A Cure for the Wayward Soul

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Jeremiah 2:5-6, 8, 13, 17, 19, 31

5 This is what the Lord says: “What fault could your ancestors have possibly found in me that they strayed so far from me? They paid allegiance to worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.  6 They did not ask: ‘Where is the LORD who delivered us out of Egypt, who brought us through the wilderness, through a land of desert sands and rift valleys, through a land of drought and deep darkness, through a land in which no one travels, and where no one lives?’ 8 Your priests did not ask, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those responsible for teaching my law did not really know me. Your rulers rebelled against me. Your prophets prophesied in the name of the god Baal. They all worshiped idols that could not help them. 13 Do so because my people have committed a double wrong: they have rejected me, the fountain of life-giving water, and they have dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns which cannot even hold water. 17 You have brought all this on yourself, Israel, by deserting the LORD your God when he was leading you along the right path. 19 Your own wickedness will bring about your punishment. Your unfaithful acts will bring down discipline on you. Know, then, and realize how utterly harmful it was for you to reject me, the LORD your God, to show no respect for me,” says the Lord GOD who rules over all.  31 You people of this generation, listen to what the LORD says. “Have I been like a wilderness to you, Israel? Have I been like a dark and dangerous land to you? Why then do you say, ‘We are free to wander. We will not come to you any more?’

Jeremiah 3:22-23

22 Come back to me, you wayward people. I want to cure your waywardness. Say, ‘Here we are. We come to you because you are the LORD our God.  23 We know our noisy worship of false gods on the hills and mountains did not help us. We know that the LORD our God is the only one who can deliver Israel.

Jeremiah 4:3-4b  

3 Yes, the LORD has this to say to the people of Judah and Jerusalem: “Like a farmer breaking up hard unplowed ground, you must break your rebellious will and make a new beginning; just as a farmer must clear away thorns lest the seed is wasted, you must get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives. 4b you must genuinely dedicate yourselves to the LORD and get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to me, people of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem.”

Jeremiah 6:16

Oh, if we could always be faithful and never wander off, like stubborn sheep.  The words of a familiar hymn envelop my mind as I write this; “Prone to Wander, how I feel it.  Prone to leave the one I love!”  As I was reading from the pages of Jeremiah this morning, it occurred to me how ludicrous it is to leave the only One Who knew us before we were born and has always been faithful to us.

When my children were little I could not understand why they would continue to disobey when I had rewards for their obedience.  What was so gratifying about sin?  Why was it so tempting?  Often when I would have to discipline my children, the LORD would speak to my heart about the parallels in my own life, when I would go my own way.  Humbled.  Now I understood, and realized my own waywardness in my soul that needed to be fought daily.

Why would we leave the One Who knows us completely, Who protects us and makes promises that He fulfills?  What did we think our quest for rest would achieve?  Surely not the sorrow and emptiness, the guilt and division in our hearts or separation from our Savior.  No, if we knew the truth about our false idol’s promises, we would never search after them in the first place.

We leave because we are not patient and want our needs met now.  We replace the living God with a cheap substitute that cannot satisfy.  We do not come to Him.  We run to our solutions, instead.  Madness.  What better option do we really have?

We leave because we possibly do not really know Him.  Even the priests who were responsible for teaching God’s law did not know Him.  In fear and trepidation may we search our hearts and reject religion and be sure that we know God.

Despite our faithlessness, when the consequences start to hurt, we can run back to Him.  And He welcomes us.  What a kind God who allows pain to draw us back to Himself.  What a great, forgiving God we have!!  Maybe we feel overwhelmed by the choices we have made, perhaps subtle decisions to go our own stubborn way, and we do not know how to really change and be consistent in our relationship with God.  God offers through Jeremiah a way back to Him… All beginning with the letter “R”…because I like alliteration.

Recognize we all do not seek after Him.  Don’t make excuses or try to sanitize our sinfulness.  We all fall short and do not worship God with the zeal He deserves.

