Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Obedience’

                                                         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.

Prairie Creek 2016 2

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?)

DSCF9123

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.

image

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?

Hot in the Kitchen 4

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

Read Full Post »

The early spring sky flamed a watercolor wash of late afternoon hues and in the distance my attention riveted on wave after wave of vector lines racing across the sky. Some way, somehow the instinct God placed in each of these creatures whispered, “Time to go!” And the snow geese head north ‘til next Fall.

Pear Blossoms
I pulled in the driveway, opened the car door, and heard more honking. Again perfect vectors of these beautiful creatures winging their way north bound. What a beautiful sight! Winter is over and Spring is here. A changing of the flock. Robins have made their yearly appearance here in East Texas and the Meadow Larks aren’t far behind. While white pelicans with their flashy orange bills wait their turn to skim into settle on our Texas lakes and ponds.

DSCF4700
As I pondered this mystery of our Creator God, more bands of geese filled the heavens from horizon to horizon. I marveled at the order of their flight. How they all share the responsibility of the journey, and how they care for one another.
How I long to be attentive to every word the Spirit of God whispers to my heart. But I’m afraid I’m more like a homing pigeon than a soaring goose. I cling to my turf, or anything else I deem belongs to me, with tightly clutched fingers arguing mine.
What are you grasping with hand-clenched-vengeance today? Don’t you know, it’s going to hurt when God pulls your fingers off. So we’d be much better to hold everything He gives with open hands.

Bluebonnets
Remember when God told Abraham to go to a land He would show him? Abraham obeyed. Remember when God told Moses to go to Pharaoh and tell him “Let My people go?” Moses obeyed. Remember when God told Samuel to anoint Jesse’s youngest son to be King of Israel? Samuel obeyed. All of these commands required faith on the part of the one God gave instructions to and it sometimes meant difficult times when they obeyed. But God’s instructions are always right and best.
Sometime after our daughter died, God called me to become involved with GriefShare, and my first words were: No. I’m grieving enough for everyone. I sure don’t want to be around more grieving people. Absolutely not. Not me.
But God said to me, “Time to go.” Like He said to the geese, “There is a new flock I’m assigning to your care.”

And I grumbled, “I don’t want a new flock. I just want Michelle back.”
God didn’t zap me. He guided me. Patiently.

Susans
Wish I could say I soared like a goose, eager to meet this new challenge, equipped with His wind beneath my wings. But I waddled like a pigeon, clucking and complaining about this new assignment, doubting my ability to do the job He assigned. I languished in longing for the comfort of solitude. Hiding out on the days grief overwhelmed me. But those times were gone. I tried to pretend I could hold onto both worlds, but when God calls you to leave, He means now and forever.

Elk Meadows 1
Fifteen years later, I’m thankful He resettled me with GriefShare. Thankful God removed me from my solitary place of grief and pain and sorrow, so His purposes for me and those I’ve shared these past years with could be accomplished.
Has God recently plucked you up and moved you out of your comfort zone and deposited you in a place requiring painful stretching? A place you don’t much like? And try as you might, you just don’t have the ability or energy to waddle, much less soar.

Stormy skies
Whether the necessary change comes from a job transfer, or job loss, divorce, or failing health, perhaps even death of a loved one, that’s all right, remember, we’re like pigeons and they don’t soar. Not yet! We plod forward, one step at a time, in the path God places in front of us. And day by day, as we follow where He leads, we find He still has a purpose and plan for our lives, regardless of age or station in life.
And as we are faithful to obey, He is always faithful to provide comfort and help and encouragement, so we in turn can comfort and encourage the individuals He places in our new flock.
Remember there is coming a day when we will all shed our pigeon-winged-earth-suits. An appointed day when He will carry us home. No more pain. No more sorrow. No more death. And no more tears!

DSCF3352
And we will rise up with eagle wings to travel with Him along those spectacular high places. Forever.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.

His understanding is inscrutable.

He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.

Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary” (Isaiah 40: 28-31 NAS).

