Broken Compass

Judges 19:1
“And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.”

The closing chapters of Judges paint a dark picture of life in ancient Israel. We read of drunkenness, murder, rape, idolatry, spiritual confusion and moral indifference. It seems  the people have lost their moral compass and are allowing their desires to determine right from wrong. This was never the way God intended for man to live. From the very beginning, God gave man an external code to guide him through life, and that code is the Word of God. When the Word of God is forgotten, ignored, hidden or altered, it always leads to spiritual confusion, immorality and suffering.

Philosopher Immanuel Kant wrote, if man is to be truly free, he must establish a standard outside of himself that will help guide him through life. He declared that allowing our emotions or desires to rule our life will never lead to true freedom. While he did not see the Bible as the standard, he did understand that man, left to himself, cannot rule himself well.

It seems that, today, we have ignored the warnings or Scripture and the counsel of the wise. It seems the world we live in today, is a lot more like the time of the judges, than anyone cares to admit. If we want to see a change, we must get back to the way God intended for man to live, not doing whatever is right in our own eyes, but allowing His Word to guide our lives.

Pastor Jim

 

Falling Down

Proverbs 7:24
“Now therefore, listen to me, my children; Pay attention to the words of my mouth”

This chapter is given entirely as a warning against the danger of falling into sexual sin. It is written as a letter from a father to his son, pleading with him to avoid the things that will lead to sin. While this sin is perhaps more common among young men, it is a sin we all must avoid. The principles found in this chapter will apply to guarding against all sin. To grasp the danger being warned against, look at what happened to this young man who turns aside from the Lord for sinful pleasure.

Proverbs 7:22 “Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks . . .“

While it seems as though he was suddenly destroyed by sin, it was actually quite a long road that took him there, and one filled with warning signs he chose to ignore. Falling from the Lord is never something that takes place over night. This young man’s failure illustrates the steps that always lead to a fall.

First, we read he was a young man. While he may have thought of himself as all grown up, in reality he was quite immature. We read he was “simple and devoid of understanding.” Hebrews 5 refers to a group of people who should be teaching others, but because they had failed to grow in Christ, they were still behaving like baby Christians. It is appropriate for an infant to act like a baby, but it is sad when an adult is still behaving childishly. Growth in Christ does not happen simply by being a believer for a long period of time. We grow when we invest in our relationship with the Lord. Failure to do so will make us susceptible to a fall.

Second, we read of the young man walking the street that led to her home. His failure was a result of being in the wrong place. Instead of choosing a different route, he walked where he should not have been. We cannot expect to come right to the edge of sin and not fall off that cliff. To avoid a fall we need to steer clear of the things that will incite the flesh and lead to failure.

Third, this young man is walking alone. Many of our failures could be avoided if we got others involved in the fight. Had this young man walked those same streets with a godly friend, they could watch each other’s back, and encourage each other in order to avoid failure. Finding someone who will be an encouragement to you in your walk, involves being in church regularly, stepping out of your comfort zone to get to know others, and letting down some guards so others can know how to pray for and encourage you. There are certain aspects of our walk with the Lord where we must walk alone, but for the most part, God did not intend for us to travel this road alone.

Finally, our traveler fell because he ignored the obvious warning signs. Whatever he was thinking, the moment she used the word “husband,” he should have known this was not a path to continue on. The correct response at that moment was to flee. The problem was, he had allowed himself to reach a point of no return. Once he began following his desires, rather than the Word of the God, those desires began to control him. Flattering words mixed with her embrace, her kiss and her seduction, brought him to a point where failure was inevitable. We must deal with temptation long before we get to the point where it is too strong to avoid. If we are honest, we will recognize that before we fail, we have passed sign after sign warning us to turn around and travel some other route.

Before we come to the slaughter house of sin, let’s take the time to examine our lives in light of these warnings.

Pastor Jim

 

Not Listening 

Jeremiah 18:18
“Then they said, ‘Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.’”

