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Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
November 16, 2010

The cure for sleeping in church

What if your pastor could check electronically to see that you are on time for church this Sunday and paying attention to the sermon? If you were a student at Northwestern, Harvard, Vanderbilt or the University of Arizona, he could. Today’s New York Times tells us about devices which resemble TV remotes but record a student’s attendance in class. They are used for responding to questions, answering quizzes, and giving feedback on lessons. No more sleeping in the back row.

In other news, Iran apparently shipped arms to politicians in Nigeria so they could use violence if they lose upcoming elections. According to the Times, an Iranian official called the shipment, which had been labeled as building supplies, a “misunderstanding.”

Jeremiah asked the question: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Then he heard the answer: “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve” (v. 10). Our omniscient God sees all that we see and knows all that we know, and more.

Yesterday we encountered C. S. Lewis’s assertion: “Earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell; and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.” Our eternal life began the moment we asked Jesus to be our Lord. What are the practical implications of living every moment as if you were in his presence?

Last Sunday evening, Janet and I were talking with our youngest son, Craig. He made a statement I had not considered: since we are made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), our emotions reflect the fact that our Creator has emotions. We feel because he feels. Just as we can be hurt by the choices of those we love, so he can be hurt by our choices. Just as we find joy in the joy of others, so he finds joy in us.

Scripture warns us: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). When we choose to sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit who indwells us this moment, who sees everything we see and knows everything we know.

By contrast, when we choose to reject temptation and live by our Father’s word and will, we gladden the heart of our Lord. There is “rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7). God knows our inner feelings and genuine motivations. He delighted to say, “I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do” (Acts 13:22).

Your Father is looking for another David this morning. Will he find one in you?

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