Recognize Thy Bondage

There are times when things just don’t go well. No matter how hard we try, we can’t make things happen the way we want them to! We feel that life has started to go a little sour! The worst part of it is that we don’t know why!

That’s when we start looking for help. In browsing through Christian book catalogs, I am amazed at the sheer magnitude of resources available that teach righteous living, Church history, Church doctrine, help for the hurting and wounded. The categories are endless. We may pick out a book, thinking that will help us to make the changes we need to have a good life. Half way through the book, it is forgotten, put down, and left to gather dust.

Checking out the television and radio, there are “Christian” stations available where we can hear sermons preached and music played for our edification and worship. I am fascinated by the talk shows that are available. People flock to get advice and help from the so-called experts. Yet the pattern is the same. In spite of good advice being given, most people find it too difficult to implement change. So the search for the perfect solution continues.

How do we get out of a bad situation? Let’s look at the Hebrew people in the Old Testament to get some answers…

“Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways.” Haggai 1:5-7

The Hebrew people were in bondage, carried away as slaves to Babylon, as punishment for sins committed against a holy and righteous God. God had warned them time and time again to turn from their sin, but they ignored Him or obeyed for a short span of time, only to forget again and return to their sin. God sent prophets to warn and exhort them to righteousness who were often killed and abused for their trouble. So He had to get their attention some other way.

“The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers. Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings:  but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord.” Zechariah 1: 2-4

I have often asked myself the question “Why didn’t the people listen to God?”

People who are struggling often find that change is difficult. Change is uncomfortable. The familiar is preferable to the unknown and instant gratification is often preferred over long term results. We don’t wait very well. Truth is, we also enjoy our sin. We are really looking for a way to enjoy our sin without the guilt and shame and consequences.

By nature we don’t make very good decisions. We have a sin nature. We can’t fix ourselves. So we become slaves to our sin.  Sin is anything that is in disobedience to God’s laws and and commands, idolatry which is loving others or things more than God, and anything we know to do and don’t do, or doing things we already know not to do. We haven’t the fortitude of will to do anything on our own that pleases God because we are basically selfish and self-seeking. Our hearts are deceptively wicked, with our motives veiled from our conscious mind. Our desires dictate our choices.

Self-help books and wise counsel may help us to discover our sin, but ultimately it is God alone who can facilitate the changes we need. Discovery should lead us to a desire for change and a willingness to be changed. We work so hard trying to improve things, but without the insight and wisdom of our Lord, the same mistakes are often repeated. Our wisdom is mere foolishness. God wants us to be a doer of His word, not just a hearer. We need the wisdom of our Creator who knows us, understands us, and loves us so we can find His way.

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:  for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” James 1:22-25

Hearing does no good unless we hear and obey. Hearing implies understanding. Having understanding, we would be foolish to discount the words of God and choose not to obey. Remembrance of our past times in bondage should make us ever more anxious to avoid the unpleasantness.

Like the Hebrews, who in good times, forgot all about God, we’ve left God out too. Sometimes we don’t even realize it! With God outside of our life, sin freely enters in. Ultimately, we may find ourselves unable to break the pattern of ignoring God unless God steps in to get our attention.

“So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust:  and they walked in their own counsels. Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.” Psalms 81:12-14

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” Romans 1:22

You see, God won’t let us be comfortable in our sin if we are His. He left us with the Comforter–the Holy Spirit whose job it is to convict us of our sin, to comfort us, and to give us God’s direction in our lives.  Our consciences are dulled from repeatedly ignoring the conviction of the Holy Spirit, effectively tuning Him out. So, God has allowed situations to arise that will draw us back to Him. The Hebrew people in bondage longed for the “good ole days” in Jerusalem. They recognized what they had lost, and understood how they got where thy were. They realized that they had disobeyed God. He gave them free will and lots of warnings. So, it was their choice.

“But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him stat stooped for age:  he gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king, and of his princes; all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia” 2 Chronicles 36:16-20

God gave them seventy years to think about it. An entire generation was gone, never to return to their homeland. God gives us a choice too. If we listen to Him and follow His ways, our lives will be blessed by Him. If we rebel, then we receive His correction. Think of your children, when they rebel, they receive correction. We take away their privileges, blessings, opportunities, just like God does to those who are His. We are His children, and He is our parent. Correction is not about getting even, but about turning a heart toward righteousness.

Are you in the woodshed with God?? Maybe that’s why your life isn’t working out.

STOP!  Recognize that God is trying to get your attention. He wants you to turn to Him and listen to what He has to say. It’s time to submit yourself to Him and turn from your rebellion.

REMEMBER:  God never gives up on us. So don’t give up on yourself. He will restore you as He did the Hebrew people.

 

Copyright 2002 by Linda Hull.

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