The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” Isaiah 29:13
Isaiah was prophesying against the people of the city of Jerusalem. When a person looked at them, it appeared as though they worshipped God. God was looking at the heart and said that they honored Him with their lips, but they were only worshipping Him with manmade rules and not from the heart.
Words are something that is easy for a person to speak. Many people will claim to be a real friend of someone, but when that person is in a real need, none of his friends take the time or effort to meet that need. The talk of being a real friend was only lip-service. There was no real meaning to it.
People work and speak in the same way with God. Look around America and it is very easy to find a lot of people who claim to be a follower of Jesus. Yet, as they claim to be a follower, they do not step foot in church, never witness of who He is, and live a life that does not even begin to resemble that of Jesus.
Many do go to church each Sunday to worship God in the physical body. In their hearts they are not really worshipping God. As they are worshipping God in a song, their mind is on the dinner meal or other activities. They are thinking about the game being played that afternoon or what they need to do at work the next day.
The hearts of many are not focused on God at all. They go to church and sing the songs because that is what you are supposed to do, not because they want to do it. It is all based upon man’s rules on how to worship God, not from the heart.
This occurs because most people want to fit in and not be different.
Take time today to focus your heart and mind on God. Find reasons to worship Him from your heart and not just the mind. Break the rules of man on how to worship God and worship Him in a new way from your heart. And live your life in worship of Him.
I pray today that your heart will match your lips in worship of God; that you will know God in a personal way; that you will not fear man’s rules in worshipping God; and that you will be near God with all of your life.
There is a family who belonged to our church that had made a good impact on our community over a short couple of years. They had come into the area, from out of state, to run a boys home.
This boys home, Still Creek Ranch, is one where troubled boys could be sent to try to get their life back on the right track. It is Christian based and has its own school for teaching and training the boys. At the ranch, the boys learn to grow gardens and take care of animals, while learning about God.
The couple who ran the ranch, had chosen to become members and attend our church. They were always faithful to be at church and had a heart for God. Their focus was on God in everything that they did. They held a standard in their own lives that would mirror God’s standard.
It was only about two years ago that they came into our life. During that time, we had done several things together and talked many times about many different issues in life. Both, my wife and I, and this couple have had to go through various challenges in life and saw God work through them with great blessings.
About two to three months ago, this couple felt a call from God to move out of state to another ministry in New Mexico. This was something difficult to accept.
Many questions were asked as to why would God move them away. From the outside it did not make much sense. Everything appeared to be going great.
After talking with them, we found out that God was moving their hearts to a different type of ministry. The doors were slowly closing where they were. Although they felt that change was about to occur, they were not looking for a new ministry or for change. They just trusted God and kept doing what God placed them there to do.
As they were doing their ministry, God placed it on the heart of someone else to call them to a different ministry. It would be in a different state and would be doing a church plant. This was something brand new for them. After a lot of prayer, they felt that this was the direction God was leading the. Once this decision was made, the doors opened more for the new ministry and started to close where they currently were.
This last weekend was the weekend for them to pack up and move to the new location. My family was blessed to be able to help them load their moving truck up for the move. It was an event that took all day to finish.
It was a blessing to us to be able to help them load up their truck. During the time of loading we were able to talk about various events in our lives, and memories of the time shared together. We were able to share many more testimonies of how God had blessed us in miraculous ways. At the end were able to pray God’s blessing, provision and protection in this new journey in their life as we sent them off.
As hard as it is to see them leave, we know that God has great things in store for them. Often in life people like to settle down in one place and never move again. It is comfortable staying in one place where you know everyone and everything. Change is never easy and rarely is it fun, at least at the beginning of the change.
However, change can bring on new blessings. If they had never went through change and came to our area, we would never have had the chance to meet them. The blessings of knowing them and their children would never have occurred.
As much as we would love to keep them here, they have new blessings to pour out on other people somewhere else. There are new lives to be touched in an area that I cannot reach and I must be willing to let them go and do that ministry.
