9–15 September 2018.

Jeremiah 35–36 (click to read).

Our lives are full of people who want us to listen to them. Teachers and bosses tell us what to do, advertisements tell us what to buy, and even our friends try to influence us to do what they want. Wherever we turn, people are trying to push us, direct us, and make us obey them. Sometimes that’s great. But the problem is that not all of those people always really care about what is best for us.

One of the biggest frustrations parents face is when children suddenly decide that they don’t want to listen to mum and dad anymore, but instead just go along with what their friends say. Those of us who are parents know how worrying and even frightening that can be, since the advice friends give often leads kids into a lot of trouble.

The Bible tells us that God goes through this same frustration. In Jeremiah 35, Jeremiah uses the Recabites as an example. A distant ancestor of the Recabites gave them very strange instructions on how to live: not only should they never drink wine, they should also reject a life of stability and even agriculture. They are never to plant crops, build houses, or settle down, instead they are supposed to live in tents and always keep moving. Maybe what’s stranger than these commands is that the Recabites actually listened to them and obeyed them for centuries! On the one hand this is an impressive act of loyalty to a distant ancestor. But Jeremiah uses this example to show just how happy we are to listen to strange people, while being unwilling to listen to our good God.

Today we obey far too many people who have absolutely no interest in our lives and no desire to help us. And yet when God our Loving Father guides us and directs us, wanting to support our lives and lead us on to good things, we put our hands over our ears and refuse to listen. It doesn’t make sense! So no wonder God gets so frustrated.

In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that he came so we might have life and have it abundantly. The clear instructions Jesus gave us to live by were that we should always love others the way he has loved us. Real love leads us to real life – a life that is good. But even though God tells us this, for some reason we don’t listen. Instead we listen to those around us who tell us a life of anger, hate and meanness is the best way to go. Again, it makes no sense!

God is the one who cares for us, he is the one who wants good things for us. So isn’t it really time that we stop listening to those who want to hurt us and instead trust and obey the words of the God who loves us?

Pastor Stephen Lakkis