To Whom Do We Owe Loyalty?

To Whom Do We Owe Loyalty?

Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, and He will heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us up so we can live in His presence. Let us strive to know the LORD. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land. What am I going to do with you, Ephraim? What am I going to do with you, Judah? Your loyalty is like the morning mist and like the early dew that vanishes. This is why I have used the prophets to cut them down; I have killed them with the words of My mouth. My judgment strikes like lightning. For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:1-6 HCSB

Today, as most days, I seek The Lord for what I should say. And I must admit, that with a heart that is saddened by those who think they have a right to “control” what I say, on my blog, I will hate to see you go your way, but my loyalty is to the God of Heaven and I will not allow another to persuade me otherwise.

God in His infinite wisdom, has given us who choose to serve Him, access to His wisdom and with His Wisdom, we can be confident in saying what He says, no matter what the opposition thinks. I’m reminded of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were religious, but did not have a right relationship with God. They were more concerned with holding people to the letter of The Law (which is no longer our guide since we have Holy Spirit), than in the spirit of The Law, they did not uphold themselves.

This is where we understand the hypocrisy of those in the temple.They were not concerned about the people, but in their control of the people and thought the people should be loyal to them. Their stance is what moved them to arrange to silence Jesus! They did not understand His purpose on earth and thought He was simply trying to wrest control from them. That’s what religious people do–they want to control people because they have no trust in God.

When religious leaders promote loyalty to them rather than right relationship with God, we are bound to create hostile environments in the atmosphere when true Believers understand that our loyalty is to God, not people. And what the prophet Hosea is saying to us even now, is that our loyalty to man will cause us problems with God.

I’ve addressed a very personal situation with another blogger before and I must address again so everyone reading this will understand my position. NO ONE, and I mean no one will ever dictate what I write on my blog. Though I appreciate those reading it, I will not do the bidding of a mere mortal and forsake what I know God is speaking to me.

I will never support a person or a group of people who support those who promote racism and bigotry. God is love and nowhere in the bible do we find God advocating hatred–other than that of sin–not people, simply because they don’t look like us. If you believe God is a racist bigot–that’s on you. The God I serve promotes love–even when we don’t like what people have done or are doing–we still love them and pray for them. God will do what God does in their lives when they are ready to receive His bountiful blessings–not because we attempt to control others.

For those who feel they have to control the environment through denying a person’s right to choose–anything–they demonstrate their lack of trust in God. For if our trust is in God, we have to trust Him to be who He is in the lives of everyone. That’s demonstrating loyalty to God. Supporting a divisive person who’s only goal is to enrich himself at the expense of others and to belittle and humiliate people, is not a character trait that God would approve. This is loyalty to mortals and if people are more loyal to people than God, then they will get their just consequence.

I owe no loyalty to a mere mortal or a political party. My loyalty belongs to God and God alone and nothing mere mortals say or do will ever change that. Why is that? Mere mortals do not have a heaven or hell for me so what they think–is irrelevant–when what they think and promote–opposes the character of God.

But no one has to take my word for anything. We all have choices to make and I choose to Believe God, not religious people who want to control others.

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Hypocrisy–The Bitter Pill!

“But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?” (Matthew 22:18 NKJV).

What is hypocrisy? One definition of hypocrisy is “a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.” (dictionary.com)

So then a hypocrite–would be “a person” who thinks they have a particular character or virtue, when they actually do not, and expect others to respect their pretense.

Wow! How many times do children see “hypocrisy” in the behavior of the adults around them? We demand certain behaviors from them, but we do not do what we want them to do or another way of saying is–“we’re talking loud and doing nothing.”

And we wonder why our society is in the shape it is in and why children have so little respect for adults. There is nothing to wonder about it. They see our true selves–when we cannot see us for looking at them.

Remember the commercial with the kid whose dad was jumping all over him about smoking weed. Finally, the kid just blurted out, “I got it from watching you” and the dad stood looking perplexed. Are we looking perplexed when our children do what they see us do when we tell them just the opposite?

The old adage–“do it because I said so,” just doesn’t work with kids today. If we want to see better kids, we must show them better modelling in our own behavior. And until we do, “we’re just hypocrites, living hypocrisy, and won’t admit it.”

But it is not just what we say to kids and don’t do that makes us hypocrites. It is criticizing others for behaviors in which we indulge ourselves.  We say, we don’t like to hear people bragging about their things, but whenever we get the chance, we brag about every new thing we do or obtain. We say, if that was me, I’d do things another way. And yet, if we were them, we’d do the same thing.

