God's Plumb Line
“Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet.” Isaiah 28:17
Some of you might not know that I grew up on a farm. My dad was one of the hardest workers I have ever known. He also was one of the Godliest men I have ever known as well. I know some of my memories may be exaggerated from childhood, and he passed away 30+ years ago. However, my memories have been affirmed repeatedly as people have come forward through the years to provide testimony of how my father helped and ministered to them through the years.
When one grows up on a farm, you learn many things without “formal training.” There is a need and you just “learn.” My father, his friends – farmers and hunting buddies, they taught so much as we worked together through the years. A term I learned during those days was the saying, “out of kilter.” These men would have their ways of doing things, there were times I took the “shortcut.” What does this term mean? Well, sometimes something was “out of kilter” if you just did not do the task their way. On other occasions, what I did – by using my shortcuts, just didn’t work. Therefore, there were many times around the farm things were “out of kilter.”
Recently I was working on a project while Linda was listening to a Kay Arthur Bible study video. As Kay Arthur taught, she was using the illustration of a plumb line. It reminded of the times we worked together on the farm. When something was not straight and true, they would tell me it was “out of plumb.”
During Bible times, a plumb line was a cord with a lead weight used by builders to make sure that walls were constructed straight up and down. A spiritual plumb line speaks of God’s absolute uprightness. Kay Arthur would let the truth of the scripture she was teaching drop plumb, and then as she explained how we “lived out” that truth, we tended to go to the left or the right, she would push the line one way or the other to illustrate that modern day America often times is “out of kilter/out of plumb.” Then she would reiterate the scripture and the necessity of our getting back “in plumb.”
Recently I was studying Deuteronomy 14, emphasizing that EVERY aspect of our lives – including our menu – should be under the LORDSHIP of Christ! We need to apply God’s plumb line to our lives. Would we be “out of kilter” if we applied God’s plumb line to our homes/marriages? How do our business ethics, entertainment choices, political views, personal priorities, and practices measure up to the Biblical plumb line?
Apply God’s plumb line to our marriages and homes. How do the ethics of business, politics, and entertainment measure up to God’s plumb line? We can see how far our country has strayed from the biblical standards of right and wrong. If we are honest, we will see that in most aspects of American culture, there has been a major shift and we are way out of plumb!
God has established Jesus as our pattern of personal holiness. We have drifted far from that plumb line of righteousness. There will come a day when He will judge us out of kilter and unless we change, our eternity could be affected. We must get back to God’s Word to be plumb. If not, God will surely bring judgment upon our crooked walls.
Pray today that God will forgive us for being out of plumb. Thank Him for His mercy and grace toward us as we come back to the straight and narrow.
The ADVENTURE Of Trusting God
The LORD said to Gideon, "I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped." Judges 7:7, HCSB
This morning in my scripture reading, I read from Judges 7. The above verse leaped out. God’s promise to Gideon, “I will deliver you….” To stop and meditate on that truth provides encouragement! Then I read a Twitter post by my son, “David & Goliath is not about slaying the big problems in our life, but about trusting in God to deliver. David shows faith, & so should we.” Do you note the use of the same word – deliver?
If God delivers, then I can trust Him to deliver. Trusting God means I can be confident in Him to obey His commands. As the old hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s NO OTHER WAY, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
After thinking of that scripture and that truth, I began to think of the “adventures” life affords us as we live for Him. I reflected upon mission trips to Malaysia, Alaska, Wyoming, China, New York, Gulfport, Niger, Vermont, Connecticut, Bangladesh, Canada, etc. God has given me numerous opportunities to serve Him outside my “comfort zone,” and in every circumstance, God has delivered. As an act of faith, we should trust God to deliver and obediently serve Him in our day-to-day.
God is looking for people who will "stand." When the army of the Midians came against the Israelites, Gideon called for the men of Israel to defend. Initially he gathered together a large army of 32,000 men. Through a strange test of obedience, God reduced them to a mere handful of men. In 32,000 men who responded, God could trust 300 to stand with Him.
