January 2010

(Third In Series on “What God is Saying to America in 2010”)

Pilgrim Reflections” (For the Week of January 13, 2010) By Tom Smith

No one likes prophets—especially when their message is one of “doom, despair and agony on me.”

In Old Testament times they stoned them, a sort of “Out of sight, out of mind,” aggressive way of “killing the prophet if you don’t like the prophet’s message.” The same thing happened to Jesus and, quite honestly, the same thing still happens today; the only difference is folks do it with their tongues and pens rather than with swords and stones.

But, in the current climate of things and with current legislation on hate crimes, the time is coming when columns like this will be banned and those who write them will suffer. First, it’ll be scorn, a maligning of character and labeling as some fanatic, potential terrorist or extremist. Later on, it’ll be a more heavy-handed approach with newspapers refusing to run the column and the author being threatened with lawsuits, imprisonment or both.

That’s okay.

As someone said, “I’d rather suffer for standing on Truth than fall for a lie” and take the path of least resistance, which is the Downward Road Toward Destruction (Matthew 6:13).

So, this week’s column in the series “What God Is Saying to America In 2010” asks the question, “Is God A Bully?”

During the days following the death of his beloved wife from cancer, the renowned C.S. Lewis struggled in his faith. He likened God to some celestial Bully on the street-corner Who slams the door when you cry out to Him during dark days like his.

But, thankfully, later on his faith was renewed (and even strengthened) by those “fiery trials” he endured. And, so will ours be IF we “cry out to God in our trouble” (Ps. 107:26-30) instead of shaking our fist at Him when difficulties come.

The Old Testament prophets’ message was basically the same: “You’ve sinned against God and He’s calling you to repentance. If you do, He’ll forgive you; if you don’t, He’ll judge and punish you.”

Why? Because He loves you/us.

And, remember: If you can sin and not have anything happen to you, you’re not His Child—for He won’t discipline someone else’s kid (Hebrews 12:5-8).

So, back to the question: “Is God A Bully?”

Those who don’t know Him or are rebelling against Him think so.

Read the book of Malachi—the last book in the Old Testament—and see if that’s not true. Repeatedly, Malachi points out that his listeners can’t understand why “bad things are happening to good people.”

They not only questioned God’s Love for them and His sovereign “fairness” (Mal. 1:2-4), they also dishonored Him in every way by offering to Him “polluted bread on the altar. . . blind, lame and sick sacrifices (even though they knew they had to be without blemish). . .and even neglected to keep His altar fires burning” (1:6-10, 12-14).

He asked them and us, “Would your father like it if you dishonored his name? Would your governor be pleased with you if you went to see him and offered him broken, worn-out or rotten gifts” (1:6, 8).

A thousand times no!

Why, then, do we think Almighty God should be pleased with half-hearted, lukewarm devotion and “crumbs from a rich man’s table”?

Don’t worry; He’s not.

Like the church at Laodicea, the church today says “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17a). But, God says, “You make me sick to My stomach. And, I’ve turned you over to a reprobate (perverse) mind and you don’t know you’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked” (vv. 16, 17b; Rom. 1:28). Those who are atheistic or agnostic in thinking will scoff at this column. Liberal pastors and “open-minded, pluralistic, all-inclusive” believers will laugh or mock, saying “He’s some religious, fundamentalistic fanatic, isn’t he?” But, that’s okay. One of these days they’ll wish they’ll have listened—for God’s not some “celestial Bully on the block;” He’s the King of kings and Lord of lords and one day soon will return as the Righteous Judge. The question is, “Will you be ready?”

(NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at pressingon@hotmail.com).