“Listen to Me, My people; And give ear to Me, O My nation.
We should be listening to everything God says in His Word, so I had to wonder why God would make it a point at the beginning of this passage to say, “Listen to me …” Perhaps, this is a little like us when we say to our children, “Look at me when I’m talking to you.” In other words, what I’m about to say is important. Give me your undivided attention.
Then He began to talk to His people about the hope they had in their coming Messiah. But their hope wasn’t just for the future. They were to put their hope in Him then. Verse 6:
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, And look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment, And those who dwell in it will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not be abolished.
Just as we are saved by looking back in faith on what Christ did for us on the cross, their redemption was based on faith in the One True God and the coming of their Messiah.
Instead of focusing on the strength of other nations, they were to focus on Him.
12 “I, even I, am He who comforts you.
Who are you that you should be afraid
Of a man who will die,
And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?
13 And you forget the LORD your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens
And laid the foundations of the earth;
Matthew 10 says it this way:
28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.
How much time do we waste “fearing man”? It’s a trap into which we easily fall. We may not fear what they might do to us physically. We fear what they think of us, what they might say about us, or how they might sin against us.
“If they find out I’m a Christian, they’ll think I’m a ‘goody-two-shoes’.”
“If I don’t have sex with my boyfriend, he might leave me.”
“If I give in to my wife, what will I tell the guys?”
“If I submit to my husband, he’ll walk all over me.”
“What would they think if they knew about my past?”
“If I don’t lie for my husband, he might lose his job.”
It’s been called people-pleasing, co-dependency, peer pressure, low self-esteem, keeping up with the Jones or being an approval junkie. The Bible calls it the fear of man. Continue reading →
We are living in a world that is becoming more and more dangerous and a culture that is increasingly hostile to Christ and Christianity. Religious freedom and tolerance have been replaced with intolerance and, even, hatred. Christian organizations that support the traditional family and are pro-life have been listed as “hate groups” along with the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.
Earlier this week Amy Barrett, a highly qualified nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit and a devout Catholic, was questioned about her religious convictions by two well-known Senators, even though the Constitution prohibits any kind of religious test to hold public office.
And we’ve probably just begun to experience the hostility and persecution that the Bible tells us will come.
Paul Nyquist in his book, Prepare, says the following:
Get ready. An exciting, yet terrifying era is beginning for American believers. As cultural changes sweep our country, we’ll soon be challenged to live out what the Bible says about confronting and responding to persecution. For nearly 250 years, Christians in America were able to live in relative freedom from persecution. We escaped because our society historically embraced and promoted biblical values. Our founding fathers penned a Constitution esteeming religious freedom and establishing that rights come from God, not the government.
But we’re witnessing an epic change in our culture— a spiritual climate shift threatening to reshape life as we know it. Hostility and intolerance are replacing toleration. Rejection and even hatred are pushing aside acceptance.
John S. Dickerson, in his well-researched book The Great Evangelical Recession, writes, “In the coming decades United States evangelicals will be tested as never before, by the ripping and tearing of external cultural change— a force more violent than many of us expect. Evangelicalism in the United States has stood strong through centuries of difficulties and setbacks. She has not seen anything quite like what she will see in the next fifty years.”
More and more often, Christians will be forced to choose between saying and doing what’s pleasing to God and what’s acceptable to those around us. And those opposed to biblical values are increasingly bold and vocal about their opposition and loathing.
Just this week, two well-known Senators challenged a judicial nominee about her ability to carry out the law because of her Catholic beliefs.
According to The Washington Post:
Amy Barrett, a nominee for a judgeship on the 7th Circuit, has spoken often of her Catholic faith and drawn opposition from liberal groups, which argue that she’d place it above the law. Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, echoed those concerns Wednesday at a confirmation hearing, telling Barrett that “the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern …”
Here is the full context of Feinstein’s comments:
Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that — you know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.
It’s clear what Feinstein, a stalwart defender of abortion rights, is getting at here, given that her questioning of Barrett focused heavily on Barrett’s views of Roe v. Wade. But her use of the word “dogma” has plenty on the right alleging that she’s applying a religious test to Barrett’s nomination.
The Constitution, of course, prohibits religious tests, saying that ” … no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Some on the right now say Feinstein is violating that, too.
How to Prepare
Persecution has always been a reality for believers in Christ. It may vary in degree in different cultures and time periods, but Jesus warned us to expect it (Jn. 15.20). The Apostle Paul said, “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3.12).
In fact, in spite of the fact that it flies in the face of some current teaching, the Bible says persecution is good for us. James said:
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (Jas. 1.2-4 NLT).
