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Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Lazy Priest Who Wouldn't Stand Up for God

The Lazy Priest Who Wouldn’t Stand Up for God
The year was approximately 1,000 B.C. and Eli was the High Priest over all of Israel.  All the Israelites came to Eli to bring their offerings and sacrifices to God. Many years earlier God had revealed Himself to Eli’s forefather, Aaron, when God had chosen Aaron and his offspring to be His priests. (1 Samuel 2:28)
So, Eli had inherited his high priestly position by being born into the family God had chosen to be His priests.  God gave Aaron and his children special spiritual blessings and instructions as to how priests were to come before His presence. And how they were to bring the offerings and sacrifices to God. There were careful instructions as to how the sacrifices should be offered to God. It would be a sign of disrespect if God’s commands were to be ignored.  God called His people and priests to honor Him always.    
God had given this responsibility of the priesthood to Eli and his offspring, along with His Spirit to guide and bless their work.  And God had spoken: “They shall walk before Me forever.” (I Samuel 2:30)   But, “walking before God” is not only a great honor, it is also a condition of the promise.  They had to choose to “walk before God”.
In other words, “they shall have the honor of the priesthood, “IF” they choose to faithfully do the service.”  God chose Aaron’s family to walk before Him always as priests, but Aaron’s children also had to choose to “walk before God always”. Their relationship before God was a two-way street – as is ours.  God has His part, but then we choose to have our part too. God doesn’t force us to love or serve Him. 
We hear about Eli’s life from the Scriptures after he has become an old man. He had been a judge and a high priest of Israel for forty years, but he had had little spiritual influence over his people, Israel. Eli neglects his responsibility of preaching Gods’ Truth to his people and they are left spiritually confused and depressed. 
 Eli allows his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas to take his place and do the work of priests.  His sons take the offerings and sacrifices from the people, but they use Gods’ offerings for their own personal gain.  Scripture tells us that they did not respect God or follow God’s commands concerning how to bring the meat offerings to Him.  They did their own thing!  They took the best parts of the meat for themselves.  They robbed God and the people coming with their meat offerings by seizing for themselves some of part of the meats that were to be offered to God. They treated Gods’ offerings with contempt and used God for their own gain.  (1 Samuel 2:12-17,22) Eli’s sons also sexually seduced many of the women who were coming to worship. (1 Samuel 2: 22)
God gives a stern message to the young boy, Samuel, to give to Eli. (1 Samuel 3) God message to Eli is that He is angry.  I believe that God wants Eli to do something about his son’s rebellion.  Eli is the high priest and he is responsible for his son’s actions. The Lord says that He will overthrow Eli’s house and raise up faithful priests for Himself. (1 Samuel 2:27-36) God also sends one of His prophets to bring a second message to Eli emphasizing again the seriousness of ignoring His commands. (1 Samuel 2:27-36) But amazingly, Eli shrugged off all of God’s warnings!    
