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Monday, November 16, 2009

No Sentimental God

We live in a day when people go to the Scripture and treat it as a theological buffet.  We go from book to book picking the things we like about God and passing over the things we don't like.  In the process we fabricate a God that bears little if any resemblance to the God of the Bible.  Yet we worship this God of our choosing as though he is the real God.  Is this not the essence of idolatry?

The following is from J. R. Miller's message, The Silent Christ.

Matthew 15:22,23a - And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.  But he answered her not a word.


"We are apt to forget that the aim of God with us, is . . .

not to flood us with tenderness all the time,
not to keep our path always strewn with flowers,
not to continually give us everything we want,
not to save us from all manner of suffering.

No! God's aim with us, is . . .

to make something of us,
to build up strong and noble character in us,
to mature qualities of grace and beauty in us,
to make us more like Christ!

To do this--He must ofttimes deny us what we ask for, and must seem indifferent to our cries. "Jesus did not answer her a word!"

There are 'sentimental ideas of God' prevalent, which are dishonoring to Him. There are those who imagine that God's love means tenderness that cannot cause pain. They think that He cannot look a moment on suffering, without relieving it; that He must instantly hear and answer every cry for the removal of trouble.

Not such a God--is the God of the Bible! When suffering is the best thing for us--He is not too sympathetic to let us suffer--until the work of suffering is accomplished in us. He is not too kind to be silent to our prayers--when it is better that He should be silent for a time, to allow . . .

faith to grow strong, self-confidence to be swept away, and the evil in us--to be burned out in the furnace of pain!

There is a danger with all of us--our tenderness lacks strength. We cannot tolerate to see people suffer, and so we hasten to give relief--before the ministry of suffering is accomplished. We think of our mission to others, as being only 'to make life easier for them'. We are continually lifting away burdens, which it were better to have left resting longer on our friend's shoulder! We are eager to make life easy for our children--when it were better if it had been left hard.

We must learn that God does not deal with us in this 'sentimental' way. He is not too tender to see us suffer--if more suffering is needed to work in us the discipline that will make us like Christ!

Here we have the key of many of the 'mysteries of Providence'. Life is not easy for us--and God does not intend it to be easy!

Suppose for a moment, that God immediately gave us everything we ask for--and immediately removed every little pain, trouble, difficulty, and hardness that we seek to have removed; what would be the result on us? How selfish it would make us! We would become weak, unable to endure suffering, to bear trial, to carry burdens, or to struggle. We would be only children always--and would never rise into manly strength. God's over-kindness to us--would pamper in us all the worst elements of our nature, and would make us only poor driveling creatures!

On the other hand, however, God's wise and firm treatment of us, teaches us the great lessons which make us strong with the strength of Christ Himself.

He teaches us to yield our own will to Him.
He develops in us--patience, faith, love, hope and peace.
He trains us to endure hardness--that we may grow heroic, courageous and strong.
It is well for us to make careful note of this--that in all God's delays when we pray--His aim is some good in us.

Perhaps we are willful, asking only for our own way--and must learn to say, "May Your will be done."

Perhaps we are weak, unable to bear pain or to endure adversity or loss--and we must be trained and disciplined into strength.

Perhaps our desires are only for earthly good, not for heavenly blessings--and we must be taught the transitory character of all worldly things, and led to desire things which are eternal.

Perhaps we are impatient--and must be taught to wait for God. We are like children in our eager restlessness--and need to learn self-restraint.

At the least, we may always know that silence is not refusal--that God hears and cares, and that when our faith has learned its lessons--He will answer in blessing!"
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