Turn But No Return

Thursday, March 14, 2013, 7:57 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Seek the Lord” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. I read Jeremiah 8:4-8 (NIV):

“Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says:

“‘When people fall down, do they not get up?
When someone turns away, do they not return?
Why then have these people turned away?
Why does Jerusalem always turn away?
They cling to deceit;
they refuse to return.
I have listened attentively,
but they do not say what is right.
None of them repent of their wickedness,
saying, “What have I done?”
Each pursues their own course
like a horse charging into battle.
Even the stork in the sky
knows her appointed seasons,
and the dove, the swift and the thrush
observe the time of their migration.
But my people do not know
the requirements of the Lord.

“‘How can you say, ‘We are wise,
for we have the law of the Lord,’
when actually the lying pen of the scribes
has handled it falsely?”

God is addressing his people here. Today the church, the body of Christ, is the people of God. So, what I believe the Lord Jesus would have me examine today is in what ways we are like the people of God of Jeremiah’s day, and what we can do to change our ways.

No Return

God makes an appeal here to our sense of logic and reason. If we fall down, we usually will pick ourselves back up, or at least make an attempt to do so, or we will call for help. We don’t generally just sit there indefinitely on the ground or on the floor. If we are headed somewhere and we turn in the wrong direction, as soon as we realize our error, at the earliest possible opportunity (place to U-turn) we will turn around and go the right direction.

Yet, the logic and reason we apply to our natural world we often fail to apply to our spiritual world. We fall into sin and we either remain where we are, and continue, or else we wallow in self-pity for having fallen in the first place and thus we go nowhere. We remain stagnant in our relationship with Jesus Christ. We go in the direction of sin and rebellion and as soon as we realize we are headed the wrong way we either keep heading the wrong direction or we just stop dead in our tracks, but we never turn, and thus we never go anywhere.

Why can we be so logical, practical and reasonable about our natural world and yet be so illogical and irrational about our spiritual world? What God is saying here is that this does not compute. Even the birds of the world know when to turn, but God’s people don’t. We can be so smart about some things and yet turn around and be so stupid, you know? And, the longer we stay down or we continue the wrong direction the more our minds reason that it is the right thing to do. The more we give in to sin and we don’t return to our Lord in repentance, the more we become desensitized to our own evil within us to where we can rationalize it away. And, the more we wallow in self-pity for wrong decisions and thus go nowhere, the greater the risk of going right back to our mud. We can’t just stop sinning. We have to return (see Ephesians 4), and we have to become someone else.

Clings to Deceit

God says here that his people cling to deceit. Do we? Do we make things up as we go along to suit our own lifestyles and decisions? Do we give greater attention and faith to the words of men than we do the words of God? Do we even ask the Lord Jesus to show us where our hearts are being deceived, or are we content in remaining in our state of oblivion? Do we ever think to question the news media, our history books, our government and/or our religious leaders? The Bible says we are to test everything. Do we? Or, is it easier to just go with the flow? Do we follow the ways of our culture, religious heritage, superstitions of men passed down from generation to generation, worldly habits, and human traditions over and above the ways of God and his word? Are we willing to even ask God if we do this? Are we willing to seek the Lord’s face and ask him if we are deceiving ourselves into thinking we are ok when we are not? Some of the greatest deceptions come from within our own selves.

Pursues own Course

Do we take time each day to inquire of the Lord as to what he has planned for our lives? Or, do we, like this horse, just daily charge into battle with no forethought whatsoever as to whether or not this is the direction the Lord Jesus has for us? Do we take time to be holy, i.e. do we make time each day to sit at Jesus’ feet, to hear from him, to listen to what he is saying to our hearts, and then do we purposefully make a plan to obey him? I think we have all heard the saying, “If you don’t plan to succeed, then you plan to fail.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. If we stop stealing for a time, but yet we don’t work and we don’t then give to the needy, then we are just a thief between jobs. We have to become someone else (see Eph. 4). We have to turn and go another direction. We have to get ourselves up off the floor, and we have to start all over again to do what is right.

Yet, we cannot do this in our own will, in our own strength, and in our own flesh-power or we are “crusin’ for a bruisin’”. We cannot go it alone, pursuing our own course, thinking that we know what we are doing or deceiving ourselves into thinking that we will never fall again. We can’t make it through life if we choose to ignore our Lord Jesus and his instructions to us, and if we think we know what is best for our lives. We must daily seek God’s face for wisdom and direction, repenting of any known sin, relying upon His strength and power to fight off the attacks of the enemy against our minds, and we must seek his will and his ways for our lives instead of just going it alone, plotting out our own course.

Do Not Know

God is saying here, as well, that his people do not know the requirements of the Lord. Is that possible? Yes, it most certainly is, and that is largely due to the fact that the word of God is mishandled, manipulated and willfully misinterpreted in order to suit the fancy of those who would come under its teaching. It is willfully misrepresented by many in order to falsify its message so as to appeal to the flesh of mankind. This goes along with the picture of the religious leaders dressing the serious sin wounds of their people as though the sin is not serious. So, the people don’t know the requirements of the Lord, because they are not being taught, and, in fact, it is being taught that under grace there are no requirements.

What is happening much in today’s church is a move away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ to a gospel of mankind, which is a diluted gospel, a half-truth and thus a lie. The purpose of the diluting of the gospel is to assure the people that they can still live sinful lifestyles with free license to do so. This is a misconstruing of God’s grace, which does not give us a free license to continue in sin but delivers us from bondage (slavery) to sin. When we teach that repentance and obedience are not requirements of true believing faith and that God is pleased with us no matter what we do, we are, in fact, giving people a free license to sin, and that is no grace at all! Jesus came to set us free!

Jesus said that if anyone would come after him, he must deny (disallow; negate) his self-life, he must daily die to (forsake; put off) his old way of living for self and sin, and he must follow Jesus Christ in obedience and surrender to his will for his life. He said if we choose to hold on to our old lives of living for self and sin that we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our old lives for the sake of Jesus Christ, we will gain eternal life with God (see Luke 9:23-25). God, speaking through Paul, said that the way we come to know Christ Jesus is by putting off (dying to) our old way of living for self and sin, by being transformed in heart and mind (the working of the Spirit of God), and by putting on our new selves in Christ Jesus, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (see Eph. 4:17-24; cf. Rom. 6; 1 John; Gal. 2:20; Luke 9:23-25). These are the requirements of God!

Seek the Lord / An Original Work / July 20, 2012

Based off Isaiah 55

“Come to Me all you who thirst; come to waters.
Listen to Me, and eat what’s good today,
And your soul will delight in richest of fare.
Give ear to Me, and you will live.
I have made an eternal covenant with you.
Wash in the blood of the Lamb.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him.
Let the wicked forsake his way, in truth.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will receive mercy.
Freely, God pardons him.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,”
declares the Lord, our God.

“My word that goes out of My mouth is truthful.
It will not return to Me unfulfilled.
My word will accomplish all that I desire,
And achieve the goal I intend.
You will go in joy, and be led forth in peace.
The mountains will burst into song… before you,
And all of the trees clap their hands.”