2020-08-05 Joy in Discouragement

“Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today,
that you may command them to your children,
that they may carefully do all the words of this law.”
Deuteronomy 32:46

Moses gave this command as he wrapped up his life on earth. Even though the law had been given to him directly, and he relayed it well to the Israelites, Moses died knowing that they would not obey. In fact, the rest of the bible tells of humans knowing God but refusing to obey him. Except, of course, for a few people who are different. We find that these are ones that God intervenes directly with. Other than those, the whole shooting match runs after gods of their own creation.

My own children, incredibly, reject the gospel. I say incredibly because I can’t imagine why they don’t listen to me on this most important topic. Indeed, they know what I tell them is the primary decision of their entire lives. They know that my biggest regret in life is that I didn’t listen to Jesus’ call back in college. Man, how I wish I would have done that differently! They know this, but….

It’s not that this is advice on choosing an occupation. This decision has eternal consequences. Heaven or hell. Forever. Still, it’s all tossed aside. I was the same way. My mother was born again while I was still at home. She desperately tried to convince me to follow Jesus, but I said no. We all do. All of us. Moses knew that about his own flock, and he was right. In our freedom to choose, we all – to the last human – choose to reject God.

So why bother trying to convince our children? They won’t listen. We see this played out in real life. We also see it predicted and demonstrated in the pages of our bibles. Why bother? It’s easy to be discouraged, but there is hope. The good news is such good news that we can rejoice even if it is rejected. Not that we are rejoicing in the rejection but that we are rejoicing in that we even have an opportunity to escape the consequences of our sin. You see, God offers salvation to everyone. Everyone. Why is that incredible? Because we don’t deserve it. WE might think we do, but not from God’s perspective.

Then there is the thought that the gospel further hardens the hearts of the unbeliever. There are different degrees of damnation, so perhaps we would be wise to NOT share the gospel to those who would reject it anyway. You know, so the lake of fire might be more bearable. That’s foolish thinking for many reasons. First and foremost, the gospel is true, and born-again believers walk in truth. To hide the truth is to hide our very nature, the essence of the Holy Spirit living in us. Second, salvation is God’s business, and his business alone. It is ours, as ambassadors in Christ, to proclaim the gospel. God has mercy on whom he has mercy. It’s not for us to decide who is and who isn’t saved. We don’t interfere with any of that.

So, like Moses, I keep teaching my children. My advice is wise even though rejected for the time being at least. It’s sobering business. I must be careful not to let this be a personal rejection. They are rejecting Jesus first and foremost. Yes, they may reject me as well, but Jesus is the real reason. Even if they do reject me, Jesus answers to that. It’s far more important for me to follow him – without looking back – than it is to deny him because of loved ones who deny him. If our head in in the right place, we will see that Jesus is the right choice. Hands down.

It’s natural to be discouraged to know my children are deliberately rejecting Jesus, to know they are shaking their fist at their Creator, to know that their unbelief has damned them. I need to trust my Lord and learn from him. I can rejoice in this most serious business for many reasons. Suffice it to say that God has had mercy on me. Just thinking about that will drown out all the cares of this world.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come,
‘Tis grace has brought me safe this far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hop secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

Amen.

Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers

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