Letting friends move on is hard, but it does not mean the end of a friendship. The friendship will still remain, through phone calls, emails and Facebook. We will always be connected by God and prayer. We can touch each other through prayer. Ultimately there will be a reunion when Jesus returns and we all meet up again in heaven, if not here on this earth.
We look forward to hearing about how God will bless their ministry and about the lives that will be touched in the new location.
If you have never had a friend move on, there will come a day when that will happen. Allow your friends to move forward in the will of God to make a change in this world. Not every believer needs to be in one location. Allow everyone to go where God has a place for them. Do not be selfish and want to keep the person tied down to you alone. Share them with the world.
Always remember that God is with them and will never leave nor forsake them. And God is with you and will never leave nor forsake you.
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. Proverbs 22:24-25
Associating with people can have good or bad results in the life of a person. Parents are usually very quick about keeping their child from another child because of the characteristics. Knowing that one is constantly causing problems, causes the parents to keep their own child farther away.
When people become adults, many throw out that caution or training that they have learned. Solomon chooses one negative characteristic to be avoided. It is the characteristic of being easily angered.
Most people will know to stay away from the person who is hot-tempered that shows their temper in direct violence. However, there are many who get angry very quickly, but just show it in their words.
Watch people when they start talking about politics. Many get angry about what a politician is doing or not doing. It has caused the breakup of many good friendships.
People who get quickly angered should be avoided. The number one reason for this is not for your personal protection, but to safe guard your heart from being led into their ways. It is very common for a person to become more like the people he hangs around with.
It is very difficult to constantly be around a person who is easily angered or lives in a certain sin, and not fall into that sinful habit.
This hanging around does not mean you can never be near that person, it is the constantly being with that person. If you are never near him, then you can never be a witness to him.
Hanging around, or as Solomon said associating with, is the constant being with each and every day, doing many things together. Being around a person that much will often cause his characteristics to rub off on you.
Do not allow yourself to get ensnared into sinful ways. Keep your eyes and life focused on God. Follow the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit in who you should be spending time with and how much time you should be around that person.
I pray today that you will see your friends as God sees them; that you will keep your heart and life focused on God; that you will not allow yourself to be corrupted by bad character; and that your life will be a witness of who Jesus is.
“And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” Matthew 5:47
Jesus just finished telling you to love your enemy. He points out that God pours out needed rain on everyone, so you should also love everyone as He does.
Now Jesus raises a question about who you greet. Take notice of who greets who in a church. Friends will go up to each other and greet each other. Many people will desire to greet the pastor. There is nothing wrong with these greetings.
The problem arises when that is all the greeting that is done. Often the friends greeting each other are in a clique and do not include others. Very often a new person in the church gets overlooked; or the person not dressed very good and has a bit of an aroma around him that is not good.
Now look into the public places such as a store or your workplace. Who greets who? Again it is only friends greeting other friends. The friends are usually all on the same level financially, spiritually, desires, and viewpoints.
In this verse Jesus points out that even pagans do this. Pagans are those who do not believe in God. This is implying that you should be different from the pagans.
You should be willing to go up and greet the person that is dirty and smells horrible; the person who does not believe in God at all; the former convict; and even your enemy…everyone. Greeting them is a way of showing God’s love and care to them.
You are to be His witness everywhere you go. Greeting the people everyone else is shunning is showing God’s love and care to that person.
Jesus came to you when you were a filthy rotten sinner who was against God. You did not deserve to be greeted, yet that is what Jesus did. He called on you to give you life in Him. Can you do any less for someone else?
Do not be like the pagans, be like Jesus. Be willing to greet everyone, both the good and bad. Show His love to everyone, both your enemies and your friends. Don’t just greet the “good” people.
I pray today that God will fill you with His love for everyone; that God will strengthen you to greet everyone; that God will fill you with His Holy Spirit to guide you; that you will not have fear in greeting anyone; and that God will use you to be His witness to the lost and dying world.