Are your prayers more of a formula of repetitious words from memory…often without paying attention to what you’re actually saying? Have they become just a fixed routine of the same prayers repeated over and over again? Congratulations, you have the gift of religious gab! But this isn’t how the Lord wants you to communicate with Him. It isn’t the quantity or intensity of your prayers that He desires. Rather, it’s the heart-felt, getting real before the Lord, quality He wants.
The Greek word here for “hate” doesn’t mean we must despise our family in order to follow Jesus. What it just means is that we love them less than we love God. It’s called being set apart. So to this, we are to separate ourselves “morally” from the world view and others that don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. In Isaiah 52:11, God tells us to, “Come out from them (the world) and be separate.” To be set apart for Christ means that we have our priorities correct…God is first, our family is second, the world is third. For when you make God the most significant person in you life, you are less likely to allow compromise to creep in. And when God is your everything, you are much better equipped to love those around you more effectively.
This verse is repeated several times in Judges…the Jews had no ruler, instead everyone did what they thought was right, just, and pleasing to them. But we know the definition of “doing as one sees fit” can mean a hundred things to a hundred people. So what we see here was a form of anarchy…a absence of governmental rule and authority in the country. And what we also see was growing confusion and disorder among God’s people.
When we allow the wise counsel of the Holy Spirit to direct and guide our decisions…our decisions will be excellent ones. When we listen to that still small voice rather than blurting out the first thing that comes to mind…our words will be timely and principled. When our plans align with God’s plans for us…we can stand firm with integrity and strength, knowing we are right where God wants us…in the center of His Will.
King Josiah had ordered repair of the Temple…and during the work they came upon a lost book of the Law, (Deuteronomy). When read, the King ordered its requirements observed and then took active steps to clean up the mess in the Temple. In this Scripture, he ordered the priests and doorkeepers to round up all the foreign idols that had somehow wormed their way into the Temple. For the Godly and ungodly had been co-existing for so long… it was now considered acceptable. When false teaching infiltrates the Church it always does it in a subtle, indirect, and devious way…suggesting it’s just fine to accept.
If you’re still inhaling and exhaling oxygen…God’s not done with you! If you still have a physical earthly existence…you’re not too far gone for God to work a miracle in your life! For as long as we have breath, we have hope…and as long as we have hope, we can put our faith in God who can work the impossible.
God has an uncanny way of getting our attention…of controlling situations until suddenly we find the walls closing in around us. And most times, we’re there because of our own disobedience. We’re self-absorbed and engrossed in the idols of this world…or we’re preoccupied and fixated on what others think of us rather than God. Either way, we end up in dire circumstances with no way out. And as the old saying goes, “Sometimes you have to end up in the gutter to finally look up.” Jonah was running from the Lord in disobedience, when God got his attention by confining him in the belly of a fish for three days. Three long days to think about what he had done…three long days to repent, relent, and be restored. Have no doubt about it, if you’re running from the Lord today, He will get your attention sooner or later.