An Acceptable Performance

November 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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There came a point in the Apostle Paul’s ministry (and, who knows? it may have been there from the time he met Christ and received the forgiveness of sins) when his fear of death was overshadowed – or at least challenged and deeply ameliorated – by his longing to leave this world behind and go to be with his Lord.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:

Philippians 1:22–23

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

II Corinthians 5:6-9

It would not be unreasonable to say that, even as Paul cherished his opportunities to minister in the name of Jesus in this world, his heart was still occupied with Heavenly thoughts more than earthly thoughts. In II Corinthians 5:9 he did not attempt to hide the fact that what he was doing was “labor” – the type of physical work that could be easily observed by other human beings. However, even as he labored before, and among, men, he seemed only to be conscious of the eyes of His Master upon him.

I spent my childhood in an environment where baseball was a form of religion. From the earliest levels of little league almost everyone in my hometown was cognizant of which kids performed well on the diamond, and which ones didn’t. And, while it seems likely to me all these years later that us boys had an inflated sense of the importance of winning or losing, striking out or getting a base hit, blocking a grounder with our chest (or chin!) or letting it go through our legs, I can also tell you that many a dad was evicted from the park for yelling at, or fighting with, umpires, coaches, and other dads. Plenty of boys who had escaped corporal discipline for bad grades, ditching school, stealing, and vandalizing would find themselves on the business end of a belt or an open-hand whack to the head out behind the concession stand after an 0 for 4 evening or a couple of inexcusable errors. Some of us played the game for fun, and some of us played it for survival.

not impressed by your performance

The result of this kind of pressure to perform is a laser-sharp focus. Despite whatever flaws were instilled into us concerning sportsmanship and fair play, we did learn the sort of concentration that allows you to block out everything else in your surroundings and zero in on the spin of the ball, the tendency of the runner leaning off first as if he might try for second, and where you would throw the ball if it happened to carom off a bat and head in your direction on any given pitch. The roar of the crowd after a good play – or the boos and jeers after an overthrow – became something to tune out and ignore. For several of us, the approval of the crowd did not matter one iota, but the approval of our fathers did. They were who we wanted to please, and there is no doubt we played harder because of our desire for their praise, and because of a fear of their disappointment.

The Apostle Paul did not play baseball, and his Heavenly Father was interested in far greater glories than a small-town sporting event. And, of course, God’s interest in Paul’s performance was not motivated by a petty desire to live vicariously through his exploits. However, Paul wanted very badly for his efforts to be “accepted” by the Lord, and you and I would probably do well to adopt this same motivation today.

Paul is like a musician who does not need the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.

Oswald Chambers, March 17 devotion on II Corinthians 5:9 from My Utmost for His Highest

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The Assurance of Trouble

November 3, 2017 at 8:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Romans 8:35

Paul, although writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could speak from experience. He had experienced all these things: persecution, hunger, extreme poverty, life-threatening danger. Yet he remained convinced of the assurance of Christ’s love, not just IN SPITE of these things, but partly BECAUSE of these things.

In fact, the perseverance of his faith and the knowledge of Christ’s presence through trials, tribulations, hardship, and imminent death, utterly convinced him that nothing whatsoever in all of existence could ever separate him from the love of God in Christ.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

Sadly, we are often backward in our thinking, looking at trials and temptations and difficulties as signs that God has forgotten or neglected us. What we should do, when God graciously gives us opportunities to strengthen our faith by turning to Him in times of trouble, is to rejoice that He loves us enough to give us such experiential assurances.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

James 1:2-4

Tribulations come to us to strengthen our hope or assurance. They are not random occurrences that have somehow broken out of God’s corral, set loose to stampede and trample our lives. They are controlled tests and gifts of grace, teaching us to patiently consider our Savior and the justification He has won for us, not so that we could be left to our own devices, but so that we could be continually drawing closer to Him.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Romans 5:1-4

Obedience Matters

November 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God:

I Samuel 12:14

God in His holy disposition was not disposed to give His people an earthly king. God was their true King, but they wanted a human king very badly, because the other nations had human kings. God allowed them to have their wish, although He knew that having a human king would cause many problems and much heartache and suffering, because a human king would be a sinful king.

He had his prophet Samuel appoint a man named Saul to be the first human king of Israel. I Samuel 12 is Samuel’s farewell address to the people, after he had anointed Saul as their king. What Samuel knew – and what you and I must know and believe ourselves – is that what really matters to God is not so much the strength of our earthly leaders, but our own obedience to God’s will as revealed in His Word.

Here are four brief thoughts on the matter of obedience, under the acrostic O.B.E.Y.

O.wnership

Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O LORD; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.

