July 19, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“God’s Will?”

Jeremiah 42:1-6

Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” 4 Jeremiah the prophet said to them, “I have heard you. Behold, I will pray to the Lord your God according to your request, and whatever the Lord answers you I will tell you. I will keep nothing back from you.” 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us.6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”

Confession time.  I—like most men—am more sensitive than I let on.  So if someone were to negatively criticize one of my sermons, lessons, how I run a ministry, or even my choice of outfit for the day, on the outside I would appear receptive.  I might even thank them for their opinion—but inside, I would somewhat be deeply wounded. That is why, because of my fragile ego, my wife has learned to ask this question before giving her opinion: “Do you want the truth, or what you want to hear?”  Example: I would ask, “Honey, I just came back from the gym. Doesn’t my chest look huge?” Her: “Do you want the truth or what feels good?” Me: “What I want to hear, of course!” Her: “Massive—I don’t know how you don’t tip over.” Me: “Thanks.”  

Let’s be honest: we don’t always want the truth in our lives, but we want to hear what we want.  Even in our prayer lives, we have said at least one time, “God, tell me what you want me to do, and no matter what it is, I’ll do it.”  What we’re hoping to hear from God is, “Keep on doing what you’re doing.” When He actually says, “Sudan,” we do our best to brush it off as youthful exuberance.  

In today’s passage, Johanan and the rest of the leaders of Judah came to Jeremiah with a request and a promise, essentially saying, “Tell us what the Lord wants us to do, and we’ll do it.”  If you recall from yesterday, the Jews were considering fleeing to Egypt and were seeking the Lord’s stamp of approval with this plan. But as we’ll read over the next few days, they didn’t really want to obey God; they just wanted to hear Him say yes to what they wanted.  

The take home is obvious.  Do you genuinely want the Lord’s will and truth in your life, or do you—like Johanan and the rest of the Israelites—want Him to give you the stamp of approval for what you want to do?  Have you made promises to obey and then went ahead and disobeyed? But the good news is that with the Lord, there are often second chances to obey.  

Prayer: Father, cleanse my heart.  Help me to genuinely desire obedience; give me courage to follow through. Amen. 

Bible Reading for Today:  1 Kings 22


Lunch Break Study

Read 1 Samuel 15:22-23 (For context, this is Samuel’s rebuke to Saul after he disobeyed God’s orders to wipe out the Amalekites.): And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Questions to Consider

  1. How do you suppose people in the 21st century try to substitute sacrifices for obedience?
  2. Why do you suppose Samuel compares rebellion to divination and presumption to iniquity and idolatry?  
  3. Are there areas in your life where the Lord is calling you to greater obedience?

Notes

  1. Now, instead of sacrificing animals, we sacrifice our service, time, and money.  But even if we’re spending hours in church, small group, or faithfully tithing, we can still be in a state of disobedience.  More than anything, the Lord desires hearts that trust and obey Him.  
  2. Divination and idolatry are both similar in that we search out other sources of guidance or allegiance.  In both cases, God is able to meet all of our needs and is worthy of our loyalty. So in this sense, rebellion and presumption are not different than idolatry and self-worship.  
  3. Personal application. 

Evening Reflection

Today’s theme was obedience.  Is there anything you feel like the Lord is asking you to do that you haven’t followed through?  Perhaps you need a friend to speak truth in your life. Whatever steps you need to take, ask the Lord for the courage to follow through.

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