Tag Archives: obedience

July 25; Backsliding Is A Slippery Slope

Jeremiah 2-4

God, through  Jeremiah, is talking to His children. This message is not for those outside the family of God, not for the unsaved, but for us who know God as our Father. He is talking to the ancient Jews, and to Christians this side of the cross.

He calls us an unfaithful wife, someone who wants to be married AND live like we aren’t. God, in chapter 3, tells us He doesn’t want a divorce, so He warns us, begs us to return to Him. But Jeremiah tells us God’s bride continues in her unfaithfulness. So to her He says:

“Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” (3:22)

Then in chapter 4, God tells us what coming back to Him looks like. Warren Wiersbe, in his Bible handbook entitled “With The Word” wrote an outline I’d like to share with you today. You can find his words on page 499 of that handbook. (Oliver-Nelson Books, copyright 1991)

  1. Returning to God looks like plowing a field (3:3). Breaking up the hard ground and planting only good seed is the picture here. A hard heart needs breaking to make it fertile. Am I willing to let God break my heart?
  2. It looks like surgery (vs 4). Circumcising the heart involves the painful cutting away of anything that identifies us with the world. But, like with surgery, the pain is temporary, the benefits long-lasting. What is it God is asking me to cut away today?
  3. Returning to God looks like joining the army (vv 5-6, 19-21). I remember when my nephew joined the army, he left home. We couldn’t go with him and, really, he wouldn’t want Aunt Connie following him around during training anyway. He tells us that training was hard, not always fun, they broke him in order to build him up. But that kid came home a man. That training changed him into a soldier. The Bible tells us a soldier answers the call of the trumpet, drops everything else, and reports for duty. Do we realize there is a battle raging in our lives? Returning to God might involve going back to boot camp, to study, to put on the whole armor of God, to pray, to go. God’s trumpet is blaring. Am I answering the call?
  4. It looks like taking a bath (vs 14). If we want to return to God we’ve got to wash the evil from our hearts, purify our minds, allow God to scrub the enemy off of us and get rid of any trace of the world. Paul calls it coming out from among them and being separate. God deserves a bride who is totally His. Does that describe me? Or do I still have a smudge of filth on my face?
  5. It looks like growing up (vs 22). Jesus tells us to come to Him like a child, but that’s different than being childish. Maybe it’s time I quit playing around and got serious about my relationship with God. Maybe it’s time I quit demanding my own way, throwing tantrums when I don’t get what I think I deserve. Maybe it’s time I quit putting myself at the center of my life like a two-year-old, and put my Bridegroom where He deserves to be.

Backsliding doesn’t come on anyone suddenly. It starts with a thought, a look, a taste. It starts with busy schedules that steal our time away from God’s Word, or from church on Sunday. It begins as a thought, then a desire, then an action. And one action leads to another, then another. That gradual stepping away from God is a slippery slope.

Hear God tell us to STOP! Hear Him beg us to return to Him, to do whatever it takes to be that Bride He deserves, even if the process is painful and humbling. God wants His Bride back. That means you, dear one!

July 8; What Have I Done To You?

Micah 4-7

When I read what God says through the prophet Micah, and apply it to my life, I am convicted and humbled. I mourn, and I rejoice.

God is once again expressing His frustration with His people (which is me). He can go over the many ways in which I am blessed, the countless times He has been faithful to me, and yet find me unfaithful and disobedient.

He can warn me about the consequences ahead, the severe penalty for sin, yet I tell myself I have plenty of time before I really need to repent.

I hear God ask, “What have I done to you, Connie? Have I burdened you? Answer me.” (6:13). And I am speechless. I have no defense.

The truth of the matter is, God has blessed me. I have everything I need in this life. I have more than I need. I have Jesus Himself! I know the One Michah describes, the Ruler who came from Bethlehem Ephrathah, who is the eternal One, the Good Shepherd. I know Him! I am His and He is mine!

May I remember God’s past faithfulness to me, may I stand with Him to defeat my enemy Satan, may I hear Him, obey Him, love Him like He deserves.

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior, my God will hear me. (7:7)

 

July 6; It Won’t Happen To Me

July 6: Isaiah 19-21

As I look at Isaiah’s prophecy – not only  through the lens of a microscope concerning peoples and nations thousands of years ago, but as the living Word of God relevant in 2019 – I recognize me. God lovingly has inspired men to write His thoughts, His demands, His heart down on paper so that there can be no excuse. I have been warned.