The citizens of Judah no longer looked to the Word of God for direction in life. They had forsaken the Lord and His ways, seeking to become like the nations they were supposed to evangelize. Jeremiah arose to call the people back to the Lord. Over and over again, he reminded them of the folly of leaving the Lord, and the danger of sin. He compared life apart from the Lord to a shrub in the desert, while following the Lord was like being a lush and fruitful tree. He warned of the coming destruction on the nation. He promised that God, as the master potter, could take the broken pieces of the nation, redeem them, and make them beautiful once again. Instead of heeding the message, examining their lives, and turning back to the Lord, most of the people became enraged at Jeremiah and sought to have him silenced. Soon he was arrested for speaking the truth of God. Perhaps the charges against Jeremiah were that of inciting hatred or being intolerant.

Jeremiah’s experiences are all too common. They have been repeated time and time again throughout history. Even now, we see them unfolding before our very eyes. Instead of allowing the Word of God to correct the way we live, we are finding that those who speak the truth are being accused of wrongdoing, themselves. My prayer is that we will see revival happen once again in our nation. However, I believe we must brace ourselves for a frontal attack upon Christianity and the Word of God. We must be prepared to be looked down upon, for the truths we live and preach.

Times will continue to alter and adapt. Cultural mores will change like fashions, but the Word of God will remain an unchangeable bedrock, upon which life can always be built, guided and judged. Let’s be faithful to look to the Word, as we seek to navigate our way through life.

Pastor Jim

 

You Must Be This Tall

Psalm 71:19
“Also Your righteousness, O God, is very high, You who have done great things; O God, who is like You?”

We have four boys who are separated by only five years. When they were little, we, like so many others families, spent a lot of our time visiting amusement parks. As the older ones grew, they were attracted to the bigger rides, and their younger brother wanted to do whatever they did. The problem was, many of the rides had a standard. If you were not a certain height, you could not ride. At times, this created quite a controversy. We tried everything to make him just a little taller, we spiked his hair, we bought shoes called “Heelies”, that had a wheel in the back, and provided a couple extra inches to his height. However, time and time again, when we reached the entrance, he was excluded. He simply did not measure up.

Just like the amusement park rides, heaven has a standard for entrance. That standard is not height, growth, accomplishment or good deeds; the standard is righteousness. But not just any righteousness; we must have the righteousness of Christ. In Matthew 5, Jesus explained that the Law of God is not merely an external thing, but can be broken with thought, as well as action.  He declared, we must be perfect, as our Heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48). It is no wonder the Psalmist declares, “Your righteousness, O God, is very high.” The righteousness of Christ is actually so high it can never be reached by human achievement. Isaiah declared, “. . . we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). In other words, our very best moral and spiritual accomplishments will never be enough to meet the standard of entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Unfortunately, many of us, failing to realize that we will never attain perfection on our own, keep trying to “make themselves just a little taller.” Paul was like that. He considered himself to be a righteous man, and his accomplishments worthy of heaven, that is, until he met Christ. When that happened, he declared that his desire was,

“. . . not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”   Philippians 3:9

When we realize our own achievements will not gain us access to God, and instead, we come to Him through faith in Christ, we experience a great exchange. Our sins are placed on Him, and His righteousness is given to us. Paul put it like this,

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  2 Corinthians 5:21

Have you stopped imagining that you are good enough for heaven? Have you stopped spiking your hair and wearing “Heelies,” thinking you can trick God into letting you in? Have you come to God through faith in Christ and received His righteousness, in place of your sin? If not, now is the time. Pray with me. “Lord, I recognize I am a sinner, and You are the Savior. I ask you to forgive me of my sin, and fill me with Your righteousness.”

If you made that decision, you have become a child of God. Take a moment and let us know so we can encourage you to follow Christ. Contact us at church@ccvb.net

Pastor Jim