Misjudging the Heart of God


             Now it came to pass, when the time had come for him to be received up, that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face.  And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for him.  But they did not receive him, because his face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.  And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them just as Elijah did?”  But he turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”  And they went to another village.  (Luke 9: 51-56.)


                As Jesus made his way through the cities and towns he sent his disciples ahead of him to prepare the people for his arrival.  Most Jews and Samaritans greatly disliked one another.  Hundreds of years before Christ arrived, the Babylonians conquered the Jews.  They took the Jews from that area as slaves and gave the property to their own people.  When the Jews returned from captivity, they discovered a population of foreigners settled right in the middle of their country; these foreigners came to be known as the Samaritans (the hatred was so bad that the Jews would often go out of their way to travel around Samaria to get where they were going.  The Jews thought Samaritans to be so dirty that if they traveled through Samaria many Jews would take the time to dust off their sandals before entering another town so that the dirt from Samaria wouldn’t mix with the dirt in Israel.)  This single village of Samaritans had rejected Jesus.  James and John felt so insulted and dishonored by the rejection (perhaps because they were Samaritans) that they asked Jesus if they should destroy the village with fire from the sky as Elijah had done in an earlier time.  [Elijah was a powerful Old Testament prophet who was hated by an Evil King of Israel.  The king sent out fifty men to take Elijah; when they arrived Elijah called down fire upon them and they were all burned up.  The king sent another fifty men to take Elijah; as they approached Elijah called down fire from heaven and consumed the men.  Finally, another fifty men were sent to take Elijah, but the captain of the men immediately dropped down before Elijah and begged and pleaded with him not to kill them.  Elijah was merciful and went with them.]  The disciples no doubt believed those deaths were pleasing to God; so they strongly desired to bring down a fiery destruction upon the Samaritan village.  Jesus identified their evil desire as being from the Spirit of Satan.  [All of their actions were motivated by either the Spirit of God (love), or the Spirit of Satan (hate.)]  The Disciples desire came from a hatred for those who had just rejected them.  Jesus reminded them that he did not come to destroy sinners, but to save them.  Those closest to Jesus misunderstood his message, and his purpose, and even what he desired. 

                Prior to Nelson Mandela (a black man) taking office, the government of South Africa was run by Caucasians.  [to the best of my knowledge]  When the day came for him to take office, all of the white political employees were boxing up their things and leaving the building out of fear, and out of a belief that he was going to fire them and bring in a staff of all black individuals.  Much to their shock, he called a meeting and asked the white employees to stay; they were shocked, and so were his black supporters who expected him to take revenge on those who had imprisoned him in a one room jail cell for nearly 27 years.  (He chose to work with the white leaders who had put him in prison, instead of overthrowing them.)  Those closest to him had misjudged him; they had allowed their hatred and evil desires toward the whites to blind them as to the true intentions and purpose of their leader.

                Many people today have grossly misjudged God’s intentions and desires.  Some believe that God’s desire is to hurt them and to make them suffer.  Many see God as a creator who is just waiting to cast them in to hell if they screw up.  However, God is a God who loves all of his children.  He chases after those who are living lives full of sin instead of condemning them.  He sees every person as irreplaceable, and His heart is grieved when his children do harm to themselves and reject Him.  God is not some unfeeling, unemotional being; He is loving, compassionate, and He feels emotional pain.  Just as a Father who loses a child feels a continual sadness and grief, so God feels sadness and grief for the lost.  Many of us have misjudged our God’s heart, and his intentions.  We may see sinners as enemies, as evil, or even as dirty.  But God sees them precious children he desires to return to Him.  As believers we have an obligation to reflect God’s heart accurately to others; they need to know that God loves them and seeks reconciliation.  The first step toward this goal is becoming familiar with the heart of God.  You cannot accurately share about something you don’t know or understand; as you grow closer to God, your desire to share his message of love will flow out of you naturally.  People need to here that God does not desire to destroy them, but to give them life.  When know God you can tell others with confidence, “God loves you, and I love you too.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You would help us to share Your heart.  Help us to look upon others as opportunities to love with the heart that You have give us.  Father, give us confidence and boldness to speak on Your behalf.  Please help us to refrain from doing anything in the Spirit of Satan; rather, help us to do all things in the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Fill us to overflowing with Your love, with Your life, and with Your truth.  Give us opportunities to share with others what we have learned from You.  Most of all Father, help us to resemble Your Son in all that we do.  If there are any areas of our hearts that still seek selfish ends we pray that You would heal them now, and bring them in to submission to Your heart and to Your will.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you and have a happy Thanks Giving.

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