Friday, April 23, 2021

Your Whole Heart


For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. “ – Jeremiah 29:11

We’ve all read that verse before, but have we read it in the context in which God spoke it? 

Here’s the scene.  All of Jerusalem and Judah were taken captive by Babylon.  This wasn’t a surprise – but was a surprise.  Jeremiah had already prophesied it to them.  They had worshipped idols and completely ignored God.  He told them that they would be there 70 years.  Yet, false prophets lied to the people saying God said something different.  False prophets love to tickle your ears with what you want to hear. 

So, the people are captive, and they know it will be 70 years.  God tells Jeremiah to go tell them that they should build houses, marry, have children, ”that you may be increased there, and not diminished”.  While God was punishing them, He did not want them destroyed. 

And then God says:

“For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. ”  Jeremiah 29:10-12

God is telling them that it’s for 70 year, and then He will release them from captivity.  God was gracious to them to not leave them there with no hope of being released from the slavery they were in.  He’s also telling them that He still loves them.  His thoughts toward them aren’t evil.  This is punishment – not rejection.

“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.” – Jeremiah 29:13-14

God has told them they would be reunited with Him when the searched for Him, longed for Him, with “all your heart”.  That’s a passionate searching!  And then they would find him.  God was waiting for repentance from their hearts, and then “I will be found by you” He said. 

Once repentance was found in their hearts, the captivity punishment would be removed.  They would be back where they were, but honoring and worshipping God.

Our God is a jealous God.  He wants ALL our heart.  Why? Because He loves us passionately!  The sacrifice of Jesus for us defines passionate love.  Otherwise, there would be no punishment to cause us to return.  He would simply reject us.  But God rejects no man!  There’s no low you can reach that God won’t extend His grace.  And there’s no high you can reach that He won’t punish you when you stray. Job was a “blameless man”, yet God tested His love for Him. 

God’s thoughts toward us, today, are the same as they were for Jerusalem and Judah.  “Thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope”.  And yes, He is still jealous for ALL your heart as well.  Give Him your whole heart, and your heart will finally be whole.  Let Him be your God. Let Him embrace you as the everlasting Father.



Friday, April 16, 2021

The Story of the Linen Sash and Truth


"Thus the Lord said to me: “Go and get yourself a linen sash, and put
it around your waist, but do not put it in water.” So I got a sash according
to the word of the Lord, and put it around my waist.

And the word of the Lord came to me the second time, saying, “Take the sash that you acquired, which is around your waist, and arise, go to the Euphrates, and hide it there in a hole in the rock.” So I went and hid it by the Euphrates, as the Lord commanded me.

Now it came to pass after many days that the Lord said to me, “Arise, go to the Euphrates, and take from there the sash which I commanded you to hide there.”

Then I went to the Euphrates and dug, and I took the sash from the place where I had hidden it; and there was the sash, ruined. It was profitable for nothing.

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Thus says the Lord: ‘In this manner I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing.” – Jeremiah 13:1-10

Every one of us who has had linen to wash knows three things about it:  It wrinkles easy, so use fabric softener; if you let it get wet and dry on its own, it’ll shrink; and lastly, never put it in the dryer or the hot sun! 

I saw the destruction of the sash coming after having ruined a few linen pieces in my  life.  But the words “It was profitable for nothing” came at me!  We wouldn’t think of linen being “profitable”.  But God was comparing its value to that of Judah and Jerusalem.  The people had turned to idols and worshipping them and had forgotten God. 

Days after I had read this, it came to me that something was to be placed around the waist when the “Full Armor of God” is given in Ephesians 6:10-20.  When I looked it up, I saw the full message of God regarding the sash.  

Ephesians 6:14 says, “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth”.  It was truth that the people had rejected.  These were the same nations that God blessed by freeing them from Egypt in the day of Moses, the same people that He fed Manna to in the wilderness, the same people that built the Tabernacle tent.  Yet, at this point they were worshipping idols.  They had left their faith and their God for things of wood and stone that couldn’t do anything for them.

Friends, never let go of what is true, God’s word and stand up for it as the real TRUTH whenever if is dishonored.  Our God deserves our worship and our praise. 



Tuesday, April 6, 2021

The Boobytrapped Christian


"She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”" – John 8:11


She was caught in the very act of adultery.  She was dragged into town and in front of Jesus.  Can you imagine her shame?  Can you imagine the indignation of those who stared at her?  She was about to be killed.  Stoned to death. 

Then comes Jesus!  Her captors asked him what they should do with her – not because they wanted his opinion, but because they wanted to see if He abided by the Laws of Moses, which stated that she should be killed. 

Quiet Jesus, writing in the dust with His finger.  No one knows what He was writing, but I think at this point it would have been cool if He was writing the sins of her captors!  Then Jesus raised his head and said “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”  And he went back to writing in the dust. 

All the captors left that day, knowing none of them were without sin.  But there stood sinless Jesus.  Would He throw the first stone?  No.  He simply told her “Neither do I condemn you – go  and sin no more!”

We don’t hear if the woman left, stood around to listen to Jesus, or what became of her.  But I often wonder where she went when she was asked to “go and sin no more”.  Did she go back to the same house she was caught in?  Did she end her adulterous relationship?  Did she become a follower of Jesus?  Did she sing Elvis’s song “I’m caught in a trap, I can’t walk out, be cause I love you too much Baby!”

Many of us seek God’s forgiveness for our sins, and He forgives us all at the request of His forgiveness.  But how many of us go right back into the boobytrap of a life we were living before?  Friends, a sincere request for forgiveness should include a new path for life, a change in your heart to desire to walk away from your sin. 

But so many times I find myself asking for forgiveness and not even trying to change my ways.  I wear out God’s mercy and grace on my sorrow for a sin, but I don’t stop what I’m doing so I don’t have to be sorry anymore.  Doesn’t make much sense, now does it?

Friends, when you decide to give “it” up, whatever it is, be sure you have a path out of it.  You wouldn’t stop smoking and leave cigarettes lying around, you wouldn’t give up cake and have one on the counter.  If you’re going to walk away from your sin, know what you’re walking into.  Chart your path out of it.  And ‘go and sin no more’.