22 Sep 2010
Someone once said the more things change the more they stay the same. Much of the time when things stay the same the long term outcome is not good. Of course many would say today things are not staying the same, but rather changing rapidly in the wrong direction. This reminds us of a time in the history of Israel. King Josiah made significant spiritual reforms and the Nation of Israel was moving back toward God, when he decided to become involved in a war that he was not charged by God to pursue. He was fatally wounded and a change of power, a change of leadership and a change of direction, away from God were the results.
Jeremiah was then assigned by the Lord to speak truth to His wayward nation. We pick up this biblical narrative in Jeremiah chapter 7. Look carefully at what the Lord is saying to these people. See if you see any parallels to these times.
1 THE WORD that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,
2 Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house and proclaim there this word and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord.
3 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place.
4 Trust not in the lying words [of the false prophets who maintain that God will protect Jerusalem because His temple is there], saying, This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.
They were proud of the Temple. [Oh, how we tend to become proud of the blessings of God] It was to many a sign that God was on their side and would defend them no matter what. Herein lies a problem: God did not share their views. As Jeremiah continues we see God’s contrary evaluation.
5 For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly and truly execute justice between every man and his neighbor,
6 If you do not oppress the transient and the alien, the fatherless, and the widow or shed innocent blood [by oppression and by judicial murders] in [Jerusalem] or go after other gods to your own hurt,
7 Then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your fathers to dwell in forever.
8 Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot benefit [so that you do not profit].
9 Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and go after other gods that you have not known,
10 And [then dare to] come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My Name, and say, [By the discharge of this religious formality] we are set free!—only to go on with this wickedness and these abominations?
11 Has this house, which is called by My Name, become a den of robbers in your eyes [a place of retreat for you between acts of violence]? Behold, I Myself have seen it, says the Lord.
God was speaking to a people and a Nation that was called by His Name. What about today? What of those of us who are called by His Name? Are we leaning on the grace of God and His blessings of prosperity for this Nation as the Jews were trusting in the Temple? It is God’s plan that we, His bride, the Church, should take the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ into the world. We have, on the contrary, brought the world into His church. How have we brought the world into the church? We bring the world into the church as we live out unexamined lives. God is saying to His church today: “ Thoroughly amend your ways!”
Are you ready to amend your ways? Are you ready to ask God to examine your life? If you are serious He will provide the light you need to examine and amend. Below are some thoughts to help in the examination process should you desire to proceed:
Jesus said, when ask, what is the greatest commandment, replied : love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind. - [ Matt 22:37]
Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. - [1 John 2:15-16 ]
15 If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. - [John 14:15 ]
Loving and obeying God as we are commanded is impossible, just as amending our ways in our own strength is impossible. God has provided His Spirit to enable us. We must become completely dependent on the Holy Spirit. If each of us will seek to depend on the power and direction of the Holy Spirit with all of our heart, and all our soul, and all our minds, [ every minute of every day] we will begin to move the church toward the amending of her ways. God did not send His Spirit to dwell in our hearts so that we can walk in the Spirit occasionally. God desires the Holy Spirit to be to our hearts as a pacemaker, controlling the every beat of our hearts, directing every thought, refining every motive, preparing every word, planning every action.
Pray for all who are seeking and praying for revival, that we will desperately seek the examination of the Spirit and the Word for our lives. Pray that we will respond in repentance and brokenness before our Father. Ask God to root out the pride and arrogance in our lives and in our churches. Ask Him to extinguish the lust that burns in our lives from the wild fires of this world. Ask Him to recalibrate our center from self to Him. Ask Him to enable us to turn from our wicked ways that He might hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.