“O Israel,” says the LORD,
“if you wanted to return to me, you could.
You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more.
Then when you swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’
you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness.
Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,
and all people would come and praise my name.”
We struggle because we are divided between God and the world
There has always been a battle in us to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. Some do this very well, and some will struggle their entire Christian walk. Israel’s people were no different. God was calling on them and expecting them to do well and to live abundantly. However, their hearts were divided, and they worshipped other gods.
When you think about the idols that people worship, what does this look like? Think about anything that steals your focus for any amount of time throughout the day; is there something you are overly proud of like an accomplishment or award? Do you possess a skill that is superior to others and causes you to boast about it and hold it to high esteem? Do you chase money? Do you fantasize about sexual desires? Do you believe in multiple gods; the universe as a god, angels as a god, or do you idolize a celebrity?
I could fill a page with examples of all the various things that can become more important to us than the One True Living God. If we do find that any of the above, or something else, is ultra-important and steals away our focus and attention, we are jeopardizing our walk with God. For those who like things, like; peace and joy and blessings, yes, these are being jeopardized as well when we walk with a divided heart.
We struggle because we don’t see God as a provider for us
So many people struggle in life just trying to get by and even a bit ahead. God is a great provider and not only is He an abundant God, He is a multiplying God. He multiplied bread and fed more than five-thousand (Matthew 14:13-21), He multiplied olive oil for a widow and her children (2 kings 4:1-7), and He multiplied flour for a widow and her son who were otherwise, going to starve (1 Kings 17:8-16).
If we aren’t walking with God, of course He isn’t going to come across as a great provider. He still is though. If we slow down for a moment and realize that God created the Heavens and the earth, and everything in them, and that He inspired all men and women to build things and grow things and to have knowledge, we would see that He is providing all things even when we don’t follow Him.
If God who gave us our skill, took it away, what could we do? If God who provides the rain and the sun and the moon took those away, how could we live?
I realize that when we talk about God’s provision, we are thinking of things like our jobs, our homes, our food, our finances, and these types of things. But God is in everything. Even when we are disobedient or rebellious, He is still faithful to provide.
But for those who walk closely with Him, how much more is He willing to provide? If you aren’t walking close to God, what are you missing out on? If you are worn out and tired from trying to do it all yourself but keep coming up short, are you willing to surrender to Christ and give your burdens to Him and let Him provide?
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We struggle to return to God because we have done too much wrong
Many people are living in regret and guilt and shame because of things they did wrong throughout their lives. Yes, Romans 3:23 says that we’ve all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. But you who are struggling with this, did you know that God is a God of grace and forgiveness? Did you know that God accepts those who come humbly to Him? Have you read in the Scriptures that God forgives, and for His own benefit, forgets the sins He forgives (Isaiah 43:25)?
If we look at the scripture above in Jeremiah 4:1, it says, “O Israel,” says the LORD, “if you wanted to return to me, you could.”
We might be in bondage to sin, but we aren’t trapped. We can move from this way of living and make a choice to follow Jesus in a moment’s notice if we were willing. A simple cry of help to God and He will reach out and start helping. Bringing every past sin and mistake that comes to mind in prayer before God will be forgiven if we are sincere and honest with the Lord and willing to turn away from that lifestyle.
But we must go to God; He is in the same place He always is. God doesn’t pull away or move in. It’s us who grow distant because our hearts and loyalty becomes divided as we seek to satisfy our own desires; it’s us who come back to God in a humble manner when we are worn out from trying to do it ourselves.
But God is where He always is, watching us stumble around and waiting with His mighty right hand held out for us to grab onto; waiting to pick us up, dust us off, feed us, and give us some much-needed rest.
But we must go to God.
We can cast away our idols and turn to God
The next part of Jeremiah 4:1 says, “You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more.”
As I listed off some typical idols we have, each of us could probably think of a thing or two that we hold dearly to our hearts and mind; maybe something that is just as important or more to us than our focus on the Lord.
God is telling all people here, not just the Israelites, to get rid of any idols of worship and turn back to Him. When God prompts us to do something, that is, when we get a feeling inside us that something isn’t right and we need to stop whatever it is we are engaging in, He does this for our own good.
Sometimes, the thing that we are engaging in doesn’t seem bad, and maybe it isn’t. But if it takes God’s place in our heart, it becomes a bad thing. If we don’t understand the Day of Judgment and approximately how long eternity is, we likely won’t have much reason to worry about this. We are likely to reason with ourselves that God is a forgiving God and there is always time to make right the wrong I have done.
Consider the parable about the Ten Bridesmaids, or depending on versions, the Ten Virgins, found in Matthew 25:1-13.
The story goes; five were wise and five were foolish. The five that were wise prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom, who would show up in His timing, and the five that were foolish figured they had time and would prepare later. When the Bridegroom arrived, only the five who were prepared got to go in and enjoy the party.
