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.

Stands On Its Own – Part II

Stands On Its Own – Part II

Ezekiel 33:10-12

“And you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’ 11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?

“And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses, and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness, and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousness when he sins.

These verses help solidify my belief that the Bible is a manual for the individual. In my previous post, Stand On Its Own, I wrote about these verses, but today I wanted to write some more as I feel strongly about the individual.   Verses like these speak of the individual and how the individual is responsible for their actions.  Although each day circumstances beyond our control are thrown at us, how we respond to those circumstances is what we can control.  Our response is what makes us who we are. Continue reading

The Bible Antiquated?

The Bible Antiquated?

People will tell you that the Bible is antiquated.

What does antiquated mean?

“Very old and no longer useful, popular or accepted: very old fashion, obsolete”

Or how about this definition:

“Outmoded or discredited by reason of age; being out of style of fashion”

Many people do consider the Bible to be very old, no longer popular or accepted.  Many consider it to be out of style and out of fashion.

But to say it is no longer useful or to discredit it by reason of age is foolish.

The Bible is not antiquated. Continue reading

What’s Wrong With A Census?

What’s Wrong With A Census?

1 Chronicles 21:1-7

Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” But Joab said, “May the Lord add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem. And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.  But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel.

When I first read these verses I didn’t understand why God would be displeased with King David taking a census.  I thought, what is wrong with knowing how many citizens you have to rule.  Countries, including our country, take a census every so many years to determine population growth, changes in demographics, etc.  Where is the sin it this?

Then, as I read it again, I realized David was getting the number of soldiers he had under his command.  Okay, again what’s wrong with that?  Eisenhower needed to know troop strength for both the Allies and the Axis.  What commander wouldn’t want to know this?  That is vital information for strategic and logistical planning.

I also wondered why David’s top commander bulked at this request.  What did he know that David didn’t know?  How did Joab know David was committing a sin? Continue reading

What Is Christmas Spirit?

What Is Christmas Spirit?

(I wrote this post three years ago and thought I would share it again this Christmas Eve.  Merry Christmas to all.)

This year is the first time I can ever remember not having much Christmas Spirit.

Honestly I’m not really sure what Christmas Spirit is so I thought I would write about it to see if it helps me figure it out.

I guess most people would say Christmas Spirit is the feeling of joy and the spirit of giving.

I know when I was a kid Christmas was the most anticipated time of the year.  The joy and the spirit of giving wasn’t the reason for the excitement, it was the joy of getting.

I was a kid and that’s what Christmas was all about.  It was the one time of the year (besides your birthday) that you got gifts, nice gifts.

But it wasn’t totally about me and what gifts I was going to receive.  I also loved the family getting together, the lights, the trees and the special once a year food.  (Steamed shrimp, yum / fried oysters and oyster pie, yuck)  Christmas Eve was the only time of the year my grandma got out her fine punch bowl and filled it with ginger ale and scoops of orange sherbet.

I grew up but hung on to the love that I had for Christmas. Continue reading

Simple Manual

Simple Manual

Ezekiel 20:11-12

I gave them my statutes and made known to them my rules, by which, if a person does them, he shall live.  Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.

Ezekiel Chapter 20 begins with the elders of Israel coming to the prophet Ezekiel to inquire of the Lord.  It’s doesn’t tells us their question but I’m reasonably sure it’s that age old question we all ask when things go bad, “God, why did you let this happen?”

If you read the entire chapter you will learn that God, through Ezekiel, lets the elders of Israel know exactly why they have been carried off to Babylon.  God has Ezekiel give a full accounting of the history and of the relationship between God and the Israelites, and their constant rebellion against God.

Ezekiel advises the elders that they are suffering the consequences of their actions. Continue reading