False claims

“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.  They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”  Titus 1:16

It is easy to focus on the “they” in this verse.

How many folks come to mind who are believers, but have done things that would suggest otherwise?

That road is an easy one.  What if I look at myself?

I “act” throughout the day.  I do things.  I say things.

Am I betraying Him in any of those instances?  Not if I keep those “rose-colored” glasses firmly in place!

Paul’s words come across as harsh: detestable, disobedient, and unfit!

I’m looking for a, “that’s okay,” but Paul roughly updates me on how my actions really are seen by God.

I know that God loves me but that certainly doesn’t mean that He overlooks my sins.

My worry in this is that I like to downsize my transgressions and upsize those of others.

How easy is it to criticize the current President and his opponents?  And many of us do it with ease.  Yet, how about us?  Am I doing the same things at my level, or in my circumstances, that offend me about them?  The answer is, “Yes.”

God did not create the earth and then vacate interest.  He is well aware of what is going on everywhere.  I am not outside of His interest.  I will be accountable.

I need, desperately, to see my behavior as He sees it.  I cannot give myself a pass because of all the “good” things I do.  I can’t.  I am accountable.

My day should include an ongoing evaluation of my behavior.

I MUST be quick to recognize MY sinful behavior.

I must be quick to rectify that behavior……..“I’m sorry,” is a great place to start.

 

 

 

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Can we accept “No” from God?

Can we accept “No” from God?

“You lie!  The Lord our God hasn’t told you to tell us not to go to Egypt!” Jeremiah 43:2

Johanan and his buddies had no intention of obeying God.

Should they leave Judah and escape the Babylonians by fleeing to Egypt?  Made sense.  Egypt would protect them from the Babylonians.  To stay put and cooperate with them was way too risky.

But they asked Jeremiah to check in with God and vowed (“May the curse of God be on us if we refuse to obey whatever He says we should do.”) to do God’s will.

Who were they kidding?  They only wanted confirmation of plans they already had in place.

They weren’t planning to stay.  They were going to get their “safety” from Egypt.

How like us.  We have The God yet how often we put our trust in lesser gods.

God knows our hearts and is never deceived by what we say.

Johanan ignored what God wanted him to do and got the disaster he deserved.

God puts people into our lives to be like Jeremiah.  They have His Words and those words may not be, at times, what we want to hear.  But we should.

We need to ask God directly for His Will and we need to be willing to accept that Will

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Eternal life insurance

“Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.” Psalm 90:12

I learned this morning that some grandparents in my church had lost their grandson to a car accident recently.

That’s not the way it’s “supposed” to be!  He was only twenty-three.  All those years we assume will come, sometimes don’t.

When I was in my late twenties, we had someone come to our home to talk about life insurance.  I will admit that it wasn’t my idea.  I dug in as the salesman tried to convince us of the necessity of a life insurance policy. I refused to wrap my brain around the need for life insurance, despite his (accurate) information to the contrary.

Realizing that I have no certainty of tomorrow is a necessity if I am going to approach each today in a Godly way.

How will I navigate today?  I quickly gravitate to the Martha/Mary story.  Will I see the Big Picture, or will I settle my attention on lesser things?

In a way, I am now that young salesman I referred to earlier.  I have a view of the future that some choose not to have. How will I persuade the “uninsured” of their need?

We will have to make a next-life decision before we get to that next life.  We will either have eternal life insurance or we won’t.  There will be no “policies” sold on Judgment Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do your best work

“…never let it be said that Christ’s people are poor workers.  Don’t let the name of God or his teaching be laughed at because of this.”  1 Timothy 6:1

How do we behave when no one is watching?

Those with jobs know that there are times when you really are on your own.  No one’s around.  No one to evaluate your commitment.

BUT God is watching, and others may be as well.

We live in a culture in which our identity as Christians may not be obvious.  We mingle with so many different people that we have no specific identity.

I think that the true test of our work habits comes when we work where folks know we’re believers.  They’re family members or they attend the same church we do.

When those people see us in action, we represent something to them.  They know of the standards that we profess to follow and they can’t help but observe us……..and draw conclusions.

