18.3 Revelation – Not a Lucky Charm

Not a Lucky Charm

Our God is different than all the false idols and other things that mankind worships and puts its faith in.  One of the primary ways He is different is that we are called to follow Him, not the other way around.  I know that to most christians that statement doesn’t seem very deep, but let’s think about it in contrast for a moment.

Behavioral science and every salesmanship class tells us that people make decisions based on WII-FM:  What’s in it for me?  What do I get out of the deal?  What do I gain from the relationship?  How do I prosper?  Many people follow this same mindset into their relationship with God or a god.  Many of the world religions and all the idols we put faith in stem from this mindset.  If I do this then I will get that.  If I carry this charm.  If I bow down to this statue.  If I make this pilgrimage. If I give this donation.  If I live good enough.  If I clean my toilet (in case you think I’m joking about that last one, read this – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_god).  It is the classic WII-FM.  They want a god, whether it be luck or prosperity or health or happiness or whatever, that will follow them.  Put a coin in the slot and out pops a reward.

But, we know WII-FM does not rule everything we do.  If it did, there would be no organ donors.  If it did, there would be no food kitchens or homeless shelters.  If it did, there would be no mothers.  Let’s face it, the fact that we survived infancy, when we did absolutely nothing to benefit our parents except give sleep deprevation, dirty diapers, gas, vomit and screaming, proves our parents decision making was not driven by WII-FM.

Neither is our relationship with God.  God does not promise to be our lucky charm.  God does not make deals with us that if we do X He will do Y.  Actually, it is the opposite.  God says follow me.  period.  Not because of what is in it for us, but because it is the only right thing to do.  Not because of what we can give to or get from God, but, because, God is our Father and He loves us like only a parent can.

To make the point painfully clear, the things Jesus promised to His followers would not have rated high on the WII-FM scale.  He promised persecution.  He promised a cross.  He promised hatred from the world.  He promised increased pain from the world.  But He also promised some things in the midst and to follow those.  He promised peace.  He promised adoption.  He promised love and comfort.  He promised a room in His Father’s house.  He promised eternity without the things sin brought into this world.

So, how do you decide about the most important relationship you will ever make in your life, your relationship with God?  Do you decide based on what you get out of the deal?  Or do you decide based on what is true and right?  Do you decide based on tempory emotion or eternal fact?  The fact that we get to have this choice at all proves that God is the God of Love – no other spiritual being would care enough about us and love us enough to give us the choice to choose or reject Him.

 

My Answers:

6.
through deliberate plan and foreknowledge to full experience the worst of humanity and, even in such, not stray from a life honoring of God and free of sin, yet, being subjected until death for the payment of the sin of all mankind.

Thanking Him in prayer and turning my life over to Him.

7.
As followers, why would we expect better circumstance than Jesus.  We are hated because the world hates Him.  Also, to truly follow Jesus is to commit to the fact that we are a soul in a body and the more important (long term) of the two is the soul.  We must be willing to forgo worldly comfort and pleasure in exchange for eternal sanctification.

18.2 Revelation – Because of Sin

Because of Sin

Why would God…?  What kind of God…?  We’ve all heard the statements made by non-believers as they judge God and His actions as an argument for why they don’t believe.

But, let’s face it.  Sin and pain and suffering were not God’s desire for the world.  His desire in creation, especially in the creation of mankind, was to invite another being to join the Trinity in love and holiness and fellowship and unity.  Things were good.  God even said those exact words as he completed the days of creation.

But for true love to occur, it cannot be forced and for it not to be forced there must be a choice.  Unfortunately, mankind chose to break the one rule in the garden and we have subsequently chosen to break every other rule and commandments ever since.  In pure love, God allows us to turn from Him and defy Him time and time again.  He allows us to follow the path of disobedience, a path that always leads to death, eternal death and eternal separation from Him.

Mercifully, God also gives us pain and sorrow and suffering.  Mercifully, because can you imagin the depravity of a world without those warning signs and hinderances to disuade mankind from fully following the path of sin?  Just as pain is a warning sign to prevent fatal injury, these things also serve as warning signs of turning from God.

But, we now live in a time when sin who so saturated creation, that pain and sorrow and suffering surround us.  It threatens to swallow our lives and draw us into darkness.  But, God is bigger than the effects of sin.  God is bigger than any pull of darkness.  God is big enough that no matter how far we try to run and hide from Him, He is only a whisper away.  God is big enough that when we see the error in trying to make ourselves the judge of God and instead recognize our own horrible sin, He does not use the same criteria we were using to judge us, but, instead, forgives us because of the saving gift of His son.

My Answers:

3.
Because of sin – all have sinned and all live in a broken world filled with the sin of man over the ages.  We are people who chose to rebel against God and have continued that pattern continuously ever since.

4.
physical suffering with medical condition and surgery.  It brought me closer to God.  It renewed my spirit and the hope and acceptance that my family showed through it was a witness to others of the peace of God.

5.
God is greater and never fails.  His purpose is to save and bring all back into unity with Him, but He honors choice.  Through any challenge and suffering He is always present and does not forget.

11.04 BSF Matthew Week 11, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal

My wife has enrolled this semester in a college class.  She is taking it to develop her own skills so that she, in turn, can help coach and develop those skills in our children.  I love and admire not only her passion for learning, but also her willingness and diligence to serve our family.

At this point, her class is well into the semester.  There are a few students who are working very hard in the class.  They show up every class period.  They complete the assignments with their best efforts.  They do the homework, ask questions, stay after for extra work and coaching.  There are also others who are not.  These students skip class repeatedly or show up late or leave early.  They habitually turn in assignments late or not at all and spend their class time distracted and doing other things.

Given the cost of the college course, this at first amazed my wife.  Then she learned that some of the students were on grant programs so they did not have to pay for the class.

I’m not raising this as a commentary about grants or welfare programs.  But, simply, the recognition that when you have paid a significant cost you are dedicated and invested in the journey.

Jesus tells us that there will be costs that we will have to pay to follow Him.  Let’s be clear, Jesus is God and with a word, He could remove all of those costs.  It is not because He does not have the power.

Jesus wants more than our hands or voice.  He wants our hearts.  He doesn’t want a worker who runs away at the first sign of danger, He wants shepherds who follow in His image.

Think of the most powerful testimonies you have heard.  They don’t come from believers with perfect, care-free lives.  They come from believers who have experienced pain and hardship.  They come from people who have survived events that they could not possibly survive by their own strength.

Acts 5:41: “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”

My Answers:

8.
a.
handed over, flogged, witness to gentiles, arrest, brother betray brother to death, father child, hated because of Me.
Acts 12:1-2 James martyred, Acts 7 Stephen martyred

b.
After resurrection and ascension

c.
Even unto the second coming, there will still be Jews (God’s chosen people) who do not truly know and/or have heard the good news of Jesus Christ

9.
a.
handed over, flogged, witness to gentiles, arrest, brother betray brother to death, father child, hated because of Me

b.
Internationally, everywhere – families torn apart when members deny the power of the Lord

c.
Even those who persecute the church are not beyond the reach of the Spirit of God (Saul/Paul martyrdom of Stephen)

10.
a.
26. nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.  28. kill the body but cannot kill the soul.  Nothing outside of Father’s care. Hairs of head are all numbered!

b.
all revealed on judgment day, life hidden in death but revealed in resurrection, light to the house not hidden, more to say that you can now bear to hear

c.
life is only hidden in death, not over – looking forward to reunion with loved ones in Christ who have died.