Admitting that most of the time we are hypocrites is a bitter pill to swallow. The bitterness is a reminder that we have not reached perfection “in anything” and until we do, we should not be so hard on others who are in the same boat we’re in–the luxury liner–called “Hypocrisy”.  The word “hypocrite” is mentioned 20 times in the bible–14 times in Matthew and we still do not get it. We apply the word to others, but not to ourselves because we refuse to see ourselves as hypocrites. Until we face the truth of the matter–we won’t be in a position to change anything–not in our homes, not in our churches, not in our communities and certainly not on a global level.

If the world is going to change–the change has to begin with us acknowledging just how much of a hypocrite we can be and the change must come now!

Letting Old Ways Go!

“But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.” (Acts 15:5)

There are times when God has moved upon the heart of people–whoever is willing to hear and receive the Good News–and everyone is rejoicing over God’s goodness and someone comes along–thinking they are superior to all and try to take them backwards.

Let me put this into the proper context. There was much discussion about what policies and what should be done in the early church regarding the non-Jewish (Gentiles) believers. Those who were content with preaching the Gospel were overjoyed at the reception by the Gentiles and wanted nothing more for them other than to live by the dictates of the Holy Spirit, whom they had received with gladness. But because there were divisions regarding the teachings, primarily because those who had lived “according to The Law” felt they were superior to those just coming into the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and they wanted to regulate the new converts–according to the old ways and were demanding circumcision.

Peter steps up to the plate and reminds them all that God had used him specifically to share the Good News with the Gentiles and since they had received the message and the Holy Spirit, they should have not be bound by traditions that the Jews had not been able to keep.

How like some church leaders today? They were once bound by the dictates of tradition and even though they have seen the works of God moving upon the people without “strict regulations” they make policies that make no sense and have nothing to do with living a holy life. What many have forgotten is that God is not a respecter of people. What He has for one, He has for all who are willing to receive.

Therefore, God is not concerned about a dress code in a place of worship; He is concerned about the heart of the people. God is not concerned about who carries the message; He is concerned about the message that is carried and that it is a message from Him, not them. When people feel the need to bind others by laws and policies, they arbitrarily restrict (or grieve) the Holy Spirit who Himself becomes limited by those who cannot let go of the “old ways.”

Let us assume for a moment–that every person having heard the Gospel message has received it, repented and received Holy Spirit as the guiding force in their lives. Is there any need for rules? Not if we truly believe that Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. The rules come into play because people–usually men–feel the need to be superior and they want to establish rules by which they are not willing to follow. This sounds like the parenting method of many–you know–“do as I say, not as I do” mentality. They are hypocrites and make a mockery out of parenting like some make a mockery of church leadership.

If we want to see the “new thing” that God has promised He will do in our lives, we must be willing to let go of the old ways that would inhibit Him from acting on our behalves. When the rules or policies have nothing to do with salvation or living a holy life–leave them where they belong–behind us, not in front of us.

Father, in the name of Jesus, help us to realize that we need to let go of the old in order to make room for the new that You have prepared for us. Thank You for the direction and guidance we receive from Holy Spirit and remind us to always to ready to hear from You through Him.

The Praising Dead!

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead” (Revelation 3:1 NIV).

Without belaboring any discussion about John’s vision, I would like to move forward to the last part of this verse–“God knows our deeds, we have a reputation of being “alive,” but are dead.”

There is absolutely nothing we can hide from God. He looks upon our hearts and knows our thoughts from afar, so our deeds–cannot escape Him. Whatever consumes our thoughts will dictate what we do–and God already knows what that will be.

In spite of the fact that God knows all, we attempt to fool people with acts of holiness and piety, when in reality, we are living what we want others to think we are living. Other people think we are such spiritual Christians–when we: constantly quote scripture (but no idea what they mean), always have a word of prophecy for others (but never hear God’s voice), sing louder, pray louder, and dance longer than others (moved by our emotions rather than guidance by Holy Spirit), and always quick to tell others what they need to do to be saved (but living saved has not been accomplished)–Oh yes, we have a reputation of being alive, but are dead. People think we are “all that,” because of what “they see” not what they know. God knows!

When given an opportunity to show compassion, the response is anything but compassionate and often more judgmental. When given an opportunity to show mercy, we instead condemn others for the same things from which we have yet to be delivered. When given an opportunity to show the love of Jesus Christ, we attempt to show our superiority over others in knowledge and in holiness. God knows, which is why He showed these things to John in the vision. Not everyone is guilty, but so many are.

We are not righteous of our own accord or by what we do. We have been declared righteous because of His righteousness when we are living in right relationship with God. That right-relationship involves hearing God’s voice, following His directions, and living before all men as God would have us to live–even when they cannot see us–God can. Having a right relationship with God brings humility–total submission and awe about His love and leaves no room for superiority, judgment, or condemnation of others. Being religious and not having a relationship with God brings us no closer to Him and will actually widen the gap of understanding.

