When I was a little kid I lived in the “mid south.” That is what the weather man called it on the news. He would point to the map and say “sunny in the morning with a chance of showers in the afternoon over the entire mid south region.” We lived in Memphis Tennessee. Apparently it was not deep south but just mid south. It was the late 60’s and early 70’s and that part of the US was still dominated by prejudice. It wasn’t just white versus black but Jews and Christians or Italians and Anglo’ s or Rebels and Yankees or Baptists and Methodists or even Hatfield and McCoy. I remember the conversations of the grown-ups. They would gather over a hot meal of fried chicken and turnip greens (we even had opinions about collard or turnip greens) and discuss how awful everyone else was outside our group. They would blame their circumstance on anyone outside their circle of acceptance. Even in church the conversations were similar. “Well you know brother the so and so’ s are up to such and such and that is why we don’t have our what for’ s so we need to pray that the you know whos don’t get the upper hand.” You’re probably thinking I am pretty messed up but now I’m a new creation… the point is I bet you are familiar with this sort of thing. It is when we gather together to complain about stuff and people and get our identity from those groups and conversations. God has a very different plan. Want to see what it is? You will love it!
First just a reminder that everything with God begins and ends with faith. We have to know how good He really is. We have to know His nature is to love us. We have to see that he wants us to catch him. He loves to love us. He is pleased by our pursuit of Him.
Heb 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESVST)
So have you asked yourself what it looks like to seek Him? David had some thoughts and wisdom for his son.
1Ch 28:9 “And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. (ESV)
How do we forsake Him? There are the obvious ways like when we reject Him, when we deny Him, when we live in unbelief, but this one may surprise you.
Mal 3:13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you? ’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape. ’” (ESVST)
God is talking about the conversation of the complainers club. This is that “huddle up front at the end of Churchill about the “Joneses” meeting.” This is the “you don’t know what they did to me” response. This is the “I’m justified to judge them and bring condemnation on them because they need it since God is obviously not doing anything about how bad they really are” diatribe. You get the idea.
Like everything of God he shows us His heart and it is way better always. Look at what it says in The message translation.
Malachi 3:13 God says, “You have spoken hard, rude words to me.
“You ask, ‘When did we ever do that?’ “When you said, ‘It doesn’t pay to serve God. What do we ever get out of it? When we did what he said and went around with long faces, serious about God-of-the-Angel-Armies, what difference did it make? Those who take life into their own hands are the lucky ones. They break all the rules and get ahead anyway. They push God to the limit and get by with it.'”
Then those whose lives honored God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored God’s name. God-of-the-Angel-Armies said, “They’re mine, all mine. They’ll get special treatment when I go into action. I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them. Once more you’ll see the difference it makes between being a person who does the right thing and one who doesn’t, between serving God and not serving him.” (The Message)
Other translations use the phrase “book of remembrance.” I really love that. When we declare the goodness of God no matter what our circumstance, God is listening. Not only is He listening, He is taking notes. Isn’t that awesome?
He says those that “honored God.” That phrase is the same as worship. It is our response to a loving God who we love. We get to raise our hands in adoration. We get to share with others how amazing our Abba is. We get to cry out how lovely our Groom is. We get to dance in the embrace of the Holy Spirit. When we do that, He is writing it all down. He says those people are His. He says they get special treatment. He says they are treated like His kids. Oh yeah, He justifies us in the presence of our enemies.
On this side of the cross we are His righteousness by faith. We are no longer His servants but are elevated to siblings and children. We live in our acceptance, we declare the love of our Father and He backs it all. Others will see. The mockers will be stifled. The unbelievers will be driven to decisions. The doubters will be pierced with the sword of truth. Come on!
So why would we murmur and complain? Why would we back bite and defame? Why would we hold offense and demand vengeance? All that is pointless, useless, powerless and is actually against the nature of God. It is forsaking Him. Why would we do that? We get to be filled with hope. We get to experience His supernatural power of salvation. We get to live from His love. We get to express His compassion in healing, forgiveness, restoration, reconciliation, deliverance, hope, joy, peace…none of which is limited by the rules of man or the laws of nature. How amazing is that. It really makes me giddy to think of God taking notes about how much I love Him and share it with others. I really love my Abba. A book of remembrance! Don’t you want to see what is written in it? I do.