Read Full Post »

 

“…and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet…then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lamp stands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him. I fell at His feet as dead…” (Revelation 1:10-17 NKJV).

I write about real time people and paint the same—no sci-fi—no paranormal. So when it comes to grasping today’s scripture on the canvas of my mind, I come up lacking in an ability to describe or completely comprehend the majesty and power of this Revelation Jesus.

DSCF1060

We’ve painted Jesus on the cross, growing too familiar and insensitive to that graphic scene of depravity, unable to imagine the horror our Lord endured for the likes of us. Oh we’re quite comfortable with the picture of Him calming the sea, healing the sick, bursting from the tomb, or sitting in a meadow, smiling at a group of happy children.
But the cross is empty. And the tomb is vacant. He’s not there! That part of His work is finished and we must adjust our hearts and minds to King Jesus—at the right hand of the Father—King of Kings and Lord of Lords, clothed in regal garments, having taken His place as the sovereign ruler of the Universe.

I fear we’ve denigrated and isolated the Lord to the artists’ images painted over the centuries.
When we see Him, likely as not, the image we’re going to behold will be much like what John saw in the 1st Chapter of Revelation. King Jesus—In all His power, majesty, and might! And I’m betting our reactions will be just like John’s.
We don’t like the mental image of Jesus at the Temple—angry, whip in hand, tossing tables, rebuking the merchants, and driving evil from His Father’s house. ‘Cause that pricks our minds and prompts us to ask, What in my life displeases You?
And goodness! He called the religious leaders snakes, vipers, hypocrites, white-washed tombs. Do any of us qualify for a rebuke like that today? It’s much easier to focus on a one dimensional loving Savior who requires nothing in return. But is that a relationship?

DSCF9123
Whether you believe God’s Word or not in no way changes the Word, or who Jesus is, or what is to come. But the light of His knowledge and power is meant to change us. Change our behavior. Purify our hearts. And transform us to perform our mission as His Body—the Church.

Colossians 1:15-18 tells us about Jesus—who He is and what’s He’s done and what He’s going to be and do for eternity.
• He is the image of the invisible God
• The firstborn of all creation
• By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth

DSCF3337
• He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together
• He is also the head of the body, the church
• He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead
• He Himself will come to have first place in everything
Jesus Christ is God’s plan from the beginning.
In the 19th Chapter of Revelation John tells us of seeing the Lord Jesus again. This time he paints a word picture of our Conquering King and the heavenly armies with Him—you and me!
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-16 NKJV).

No, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is not a single dimensioned—ooey, gooey personality of blubbering-dismissive-nonsensical-amnesia-laden thoughts and words flower-child. He is the exact representation of God the Father, who chose to take into His perfect body the sins of all creation and paid the death penalty for all who choose to believe His sacrifice was sufficient to present us blameless before God. He is the personification of love. Sacrificial love.

DSCF1840
Remember the word pictures of God the Father in the Old Testament. Better yet, go back and look up the references to The Angel of the Lord, or The Captain of the Hosts of the Lord’s Armies—our Lord Jesus Christ in a pre-incarnate appearance. How did those folks act when they saw Him?
In the first chapter of Hebrews God has preserved these words:
“God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they…
…to the Son He says: Your throne, O God is forever and ever. A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore, God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
You Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”

Last week’s blog talked about our position as soldiers of The Kingdom. We love the recruitment and social life of His righteous kingdom, but when we get down to the arduous task of crucifying our old selves—boot camp—most of us would-be-soldiers duck out the back door, don’t we? Choosing to lounge in the crowded grandstands of life rather than building the spiritual muscles necessary to be a soldier of the cross.
Jesus tells us, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14 KJV). “Ask and you shall be given. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7KJV).
Why don’t we ask Him to change us? Could it be we haven’t surrendered to His lordship? Or perhaps we just don’t want to change.

John 8:58, and 24 tells us:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was I AM.”

Exodus 3:14 says:
“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

And in John 10:30 Jesus affirms:
“I and My Father are one.”

