Truthful Tuesday: Conditional Praise

It is God's long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is God’s long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it.

Scripture of the Day:

Jeremiah 44:16-23

16 “We will not listen to what you claim the LORD has spoken to us! 17 Instead we will do everything we vowed we would do. We will sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the goddess called the Queen of Heaven just as we and our ancestors, our kings, and our leaders previously did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and had no troubles. 18 But ever since we stopped sacrificing and pouring out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven, we have been in great need. Our people have died in wars or of starvation. 19 The women added, “We did indeed sacrifice and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven. But it was with the full knowledge and approval of our husbands that we made cakes in her image and poured out drink offerings to her.” 20 Then Jeremiah replied to all the people, both men and women, who responded to him in this way. 21 “The LORD did indeed remember and call to mind what you did! He remembered the sacrifices you and your ancestors, your kings, your leaders, and all the rest of the people of the land offered to other gods in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. 22 Finally the LORD could no longer endure your wicked deeds and the disgusting things you did. That is why your land has become the desolate, uninhabited ruin that it is today. That is why it has become a proverbial example used in curses. 23 You have sacrificed to other gods! You have sinned against the LORD! You have not obeyed the LORD! You have not followed his laws, his statutes, and his decrees! That is why this disaster that is evident to this day has happened to you.”

This is one of those passages in scripture where I want to push the pause button and help Jeremiah out. (As if I could add to the revelation God already spoke through Him). Ok, I would have nothing to offer, but I would so desperately want to persuade them to see what they are doing.

But deception is a difficult thing to break through. When we let our flesh rise in influence, we begin to protect it and its decisions. Comfort begins to be the popular god of the day and we are no longer spirit led, but just led according to what “seems good”. Hmm. This philosophy sounds familiar.

Although the thought of making cakes in the form of a queen and worshiping them seems ridiculous to me, I have certainly fashioned things in my own mind and life as being temporarily more important than serving and obeying God. It just felt better – for the moment.

But what sticks out to me this time, other than just the standard rebellion/punishment/repentance cycle is that God’s people were making their praise of God conditional on God blessing them. They failed to see that their present circumstances were their own doing.

Poor Jeremiah. He must have just been like, “Really?” You wanna play patty-cake and worship a false “god-queen” and go back to Egypt – the very place God delivered you from? How ironic. But sometimes the familiar has a pull on us that is hard to break. Sometimes we forget the pain of that pull, too, and just want to do whatever seems easiest.

We, too, can make our praise conditional on God blessing us, and not recognize that our suffering is a result of our own unfaithfulness. I know that sounds harsh, but ultimately there is such liberty in understanding that we deserve nothing from God, for we were His enemies. Choices we made in the past might still be reaping consequences, or perhaps just being in a fallen world alone creates enough havoc in our lives. But even at that place of sobering reality, there is grace.

It is God’s long-suffering and mercy that withhold disaster and it is also His mercy and lovingkindness that allows it. Let that truth sink in. That’s right – even the nitty gritty ugly stuff that we see no good purpose in our lives – even that detestable moment or season that we wish we could just wipe out of our minds – was meant for our good and His glory.

Oh that we would always see clearly and understand that we were made for something more – Someone more – higher than any endeavor or achievement this world offers. We are called to live for One.

Lord, help us to live for You alone. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear and a mind to understand how very great You are and how worthy our lives are when they are spent pursuing You, no matter what this life brings.

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