There are a lot of people out there who may not be accustomed to living anywhere but a lie. Not just criminals or thieves, but ordinary people. And that’s the way the Israelites lived when they fell away from God.
The description God gives of Israel at the time of Jeremiah 9 is shows how the Israelites lived in their lie and their sin. He describes it as a place of deceit and lies (9:4-6), with people who act one way and are another way at heart. They live without honesty or truth–and so many people live their lives this way:
With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him.” Jeremiah 9:8
Sound like you or someone you know? It’s easy to get caught up in this. God said, “…it is not by truth that they triumph in the Lord.” Living the lie means you’re not living in God’s truth. It means you’re denying him and living the way you see fit. But there’s always consequences.
I have a saying: “It’s not karma. It’s life.” The Israelites became like they were because of their own actions–because they weren’t following God’s plan. And how did that start? You don’t follow God’s commands in the little things, and it keeps getting bigger. It grows.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Call it the inverse of the conditional, but Matthew 5:8 makes it clear that without a pure heart, you won’t see God. The tiniest sin can escalate to blind us from seeing God, and that’s exactly what happened to the Israelites.
That’s why, every time we sin, we need to remember God has redeemed our sins, and ask him for forgiveness and redemption for our actions, so our heart will be pure. It is because of our sin that we blindly make mistakes that end up hurting ourselves.
Jeremiah 9:13 should have new meaning for you now. As God is talking about the terrible place that Israel is to live in, he says knowingly:
It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.”
End those habits before they start. Ask for forgiveness, and ask that God will help you succeed next time.
In the midst of difficult situations, tempting circumstances, and harsh conditions, even as Christians we often deal with our life scenarios just like any other average Joe might. So we’re talking about the non-average way, the right way, to deal with issues. Last week, we talked about the first step in dealing with difficulties, which is extremely important: accepting your circumstance. This week, it’s about the execution.
Even among hard times, God is always working in our lives and in the lives of others. He’s always looking out for us. You can trust that before God would ever put you into a time of difficulty, he would give you a way to get through it.
Simply as a testament to God’s constant intervention, I had a lot of things I was considering putting in this post, and was a bit confused, if not lost on the subject. Then, I went to Sunday church, and was intrigued to have a guest speaker speak on this exact subject, dealing with resolving difficult times in a Christ-like way.
I can’t help but use the same verse in his sermon, because it wonderfully depicts the wrong way and the right way of dealing with troubles.
In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”” Psalm 11:1-3
David isn’t in an easy position, either. He’s under attack, literally or figuratively for his faith and for doing what he knows is right. Other people are telling him to flee from his enemies and run from his troubles, but he’s asking those others how they can ever suggest him to flee or run away when he takes refuge in the Lord. And so do we.
Because we are protected by God, we can trust him to help us through difficult circumstances, trusting him that we’ll come out all right. It’s critical that we move past our fear, and we don’t simply run and hide from the situation at hand. Rather, we have to get our hands dirty and face it: to move forward. When our foundations are being destroyed, the Lord is our solid rock and foundation. It’s a tough message, and a tough thing to do, and we only can succeed with God, but if you want to do things right, God’s way is the only way to go.
I’m pretty much no good at Call of Duty: Black Ops. My friend would score in the top two of every game, and I would score in the bottom two every game. And every time, at the end of the round, I would say to myself, “Next time. Next time I’ll do better.” Then, when I wouldn’t and I would have the worst kill-death ratio of any, I would say, “Well, I got like 30 assists, then.” And my friend would subtly say, “Um, you had two…”
“Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!” Jeremiah 4:18
No, losing at a game isn’t punishment. But it is an example of a time we have to suck it up and accept the circumstances. For me, I’ll just have to live with the fact that I am never going to be a professional at first person shooters. For you, and for anyone, there are moments in our lives where the circumstances won’t be how we want them to be. Difficult circumstances, often.
The Israelites faced a similar situation, as they awaited doom. I’m sure many had their doubts as the prophet Jeremiah related to them the things which would happen to them, including being defeated by the Babylonians and exiled. And Jeremiah related the above line, from God, on the subject, and it’s so blatant that it’s too obvious to overlook.
