Thursday, August 21, 2014

August 21, 2014 - Daily Proverbs - Abusing God's Patience

#DailyProverbs - Trigger: This is long. It was hard to right. It was hard to feel. It was hard to work through. There is strong language. It is hard to share and be that transparent. It was a struggle to click "post" for this. Read or don't read. I would almost prefer "don't."

Abusing God's Patience
Romans 2:1-5: "Do you, my friend, pass judgment on others? You have no excuse at all, whoever you are. For when you judge others and then do the same things which they do, you condemn yourself. 
...We know that God is right when he judges the people who do such things as these. 
But you, my friend, do those very things for which you pass judgment on others! Do you think you will escape God's judgment? 
...Or perhaps you despise his great kindness, tolerance, and patience. Surely you know that God is kind, because he is trying to lead you to repent. 
...But you have a hard and stubborn heart, and so you are making your own punishment even greater on the Day when God's anger and righteous judgments will be revealed."

Most people will look at the title of this blog, this status, today's devotional and think, "Michael is talking about someone else. He sure is going to give it to 'those' sinners." Eh, think what you like but the truth is that God is God. We are human. You should probably take care in how loftily you pass judgment on others, because your own judgment is imminent. I'm also talking to myself. Actually, I'm preaching to myself... and a little to you.

Let's take it to the vernacular. Let's break it down in layman's terms and on a level we can all appreciate... Have you ever ignored the press of conviction upon your heart? When you have that "pause" before you sin, what do you do? Do you dull the sensitivity and just keep going? Do you tell yourself you'll deal with it later and, perhaps, even believe your own lie? Do you just stuff it down, because "you gotta do whatever it takes to survive" and "no one can judge you because they don't live your life?" Are you telling yourself that? Do you believe that YOUR issues are okay because you know how hard you struggle? YOUR problems matter? But everyone else is just not "getting" it? Maybe you justified or rationalized your particular sin? Maybe you look at your shortcomings as a true failure in the face of an honest moment of trying, but lack that same level of grace or compassion when others fail? Because YOU meant well, but others do not in your mind? I mean, it's easy to judge those "gross f*gg*ts" that are clearly hell-bound, right? Your misunderstanding of a compulsion to love or be with someone may not make sense in your mind, but what about when you cheated on your wife? Was that a compulsion or you just "correcting" the fact that you were with the wrong person? Did God tell you to break those vows, divorce her and then marry again so that you would be better suited for His kingdom? Or, what if it's not a "sin unto death" or a sin of idolatry? Let's say it's a "lesser" sin, like your lack of compassion to those in need? Or the fact that you cheat on your tithes? Or that you are even just behind on your tithes? Those are perfectly acceptable, right? I mean, poor people deserve to be poor... right? They are lazy, dirty, and regardless of race are clearly ill-matched for education or upward mobility. 'Those' people should not get "hand outs." 

[*taps mic* Is this even on? Am I out in left field?]

Ouch. Michael, those sins are not even comparable. Well, think that all you want, but that's not scriptural. James 2:10 states that if you keep the law, but fail in ONE point, you are accountable for failing ALL laws. That scares me and yet, at the same time makes me so grateful for the grace and mercy of God. It scared me because Jesus clearly stated He didn't come to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law. But thankfully, he also stated that He'd make a way for us to be saved without keeping the points of every law in our debit column, making it impossible for us to successfully be saved. 

[Right? Can I get even one amen?]

Or even, let's say that you pay your bills before you tithe. I mean, you still tithe with what's left. Yet, you are a sinner. If you don't give God your FIRST FRUITS in Time, Treasure and Talent... you are robbing God of what is HIS and committing theft. If you don't give God your FIRST minutes of the day in prayer, you are robbing God of time with you. If you don't devote your talent, be it administrative, demonstrative, or worship... you are ROBBING God of something and are a thief. Don't you trust God enough to help you if you give to Him first? Or do you make sure you and yours get fed, full, and fat before you slip that leftover cash into a velvet bag on Sunday? It feels good to march up those aisles and pretend you are square with God financially - especially when everyone is looking, right? What about when you are tired and don't actively worship? It wasn't exactly a suggestion in the Bible. It was a commandment. Do you know you are supposed to worship and don't? Sin.

Or you can judge the girl you call a slut, but ignore that fact that you assassinated someone's character with your tongue. Do you even feel conviction anymore when you, as a white, well-to-do, politically conservative person commit eternal betrayal of someone's soul by turning them away from Christ with your haughty attitude. Do you justify lie you told that hungry homeless man because - let's face it - you DID have cash, but you just didn't want to stop or have to break a $5? I mean, those sins are fine, right? 

[Michael Kennedy! That's not a sin! Well, except for when Jesus himself said that those that ignored the needs of others will be cast into hell on judgment day. Matthew 25:41-46 is pretty explicit about it, actually.]

