In Jeremiah 16, the people of Judah mock Jeremiah's message. "What is our sin?" they ask. In the next chapter, Jeremiah gives a peculiarly simple instruction to Judah. "Bear no burden on the Sabbath day." Sounds simple, right? God promises blessings and prominence throughout the world if they would simply observe this one command, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8). what is so crucial about Jeremiah's request and why does it merit such a blessing?
A favorite Bible quote of mine is 1 Samuel 2:30, "For them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." This was spoken to Eli, the high priest. He of all men should have understood what God wanted! However, he never got it. He was a "good man" as far as men would evaluate but the Lord says, "I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to fruit of his doings" (Jeremiah 17:10). We may think we honor God, but our actions and heart may tell a different story. By not bearing a burden on the Sabbath the people would have reinforced their dedication to God through their actions. They would honor God. For what does the Lord seek? He seeks honor. Whether you're the high priest or a barren woman such as Hannah was, you have the choice to honor God or not. Ask the Lord to search you and know your heart. If you honor God in the simple things, he will delight to lavish tremendous honor up on you.
I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, Unto a nation that was not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, Which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts; (Isaiah 65:1-2)
We have a God that is longsuffering. He is patient. He endures my hardness. There was a poem written in the late 1800’s that was heralded as one of the best odes in the English language. The name of the poem is “The Hound of Heaven.” It is a beautiful, artistic way of describing the relentless pursuit God gives to His creation.
I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
Up vistaed hopes I sped;
And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat – and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet –
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me’…
Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me…
All which I took from thee I did but take,
Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might’st seek it in My arms.
God is relentless in his love. The holy hunt for those he cherishes is still continuing today. “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth” (Psalm 86:15).
And thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah [My Delight], and thy land Beulah [Marriage]: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. (Isaiah 62:2-4)
In 2007, Teri Horton was out shopping for a birthday gift for a friend. She was at a thrift store and stumbled upon a large painting that she thought was cheerful. It may brighten her friend’s day. She bought the painting for $5 and hauled it to her friend’s house. The painting was nothing more than a collection of splats and drips of color on a canvas, but it would be an interesting piece. She took the painting to her friend’s trailer, but to their dismay, the painting was too large to fit in her friend’s door. They set the painting outside, celebrated the birthday with a few drinks, and talked about getting darts to through at the painting. Before long they were too drunk to get the darts. The next morning Teri took the painting and eventually put it in a yard sale of her own.
An art teacher from the local public school system was captivated by the painting and told Teri that she should have it checked out. The teacher thought it was the work of a famous artist from the mid-1900s. Teri had someone check it out, but there was not any signature of the painter. So she secured an art forensic specialist who examined the painting through and through. Trying to ascertain whether style, paint chips or anything would give the secret of the painting away. At long last, the specialist found a fingerprint on the back of the painting. He went to the art studio of Jackson Pollock and found fingerprints there and forensically there was a match. Other fingerprints were used to confirm that there were other matches to Jackson Pollock. Pollock’s paintings have sold for several million dollars, and fairly suddenly Teri’s $5 purchase turned into a $2 million offer. Do you think she took it? No, she is holding out for $50 million.
You and I are much like that painting. We don’t really seem to have much value except that there is a signature of God’s in our lives. Just like that painting, we were simply for sale on the world’s market and Jesus paid the ultimate price. He revealed himself to you and to me and we had the opportunity to accept him. No one in this world seeks after God. God pursues you. Just as Teri pursues the value of this painting, God pursues men and woman throughout his creation not because of their own value, but because of his estimation of their value to Him.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:6-10)
This is why God’s word pleads with you that you would allow Him to live through your life. That you would make the decision to give up everything that identifies you and seek to have your love for God be your identity. That is why abiding in Christ is so vital. He took worthlessness and has made it into something of tremendous value all because of the fingerprint of grace upon your life.
Free is an untrusted word. Nothing is free, they say. There is always a catch, right?
God calls you to come buy true sustenance of Him. If there was a price, it would be more than you could pay, so God says, “He that hath no money; Come ye, buy, and eat” (Isaiah 55:1). Is this a cruel joke? Maybe you have thought, “Nothing is free and if it is, it is not worth much.” Not so with the gifts of God. His gifts are good; they are perfect. They are everlasting. When Jesus offered the Samaritan woman living water with which she would never thirst again, he was offering her heavenly dainties. However, to receive such a gift we must let go of our sinful buffet. God asks, “Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, And let your soul delight itself in fatness” (Isaiah 55:2).
“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, Call ye upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). The wicked must turn from their evil ways. If they desire the “sure mercies” and “abundant pardon,” they must rest in the ways of God. His ways are purer. God says, “Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). There is not a minute similarity between the ways of man and the ways of God. The ways of man lead to destruction. The ways of God lead to life everlasting. God’s ways cannot even be compared to man’s.
God’s ways are higher. You can only see a short way ahead, yet the infinite scope of God gives him the advantage. He sees beyond your days and beyond eternity. He exists outside of time. God inhabits eternity and dwells in the high and holy place (Isaiah 57:15).
God’s ways are richer. The moment God’s ways and thoughts encounter the dry, barren soul of a sinner, a garden springs to life. His thoughts are surer. They will accomplish what He sets forth to do. His way is perfect.
So the ways of God are available to all that will put their trust in Him. His ways are free and pure and high and rich and sure.
As for God, his way is perfect; The word of the Lord is tried: He is a buckler to all them that trust in him. (2 Samuel 22:31)
It is a part of life that the people and the environment change around you. The older you get the more you experience this to be true. However, you have one sure companion. “For the mountains shall depart, And the hills be removed; But my kindness shall not depart from thee, Neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, Saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee” (Isaiah 54:10).
Imagine that your life is a road that is winding along the way. The Word of God, wise counselors, prayer, and the Holy Spirit give you enough light to see a little way in front of you, but you don’t see the entire journey. As you are navigating through life there are signs that give you information about detours, sharp turns, destinations, harsh conditions, etc. The signs just help you prepare for whatever may happen in God’s direction for your life. If you heed the signs, your journey to the destiny God has for you will be smooth. And that’s the ultimate goal: Achieve God’s destiny for your life. Decide today to stay on God’s road. God’s road is the direction He has planned for your life. You won’t always understand the turns and detours, but stay on the road. If you stay on the road, then he shall never depart from you. Always know that God’s direction for your life is never wrong and He always has your best interest in mind.
The shuttles of His purpose move
To carry out His own design;
Seek not too soon to disapprove
His work, nor yet assign
Dark motives, when, with silent tread,
You view some sombre fold;
For lo, within each darker thread
There twines a thread of gold.
He knows the way you plod;
But leave the thread with God.
—Canadian Home Journal