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Don't Be A Fool

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Don't Be A Fool - December 03, 2005

"The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Psalm 53:1

"There is no God," said Janice to her friend Marge. "If there was, my marriage would not have fallen apart, my mother would not have died of cancer last year, and life would not be so difficult." Marge offered her friend a gentle smile and placed her arm around Janice's shoulder.

"No, Janice, God is real. However, do you want to hear something funny?" Marge asked her sorrowful and frustrated friend.

"What's funny?" asked Janice as she lifted her head up.

Marge replied, "Why do people always blame God when things don't go their way? After all, how do we know it's not Satan causing the problem, or maybe even our own actions?"

"God could have stopped my mother from dying!" Janice snapped. "He didn't have to let my husband leave me for another woman either!"

Again Marge gently smiled as she patted her friend's knee. "Your mom smoked for thirty years, sweetie. Even when the doctor told her to stop because she was having trouble breathing, your mom chose to continue. I know you miss her terribly, but do you really think it is fair to blame God for the wrong choices she made?"

Janice shrugged.

Marge continued, "When Henry left you for another woman, did God tell him to do it, or was it Henry's own decision?"

A tear rolled down Janice's cheek as she whispered, "I guess it was Henry's own actions."

Marge patted Janice's knee again as she replied, "That's right, sweetie. Many of the hardships we go through in life are a direct result of our choices, or the choices of those near and dear to us. Sometimes their wrong choices or sinful behaviors end up hurting us though." Marge continued as she reached for her friend's hand and grasped it tightly.

"God loves you, Janice. He loves the sacred bond of marriage too, and I am sure it broke His heart as much as yours when you and Henry divorced. And, when your mom died, I am sure He understood your grief, and wanted to comfort you."

Janice placed her hand over Marge's, smiled, then whispered, "I feel like such a fool now. Thank you for reminding me that there are some things in life we just don't have control of, and that just because bad or sad things sometimes happen, it doesn't mean that God doesn't exist."

The two friends quickly gave each other a warm embrace.

Contributed by Melanie Schurr (Copyright (c)2005 Melanie Schurr)
 
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God' s Rejected Love

Throughout the Old Testament, God bares His soul and expresses His deep grief over the unfaithfulness of His backslidden people. After the people murmured against the Lord, Moses told them they had "rejected the Lord" (Numbers 11:20). The Psalmist later reinforced this when he said, "How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness, and grieved Him in the desert! And again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel" (Psalm 78:40-41). The prophets vividly compare God' s unfaithful people to, "well fed, lusty stallions," "a swift she-camel running here and there," "a donkey in heat," "sniffing the wind in her craving," and finally, to a prostitute giving herself away to anyone who will have her. Philip Yancey explains the Lord's response to all of this:


The powerful image of a jilted lover explains why, in his speeches to the prophets, God seems to "change his mind" every few seconds. He is preparing to obliterate Israel — wait, now he is weeping, holding out open arm — no, he is sternly pronouncing judgment again. Those shifting moods seem hopelessly irrational, except to anyone who has been jilted by a lover.9



God the Son suffered the rejection of His people in Old Testament times. Paul tells us He was "the spiritual rock which followed them…" (I Corinthians 10:4). The rejection He suffered became even more personal when He appeared in "the likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7). Jesus said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day" (Luke 9:22), and later called Himself "the stone which the builders rejected" (Matthew 21:42). Near the end of His woeful life on earth, His pent-up emotions came gushing out as He looked upon His beloved city: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling" (Matthew 23:37). Alexander MacLaren describes our lamenting Savior:



The parting wail of rejected love. His full heart overflows in that sad cry of lamentation over the long-continued foiling of the efforts of a love that would fain have fondled and defended. What intensity of feeling is in the redoubled naming of the city! How yearningly and wistfully He calls, as if He might still win the faithless one, and how lingeringly unwilling He is to give up hope!...



So the lament passes into the solemn final leave-taking, with which our Lord closes His ministry among the Jews, and departs from the temple... It had been the house of God; now He casts it off and leaves it to them to do as they will with it. The saddest punishment of long-continued rejection of His pleading love is that it ceases at last to plead.10



Just prior to this experience, Jesus told a parable in an attempt to prick the hearts of His people. Again, the same picture is painted: the gracious offer, the hard-hearted response.



The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king, who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, "Tell those who have been invited, 'Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.' " But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them.



But the king was enraged and sent his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and set their city on fire. Then he said to his slaves, "The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast." And those slaves went out into the streets, and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests (Matthew 22:2-10).



We sense the mounting passion rising within Jesus before He pronounced judgment on the house of Israel. "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!" (Matthew 23:38). Nothing incites anger like unrequited love; the deeper the love extended, the greater the fury when rejected. The saga of man's apathetic response to God' s love is a 6,000 year-old narrative of immense sadness. Despite God' s continued attempts to extend mercy and be a husband to His people, very few respond to His love.

cont`d...
 
