Zechariah 11 Sermon Favor and Union.

Back around Christmas time I was reading in my daily reading plan and came to be gifted with two candy canes from someone at the job. I put them in my wheelchair bag to later eat them but one somehow broke on me. I then was reminded of what I had been reading through in the Old Testament reading plan, and the prophet had been told to take two staffs and break each to symbolize events that would unfold.

—-This is what the Lord my God says: “Shepherd the flock marked for slaughter. Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, ‘Praise the Lord, I am rich!’ Their own shepherds do not spare them. For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” declares the Lord. “I will give everyone into the hands of their neighbors and their king. They will devastate the land, and I will not rescue anyone from their hands.” So I shepherded the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock. In one month I got rid of the three shepherds. The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.” Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord. I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord. Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel. Then the Lord said to me, “Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hooves. “Woe to the worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded!” (Zechariah 11:4-17)

“The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”

The Lord had taken care of his people yet they grew tired of him. They started turning to other gods and as a result the Assyrian nation as well as Babylon enslaved the people of Israel and Judah for 70 years.

Union- the second staff that was broken represented the family bond between the two kingdoms that became Judah and Israel, and until after the reign of Solomon they were united under one king but after Solomon died Rehoboam, Solomon’s son became king over Israel in the north and Jeroboam became king of Judah in the south.

“Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel. Then the Lord said to me, “Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hooves. “Woe to the worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! May his arm be completely withered, his right eye totally blinded!” —-Gentile kings for one took hold of both the nations of Judah and Israel but we also see this concept play out in the days of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Pharisees and religious leaders used God’s Law to oppress the people and not point them to the True Shepherd (Jesus) who said:

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:11-18)

Sin came to divide Judah and Israel, and sin divides people of today. What can we learn from this passage in Zechariah?

Well first of all, sin brings separation and creates barriers between people. Secondly, it drives a wedge between us and the God who created us and everyone else! Yet the good news is, in spite of leaders who sin and misuse positions of power or influence, there is one Shepherd who will do justly and righteously, and judge all according to impartial equity. Jesus Christ is our Shepherd and as Psalms 23 says “The Lord is my shepherd” and Jesus is not some cruel and overbearing taskmaster that is disinterested in the lives of people. God is holy and righteous and hates sin and we see his anger toward it throughout especially OT literature but can we see why? Sin drives us from Him, the only true source of hope and a sustaining source of well being.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

God not only is angered by sin and trusting in idols and gods that are not, but grieved. He knows we need him far more than we realize. God is at times compassionately angry! Suppose you are a parent of a teenage son or daughter who starts to pursue a reckless course of life and you try to talk the sense into them but they do the thing we as young people do, say “Whatever, stay out of my life!” Parents can relate to this concept yet we seem to divorce God’s anger toward sin from his compassion and love for mankind? Why?

God is both angry and compassionate- he hates sin and sees it as an affront to who he is- yet he is compassionate and pities sinners who suffer the misfortunes of their own sin!

Therefore, Jesus came to rescue sinners as the Shepherd King the God anointed to bring two kingdoms under his Lordship, Judah and Israel, but also reconcile the World to Him.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 –

Christ removed the barrier between us and one another and us and God. We must lay hold of this though and receive it!

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Jeremiah 1:4-19 Sermon, The Call Of Jeremiah- “Do not say, “I am too young.”

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ” “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” The word of the Lord came to me again: “What do you see?” “I see a pot that is boiling,” I answered. “It is tilting toward us from the north.” The Lord said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the Lord. “Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made. “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. [Jeremiah 1:4-19] Jeremiah was most likely intimidated by God’s call to confront the people of Israel and Judah over their sins, for one, he was a youth. Often people see people who are younger as inexperienced or not knowlegable. There can be a attitude of “What? You telling me what to do? Ha your just a young person and I have years on my side.” Yet where was Jeremiah’s confidence? God’s call and commission. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul says: Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant —not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 Paul preached a messsage of the Gospel and repentence and turning to Christ for reconciliation to God. Yet the prophet Jeremiah and the Apostle Paul both knew that God was the strong force to back up the work he had called them to do. In the story of Jeremiah he was young but reminded by the Lord that He was on his side even if the people refused to listen to him because of his age. Jeremiah throughout the book of Jeremiah spoke warnings of God’s judgement coming from Assyria and Babylon if they did not turn away from sin and idol worship. Unfortunately they people would not repent and judgement came. Whatever it is that may seem to be a deterent, whether being young or whatever society may try to use to discredit the message. We should irregardless obey God’s call and share the message he gives us to proclaim, the Gospel. God said to another prophet in this time: And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Ezekiel 2:6-8 – The point is God calls them to obey and proclaim what he gave them to say, and then said irregardless of whether the people responded or not was not the focus but rather obeying and proclaiming the message he gave to them to preach to the people. Often times most of the people rejected God’s message and fell into God’s judgement for it but the prophets did their part and were faithful to obey. The same is true when we share the Gospel as modern 21 century believers. We cannot make a single person respond, only God can truly change hearts but regardless of the outcome, our role is obeying and doing as our Lord commands 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15-16 –

