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Posts Tagged ‘Deception’

                                                         Part Two

                                   SLICING, DICING, AND BURNING

Someone much wiser than me said, “It only takes a generation for a nation to turn away from God.” And the Book of Jeremiah gives the absolute proof certain of this proclamation.

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King Jehoiakim ruled in Judah from 609 B.C. until 597 B.C. He was the son of King Josiah who reigned from 630 B.C. until 609 B.C.

Josiah was a man after God’s own heart, but his son Jehoiakim, was bad-to-the-bone. Josiah cleared the land of idols, destroyed their places of worship, and found God’s word, which had been lost in the temple. (Can you imagine the Word of God being lost in the House of God? Still happens today in some churches, doesn’t it?)

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When Josiah finally heard the Word of God, he tore his clothes and commanded priests and scribes to inquire of the Lord concerning the words of the Book. His story is found in 2 Chronicles 34 and 35 and is so worth the read if you don’t know about this last good king in the land of Judah. God blessed Judah because of Josiah’s obedience. But generational sin lurked like a shroud of judgment, because Josiah’s father, King Manasseh had been the worst of the worst and that gene pool washed like a tsunami over his grandson Jehoiakim.

God sent Jeremiah the prophet, during the days of good King Josiah to remind the priests, rulers, and people of their refusal to listen and obey His Word. To remind them of the judgments He had pronounced against the granddaddy, and remind them of their urgent need to listen and repent.

When Jehoiakim inherited the throne, Jeremiah’s obedience to do what God called him to be and do, proved to be a perpetual pain in this king’s back-side. And the prophet ended up confined, unable to deliver God’s word to the people. But Jeremiah’s work was far from finished. So, the Lord told Jeremiah to take a scroll and write on it the words God spoke to him. God said, “Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them, in order that every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin.”

Even while they were back at their idol worship and evil ways, God was ready to hear and forgive their sins. Just like today, over twenty-six hundred years later, God’s message is still the same. And so is every man, woman, boy and girl—the same. Full of sin without the wisdom to see their great need for salvation through Jesus Christ or the ability to save themselves from God’s judgment.

Well, Jeremiah called Baruch, the scribe, and dictated to him all the words the Lord had spoken to him. We’re not told how long the process took, but remember, God called Jeremiah to be His prophet in 627 B.C. It’s now 606 B.C. That’s a bunch-a-words folks. Written by hand, in pen and ink, on a loooong roll of parchment.

What happened next is worth reading in the 36th Chapter of Jeremiah, verses 10-21. But picture this, the king is sitting in his winter house and there’s a fire burning in the brazier in front of him.

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Jehudi unrolled the scroll and began reading—one column, two, three, and four columns. Imagine the scene, the king is obviously incensed and grabs the scribe’s knife and slices the scroll and pitches it into the fire. Then he sliced and diced the whole scroll containing the Words of God and burned it all in the fire until it was consumed!

“Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments” (Jeremiah 36:24 NIV).

I’m waitin’ for the lightning and goose-bumps raced across my body as I read this and then again as I’m typing these words to you. Remember his daddy’s reaction when he heard the Word of God? He feared and tore his clothes. Jehoiakim and his crew? Not so much.

I have every Bible I’ve ever owned and if there were a fire at my house, my Bibles would be the first thing I’d race to save. Wouldn’t you? But to cut them apart and watch ’em burn?

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Yet before we cluck our tongues and look down our noses at King Jehoiakim, don’t we reject God’s Word when we leave it in the back of the car from one Sunday ‘til the next. Never thinking about where our copy of the Word is ‘til we leave for church the following week? Or worse yet, we leave it on the end table by our chair, right next to the HD remote. Which gets more use during the week—the Word of God or the remote?

But God didn’t wring His holy hands. No, He told Jeremiah to get another scroll and repeat the process. Which Jeremiah and Baruch did, because we have the words God spoke to Jeremiah in our Bibles today. But listen carefully to the words God spoke concerning King Jehoiakim.

“You will have no one to sit on the throne of David, and your dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and frost of the night. (He wouldn’t receive a proper burial. The birds and beasts would pick his bones.) I will also punish him and his descendants and his servants for their iniquity, and I will bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the calamity that I have declared to them” (Jeremiah 36:29-31 NIV).

And God’s Words became reality for King Jehoiakim, the priests, and the people when Nebuchadnezzar and his great armies killed, captured and burned Jerusalem, and carried many from Judah captive to Babylon for seventy years. Why? Because they did not listen to the Words of God to obey them!

God’s Word is the same yesterday, today and forever. Neither Jehoiakim nor any of his descendants will be present in the coming kingdom. His choices brought the consequences of separation from God then, now, and forever. No more chances. His doom was sealed and God’s wrath on him was executed by the King of Babylon. Done. Finished. Forever.

But God’s mercy and grace are still available to us. How will the recount of Jehoiakim’s foolish choices and consequences resonate in your life? The words “…but they didn’t listen…” echo in my ears from 606 B.C., through the corridors of time, to today…

Am I listening? Are you listening? What choices will we make? Will we choose rewards or consequences?

“And He said to me, ‘It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.

But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death’” (Revelation 21:6-8 NIV).

 

Part Three: Weak, Deceived, Can’t Trust – Jeremiah 37 – 38

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Ever suffer a consequence initiated by a wrong choice, a rebellious act, or a broken relationship? I can almost hear you groan. Are you saying, “Let me count the times and ways.”

I’m right there with you.

In the early ‘60’s I deliberately disobeyed God. Forty-nine years later, the consequences of that choice continues to billow. Like a hot air balloon in the lives of my children, that decision continually soars to greater heights in troubled skies.

