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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy


    For some reason, many think God should be infinitely patient, and infinitely tolerant of their sinful life style. How can I make such a judgment? "By their fruits you shall know them" (Matthew 7:20). By the same mode of judgment, I've observed many who have twisted the Scriptures and have created God in their own image. The old saying that "actions speak louder than words," is nearly always true and reveals a man's character with great accuracy.

            Is your life saying, "God should be infinitely tolerant of my pet-sins;  God should be infinitely tolerant of my neglecting Him and His church;  God should be infinitely tolerant while I live my life the way I want to, and while I worship whenever and however I want to!"

            The Bible does teach us that, "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy" (Psalm 103:8). If we just read that verse, without reading the next verse, we'll not get the complete picture. Verse 9 says, "God will NOT always strive with man, nor will He withhold His anger forever."

            Does anyone really think they can ignore God, ignore Jesus and His church, and in general ignore the Truth, and still have favor with God on Judgment Day? Can a man do all these things and still expect to hear Jesus say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant?" (Matthew 25:21).

            Jesus did not tolerate the self-righteous, hypocritical Pharisees yesterday (Matthew 23), what makes us think He will tolerate the self-righteous hypocrites of today? (cf. Hebrews 13:8).

            Consider the response that Jesus gave His own disciples while sailing across the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had just miraculously fed thousands of men, yet the disciples were concerned that they had failed to bring bread to eat on their journey. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said metaphorically, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees."  The disciples did not understand this saying. Jesus seemingly becomes a little impatient. These disciples had spent much time with Him; listened to much teaching; witnessed many miracles; yet were unable to pick up on His metaphorical cue. He says, "Do you not perceive nor understand? You have eyes to see but cannot see; you have hears to hear but cannot hear! Is your heart still hardened?" (Mark 8:17-18). This is similar to Hebrews 5:12, "You've been Christians long enough that you should be teachers, yet you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the word of God."

            In the very next chapter, we hear Jesus saying to the multitude, "You faithless generation, how much longer must I be among you? How much longer must I put up with you?! (Mark 9:19).

            Many cannot handle the often depicted angry and vindictive God of the Old Testament -- the God who is described as a "consuming fire" (Deuteronomy 9:3);  the God who flooded the earth, and later incinerated Sodom-Gomorrah. They cannot connect that God with the *meek and lowly Jesus* (who loves all the little children of the world).  But when we come to the New Testament, we learn that the Father and Son are "One" (John 10:30); They are in perfect unity (John 17:21); and the Son is even subject to the Father (1Corinthians 15:27-28). As Paul writes, "They suppress the Truth" (Romans 1:18). The result? We are left with an incomplete picture of Jesus, whom people think loves them so much that He will just let them live their sinful and irreverent lives and save them ANYWAY! They say, "Speak to us of the Lamb of God, but speak not of the Lion of Judah!"

            This is why so many religious people are committed to Christ only in-so-far as it is convenient.

                                                                                  Toby Miller

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