Posts Tagged ‘God’

Jeremiah 9

Jeremiah 9 has the prophet lamenting about his sorrow over the people’s failure to walk with God and thus bringing judgment upon themselves.  “Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them”! Jeremiah knows what lies ahead, and gives us an image of the sadness in his heart – that of weeping nonstop because ot the sin of his people.

They are going to pay a huge price for their choices.  God is not pleased and reminds Jeremiah “they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, declares the Lord….they refuse to know me….I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do”.  God is at the end of His rope because His people are mired down in living in evil and they are deceived of what will happen to them.  God’s plan for each of us is to refine us and make us like Himself.  The heat and melting of refinement was certain and to come. And the purpose was also certain – not to destroy, but to refine and ultimately to purify.

God doesn’t get joy from punishing us.  But His character and very nature require it. “Shall I not punish them for these things? declares the Lord, and shall I not avenge myself on a nation such as this”?  The people of God had allowed the world to pull them away from the things of God to the point they were no different than any other nation.  We must be careful not to fall into that same trap.  Being a Christ Follower should make us different.  Their problem can easily become ours if we are not intentional and diligent to follow Christ.  “They have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it, but  have stubbornly followed their own hearts and have gone after the Baals, as their fathers taught them”.  When self gets on the throne of our life, bad things happen and we follow the wrong things.

Jeremiah warns what we need to be careful to avoid: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but  let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.  For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”  Man wants to board about power, wisdom and riches.  God wants us focused on love, justice and righteousness.  The world has it all wrong and points us toward the wrong things.  We must learn to stay focused on what matters to God, and avoid the things the world tells us are important.  We must follow God’s heart!

Isaiah 64

Isaiah 64 has the prophet recalling God’s amazing power and glory.  And he reminds us of the why – “to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence”.  If we’re going to summarize what we are to do as Christ followers on this planet today – that’s it.  We are to make God known to the nations.  We do that the exact same way that Isaiah does here – by recalling the wonders of His hand and the glory of His creation.  We do it by living with His power in our life.  We merely expose God to the world we live in.

The truth of the matter is that God has already done plenty.  “When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence”.  God doesn’t need us to convince people of who He is.  We merely need to remind them and point them to His majesty.  “From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him”. It’s undeniable stuff – overwhelming and beyond what any man can imagine.

While God’s done amazing and great works, man has a problem.  In a word it is called sin.  “You were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved”?  Sin is a problem.  It makes us unclean and separates us from God.  It prevents us from living in close fellowship with the Creator.  It is a problem, and must be faced or it will prevent us from spending eternity with our Father.  Most importantly is the reality that we cannot deal with it on our own.  We’ll come up short.  We need a Savior – and His name is Jesus Christ.  He alone is the atonement for our sin.  He alone can free us from the price sin will cost us if not addressed. “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment”.

God wants to work in our life.  “O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand”.  He loves us and wants to shape and mold us into what He desires.  He has a plan.  He is our Father and we are His.  We need to cry out for mercy that God’s love will cause Him to deal with mercy and mold us into what He desires.  But we have to address that which separates us from Him – our sin.  We need to confess, repent and receive His offer of Salvation through Christ.  Then God can take us and mold us into a new being that brings Him glory and honor and praise!

Isaiah 55

Isaiah 55 begins with a bang.  “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price”.  The prophet calls out asking everyone that can hear to listen.  He has an important announcement.  His call is to all of us – if we thirst we need to come – and all of us are thirsty.  This isn’t about buying anything.  It is about coming.  It is realizing our need and simply bringing our trust and faith to receive what God has to give us.  It isn’t about money.  It’s about answering God’s call.

God asks an extremely important question.  “Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy”?  God wants us to do a little introspection.  This is a remarkably relevant question, in light of all the things we can pour our time and money and effort into – things which will never satisfy they way the Lord can satisfy.  We chase lots of things, but God alone can satisfy.  So what should we do?  “Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food”.

Did you catch that?  We are to listen to Him.  It takes time, attention, and effort to listen diligently, and some of us aren’t willing do this.  We are to each what is good.  That means learning what is good and making sure we’re taking in the right spiritual nourishment, not just whatever is set before us.  Third, we are to delight ourselves in rich food.  Merely listening and eating the right food isn’t enough.  We must delight in it.  We can’t have a hard heart or bad attitude.  We have to take it in and enjoy it.

Then God gives us a promise.  “Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant”.  When we incline our ear and truly listen to God we have life for our soul.  It really matters that we align with what God’s up to.  For the one who will listen to the Lord, God promises a covenant.  If we walk in obedience as a Christ Follower, God promises us the same love as He had for David.  But we have to take action.  “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near”.

We have to remember though, that we are not like God.  “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”.  God doesn’t think like we do. We get into a lot of trouble when we expect that He will think like us.  In fact, it isn’t even close to the same.  The difference and distance between God and man is revealed, not to discourage us from seeking Him, but to keep us humble as we seek.  We’re not on the same playing field and never will be.  He is far beyond anything we can even imagine.  We must keep Him where He belongs as Creator and Lord!

Proverbs 20

Proverbs 20 has Solomon talking about the importance of hard work. “The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing”. We can’t expect a harvest if we don’t do the necessary work to put a crop in the ground to enable a harvest.  It doesn’t happen accidentally.  It requires work, and a plan.  He goes on to say “Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread”.  Our ability to provide and generate what we need to live is related to work.  It isn’t a curse.  It is truly a blessing.

This chapter has a number of comments regarding purpose and planning.  It is a core principal of Proverbs.  Solomon says this:

  • The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.
  • Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.
  • A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?
  • Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war.
  • A man’s steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way?”