Simply put, we have to take responsibility for things when they’re our fault. And when they’re not, but the situation couldn’t be changed, we still have to accept what’s happening and take it for the best. Accepting people, problems, and personal struggles we face will make it possible to deal with them in a Christ-like way.
Do you know what trust really means? The knowledge that you can depend on someone. Trust is a brutal thing because of its difficulty. You have to earn trust, as you probably know, and you probably also know that that’s not easy. You can’t go up to a stranger, tell them a secret, and be satisfied that your secret is safe. Restoring trust is even harder, though. You have to learn the nature of someone before you can trust them. And then, knowing who they are, you can decide to trust them.
Elijah took that to a whole new level. He trusted God no matter what, in 1 Kings 18: 36-39 Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal one man to four hundred fifty. He trusted in God so much that, through God’s power, he showed every one of those four hundred and fifty prophets up. Elijah knew God’s nature; he also knew God would come through and show his glory to Baal’s followers.
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”” 1 Kings 18:36-39
Due to God’s awesome mercy, he will forgive us for not quite trusting Him the first time, and will reward us when we do trust him–completely.
God uses any time, place, person, or thing to show His truth. Any opportunity can be used by God to save someone. However you came to be saved, assuming you are, God used the things that led up to that as opportunities to show you the truth and do his will.
Be very careful, then, how you live —not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
Opportunities can sometimes be missed, there may be many, or you may need to ask God to help you see the opportunities.
Heaven. Many may never see this holiest realm of God’s glory. But I’ll tell you something about this blog. Triple Vertex was founded partially to make sure you’re not one of those people. Death is the price everyone has to pay for sin ( John 3:16), because Eve and Adam ate the apple of the Tree of Life and sin was released into the world (see The Story of Sin).
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”” 1 Corinthians 15:54
We are the perishable and the mortal, and when we die (or Jesus returns) we will be imperishable and immortal. Jesus conquered death and took the blame for our sins. He took the weight off our shoulders, so that we could have eternal life in him (yes, John 3:16 again). He paid the price of death so that we didn’t have to.
Death is difficult, nonetheless. Jesus made it possible for us to be comforted in death, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. When someone dies, it seems that’s something we have to overcome all over again. But for those who die with their faith in Christ, there is no place for fear. We are sinners, but by the blood of Christ, by his death and resurrection, we are sanctified in our acceptance of him.
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with mennor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
We must sanctified in order to be worthy and holy enough for passage to heaven. That is why we all must be redeemed by Christ, accepting the sacrifice he made in his death, so that we’re sure about ours. It involves only two steps:
If you  declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and  believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
This verse makes it plain and clear. Believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord, and that he was resurrected for us, and we can be sure of our passage upstairs. This is why there is no fear in death for us–but hope. Death isn’t a pleasant thing, but in our deaths as Christians, we will be more alive than before when we are with the Lord.
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” Hebrews 2:14-15
Whether you’re the skin-and-bones gamer who spends his Saturdays captivated by the latest, or the person who spends their day at the gym, or maybe a strange mix of both, we all have at least a little strength. But all that doesn’t even compare to God’s unlimited strength. God also has unlimited love, and so he’ll use his strength to help us out. Plus, all he asks for is us giving him glory (see Glory to the Lord Most High) by accepting and living for him.
The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2
The Lord is omnipotent (all powerful) and will protect us with his strength and love. The Lord gives us strength so that we can thrive in Him.
David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” 1 Samuel 30:6
I want to keep Geeks on Faith posts like this simple, short, and made just to remind of you of the important things we all need to remember. I hope you walk away today trusting God to give you the strength to get through whatever you are going through. The Lord has more strength and love than there is in the entire world, and he is fully willing to help you with it.
