“Jerusalem has sinned greatly and so has become unclean. All who honored her despise her, for they have seen her nakedness; she herself groans and turns away.”
Lamentations 1:8 (NIV)
The year was 586 BC. Judah had been destroyed, Jerusalem had fallen and the Temple lay in waste, burned and ransacked by Babylon. Jeremiah had warned of the impending disaster, but no one would listen.
It was unimaginable that something so horrible could happen to such a great kingdom like Judah. People had called her the favored nation. They called themselves “God’s elect.” Some say that they were defeated outright by a superior army. Others say that they simply imploded, the result of years and years of wicked greed, idolatry and sinfulness.
“Those who had experienced the horrors of defeat, disruption of the economy, and the ensuing famine and pestilence must have felt at times that God had abandoned them.” (Joel Drinkard, Jr., The Disciples Study Bible)
Jeremiah said they called out to their allies, but help did not come: “I called to my allies but they betrayed me. My priests and my elders perished in the city while they searched for food to keep themselves alive.” Lamentations 1:19.
In these circumstances there were few options:
They could give up on Jehovah and turn to the god of their captors.
They might decide that God no longer exists, and become atheistic.
Some might decide to overthrow their foreign captors by violence.
Or they could respond as Jeremiah suggested, by looking at the reason for their exile and work through it to overcome their own sin while seeking Jehovah’s forgiveness.
What we should learn from the tragic history of Judah is that a sinful nation will face the consequences of her sins. God does not take lightly a rebellious people upon whom He has bestowed great blessings and trusted with greater responsibilities. Failure to fulfill the calling of God upon our lives is a dangerous path to pursue.
The responsibility is squarely upon our shoulders, we cannot “pass the buck.” But there is good news, too. Our only hope is to confess and repent of our sins, and God will forgive us. “I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea…You came near when I called you and said, ‘Do not fear.’ ” Lamentations 3:55-57.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, for such a time as this, give us leaders like Jeremiah who will speak the truth; and ears to hear, faith to believe, and courage to act. Amen and amen.
Martin Luther is one of the most famous theological reformers of all time.After refusing to recant several of his writings, including his 95 Theses, which directly attacked the sale of indulgences, he was excommunicated by the pope.There are many truths to be gleaned from those Theses.
For example, the 54th Thesis of Martin Luther states: “The Word of God suffers injury if, in the same sermon, an equal or longer time is devoted to indulgences than to that word.”
And this could not be any more true.Sadly, how many of our churches do this very thing?It may not be with indulgences, but how many churches today spend more time trying to leech funds from the congregation than teaching the Word?Unfortunately, this number is far too many.
Luther’s 62nd Thesis says: “The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God.”
Sadly, too many churches leave this treasure on the wayside while they preach tithing and offering to fund their needless operations and comfortable lives.As a result, we find dead churches and stagnant Christians all over.It is these churches that must heed the warning of Christ to the Church of Sardis:“WAKE UP!”These churches have become so enamored with funding themselves and making money, that they lose the true value that so many people need these days:God’s love and forgiveness through His Son Christ Jesus.
So, to these churches I send a warning alongside Christ in these times so near the end:“Wake up! Repent and strengthen what remains so that your lampstand is not taken from you when Christ returns for His glorified Church!Do not concern yourself with worldly gain, but on the message that Christ has given you! Observe Luther’s 95th and final Thesis: ‘And let them thus be more confident of entering heaven through many tribulations rather than through a false assurance of peace.’For if you focus on Christ rather than your own personal provision and gain, He will surely provide! Once again, wake up before it is too late! Wake up and repent!”
GospeLines Prayer: “Father. Let us not focus on our own gain, but on Your gain.Let us be your ambassadors and preach the true message of Your Word, rather than the message of our desires.Be with us until the end of the age, and direct us in paths of righteousness for Your namesake. Amen.”
S.I.C. Ryan McCammon
Amen and Amen!
≈ Devotional for Wednesday, May 4, 2011
"The Spider and the Fly"
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you…”James 4:7-8a
Watch the dance of a spider and fly and you will be reminded of the cunning ways of Satan.