Run to Him.  Really run to Him.  Acknowledge our need of Him – only He can meet our every need.

Repent.  Turn.  Break our rebellious will and begin again.

Get rid of the sin that is ruining your lives.  Get rid of everything that hinders your commitment to God.  Not sure what those things are?  Ask Him.  He will make it known.

Remember who we are and who we were made for.

Genuinely re-dedicate ourselves to the LORD.

Not seeking Him is an action – the sin of omission.  Saying we believe in God is not the same as actively going to Him.  God has not left us without a plan to return to Him.  He uses His mouthpieces, His Word, His Holy Spirit to draw us back to Him.  God help us to resist the temptation to be lulled into comfortable complacency and to run instead into His arms day after day, moment by moment.

Lord, how I love You!  Help me to stay near and to abide in You.  Open my eyes to understand and consider the path that lies ahead and to never live in autopilot.  You are the answer to the longing in our souls – You alone.

Worshipful Wednesday: Thankful For A God Nearby to All

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1 Kings 18:27

“At noon Elijah mocked them, “Yell louder! After all, he is a god; he may be deep in thought, or perhaps he stepped out for a moment or has taken a trip. Perhaps he is sleeping and needs to be awakened.”

Psalm 121

1 “I look up toward the hills.  From where does my help come2 My help comes from the Lordthe Creator of heaven and earth3 May he not allow your foot to slipMay your protector not sleep! 4 Look! Israel’s protector does not sleep or slumber5 The Lord is your protectorthe Lord is the shade at your right hand.  6 The sun will not harm you by dayor the moon by night. 7 The Lord will protect you from all harmhe will protect your life.  8 The Lord will protect you in all you do,now and forevermore.”

Jeremiah 23:23-24

23 Do you people think that I am some local deity and not the transcendent God?”  the Lord asks. 24Do you really think anyone can hide himself where I cannot see him?” the Lord asks. “Do you not know that I am everywhere?” the Lord asks.  

Praise God that our God is not a statue or piece of ancient rubble.  So many false gods that man has created, and yet none ever chose to come in the form of man and lay down His life for His creation except for the One true LORD – Jesus Christ.  None chose to leave His throne and inhabit sinful man, except for Jehovah-Tsidkenu (translated means The Lord our Righteousness; Jesus is the King who would come from David’s line, and is the One Who imparts His righteousness to us).  Today my heart is filled with joy to consider that our God is omniscient, omnipresent, and never unaware!  He is our protector and always available.

He is near to all who call upon Him with a sincere heart.  ALL.  How amazing to consider – the wretched can turn from their ways and cry out to God and He will hear.  Unfathomable.  Unmerited.  But that is our God – merciful, compassionate, faithful to a thousand generations.

It is so sad to see people serving a god who is not a god at all.  Their very acts of service testify to the lack of character of their invented god.  Killing people to please a god?  Not my God.  He took the place of the worst violator and died Himself instead.  Praying rote prayers to please a created deity?  Not my God – He wants to to talk with us and wants us to know Him.  Demanding good works, which include harming and raping innocent people?  My God would not call those good works, but evil, and instead asks that we believe.  Our good works are filthy rags to Him, anyway, which is why He is our righteousness.  Demanding that the unbeliever be killed?  Not my God – He says to love the unbeliever and pray for his salvation.

God is not far off.  Numb with busyness or pain, we tend to forget just how close He is.  Our devotions do not have to look perfect or be in an unencumbered, perfect setting to be able to communicate with the Almighty God.  No, we can pray continually, in constant conversation with our God Who sees and knows all.  He is nearer than we realize.  Come to Him!

Lord, thank You that You chose me and opened my eyes to know You.  I want to know You more.  Help me to never forget how close You are.

The Trusting Fool

Photo credits christinequong.ca

Photo credits christinequong.ca

Jeremiah 17:5, 7

“The Lord says, ‘I will put a curse on people who trust in mere human beings, who depend on mere flesh and blood for their strength, and whose hearts have turned away from the LORD.  7 My blessing is on those people who trust in me, who put their confidence in me.  10 I, the Lord, probe into people’s minds.  I examine people’s hearts.  I deal with each person according to how he has behaved.  I give them what they deserve based on what they have done.'”

