Are You Religious or Righteous? - Jeremiah 7:21-26

"Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this command I gave them: 'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.' But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers." [ESV]

One of the things that we need to be careful of in life is developing a false sense of security. There is a lot at stake with us in life because we will all have to eventually answer to God. Remember that once we are before God in judgment, what is done is done. Point being, we need to take the time to do things right the first time. Unfortunately this was something here that the children of Israel did not understand in the time of Jeremiah. As a result they were cast out of Israel. Here is what was going on.
The nation of Israel in this this time had a false sense of security. They thought that having the temple of God gave them a license to live however they wanted to. They were worshiping false gods, committing gross sexual immorality, taking advantage of other people, living a life of against the moral standard of God in His law. That was bad enough, but insult to injury there was also the fact that they thought that having the temple of God made them safe. They though first, that God would never allow the pagan Babylonians to destroy His temple. Second, that they would slaughter the specified animals and all would be well. How could God have a problem with this? Wrong.
What God is saying here is that while He did ask for sacrifices in His law, they are absolutely useless when their lives against what He commanded. He wanted more than religious acts, but lives seeking to be righteous by His law, standards & ways. This is not to deny proper worship, God cared about being worshiped in the temple properly, sacrifices were key for atonement for sins. But they were useless for without obedience in their daily lives. He wanted righteousness.

So what's the lesson for us?

First: God wants to be obeyed.
While worshiping God in the appropriate way is essential, it is useless without pure lives. I don't mean righteousness in a self-righteousness (because we have all sinned and all need Christ). We can develop a false sense of security by thinking worshiping in the one true church, and not supporting institutions, no instrumental music etc. alone makes us right before God. What about implementing God's ways into your life? Being a godly example at work? What about having honest dealings with clients and customers? Treating your spouse like the King/Queen they are? Keeping you mind and body pure from sexual sin? It sets a higher standard.
If we are caught in these things, just going to church alone won't forgive us of them. John the Baptist put it simply by saying " Bear fruits worthy or repentance", or simply just stop committing sin and obey God. It's that simple. Be righteous not just religious.

Second:Give God what He actually wants, not what we want Him to want. Worship & Obedience.
My wife Alyssa and I have this ritual that we go though. When I am at the grocery store on my way home from work, I get her a 'surprise', which is usually gummies or chocolate. One time that I did this, I wanted to be different and I got her a nice bottle of Taco Sauce. My reasoning is that she likes spicy food and likes to cook. So when I got home, I was proud as could be when I handed her the bottle. She gave a look with a "poor you" smile, and said,"Jim I love you, but get what I actually want next time, gummies" It was the same way with Israel and is the same for us with God. Give Him what he actually wants. Obedience in all aspects of our lives.
We can live our lives however we want. Go to the right church, give money, and go through the motions, then expect God to be happy. But it's like handing God taco sauce when He wants gummies. But our eternal soul is on the line.

Here is the point. Don't just be religious, but obey God in your life. Don't just be religious, but seek righteousness.

In Christ,

Jim Statham
  • meg
    I love, love, love your examples that include your wife. I can just see them happening!
    by meg at 06/08/11 2:44PM
  • rundrummerrun
    Hey Jim! It's been ages! I just ran across this and was quite encouraged--just finished teaching through Hosea and saw so many of the same lessons there. So humbling!
    by rundrummerrun at 08/07/11 9:46PM
  • sararschick
    Just now saw this post--very well written! :) I'm so happy that Alyssa married you--you are a perfect match for her!
    by sararschick at 09/24/11 11:22AM

Hello Pittsburgh

I suppose that I owe everybody an update on what has been going on in my life. For those who have not read Alyssa's blog, we have moved from Atlanta, GA to Pittsburgh PA in December of 2009, just in time for the heat in my Ford Explorer to go out and for 30 inches of snow. God has blessed us with jobs right now. I work at a call center for Medicare Advantage Plan Enrollments, a small part of health insurance in plain english. I also for a bonus have studied and obtained a Health Insurance License for PA but my company will get me license's for all 50 states. It is a good job that I enjoy, it has helped my social, communication, and work ethic skills. I get along with my bosses & coworkers, and they seem to like the work I do for them. I hope to use many of the skills and lessons from this job towards preaching and evangelism. I have gotten into many discussions about God at work, but being near Pittsburgh, a more liberal demographic area both politically and religiously many write me off. But I hope to use this as a means to develop my personal evangelism skills.
Also being at a call center, I will relay some interesting stories.

