Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A God with ears

"Oh God!" people exclaim in times of surprise or trouble. It doesn't seem to matter if we're religious or not. An appeal to God seems a natural outburst when we are overtaken by life.

Christians use God's name in sincere thanksgiving or appeal: "Thank God!" when something goes well, or "Dear God!" when we need help.

Sometimes I explain that I'm not taking God's name in vain when I speak God's name aloud. His name is no mere comma or exclamation point in the chatter of the moment. Rather, we're continuing our ongoing conversation. He speaks and I listen. I speak and I know he hears me, too.

A Jewish prophet exclaimed that people used half of a stump of wood as firewood and the rest as a symbol for worship. They carved a bowl from one end ... and an idol from the other.

Then they expected help from the gods by venerating the piece of wood they'd crafted. "Idiots!" says Isaiah (my paraphrase.)

"[Wood] is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it.

Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, "Ah! I am warm; I see the fire." From the rest he makes a god, his idol he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, "Save me! You are my god!" (Is. 44:15-17 NIVUK)

It's easy to condemn historical tribes for idolatry. It's harder to see where we fall into the same foolishness.
  • Most American magazine photos of homes or gardens contain a "Buddha" figurine, an African mask, or Indian statue to symbolize peace and prosperity.
  • People set up home altars and "tranquility corners" for meditation, furnishing them with photos, icons, or "meaningful objects."
  • Here's a description from an online seller: "We specialize in manufacturing Indian God Statues as well as modern figures in various designs, shapes, colors and sizes are available. These Indian God Statues can be customized as per customers specifications. We are having enchanting collection of white marble Murtis & sculptures of Hindus God & Goddesses. These marble Indian God Statues are made from premium grade of raw material which ensure durability at its user end."
  • We surround ourselves with material things, worshiping them by spending time cleaning, paying attention, and financing them.
The prophet Isaiah continues: "No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, ‘Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?’" (Is. 44:19) The obvious answer is, "Of course not!" But in practice it's rarely that simple.

Our God is not like other gods. He is not a dumb stump, a shiny metal statue, or a mute image made by human hands. He is not malleable by human whims. He cannot be manipulated into our own image.

Set apart forever, God comes near to hear our prayers and exclamations. He listens to our hearts as they call out to him with pleasure, adoration, and desperate need. He stoops to His children's cries and answers.

Truly, there is no god like our God. His loving ears hear and His clear voice speaks! What does your conversation with Him sound like today?

Read more:
*Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Hear, you who are far away, what I have done; and you who are near, acknowledge my might. Isaiah 33:13 NLT

*Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13 NIV

*Paul wrote: We know that God has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Jehovah God, you promised not to forsake us. You hear us no matter where we are and acknowledge us when we cry out to you in time of distress. When we think we are destroyed, you are there. Thank you for choosing us every day. Amen.

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