It’s something we all hope for, we all seek, and something that is dangerous to bring upon ourselves. You guessed it–glory. (But you probably only got it because it’s in the title). Though it is an everlasting want, all that “glory” is what man thinks of you, not God. Yes, pride often springs up when Christians take the kingdom’s victories as their own, and for their own glory. God gains glory through us in all kinds of ways, though, like such victories. Perhaps by doing miracles and showing people that he is real, like healing people from a disease or suddenly stopping a forest fire for example. Or, perhaps, crashing an entire sea on top of an incoming Egyptian army, maybe?
“And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.” Exodus 14:4
Miracles are a tool God uses to show his might and power. They also may help us to show people his light. Outside of miracles, God can also show his glory in us. We must give glory to God by answering his call. When we do this, we can bring him the glory of our success. God does great things in our lives for a number of reasons: to guide others, to save the unreached, or to bless his followers–but all of these things may bring him glory.
The jaws of sin (see Jaws) eat away at our faith and keep us from giving glory to God. So when we get too involved in our sin and in our own glory then we can’s serve God’s purpose and give him the glory.
When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:3
The glory of God will fill our lives when we worship God, serve God, and put him first. Everything we do should be for his glory. All the things in our lives we have to do and remember to be truly “pious” Christians are really for this single purpose.
Due to God’s unfailing love we are totally in his debt, but because of that love, all that he asks for is the glory of answering his call.
As you read the title, it’s likely that you were reminded of the image of a younger child, whining to a parent about how something wasn’t fair. Or maybe, you were reminded of the last time you thought something was extraordinarily unfair. Or, you might have been reminded of song lyrics, or the saying “Life isn’t fair”, or–maybe you didn’t really think anything and just decided to start reading and find out what it meant. Well, it could be a lot of the above. You be reminded of our previous post on God’s justice, but this post is firstly more in-depth (as you never would have guessed), and secondly uses more direct examples, explaining why exactly the things that happen are fair, or, at least, they are just. The “fairness” of the world has always been an issue for everyone, as humanity has strived to make life fair as possible (ahem–fair as humanly possible, being the core of the problem), and governments have been founded to promote justice. And what is the only thing that is truly fair and rightly just? I think you know.
The Lord has been bringing justice to the world as long as there has been a world. In saying that, there have been many cases which may leave many wondering how justice was served, or such a thing was right, and often those questions concern 1 of 2 scenarios: your life, or the lives of the Israelites (Don’t worry–I plan on going over both).
As far as the Israelites go, it never seemed in the bible that they could stay faithful to God for longer than two politicians can go without shifting blame. But here’s the thing: God forgave them. He constantly had to deal with the cycle of apostasy: the Israelites would fall away from God, then get into trouble, then call on God, then get rescued, then worship God, then fall away and start over again. In some cases, thankfully, it didn’t always involve the Israelites’ near desolation. There are a lot of examples, though, of God not only rebuking Israel, his people, but other nations. Many will point out that other nations’ people, all of them, couldn’t have all known about the God of Israel. The thing is, they didn’t have to know.
Have you ever been punished for something that you didn’t do? Or, especially, have you been punished as a group when you didn’t do anything. I remember personally back in grade school, whenever I had a loud or talkative class, that the rewards would be taken from everyone, not just the main culprits of the greater noise. The teachers often even knew who the main motor-mouths were, but more often than not, they would punish all despite this. They didn’t want to risk the group mentality. That’s something like how God operated in that day and age. Nations like Babylon, Moab, or Ammon worshipped other gods and idols, but those surrounding Israel (note that due to Israel’s central location, there were quite a few) knew about Israel’s god. It’s important that we realized these people, as a nation, rejected the one true God for others. The alternative?
