God’s true intentions


                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 neared Jerusalem, his disciples were sent in to the towns and villages ahead of him to preach the gospel and to prepare for his arrival.  A certain Samaritan village however, rejected the disciples and their message.  James and John felt insulted and dishonored; in turn, they asked if they should destroy the village with fire from heaven, just as Elijah had done centuries earlier [Elijah was a powerful Old Testament prophet; he was hated by Ahab, an evil king who reigned over Israel.  At one point Ahab sent fifty soldiers to arrest Elijah.  When they arrived Elijah called down fire from heaven and they were burned to death.  The king sent another fifty men; the prophet again called down fire from heaven and they too were consumed.  Finally, fifty more men approached Elijah, but the captain of the men immediately dropped down before him and begged for his mercy.  Moved by the plea, Elijah spared their lives.]  The disciples had come under the control of an evil spirit; a spirit which demanded vengeance.  Jesus rebuked them for their wicked aspirations.  If an action or desire is not motivated by God, it is the product of an evil spirit.  Revenge is never a Christian endeavor [On the contrary we read in Romans 12: 20 – 21, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink […] Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”]

                In 1962, a young black man named Nelson Mandela was fighting to end racial segregation in South Africa.  He gained a great deal of support and power; when he became a military threat the Caucasian lead government had him arrested and put in to prison for 27 years.  While in prison, he was forced to do hard labor in a rock quarry.  Since he was black he received fewer rations than the whites; as a political prisoner, he was denied many privileges; he was only allowed one visitor and one letter every six months (and often the letters were delayed for long periods of time and ‘made unreadable by the prison censors.’)  By the time he was released in 1990 Nelson Mandela was a different man; he was no longer anti-white, but pro-peace.  In 1994, he was elected as the first black president of South Africa.  The day that he took office the world held its breath.  Would he take out his vengeance on those who had put him in to prison?  Would the nation fall in to violence and chaos?   Many expected him to at least dismiss all white people from their government positions and replace them with black counterparts.  But when he took office he displayed a true Spirit of forgiveness.  Most white cabinet members were boxing up their things, preparing for the new administration to take over.  Shockingly, President Mandela called an administrative meeting and asked many of the Caucasian staff members to stay and to help build the New Africa (and many of them did.)  Both black and white South Africans had misjudged the intentions of their leader.  His heart wasn’t filled with hatred; instead it was filled with mercy.  He had forgiven his enemies; and he was ready to love those who had once hated him.

                Many throughout history, and today, misjudge their Creator’s intentions and desires; they mistakenly feel that if they error, God is just waiting to cast them in to hell.  But God is not vengeful; nor is His heart filled with hatred; He is a loving Father, and His Son is the perfect example of mercy and grace.  Jesus Christ did not come to condemn mankind, but to set them free.  He offers forgiveness to all those who crave fellowship with the Almighty.  People need to know that there is a God who loves them; won’t you deliver that message to others today?  May the love of God flow out of you; may you be a messenger of reconciliation and peace; may you proclaim the good news to all those you meet, that many might receive the gift of everlasting life and eternal fellowship with God.  [If any of you have never experienced the love of God, get in touch with me, and we can discuss how you might do that today.]

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and ask that You help us to share Your heart with others.  May we be confident and bold in preaching Your message of love and reconciliation.  Protect us from evil spirits, that we might do all things by the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Fill us with Your love, Your life, and Your truth.  Give us opportunities to share Your gospel.  Most of all Father, may we resemble Your Son in all that we do.  If there is any selfishness in us, we pray that You would heal our hearts, and bring them in to submission to Your perfect 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.

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