1The word of the LORD came to me: 2“Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: “This is what the LORD says: “I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. 3Israel was holy to the LORD, the first fruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,” declares the LORD… 11Has a nation ever changed its gods? (Yet they are not gods at all.) But my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols. … 13“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water… Jeremiah 2:1-3; 11-13
Many times, we are engulfed into the many things that we want to do and what we think is necessary and important whereas it is not. We forget about what is more important and what is needed. I am reminded of a devotion I shared on Hope FM on Saturday… Are you too busy to Know God? (Click Here to read more) and there is one thing that Jesus told Martha that has caught my eye and Spirit. Jesus asked Martha: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42. Many of us are like Martha… We want to fulfill so much of what we feel is the ideal thing for us to do whereas it is not.
The word of the Lord comes to Jeremiah to the children of Israel and God tells him to REMIND the children of Israel of their devotion and faithfulness to him. While they were in the wilderness, they followed God whole heartedly and when they got to the Promised Land; it is like they forsook God and they found something else – idols which they embraced and forgot about God. The children of Israel were so forgetful and every time, they forgot from where the Lord had delivered them and all they could was to complain to their leaders and God. Take a look at Exodus 14:10-12… after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites have gotten their deliverance from Egypt but when they come to the Red sea and they see the army of Pharaoh behind them, they started complaining to Moses saying “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Do you know that many of us we are like that? we easily forget where we have come from. We are always finding reasons and things to cling on to and to place blames on when our expectations are not met. And this is the reason why the Israelites were crying out to Moses when they reached the Red Sea and they couldn’t see a way though. Note that this was not the end of their complaints… after God made a way and they crossed the Red Sea, they get to the desert of Sin and there they are faced with hunger and they start complaining to Moses again… and God rains Manna and sends them quails to provide food for them (Exodus 16:2-5).
Many times, we are so careful to see what God hasn’t provided and grumble against him but when He does it for us, we forget where we were and go on our way. What we do not realize is that our Joy is always short-lived once we go this way because when we reach our end, we will be back to God crying to him again. This was the story of the children of Israel… and I believe God reached a point and got fed up of their routine behaviour and He had to speak through his prophet Jeremiah. You need to know that at times, our actions grieve the Lord and that is why Paul wrote to the Romans and asked the “WHAT SHALL we say [to all this]? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace (favor and mercy) may multiply and overflow? Certainly not! How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? Romans 6:1-2 This is where we get and God gets upset with us! Thanks that his anger is but for a moment.
Solomon writes in Proverbs 3:5-6 and says “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil” (MSG). Whenever you turn away from your dependence on God, you miss the mark and you are walking on your own. This is where God allows us to walk on our own and when we reach to our end, He looks at us and reminds us of his undying love. But why can’t we stick to God and wait on Him?
God speaks to Jeremiah and tells him to remind the children of Israel of their devotion to Him when they were young. With this, I believe God meant the days when we are in dire need of Him and a breakthrough but when we get what we wanted… we let go and forgot all about him; but ideally, this shouldn’t be! we are supposed to stick to him and maintain our relationship with him when in need and not in need. This is the reason why God was telling them that “they had forsaken him the spring of Living water and dug cisterns that do not hold water.” God was lamenting that the Israelites were following their own ways and fulfilling their desires which was contrary to God’s will and purpose for them. And this is how many of us me inclusive.
How many times have you tried to do something away from God’s will and when you fail you are so quick to run back to God? This is what God meant when He was saying that we have dug our own cisterns that do not hold water. God wants us to fully rely on him from the bottom of our hearts (Proverbs 3:5). This is what happens to us when we do not follow God whole heartedly. God speaking to the children of Israel in Numbers 32:11; He said “because they have not followed me wholeheartedly, not one of the men twenty years old or more who came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…” God cuts us off from the blessings that we were to receive simply because of our disobedience to Him.
