In our last Monday’s Spanish bible class in church, our topic was hypocrisy. As I have stated in the past, I believe there is a little bit of it in all of us. I suppose some of you may not agree and some may not want to hear that, but can we deny the fact that our old sin nature is still within us? What is hypocrisy in the first place? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says that hypocrisy is “the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do: behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel.” In the account in 2 Samuel, Chapter 12, we saw the prophet Nathan being sent of God to rebuke David for his sin concerning Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah. The prophet told David a parable about a rich man who had stolen his neighbor’s only little lamb, killed it, and offered it as part of a feast he made for a rich guest. When Nathan asked David what he thought should be done to such a man, he answered: “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!” (vs 5) Nathan replied “You are that man!” (vs 7) Was David not being hypocritical on that occasion by passing judgment on that man in the story since what he did was just as bad, if not worse? Who would not like to be a hero of the faith like David? Yet, he was being hypocritical on that day, and if David did it, so can we.
We covered the 23rd Chapter of Matthew where Christ came down hard on the scribes and Pharisees because of their hypocrisy. In the only two occasions in scripture where I remember Jesus not being his quiet, loving, and usual soft spoken self, the scribes and Pharisees were involved. Jesus publicly called them hypocrites because He knew what was in their heart and because He Himself was blameless. With us, it is not advisable to call someone else a hypocrite because we don’t know their heart and because we ourselves are not without sin. In fact, the biggest hypocrites around are those who dare to call someone else a hypocrite. In His letter to the Romans, Paul wrote: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” (Romans 2:1)
As children of God, we must make a sincere effort to be as honest and up front as we can be. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect; He just wants us to be honest and to own up to our misdeeds and mistakes when necessary. If we let the Holy Spirit guide our words and actions, we will avoid the sin of hypocrisy and will bring honor and glory to our Heavenly Father in the process.
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 37:37) “Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.”
When people see an old penny on the ground, not everyone bothers to pick it up. The reason is obvious. Those who leave the penny on the ground, do so because they see no value in it. To them, it is not even worth the effort to stoop down to get it. The ones who pick it up, however, do so for many reasons. That old penny could be a collector’s item. It could keep you from being one penny short the next time you make a small purchase, or something else. Here’s another reason many of us pick up old pennies when we see them: They remind us that one day we too were discarded and forgotten, left lying on the ground because no one saw real value in us and we were not worth the bother. To be fair, some of us gave those around us plenty of reasons to think that of us. Then, Jesus walked into our lives. He picked up that old coin, gave it a brilliant luster, then claimed it for Himself.
God sees His creation much different than mankind. Jesus told His Disciples one day:“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-30) The world pays very little attention to sparrows. What are they good for? You can’t eat them and they don’t qualify as pets. Yet, Jesus implied that they are of much value to God and that not one of them falls to the ground without His knowledge. Why? Because He loves them! Why? Because He made them! What’s greater still is that we are even more valuable to Him than many sparrows. Why? Because He loves us; because He made us. He saw great value in us when no one else did, so much in fact, that He was willing to sacrifice His son to save us from eternal damnation.
The writer of the great old hymn of the faith, “His Eye Is On The Sparrow”, knew this truth and that is why one line in his song says: “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.” I’m sure you’ve heard the corny line about the clock at work. It can never be stolen because there’s always someone watching it. The same can be said about God’s children. Nobody can take us out of God’s protection because His eye is always upon us. May we never forget how much the Lord loves us and the great value we have because He now lives within us.
God’s promise for today: (John 10:28 KJV) “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
One day, many years ago, I was asking my co-workers at the post office if anyone knew a reliable car mechanic who could fix the brakes on my car, the reason being that my experiences with national chain brake specialists made me lose confidence in them. One of them suggested I take my car to his dad, who just happened to live close to us. I took his advice so when I arrived at his dad’s backyard shop, I introduced myself and told him his son, Henry, had recommended him. When he replied: “Henry?” I said “Enrique.” Once again he asked: “Enrique?” I thought about it for a moment and then said: “Yes, Enrique, Cowboy.” This time he said: “Ohhhh, Cowboy!” Trying not to laugh out loud in the man’s presence, I thought it was a hilarious thing for a man not to quickly remember his own son’s name, but recognize him instantly by his nickname.
