GOD’S WORD and The Shoe Box

A Crushed Shoe Box
The Shoe Box

This week I decided to sort through all my “stuff” in the walk-in closet, going through the clutter and no longer needed clothing for a fresh start in the new year.  It’s a rotten job, but someone’s gotta do it!

I grabbed what I thought was an empty SHOE BOX tucked behind some old sweatshirts hanging up that I’ll never wear again and when I removed the lid from the shoe box–SURPRISE!

crumpled-money

Inside was a wrinkled twenty-dollar bill staring at me.  “How did THAT get in there?” A better question might have been, “How did I forget that it was there, and was I getting forgetful in my old age?  A lost twenty-dollar bill?” And, was what I found in the shoe box even salvageable–would anyone still accept what I found in this condition?

A Lesson Learned!

The next day while reading God’s Word in my bible, I asked the Holy Spirit, “Might there be a hidden message for me in that forgotten shoe box?”  I often get ideas for Blogging For God with questions that arise in my daily walk with Jesus.  How about you?

HEAVENLY ANSWER:  If I tried to alter what I found in the shoe box, it may no longer be accepted and would be worthless.

  • God’s WORD is worth much more than the twenty dollars.  Altering it can cost many people Heaven itself!
  • Unaltered, that WORD will accomplish what God wants.

BIBLE TEXT:  EZEKIEL 2:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT):

ezekiel-713x509-713x450

[1]  “STAND UP, son of man,” said the voice.  “I want to speak with you.”

[2]  The Spirit came into me as he spoke, and he set me on my feet.  I listened carefully to his words.  [3] “Son of man,” he said, “I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me.  They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day.  [4] They are stubborn and hard-hearted people.  But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says!’  [5] And whether they listen or refuse to listen–for remember they are rebels–at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.

AS CHRISTIANS, you and I need to see ourselves as much a sinner as those outside the church environment to whom we can speak God’s WORD.  And when we do get the Holy Spirit opportunities to speak God’s Word, we need to fight against every ounce of self-righteousness in ourselves.  Maybe we haven’t committed exactly the same sins, but your sins and mine are just offensive against God as their sins, if not more so since we ought to know better.

HUMBLY see your SIN and then see JESUS, your Savior, who takes away your SIN.

Maybe the idea of the SHOE BOX might help you, as it did me, to be HUMBLE in speaking God’s Word.  The shoe box isn’t worth anything–it’s easily crushed.

What gives the shoe box value is what is inside.  Apart from God, we are but empty shoe boxes–worthless, and powerless.

BUT GOD has placed His WORD into your heart.  As you speak that Word, HUMBLY remember that your strength comes from the Lord, not from yourselves.

WE ARE JUST SHOEBOXES!  SPEAK His Word Faithfully, Knowing It Will NOT FAIL!

What God said proved to be TRUE.

The people would know that the prophet was speaking for God when the WORD came true.  That’s what God tells him,  “And whether they listen or fail to listen–for they are a rebellious people–they will know that a prophet has been among them (Ezekiel 2:5 NIV).

Many would REJECT Ezekiel’s message, but he wouldn’t change it to make it sound more acceptable to the people.

There’s a principle for churches today to glean from and the New Testament gives a great reminder and a WARNING:

caqs2qlu8aa8o7n

2 Timothy 4:3-4 New International Version (NIV)

[3]  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

[4]  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

How do we do that?

Through reading your Bible, coming to worship, joining a bible study group, and… keep on learning more and more what God’s Word has to say.

Don’t give in to pressure compromising God’s Word, because someone might not like it.

UNALTERED, that WORD will accomplish what God wants!

SPEAK HIS WORD FAITHFULLY!!!

Finally, SPEAK GOD’S WORD BOLDLY–

The LORD wants us to SPEAK His Word BOLDLY!

He makes it plain to Ezekiel that he will face opposition.  The LORD tells him,

(Ezekiel 2:4 AMP)

[4] And the children are impudent and hard of heart.

I send you to them and you shall say to them,

‘Thus says the Lord God.’