Persecution, when responded to rightly, develops Christian character, helps us mature in Christ, draws us closer to the Lord, and is a testimony to the world. So how do we prepare to face it when it comes? Continue reading →
With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger, but we must choose whether to fear God or fear man in the increasingly anti-Christian culture we live in.
In chapter 3, even though the people who returned to Jerusalem had the authority of the king behind them, there was still opposition from the people already living in the land.
Verse 3 says, “… fear had come upon them because of the people of those countries …” But in spite of their feelings they determined to do what was right and to worship God as Moses had instructed them to do.
Even though there is a move to restrict our rights as believers, we still have a great deal of freedom under the laws of our land. And while Romans 13 instructs us to obey those who rule over us, even that has limitations. Anytime someone in authority asks us to sin, we have a higher authority—that is God and His Word.
With recent decisions in the courts, the temptation to just “go along because it’s the law” will never be stronger. There will be times on the job (even when we are within our rights), with our friends, or in our families where we will feel fear—fear of being ridiculed, fear of being rejected, fear of what people will think, fear of being labeled unloving or intolerant, even in some cases, fear of losing our jobs or our businesses. But, we too, can do what’s right in spite of our feelings. Continue reading →
What is laziness and what causes it? Is it our fault when we give in to laziness or is it something else? Could it be a self-esteem issue? How and when does laziness show up in your life and mine? In the physical area? With mental pursuits? Or maybe with spiritual things? And what is the cost of laziness?
“A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things” (NLT).
I googled the word laziness and, not surprisingly, found articles declaring that laziness is a myth and that it’s just critical people who put that label on others.
I, certainly, want to acknowledge that there can be times when excessive fatigue, sadness, and other emotions can rob us of motivation and energy. The result can look a lot like laziness. So we need to be careful when judging other people. But even then, we must call on the strength of God to help us fulfill our responsibilities.
But since God addresses the subject in His Word, we need to be concerned enough to examine ourselves for signs of laziness. So let’s take a closer look.
Wikipedia had this to say:
Laziness is a habit rather than a mental health issue. It may reflect a lack of self-esteem, a lack of positive recognition by others, a lack of discipline stemming from low self-confidence, or a lack of interest in the activity or belief in its efficacy. Laziness may manifest as procrastination or vacillation. Studies of motivation suggest that laziness may be caused by a decreased level of motivation, which in turn can be caused by over-stimulation or excessive impulses or distractions.
I certainly agree that laziness can become a habit. God made us as habitual beings. If we didn’t have the ability to form habits, we would waste a lot of time trying to remember how and when to do a lot of mundane things.
It’s a good thing that we habitually brush our teeth, take a shower, lock the front door without thinking much about it, and know how to get to work in the morning while mentally going over our to-do list. Habits can save us a lot of time and energy.
The problem is … we form bad habits along with good ones. It’s a bad habit to constantly criticize others, to yell when things don’t go our way, to give others the silent treatment, or to buy everything that catches our eye. It’s also a bad habit to be lazy and avoid every bit of extra work we can.
Scripture tells us that we are to put off the habits that come from our sinful nature and put on new habits that will help us to become more like Christ (Eph. 4.22-24).
But what about the idea that laziness can be a self-esteem issue?
Self-esteem is a big subject, one that I’m not going to spend much time on today, but let me just say that I don’t believe God wants us to focus on all our inadequacies (low self-esteem) or to have a puffed up view of ourselves (high self-esteem). Rather we are to see ourselves as God sees us, with strengths and weakness, creatures made in His image, creatures in constant need of contemplating Christ and praying for His help to become more like His Son, creatures that while fallen, are redeemable and capable of growing and changing.
What about the idea that laziness stems from a lack of positive recognition from others?
It goes without saying that God has called us to be encouragers. We should build one another up in the faith, but it’s a dangerous habit to be dependent on the encouragement of others. The Bible calls that the “fear of man.” Continue reading →
Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week … sometimes year after year. Maybe you’ve, actually, stopped praying about it, because you’re sure God is tired of hearing it.
Or have you been tempted to think … I give up! I’ve tried to stop or I’ve asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn’t listening!
1 Samuel 12 & 13
When Still Fighting the Same Struggle
Redeemer of Our Failures
Have you ever felt you let God down by something you did or failed to do? You told Him, you would never do such and such again, but a day or two or three later … there you are again. You may feel like Peter when the rooster crowed and He realized Jesus was looking right at him (Lk. 22.34, 60-61)!
Do you find yourself praying about the same struggles day after day and week after week … sometimes year after year. Maybe you’ve stopped praying about it, because you’re sure God is tired of hearing it.
Or have you been tempted to think … I give up! I’ve tried or I’ve asked God to take this away. Maybe He just isn’t listening! Continue reading →