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Today’s Truth

“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.”

1 Corinthians 4:20

Friend to Friend

Two important people in my life struggle with anger. Both love God passionately and care about their families. Both have offered apologies and expressed regret repeatedly for outbursts they wish they could take back. I believe this has contributed to my lack of enthusiasm about apologies. I reached the point when I didn’t want another apology; I simply wanted the outbursts to stop. I wanted to feel peaceful instead of anxious, anticipating when their anger might erupt again. Both of these people have come a long way in their battle with anger, but I cannot say the scar of empty words hasn’t stayed with me.

Words are important. According to Proverbs 18:21, they have the power of life and death. However, words of intent without follow through are just wishful thinking. They are the New Year’s resolutions we make without a plan to see them through. They are the apologies we offer even when it’s obvious we don’t mean it. They are the promises we make to God but don’t keep (such as saying that we love God but refusing to get along with His children). They are empty words with no actions to back them up.

The people of Judah had a lot of experience in offering empty words. They cried out to God on several occasions, declaring their intent to change their ways, but there were no actions to back up their words. They didn’t demonstrate true repentance.

Have you ever been driving the wrong way and your smart phone or GPS said, “Recalculating”? Then it rerouted you so that you were turned back toward your destination rather than away from it. A similar concept happens in life when we get off course spiritually. Once we acknowledge we are moving in the wrong direction, we must turn around—repent—and go God’s new way, which gets us to the destination of intimacy with Him.

In Jeremiah 14 we see that the people of Judah were crying out for rescue, but God knew their hearts. Their motives weren’t right. Listen to their cry for help and the Lord’s response: “’O Hope of Israel, our Savior in times of trouble, why are you like a stranger to us? Why are you like a traveler passing through the land, stopping only for the night? Are you also confused? Is our champion helpless to save us? You are right here among us, Lord. We are known as your people. Please don’t abandon us now!’ So this is what the Lord says to his people: ‘You love to wander far from me and do not restrain yourselves. Therefore, I will no longer accept you as my people. Now I will remember all your wickedness and will punish you for your sins.’” (vv. 8-10)

They wanted God’s hand of help without any relationship or repentance. It’s like the rebellious teenager who consistently makes bad choices but then wants to be bailed out of the penalties every. Softening the pain of consequences won’t help the teen to change. Like a good parent, God chose to allow Judah to experience the difficulty brought upon them by their bad decisions.

There is always a penalty for sin. God is holy, and sin separates us from Him. This helps us understand why the cross is so significant. God continually offers us hope, and this hope centers on Jeremiah’s prediction of a future Messiah. Although Jeremiah did not know Jesus’s name, His faith in the future Savior assured his salvation as much as my faith in Jesus does. Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was the necessary payment for our sin so that we can be restored to a right relationship with God. This is the good news of the gospel. However, the gospel message also includes repentance. Repentance is not just admitting our sin; it is turning from it.

God wants more than words. Real faith reveals itself through actions. It turns away from sin and toward a holy God. Let us learn from the people of Judah that God wants us to fully yield our words and our lives to Him. When our mouths say one thing but our actions reveal something else, we are only lying to ourselves. Awareness and action are two different things. We can desire to stop a harmful habit and even cry out to God for help, but without actions to back up our words, they are empty.

Let’s Pray

Dear Lord, help me to see where you are recalculating my course. I want to follow the leading of your Holy Spirit instead of charting my own course. Help me to live by your power and allow You to transform me. I want my faith to be more than words. Thank you that I can have a real relationship with You!

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Where is God’s Holy Spirit like a GPS in your life calling out “recalculating?” Is there a new direction He is calling you to take in repentance? As you cry out to God for rescue – consider where He might be calling you to walk in repentance down a path that leads to Him – He is waiting with open arms for all of us prodigal children headed home!

More from the Girlfriends

Melissa Spoelstra is an author and speaker who is first and foremost a Christ-follower who is madly in love with Jesus and addicted to the study of His Word.  She shares more about Jeremiah’s message of hope through listening in her new book, Dare to Hope: Intentional Living in an Unstable World. https://amzn.to/2MQcvfs

2 Responses to “Recalculating”

  1. Alexandria says:

    I agree with what you are saying-the Bible talks about having integrity and how important that is to exercise being trustworthy as a believer, but if we do as Jesus said, “forgive 70 x 7” then it becomes clear that He wants us to walk in unconditional love and to not hold any weaknesses against each other. The other part of that is that anyone’s failures are between God and them. We can say that people make empty promises, but “man looks at the outside and God looks at the heart” and we cannot know if someone is being careless or just failing in weakness, and need prayer. I think we often miss the idea of Gods plan-I believe that if He gives us the privilege of being made aware of someone else’s weakness, then it must be His idea for that person to be prayed for so that they can be healed and released from their weakness. Instead of offense, God calls us to learn how to love others just like He loves us, even though we often make the same mistakes over and over throughout our whole lives, and He doesn’t get offended but keeps reminding us of the redemptive work of the cross. If the Bible says that our battles are not flesh and blood-against people-then shouldn’t we be praying for each other to overcome the spiritual battles in whatever way we see each other struggle?

  2. Barb says:

    So many times my daughter makes empty promises to me and I have just had enough. So many times she has talked bad about me to her friends. So many times she’s disrespected me. I am to the point of cutting her out of my life the only reason I stay is my grandchildren. But even they are driving me crazy thinking they can treat me as bad as their mom does. So I have decided to give my daughter til Dec. 31 for me to watch her children after that I am out of their lives. For my mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being I have to stop…four years is long enough.

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8