Is He Lord?

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I had a t-shirt that got me into trouble in middle school. It wasn’t racy or low-cut or provocative – it was what it said. No, it didn’t have profanity on it or racist comments.  It said, “As long as there are pop tests, there will be prayer in school.” By my middle-high school years, faculty-led prayer had been banned from schools for ten years. Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools. Fifty-nine years later we are reaping the consequences of that decision. Deadly, horrific consequences.

After the 9/11 tragedy, Anne Graham Lotz commented, “for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life. Removing his hand of blessing and protection.” What fools we have been.

But we were not the first to tell God to leave us alone. The Old Testament Prophet Amos tried in obedience to deliver the word of the Lord to the people but they told him, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the house of Isaac” (Amos 7:16). In other words, “Shut up and leave us alone.” And so God did. He told them, “The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (8:11). They had said, “We don’t want to hear from you, God,” and He gave them what they wanted – silence from heaven. For four hundred years. Years of great oppression and persecution and struggle.

You and I can’t plead for God’s help in a crisis and then reject His holy and righteous ways when they rub against our “freedoms.” And I’m not just talking on a big, national scale – I’m talking about our every day lives. The missionary Hudson Taylor said, “Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.” You and I have to be all-in. What say you, Beloved? Is He Lord or is He not?

With All Your Heart

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This is the story of the spiritual downfall of a king. It’s also the story of how any one of us can fall out of love with God. 2 Chronicles 25 is the account of Judah’s King Amaziah. Amaziah obeyed the Law of God in some circumstances – where it suited him, but not in others. That sounds familiar. When the king led his troops to war against the Edomites, it suited him to disobey God. “When Amaziah returned . . . he brought back the gods of the people of Seir.  He set them up as his own gods, bowed down to them, and burned sacrifices to them” (v. 14).  Because of his unfaithfulness, God brought the army of Israel to destroy the city’s protective wall, loot the temple and the palace, and take hostages back to Israel. This isn’t meant to be a political statement, but the king’s failure cost his nation greatly.

There is so much here that we can unpack and it all stems from verse 2, the defining statement of Amaziah’s life: “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not wholeheartedly.” Amaziah’s heart was divided, which meant that his devotion to God was divided and it showed. The lure of other “gods” pulled him away from the Lord God.

 A half-hearted devotion to God is a wholehearted rejection of God. Here’s the bottom line: you are either all in or you’re not in at all. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matt. 6: 24). His immediate context was about wealth, but the principle is the same. As the great missionary, Hudson Taylor said, “Christ is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all.”

You and I cannot love God and the world.  We cannot love God and money. We cannot love God and status.  We cannot love God and lust.  We cannot love God and alcohol or drugs. We cannot love God and . . . any other thing. (Now, I am certainly not saying we cannot love our families or our church or people – we love them because God loves us.) If we’re wholeheartedly devoted to God, there’s just no room for other loves in our hearts; God takes up the whole thing.

Beloved, does God have your whole heart? Is it time to reevaluate your loves?