Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Isaiah 1:17
The time is currently 0415 in the morning. I've been awake since 0308. Sleep interupted.
For the past hour or more I have been thinking about the second entry of my lost sleep series.
Catchy title (not really the title).
Retail has become a cut throat business over the years, because every business is vying for your dollar.
Each company and retail outlet is trying to outdo the other. With neatly stocked shelves, recessed lighting, to make your buying experience more intimate, microphoned specials and satelite music, shopping has become almost a gimmick.
Having worked retail in various capacities for 15-20 years I have seen a seismic shift in 'customer service'. With this change of business model, the smaller mom and pop stores are all but extinct.
This fast paced, social media generation has lost touch with themselves and humanity.
Just in my own experience i can recall with great sadness several people who have come through the doors where i work, heavy hearted and in need of company and someone to talk to, just to break the cycle of loneliness, only to be given the standard reply "I'll be right with you", because we are one person, with very little time to stop and help everyone.
An older lady named Nancy stopped in one day and she was grieving the loss of her husband of over 50 years. I tried to have a sympathetic ear and console her, but with a line of inconsiderate and impatient people, I could not spend the time with her I would have liked to. Nancy thanked me for my helping her and walked away unsatisfied. I later on felt like jumping off a cliff.
This is what Isaiah is talking about when he says learn to do well; seek judgment, relieved the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. The core essence of retail is the customer service. If we are so focused on herding them in and out within 30-60 seconds in order to make room for the next one, then we have lost our way. I have fallen into this habit and the personalness and connection to the people is
not made. I lose my identity. The core essence of Israel is God. The core essence of God is His love, mercy and grace. Yet the inhabitants of Israel have forgotten about the lost and hurting, the one who is alone, and being a voice for those who have none and speaking against those who put down others.
In an attempt to be more modern and relevant, we become more like those around us instead of maintining our identity and setting the standard for them. God says we are set apart, as a nation and as a person. To step back into what He has brought us out of will only make the line more blurred and cause many to be walk away unfulfilled and unsaved.
O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou may be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee? Jeremiah 4:14
Jeremiah is quite possibly my favorite book in the bible. Why? Well, this is the book in which I first truly understood the grace of God. As i was growing up and hearing conversations around me, the phrase i heard the most was "God is so quick to judge." For some time that stuck with me until i read through the book of Jeremiah and saw how his story unfolded and what happened as a result. The people had it all wrong. God is patient. God is not quick to judge. Read the book. Haha.
Jeremiah 17:9 "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
In a word or two--God can.
God is calling for the nation of Israel to repent and return to Him."Put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved."
As i read this i notice that i too am backsliding. At some point my heart had become hardened and the things of God started to be replaced by synicism, anger, bitterness and coldness. Outwardly, my actions and my words falsely reflected the true me (at the time.) Inwardly, my spirit was crying out for God to come and save me.
Several words stick out to me in Israel's current state.
The future does not look so rosey.
Repentance is the only way to cleanse ourselves. I've struggled greatly these last few years with transitions in my life. Is it my fault? To an extent yes. Sometimes change is hard for me to accept and going from knowing to not knowing is never easy.
As i read and read and read, transitions are a part of our christianity. Never have i read anywhere in the bible where a follower of Jesus is comfortable. We are to be uncomfortable and not settle in any aspect. To do so would lead to complacency. When the Spirit called me to change, I fought against Him and rebelled. God is continually moving forward and we as well must go with Him.
I've used this scripture before and it was brought to my remembrance as i recall the Israelites being at the Red sea and the Egyptian army fast approaching them.
Exodus14:15 And the LORD said to Moses, "Wherefore criest thou unto Me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward."
I was looking at my current comfortable situation and was settled into its daily routine. Truth be told, with all of my struggles I should have seen the writing on the wall. But I was stubborn. I wanted what i wanted. Israel is in that place and God has said to them through the prophet Jeremiah "come back to me." Gods cry for Israel to repent of her sins and return to Him went unheeded.
Jeremiah 17:10 concludes this post. "I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings."
Needless to say, spiritual captivity turned their hearts from God, the physical captivity took them from their homeland and Jerusalem was destroyed.
If we give ourselves over to another god spiritually, the body will soon follow and where does our salvation come from? Surely not the god we have rejected? Is it the god we have now chosen?
The heart truly is deceitful and wicked. However, the heart that is set towards God can overcome the such battles simply by remembering that God knows all things and is a rewarder of all who seek Him and draw close to Him.
He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what the LORD requires of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8
God says in His word we are to grow from glory to glory being changed into the image of Christ, by the Spirit of the LORD (2 Corinthians 3:18). Yet, I feel as though I have hit the perverbial wall in my growth.
Turning over in my bed I looked at the clock and I read 0330. Trying to go back to sleep would be futile, so I got up. I then decided to go downstairs to my kitchen and read.
With the events of the last couple of days I figured sleep would come easy. I had no plans for Saturday so the snow storm did not affect me. Sunday is a time I spend in church And with the later service time I was sure to be well rested. Throughout the two days I spent most of my time praying and reading the bible and watching a tv show on my laptop.
Times like that are few and far between. Seeking closeness to God was great. But there was still an emptiness within my soul.