Jeremiah 10:6-7

But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

Jeremiah 10:10

We do not like to think of ourselves as property, and especially not someone else’s property. If, like me, you are an American, you probably believe that our leaders are supposed to serve us, not rule over us. We think we are free and independent. Our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution even say that we are. But we are not. We are the subjects of a sovereign and mighty King, Whose rule is everlasting. We belong to Him. He owns us, lock, stock, and barrel from the moment of our conception, and He will do with us as He pleases. And we have nothing about us that is threatening or mysterious to Him.

If we believe this – truly believe – then obedience is not an optional thing. It is a logical and rational and inescapable fact of life. To disobey our Owner and King is foolish treason without any hope of working out well for us, and it subjects us to His anger and wrath and punishment or chastisement. Only such attributes as His grace, mercy, and love make even the beginning of a way to exist in His universe, and to therein know any joy whatsoever.

O.bey
B.iblical revelation

God – our Owner and King – has not left it up to us to try to figure out on our own what we must do – or refrain from doing – in order to obey Him. He has revealed His will to us in a written Word.

But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

Romans 16:26

It is our responsibility as God’s image-bearing creatures to know what He wants us to do – and HOW He wants us to do it. This knowledge does not come to us in dreams or visions, or by feelings or hunches. We do not get it by convening a council and reaching a consensus, or through trial-and-error experimentation. We get it by studying His holy Word – studying it to show ourselves approved – workers that won’t be ashamed when we stand before Him, saying, “But I didn’t know that was wrong,” or, “I didn’t know that’s what You wanted me to be doing with my life.” As my old Sunday School teacher used to say, “If you stand before God one day embarrassed by what you’ve done, then you will be standing there embarrassed on purpose,” because He has made it abundantly plain and clear in His book!

O.wnership
B.iblical revelation
E.arnestness

By earnestness I mean that our obedience to God must not be outward obedience only. It must come from the heart – from a true desire to please Him and an inward conviction that His commands and prohibitions for us are RIGHT.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

In order to obey God truly from the heart, our hearts must be cleaned and renewed. They must be “sprinkled” (splashed with the blood of Christ) and washed with the water of the Word. This is work of the Holy Spirit. We can fake obedience to certain extent, and fool other people, but God Himself is never fooled. To obey is better than outward shows of sacrifice, meaning that the inward faith of a desire to truly please God is better than external rituals. Earnestness is not really something we can achieve on our own, but it is the natural product of a true love for Christ and what He has done for us. However, and this is of tremendous importance, such earnestness WILL manifest itself in outward and visible acts of obedience.

O.wnership
B.iblical revelation
E.arnestness
Y.ield

The Holy Spirit wants you to obey God. He wants you to understand and obey His Word. He wants you to learn it and to live it. The office of the Spirit is to glorify Christ. If we will yield to the Spirit, we will honor Christ by our obedience.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

Obedience is not only the way to show our love for Jesus; it is the best evidence of our love for Jesus. It is not only the will of God that we obey; it is the way that we demonstrate that His will is perfect.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

“Present” yourself to God. Yield to Him and His Spirit. This is your reasonable “service:” the way you serve your King and Owner. This will “prove” or “demonstrate” that His will is perfect.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

At the very end of his farewell speech, Samuel said this:

Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

I Samuel 12:24-25

There is no question that obedience is not only the right thing to do, but the objectively best thing for us. Much disobedience in this world escapes the notice and the justice of the earthly authorities, but none of it escapes God’s notice or His justice. His justice WILL be satisfied – either on you, or in Christ.

The Relationship between Sin and Disease

October 17, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Sin has real consequences, including danger, disaster, and death. One of simplest, but most insightful, sermon-poems I know goes:

Sin will keep you longer than you wanted to stay
It will cost you more than you wanted to pay
It will teach you more than you wanted to know
And it will take you farther than you ever wanted to go

However, there is another consequence of sin that we don’t always hear as much about, because of the danger of turning it into an abusive, rather than a constructive, warning: disease.

The Bible makes it clear that disease CAN BE the result of sin.

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:14-16

And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

John 5:13-14

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

I Corinthians 11:27-30

All illness is a general result of the curse of sin brought into the world by the fall of Adam, but, of course, not every single disease, infirmity, or health problem is directly caused by the sick person’s specific sin, as is shown in the case of Job and the man born blind, to name just two examples. This means that, while it is probably unwise for us to make judgments about whether someone else’s disease is a consequence of his or her specific sin, it is probably VERY wise to consider our own lives with an eye toward identifying, confessing, repenting of, and forsaking sin as a possible remedy for, or deterrent to, physical disease.

Designer Disaster and Divine Destruction

September 29, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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In Chapter 6 the prophecy that the Lord gave to Jeremiah is in the form of poetry, but it is a dark poem, containing gloomy and frightening imagery. It describes God’s use of a terrible invading army which He allows and even directs against His own people because of their idolatry, wickedness, hypocrisy, and rebellion against Him.