How should we work when no one is around?  The answer is simple: Work as if Someone is around, because He is.

 

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But the Lord hid them

“Then the king commanded Jerahmeel, Seraiah, and Shelemiah to arrest Baruch and Jeremiah.  But the Lord hid them!” Jeremiah 36:26

Obey God without question.

Jeremiah lived that way.

In today’s story, Baruch is invited to live the same way.

Jeremiah is in some form of confinement.  He has received a prophecy from God and is unable to present what he has heard to the king.  He asks Baruch to handle that part for him.

Dangerous? You bet!

The king wouldn’t be hearing good news.  Jeremiah was already limited by the king because of the steady gloom-and-doom prophecies he had shared.  The king would not be a happy listener.

But here comes Baruch with another prophecy that Jeremiah had heard from God.

The king, as expected, was angry.

After listening to the prophecy, he burned the scrolls upon which Jeremiah had written the prophecy.

Then the king wanted to “interact” with Baruch and Jeremiah.  No doubt that interacting with the angry king wouldn’t have gone well.

BUT the Lord hid them.

The record does not show how God did this, but for the moment they were spared.

God can do remarkable things.

We limit Him by our vision of Him as “limited.”  He isn’t.

We look at mountains and see…….mountains!  God sees things His own way.

We are not promised an escape from every trouble that comes along.  However, we know that He knows our predicament.

Our task is to be obedient to His Will and trust in Him as we carry it out.

 

 

 

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Jeremiah says it, God confirms it

Jeremiah: “O Lord God!  You have made the heavens and earth by your great power; nothing is too hard for you! – Jeremiah 32:17

God: “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind; is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

There you have it!

Jeremiah has prophesied that bad times are coming for the residents of Jerusalem.  They will be defeated by the Babylonians and exiled to Babylon.

But Jeremiah has also prophesied that God will bring the captives back to Jerusalem seventy years after they have been taken away.  Obviously, those returning will be descendants of those taken to Babylon.

Today’s verse relates to God telling Jeremiah to accept an offer to purchase land.  Talk about long-range planning!

The land would be taken by the Babylonians but later the Jews would be returning to it, according to God.

Those Jews with deeds to land would have something very valuable in the future………and Jeremiah would be one of them.

God has things figured out.  He knows the past, present, and future.

My task is to trust Him.  To rely on Him.  To seek His Will.

Jeremiah had that type of trust.  He had to believe that God would do in the days ahead as He had said He would.  Jeremiah agreed to buy land that was about to be taken over by others and to believe that the invaders would be driven out and his land would be returned to him or his family.  A lot of trust required!

Jesus has promised to return to earth.  The earth we know now will never be the same again when He does.

My job is to be preparing myself and everyone I know for that return.  It will happen as He says.

 

 

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Why do we have rules?

“Those laws are good when used as God intended.  But they were not made for us, whom God has saved; they are for sinners who hate God…” 1 Timothy 1:8-9

Without rules, how do you know how to play a game?

You must have them.

The Bible has rules everywhere and God is regularly pointing out violations.

We are all breakers of His laws, each in our own way.  You may do something I don’t do, and vice versa.

The key to the necessity of God’s rules/laws is understanding that we are all violators.

We do not have a perfect record.

God accurately sees us all as lawbreakers, whether we do or not.

Our flawed behavior should separate us from Him forever……………but it doesn’t have to!

God saw our flawed state and did something to take care of it.  He sent Jesus to earth to die for our flaws.  Jesus took the punishment we deserved on Himself.

If I recognize that I’m flawed (God’s laws help in reaching that conclusion) and believe that Jesus died in my place for my flaws, my deserved separation from God is no longer in effect.  I’m cleared and in His sight I am clean.  What a God!

We are in a world where many folks see themselves as good/okay.  They realize that they’ve done some things wrong but imagine that their good deeds will balance them off to their favor.  Serious mistake.  ONE sin is enough to disqualify us from the perfection needed to live an eternal after-life with God.

There are not levels of sin.  There is no balancing scale.

Without rules, we’d all be perfect.  But God has rules and we’ve all broken them.  We MUST do something about the separation from God that has resulted.

 

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