From the outside he looked like a great guy. Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz volunteered his time in a youth program that encouraged teens to choose law enforcement. He was a family man, respected by the community. He was a training officer for new police personnel. In September, when it appeared he had been ambushed by three criminals and killed, he was given a hero’s welcome. But yesterday, the image he carefully maintained was stripped away. His death was a staged suicide. He had stolen funds from the program he led to pay for trips and unsavory personal habits. Knowing that reality was nothing like the image, he took his life. What a tragedy– for Lt. Gliniewicz, for his family, and for his fellow cops.
Let’s get real this morning. Is the person you know in mirror the same one that your family and friends know?
Are you who they think you are or is there a growing gap between the image and the reality?
To some degree we all adjust our outward choices to meet the expectations of others. We like being known as one of the ‘good guys,’ don’t we? Image building is a dangerous game to play. Self-deception can, and often does, quickly take over. We can, any many do, lose sight of who we really are. God can meet our needs, help us through our troubles, and even forgive our sins – only when we are honest about who we are, where we are, and what we need.
Jeremiah was sent by God to the door of the newly renovated Temple in Jerusalem. The people of the city took great pride in the place. They took comfort from going there, listening to the rituals of worship, and seeing the priests offering up the sacrifices to God. They were convinced that having “God’s House” right there among them was a guarantee that they would never suffer the same disaster that had overtaken their cousins to the north, the invasion by Assyria, that destroyed Israel. Judah would different, they told themselves, because of ‘the Temple of the Lord.’ There was a problem that God saw from His home: their ‘worship’ was disconnected from their daily lives. They maintained an image as God’s holy people but lived as though He did not exist.
“Listen, all you people of Judah who come through these gates to worship God. God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God, has this to say to you: “ ‘Clean up your act—the way you live, the things you do—so I can make my home with you in this place. Don’t for a minute believe the lies being spoken here—“This is God’s Temple, God’s Temple, God’s Temple!” Total nonsense!
Only if you clean up your act (the way you live, the things you do), only if you do a total spring cleaning on the way you live and treat your neighbors, only if you quit exploiting the street people and orphans and widows, no longer taking advantage of innocent people on this very site and no longer destroying your souls by using this Temple as a front for other gods— only then will I move into your neighborhood. Only then will this country I gave your ancestors be my permanent home, my Temple. “ ‘Get smart! Your leaders are handing you a pack of lies, and you’re swallowing them! Use your heads!
Do you think you can rob and murder, have sex with the neighborhood wives, tell lies nonstop, worship the local gods, and buy every novel religious commodity on the market’—and then march into this Temple, set apart for my worship, and say, “We’re safe!” thinking that the place itself gives you a license to go on with all this outrageous sacrilege? “ (Jeremiah 7:2-9, The Message)
Is there secret sin in your life, Christian?
Are you failing to repent, taking comfort from the fact that you go to church, give your tithe, own 10 Bibles, or had a godly mother? Stop!
The only way to know an ongoing, sweet, empowering experience with the Lord is to ‘walk with Him’ in open honesty, to let Him deal with sin with forgiveness. Discipleship is not just about words or heritage, it is about living in loving obedience. Jesus says “When you obey me, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father and remain in his love.” (John 15:10, NLT)
Here is a word from the Word. “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isaiah 29:13, NIV) “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” (Isaiah 29:15, NIV)
“He gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:6-8, NIV)
Change My Heart, Oh God
Change my heart, oh God;
Make it ever true!
Change my heart, oh God;
May I be like You!
You are the potter,
I am the clay.
Mold me and make me,
This is what I pray.
© 1982 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing (Admin. by Vineyard Music USA)
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