The Messiah is Coming!

I’m posting my sermon notes here, for those who would rather read than scroll down to the sermon.net link to listen. This is Part 1 of a series I’m preaching from now until Christmas, based on the classical work, “Handel’s Messiah.”

I know, I know — He’s already come, BUT
–He can come into your heart, O Christian, more fully (glory to glory)
–He can come into your heart again, if you’ve sinned and God is now distant
–He can come into your heart for the first time, if you don’t know Him

From now until the week before Christmas, a series — Handel’s Messiah, a classical musical composition of the Scriptures that describe Jesus Christ, spoken of in the order in which they are sung.

I’ll be using the King James Version, since that is how it was originally written.

Why a Messiah??? We were living in great darkness (separation from God), but a Light has come (Isaiah 9).

Heaven opened! Heaven is still open!

Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Co-Creator (Hebrews 1:2), the Word who became flesh (John 1:14, the Light who shines on every man (John 1:9).

Two states of man, since Adam sinned —
#1 Under God’s wrath   #2 Children of God

BUT . . . whoever receives Him, who intimately associates with Him, He gives the right to become children of God! (John 1:12)

TO RECEIVE HIM:    GREATER . . . AGAIN . . . FOR THE FIRST TIME? The path is the same for all.

Isaiah 40:1-5  – HOW TO RECEIVE THE COMING MESSIAH

Verse 1     Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God (COMFORT nacham 5162, sigh and be sorry, be consoled as you turn to God and away from sin.)

Verse 2     Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem (COMFORTABLY leb 3820, speak to the heart, in a caring way), and cry unto her,
–That her warfare (tsawbaw 6635, God’s campaign against her, the hardship she has endured) is accomplished (ended),
–That her iniquity (awvone 5771, her perversity and inner twistedness) is pardoned,
–For she has received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
–If she turns, her warfare ends! For us, the Messiah ends the struggle of  good and evil within our hearts.
Verse 3     The voice of him that crieth (calls out) in the wilderness,
–Prepare ye the way of the LORD,
–Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Matthew 3:2-3     John the Baptist, crying, “Repent, for the kingdom of  heaven is at hand!” (And Jesus says the same, in Matthew 4:17.)

Isaiah 40:10             Behold your God!

Isaiah 35:8-9         To walk on the highway of holiness, you must:
–Make straight in your desert (heart) a highway for God!
–Prepare the way for the highway of holiness to be  constructed in your heart, the one you’ll walk on.
–The profane will not walk there.
–But it will be for him who walks that way (holy).
–Fools will not walk on it.
–On that highway, You will be free from the demonic.
–On that highway, only the redeemed will walk.

Matthew 7:13    BUT . . . It is a narrow way and few find it, says Jesus Christ.

Verse 4    Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.

It will surely be a level playing field.

But much more — humble (valley) is lifted up, and proud (mountain and hill) is laid low! He deals with the proud.

Proverbs 3:34    God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble

1 Peter 5:6         Humble yourselves, therefore, that God may exalt you at the proper time

Psalm 37:10-11     The wicked man  (crooked) will be no more, but the humble (straight) will inherit the land and will  delight themselves in abundant shalom 7965 — peace, wellness, spiritual prosperity

TO RECEIVE CHRIST, THE FIRST TIME, AGAIN, MORE FULLY
–I speak to you what I have just spoken — Comfort (sigh and be sorry, turn)!
–I speak to your hearts, in a caring way!
–If you will turn, your warfare is over, your hardship will end. God will not send        armies against you any more. (He sent them so you’d turn to Him.)
–Prepare the way for Him in your heart!
–Walk the narrow way with Christ!
–Humble yourselves!
–Become a valley, so God may exalt you at the proper time!
–Ask Him to make the crooked straight.
–Bow low before our Maker, that He may pardon the twistedness you and I were
born with!
–Prepare the way, so the highway of holiness may be constructed in your heart,
and so that you may walk there

Verse 5     And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.

You shall see Him — the glory of God in the face of Christ!