Alyssa and I have placed membership at Tomlinson Run Church of Christ where her father is an elder and preacher there. They are a very sound, and faithful congregation with 5 elders. I have started to get to know many of the brethren there, and develop relationships. They are a group that pulls together like the body of Christ. Paul R. Blake (father in law) meets with me typically once a week to help train me in my preaching skills. His patience has been a huge help, because there are many things I need someone to explain things as to a beginner. It helps me better understand proper doctrine vs opinion, dismiss myths about duties of a preacher, and the seriousness of it. Some of the local congregations have allowed me to fill in as needed being they don't have regular preachers, so that is getting me experience. Tomlinson Run has also allowed me to teach their Middle School Class as well.

My Ford Explorer has finally bitten the dust. Many of you have had the adventure riding in him, but a month before we moved up here, his heat went out. The heater core that warms the air is buried in the dashboard so two mechanics turned down the job. Of course this happened in a winter with highs in the teens and 30 inches of snow. But I had a job to drive to which was a huge blessing. I did put in an electric space heater on the dashboard, but it was so cold by the time the air got to my face it was chilled again. It did detach from the mounting to blow on my face, but to passerby's it looked like a blow dryer. But what wrote him off is that his reverse in the transmission went out, so I had to park where I could pull out or let gravity pull me back. He's too old to repair and wont pass state inspection. He is in his second engine, rebuilt transmission, and 315,000 miles. I have had many fond memories of that vehicle with many of you reading this, but he has to go. I learned to drive in it, took it to High School, Minnesota, FC, and dated Alyssa in it. But like the things of this world it shall pass away. Sigh...

Anyway...I will make a better effort to post more consistently, preferably with scriptural food for thought. Good nite.

In Christ,

Jim Statham
  • smallgreenbug
    It's good to hear from you...AND it'll be good to see you next weekend, I just wish that your lovely wife were coming with you. But, maybe another time.
    by smallgreenbug at 05/27/10 8:04AM
  • apbooklover04
    I'm glad things are going well for you guys! Thanks for the update :).
    by apbooklover04 at 05/27/10 10:04AM
  • prtbone
    Hey Jim, I'm glad things are going well for you and Alyssa! It sounds like you've got a great congregation to learn and grow in. I'm sorry to hear about your car. I had a similar problem this last winter where my defroster stopped working. I tried to hold-off repairing it for as long as I could (also getting an electric space heater), but eventually I had to give in once my windows began frosting on the inside. The defroster still isn't fully fixed, but it's enough to get by until I can buy another used car down the road. Keep up the good work preaching!
    by prtbone at 05/28/10 8:48AM

So Long Atlanta

Well, here I am in an empty house, all of our stuff is loaded up and we are about to leave. Alyssa and I are moving to Pittsburgh, Pa. There is more preaching opportunities there, and I can form a stronger relationship with Alyssa's family. I am trying to get a job up there and preach part time. I will miss Mountain View, and the support growing up, preaching, and with Alyssa has been great. But we need to move on. Here are some thoughts from the Bible that I have had. I am sorry, but I will not be able to quote scripture. I want you to read them yourselves and apply them.

In 1 cor 12, I have really learned that Preaching is a function of the church, not the function. Many times as members we feel that the preacher/elders are to do the work of the church. But we are all expected to, there are more duties than in public worship. In a spiritual sense, you need to live in the character and ways of God. To simply do things in all aspects of your life as God wants you to. Be a shining light in the world, by being an asset to God rather than a liability. Then you can apply the bible to yourself, and talk to others. in e physical sense, there is much service to be done, changing brake pads, cooking food, helping people move. If is done out of love, and as Christ put it, as "a cup of cold water in my name" you are being spiritual. Even if it seems that you are not part of the body in a public sense, you are.

Even though I have been to Pittsburgh, I am going to a new area and situation. It really tests your faith in God. But as Christ says "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and these things shall be added to you". If I simply obey God, everything will be okay. Many times in the Old Testament, when empire after empire was going to take over Jerusalem, all they had to do was trust and obey God. It is so simple, its scary, but it is true. In a practical sense, the ways, wisdom and commands will spare you from a lot of junk and trouble. But God will protect you, and answer your prayers, I speak from experience, God is active here and now.

Anyway, I have a long trip and a big load to carry, I need to get going. Please keep us in your prayers. Emails and phone calls are always encouraged.