 It seems like nothing can upset Eli!  He fails to do his job and get involved in cleaning up the problem. He continues to look the other way while his sons continue profaning God’s offerings. Even after he receives these angry warnings from God, his bland answer is: “Let the Lord do whatever He wants to do.”  He seems to value his relationship with his sons more than he values his relationship with God. He tells his sons that he has heard about their bad behavior. But he doesn’t stand up for God and make his sons stop sinning or remove them if they refuse. 
 As high priest, God had given Eli great spiritual power for the job of spiritually leading and influencing Israel.  But Eli turns his back on all that he has been given and he doesn’t do anything about preaching God’s truth to his people. If Eli had repented and used his God given power as high priest, if he had stopped his sons from sinning against God, perhaps history would have been different for ancient Israel. Scripture says: “Without a vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)
The Philistines were a powerful military people and they were neighbors of the Israelites.  They were a great threat to the Israelites during the time when Eli was High Priest.  Shortly after Eli ignored God’s messages and neglected the problems he could have taken care of, the Philistines came to fight with Israel. The Israelites went out to fight them but lost the battle.  They quarreled with God for not helping them win.
. So, the Israelites took the ark of the covenant with them for their next battle with the Philistines.  Eli went along with this idea as he went along with anything that was popular.  He gave the ark to the people without a word.  His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas went off carrying the ark into battle.  No need to obey God or listen to His warnings, when they had the ark there to save them in battle. Scripture says that:  The Israelites were living as they pleased yet believing God would bless them anyway. (1 Samuel 2:30)   
Alas, it was a sad day for the Israelites. The Philistines won the battle that day and many Israelite soldiers were killed in battle. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed and the ark of the covenant was taken away by the Philistines.  Some of the Israelites felt like God had abandoned them.  (1 Samuel 4:19-20) If only they had had a spiritual leader to lead them to God. 
What can we learn from this Old Testament Bible story from so long ago?  God has given each of us a responsibility in this life. There are people in each of our lives who trust us, people who we influence, people God can bless through our lives. God can use us to reach these people.  Let’s not let them down. What can we learn from Eli’s life?  Perhaps we can learn what not to do when we read about Eli’s life. When we read about his lukewarm faith and his lack of concern in following Gods’ commands. 
First of all, we can try not to be “lukewarm” in our faith as Eli was.  God hates the “lukewarm” faith offered to Him by believers.  (Revelations 3:16) We can ask God to help us be “hot” and give our whole lives to God, love Him with all our hearts and go all the way, as He has called us to do. We can strive to be a faithful steward of the resources God has entrusted to us.  Give up the control and destination of our lives to God.  Get involved in the lives of others.  Walk in faith even when it is difficult. Don’t give in to what is popular for the moment but stick to what God has revealed is His will in Scripture. Repent of our sins and spend time in prayer and Bible study.  Let’s always be ready to stand up for God.   
All this sounds like a tall order, but God will open doors and make a way for us to be a great blessing to others, if we are willing. Are you willing?    