You shall be changed!

All flesh has seen the glory of God in Jesus Christ, when He walked the earth.

All will yet see Him, when He returns.

You can see Him now, know Him now, walk with Him now! Know Him fully, intimately, deeply, know Him again if you have distanced yourself from Him.

Your sins forgiven, your twistedness healed!

Give Him full access to you — submit your will fully to Him.

And you will see the glory of the One who came down from heaven!

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A Wonderful Fear – 9/11/11

I’m posting my sermon notes, for those who don’t want to scroll down and go to the sermon.net link. I pray they bless and challenge you.

9 – 1 – 01 was a day of fear for many! Planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers, then into the Pentagon. When would it end? We feared for the lives of those trapped in the wreckage, especially when the towers collapsed. It was a very great fear — a terrible fear.

But there is a wonderful fear. That seems contrary, but I believe the Lord will help me to explain it.

Isaiah speaks of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ:
Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
Isaiah 11:3 And He will delight in the fear of the LORD,
Isaiah 33:6  . . . and the fear of the LORD is His treasure.

The Hebrew word for fear is yirah (3374), to revere, be awestruck, to be afraid of. (NOTE: If you are a believer, there is no fear of condemnation to hell unless you keep sinning, but we should tremble at His word, per Isaiah 66:5, revering and honoring it.)

Delight means the fear of the Lord was a fragrant aroma to Jesus, pleasing, like incense. He breathed it in, and it was delightful. This is how it is for all believers — we have this fear, and it is sweet and wonderful to us. Here’s what the Bible promises for those who fear the Lord:

Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean (pure, cleansing), enduring forever;

Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments;

Proverbs 1:7         The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge [root is yada (3045), intimate knowledge, marital relationship];

Proverbs 8:13         “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and          the perverted mouth . . .

Proverbs 10:27       The fear of the LORD prolongs life,

Proverbs 14:26        In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,  and his children will have          refuge.

Proverbs 14:27     The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, that one may avoid the snares of death.

Proverbs 16:6         And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil.

Proverbs 19:23     The fear of the LORD leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.

Proverbs 22:4         The reward of humility and the fear of the LORD  are riches, honor and life.

This fear of the Lord, then, is indeed wonderful!

DESCRIPTION OF THOSE WITH NO FEAR OF GOD

Psalms 36:1     Transgression (rebellion) speaks to the ungodly within his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.

From the Expositors Bible Commentary: “(Man’s) entire being is adversely affected by sin. His whole nature is permeated with it. Human relations also suffer, because society can be no better than those who constitute it. Some of the obvious effects? Conflict and bloodshed . . .

Paul describes those who do not fear God (both Jews and non-Jews):
Romans 3:15 “THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
Romans 3:16    “DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
Romans 3:17     AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.”
Romans 3:18 “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

Doesn’t this describe the terrorists who flew those planes into the towers and the Pentagon?

Why did 9 -1 – 1 happen? The terrorists had no fear of God. They feared Allah, but Allah was the creation of Mohammed, many years after Christ. Allah is a false god, a counterfeit. Did the church have an answer for those who flocked to her, looking for answers and comfort? Here’s why that DIDN’T happen, in many churches.
———————————————————————————————–
THE CHURCH MUST FEAR THE LORD IN ORDER TO HEAR THE LORD — IF SHE DOES NOT FEAR HIM, SHE WILL HAVE NO ANSWER IN THE DARK HOUR, just like many churches on 9 – 1 – 01!Many in today’s church think the Word of God was written by men, is a book of suggestions, is myth and legend, that it’s OK with God if we sin a little or a lot. Google “The Jesus Seminar” . . . there is no fear of God there!

But listen to the description of the early church, after they were filled with the Holy Spirit:

Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase.

Do you see that the fear of the Lord was wonderful to them? They benefited from all that Solomon described in the Proverbs I read to you. But for those who are disobedient, there is no benefit, for they do not fear the Lord. The Corinthian church was an example of the disobedient. Here’s what the Apostle Paul wrote to them:

2Corinthians 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

And in 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul exhorts them, “Be reconciled to God!” This was a sinning church, disobeying God. Their disobedience was proof that they did not fear the Lord.

