Jeremiah 31:18-19 ESV
I have heard Ephraim grieving,
‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined,
like an untrained calf;
bring me back that I may be restored,
for you are the Lord my God.
For after I had turned away, I relented,
and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh;
I was ashamed, and I was confounded,
because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
There are a lot of people in this world of ours who are going through very difficult times in their lives. Some of these difficulties have been self-inflicted, i.e. brought on by their own sinful choices, while other people are suffering unjustly at the hands of liars, abusers, and cruel tyrants.
Nearly daily we hear reports of murders, thievery, slander, abuse, excessive force, terrorism, fires, and natural disasters, such as floods and storms. And, then there are all these wars which are going on continuously, too, where hundreds and thousands of people are dying continuously, it would seem.
And, then there are such things as loss of employment, financial disasters, family crisis situations, spousal and/or child abuse and neglect, deaths in families, and critical illnesses, etc. And, there are also people who are being persecuted for their religious beliefs, or because of the color of their skin, or because they are different in some respect from others around them.
But, God never promised us that life was going to be easy, carefree, and absent of pain and suffering. In fact, for the believer in Jesus Christ he promised us that suffering, as he suffered, is part of the Christian life and experience. And, not only that, but that God allows such suffering in our lives for our good, to make us holy, to conform us to the likeness of Christ, to purify our hearts, to prune us, to mature us in Christ, and to correct us.
For, although we are saved by his grace, through faith, which is a gift of God to us, and not of ourselves, lest we should boast, we still live in flesh bodies. We still have the propensity to sin against God and to wander from our pure devotion to our Lord.
Sin should no longer be our master, though, and sin should no longer be our practice (from beginning to end). But, this is not to say that there may not be a time in our Christian walks when we stray from the Lord and need to be brought back into pure unadulterated fellowship with Him (See: Rev. 2-3).
So, one of the methods God consistently uses to bring his wayward people back to him is through divine judgment (discipline, correction). So, he will discipline us, at times, in order to correct us, and in order to convince us to forsake our wandering ways so that we will return to walking with him in obedience to his commands instead of us just doing our own thing.
Jeremiah 31:20 ESV
Is Ephraim my dear son?
Is he my darling child?
For as often as I speak against him,
I do remember him still.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,
declares the Lord.
Some people consider it hate speech to speak out against what is evil; to speak out against sinful practices, and to call for repentance and obedience to Christ as Lord (owner-master) of their lives.
Granted, some people may do so out of hate. I certainly would not want to say that all people who confront evil are doing so out of love and out of compassion, care, and concern for their fellow humans.
Some people may call out specific sins or perceived sins, too, and be truly hateful in how they go about it, while they are guilty of sins far worse, such as what the Pharisees did. They try to remove a speck from someone else’s eye while they have a log in their own that they refuse to remove. And, that is wrong!
Yet, if we truly care about people with God’s love (with Christ’s love), then we will address the issue of sinful practices in people’s lives because we know that sin destroys people, and not just the ones doing the sinning, but those they sin against, and others, too, who are impacted by their sinful choices.
So, if our hearts are in the right place, i.e. if our hearts are aligned with God, with Jesus Christ, in how we view sin, and in how we view those who are chained to sinful addictions, we will cry out against these practices, and we will call people to repentance and to obedience to Christ, not because we are being judgmental, but because we love them with Christ’s love and we want to see them free from their chains and walking in victory over sin.
Jeremiah 31:21-22 ESV
“Set up road markers for yourself;
make yourself guideposts;
consider well the highway,
the road by which you went.
Return, O virgin Israel,
return to these your cities.
How long will you waver,
O faithless daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth:
a woman encircles a man.”
There are a lot of people today in Christian circles who are ignoring the process of healing and restoration which needs to take place in the life of someone who has strayed from the right path, for a time, and who needs to be brought back into pure fellowship with Jesus Christ.
If they do acknowledge the need for repentance and restoration, which many these days totally ignore, they may oversimplify the process by merely stating that we just need to confess our sins and now we are good to go.