When Goliath taunted the people of God, well-trained and capable men cowarded as a result of his jeering. Young David trusted God to deliver.
I remember vividly right at daybreak arriving at the airport in Malaysia. We had been scheduled to go in October 2001, but we were not allowed to fly from the United States that day. The “War on Terror” actually began as a result of 9/11. We were delayed until January 2002. As we arrived, we were met by 4 men with only broken English. We were ushered into waiting jeeps with several other men (still no one that “looked like us”). We headed off to wherever they were taking us. I remember praying, “God, I hope these are the men we were supposed to meet because I have no idea what is going on here.” I trusted God, and He delivered!
Similar scenarios have taken place during other mission trips. In China when we experienced the worship of an underground church service we stumbled upon outside a village; In Malaysia where people waited hours in 95-degree heat “just in case the Americans might preach;” In Niger when we spent 2 hours with the village Imam and he declared in the hearing of the crowds that had gathered with us under that tree, “Surely this Jesus you talk about must be the Son of God.” And similar scenarios occur near and far, at home or abroad, as we trust God and stand firm in obedience to His commands.
Going back to Gideon and his 300 men, God saw that they were men who would stand and never quit. Because they were men who would stand and never quit, He dismissed the rest. We know the story, with just a small army of three hundred, He proceeded to defeat the Midianites. With David, there was the same level of commitment. As he stood, God used him to bring down the enemy. As already stated, we need to learn the same truth – God delivers so trust Him to give you the victory as you obey Him!
God has always done His greatest work in and through a small number of people, and sometimes strange (impossible seeming) tactics. This is why, when it comes to spiritual victories, we just need to forget about the idea of numbers and what “makes sense” to us. With God – as the scripture declares – ALL THINGS are possible. So, we should learn to “trust and obey!”
God wants men and women today who are prepared to "stand." Men and women whose feet are "shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." He will not entrust great responsibility to people whom He knows will not "stand," for that would be an exercise in fruitlessness.
The question before you today is simple, “Are you standing for God?” In the environment in which God has placed you for this season, are you indeed standing for God?
As in Gideon's day, God is looking for people who will take their stand on His Word, no matter what the world throws at us. God is looking for people who will stand firm and commit themselves to doing what He asks even though they may not feel like it or see the sense of it. Are you such a person? If you indeed are, hang on – get ready for the exciting spiritual adventures that lie ahead!
A Heart To KNOW God: Part Two
“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24: 7, HCSB
Part one with this title took a completely different direction than I had intended in the beginning. As I sat in Bible Study last night at church, I was amazed at how God had used yesterday’s devotion to prepare me to HEAR Him in that Bible study last night. God IS amazing. He continually goes before us to prepare the way. If we will learn to listen to His voice and adjust our lives to His ways, oh what abiding joy would abound in our lives! Today I want to build on the original intent. I begin by asking two basic questions.
1. Do YOU have a HEART for God?
Not 100% sure what all might be involved in that word HEART. I am thinking in term of a yearning for; a desire to know Him fully; a longing to please Him in every breath you take kind of attitude. At your very core, you want to immediately turn from your ways to His ways when the truth is revealed to you.
Psalm 42: 1 (Amplified): “As the hart pants and longs for the water brooks, so I pant and long for You, O God.”
2. Are you confident YOU are in relationship with the Living Lord Jesus Christ?
I am becoming more and more convinced I have to deal with this basic question in my dealings with “church folks.” So many of us appear pre-occupied with things contrary to the teachings of Christ (the heart of God), that I feel we do need to examine our personal relationship with Christ. Do you absolutely know that you will spend eternity in His presence? It is my belief that, as we walk with Him, we WILL walk with Him and not work so hard at getting things done our way.
