Saturday, October 24, 2015, 6:30 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “For Our Nation.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 2 (Selected NASB). Youthful Devotion (vv. 1-3) Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth, The love of your betrothals, Your following after Me in the wilderness, Through a land not sown. “Israel was holy to the Lord, The first of His harvest. All who ate of it became guilty; Evil came upon them,” declares the Lord.’” When we first come to faith in Jesus Christ, by the Spirit of God, and through faith, we die with Christ to sin and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We deny self, take up our cross daily, and we follow Jesus Christ in obedience. Jesus is our hearts’ desire, we love to spend time with him at his feet, and we want nothing more than to walk in his love and to bask in his grace. Our minds and hearts are receptive to his voice, and we love to learn from his word. It is a lot like how it should be for a new bride and groom. I would hope that most people go into marriage with the full intention that this is a lifetime commitment, and that they promise to be faithful to their spouse, forsaking all others. I would hope that they truly love the person they are marrying, and that they enjoy being with them, doing things together, sharing their joys and burdens, talking about what is going on in their lives, and having shared goals for their future together. I would hope, as well, that if one of them is a Christian that he or she married another Christian, and that together they would have fellowship in the Lord and that they would walk together in faith and in ministry. Yet, not all marriages begin like that or grow to be like that. Some begin on a false premise, i.e. they are based in a lie and deception, and that is how it can be with some who claim to know Christ and who claim to be in fellowship with him, too. Some people never had the right foundation, and so the whole relationship with Jesus is false from the start, and they are only going through the motions of having a love relationship with Christ, but their hearts are far from God, for they are still walking in the flesh, and not in the Spirit. Walking after Emptiness (vv. 4-6) Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel. Thus says the Lord, “What injustice did your fathers find in Me, That they went far from Me And walked after emptiness and became empty? “They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and of pits, Through a land of drought and of deep darkness, Through a land that no one crossed And where no man dwelt?’ So, for those of us who did have the correct foundation, and who did begin with Christ in true faith, like a bride marrying the love of her life and finally getting to be with him forever, if we have since strayed from our pure devotion to our Lord, and if we have gone off to follow after “other lovers,” why have we? Why have we traded in our husband for another lover? Did God suddenly change? No! So, why did we leave him? Why did we leave the one who has given us everything lovely, good, gracious, holy and righteous to go after what is worthless? I am sure there are many reasons, and the reasons may vary with each individual, but I believe it is because we were tempted by the flesh, and we got our eyes off Jesus, and so we yielded to the flesh, and our flesh liked how that felt, and so we went back for more of the same. The flesh can be very powerful! And, it can overtake reason. The point is that this is where many Christians are finding themselves today. They began well with Christ, but over time the world and the temptations of the flesh drew them away from their pure devotion to their Lord and husband, and little by little the trappings of sin began to overtake them once again. They quenched the Spirit of God when conviction came, for they didn’t listen to that still small voice speaking reason to their hearts and minds, but they ignored it, and went their own way instead. Soon they became desensitized to the evils they were taking into their minds, which probably resulted from a continual practice of rationalization and justification for continuing in what they know is wrong. Then, in order for them to be able to continue without feeling bad about their sin, they accepted a false grace gospel which tells them that God does not require them to repent of sin or to obey him, so they now believe, in practice, that God’s grace gives them free license to continue in sin. So, they forgot their husband, they abandoned him, and they shut out his voice and his urgings to them that they live holy lives pleasing unto him, and that they remain faithful to him and not run after other lovers. And, in his face they chase after other lovers, treating their Lord, their relationship with him, his Spirit and his word with contempt. They stomp on his heart time and time again, and lie to themselves and to him, believing that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that he smiles on them and delights in them, and that he will never be angry with them or judge them for their unfaithfulness. And, so they go through the motions of having a relationship with God, but they are truly having a love affair with themselves, and self-pleasure is what they are truly after. He Will Contend (vv. 9, 18-19, summary of vv. 20-37) “Therefore I will yet contend with you,” declares the Lord, “And with your sons’ sons I will contend… “But now what are you doing on the road to Egypt, To drink the waters