WE MUST CONTINUALLY RENEW OUR COMMITMENT TO THE LORD OUR GOD
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
American Baptist - United Methodist
19 MARCH 1995
BY Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
This morning, as part of our continuing self-analysis of our relationship with God, we are going to take a look at four passages from the Hebrew Testament.
And as we look at these passages, we will hopefully come to better understand that there really isn't an Old Testament and a New Testament, but a united Word of God that is set down for us in order to lead us to heaven.
But it doesn't do us much good just to know this message is in our Bible; it only does us good when we make it part of our life.
Thus, we come to the subject of today's lesson: "We Must Continually Renew Our Commitment to the Lord Our God."
If we don't do this, we have a tendency to succumb to the pressures of the world around us, and to forget that our strength is really in the Lord.
We renew our faith and commitment to God every time we remember what He has done for us or for others; we do it with our praise and worship, and we do it by calling upon Him to be a part of every day of our lives, whether it’s a “good” day or a “bad” day.
And, we do it by being thankful for: everything we have, for the beauty of the day, for the animal that we see, and for the flowers of the field and garden.
Listen to what David said while he was in the wilderness of Judah, being pursued by his enemies:
1. O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly;
My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Instead of worrying about what is wrong, David concentrates upon the fact that the Lord is with him.
Even though he and his followers are physically thirsty, his true thirst is for the Lord, just as ours should be.
His vision is toward the Lord.
2. Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary,
To see Thy power and Thy glory.
3. Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise Thee.
4. So I will bless Thee as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Thy name.
There are a lot of people who spend much of their time worrying and complaining about the problems in their lives and in the world.
In fact, they spend so much time, that they forget about the Lord, instead of seeking Him and trusting in Him for a solution and for comfort in their souls.
As David says,
5. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
6. When I remember Thee on my bed,
I meditate on Thee in the night watches,
7. For Thou hast been my help,
And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.
8. My soul clings to Thee;
Thy right hand upholds me.
If we believe this, if we know this, if we practice this type of relationship with the Lord, then we are useful and productive.
When all we do is worry and complain, we are of no use to ourselves or to the Lord, and in the process, we have a tendency to drag others down with us, instead of building them up as David does.
Just the act of remembering who God is in our lives and praising Him, renews not only our commitment to him, but also our souls, as well.
Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel all prophesied during a time when Israel had turned away from God, and their hearts ached at what they saw.
But in the midst of trouble, listen to what Isaiah says (55:1-9):
1. "Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.
2. "Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And delight yourself in abundance.
3. "Incline your ear and come to Me.
Listen, that you may live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
According to the faithful mercies shown to David.
Instead of just complaining to God about how bad the people have become, Isaiah does something positive.
He calls the people back to God, and reminds them of the futility of worshiping idols.
He reminds them of God's love towards David and the covenant He made with him, that they would see the errors of their way and return.
4. "Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
A leader and commander for the peoples.
5. "Behold, you will call a nation you do not know,
And a nation which knows you not will run to you,
Because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you."
If we stop worrying and complaining about what is wrong, and do what we know is right, we will have inner peace; for in the process of doing, we will have renewed our commitment to God.
Then, even people we don't know will come seeking the same inner peace we have, and we won't have as many things to worry and complain about.
A positive attitude can be just as contagious as a negative attitude.
6. Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
7. Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
8. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord.
9. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
This is very good advice, and I can testify to you that it works.
We just have to remember, and then do it.
Now, Jeremiah mixes some of his complaints into his positive attitude; listen to what he says (17:12-18):
12. A glorious throne on high from the beginning
Is the place of our sanctuary.
13. O Lord, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake Thee will be put to shame.
Those who turn away on earth will be written down,
Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water, even the Lord.
Even though Jeremiah acknowledges the fate of all those who turn away from the Lord, in the same thought he renews his strength in the Lord by expressing the fact that his and Israel's hope is only in Him.
14. Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed;
Save me and I will be saved,
For Thou art my praise.
15. Look, they keep saying to me,
"Where is the word of the Lord?
Let it come now!"
And again, Jeremiah speaks of his strength being in the Lord, but admits that others make fun of him for his stand.
Jeremiah will not let the people drag him down to their level.
He continues to serve the Lord.
16. But as for me, I have not hurried away from being a shepherd after Thee,
Nor have I longed for the woeful day;
Thou Thyself knowest the utterance of my lips
Was in Thy presence.
Nevertheless, Jeremiah acknowledges that because he lives among a sinful people, he will also suffer many of the afflictions that will befall Israel.
Jeremiah knows his strength is in the Lord; but, at the same time, his understanding of what is to take place terrifies him.
17. Do not be a terror to me;
Thou art my refuge in the day of disaster.
18. Let those who persecute me be put to shame, but as for me, let me not be put to shame;
Let them be dismayed, but let me not be dismayed.
Bring on them a day of disaster,
And crush them with twofold destruction!
Jeremiah prays for the added strength not to succumb to the impending terror and thus be a bad witness for God.
Think about how many people run away from God for much less.
Most people fail to realize how much God will do for them, if they are steadfast.
In Ezekiel 44:4-8, we have an example of Ezekiel's commitment to God being used to denounce those who have turned away from God, while Ezekiel is unaffected personally.
He remains strong.
4. Then He brought me by way of the north gate to the front of the house; and I looked, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord, and I fell on my face.
5. And the Lord said to me, "Son of man, mark well, see with your eyes, and hear with your ears all that I say to you concerning all the statutes of the house of the Lord and concerning all its laws; and mark well the entrance of the house, with all exits of the sanctuary.
This is good advice for us all, for we are not to ignore the truths of God or the evil around us.
We are to be honest.
This isn't being judgmental; this is having discernment.
6. "And you shall say to the rebellious ones, to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord God," Enough of all your abominations, O house of Israel,
7. when you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to profane it, even My house, when you offered My food, the fat and the blood; for they made My covenant void--this in addition to all your abominations.
8. "And you have not kept charge of My holy things yourselves, but you have set foreigners to keep charge of My sanctuary."
If God has given us this insight and we fail to use it to try to correct the injustice and ungodliness we observe, then we are not committed to the Lord our God.
Ezekiel speaks of the temple sacrifice as being the Lord's food, but it is not the "real food" that God desires, for it involves a concession of God and only a partial commitment by believers.
The "real food" of the Lord is our faith and total commitment to be obedient to the heavenly will of the Lord our God, for if we are obedient, there is no need for a sacrifice.
And if we are not committed to the Lord our God, then are we really born again?
That can be a scary question, but I pray that it's just a reminder of our need to continually renew our commitment to the Lord our God.
Serve God in truth and love.
Your Comments are welcome
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