Tag Archives: standing for the Truth

September 25; Gatekeepers

I Chronicles 9:1-34; Nehemiah 12:1-47

Do you have gatekeepers at your church? Some churches hire uniformed police to be a presence during worship services, a sad commentary on our society, but a sight that may be more common in the future.

But the gatekeepers we read about in I Chronicles weren’t that kind of protectors. They had the enormous responsibility of guarding the things of God. Someone was on duty every hour of every day, making sure the holy things were not compromised.

So who is guarding the things of God in your fellowship? I’m not talking about guarding the gold candlesticks or the stained glass windows. I’m talking about Truth, the Gospel, God’s Holy Word. Who is making sure Satan cannot gain entrance into your fellowship?

Who holds your pastors and teachers accountable for teaching according to Scripture? Who address sin in a scriptural fashion, holding your members accountable for their actions?

All of us should be gatekeepers. We need to be protecting the things of God as earnestly as the gatekeepers we read about in I Chronicles. We possess a priceless treasure – the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s protect it with our lives.

September 4: To Obey, or Disobey

Ezekiel 1:1-2:20; Daniel 6:1-28; Nehemiah 7:4-25

The island where I live is under a mandatory evacuation order from the governor in preparation for Hurricane Dorian. Most of us left immediately, others have stayed. Our pastor sent an email to the church members and gently reminded us God told us in His Word that we are to obey our God-ordained leaders in authority. He encouraged us to leave the island we love, in obedience to those leaders.

But is there a time when we are to disobey our leaders?

Daniel got the word that no one was to worship any one or anything other than King Darius for thirty days. Might not be such a big deal, a month isn’t that long. What would be the hurt? After all, the government made the order.

Daniel did not obey. And he wasn’t very secretive about his disobedience. He continued to pray in front of his open window three times a day. And he wasn’t praying to any Darius.

I hope all of us reading these chapters in God’s Word today are good citizens of the countries in which we live. I hope we all pay our taxes, and follow speed limits. I hope we are law-abiding citizens.

But I also hope we are prepared to defy laws that would force us to compromise what God has ordained. I hope we know what the Truth is according to Scripture, and are ready to stand firm.

There may come a day when we, too, will have to decide if we are going to bow to ungodliness, or continue to stand in front of open windows and worship God.

August 23; Stay Or Go

Lamentations 5; 2 Kings 25:22-26; Jeremiah 40-42

The Jews were in a sad state. Many of them had been taken captive and forced into Babylon. Many had died from the famine, or had been slaughtered by the enemy. Even when it looked like a remnant would be safe, the enemy stepped in to destroy even them.

So finally, the last remaining Jews looked to God. “Where should we go, God? Tell us what to do.” The enemy was closing in, so God’s answer was surprising.

“Stay put.”

He told them if they stayed He would bless them and protect them. Leaving, He said, would be a fatal mistake.

Sometimes staying put is hard. Standing firm is scary. Trusting God seems good on paper, but when that enemy is bearing down on us, our reaction might be to run. Hear God tell us that if we stay, He will build us up and not tear us down. He’ll plant us and not uproot us. He’ll be with us, save us, and show us compassion if we stand where He stands.

I think this applies to so many things in our lives. Certainly standing for the truth of Scripture. Certainly standing up for God’s definition of sin, worshiping God in truth. It might be applied to a marriage commitment, parenting, a job. I have no idea what God is speaking to you about today.

But if God says, “Stay,” He’ll be exactly what you need to stay and thrive. If He says stay, stepping away comes with serious consequences.

So do we stay or go?

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?