“When you pray with other Christians, believing in faith, and God doesn’t show up when you think he should, don’t get discouraged. Many times I have prayed believing that my prayer was a part of God’s perfect will, yet he didn’t move as quickly as I wanted him to. One time I had to wait sixteen years for him to answer. But when he did, it was the right answer at the right time. While I was waiting on him I wondered what was happening. Sometimes I asked if he really heard me. Was I praying right? What else could I do? But deep within he assured me that he would see me through. He’ll do the same for you.” _Thelma Wells
My prayer today was, “Hurry, Lord! Grant me the desires of my heart. Move quickly to accomplish those things that will allow us to move forward with our vision of the future.”
When I opened my study Bible, looking for an answer that would encourage and ratify my request, it fell open at Jeremiah 16:2-18. I’d been there before! The text from verse 10 to 13 is highlighted in bright pink. So is the passage on the next page, Jeremiah 17:5-10. The verses from chapter 17 are surrounded with my study notes and they pertain to a long time and ongoing study of mine ‘the way of peace’ – dating back to 10-7-88! These verses do speak directly to the request I was making this morning.
In Jeremiah 16 the LORD God is telling his people, through the voice of his prophet, “When you go after other gods, put them ahead of me, serve and worship them; when you won’t listen to me, really bad things are going to happen in your life and in the lives of your children and your children’s children.” He goes on to tell them, “You can’t get by with anything! I know what you’re doing. I know what you’re thinking. You can run, but you can’t hide.”
Trust me! I’ve just read those verses in three Bible translations – the RSV, the NIV and the Living Bible. God’s not kidding around here.
Chapter 16 of the book of Jeremiah emphasizes a spiritual truth I’ve known for years. Here it is. If you want God to do something for you – you’re going to have to do something for God! Get rid of the idols in your life! And just like God’s people in Jeremiah’s time you’re going to ask “Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against me? What have I done to deserve this?”
I gotta tell you…we (Dick and I) have learned, in some cases the hard way, there are lots of things in life that can be considered idols. There are lots of things we can put on a high place in our life, serving and worshiping it ahead of God. And we know in our hearts God is saying “you need to get rid of that.” But we refuse to listen to Him – and really bad things begin to happen in our life.
Some of the worst idols we’ve seen in the lives of those we love are mind altering chemicals – from pot to booze, from prescription meds to cocaine, from Jack Daniels to Coors – stuff that blurs the brain, numbs the senses and ultimately forces God out of the picture. Deep inside God’s people hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit saying, “this is coming between us.” But they don’t listen. And the really bad things keep happening. We’ve seen marriages destroyed, families left homeless, talents erased. The list goes on.
Some of the more subtle false gods (idols) are listed in chapter 17, verse 5 – “cursed is the man who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.” Let’s just put a sticky note here that says “Any thing man can think up to worship that does not glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, bring honor to God the Father and acknowledge the Holy Spirit is a false god.”
When I turned to my NIV Bible to look up these passages of scripture – right there in the margin notes was the above quote from Thelma Wells! What more can I say. Here’s the bottom line….
If I am willing to get rid of the stuff in my life that comes between me and God – He will bless me in all things… Jeremiah 17:7. He knows my heart, my mind and my emotions. He understands me completely. There’s nothing I can do to slip my indiscretions (sins) past Him. But, thank you, thank you, if I listen – and get my stuff in line with the still small voice of LOVE – He will reward me according to my conduct.
That’s Great News. Don’t you agree?