Introduction - Boy, are we all different! The world is colored by a vast array of personalities, opinions, and interests. Aren't we glad we are not all the same--dull...
The white fluffy boss of our home has a bad habit. I like to keep her squeaky clean and smelling like the Bath and Body store, since she is allowed on all the furniture. But she has a different set of smell glands. If I let her outside and am not watching closely, she has a tendency to find something gross and roll in it. The stinkier the better. The delight on her doggy face says that she thinks she is in heaven.
One time she found a big fresh cow patty and bathed herself in it. Wet green slop matted her fur and dripped from her sides. But she ran to me, wagging her tail as though she expected a reward. I know what she was thinking: "Now, let's move on. That didn't change anything. I indulged my darker side for a minute, but you can hardly tell."
Oh, I could tell alright. She wasn't acceptable until she'd had another bath. I saw things quite differently than she did.
We do that in our minds all the time. How often have we let our thoughts venture into areas that are forbidden. Rather than "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ," we indulge. We roll around, saturating our minds with ungodly fantasies, desires, and imaginations. We relish the titillating, the tempting, and the "What if..." and tell ourselves it didn't hurt anything. Then we run to God in prayer and pretend He didn't notice.
Satan loves that. He whispers, "It's not sin if you don't actually DO it. You're just planning ahead for 'what if.' You deserve that kind of praise, that lifestyle, or that person's spouse." And we listen. We prefer to believe the lie that it doesn't matter until we act on it. We hold on to lust, unforgivness, and covetousness and tell ourselves that God doesn't notice.
He notices alright, and we're not acceptable until we've had a mental bath. He looks at us the way I look at my silly dog. We're covered in filth, but we're wagging our tails and trying to convince a holy God that nothing changed in our relationship. Sin starts in the imagination. That's where it needs to stop. As my mother used to say, "You can't stop the birds from flying overhead, but you don't have to let them make a nest in your hair."
Thoughts will come. Wrong desires will flash out of nowhere and threaten to start a fire. It is our job to stay vigilant and take them captive. God searches our inner thoughts and knows them before we think them. Ask for His help in overcoming and refuse to roll in the cow patties.
As I watched the videos of the Boston bombings, I was struck by something. While understandably masses of terrified people began to run away from the site, there were some who began to run toward it. Their focus was on rescue, helping, offering themselves if needed to save someone else.
How like God. As I watched these brave rescuers, I was seeing the hands and feet and face of God Himself. He always shows up when human beings are in trouble. His image, which is stamped on the heart of every person, shines through human skin. His heart , planted inside every human creation, beats with fierce desire to right wrongs. His passion to save, help, and comfort blanketed that scene of horror. His image is seen in every act of human kindness.
The ones who planted those bombs have His image too, but they have numbed it. They've done everything they can to kill it. But it's there. God wants to rescue them too. They are victims of Evil just as much as the ones who were injured. They have allowed their enemy to mold them into his image, which will result it their ultimate destruction.
No one is as maimed
as the one who has carved God's image
out of his own soul.
Let's pray for ALL the victims of this terrible act.
Max Lucado, in his book It's Not About Me uses this story to illustrate the generosity of God:
The owner of a restaurant offered to treat everyone on her son's Little League team to breakfast. The next morning, the team and their families stood in line and chose what they wanted from the lavish buffet. The hostess stood next to the cashier and as each invited guest came through the line, she murmured to the cashier, "No charge. He's a friend."
But not everyone in the restaurant was treated this way. Others sat at tables far away, alone, paying their own price because they did not know the hostess. "Though her generosity was abundant, it was not universal. Those who did not know her paid a price."
On the Great Judgement Day, millions will stand in line. The sins of each will be boldly displayed. No one is more deserving of eternal life than any other. But Jesus stands beside the cashier. For those who know Him, He whispers, "No charge. He's a friend." His generosity is abundant, but it is not universal.
The world has come up with thousands of plans, religions, and ideologies that they hope will serve them well in the end. They have recreated and redefined God to mean what they want Him to mean. But all of that will vanish when we stand in line.
The only question that will matter then is: Do I know the Host?
Driver's Ed teachers tell us that the worst thing to do when headed off the road is to over-correct.
An over-corrected car will land in the ditch
There is a trend within Christianity that is caving to the world's definition of what "Christian" should be. Since Jesus' day, those who did not know Him wanted to define what He should and should not say or do. Nothing has changed.
Much of this caving is due to Biblical illiteracy among Christians. If we don't really know what the whole of scripture teaches, then it is easy to get sideswiped by the avalanche of pseudo-spirituality masquerading as "the new-and-improved-Christianity.
The Word of God is called the Sword of the Spirit, which means it can only be wielded properly under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit. To pull out a few one-verse statements and use them to dismantle the rest of the Bible is to abuse the Word of God. I don't think He takes that lightly.
The religion of Tolerance has been popular for a couple of decades and is now invading the church as a sub-culture, presenting itself as Love. This is not the Love the Bible defines. Love seeks to align itself with God's perspective, not redefine it. Love seeks the best interest of every human being--which does NOT mean agreeing that sin is harmless. Love cares enough to weep, appeal, pray for and plead with those trapped in sin strongholds. Love chose to come to earth and be tortured to pay the price for that very sin we smile at, excuse, and verbally defend. I don't think God takes that lightly either.
When we start allowing our culture to redefine sin for us, when we start proclaiming that the Bible doesn't mean what it says, when we choose Tolerance over the law of God, when we substitute one-line daily devotions for real study of God's Word, we have ceased to be Salt and Light. Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." Matthew 5:13
Let's not let that happen to us.
So, really now. Doesn't God have some favorites?
Surely guys like John the Baptist, Moses, and Billy Graham are on God's Most Highly Favored list. Right?
Whereas, old jokers who've partied hard all their lives and made deathbed confessions of faith have to go to the end of the line.
Ever wonder where you are on the list?
The Apostle John refers to himself in his book as "the disciple that Jesus loved." Imagine that. Out of all the people Jesus ministered to, all the people he healed, all the other disciples who followed him and gave up everything for Christ, John considered himself the favorite.
That speaks more for the amazing love of God than it does about what John thought. Jesus was able to make each person who came into contact with him think that they were his favorite.
Just as any parent with more than one child understands, parents do have favorites. As Erma Bombeck put it so wisely: "My favorite child is the one who needs me most in that moment." You love each of your children with your whole heart. Having another child doesn't reduce your capacity for love by one-half---it increases it one hundred percent!
And that's how it works with God. For every lost child who believes, God offers one hundred percent of his fatherly affection.
John gives us a great example. When he sold out to follow Christ, that relationship became his whole identity. He no longer measured his worth by worldly standards. He was God's favorite child.
And so are you! You don't have to earn it. You can't possibly deserve it. But God offers it to you anyway.
So go be all you're created to be today. After all, you're God's favorite!