—————————————————————————————————-
So what shall we do? Let this word judge us. Do we fear the Lord? Do we believe God is who He says He is? If we do, we will fear Him — revere Him, respect Him, be awestruck, and it will be a delight and a treasure to us.

Peter didn’t waste much time in his first letter to the church. After praising the Lord for what He had done in the hearts of those to whom the letter was addressed, Peter exhorted them (and us) to be holy. In 1 Peter 1:17, he wrote, “If you address as Father the one who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth.”

Conduct yourselves in the fear of the Lord! If you are a believer, you cannot help but see the fear of God as something WONDERFUL and a DELIGHT!

NOTE: All Scripture from NAS Bible.

The Joy of the Lord

John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve read that passage and not had the deeper revelation of it. The Lord in His goodness just widened my view, and it is glorious! Thank God He takes me from one wide space to another, so I may understand Him more fully.

As I came to sit at Jesus’ feet this morning, I lit a fragrant new candle, pumpkin spice for autumn. Mmmmm. I delighted in Him, wrapping myself around Him. To worship Him is like sweet incense to me. I breathe it in. It is joy unspeakable and full of glory! Pumpkin spice really can’t compare.

Suddenly, I felt a bucket of joy being poured over my head. Well, that’s how I’ve always described it. But I suddenly realized that the joy comes from inside of me, because the Lord lives there. When I worship Him in love and obedience and reverence and awe and total devotion, His joy wells up. It is Him, being joyous inside of me!

The disciples believed in and loved Jesus. They were joyous when they were with Him. But in the passage at the start of this blog, Jesus promised them that His joy would literally be located within them, because He would be literally within them when the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost. And sure enough, that’s what happened. When the Spirit came into them, the Lord came into them and REJOICED! And so it is today. Every time I sense His lead, His correction, His love, His joy, it is Him in me, doing all these things from within me!

Thank you, Lord, for showing this to me. Your joy is indeed my strength. You have strengthened my faith and broadened my view today. I worship You! Now I must go and tell others . . .

Don’t Wallow — Follow!

Yesterday, the Lord showed me something that made me feel very sad, like I’d let the Lord down. I think He’s been trying to show me this one for years. He didn’t show it to me to shame me, though. God doesn’t work that way. He loves me, but He needs to prune me to make me more fruitful (John 15:2). Pruning can be painful, but I thank God that when it’s done, the object of the pruning gets more air and more light. Here’s what I’m beginning to understand.

After attending a regional training meeting for pastors, I felt a strong “poke” from the Holy Spirit. This is a good thing! But sometimes it’s not fun to see what He has to show me (Hebrews 12:11). My brothers and sisters in Christ have been patient with me on this issue. I have puzzled over their comments that I acted as if I’d “arrived.” In Christian-ese, that means that I came off as one who thought all of God’s work was done in me (and by the way, everyone else better get there, and be quick about it!). I couldn’t figure it out. Why did I come off that way? I’m the first to admit I have a long way to go to look just like Jesus. More of Him and less of me — that’s my goal, and it’s what I preach.

Maybe the “arrived” thing is because I have been misjudging my brothers and sisters. Not condemnation, but wrongly discerning where they are in their walks with Jesus. Oh, there’s always more of Him to be had, praise God! But maybe I’ve been preaching to the converted. I’m really not sure that’s all it is. There may be more. Anyway, when I saw a glimpse of it yesterday, I wept for the day. Truly, I did. I so deeply want to live for the glory of God and Christ. I thought that I was glorifying God in speaking to everyone about what He can do in a human being’s heart. But there was that misjudging thing going on in the background. Maybe that’s what made it sound like I thought I’d “arrived.” Maybe it was my frequent comment that Jeff and I are compelled to move in the miraculous — that is, we believe the Lord wants us to do what He did while He was on the earth, and greater (John 14:12). All that He did was miraculous. It seems that sometimes when I speak, my words are counter-productive and offend people. I’m not sure of all the details yet. I’m trusting the Lord, and my leaders, to show me.