God is no fool. His will will be done. If I obey He will bless. If I don’t, He will demand an account. There is no middle ground.

“But it can’t happen to me,” I say. And I would be wrong.

I wish our country – our world – would figure that out, too. The warning God gave to the nations through Isaiah can still be applied today. If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat that sordid history ourselves. If we don’t read the Bible, know the history of the Jews, and our own history as a nation, we set ourselves up for repeating the mistakes, and suffering the consequences our ancestors experienced.

I guess I’m thinking about that this morning as I read God’s Word in light of recent events in our country. Do you know our history enough to know that Kaepernick is wrong about the Betsy Ross flag, that he has single handedly made a fool of an entire shoe company, and the 2020 presidential hopefuls of an entire political party? And many in our nation are cheering them on.

I am flabbergasted. It’s insane.

But God has been warning us for centuries. There are liars out there, He tells us. There are manipulators, false gods, nice people who are working for the devil and would lure you away from the truth with smiles on their faces. And God is telling us it’s our responsibility to recognize them.

“Look at Me,” God says. “Know Me. Listen to My voice. Obey Me.”

We might wonder how the nations in Biblical times could be so gullible, how they could disobey God so blatantly when they could see His heavy hand on His enemies.

“But it won’t happen to us,” they said. And they were wrong.

We in the USA might think we are untouchable, too. I believe God is saying we would be very wrong to think that. Read His Word, and let that sink in.

July 3; God and gods

2 Kings 17:3-41, 16:19-26, 18:1-2; Isaiah 5:1-30; 2 Chronicles 28:26-27, 29:1; I Chronicles 4:34-43

The Assyrians had captured the Jews and hauled them off as slaves. Now the king wanted to repopulate the land with people from neighboring nations. These people, of course, came with their portable little gods in tow.

But the king also made sure the new inhabitants were taught about the “god of the land,” and assigned a priest to tell the people how to worship God.

I think the people probably tried to understand about the God of the Jews. But 2 Kings 17 tells us each national group made its own gods. Later in chapter 17 it says this:

They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.

Let’s not let that describe us. Oh, I’d be surprised if many of you bow down every day to a shiny little statue sitting on your bedside table. I doubt you sacrifice a child in the fire Sunday morning before you head off to church. But God is asking, what or who is it you and I truly worship?

A relationship? A career? A bank account or fame? Do we spend more time manicuring our lawns than we do serving God? Does our time in God’s Word compare with our screen-time? Are we trying to worship God and something else at the same time?

We need to consider our worship. It is an eternal question each of us must answer. But here’s the other thing that stood out to me this morning.

Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. To this day their children and grandchildren continue to do as their fathers did.

I think we need to consider that. We love our children. We adore our grandchildren. And they are taking their cues from us. Ask yourself this: Is my idol of self, or money, or health, or anything else worth my eternal soul, and the eternal souls of those precious people in my life?

Are we going to serve God or gods? Do we want our children worshiping gods… or God?

 

July 2; Shape Up

Hosea 10-14

History tells us Israel was defeated by the Assyrians, who captured the Jews and made them slaves. The Bible tells us that before that happened, God warned them of that very thing, and gave them a chance to repent, to avoid the devastation and hardship their sins had bought them. To shape up.

“What sins?” you might ask. Warren Wiersbe (With The Word; Oliver Nelson Books, 1991; page 576) breaks it down for us. Here is what Warren (and I) have to share:

  1. Ingratitude (11:1-4). They were God’s people, chosen to reveal to the world a Holy God who has the power to bless beyond imagination. God had rescued them, given them victories, provided them with land flowing with milk and honey. How did they repay God for all these blessings? They turned their backs on him and chose to worship idols. That’s gratitude for you.
  2. Hardness of heart (11:5-11). They became so involved in their worship of pretend gods, they gave no attention to God when He warned them, when He disciplined them, even when He turned His back on them. And with each rejection, their hearts became harder and harder, ignoring Him became easier and easier.
  3. Deceitfulness (11:12-12:6). Hosea used Jacob as an example. I’m sure none of the Jews appreciated being compared to the scheming deceiver Jacob, but Hosea said they were no different. However, Jacob changed when he had an encounter with God. That’s what God wanted for the Jewish people Hosea was speaking to, too.
  4. Boasting (12:7-14) “Look at me! Look at what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished. I certainly don’t need some spirit in the sky telling me what to do. I’m my own person, writing my own story.” Hosea is warning them to get ready to see exactly what their efforts will bring. And it won’t be pretty.

