Bless the Lord, O my soul,   
And all that is within me,   
bless His holy name.   
Bless the Lord, O my soul,   
And forget none of His benefits.   
- Psalms 103:1-2   
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When God Says "No!"

              In today’s society we are given options in almost everything we want or do. This results in an ever-growing feeling of the right to have things our way. For instance, we find many options to borrow and repay money and demand the best deal we can get on interest etc.. We want restaurants to prepare their dishes to suit our tastes. We feel that we are paying for these type services and this entitles us to have things the way we want them. This makes good sense in the business world. Years ago, we remember a famous fast-food chain that took advantage of the custom hamburger. They plastered the media with the slogan, “Special orders don’t upset us, have it your way.”

                We must be careful that this feeling of our having paid for things to be the way we want them does not creep into all facets of our lives. If so, we will begin to believe that we all have the right to things our way. We know that can’t work in reality. We see the pains our Country goes through now in a political climate that tries to give everyone what they want in hopes of winning their political support. It simply won’t work when one’s demands begin to infringe on anther’s demands. So it becomes a struggle to see who is going to get their way. Everyone can’t have everything the way they want it.

                We must be careful the same problem of entitlement does not begin to creep into the Lord’s church. Many are weak and becoming programmed to feel they have rights or entitlements when it comes to their religion. The phrase “their religion” should automatically raise red flags. We see congregations split over small insignificant issues barely worth mentioning, much less causing a split and damaging the bride of Christ, especially for what we want. We see a reluctance to address sin left within the church rather than correcting it. Can sin be left within the church in order to allow some to have things their way so they don’t leave?

                We can’t let this worldly feeling of rights taint our service to God. God commands we live our lives for him (not us) and he gives us instruction how to do that. Sin is sin to God and he is repulsed by it. He clearly places the responsibility on each of us to know him and what he wants; we are to take care of our souls to see that they are acceptable in his sight. Not conformed to the world but transformed into his likeness. This is the divine way, but what happens when those who stumble or do not keep themselves pure demand to be left within the body while living their way?

                It is our responsibility as the church to point out sin and deal with it. This is never done to control or Lord over, but it is done for the salvation of a soul that we love and can’t bare the thoughts of leaving behind. We as members must see that we all make it to heaven together. Not one left behind. Correction is also done because God instructed us to keep sin from within our ranks. So we have a responsibility to Christ to keep his church pure and undefiled. Will we sin? Of course we all will. But we cannot allow sin to go unaddressed and unforgiven. This requires repentance or turning away from the wrong by everyone that stumbles in sin. If we refuse to turn away from that sin, we are in danger of eternal damnation and that must be dealt with by the church.

                We must remember, in the business world we pay a price for something that entitles us to a reasonable expectation of return; however, in the church God paid the price and he has the right to expect our service on his terms. What a merciful God we serve.  He provides us all we need and gives us the key to heaven if we will only come to him on his terms. However, God is not merciful in the fact that he will overlook sin within our lives or the church. He has made that clear too. When God says, “No,” he means, “No!”

- Marc Hopkins