When you whisper to those "just like you" about how you don't understand "those not like you" and don't get all of this political and societal hullabaloo about "dead n*ggers hopped up on drugs," or what those "t*rd burglars need 'special rights' for?" Because you are going to just do one of those grand ole "blanket repentance prayers" every night? If you are scared and don't want to be bothered because someone is dirty or smells, a lie is fine then, right? Ignoring a hurting human in need is fine if they scare you? Or you don't have time? That's a justifiable thing with Jesus, right? Or maybe you're wrongdoing with the thought that if God were really upset, He'd put a stop to things by stopping you are telling you. You'd "feel" bad about it, right? Or when you have to lie at work, or you know your company is cooking the books, or you know your boss is asking you to compromise your beliefs... THOSE are all fine because God understands we have to survive in this world and pay the bills. God knows THOSE kinds of sins and THAT kind of compromise is okay in 2014. Pentecost is moving on and the particulars of the landmarks that USED to define what a Christian was - honesty, integrity, forthrightness, compassion - those are just feel good words. How we dress, how we vote, who we disapprove of... THAT is what marks us as "good" Christians now, right?

[Note, God tells you in His word. He doesn't have to make you "feel" bad for you to know something is good or bad to do. He doesn't have to "tell" you or "impress" you to help the less fortunate because HIS WORD tells you to do it. His WORD tells you what is right and what is wrong. His WORD tells you that YOUR job is to love God, and love others. God will save them, clean, them restore them, and heal them. YOU are to love them.]

Or, maybe you think that you are on God's Jury, here, on Earth. I humbly, but directly, submit the correction to you that ONLY GOD is the Author, Finisher, Creator, JURY, JUDGE, and thankfully, the DEFENSE in people's life. Psalm 50:21 to remind us that the silence of heaven does not mean approval. Remaining in sin is an abuse of the Lord's patience. So, yes... Sin is sin, and to continue in sin is to abuse the grace of God and the plan of salvation. It is an abuse to God's direct love, care and mercy that is extended to you to knowingly continue sin, and then repent before you get to church on Sunday. "I'll just have this moment of weakness here and there, God totally understands, right?" 

[No, not really.] 

But... consider this, Christians... when God seems slow to react, we might hope He's overlooking our transgressions--we'd like to continue in sin because the momentary pleasure is more appealing than obedience. But thankfully, Jesus, having walked this Earth, having full divinity within himself, knows our weaknesses, our innate carnality, and the state of our spiritual growth, and He therefore measures His response. Grace. Mercy. A way to repent... truly repent.. and TRULY be saved. Jesus, motivated by love and a desire to gently restore His joint-heirs to righteousness, refrains from doling out immediate punishment. Instead, He waits for the Holy Ghost's urgency to impact the believer's heart. The weight of "conviction" is actually an invitation to turn from wrongdoing and return to a true form of Godliness - not one of supposed holiness and one of hollow, haughty judgment of your fellow humans. Be aware that ONLY the blood of Christ and His MERCY are the reason you're alive and not burning in hell yourself. YOUR works are as rags, just like everyone else's.
As we learn and understand more about God and His ways, we are increasingly responsible to live righteously. To be separate and to be holy. Live holy. Walk in the beauty of holiness. But to be IN the world. We are to be IN the world and be the salt. Be the light. The Lord is not slow; He's patient. Do not abuse His patience with callous disregard for His statutes. Do not keep pushing conviction and repentance away. Do not keep assuming that "church" is what saves you. Jesus is what saves you. Going to a church house doesn't make you a good "Christian;" following the teachings of Christ is what makes you a good Christian.

Lessons Learned from a Sinner:
--Do not wait, I'm proof. I wasted 20 years of my life running from God. Granted, I was a fun and wonderful sinner. But I would have busted hell wide open. And while I love, love, love everyone and I don't regret the relationships I formed, but I do have regrets that there were tangible things I could have accomplished instead of being in bars and clubs.

--There IS a God out there. There is a God that is loving. There is a God that heals. I'm proof - living, real, true proof that God will heal you on an operating table in front of your surgeon. Don't ever let anything deter you from find and touching God for whatever you need.

--There IS a Savior - I'm proof. I'm living, real, true proof that there is a Jesus that will wake you up, tell you to turn around and make a way for you to repent, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. I don't have to know your particular story to tell you that you can have this. You can reach out and touch something that will change you.

--There ARE Christians that will love you and help you. Do not be discouraged by the news, by whatever "council" is going on or when someone tells you that God hates you. Do not think that southern white conservatives are the voice modern Christianity and that God doesn't care about social and racial struggles. God LOVES you and wants the best for you. God WANTS to restore you, through repentance, remission of sin, and wants to change and HELP you become a new creature. And do not believe for one moment that you have to first change to touch God; It is the touch of God that will change you.

I know this was long. I know this was a hard read and I know I get pretty emotional about God these days. I love you. This does come from a place of love and a "having been there and needing to repent" myself. I have to monitor myself. Repent and be holy in the sight of the Lord - for all of it. Walk in the humility true repentance and true agape love brings.

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