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Where Does A Big Gorilla Sit? Psalm 24:1

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When I pick Buddy up I sometimes say, “It sucks being little, doesn’t it?” Because it doesn’t matter what he is doing, because I’m much larger than he is, I get to pick him up whenever I want to and there’s not much he can do about it. But because I love him, I don’t usually pick him up without a valid reason nor is my motive to do him harm.

My first Christian pastor was a big cowboy sporting a ten gallon hat and a red beard. I would attend church Sunday mornings before my job at the local racetrack. The pastor would preach to the employees on the backstretch, then give a second sermon to the front side employees. There was usually only about 6 to 8 of us, so I really appreciated that he would take the time and effort to speak to such a small congregation. (He later moved to Texas and the services ended. I think his name was John.)

The first time I attended, the pastor asked us, “Where does an 800 pound gorilla sit?”

We all sat there silent and wide-eyed, likely all thinking, “Why is he talking about gorillas?”

With a broad smile he answered, “Anywhere he wants to.”

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 24:1:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains; The world, and those who dwell in it.”

This truth was stated earlier by Moses in Exodus 9:29: “…the earth is the Lord’s.”

When I pray, it’s comforting to know that God is sovereign: Nothing happens on our planet that He is not aware of, nor can anyone act without His divine permission. I know that “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26b) and that He can answer any prayer request or meet any need that I have.

But there’s another truth that most people don’t want to admit: God through Jesus Christ is the boss. He is in control of human history and ultimately, our own destinies (Psalm 139:16). Most people, including myself, want what we want, when we want it and how we want it. We want God to rescue us now, fix it now, give it now, and change the world and people NOW.

But God sees the future, we don’t. He didn’t ask for our permission to create humanity, the world and all its creatures. When rebuking Job for demanding answers, God reminded Job that He didn’t need anyone’s permission to act nor require anyone’s advice. All of His gifts and help are an act of grace by an all powerful deity Who is working all things according to His will.

As the mightiest ancient ruler proclaimed, Nebuchadnezzar, after being humbled by God for pride and hubris:

“For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand, or say to Him, “What have you done?””–Daniel 4:34-35

Years ago I stopped at the Bozeman Museum on a road trip through Montana and viewed the Hubble Telescope IMAX exhibit. The scope and beauty of the universe is awesome and very humbling. It’s vastness is truly unimaginable.

Our Great God’s power, imagination and intelligence is far beyond the ability of our finite minds to conceive. Pastor John was comparing God to a gorilla that Sunday morning: He does what He wants, when He wants and how He wants to do it. It was His idea to create and design the earth, humankind, animal and plant life and the universe. He didn’t require our permission or input. And He has a plan that He is working to bring human history to a close, as detailed in Revelation, Daniel, Isaiah and scattered throughout other books in the Bible.

So next time you’re tempted to grumble and complain about God’s timing, His will, His actions or His plan for your life, remember that:

He’s the big Gorilla–and you’re the little dog.

***

When Adam and Eve rebelled against His rule and authority, He could’ve wiped out humanity and just let the animals roam the earth. But He created humans in His image to be His friends.

So, instead of destroying us, He devised a plan to send Jesus to die for our sins to bring us back into relationship with Him. You see, a holy God cannot tolerate unholy people. Sin must be punished. He made this plan to redeem us before the first generation of humans was born:

God said to Satan, who tempted Adam and Eve to reject God’s authority:

“Because you have done this…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He (Jesus) shall bruise you (Satan) on the head, and you shall bruise him in the heel.”–Genesis 3:14-15

God took the initiative at the beginning of human history to bring us back into fellowship with Him through faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus lived the perfect life no human could live. Being both perfect man and God, He was able to bear the punishment for the sins of all humanity so that God’s anger at sin could be appeased. Problem is, you have to accept His forgiveness. God wants us to love Him willingly and won’t force His friendship on us. He doesn’t want to be friends with robots. Please ask Him to forgive your sins and make Him the Lord of your life. He loves you and wants to be your best friend.

Why Adam and Eve Still Matter, Genesis 3:1

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Sometimes Buddy is reluctant to obey when I call him into the house. He loves snooping around the backyard, investigating whether some doggoned possum, cat, mouse or rat has been intruding upon his territory. But, when I’m insistent, he listens to me and comes through the back door. I make sure that I praise him profusely to encourage him to continue to obey me. He obeys me because he loves and trusts me.