of the Nile? Or what are you doing on the road to Assyria, To drink the waters of the Euphrates? “Your own wickedness will correct you, And your apostasies will reprove you; Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter For you to forsake the Lord your God, And the dread of Me is not in you,” declares the Lord God of hosts. Scripture teaches us that God disciplines those he loves, and that he reproves and scourges those who are his. “He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (See: Heb. 12:3-11). We also have much teaching in the New Testament in which we are urged to forsake sin and to obey our Lord, to no longer walk after the flesh, but to conduct our lives according to the Spirit. There are also many warnings given to Christians concerning what will happen to them if they do not remain in Christ, and if they do not continue in him to the end. And, in Revelation 2-3 we have recorded for us seven letters Jesus wrote to the churches. In five of them he confronted them with specific sin, called them to repentance, and warned of judgment if they did not repent. So, this idea of God judging his wayward people is in the New Testament, too. In other words, God still takes sin seriously, and he is a jealous God. What he is saying to his wayward people here is that they have brought this judgment upon themselves by forsaking their Lord when he was leading them in the right way, and by choosing to willfully run after “other lovers.” He is giving the same message to his backsliding (adulterous) people today. He is saying that it will not go well with those who forsake their Lord (their husband) and have no awe (reverence, respect, and honor) of him. The description he gives us here in this chapter of their adultery against their God just breaks my heart, and brings much tears to my eyes. They had a covenant relationship with God, i.e. they married him, and vowed fidelity and loyalty to him, and that they would forsake all other lovers, but they broke off that relationship with their Lord and said to him, “I will not serve you.” When a man chooses his other lovers over his faithful commitment to his wife, he is saying, “I will not be married to you. I choose my other lovers instead.” This is what it is like when we refuse God’s voice, and we go after the gods of this world, instead of giving God our heart’s devotion. Yet, not only did they defy their Lord, refuse his voice, ignore his calls to repentance and to faithful obedience, and continue to bed themselves with prostitutes, but they pretended like God was ok with them, and that everything was good between them and God. They looked clean and righteous on the outside, in other words, but inside they were full of wickedness. And, that is where many are today who call themselves Christians. It is just like a spouse saying to his or her mate that if he or she has to make a choice, they will choose their other lovers in place of their spouse. In other words, it doesn’t matter how many things we do “for God,” or how many sacrifices we make, how many church services we attend, or how much money we put in the offering plate, or how much Bible knowledge we have, or how many ministries we are involved in. All our righteousness is filthy rags in God’s sight. He doesn’t want what we are willing to give up for him. What he wants is our hearts. As well, these who run after other lovers oftentimes will live in self-denial, making excuses for their sins, calling them something else such as “I just messed up,” or whatever makes it feel like it wasn’t really sin. Those who live with sinful addictions are notorious for minimizing the seriousness of their sin, refusing to see it for what it is, calling each sinful act isolated, and claiming God’s forgiveness each time, but being unwilling to really repent (turn from the sin). So, God is saying, “Look at what you have done! See it for what it is! Stop living in self-denial. Stop making excuses for your sinful behavior. Own up to it.” Yet, many are saying, “It’s no use! I can’t help myself. I’m a sinner, so I am going to sin.” And, so they turn their backs on God, yet when they are in trouble, they ask him for him to save them. They don’t respond to correction. They lie, cheat, steal, manipulate and have all kinds of tricks they use for trying to work their way around the correction. They feel God’s grace gives them the freedom to roam, so believe they are innocent; that God is not angry with them. Yet, he will judge them for this. Yet, even in judgment, he is reaching out his hands of mercy, calling his children to repent, and to return to him, because he still loves them. For Our Nation / An Original Work / September 11, 2012 Bombs are bursting. Night is falling. Jesus Christ is gently calling You to follow Him in all ways. Trust Him with your life today. Make Him your Lord and your Savior. Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus. He will forgive you of your sin; Cleanse your heart, made new within. Men betraying: Our trust fraying. On our knees to God we’re praying, Seeking God to give us answers That are only found in Him. God is sovereign over all things. Nothing from His mind escaping. He has all things under His command, And will work all for good. Jesus Christ is gently calling You to follow Him in all ways. Men deceiving: we’re believing In our Lord, and interceding For our nation and its people To obey their God today. He is our hope for our future. For our wounds He offers suture. He is all we need for this life. Trust Him with your life today.