Jeremiah 42 Sermon- The escape plan that made their problem worse!

7 Ten days later the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 So he called together Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers who were with him and all the people from the least to the greatest. 9 He said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your petition, says: 10 ‘If you stay in this land, I will build you up and not tear you down; I will plant you and not uproot you, for I have relented concerning the disaster I have inflicted on you. 11 Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you now fear. Do not be afraid of him, declares the Lord, for I am with you and will save you and deliver you from his hands. 12 I will show you compassion so that he will have compassion on you and restore you to your land.’

13 “However, if you say, ‘We will not stay in this land,’ and so disobey the Lord your God, 14 and if you say, ‘No, we will go and live in Egypt, where we will not see war or hear the trumpet or be hungry for bread,’ 15 then hear the word of the Lord, you remnant of Judah. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘If you are determined to go to Egypt and you do go to settle there, 16 then the sword you fear will overtake you there, and the famine you dread will follow you into Egypt, and there you will die. 17 Indeed, all who are determined to go to Egypt to settle there will die by the sword, famine and plague; not one of them will survive or escape the disaster I will bring on them.’ 18 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘As my anger and wrath have been poured out on those who lived in Jerusalem, so will my wrath be poured out on you when you go to Egypt. You will be a curse[b] and an object of horror, a curse[c] and an object of reproach; you will never see this place again.’

19 “Remnant of Judah, the Lord has told you, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Be sure of this: I warn you today 20 that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the Lord your God and said, ‘Pray to the Lord our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.’ 21 I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the Lord your God in all he sent me to tell you. 22 So now, be sure of this: You will die by the sword, famine and plague in the place where you want to go to settle.”

In Verse 14 we see God warning them that if they ran from where he called them to stay thinking they would have a more favorable outcome, they would be overtaken by the very thing they dreaded.

In the following chapter we see them disobey the Lord and trust their own solution to their problem

——When Jeremiah had finished telling the people all the words of the Lord their God—everything the Lord had sent him to tell them — Azariah son of Hoshaiah and Johanan son of Kareah and all the arrogant men said to Jeremiah, “You are lying! The Lord our God has not sent you to say, ‘You must not go to Egypt to settle there.’ But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon.” So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah. Instead, Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers led away all the remnant of Judah who had come back to live in the land of Judah from all the nations where they had been scattered. They also led away all those whom Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard had left with Gedaliah son of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan—the men, the women, the children and the king’s daughters. And they took Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch son of Neriah along with them. So they entered Egypt in disobedience to the Lord and went as far as Tahpanhes. (Jeremiah 43:1-7)

Then:

“Now this is what the Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Why bring such great disaster on yourselves by cutting off from Judah the men and women, the children and infants, and so leave yourselves without a remnant? Why arouse my anger with what your hands have made, burning incense to other gods in Egypt, where you have come to live? You will destroy yourselves and make yourselves a curse and an object of reproach among all the nations on earth. Have you forgotten the wickedness committed by your ancestors and by the kings and queens of Judah and the wickedness committed by you and your wives in the land of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem? To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your ancestors. “Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach. I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives.” Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, along with all the women who were present—a large assembly—and all the people living in Lower and Upper Egypt, said to Jeremiah, “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord! We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine. ” The women added, “When we burned incense to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did not our husbands know that we were making cakes impressed with her image and pouring out drink offerings to her?” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, both men and women, who were answering him, “Did not the Lord remember and call to mind the incense burned in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem by you and your ancestors, your kings and your officials and the people of the land? When the Lord could no longer endure your wicked actions and the detestable things you did, your land became a curse and a desolate waste without inhabitants, as it is today. Because you have burned incense and have sinned against the Lord and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you, as you now see.” Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah in Egypt. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have done what you said you would do when you promised, ‘We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.’ “Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows! But hear the word of the Lord, all you Jews living in Egypt: ‘I swear by my great name,’ says the Lord , ‘that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, “As surely as the Sovereign Lord lives.” For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand —mine or theirs. “‘This will be the sign to you that I will punish you in this place,’ declares the Lord, ‘so that you will know that my threats of harm against you will surely stand.’ This is what the Lord says: ‘I am going to deliver Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hands of his enemies who want to kill him, just as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who wanted to kill him.’” (Jeremiah 44:7-30)

