We Are Not Going To Listen To You!

15 However, all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, all the women standing by — a great assembly — and all the people who were living in the land of Egypt at Pathros answered Jeremiah, 16 “As for the word you spoke to us in the name of Yahweh, we are not going to listen to you! 17 Instead, we will do everything we said we would: burn incense to the queen of heaven  and offer drink offerings to her just as we, our fathers, our kings, and our officials did in Judah’s cities  and in Jerusalem’s streets. Then we had enough food and good things and saw no disaster, 18 but from the time we ceased to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to offer her drink offerings, we have lacked everything, and through sword and famine we have met our end.”   (Jeremiah 44:15-18 HCSB)

Stubborn: “Having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”

Rebellion: “The action or process of resisting authority, control, or convention.”

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who sought your wisdom concerning a situation they were dealing with? They asked your advice–you invested time, energy, and prayer to help walk them through the troublesome time–only to have them politely say, “Thanks…but no thanks!”

When I began ministry, I determined to stick close to scriptural principles when providing counseling. I’ve held tightly to that policy when meeting with individuals in need of guidance. In fact, I usually instruct them in the first meeting that I’m not a licensed counselor, and do not use secular methods to remedy spiritual matters. If they want secular wisdom, they can seek that out. I’m a pastor. It’s what I’m called to do, and I must remain in my gift-set if I am to be successful in helping others. The best tool I have in my bag is scripture because it reveals the principles established by God. It works!

One of the most difficult things to do is get people to try a different approach. They say they want a change in their circumstance but they don’t want to do anything different. It’s a certain recipe for failure. It reeks of rebellion and stubbornness.

The Prophet Jeremiah found himself in a similar situation. The people listening to him were in quite a dilemma; facing the judgment of God they had come to Jeremiah to hear the word of the Lord. Jeremiah gave them the whole load! He held nothing back–no mincing of words. He revealed every evil thing they had been involved in and provided a clear path to victory. Good news! Right?

“…All the people who were living in the land of Egypt at Pathros answered Jeremiah, 16 “As for the word you spoke to us in the name of Yahweh, we are not going to listen to you! 17 Instead, we will do everything we said we would…” Rebellion and stubbornness reigned supreme! And, it kept them from experiencing the blessings of God.

Hear my heart… You cannot be rebellious with God and expect to come out on top! He will not tolerate a stubborn spirit. It repels His blessings as much as any attitude you can possess. So, do you need to experience a breakthrough? Why not start with an attitude adjustment!

PRAYER: Father, help me to overcome the fleshly desire to rebel against You. Your words are life and liberty. Help me to submit my will to yours so that blessing can be mine! Amen.

Don’t Despise Structure

(Judges 17:6 ESV) 6 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

God created mankind with an innate desire for independence. God’s design was meant for good; to motivate us to labor and have a fruitful life; to grow us up and move us on to maturity. On the other hand, when sin entered into the equation, this desire for independence turned into rebellion. And, rebellion is always contrary to godly obedience.

In Judges 17, we are told of a time when the people of Israel had no king. The absence of national leadership caused the people to self-regulate; to determine what they wanted, what was best in their eyes, at the expense of anyone else. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” described an attitude and lifestyle that was driven by the whim of the moment without regard for how their future might be affected.

I grew up in the age of rock-n-roll. The genre was borne out of a rebellious mindset that preached a lifestyle of absolute freedom from any type of structure. Rules be gone!

Looking back now, it seems so benign compared to the raucous lyrics found in so many modern genres of music. Television programs and contemporary movies herald a message of “do what you want, when you want, where ever you want, with whomever you want!” The mantra of the day is not only, “If it feels good do it,” but also, “don’t you dare oppose my right to live anyway I see fit.”

In recent years, our society has adopted the same mentality of ancient Israel. A blatant disregard for the structure established by our Creator has us in a precarious position once again. As has always been the case, self-regulation always leads away from God’s holiness, rather than closer to Him.

I’m not trying to be negative; a holier-than-thou mindset is not present in my thinking or writing. With that said, a casual reading of Scripture reveals patterns of divine discipline for those who consistently reject God’s commands.

I’m afraid we are in for some difficult days here in America unless we return to God. We need a revival. No, I’m not talking about a series of church services where we Christians get together to dance, scream, shout, and spit. But, a return to walking in step with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit every day of our lives. Remember, His pattern of living is what will produce the best results.

PRAYER: Father, help me to develop a desire to follow the godly structure that produces eternal life. For Your glory! Amen. 

If? Then.

(Leviticus 26:3-5 ESV) 3 “If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, 4 then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 5 Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.

When I took my first job, my employer said something like this, “If you will work hard and do your job, then I will pay your wages at the end of the pay period.” Later in life, my college professor said, “If you will read the assignments and turn in the work, then I will give you a passing grade.”  Life operates on “if-then” arrangements.

In our passage of Scripture today we read about an “if-then” arrangement God made with His people. The “if” required them to walk in His statutes, observe His commandments AND DO THEM! The “then” was a list of benefits that God had promised to provide them. The arrangement was a “crazy good” deal for them! It went something like this…If you do what I say, then…

  • I will give you rain in the right season.
  • The land shall yield increase.
  • The trees shall yield fruit.
  • The production of your harvest will be long lasting and sufficient.
  • You shall eat your bread to the full.
  • You shall dwell in safety.

If you were to read the remaining verses of this chapter you would be fascinated by the additional benefits that God promised to provide them. The one caveat was simply the requirement to “walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them.” It’s a classic case of sowing and reaping!

Scripture is very clear about this principle. (James 1:22-25 ESV) 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

As a pastor, every time I preach I pray that the hearers will value the Word of God enough to align their lifestyle to it. Why? Because I know that God’s blessings appear in an atmosphere of obedience. On the other hand, rebellion and disobedience always prevents advancement. “If” I obey, “then” I am blessed. It really should be an easy choice. And yet, so many people miss their blessing because of the attachment to their self will.

What is God asking you to do? Are there blessings attached to it? If so, why not just swallow your pride, obey His commands, and position yourself for the blessing? You won’t regret do anything that God has required.

PRAYER: Father, I really don’t know why being obedient is so hard. Will You help me today by softening my heart? I appreciate Your patience with me, and Your willingness to forgive me for the time that I fail. I want to experience Your best blessings! Amen.

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