But God #8
But God turned away and gave them over to worship the host of heaven... -- Acts 7:42a; English Standard Version
I don't recommend the following, but it is funny.
My brother used to do that thing that older siblings are known to do where they don't actually touch you, but they put their hand or finger near you and say, "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!" Honestly, it bugged me to no end, but I didn't want to let him know it. I put up with it for quite a while. One day while he was doing that, quite unexpectedly, I hit him in the face! He never saw it coming! (Of course, for the record, my brother kicked my butt for that, but I felt better.)
This is another of the sobering variety in the "But God" family of devotions. It's point, which I want to state up front, is very simple. Just because someone has ignored something for a little while does not mean they will ignore it forever.
My brother picked on me a lot growing up and I ignored him much of the time, but every once in a while I would erupt. Usually I would do something he never saw coming. I could tell you all kinds of stories that would keep you in stitches. Usually he whipped me royally afterwards.
The verse above is taken from Deacon Stephen's testimony that he offered before being martyred. In that sermon / testimony Stephen reminded his countrymen, who were about to kill him for believing in Jesus as Messiah, of their very long history with God. The verse above recounts the time in the Wilderness when the Nation turned away from God. Stephen had reminded them of how uniquely called they were and how God had delivered them from Egypt and how they had turned from God in spite of His goodness toward them.
This is one of those "But God" moments that I never want to hear in my life for as long as I live. This is the type of "But God" that indicates that God had gotten tired of the people's foolishness and turned them over to their own devices. The people were offering their worship to creation rather than the Creator.
We think we are immune to this kind of thing these days. Surely no person, here in the sophisticated confines of America, will worship a pole, a golden calf, or a statue, would they? Sure, they would. Worse than that are the masses that play with God on a daily basis, offering Him lip-service for devotion, but truly giving their lives to _________. You fill it in; the possibilities are endless. It is far more subtle than bowing down to a golden statue and ten times more dangerous.
The most frightening thing to me is the possibility that God will remove His presence from me. I can still remember life without Him and it stunk!
People who think they can do "whatever" and that God will ignore them forever are sadly mistaken. Sooner or later God will do something! He will not act like a petty human. Far worse than a butt kicking, at least in my mind, is that God will just leave me to do whatever I want to do. That He might remove His favor from my life is enough to terrify me, but to remove His presence? Wow! I don't even want to consider that!
There is some urgency here. We CAN continue to deny God. He MIGHT let it go on for years. He MIGHT not. Just because He doesn't immediately punish sin does not mean that He never will. For me, that is eerily sobering.
We might go on for years ignoring God, giving Him lip-service, playing religious games, giving our first and best to other things or _______.