When we send an e-mail we can add an attachment. It is usually something that is interesting or helpful. It’s easy to do. A few clicks of the mouse and a document or a picture is added to the e-mail. Our problems in life comes when we treat God as an attachment. Many see God as interesting or helpful in certain situations, but otherwise off to the side and relatively unimportant to the task of getting along in life. But our God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ, must not be treated that way. Scripture, both Old and New Testaments picture man’s relationship with God as that of the bride to the bridegroom. No bridegroom, no spouse, ever wants to be treated as an attachment. Our God calls us to be His bride. He knows us deeply, and has declared that He will never leave of forsake us. Our God cares about every situation, every choice, every action of life – of our lives. He will not be just an attachment. The more we understand God in the depth of the relationship He calls us to, the more we want to be a part of Him, and have Him a part of all we are and all we do.
God created us to be in relationships with one another, and with Himself. That is why I wrote as I did yesterday about the loss of letter writing and more personal forms of communication. The electronic media has its place, but we should not want it to detract from true person to person communion. Our church congregation has had a sister congregation relationship with a Lutheran church in Mishi, Tanzania for about 15 year. I have the privilege today of going back to see them and renew friendship. For this reason Good Morning will be taking a break from this writing until July 3rd. I covet you prayer for safety in travel for our group of 20, that it would be a valuable experience for all, especially those going for the first time, and that in whatever opportunities we have to share, our Lord Jesus will be lifted up. Pray also for my wife and those who remain at home, and for my congregation as I am away. I will try to give you updates on my Facebook page. How about that! The old man is putting at least a toe into the modern age. God’s richest blessings to you all.
There are a series of twelve “minor prophets” at the end of the Old Testament with names like Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah. Most have only a couple of chapters. The longest is Zachariah with fourteen, still only a few pages in length. But they are not minor in their message. God sent these men at various time in the latter part of Israel’s history to try to turn the hearts of the people back to God from their idolatry and sinful practices. There messages at times were harsh, but they all represented a God who earnestly desired to have His people close to Himself. God is a Father longing for, and earnestly calling His wayward children to come home, a home where they will find all that is best for their lives. Nothing has changed. God is still our Father. He has come among us in Jesus Christ, and done all that is necessary for us to be a part of Him. God has never stopped reaching out to His creation, down to you in this very day.
Psalm 84 has a marvelous passage speaking about our hunger to be near the Lord. I remember the time when my wife and I were engaged. I was living with my parents. I would get home from work, have some supper, and then go over to Audrey’s house. One time my mother remarked, “You don’t have to go over there every night.” But I did. That is where I wanted to be. I was in love with her and wanted to be near her. That is the point of Psalm 84. “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; … O LORD Almighty, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. … Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;…” God is not a duty to be fulfilled. He is not a judge we need a appease with our good works. He is not a doctor who is the last resort in our troubles. God is our lover who has reached out to us before we ever thought of reaching out to Him. He is our redeemer demonstrating His love in the greatest of personal sacrifices. He is near at hand in good times and in bad. This is our God for whom our soul’s yearn to draw ever nearer.
The Bible is not a law book, though many treat it that way. The Bible is a narrative about a relationship between God and His people. Both Old and New Testaments use the image of marriage to depict that relationship. Adultery takes place all over the world, but there is no culture that sanctions adultery as a positive value. Regardless of how free we are with our sexual mores, when a couple gets married there is the expectation of fidelity. If a couple is serious about their relationship they guard themselves from temptations that would harm that treasured relationship. They choose not to do or say things that are destructive. That’s what Biblical “laws” are about. They give us guidance concerning the things that honor our Lord and those that don’t. We simply follow that guidance because the life we have found with our Lord is more precious and valuable than the things that would pull us away from Him. It is not a matter that we can’t do things, but that we don’t want to do them because they are hurtful to something we have that is far more beautiful.
Integrity. That is an important word, and an important characteristic for all people. We have heard so much about media personalities, sports figures, and politicians whose lives have displayed its very opposite. This strikes at the heart of the trust we thought we had in these people. These are spectacular cases in the news, but also reminders of the necessity of integrity in our own lives. Whether in marriage, friendship, or public dealings, people want to believe that we are what we say we are. Any relationship is built on trust. If that trust is harmed, it takes a long time to be rebuilt, if it ever can be, and the relationship is damaged. Solomon wrote, “Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9) It is true that there is still unfairness and injustice against the most upright of people, but we set the course of our lives with David who said, “May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope, LORD, is in you.”(Psalm 25:21)
When we send an e-mail we can add an attachment. It is usually something that is interesting or helpful. It’s easy to do. A few clicks of the mouse and a document or a picture is added to the e-mail. Our problem in life comes when we treat God as an attachment. Many see God as interesting or helpful in certain situations, but otherwise off to the side and relatively unimportant to the task of getting along in life. But our God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ, must not be treated that way. Scripture, both Old and New Testaments picture man’s relationship with God as that of the bride to the bridegroom. No bridegroom, no spouse, ever wants to be treated as an attachment. Our God calls us to be His bride. He knows us deeply, and has declared that He will never leave of forsake us. Our God cares about every situation, every choice, every action of life – of our lives. He will not be just an attachment. The more we understand God in the depth of the relationship He calls us to, the more we want to be a part of Him, and have Him a part of all we are and all we do.
Yesterday I ended my message by writing, “if we (lose our ability to be quiet and think), we also lose our ability to draw near to our Lord and find our strength in Him.” God is not just out there somewhere, a power we call on occasionally when we are in need. God is a rational person who desire that we learn to know Him. When Paul was speaking to the philosophers in Athens he said that God created mankind “so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.”(Acts 17:27) This is an amazing truth that is stated throughout our Scriptures. Our sins have made a separation between us, but that has not changed God’s desire for us to know and draw near to Him. He has perfectly revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ, who once said to Philip, “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”(John 14:9) God has come to us in Jesus. He has done everything necessary for us to know and have a relationship with Him, but He will not force Himself on us. He invites us to come, to read His Word, to become quiet before Him, to think, and to pray. All of our questions and doubts will not be answered in this life, but we will learn that we are a part of a real Person who loves us deeply. We will find, as Paul told the Athenians, “in him we live and move and have our being.”(vs.28)
“Make every effort”, Jesus tells his listeners, “to enter through the narrow door”.(Luke 23:24) Our God is a God of great love and extreme mercy. His grace extends to all mankind. But we must never be causal about, or presume upon, that mercy. How often have we heard, “Oh a loving God would never…” I believe God’s mercy is very wide, and there will be many in heaven that we do not expect, but we who have been given the truth of God’s love in Jesus Christ are called to live in that truth each day. This is not living by some set of rules, but by never wanting to compromise, deny, or make light of the relationship we have with the Lord. Just as our earthly relationships are important, we want to do nothing to harm them. It is even more so with our Lord. Jesus is the source of our life. He is the narrow door, and through Him we have the greatest life possible.
With the end of the month comes bill paying time. Each bill has a due date on it. If missed, late fees usually get tacked on. It’s important to keep track of such things. A human tendency, mine at least, is to put unpleasant things off. But many things have important due dates that we can’t put off. The New Testament says, “now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.” (2Cor.2:6) Some things we can easily put off with no real consequence, but our Lord is inviting us daily to come more deeply into His life. This we should not put off. Through daily prayer, worship, and study, we can know the Lord of all creation – a great joy and privilege. Why would we want to delay this?