Knowing this ahead of time, it still didn’t stop Ezekiel.  He was to speak God’s WORD BOLDLY, regardless of the circumstances.

So, what gave Ezekiel the BOLDNESS to speak?

I have asked myself the same question after SHARING Christ with others: “Where did I get the “boldness” at that specific moment?  And I always receive the same answer from the Holy Spirit–

(Philippians 2:13 AMP)

[13] “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who

is all the while effectually at work in you [ener-

gizing and creating in you the power and desire],

both to will and to work for His good pleasure

and satisfaction and delight.”

As fellow Christians, we are bold to speak because we KNOW His Word won’t fail.

ISAIAH 55:11 says it best:  [11] “so is my WORD that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I declare and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

This should give us BOLDNESS even in the face of surrounding opposition and rejection.  There had been many times that opposition and rejection intimidated me when opportunities to share God’s Word arose.  My confidence began to dwindle, fear would begin to raise its ugly head…and then I would remember the words in Philippians,  “Not in your strength for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you…”

Each one of us, in our own private lives, has been CALLED OUT of the darkness of SIN to FAITH in Christ Jesus.  So, SPEAK HIS WORD!

With your TRUST in the Lord and the AUTHORITY, He has given each one of us as believers the CONFIDENCE to SPEAK HIS WORD!

Let me leave you with this message found in 2 Corinthians 5:20 in the New Living Testament (NLT):

[5]  So we are Christ’s AMBASSADORS; God is making his

appeal through us.  We SPEAK for Christ when we plead,

“Come back to God!”

fa47dcfcc6044578d814679e37ab84f3

 


CREDITS –

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and the Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Photos:  Google Image Search.

 

 

 

More STUFF from the Minor Prophets: WHEN STUPID DECISIONS ARE MADE…WHAT THEN?

A STUDY IN THE BOOK OF MICAH:

maxresdefault

Back in 2005, the FBI received reliable information about a sitting member of the U.S. Congress illegally using his official position to solicit bribes from American companies.

The congressman in question was William (Bill) J. Jefferson, who had been serving Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district since 1991.  In the FBI investigation, it was revealed from 2000 to 2005, Mr. Jefferson sought hundreds of millions of dollars for himself and other co-conspirators from companies whose success depended on the approval of certain U.S. and West African government agencies.  Mr. Jefferson ended up pocketing more than $478,000 but wasted significantly more in U.S. government resources to further his illegal claims.

During the investigation, the FBI–while serving a search warrant on his residence–found $90,000 in Jefferson’s freezer.

large

In August of 2009, Mr. Jefferson was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison.   [See Footnote [i] for source.]

CORRUPTION IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL!!!

We hear similar stories to this of BRIBERY in other parts of the world all the time–India, China, and Russia all typically repeat offenders–but it’s not something we expect to happen in our own backyard.  We’re better than that, right?  I’d like to think so, but that doesn’t stop people from making STUPID DECISIONS!

When people make stupid decisions, they have to face the consequences–a trial in a courtroom perhaps–but in Bible times,  bad decisions meant something even harsher, like FIRE & BRIMSTONE, right?

Usually, YES; that is unless you count the time that GOD brings Israel to court for IMMORALITY.

LOOKING AT THE BOOK OF MICAH, Chapter 6:

pleasing-god-what-does-god-require-of-us-7-638

In Chapter 6, verses 1-8 are read like a courtroom drama: “Law and Order: Jerusalem Crimes”.

You start first with the PROSECUTION, in verses 1-5:  I can almost hear a southern lawyer, yelling this today–‘God is demanding that the people explain their actions!’  You see, at this point, the ISRAELITES were extremely corrupt and in self-denial.

In Micah 2:8-9 (NIV)–the EVIDENCE presented:

[8]  Lately My people have risen up like an enemy.  You strip off the rich robe from those who pass by without a care, like men returning from battle.  [9]  You drive the women of My people from their pleasant homes.  You take away My blessing from their children forever.

