Take my Heart, Lord. Take & Seal It.

I was talking with a group of people recently about New Year’s resolutions and the increase of people at the local gym.

One thing that they noted was that most gyms see all those News Year’s resolutions start to waver by the third week of January.  I have to admit, I was a bit surprised that so many give up so quickly.  I also understand.  The first week you are really excited.  You exercise, break a sweat, and you start to feel better.  By the second week, I have no doubt that the soreness begins to kick in.  If you are doing it in the morning, the bed starts to feel so comfortable.  If you do it in the evening, your calendar starts to get busy. 

I just doesn’t take much to create a good excuse.  “I’ll go tomorrow.”  “It’s too cold.”  “I need a day to rest and recuperate.”  They are all good excuses, but they also begin to take you down the road to a broken resolution and no real change in the New Year.

Over the past couple days we have been studying Jeremiah as a church in our January Bible Study.  During our study, we focused on the events of Jeremiah 34.  In Jeremiah 34, the people living in Jerusalem find themselves in immediate danger.  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has come to Jerusalem to overthrow the city and crush a rebellion.  In their fear, they make a covenant with God, which included the liberation of all Hebrew slaves in the city.

The King declares this covenant and all the wealthy of Jerusalem resolve to free their slaves.  There is a big public ceremony to show their intention and shortly after doing so the armies of Babylon leave to address an army from Egypt that is marching to aid Jerusalem.

Here’s the problem.  Once the armies began to move out, the people celebrated and almost immediately took back the promises they made in the covenant.  The wealthy found excuses to justify enslaving their countrymen again. 

This results in the following prophecy:

“You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming release each man to his brother and each man to his neighbor. Behold, I am proclaiming a release to you… to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.” (v. 17)

God was not fooled by their false promises, nor their good intentions.  The truth was that their motivation for making this covenant was never about love for God.  On the contrary, they only wanted to avoid the punishment for their disobedience.  Soon the armies would return and leave Jerusalem in waste with many taken away into captivity,

We do the same thing today.  We beg, plead, and try to make a deal with God in hopes that He will grant our wishes or allow us to escape certain doom.  However, once the threat has passed; we often go right back to sin as usual.

In 2020, we need to break the cycle.

We do this by putting fear in its proper place.  We need to stop fearing punishment and start fearing God. 

Fear of God is more than terror that He might make our lives unpleasant.  Instead, it is the realization that He is our Creator, and He is sovereign over all things.  This realization ought to move us to reverence of Him and obedience to Him. 

It also shows us that even though He is so high and lofty, He loves us; showing us grace and mercy over and over.

So let us be motivated by our love and fear of God in 2020.  If we do, we may just see the changes we really want to see this year.  “For nothing is impossible with God!”  (Luke 1:37)