Ready, Willing and …

Jeremiah 42:6
“Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God…”

A few years back I attended a men’s conference where this verse was shared during a worship session. Like most, I was encouraged by the sentiment of it, until I recalled the context. You see, as beautiful as the verse is, it is declared by a group of people who have no real intention of doing what the Lord says. The verse might better read, “we will obey as long as the Lord tells us what we want to hear.”

As requested, Jeremiah sought the Lord on behalf of the people. Ten days later the Lord spoke to him, instructing the people NOT to go to Egypt, but to remain in the land, trusting in the protection of God. This was not the message they wanted to hear. They wanted Jeremiah to tell them that they could go to Egypt, get a fresh start and receive the bountiful blessings of the Lord. When they heard his response their tone changed drastically,

Jeremiah 43:2 “You speak falsely! The Lord our God has not sent you…”

I wish this were the only case in history where someone claimed to be willing to do what God wanted, until they heard from him. Tragically, this is an all too common occurrence. It seems now a days, whenever we hear something we don’t like, we simply hunt down another source who will tell us what we want to hear. Affirmation should never be exalted above truth. If we want to please God and experience the blessed life, we have to be willing to obey His word, even when we do not particularly care for the instructions.

Let’s not be those who boast of good intentions while continuing on a downward course away from Christ.

Pastor Jim

 

A Hard Heart 

Hebrews 3:12-13
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Life is dangerous and filled with pitfalls. We are constantly warned to be on the lookout for danger. We see signs warning us that the road is slippery, the coffee is hot, there is a low beam, animals may cross the highway; riptide, sharks, jellyfish and high surf face us in the ocean. Paul reminds us of a hazard that is far more dangerous because it has taken many more away than any riptide ever has. He warns us against having a hardened heart. Biblically speaking, a hard heart could be defined as being unwilling to do what God asks. This was the primary issue with the pharaoh in Moses’ day. He clearly heard the word and will of God, yet he was unwilling to submit to it and fought against God. This proved costly to him, as it always will to us. Our text reveals three things we must avoid because they will result in a hardened heart.

First, we are warned against unbelief. Unbelief is simply not trusting the Word of God, whether it is warning, instructing, or providing us with promises. Israel in the wilderness is cited as an example of unbelief. God promised them victory as they entered the land, yet they cowered in fear and refused to enter. Looking at their circumstances, instead of looking to the Lord, resulted in unbelief that led to a hardened heart. We can avoid our hearts hardening by taking God at His word and doing what He asks.

Second, we are warned against departing from the living God. Departing means to move away. The closer you are to Jesus the easier it is to trust Him. Mark records the story of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding feast, where the host had run out of refreshments for the guests. When word came to Jesus, he sent his disciples to fill large contains with water from the local well. Upon arriving back at the party, the water was served but had miraculously been turned into wine. The guests were unaware of what had been accomplished, but those closest to Jesus experienced the miracle. Close proximity to Jesus is always beneficial to walking with Him. James exhorts us to draw near to God and He will draw near to us (James 4:8).

Finally, we are warned against our hearts becoming hardened by sin. Sin is doing what God has forbidden. We often sin because, from our limited perspective, we cannot see why something is bad. This is very common in relationships. We see many Christians get involved with someone who is not pursuing the Lord, but is a very nice person. They cannot understand why that is forbidden. Others cross the line physically, because they believe they are in love and convince themselves that sexual activity is acceptable. In every case, sin leads to a hardened heart and must be avoided. Be very careful that you do not cross verses out of your Bible, in order to justify your behaviors.

Let us not harden our heart, but keep it soft to hear all the Lord has to say to us.

Pastor Jim

Choose

Deuteronomy 27:8
“And you shall write very plainly all the words of this law.”

On the verge of entering the Land of Promise, Moses reminds the people they have a choice to make. Upon entering the land, they were to gather the entire nation in the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerazim. On one mount, half of Israel‘s leaders were to read the blessings that would befall a people who obeyed the Word of God. The remainder of Israel’s leaders stood on the other mount to declare the curses that would befall them if they ignored, or rebelled against the Word. In addition to the spoken Word, they were to write the Word on large, whitewashed stones that were easy for all to read. Beyond question, the key to Israel’s success and happiness was their obedience to the Word.

The same is true for us today. God has gone to great effort to provide us with His Word. He has preserved it down through the ages. It remains our responsibility to get to know it, and to obey it. Our success and happiness depend upon our obedience to the Word.

Deuteronomy 27:9-10
“. . . This day you have become the people of the Lord your God. Therefore you shall obey the voice of the Lord your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.”

For each of us who has decided to follow Christ, the next step of the journey involves getting to know the Word of God, and living in obedience to it. The closer we adhere to the principles found in His Word, the more blessed our life will become.

What choice will you make? Will you decide to live life your own way and miss out on the blessed life? Or will you submit yourself to the Word and ways of God, and watch as He provides you with the living water He promises to all those who believe

Pastor Jim