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5&6

Trusting in a God who is not visible seems impractical in our sophisticated world.  Laughter perhaps emerges from others over our foolishness to place our faith in God as our Deliverer rather than something or someone seen.  It seems naive, fantasaical, maybe even crazy.  It is far easier to depend on flesh and blood – a relative, a friend, a government.  But what happens when these are unreliable?  Seeking to protect ourselves from being let down by others, we attempt to be self-sufficient.  That does not work for long, either.  What are we afraid of?  Why not trust God with every aspect of our lives?  Perhaps we are even afraid of God letting us down.  Is He really good?  Does He really control everything?  Why does He permit difficulties in our lives and seemingly tolerate evil?  Can He be trusted?

It might seem harsh to think of being cursed by God for leaning on someone else.  Depending on a friend or a family member seems harmless enough.  In fact, a brother is born for times of adversity.  So why such strong language in the above verse?  The hearts of God’s people had turned away from the LORD – because of looking to someone else for salvation.  Worshiping the false god Baal, God’s people stooped to offering their own children in flames and participating in cannibalism.  While the level they sank to seems like something we would never do, are we guilty of equivalent actions by our heart serving false gods, too?  Are we diligent to protect our children from the influence of the world, or do we offer them up to the god of this culture – materialism, entertainment or comfort?

It can start easily enough – we are tired and worn – maybe a little entertainment will bring some relief.  The gradual drift away from running to God becomes a craving to be numb from pain, maybe sprinkled with a little country club Christianity or religion.  But these things were never meant to satisfy the God-placed hole in our heart that can only be satisfied by knowing God.  God does not want us to be deceived – He alone is the One Who supplies all we need. He used other people and organizations to provide for us, but it is Him – the One Who made us, the One Who saved us, who we need to place our trust in.  A job is not our Provider – it is a vehicle of provision.  A generous friend or family member is not our Savior – God moved on their heart to bless.  So how do we place our trust and confidence in God?  By going before Him, crying out and searching His Word.

There are so many testimonies of God’s goodness and answers to prayers, I could fill a novel.  But one case in particular, I hope will encourage your heart that God is trustworthy and will never let you down.  His answer might not be what you want, but He will carry you through all of life’s trials.  I was twenty-six and expecting with my daughter, Deborah, when the doctors informed me that the pregnancy was going to end in another miscarriage.  My spirit said differently.  I opened God’s Word and placed my trust and confidence in Him.  I also did practical things such as resting, but the blood work continued to show that the pregnancy was not viable.  The doctors insisted that they would need to give me a shot to reabsorb the fetus – it was not a valid pregnancy.  I declined their solution and told them I knew God was going to save my child.  They called me a fool for trusting God.  Deborah is now a lovely 18-year-old with a lot of wisdom and love for God.  I thank God for His promises and for being a living God, an ever-present help in times of trouble.

There are also testimonies of God allowing hardship in, but amazing faith and grace to walk through them.  Comfortable?  No – but at peace.  Do you need hope today?  It can be hard to keep that optimistic spirit alive when troubles abound, but our confidence can be in the Alpha and Omega, the One Who has always been and will always be.  No matter what surrounds us, we can trust in and be encompassed about by the living God.  There are a lot of fools who have gone before us – who did not belong to this world and who lived lives that glorified God.  This great cloud of witnesses might not have been esteemed by man, but the fellowship with God they shared sustained them and ultimately led them to eternal bliss in Heaven.  God loves us so very much, and wants to walk through this amazing gift called life with us.  We can trust Him because of His character – He is Who He says He is – trustworthy, faithful and loving.  Let’s put down the false idols and trust solely in God!

Lord, thank you that you are trustworthy.  Thank you for modeling dependency on the Father and help us to walk with You.