“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Proverbs 4:25-27
I haven’t been feeling well over the last few weeks and the time has made me more aware than I’d like to admit of my shortcomings. In several aspects of my life I’ve gone the opposite direction than I had hoped for. And that right there is part of the problem. I’m hoping for something that I’m not 1-putting the effort into and 2-and most importantly-not bringing them to Jesus first. As we all may do at times, or more often than not, relying solely on our own abilities and knowledge rather than God’s faithfulness.
Or, I can sit here and try to blame Satan for it all…which is all too easy to do. He’s the reason I haven’t been in the Word or prayer. He’s the reason that I’m gaining weight, rather than losing weight. He’s the reason my neck and back have been so painful. Let’s try that again-at the end of the day, I haven’t done my own part. It’s no one else’s fault. I’ve been slacking in so many aspects…personally and spiritually. And today, I’m calling myself out on it. No more excuses. No more pity party. No more relying on someone else-or even myself. I’m relying on Jesus!
I’ve been all too easily sidetracked the last month or so. I love being in the Word, so I don’t know why I’ve struggled so much to open my Bible. But today is a new day. God is good and had my honey and I up extra early today-so we decided to sit out on our deck to do our reading and prayer time and I actually laughed as I read the Word this morning. Why? Because I LOVE how straight forward Jesus is. How He calls people, and us, out on our issues.
In Matthew 23 He calls out the religious leaders. It was verses 23 and 24 is what made me laugh…”What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law-justice, mercy and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentially swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!”
At the time they would have strained their water because ingesting a gnat would make them unclean. You see, they were so intent on following ‘the law’ that they forgot to show justice, grace and mercy to all those around them. They would rather ‘show off’ how good they were at keeping the law than showing the love of God to their neighbor. And by their self-righteous behavior-instead of swallowing a gnat they swallowed the camel instead!
“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am Lord.” Leviticus 19:18
As we can often do, they were more concerned about putting on ‘airs’, wanting to seem like the best of the best. Better then a regular citizen. It reminds me of the story in Luke 18 with the Pharisee and the tax collector that went to the temple to pray. The Pharisee made a show of his self-righteous prayer showing thanks that he wasn’t ‘a sinner like everyone else’- while the tax collector had such reverence for God and immense sadness for the sins he committed that he woulnd’t even lift his eyes to heaven.
I get that. I get that feeling of being so completely inadequate for what God and Jesus has done for me. I get that feeling of shame for the things that I’ve done, for the things that I’ve thought. But I sadly also get the self-righteous attitude too. Comparing what I’ve done in different things to others who haven’t done the same. Yeah, that’s way too easy for me to do.
That’s a big reason I am so very thankful for God’s faithfulness…which we know through His Word.
‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11
‘Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.’ Hebrews 10:23
God loves us. Always. Through our good, bad and ugly times. He is the reason we can have Hope on the darkest of our days. And that is why we need to share the Gospel with those around us. Not to shove our belief down someone else’s throat but to share why our God is so crazy good. Why we find Hope in Him.
Friend, if you haven’t given your life to Jesus yet…come. Come now. He’s waiting for YOU. He did all that He has so He can have a beautiful, personal relationship with the one He loves. YOU.
I’d like to ask you all to keep in prayer all those that serve this great country (U.S.A.) in the Armed Forces and their families. Without them we wouldn’t have the freedoms that we do…Like my being able to share my faith here with you.
God bless. God bless AMERICA!
In Jesus’ precious name.
“Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” Helen Keller