Not Like the Heart of Judah

We cannot be fickle-minded in following Jesus. We cannot say yes to God today and then say no to God tomorrow. Then when the day comes that we feel like we want to draw near to God or that we feel we need to, we say yes again. This is a cycle of a person who gave a half-hearted commitment to God. A half-hearted yes to God is bound for a rocky road. It is unsure. It is doubtful. It never gives full trust. It does not love completely. It holds back. It reserves a part of the self. It keeps secrets. It is not consistent. It is unstable. The Bible says it clearly that a double-minded man is unstable in ALL his ways (James 1:8).

To follow God is to lean on Him and not to self. Sometimes, we doubt God’s leading because we do not trust Him enough. We trust what we think than what God thinks about the situation. We trust our own understanding than God’s understanding of the matter. So our mouth says, “Yes, Lord!” but our heart says, “Are you sure Lord?” We think we know better! When we do not listen , when we refuse to heed, and when we ignore God’s voice, we are actually telling God that we know better than Him. It is like telling God that our decision is better than what He has in mind. This is exactly how the remnant of Judah acted before God when their governor, Gedaliah, was murdered at Mizpah. They sought God and His counsel through Prophet Jeremiah. “Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” – Jeremiah 42:1-3. They had an earnest request because they feared for their lives. And when 10 days had passed and God answered their call, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land.” – Jeremiah 42:10-12. God instructed them to stay in the land and He will bless them there. What was their response? “Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’” -Jeremiah 43:2. And all of them disobeyed the voice of God and went to Egypt (Jeremiah 43:3-7). Doesn’t this scenario feel familiar? We seek God earnestly for the fears we have. We long for His answer because of the troubles in our life. But once we receive God’s answer, we feel dismayed and doubtful. We think that we have it planned out. Why does God want the other way? There are times that we seek God for selfish reasons. We only care to listen to words that please us and we ignore all else that does not come in agreement with our thinking. We fail to understand that obedience to God is realigning our thinking to God’s ways and not the other way around. We just seek comfort and peace yet we are not willing to obey. Like the Judeans, sometimes we tend to seek the blessing first and not the Blesser! We seek but we do not trust. Our limited understanding blinds us from the truth. And our unwillingness to trust God prompts us to ignore His voice. We then forget that to obey God is to open the way to His blessings. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.” – Proverbs 3:5-8. Leaning is a beautiful picture to ponder on. Picture out a man leaning on the wall. A woman leaning on a man’s shoulder. A child leaning on his father. When we lean on something or someone we do not use up our own strength to stand. We do not tire easily. We do not get weary easily. We gather an amount of strength and energy from the object or person we are leaning on. The object or person where we are leaning on carries the weight for us. Thus, it becomes easier and lighter. So when we come to think of it, we only lean on something or someone who is stronger than us. Can a father lean on his kid? Will you dare to lean on a broken fence? Clearly, we do not lean on something that could not support us. We only lean on something or someone when we give them some level of trust. We lean on something because we trust that it can support us. We lean on someone because we trust that the person is able to help us. Leaning on God means we trust God to be wiser and stronger than us. Otherwise, we will never fully lean on God. When we lean on God, we demonstrate that trust. We trust God to carry the weight for us. We trust God to work things for us. We trust God to not only know better but to know the best for us. So let us not take our walk with God like Judah’s walk with God. They did not trust God and therefore disobeyed Him. Remember, our level of trust in God is the level of obedience we give. We cannot obey God without trusting Him. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6.

God’s Harm is Goodness

God allows adversities, pain, and suffering. When we are disappointed, frustrated, rejected, or simply when we failed, we tend to question why a loving God allows us to go through the difficulties? He is mighty, wise, all-knowing, faithful, and loving! But why can He stand looking at us suffering? These are real questions from raw feelings of hurt and pain. And God perfectly understands us and the emotions that flood us. Even in our confusion and doubts, His love never fails. His tenderness and gentleness do not wane out.