As I mourned yesterday, I remembered the Apostle Paul. He confessed that his character was not yet a perfect reflection of Christ’s. In Philippians 3:12-14 (NASB), he writes:

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Not until I stand before Jesus will I be a perfect reflection of His character. Like the Apostle Paul, I haven’t gotten there yet. But oh, Lord Jesus, I will forget what lies behind. I will forget about the missteps I’ve made (except to be able to view them through the lens of Jesus). I will press on, O Lord, for I love you with all that is in me. This one has been hard, Lord Jesus. But thank You for continuing to unfold it to me. I only wish I understood more clearly.

But I will not wallow — I will follow! I fix my eyes on You, Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), by Your grace and power! I press on toward the goal!

Enjoying the Lord

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Sometimes I think I get wrapped up in asking the Lord to make me more like Him and forget that it is perfectly good and right just to E-N-J-O-Y the Lord. It’s right to dance and sing before Him, to rejoice in the showers of blessing that He pours out as I delight in Him!

It is absolutely true that the word “delight” in the above Scripture means to make myself soft and pliable in His hands. But it is good and right and pleasing to Him when I surf the waves of His love, when I open my mouth as He pours out a bucket of joy on my head! Glory!

He is just as pleased with my enjoyment of Him as with my desire to be more like Him. The joy of the Lord is my strength! Sometimes when I’m worshiping Him, I am so overwhelmed with His joy and His presence and His love that I have to stop singing and simply weep for joy! Oh, it is lovely!

These things must be held in balance. He is not “Six Flags over Jesus,” there only for my amusement. He wants my heart to be open to Him so He can make me more and more like Him. But He is to be thoroughly E-N-J-O-Y-E-D!!!!

The Lord is so kind to me – He gives me songs in the night, or in the morning, or at midday. I never know when, but I hear a melody, or words come and then a melody. It just comes into my heart and I must write it! I wrote a song called, “My God and My King” (©2006). Here are the words:

You call to me, I come to You, and You take my hand,

And we dance a dance of love and joy,

And I leap and shout Your glorious name,

I fall down and rise and we embrace,

My Jesus, my God and my King!

When trouble comes, I sing Your praise, and You flood my heart

With Your love, Your joy, Your grace, Your peace,

And from all my troubles I am released,

And together we sing of Your freedom and light

And deliv’rance, my God and my King!

I wait on You, until the Day when You will come

And I’ll rise with You to the Kingdom that’s waiting

To the place that You have prepared for me

And I’ll worship before Your throne

And cast my crown at Your beautiful feet!

I’ll cast my crown at Your beautiful feet!

I’ll cast my crown at Your beautiful feet!

This is truly the life that God gives us when we believe in Christ! It is not dos and don’ts, rules and regulations, but an intimate, intertwining, glorious relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit! You must agree with God that you have rebelled against Him and you must believe that Jesus was sent by God the Father to save you from God’s wrath. But when you do that truly, from your heart, life begins – life as God has it, His life in you, and you suddenly know that you are right with God! I remember my life before Him – it was existence. I know my life now – it is righteousness, peace and joy! Oh, enter in!

A year before the Lord healed me of MS, I received my first song in the night (©2000). The second verse goes like this:

Now my life is complete I am whole;

Let me serve You, Lord, body and soul;

For the joy of Your love I must share;

Help me spread the Good News everywhere!

“For the joy of Your love I must share.”  I must share His joy, for the joy of the Lord, the joy of His love that happens when you, the created ones, turn to your Creator God and love and obey Him. Come! E-N-J-O-Y!

Everyone Will Be Suprised #2

I’ve rewritten this post, and am deleting the other that I published by this title. I should have meditated on it longer before writing. The Holy Spirit wants me to challenge you to go beyond what you now know, but not to condemn. So, here goes!

