Tag Archives: choosing God

(Isaiah 61-64) A Loving God

How can a loving God send anyone to hell? If God really loved us, why is there so much evil in the world? Isaiah seems to get what so many of us don’t.

Would it have been more loving if God had created you without the ability to make choices? Would it be love if we HAD to love Him, if we were incapable of not loving Him?

When I was a child I loved playing with my Barbie dolls. Barbie didn’t move without me. She only spoke the words I said. I loved playing Barbie dolls. But that love was not returned. Barbie was not created with the ability to choose love.

We are not Barbie dolls.

God is much more loving that He’s given credit for. Without Him there would be no love. God expresses His love to good people as well as to bad people, and really no one deserves His love considering the way we treat Him. Yet God loves us enough to want us with Him. And He loves us enough to let us choose to be with Him. He won’t make us love Him.

Read Isaiah and hear what rejecting Him costs. Read Isaiah and hear what obedience gains. God, in His love, has spelled it all out. There are no hidden rules. No secret punishments. Choose God and live forever. Choose anything else and suffer the consequences. He won’t send anyone to hell who doesn’t reject Him.

It’s a loving God who lets us choose.

Choose Me (Ezekiel 42-43)

He was so willing. God would have forgiven Israel for every evil thing they ever did or even thought. “Here I am,” He said. “Here is my throne and a place for the soles of my feet. I’m not going anywhere.” They just needed to turn from their sin, put away their idols, and He would live among them forever.

Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple… its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. (43:10b-11)

He was so willing. But they couldn’t do it. And neither can we.

Sometimes connecting with God’s heart breaks mine. This morning as I read these chapters I could hear His longing, and could almost feel His pain. “Choose me!” He pleads.

He’s done all the work. That altar and its regulations were fulfilled perfectly when God sacrificed Himself on the cross. “Just choose me,” He cries.

I pray that you have, at some point in your life, chosen God, that you have repented from sin, turned from your idols, and turned to the Savior. But I hope that isn’t the only time you’ve dealt with sin in your life.

Even the Apostle Paul struggled with sin. He tells us He made a conscious decision to “die” every day, to put aside self and sin, and choose God. Every. Day. “To live is Christ,” he said.

Choosing God isn’t easy, and it’s not always fun. Choosing God comes with sacrifice, hardship, selflessness. Choosing God means getting out of our comfort zones, going to battle, loving people who don’t agree with us, and praying for them. Choosing God goes against everything we’ve come to believe is true; that we should be wealthy and healthy, that we deserve to be happy, that as “children of the king” we should live the high life.

Scripture tells us that Jesus knew the world would hate us for choosing Him, because they hated Him first.

But choosing God is the most amazingly wonderful choice you will ever make. Choosing God is choosing something better than anything this world offers. Better than money, or fame, or a home on Easy Street. Choosing God is choosing love and forgiveness, help and encouragement, purpose and fellowship, and eternity more wonderful than any of us can imagine.

“Choose me,” God is saying to you. “Choose me today, and tomorrow, and the next day. Choose me this hour, this minute. Choose me and I promise I will never leave you, I’ll plant the soles of my feet in your heart and bless you with Myself.”

I choose God today. I’m praying you’ll do the same.

How Dare You! (Judges 13-15)

I am bothered by what I read today in God’s Word. Samson killed a lion with his bare hands. Then later he saw that bees had built a nest and were producing honey in the rotting carcass of the lion. Samson reached in, snapped off part of the honeycomb, and tasted it. He gave some to his parents to taste, but he didn’t tell them where he’d gotten it.

Then at his wedding feast (where he was marrying a Philistine woman – a huge act of disobedience toward God’s commands) he told a riddle. “Out of the eater, something to eat. Out of the strong, something sweet.” He made a game of it. He promised a big reward if someone could figure out the answer to his riddle.

I’ve read this story many times. It marks the beginning of Samson’s war with the Philistines, and the rescue of the Jews from Philistine rule. But it is also the beginning of the end of Samson.

I think there is a very important lesson in this part of Samson’s story. As a man brought up as a Nazarite, he absolutely knew God’s Law. He absolutely knew touching a dead animal rendered him unclean, and he knew the steps required by God to address the uncleanness. Samson knew the truth, and ignored it.

It’s one thing to blatantly disobey, but how dare he make that decision for his parents! Eating that honey made them unclean. Didn’t they have a right to decide for themselves whether they were willing to be unclean in order to taste the honey? And shouldn’t they have been able to then take the steps required for cleansing? They didn’t even know they needed to take the steps.

Not only that, but Samson made a joke out of the situation. A joke! Did he think disobeying God was funny? Evidently he wasn’t taking his disobedience seriously.