We can’t foolishly expect that we have time. If God is putting something on your heart to correct, I encourage you to give this some immediate attention. God has a great plan for each of us, but as long as we’re rebellious to Him, He can’t unveil that plan. What’s worse, if we aren’t walking with Him, we might not be ready when Jesus makes His return at an unknown time.
We have the power to live an upright life, even in a corrupt society
In the first part of Jeremiah 4:2, it says: “Then when you swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the LORD lives,’ you could do so with truth, justice, and righteousness.”
If we are living in sin or engaging in things that are detestable to the Lord, He can’t stand behind us. Sure, He is there if we are willing to call on Him and surrender, but He doesn’t help the wicked prevail. If we are living in sin, we are supporting a spirit of wickedness.
If we are walking this way, we will likely turn a blind eye towards evil practices of others. When we see crime going on, we are likely to walk the other way and keep it to ourselves. When we see someone in need, we are likely to cross the road and pretend we didn’t see them. Of course, I’m not talking directly to anyone, as only God knows your true heart.
I am talking in general to the attitude we develop as our hearts harden towards the Lord and all that is good. However, when we turn to the Lord and He hardens our hearts towards all that is evil, then we will help others who need it, then we will not allow others to do evil in our presence, then we will stand up for a good cause; then God will stand behind us.
For many, we don’t want to stand out. We want to just get through our day without persecution or ridicule for our beliefs or actions. Yes, God is calling all of us to take a stand for our beliefs and to be a light in a dark world. He also calls us “the salt of the earth.” Just like salt in an open wound, when we stand up against the evil actions of another, there will likely be some form of hostility against us as God’s words through us will sting.
But God will stand with us, and who can go against God, right?
When we walk with God, we can be a blessing to others
The middle portion of Jeremiah 4:2 says, “Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world,”
If we are living in a “poor-me” state of mind where we are only trying to help ourselves and make our lives better, we will miss the opportunities that God puts before us. I’m not talking about donating money to the impoverished, although this might be exactly what God is asking you to do, but instead, anywhere we see a need, we could pitch in.“If you want to see just how God can use you to be a blessing to others, call out to Him and make yourself available to His service.” Click To Tweet
If we aren’t willing to wake up and become available for the service of God, we risk not living the way God planned for us before we were born. This means, any opportunities, any accomplishments, or any blessings that He had planned might go unnoticed in our lives.
Even when we walk with God, He might not bless us in the way we would think. He might give us a heart to help others; He might give us eyes that can see a hurting person stuck in a dangerous relationship or home; He might put it on our heart to tip the waitress more heavily than we would normally consider because God knows that person is struggling and really needs it.
We simply don’t know how we could be a blessing to others if we were following God unless we actually started following God.
Some might say, well, I don’t have enough time to do extra deeds and things in my life. Believe me, your schedule is your own. You have the power to say no to the time-wasters of the day, and you have the power to only engage in those things that work for the good of you, your family, and society.
If you want to see just how God can use you to be a blessing to others, call out to Him and make yourself available to His service.
Our obedience to God can result in souls won for Christ
The final portion of Jeremiah 4:2 says, “and all people would come and praise my name.”
If the nation of Israel were to change their ways and turn to God in full surrender, the scripture says that “all people would come.” Israel was God’s chosen people and He had big plans for them. He wanted to make that nation so large and blessed that others would want the same.
If we are struggling to live our lives, let alone to follow God, how can we live a life blessed by God that causes others to want the same for their lives? Our actions prevent this. If we say we are Christian and then others see us doing something of a wicked or evil nature, they will call us hypocrites. We will lose our credibility and God will be made the fool, as the next time someone says the name of God, that person will only remember our hypocritical ways.
However, if we stick to our beliefs and we don’t engage in the things of the world, including destructive lunchroom banter and perverse talk, others will see this and remember it.
We effectively are making ourselves available for the Lord to work through us when we walk closely with Him. If someone knows us, but doesn’t know God, and they are having a rough time in life, that person will remember that we are a stable and blessed people, and they are more likely to come and ask what they might do to find some stability and blessing, too. This opens a door for us to share our faith in Jesus with them.
If you struggle to follow God, just know that you don’t have to. God will help you if you reach out. If you are not walking closely with Jesus, why not? Is there something that has been done to harm you at some point? Is there something that broke your trust against God? Or, is it possible that you feel that you would have to give up the pleasures of life if you were to surrender to God?
As long as we live on earth, there will be potential for hardships and struggles. In these times, we are wise to run to God and lean on Him instead of run away from Him. God is ready to accept anyone who will ask Him, but He wants all of us. He doesn’t share His position of authority very well.
Make a choice to turn to Him today and break free from the struggles you are living in. Why not find out what God has planned for you?
If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, you can follow this link (Prayer for Salvation) to find out how. Also, if you need prayer for your life or your family, feel free to fill out a private prayer request in the provided prayer box in this article. My wife and I would love to pray for you.