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Time to Grow Up in our Christian Faith

Time to Grow Up in Our Christian Faith
Paul is urging the Christians in the Galatian church to grow up in their faith.  They had been so joyful when they first accepted Christ as their Savior and Lord.  But now the Galatian Christians had lost that vibrant joy and were falling into legalism, strictly believing that they must observe special religious days or seasons and eat special food. (Galatians 4:10) Paul told them that they were acting like babies or little children who needed guardians or babysitters to watch over them.  The need for rigid rules and regulations is the mark of immaturity. Some of the Jewish Christians in Galatia were urging their fellow believers to go back to following the Jewish religious laws.   
Paul goes on to tell them: “As long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate, he is subject to guardians and keepers until the time set by his father.  So, when we were children we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”  (Galatians 4:1--5) When we grow up in our Christian faith, we receive our inheritance from our very wealthy and good and generous Father. 
 Israel had been living under the burden of many religious rules and laws before Christ came.  But when Jesus came, He fulfilled the law and ushered in grace. (Matthew 5:17) The ancient Jews came to their heavenly Father through their priests and through sacrifices and ceremonies and by carefully following rules and regulations.  But now that Christ has come, believers simply come to God through faith in Christ. Christ has changed our status from being a slave to sin to being redeemed from sin and heir of a great inheritance!  Scripture says: “So you are no longer a slave, but a son or daughter, and if a son or daughter, then an heir.” (Galatians 4:7)    
The Galatian Christians, like most believers, wanted to grow and go forward for Christ, but they were going about it in the wrong way.  Christians today sometimes get involved in various legalistic movements, proudly working to make more brownie points with God and become better Christians.  They may mean well, but God doesn’t call us to live as a slave to rules.  He has called us to believe in His goodness and to step into our full rights as children of our loving heavenly Father.  This is what Paul was trying to get across to his converts in Galatia.
So, what does Scripture say that we inherit through faith in Christ?  What is our inheritance? First, we inherit Christ’s righteousness.  Scripture says that Christ covers you with His righteousness.  You may not feel very righteous, but the Bible says that in Christ you are.  (2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Corinthians 1:30: Romans 1:17: Philippians 3:9) The Bible says that: “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  (Romans 4:3) Scripture says that we believe God and it is credited as righteousness to us also!  Our simple faith in Christ is the victory that overcomes the world!  Someday we will reign with Christ!  (2 Timothy 2:12) We will be victorious in Christ.  (1 Corinthians 15:57)  
We believers inherit forgiveness of sin and eternal life from our heavenly Father through Christ.  (John 3:16 and I John 1:9: Ephesians 2:8-9) We inherit freedom in Christ (John 8:36) but also responsibility.  He gives us work to do.  We are called to go into all the world and preach the gospel.  (Mark 16:15) And He promises to be there to guide and help us.
 Each of us believers inherit a gift or perhaps several gifts from the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:8-10) Are you using the gifts God has given you for His glory?  Also, we all inherit the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, faith, gentleness, kindness, goodness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-26) Are you holding onto these precious gifts and claiming them for your own in Christ?  Are you using these fruits in your daily life?  We have been given so much in Christ.  Let’s grow up and claim our inheritance!
How do we grow up in our Christian faith and claim this amazing inheritance in Christ?  First, we can listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we have been given.  Scripture says: “Because you are children of God, He has sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying ‘Abba Father’. (Galatians 4:6) “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”  (John 14:26) First of all, let’s listen for God’s guidance.
Also, if we want to be a mature Christian and grow in our faith, we need to study God’s Word, the Bible.   Scripture instructs us: “Study to show yourself approved by God, a workman who needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) When we study the Bible, we will probably come across passages that we don’t understand.  A good Bible concordance or commentary can help explain what some of these difficult passages mean. 
There are pastors who may tell you that some of the Bible stories are just myths and fables! That there was never a real Abraham or Noah or Adam and Eve.  If that were true, then we couldn’t be sure that Christ was real either and not just a myth as well. That He actually died and rose from the dead or that He is our Savior.  These myth theories are real threats to our Christian faith since they undermine God’s Word.  If you reject some portions of the Bible because it doesn’t fit what you want, then it becomes a slippery slope deciding what parts of the Bible we believe and what parts are just myths.  To grow up and mature in our faith we need to stay away from churches that don’t believe the Bible to be God’s Word.
Job found it difficult to understand why God allowed his ten children to die and why he lost all of his wealth.  He felt God owed him an explanation since he had lived such a good life.  When we read the book of Job, we see that God came and asked Job where he was when God created the world.  Did Job understand the math behind time and eternity or how the days and seasons were set up? I think God was trying to tell Job that His ways are so much higher than our ways that we will need to trust Him.  We are too limited to even begin to understand God. We are called to live with the mystery.  To have faith in God that He has reasons and ways that we don’t know about. To believe.  And we are called to trust and believe that God is good and true and all knowing and all powerful.  And that He loves us.         
Also,to grow up and mature, let’s speak to the Father like the heir He has made us!  We have a rich and generous Father that has given us everything in Christ.  Do our prayers show that we believe this?  Scripture says: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to her who knocks, the door will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you are sinful still know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him?”  (Matthew 7:7-8) Let’s grow up and learn to walk in the many promises God has given us!    





