Monthly Archives: April 2015

One More Night with the Frogs

“Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Plead with the LORD to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.” Moses said to Pharaoh, “Be pleased to command me when I am to plead for you and for your servants and for your people, that the frogs be cut off from you and your houses and be left only in the Nile.” And he said, “Tomorrow.” Moses said, “Be it as you say, so that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God. The frogs shall go away from you and your houses and your servants and your people. They shall be left only in the Nile.” So Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the LORD about the frogs, as he had agreed with Pharaoh. And the LORD did according to the word of Moses. The frogs died out in the houses, the courtyards, and the fields.” (Exodus 8:8-13, ESV)

This section comes from the description of the second plague that God brings upon Egypt: frogs. They are in everything – beds, ovens, food preparation areas, bathrooms, and even on people. When Pharaoh finally relents and says he will let Israel go, Moses asks him when he wants the frogs removed. Pharaoh responds, “Tomorrow.”

Tomorrow? Why tomorrow? If it were me I would be asking for them to be gone immediately if not sooner. Yet, Pharaoh asks for it to be done tomorrow. Unfortunately, many people are the same as Pharaoh. They will quickly clean such things as these frogs out of their house, but when it comes to something even more nasty they are willing to let it wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow they will take care of the drugs and alcohol. Tomorrow they will get rid of the dirty movies and books. Tomorrow they will work to get the sin out of their lives and be what God wants them to be. But tonight, they are going to be like Pharaoh and spend one more night with the frogs.

Are we like Pharaoh?

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Knowing the Truth, Yet Rejecting It

“So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.” (John 11:47-53, ESV)

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead earlier in the chapter the Jewish leaders were in a great quandary. If they left Jesus alone, everyone would believe on him. If they stood against him, the people would not respond well because they had seen his miracles. However, the greatest fear of these men had nothing to do with Jesus – it was the fear of losing “our place” and “our nation.”

Many times we see people who hear God’s Word, know intuitively that it is right, understand the consequences and rewards associated with it, but refuse to respond and accept it. Their reasons are often along the lines of these chief priests and Pharisees. They do not want their lives to change. They do not like what accepting this will mean for their families, their job, or their position in life. Therefore, they will ignore it, pretend it is not true, or actively work against it.

We should not be surprised when people see the truth and reject it today, for they did the same things in the days of Jesus. They could not deny his words, miracles, or power – but they denied him. The same is done by many today.

May it never be said of you.

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The Failure of Acting without Love

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, NKJV)

Normally when we think of the words of this great chapter we tend to focus on verses 4-8. However, the lesson of these first three verses is vital to our lives as Christians and our implementation of what follows in those next verses.

It is interesting that Paul writes these words in the midst of discussing the miraculous gifts the church at Corinth had been given. These Corinthians have been fighting and wrangling with one another because they have different gifts and do not see them as equally useful or meaningful. Paul is telling them that the gifts they have received mean nothing if they do not have love.

The word translated “love” is from the Greek term “agape.” It is the love that sacrifices self for what is best for others. It is the love that is unselfish and puts others first. It is this kind of love that Jesus had for us that led him to the cross.

As Christians today, we need to understand the lesson Paul is teaching as much as the Corinthians did. It does not matter how much we good we do if we are not motivated by love for others. If it is only about self or making sure others see and glorify us, it is empty and a failure. Only by acting out of a pure, loving heart do our works have the impact God desires – giving glory to God, and saving others.

Are our actions motivated by love?

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The Next Generation

“In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying, “The LORD was very angry with your fathers. Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, As the LORD of hosts purposed to deal with us for our ways and deeds, so has he dealt with us.” (Zechariah 1:1-6, ESV)

One of the great lessons to learn about mankind is the ways in which the decisions of men work in cycles. A study of history shows that over the centuries men have continued the same series of ebb and flow in the choices they make. On the one hand, such realizations are infuriating, because they show that most people refuse to learn from the mistakes of those that lived earlier. On the other hand, it breeds hope, because each generation has an opportunity to change their direction, for it has been done in the past.

Such a pronouncement is being made in this passage. The previous generations had refused God’s will. They had been rebellious and evil in their deeds and had been punished accordingly. However, this is a new generation, with a chance for a fresh start.

As Christians who are trying to reach people with the Gospel, we need to realize that each generation is another chance. We often proclaim how bad things are getting and how morally corrupt our society has become, but it doesn’t have to remain that way. Each generation is a renewed opportunity to turn from those evil ways and embrace the righteousness of God.

However, we can only bring about that change if we continue to teach the pure Gospel of Christ. We cannot water it down, or change it to fit the times, or seek to make it more palatable, it must be presented in its purest form in order to have the impact on man’s heart. How devoted are we to making sure the pure message of Christ is available to the next generation?

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Falling Prey to Greed

“But when Naaman had gone from him a short distance, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, “See, my master has spared this Naaman the Syrian, in not accepting from his hand what he brought. As the LORD lives, I will run after him and get something from him.” So Gehazi followed Naaman. And when Naaman saw someone running after him, he got down from the chariot to meet him and said, “Is all well?” And he said, “All is well. My master has sent me to say, ‘There have just now come to me from the hill country of Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets. Please give them a talent of silver and two changes of clothing.'” And Naaman said, “Be pleased to accept two talents.” And he urged him and tied up two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of clothing, and laid them on two of his servants. And they carried them before Gehazi. And when he came to the hill, he took them from their hand and put them in the house, and he sent the men away, and they departed. He went in and stood before his master, and Elisha said to him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant went nowhere.” But he said to him, “Did not my heart go when the man turned from his chariot to meet you? Was it a time to accept money and garments, olive orchards and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male servants and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” So he went out from his presence a leper, like snow.” (2 Kings 5:19-27, ESV)

Many people know the story of Naaman being cleansed of his leprosy, but most do not know what Paul Harvey would call, “the rest of the story.”

Naaman offers gifts in thanksgiving to Elisha for his assistance. Elisha refuses. However, as Naaman leaves, Elisha’s servant Gehazi decides he cannot pass up such an opportunity for gain. He follows Naaman and lies to him about circumstances. Once his new wealth is received, Gehazi also lies to Elisha about what he was doing. But Gehazi does not get away with his underhandedness and walks away with the same leprosy that had plagued Naaman.

The lesson we need to learn from Gehazi is to beware of greed. It is easy to get caught up in the desire for the things of this world to the point that we are willing to do most anything to receive them or keep them. Furthermore, just because people are in a position where they are supposed to be serving God does not make them immune to greed. Greed destroys, as it did with Gehazi; and it will do the same to us if we fall prey to it.

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God’s Standard of Judgment

“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:19-24, ESV)

When considering the way God judges and views mankind, there are different viewpoints man professes. Some hold that we have sin that is handed down to each generation because of the first man. Some say that most everyone is going to be saved no matter what they do because God loves everyone. But what does God say?

Here, through Ezekiel, God tells Israel that each person will be judged on one set of criteria: was that man/woman righteous before God? The sins of the father will not be placed upon the head of the child, nor will the sins of the child be placed on the father. Each person is held accountable for their own life and actions.

These are the same principles taught in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 5:10; Colossians 3:24-25). Nobody is going to be perfect in their own actions, that is readily stated here in Ezekiel. But when we strive for righteousness in everything we do and obey the commands God has laid before us, we are forgiven our trespasses. However, God is also clear that if we leave the path of righteousness and follow wickedness, none of our prior righteous deeds will save us while we follow that path.

Are you seeking righteousness before God? Your family and friends cannot save you, that choice is yours alone; for you will be judged based upon the choices you make in your life, not what anyone else has or has not done.

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