Matthew 25:37-39 (NASB) Then the righteous will answer Him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?”

Matthew 25:44 (NASB) Then the accursed (v. 41) will answer (Jesus), “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?”

It looks like everyone will be surprised when the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, comes in His glory. But how can that be? Why would some be surprised to find that they had served Him, and why would some be surprised to find that they had not served Him?

If I organize a food bank so starving people are fed, pass out bottles of water to the thirsty, invite strangers into my own home when they need shelter, organize and oversee a clothing closet for the poor, participate in a prison ministry, and visit sick people, I will know that I did these things. I would say that those are good deeds, indeed. But there are those, according to Jesus, who will be surprised because they feel they’ve done all these good things, and believe that’s what He wanted in Matthew 25:31-46. The surprised ones address Him as “Lord” when they ask, “When didn’t we . . . ?” Calling Him “Lord” indicates that they have removed themselves from the throne in their hearts and have enthroned Him. So why does Jesus call them “accursed?”

Conversely, if in the name of Jesus (that is, having His nature and acting as His representative) I feed the Word of God to people, if raging torrents of living water come from my belly as Christ promised to those who are baptized in the Holy Spirit, if I invite into His household those who do not know Christ, if I speak His words so they see the the truth of them and become clothed with His righteousness, if by Jesus’ words I free those who are in prisons both with and without bars, and heal the sick, will I know that I did these things? Yet according to Jesus, those who do these things are also surprised, asking, “When did we . . . ?” Why does He call them “righteous” and call “accursed” the others who know the good deeds they have done?

You know, I’ve been a Christian for ten years, and I really don’t know who I myself have affected with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have seen some fed by the Word of God from my mouth, but I didn’t feed them — it was His Word. I have seen the spiritual thirst and hunger of some quenched, but I didn’t do it. It was the work of the Holy Spirit. I have watched them join the household of God, drawn by Him, but I didn’t draw them — the Father did. I have seen them saved by the gospel (it is the power of God for salvation) and thus clothed with Christ’s righteousness, but I didn’t save them or clothe them– the power of God did, through the gospel of Jesus Christ which I spoke. (Sometimes, I have uttered no words at all and people have come to salvation, so I would KNOW it wasn’t anything I was doing!) I have watched people be set free from sin by Christ’s words and His power, but I didn’t set them free — He did. While present with some, I have seen them healed by Him. But I didn’t heal them — He did. “Yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Do you see? Though I am ministering, I myself have done none of these things. So, when I stand before Him, He may say, “Truly, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” And I will be surprised, because I believe I myself have done nothing, really, except proclaim the excellencies of Him who brought me out of darkness and into His wonderful light. I have watched Him work, not me. All I have done is what I am compelled to do by the very love of God with which He Himself filled my heart. All I have done is allow the Lord to make my feet beautiful so the good news of His freedom can go forth as I walk.

Conversely, all of the things which I agree are good — all the food banks, clothing closets and so on — can be done without the involvement of God at all. Many secular organizations do these things. Maybe there’s something Jesus is warning us about. Maybe He wants us to do the things only God can do — the spiritual things. And at the same time, I believe we are to give actual food to people and actually clothe and shelter them, and all of the other things of which He speaks. But we must do them in His name, and speak His wonderful, life-saving truth while we’re doing it.

The “accursed” call Him “Lord.” I want to be very careful here. I am quite sure they feel they have done the good deeds Jesus describes in these passages, but they are surprised to hear Jesus say they have not done them to Him! Why does He say that? There’s something about the nature of their deeds that, according to Jesus, was not identified with Him. If they love Jesus, they will do everything in His name (having His nature and being His representative). Maybe the ones Jesus calls “accursed” did all these good deeds and when they were finished with them each day, they sinned willfully against God.  If they disobey Him, they do not love Him (John 14:24). If they disobey Him and therefore do not love Him, they do not have His nature but still have the nature they were born with. They cannot represent Him, they cannot do deeds “in His name.” Their deeds are those that anyone could do, Christian or not.