Saturday, August 3, 2019

Come unto Me and I Will Give you Rest

Come unto Me and I Will Give You Rest
Jesus lovingly holds out His arms and invites you and me: “Come to Me all you who are troubled and weighed down with care, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28) He calls out to everyone.  He doesn’t want anyone to perish. (2 Peter 3:9)   Are you weighed down with fear, hurt, sorrow, pain, exhaustion, anger, worry or loneliness?  If so, He promises to give you rest. Have you accepted His grand invitation?      
 So how do we go about doing that?   How do we come to Jesus and enter into His rest?  Scripture says: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”  (Jeremiah 29:13) We will find Him and His rest if we really want to!  If we look for Him with our whole heart!  If we are ready for Him, He will be there! (Matthew 7:7-12, Luke 11:9)
The Bible speaks of Christ and His teachings as being like a treasure buried in a field. When a person finds the treasure, she or he spends all their money buying the field so that they can have the treasure.  Jesus is the pearl of great price.  (Matthew 13:44-46) Finding Christ must be important to us or we won’t make the effort to look for Him.  
In order to come to Christ, we need to believe that He is there to come to!  That He is who Scripture says He is:  - Son of God and Savior. We need to trust Him or have “faith” in Him if we are motivated to look for Him. Scripture says that the Lord will keep us in perfect peace, if our minds are stayed on Christ, and if we trust Him.  (Isaiah 26:3) If we don’t believe in Him or have faith in Him, we won’t want to come to Him.  So, believing or having faith in Him is all important.  (John 3:16)  
But what if we don’t have “faith”?  Or our little “faith” is shaky?  In this modern, secular world, it can be difficult to have this “faith” the Bible speaks of, when we are carefully taught that modern intelligent people are too smart to believe the Bible.  And too intelligent to believe in the Jesus of the Bible.
In our secular world we are brainwashed to trust in ourselves and our own intellects.  To go along with and believe in the latest ideas about God that are popular. We try to put the God of the Universe in our little box and create the god we want, and the god that fits our needs.  Perhaps when we go on our search for Christ, we may need to be willing to follow Him even if He doesn’t fit into our little box.  Even if He takes us out of our comfort zone.  Maybe that is part of what “seeking Him with our whole heart” is about, I don’t know.  All through the New Testament we are taught that we have eternal life through Christ.  But we need to accept this gift of eternal life through “faith”.  (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our part is to have that “faith” in Christ.  That “faith” is all important.
But what if we don’t have “faith” in Christ? I believe God will give us this necessary “faith” if we ask Him - If we really want it - If we are willing to let Him change us. At least if we are willing to be willing.  If we have little faith in Christ, I believe we can grow our little faith by reading the Bible. Scripture say that: “Faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17) Scripture also says that God’s Word (the Bible) is our spiritual food and we grow spiritually by getting into the Word. 
 Also, another piece in the puzzle of coming to Christ may be learning to be a bit humble.  If we think we are too intelligent to simply believe in Jesus, then we miss out.  Or if we are very wealthy or intelligent and feel that we have it all and don’t need Christ, we miss out. We gain the whole world but lose our own souls!  Scripture says that: “Pride comes before a fall.”  (Proverbs 16:18) We need to come to Jesus with a humble spirit.  
Jesus told a short story about how difficult it could be for a person who has it all to enter the kingdom of God.  Here is what He said: “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a person who has everything to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a person with many riches to enter the kingdom of God.”  (Matthew 19:24)   
The “eye of a needle” wasn’t what we think of as having to do with sewing.  The “eye of the needle” back then was the name of a very small and narrow gate in the Jerusalem wall. The large main gate in the wall around Jerusalem was closed each night to keep enemies out.  If a traveler with a camel arrived late, after the main gate had closed, the camel had to stoop down and crawl through a small narrow gate called the eye of the needle.  Many times, all the baggage on the camel’s back had to be removed so the camel would fit through the narrow gate.
In finding Jesus and entering into the kingdom of heaven, we, like the camel, may need to be willing to get rid of our sinful baggage so we can fit through the narrow gate.  If we insist on keeping our baggage, we may be too big to fit through the narrow gate.  Jesus says: “I am the gate. Whoever enters through Me will be saved.  They will go in and out and find pasture.”  (John 10:9) So much peace and joy awaits us there.
Christ calls us to come to Him.  And we have enough faith to want to come.  His strong hand is outstretched, ready to pull us in to Him.  And His banner over us is love.  But there is baggage that we must leave behind. Friends that may turn against us. Laugh at us. A reputation that may suffer. There is a price to pay. And we will have to get down on our hands and knees to crawl through the narrow gate.  Are we willing?   

