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Archive for January 9th, 2015

Growing up in the deep south where lakes and creeks are always around the next bend, an old wives’ tale was repeated often to us kids. “Don’t touch snapping turtles. They will bite you and not let go ‘til it thunders.”

 
Now I guess they told us that ‘cause what kid doesn’t wanna catch a turtle, poke its shell, or bring the critter home and put it in a tub of water? But all these years later I’m rememberin’ what my momma said, ‘cause I don’t want no turtle hangin’ on my hand.

 
I thought about that old saying this morning. God emphatically tells us we are to remember some things and other things we are to relinquish. But I wonder if we don’t act like those ornery snapping turtles, refusing to turn loose of what God says to relinquish and refusing to latch onto what He says to remember—struggling through life with Satan biting onto a piece of our flesh.

 
Remember what God said to Adam and Eve? “You can eat of all the trees in the Garden, but of the tree of good and evil you shall not eat.” We all know how that came out. Their refusal to latch onto God’s instruction and remember and obey His words and the catastrophic consequences reverberate clear to 2015 A.D., don’t they?

 
In Exodus He chiseled in stone, “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” And repeated with the New Testament restatement of this commandment…“Do not forsake the gathering of yourselves together as is the habit of some….”

 
When I was a girl Sunday was a day of rest. Stores were closed and it was a day of gathering at God’s house to worship, rest, then dinner with family and friends.

 
As society refused to remember, Sunday Blue Laws were passed, but alas, they did little to hold the chain-of-remembrance firm. Today most of the people on any given block, in any given city in America, have forgotten or have never known God instructed them to gather together with an assembly of believers to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, study His Word, and encourage one another “…as we see the time drawing near.”

 
Yet we’ve allowed those tablets of stone to be chunked out of schools, the family, the courthouse, and the Whitehouse.

 
God called Israel to remember forever how He delivered them out of slavery in Egypt. He told them to remember what their enemies did to them on their journey to the promised land. He told them to remember the words Moses conveyed to them from Him.

 
And God instructed them to “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no delight in them;’…then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it…For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 7, 14 NAS).

 
You might find it interesting to do a word search on the word remember throughout the scriptures. Jesus told His followers, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20 NAS).

 
And in Act 20:29-36, Jesus said: “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. And now I commend you to God and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified…In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

 
Well folks, the wolves have arrived! Hungry wolves. Wolves determined to shatter and scatter the flock. And the wolves are circling and devouring our children.

 
We’ve nurtured and raised a throw-a-way generation. A generation drunk with self-aggrandizement and pleasure, who buy the newest and best, use it for a spell, then toss the stuff for newer technology. Forgetting to treasure and remember what God’s Word says. And they are raising a generation of children who know nothing of “…more blessed to give than to receive.” They demand everything for themselves.

 
Where did we go wrong? Could it be that we, like the ancient Hebrews, refused to listen and learn God’s instructions to remember. We ignored and did not teach His instruction: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NAS).

 
But like stubborn turtles-with-a-snap or dogs-with-a-bone we have refused to relinquish what He told us to turn from.

 
I could list what we all consider the big sins, but are those really the ones that shred the church? Or do the thoughts and intents of our hearts within the body of Christ do more damage than we’re willing to fess up to?

 
Philippians 2:5-8 tells us: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied (laid aside His privileges)Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
This passage goes on to say we are to, “…do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”

 
So what does this look like fleshed out in every day life? In relationships, marriages, friendships? How about relinquishing my right to be right or have my way. Or relinquishing my false pride and self-righteousness. And relinquishing my need to be more affluent, more educated, the center of attention, the most popular, most important…whatever. Then there’s relinquishing my bent to lie, gossip, or respond in harshness or peevish behavior toward others. And perhaps more important, relinquishing my right to hold grudges, be angry and unforgiving to those within the Body of Christ who offend us.

 
In America we have been blessed and affluent because of our forefathers’ faith and trust in the Word of God. But we will not be allowed to hitch-a-ride on the coat-tails of their obedience forever.
God’s patience will come to an end. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7 NAS).

 
It’s long past time for the Church to be the Church…the pure and holy bride of Christ. Loving and forgiving each other daily as God, through Christ Jesus, has loved and forgiven each one of us. Having in ourselves an insatiable appetite for the pure Word of God and a disciplined heart and mind that desires only to please Him and turn from what He hates.

 
Whether that turtle holds on ‘til it thunders is irrelevant. But when God thunders from heaven and the trumpet sounds, it will be too late for you or me to change.

 
Scripture tells us, “Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart” (Psalm 95:7-8; Hebrews 3:7, 3:15, 4:7 NAS). What has God’s Holy Spirit called you to remember today? To relinquish? Perhaps both?

 

 

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (I Peter 1:22-23 NAS).

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