God directs the outcome, but we need to do the planning and work to align to His will.  It matters, and we need to understand our purpose and then determine how to live it out.

Solomon again reminds us of the importance of integrity.  “The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him”!  Want to leave a legacy that your kids will love?  Live a life of integrity.  It’s the outcome that blesses people for generations.  We are also reminded that we can’t claim to be pure from sin.  It can’t be true – we are sinners in need of a Savior.  We are guilty as Solomon says “Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”? None of us can.  We need Jesus.

We can live a righteous life.  Sin is a choice, and although we will all make choices that will take us into sin, we can choose to live as godly and upright as possible.  “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright”.  God will know us by how we live, and we’ll stand before Him facing judgment for those choices.  But the blood of Jesus will cleanse us from all that sin.  His blood will cover us and make us pure and upright even when we haven’t lived a perfect life.  We need to learn from our mistakes and let wisdom help us walk in God’s ways.  “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair”.  We may have less strength as an old man, but we can have more of God’s splendor!

Proverbs 10

Proverbs 10 contains a number of two liner proverbs that compare and contrast a number of things.  The biggest contrast is between good and evil, or righteousness and wickedness.  Solomon makes the contrast clear that there is a vast difference between two things and our choices matter much.  It is fitting that he begins with an appeal to the father and mother: “A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother”.  It is a call to listen and obey parents, and the plain truth that choosing any other way will lead to sorrow.

Solomon addresses the topic of hard work head on.  “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame”.  A wise son will use the seasons and grow a crop that will yield a harvest.  The wicked son will be lazy and not focus on doing the things that cause success, and thus create poverty and a shortage of what is needed.  A wise son has full barns and is the envy of all.

Solomon goes on to explain the difference between the wise and foolish – it is in their choices regarding God’s commandments and truth.  “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin. Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out”.  Life is about choices.  God has made His truth available to all of us – it’s written in His word – it is preached from the pulpits of many churches – it can be found all over the Internet with a little effort.  There is no shortage of ways to take in God’s commandments.  The question is – will you receive it and walk in integrity with that truth as your guide?

What we do with God’s truth determines much about our future.  “Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray”. We have a choice to make.  We can choose to go our own way and do our own things relying on self and what we feel or believe to be true.  That will lead to death.  Or we can choose to heed God’s instruction, often delivered through others beginning with our parents, that can lead us down the path to life.  Rejecting the truth will not end well.  Who will you choose to listen to?  The truth of God that leads to life, or the lies we tell ourselves that are foolishness and lead to death.  It’s clear which is the right course!

Proverbs 7

Solomon exhorts us to know the commandments and keep them close.  “My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart”. He tells us to do it in three ways:

  • Keep them as the apple of our eye – to not only obey but realize how key they are as the driver of life and success
  • Bind them on your fingers – God’s commandments should be tied to our fingers and guiding how we use our hands
  • Write them on your heart – we need to not only know God’s truth but have it memorized and part of who we are

This is such an important teaching.  The commandments and laws of God are what determines how life will go.

Why is it so important to keep God’s commandments close?  Because sin lurks just waiting for the opportunity to lure us away from God’s ways.  “For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness”.  The enemy wants to destroy us.  Sin tries to pull us away from God’s ways to our own self-centered and sinful ways.

Here’s how it happens….”With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life”.  Sin seems attractive.  It pulls us toward its evil ways and causes us to move away from the commandments we know we are to follow.  But the price of sin is extreme – it will cost us our spiritual life.  Sin is not just a little stub of the toe.  It is spiritually fatal.

The only response to temptation that will lead us from sin is to run from it.  If we don’t, the outcome is death.  “Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death”.  Sin is a very effective destructive force.  Not just many, but all of us fall prey to the truth of this last few verses in chapter 7.  Sin will take us to spiritual death.  That’s why Jesus came.  His shed blood on the cross is our only answer to sin’s deathly toll on our life.

Psalm 116

Psalm 116 is another psalm that speaks of God’s saving the author.  He plead for mercy and God responded.  And now the author promises to call on God for all his needs.  God acted and saved him.  He’ll do the same for you and me.  “Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live”.  We need to learn to call on God for all our needs, small and large.  He is faithful, He hears us, and He acts on our behalf when we are in relationship and following Him.  The writer was on the verge of death but God came through.

Things were desperate.  Evil was closing in.  Death was coming if God doesn’t show up.  “Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul”!  The prayer was simple.  It was desperate and direct.  The psalmist needs God’s hand upon his situation and God responds.  God is faithful and delivers him.  It’s a beautiful thing.  The Lord loves to care for His people.  The writer is trusting God, seeking refuge in God, and waiting for God.  God never fails.

What should be the result of God’s faithfulness to us?  Our faithfulness to Him.  “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living”.  Our relationship is a walk with God through life.  He walks with us if we’ll only walk with Him.  The problem is that too often we want to run off and do our own thing our own way and not just walk hand in hand with Him.  We want to run ahead or run off the path and not stay connected with God, that is until we’re in trouble and need to cry out again.  How much better life would go if we’d just faithfully walk with Him as He does us.

The writer asks an important question.  “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me”?  How do we repay God for His faithfulness?  How can we even the score? What can we give back to God in return for God’s goodness and salvation?  The author gives us a glimpse:

  • I will lift up the cup of salvation
  • I will pay my vows
  • I am your servant
  • I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
  • I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people

We need to walk openly and loudly with the Lord.  His goodness and blessing needs to be shouted loudly in front of all!

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