It brought to mind an illustration I use often about the man who was walking with his daughter and one of his friends joined them. His friend asked him, “By the way, what is your wife’s name?” The man thought about it for several seconds and then replied: “What do you call that pretty flower with many thorns that grows in bushes?” His friend said “Rose?” He nodded in agreement and turning to his daughter replied: “Hey Rose, what is your mom’s name?”
I was thinking about these things recently when I read Isaiah 49:15, where the Lord declared: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” This message is quite clear: Though there are some exceptions, it is very unusual for a mother to forget her own children. Yet, even in the rare occasions when it happens, God is saying “I will never forget you!” David knew this truth as well; he knew that God’s love for him was even greater than the love of our earthly parents. That is why he wrote: “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” (Psalm 27:10) It was his way of saying: “my mother and my father will never forget me, but even if they did, the Lord won’t. It is very possible for people we know, even our friends, to forget us. And it is even possible for our parents to forget us as well. What is not possible is for God to forget us. Can God forget you or the situation you are in today? Don’t even think about it!
God’s promise for today: (Deuteronomy 31:8) “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
The Bible has much to say regarding angels and their interaction with God’s people. Today, I just want to touch lightly on three particular bible verses which speak about this issue. In the first one, King David wrote: “The Lord saves those who fear him. His angel camps around them.” (Psalm 34:7 ICB - International Children’s Bible) * Since I often think like a child, I prefer this bible version’s rendering over the others. In the second one, Hebrews 1:14, says this about them: “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation?” (King James Version) . The third one says: “Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2 CEB Common English Bible)
Actually, I thought of this last verse because of something that happened in the life of my 92 year old sister, Lillie, recently. Being quite independent and self sufficient, she has lived alone for over thirty years. Well, now, after a recent fall, she has gotten to the point where it is no longer safe for her to live alone. Because we worry about her, we are debating whether we let her continue on by herself, get somebody to stay with her at nights, or enroll her in a nursing home. Because of it, we have prayed that God will watch over her as well as asking Him to give us wisdom in order to make the right decision. Well, the day before I wrote this blog, she called me in a panic because, according to her, early that morning while her next door neighbor fixed her some breakfast, she decided to go lay down on my late mom and dad’s old bed while her breakfast was being prepared. As she lay there, she saw a man laying next to her. She immediately felt terrified as well as totally embarrassed because she assumed it was the husband of the neighbor fixing the breakfast. She pleaded with me to call her and explain to her that it was an accident and not that she was doing anything improper. When I called the neighbor to try to explain, she said she had not been by there that morning, much less her husband. You don’t have to agree with me, but I am convinced that this was no ordinary man but rather the angel God “sent forth to minister” to her in answer to our prayers on her behalf.
Nothing that is in the Bible is there by accident or coincidence. If the Apostle Paul wrote that people in his day had been in the company of angels without knowing it, why would it not be the same today? Doesn’t that make you wonder if that has ever happened to you? Child of God, keep serving others in love for Him. It is possible that the next life you touch in a loving and positive way, just may be one of God’s angels. Now, wouldn’t that be great?
God’s promise for today: (Exodus 23:20 KJV) “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.”
Reading the 7th Chapter of the book of Joshua recently, I saw things in that account that perhaps all of us can relate to. When he succeeded Moses, among the things the Lord promised Joshua was this one: “No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (vs. 5) I suppose that he and the rest of his military leaders assumed this meant that they would automatically defeat every enemy they would encounter as they took possession of the land the Lord had given them. That would not be the case, even though their first battle in Jericho was won in a glorious, actually miraculous, fashion. Their next stop would be a place by the name of Ai where only a few people lived. At the advice from his advance spies, Joshua sent no more than three thousand soldiers for that encounter. The result? Not only did the men of Ai rout Joshua’s army, killing 67 of them, they made the rest of the army flee in disgrace.