Sitting at an unobtrusive distance, I watched the foolish fly move closer and closer to the spider’s web. Maybe the fly couldn’t see the spider, or she was feeling cocky because she was twice the size of the pretty innocent looking spider.
The spider remained motionless, watching for the moment when the fly would get just a little too close.
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
“ ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I’ve many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”
“The Spider and the Fly” by Mary Howitt-1829
The intriguing dance continued for several minutes. Closer and closer, the fly moved toward the web of the spider. When she spread her wings to fly away, it was too late. She struggled mightily against her sticky prison, shaking her winged body from side to side, desperately trying to escape her entanglement. Meanwhile, Spider waited until all movement stopped.
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour – but she ne’er came out again!
“The Spider and the Fly” byMary Howitt-1829
Temptation is the silent enemy of presidents and governors, men and women, young people and children alike. So inviting is the lure of it, that those who are strong in the faith foolishly believe we cannot become entrapped by it. So we inch closer and closer to the precipice of disaster. That’s the way Satan works, by giving us something exciting and pretty and then convincing us (as he did Eve) that God would not be so cruel as to deny us the pleasures we deserve.
Now is the time for disciplined living. Jesus scolded the sleeping disciples, “Could you not watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation…” (Matt. 26:38)
Beloved, the hour is fast coming when every Christian will be needed to stand strong against the web of the spider. Resist the allure of those things which the Bible warns about…flee evil. Do not fall prey to sin because you are too cocky, too self-willed, that you think you can dance with the devil and be OK.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, give me wisdom to recognize evil, and strength enough to flee its temptation. Protect me from the trickery of Satan, whether it is clothed in political garment, dressed up as the chance of a lifetime, or presented as a diabolical prosperity non-gospel. Remind me always that I am one temptation away from total destruction, and that my strength to resist comes only from You. Amen and amen.
Packaged with the Parable of the Yeast is the Parable of the Mustard Seed.It reads as thus:
He presented another parable to them:“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it’s taller than the vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”
The man in this parable is Jesus, and the seed is the Word of God.
It is known that mustard seeds grow in most soils, which means that many people can be playing church.Christ may sow the seed, but we still have the option of playing church while among fellow members; meanwhile, we go on living sinful lives rather than glorifying God with our lives.
The mustard seed is an ordinary seed, but with an extraordinary ability to grow into a mighty plant.Likewise, the church is comprised of ordinary people, but we have the ability to grow into an extraordinary force for Christ!
Mustard is also a perennial plant with the ability to self-sow if allowed to mature, just like Christians will be able to do for Christ as we mature in the Spirit.
Remember:“Anyone who has ears should listen!”
S.I.C. Ryan McCammon
Amen and Amen!
≈ Devotional for Friday, May 6, 2011
"Living Up To Par"
A local radio station host calls himself “The Golf Doctor.” One morning he told about his daughter’s attempt to make the LPGA tour. There were 33 contestants and only 4 slots open. The best four would make the tour.
She played a spectacular round except for the fourth hole where her tee shot went into the deep rough and she ended the hole with a triple bogey. They waited the rest of the day to see who would make the cut. She and several others scored 75 and played another round to see who would be the alternates. At days’ end she was the second alternate.
“I was devastated,” lamented the golf doctor. To which his daughter, Amy, replied, “Get over it Dad. It isn’t the end of the world. Life goes on!” Spoken just like a loving father and a resilient daughter.
When we dwell on our losses, the inevitable result is despair and disappointment. The next time you become frustrated because you didn’t live up to your expectations, think about this... will you allow that one thing to so upset you that it will overpower the good work God is trying to do in you at that moment? Determine now that there is nothing that can happen to you that will alter your course, no matter how difficult it might be. Life goes on.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, there are times that my life is not up to par and I find myself hitting out of the rough a lot. When I fail to keep my eye on the ball, stand beside me and whisper a reminder that the tournament of life is long and will not be won or lost by how I perform on one hole. Amen and amen.