The Lord is evident to all mankind…everyday, in every way. It says here that He causes His righteousness and praise to spring up as seeds sprout up from the warm soil in the Springtime. For elsewhere in Isaiah it says, “You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the Lord have created it.” (Isaiah 45:8) God’s righteousness and praise comes down like the Spring rains, watering the land and causing the seeds to sprout and grow… covering the earth with beauty for all to see.
We can love…because He first loved us. We’re precious in His sight, so we’re able to view our fellow man with the same compassion and kindness we’ve received. We’re encouraged by His Word so that we may comfort and console those around us. We’re strengthened by His grace and mercy that we may give that same grace and mercy away. Finally, our wonderful Lord is faithful to us that we may be faithful to spread His Gospel Message.
Peter went on to write, ” If you suffer as a Christian, don’t be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that Name.” (I Peter 4:16) Thus, when I look at both these verses, I see that when I stand my ground and do what’s ethically upright, I’m adhering and conforming to God’s authority, rather than the world’s…while also realizing that I don’t need to apologize or be ashamed for doing what’s right. Suffering for the sake of Christ means the world will condemn, ridicule, and reject you…but it also means you will be blessed.
This all started when the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law saw Jesus’ disciples eating in the market place with unceremoniously cleaned hands. They came to Jesus demanding to know why they weren’t following tradition. Jesus then quoted Isaiah 29:13 to them, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. They worship Me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” So in this verse above Jesus is calling their traditions what they really were – useless commands of man…all the while abandoning the authoritative Commandments of God. In other words, they were worshiping rules and regulations made up by men, not worshiping their Creator.
The path in life we take may seem agreeable and pleasing to us…it may even seem quite innocent. But it’s our motives that are weighed by the Lord. (Proverbs 16:2) For if we do things with the motive of “What can I get out of this”, or solely for the reason of pride or selfish gain, it will only lead to destruction. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 7:13-14 when He warned, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
God’s Will is His gracious disposition toward something as He carries out His divine purpose…always accomplishing what He regards as good and perfect. God will do what He sees fit, and His actions will always prevail…whether we like them or not. That’s because there’s times when God’s Will is far from what we want or desire…but we need to remember that His Will is faultless, flawless, and takes into account things we have no idea about. So by praying God’s Will into a situation… we are praying a perfect prayer.
Due to Corona Virus Guidelines, for now, our Church Service is totally devoid of singing…which I didn’t realize just how important it was as part of the total worship experience until it was gone. I was lamenting to the Lord this morning of how much I missed our corporate Praise & Worship singing in Church when He gently reminded me of the “silent worship” that I could take part in anytime I desired. The verse above tells me that everything on earth that draws breath is praising God. Psalm 96:12 states, “All the trees of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the Lord for He comes…” And Psalm 69:34 goes on to add, “Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and all that move in them praise Him…” Think of it…this magnificent silent worship is happening all around us. Every moment, of every day, praise and worship is being created and expressed by all that exists…and we can join in.
This verse reminded me of the old saying, “monkey see, monkey do” which then led me into researching mob mentality. Mob, herd, or pack mentality describes how people can be influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviors on a largely emotional, rather than rational basis. Just as sheep blindly follow the flock no matter where they go just because that’s what the flock is doing, people tend to take up the behaviors of people around them. (Think of a big sporting event with lots of alcohol and passionate fans.) In a large mob, personal responsibility wanes as we lose self-awareness and we become more willing to engage in dangerous/risky behaviors. Also in a large group there’s more physical anonymity which can lead to the lax of social inhibitions. But this verse tells us not to imitate what we know is not right…rather, to say No and not apologize for our decision. For just because everyone is doing it doesn’t make it right.
Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for the transgressions of all people…every skin color and ethnic group. And He willingly died for the fatal disease of mankind’s soul – sin. When God sent Jesus to save the world, He had no particular people-group in mind, or certain color of skin He had partiality over…No, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) In God’s eye’s we all matter, and it’s only the work of Satan that diverts our attention away from unity, and deceives us about that foundational truth. Today, lift up your head and look to Jesus…no matter who you are or where you come from, no matter the color of your skin or what you’ve done in the past… you matter to Jesus and He loves you.
Does the world see you as different? The King James Version of the Bible actually calls Believers “peculiar” in I Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” But what makes us distinctive from the rest of the world? It’s the command to submit ourselves one to another in love and strive for unity. For Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” We have been called to stand out from the world…to be a peculiar people…people that don’t take offense, love unconditionally, and always work towards unity.