Words

Ezekiel 13:2
“Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, ‘ Hear the word of the Lord!’”

The world never has a shortage of people who claim to have the answer to spiritual questions. It seems almost everyone has an opinion regarding the purpose of life, and what awaits us after death. The same was true in Ezekiel’s day. The streets were filled with men and women who claimed to know what God wanted from the people. Ezekiel referred to these men and women as false prophets, because their message contradicted the Word of God. I find it interesting that the message Ezekiel delivered to them was simply, “hear the Word of the Lord.”

No matter how confused we might be about who God is, or how to react to the issues of life, the solution is to simply hear the Word of the Lord. Our questions regarding life and death are answered for us within the pages of the Bible. God does not want us to be like those who grope in the dark, but wants the light of His Word to guide our life and living.

Pastor Jim

 

Ready, Willing and …

Jeremiah 42:6
“Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God…”

A few years back I attended a men’s conference where this verse was shared during a worship session. Like most, I was encouraged by the sentiment of it, until I recalled the context. You see, as beautiful as the verse is, it is declared by a group of people who have no real intention of doing what the Lord says. The verse might better read, “we will obey as long as the Lord tells us what we want to hear.”

As requested, Jeremiah sought the Lord on behalf of the people. Ten days later the Lord spoke to him, instructing the people NOT to go to Egypt, but to remain in the land, trusting in the protection of God. This was not the message they wanted to hear. They wanted Jeremiah to tell them that they could go to Egypt, get a fresh start and receive the bountiful blessings of the Lord. When they heard his response their tone changed drastically,

Jeremiah 43:2 “You speak falsely! The Lord our God has not sent you…”

I wish this were the only case in history where someone claimed to be willing to do what God wanted, until they heard from him. Tragically, this is an all too common occurrence. It seems now a days, whenever we hear something we don’t like, we simply hunt down another source who will tell us what we want to hear. Affirmation should never be exalted above truth. If we want to please God and experience the blessed life, we have to be willing to obey His word, even when we do not particularly care for the instructions.

Let’s not be those who boast of good intentions while continuing on a downward course away from Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

Should I Follow My Heart? 

Jeremiah 11:8
“Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone followed the dictates of his evil heart…”

It is very common today to hear phrases like, “follow your heart.” This seems to be the most common counsel given as it relates to decision making today. When someone is trying to determine if a relationship is good or not, or whether they should take a job, or change careers, the most common advice seems to be, “follow your heart.” It’s as if the most trustworthy guide for human behavior and decision making is an inner compass called the heart. There are some significant problems with that advice.

First off, when we refer to the heart in this context, we are not speaking of an actual organ or even mechanism, instead we are making reference to what philosophers define as the seat of emotion. Some cultures refer to the bowels, kidneys or stomach to speak of the same thing. What a person is actually saying when they advise you to follow you heart, is to follow your emotions. The question we must ask is, “Are the emotions a trustworthy guide for living?” Have your emotions ever confused you or led you astray? Have you found that your emotions change drastically from day to day or even moment to moment? I think we all would concede that emotions are a poor compass to guide us through life.

Second, the Bible warns us that the heart is wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). That means our heart or emotions will not always guide us toward what is best. There are times when we knowingly do things that are harmful to ourselves, the people we love, and our relationship with the Lord. To allow our heart to be our guide is like using a broken compass or a faulty map. Years ago my wife and a group of ladies from the church traveled to Washington DC. Having downloaded a map offline, they proceeded to drive through the city. They found a large public building had been built where a road was supposed to be. Following the heart is like following a faulty map, you will not get where you desire to go.

Instead of letting emotions be our guide, Jeremiah exhorts us to use the Word of God as the principle force to direct us through the journey of life. Decision making should lead us to the Word, where we will find the things that matter to God. The Word of God will help us determine the best course of action, given the circumstances we are facing.

Let’s allow the Word “to be a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths.” (Psalm 119:105)

Pastor Jim

 

Whatever You Want

Ecclesiastes 11:9
“…Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.”

It is not uncommon for a person to go from church to church, and pastor to pastor, until they receive the counsel they want to hear; instead of the counsel they need to hear. I have known people to leave the church they have been attending simply because they received advice or admonishment they did not like. It is in those times, Solomon’s words seem to be most fitting. He declares, we are free to do whatever our heart desires, but we must understand, a day is coming when we will give account for those decisions, and the actions that followed.

A married couple, who has failed to apply the Biblical principles to their marriage, may grow farther and farther apart, until they choose to end their marriage. They may even use phrases like, “we fell out of love” or “it is better for the children, for us to part than to fight” or “we never really loved each other anyway.” The end result is, they are choosing to do what they want, regardless of what God says. It is important to realize, a day is coming when we will answer for the life we lived. Difficulties are not reasons to end a marriage, but to work on the marriage.

A dating couple may feel the pressure to become sexually active. They may begin to justify their actions because they are in love. They too have a choice, either to obey God or follow their heart. It is important to keep in mind, we will stand before God for our decisions.

Whatever scenario we can imagine, we find ourselves face to face with the decision to either obey the Word of God, or to follow the desires of our own hearts. I recall sitting with an individual who began to tell me all the reasons for the decision he was making. He told me of the difficulties he was facing and his desire to be happy. After listening to him for quite some time, I replied, “Where is God in the equation?” His answer stunned me, he declared he did not care, he just wanted to be happy.

Whatever you are facing, remember, we will one day stand face to face with Christ. It is His desire to richly reward us with eternal life and treasures in heaven. Whatever momentary happiness we think we will derive from disobedience, will soon be forgotten in the light of eternity’s rewards.

Pastor Jim