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Light In Darkness

In 600 BC Israel was captured by Babylon and while this was not the best of circumstances for the people they had to determine how they would proceed into this dilemma. Because the customs and mannerisms of the Babylonians were a stark contrast to the Israeli moral and spiritual culture they were left with a tough decision, what would God want them to do as captive people in a foreign nation? The Babylonians were persuading them to come and enjoy the benefits of the city hoping they would eventually lose their identity and spirituality as the people of Israel. False prophets were telling them not to venture into the city and to maintain their rich spirituality by avoiding the Babylonians as much as possible, this would be difficult and dangerous. It would make sense because the Babylonians would force on them laws and dictates they were not accustomed or allowed to obey. But God spoke through their prophet Jeremiah that He desired for them to both go into the city and enjoy its benefits while maintaining their moral and spiritual convictions. He explained that Babylon would eventually be judged but for now the people of Israel were to live life to the fullest – build houses – have children – take wives – plant gardens etc… Jeremiah 29:7 Tells the people they are to seek the welfare of the city where God had sent them into exile, and pray on its behalf, for its welfare because as the city does well so will you. 

We live in a time and place where often it seems it would be simpler if God would just give us some little island where only followers of Christ could live without interference from society that opposes such. A place where prayer in school and public forum would not be lambasted by atheist who desire only to dismantle our belief systems, a place where our faith could be spoken openly and freely and love would just flow continually amongst us, and place that was excluded from laws that allowed for beliefs we did not hold.
America is full of moral conflicts that constantly interfere with our “Christian” beliefs and walk. Hot topics like abortion, homosexuality, and public prayer are always in the mix of subjects that are influenced by our justice system and those in political power. Wouldn’t it be better if we could just defect to some unknown area of the world and colonize where there is less chance of spiritual compromise? But what if God intends for us to seek the welfare of the city where we are at? What if God wants us to both enjoy the benefits of these circumstances and pray specifically that this society we live in prospers even though we disagree wholeheartedly with how it functions, morally and spiritually? Even in bondage the people of Israel were to be the light in the darkness, and even in times where we feel our nation is full of darkness we need also bear light. It is a tightrope we walk, living in the world but not being of the world. It is my prayer that we as a nation of people will prosper, that we will not lose our spiritual or moral bearings in the process, and that being light in the darkness we may draw to Christ those who need be saved. Amen.

Be Doers of the Word

There is a pattern in scripture that points to the application of God’s Word in our lives…Jesus said his mother and brothers were those who done what he commanded…also blessed are they who not only hear the word but do it…James says be doers of the word not hearers only…Paul says much the same. The pattern is clear that the word of God is to be more than just a set of memorized scriptures, that we have learned in the Hebrew and Greek translations.

There seems to be a division that shows a sharp contrast between the hearing of and the doing of God’s word. Let me be clear, it is not enough to hear only. What if you told your child “do your homework” only to come back an hour later to hear your child say “I memorized what you said, you said do your homework”. Obviously the child heard what you said but your demand was not to memorize your words but it was to accomplish a task. Now don’t get me wrong here we need to have God’s word hidden in our heart but just not so deeply that it never appears in our actions.

When I stand before God, draped in the robe of righteousness that was bought by the blood of Jesus – forgiven – cleansed – His grace glistening off every aspect of the salvation I am perfected in,; I want to have a confidence that says the seed He sowed in my life was to His glory. I want to be able to say because you loved me enough to die for me, I did my best to live for you. I really believe with every fiber of my being that what we learn from God’s word should translate into our living.

Let me encourage you today, be Jesus to someone…speak words of life into someone’s heart, pull someone out of the pit where they have fallen, change a flat, feed a hunger, contribute to a cause, find a need and meet it with the love you have been shown. Yes being Jesus is sacrificial, it will cost you time, money, and maybe even emotional transference. The rewards however of following Jesus are magnificent and eternal. I am often taken aback when I read scripture at how few people actually followed Jesus after they considered the cost. I wonder are you a follower or just a fan?

How do you value yourself?

I have a friend with a huge shop filled with a variety of objects. Occasionally I will meander through and randomly pick up something and ask what he thinks it might be worth. Sometimes I can see a value in the terms of dollars that he never considers because to him everything he has is valuable. This fellow of whom I speak always tells me where he got the object, and I have come to realize

 that the value of his objects is found not in the object itself but rather, the relationship from whom he got it. Today I would like us as we pray for this nation to consider that even as beauty is found in the eye of the beholder so too is the real value of something found in its owner. Our value to God is not based on our greatness, our goodness, or our righteous works; no we are valuable to God because God values the relationship we have in Christ Jesus so our value is really him. When I think of the value of these States United, I am reminded of the relationships that have been established in the freedoms we share. I wonder if it had never been the nation we have known, would people have valued it so highly as to die to keep it free? Would foreigners and dissidents have breached her walls and found welcoming friendships in a melting pot of difference? I think not. For I do not see or know of other peoples trying to gain access into Russia, China, Islam, France, or any other country such as they do here in the good old USA. 

Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me, and hear my prayer. 
Psalm 4:1