One word jumped out at me today from a very familiar passage of scripture. It is a passage, and even a word, I’ve read many times before. I even have this passage memorized, and I’d bet you might, too.
“He“. But not just any “he”. It is the third “he” in the sentence below that jumped off the page.
“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”
It isn’t the nap in the lush green pastures that restores my soul. It isn’t the drink of refreshingly cool quiet waters that restores my soul. HE restores my soul. Nothing else can do that.
No doubt he works through the pastures and the waters. I would be a fool to not obey him and lie down or drink deeply. But a nap alone won’t restore my soul. A beverage alone, no matter how quenching, won’t restore my soul.
Only by resting in and drinking in my Shepherd will my soul be restored. HE restores my soul.
It seems to be everywhere for me this week. God is reminding me over and over that he wants his people (specifically me) to obey him. Here is my Life Journal entry from today (9/8/09):
I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the LORD your God in all that he sent me to tell you. — Jeremiah 42:21
(Read the whole chapter here. It is really good.)
Sometimes even with all the information, people still choose to ignore, disobey, and walk away from God. These Israelites came to Jeremiah and asked him to pray to God and find out what they should do. God answers them and is very clear on what he wants them to do. He is graphic in describing the consequences if they disobey. He reiterates that bad things will happen if they disobey. And they still – after asking for his instruction – choose to flat-out disobey God. (And I’m gonna guess that when the predicted consequences come to pass, the people will find a way to accuse God of abandoning them!)
Obey God. Do what he says. He makes it clear what he wants from me. He tells me what will happen if I don’t. It is up to me to obey him.
God, thank you for being true and faithful. Your Word is clear in telling me how you want me to live. You are love and I want to obey you. Help me to obey fully and completely and always.
What keeps you from obeying God?
Ever had this conversation with God?
You are always righteous, O Lord, when I bring a case before you. But I would speak with you about your justice.
These are the words of the prophet Jeremiah (12:1) and I’ve been there. Plenty of times. As my grandma would say, “God, I have a bone to pick with you!”
I got very curious about Jeremiah’s challenge to God – to “speak with” Him, so I did a few simple word studies. And I was blown away.
- “Righteous” = right, lawful, correct – specifically in governing, in one’s cause, in conduct and character, in what you DO
- “bring a case” = to strive; to contend; to disagree; to argue
- “speak” = to talk; to communicate; to “chat”
- “justice” = judgments; decisions; processes
Notice the contrasts between “righteous” and “justice”. And between “bring a case” and “speak”.
So here is how I would rewrite Jeremiah’s thought: “God, you are always right in what you DO. I know I can count on you DOING the right thing, even when I argue with you. But … can we chat about your decisions.”
Or even simpler: “God, let’s talk. I don’t want to argue – you always win. I want to start from a posture of trust and faith. But I really want to understand you on this one…”
Does this sound like your prayer life? Do you approach God seeking to understand Him, or ready to pick a fight? He is big enough to handle both, but I wonder if we’d be better off to come seeking to understand Him instead of getting Him to understand us.
Your thoughts? I’d really love to hear from you.
Several months ago, our church began using the Life Journal and S.O.A.P. method for personal Bible study. I have always intended to post my journals from time to time. Today I’m finally getting around to it. Here is my entry from this morning:
Title: Seek the Lord
Scripture – “He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 12:14
Observation – In this case, the anointed king of Israel did evil by setting up idols and following false gods. He overtly disobeyed God. In the story in 1 Kings 13, a prophet did evil because he listened to another man, rather than following the instructions he had directly received from God. He let another man lead him off his course. He failed to set his heart on seeking God. And it resulted in evil.
Application – I have a calling from God, too. Maybe not a kingly anointing, but an ordination. And beyond that, a personal call from God himself to serve and obey and lead. To not set my heart on seeking the Lord by obeying his call would be to do evil. I don’t have to overtly do evil to disobey. I simply have to take my heart off of steadfastly seeking Him. This is so easy to do. My heart is so easily pulled from seeking God to follow other things. I justify them as good things. Important things. And many of them are. But if those things lead me away from seeking God first, I am off track.
Prayer – God, forgive me for taking my focus and my intent off of you. I get hung up on words like discipline and devotion and consistency. I’m not very good at those, so I use them as an excuse. But what you area asking for is greater than all of that. You are asking for all of me. My loyalty, my allegiance, my heart. And I want to give you all of me. Help me, God. And accept me. May I never do evil by not setting my heart on seeking You. Amen.