O ye children of Benjamin, gather yourselves to flee out of the midst of Jerusalem, and blow the trumpet in Tekoa, and set up a sign of fire in Bethhaccerem: for evil appeareth out of the north, and great destruction. I have likened the daughter of Zion to a comely and delicate woman. The shepherds with their flocks shall come unto her; they shall pitch their tents against her round about; they shall feed every one in his place. Prepare ye war against her; arise, and let us go up at noon. Woe unto us! for the day goeth away, for the shadows of the evening are stretched out. Arise, and let us go by night, and let us destroy her palaces.

Jeremiah 6:1-5

This ominous threat from “out of the north” would bring both evil and destruction. The “evil” is not necessarily a reference to moral evil, but rather a conveyance of the idea of a catastrophic (although designed rather than random) experience of destruction from the point of view of the nation of Judah. While the Hebrew ra is sometimes translated as “disaster” (from the original meaning of a bad event brought about by a bad alignment of the stars or planets: astro), it is clear that God’s people were about (absent some severe and urgent repentance) to be overwhelmed by God’s specifically and forewarned justice.

On the other hand, while “disaster” would convey the wrong sense of this attack, the parallel description of “destruction” is spot-on, for, just as “construction” means “a building up,” “destruction” means a “tearing-down,” and that is exactly what the invaders would do to the walls, homes, Temple, and buildings in Jerusalem.

Christians today who are in a state of backsliding or rebellion against God, need to heed these prophetic warnings. Whether reprieve or destruction befalls us is ultimately up to God. He is not subject to any circumstances, accidents, or astrological omens. He could have a very well-thought-out and serious plan of chastening on the verge of landing in our land, luxuries, or laps, and if it catches us unaware or unrepentant, we would only have ourselves to blame. Likewise, He is more than capable of tearing down any materialistic idols that we have built up in our lives should He choose discipline us and bring us back to Himself in love.

The Big Five-Oh!

September 8, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Because I am joyfully married, and because of the exalted view of marriage given to us by God in the Bible – and because I have been blessed with such a wonderful, beautiful, and intelligent wifeI love marriage. And because I love marriage, I love wedding anniversaries. This weekend my wife’s parents will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary! What an accomplishment, and what a glorious testimony to the grace of God in a day and age where marriage is so rapidly becoming devalued, desecrated, and even demonized.

It is truly humbling for me to consider all that my father-in-law and mother-in-law have been through in their marriage – from health issues, to financial pressures, to weather catastrophes, to relocations, to family crises – not to mention the challenges and stress of rearing four successful children (with my wife being just one example of the awesome parenting job they have done – and are still doing!)

Words like “congratulations” and “thank you” just don’t seem big enough or profound enough to express the gratitude and esteem I feel for a couple who, knowing that I was bringing far more detriment than benefit into their family when I married their daughter, still accepted me, loved me, and made me welcome. I will never be able to repay the debt I owe them for that, or for their continued love toward me and my family over the years. I could not have asked for better in-laws or for better grandparents for my children. They have set an example of faithfulness, grace, mercy, longsuffering, perseverance, kindness, generosity, and wisdom that I can only scratch the surface of describing. I thank God for them, and ask Him to bless the rest of their lives with joy, fulfillment, and peace.

Sin and Paranoia

August 29, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The ultimate temporal consequence of sin is death. The ultimate ETERNAL consequence of sin is the “second death:” conscious torment in the lake of fire. Christians have escaped that consequence through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, even Christians must prepare to face the mortality which awaits us at the end of our journey through this earthly life.

While we long to see our Lord face to face, we cherish our earthly life, and want to avoid careless or senseless danger, but, make no mistake about it, we do place ourselves in great earthly danger when we take for granted the grace that God has bestowed upon us, and foolishly sin against Him.

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

I John 5:16

Christians should not scuttle through life in a state of abject fear, but we do need to be aware of the danger that unconfessed sin brings into our life. The difference between believers and unbelievers is not a careless disregard for our mortal safety, but a faithful assurance that the righteousness imputed to us by Christ allows us to confidently face circumstantial danger, and fiercely battle and overcome sin itself. Whereas, those who do not know Christ ought to tremble at every lightning strike, unsafe driver, outbreak of sickness, and “breaking news” alert.

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

Living and Giving, Heeding and Proceeding

August 22, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

Mark 12:38-40

Just warned His disciples of the scribes, not because the scribes would try to physically harm them, but because of the temptation of behaving the way that the scribes behaved. They were proud of their way of living, but there is also a danger of pride in giving:

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Mark 12:41-44

God is less interested in our portion than He is in our PROportion when it comes to our giving.