I could never in my own power swap my nature for His. It was done by Him, so I do not boast when I say I am filled with the Holy Spirit — He did it when I cried out to the Father in obedience to Him. He empowers the obedient, filling them with the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32).  Jesus calls us to do what He did when He walked the earth, and greater (John 14:12), but we can’t do those things unless we have His nature in us. The disobedient will not be empowered.

I want to do good deeds; it is important to feed hungry people! I do these myself, out of a sense of their moral “rightness.” But I believe these passages teach us that we must be empowered and purified, so we can do God deeds because we love God with God’s actual love and obey Jesus because we love the Father and Him. I believe this truth runs all through Matthew 25, from the wise virgins who brought oil in vessels and the foolish who did not, to the two servants who multiplied the treasure given to them by God and the one who buried it. Either we do deeds in His name or we don’t.

Those who do deeds in His name (having His nature) are found righteous by Him. I do not believe works save us from being under the wrath of God — the Bible says we are saved by believing in Jesus Christ, and the faith to believe is a gift from God. But Jesus clearly says that if we love Him, we obey Him. I have no capacity in myself to obey Him. But when He filled me with the Holy Spirit, I was filled with God’s actual love so I could love Him and believers and the world as He loves. And in that empowered state, by the grace of God, Jesus can do His deeds  through me and I can do not just good deeds any moral person can do but  good deeds as His representative, having His nature. I believe that’s what He’s getting at in this passage of Scripture.

Now remember, I can only do these things because He’s purified my heart and made me able to love Him with His love. I can do them and then obey Him the rest of the time, too, because of what He has done in my heart. He can work His miracles through me because of the miracle He has worked in me. He fed the thousands miraculously with a few loaves and fish, but not until He had declared the gospel to them, with attesting miracles. I don’t know about you, but I want Jesus to do His miraculous physical and spiritual feeding through me. It’s easy to tell which works are His. They’re awe-inspiring, unexplainable by natural laws and reasoning and range from salvation from the wrath of God to healing of diseases.

Join me as I think about all of this. I’m praying that He may give me greater and greater faith to step out and do His works more and more. Take me from one degree of Your glory to a greater degree, my King! Take me from one degree of looking like You to a greater degree! Oh, may I be Your witness here, and may we all be!

Speaking “Peace, Peace,” When There Is No Peace

Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11  “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.”

Like Jeremiah, I am full of the wrath of the Lord — I am weary of holding it in (Jeremiah 6:11). To whom will I speak and give warning, that they may hear? The ears of my audience are closed (literally, uncircumcised) and they are unable to listen. The word of the Lord has become contemptible to them; they neither hear it nor bend to it (Jeremiah 6:10).

What is the warning I would speak so they may hear? It is like the warning you would give to your beloved grown daughter if you knew she was making a wrong turn in life, a turn that could be devastating to her. You’d try to keep her from making a terrible mistake.

But if she was rebellious throughout her childhood (like I was), she might shut her ears to every word you say — as if there were a membrane covering them, keeping her from hearing even the sound of your words. This membrane grew thicker after each warning. Now she can’t hear you at all.

She might defiantly cry, “I love my life,” even though you can see that she faces potential violence and even death. It might even be that she finds your words to be contemptible. “That’s just Mom again. What does she know?” She might not bend to your good and loving advice. How would you react? Would you be indignant? Would you even be angry, because you know what will happen if she continues in her “wrong turn?”

What makes your daughter continue on the wrong path, despite your warnings? Is it outright rebellion, or is there more to it? Has your daughter has been listening to other people who encourage her to continue down the wrong road after that wrong turn? Maybe she was given some book somewhere that said, “If it feels good, do it,” or “You go your way and I’ll go my way and we’re both OK, no matter what.” Maybe she had a teacher along the way who said, “What’s relevant to you might not be relevant to me. What’s truth to you might not be truth to me. You keep your truth and I’ll keep mine.” You are furious, because you know your daughter is in danger!