Let’s not just read this Scripture as God’s interaction with a group of people thousands of years ago. Let’s use it to examine our own hearts, to check our own levels of gratitude, our own hearts’ condition, our honesty before a Holy God, and our submission to Him.

God was warning the Jews that if they didn’t shape up, things were going to get really bad for them. I believe the same thing is true today.

July 1; Reaping and Sowing

Hosea 5:8-9:17; 2 Kings 16:10-18, 15:30-31, 7:1-2; 2 Chronicles 28:22-25

God doesn’t mess around with disobedience. And He doesn’t stay where He is not honored. Hosea 5:15 says:

Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.

That pretty much sums up the history of man. And the history of me.

The Jews entertained worship of pretend gods. Idolatry was often tolerated, and sometimes became the nation’s religion. They knew better. They knew God (or should have). Their ancestors had walked with God. They knew God blesses obedience, and punishes disobedience. Certainly they had heard the stories.

Sometimes the Jews chose disobedience anyway. That disobedience was always met with disaster of one kind or another. But I think the most devastating consequence for disobedience was when God removed Himself from their presence, when He left them to their own devices.

Famines were bad. Plagues were awful. War was brutal. But life without God has to be the worse.

What we see in almost every book of the Bible is people sinning, people going their own way, and God disciplining their disobedience. Sometimes that discipline involved God turning His back on them; but He always did that with one purpose: for them to seek Him in their misery, in order to bring them back to Himself.

The Bible also reveals a loving, faithful God who forgives His children every time they (we) repent.

Galatians 5:7-8 comes to mind:

Do not be deceived; God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

I’ve found all of that true in my own life. I know what it’s like to be totally void of His Presence when I’ve held on to sin, when I reap the fruit of sin. I could put on a Christian front, but my fellowship with God was severed. That, my friend, is the definition of lonely.

I also now what it’s like to fall on my knees and beg God for forgiveness, to feel His Presence one again when I am washed by the blood of Jesus. I know what it’s like to reap the fruit of the Spirit.

So, how does your garden grow? What are you reaping? You will reap what you sow.

June 29; Are You Willing To Take The Chance?

2 Kings 15:6-7, 17-29, 32-38; I Chronicles 5:11-17, 22-26; 2 Chronicles 26:22-23, 27:1-9, 28:1-4; Isaiah 6:1-13

Uzziah and his son Jothan, who ruled after him, were both good kings. The Bible tells us they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord – sort of. It seems both rulers turned a blind eye to the pagan worship that took place on the high places, while at the same time they themselves worshiped God in the temple.

We don’t know what prompted them to allow the Jewish people to worship idols. We just know they did. Maybe, like so many people today, they thought it’s ok for people to believe what they want to believe. Maybe they thought there was no harm in the worship of idols because idolaters are good people, and sincere in their worship. Live and let live, you know.

Maybe they felt their faith in the True God was so strong, idolatry couldn’t touch them, that they could exist along with the sin of idolatry without it having any effect on their faith. They were wrong if that’s what they thought.

Jothan died, and his son Ahaz became king. Ahaz became a full-blown idolater, who even threw his own son into the fire as a sacrifice to a pretend god. Grandpa Uzziah and Daddy Jothan might have successfully escaped idolatry, but the next generation was deeply involved in the worship of lies.

Parents, you have got to be training up your children in the fear and adoration of the one and only God. You can’t assume your children will automatically follow your footsteps. I’ve heard that some parents think their children have the right to choose for themselves who or what they will believe, so they don’t talk about spiritual things or take their children to church.

Oh, your children have the responsibility to choose for themselves as soon as they understand sin and its consequence, and what Jesus died to give them. But are you going to allow someone else, the media, Hollywood, Oprah or Joel Osteen, or even the guy down the street guide your children in spiritual things?

That’s your job. It’s your responsibility and privilege to talk about the Truth, to live that Truth, and to guide your children in the Truth. Are you willing to take the chance that your kids will just somehow figure things out on their own?

You are taking a chance with their eternal souls. Is that a chance you are willing to take?