You see me;
And You examine my heart’s attitude toward You.”
Have you ever considered the reality of this statement that Jeremiah made to God? The first part is probably a little easier for us to grasp. We know that we were created by God (Genesis 1:26-27) and greatly rejoice in the miracle of it. If you have lost that “first love” love when you think on this intimate moment of God’s creation of man, keep in mind God created Adam and Eve for the expressed purpose of fellowship on His level. Jesus would then come and die so He could have an eternal bride of spiritually intimate fellowship. As Adam and Eve and the Lord were one in the Garden, in John 17: 22 Jesus would have a bride in all the glory of God’s oneness, "And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one.” You can’t have a higher or fuller love than that. God is Love and we will have His perfect oneness as His bride. This should challenge each to examine if we have this kind of intimacy.
However, how comfortable are you to acknowledge that not only does God see every move we make, hear every word we speak, know every thought we have, or that He examines them carefully and knows exactly what our attitude is? And notice, the attitude isn’t towards others, it is towards God! He is looking for purity which brings Him great joy. Are you aware that every sinful thought and act is against God? King David makes that clear in Psalm 51:4: “Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned.”
Oh how we want to justify that our attitudes and thoughts about others have nothing to do with our relationship with the Lord! Especially if we haven’t verbalized our thoughts, we think we’ve done a good thing by keeping quiet! Jeremiah shows us the fallacy in believing that our thoughts are not important to God. Let’s listen to Jeremiah’s prayer/conversation.
“You who know, O LORD, remember me, take notice of me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Your patience, take me away; Know that for Your sake I endure reproach.” (Jeremiah 15:15) (emphasis mine)
“Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. I did not sit in the circle of merrymakers, Nor did I exult. Because of Your hand upon me I sat alone, for You filled me with indignation.” (Jeremiah 15:16-17) (emphasis mine)
Have you ever had a similar conversation with the Lord? If we are honest, I think we all have. We have been told to take everything to the Lord, right? However, if we actually read all of Philippians 4:6 it says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (emphasis mine) Keeping this thought in mind, let’s look at the response Jeremiah received from God.
Therefore, thus says the LORD, “If you return, then I will restore you— Before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them.” (Jeremiah 15:19) (emphasis mine)
What do you think the Lord meant when He told Jeremiah to return to Him? He was doing and saying everything God told him to do or say. He was constantly persecuted. No one listened to him. They even burned the scrolls that the Lord had him record His words! Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet”. Not exactly what we envision when we say we want to be used by God, is it? Yet it is not ours to determine how God chooses to use us. Jeremiah states it very well, “I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23) But knowing this truth, doesn’t necessarily make it applicable in our lives. Knowledge does not change a man’s heart. As a matter of fact, this is clearly shown here as pride has crept into Jeremiah’s thinking. Read it carefully again. He is having what we would call today a “pity party”. Ever been there? That “pity” is actually pride. We are feeling sorry for ourselves and telling God that we don’t think He is treating us fairly, we deserve better than this! Sounds ugly when stated that way, doesn’t it? But dressing up our words in religious words, or a prayer, doesn’t change the meaning!
Most of us, if not all reading this post, know the story of the potter and the clay. God is the potter, you and I are the clay in His hands. As we are traveling along on our journey we begin to lose sight of God and begin to stray or compromise, or completely go off the chosen path. We repent and God puts us back on His wheel to refine us. Refine? Doesn’t refining require a very hot furnace? Isn’t that painful? Oh dear, no Lord! I didn’t sign up for this! You can make me into this type of person, but not that! What are we really saying? Let me share what we are saying in God’s own words. “But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.’ (Jeremiah 18:12)
No amount of self-righteousness or justification for our actions are going to change the reality of what we are doing or saying! God can’t be deceived, tricked or out maneuvered. The Apostle Paul states in I Corinthians 2:5, “so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20)
I hope you do not think that God examines our hearts to catch us in some sin. God’s ways are so much much higher than that! His plans and His ways have always been for our good. They protect us, they guide us, they shape us to be transformed into His image! “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
All through scripture each of the statutes and ordinances protected them. If they obeyed what God laid in place they were in His protection and their every need was met. But they were never satisfied. “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God:” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2)
But if the children of Israel were disobedient then this was the result, “But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you: cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.” (Deuteronomy 28:15-16).
There are those who would say, “the above verses do not apply today.” However, the Lord Jesus spoke strongly that if we do not obey His words (Matthew Chapters 5-7) we would be severely judged. Using the illustration of the house built on sand and the other built on the rock, we receive His warning in Matthew 7:24-27: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and [yet] it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall."