Mark 13 contains the Olivet Discourse, which deals with end-times events. Jesus gave four signs or “birth-pangs” that would mean that the “time of Jacob’s trouble” – the Tribulation – was at hand:

1. The success of false Christs

And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Mark 13:5-6

2. Nations in conflict
and
3. Natural disasters

And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

Mark 13:7-8

4. Religious persecution

But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Mark 13:9-11

This promise of Christ, that He will provide the words to speak for those persecuted for His sake, is not an excuse for those of us today to be unprepared when we know we are going to have opportunities to speak for Him.

Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Mark 13:12-13

This makes it sound as if some will be saved during the Tribulation, but we need to be watching, and we need to be prepared, not for the signs themselves, but for Jesus Himself, and we must take heed not to be deceived.

And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

Mark 13:5

But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

Mark 13:23

Be careful NOT to listen to men more closely than you listen to Jesus.

Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

Mark 13:33

Be careful of earthly “wisdom.” Remember God’s Word and do it. Always be alert and praying. The word “straightway” is used 19 times in the Book of Mark. It means to go forward, to keep moving, to keep looking for the next opportunity to serve Jesus. Movement in the Kingdom of God is His prescription for combating spiritual depression and despair.

Spiritually Disabled

August 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Traditionally it has come to be known as the doctrine of “total depravity.” Stated simply, it is the idea that, because of the sinful condition into which all human beings are born, our moral default mode is that we are depraved, and lack the ability to love, trust, and worship God of our own volition. However, some theologians, fearing that the words “total” and “depravity” will be interpreted to mean that every human being, unless He is supernaturally changed by God, always does the absolute worst thing he can do in every conceivable situation, would prefer to use different terminology. Because it can often be demonstrated that even the worst sinners could sin more frequently, and in worse ways, than they are presently sinning or have sinned in the past, the term “radical depravity” is offered as a substitute for “total depravity.”

However, this might also require some explaining. We tend to think of the word “radical” as an adjective which refers to something “extreme.” A kid who backflips off his speeding skateboard into the back of moving truck has done something “radical.”

radical skateboard

A political group that wants the government pay for birth control may be called “liberal,” but a group that wants the government to pay for genital mutilation surgery is “radically” liberal. This is not the sense that theologians want to convey when speaking of “radical depravity.” What they are getting at is the sense of the Latin word for “root:” radix. A person who is “radically” depraved is a person who is depraved down to the “root:” the most basic foundational level of his ontology. There is within him, preventing him from making God-honoring moral choices, a core of depravity which skews or perverts his thinking, his emotions, and his very will, toward evil rather than good.

One of the most marvelous things about God’s redeeming grace is that when He enables a person to trust Jesus Christ unto salvation, the Holy Spirit regenerates that person – completely changing his ontology, and giving him a new ability that he did not before possess: the ability to truly love and serve God.

The label “disabled,” when applied to someone who has a physical or mental infirmity, has become controversial and has the potential to offend, so I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s physical condition, but the fact is, apart from the miraculous work of God, our “natural” minds and natures are truly disabled by the consequences of sin.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Romans 8:7

We get frustrated at people who disobey the law of God, including (far more frequently than we like to admit) ourselves. But we have to remember, people operating in their “carnality” – in their “flesh” – do not obey God because they CAN NOT obey God. They are totally disabled. Some physical and mental disabilities can be treated and even cured. However, our spiritual disability can ONLY be overcome by the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

Listening with One Ear

July 31, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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There was a time when God’s people were in captivity for a period of 70 years as chastening for their disobedience and idolatry. During that time, they formally fasted and wept in the fifth and seventh months of each year. These practices were done in obedience to God’s law, but they were done halfheartedly, and God was not deceived.

Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?

Zechariah 7:5-6

How often are we guilty of observing some type of religious routine without really doing it for the Lord? Have you ever read your Bible or done your devotions with only half of your mind engaged? Doing the assignment or reading the regularly scheduled passage without really listening for the voice of God to speak to you personally? How often do we sit through church sermons with one ear attuned to the preaching of God’s Word and the other ear tuned to other matters, drifting in and out of attentiveness as though we were attending a history lecture or a math lesson while waiting for the school bell to ring?

There is a real danger that, in our selfishness and laziness, we will miss out on what God wants us to know. His Word and His Spirit were not given for our amusement and they are not optional if we are to live victorious Christian lives. God has given us a great gift in being able to listen to His voice through the reading, preaching, and teaching of His Word. The consequences of listening casually without really hearing can be dire.

But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the Lord of hosts: But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.

Zechariah 7:11-14

A man with only one ear engaged when God is speaking may not necessarily hear half as MUCH as the man with two ears, but the problem is that he only hears half as WELL.

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