this is no reflection on Chick fil A. It has everything to do with the fact I didn’t take my acid reflux medicine yesterday. Ahh, love the aging process)

That’s when I started burping. I will confess that, being the classy lady I am, I let ’em rip loud and long. 🙂 I live alone so I didn’t hold back. (I just hope my neighbors didn’t hear) Sometimes the belch itself hurt, but after a while the pressure in my chest and stomach calmed down.

Sorry for being so gross, but I thought of this while reading Jeremiah’s words this morning. And I can’t help but be convicted that my love of God’s Word doesn’t always burn within me like that, until I let it out.

The liberal media, false teachers, people who don’t want to hear from God because it doesn’t fit their agenda want us to shut up about Him. These bullies threaten to attack us with their tongues, and ignore what we have to say. They have the power to shut down businesses, or refuse to serve us in their restaurants. They call us names from their talk shows, and ridicule us to our faces.

So many of us are being intimidated to keep quiet. Who needs the aggravation? Right?

And yet, God is worth the aggravation. If I get my feeling hurt when ridiculed or challenged for following Jesus, so what? I am reminded God died for the person giving me a hard time. People gave Jesus a hard time. And He died for them, too.

I need to be reading and thinking about God’s Word every day. I need to be learning, growing, allowing Him to fill me to the point where I have to tell people or die.

God, thank you for your Word that is so personal, I can get a lesson from You out of heartburn. I love You! I do love reading Your Word. I do love the time I spend with You, allowing You to share Your heart with me through these pages. God, give me heartburn, and may it burn with the good news of Jesus Christ for those who don’t know Him. May You find me faithful.

 

 

 

August 27 – Comfort Zones

Ezekiel 1-4

I almost never sleep through the night. I toss and turn, covers on, covers off, until it’s time to get up… and I fall into a deep sleep. Ugh!

If I lie too long in one position my body begins to ache. So reading what God told Ezekiel to do makes me very glad He wasn’t talking to me! The prophet was to build a ramp, pitch a camp, put battering rams against it, and face the city of Jerusalem. Then Ezekiel was to lie down on his left side, (I assume on the ground in sight of the people) and take the sin of Israel on himself. Then he was to lie there on his left side for thirteen months without turning from side to side.

And if that’s not hard enough, after the 390 days, God told Ezekiel he was to turn over on his right side, take the sin of Judah on himself, and lie like that for forty more days. No turning allowed. In fact, God was going to tie him up so he couldn’t switch sides even if he wanted to.

I am reminded that God is more interested in getting His message out there than He is in my comfort. He is serious about sin, and He wants people to know that. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one goes to God except through Jesus, and God wants people to know that. People who die without Christ go to hell. God wants people to know that, too.

And everyone who humbles themselves and repents of sin can be saved. That’s the message God is passionate about. That’s what He wants everyone to know. And if you have to take a stand for the Truth, or lose your house, your health, your career, or just get up out of your recliner, that’s secondary to getting the message out there.

Dear God, Forgive me if I am more concerned about the size of my paycheck, the air-conditioning in my home, what kind of car I drive, or if I have a sinus headache, than I am about lost souls. I want your passion for sinners to be my passion. Please give me the courage and the strength to get out of my comfort zone and get your message across. I want to say, “no matter what the cost,” and mean it. Show me how I can serve You today. And may I do what you ask without thought of my comfort.