Some of you were raised in a Christian home. You’ve heard the Gospel, probably memorized John 3:!6. But something happened along the way. Now Sundays are for sleeping in, making pancakes for the kids. You’ve gotten in the habit of using God’s Holy Name as a punctuation mark. And you laugh the hardest at jokes about sin.

You’re like Samson. You know better, and choose sin anyway. That’s on you. But how dare you make that choice for your children.

I’ve heard people say they are going to let their children choose for themselves whether or not to do the Christian thing. So they don’t take their kids to church. They don’t talk about Jesus in their homes. They don’t sing the hymns, or read the Bible. And somehow they think they are allowing their children to decide for themselves.

If that is your thinking, let me ask you something. Where do you think your children are going to hear the truth? TV? School? Their friends? Maybe you think they’ll get some supernatural visit or something. If you want your children to make an informed choice, you’d better be sure they are informed. YOU’D better be sure they are informed.

Samson’s parents needed to know they were unclean before they could decide whether or not they would take the steps to be clean. The fact that Samson didn’t tell them, didn’t negate their uncleanness. It did, however, prevent them from being clean again.

Your children need to know they are sinners before they decide whether or not to accept Jesus as their Savior.  If you aren’t telling them, it doesn’t make them less of a sinner, or negate their need of the Savior.

I’m praying for you parents. Yours is an important responsibility. I know many of you are living examples of Christ to your children. I thank God for you and pray with you that your children will choose Jesus at an early age.

All of you are raising eternal souls there in your home. Are you raising them to choose heaven? Or are you okay if they go to hell? Are you willing to make that choice for them? If you know the truth and aren’t teaching it to your children, you are making decisions for them that have eternal implications.

How dare you!



February 18; My Heart’s Not In It

Leviticus 8-10

Aaron was a dad. And like any parent I’m pretty sure that when he stood before Israel as their priest with his sons at his side, there was a great sense of satisfaction and joy at having his sons follow in his footsteps.

If you are a parent, I’d imagine you’ve experienced the same when your son or daughter followed in your footsteps and decided to follow Jesus, maybe joined in a ministry with you. Can there be a greater satisfaction than having your child serve God next to you?

But sadly for Aaron, that joy didn’t last long. Two of his sons paid the ultimate price for disobedience when God struck them dead, right in front of their dad. To make matters worse, Aaron had to decide whether to throw himself on the dead bodies of his children or honor God. He chose God.

But that doesn’t mean his heart wasn’t broken.

At the end of chapter 10, we are at the dinner table with Aaron and his two remaining sons. It wasn’t just a meal. It was part of the sin offering as commanded by God for the people of Israel. The priests (Aaron and sons) were to eat part of the offering in a holy place. What was left of the offering after they had eaten was to be burned up.

They sat there, but they couldn’t bring themselves to eat. Their hearts weren’t in it. So they packed up the left-overs and burned them. The fact that they burned the whole thing made Moses mad. Hadn’t they learned what God felt about disobedience? Aren’t two dead sons enough for us to get the message?

In essence Aaron said,”I’ve done everything required of me today for the sins of the people. I’ve honored God above my sons. But my sadness has taken away my appetite for food. Would God want me to just go through the motions?” Moses knew the answer was, “No.”

And God doesn’t want us to just go through the motions, either. I think of the privilege of gathering around the Communion Table to remember Jesus, His cross, and His resurrection. I wonder how many times I’ve gone through the motions when my heart wasn’t in it, when sin put up that wall between me and my Savior. I wonder how many times I’ve reached in and pulled out a tiny cracker, knowing I shouldn’t, but afraid of what people might think if I let it pass by me.

It’s not just the Lord’s Table I’m thinking about. Aaron has something to say about any act of service or expression of worship. Going through the motions isn’t obedience. God is not interested in sacrifices if our hearts aren’t in it. Man notices and judges us based on what we do. God sees the heart.

Create in me a clean heart, O God so I can serve and honor You like You deserve.

Exodus 13; No Short Cuts

Another thing jumped out at me concerning God’s hand in the events of our lives. Verse 17 says God led the people by the desert toward the Red Sea, a longer route, because He knew if they took the short cut and had to go to war, they would want to give up and go back to Egypt.

It speaks to me of choice. God didn’t make them go into the desert. He led them, yes. But they chose to follow His lead. He led them that way for their own good, because He knew they could choose to go back to Egypt, and He gave them the chance to keep moving ahead toward the Promised Land.

It seems to me God directs our steps, but whether or not we follow His lead is up to us. Following where He leads helps us avoid hardships, even though the road might be longer. It might not be the road that makes sense to us, or looks to be the easier route.

God is directing our path. And if we follow Him, it’s always going to work out for our good, and His glory.