These people failed to see their real problem, they wrongly assumed their worship of foreign gods was bringing them success and averting disaster, they said “But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.”

Yet they failed to recognize this as being the result of their problems. Their worship of idols and sinning against the Lord God who brought them out of Egypt long ago was the one who they had angered and he was the one who brought disaster by Babylon, that Jeremiah had kept predicting would come.

Yet we see here how even when God allows disaster as the result of a rebellious lifestyle, the sinful deception of the heart can fool us all into not discerning correctly why we suffer. Galatians 6:8 says “Whatsoever a man sows that he will also reap” and for their longstanding unrepentant hearts toward God’s messengers they reaped the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s warning.

So what can we take home here? Some of us may have reaped the consequences of sin, we have maybe seen God’s heavy hand in our lives over choices that finally produces hardship. Yet God told these people to just obey and remain in the land and not flee in fear to Egypt: unfortunately they disobeyed and it went from bad to worse, however, we are given these examples to learn from.

Fear- is never a valid excuse to disobey God. God knows all and if he calls us to obey in some way we should rest assured that he knows more then we do. Yet they trusted their escape plan- that more so was their disaster plan that sealed their doom.

The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the Lord will prosper. Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

Proverbs 28:25-26

We should not let the trouble around us as a result of even personal sin drive us further down a bad path. If a person is driving and they get off course and realize they have been driving 25 minutes in the wrong direction, it be silly to say, it is no use turning around, might as well keep driving this way. No rather the sensible thing is to stop and turn around and go the other way, even though it has created inconvenience and loss of time, they can still turn around and get to the right track! Yet this is repentence- we turn around from the reckless road

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death. Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.

Proverbs 14:12-13 –

The road of sin may seem right and even have laughter on it, yet deep down under the facade of many is a very felt emptiness and it ends in grief and judgement.

When we turn to Jesus, we acknowlege our sins messed up our life and we see how far off track in sin we are. We see we are worthy of God’s judgement, his anger, his just sentence- but the hope comed by turning from the mess we have created and accepting the forgiveness and cleansing work Jesus died to grant us. We ought to then trust him with our lives and follow Him!

Carrying The Crosses

I was thinking of a movie this morning I saw long ago, “Holes” but at the end of it, a man had been wrongly sent off to a prison work camp in it on unfair charges- he met this other kid there and through strange plot and turn of events has to carry his friend up a mountain. His friend was too weak to make the climb and so he carried his friend up the mountain. There was some curse through the generations linked back and it was finally put to rest when he carried the friend of his up the slopes. The friend has ancestors (a great grandmother or something who knew the kid who was unfairly sent away- the great grandfather of his, did something that got his family line cursed as a result so their ancestors had that story tying them together. Yer through the story plot the kid who was unfairly sentenced and the other kid ended up in the same prison camp and crossed paths – they became friends: nearing the end of the story the one got sick and needed help so to look for water they were going around the desert when the kid who was their unfairly remembers how the curse was a result of failure to carry the old woman up the mountain, yet her great grandson is the friend he is with and he takes it on himself to fulfill his families end of the bargain that had been broken years earlier. He carried his friend to the top and the generational curse is put to rest.]

However, I think of what Christ does for is, we are under the curse of sin, passesd down from generation to generation and we cannot break free of it!

The Bible talks alot about the “Sins of the forefathers being passed on” and this is what we inherit as a result of sin entering the world from the very beginning.

