Oh Lord, please, open this guy's heart and his eyes to see!
A friend of mine wrote to me. He's what he calls, "a believer of God, but not of Jesus." He wants to, but he just can't convince himself yet. He likes the thought of believing in Jesus, but even with all of the want-to, right now, he just don't.
But, he's intrigued with the Bible. He wants to know what it says. He wants to know what it's about. And as he reads, he writes to me. And as he writes, he questions everything!
I love to hear his questions! He provokes my mind into thinking. He blesses me more than he'll ever know!
He began in the Old Testament... and got bogged down in Leviticus. (Surprised anyone?) I had been doing my best to convince him to delve into the New Testament. He's finally agreed to what I've suggested. He's in Matthew. He wrote to me this morning:
"I was reading the sermon on the mount. I get confused on the page and verse numbers? why do they go 5:34, 5:35, then 6:24? no big deal, just wondering. I think the one thing that stands out is it seems like a whole lot of Christians don't follow this very closely! Of course it says I am not supposed to judge, lol. Anyway people like my aunt and her daughter-in-law, they constantly remind everyone how devoted they are to God, but it says to pray in private. I take it you don't find God to impress other people, I think it is very important to be a Christian in order to follow the Bible, instead of doing it to show what a great person you are to everyone. Then again it seems as if that's a fine line, because you are supposed to spread the word. Hope that makes sense, you have this down pretty good though, I can tell you follow this stuff. I didn't know the Lord's prayer came from the Bible until I read that. Duh! lol. I will read some more..."
Don't you LOVE him! Don't you LOVE his openness! Don't you LOVE that he just says it! That he says what he reads, and says what he sees, and there's no cover-up, no play-like, and no pretense!
I laughed, at first, at the page/verse numbers. It took me a minute to know what in the world he was talking about.
And, I had forgotten that he said that he didn't know that The Lord's Prayer was found in the Bible until I read it again just now as I was re-typing. Ahhh... I'm so glad he found it there! I have to think God grinned!
But boy, at his honesty! When he said, "I think one thing that stands out is it seems like a whole lot of Christians don't follow this very closely." Woe! That made me sad! That has to grieve the Spirit! It made me question even myself! It made me want to walk (and talk) more carefully!
I wrote back:
"I love reading your comments!!!!!!!!!! They make me think, reconsider, want to live more like we're taught and told to! Today your "I think the one thing that stands out is it seems like a whole lot of Christians don't follow this very closely" made me sad! Sadly, you're right. I bet it made God sad too. It does show places where we're told that our sins make Him that way. I don't want to grieve Him. I want to live better. The one thing about "Christians" making such a mess of things with their lives and not living as we're commanded to, is that our sins are all washed away: present sins, past sins, and sins in our future. When Jesus died on the cross He took them all away with Him, forgave and buried them forever. And because of our sinfulness still, He still graces a lot, still gives us new mercies for every morning, still forgives us, still loves us, and still keeps working on us to make us what we ought to be. We're told NOT to sin, "But," He says [I LOVE that He adds a "but" for when we do]; "But," He says, "if anybody does sin, we have One who speaks to the Father in our defense - Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:1-2, NIV version). He died in order to forgive the whole world! He died to forgive everyone who would come to Him and let Him.
About the page and verse numbers? Going from 5:34 to 5:35 to 6:24??? Hmmmm..... I went to see. Honestly, it took me a minute to figure out where you were finding that. I thought that maybe you'd skipped a page, turned two pages instead of just one. AND THEN I saw what you did... Here's the explanation. That tells you which book you're in, which chapter, and which verse. The LEFT side of the page shows which book, chapter, and verse that this page will BEGIN on..... Where the RIGHT side of the page shows you which book, chapter, and verse that this page will END. Make sense?
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how you keep me on my toes!!!!!!!!!!! I love you, friend! May God SPEAK to you as you read!!!! And then, may you continue to share what you're reading with me!!!!
He continues: Chapter 6. How to give. What does it mean they will get their reward? Is that a good or bad reward? I like when it says hypocrites sounding their trumpets.... lol. I will reply more later, but I'm on my lunch, I have to go.
It's talking about if you're doing (i.e. giving to the poor) something kind to another in order to be seen by men (for other people to see what you're doing), and you "trumpet" or boast about what you've done to others.... then, you've gotten your reward... you've gotten what you wanted... you wanted others to see you and possibly think how great you are, and they have because you've told them about it.
BUT... if you give (or do) in secret, not telling others what you've done, not doing it to get the praise or applause or approval or notice of men, but doing it for God and in order to help the one that you're doing it for.... then, that person's reward is given only by God,, for He sees what you've done in secret and HE will reward you for it.
I get wound up, excited, filled to fuller and then fuller, so.... I continued:
Interesting. I looked those verses in Matthew chapter 6 that you were referring to up in The Message (a very dumbed-down version - for a lack of a better way to describe it) and here's how it read... (It's not always 100% accurate, but it sure paints a vivid picture):
"Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don't call attention to yourself. You've seen them in action, I'm sure - 'playactors' I call them - treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds They get applause, true, but that's all they get. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it - quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out."
And... then, because of what I ran across... And because of something that he'd earlier in another email said..... I wrote more:
Ahhh.... this is very sweet! I figured that you would especially LOVE hearing God say this!!! But remember as you read what He says, that we (Christians) may not always do what He says, but He sure wants for us to! It's not just good advice that He wants to give, regardless of whether we're actually doing it or not, it's the way He wants us to live! Here you go... I think you'll like what He says:
".... Try to get along with each other. My friends, we beg you to warn anyone who isn't living right. Encourage anyone who feels left out, help all who are weak, and be patient with everyone. Don't be hateful to people, just because they're hateful to you. Rather, be good to each other and to everyone else." ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:13b-15 (CEV).
((**smile!**)) ~ Just sayin'..................
Oh Lord, as he continues to seek Jesus, help him to find Him! No man can come to You, God, except that You Yourself draw him! As he seeks Your Son in the scripture (even right now in his unbelief), help him to see! Draw him to You! Draw him to Him! Tender and open his heart to Jesus. Help him believe in his unbelief!