Our God is an awesome God! He gives us chance after chance to get it right before Him and others. He loved us enough to come down from glory in the person and likeness of Jesus Christ, showed us how to live, then showed us what real love will do–sacrifice self–so others can be saved. That’s the God I serve! I pray every day that my life (how I live) is a praise unto Him and I will not need to expect to hear anything other than, “well done” on that day. I do not want to be, the praising (loud but saying nothing) dead!

Lord Jesus, help us to be all that You would have us to be and to do all things well in Your sight.

Lip Service!

“The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” (Isaiah 29:13 NIV).

How insightful is the Word of God that what was spoken hundreds of years ago, is still relevant today! Isaiah was speaking to the children of Israel in an attempt to get them to understand obeying God and hearing what God has to say was more important than what the men of tradition had been teaching them.

Are we “these people” who will hear, cannot understand, and only worship with our mouths?

We must be careful that we are not guilty of making the Word of God of no effect because we love our traditions more than we love living The Word.

It’s check-up time–for all to examine self. Are we fair-weather Christians–those who only talk about being a Christian, but have no idea how we’re supposed to be living, but we go to church on Sundays? Are we convenient Christians--we do only what Christians are supposed to do when others are paying attention. Are we bench-warmer Christians–those who go to church to keep a seat warm, but do nothing else?  Are we “look-at-me” Christians--those who do everything they can in church to draw attention to themselves? Are we still like the Israelites–saying all the right things–singing, shouting, and praying empty prayers, and yet have no room for God in our hearts since we do not know His Word? David said, “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You!” Do we have God’s Word hidden in our innermost parts so we won’t sin against Him?

If our hearts are right with God, our lips need not say much because our actions will speak for us!

Lord, search us and see if we are everything You need us to be. If we are not, give us a clean heart, a heart with room enough to receive all You have for us and to live a life that pleases You. In Jesus’ Name, I pray, Amen!

 

 

Truth Causes Divisions?

“Thus the people were divided because of Jesus” (John 7:43 NIV). PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE CHAPTER FOR CONTEXT!

Whenever there is misunderstanding of history, usually because of the varied lenses by which all view history, there is of necessity a difference of opinion. In this passage of scripture we see several things happening that are worth deep thought (beyond surface level).

First of all, the Pharisees and the chief priests (the church leadership) were not really thrilled with the reaction of the people (they felt their authority was being threatened) when they heard Jesus speaking. They all knew about the promise of the Messiah from “the scriptures” (scrolls about the prophets), but because they were looking for someone to lead them into “battle” in order to obtain freedom, they overlooked “The Truth” and what Truth was saying.

Because they could not agree about who Jesus was (murmuring to themselves), especially after He told them about the Holy Spirit, they became divided factions of “religious” folks; not knowing that The Truth was standing among them. The leaders became so incensed with Jesus teaching truth and not trying to fleece people or to bind them to traditional rules and regulations that they planned to arrest Him (they could not stand the competition). They thought their knowledge of “The Prophets” was so superior to anyone else that they rejected the idea that Jesus could be anything other than a deceiver of the people.

Now, if our relationship with God is right, we can look at this passage of scripture and understand that the enemy had already influenced the leadership into believing a lie. Because they believed the lie (arrogance will lead to being deceived), they lost an opportunity to have a relationship with Truth. Then the people, because of their varied expectations, became divided because they did not recognize Truth speaking when they heard Him.

Jesus is The Truth, and The Light, The Lamb, Bright Morning Star, Our Deliverer, Our Savior, Our Lord, The Way into the presence of The Father. If we understand John’s relationship with Jesus–that they were very close since they were related biologically, we can see how John’s insight should bring us all into relationship with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. We cannot have a right relationship with one, without all.

Perhaps, we can grasp this line of thought better when we look at all of the various denominations and factions of Christians who all believe they know the truth. But if they all know The Truth, would there be a need for the divisions of Christianity? If all believers had a relationship with God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, wouldn’t we be united by the relationship with them?  If we all had the same type of relationship with Them (Trinity) that we have with close family members, would we need different denominations proclaiming to be Christian in nature?

We are where we are because those in leadership positions, choose to maintain barriers and obstacles that divide rather than unite. Arrogance and superiority (influenced by the enemy) has led to the great divide of those who say they Believe in Jesus. Until we can see Truth for who He is and develop a right relationship with Him, we will remain a divided body of believers who are more concerned with promoting religion than relationship with God. The verse of scripture referenced at the beginning would provide greater clarity if it had continued with--they were divided because of Jesus and their perception of who He was.