Archive for the ‘Hypocrisy’ Category

Leaves or Fruit?

After a cool end to the week, I’m looking forward to some more spring-like temperatures. Grass has been greening up, and the daffodils are blooming. It seems that spring is in the air. Now, as I write this, they are calling for snow on Wednesday. We’ll see.

Good Friday is this week, and Easter will be observed the first day of next week. Today, I would like to share some thoughts from this past Sunday’s message. It concerns the cleansing of the temple by the Lord Jesus the day after his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and how it applies to each of us.

Our scripture passage is Mark 11:12-18: Having seen a fig tree with leaves and no fruit, Jesus condemns it for hypocrisy. Then upon reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations?’ But you have made it a den of robbers.” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

Matthew tells us that when the religious leaders were challenged about their disrespect for God’s house, they challenged Jesus’ authority to kick out the money changers, heal the sick and forgive the sinners (Matthew 21:23). When he pointed out their hypocrisy, they may have been afraid he would throw them out next. Instead of making peace with him, they planned to kill him.

What is our response when Jesus, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, exposes hypocrisy in our lives? Do we desire to make peace with him, or do we want to deny the hypocrisy and kill him to preserve our double life?

Are we bearing fruit, or are we just showing an abundance of leaves?

Are we that much different than the crowds on the day he entered Jerusalem as the triumphant king? How many times have we proclaimed him King and Lord, and then turned our backs on him to remain loyal to the world?

Wondering,
Pastor Jerry

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Post Only These Things

Dear friends,
The month of January has had its ups and downs. I think this would describe the temperature fluctuations we have experienced. I, personally, am glad for the warm-up of recent days. In news from the remodeling at the lake house, the kitchen project is winding down, and work is progressing on the sunroom that started out as a deck. I hope to get the walls up and the roof on it before it rains or snows again. Prayers appreciated.

For our devotional thought this week, I would like to address an issue that concerns me. It is the quality of some of the things Christian people post on social media. I am not opposed to social media. In fact, most of you get these articles by way of email, Facebook, or a link to one of my blogs. Even the newspaper version is sent weekly by email. If God’s people are to be light and salt to the world, and if we are to live in a way that reflects the holiness of God, why would we post these most profane and innuendo laden memes, comments, and photos for the whole world to see?

Not everyone does these things, but I see enough of it to be concerned. Is it any wonder so many people don’t see a reason to invite Jesus into their life? If Christian behavior isn’t any different from the rest of the world, why join them?

Here are some scriptures that just might cause us to think twice about those things we put out there on social media.

“Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips (and Facebook pages) (Colossians 3:8).

“But among you, there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality or of any kind of impurity…because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place…” (Ephesians 5:3-4).

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—post these things” (Philippians 4:8 Pastor Jerry’s version).

It would benefit all of us to consider these things before posting anything.

In Christ’s love,
Pastor Jerry

Honor God’s Name

We have had a great week. It finally rained, and as I write this on Monday, it is raining again. Plans are moving forward to get our house at Lake George moved to Ericson Lake. We are excited about the move.

As noted last week, my wonderful wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary Saturday. Our church family hosted a carry-in dinner and helped us observe the occasion Sunday after church services. We were surprised by two of our very best long-time friends walking in the door, after they had called earlier in the day and informed us they wouldn’t be able to attend. They have been forgiven for their deception.

I will be taking a few weeks off from my church duties for a long overdue vacation, but will try to keep everyone informed of our activities through this newsletter. As it is with most preachers, it is hard to quit cold turkey, so I’ll continue to share God’s word in this way.
This week, we looked at the third of the Ten Commandments. “Your shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God…” (Deuteronomy 5:11). We saw there are three categories covered by this commandment:
1) Using God’s name flippantly. That is, using the Lord’s name as a curse, or any other unworthy manner. This would include those “nice” ways we use his name, such as saying “gosh”, or using the media shorthand “OMG.”
2) Using God’s name untruthfully. This would be attaching His name to something that goes against His word. Examples would be Christians who try to justify slavery, abortion, or same-sex marriage by twisting scripture to their advantage.
3) Using God’s name hypocritically. This is when our public witness doesn’t line up with the name Christian. As people who bear Christ’s name, we are to reflect his character in our daily living. If we do not, we are misusing His name.
In our word and works we are to live so the world can see Jesus, the One who is the true image of God. To do anything less is to “take the Lord’s name in vain.”
Just thinking,
Pastor Jerry

The Least of These

Occasionally, I will hear someone make a comment something like this: “I just don’t think I could stay in the same room with a “certain person.” Even worse, they might be talking about someone who might join them in church, or Bible study. However, that person might overlook their feelings for a certain other person for what they might gain because of that one’s high position in society or their perceived wealth. In the letter of James, we read, “as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism…if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (James 2:1-8.)

Where do we get off deciding what church related event we will attend, or any other activity we will be involved in, based on whether we can be in the same room with a person or persons? Do we not remember the Lord’s teaching concerning treatment of the “least of these?”

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). I believe this applies first to our Christian brothers and sisters, but also to our fellow-man in general. Or what about this admonition?….”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

This not to say we should accept everyone at face value, but that we are concerned enough about their eternal destiny to welcome them in the name of Jesus, sharing the good news of salvation through faith in him.

By the way, I’m not pointing fingers. These scriptures convict me of my own sinful attitudes every time I read them. It is as the old saying goes: “if the shoe fits….”

Is this easy? No. Can we do it in our own strength? No, but the Bible says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13). And, Jesus says to us, “Apart from me you can do nothing!” (John 15:5).
In His power,

Pastor Jerry

Appearances

July is almost history. I personally don’t care to see another one this dry or this hot. As of this writing, I believe the fires in the Niobrara river canyon are fully contained. That is a matter of praise, and many thanks go out to all the firefighters, volunteers of all kinds, and a multitude of prayer warriors. There was much loss of property, but only a few minor injuries among all those people. More praise for their safety through all of this.

Now for a devotional thought: A funny thing happened on the way home from church today. The pastor got an unexpected shower. I must explain, then I’ll get to the lesson.

As we left the church, “someone” decided we could save some steps later, if we would move and restart the lawn sprinklers. It went well as we moved the ones in the church yard. When we go to our own yard, someone was having trouble getting the spike on the bottom of the sprinkler to stick in the ground. I took responsibility, knelt down and stuck it into the ground and adjusted the spray arc. As I got up and started for the house, “someone” turned the water on full force, and without warning I was getting a direct hit in the back. The good thing is the water was warm from the sun shining on the hose. We had a good laugh, and I got cooled off as the water began to evaporate out of my shirt.

As I result of this, I spent some time this afternoon making sprinkler repairs. We have couple of impulse sprinklers (aka Rainbird wannabe’s) that have never worked right. It should be no big surprise that lawn sprinklers do not always perform as advertised. What product does live up to its billing these days?

Many Christians don’t always perform as advertised. Other folks expect certain things from those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ, but too often we don’t live up to the name. I find myself in this group more times than I like to admit. The genuine Christian’s faith will show in his actions, in his words, and in his treatment of other people. The apostle James said, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” (James 2:14).

I was able to do some minor repair and make a couple of adjustments, resulting in more fully functional sprinklers. In the same way, when we don’t live up to our names as Christians, if we will put ourselves in God’s hands, he will lovingly make the necessary adjustments that will restore us to like-new condition.

In His hands,
Pastor Jerry