Saturday, August 22, 2020

Is Anyone Unlovable?

woman in black and purple dress sitting on sidewalk during daytime

I had one of those 'God-moments' last week that I will never forget. It changed me . 

The last day we were in Whistler I had a conversation with one of my granddaughters and she expressed her fear that she was not doing enough for God, that she was not making Him her first priority.  She is a very sensitive soul and everything in me wanted to encourage her and give her a stronger sense of security in God. 
 So I talked to her about how God's desire was that every human being should be saved. He grieves over everyone who rejects Him. (II Peter 3:8-10, Ez. 18:23)  And if it is true that God's will is that everyone be saved, we can know that He will always do EVERYTHING He can to draw someone to Himself.. Never will He push anyone away, never will He put someone down or turn away in disgust.(John 6:37)  So I told her that she could trust God that He was always working on her behalf,  helping her to become all that He wanted her to be.   That His focus was always on drawing her closer. 
He understands all  weaknesses, all  failings, all  shortcomings ..  God's focus on every human being He created is to do ALL He can to bring them to Himself. 
He loves everyone ... no matter how far they are from Him. 

A day or two later I was reading our local news and noted the story of the couple walking down a sidewalk in our city. The woman was carrying a large knife.  Someone called the police and they were quickly on scene.  The couple both ran when they saw the police.  The woman got away but the man was tackled and taken into custody with minor injuries. He was known to the police.   The photo revealed a man that I would not care to meet.  His eyes were dead...  My thought was that I was glad he was off the street and in custody!   
Instantly the Lord spoke to me and said ... "What did you just explain to your granddaughter?"
I was convicted  by my hypocrisy... and was immediately overwhelmed emotionally with the deepest compassion and empathy I have ever felt.   I knew it was the Lord's compassion , not my own.  I have not been able to forget that man's face and pray for him whenever I think of him.   Perhaps I am the only person who has ever prayed for him!  

Yes .. God's love is extended to EVERY person, no matter how vile we might think they are.  His grace is enough to forgive and restore every wasted life and EVERYONE is drawn by God's love.   To God's joy some respond to His love with joy .... yet others to His sorrow reject Him.  

A Promise to Abraham that includes you and me !
God made Abraham a promise that we find recorded in Gen. 12:3, “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” This promise was not just to Abraham but to all His children. Note the inclusive words "all families of the earth". 
See Gal. 3:7 which tells us that all who put their faith in Jesus are the children of Abraham. 

Not only does God watch over His children,  blessing those who are kind to His children but He also sees those who curse them.  
BUT , His promise also was founded on the fact that God's plan was that His children should bless others !
  God desires that even as He loves the unlovable, so also He looks for His children to do the same.   
He is not looking for an opportunity to 'curse'  anyone.  Even when Jesus was suffering on the cross - having been cruelly treated by those who hated Him -  did He call for God to rain down His curses ?  No ... 
He cried out to His Father.. “Forgive them for they know not what they do”.
 It is never God’s pleasure to curse anyone. God is always looking for an opportunity to show His character of love, kindness, compassion, patience and mercy.    As long as  someone has life .. God is still extending His hand to them. What an incentive for us to pray for those who still do not know Him. 
  Only after death... are men judged for their choices.   (Heb. 9:27, see also John 12:48)
 As God's children we are to be the 'visible' love of God to those that do not know Him...  and I believe God yearns for us to love those that no one else does...  
Like my  local  criminal.   

It can be a bit of a struggle to understand that if God  loves everyone, and it is His will that everyone be saved , then why do people still perish?   

I love the fact that God always gives us examples to show how His principles work out practically. He never leaves anything hanging as a theory. 

 One of the first examples we have in scripture of God acting out the promise of blessing and cursing He gave to Abraham and all who put their faith in Him,  is found in the story of the two Pharaohs. 
Two Pharaohs – one who knew Joseph (Abraham’s great grandson) and one who did not, yet both are identified by their relationship to Joseph. (“Now there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph” Ex.1:8) 
Both were judged according to how they treated Joseph or Joseph’s descendants – one Pharaoh was blessed by God and the other one cursed.
 It is interesting that to both men God made Himself known clearly enough that it left the Pharaohs without excuse.  