In Chapter 3, God calls out the LEADERSHIP specifically–verses 1-5 (Amplified Bible):

[1]  And I [Micah] said, Hear, I pray you, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel!  Is it not for you to know justice?–

[2]  You who hate the good and love the evil, who pluck and steal the skin from off [My people] and their flesh from off their bones;

[3]  Yes, you who eat the flesh of my people and strip their skin from off them, who break their bones and chop them in pieces as for the pot, like meat in a big kettle.

[4]  Then will they cry to the Lord, but He will not answer them; He will even hide His face from them at that time because they have made their deeds evil.

[5]  Thus says the Lord:  Concerning the false prophets who make My people err when they have anything good to bite with their teeth they cry, Peace; and whoever gives them nothing to chew, against him they declare a sanctified war.

In Chapter 7, God lists more specifics!

Micah 7:2-3 (NET):

[2] Faithful men have disappeared from the land; there are no godly men left.  They all wait in ambush so they can shed blood; they hunt their own brother with a net.

[3] They are determined to be experts at doing evil; government officials and judges take bribes, prominent men make demands, and they all do what is necessary to satisfy them.

Sounds a bit like William Jefferson did!

So in Micah 6:1-5, the JURY is selected…and, the PROSECUTION begins.

The LORD’S Case Against Israel

“Listen to what the LORD says;  “Stand up, plead My case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say.  Hear, you mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.  For the LORD has a case against His people; He is lodging a charge against Israel.”  (Verses 1-2, NIV Bible).

The “mountains”, the “hills”, the foundations of the earth” are selected for the unshakable JURY.

In the Gospel of Luke (19:40), it says if we’re all silent, the “ROCKS” themselves will cry out in praise–is it then too much to think that mountains, hill’s and the foundations of the earth serve as a JURY if asked to by their Creator?

NEXT, God is asking the defense,  “Why are you doing this to me? What have I done to deserve this?”

He then begins to list off what He has done like it says in VERSE 5–God wants to make sure the Israelites “know the righteous acts of the LORD”–[Num. 23:7-24; 24:3-24; Josh. 3:1; 4:19].

What comes next is such a human reaction to the charges–

THE PEOPLE want to jump to the other extreme!  They go from not listening to God’s commandments at all–to wanting to go overboard with burnt offerings, thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of olive oil…”TEN THOUSAND RIVERS”?  REALLY?  Perhaps a little dramatic?

But this was their thinking.  They were like the criminal who, overcome with GUILT, tells the cops to throw him in jail, throw away the key and let him starve to death in solitary confinement because he did something wrong.

And you know what?

The Israelites deserved every one of those things.  They disrespected the Creator of the universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  God would be well within His rights to point His finger and zap them all with lightning bolts!  BUT…as a loving Father, He doesn’t.

IN VERSE 8, God tells them what He wants; what He requires.

micah-6_8

That sums it up!

God doesn’t care about these huge, outward displays of GUILT–HE’S GOD!

He knows how you’re feeling, and whether your GUILT is legit or not.  All He wants is for you to follow Him.  That is the very definition of MERCY!

Let’s go back to the Courtroom Drama with the lawyers and the jury.

God says, It’s OK!  I will continue to BLESS you, and this is how.”  

Micah 7:11-12 (NIV):

[11]  “The day for building your walls will come, the day for extending your boundaries.

[12]  In that day people will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt, even from Egypt to the Euphrates and from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.”

So what does this all mean to us–today–right now?

It means that if we sin–if you do something to DISRESPECT God or to ANGER God, He doesn’t expect you to flip a little switch and become a SuperChristian to make up for it!

All God wants is for you to follow Him–the rest of it will take care of itself if you do that.  And when you do sin–and let’s face it, it will happen–don’t wallow in SELF-PITY and make absurd promises to God that you know you can’t keep:  

“God, I’m so sorry that I cheated on my math test that I’m going to eat nothing but bread and water for the rest of my life!”  I think you get the idea.

Instead, just be honest with God–admit that you’ve sinned–and go back to following Him.  THAT’S ALL HE WANTS!!!

 

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i]:  https://www.fbi.gov/news/…/a-look-back-at-the-william-j-jefferson-corrupotion-case/

Photos:  Google Image Search & Freezer Photo taken from Footnote [i] story.

Bible Translations Used:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.