And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountainand give them joy in my house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:6-7
I think God made it pretty clear that other peoples were certainly to be accepted if they decided to follow the Lord. Every time God punished a nation for their unrighteousness, that nation would have known fully well what they were doing. It’s not necessarily true that every individual would have known that they should have been worshipping the Lord, but it was the nation as a whole that had to be punished. On the other hand, it should
Why? God had to keep his kingdom holy, and to preserve his name. When nations defied God and defiled his name in everything they could, competing for the sovereign kingdom, they were asking for it. The Lord had established his holy kingdom in Israel, which is why he had to keep the Israelites on their toes with specific rules and regulations. God had a relationship with the people only as whole, in a relatively impersonal way. With the relationship, he was glorified. Today, we glorify God on a personal level of acceptance, so that God has a relationship with each and every individual, so it isn’t necessary to execute judgement on the scale of an entire nation. So, was it fair to punish nations outside of Israel, sometimes by killing thousands? It’s slightly more complicated, perhaps, than we think but it was absolutely fair. If there was any doubt, it was decided by the ultimate and righteous judge, the Lord.
So Part 2 of all this our modern-day lives following the life of Christ: your life. Or–since I don’t actually know anything about your life–we’ll go with our lives. As I mentioned, we have a relationship with God today on a personal basis for his glorification. In laymen’s terms, we can know God as a friend. The advantage to this is that judgement does seem a little bit more fair, because day-to-day we are personal held accountable for our own actions, instead of those of our nation or country.
Bad things happen to good people, right? Yes, but for specific reasons. This isn’t an easy thing to accept, or even to live with–especially when we’re the good, striving people who undergo difficulties. But things happen to people for reasons we don’t understand, and the world’s horrible things don’t exist by God’s preference in the first place.
So justice is served in our lives, making things truly right, because God just says so? Yes, but there’s a little more to it. Things come together for those who follow God, as a huge part of the bible is used to tell us. Likewise, those who don’t follow God, by choice, will be punished appropriately. Of course, this doesn’t mean that will always be the case. In fact, it may never seem to be the case in your life.
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. ” 2 Corinthians 9:10
Just in case you didn’t get the message: God will supply. And further, he will “enlarge the harvest of your righteousness”, so he will reward you as well. God’s plan for our lives is perfect for us, as he made us, and cares for us personally, so whatever happens, you can face it (that’s definitely in the bible, but I can’t recall where…). As the apostle Paul simply describes trials:
You know quite well that we were destined for them.” 1 Thessalonians 3:3
We were destined for difficulty, and why wouldn’t that be fair? Difficulty builds us up in faith (James 1:2-4). But now that we know all this, we have the responsibility to play our part in God’s plan for justice.
And in the entire world, God is working through countless Christians, people of all ages, origins, and skill sets, occupations, knowledge, and everything else to get the word out, the good news, to all people. And, if one person from some ancient civilization was killed in innocence, or if a woman in a remote village today dies before ever hearing about Jesus, or a child dies in birth–who’s to say, on Judgement Day, God won’t give them a fair sentence? It is fair, whether we understand or not. We can trust the ruling the Lord gives everywhere on Earth or in Heaven. And better, God’s ruling is just–of that we can be sure.
After getting through all of that, you may still have lots of unanswered questions, and there are many things I didn't explain. Luckily, we've probably explained that in another post. I know for sure there's useful stuff in these two:
We all know of the Steven Spielberg hit, Jaws, where a giant great white shark attacks a popular coast chocked full of tourists, and I’m pretty sure most of us are thankful that isn’t real, at least when we go to the beach. But there is something quite like it we face everyday. As we go through life, we all kind of wish things could be like a day at the beach. But our big white shark is sin, which it tears us to pieces, with its jaws, trying to separate us from God. Those who are controlled by sin are what sin uses, to get us to turn from God. As I talked about in my post last week, sin uses world pollution to control us and get us to turn away from God–hence, we suffer the ultimate punishment and go to hell. The believers throw out the sin where there is gnashing of teeth.
Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 22:13
The jaws of sin are impossible to break free of, unless you have asked Jesus into your heart, and you do what he asks you to. Sin can control us and when that happens, we can do some horrible stuff to ourselves and to others.
As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.” Romans 7:17
As Christians, we must learn to let Jesus forgive our sins, so that we can have a relationship with him. When we accept him and his Spirit, we gain power through him to combat sin. And, I think, once we have the power of God on our side, sin won’t be quite the big scary shark it once was.