The Power of God Revealed - that they might know the Lord is God
To both God revealed Himself in supernatural ways. 
To the first Pharaoh, He gave two prophetic dreams which served to turn Pharaoh's heart toward God and His servant Joseph. 
For the  second Pharaoh, dreams would never have been enough, so God gave him ten miraculous signs. . Each miracle revealed to Pharaoh the futility of the gods he worshiped. 

To both God sent a representative of His people. To the first - Joseph, to the second Moses.
 In both cases God had prepared the way to ensure their credibility. Joseph’s ability as a dream interpreter was proclaimed by the testimony of Pharaoh’s butler. 
Moses had been raised in Pharaoh’s own house! 
So both Pharaohs were aware that they were dealing with God’s people and their powerful God!
How they would respond was their own choice.  

Humility and Pride 
The Pharaoh who knew Joseph had a humble heart that reacted quickly and positively to God’s voice.  He made Joseph ruler over all his kingdom with full authority in all things, answering to no man other than Pharaoh himself. Always he acted in kindness to Joseph. He even  gave him his own daughter in marriage. He eagerly encouraged Joseph's family to Egypt and made them welcome, generously giving them  land to settle on.  
. As a result of this Pharaoh opening his heart to bless Joseph, he himself was also blessed. He was spared the horror of starvation that would have faced him and his people. Instead, he was blessed with fullness of bread and the opportunity to sell grain to the nations around him. And he enjoyed the grandsons that his daughter gave him. 

The other Pharaoh stands in sharp contrast.  He did not know Joseph but he showed a very contrary heart to his predecessor. 
This Pharaoh was filled with self-pride and from the beginning hardened his heart. He refused to listen to Moses and rebelled against the God that sent him. The very first words we have recorded out of Pharaoh’s mouth were “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice ?” (Ex.5:2)
 Again and again he refused to bend before God. “And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go. “ (Ex. 8:32) 
We see God’s patience. Instead of cursing him immediately, God gave him ten chances to change his mind. Ten times he showed Pharaoh His supernatural power proving to him that He was Lord, not the gods of Egypt. 
Only when there was no hope left, did God curse him - drowning him in the middle of the Red Sea. Only a man blinded by his foolish, prideful heart would race his chariot onto a miraculous path that was obviously provided by the hand of a powerful God intent on saving His people.

 Two Pharaohs… two reactions… two consequences – one blessed, one cursed. What can we learn from this scriptural account? Is it simply a story in the history of Israel or is there a lesson for us, even though thousands of years have passed ?
 This is what it teaches me. As a 'child of Abraham' I feel so protected under the watchful eye of my Father God that I need never fear what man may do to me. But it also teaches me I have a responsibility. As I go about in the world I am God's representative to be His voice, His hands and feet to minister to the people I meet. 

Who am I ? 
   Do I present a true picture of who God is to those I meet who do not know Him?   
Do I represent God's heart of love and compassion or do I want the wicked to be under God's curse?
 Do the words out of my mouth and my actions and reactions reflect the character of God?
 Do I extend to others God's heart of compassion and empathy or do I give them cause to harden  their hearts against God? 
When I see people who are ungodly or wicked do I have the heart of Jesus and ask that God give them one more chance to choose Him?  Do I stand in the gap  (Ez. 22:30) for them interceding for them before the throne of mercy and grace or do I walk away thinking they deserve the life-consequences they reaped by their own choices and decisions.. 

Things to think about, are they not?    

PRAYER  "Father, forgive us where we have been so quick to judge, so quick to turn away and ignore the ones who are despised.  We so easily forget that you see beyond what they have become and you see what they can yet be.  And you see them with enough value that you gave your life for them .  Help us  to see with your eyes, to feel with your heart. Help us to recognize the opportunities you give us to love the unlovable. We are so grateful for your love that drew us into your kingdom and may we not flaunt our citizenship as something to be prideful about but rather see it as an opportunity to be your heart to a needy world. 
Thank you that we have been forgiven...  and may we be quick to desire that same forgiveness for others.    As we go from this place open our hearts to love those around us ...not just those who love us !    We pray in Jesus' name ... who is our example and our help... amen."