And, maybe that works sometimes, but not always. And, that is because there are sometimes things deep within our hearts which keep leading us back down that wrong path, and until we deal properly with that, we will keep repeating the same “sin, confess, sin, confess” pattern over again.
A Personal Example
For example, I was abused emotionally, verbally and sexually as a child. Then, I married a user and abuser, although I did not know that at that time. Yet, I had a close relationship with my Lord, not perfect, but consistent and faithful in most respects for many years, even throughout the multiple abuses, which came from other sources, too, and over many years.
But, then one day the weight of it all came crashing down on me, and I caved to the pressure. I truly believed Satan had power over me and that God could not rescue me. I even said to God one day, “But God, you don’t understand!” And, I believe that came from the fact that my Lord did not rescue me from all that abuse over all those years, and so in my mind I concluded that God was somehow limited and that Satan could win!
So, I yielded to Satan and to the flesh for a period of time, while I ignored my Lord and his commands. But, then the Lord brought me back. All glory to God! And, I am so thankful that he did!!
But, what he showed me is that I had unforgiveness in my heart against Jesus because he had not rescued me from all that abuse, and so I had to forgive my Lord for not rescuing me, and I had to accept his sovereignty over my life. I had to accept that he formed me in the womb of my mother (Ps. 139), fully knowing the abuse I would face, but that he had a purpose for it all, to make me who I am today, doing what I am doing for his praise.
And, then I had to realize that Jesus already won this battle against Satan for me, so I had to behave as though that is true. For, I had been trying to fight off Satan’s evil schemes against me like I tried to fight off my father’s advances, with arms crossed across my face, hoping to not get hit, but knowing that I would, and so I was defeated continuously.
So, in order for me to be delivered out of the sin I had fallen into, I had to consider well the path I took in my faithlessness in order to see how I got there, and then that had to be undone, i.e. reversed (vv. 21-22).
So, now I trusted God with my life and with my future. I now accepted his sovereignty over my life, and that bad things as well as good things would happen to me, but that God is with me and that he will fulfill his purposes in my life if I remain yielded to him. Yet, this is a daily process, and sometimes I need to be reminded of this again, because I am still human.
And, I learned that Satan is a defeated foe, he has no power over me, and I can be victorious over him and over sin when daily I die to sin and self, and when daily I put on the armor of God and I fight off Satan’s attacks with the sword of the Spirit, believing the battle is won for me.
And, this, too, is a daily process, for sometimes I begin to forget this, and I get afraid, and then God reminds me, and then I yield to him, and I let him lead.
So, just saying here that if you are in that “sin, confess, sin, confess” state of repeating the same sinful practices over and over again, and you are feeling as though you just can’t escape it, and that it continues to defeat you, that there is a way out which God has provided for you. You just have to take the way out he provided.
And, for some of you, it may mean that you have to examine how you got there, not on a surface level, but deep down inside your heart. For, it is true that how we behave is reflective of what we truly believe down deep in our hearts, which may be different from what we think we believe.
For, back then, if you had asked me if I believed Satan was a defeated foe, or if you asked me if I believed in the sovereignty of God, intellectually I did. But, in the depths of my heart, I did not, which was evident in my behaviors.
So, let the Lord examine your hearts. Let him speak his truths into your hearts and show you what is there that keeps you in bondage, and that holds you back from total commitment to him. And, then obey what he tells you to do, and you will be free!
Return to Me
An Original Work / September 5, 2013
Based off Jeremiah 31; Cf. Rev. 2-3
I have loved you with an eternal love,
Which I give to you, in my faithfulness.
Keep your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tearing.
You will be rewarded
With much fruitfulness.
There is hope for you that My family
Will return to Me; live in victory!
Though I discipline in My love for you,
My heart longs for you that you walk in truth.
Turn your thoughts to your Lord.
Choose to walk in His ways.
Turn from your sins daily.
Follow Jesus Christ.
Oh, how long will you wander in your sin?
Give your hearts to Me; be restored within.
I will satisfy ev’ry weary soul
Who repents of sin; is renewed within.
Behold, days are coming;
It will surely happen;
Though I discipline them,
They will thrive again.
I will be their One and their Only God.
They shall walk in white; be in Me, made right.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019