Friday, July 31, 2009

Sure, We Love God, But Do We Respect Him

Hey gang!

Do you ever have those moments when you are walking around the house and go, “I just said something astounding!” OK, my wife and kids would tell you it doesn’t happen as often as I do, but it happens to me all the time.

Yesterday, I am trying to do some housework and my daughter Megan is at that age (4) where she is beginning to feel like she is quite capable. I am getting the vacuum out of the closet to do the living room rug and she takes it and runs to the living room. She looks at me and goes, “I’ve got it! I don’t need you.” Of course, I walk away a little perturbed, a little hurt. My wife asks me what my problem is. I look at her and say, “You know, I know my kids love me, they really are loving kids most of the time, but sometimes I really wonder if they respect me.” My wife responds, “What do you expect? She’s four.”

So I go off and take a shower (don’t visualize that part) and the idea hits me. As we walk around as Christians, people talk to us all the time and they know that we love God, because most of the time, we are more than happy to tell them.

We love God because…
He first loved us. He sent his son to die on a cross. He made the heavens and the earth for us to live on. He made the beautiful day. He answers our prayers.

These are some of the words that we speak with our mouths. They are politically correct. They are true statements. They are comments that non-Christians expect us to make.

We love God because…
He answers our self-serving prayers. He helped me get an “A” on that test. He helped me get the job promotion. He got me that nice car. He gave me the beautiful wife. He gave me the adorable kids. He gave me this nice house that I live in. He loves me despite that sin I commit that I can’t tell anyone about. He is up there and we are down here and he isn’t telling me today what I am doing wrong.

These are some of the words that we may or may not have the audacity to speak, but we realistically think them. Well, most people do.

So sure we love God. We really, really do. However, God knows something else. He knew it at The Garden of Eden. He knew it as the Israelites went through the desert. He knew it as David slept with Bathsheba. He knew it when Solomon married the non-Israelite women. He knew it as Judas accepted the 30 coins. He knew it as Paul was still killing Christians. He knew it before you looked at that porn last night. He knew it before you bought that pizza that you didn’t tell your wife about. He knew before you bought that wardrobe that you didn’t discuss with your husband. He knew it before you sped through that yellow light on your way to work. He knew that we would sin anyway.

He gave Adam and Eve the perfect garden to live in. They had all the food they ever wanted. Sure, they had to work the field to get it. But it wasn’t that hard. They like getting their hands dirty and loved the beauty of the day. They loved it when God came by and spoke to them audibly in the breeze of the afternoon and as the stars shined at night.

God said to not touch one thing. But they couldn’t help themselves. They had to have it. Sure, they had a little help and encouragement. But they really wanted to be as knowing as God. Truthfully, they loved what God provided, but why not be just like him. So they ate. They learned the hard way that it made things change.

After Joseph, the Israelites began serving other gods and eventually were put under the Egyptians. They were slave labor. But God had a plan. He rose Moses up to help them get out of Egypt and into a land He had for them. So Pharoah finally decided to let them go. Moses and the Israelites set out and ran into The Red Sea. God helped Moses get rid of that problem of how they would cross it. Even after they were across, God let the water flow right over the Egyptians that had pursued them. They were free. God had led them out of Egypt successfully. After two days in the desert heading to the Promised Land, the Israelites were already complaining. They needed drink. They were thirsty. Did they honestly think that water was a problem for a God that divided a body of water, just so they could cross it? He provided, over and over again.

Moses and the Israelites continued on and got to the base of Mount Sinai. Moses then heads up the mountain and spends 40 days with God. While Moses was gone, the people just couldn’t take it. They forced the priest Aaron to build them a calf to worship. That’s right. They wanted a gold statue to worship. This wasn’t because they wanted gold to be the standard. They had it built gold to look impressive. The real truth here is that they wanted a god that didn’t talk back so that they could be their own god.

Let’s be honest. The number one reason that we don’t like God leading is because there is fear in the unknown. This is a God that we can’t “see”, but that we literally see if we take long enough to look at his creation. We want our god to be impressive. That was the reason for the gold. Gold was impressive even back then. But gold didn’t strike fear into anyone. God does. What’s He going to ask us to do? What does he expect of us? The gold statue doesn’t expect anything. It’s gold. It’s pretty to look at and nothing else, period.

Moses returned with The Ten Commandments on two stone tablets, but when he sees how the people have turned, it sickens him. It sickens him enough to throw the tablets to the ground, breaking them. He gets so mad that he goes to the center of the village and asks who is with him and God. The Levites come forth and they end up slaughtering about 3,000 of the people who weren’t. You’d think that would settle it. Wrong.

In the book of Numbers, the Israelites get right on the doorstep of the land that God had promised them. You can understand that they might be tentative to go in, so they send a search party of 12 men. They go scout the place. They return and two of them, Joshua and Caleb, tell them to go for it. However, the other ten men said, “Hey, wait a minute!” They came up with every excuse not to go. The people were too big, there were too many of them. Hello, God promised you this land. You think he can’t provide a victory. That’s exactly what they thought. So God answered that doubt.

Since they were doubting, that was enough for God. You doubt. How about another 40 years in the desert? He would still provide for them, but no one over 20 was going into the land. That’s right, none of them. These ten men set the consequences for all of them. Except Joshua and Caleb. Joshua eventually became the new leader when Moses passed. Joshua led them into the Promised Land.

The people still weren’t happy even after they got there. They finally asked for a king. Samuel the prophet got mad. God explained it to him. Samuel, they aren’t rejecting you, they are rejecting me. God knew. He gave them Saul. They wanted a leader they could see. Why? There are a few theories. One, you can talk to him, physically. Two, if there were enough of you, he could be pushed around a little. Three, if it got really bad, you could kill him and try again.

Ideally, you hope for a godly person in power. That hasn’t changed over 3,000 years. With Saul, it was a struggle. So Samuel went and anointed David. And even with David, it didn’t work out perfectly. However, with David, you got to see a guy who really tried to be holy. He tried to do things as God had set them. And when he messed up, he repented quickly. He respected who God was.

Joyce Meyer once said that, “As a believer, you are still going to sin. But if you truly respect God and who He is, you won’t want to!” That’s how David lived. It’s how we should live. We will stumble and fall short. However, our goal should be to not want to. And when the inevitable happens and we do, be quick to our knees and say, “God, please forgive me. Because I love you!”

David was known as a man after God’s own heart because of his attitude. He may not have always been right, but he was forgiven and loved. He was respected by God because God knew that He had the respect of David. I pray today that we are able to find that respect for God even more than the love we have for Him. May we all become men and women after the heart of God.

I love you guys!

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