Well, Jesus before he was crucified was made to carry that heavy roman cross up toward the top of the mount, to the place called “Galgotha” the place of the skull, to be crucified. Bleeding, battered and exhausted, the Son of God carried his cross to atone for the sins that were not his fault or doing. He finally put to rest through his death and resurection from the dead, the curse of sin and power death has over the sinner. He makes it possible through faith in Him to be at peace with God, totally accepted and forgiven. Now why was this so important to Him? If God had no love for sinners he would not have condescended to help them out of their mess. He could have said, “Your not my problem, why should you backslidden rebels be my burden to bear?” But he does not see that way at all—

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Hebrews 12:2-3 –

Jesus love- his love for the reprehensible, the unworthy, the broken and helpless. His death was entirely selfless really, he gets less from us in this deal then we do from him. After all even Christians cannot by great obedience, doing good, or all the service we collectively give back after- all of that is not needed to God but he desires our love and loyalty in return, not to complete him- but because he has done more for us then we could ever give back in a thousand lifetimes.

God requires our allegiance to Christ- yet he is not dependent on anything human hands could give him. Yet imagine it this way, like a man who just for some reason of his own, delights in a woman and desires her and wins her heart/ not because he needs her complete him, but he desires to pour his love into her and cherish her, and as a result of her realizing how much he loves her, she is inclined to adore and admire him and be with him.

God designed marriage as an object lesson to demonstrate this hard to grasp spiritual truth. A man may be asked, “Why did you fall in love with your wife and pursue her heart like you did?” He may respond, “I just thought she was the loveliest woman I ever laid eyes on and delighted in her.” Did she earn this? No. Did she have to jump through hoops to catch his eye? No. He set his eyes on her, pursued her and she fell for him I suppose we could say. Her desire to be “Desirable” was met by his hunger to “Pursue”

However, we are not in our sins “Desirable” in our own merit, yet the love of the Lord Jesus still “Desired” because of his nature and love not becomes we made ourselves appealing.

Tears of God

From July 27, 2016

The Tears Of God

(John 11:35) Jesus wept.

Simple, yet profound beyond words. Two words, worth 10,000 books- “Jesus wept”

Martha and Mary’s brother died, yet “Jesus wept”- He knew Lazarus would rise again, yet “Jesus wept”—We do not have here a God who is detached from human pain or tragic loss but one who weeps over people’s pain, his tender tears express the heart of God over the struggles of mankind, burdened here with sickness, pain and suffering. JESUS WEEPS, over the suffering sinner and struggling saint alike I think. “For we do not have a highpriest unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who was tempted in every way as we are yet without sin” Hebrews 4 tells us!

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

And Jesus weeps when he sees the suffering Adams sin brings humankind, the struggle, the pain, the disease and hard toil

He was unlike the religious leaders of his day who commanded obedience to the laws of God but removed the heart of love from God in the decrees.

Are you struggling tonight reader, take heart because “Jesus wept” embrace him in his gentle graces and receive the healings over your wounded hearts, and cleansing from your sins. He is not distant, the only distance is what you create-

The Contrast Of Faith vs Unbelief

The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you..” 1 Samuel 17:37

Here we see David look back on God’s faithfulness to deliver in his past.

However, if we see another similar instance from the Israelites early on

we see they gave no thought to God’s former deliverance:

You grumbled in your tents and said, “The Lord hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’” (Deuteronomy 1:27-28)

Both passages deal with people who saw God’s miraculous deliverance from harm and challenges- for David, “The paw of the lion and the paw of the bear” and for the Israelites, the grasp of a tyranical king

Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.

Proverbs 28:15 –

However, David chose to believe God’s deliverance, the Israelites in Moses’s time gave into unbelief.

Psalm 106 gives an account of the people when they were journing to the Promised Land:

We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly. When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known. He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert. He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them. The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived. Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.

Psalm 106:6-13

Believing God vs giving way to unbelief is no small matter,

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 –

Sin is not just evil actions and wrong thinking, but flows from letting unbelief grow in the heart. Through doubts the Serpant caused Eve and Adam to disobey God and through doubt the people rebelled in the desert and grew impatient, grumbled against God and created a golden calf. God was not opperating how they wanted him to, and as fast as they wanted so they said “Come let us make gods that will lead us into the good land” as a result they angered the Lord by creating a golden calf.