So precious one, where does the power come from to live your life filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding? A life where you are walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience?
This is the same power that resurrected Christ from the grave and made Him the firstborn of all creation. But God’s not going to hold you down and plug you into a holy socket for instant rehabilitation. No, it’s your choice. A life-long proving and testing ground of learning to abide in Jesus. Allowing the Spirit of God to fill you to capacity. Choosing every day to surrender your will for His will. Accepting the Holy Spirit’s teaching, changing, and transforming you into a power-filled soldier in the Lord’s Army.

DSCF3402
In light of all you’ve read in the scriptures in this blog today, if you choose to sit on the sidelines, refusing this transformation and the power Jesus offers, who else are you refusing? And what will you say to Him in that day?
More important—what will He say to you? Enter in, or depart from Me. I never knew you?

Read Full Post »

The Sentinental Star’s headline screamed: EXECUTIVE ORDER SIGNED. JEWS TO DIE. EXECUTION DATE: THIRTEENTH DAY OF THE TWELVETH MONTH. Seizure of property and possessions. Commander –in-Chief and VP sit down to drink. City in confusion.

How would you react? Would this order have crossed your line in the sand?

If you are a Jew, what must you do?

Mordecai tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, walked downtown, wailing loudly and bitterly in front of the Citadel.

Think about the citizens of Susa. Some of the condemned folks were their neighbors. Their friends. Some taught their children in school. And some were local bankers and shopkeepers. The order was law. This was real. There was no recourse. People were going to die—all Jews from Ethiopia to India.

Unknown to the Commander-in-Chief, his wife was a Jew. The question of her nationality had never been discussed.

But Mordecai knew. And he refused to be silent.

Imagine the sound of weeping and wailing throughout the city, and the pandemonium. Or perhaps the Gentiles said nothing.

If you turned on TV tonight and a similar executive order had been signed into law, what would you do? It’s not beyond the realm of possibility—remember the Crusades? Remember Hitler? And in Joel 3:1-2, the prophet talks about a time just before the Day of the Lord when God tells us He will bring Judah and Jerusalem again into captivity.

Does the Church today have a heart to weep? A heart to fast? A heart to wail and put on sackcloth? Have we forgotten how to seek God’s face as a congregation? Or will we sit, like those German Christians, turning up the organ’s volume and singing louder so we don’t hear their screams?

Susa’s Secret Service kept the public away from the royal family. So Hadassah sent a servant to Mordecai, asking what was wrong.
Mordecai sent her a copy of the morning news and ordered her to intervene with her husband. He sent this message:

“Do not imagine that you can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent…relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place … and who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14 NAS).

Yes, Queen Esther sent word back to her uncle, asking him to assemble all the Jews in Susa and to fast for her for three days and nights. She and her maidens were going to fast also. And then she uttered those courageous words:

“And thus I will go in to the king which is notDSCF4320 according to the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16 NAS).

Christians what will it take to break our hard hearts? How much worse is it going to have to get before all of God’s people fast and pray for our nation? Yes, Jesus is coming, but it’s going to get real nasty on planet earth before that event. And we are to be standing firm, making disciples ‘til He comes, not hiding in the shadows, hoping not to be noticed.

God tells us in those last days all nations will rise up against Israel. America’s current leaders are well down the path of turning against Israel. One swipe of the pen could end that relationship and place our nation under God’s curse:

“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee—” (Genesis 12:3 KJV).

In the final chapters of the Book of Esther, we see how God answered His people when they humbled themselves and fasted before Him. And how those who cursed the Jews were indeed cursed.

Whatever experiences God has allowed in your life have brought you “to such a time as this.” Will you remain silent? Or will you speak up, imploring the King’s favor for His people? Have you contemplated your line in the sand? Will you be courageous enough to stand firm in the principles of God’s Word? Drawing that line and agreeing with Esther, “If I perish, I perish.”

“And by smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant, but the people who know their God will display strength and take action” (Daniel 11:33 NAS).

Next week: The rest of the story.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: