Friday, September 5, 2008

Words of Encouragement

Image with me for a moment. The Israelites knew that God would only come into the tabernacle after they had done everything just as he had instructed.  they would watch as the cloud would come down and enter the tabernacle.  Image if you would with me, we cannot see God's presence in our own lives if our "tabernacles" are not in the order he wants them to be so that he can dwell there.  Lord cleanse us from all unrighteousness so that your presence like the cloud over the tabernacle can be evident.

Then the LORD said to me, "The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries [a] and the delusions of their own minds. - Jeremiah 14:14

This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. - Jeremiah 29:10-12

Where is God? Among the Faithful. As I begin to write this message for today, I rejoice at what the Lord is already speaking to my heart.  This week's lesson was a little difficult to write, because no one really wants to talk about disobedience, yet we must. If you read God's word again and again, you see the people asking where is God in the midst of their situations.  Yet, God was always there, the problem was not with God, but with mankind turning their back on the will of God.

The first scripture is God's message through the prophet Jeremiah about the "false truth" that was going through the land.  The prophets were promising everyone, "peace, peace".  Yet, the truth was God was calling his children to come to a place of repentance and to turn back to him.  He told them again and again if you do not stop what you are doing and turn back to me, I will remove my protection and you are going into captivity (this is what he did with the Israelites under Joshua, he removed his protection because they were disobedient to him).

Yet, the people refused to believe the truth and instead continued to listen to the false prophets giving words that were not true (cotton candy, sweet to the tooth, but no good for the body). They refused to let go of their own ways and ideas and heed what God was telling them.  Each was righteous in their own eyes, and refusing to hear the message of repentance. So instead they refused to hear the truth but embraced a lie.  Are we embracing lies today because the truth calls for us to release ourselves, our thoughts and ideas?

The second set of scripture is God's message that he is going to carry out the plan for captivity because the people have listen to Jeremiah speaking the same message of repent for over 20 years, yet refused to heed so now the punishment is at hand. Yet do not miss the beauty of God in this judgement. God tells them, if you are faithful under my hand and accept your punishment of 70 years, I promise to come back and deliver you.  I will restore you.  This is because I know what plans I have for you.

Do you know that even if you have disobeyed God, he still wants to deliver you?  He still wants to have fellowship with you.  Because he is a just God he will not remove the circumstances of your sins, but he promises to stay faithful to you, if you stay faithful to him.

I rejoice in knowing that even if we find ourselves so far removed from God, he still is willing to reach out to you and save you. He says that at that time, we will call to him and he will answer, he will hear us. He will listen to your pleas and answer.

There are times in our lives when we will have to go through somethings because of our refusal to obey God.  Yet, he is not allowing those difficulties because he wants to destroy us but he is using them to shape us, refine us and to take us through those "fires" to consecrate us unto himself.

Church, God's family, God's people. Today let us pray that we hear God speaking to us.  He knows the plans he has for us.  Plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  He has the desire to give us a hope.  Yet, we must obey him even if we find ourselves in difficulties because of our own doing.  Yield under his hand and watch him show up.

Where is God today?  He is where the faithful are.  He is among the consecrated, the repentant and those that have yielded themselves.  He is among his people.  He is among those that are called by his name, that have repented, turned from their wicked ways and now stand waiting for him to heal their lands.