Upon hearing of this embarrassing defeat, Joshua, as well as the elders of Israel fell facedown on the ground as they whined before the Lord. Joshua himself poured out one complaint after another before Him. You know what the Lord did in response to that demonstration? He told Joshua: “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?” (vs. 10) What Joshua didn’t know then was that there was sin in the camp, that one of his soldiers had taken expensive articles from the spoil in the Jericho victory, one thing the Lord had forbidden before they entered Jericho. It appears the Lord did not mention another glaring mistake as they planned their encounter with Ai. They failed to consult with God and felt they could win this battle on their own. If Joshua had sought the Lord’s direction before that battle, he would have known there were things that had to be cleared up before their fight in Ai, that there was a reason for that defeat.
This is how that biblical account can relate to you and me: Before we find one thing or two to complain to God about; before we go through a stretch where we whine and feel sorry for ourselves, let’s make a thorough review of our situation. Did we consult with God about the matter beforehand. Could it be that we caused our own grief, that we are responsible for the mess we’re in? I know that if we cover all our bases, we will absolutely conclude that we had no reason whatsoever to blame God or even whine about it. If that is you; if you have been carrying a “poor me” attitude for any reason, snap out of it! If you trust the Lord, you will walk confidently and with your head held up high. Live in victory!
God’s promise for today: (Romans 8:37 - Good News Version) “Nevertheless, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
I was reading in the book of James this morning and this verse caught my particular attention: “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8) At first glance, this verse seems to be too blunt and too frank for our liking. What Christian likes to be called a “sinner” or a double- minded person? Well if we read the rest of the chapter, we can easily see that James was addressing those in the church who were not totally committed to God, that still had a lot of the world’s influence in their lives. That’s the particular sin this verse refers to, the sin of straying from God. That’s also the reason the verse begins with the plea to draw near to Him.
Double-mindedness also refers to hypocrisy and though you may not agree with me, I think we all have a little bit of it in our hearts. It is hypocrisy if we confess one thing but deep down inside we deny it. Here’s one related word we hear mentioned often during the political campaigns: transparency. The M-W Dictionary defines it as: “something transparent; especially a picture (as on film) viewed by light shining through it or by projection.” As it pertains to political candidates, people want them to be transparent, meaning that they should be totally honest, that they are who and what they claim to be.
Nevertheless, the main message in this verse remains the same. Many years ago, a popular slogan on the bumper sticker on the vehicles of many Christians said this: “If you feel far from God, guess who moved?” This obviously meant that God is in the place where He’s always been, that it is His people who stray from time to time. People can stray from Him when they are not totally committed to Him or when they are angry, bitter, disillusioned or feel abandoned and forgotten, or many other things. The bottom line is this: Whenever we stray from Him, regardless of the reason, we are the ones who lose. This declaration of Simon Peter comes to mind: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68) If that is you, and you don’t feel as close to Him as you did before, come back to Him today.
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 34:4) “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
I am always slightly perplexed when I hear certain people boast that they have many friends, the reason being that if they do, how many of them can be considered “true” friends? Proverbs 14:20 reads: “The poor man is hated even by his neighbor, but the rich man has many friends.” I remember hearing a remark many years ago, whether the story was true or not, which typifies this proverb’s message. A fellow co-worker told me he had been doing some yardwork when he remembered he needed to go to our job-related credit union. He said that as soon as he walked in the door, the first teller asked him in a loud, gruff voice: “What do you want”? When he told her he was just coming in to make a deposit, she quickly changed her demeanor and cheerfully said: “Good morning sir, welcome to (name of credit union)” When you see celebrities of all kinds make their entrance surrounded by a large troupe of people, how many of these do you think would be around if the celebrity in question wasn’t filthy rich? When I was growing up, my friends and I always wanted to hang around with the only kid in our neighborhood that always had a dollar or two, ever hoping he would buy us a candy, soda, or ice cream. Once we were teenagers, he didn’t have as many “friends” as before.
