Impurities in the house of the Lord. They must be removed.
That’s what King Josiah did. He removed from the temple all the articles made for Baal and Ashtoreth. After this cleansing…the people celebrated the Passover.
In our day…what are the impurities that find their way into the house of the Lord?
A preoccupation with formalities. Appearances take the place of Presence — a sense that God is in His house.
A preoccupation with externals. This happens when the proclamation of the Word…and Spirit-led worship…is buried under a maze of organizational concerns.
A preoccupation with non-essentials. God’s house is to be called a house of prayer. Obedience in this must be the highest priority.
So do what Josiah did – remove the impurities from the house of the Lord.
The faith of our fathers. But sometimes…its transmission is puzzling.
Hezekiah was a godly king. But his son Manasseh was a wicked king.
Manasseh’s son Amon was just like his father. But Amon’s son Josiah was a righteous king.
Here’s an example of four kings – the first and last godly…but the two in between evil.
What can we learn about the transfer of faith from father to son?
It can be puzzling. How could Manasseh be so evil when his father was so righteous? Then how could Josiah be so righteous when his father was so evil?
One thing is clear. Each son was responsible for his own decision.
Nevertheless…do your utmost to be sure your faith is successfully passed on to your children.
Benchmarks. They establish the standard against which measurements are made.
Benchmarks are used in determining the performance of stocks…as a way to measure progress…and as a marker for evaluation.
People look to you as a benchmark – an example of how a Christian should live out their faith.
Jeroboam…an early king in Israel…introduced calf worship. He became a negative benchmark. For centuries he was referred to as an example of ungodly leadership.
Paul admonished believers to follow him….as he followed Christ. He was an authentic and reliable benchmark.
Can you say with Paul: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”?
That’s a reliable benchmark.
Familiarity. It can be a source of security…inspiration…and peace.
It’s why people resist change.
They prefer traditional ways…the tested and tried…the old paths.
It’s why people stay at the same job…worship in the same church…and live in the same house.
The Bible speaks of ancient landmarks…defined boundaries…and detailed genealogies.
Sadly…the forces of change in our day threaten familiarity. Newness in every area of life is covering the landscape.
But…“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Your relationship with Him assures you of familiarity.
Yes…there will be new insights…new experiences…and new callings – but it should not be at the expense of familiarity.
Cultivate practices that lead to familiarity.
The pressure to agree. If you don’t…you may be accused of hatred.
People want you to accept their belief system…lifestyle…and opinions. If you disagree you may be accused of hatred…bigotry…and intolerance.
Paul speaks to this: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
But…this will put you at odds with many.
Sadly…personal convictions are often misinterpreted…and construed as hatred.
People not only want your love…but also your acceptance. Without this acceptance…they reject your love and accuse you of hatred.
Love me…and accept me – that’s the call. And by acceptance they mean agreeing with their values…lifestyle…and ideology.
But the Lord’s word is — don’t be conformed to this world.
The day of miracles. Is that day past…or should we expect miracles in our day?
The Bible includes the account of great miracles – waters part…armies are defeated…the lame walk…rains fall…and the dead are raised.
But…can we expect to see miracles today?
If the day of miracles is past – when did they cease? Did miracles cease with the death of the last living apostle?
Some have used the absence of miracles as a sign that they have ceased. But…that is an argument from presumption.
Bottom line – God is still active in performing miracles. There are countless accounts of the supernatural.
Live a life of expectancy – knowing that the day of miracles is not past.
A short leash. That keeps an animal at a safe distance.
The same is true for you – you must keep yourself on a short leash.
Or put differently – as a follower of Jesus you are called to a high level of accountability.
Paul said: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
When you follow Jesus your conscience becomes sensitive to right and wrong. What once seemed acceptable…now becomes an occasion for conviction.
The blessing of the new level of accountability is the joy that comes with obedience. When the conscience is clear – life is good.
So…keep yourself on a short leash – living at a high level of accountability.
In absentia. That’s not how it will be.
In absentia means that a verdict is rendered without the supplicant being present.
But…that’s not the way it will be on judgment day. Every person will be present when the Lord reveals a final verdict.
Paul says: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…”
It might seem easier to be in absentia – not present for that moment of truth.
But wait. When you are a follower of Jesus…you will not want to be absent. Why? Because Jesus says that you will be presented before His presence without fault and with great joy.
Count yourself present. Let that be your moment of greatest joy.
Just be nice. That’s a good rule to follow.
But…life is not easy — brutal competition…scathing accusations…unfairness.
What can you do? Just be nice.
So…be militant against evil – but nice. Be a staunch defender of righteousness – but nice. Be an advocate for fairness – but nice. Be a voice for hard and honest work – but nice.
The Bible puts it in simple terms: “Be kind and compassionate to one another…”
What is a key to successful parenting…happy marriages…and overall success in life? Just be nice.
Niceness is strength…not weakness. It culls out cowards…and demonstrates inner power. It quiets arguments…gains favor…and wins friends.
Everyone deserves niceness. Jesus said: “…love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
Today – just be nice.
Ambiguities. But…they disappear when the entirety of Scripture is brought to bear.
Total depravity. But…that should not mean that man is unable to make a decision to accept or reject Christ.
Unconditional election. But…that should not mean that any person is outside of God’s redemptive plan.
Limited atonement. But…that should not mean that Jesus did not die for every person.
Irresistible grace. But…that should not mean that man is powerless to choose or reject Christ.
Perseverance of the saints. But…that should not mean that there is security outside of abiding in Christ.
The doctrinal propositions that man has put in place must yield to the full witness of Scripture.
Only then can seeming ambiguities find resolution. Paradox is part of the walk of faith.