Friday, August 17, 2007

Cheating God

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Ezekiel 14, 15, 16

Ezekiel 16:15-16 [God spoke these words through the prophet Ezekiel.]

15 “But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passed by and your beauty became his. 16 You took some of your garments to make gaudy high places, where you carried on your prostitution. Such things should not happen, nor should they ever occur.”

John 8:7 (NIV)

7 When they [the teachers and Pharisees] kept questioning Him, [Jesus] straightened up and said: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Good morning!

How did you first encounter God in your life? I remember learning about God, first at home, then at Sunday school and church. Parents sometimes mislead children about the character of God simply through the things they say and do. As a little one, I often thought my parents were “larger than life.” I clung to their every word, at first. Parents are not perfect people, and yet, young children are crushed when they realize it for the very first time. For example, have you ever been guilty of not giving your little ones undivided attention when they speak to you? A thousand questions asked in one afternoon can be more than overwhelming, even for the most persevering parent. I was often distracted with other things when I came home from work and had three little ones vying for my undivided attention. It was Jeff who would have to remind me to pay closer attention to what our children were saying, especially if they were asking for permission to do something. When we are distracted, we may give our children the impression that God is also easily distracted and really doesn’t care. He may not hear the words they pray. As a child, I can remember hearing the pastor yelling from the pulpit every Sunday morning. I wondered if God was as frightening as the preacher in our church. I did everything I could to avoid shaking his hand after worship. Hiding behind my mother’s long skirt became a security blanket as we moved down the main aisle and out the front doors of the sanctuary each week.

As we continue toward maturity, we begin to fill storage boxes in our mind with the things we learn in life. We take the skills sets achieved in reading, writing and arithmetic, and file them into the appropriate places in box number one. We learn about human relationships through life experiences and subdivide them with mile markers in box number two. If we are exposed to Holy Scripture and the Word of God during our formative years, we begin to categorize what we learn and form opinions based upon what we’ve been taught. Sometimes we think we finally have God all figured out. We fold Him neatly into box number three, securing the lid with padlocks and walking away, never wishing to revisit that space ever again.

There is a fine line in becoming educated or being a know-it-all. When we think we have Him all figured out, claiming total control over the direction of our life and refusing to lean upon the help and love of God, we fall into a dark and lonely pit, unable to climb out by ourselves. This is what Ezekiel was trying to convey to a hard-hearted people. They had taken the gifts of God and were using them for their own selfish plans. No longer were they grateful to the One for anything they had been given. Through their life experiences and educational pursuits, somehow, the people believed they had a better way than God’s way, and they made a choice to follow their own plan rather than His. Have you ever walked away from God when you knew He was calling, but were too busy living life the way you wanted to live it?

When we cheat God out of a relationship with us, whether it is from fear of the unknown or selfishness in wanting to control our own destiny, we commit spiritual adultery. When a woman was caught in the very act of adultery and was brought before the Lord for judgment, Jesus’ response was surprising. “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Just when we think we have God all figured out, He finds a way to surprise us with perfect love.

Maybe your role models were not the best at demonstrating God’s perfect love. Remember, while there may be lots of good-hearted people on the planet, there is only one perfect person and He is Jesus Christ. When the people in your path let you down, do not hold God personally responsible or make false assumptions about His perfect character. He loves you more than you will ever begin to understand. He longs to be in an intimate relationship with you. He sees your pain and is reaching out to you today. Some of what you’ve learned along the way may need to be relearned.

It’s time to take the padlock off of box number three and allow Jesus Christ to come into your heart today.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Pray for: the courage to let go of what you’ve learned and trust Jesus enough to come inside your life mend your broken heart. He reminds us that none of us are perfect. We have all made mistakes, and those mistakes can be forgiven and washed away, by the power of His cleansing blood. Won’t you give the Lord another chance to heal your heart?


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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