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Bad Habits

There are a lot of people out there who may not be accustomed to living anywhere but a lie. Not just criminals or thieves, but ordinary people. And that’s the way the Israelites lived when they fell away from God.

The description God gives of Israel at the time of Jeremiah 9 is shows how the Israelites lived in their lie and their sin. He describes it as a place of deceit and lies (9:4-6), with people who act one way and are another way at heart. They live without honesty or truth–and so many people live their lives this way:

With his mouth each speaks cordially to his neighbor, but in his heart he sets a trap for him.” Jeremiah 9:8

Sound like you or someone you know? It’s easy to get caught up in this. God said, “…it is not by truth that they triumph in the Lord.” Living the lie means you’re not living in God’s truth. It means you’re denying him and living the way you see fit. But there’s always consequences.

I have a saying: “It’s not karma. It’s life.” The Israelites became like they were because of their own actions–because they weren’t following God’s plan. And how did that start? You don’t follow God’s commands in the little things, and it keeps getting bigger. It grows.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

Call it the inverse of the conditional, but Matthew 5:8 makes it clear that without a pure heart, you won’t see God. The tiniest sin can escalate to blind us from seeing God, and that’s exactly what happened to the Israelites.

That’s why, every time we sin, we need to remember God has redeemed our sins, and ask him for forgiveness and redemption for our actions, so our heart will be pure. It is because of our sin that we blindly make mistakes that end up hurting ourselves.

Jeremiah 9:13 should have new meaning for you now. As God is talking about the terrible place that Israel is to live in, he says knowingly:

It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law.”

End those habits before they start. Ask for forgiveness, and ask that God will help you succeed next time.

Accepting your Circumstance

I’m pretty much no good at Call of Duty: Black Ops. My friend would score in the top two of every game, and I would score in the bottom two every game. And every time, at the end of the round, I would say to myself, “Next time. Next time I’ll do better.” Then, when I wouldn’t and I would have the worst kill-death ratio of any, I would say, “Well, I got like 30 assists, then.” And my friend would subtly say, “Um, you had two…”

“Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!” Jeremiah 4:18

No, losing at a game isn’t punishment. But it is an example of a time we have to suck it up and accept the circumstances. For me, I’ll just have to live with the fact that I am never going to be a professional at first person shooters. For you, and for anyone, there are moments in our lives where the circumstances won’t be how we want them to be. Difficult circumstances, often.

The Israelites faced a similar situation, as they awaited doom. I’m sure many had their doubts as the prophet Jeremiah related to them the things which would happen to them, including being defeated by the Babylonians and exiled. And Jeremiah related the above line, from God, on the subject, and it’s so blatant that it’s too obvious to overlook.

Simply put, we have to take responsibility for things when they’re our fault. And when they’re not, but the situation couldn’t be changed, we still have to accept what’s happening and take it for the best. Accepting people, problems, and personal struggles we face will make it possible to deal with them in a Christ-like way.

Blind Date

Out on a blind date, you have a hard time knowing what to expect. In fact, you don’t know what to expect at all. You are placing some degree of trust in the organizer of the date that this person may be for you. But, you are doing it often with very little evidence to base it on.

The Israelites are put in a similar position, but with the stakes a little higher. You would think that the Israelites would react with something like “Are you kidding me God?!”. Isaiah prophesies the nation’s punishment and exile, and yet we are told God wishes the people not to fear this, as if to surrender to their foe.

Therefore, this is what the Lord, the Lord Almighty, says, “O my people who live in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrians, who beat you with a rod and lift up a club against you, as Egypt did.”” Isaiah 10:24

This example is somewhat unusual, in that God has been prophesying to the Israelites that basically they are going to be punished via the Assyrians, and he then tells them not to sweat it. Any reasoning person would surely question this. The bible has plenty of passages which tell us to not fear, and to trust in God (try Psalm 112:7, Exodus 20:20, Isaiah 41:10, or 1 Peter 3:14.). But it makes it one heck of a lot harder when we are told to juggle that with impending death from one of your worst and most vicious enemies.  

There’s plenty of times which there is reason to be afraid. It just so happens that a lot of those times, it’s mostly our fault. But even among this, awaiting what is to us due, we have to realize that even then, even in the moment of absolute darkness, we are to trust God.

A lot of people call it crazy. Blind love?  Blind trust? Blind hope? I call it obedience. And it isn’t blind, either. When we allow ourselves to trust God, and invest fully in him, he will make sure that we are anything but blind. The Lord we serve prepares us for what’s ahead, though sometimes we don’t listen to the warnings and conditioning he gives us. That’s why it’s key that even when we’re not in times of trouble, we still maintain trust in God–that we’ll stay out of trouble.

In the following quote, it almost seems as if God is joking. He says that even among the punishment, it is only justice, and basically says he’s still giving Jacob a chance.

Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, for I am with you,” declares the LORD. “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”” Jeremiah 46:28

My favorite part is when Jacob is told by God, “I will not completely destroy you.” Unlike the friend you have organizing a blind date, God will never be cruel or give you something you can’t handle. This trust is not blind in God though. With the countless examples in the bible and in life, people who trust in God succeed. You can always place your trust in God, even when it seems to be blind.

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