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Drink from His River of Delights

Drink from His River of Delights
Jesus Christ is our joy – a boundless source of joy.   Joy is just one of the many gifts He gives us when we come to Him.  (Galatians 5:22) The Bible calls us to enjoy our rich relationship with our Lord.  To find rest and refuge in the shadow of His wings. To feast on His abundance and drink from His River of Delights.  Scripture says: “How priceless is your unfailing love!  Both rich and poor people find refuge in the shadow of your wings.  They feast on the abundance of your house, and drink from your river of delights.”  (Psalm 36:7-8)
You may ask that since Christ has given you this abundant gift of Joy, then why are you feeling so worried and depressed?  Scripture says that this joy in Him is yours to take, but you must take it.  Seek after it.  Over and over again Scripture reminds us: “Then when you seek Me, inquire for Me, and want Me, you will find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  (Jeremiah 29:13) The Bible promises that if we will seek Him, we will find Him.  (Matthew 7:7) And, finding Him is pure joy!   
There is joy in believing in Christ. Joy in finding refuge in the shadow of His wings;  joy in obeying Him;  in belonging to Him:  in following His Word.  Talking to Him and listening for His voice. We find joy in our relationship with our Savior and Lord.  And Scripture tells us that we give Him joy when we give ourselves to Him.  He says: “I will not forget you!  See, I have engraved you on the palms of My Hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16) 
Jesus calls us to “walk in the light of His Presence.”  This delightful way to walk and live involves trusting and obeying and rejoicing in His Name and exulting in His righteousness.  We can rejoice in His Name because of His unfailing love for us.  And we can exult in His righteousness because He has shared His righteousness with us!  Scripture says: “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.”  (Philippians 4:4)  
 Jesus calls us to walk in the light of His Presence.  Scripture says: “If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  (1 John 1;7) Christ has given us His light and called us to share it with others.  Scripture says: “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)  
We can become very depressed and frightened by the sorrows and evils of this world.  The darkness of this world can be so heavy that we forget that Jesus is the Light of the world. We forget His amazing promise to us that anything we ask in prayer believing, He will give us, if it is in His Will.  (Matthew 11:23-25, John 16:23-27) We forget that in Him our prayers are powerful.  We need to remember that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:1:13) Scripture says: “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5) There is joy in standing on the believers’ many promises in Scripture. 
 Because we know Christ as Savior, we have the source of Light that overcomes the darkness.  Scripture says: “Those who look to Him are radiant: their faces are never covered with shame.” (Psalm 34:5) Also: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  (2 Corinthians 3:18)   We need to take time to bask in His Love-Light and soak in His radiance.  Then we can radiate His Love to those around us.
The heavenly Father calls all of His children to enjoy Him.  To walk His joyful path of simply trusting and obeying. To drink from His River of Delights.  Psalm 100 is one of many Psalms and passages that calls us to be joyful in Him.  Here it is: 
Psalm 100
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
Worship the Lord with gladness:
Come before His Presence with joyful singing,
 Know that the Lord is God,
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves,
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His Name.
For the Lord is good, His love endures forever,

And His faithfulness continues through all generations.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Jeremiah, the Wailing Prophet