Several years ago, there was a faithful member of the church I served. She was faithful in her attendance, faithful in her support, and faithful in her service and ministry to others. There is no doubt in my mind she was in a personal relationship with the Living Lord Jesus Christ. When she passed a couple of years after I served the church, I chuckled to myself about one of our regular conversations. She would say, “Preacher, remember when I die I want you to sing ‘I Did It My Way” at my funeral.” To which we would have conversation about that being the worst song I would want sung at my funeral. Oh how I want my legacy to be the singing of “He Did It God’s Way.”
I read recently, “God is interested in whole-hearted stayers, not false-hearted strayers.” We can NOT fool God! The Lord has your name and address. He KNOWS our “secret sin” that interferes with our relationship. Moreover, He knows the REAL condition of your heart. God KNOWS when our status is updated to reflect where we are, who we’re with, what we’re doing, but He also knows our motivation for all! What does God long for in His relationship with us? He longs for hearts that want to know Him. If we are walking with Him today, as we should, then it is our heart to KNOW Him!
In the scripture used in this writing, we see how God encouraged Jeremiah to remain faithful. Jeremiah was God’s prophet to the people of Judah somewhere around 600 B.C. The people of Judah were in exile in Babylon as punishment for their continued disobedience to God. Perhaps we need to learn there are both personal and collective (family, church, nation) consequences for our continued disobedience to God. Nevertheless, God still used Jeremiah to proclaim His truth to His people (thank God for His amazing grace). In this instance, God used two baskets of figs to encourage Jeremiah, assuring him of His redemptive plan for the faithful exiles.
One of the baskets was filled with ripe, juicy figs. This basket represented the exiles that would honor God by returning to Him. The second basket of figs represented the exiles that would refuse to follow Him. Those figs were rotten. God set His eyes on those who would return to Him. He promised to bring them back, build them up, and plant them in the land of His purpose. He would be their God, and they would be His people.
It is my prayer we will HEAR what God is saying to His people (then and now). To ALL that will return to Him (and those that have remained faithful to Him), we can STAND ON THE PROMISES OF GOD! He has promised to bring us back – restoring that relationship with Him and not being exiled to a pagan land; to build us up – to strengthen us and provide all that we need for each day; to plant/establish us as His people to achieve His purpose. Oh, and then the beautiful promise of God – as a part of His family, we will experience the joy of His being our God – our refuge, our strength, our comfort, our help, our everything!
Is your basket of figs ripe toward Him?
A Heart To KNOW God!
“And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.” Jeremiah 24: 7, HCSB
The question to ponder is simple, do I REALLY want to KNOW God or am I content to know OF God? The way we truthfully answer that question says a great deal about where we are with God. If we have genuinely accepted Christ as personal Savior and are striving to live a life that honors and glorifies Him, then we are not content with a basic knowledge OF God. Instead, our hearts desire is to get to KNOW God intimately. The more we come to KNOW God, the more we know we have to change our ways to be obedient to His way.
A toddler has some ways that could lead to destruction. Therefore, there is a form of discipline necessary to insure he doesn’t place a screwdriver in an outlet; doesn’t place her hand on the kitchen burner (probably shows my age); teaching them they can’t walk up to strangers on the street and go off with them; etc. etc. etc. As the child grows, he/she may not have to be reminded of such things for he/she has come to know those disciplines and tries to walk by them.
When that toddler becomes a teenager, he/she often knows better (please note these are all lower case letters), than their father and mother and sometimes rebels. However, a good father/mother loves unconditionally, teaches the truth consistently, prays fervently, models faithfully, and hungers for the day that “prodigal child” will return to the truths of his father/mother. Not because the father/mother wants to punish them or “rub their noses in it,” rather because it restores the relationship the father/mother longs for and has sought to instill within their child(ren) all along.
Over the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to speak with many people about the truths of God’s Word. I have discovered that all of us are sometimes like little children, somewhat naive and willing to follow the lure of total strangers. When that stranger offers that lollipop, that unsuspecting child is placing himself in potential of great danger by running away from the security of his mother’s arm. The child may protest, but I contend that mother is not hurting her child by holding him close and telling him why he should be weary and cautious of strangers trying to lure him away from his mother.
