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Weekly Word

Entries in The Way (2)

Tuesday
Jul162013

Malachi: A Treacherous Heart

We pick up today in Malachi 2:8.  The Lord has been challenging the priests of Israel about their sins.  Now the message begins to transition into a problem that was riddled throughout all of Israel: Treachery.  Starting with the priests, verses 8-9 use the word treachery to speak of the favoritism that the priests were showing.

Showing Favoritism In God’s Things

In the 1990’s several articles were written speaking of polls that showed the fall of the reputation of ministers.  A high percentage of the population held a low esteem of pastors.  Part of the reason for this is that people kept running into leaders and churches that showed favoritism in God’s things.  Recently a similar article came out only this time the profession on the hot-seat was journalism.  Journalists have now found themselves at the bottom of professional esteem along with ministers and lawyers.  Why?  Mostly because they have showed favoritism in how they have reported the Truth.  Now whenever a person purports to speak on behalf of truth, they are dealing with God’s territory.  Even though journalists are not operating in an official religious capacity, their insistence that they are speaking the truth puts them in an area that God not only takes seriously, but He will also defend.  Many journalists today have departed from the righteous reason to report news and have corrupted the proper ways of reporting in order to shape the opinion of the public.  This is called a treachery in verse 10.  Treachery is when we work under the cover of something good in order to do something bad.  We use the good to get people to trust us but in the end we are only interested in how it can help us, which is not good.

The priests were using the good things of God for their own purposes and God will not suffer such wickedness.  They were not walking on the path that God’s Law had prescribed to them.  They had reasoned themselves away from God Way.  Now we need to remember that God’s Way is the The Good Way.  It is the way that leads to life.  But, there is a way that seems right in the eyes of a man but the end of it is death.  These priests had left the path to life and were now on a path that led to destruction.  It didn’t look like that to them.  In fact somehow they had convinced themselves that what they were doing was the thing that would bring them what they wanted.  Ultimately we are all responsible for our own path.  But God will deal with those who are an “accessory to the crime.”  It is not an excuse, but it is inexcusable.  Thus these priests and any who do such things need to confess it and repent of it.

When it says that they had shown partiality in the law, this is a reference to Leviticus 19:15.  “You shall do no injustice in judgment.  You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty.  In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.”  Here God is warning Israel against perverting justice whether for the poor or for the mighty.  Notice how He points out the reasons why we might do either one.  Those who pervert justice for the sake of the poor might think they are doing a good thing.  The poor are in a pitiable situation and don’t have anything in life.  So to pervert justice for them might seem almost spiritual: “fighting for the little guy.”  However, God condemns this.  No society can prosper that rewards wickedness whether from a poor person or a rich one.  Now on the other side we can be tempted to pervert justice for the mighty.  Notice here the word “honor” is used.  These mighty people are heavy weights and can do a lot for us.  Thus we are tempted to esteem them as of greater weight than the poor.  God says not to do it.  Thus we have the cultural image of the “Lady Justice” being blindfolded.  Justice is based on the facts in evidence rather than on who is standing before it.

Now we today have been shown the way by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Apostles.  How much more important is it for us to pay attention to God’s heart in these matters?  If we pervert justice within the Church of Christ then we not only bring shame on God’s reputation but we also cause ourselves to be contemptible in the sight of the world.

When we adopt a “pick-and-choose” mentality with the things of God we will find that God will not accept such activity.  It is an abomination to Him.  In respect to people, we cannot allow ourselves to pick and choose who we are going to be hard on and who we are going to be easy on.  God will not stand such wicked actions.  We should uphold justice with grace with all people.  In respect to duties or teachings of Christ, we cannot allow ourselves to be partial either.  When we choose which teachings we will follow and which we will disregard, we only bring discipline and judgment from God down on our own heads.  This is a problem that is riddled throughout our society, both in the Church and outside of it.  It is abhorrent to God and is destroying us as a people.  Unless we confess that it is sin and turn away from it back towards the Good Path, then we will continue to slide towards the destruction that awaits such stiff-necked people.  May God give us the grace to see our sin and repent.

Treacherous Heart Audio

Tuesday
Jun182013

Godly Men-Courageous Men

We live in a day and age where Christians need to be courageous, especially dads.  In fact the main place kids learn courage is from their parents when they are young.  In Joshua 1:9 God tells Joshua to “be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  The key to Joshua’s fear is not in diminishing what he will face.  Rather, it lies in the fact that no matter what he faces God will be with him.  So it is not surprising to see Jesus saying the same things to His disciples, “behold I am with you, even to the very end of the age.”

It is easy to see courage when it is displayed on the battlefield in wars.  But God calls all men to a greater courage, a courage that takes place in our daily life.   It is a courage to follow Jesus in doing the right thing in each situation we face. 

