Why do we hear requirements instead of promises? Demands instead of unbelievable offers?
HOW we hear is as important as WHAT we hear.
And it seems to me we are hearing WAY wrong when we listen to the instructions of God. Let me try to paint this picture…
Suppose you have a stern, distant, demanding, finger pointing teacher who seems to delight in reminding you of the monumental amount of work required for class. Every day she reminds you “If you want to get a decent grade in this class you will have to do better than you’re doing.” Toward the end of the school term she makes a different statement, “If you score well on the final exam you will get an A for the year.” What do you hear in that statement? A demand filled warning or a promise? That you had better study well because you’re not doing well or the promise that an A is in your future if you will only study well? Because of the way of hearing she has created, my bet is on the first choice.
Somehow most of us have developed the picture of a stern, distant, demanding, finger pointing, scolding, unhappy-with-us, nothing is ever good enough God. From the time you’re born he schemes to create that image and does so in many, many ways so don’t worry about HOW we got there. We’re there. With that picture in our heads, how in the world will we hear anything other than demands and requirements when we read the Bible? And why will we want to read the Bible?
God has been showing me that we’re missing His incredible promises and the unfathomable depth of His love because we are hearing wrong. That in this “if…then…” covenant relationship with God, we’re focusing on the “if” (requirements and demands) when He wants us to experience the “then” (promises). And it is KILLING us, causing us to live with the hole in our souls that God soooo wants to fill with satisfaction that comes from embracing Him. For example…
John 8:31-32 (NIV) 31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
What did you hear when you read that? That we had better work harder at holding on to Jesus’ teaching, that our efforts are not good enough, that we’re sad excuses for disciples? That’s the way I’ve typically read it. But I’ve come to believe that instead Jesus is making the promise of freedom – that He soooo wants us to have freedom and is showing us the way to accept the offer – hold to His teaching. IT’S A PROMISE FROM A LOVING, GIVING, SACRIFICING, DOING ALL THAT HE CAN FOR US GOD!!!!!
Matthew 6:12, 14-15 (NIV) 12Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
What did you hear? That you had better do better at forgiving people, no matter how much they hurt you or you’re in trouble? Yet instead Jesus is pointing us to the promise to cleanse us from anger, bitterness and hurt, that He soooo wants us to experience the exhilarating release from emotional chains that He is showing us how to accept the offer – let go of the hurts people have inflicted on us just like He let go of the hurts we inflicted on Him. IT’S A PROMISE FROM A LOVING, GIVING, SACRIFICING, DOING ALL THAT HE CAN FOR US GOD!!!!!
Malachi 3:10 (NIV) 10Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
Did you hear a demand from God to give him 10% of your income? That He wants your money and does not understand how hard it is for you to pay your bills? Yet instead God is pointing us to the promise to provide for us in flood-like ways, that He soooo wants to give us what we need and He is showing us how to accept the offer! IT’S A PROMISE FROM A LOVING, GIVING, SACRIFICING, DOING ALL THAT HE CAN FOR US GOD!!!!!
I challenge you to read the Bible this week looking for the promises of the real God of the Universe, who actually died for us so we can experience true life and crush that warped, ugly, twisted image.
Then WALK INTO HIS ARMS. You will never do anything to make Him happier!!!!
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