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"The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12). "I will not let thee go, except thou bless me" (Genesis 32:26).
Why are these strong statements put in the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments? Why this need of desperation? Why this emphasis on resoluteness? Why this appeal to wholeheartedness?
Is not God a loving Father to those who have come to Him with repentance, confession and forsaking of sin, accepting His wonderful salvation through faith in Jesus, His Son, and through His shed Blood? Then why this urgency, this absolute necessity of a "set" face if anyone is to get anywhere with God? There must be a reason for all this. God is infinitely wise, every thing He does is full of wisdom and love.
One fact that stands out clear-cut on the horizon of Gods infinite love for the human race is this: Our salvation was bought at an enormous price--the agony and death of the Son of God. It is an exceedingly precious salvation, and God wants us to treasure it as a priceless, precious expression of His love before He bestows this wondrous gift upon anyone. A decision affecting the whole bent and purpose of the life is to be made, and this brings us to another tremendously important fact in the wonderful wisdom of Gods marvelous plan.
God has given man the power of choice. He has made it utterly impossible for any human being to be "on the fence." You are either good or bad, saved or lost--there is no middle ground, no half-way business, no neutral "no mans land" for any person on earth. "No man can serve two masters" (Matthew 6:24). Your life, your testimony, is helping to get people saved, or it is helping to get people damned. Jesus says plainly, "He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathereth not with Me scattereth abroad" (Matthew 12:30). "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Joshua 24:15).
"Whosoever heareth these sayings of Mine, and DOETH THEM, I will liken him unto a wise man" (Matthew 7:24). "How shall we escape, if we NEGLECT so great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3). If we neglect to choose Gods salvation through Jesus Christ--we are lost and enroute to hell "into the fire that never shall be quenched" (Mark 9:43). "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44).
Failure to choose God means that we have already chosen the devil and sin. Every person who reaches the age of accountability must make a clean-cut, definite decision as to whether he or she will enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season or whether he or she will suffer affliction with the people of God in this present evil world. This latter choice one makes because of love to God greater than love to self and to the world, and because this one looks for a heavenly home, and counts himself or herself a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (Hebrews 11:13,25).
God has not changed. He is always the same (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). It is said of Hezekiah that "God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart" (2 Chronicles 32:31). Are we serving the Lord because He blesses us? Is that the main motive of our service to Him? Do we follow Jesus because we "did eat of the loaves, and were filled"? (John 6:26). Are we following Him for the loaves and fishes, or are we following Him through sunshine and shadow, through evil report and good report, through joy and through sorrow--because we love Him so?
Cherish Every Bit Of Hunger For God
"Unto every one that hath," Jesus says, "shall be given" (Matthew 25:29). Cherish the faintest longings for God that you have, and more longings shall be given unto you. If God "leaves you, to try you" as He did Hezekiah--seek Him anyway. Do not run to friends for solace, but seek the Lord! Friends can help, its true, but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Seek God, believe Him, honor Him and He will honor you (1 Samuel 2:30).
The Blessing Of The Lord
It is a blessed thing when we hunger after the things of God, and we should be very thankful for these urges within our soul to seek the Lord. The very desires to please God come from Him, and we should earnestly press in to know Him better. Oh, may we never grieve the Holy Spirit by neglecting these inward longings after God! "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). "The Lord...satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness" (Psalm 107:8-9).
"If any man will come after me," Jesus says, "let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23). The Christian life is a walk--a day by day continuing in fellowship with the precious Lord. It is not a matter of boarding the Gospel Train and then slumping down in an easy chair and being carried luxuriantly on to heaven. No! The Christian life involves a denying of self day by day, a giving up of our ways that we may take on the ways of the Lord because we love Him supremely.
Love Not Things Of The World
Do you choose the world or do you choose God? You cannot have both. No man can serve two masters. Be not ensnared with the worlds allurements.
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15). "Know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4:4).
"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).
The Young Christians Problem --
"I cannot give it up, this little world I know, the innocent delights of youth, the things I cherish so. My Fathers heart is kind, He will not count it ill, that my small corner of the world should please and hold me still. These things belong to youth, and are its natural right, my clothes, my pastimes, and my friends, the merry and the bright.
"Tis true I love the Lord, and want to do His will; but Oh, I may enjoy the world, and be a Christian still. And yet--outside the camp, twas there my Saviour died. It was the world that put Him forth, and saw Him crucified. Nay, world, I turn away! Thy hand is stained with Jesus Blood! Can I take part with those who nailed Him to the tree? And where His name is never praised, is there a place for me?
"Nay, world, I turn away! Though thou seem fair and good, that friendly outstretched hand of thine is stained with Jesus Blood! If in thy least device, I stoop to take a part, all unawares thine influence steals Christs presence from my heart. I miss my Saviours smiles, wheneer I walk thy ways; thy laughter drowns the Spirits voice, and chokes the springs of praise."