Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘tolerance’

Just doing our thing…

The ancient book of Judges in the Bible is so contemporary–everyone “doing what they considered right.”  Does this sound familiar? 

Moses, who had given the people God’s commands for a godly and orderly life, was dead and gone. 

Joshua, who had victoriously led them into the Promised Land and urged them to continue to follow the Lord, was dead and gone.

The generation who had lived under the leadership of these men and experienced God’s amazing miracles was dead and gone.

“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10 NLT)

And that’s when society broke down.  With no personal commitment to God and his standards, everyone decided what was “right for them” and lived accordingly.  This meant…

…failure to push ahead with their occupation of the land God had given them

…”forgetting” God who had done everything for them, doing what He considered evil

…intermarrying with the pagan peoples around them, producing children who no longer knew right and wrong

…worshiping and serving false gods, participating in their violent and obscene rituals

…infighting and treachery, sexual abuse and butchery

What was the result?  Were they happy and fulfilled? 

God allowed them to experience the natural consequences of their choice.  They were oppressed, ravaged, and impoverished by wave after wave of neighboring nations, for over 300 years.  At the height of each wave of misery, they would appeal to God, who would mercifully rescue them through a powerful figure such as Gideon.  But as soon as things settled down again, they went right back to their rebellious ways and the cycle repeated itself.  What a horrible existence! 

And for us today–
–Are we who know the Lord effectively passing our faith to the next generation? 

–Are we who follow godly generations also genuine in our faith, making it our own—               or just taking the easy way down the mainstream of society?

–What can we expect if we continue down the same path of defining and                   doing what we think is “right for me” instead of what God says is right?

X-ray Vision

Spying seems to have become a way of life nowadays.  One never knows who is snooping, and why.  Do we want the government or others to know what we are writing, whom we are talking to, where we travel, and even what we are thinking?  On the other hand, do we want a doctor to “pry” with his x-ray, ultrasound, MRI or CT scan to see what’s wrong with us? 

When Jesus appeared to the apostle John many years after he had returned to heaven, it was a fearsome sight.  Among other features of his glorious appearance, “his eyes were like blazing fire” (Revelation 1:14)  Later, this image is repeated as he says to one of the seven churches, “I am he who searches hearts and minds.”  How do we feel about Jesus knowing everything about us? 

In chapters 2-3, seven churches get their grade reports from Jesus himself.  He introduces each one with the words, “I know…”  Five of the churches first receive commendation for what they have done right.  Things like their hard work, endurance in the face of suffering, love and obedience.

Then, to five of the churches he delivers the bad news and what will happen if they don’t change their ways.  These are the kinds of issues Jesus considers as very serious:

–Lack of love for God and one another (2:4-5)
–Tolerance of sexual immorality and of false teaching (2:14, 20-23)
–Complacency, pride, and a self-sufficient attitude (3:17)

In other words, they were losing their distinctive and becoming like the non-Christians around them.  How many of us who call ourselves “Christians” find ourselves in this list? 

In each case, the remedy is prescribed
     Turn from our wrong ways! 
     Come to Jesus!
     And remain faithful to the end!
 

Then the rewards are promised—privileges and rewards for the winners in this earthly struggle:  secure admission and citizenship in God’s heavenly kingdom with such things fruit from the Tree of Life, gold medals (literally, laurel wreaths as awarded to Olympic champions), and even the privilege of sitting with Jesus on his throne! (3:21) 

O LORD, you have examined my heart
     and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
     and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
     even before I say it, LORD.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
     too great for me to understand!
 

(Psalm 139:1-6)

Divine Evacuation

Poor Lot!  He’s taken in a couple of strangers (actually angels in human disguise) who showed up in town needing a place to stay overnight.  And now at his door is a howling mob intent on gang-raping those angels. When Lot refuses to allow this, they accuse him of being intolerant and judgmental:  “…he dares to judge us!” (Does this sound familiar now?) God was about to destroy Sodom for their wickedness, but first He had to get Lot out of there.  So the angels grabbed Lot, his wife, and their two daughters by the hand and dragged them out of town before calamity hit.   (Genesis 19.)

And Noah—another divine evacuation.  “Yahweh observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So Yahweh was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.” (Gen. 6:5-6) So He decided to wipe clean the earth and start from scratch.  But first He had to get Noah and his family to safety.  Once they were in the ark, God shut the door before calamity hit.

This earth is ripe for another catastrophe as human wickedness reaches the point of no return.  When will it happen?  Based on these two examples from Genesis, we can speculate about what might happen, and what will become of the godly minority.  Peter does have some appropriate words about this:

I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he … destroy[ed] the ancient world with a mighty flood. 

And by the same word, the present heavens and earth …are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.…The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief…On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.

And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.  (2 Peter 3:3-14 NLT)

Tobiah in the Temple?