Why is Adam and Eve still relevant today?

The main point of the story about the Temptation and Fall of Humanity when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is: They stopped trusting God and wanted to determine for themselves what was right and wrong, instead of listening to what the God of Love (1 John 4:16) defined what was right and wrong.

Satan began his temptation with the statement, “Indeed, has God said,…?”–Genesis 3:1

Lucifer tempted Adam and Eve to distrust that God was truthful and knew what was best for them, that He was a good God Who should be obeyed.

I think our society is in chaos right now because too many people no longer believe that the Bible is the standard for defining what is right and wrong. They have become their own gods, defining morality for themselves.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness” ¬†—Indeed, has God said? (Exodus 20:16)

“You should not slander.”–Indeed, has God said? (Leviticus 19:16)

“You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart;”–Indeed, has God said? (Leviticus 19:17)

Justice is to be impartial, not favoring the poor nor deferring to the great.–Indeed, has God said? (Leviticus 19:15)

Humankind, male and female, are made by God in His image.–Indeed, has God said? (Genesis 1:27)

“Every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”–Indeed, has God said? (Jesus, Matthew 12:36)

There will be a great Judgment of everyone after death, “everyone was judged according to their deeds.”–Indeed, has God said? (Revelation 20:12-16)

Jesus is God in the flesh.–Indeed, has God said? (Matthew 1:23)

Judgment can be escaped through faith in Jesus Christ, which is not earned, but a gift from God.–INDEED, HAS GOD SAID? Satan screams. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for our sins on the Cross and was resurrected to give us eternal life.–INDEED, HAS GOD SAID??? (John 3:16)

God is love. We don’t need to be afraid of Him.–I HATE GOD!! Satan screams. (Luke 1:74)

God bless you from Dawn and Buddy

***

Truly, my life was transformed after I gave my heart to Jesus March 7th, 1989. I’m far from perfect, but when I obey what is right as defined in the Bible, the greatest book of Wisdom ever written, rather than follow my selfish desires, my life’s path is less rocky than it would be otherwise. Please consider asking Jesus into your life right now, to be your Lord and forgive your sins. Becoming a born-again Christian won’t guarantee you an easy life, but it’s a decision you will never regret making.

 

Simplifying Idolatry, Exodus 20:4-5

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Buddy is sticking out his tongue because he’s uncomfortable with having his picture taken. (I’m disappointed in my new phone’s camera but wasn’t willing to pay $700+ for a new phone when a $200 phone does everything I need–except take great photos!)

I sometimes feel uncomfortable with some discussions in the Christian community. In my opinion, at times well-meaning Christians make Christianity too difficult and discourage sincere people. The latest focus in sermons and articles appears to be idolatry. It seems, basically, anything a person really likes is being defined as idolatry. As a result, I think people–including myself–are becoming too preoccupied with self-examination and sin-focused, rather than being Christ-focused and rejoicing in His goodness. It’s hard to be a happy, joyful Christian who attracts miserable unbelievers to your religion when you’re gloomy and self-obsessesed, perpetually worrying if this or that activity, object, pet, or person is an idol.

Now, I have no desire to deny the seriousness of sin. God takes idolatry very seriously.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,…”–Exodus 20:4-5a

But I believe the following is a much simpler and workable definition of idolatry:

Anything that, or anyone who, causes you to disobey God.

For example, a pop singer takes heroine so young people start taking drugs because it’s cool. No. God says our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and is a gift, being “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). That singer has become an idol.

Your boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance asks you to have sex with them and you say OK, knowing that God forbids extramarital sex (Hebrews 13:4). That person has become an idol to you.

You purchase a sporty red convertible, taking on enormous monthly payments and new debt, potentially straining your marriage and reducing your ability to tithe or give to those in need, knowing that your current automobile works just fine and you could live with it, but you lusted after a new car. You have made that car (or your desire for status) your idol.

A friend lures you into gossiping about a coworker or slandering someone because you care more about the opinion of that friend rather than about the potential harm you’re doing to the person you are slandering or gossiping about. You’ve made that relationship an idol.