His will for us is always good. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11. Because He has good plans for us, He allows difficulties and problems to refine us, tame us, discipline us, and point us to the right path in life. We may see them as painful and harmful, but God can use them for our growth and blessing!

God’s wisdom is perfect. “Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows him his counsel? Whom did he consult, and who made him understand? Who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?” – Isaiah 40:13-14. His understanding is unsearchable (Isaiah 40:28). When God allows pain, difficulties, and even suffering, He means it for good. In our human thinking, we are inclined to see the bad side of it. But when we look back to the Cross, we see self-less, pure, and everlasting love for us. That love of God compells Him to keep us safe, secure, and blessed. Surely, even the harm that God allows in our life, is a demonstration of His goodness and faithfulness. Surely, His “no” to our prayer and the closed doors for things we have been desiring are manifestations of His grace and protection. When God allowed Satan to test Job (Job 1:12), it is not because God hated Job. It is because His plans for Job is far greater than the pain that Satan brought to Job’s life. After all his sufferings, even when death came knocking at his door, he held on to God. Even when friends and his wife deserted him, he held fast to the Lord. His faith was strenghtened. His understanding of God’s ways deepened. His hope in God was fortified. How did Job’s story unfold? “And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning.” – Job 42:12. Joseph also knew how God works for the good even in painful circumstances. He told his brothers who sold him to Egypt, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”– Genesis 50:20. And even for God’s chosen people, Israel, when their sins became too much to bear and their sins were too grievous before God, God would send other nations to conquer them so they would turn back to Him. Is it because God hated them? Is it because God disowned them? No! It is because His love for them never ceases. It is because His plan for them is good. At times, God’s harm is like a coating to the sweetness of His love. His goodness is wrapped with the toughness of His love. So trust in His love for you. Lean on God and let Him work things out according to His will. Cast your cares and burdens on Him. Let God take care of that heavy load. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28.

Loving God’s Presence

You complete me. It is as if saying “I can’t live without you.” We usually hear this said in the romantic sense, but can you picture out saying this to God? Have you realized how much your life can be in a mess without God in it? Have you taken a moment to reflect that without God nothing in your life would be meaningful or peaceful? Honestly and objectively ponder about your life and you will realize that the very air you breath and the very time you so struggle to manage is never controlled by you. At this time of my life, I have realized, how much I need God to live in peace, to live with meaning, and to live with content. I just could not picture out living and enjoying life without God. I need His presence and I need His leading or else I will be in a mess. I praise God as King David’s praise to God, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11.

To be in God’s presence is the best place you could ever be. “For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.” – Psalm 84:10. There is such blessedness, such wonder, such peace, and life in the presence of God. It is like a treasure uncompared to be in His presence that the Psalmist was able to say, “Lord, I would rather be with you than be in the best places in this world or be in an opulent mansion of the wicked.” To be with God is priceless. If you are given options of the best and most beautiful places where to stay, you would choose God’s presence as the only best place. That is loving God’s presence. You take pleasure to be with God. You take great delight to study His Word and commune with Him daily in prayer. The day will be incomplete without first conversing with God. Every task, job, and moment of time you have in the day is spent with the consciousness of His loving and gentle presence and it is just something so priceless and indispensable. It is like going through the day in misery if God is not there to lead you. His presence is life for you. His presence is your joy. To be in God’s presence is the best choice you could do in your life. The blessings that come with it is not only for today. It is for every day and it is for everlasting. The rewards of choosing God’s presence and loving His presence lasts for eternity. Even when you leave your earthly dwelling, it goes with you. All riches and material things will be left behind, but the riches that come from living in God goes with you in eternity. Isn’t that much more valuable? Isn’t that much more worth living for?

“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.” – Psalm 73:28. Do you believe that it is a good thing to be near God? If you do, may you continue to seek His face and take glory in His blessings. If you don’t, I pray that you will seek Him today and experience His goodness. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” – Psalm 34:8-10.

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