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Showing posts from December 28, 2014

Works = Words?

Do your actions match your words? This is a common struggle that has people calling each other hypocrites when they don’t. John the Baptizer saw the Pharisees coming to his meetings in the wilderness and said to them, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Matthew 3:8) Repentance declares that a change has taken place in your actions and words. It is a decision of the heart; a 180 degree turn around in the way you live life. The people knew and so did John that the Pharisees were the best of hypocrites. They spoke about life being lived a certain way but their actions did not support their words. They did not hold themselves to the standard they proclaimed. James, writing about 28 years after Jesus was resurrected, also spoke of the necessity for works and actions to be harmonious. He said, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face …

Our Choice

The Bible begins with a fantastic display of God's power in the creation of everything and ends with a specific focus on man and his placement into the beautiful Garden of Eden. Genesis three and four emphasize a sinister turn as they reveal the results of disobedience and its drastic impact on the next generation. Adam and Eve are regularly walking with God as their mentor in the Garden but one day He comes and calls and they hide from Him. Upon confrontation they play the blame game and have to face the consequences of their disobedience. They are removed from the Garden and specifically Adam to a life of pain in obtaining food for them and Eve to pain in giving birth. Then Cain and Abel arrive, grow up, and become a farmer and a herdsman. Aware through their parents of the need for offerings to God, Abel brings one from the firstborn of his flock and it is accepted, while Cain brings one from his work in the soil and it is not. In this moment God, knowing what Cain is thinking…

Desiring Purity

Cybercrime of revealing confidential CIA files and the revealing of personal emails of Sony employees on the internet this year produced much anxiety and dismay. Who would want their inner heart revealed to the public? Who would not be anxious about their offensive thoughts and words being open to everyone's eyes; their true nature evident? Seemingly, no one, but let's contrast that with a request of the Psalmist. "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24) The request of the Psalmist is all inclusive. He desires that God look into his heart (the heart often defined as the mind, will and emotions), as if He could not see it already. But he is voluntarily giving God access to his heart. Beyond that the Psalmist asks God to test him which would reveal soft spots in his heart; thoughts of worry, feelings that he is alone, fearful, unable some…

Guard Duty

What is one of the most boring but necessary jobs in the military? That would fall to the assignment to watch over or protect a person or a place. It is a defensive rather than offensive duty needing vigilance and watchfulness. It is a solitary job happening in day and night. Yet, this job is an absolute necessity to the protection of the people behind the sentry. His post allows them to rest and have a time of peace as they put their faith and trust in the guard's ability to watch against surprise attack. Malachi, the last prophet in the Old Testament, spoke of a situation among the men of Israel as they returned from captivity to the promise land that required them to, in a sense, take up guard duty. Many were divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying women of the nations around them. He challenged the men to "guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith with the wife of your youth." (Malachi 2:15) One translation of "breaking faith," was the activity…

Strong Words

What pearls of wisdom has your mother taught you? Solomon shares much in Proverbs of what his father David taught him. So in Proverbs 31 we see the positive influence of a mother's words on her son. King Lemuel is taught an oracle by his mother to keep him on the right path. His name, Lemuel, means "for God" and suggests that he was consecrated to God by his mother and this chapter helps us see that her words were intended to keep him loyal to that consecration. Two forbidden gratifications were warned against first. One, that he should not "spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings." (31:3) Solomon also shares the end of a wrong woman on a man in Proverbs 2:16-19; 5:3-10; 7:5-27. He remarked, "Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng." (7:26)  Here are warnings of what can happen when the wrong woman gets into the life of a powerful man. Solomon was a testament to that with 300 wives and 700 concu…

Singing Praise

In just a couple of days we will hear, and possibly sing ourselves, Auld Lang Syne, a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788. It is well known around the world as a tradition to sing as we bid the old year goodbye at midnight on December 31st. It feels good to sing it and although most of us don't know all the words, we sing on or just hum the tune. It is a way to pause and remember longstanding friendships and good times. What songs are special for you to sing to God? The Psalmist expressed the joy of singing praises to God by saying, "How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!" "Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp." (Psalm 147:1, 7) We don't have to reserve this for the end of the year; it can be a daily occurrence. The Apostle Paul in writing to the Ephesian Church said, "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the…