Tag: true religion

Thankful for a God who Cares!

Scripture reading for February 23rd:  Deuteronomy 21-24

Key Scriptures:  Deuteronomy 24:19-20  “When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it.  Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.  When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time.  Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.”  

In giving His law to His people, God took pains to instruct them in His plan to care for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.  God cared for them and asked His people to leave the gleanings of their fields, orchards, and vineyards for the poor and needy.  He promised to bless His people for doing this!

Rejoice in God’s loving care:  God uses His people to help the weak, poor and needy because He is their provider and protector!  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  (James 1:27)

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Avoiding self-deception!

Scripture reading for November 18th: James 1:19-2:12

The human mind, born the first time under the deception of sin, is prone to self-deception.  We don’t always easily recognize the lies we are under or have chosen to believe.  We tend to see the faults and sins of others, but are blind to our own.  James understands human nature and through the Holy Spirit has addressed the subject of self-deception.

“My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:19-22)

First, James addresses his friends with affection.  God is not mean or hateful when He corrects us.  Hearing truth requires a heart that is open to understand.  James realizes that too often we are not in a state of readiness to hear.  When we are always talking or have anger in our hearts, we cannot concentrate on the word of God.  In order to receive the word, we must humbly accept it.  This requires repentance–a turning from evil, anger, and moral corruption.

God’s word is able to save us.  What does that mean?  First, we are born again by receiving the truth about Jesus Christ as the Son of God and accepting His sacrifice for our sins.  We must be willing to hear the truth about our own life of sin and the truth about who Jesus is and what He did.  We must also be humble enough to confess our sins and turn from them to Christ for cleansing and new birth.  This means we must not only hear the truth but do what the truth requires.

If we only hear and do not apply the truth, we are deceived.  We really deceive ourselves, because only knowing about truth cannot save us!  “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.” God wants to bless His people!  Be a doer and avoid self-deception.

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Preaching at the church door!

Scripture reading for August 6th: Jeremiah 7-10

Jeremiah is one of my favorite characters in the Bible.  His call and ministry are unique.  He is told to go and preach to his people and told up front that they will not listen!  (Jeremiah 7:27)   He is told on several occasions not to pray for his people because their sins have removed them from God’s grace, but he weeps rivers of tears for them anyway!  (Jeremiah 7:16) (Jeremiah 9:22-23)  He ministers for just over 40 years and is mistreated and threatened by his own people and their leaders.  His preaching is straight and he uses some interesting object lessons to try to get the people’s attention!  In today’s reading, he is told by God to go right to the gate of the temple of the Lord and preach to the people as they arrive for worship and sacrifice.

“Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship the Lord.  This is what the Lord Almighty, The God of Israel, says:  Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place.  Do not trust in deceptive words and say, “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord!”  If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, and in the land I gave your forefathers for ever and ever.  But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless.” Jeremiah 7:2-7

These people were going through the motions of religion and were deceived!  Jeremiah’s words struck to the heart of the matter without beating around the bush.  We can use our religious activities to justify our own selfish lifestyles.  God is not interested in religious activities unless they come from a heart that is humble, repentant and willing to listen to Him.  Their trust was in their attendance at the temple.  God called for a change in ways and actions that affected their daily relationships and walk with God.  He cares about orphans and widows.  He cares about the alien and the poor.  His heart is broken when innocent blood is shed and people deal unjustly with one another.  He hates adultery and lying because it is not loving and He is love.  God wants His people to reflect His heart of love.

God is watching over His word and His people’s response to His word!  He sees hypocrisy and desires repentance and faith.  Jesus Christ went into the temple of the Lord and saw the same things with the money changers and traders.  He quoted from Jeremiah:  “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a ‘den of robbers’.”   (Mark 11:17)  (Jeremiah 7:11)  He then cleansed the temple!  We need more preaching at the church door!

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