God is faithful to forgive our sin and rebellion when we repent, but unfortunately the consequences of our foolish choices remain. That is why it is imperative to “train up your children in the way they should go…” because when they are old the consequences of your training—whether good or bad—will follow them. Forever.

Parents, you get to make the choice of good or bad training. But you aren’t allowed to choose the consequences.

Failure to teach children the law of the Lord, and the resulting consequences, parade across the TV screen every night during the evening news. The juvenile and criminal courts are full of men, women, boys and girls caught  in the consequences of ignorant or willful rebellion to God’s Word. And the failure of the church to follow God’s instruction to, “love one another,” and then, “go and make disciples,” have multiplied the consequences of bitter, hateful hearts all over the globe.

Only God can chisel the sin and shame from a hardened heart. Only God can take a hurting heart and make it healthy and whole again. Only God can rescue and transform a bitter heart into a tender and transparent one.

I wonder what the hearts of those young girls at Red Neck Heaven are becoming as they grow older? Caught in the sensual thrill of the moment, they become captives of the flesh which cries gimme, gimme, gimme. More, more, more. Do you think, after being exposed to the lustful attention of crowds of men day after day they can be satisfied in one marriage, with the attention of one man, for the rest of their lives?

Do young women brazenly use their bodies to attract young men in order to satisfy their need of an absent father’s love and attention? Have girls become so desensitized they don’t realize they are sacrificing the opportunity for God’s gift of a pure, lifelong relationship with one man? Or are they even aware of the possibility of joy and oneness in an until death do us part marital relationship, because of the examples we have given them? Could this be part of the divorce problem inside and outside the church?

And what about our young men? Mothers, you can verify the fact that your  boys are pursued with a vengeance by girls with a hormonal body, a cell phone, and a computer. Mere children, exploited and bombarded with delusions of fun, pleasure, and excitement. However, the consequences are life changing. Painful. Tragic. Is it any wonder so many men are addicted to pornography—even those in the pulpit?

Is it possible when we give our children carte blanche to the whims of all that surrounds them—movies, books, clothes, attitudes of rebellious friends, fads, the list goes on—we set them up to fail?

The only answer is to teach them God’s truth, that joy and contentment in life only come when you allow God to fill the hole in your heart. Seeking success and fulfillment the world’s way will bring disappointing, lamentable, even disastrous consequences.

What are you going to do today to squash the deception that is suffocating this world, seeking to destroy your child?

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on  your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up,” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 NAS).

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I got nothing from the sermon this morning. Should have stayed home. The music was loud and consisted of fifteen words, repeated over and over. And not a soul spoke to me.

Hmm, ever thought that?

Come on now, ‘fess up. I have.

Last week a friend of mine loaned me a book she bought at a garage sale. The title of the book was In His Steps, by Charles M. Sheldon, published by Moody Press in 1956. This powerful book has caused me to rethink and refocus on the object of worship. And the conclusion is clear. . .

Worship is not about me.

What? That statement begs the question, then who or what is worship all about? What I get out of church? Me feeling good when I leave church? Me hearing the pastor give an acceptable sermon?

Or is my purpose to sit at Jesus feet to learn to become more like Him? Only the Spirit can accomplish that in me—my part is to be quiet, to listen, and then obey. Scripture tells me I am to “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and come into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4 KJV).

Worship is for God and about God—not what I get, but what I give to Him.

And to be truthful, if I’m not worshiping before I reach the church building, chances are I’m not going to worship once I’m inside.

So why do I go to church? Several thoughts spring to mind: To hear the pastor’s message and read God’s Word? To sing and listen to the special music, and enjoy the company of friends who believe as I do?

But is that worship?

No. Worship convicts me when I humble myself and recognize my traditions and self-righteousness are like filthy rags before God. I realize the vast chasm between a holy God and a sinner like me, then acknowledge and accept that Jesus paid the debt for my sins and gave me life—eternal life. And I am thankful. Grateful.

Jesus commended the tax collector who stood outside the tabernacle, wouldn’t even look up toward heaven and beat on his breast, crying out “God be merciful to me—a sinner.” But He condemned the Pharisee who said “God I thank Thee that I am not like other people…even like this tax collector,” (Luke 18:11-13 NAS).

I don’t recall thinking, “Lord, be merciful to me. I’m a sinner,” as I’m racing through the church doors before the first song or prayer. I don’t even remember spending those moments in the car driving to church contemplating my desperate need for Him.  

Rogets Thesaurus lists the verb worship as “adore, cherish, respect.”

Who? Him?

Have I? No. It’s been all about me.

Is it any wonder I leave church in worse shape than when I arrived?

Are you tired of sitting in church every Sunday, singing a few praise choruses, reading a few scriptures, praying, then continuing with business as usual Monday through Friday? I wonder if our lives would be changed if we committed to ask Jesus what He would do each day, in every circumstance of our lives—relationships, finances, business?

In this book, In His Steps, the pastor and his congregation found themselves asking that same question after an unsettling experience during a Sunday service brought them to question the core of their worship. They chose to surrender to the power of the Spirit of God. As a result the preacher, the congregation, and their town was changed.

Those believers did not take their commitment lightly, nor should we. When we seek answers from man we receive only what man can provide. When we ask God, we receive wisdom, power, and understanding from the The Lord God Almighty.

But the battle ground camps in our hearts and minds. Our sinful nature shouts it’s  all about me. And that’s the deception we’ve bought into. But when we make the choice to worship God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ and we choose to follow In His Steps victory is certain.

I ask you to search for a copy of In His Steps. Read it, ask God to speak to your heart about worship, then share with us what He says to you.

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