Hard to Comprehend

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Romans 9:3-5
For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.

This has always been a difficult passage for me to comprehend. Paul had such a love for his fellow countrymen that he actually makes the statement, “I could wish myself accursed from Christ for my brethren.” In other words, Paul is saying that he would give up his own salvation in order for his Jewish brethren to be saved.

How could anyone say that? I love my family, each and every one of them, and I would do most anything for them. But give up my salvation? It is hard for me to even imagine giving up the hope of heaven for anyone. I am just being honest. I would love to say that I would be willing, but just can’t begin to grasp such a thing. Give up eternity in heaven with my Lord for eternity in hell separated from the One who is most dear to me?

Listen to the burden on Paul’s heart. The promises of God, “the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises” had been given to them. They were God’s chosen people and yet they rejected His truths. Oh how it hurt his soul!

I think of those whom I am closest to who either don’t know the Lord, or embrace Him in a very casual and indifferent manner. My heart is burdened every time I hear them say something that trivializes what the Lord had done for them, or watch them do something that suggests that they don’t even care.

It is good for me to be burdened in that way. It is good that this gives me such a heavy heart because then I am more apt to cry out to God on their behalf. And in the process I am more willing to have the attitude of Paul, to do anything to see them love Jesus.

“What provokes you?”

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I find that the older I get the more easily provoked I can become.

Not too long ago I was at the airport leaving for a conference. It was very early and I along with many others were ready for a cup of coffee. The restaurants weren’t quite open but I could tell that they were getting ready to raise the steel screen indicating that they would soon be open for business. I waited patiently as others began to form a line. Clearly I was first in line, but when the screen went up, I went to the wrong cash register. The moment I realized I had done this, I stepped over to the next line much to the irritation of the several people who were waiting behind and failed to consider that I had been there before they even thought about getting a cup of coffee.

Needless to say, people were irritated by my “cutting in line” (from their perspective) and didn’t hesitate to let me know it. One younger man, probably in his late thirties to early forties made it clear that it was not my turn. Normally I would have just gone to the back of the line. After all, there was plenty of time, but his attitude “provoked me” and I reacted in a way that was not becoming of a Christian man.

“Would it make you feel better if I went to the back of the line?”, I said as I looked directly at him. My words and body language clearly indicated I thought his reaction was ridiculous. “Are we going to have a problem here?”, he responded. At that moment, I knew that if I pressed him any further, “we” weren’t going to have a problem, but clearly “I” most likely would. He was definitely stronger than I was.

Funny, the things that can provoke us…things that don’t even matter. This was not the case with the apostle Paul.

Acts 17:16-17
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

There are a lot of things to get provoked about today. I think it is prudent to wisely choose what provokes us. Rather than get worked up over who was first in line for a cup of coffee…it seems far better to get worked up over a world that has rejected God and given itself over to idols. We must seek to allow the Holy Spirit to provoke us over the things that provoke God.

Wasting Our Lives Away

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As I was reading ‘The Pursuit of God’ this morning (only after perusing Facebook first) I could not resist using this Facebook image.

I won’t go into the mundane posts I read, intermixed with a very few meaningful ones. However, I did find it interesting and somewhat ironic when I read the Facebook post telling the story of a mother who took her kids to the beach. The post went on to describe how she missed all of the cute and special things they were doing because her face was buried in her phone. I thought to myself, “She is probably checking out her Facebook page.”

As I read Tozer’s chapter on ‘Removing the Veil’ I came upon this very convicting quote:

“God wills that we should push on into His Presence and live our whole life there. This is to be known to us in conscious experience. It is more than a doctrine to be held, it is a life to be enjoyed every moment of every day.”

As I read this, I thought “Lord, this is where I want to live my whole life, every moment of every day.” And then, a flood of thoughts entered my mind and heart. I began to think of Ephesians which tells us how we are to walk cautiously, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. I thought of the Psalms that tell us that our lives, at their best state, are but vapor. I thought, “Oh Lord, help me to keep from wasting life on meaningless things that bear little fruit.”

I will close this post with one more image, that again I found to be a bit ironic and yet altogether true.

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And that was written well over a hundred years ago…I wonder what he would say today?