As is the case with some of you, I can’t truly say I have many friends; what I can say is that I have many, many brothers and sisters now because of Christ. Apart from being fellow believers, a select few of them are my dear and true friends. I think of them often, the big help they have been to me, and the way they have enriched my life. Someone has said: “a friend is someone who knows all about you, and still loves you.” Helen Keller was quoted as saying: “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than to be alone in the light.”
If you have a few “true” friends in your life, thank God for them and always pray for them. I also learned this about true friends: they make our lives easier and more bearable. Upon my retirement, I quickly joined a health club knowing that I needed to be in better shape. Although it is very necessary for someone my age, I’ve never been crazy about walking. One thing I do remember, however, was that when I was on the treadmill at the gym by myself, my time alone seemed like an eternity and it played heavily on my mind. On the other hand, whenever one of my gym friends walked with me, the time would go by quickly and the walk was no longer wearisome but enjoyable. Solomon wrote: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10) What makes our true friends even better, is that there is a lot of “Christ” in them.
God’s promise for today: (Isaiah 65:24) “It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
Being the youngest of a family of twelve, I grew up listening to the popular songs of the 40’s and 50’s, those my siblings loved. I remember having breakfast before we left for school and the kitchen radio playing “Slow Boat to China”, “Tenderly”, “Laura”, “Moonlight Serenade,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, and all the other top hits of the day. Today whenever I hear a song by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Doris Day, and all the other great singers of that era, in my mind I picture them just as they were back then, even though most of them have been gone a long time.
If we are honest, we will all admit that there is some sadness involved when we realize that no one in this life can stay young forever and that just about everybody will get old and feeble, and then die. It breaks the heart of many children to see their parents go this route, yet this is what life is all about. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could stay young forever and nobody ever got sick? The answer is “yes”, it would be great. In fact the truth is that one day that dream will come true, and it’s all because of Jesus. He died for that very reason, that all who believe in Him may live forever. The day is coming when we will see our loved ones who have gone before us, just as they were back in their prime, us included.
So today, if you’re struggling a little bit more because you’re getting older, or if it pains you to see one of your loved ones get a little bit more feeble every day, hold on. In Christ, this is not the way this story ends. Apart from going to the land where no one will ever get old, or get sick and die, we will all be in a world much, much better than this one, one which will be forever free of all suffering and pain. John, Christ’s beloved disciple, caught a heavenly glimpse of that place and wrote: “He, (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) What a day that will be! Yes, my dear fellow believers, we all have a great destiny. And it’s all because of Jesus.
God’s promise for today: (1 Corinthians 2:9) However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— are the things God has prepared for those who love Him.
I was reading this morning in the 21st Chapter of 2 Samuel regarding perhaps David's last actual participation in battle and I could totally relate to it. Just as the devil does with us, the Philistines didn’t stop coming against God’s people after David defeated Goliath. Anytime they had a giant warrior to be their champion, as in this case, they came against Israel, especially against David himself. Well, David, being much older, was no longer the warrior he had been before and in this last battle was exhausted. He valiantly opposed this new giant opponent but this time he was overmatched and would have been killed had not one of his men come to his rescue. Verse 17 read: But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, “Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.”
I’m sure some of you have noticed, or at least I hope you have, that I haven’t been writing blogs as often as I used to. Old age has a lot to do with it. I am nearing the end of my writing career and I suspect that one day soon these blogs may stop altogether. Meanwhile, like David, I will still try to do what I can and will write a blog whenever I am able, but if you see these blogs slowly fade and eventually disappear, you’ll know why.
Nevertheless, one particular psalm and promise which has become a favorite of mine is Psalm 92 which reads in part: The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright. He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.” (verses 12-15) If God can do great things by way of the elderly, can you imagine what He can do with you? I pray you will have a heart like the prophet Isaiah. He wrote: Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8)
God’s promise for today: (Psalm 103:12) As far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.