What about us today? These temptations can occur also to us! How often do people who don’t know who the Lord is get angry that he let certain things happen in their lives and they do not seek God to understand who he is but just to get them out of a problem they face- and when he does not deal with their situation how they want or as fast as they hoped they say “There must be no benevolent good God after all!” Or “Come let us make gods for ourselves that will carry us into our futures”

This can also happen to Christians in a subtle way if we too are not cautious. We can easily get frustrated in hard times over the delays or seemingly never ending seasons of hardship that we forget that God has delivered us from hardships so many times in the past. This may cause even a Christian to doubt, and though the temptation to give up and walk away from faith should never enter the mind, there can be a more passive outworking of unbelief, grumbling. Happened many times in my life even as a believer and then realized what I was truly doing, “Oh Lord, I am done for, I am going to die and be miserable from this point on and why does all these bad things happen to me. Lord please just finish me off and let me come home to heaven!” lol- I remember times in my life from years back I used to fall prey to this kind of cynical outlook, yet God has a goal “Be transformed through the renewal of your mind” Romans 12 tells us.

I have moments still but we all must challenge ourselves to put off such non sensical thinking. We must remind ourselves that God has done wonderful things to deliver us from trials in the past, why would we doubt Him after all this?

For younger Christians, this can often be more of a challenge since, they have had less time to see God bring truimph out of their trials. Yet the Word of God says “God works all things together for the good of those who love him and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

But you cannot love what you do not know or trust, and unbelief not only does not trust God but stifles love for God. We must fight and wage war by faith.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Yokes

I push a wheelchair, so, the challenge is when carrying a laundry basket or trash bag, carrying a bag that is cumbersome while rolling with my hands. Yet this reminds me of “Yokes” in ancient cultures. Oxen would be harnessed to pull loads and made it so work could be done. Yet Jesus talked about his yoke being easy and burden light. Yet this is not him saying life as a Christian will be easy but there is a strengthening and power he can give us to do what we cannot do on our own. Example: Love- even our enemies as Matt 5, or we can have peace and not worry like he teaches in Matt 6.

Jesus often does not remove our burdens or hardships or struggled but allows them to remain for a time but

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

When life is full of trouble and hardship we see truly better then ever how his power can enable us to still obey and persevere. When things are easy, we do not see that as much because we do not feel our own human frailty. Yet when hardness comes we can feel his power upholding us and others can too and God often uses that to send his light and hope out to them also.

God’s Delima

Paradox of Emotions————

Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people. “They make ready their tongue like a bow, to shoot lies; it is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,” declares the Lord. [Jeremiah 9:2-3]

To one degree, you wanted to find rest away from seeing these people! However,

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! [Isaiah 30:18]

What a strain! After all, think of it as a conflict between yearning, strong desire for someone vs the problem that they way they were- made it impossible to be in an emotionally healthy relationship. Yet imagine the pain of longing to be close to someone that if they could change and come to their senses, it would be sweet to your soul! A dream come true!

Yet, paradoxically- the present state of this person- makes it impossible for an close and intimate relationship. I suppose we could borrow this for an analogy, a man who loves a woman and grows ro desire and love her and is enamored with her and enjoys the closeness, the connection, emotionally head over heels for her- yet suppose then she starts to let other men encroach on the relationship and slowly the man who adores her is slowly pushed to the side and treats him as just her go to when she needs something. Lets also suppose the gentleman who has been shoved aside is someone who is kind and good hearted, but she later shows her bitterness toward others and is bent on revenge and has become a cynical person. Well let’s say unfortunately there were reasons for this anger in her heart, pains, hurts, fears, struggles and longing that made her still human- though her behavior is atrocious- The man feels compassion-

Though he feels compassion and sorrow over her pain, her struggles, and hardships- he is nonetheless wounded by her ways. Grieved by her behaviors and afflicted by what she has been doing and who she is showing herself to be.

Though compassion is there, his heart cannot help but feel jealous over her and crushed by her rejection of him. (Now humanly speaking a man who wanted loved her like a lover can no longer be close to her in this regard without detriment to himself. Even though more then anything he wants to just overlook this- he cannot by his nature do this.] He cannot help the feeling of anger and pain nonetheless.

So, in the same sense, sin, creates a barrier between God and themselves, God is love and longs to be good to people and show compassion and kindness. Yet, God’s nature is distinct and holy, meaning he cannot violate who he is just because he loves sinners. He obviously hates sin.

