We will spend our entire lives remembering things, but it’s crucial that we keep at the front of our minds that God the creator fashioned us individually. When speaking on Mars Hill, Paul doesn’t start with the cross of Christ, but with the creation. After that, he proceeds to the gospel of Christ. While it’s easy to forget so many things, let us never forget that the creator God has come to us in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 17:24-26).
As we look back at the last year, what has this done to our churches? Are we stronger or are we weaker? Has our faith increased or has it been weakened? Has our love abounded to one another or have we allowed the divisiveness of the world to creep into our hearts? The point of the exercise isn’t to encourage criticism. I’m not suggesting we assign some sort of grade or rating to our congregations. I don’t believe any of us has the discernment or information to make this kind of a judgment — we cannot possibly see what Christ saw to judge those congregations. But what we can reflect on is our own behavior, and the question we can ask ourselves is how have our actions impacted what Christ would see if He looked at our congregation as He did with the congregations in Asia?
“The Song of Moses,” which was to be rehearsed and memorized by Israel, tells of the rebellion of the nations against God, and of his selection of Abraham to build a new nation, a people belonging to himself. That new nation was to be upright – Jeshurun – having the very character of God himself. Instead, when Israel prospered by the grace of God she rebelled in her prosperity, becoming the image of the fallen nations rather than the image of God. “Jeshurun grew fat and kicked.” How often does prosperity lead to (or at least contribute to) pride, stubbornness, selfishness, moral failure, and worship of gods that are not God? Unfortunately, prosperity and rebelliousness often go hand in hand. Israel is by no means a unique example of a people who were upright in their dependancy upon God in trials, but then “grew fat and kicked” while enjoying the blessings of prosperity. Selfishness and godlessness, envy and conflict, tend to grow and flourish when people are blessed with prosperity. Prosperity offers no assurance of peace and harmony and goodwill among humans and certainly no assurance of obedience to God.
I feel that we see these same issues in regards to Christianity. One tool that I feel Satan uses to blur the line of truth is the manipulation of the flow of information. Many years ago, during the Dark Ages, they were confronted with a different issue — NEI, or Not Enough Information. In some cases the truth was locked away so that the information that people needed was not readily available to them. Today in many ways our issues are exactly the opposite, as we are confronted by too much information.
Manasseh’s repentance is a bit jarring. How could someone so wicked change and God receive him so willingly? Few among the kings of Israel or Judah are described as having such an evil character as Manasseh. However, God received him back favorably. He accepted Manasseh even before worship was restored. God could see the changed heart. Repentance begins in the heart and flows from there into action. No action we do can be worthy of God’s mercy (Psalm 51:16). God is waiting for the heart of man to turn humbly toward him.
Throughout the ages, God has called many messengers to speak to those who are near and to those who are far off. Still today, the Lord calls us to spread his message. There are days and times when we feel unfit for this calling. We do not know enough, we are not eloquent enough. In this we are not alone. Isaiah knew that he was an unfit messenger. Jeremiah protested that he was too young. It is a normal thing for those whom God chooses to feel as though they are not worthy of this calling.
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He knows that people are worriers, back then and even more so today. Anxiety is the chronic pandemic of our age, countered with medication and therapy. However, medication and therapy are not the ONLY resources that we have. Christ’s counsel is sorely needed, and what He says can profit every one of us.
INSIDE THE ISSUE: “Overcomers,” John Lee; “Rapture! Really?” John Morris; “A Bad Day,” Wade Stanley.
Who wants to be known for who they were in their worst moments? A snapshot in time, a moment of weakness, or a careless word can permanently change our view of someone.