Truthful Tuesday: Black or White

Sheep - black or white

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

If we have a standard and do not uphold it, then we have no standard at all.

Scripture of the Day:

Mark 8:33

But after turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.”

Opinions are bemoaned as being black or white when they are stark or clearly delineate a point of view. We are supposed to be “tolerant” of all and having a conviction is legalistic, old fashioned or judgmental. But if we have a standard and do not uphold it, then we have no standard at all.

The upholding of a standard need not be judgmental. It can bring clarity and safety to ones who acknowledge and receive the warning that a rebuke brings.

Exhortation is the ugly stepchild of the spiritual gifts. We would rather encourage others and do not necessarily see speaking the truth as encouragement.

Jesus did not parse words when He called His beloved disciple “Satan”. Such a sharp rebuke for one of the top three closest of His disciples seems harsh and out of place. That is until we consider the spiritual danger of being in error and the lasting legacy we leave behind us, whichever path we choose.

If Christ permitted Peter to talk Him out of the impending suffering, Christ would not have redeemed all of mankind. Sometimes we have to call out the influences in our lives that are not drawing us closer to the LORD and clearly delineate what is from God and what is not.

We cannot serve God and mammon and fuzzy boundary lines do nothing to help us live lives of conviction that please the LORD. The lukewarm attitude that says everyone is fine and is afraid to speak the truth to one another is not love at all.

Although we might not want to be called out as behaving like a black sheep, we all like sheep are capable of straying, but the LORD our Shepherd calls us back to Himself with a loving rebuke and has laid on Himself the iniquity of us all.

Sometimes the truth might hurt and sometimes it might not be spoken in the manner we would like. But Truth, when combined with grace, opens our eyes to see our own deception so our lives are not wasted and leads us to the sweetest gift of all – eternal life with Christ.

Lord, thank You for giving us Your Holy Spirit Who reveals sin in our hearts and pierces our inner being with Your Truth. Help us to faithfully, stubbornly persist in the Way of truth, all for Your glory, teachable and grateful.

Denise Pass, Worship Leader/Songwriter/Artist/Author

 

A Cure for the Wayward Soul

Photo Credits: graceponderings.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
graceponderings.blogspot.com

Jeremiah 2:5-6, 8, 13, 17, 19, 31

5 This is what the Lord says: “What fault could your ancestors have possibly found in me that they strayed so far from me? They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.  6 They did not ask: ‘Where is the LORD who delivered us out of Egypt, who brought us through the wilderness, through a land of desert sands and rift valleys, through a land of drought and deep darkness, through a land in which no one travels, and where no one lives?’ 8 Your priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those responsible for teaching my law did not really know me. Your rulers rebelled against me. Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal. They all worshiped idols that could not help them. 13 Do so because my people have committed a double wrong: they have rejected me, the fountain of life-giving water, and they have dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns which cannot even hold water. 17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel, by deserting the LORD your God when he was leading you along the right path. 19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment. Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you. Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful it was for you to reject me, the LORD your God, to show no respect for me,” says the Lord GOD who rules over all.  31 You people of this generation, listen to what the LORD says. “Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel? Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you? Why then do you say, ‘We are free to wander. We will not come to you any more?’

Jeremiah 3:22-23

22 Come back to me, you wayward people. I want to cure your waywardness. Say, ‘Here we are. We come to you because you are the LORD our God.  23 We know our noisy worship of false gods on the hills and mountains did not help us. We know that the LORD our God is the only one who can deliver Israel.

Jeremiah 4:3-4b  

3 Yes, the LORD has this to say to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Like a farmer breaking up hard unplowed ground, you must break your rebellious will and make a new beginning; just as a farmer must clear away thorns lest the seed is wasted, you must get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives. 4b you must genuinely dedicate yourselves to the LORD and get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to me, people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

Jeremiah 6:16

Oh, if we could always be faithful and never wander off, like stubborn sheep.  The words of a familiar hymn envelop my mind as I write this; “Prone to Wander, how I feel it.  Prone to leave the one I love!”  As I was reading from the pages of Jeremiah this morning, it occurred to me how ludicrous it is to leave the only One Who knew us before we were born and has always been faithful to us.

When my children were little I could not understand why they would continue to disobey when I had rewards for their obedience.  What was so gratifying about sin?  Why was it so tempting?  Often when I would have to discipline my children, the LORD would speak to my heart about the parallels in my own life, when I would go my own way.  Humbled.  Now I understood, and realized my own waywardness in my soul that needed to be fought daily.

Why would we leave the One Who knows us completely, Who protects us and makes promises that He fulfills?  What did we think our quest for rest would achieve?  Surely not the sorrow and emptiness, the guilt and division in our hearts or separation from our Savior.  No, if we knew the truth about our false idol’s promises, we would never search after them in the first place.

We leave because we are not patient and want our needs met now.  We replace the living God with a cheap substitute that cannot satisfy.  We do not come to Him.  We run to our solutions, instead.  Madness.  What better option do we really have?

We leave because we possibly do not really know Him.  Even the priests who were responsible for teaching God’s law did not know Him.  In fear and trepidation may we search our hearts and reject religion and be sure that we know God.

Despite our faithlessness, when the consequences start to hurt, we can run back to Him.  And He welcomes us.  What a kind God who allows pain to draw us back to Himself.  What a great, forgiving God we have!!  Maybe we feel overwhelmed by the choices we have made, perhaps subtle decisions to go our own stubborn way, and we do not know how to really change and be consistent in our relationship with God.  God offers through Jeremiah a way back to Him… All beginning with the letter “R”…because I like alliteration.

Recognize we all do not seek after Him.  Don’t make excuses or try to sanitize our sinfulness.  We all fall short and do not worship God with the zeal He deserves.

Run to Him.  Really run to Him.  Acknowledge our need of Him – only He can meet our every need.

Repent.  Turn.  Break our rebellious will and begin again.

Get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives.  Get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to God.  Not sure what those things are?  Ask Him.  He will make it known.

Remember who we are and who we were made for.

Genuinely re-dedicate ourselves to the LORD.

Not seeking Him is an action – the sin of omission.  Saying we believe in God is not the same as actively going to Him.  God has not left us without a plan to return to Him.  He uses His mouthpieces, His Word, His Holy Spirit to draw us back to Him.  God help us to resist the temptation to be lulled into comfortable complacency and to run instead into His arms day after day, moment by moment.

Lord, how I love You!  Help me to stay near and to abide in You.  Open my eyes to understand and consider the path that lies ahead and to never live in autopilot.  You are the answer to the longing in our souls – You alone.