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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Word For The Week

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."

One of the things for which I am most grateful is the fact that I serve a God who gives us yet another chance. I know that I am less than perfect - as does everyone who was on the conference call yesterday when I ran over a piece of debris on the freeway that tore up the undercarriage of my car. The words that came flying out of my mouth were much less than holy before I could extract myself from the call, but the Word of God says that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. But if we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His word has no place in our lives. I have confessed my sins and have committed myself to stay on the straight and narrow way, and I know that God has heard me and will forgive me, cleanse me, and restore me. The question that I have is how many of us are hearing God? God has been trying to get our attention because He has as job for us to do, yet we ignore Him and openly defy Him and then wonder why we have so much drama in our lives. God is asking a simple question:

Can you hear me now?

Four years ago everyone went running into churches because their peace of mind and security had been taken away from them by 19 terrorists. Everyone made vows to get with God and to commit their lives to Him, but less than a month later it was business as usual - the immediate stimulus was past and Americans were back to their life's ultimate purpose: consumption. But God has more in store for us than to be merely cattle in an economic slaughterhouse, God wants us to have life and to have it more abundantly. God wants us to live in pursuit of His righteousness and for the advancement of His Kingdom, not for our own trivial pursuits. As the old hymn-writer once said, "Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling -- Calling for you and for me;" Jesus is asking that one simple question:

Can you hear me now?

In our text, Jonah had spent three days inside of a fish. Once he submitted to the will of God the fish spit him up on the shore and the Word of God came to Jonah a second time. God asked Jonah, "Can you hear me now?" Why is it that we have to go through fish-belly experiences before we will submit to God? Why is it that it took 9/11 to get a lot of folks into church? Why is it that it takes Hurricane Katrina to get people to focus on spiritual matters? Why is it that just like the Israelites of old we go right back to our sinful ways once we get delivered from our stressful situations? Why is it that we don't seem to have any bars in our prayer life when God is trying to talk to us yet we expect five strong bars when we need to present our requests to God? It is our sinful disobedience that has separated us from our God. It is our disobedience that has hidden His face from us so that He will not hear. It is our disobedience that blocks our prayers from being answered. It is our disobedience that has us roaming in the wilderness. It is our disobedience that has us falling on our knees screaming at God, "Hello? Can you hear me now?"

Obedience is better than sacrifice.

Our problem is that we focus on ourselves instead of focusing on God. We pursue the things that please our eyes, the things that please our flesh, and the things that boost our egos, but none of that truly matters. I was watching Dateline the other day and they interviewed one of the New Orleans survivors who was holed up in the dry part of New Orleans. The survivor noted that while he didn't drink liquor himself, he had a massive stash of liquor because it served as currency now - greenbacks were worthless in a ravaged New Orleans, but a fifth of bourbon could rent you a day-laborer or be traded for supplies. In a barter system money is nothing more than printed paper - useless - and when we are planted into the ground and they shovel dirt upon the corpse in which we used to reside all of our stuff will be absolutely useless - you can't take it with you. Instead, we should place our hope in things eternal and hold to God's unchanging hand. God wants us to get with Him, to pursue Him, to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. The Holy Spirit asks:

Can you hear me now?

To obey or not to obey - that, my friends, is the only question that matters eternally. The decision - the choice - is yours.

May The LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who wants to hear from you now,
My He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

Emancipated by Athanasius @ 11:00 AM

Read or Post a Comment

Amen.

It is our selfishness, our self-centeredness, that cuts us off from God. We see ourselves as separate entities, separate from others, separate from God and the rest of the universe. Separateness creates pride, ego, greed... fear. Self and other, duality of thought that divides us from... our true selves and therefore from the divine.

Peace

Posted by Blogger Andrew C. White @ Sunday, September 11, 2005 1:25:00 PM #
 

a sunday tradition: The word from my church, the Steelers on TV, and the word from my man.

Good lookin.

Posted by Blogger DP @ Sunday, September 11, 2005 5:36:00 PM #
 

And the Steelers put foot-to-hind-quarters, didn't they?

Posted by Blogger Athanasius @ Sunday, September 11, 2005 7:30:00 PM #
 
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