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Sunday, October 30, 2016

God's Desire For His People (Matthew 23:37)

"How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."

Many, after reading the Old Testament, conclude that God is distant, aloof, and more than a little scary. He is not. The problem lies not with God but with man.

The Bible often uses word pictures to describe God's love and care for His people. Today's reading begins with such a picture of the longing heart of God for His people. Three truths about God's heart for His people emerge from this analogy:
  • The desire of God for His people is continual - "How often." Beginning in the Garden of Eden, God seeks those who run away and hide from Him; every generation since has a few, a remnant, who respond to His love. Even today His eyes are roving throughout the earth looking for those whose hearts are loyal toward Him (2 Chron. 16:9).
  • The desire of God for His people is deep - "I have longed." Jerusalem herself stands today as mute testimony to God's abiding desire for her residents. God seems almost stubborn in His unwillingness to give up having the intimacy for which He so longs with mankind.
  • The desire of God for His people is redemptive - "To gather you." As a mother hen offers the safety and warmth of her bosom so the Lord's heart expresses itself in the cross of Jesus Christ. God's love can never remain stagnant but moves purposely and redemptively toward mankind.
This astonishing picture-- the king weeping over an errant city longing to restore it to Himself-- perfectly displays the heart of the Father toward His own children. Even today the Lord laments with longing for His children to return to Him willingly.

To know the heart of God in intimacy (not just head knowledge) is to know His heart for people and to run, unafraid and boldly, into His outstretched arms.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading
Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4
  • Is the poor widow aware of Jesus' evaluation of her gift?
  • Why does Jesus point out the difference of the offerings of the wealthy with the offering of the widow to His disciples?
  • What does this teach them about giving? the wealthy?
Mark 13:1-23; Matthew 24:1-28; Luke 21:5-24
  • What warning do each of these texts give?
  • How will what takes place in the end times affect the family?
  • What are the "birth pains" indicating the last days?
  • How does Jesus describe the elect?
  • How will the elect be treated?
  • What will take place that will deceive so many?
  • What does Jesus promise those who remain faithful?
Turning truth into prayer:
Are you soft and unprepared to go through difficult times? Ask the Lord to place an urgency in your heart to better prepare so that you'll be able to stand fast during the last days. Be prepared to take steps of radical obedience.