The Great Light

The Great Light

Isaiah 9:2

The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,

on them has light shone.

Biblical scholars’ commentaries on this verse say that Isaiah is referring to the defeat of the Assyrian army and that the great light mention may be referring to the coming of Christ.

I thought differently when I read this verse and decided to write about it. Continue reading

Don’t Confuse Simple With Easy

Don’t Confuse Simple With Easy

In another post I wrote about Matthew 6:1-18 and how I was struck by the simplicity of Christ’s teachings,  how all the teachings in the Sermon on the Mount boil down to keeping it simple.  Life is simply your relationship with God.

It is a simple philosophy but don’t confuse simple with easy.

Realizing your relationship with God is an ever vigilant lifetime endeavor.  It’s tough and takes work and self discipline.  Not because God made it hard, but because we make it hard with all our worries, cares and sins.

Get it right and everything, the good, the bad and the ugly, which you will always have to deal with, will fall into place. Continue reading

Who Are You To Pass Judgement

Who Are You To Pass Judgement

Romans 14:2-4

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

“Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?”  Words we really need for today, but we always needed these words.  That’s why Paul wrote them. Continue reading

No Bank Account For Good Deeds

No Bank Account For Good Deeds

Ezekiel 33:17-20

“Yet your people say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just,’ when it is their own way that is not just. When the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he shall live by this. Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

These verses speak to me on a couple of levels.

First, the idea of justice.

Ezekiel talks about the Israelites complaining that God’s justice, or the balance of the universe, doesn’t fit their idea of justice.  I’ve written before about this and the fact that my idea of justice and someone else’s idea of justice are probably two different things.  And so the Israelites say in verse 17, what most of us say today when something happens to us, or others, that we don’t understand.  We say, “There is no justice” and then question God and even God’s existence.  We do this on the basis of things not going the way we thought they should go.  We look to blame something outside of us for what happened.

God answers these petty accusations very effectively:

…when it is their own way that is not just.

Ezekiel and God are talking about personal responsibility, and each of us owning up to and realizing that we are responsible for our actions.  We must face up to the fact that we are responsible for the consequences of our actions.  The perceived injustice of the world, is the injustice we have created and served upon ourselves.

God does not inflict grief upon man.  Man inflicts grief upon man.

In verses 18 and 19, Ezekiel speaks of God’s balance. When the righteous do evil they suffer their grief.  There are no mulligans, or a reserved bank account of good deeds to excuse the evil act and eliminate the consequences.  And vice versa.

Second, each act stands on its own.

This is the third time I have written about this.  This truth is conveyed a number of times in the writings of Ezekiel.

Each act, each decision has its own consequence based on the act.  Every act and decision stands on its own.  If a plane makes 1000 trips without incident, that will not eliminate a catastrophe if the pilot makes a bad decision.  The 1000 safe and non-eventful flights do not somehow make the laws of physics and aerodynamics over look this lapse in judgement.  The consequences of a bad decision will be experienced.

Every action stands on its own.  That is what God and Ezekiel are telling us in verse 20.

I will judge each of you according to his ways.

This is personal responsibility. They are telling us that each of us stands alone, every one of our actions stands alone.  If you do twenty wonderful and righteous things during the course of the day and then do one evil act, the twenty do not cancel out the one.  The consequences of the evil act will still be suffered.

God and Ezekiel are letting us know we are responsible for our actions.  Each and every action is judged by itself.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leave The Past Behind

Leave The Past Behind

The other evening I read 2 Samuel Chapters 11 and 12.  It’s the story of King David, Bathsheba and the price David paid for his sins.

If you’re not familiar with the story here is a recap.

One day King David is up on the roof of his house looking around.  He looks down and sees Bathsheba taking a bath.  She is described as “very beautiful”.  David wants to know who she is.  He asks and is told she is the wife of another man. This doesn’t stop David, he has her brought to him and then next thing you know Bathsheba is pregnant with David’s baby.

David knows that this isn’t going to look good.  The holy king knocking up another man’s wife. Continue reading

Faith and Works

Faith and Works

Romans 9:30-32

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.  Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone,

Works and faith, that is what is being compared in these verses.  At least that was my initial thought when I made a note to myself to write something about these verses.  But the more I contemplated the words written by Paul, I realized what Paul is writing about. Continue reading

Part Of The Pack

Part Of The Pack

John 5:44

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

When I was younger I use to seek the approval of others as validation of my skills and talents.  I used this approval as validation of myself and what I was doing.

We all want to be liked by others.

We are social creatures and need to be part of the pack, the herd, the pride.

Our social order is based on the approval and validation of others.  Those most accepted, those obtaining the glory from others are the ones who move up the chain. Continue reading