You don’t compliment people at work or nominate them for awards because you don’t want them to look good to management and potentially jeopardize your own chance for a promotion. Your job, or your own ego, has become an idol because you aren’t trusting God to provide for your needs or to elevate you in His proper timing.

You watch an awards show because it showcases your favorite performer, knowing that there will be overtly sexual performances and profane lyrics–you’ve made entertainment an idol.

I’m pretty sure you’ve gotten the idea that I’m trying to get across. I believe this definition of idolatry as “anything that, or anyone who, causes you to disobey God” is easy to understand and takes less self-indulgent introspection to identify.

Most of God’s commands are pretty clear in the Bible.

I hope this helps simplify your Christian walk.

God bless you.

 

Self-Righteousness, Jonah 3:10-4:1

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I love Buddy, not because he’s always a good boy, but because he’s my pal and my responsibility. I enjoy his company and am concerned for his welfare.

When Christians become self-righteous, it’s not usually because they’re bad people but because they don’t understand what salvation is. We don’t become born-again because our works are so wonderful that we’re worthy of Heaven: we are saved despite our flaws.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”–Romans 3:23

Our works are pleasing to God when we’re in a right relationship with Him (born-again), not vice versa. No one deserves to go to Heaven. We are so wicked, compared to God’s perfect holiness and love, that no one can boast about their goodness and earn Heaven. It’s His mercy and great love for us that causes Him to convict us of our sin and bring us back into fellowship with Him.

What’s this got to do with Jonah?

Jonah hated the ancient Ninevites for good reason: They were a very warlike, cruel and vicious race of people. Everyone was afraid of them. Yet, God loved them and wanted to bring them into relationship with Himself. He chose to send the Jewish prophet Jonah to Nineveh to preach to them to repent. But Jonah hated the Ninevites and didn’t want them to repent–he wanted God to judge and punish them.

You cannot thwart God. Jonah took a ship “to flee to Tarshish” (Jonah 1:3) but God stirred up a mighty storm. The boat crew realized that a god was responsible for their troubles and discovered that Jonah was the source. Though they were pagans, they didn’t want to harm Jonah but eventually were forced to toss him overboard, at Jonah’s suggestion, to calm the stormy waters.

Jonah would rather die than go preach to people he hated and see them be blessed by God. He forgot that he didn’t deserve to be loved by a holy God either.

Everyone has heard the story of how Jonah was swallowed by a whale, and when Jonah had finally given in to God’s will to go to Nineveh to preach the gospel of repentance, the whale vomited him up on shore.

Deliberately disobeying God is never pleasant. Not only that, God hates pride and self-righteousness. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6) I cannot emphasize this enough: NO ONE is good enough to go to Heaven.

Half-heartedly Jonah walked among the Ninevites, preaching the lamest sermon ever. But since a changed heart depends upon God’s power and not our greatness, a mighty revival broke out and the city repented of their sins.

“When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes.” (Jonah 3:6) The king declared that everyone, even the beasts and flocks of birds, were to fast and be covered with sackcloth, signifying repentance. “Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw his burning anger so that we will not perish.”

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry.”–Jonah 3:10-4:1

God was not pleased by Jonah’s self-righteous, hard-heartedness.

Jonah didn’t have a right to be angry. He had forgotten that he was also a sinner in comparison to a holy God. Maybe he didn’t sacrifice his children to demonic gods or cut off hands and noses or spread people’s skins, but compared to a kind and loving and merciful God, he fell far short.

God loves everyone. People every day spit in His face, deny His existence, curse His name, and deliberately ignore his pleas for them to do good, yet He gives them life, wealth, children, food, pets, vacations, lovely sunrises and many pleasing and wonderful gifts. Jesus was spit upon, beaten, and flogged by the Romans before He was crucified, yet He never cursed them or zapped them, although, as God In The Flesh (Immanuel–Matthew 1:23), He had the power to do so.

I’m certainly not perfect in this area. I have to remind myself continually to “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return…for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:28, 35)

God’s mercy is available to anyone who wants to forsake their pride and repent of their sin and enter into a love relationship with Him. “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”–Luke 11:13

You have to ask to receive. God bless you.