“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…”‘” (ESV – Read the chapter)
The people of Israel who hadn’t been taken off to Babylon as captives or killed in the process were scared. The options before them didn’t seem good at all. Some of their leaders had murdered the governor the Babylonians had put in place to rule over them. They feared retribution was coming and would be painful when it arrived. The various nations around them not only didn’t want to help, but were actively antagonistic toward them. The only option that seemed to make sense was to head to Egypt in hopes that by coming as refugees from their mutual enemies in Babylon, they would be received graciously and not as a hostile force. Read the rest…
“I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This is perhaps one of the greatest gifts that God gives to His people. One heart. The NIV renders the Hebrew here “an undivided heart.” How often has a divided heart resulted in trouble in your life? It has done plenty in mine. When our heart is divided, we are trying to give our devotion to more than one thing. That never goes well. As Jesus observed, when we try that we invariably wind up hating one thing at the expense of the other. Read the rest…
“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Over and over again in the prophets we see that God’s chief concern for the people was not that they got religion right, but that they got justice right. He complained about their offerings and sacrifices not because they weren’t done strictly according to the guidelines set out in the law, but because they pursued them without the accompanying set of behaviors (namely, a generous pursuit of justice for the least, last, and lost in their midst). Read the rest…
“I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
The piece of advice which perhaps best captures the spirit of our age is this: Follow your heart. We are told over and over today to do this. We see it on kids’ shows of every kind. We see it in movies and in books and in magazines. We hear it in popular music. It is everywhere we look.
In most cases, it sounds like great advice too. If you aren’t sure about the path you need to take to get from where you are to where you want to go, just look inside and choose the route that best resonates with who you know you are. Follow your heart. After all, who knows the shape of your desires better than you do? Who is more suited to see them come to reality than you are?
Yet the tough truth is that this is awful advice. It’s terrible. It will lead us to nowhere but heartache and hardship. The Scriptures tell us why again and again. On our own, we don’t know the best way to go. There is a way that seems right to people, but it’s end is death. Or, as Jeremiah puts it here, the way of man is not in himself. It is not in us to direct our steps. If we try, we only set ourselves up for trouble.
Better is to trust in the ways of the Lord. Let Him be the one who guides your steps. Let His ways be the ones you follow most closely. Let His Word be the path to which you commit your feet. His way won’t always be the easiest, but it will always be the right way.
When Lisa and I lived in Colorado, we had the opportunity to drive to the top of Pike’s Peak several times. It was unfailingly a stunningly beautiful drive. But, the path to the top of the mountain was 19 miles of weaving back and forth, tight turns, and switchbacks. It took upwards of two hours to get to the top. When you looked at a map of the route it seemed crazy to weave all over the mountain in order to get there. Why not just drive straight to the top? Or, when coming down, why not just head off the side and roll? Because that path would have been impossible. It may have been shorter in theory, but in actuality the pitfalls and cliffs along the way would have wound up taking several times longer…if you were even able to navigate it.
If we take a path other than the path of God, if won’t get us where we want to go. If we look inside for our direction and drive, we will find only a stalled engine and an unreliable map. There are two paths you can take from here to there: God’s path or all the others. Take the one that will get you where you really want to go.
*I’m going to try something a little different starting with this post. I will begin including an audio version of each post at the end so you can listen or read, whichever you prefer and your schedule allows. I’d love your feedback on this as well. If it’s a hit, I’ll keep doing it. If it doesn’t add, I’ll take things back to normal. Thanks for your gift of time to read–and now listen. Blessing to you!
“Then the word of the Lord came to me: ‘O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.'” (ESV – Read the chapter)
This image is at one and the same time incredibly comforting, but also challenging. The comfort is fairly obvious. God is the master potter. He is making a beautiful piece of art out of our lives. Like any great potter, He has a goal in mind. As He works the clay, though, sometimes imperfections rise to the top. This doesn’t scare Him or somehow derail His plans. He smooths out the rough places and incorporates the imperfections so that they become unique parts of His design. And, if something happens that causes us to break, He can repair us and leave us even more beautiful than when we started. This sounds like the kind of God who is worth serving. Read the rest…