Sunday, July 31, 2011

Choices/ Hear It on Sunday. Use it on Monday

I sit reading my little daily devotional and, as so often happens, a random thought like a tiny bolt out of the blue crosses my mind. It has nothing at all to do with the scripture in front of me, but there it is. And I know it will stay with me - for once entertained these thoughts are loathe to leave on their own.

"Why," the little voice in my head asked, "didn't the Lord just crush satan like a bug the minute he puffed out his chest and declared he wanted to be like Him?"

Hmm....why indeed? Think of all the heartache and suffering it would have saved. Imagine living in the perfect garden with no one to tempt them to evil. How would the story have unfolded then?

But the Lord didn't crush Him. He allowed satan to choose the path he would follow and his choice set the clock ticking. There is always, it seems, this matter of choice.

Last evening our Pastor spoke on heaven and hell - a sermon topic guaranteed to either draw a crowd or offer up lots of empty seats. We are, apparently, a brave lot, and the church was filled.

He spoke of heaven, with its unimagined beauty and joy. He spoke of hell and the unimagined torment and agony. He didn't pull any punches. He taught that heaven is real and apart from Christ we will spend eternity there. He used Luke 16 and the story of Lazarus and the rich man.

Then he asked the inevitable question - the one we have all heard and perhaps secretly wondered about:

"How could a loving God send people to hell?"

In answer he quoted from one of Max Lucado's books:

"He doesn't. He honors their choice."

There it is again - this matter of choice. It is of such great importance to the Father that He has wrapped it in eternity. He will not settle for coerced children. He is holding out for love.

He holds nothing back - not even His only Son. He has poured out His great heart, and now He waits. Everything of value is available to us...everything. He isn't willing that one should perish, but He waits. We have a choice. We always have choices.

I'm joining Michelle for Hear it on Sunday. Use it on Monday.



Blessings,
Linda

14 comments:

lil red hen said...

Linda, this is so very, very true!! And you've given us a better sermon than I hear on most Sun. mornings. I appreciated this so much!! People need to hear sermons about hell as well as heaven.

Reflections said...

Beautiful words... wonderful reminders. Choice is always our greatest gift, yet so often we blindly make them without truly giving it a thought.

Thank you for such inspirational posts.

Sandy said...

What a good word, Linda. I always
wonder how it can be said that
a good God shouldn't send people
to hell when in fact, He doesn't.
He gave us a mind and will to do
as we choose. I just pray for
conviction to come into the hearts
of those in the valley of decision
that they will make the choice of
heaven.
Blessings~

Sandra Heska King said...

"He honors their choice."

The word "honors" is going to haunt me today.

As if I didn't have enough to think about. ;)

I just reread Francis Chan's chapter on Crazy Love (in his book of the same name.) A student asked him, "Why would a loving God force me to love Him?"

He was unable to answer at the time, but after he thought about it, he said he'd tell the student this:

". . . if God is truly the greatest good on earth, would He be loving us if He didn't draw us toward what is best for us (even if that happens to be Himself)? Doesn't His courting, luring, pushing, calling, and even "threatening" demonstrate His love? If He didn't do all of that, wouldn't we accuse Him of being unloving in the end, when all things are revealed?"

But He leaves the choice to us.


Thanks, Linda. I'm glad your pastor tackled this one. :)

seashore said...

We have to make the choice to love and follow God. It would not be true love if it wasn't freely chosen. Thanks

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing, Linda!
I'm glad that I came over to your lovely blog and read this today.

You seem the type of person that I would love to sit down with to have a nice and hot cup of tea (once this crazy heat is passed) and just sit and talk.

Blessings,
Sarah

Connie@raise your eyes said...

What a wondrous GOD we serve...to let us question so He can provide incredible answers!

C.S. Lewis said, "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell."

Michelle DeRusha@Graceful said...

Oh yes, this: "He doesn't. He honors their choice."

I have a love/hate relationship with free will. Sometimes it freaks me out (mostly the times I make the wrong decision!), but mostly I am so grateful for a loving God who takes a risk and allows me to make the real choice of loving him.

Brian Miller said...

he honors their choice...that is a great line...and true...

Jennifer @ GettingDownWithJesus.com said...

This is one of the things I love most about God. He doesn't FORCE us to love His Son -- but He lets us.

What an incredible privilege, to approach the Living God through the wonderful, marvelous cross of Christ. Astounding, really.

Beth said...

I too am stuck at those words: "He honors our choice." Such love manifested to allow us to make our own choices. Some might argue that it's not love. However, most parents can 'testify' to the fact that allowing a child to do something we knew wasn't the best choice is the hardest part of loving that child. Great message, Linda.

S. Etole said...

This reminds me of the verse that says He lures us into the wilderness and loves us ... what a gracious, loving God we have.

Anonymous said...

This really hits close to home--an issue that a close loved one of mine really struggles with--how a loving God could send anyone to hell. I think your pastor is right, it boils down to the choice of the individual. I have found authors such as C.S. Lewis as well as Tim Keller to expound quite well on this. And it makes sense, considering the whole outline of the Bible--God continually reaching out to people, only to be rejected. I am so thankful that He continues to reach out!

Dawn said...

Oh, yes, the old "free will" thing! How wonderful that He has given us this gift - and what a burden it is at times! Especially when we watch some choices we would like to change!

And - when are you going to write that devotional book for us to read??