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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday message

This week we started in Jeremiah 51.  (Hey, waitaminute, Chris, don't you tell us where we're going first?)  Well, usually, but I had to get to the end to see it, so I gotta tell it this way.  Be patient!.  Anyway, this chapter is a prophesy of what is going to happen to Babylon in the end.  All of the storm God is going to bring down on this pagan empire is bound up in God's main accusation:

17 Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge;
Every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image;
For his molded image is falsehood,
And there is no breath in them.
18 They are futile, a work of errors;
In the time of their punishment they shall perish.
19 The Portion of Jacob is not like them,
For He is the Maker of all things;
And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance.
The Lord of hosts is His name.

As a result of this dull-heartedness, caused by their pagan beliefs, the prayers of others for them are in vain:

Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed.
Wail for her!
Take balm for her pain;
Perhaps she may be healed.
We would have healed Babylon,
But she is not healed.Forsake her, and let us go everyone to his own country;
For her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies.
10 The Lord has revealed our righteousness.

Now, before you think this is an expose on Babylon, let me show you the application.  Ingredient number one- a dull-hearted, pagan people.  But God loves everybody, right? And will save them from hell in the end right???  Ingredient #2, Jesus Christ is our Foundation (1 Cor. 3:11) and our Cornerstone (1 Peter 2), and the way into Heaven.  Ingredient #3:

25 “Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain,
Who destroys all the earth,” says the Lord.
“And I will stretch out My hand against you,
Roll you down from the rocks,
And make you a burnt mountain.
26 They shall not take from you a stone for a corner
Nor a stone for a foundation,But you shall be desolate forever,” says the Lord.

Thus we could call this lesson, "You cannot build a savior in Babylon".

Unfortunately, dull-heartedness extends beyond the realm of the directly pagan.  There are things beyond blatant wickedness that become walls- or idols if you will- dividing us from true salvation.  Before you think you are good enough, see if any of these apply to you.

Number one:  But we've always done it this way!  I've told more than once the story of how my Dad assumed I'd be a registered Democrat because "we always have been."  Guess what?  That doesn't make it right.  I'm sure my Mom might have the same objections over my non-denominational status after she raised me Catholic.  Yours might have the same over being a Lutheran, a Unitarian, an agnostic, what have you.  But look in at Luke 1, specifically the story of the naming of John the Baptist, for God's take on "passed-down" religion:

59 So it was, on the eighth day, that they came to circumcise the child; and they would have called him by the name of his father, Zacharias. 60 His mother answered and said, “No; he shall be called John.”
61 But they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by this name.” 62 So they made signs to his father—what he would have him called.
63 And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, saying, “His name is John.” So they all marveled. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, praising God.

Well-meaning people would have denied God's will (see v 13) in the name of tradition, but faithful Zacharias said, NO.  Following what has always been done will not get you there, if God's will is a new direction.

Number two:  You have to follow the rules!  Here we look at Ephesians 2, where Paul is trying to explain God's will to people who have been told they MUST be circumcised.  There was a reason for God's commandment in the days it was given, to separate to Himself a peculiar people.  But now, Christ was opening up what the Jews were supposed to and did not- to bring the non-Jews to faith.  He was not telling the Jews not to follow the law; he was telling them that it did not apply to the Gentiles.

14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

What Paul was trying to say is, faith is not a list of regulations.  It comes from the personal relationship with Christ, to be guided by the Holy Spirit.  So don't waste time building walls God didn't order.

Number three:  SHHH!! Not so loud!  Lots of people are comfortable having a faith that doesn't show.  Don't ask, don't tell. But the prophet Amos in chapters 7-8 lets us know how high that idea flies with God:

16 Now therefore, hear the word of the Lord:
You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
And do not spout against the house of Isaac.’

