This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “Take your burnt offerings and your other sacrifices and eat them yourselves! When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’ But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward.
I confess my sin of disobedience to Jesus and to all of you! I ask for forgiveness! The Lord spoke and I didn’t follow through. I rationalized and I ignored His direction which led to disconnection (my own doing) and lack in all areas of my life. I had minimal peace throughout the day and my sleep was interrupted and fitful. I felt perplexed and confused. I was distracted and my focus was on things that were not of God–completely fruitless! I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened to bring this turmoil and disruption into my life. I now know that I was the one that brought the mess and I know this because I actually sat down and spent ample time with God this morning, asking and reflecting on the past couple of weeks.
Interpretation of Jeremiah 7:21-24
God had set up a system of sacrifices to encourage the people to joyfully obey him. He required the people to make these sacrifices, not because the sacrifices themselves pleased him, but because they caused the people to recognize their sin and refocus on living for God. They faithfully made the sacrifices but forgot the reason they were offering them, and thus they disobeyed God. Jeremiah reminded the people that unless they were prepared to obey God in all areas of life, acting out religious rituals was meaningless.
Let me just take you back to day where it all started. It was one simple command on February 12th, 2018:
As my eyes adjusted to the wee morning hours, I thought of one of my friends, a Christian brother. This particular friend has been a mentor and a prayer warrior for me for many years. If I have any questions in regards to faith, I can always ask this friend.
I said prayers for him and got out of bed before my alarm clock went off. I have to say, it is always a joy to wake up before the chimes go! I did my normal routine of getting myself ready for the day and sat down at my desk to spend time with God.
I’m feeling scared because you’ve been speaking loud and clear. I do understand and I’m fearful of your requests and I’m sorry. You’re calling me to step out and this is frightening! Will I follow You? Just yesterday I heard your directions to pray for a Christian sister. I refused at first but You wouldn’t let up so I dropped what I was doing and I did as I was told. It caused me great anxiety but when it was over, I felt peace and joy all at the same time. Now, I hear you again:
You need to pray (out loud) with your brother in Christ. A prayer of blessing and of thanks for his faithfulness and all that he has done in regards to your spiritual growth.
This is something I’ve never done. He has always prayed for me and now it was my turn to pray for him. I heard and I started rationalizing because I was petrified. My mind was going a hundred miles an hour. Here are some of my thoughts:
In the past, whenever you’ve needed to talk to your friend about religious topics, you’ve asked Me to put him before you first thing in the morning. Meaning, if he was one of the first people that you encountered in your day, you would then speak to him about what was on your mind and didn’t I essentially just put him first and foremost in your mind due to the fact that you awoke thinking about him?
Would it be wrong of me to request the same thing? If I see him first, then I know that I need to pray for him or do I trust and have faith in what God has told me during our time together this morning? I knew that I was supposed to trust and have faith that I heard correctly but this was uncomfortable. I knew which route I would take!
I was an absolute nervous wreck. I was looking every which way and I said prayers in my head just in case he was put before me. I was practicing so that when the time approached, I would be ready.
I just need to seek him out! When I find him, do I launch into what the Lord’s asked me to do? Do I make conversation until I get the nerve up? Maybe, since he is a mature Christian, he will already know why I’m there. How will I reach my hand to his shoulder? Will I be able to keep my eyes open as my prayer leader suggests? I feel it is somewhat invasive. I am peering in at a person who is silently agreeing with me in prayer. We are having an intimate moment with Christ and eyes open just doesn’t seem natural.
I’d reached my limit and could not take the conversations in my head any longer.
That’s it, I’m done!
Lord–If you want me to pray for my Christian brother, then I will wait upon you to present the opportunity. This is the only way I can find peace because I’m obviously not mature enough to hear you and leap. I am still in need of Your confirmation. I don’t know if this is good or bad. I do know that you will shower me with your mercy and grace and that eventually I will be able to act without proof.
I was relieved and I carried on with the rest of my morning, waiting for that perfect moment!
I had disconnected as soon as I said, “I’m done!” That perfect opportunity that I thought I was waiting on, never came! The request that was given to me, first thing this morning, was never fulfilled. I disobeyed and there would be consequences.
Dr. Charles Stanley says this:
Sin against God and there are inescapable consequences!
I didn’t realize this at the time. I didn’t believe I was sinning when I rationalized and turned away. Disobedience is a sin and I disobeyed.
I have to tell you, that later that day, I did have an opportunity to pray for another friend. I could see in her face that she was laden with distress. I asked her if she was okay and she proceeded to tell me all that has been happening in her life. I listened intently, offering words of encouragement and comfort. My heart ached for her because I was familiar with some of her sorrow. I could feel her pain.
I stood to my feet and have her a hug. We held on tightly to one another and she bared all her trapped emotions. I could not help but grab her hands and say to her:
I would love to pray for you. Would that be okay?
I did! I held tightly to both her hands. We bowed our heads and pressed our foreheads together. That connection, with God at the center, was divine! I prayed with confidence and boldness! Then it was over and I was grateful that I was there. The moment had presented itself to me. I didn’t have to look for it. God brought her to me. There wasn’t fear. I wasn’t shy. I just felt in my heart the despair of this lovely woman and I acted and it felt natural. There was no work involved. It was easy because I had no idea she would be put before me.
So, even though I didn’t fully comply with God’s direction this morning, I did end up praying for someone. I thought all was well and I had escaped!
In a nutshell, I experienced a void in my relationship with Christ, I suffered from panic attacks, felt low in energy, lost my confidence and questioned all that I was doing as a Christian. It actually got so bad that I put this blog on privacy because I became afraid of what I was sharing, worried because of what others may think of me. I was fearful that I was actually losing my mind!
I can look back now and see that the Lord was with me the entire way! He never left my side and He reminded me that I wasn’t alone. Please do not get the impression that He turned from me and left. I turned from Him and I left but because He loves me so much, He stayed and He corrected! He does this for all His children!!
When I realized what it was that I had done, I confessed and I asked for forgiveness.
Obedience Versus Sacrifices from NLT, page 1835:
God says many times that He doesn’t want our gifts and sacrifices when we give them out of ritual or hypocrisy. God wants us first to love and obey Him.
Obedience is better than sacrifice.
God doesn’t want sacrifices or offerings; He wants us to take joy in doing His will.
It isn’t sacrifices God wants; He desires our obedience and promises that He will be our God and we will be his people.
Here is what I wrote in my journal today, February 24, 2018
Disobedience to what God tells me will always come with consequences.
God doesn’t want just my daily time with Him. He wants obedience to what He tells me to do. This isn’t just for my own benefit. It’s for His glory. When I disobey, I turn out His reflection in my life and in another’s.
Hear His voice, know His voice and act without hesitation or rationalization. Just do it!
Even though I practice a daily, quiet time, it doesn’t make all things right. I need to obey. Rituals without obedience is no good.
Must have a daily connection with God through reading His word, praying and listening for Him. If you do not, it leaves holes in your spiritual armor and leaves you open for attacks.
If there is strife or tension, get to the root of it immediately. If you do not, this leaves you open for attacks as well. Have a discussion, make amends and solve the problem.
Those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O Lord, have not forsake those who seek You.