Jeremiah 1 to 3 Are you a pretender? Jeremiah, who tried to get out of telling the nation about their sin, tells the nation that they are just playing pretend about their relationship with Yahweh. Like the church in Ephesus, they had lost their first love and pretended to love God. They want God to forgive, but they fail to repent. In chapter 2, God says: he Lord says: “I have fond memories of you, how devoted you were to me in your early years. I remember how you loved me like a new bride; you followed me through the wilderness, but now you wander to the nations that serve idols I said do NOT do. I am your God; I am a jealous God who will not share my glory with another.
How like Judah we are. Like them, we see the destructiveness of sin, but like the blind man who cannot see, we say it won’t happen to us. But, unfortunately, our prisons are full of those who bought into that lie, and our world is full of sinners who said the same thing. They were and are the pretenders. Their faith is not genuine. They will not hear the words of James about Abraham, who believed God, and his works demonstrated that belief.
This is a wake-up call. Are you listening? Will you pretend, or will you be honest?
Joshua 9-10 Have you ever made a snap judgment only to find it blow up in your face? The Israelites did just that when the Gibeonites entered the Israelites camp and deceived them by wearing rags and carrying moldy bread, along with a tale of their journey. Their deception included meekly approaching the camp of the Israelites who accepted them at face value.
But as quickly as they deceived the Israelites, they now found out that their cleverness just might be their undoing and the Israelites will learn a hard lesson in accepting others without checking in with God. This unlikely friendship has turned the Gibeonites into enemies in the land and others seeing them as betrayers. Without Israel’s help, they would have been defeated. Even though the Israelites were not happy with the leaders for their rash decision to accept the Gibeonites, they fulfilled their promise of protection and God will use this experience to bring Him glory and teach the Israelites never again to accept others on what they see rather than checking in with God.
Remember the truth of Romans 8:28 “all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” God used Joshua’s error in not seeking God’s wise counsel regarding the Gibeonites to bring honor to Himself. God can and will use our mistakes to honor Himself. We often only see the cloud’s underside, but the silver lining, although hidden, will be revealed, so God gets the credit, not us.
When was the last time you didn’t check with God? Did you stop and give Him praise for how He used your mistake to bring about His good?
Jeremiah 2 and 3 Have you ever heard these words: I don’t want you and I don’t need you?” These are heart-wrenching words that creep into our souls. God asks; what have I done that you have chosen to dismiss Me out of your life? You were once devoted to Me and loved Me just like a bride loves her new husband. Yet, now you find more pleasure in foreign gods and want to pursue them.
God reminds His people that they no longer even ask where God is. If they had asked God would have told them, as He did for the Church at Ephesus, you have lost your first love. “Remember from what high state you have fallen and repent.” [Rev 2:5] God is calling today just as He did then. We say we are Christians, but our walk and talk do not match. Instead, we are like broken cisterns. The true Living Water is available, but we say I have my shovel and will dig my own. The sin of pride is ever before us. Audaciously and coyly, we say: isn’t it right that you are a forgiver of sins and gracious beyond all that we can understand? And yet, our words are words of a faithless child because we go our wayward ways. We were only pretending.
As then so today, God is pleading; return to me. Break your rebellious ways, and I will be a Father to you once again. Is your faith real or fake? Are you just pretending or are you for real?
2 Chronicles 35 The story of King Josiah teaches us that not IF but WHEN we fail to consult God, we may face severe consequences. Josiah set out to intercept Pharaoh without asking God. He went looking for trouble where he didn’t need to be. Had he consulted God, the outcome may have been different. An archer drew his bow with Josiah as his target. We might ask: ‘why didn’t God protect righteous King Josiah—why did he allow him to die at such a young age?’
Excellent question with a practical answer: When we fail to consult God, he may send his counsel to us— even through unbelievers as he did with this unrighteous Pharaoh. Pharaoh Necho told Josiah to “Refrain from meddling with God, who is with me, lest He destroys you.”
As a believer, we have the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us, but more often than not, like Josiah, we grieve and quench his power when we make decisions on our own. Josiah had everything at his disposal to seek God’s will, but he chose not to do so, and we are guilty of the same.
Even though Josiah did not consult God, God was true to His promise. Josiah did not see the calamity God had foreordained for Judah. The LFL (Lesson for Life): Do not rely on your own understanding. Seek God’s wisdom first before setting out. Sometimes God is gracious but not always as we see in Josiah’s case.
Asa may not have been the perfect king, but it seems he did
one thing right; he raised a godly son Jehoshaphat, who took his place. Each of
us is responsible for following God or not but our parents have much to do with
our path. Asa’s son cleansed the land and brought about many godly reforms. We aren’t
told about his heart but we “know” him by his fruit. [Matt 12]
However, Jehoshaphat had one glaring fault: he allied with
King Ahab, who was a narcissist to the core.
When Ahab wanted to fight a war, he urged Jehoshaphat to go to war with
him. To his credit, Jehoshaphat wanted advice from a prophet before he went.
Ahab, the ever-present fool, called in his false prophets who would agree with
him whether right or wrong. Jehoshaphat was discerning enough to ask for a
godly prophet to give his advice, which turned out to be accurate to the last
jot and tittle while the false prophets’ words fell to the ground. Ahab was
killed in battle even after disguising himself. Galatians 6 reminds us God will
not be made a fool.
Jehoshaphat, to his credit, called for godly advice before
he set out. We should do the same. “But if anyone is deficient in wisdom,
he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it
will be given to him.” [James 1:5]
1Kings 14 The gecko in the garden tries to fool by staying still and changing his coat to match the plant. He thinks they don’t see me just like King Jeroboam thought he could fool the prophet Ahijah. He sent his wife to him disguised as just any woman to get help for their sick child. But, Jeroboam didn’t know that the old prophet was now blind and no disguise would be of help. Yet, God is God, and He would be His eyes.
Is. 46:9 says, “Truly, I am God, I have no peer; I am
God, and there is none like me.”
Our disguises do not fool God. Even blindness cannot fool
God. We may change our clothing, put on a new face, but God sees us as we are.
God sees our heart. He sees our motives. He sees the situation.
Do we attempt to conceal ourselves, so the world doesn’t
know us a believer? Jesus reminded us: “For whoever is ashamed of me and
my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he comes in his
glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” [Luke9]
And also, this is true, if God wants someone to know us; He
will reveal who we are. Are we trying to
hide behind a disguise? Come out from among them and let the world know who you