Once downstairs and settled in my chair with a nice hot cup of tea, I turned to the book of Micah and aforementioned verse. Here is where I start to squirm.
What has He (God) shown me? God has shown me what is acceptable to Him and what is most desired of Him from me His spokesperson to a lost and dying world. If I am to be an ambassador for Christ, all that I say and do carries the weight of His Authority and His Name.
1. To do justly--I must be a man of honor and integrity in all my dealings both personal and
2. To love mercy--I must be a man full of compassion and faithfulness.
3. To walk humbly with God--I am to be obedient to Jehovah. I am to be watchful in prayer and
service not seeking any glory for myself.
I can honestly say my attitude and behavior these last few months have been the exact opposite of a God fearing, godly, spirit-filled man. Outwardly I have put on a pious show, but my heart was exposed to El-Roi, the God who sees.
In Matthew 15:8 Jesus says to the scribes and Pharisees, " this people draw near to me with their mouths and honour me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."
I cannot deny what is true.
The emptiness, the restlessness, the uncertainty within me was a result of sin. Plain and simple.
I got up this morning, early this morning, not sure of a lot of things. For one thing, why was I up so early? Sitting on the edge of my bed I said a short prayer of thanks to God and something else, not really expecting an answer. The answer came, but it was not what I wanted to hear. It was exactly however what I needed to hear.
The next three blogposts will detail what was said to me and why.
The three voices speaking on His behalf surely got my fullest attention.
As human beings can we or do we have a realistic view of hell? Not on our own.
"We are in hell right now, right here on earth. What can be worse than this?" Over the years i have heard this phrase waaay to many times. Another common misnomer is "Everybody goes to heaven when they die."
The previous line has validity to it, but not as some people think it does. More on that later in the post.
At points throughout my life i have had "hell" moments. Meaning there were times when its reality were becoming known to me. Most of these were in dreams (yes plural). Another, as i have shared in a previous post, was after the death of my mother and finally in the words of the holy bible.
Luke 16:19-31 tells the account of two men who lived a long time ago. The first man (simply called the rich man) and a beggar named Lazarus. The Rich man lived a life of luxury and Lazarus had sickness and hardships. At some point they both died and went to their eternal reward. Lazarus eventually went to Paradise because he was a righteous and god-fearing man. He had at some point in his life decided to follow God and is (after Jesus had gone to the cross, accept the work of the cross) now eternally secure. The rich man having too having known of the same God chose to live his life apart from His fellowship and thereby did not receive his perceived reward.
Verse 23-25 tells the reader what is happening to the rich man who is now forever seperated from the physical comforts he once knew and is now being tormented, and Lazarus who is no longer plagued by physical discomforts, now enjoying spiritual bliss.
Hell is a place of torment and suffering for all eternity. Looking at verse 24 the rich man is crying out "Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."
His one desire at the time was receiving a touch from the finger of Lazarus with a drop of water on it to cool his tongue. His request was denied. My view of life and death was forever changed with this passage. The dreams i had been having and the questions that filled my mind had been answered. Hell's reality was emblazened in my soul and my lifestyle choices were leading me to that place.
"There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end (result) is way of death. (Proverbs 16:25)
Hell is not a fraternity for party animals. No one seeks admission to such a place if they have know what it entails. Yet, many will devote life and limb to receiving good things in this life, many will devote an equal amount of time rejecting God for the bad things they receive in this life. Even fewer will thank God for what they have and still seek to devote themsleves to Him.
Hell is real because the word of God says it is real. I have read it and I believe it. I have dreamed it and I believe it. In none of the instances recorded in the bible does hell come off as a good place or the place to be for all of eternity.
I encourage you my faithful brothers and sisters in Christ to fight the fight of faith and do all that you can to either through love (the Cross) or fear (fires of hell) bring loved ones and anyone to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and into the kingdom of heaven for His glory.
I start this blogpost with a question. Not to you directly but i shall put this out there.
What is more real to you, heaven or hell?
I have struggled with this post for the over a year now. The subject matter was the question. Many of my posts over the years have talked about the rewards of eternal salvation and how to obtain it. Several posts have talked of the gains or losses of accpeting or rejecting the free gift of salvation.
Questions abound in my head. Do I or don't I devote a post to the subject of hell? Will I offend anyone? Am I doing it for myself or to stir others to think about such things?
God's love was enough for me. I had hoped it would be enough to lead others to salvation also.
Sadly, it has not. So without further adieu, I give you Touch--Part 03.
From time to time my mind likes to take trips from reality. Usually on these trips i go to place that puts me away from where i am and transports me to a place i want to be. Now mind you i am not too crazy, and a escape is necessary sometimes.
In this picture below, i am in Wendy's restaurant looking out at the sign. For some reason i just stared out at it and got lost in my thoughts. I cannot recall what i was thinking at the time, but more-times-than-not, was God related.
Philippians 4:8 reads, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things."
Now that sounds as good an explanation as any for my mental wonderings. There are days when I just look toward the eastern sky and hope that today could be the day that Jesus returns to call all the children of God home in the rapture.
Hope abounds within me. Thank you LORD MOST HIGH.
What thoughts invade your mind in some of the pictures you post?