17 “Therefore thus says the Lord:
‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city;
Your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword;
Your land shall be divided by survey line;
You shall die in a defiled land;
And Israel shall surely be led away captive
From his own land.’”
Doesn't sound like He was too happy with Israel's silent treatment, eh?  But you say, "Chris, he was talking to these specific people and not necessarily to us".   Hold, the phone, Madge, a call's coming in- God actually lays out who He's talking to in the next chapter:
Hear this, you who swallow up[a] the needy,
And make the poor of the land fail...
Now, you see, it's talking to those who don't want to upset the apple cart of prosperity, those who want financial and societal success rather than spiritual success.  In other words, this is to the "what would the neighbors/co-workers/boss think" crowd.  And it's more than that:  Note how they used the term "House of Isaac"?  Remember that Isaac was the one who lied about his wife Rebecca, not once but twice, to save his own tukus.  Sometimes silence about God is just talking away from the truth,

Number four: Why should I, if there's nothing in it for me?  This one takes us to Genesis 38, a passage that all of us (present and former) Catholics cringe over the the thought of that one black word: Onanism.  For you non-Catholics, this is the passage that you get directed to when you ask, "Is masturbation  a sin?" even though that's not what we're talking about here.  The story actually goes like this:  Judah, son of Jacob, the "Lion of Israel", has three sons.  The first he names Er (and no, he doesn't name the second one "Umm"), and marries her off to a girl named Tamar.  Well, Er is wicked in God's eyes and kills him off.  Thus, according to Hebrew tradition, it falls upon the second son, Onan, to raise children for his brother through Tamar.  Onan, though, says to himself, why should I have a kid with this chick when if she has a boy he shoots past me and MY kids to the front of the inheritance line?  No siree!"  And he "emits his seed onto the ground," making it look like he's doing his job but Tamar's just "barren".  Next thing you know, Onan receives the same fate as wicked Er.

Moral of the story, even if you're doing the job on the outside, it is the Lord "who sees in secret" who's watching you. 

Number five:  They're going to blame YOU for this...  In Ezra 5-6, the returned exiles have been trying to build a Temple (as well as the city walls), but those who oppose them accuse them to the Persian King Artaxerxes.  They give him half the story, so he orders the Jews to stand down.  And they did.  But this is where we go back to that first chapter of Hosea we hit not long ago, because he's one of the two prophets who got on the case of the Jewish leadership.  "Consider your ways!"  Hosea said, and when they did, they asked themselves, who would we rather be accused by- man or God?  So they resumed building, and when the next King, Darius, was told the tale, "The Eye of God was upon the elders of the Jews" (Ezra 6:5), and Darius looked up Cyrus' original decree that allowed them to build the Temple, and thus the accusations failed to stop them.  Get the point here?  If you don't let accusations bother you, the Lord will bless your work for Him.  If not, you're out there alone.  With no God.  No protection.  And a lot of enemies.

So, now, do you have an idol making you dull-hearted?  Remember what we learned here:

DON'T do it just because we've always done it that way;
DON'T  do it because someone says you have to;
DON'T be silent!
DON'T look for "what's in it for you";
and DON'T listen to your accusers.

But most of all, DON'T think you can build a savior in Babylon.  You cannot live a sinful life and expect reward!  Or as Jeremiah said:

Flee from the midst of Babylon,
And every one save his life!
Do not be cut off in her iniquity,
For this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance;
He shall recompense her.
Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand,
That made all the earth drunk.
The nations drank her wine;
Therefore the nations are deranged.

1 comment:

  1. CW<:
    This is one your BEST-EVER sermonettes...and so RIGHTLY PUT.
    Every oen of those "5 points" send an important message to ALL of us, and with good reason...GOD said it!
    (I believe it, and that settles
    Remember that one?

    Every bit as true each day.

    I must be living on the SOUTHEAST SIDE of Babylon...LOL
    That would explain a LOT!

    Kudos to our Lord for allowing you the grace, wisdom, and faith to share this.

    Stay safe up there.