In Christ,

Jim Statham

[email protected]
724.407.3688
  • deusvitae
    We certainly hope and pray that your work will bear fruit for the Kingdom in Pittsburgh. We're about three hours west of there.
    by deusvitae at 11/30/09 12:51PM
  • apbooklover04
    Wow, I wish you both the best in your new life in Pittsburgh. I'm a little sad though, since so often Paul and I have talked about swinging by and seeing you guys sometime (whenever we make it back down to FL for lectures or something). But I'm happy for you guys in your decision. I know you will do lots of good work in God's kingdom in your new location.
    by apbooklover04 at 11/30/09 5:32PM
  • sonya05
    hope everything goes well for you two!
    by sonya05 at 11/30/09 7:51PM
  • silvercloud
    Save travels to you Jim.
    by silvercloud at 11/30/09 8:03PM
  • unclespike
    Wow. I hope you enjoy Pittsburgh. I like to visit there, but I think it would be rough on me to live there. I'm not cut out for that far north.

    Do you remember the funeral you went to over here for Amanda's grandmother in Flagstaff? Her grandfather died on Thursday night, so we are headed to that funeral this Friday.
    by unclespike at 12/01/09 3:59AM
  • jlmanager
    Excellent news, and best wishes and prayers for your endeavors.
    by jlmanager at 12/01/09 9:37PM
  • celticgirl1787
    Its okay, Jim, we here on pleo will forgive your lack of Scripture references. This time :).
    Seriously, thanks for sharing the good thoughts on 1 Cor. 12. Its a comfort to know that God loves and uses little people too.
    by celticgirl1787 at 12/01/09 10:53PM
  • blondechick89
    May God bless you always. Hope you enjoy Pittsburgh.
    by blondechick89 at 12/17/09 3:31PM
  • meg
    Yo, bro! I miss ya! I need your addy.
    by meg at 01/04/10 3:35PM
  • paulwilliams
    You and your wife have taken a very big decision! We are praying for you.
    by paulwilliams at 01/27/10 8:42AM

Ok, so this one is the actual update...

I know that it has been forever since I have posted. I am sorry if this one rambles, but I need to get in the habit of posting. This is a good way for people to know what I am up to. I'll give you an update with what Alyssa and I are doing.

I am working as a Contractor for Hewlett-Packard for a year now. I work in a data cell and swap out data tapes. It's a good job and it has been great. I work Wednesday afternoons and longer shifts Thursday through Saturday. God has blessed me in giving me a job before the economy crashed. Besides I get Sunday through Tuesday completly off.

Alyssa and I are living in Alpharetta, a suburb of Atlanta. We are keeping a house for one of my dad's friends while he is living in DC doing contract work. It is a blessing to have a home to host people.

I know that I have found out that Wayne is engaged (CONGRATS!!) and that Chris Benson is a father (SWEET!!), I am sorry that I haven't called to personally congratulate you. I have not been myself the past three weeks. Since mid-August I have has severe toothaches from my wisdom teeth, and have been on pain killers. I can sympathize with Dr House from TV as I was on Vicodin. A week ago I had all 4 teeth removed, and live is better. Guys, I am happy for you all and I cannot wait to be with you to share in your joy. I also can't wait to be your scapegoat again.

We are worshiping a Mountain View Church of Christ, and it is really good. I appreciate Steve Tramell and the work that he does. He knows how to present the work accurately and in a relevant way. Especially that it knows how to step on my toes to motivate me to seek God and to do His work.

In other miscellaneous news with technology and familiar gear. Many of you know my over sized MP3 player "The Brick". I am sad to say that the battery died and his spirit lives on in an IDE Controller case that I can access through a USB cable. I have also been using the same Laptop aka "Chani". His hard drive failed and I have replaced it. I did not feel like using a Windows XP key so I went free and have been using Ubuntu Linux. Its great and I love it. Also, my 1997 Ford Explorer that many of you remember, has been signed over to me and has hit 300,000 miles. I have also christened it "Frank" for "Frankenstein" with all the work I have done on it. Alyssa has gotten a 1999 Jeep Wrangler named "Gus". I have been doing most of the repairs on it.

