Month: September 2013

The Downward Spiral

Proverbs 3:3 tells us to “not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep My commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 stresses, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord God is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
When even one member of a family is godless or non-God-fearing, they continue to go astray. They marry another godless person (like-minded as they are) and they have children. The Lord and His words and ways are not in the parents’ hearts and so the children know neither the Father nor His words. In this way, a lack of knowledge is perpetuated rather than the fear of the Lord. And this cycle continues from generation to generation along with all sin, wickedness, foolishness, darkness- and many times, curses.
Having said this and having laid an observable foundation, I am justified to the point of many times becoming righteously indignant in my heart and spirit towards the open, flagrant and sometimes ignorant displays of mockery and apathy where Jesus Christ and the Godhead are concerned. This is not because I have any righteousness of my own, but because I have been born again in my Spirit and cleansed of my guilt through the blood of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords- and this is available to ALL.
It almost sickens me in my stomach to see the styles and sheer number of crosses- of all shapes and sizes- around the necks of people who have no interest in our Savior at all (to err on the kind side) or who live lives of open opposition to Him (to be more accurate). Madonna has placed herself upon a glamorously-lit cross in her performances onstage. Rappers and other musicians adorn their chests with large crosses as nothing more than gaudy jewelry, attempting to empty the cross of its meaning and significance. Even some actors such as Denzel Washington who tout themselves as Christians continue to act and star in R-rated movies. And comedians such as Kathy Griffin dare to spew speech such as, “I guess hell froze over,” said Griffin, whose show overtook ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. “A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.” Holding up her statuette, Griffin topped off her off-script speech by saying, “Suck it, Jesus. This award is my god now”. People all around our workplaces take the Lord’s name in vain as easily as they breathe, with not a thought to the unspeakable offense to the Almighty God of the universe who could crush them with a word if it weren’t for His longsuffering and steadfast love; not to mention the promise that those who do so (say things such as God Damn, Jesus Christ!, for Christ’s sake, Oh My God, etc.) will NOT go unpunished according to the third commandment found both in Exodus 20:7 and Deuteronomy 5:11.
The flagrance and brazenness of it all surrounds us on all sides and at all times. We don’t have to look for it or seek it out; it finds us. What happened to the lives and character of people who trembled and wept bitterly as their sins were found out and exposed? There is such casualness towards sin that we have even done away with that convicting word and, instead, have names for each and every one so as to help ease our already weak consciences. We treat some as diseases. We blame others’ conduct on mental illness. We even cry out for tolerance and acceptance of many behaviors with lobbying and protesting as if it were a right of some kind.
What happened to our hearts that have strayed so far, and become so calloused and hardened that if God Almighty spoke to us (as He did to Moses out of a burning bush) and said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” we would not obey, not bow down, nor probably even hear His voice? We are so blinded and dulled by our sin because we have walked in it so long that when He- in His mercy and corrective discipline- allows consequences out of justice and as an effort to bring us back to Himself, that we curse Him, demand to know why our trials and misfortunes have befallen us, or raise our defiant fists in the air, that God is forced to become deaf to our pleas and prayers. No wonder the God of holiness and absolute perfection tells us, “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see Me and live.” His glory alone is too overwhelming for our senses.
Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes that, “The end of the matter is this, all has been heard. FEAR GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, FOR THIS IS THE WHOLE DUTY OF MAN. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (chapter 12, verses 13-14). Without His amazing grace, steadfast love and excellent mercy we are unable to stand before Him or even to utter a word. If this describes you, get on your knees, beg forgiveness and clutch the free gift of eternal life made possible only through JESUS CHRIST. He is coming very, very soon and you don’t want to be under the due wrath of Almighty God, especially when He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die so that you wouldn’t have condemnation. HE LOVES YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE yet despises the sin. He will make you a new creation. Today is the day of salvation!

How High?

When we look at ourselves and measure the goodness we think we have, do we use the right standard or do we simply compare ourselves relative to others who miss the mark also? If we do the latter we can always find someone who, at least on the outside, seems to be “worse” than we are. This leaves us feeling pretty good about our state or condition, makes us think no change is required, and we go on about our business. Most of us live our lives in this mindset- consciously or not- and this is why we mistakenly believe we have no need of salvation.
Think of it like this. If you have a friend, relative, coworker or boss who you compare yourself to and you consider them to be a 10- or 20-story building (depending on your estimation and kindness), you are probably tempted to view yourself in a more flattering light. Whether you are right or wrong in your comparison, you view yourself to be the Empire State Building with all its 102 stories. That’s quite a disparity and you are clearly the winner in this estimation (it’s easy to see ourselves this way, and we can justify it or rationalize it all day long).
But the problem we overlook in this process is that we don’t recognize the standard- Almighty God, His ways and laws. If our 10-story acquaintance and our 102-story self fail to see that, despite the “huge” difference, it is inconsequential and even unnoticeable when compared to the fact that God’s throne is in the highest heaven and the earth is His footstool. The sun is 93 million miles away and above, and it is below the Almighty. But if we were able to get that high above our atmosphere and look down, the difference between you and the person you’re comparing yourself to and measuring your imagined goodness against wouldn’t be noticeable at all- and that’s even if that difference were true.
So we have a choice to make. We can keep on deceiving ourselves that we are basically good people. (The truth of the Bible doesn’t teach this). Or we can realize our low, sinful state and humble ourselves before Jesus Christ who alone is able to forgive us, grant us repentance and give us everlasting life. As He told the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, “Go and sin no more.” He tells us the same thing. We cannot continue in sin and be cleansed of our unrighteousness. We must turn away from our old lives (the ones we are currently living) to follow Him and live according to His perfect ways. Then when Jesus returns- and that day is VERY soon (almost any true believer would tell you it’s within our lifetime!)- you won’t have to run for the hills, cower in fear and shame, live through the horribly prophesied tribulation period, or be afraid of death. You can, instead, rejoice knowing that your name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Get right with the King today. It is what He lived and died for. You can’t earn it. You don’t deserve it. But it is and always was His plan for you and He loves you!!!