Thursday, June 27, 2013
“Ask all the people of the land and the priests,
‘When you fasted and mourned in the
fifth and seventh months for the past seventy
years, was it really for Me you fasted?
And when you were eating and drinking,
were you not just feasting for yourselves?’”
Our religious ways put us in the center of things. God becomes peripheral. His Son Jesus becomes peripheral. The Holy Spirit becomes peripheral. We are the pivot point of all we do, and others, even our brethren in Christ, come second.
God is fed up with our feasting and our fasting. The Father has called and we have ignored Him. Too busy with religious activity to hear Him, we have been focused on ourselves, and it didn’t matter whether that activity was eating and drinking or not eating and drinking. It’s all been self-focused.
However, then, as today, the people of God focused on their religious rituals, their comfortable routines. They wished and hoped to go back to their own country,
Israel, and their own city, . They pined for the good old days when prosperity had been theirs, and they had been free to pursue their own agendas. Jerusalem
Now, as those many years ago, God is saying to us:
“When I called, they did not listen;
so when they called, I would not listen,’
says the Lord Almighty.”
God is letting His people cry out without answering, because He cried out to us for so long and we didn’t answer. In our affluence, we showed our indifference. In His love, God will discipline.
God’s heart has not grown hard, our hearts have become cold. Even our Christian meetings and church activities are all focused on ourselves. Our entertainments have bored the Lord for so long He is sick of them.
“This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.”
The desolation we see today is a result of our religious ways. Fasting or feasting, it matters not to God. He sees our self-focus, our desire for prosperity, our need for recognition, our pride in worldly things. He sees our hard hearts, our vanity, our coldness toward one another in the Body of Christ. He sees us as we are, not as we wish Him to see us.
Like the Picture of Dorian Gray, our portrait is slowly changing, into the true reflection of what we are as Christians. Selfish, proud, haughty, indifferent, happy to do the religious things, but loathe to bend our knees to the Lord and wash anyone’s feet. Our portrait is hideous, ugly in the extreme, because of our sins. God for many years kept our real character in the churches covered up so that the world might not see our true face. But now, He is pulling back the curtain, and our faults and real visages are exposed for everyone to see.
We have made the pleasant land desolate. God’s people have ignored Him, and so our society is descending into paganism and idolatry. It is our sins that have separated us from the Father, and the Son we say we worship.
Many cry out, “Give us pleasant words, calmness, a safe haven against the rising tides of trouble and pain.”
Yet God will not relent until His people obey Him, no matter the cost to our pride, our comfort, our ease.
“This is what the Lord Almight says,
‘Administer true justice;
show mercy and compassion to one another.
Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
the alien or the poor.
In your hearts do not think evil
of one another.’”
The discipline of God is among us, and He will only comfort those who turn to Him in true repentance and seek His Kingdom first. His people have gloried in the wrong things, and found their solace in their own places, instead of in true humility and the Way of the Cross, with their Savior Jesus. This is why He has turned his back, and why so many are deceived, so many are running after this and that new Christian movement.
It is simple. We claim to know God, yet what we do denies that we know Him. We know religion, we know our own passions, our own business, our own goals and dreams and self-focused ways, yet we do not know the Lord or His Way.
“They claim to know God,
but by their actions deny Him.”
Our focus must be on repentance for our sins, and walking in fellowship with the Father and the Son, and that will put us in fellowship with our brothers who truly love God. Then we will affirm our faith by our actions, and the Lord will listen. When we become peripheral, suddenly God becomes the center, and the
comes. Kingdom of God
Will we listen today, or continue toward disaster?
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
"The Spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing." --Jesus, Matt. 6:63
There is so much flesh in our normal striving after God. Christ came to bring Spirit and Life. Now the flesh counts for nothing, as He says to us today.
Are you weak physically?
Are you old?
Are you young and inexperienced?
Are you talented and strong?
Are you sick?
Are you poor?
Are you rich and endowed with position and influence?
Are you man? Woman? Child?
Are you in the East or in the West, North or South?
Are you educated or uneducated?
None of this matters, once Christ comes.
You are hearing Him say what drove many away from Him. At this point in His ministry, Jesus laid out the hard truth, which was that we must eat and drink of Christ's flesh and blood, His Way, if we are to follow Him. Read John 6:25-70. Most of His followers wouldn't accept this teaching. Just as most who claim to be with Christ today do not accept it. And so are not really following Christ as He requires.
Jesus was disregarded by many because He did not have the marks of what they thought a King should be. They were looking for the things of flesh. Instead, He came without the physical and educational and social and economic marks of worldly kingship. He came without worldly titles or pedigrees. He came without fanfare, into a rural area with only shepherds to witness the angels sing. He came without money, being willing to live as a common carpenter. He came without education, without religious schooling. Even His ministry was humble, without marketing or a large following. He came like many of us, without what the world thinks is needed to be successful.
Yet He says that the flesh counts for nothing.
What does this mean? It means what He says. That when Christ comes to us, and we come to Him, and we abide in Him, and He abides in us, that we can do anything that God wants to do through us. There are no longer limitations of earthly nature. We now live the life of Christ, who lives within us by His power.
Today, like Christ, you may have none of the things the world thinks are significant and count for something. However, you count in the Kingdom, and have a place of honor at the banqueting table of Christ.
See John 15 for a complete look at this life. Jesus tells us there that the flesh counts for nothing, and that we will accomplish spiritual feats, not by anything we bring in the flesh, but by what He brings into us. By the Spirit of God we will conquer the uselessness of flesh, and be amazed by what Christ does in us and through us by that Spirit.
We are going to produce fruit that will last. Fruit of righteousness in an evil and unbelieving world. Fruit that the Father wants. Not the useless fruit of the flesh, with its human pride of achievement.
Today, don't be chasing after anything of this world. Let Christ dwell in your heart by faith, and the fruit of that dwelling will be obedience to His Word, and spiritual fruit that brings glory and honor to Him.
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