With that let us turn to spiritual things. There is a lot that I want to talk but I don't have a lot of time. Being a Christian in the real world is... hard. I have trouble focusing, and I like to study in my copious spare time at work, but I find myself getting distracted by useless things, hulu.com, stumbleupon. I make excuses, but really, something has to be told no. Bible study or hulu.com. It's really a matter of priorities and not being lazy. I think also I look at Joesph, and that he served God no matter the circumstances. We can't always serve God in the convenient times, we have to serve God, pray to Him no matter what. Even when it is a hard thing to do. I just need to grow up and be a man.

More to come as more happens. There is a lot to talk about. I miss you all dearly...

In Christ,

Jim Statham

Alpharetta, GA
  • meg
    I miss you, brudder!
    by meg at 09/07/09 11:55AM
  • jlmanager
    I hear ya on the distractions. Glad life is better after the pulling of teeth.
    by jlmanager at 09/07/09 12:47PM
  • brownie
    good post, FINALLY! I hope your feeling better with your teeth now. That was crazy bad for a while.
    by brownie at 09/07/09 6:44PM
  • prtbone
    I know what you mean about the addictions to hulu... I LOVE watching Stargate SG-1 :) However, it does eat into my Bible study time as well. Over the last few weeks, Alice has been encouraging me to read religious books / commentaries for fun instead of vegging in front of my computer. It's slowly sinking-in, but I still can't wait to see season 5 ;) I glad things are going well for you and Alyssa. We'll have to catch-up some time. God bless and be strong in the Lord!
    by prtbone at 09/08/09 10:15PM
  • paulwilliams
    Thanks for the update. We think of you.
    by paulwilliams at 09/11/09 5:26AM
  • blondechick89
    Great to see an update. Tell Alyssa I say hello :)
    by blondechick89 at 09/11/09 4:09PM
  • beunsung
    By the way, the congregation that I was working with this past summer would like to get in touch with you about possibly having you and Alyssa working with them next summer in their intern program. So just drop me a line sometime and I'll put you in touch with them if y'all are interested.
    by beunsung at 09/15/09 3:41AM

It Has Been How Long?

Ok Everyone. I am sorry for the lack of the updates. Things have been happening here in Atlanta. Alyssa and I have been married for 8 months now and life has been good for us.

I will tell you that the past 8 months has been a hearty, but well needed reality check. I am in the real world, what that means is that I am not in a FC bubble any longer. I am in the workforce for a corporation, paying bills, buying groceries, and other things. As a Christian, it is well needed, but it is a struggle sometimes. I am really trying to learn to truly depend on God more, study his word for myself, and really reach out to people. I think most of my co-workers know that I go to church, but I am really trying to not bring them to the Church of Christ, but to really bring them to the Lord. But here is what I am up to with preaching...

I am preaching on the 3rd Sunday at Pine Grove Church of Christ. They are a small group that does not have a full time preacher. Alyssa and I are trying to encourage them, and they have been one for me. Right now we are studying the parables, and I preach Sunday morning & night. If I hear that there are other congregatins that either need help or will let me preach, then I will. There is a small but great group in Warne, NC whose preacher is out until May. I have been there, and will go again Lord Willing. A work in Alpharetta has started (boy does that bring back memories with South Forsyth forever ago) and they allowed me to preach once as well.

I am meeting with Sewell Hall and Wes Gossett (who is a preacher in training) at Embry Hills every Monday Afternoon. We went over the epistles and Acts. We tied the Epistles to Paul's journey's to help better understand context and circumstances. We will be going over either Jeremiah or Isaiah. Sewell has been great to talk to with challenges and bounce ideas off of.

Anyway...

Just a quick update with my life. I have a lot to talk about in future posts. So stay tuned!

In Christ,

Jim Statham
  • meg
    life has been god for you?
    by meg at 05/02/09 6:18PM
  • meg
    I've thought about you lately..I've been catching up with Libby and Cathy, but I'm behind on catching up with you!
    by meg at 05/02/09 6:19PM
  • meg
    And you're right...it's now about the "Church of Christ". That's sectarian thinking. We're bringing them to Christ.
    by meg at 05/02/09 6:20PM
  • waynardferguson
    I can't be at Paul's wedding, its too far away.
    However, I will be at Kevin and Amanda's wedding, which will be in Cumming if I understand correctly.
    by waynardferguson at 05/02/09 10:06PM
  • herebedragons
    ^You understand correctly.
    by herebedragons at 05/04/09 8:46AM
  • blondechick89
    Glad to hear you both are doing well :)
    by blondechick89 at 05/13/09 10:48PM