Today we are going to look at Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Normally we only do this at Christmas, but Joseph displays great courage in something as simple as saying yes to God’s way.  Let’s look at Matthew 1:18-.

Courage To Be Kind When Hurt

In verses 18-19 we see that Joseph is engaged to Mary, which is generally a very high moment in the life of a man.  However, before they had come to be married, the news comes to Joseph that Mary is pregnant.  We are not told how he found out and whether the story of the angel and a conception by the Holy Spirit was also told to him.  Yet, we see him a man who has been hit by a ton of bricks.  What?  Mary is pregnant?  How?  I can’t believe it?  Yet it was true.  Mary was pregnant.  At a time when Joseph has been tremendously hurt, chooses to call off the wedding in a way that would be as quiet as possible.  In fact we see him being as kind as he can to Mary.

Joseph, no doubt, was emotionally hurt by Mary’s pregnancy, but he is also socially hurt.  Unless he publically sets things right, it will be assumed that he is the father and that he has broken the contract with Mary’s father.    If he publically goes before the elders and declares his innocence then Mary would be required to give a defense.  Since she would not be able to stand and say Joseph is the father, she would be unable to contest the public divorce.  Thus the righteousness of Joseph would be elevated or vindicated in the eyes of society and Mary would bear the full weight of the pregnancy.

Joseph clearly either doesn’t know about Mary’s story or he has heard it and finds it too hard to believe.  Thus he chooses a path that demonstrates kindness to Mary.  He will put her away secretly.  That way he is declaring the child isn’t his, but he is leaving room for questions.  No one will really know what happened and it will be the source of rumors for the rest of their lives.  It takes courage to not rush to vindicate yourself when you have been hurt.  Joseph is not the kind of man to be cruel and angry when he is hurt.  In a sense he chooses that his last act towards her would be one of love.  This reminds me of the passage in 1 Thessalonians 5:15, “Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everybody else.”  It takes courage to live in such a way.  In fact most people will look at you like you are strange when you try to live by this principle.

Joseph could also be hurt by God and His plan.  We are not told what kind of communication may or may not have happened between Mary and her family to Joseph.  But essentially he is being told that God is the one that is causing these problems in his life.  Yet, keep in mind that it is only a problem because of the sinfulness of people and society.  God didn’t cause that.  Thus even when God’s plan causes us pain, it is not truly His Fault or intention.  Men choose to be cruel, sinful, and hurt one another because they are cowards and lack the courage to follow God, or they are ignorant and lack the understanding to follow God.

Courage to Follow God’s Spirit Contrary to Society

In verses 20-25 we see that God gives Joseph a dream.  Now this dream could be psychoanalyzed and put aside as an effect of Joseph’s extreme stress.  However, Joseph was no dunderhead.  He knew that this dream was from God.  The dream basically verifies Mary’s story and clarifies his confusion over how it could have even happened.  None of it made sense to him.  God’s plan for our life is not about making it easier for us.  But He will give us the strength to walk it.   God was basically asking Joseph to complete the marriage with Mary.  This would be tantamount to confessing the baby was his.

Society would not be as kind to Joseph as he had planned to be with Mary.  They would not let it go quietly.  It would be trumpeted in many situations and caustic phrases, whether it was snide remarks to Joseph that made it clear he was less than other men, or to Mary as other women cruelly put her down, or how the child Jesus would be ridiculed, persecuted, and ostracized by the other children.

Yet, in the dream God’s message is this: “Do not be afraid.”  First of all he doesn’t need to fear that Mary has been unfaithful to him.  The boy was miraculously conceived.  Yet, second, he doesn’t need to fear the society that would not understand and would call him a sinner and the child illegitimate.  This society would, no doubt, constantly remind him and his family that they were failures and outcasts.

In some ways we haven’t seen anything yet, here in America.  As society becomes more evil the chances of God calling us to do something that causes us pain increase.  Prepare yourself for courage today, before it gets worse.  Like training for the day of battle, we need to treat our everyday life decisions as if they were preparations for the end of the world.

Our society is casting off God’s wisdom and God’s way.  Will you go with them?  Or will you stand strong with Jesus?  Joseph made the tough call that day and demonstrated courage.  It wasn’t easy.  It was no doubt very difficult.  But immediately after the dream confirmed everything, he went and “did as the angel commanded him and took to him his wife.”  Not only that, but, Joseph refrained from any sexual contact until after Jesus was born.  This was a courageous man.

Final Thoughts

Our society is not always to blame for our cowardice.  Often it is the desires of my own flesh that pull me away from doing the right thing.  In fact this is the default.  Society is just “piling on top” of what my flesh is already doing.  Yet, like Joseph, Joshua, and ultimately like Jesus we must choose to live our life by following God’s path rather than our own.  Let’s prepare for battle.  Let’s roll.

Godly Men Audio