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Sunday with Sammy

5th September 2015

Coincidence or God-incidence

I believe there is no such thing as a coincidence. I fervently try to believe, as I wade through yet another stack of forms to fill in to take me onto the next tentative step along the process of discernment towards potential ordination, that God has had a plan for me since before I was born. If that plan doesn’t include ordination I shall be looking for a job where I can complete forms as I am getting rather good at it! This is called Predestination.

Paul tells us that we were chosen “before the foundation of the world”. Our predestination does not mean that we cannot make free will choices. God predestines in and through our choices because God is all knowing and all powerful. He knows what we will do because he knows all things. He cannot not know all things. So, whatever you choose to do out of your own free volition is known. But his knowing doesn’t mean you don’t freely choose. For example, I could offer my children ice cream or cheese for dessert. I absolutely know what they will choose… K will take the ice cream, C the cheese. I know the outcome, but they still have the free will to make the decision. God knows what we will choose, but He still let’s us do the deciding. I think, and this is just my view, that the destination is chosen by God, but free will enables us to learn as we make choices – mistakes. Sometimes we have to learn by making a mistake before we can grown and move on..hopefully not making the same mistake again!

In the same way, I believe that God doesn’t send anyone to Hell, they do that all by themselves. Much like the 120 years of warning before God had had quite enough and sent the floods! So, where was I…oh yes…when something happens, like having to go back into the house for a forgotten item, which means you get to take that call which is full of such wonderful news; or not retrieving the item, therefore missing a call which is full of sadness, and would have ruined the reason you were heading out in the first place. You may have made the decision to go back/not go back, but God knew already what you were going to do.

A God-incidence, for me, is having my ears open to God well enough to be able to allow Him to sometimes subconsciously even, speak to me and make things happen. When people say ‘try and really listen to God’ I’m sure they don’t mean for you to sit down, screw up your face with your eyes closed tightly and actually hear something (although I have heard God speaking to me, directly on more than one occasion). What they mean is to open yourself up to really hearing Him. Be aware of His voice, don’t be too busy that you block out everything apart from the panic you’re feeling, which in turn leads to further panic, frustration and panic.

 When you’re next late for something, think back. Did God whisper to you that morning to get out of bed right away, and did you ignore it, and are you now the time-you-lazed-around late? I used to ignore God all the time. I would wake up before the alarm, knowing how busy I was, waste about half an hour doing not much, and then spend the rest of the day playing catch up by about 30 minutes!

In the Old Testament there are a lot of references to when God actually spoke to people, and told them what to do and when to do it by, and how. But there is a big question that hangs over the Bible, and that is, ‘Isn’t the God of the Old Testament a God of hate while the God of the New Testament is one of love?’ Where can we find evidence of God’s love in the Old Testament?? As the Old Testament allegedly presents only a God of wrath, while the New Testament allegedly depicts only a God of love.

The Old Testament contains stories such as God’s commanding the destruction of Sodom, the annihilation of the Canaanites, and many other accounts of God’s judgment and wrath. The accusers claim this demonstrates a primitive, warlike deity in absolute contradistinction to the advanced teachings of Jesus to love one another and to turn the other cheek, as we know from the Sermon on the Mount. These ideas about God seem to be in direct conflict, but let’s have a look together…

Jesus Himself declared that the Old Testament may be summed up by the commandments to love God and love your neighbour (Matthew 22:37). He also observed that God in the Old Testament had continually desired love and mercy rather than sacrifice (Matthew 9:13; 12:7). This attitude can be seen with statements such as, “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked… and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23, RSV). God would not have destroyed certain nations except that He is a God of justice and their evil could not go unchecked and condoned. He did intend and had a desire to punish them, but as a part of His plan, in consistency with His holy nature and jealousy for His wayfaring people.

What God desires in consistency with His pure character, He does in justice, in their case, and providing in the meantime they have not repented and come into harmony with His nature (Have a look at Jeremiah 18). In the case of the Amorites, God gave them hundreds of years to repent, yet they did not (Genesis 15:16). Noah preached for 120 years to his generation before the great flood (Genesis 6:3). The proper Old Testament picture is one of a very patient God who gives these people untold opportunities to repent and come into harmony with Him, and only when they continually refuse does He judge and punish them for their evil deeds.

Contrary to some popular belief, the strongest statements of judgment and wrath in the Bible were made by the Lord Jesus Himself. In Matthew 23, for example, He lashed out at the religious leaders of His day, calling them hypocrites and false leaders, and informing them that their destiny was eternal banishment from God’s presence. In Matthew 10:34 (KJV), Jesus says that the purpose of His mission is not to unite but to divide. “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” He goes on to say that His word will cause a father to be against his son, a mother against her daughter, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law (Matthew 10:35). We find judgment as well as love scattered very pervasively throughout the New Testament, and love and mercy as well as judgment throughout the Old Testament.

God is consistent and unchanging, but different situations call for different emphases. Therefore, when the two testaments are read the way they were intended, they reveal the same holy God who is rich in mercy, but who will not let sin go unpunished. If there is any sin which is causing you to be at a distance from your Father, repent. Ask for God’s forgiveness and it will surely be given to you. Knock, and He really will open that door to a life more wonderful than any of us can image. A life of love – from God…the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen

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