Example: The Ten Commandments- are a reflection of what He is like, for one “Thou shall not lie” and we are told repeatedly, “God is not a man that he should lie”

“You shall have no other gods alongside of me”

Now, it is not unreasonable for a human lover to require that the person they are with does not cheat. Reasonable relationships- such as a married couple, it be unreasonable for a husband or wife to expect the person they are with to be ok with an affair. Right! An insane irrational person may not care but someone with some bearing on their mental faculties will feel jealous over that if they truly treasure that relationship.

God in the same sense wont share his rightful position as God with someone lesser or something lesser then himself, that he created, for everything was made by him and apart from him nothing exists. So it is offensive to a Holy God to thrust him out for another god. Or to think he will be fine with anyone making a god out of something or someone or themselves and then turning to him when they are in a jam. Why does God ignore the prayers of those who refuse to repent of sin and turn to Him? Because, he is not just a 911 God that is used for an emergency.

In the OT times, when his people whom he redeemed for himself from Egypt forsook him for idols, he forsook them to let their gods rescue them (Of course their idols couldn’t) so he let them suffer for a while so they could see what it was like to not have him around to get them out of a jam.

Then the prophet Shemaiah came to Rehoboam and to the leaders of Judah who had assembled in Jerusalem for fear of Shishak, and he said to them, “This is what the Lord says, ‘You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.’” (2 Chronicles 12:5)

How can a heart bent in the wrong way be made straight? By nature we all sin, therefore, we become “Sinners”

Sin is a state of being, not just outward behavior, and the iniquity of the heart pulls us toward sin. Yet God loves people made in his image yet human beings who he created for relationship with him, became through Adam’s sin, sinful by nature. So, God has to either- blot us all out and forget we ever existed. Sending us to a place where he wont have to be grieved by looking at us. Yet, God is love, he is a compassionate God! He cannot tolerate sin nor does he delight in destroying us. Yet he has a few options- Compromise with sinners and deny His character- (That is impossible for Him) or (Wipe everyone out and banish them eternally from his sight)

But there is another alternative. Jesus Christ coming to suffer the penalty of our sins in place of us, and this is God stepping down to suffer on the cross in place of his rebellious creatures. Because Christ died for us, we are forgiven if we believe and receive Him as Lord and Savior. Therefore we are made right in the eyes of God at his expense. However, Christians can sin, and fail, and “miss the mark” and thats what sin means in the Greek. So God yes forgives us past, present and future but put’s his Spirit inside our hearts to move us to “Both will and act according to his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13)

Also we see this in Jeremiah 32:37-41 and Ezekial

I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me and that all will then go well for them and for their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

Jeremiah 32:37-41 –

“‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. [Ezekiel 36:24-28 ]

These were written when God sent Israel and Judah into exile for their sin and continual idol worship. They were removed from the land he gave them 70 years and then he brought his people back.

Yet there was true humbling and repentance in the afflictions and they turned back to the Lord.

In Deuteronomy 10:16 Moses said, “Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. (Deuteronomy 10:16)

In Deuteronomy 30:6 Moses says “The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.

Deuteronomy 30:6 –

In Jeremiah 4:4 God says “Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, circumcise your hearts, you people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or my wrath will flare up and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.

(Jeremiah 4:4)

In (John 3:3) Jesus said “Unless a man be born again he will not see the kingdom of God”

Lastly, sin makes us enemies of God, but:

For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:10-11)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

(Romans 5:6-8)

Generous With Grace

Verse of the Day (From Bible gateway)

Psalm 112:5

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

I did see a multifaceted application though, of course God wants us to be generous with our produce and income, willing to share with those who have less and are in true need. Yet let’s not forget also another generousity, forgiveness and mercy.

Jesus spoke on judging others in Matthew 7

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. 6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Matthew 7:1-6 –

Being an overly critical person shows a stinginess to grant grace for others shortcomings and personal failures. Sure we are called to not delight in sin “1 Cor 13 tells us “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” yet this same passage says “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not proud, it is not rude, it does not envy, it does not boast, it keeps no record of wrongs” it also says “It is not self seeking”

In any relationship or friendship, we may all benefit more to adopt more love and allowance for people’s shortcomings and forgiveness for their sins. There is a time to address those matters if they become serious but we need not get out a magnifying glass to look for things continually. Love is truthful, love is willing to confront poor behavior when needed but after that it is willing to also forgive and move past personal hurts and grow the relationship.