In the Book of Micah, the prophet Micah warns the Israelites that they were about to be exiled because of their disobedience to God. Even though the Israelites deserved exile, their punishment wasn’t for punishment’s sake, but so they would recognize their deeds and turn their hearts back to God. Had their exile never happened, they may have been turned from God’s heart forever, which is by far the worse consequence.
But He had a plan for their redemption in the midst of their exile (that they had brought upon themselves): a Savior King and full restoration.
“…out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
“I will gather the lame;
I will assemble the exiles
and those I have brought to grief.
I will make the lame my remnant,
those driven away a strong nation.
The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion
from that day and forever.
As for you, watchtower of the flock,
stronghold of Daughter Zion,
the former dominion will be restored to you;
kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem.”
Reading about the faithfulness of God to His people throughout the Old Testament has helped me acknowledge His own faithfulness to little old me. He’s been so faithful to me all of my years. I’ve made some terrible choices that has led to terrible circumstances, but even in those times, He never stopped hoping I would return to Him. He was literally *waiting* to bless me beyond belief, though He had every right to turn away from me.
“Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.“
It took the Israelites rock bottom for them to recognize their desire and need for God, which is often the case for us today. But He’s literally waiting on each one of us to turn to Him for a better way, whether we are a proclaimed Christian or not. There’s always a better way in life.
On that note, since everyone’s talking about New Years’ resolutions right about now, my New Year’s resolution is to look to God for those issues in life I try to fix myself that I just cannot fix myself. I’m resolute to stop worrying about it and instead place it at His feet, trusting that He will take care of it and bring me through it. It’s the first time I’m trying this, but I figure this way has to work or else God’s assurance that we don’t have to worry is a lie. Deep down, I know it’s not a lie, but it’s going to take a daily repentance from worrying and worshiping God instead to finally break free.
The last book our class studied before the Christmas break was Hosea. This book is truly incredible and beautiful. God’s heart literally bleeds over its pages. His love for us is so deep. He is so devoted to us.
“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.“
But the theme that stood out to me the most was the importance of knowing God. The knowledge of God liberates us and gives life and wisdom. Seeking truth from ungodly sources, or relying solely on our own understanding, leads to destruction and deception in our personal lives:
“…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.“
“Foreigners sap his strength,
but he does not realize it.
His hair is sprinkled with gray,
but he does not notice.“
The problem is that people don’t realize they lack true understanding until they find true understanding in God. This is why speaking about the truth of God is so important. It doesn’t have to be unnatural and forced, that’s just kind of awkward. But taking the opportunity to talk about truth (with gentleness) without succumbing to the fear of causing offense is important. The battle truly isn’t against our fellow humans but against Satan himself who’s just out to deceive people into thinking his ways are better. Since the fall of
mankind God has been set out to save humans from the enemy, from believing his lies. His heart has always been good, even in the Old Testament.
How happy I am knowing that I’m guided by the Spirit of truth and no longer a seducing, deceitful spirit. It’s also a relief that I don’t have to fear that I’m going to believe the wrong things. God is constantly guiding me because He lives inside of me – He’s not going to let me believe in lies as long as I keep asking Him questions and keep my heart open to correction and understanding.
This also ties into my New Year’s resolution to stop worrying and look to God. If freedom comes from accepting truth, from knowing God Himself, then I want to replace my thoughts of worry with thoughts of praise and acknowledgment of God’s love in my life. To develop a daily lifestyle of praise and worship instead of a lifestyle of worry, no matter how Satan tries to steal my joy, this is true freedom. Freedom from fear and freedom to rejoice is truly the greatest gift I could possibly ask for.
“Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.“
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”
And finally, I want to close out this year with a encouragement to those who have experienced loss, grief, and/or a lot of pain with the truth about God – He cares. Lay your hearts in open honesty before Him, no matter how tempting it is to turn away from Him out of anger or hurt or confusion or unbelief or fear, and experience the comfort and wonder of God in 2014.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts before Him.
God is our refuge.