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The Great Commandment

Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:37). The increasing passivity and lukewarmness in today's Church allows little emphasis on this all-important commandment, if any at all. Many pastors prefer to pacify and appease their congregations rather than fearlessly insist that the people thoroughly examine their hearts to determine if they walk obediently to the Word.



People are flippant with this commandment because they do not really understand the word love. Accustomed to using love to describe their affectionate feelings for sports teams, jobs, and family pets, many people honestly believe they also love the Lord. Excessive use of the word has gutted it of its real meaning. The Greek word agape connotes a much stronger devotion than our English translation. Agape demands daily companionship, friendship, and communication — precisely what many lack in their devotion to God. The depth and passion of true agape love is expressed in Jesus' words, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."



Many believers' love for God reminds me of the story of a young man who greatly loved a certain girl. After dating several months, they were married. On their wedding night, longing to fully express his love to his new bride through physical intimacy, he was sorely disappointed when she rebuffed his efforts saying she was not in the mood. "She must be nervous," he thought to himself in patient understanding. However, after several years of constant rejection, he finally lashed out her. "This marriage is a sham! You don't love me! In fact, you're not even interested in me! Why did you marry me?" Would you say that he is just over-reacting or being selfish? Absolutely not!



I wonder if the Lord feels this way about people who claim to love Him but have hearts far from Him. Has their marriage ever been consummated? Do they keep their Bridegroom at bay, or respond to His love with indifference? I believe God never intended such a thing to happen. The Lord desires the kind of relationship in which two people become one, sharing their deepest secrets with each other — a union cemented together through a deep devotion to each other.



Is it cruel or unusual for God to expect a reciprocal response to His love? I can best answer that question by describing the relationship I have with my wife Kathy. She came from a close, loving family where each child knew that their mother and father loved each other and each of them. My family, on the other hand, was the opposite. I was raised in a home where affection was never expressed. When Kathy and I married, I assumed we would live together and at the same time maintain our own separate lives. Was I ever mistaken! She would not stand for a distant relationship! From the beginning, she was completely committed to me and expected the same devotion in return. God demands that believers love Him with all their heart, soul, and mind. He has the right to demand that kind of love from us because He loves us in that way.

cont`d...
 
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Loving God Equates With Seeking Him

We must express our love for God, who is a spirit being, in a different sort of way than we do with people. I love my wife through an occasional touch on the shoulder, an affirming smile, or by being nice to her. We cannot do this in the same way with the Lord, however. He does expect us to pay attention to Him and to include Him in our lives throughout each day. He expects us to express our love to Him on a regular basis. Even though we cannot show physical love to the Lord, we can still demonstrate our love for Him as we worship Him in spirit and truth.



This is the tremendous spiritual truth which Brother Lawrence tapped into. The Practice of the Presence of God was not written as a "how-to" book. It was just a simple Christian brother sharing about his daily intercourse with God. Regardless of the task at hand, he made the Lord a part of his minute-by-minute existence. His life is an example of what it means to love the Lord.



This kind of devotion to God requires that we seek the Lord. This divine mandate spans the entire length and breadth of Scripture. Moses said, "But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul" (Deuteronomy 4:29). David said, "Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the LORD be glad. Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually" (I Chronicles 16:10-11). Isaiah said, "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near" (Isaiah 55:6). Hosea said, "Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you" (Hosea 10:12). And Zephaniah added, "Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD'S anger" (Zephaniah 2:3).



A.W. Tozer, bemoaning the apathy of our age, wrote the following:



"In the midst of this great chill there are some, I rejoice to acknowledge, who will not be content with shallow logic. They will admit the force of the argument (that seeking God is only for spiritual teachers), and then turn away with tears to hunt some lonely place and pray, "O God, show me thy glory." They want to taste, to touch with their hearts, to see with their inner eyes the wonder that is God.



I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate. The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.



Every age has its own characteristics. Right now we are in an age of religious complexity. The simplicity which is in Christ is rarely found among us. In its stead are programs, methods, organizations and a world of nervous activities which occupy time and attention but can never satisfy the longing of the heart. The shallowness of our inner experience, the hollowness of our worship, and that servile imitation of the world which marks our promotional methods all testify that we, in this day, know God only imperfectly, and the peace of God scarcely at all."



Only a genuine love for God drives a person to seek after Him with all his heart. A great reward awaits the treasure hunter of a Being who desires to be sought after: the knowledge of God Himself. This is the life of victory that takes the believer out of the slums of mediocrity!

Glory to God!

-Seeking, Knowing and Loving God by Steve Gallagher
 

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