Then there are times we are like rebellious teenagers. We stubbornly hold to our own ways. We know what mom and dad have taught, but we are hearing the lure of a culture that encourages us to wander away a bit and experience life on our own. Mom and dad might constantly remind us of “the way we ought to go,” but we stubbornly hold our own and go our own way.
Unfortunately, during this period, we all make mistakes we will come to regret, but – for the moment – we stubbornly go our own way and justify our actions with a theologically sound statement like, “Mom, but everybody else is doing it!” Of course, we moms and dads respond with an equally theologically sound response, “If everybody else was jumping off a cliff, would you follow them?”
If you are a parent, begin EARLY teaching them what everybody else is doing is irrelevant! What would God have YOU to do is the appropriate question we need to instill within our children early on because we will not be with them most times they are tempted to follow the crowd. Please note, I emphasized we must begin EARLY.
That reminds me of a conversation with a Sunday School teacher in our church earlier this year. There was a new student in her class. It came time for them to pray together as a Sunday School and the teacher opened the floor for the students’ prayer concerns. Everyone shared something – sick family members and friends, family member traveling to some place that week, a death in a friend’s family, etc. The teacher asked the new student if he had a prayer request. Without hesitation, the responded they should pray for the “peace of Jerusalem.” Evidence this three-year old had been in the presence of some Biblical teaching.
Most of us have lived through those rebellious years and we still, as young adults, often remain skeptical and a tad rebellious. Somewhere along the way – hopefully, we begin to mature, have regrets, etc. etc. and return to the relationship of family that is fulfilling/rewarding.
Why do I say all this? Well, first – the culture we live in appears to be neglecting our responsibilities of teaching our children the truths of God. Second, many of us in positions of leadership – whether it be parent, preacher, politician, etc, - are doing a poor job of modeling God’s truths. Third, many of us seem to be living an extended amount of time in that rebellious stage. All the while, God – with love in His eyes and His arms open wide, stands ready to receive us into His presence to enjoy the fulfillment of being His sons and daughters.
His sons and daughters that are abiding in Him, have a hearts desire to know Him more fully and experience the joy that abounds from being obedient to His ways. Every time I try to justify my actions that are contrary to God’s Ways, I know that I have slipped a little for His ways NEVER change. He does not accommodate my ways, for He knows the eternal consequences. 2 Chronicles 7: 14 may be a scripture we need to study.
In recent days, a look at Deuteronomy 14 has been a help to me. You might say, “Why a study of the forbidden things to eat?” My reply – I do not know why God chooses to use particular scriptures to pierce your heats, but He does. As I read Deuteronomy 14 I was overwhelmed with the thought that EVEN MY MENU SHOULD BE UNDER THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST. You guys know me, so you know that would be a stretch for me to say I am there—but that is what God revealed to me. I do not know the “whys,” but God is bringing more scripture to my eyes to teach me more of His ways.
Among the scriptures included God’s command for His people to be holy. When I read that, I referred back to Deuteronomy 14 and God taught me this, I CAN NOT BE TRULY HOLY UNTIL I AM WHOLLY HIS. I pray that every time I “eat that which is forbidden” that God will remind me that I belong to Him and that more and more, I will choose to be obedient to God and not yield to the lure of the enemy and do that which brings harm to myself.
By the way, Deuteronomy 14 talks about those who belong to God and those that do not belong to God. His people are to be wholly (and holy) different from those that follow the lure of the enemy. Narrow is the way that leads to heaven, so do not believe the lies of the enemy. The enemy seeks to destroy----God sent His Son so that we might have life more abundant!
Associational Missions Strategist at Tar River Baptist Association since November, 2000. Called of God to work with member churches to strengthen the local church in its efforts to impact lostness in THIS generation! I will ATTEMPT to add to this blog almost daily. People are free to use the ideas shared in any way they wish. The purpose of the posts are merely to help us in our search to BE the people God is calling us to BE in Him!