You Alone

Sunday, July 20, 2014, 7:26 p.m. – the Lord Jesus put the song in mind, “As the Deer.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Jeremiah 10 (NIV).

Ways and Practices

Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. This is what the Lord says:

“Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
though the nations are terrified by them.
For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
…their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.”
~ Jer. 10:1-5​

What are some of “the ways of the nations” which we might be tempted to follow with our lives today? For one, I believe it is be consumed with television, movies, the internet, social media sites, games, and/or electronic devices, etc., which have the potential to distract us, and to fill up a lot of our time with a bunch of meaningless stuff, or with us finding enjoyment and entertainment in what is sinful. For another, through such mediums as these it is possible for us to be easily deceived, manipulated and duped into believing things to be true which are really just clever deceptions and dramatizations - pure fabrications for the sole purpose to deceive and to distract. Another is the likelihood; again via such mediums as these, that we might adopt the notion that life should be one big party and that we are just to have fun all the time, i.e. that we should be consumed with self-pleasure.

The sad reality of this whole thing is that the majority of evangelical Christians and churches today in America, by all appearances, has learned and has adopted “the ways of the nations,” and they have infiltrated the church. The church is following “the ways of the nations” by turning the church into big business and by marketing it just like a business of mankind. The church uses gimmicks, tricks, deceptions and manipulations of various kinds to try to draw in large crowds of people from the world around them. They also dilute the gospel message to make it more appealing, palatable, and acceptable to the world so the cross of Christ is no longer an offense to those who are perishing. “The ways of the nations” have replaced the ways of God and his word. The teachings of humans have superseded the teachings of Christ and the apostles. And entertainment has supplanted true worship.

Senseless Shepherds

The shepherds are senseless
and do not inquire of the Lord;
so they do not prosper
and all their flock is scattered. ~ Jer. 10:21

The shepherds are our leaders in our homes, nations, and in the church. Many are senseless because they do not inquire of the Lord, but they do inquire of humankind. Some of them spend hours upon hours reading books on how to grow their churches and how to market their businesses so that people will want to come to their meetings; and in attending business meetings to discuss such plans for making the church more attractive to the world. Numerous ones among them are so busy with all the fluff, and with all the gimmicks and entertainment, and with the plans of humans, that they have precious little time for prayer or for the study of God’s word so that they can lead their people to follow Jesus Christ, instead of leading them to be followers of humankind. In fact, countless ones of them have adopted “the ways of the nations” themselves, and so they are caught up in being distracted and/or in finding pleasure in what is sinful, too, so that they are not able to lead their people in the way of holiness.

No One Like You

No one is like you, Lord;
you are great,
and your name is mighty in power.
Who should not fear you,
King of the nations?
This is your due.

…But the Lord is the true God;
he is the living God, the eternal King.
When he is angry, the earth trembles;
the nations cannot endure his wrath.
“Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’”

But God made the earth by his power;
he founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
~ Jer. 10:6-7a, 10-13​

No one or nothing can compare to our God. There is no one like him. No plans of humans, no marketing schemes, no edifices built by human hands, and no IPads or smart phones or computer equipment or software can even begin to compare to him. He alone is the creator of the world and all that is in it – that which was created of him. He created humankind, so he knows us inside and out. His knowledge and his wisdom are beyond human comprehension. He is our living God, our eternal King. There is no one wiser or more powerful than him. He always existed. He is more awesome and more beautiful than the best symphony or the greatest work of art. His way of holiness and his plan for our lives far surpass any ways of humankind or any thinking or reasoning of humans. The joy and the peace which he gives us far exceed any temporal happiness we may feel in this life. So, he deserves all of our honor, worship, praise, adoration, awe and respect.

Not Our Own

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own;
it is not for them to direct their steps.
Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure—
not in your anger,
or you will reduce me to nothing.
~ Jer. 10:23-24​

You know, I think we would all do well to commit verse 23 to heart, and for the reality of what is taught here to truly sink into our brains. We were created for a purpose. That purpose is to worship God as our only God. As believers in Jesus Christ, we were bought with a price, so our lives truly are not our own. We are to honor God with our lives. It is not up to us to direct our own steps and/or for us to follow the ways of other humans. We should daily inquire of our God as to what plans he has for us, and what steps he wants us to take. Much of his will for our lives is made plain in scripture. The problem that exists here is not that people don’t know the will of God so much so as it is that they don’t do what they know. Jesus died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us (See 2 Co. 5:15).

Jesus said that he disciplines those he loves. He said that if we are not disciplined of him, then we are not his. His discipline can come in many forms. He allows us to go through various trials in our lives. We get sick. We face persecution. We may be hated or falsely accused. We may face financial hardships or the loss of a loved one. Our house may catch on fire. We may be the victims of a robbery or of a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or volcanic eruption. We may live in war-torn countries. We may have to go through famine. His purpose in the things he allows in our lives is to purify our hearts, to make us holy, mature us in Christ, teach us perseverance, develop within us godly character, move us to obedience, and to draw us closer to him as we learn to call upon him in our suffering, etc.

Sometimes he must discipline us for our good because we have forsaken him as our “first love” and we have run after “other gods” which are not gods. And, we need to learn that he is to be our only God. He doesn’t do this because he wants to spoil all our fun or because he wants to make us miserable. He does this because he knows what is harmful for us, and he knows what we truly need, and what is best for us, and he wants what is best for us. It grieves him that so many who profess his name are following “the ways of the nations” and are making created things or man-made things their gods in place of their one and only true God. And, so divine discipline might be the best thing for us to get us back on track, to get us walking in the way of holiness, and to get us to truly long after God/Jesus and to make him our only strength and the desire of our hearts.

As the Deer / Martin J. Nystrom
Based off Psalm 42:1

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after You…
You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship You