Isaiah 41:10 - Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
There are times when a pastor has to say what the Lord would have him say.
That was what happened to a pastor friend of mine who was visiting with a prospective member. Everything was going wonderfully well until the pastor began to speak about the Lord's laws and His divinely decreed penalties and punishments for sin.
Hearing about hell, the lady blurted out, "Pastor, that's impossible! My god would never do anything like that to anybody!"
Surprised by the lady's reaction, the pastor went on to other topics as he tried to find the words for a direct, simple-to-understand answer. When he had his answer prepared, he rejoined the discussion. He began by saying, "You know, a little while ago, you said your god wouldn't condemn you for disobeying his law. I think you're right. Your god wouldn't condemn you because
1. he likes you just the way you are;
2. your god accepts you and thinks you're a really good person;
3. your god wouldn't call you a sinner, or condemn you to hell;
4. he certainly wouldn't suggest that you need a Savior.
"The only problem," my friend continued, "is that your god isn't real. He's a wish, a dream, a figment of your imagination. He certainly isn't the God of the Bible. The God of the Bible says keep Me first.
"And what was the lady's reply?" I asked my friend.
He told me, "I don't know. That was the last time I saw her."
You see, that lady didn't want to keep God first. She thought she was the master and God was a beggar who should be glad to glean the crumbs that fell from her table. She thought of God as a cuddly-wuddly teddy bear who might make her feel warm and secure when she needed Him, but would, the rest of the time, sit patiently on her bed, or wherever she put Him.
She thought of God as being a spiritual Santa who waited anxiously for her to pass on the list of things she wanted, but who could be ignored the rest of the time. She thought of God as a nice grandpa who gave gentle suggestions, but would never give orders, who looked at her and burst His buttons at how good and gentle and generous she was.
Well, my friends, that's not the way things work. God is the One who is always in control.
When humankind sinned, He was the One who promised a Savior. He was the One who sent His Son to take our place under the Law and offer His life as the ransom and payment for our sin. He is the One who uses the Means of Grace to put faith in our hearts, and He is the One who preserves and keeps us for heaven.
From start to finish, He is the One ... the beginning and the end ... the Author and Finisher of our faith.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive us when we foolishly think we know better than You. Even as we trust You for salvation, help us trust in You for direction in our day-to-day lives. This we ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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