Castoffs

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

In my parents’ backyard was a small white frame building my dad called his tool house. It was equipped with a workbench about 8 feet long, with scrap lumber stored underneath. Plenty of shelving held old cans of paint and miscellaneous hardware collected through the years, along with nails, screws, etc. stored in coffee cans.

I recall my dad saying, “I like to take junk and turn it into something useful.”

What Jesus loved to do

During Jesus’ ministry He was denounced for spending time with people the Pharisees had no use for. He earned a reputation as “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34). This was meant as a criticism, but aren’t we thankful He is?

Many consider the story of the Prodigal Son His greatest parable. He told it in response to the complaint, “This man receives sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2).

On another occasion Jesus explained why He spent so much time with people like this: “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32).

When He went to the home of Zacchaeus the tax collector, again His critics grumbled, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”

Jesus replied, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The Master Carpenter

Jesus delighted in taking castoffs and transforming them into something beautiful, as well as useful.

He did it then.

He’s still doing it.

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Why Some Reject the Truth

Root causes

Isaac McNally and I were discussing why some people refuse the evidence for faith and choose not to believe. He made the point that no matter how effectively we present the reasons for belief, nothing we might say will persuade those who have closed their ears to the truth. Why not?

While only God sees the deepest motives of the heart, and we cannot know in every case why someone refuses to believe, Scripture does reveal some root causes.

Jesus said, “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father the devil” (John 8:43-44).

There are those who “loved darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19-20).

Paul warned of those “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18), “who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12), and who “will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

What it all comes down to

Some reject faith because they do not want to be accountable to anyone. They wish to do as they please, thinking that submitting to God means losing their freedom.

Yes, we must renounce our own sins if we wish to be saved—that’s repentance. But in reality, going God’s way is greatly to our advantage, while stubbornly remaining in unbelief leads to a destination where we do not wish to go (Matthew 7:13-14).

So it all comes down to this: Which do we love: our sins or the truth that can save our souls?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Having the Heart of God Toward Sinners

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The main character of the book of Jonah is not Jonah, but God. Jonah tries to escape God’s order to preach to Nineveh by heading the opposite direction. By means of the storm at sea and the fish that swallowed Jonah, God compels the reluctant prophet to carry out his mission.

Like and unlike

Like Jesus, Jonah was from Galilee (2 Kings 14:25). Also Jesus compared His time in the tomb with Jonah’s “three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster” (Matthew 12:40).

Jonah may have been like Jesus in some ways, but how different his attitude! God sent both Jonah and Jesus on a mission. Jesus went willingly and yearned to see people turn from their sins. Jonah was keenly disappointed when the Ninevites repented, because now he wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing God punish them!

Jonah’s problem was not that he misunderstood God’s compassionate nature. He understood it very well: “. . . for I knew that You are a gracious God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness . . .” (Jonah 4:2). This proves that one can have orthodox theology while harboring a rotten attitude.

Learning from Jonah’s experience

We don’t know what happened to Jonah after this, but it is God who has the last word: “Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than   120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?” (Jonah 4:11).

Both Jonah and the Ninevites needed to repent. If we humble ourselves in penitent obedience, we too will enjoy the benefits of His grace–and we can begin to reflect toward others His great compassionate heart.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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