Monday, 11 August 2014

You can go your own way......!

Reading Psalms today I got to Ps 81 vs 11-12

‘But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices. (Psalm 81:11-12 NIV)

It's one if those sections that suddenly makes certain things so clear and simple. 

There are things in our lives, relating to our relationship with Jesus, that we make far too complicated. We often do this on purpose, knowingly or not, in order to diver our attention from simple truth. The fact is that we make choices, or we choose not to make certain choices, in order to stick with our own agenda whilst wanting to appear to be trying to get with God's agenda. So we complicate the issue, we muddy the waters in order to live how we want while appearing to be trying to live how God wants.

"The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? 
Jer 17:9

There is the story in the Old Testament of King Naaman (2 Kings 5) who was leprous and who heard that 'the God of the Jews' could heal. So off he went full of his own agenda only to be told ...yeah, no probs, just go and dip yourself in the River Jordan.... What, said Naaman....that's far too simple, he expected more, given his position, at least one if the rivers in his own country. He wanted something far more complicated, far more befitting of his own agenda, far more in line with his own prior choices, than the simple instruction to jump in the Jordan. The prophet of a god didn't even have the good manners to put in a personal appearance... He just sent an acolyte with the instruction to 'take a dip'.
Trying to hide from simple truth to meet our own choices, needs or expectations.

A friend of mine, a Pastor, was approached by a member of his church who never managed to make it to a single early morning prayer meeting.... But oh how we desperately wanted to be there, he said. Would the pastor please pray for him? Absolutely not replied my friend...... But I will buy you an alarm clock. A simple truth, a simple solution that would test the mans real agenda....his real desire to be at those meetings. 

In Ps 81, although we may not have asked the question, we nonetheless get the answer. Had we asked, the question would have been:

'why do I seem unable to submit to a Gods ways in so many areas of my life, words and actions whilst saying that I really want to, and why, despite my wishes to the contrary, do I seem always to default back to my own wants, desires and ways?'

There could be so many complicated answers given th that question, so many long and drawn out prayer ministry or counselling sessions, so many reasons to do with busyness, our work, and so on. We could hide behind a programme of activities designed to get to the bottom of this and all the while we use them as a cover to continue in our own ways, on and on we go, allegedly searching for answers, supposedly looking for the right solution, all the while making all the right noises!

But what does the Word of a God say the reason is, and by implication the solution?

It could not be more simple, 'you have chosen not to listen to me' says The Lord.

Yep, that's it, we have made choices NOT to read a His Word, NOT to set aside regular 'listening time' NOT to really hear what we don't to hear. It's that simple.

What choices have we made and are we making that give the appearance of trying to be or do one thing whilst those very choices are what prevent us actually being or doing the right thing?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Ending in futility?

I often wonder about the nature of 'punishment' in the bible and of the extent to which God actively wills and directly inflicts 'punishment' on people and groups & the extent to which he has built consequences into the fabric of our existence....

If you tell a child not to put its hand in the fire because to do so is dangerous & painful - but the child foes it anyway - is the 'getting burnt' (which is an inevitable consequence) also 'punishment enough'?

We can try and answer that question on a number of levels, but, for me the most important level is ' what would a good parent do?'  I am fairly certain that, having seen the child clearly disobey , to their own detriment, and in pain you would gather them to yourself, probably indicate that you warned them this would happen but primarily you would comfort them in their pain..... And probably use this as a very practical example of why not to 'play with fire' 

A built in consequence is also a warning and a painful reminder of a truth ignored.

In Psalm 78 we read:

So he ended their days in futility and their years in terror. (Psalm 78:33 NIVUK)

Is there a consequence built into the fabric of existence that those who repeatedly ignore God, who repeatedly ignore the 'love motivated' pleas of a good Father, will ultimately lose any sense of a His presence, lose a sense of their own purpose, lose the security of knowing Him - and tend towards feelings of futility and fear?

Is this inevitable consequence both the warning and the 'punishment' ? If so, know this, it need not ever be the punchline to anyone's life - there is always a living Father ready to wrap you in His arms and take you back to Himself.