December 27, 2023
- By Ed Powell
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"But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices." Psalm 81:11-12
This psalm reveals the incredible grace of God in dealing with His chosen people, Israel. For 400 years they had been held in captivity by the Egyptians. They were at Egypt's mercy and were treated with scorn, disrespect and as slave laborers. But God heard the cry of their hearts and the misery of their bondage. "I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you" (Psalm 81:6-7). God in His grace delivered them, set them free and promised them a land that flowed with milk and honey. God even said to them, "Open wide your mouth and I will fill it." What a glorious future was theirs IF they would walk in obedience and keep His commandments.
The psalmist begins with what should have been their continual song of rejoicing and triumph. But was it? No, the test of their faith fell far short of true commitment and worship for who God is and for all He had done for them. The dedication of their hearts was far from God and engrossed with the fleshly desires of their hearts. All that God had done for them and wanted to do through them was superseded by the desires and lusts of their carnal and sinful hearts.
You might say, "They had everything going for them. How could they not follow the Lord in simple child-like faith and see Him not only meet their need but also bring them triumphantly into the land of promise He had prepared for them?" It reminds us of how deceitful our hearts are (Jeremiah 17:9).
What was God's conclusion? "He gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices." God will not impose His way, His plan, and purpose on us. The consequences of our stubborn hearts and lustful desires are the results of our choices. As it was for Israel, so shall it be for us. They chose to reject God and turn from all He would be to them. He said, "If my people would listen to me. If Israel would follow my ways, how quickly would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes" (vs. 13-14). Then God said, "You would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you." What an incredible covenant of grace!
This is a graphic picture of what God wants to do for us. He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the atonement for our sins, and the Holy Spirit to indwell us. He has given us "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:4). This is but a measure of all God has covenanted with those who will follow Him in obedience and walk in the light of His presence.
How do we respond to this? Many respond complacently, passively, and without any desire to grow in grace and knowledge of God. Can God's blessing be poured out on those who seek to follow their own fleshly desires and coolly choose their own way? I think God will give them the desires of their choosing and withhold that which He would choose to bless them. "If my people would but listen to Me"...how about you? Do you want God's best, His purpose, and His plan for you life? Is the tug of the illusions of this world greater than your desire to follow God fully? Are the things of this world greater to you than God?
God said, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). Dare to trust God to be the priority of your life. You will never be the same when He is Lord of all!
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?date=2023-12-27
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