Brothers and sisters, as you read this; I want you to know that God is calling us back to himself and all he wants of us is for us to come back unto him Wholeheartedly and not half-Heartedly. You will realize that God has always reached out to us and restored us back to himself. He sent his one and only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for you and me; this was one of his many ways of calling us back to Him. He created a bridge that would help us cross and reach out to Him amid the vast rift between us that was created by sin. This is what the Lord calls out unto us says “Therefore, says the Lord, turn and keep on coming to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning [until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored]. Rend your hearts and not your garments and return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness; and He revokes His sentence of evil [when His conditions are met].” Joel 2:12-13
The problem with us human beings is that we are hard headed and stiff necked! We always want to have our way. You need to realize that there are consequences of every action and decision that we make. The children of Israel were such people and God was upset with them and He spoke through his prophet Isaiah and said to them in Isaiah 1:11-20: From this portion of scripture, I can several things that I see the Lord not happy about and He speaks them out.
- God wants sacrifices of our hearts: ~> “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me [unless they are the offering of the heart]? says the Lord. I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts [without obedience]; and I do not delight in the blood of bulls or of lambs or of he-goats [without righteousness]. (vs. 11). God was tired of the Children of Israel bringing unto him animals as sacrifices whereas their hearts were not into the sacrifices that they were offering. You will realize that God was saying that He was tired of fat offerings of animals without Obedience. These are the same words God had told Saul after he didn’t follow the instructions that he was given by god to finish the Amalekites. God speaks to him through Samuel and says “Is the Lord as delighted with burnt offerings and sacrifices as he would be with your obedience? To follow instructions is better than to sacrifice. To obey is better than sacrificing the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22. Obedience always stems from the heart. Once your heart is subjected to obey God, you wont struggle to render your heart to him as a sacrifice.
- God demands us to be Holy when we come to offer our sacrifices to him: ~> “When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you that your [unholy feet] trample My courts?… Bring no more offerings of vanity (emptiness, falsity, vainglory, and futility); [your hollow offering of] incense is an abomination to Me; They are an oppressive burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.” (vs. 12-14) At times, we tend to think that our appearance, commitment to service and doing other things in the house of the Lord will be a substitute to our Heart’s devotion to God… but God says it clearly… our sacrifices offered when we are not right with Him are just but offerings that are of vanity to Him and He is weary of bearing with them. Let us strive to be Holy before God and make sure that our hearts are right with Him. Paul reminds us and says “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1) Do not have your sacrifice rejected as God did for Cain (Genesis 4:4-7).
- God wants us to cleanse ourselves from injustice and bloodshed!: ~> “when you spread forth your hands [in prayer, imploring help], I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes! Cease to do evil, Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.” (Vs. 16-17) God reminds the children of Israel that their hands are full of blood and they have been involved in injustice and bloodshed and thus He (God) will hide his face from them and He wont hear their prayers. How many time have we had our prayers not answered and it is simple because our hearts are not right with God? Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:23-24 that when we come to the altar and we remember that we aren’t right with a brother, leave the sacrifice at the altar and go and reconcile. Same thing that we ought to do with God! We first reconcile with Him then we can offer our sacrifice and it will be acceptable.
God is always willing to take us back no matter how far we have messed. He calls out to us in Isaiah 1:18 and says: “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool.” The question is are you ready to come and reason with God? by reasoning with God, it means that you are letting go all the cares of the world and the mess that you have been in and rendering your heart back to God. We ought to be like the prodigal son; the Bible says that he came to his senses and went back to his fathers house; and while he was afar off, the father ran and embraced him… (Luke 15:17-22). God is waiting for us to come back to Him and He has his arms wide open to receive us back home. Why tarry there while daddy is waiting for you?
Come back home.. allow God to heal your wounded and broken heart from the cares and worries of this world just as the prodigal son was and He will restore you… God is calling us back to himself… He has the best at heart for us; but we can only realize this when we return to him whole Heartedly. There is a reward and a blessing tagged to following God whole Heartedly…
Coming up: Your Blessings When you Render God your Heart!!