But the wrong path she’s on is broad, after all. There are many others for her to confer with on the way. They’re all headed in the same direction. So they confirm her, saying “How cool is this path!” or “Look at all the people who are going with us! What we’re doing is good, because otherwise there wouldn’t be a bunch of people here that think just like us!” But you know that though many enter through this broad path, it leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). You know there is a way that seems right to a man (or woman), but its end is the way of death (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25). There’s a narrow path off to the side, but everyone on the broad path thinks it looks pretty uninteresting. Besides, look how few are on it! It must not be the right path.

Maybe your daughter went to Sunday school as a kid, so she’d learn about Jesus. Now you’re trying to figure out how she could possibly be taking this very wrong path. You did the best you could, you think, to bring her up right. Maybe her home life was very good, with loving parents and nothing to turn her off the straight-and-narrow. How on earth did she get into the mess she’s in? But maybe her teachers said, “Peace, peace” when there was no peace. There’s lots of false teachers of the Bible who say, “God has no problem with you — it’s just your mother being a mother. He loves you even if you ignore or disobey Him.” Or they might have said, “It’s OK to worship other things besides God. I do, and look how blessed I am! See, that’s proof that God doesn’t mind.” How would you feel about a teacher that misled  your daughter that way, telling her things that were pleasing to her ears but not pleasing to you because you knew their advice was wrong?

Well, now that I have your attention, how do you think God feels? He wants to keep you from falling into sin, into error, into the dark pit that has no exit. The Holy Spirit continually cries, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:21). He is indignant that you’re not listening. He’s downright angry with you.

Like the people of Judah to whom Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord, you have been rebellious since you were a child (like I was). God’s words through those He sent to you became more and more muffled as your ears became uncircumcised and that membrane grew thicker and thicker. Now you are unable to hear God’s voice at all, through those whom He has sent to you.

You cry defiantly, “I love my life,” and Jesus says, “Then you will lose it” (John 12:25). He does not say this to be cruel, but to turn you back to the path that leads to eternal life. If you will do as He says and put your selfishness and self-centeredness on a cross so those things die, you will live life as God has it. What you’re living now will lead to your destruction. He loves you so much He speaks these shocking words to you.

You have listened to false teachers who tell you that you are free to be whatever you want to be, and to do whatever you want to do. You liked what they said. You enjoyed what you were doing, even though God warned you that it was going to destroy you. It felt good, so you did it, and there were many others doing the same thing. So it must be good, right? Besides, you think, God doesn’t mind if I disobey Him a little bit. It’s not like I’m murdering anyone, you think. The voices of your false teachers echo in your memory, “Peace, peace!” Meanwhile, God is furious, and so are those He sends to you! The gates of hell open wide to receive you. A voice calls out the very words of God to you. But you are set on what you are doing. Dead set.

It wasn’t like Judah didn’t know her God, when Jeremiah was preaching. It isn’t like you don’t know your God, even if you never went to Sunday school. He has made Himself evident to you as you looked at His creation. People who know Him have “crossed your path.” They have spoken the truth about God and Jesus Christ. But what the false teachers said was much more appealing. So, you continue satisfying your own desires. There are no consequences or judgment, you think. And God is angry with you, not because He hates you but because He loves you and knows exactly where you’re headed. Destruction. Judgment. A lake of fire that burns eternally.

O church, O world, I’m not your mother. I’m not God. But He has given me a word for you. Turn! Stop believing false teachers who say, “Peace, peace.” Ask the Lord to forgive you. Ask Him to empower you to live for Him. He’ll jump at the chance to give you His power by filling you with the Holy Spirit. Then you will be at peace with God. His is a lasting peace. Don’t reject the gift that God has given you by sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ on the cross for you, in the most horrible death imaginable. Jesus poured His life out for you so He could pour His life and love into you. Don’t be a fool (like I was for 45 years) — repent. The gift of Jesus Christ is a gift that keeps on giving. And you’ll become a gift to those who still have ears to hear.