The Jews (some of the survivors, that is) were back from their 70-year captivity and trying to rebuild their lives back in their own land.  But it wasn’t the same.  This land was now heavily under the influence of non-Jews who felt threatened by the return of its former occupants.  In fact, their influence extended right into the highest rank of Jewish leadership, the high priest, Eliashib.  Eliashib was closely connected with the very two, Tobiah and Sanballat, who had tried every trick in the book to put a stop to the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall.  (From the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament)

And now, thanks to this high priest, Tobiah had his own private quarters right inside God’s Temple!  And Sanballat was now related to the high priest by marriage!  Tolerance, right?  Inclusivity?  Well, God doesn’t tolerate this kind of tolerance.  His standard is holiness, which is borne out in the three main points of the vow the people took after repenting from “”the three big sins they kept falling into:  intermarriage with pagan neighbors, violation of the Sabbath laws, and neglect of Temple worship and its requirements.

So what’s the relevance of all this today?  The common thread is God’s requirement that His people remain untainted by that “lowest common denominator” that our own lower nature and the world around us relentlessly suck us into. 

God has much better things for us—things that lead upward to joy, peace, love, life, light!

I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  (Philippians 3:13b-14 NLT)

When Does Wrong Become Right?

For a few weeks I helped with the homeschooling of my grandchildren.  Among those fascinating things they’re learning, such as the French Revolution and the lives of bats, are the good old “math facts.”  They struggle with the same ones as I did at that age, such as 7 x 8 = 56.  It hasn’t changed. Why?  Because it’s true.

What if a group of kids got together and decided that 7 x 8 = 60?  What if they persuaded a groundswell of public opinion to support it, including church leaders, politicians, math teachers, and corporate leaders?  Would that make it true? Would architects and chemists change their formulas and begin to base their work on this new “fact”?

Note the rationale cited in this article  by Bobby Ross, Jr. dated June 5 on the issue of the Boy Scouts admitting openly “gay” members (emphasis mine):

“Scout leaders, gay activists, religious conservatives and historians of Scouting point to five key factors to explain the shift: 1) a dramatic turnabout in public opinion about the morality of gay relationships and same-sex marriage, 2) a groundswell from corporate leaders insisting on equal access for gays, 3) shifting attitudes inside the two largest religious denominations within Scouting, 4) a steady decline in troop membership and 5) a sense that Scouting’s image had morphed in the public mind from Mom and apple pie to an exclusionary group with a narrowing appeal.”

All of these so-called reasons are human opinions and attitudes.  Do questions of right and wrong depend on changing human opinions and attitudes or on God’s unchangeable character and principles?

No one seriously questions the physical laws set in place by the Creator, knowing that the result would be foolish and probably catastrophic. So why are His moral laws considered fair game for being rescinded by popular vote?

Frustration & Restoration

My heart aches, and admittedly responds with indignation, as the daily headlines bring more news of God’s righteous standards being ignored, compromised, mocked, and blatantly violated.  God Himself is being dismissed as a tolerant grandfather-figure who would never judge anyone for anything, rendering Him quite ineffective and irrelevant.

So I was comforted this morning as I read God’s encouragement to those who choose to truly follow Him. 

“Listen to me, you who know right from wrong
you who cherish my law in your hearts.
Do not be afraid of people’s scorn,
nor fear their insults.
For the moth will devour them as it devours clothing.
The worm will eat at them as it eats wool.
But my righteousness will last forever.
My salvation will continue from generation to generation.”  Isaiah 51:7-8

Lord, give us the courage to endure the frowns of society out of our loyalty to You!  We look forward to the day when You put everything to rights.

Child Sacrifice—Who is Guilty?

Molech was a pagan idol god of Old Testament times.  “Parents would sacrifice their children to this god and watch without showing emotion or care. A fire was lit inside of the idol which would turn its arms white from the heat. When they were at this level of heat, the parents would come with their children, lay them on the arms of the idol and watch while their child burned. The onlookers would beat drums as loud as they could so the child could not be heard and this would keep going until finally the child died.” (from Into the Light Ministries website)

God commanded that anyone who sacrificed their child to Molech should be killed by stoning.  (Leviticus 20:2-5) But that wasn’t all—He also ordered that anyone who knew about this happening but “tolerated” it by not reporting and prosecuting the offenders would be just as guilty! 

A modern-day equivalent of child sacrifice is abortion—destroying a precious life as an offering to the gods of Lust, Convenience, Pride, or Money.  We may believe that is wrong, but are we guilty of looking the other way and tolerating it?  God doesn’t tolerate that kind of tolerance!  How many sins are committed under the guise of “tolerance”?  God demands holiness from His people. (See the whole book of Leviticus.) That means being different from the crowds around us. 

No compromise. 

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

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