DATE: January 18, 2020
Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed.
TEXT: Proverbs 3:5-8 - ESV - Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
Every culture, I imagine, has a bogeyman.
Nobody knows exactly what the bogeyman looks like, since his appearance changes. If you go to some places in the Mid-east, you might be surprised to find that the bogeyman looks a lot like Uncle Sam, or a United States president. If you live in Japan, the bogeyman is Chinese. If you live in China, the bogeyman is Japanese.
Throughout the world, the bogeyman takes on the appearances of the culture which is hated the most. Yet, as different as the bogeyman looks, in skin color and size, in height and in weight, his duties are always the same - to frighten people into doing what is right.
Now, whether people care to admit it or not, often they think of God as being a heavenly bogeyman.
They think God is lurking and watching from the dark shadows, waiting, maybe even hoping for us to do something wrong. Then, unexpectedly, He slowly slips out of heaven and pounces on us, unleashing, from His bag of malevolent tricks some kind of terrible penalty or retribution. It may be family problems or an unexpected illness.
Too many believe that every catastrophe that comes to us is God's punishment for our doing something wrong. Too many people believe that God, their heavenly Bogeyman is waiting for us to do something, so that He can punish us.
I have made many a hospital call upon someone who has a distressing illness. You know what crops into their minds? God, the heavenly Bogeyman is punishing them for some past sin. They wonder if God has deserted them or turned against them. They say, out loud, "Pastor, is the Lord after me?" Ask them what they've done that's so bad that God would come after them this way, and they reply, "I've been thinking a lot lately about it, and I'm just not sure." You see, they're not sure.
If that is so, take comfort. Be sure. God is not a Bogeyman.
How do I know that? Once, long ago, a group of people asked Jesus about the heavenly bogeyman. They thought if you commit sin A, you get punishment B.
To this kind of thinking, Jesus says, "No!" Absolutely, unequivocally, "NO."
No, God doesn't generally work that way. How could He! Jesus reminds the people that He came into this world to help us, not to hurt us.
It would make no sense for God who wants all people to be saved; Who wants everyone to be forgiven; Who is willing to sacrifice His son, to be unpredictable in His working with us. God sent His Son from heaven to be born in a stable; to fulfill all the small points of the law, so that we might have salvation. God watched as His Son was tried and beaten, spit upon and nailed to a rough hewn cross so that we might be saved.
Why would God save you in baptism, promise to listen to your prayers, allow the Word to come down to you, give you the Sacrament of His Son's body and blood and the next minute turn around and devastate you with a strange and particularly nasty punishment? It would be sure and certain madness. God loves you.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, let me see You clearly and never doubt Your intentions and love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann. He along with three of his brothers perform on the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html