Jeremiah, the Wailing Prophet
The year was approximately 626 B.C. and the Jewish people in Judah had become so corrupt that unless they turned from their evil ways, God would bring an end to their nation. God called Jeremiah to be His messenger or prophet during this difficult time.  Jeremiah would deliver God’s messages to the Jewish people begging them to return to God and warning the people of God’s severe punishment if they didn’t.
Jeremiah was not popular with this rebellious Jewish generation.  They tried to kill him and did not want to hear what he had to say.  They had turned away from worshipping the God of their fathers and they had hardened their hearts against God.  So, they took out their anger on Jeremiah as he traveled from town to town crying and begging his fellow Jews to come back to their God before it would be too late.
Jeremiah said that God’s message was like a burning fire inside his body and he couldn’t keep it in.  (Jeremiah 20:9)   He was called “the wailing prophet” because he spent sixty years traveling from town to town crying, begging and wailing as he cried out God’s message to the stubborn people of Judah.    
God tells the Jewish people what they have done wrong. Jeremiah delivers His message: “Everyone is given to covetousness:  from the prophet even to the priest.  Everyone deals falsely, for they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’  When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 8:10a-11) Bible scholars say that the religious leaders superficially tended to the wounds of the people.  They told the people not to be concerned about their sinful lifestyle when they should have been telling them to be concerned and to come back to their God.
God goes on recounting the many sins of His people through His prophet, Jeremiah.  “For they are all adulterers.  And an assembly of treacherous people.  Like their bow they have bent their tongues for lies.  They are not valiant for the truth on the earth.  For they proceed from evil to evil.  And ‘they do not know Me’, says the Lord.  Everyone needs to watch out for his neighbor, and do not trust any brother:  for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbor will walk with slanderers.  Everyone will deceive his neighbor and will not speak the truth. “ (Jeremiah 9:2b-5)  The Jewish people’s many sins have caused a breakdown of families and personal relationships.  God begs them to return to Him.
God is crying out for His people: “They have walked according to the dictates of their own hearts and after the Baal gods…”  Therefore, says the Lord God of Israel: …” I will scatter them also among the Gentiles whom neither they nor their fathers have known…”  (Jeremiah 9:14 and Jeremiah 15a-16) The people of Judah were burning or sacrificing their little children to the heathen god, Baal.  It seems that when gross sins are allowed to flourish in a country, it is the little children that suffer the most! 
God, the Father, continues grieving for His lost children, the people of Judah.  “Woe is Me for My hurt!  My wound is severe.  Truly this is an illness that I must bear.  My tent is plundered, and all my cords are broken.  My children have all gone away from Me.  And they are no more.”    (Jeremiah 10:19-20) The deeply distraught heavenly Father has lost everything. 
God, the Father continues spilling out His deep grief over His lost children.  How He misses them and the fellowship they had.  How He longs for their return to Him. Is their any grief worse than the grief of a parent who has lost a child?
God, the Father, cries out in His overwhelming sorrow that He must punish His beloved children.  A desperate Father who must use tough love as a last resort!  Tough love, because real love is always forgiving but also always just.  With a breaking heart the heavenly Father calls His lost children “the dearly beloved of My soul”.  But then He compares His beloved children to a lion in the forest coming out against Him.  And, He compares them to a vulture. 
Have human parents ever felt like their beloved children are attacking them as a lion in the forest attacks its’ prey?  Have human mothers and fathers ever felt like their precious child – their dearly beloved - has become like a vulture to them – waiting to pick them over when they die?
 God, the Father cries out through His messenger Jeremiah: “I have forsaken My house; I have left My heritage:  I have given the dearly beloved of My soul into the hand of her enemies.  My heritage (My children) is to Me like a lion, in the forest.  It cries out against Me:  Therefore, I have hated it.  My heritage is to Me like a speckled vulture:” (Jeremiah 12:7-9a)    
His heritage, (His children) were also compared to a pleasant vineyard that has now become a desolate wilderness because no one follows the Lord.  Scripture says: “The whole land is made desolate, because no one takes it to heart.”  (Jeremiah 12:11b) The heavenly Father had had so much joy with His children. Israel was symbolized as a holy people, “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6) They had enjoyed an intimate relationship with God as His covenant people.   But now a rebellious generation has thrown it all away.
All of the Bible teaches us that God is a God of love but also a God of justice.  Love and justice cannot be separated. A God of forgiveness when we repent and a God of judgment when we don’t.  And some Christians have a difficult time with that.  They try to make God into what they want instead of who He is in our Bible.
A parent who loves her child is a parent who steps in and corrects or disciplines the child when the child does something wrong.  A good parent loves their child too much to let him grow into a selfish hateful person.  And our Father God loves us too much to let us remain in our sin.  He calls us to Himself, to follow His laws, to accept His Son as our Savior and to trust His goodness. 
The book of Jeremiah was written approximately 2,600 years ago.  But we can learn from Jeremiah that our heavenly Father was broken hearted when His people turned away from Him so long ago. And He finally had to punish them.  God, our Father is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and He is heartbroken today when we turn away from Him just as He was back then.   

 Over and over God warned the Jewish people what they were doing was wrong.  He said: “Each one of you follows the dictates of your own heart so that no one listens to Me.”  (Jeremiah 16:12b) They “followed their own heart” or did their own thing back then.  And we can “follow our own heart” now and do our own thing.  It is only too easy to do whatever we want to do or what is popular to do, even when we know that God has called what we are doing wrong.  God gives us laws to follow. He will put His law in our hearts, and He forgives us when we go astray.  But we have to want to follow Him.