Monday, August 24, 2015

"Our Chosen Preference"

"Our Chosen Preference"      

       The following is an excerpt from a note I just sent to a dear friend regarding the reading of Scripture by believers.    

       "I know what you mean about people reading the Bible.  It's a great spiritual feast that awaits, but we must choose to partake.  I pray for my brothers and sisters and for myself every day that we will read, love, trust, obey, exemplify, and communicate the Scriptures.  Satan does all he can to lead us away from doing so, whether by discouragement, distraction, deception, or many other ploys.  Especially in this generation, so many voices beckon to us.  This presents great challenge, but it also provides us a wonderful choice to greatly please our Heavenly Father when we look to Him rather than other things.  And that's the main point for believers, I think, regarding the reading of Scripture.  Why do we do it?  It's easy to think first about about our needs, which are certainly profound, and which comprise valid motivations for seeking God in His Word.  However, that emphasis is human-centered.  The most important thing is that seeking God's light in the Bible pleases and honors Him.  That's the one truth I most try to remember (I know you do the same), and the one I most share with believers because if someone is truly born again, this truth will strike the most beautiful and motivating chord in their heart.  It's not a bad question to frequently ask each other: why do we believe it's important to read the Bible?   I find it rare that believers immediately reference the pleasure God finds when we seek to commune with Him in the Scriptures (I also find it far too rare that I remember this truth!).  However, this is the most personal motivation imaginable, and since the heart of salvation involves living, loving, and personal relationship with God, nothing more calls us away from distraction unto devotion.  "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people… The prayer of the upright is His delight...This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (Psalm 149:4; Proverbs 15:8; John 17:3)."

    Along these lines, I'm taking the liberty below to send a repeat devotional from 2011 that addresses the subject of pleasing our Father's heart, one aspect of which involves seeking Him in His Word.

"I Prefer You"
   Some dear friends recently informed me they watched a favorite movie of mine, "Harvey," starring the late James Stewart.  The story depicts a pleasant gentleman, Elwood P. Dowd (portrayed by Stewart), whose best friend is an invisible, six foot rabbit named Harvey.  The movie does not actually show the rabbit (known as a pooka in Celtic mythology), but rather depicts Elwood relating to Harvey in a manner that implies the rabbit's presence and words.  If you have not seen the movie, this may all sound rather strange.  The production, storyline, directing, and acting are all top-notch, however, and many consider the movie to be a classic.

    Elwood ultimately finds himself committed to an institution because of his relationship with Harvey (who, of course, accompanies his friend there).  Ultimately, Harvey becomes visible and audible to the director of the facility, and seems to enter into a friendship with the man that may supplant his bond with Elwood.  As the story concludes, Elwood is released from the institution, thinking he will depart without his pooka friend.  At the gate, however,  Harvey joins Elwood to leave with him.  He indicates his preference to Elwood, who responds in kind, "Thank you, Harvey.  I prefer you too."

    "I prefer you."  Elwood's declaration of his preference brings tears to my eyes upon every remembrance.  Not because of the affection expressed between Harvey and Elwood, but rather because of how beautifully it reminds me of the ongoing possibility of love between God and His trusting children in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Clearly, He "prefers" us, that is, He gave His beloved Son to the cross of Calvary in order to secure eternally living relationship and fellowship with us.  He dwells with and within us always.  Upon this basis, we may prefer Him also - "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19).  Such response involves frequent opportunity to forego other things, interests, and sometimes people in order to bless Him with our conscious attention and devotion.  Amid the necessary busyness of fulfilling our responsibilities and enjoying our privileges, many moments present themselves wherein we may express to our Heavenly Father, "I prefer You, Lord."   The may involve time spent in the Scriptures and prayer, or doing something we know to be God's will for the present moment that will involve the sacrifice of something or someone else.  Indeed, so many moments, so many opportunities offer to believers the possibility of blessing our Father's heart with "I prefer You."  "The Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (Psalm 149:4).

   I am so glad my friends reminded me of the movie, and of the truth it exemplifies.  I must be honest, however, that I am saddened also as I write these words, realizing how often I choose to prefer something other than the One who so lovingly prefers us.  Certainly I do not mean that we must forego other things, interests, and people.  God Himself "giveth us richly all things to enjoy" (I Timothy 6:17).  Our experience of His blessings often provides to us the experience of Himself.  There are times, however, when we are privileged to decide that rapt and undivided attention directed upon our Lord and His Word offers to us the most sublime opportunity of our lives.  "Lord, I prefer You."  This is love, the love of God for us that through Christ became the love of God in us, and by the determination of our chosen preference becomes our love for Him…

"When Thou saidst, Seek ye My face, my heart said unto Thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek."
(Psalm 27:8)
"I will love Thee, o Lord my strength!"
(Psalm 18:1)
"But as for me, I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy."
(Psalm 5:7)

Weekly Memory Verse
   "Hearken unto Me now therefore, o ye children, and attend to the words of My mouth."
(Proverbs 7:24)

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