Don’t Kick ’em While They’re Down

This is interesting.

Zechariah 1:14-15 (ESV) So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.
15 And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.

Me: these verses are a partial answer made by God to the question posed in v 12. “How long will You be angry and withhold mercy from Jerusalem and Judah?” (Paraphrase).

The Israelite people of Zechariah’s day were experiencing the predicted disciplinary response for having turned away from following God (read Leviticus 26:27-46). Specifically, they would be subjugated by the surrounding pagan nations whose ways they chose to adopt in spite of receiving strict instruction to the contrary.

Verse 15 (above) indicates that the civilizations which the Hebrew people were subjected to took full advantage of the national disgrace of the Israelites…that they actively abused the people in a way that far exceeded the authorization God had given them.

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It left me thinking that God is always good to correct us and allow us to experience the well-earned results of our disobedient choices…for our good, to encourage repentance.

And sometimes, the temporal consequences we bring on ourselves are extremely unpleasant, to say the least.

However, it is a very bad idea to recognize that someone is being chastised/humbled and take it upon one’s own self to add a greater load of pain or shame to their burden through mockery, looting of their possessions or physical abuse.

Validate Me

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Image courtesy stockimages @FreeDigitalphotos.net

I’m gonna pass on a little lesson I had to learn the hard way…over the course of a lifetime of trial, error and unpleasant experience.

If we are honest, we all want to know that our lives have value and significant purpose. It is an inherent drive of the human creature who was made in the image of God (whose nature is one of loving acceptance among the “persons” of the Godhead)

But if we primarily seek to find this sense of wholeness and belonging through any human relationship:

friendship
sibling connection
significant other /spouse
parent-child interaction

If the source of our identity is mainly found in:

personal compliments
number of social media followers/likes
clothing, body appearance, possessions
physical fitness/health
education
emotional tendency
intellectual capacity
creative talent

or any other common measurement of temporal “success”
…then we will eventually end up in a place of disappointment and frustration.

People are individual and imperfect; and it is both unrealistic and unfair to place the burden of one’s own feeling of security on the head of another person who has their own personality and will one day fail to perform to our preferred relationship specifications.

Save yourself a lot of grief. Don’t rely on the external feedback of other people to provide an accurate picture of your own worth. God has already determined that you are important enough to die…and live…for.

That should be good enough.

Brother (NEEDTOBREATHE)

I  have come to really appreciate the lyrics this group supplies.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:1-2 (ESV)

As believers in Christ, there is a personal “load” (v 5) that each must carry as we are conformed into His image.   But there are also practical ways we can help relieve one another of excess weight in order to facilitate the process.

However,  spiritual discernment is required to know when to personally intervene or when to simply pray that God’s will be done in an individual’s life even as they struggle.

Note: even when correction is necessary, an attitude of gentleness is prescribed.  Not the harsh, judgmental spitefulness that we often see within some very strict religious groups.  If the offending person does not respond favorably, there are further measures that should be taken to correct the problem.  But high-pitched debate, gossip and mean-spirited nit-picking are not among them.

 

Exposed

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Not my edit.  Design credit belongs to preachthegospel.org

I have seen this quote accredited to Charles Spurgeon on more than one occasion, and assume the photo attribution is correct.

No doubt about it, though.

Knowing Christ means encountering illumination as we have never before experienced.
And, the brighter the Light shines, the more clearly we will be able to see the dirt in the corners and under the furnishings of our lives.
Isaiah 2:5 (NKJV) O house of Jacob, come and let us walk In the light of the LORD.

John 8:12 (NKJV) Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

1 John 1:6-9 (NKJV) If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Real Men DO Cry

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Image courtesy graur codrin @ FreeDigtalPhotos.net

Jesus Wept (John 11:35)

In reality, life hurts. And it’s okay to admit it.

God incarnate knew the human experience of letting go of someone who He loved in this world. And, although He absolutely had the power to bring Lazarus back to life, He first opted to feel the pain of those who mourn the loss of a loved one.

There is certainly more that can be learned from the context of this illustration, but I tend to believe that the full (albeit sinless) identification of Christ Jesus with fallen humanity should not be overlooked.

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that He helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. ~ Hebrews 2:14:17 (ESV)

And for clarification purposes, I guess I should also recognize that Paul identified the “children of Abraham” as those who have placed faith in God’s Promise of redemption through the Anointed One who would come from Abraham’s family line by way of Isaac.
For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring…_ (Romans 9:7-8 ESV)

Are You Tired of Searching?

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Image courtesy graur codrin @ FreeDigtalPhotos.net

I was recently considering Isaiah 8:19 and it brought to mind something that seems to continually infect modern Christianity:
“And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?”

Now, I know this can apply directly to the practice of seeking advice from obvious occultists and their methods.

But what about just viewing this verse from the perspective that a spiritually dead person is not connected to God in a way that enables them to share either the light of the Gospel or wisdom which encourages listeners to draw closer to God through Christ?

With that in mind, consider how many professing Christians accept the teaching of a pastor because he is a seminary graduate rather than a mature, spirit-filled lover of the Word.
How many of us allow our kids to be educated/indoctrinated by people who are openly hostile to even the idea that God exists?
How many of us consult diet, health care and relationship “experts” who don’t recognize God as the supreme creator and master Physician?

I know I’ve been guilty of having done all of these at one time or another. But I do have to ask whether it is appropriate to continue.

God addressed this ongoing dilemma in Jeremiah 6:16 (ESV)

Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

So, Jesus has given us God’s final response to the confusion of information and opinions that assaults us on a daily basis.

 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:28-29 (ESV)

 

Bible refs can be located here

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+6%3A16%3B+Matthew+11%3A28-29&version=ESV