15 The Lord, the God of their ancestors, repeatedly sent his prophets to warn them, for he had compassion on his people and his Temple. — 2 Chronicles 36:15
Because of His great love and compassion, God had warned the Israelites again and again. The people and the leaders would repent and be faithful for a while. Then they would go back to their wicked ways and worship the idols of the nations around them. God would bring up armies against them, but He had never allowed them to completely destroy Jerusalem. This time, they had gone too far. Just as the prophets had told Josiah, God would allow the city to be destroyed and the people taken captive. He brought the Egyptains against the city and the Judahites had to pay tribute to the king of Egypt. Then, God brought the Babylonians against Judah to completely lay waste to Jerusalem and the land of Judah. They took the people to Babylon where they would remain in captivity until Cyrus of Persia became king. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemened to repeat it.” is a statement attributed to George Santayana in 1863. Our nation can learn and remember what God did to His chosen people, the Israelites or we will be condemned to repeat their failures as well. God has repeatedly sent His modern day prophets and preachers to warn our country to repent, turn from our wicked ways and return unto the God of our Fathers. Let us join together in prayer that we and our leaders will learn from history so that God can continue to bless us and not allow our great country to be destroyed.
7 For the Lord your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.”’ — Deuteronomy 2:7 NLT
If you have ever taken a road trip with your kids then you have heard the question, “when will we get there?” or “how much longer?”. One Mother’s answer was “Your Father is in charge, he will take care of us and we will arrive safely. We can just enjoy the trip.” That is a lesson that the Israelis never seem to learn. Their stubbornness and refusal to learn it changed a trip that should have taken only eleven days into an adventure that lasted over forty years. Because of their attitude, we read in Hebrews, that the original generation of Israelis never entered the rest that God had prepared for them. Instead of enjoying the trip, the Israelis continually moaned, groaned and whined. How many days have we wasted whining when we could have just relaxed and enjoyed the trip? How many more days will we waste moaning and groaning because, like the Israelis, we don’t trust our Father to provide for us and bring us safely home? Moses told the children of Israel “during these forty years, the Lord your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.” They wanted a lot of things they ddin’t have, but they had everything they needed to make the journey. The Lord our God is still with us and we lack nothing that we need. If we could ever learn to rest and enjoy the trip, it would not matter when we got there because each day would be a new experience enjoying the presence of the Lord. Remember that God is our provider and our shield, rest in His presence and repeat as often as necessary.
6 So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. 7 So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. — Hebrews 4:6, 7a NLT
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. — 2 Peter 1:5-11 NIV
If we put in the time studying the Scriptures and following the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we will add all these things to our faith. As we learn God’s Word, we will be able to access more and more Godly wisdom and power. These attributes of Jesus will not only confirm our calling but will also makes us effective and productive disciples of Jesus. If we don’t spend the time we will never be able to see beyond our fleshly desires, thus appearing nearsighted and/or blind. Then we will not be able to lead others to Jesus Christ, which is the ultimate goal of any calling that God has placed on our lives. Unless we continue to study the Word, we will soon forget that we have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb.
So, we need to be diligent and we need to be smart.
Study the Scriptures
Meditate on the Scriptures
Always pray for the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Repeat the story and rehearse all the blessings God has given us
Tell others about Jesus and what He has done for us
Then others will say about us the same thing they said about Jesus.
52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. — Luke 2:52 NIV
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.–Phil. 4:4-8 NIV
Some of the things that Paul wrote are hard for us to understand. “rejoice in the Lord always” and “pray without ceasing” come to mind. In our busy society how does one spend 15 minutes a day rejoicing and praying, much less continually, and still get everything accomplished. I believe that what seems impossible is the key to how we accomplish Paul’s admonitions. Happiness is caused by externals and is temporary. We sometimes confuse that with joy, which is internal and eternal because it is given to us by God. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” What God gives to us cannot be taken away from us. We can lose our focus on the joy but it is still there all the time. Praying is a gift from God as well as an attitude, not a body position. we can mentally pray while doing anything else. Verse 8 is the key to being prayerful and joyful all the time. We need to change our thought patterns so that they focus on the goodness and mercies of God instead of the sin in the world around us. Then we can enjoy the joy and thank God for it.