Selfish Expectations

Selfish Expectations

Hosea 13:5-6

It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
    in the land of drought;
but when they had grazed, they became full,
    they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
    therefore they forgot me.

These two verses touch on a number of themes. There is the balance of the universe, times of  little and times of plenty.  And the subject of how we tend to pray like crazy when things go wrong, but when times are good, we don’t give thanks or realize what we have.  But today these verses brought to mind the arrogance of man.

The arrogance of man, the pride and selfishness to believe that we are the universe.  The arrogance of our expectations.  If the outcome doesn’t fit our expectations then all that happens throughout the universe are just random acts that have no rhyme or reason.  So we believe that we are not responsible for the consequences of our actions. Continue reading

Give Your Son That We May Eat Him

Give Your Son That We May Eat Him

2 Kings 6:24-29

Afterward Ben-hadad king of Syria mustered his entire army and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria, as they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver. Now as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!” And he said, “If the Lord will not help you, how shall I help you? From the threshing floor, or from the winepress?” And the king asked her, “What is your trouble?” She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ So we boiled my son and ate him. And on the next day I said to her, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him.’ But she has hidden her son.”

I read these verses and was a bit taken back by the matter of fact telling of this story.  Try to imagine having to go through something like this.  Try to imagine the brutality and inhumanity that is sited in stories like this and others from the Old Testament.  It’s quite stunning. Continue reading

Sow For Yourself

Sow For Yourself

Hosea 10:12-13

Sow for yourselves righteousness;
    reap steadfast love;
    break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the Lord,
    that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.

You have plowed iniquity;
    you have reaped injustice;
    you have eaten the fruit of lies.
Because you have trusted in your own way
    and in the multitude of your warriors,

 When Hosea became a prophet, the first thing he was instructed to do by God was to make a prostitute his wife.  He was then told to have children with his adulterous wife.  This was to signify how Israel had whored after false Gods, seeking pleasures of the flesh over the love of righteousness. These two verses are another example of self responsibility and the individual having to bear the consequences of their actions. Continue reading

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

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.

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