The following scriptures are additional scriptures which are as applicable to our time, as they were when God spoke them.
Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the LORD.” (Jeremiah 17:5)
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8) (emphasis mine)
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?
“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10) (emphasis mine)
Did not Jesus repeat the exact same thoughts during His ministry? “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:10) “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) So Jesus said,“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.” (John 8:28)
The apostle whom Jesus loved, John, repeats this reminder for us, “As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.” (1 John 2:24) Paul states it another way that brings us another perspective that paints the picture, “for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.” (Acts 17:28)
What a powerful word! As I read these scriptures I sense the Lord wanting us to dig deeper into His word to extract the precious oil. We need the floodgates to pour out His life giving spirit! I invite you to meet me at His feet.
One of the first things that the Holy Spirit brings to mind is the Apostle Paul. Recall his cry to the Lord about sin in his life? “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24-25) Paul realized that he didn’t have the power of control, the only hope he had was through the Holy Spirit! Can we be as transparent as Paul? Paul hated the old sin nature! That is the desire of God’s heart!
Another example is a strong illustration of the sovereignty of God and the battle we face. Again the Apostle Paul shares with us another battle. “Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself!” (2 Corinthians 12:7)
Wait a minute, a thorn in the flesh was GIVEN to Paul? A messenger of Satan was GIVEN to Paul to torment him? All this is to keep him from exalting himself? We need to stop right now and really digest this verse.
Before we continue we must come into agreement with the Spirit and receive revelation of the full truth of scripture. Those who have become the children of God are no longer under the dominion of the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Believers are seated in Christ, let’s take it directly from Scripture:
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,” (Colossians 1:13) (emphasis mine)
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10-12)
Have you ever rebuked Satan for his attacks against you? We all have, and there are times that is right. So, here is the heart of this issue. If we are no longer under the authority of Satan (those of us who are saved), how can we be experiencing all of these attacks? Let’s allow the scriptures to unfold this truth.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:18-23)
“And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (emphasis mine)
All things includes Satan. Satan only has power that is granted to Him from God! So Satan does not have power over you and me, but God can allow him to bring attacks upon us. Why? For the glory of God! “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
God allowed the attacks against Paul to keep him from exalting himself and assuring that his will would not rule over God’s plan for his life! So, if God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore, (Hebrews 13:8), that means that God has not changed his dealing with his body of believers!
I admit that this is definitely a lot to grasp our minds around and the Apostle Paul understood that. Notice how Paul begins the first verse of Ephesians chapter one, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” He was telling us that it is going to take the Holy Spirit to give us understanding to walk according to God’s plan, but by doing so we will receive riches beyond our comprehension because God’s plans are greater than we can even conceive!
I must admit, I am overwhelmed every time I read the scripture where Paul and Silas have been beaten within an inch of their lives, and then put in the pit of the jail and put into shackles, and yet they sing praises to God! “The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;” (Acts 16:22-25) (emphasis mine) All of this was for the glory of God!
Would God have been glorified or honored if they had remained quiet or spent the night complaining how unfairly they had been treated? I don’t know about you, but I know that this greatly convicts me, and that I still have a long way to go in being transformed into the image of Christ! THEY DEFINITELY LIVED THE WORD OF GOD. ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE WHO SEES GOD’S HAND IN EACH CIRCUMSTANCE EVEN WHEN IT IS SATAN ATTACKING? OR DO YOU IMMEDIATELY COMPLAIN TO GOD TO GET RID OF THIS ATTACK INSTEAD OF ASKING FOR STRENGTH TO BEAR IT (1 Corinthians 10:13)?
Look around us. Believers today are being persecuted for their faith. They are being fined and threatened with being thrown in jail for their beliefs. The United States is not a “Christian” nation. We are a fallen nation, under the wrath of God, and there are a few Christians who are being tested through the fire. Soon, that will be everyone of us. Are you ready? Don’t answer too quickly! Remember the Apostle Peter. (Oh how I remember being so like Peter, quick to speak and finding my foot in my mouth!) He told Jesus that he would die for him! Peter was a rough fisherman, he acted tough and was very quick to express his feelings. But when it came down to the truth, Jesus told him that He had already prayed for him because Satan had asked to sift him and he would deny Jesus three times that night! But Jesus assured him that once he was restored he would then be used to restore and lead others.
Brothers and sisters, without the Holy Spirit’s refining power, we are hopeless and helpless. However, I am so comforted as I remember God’s response to Paul’s dilemma of his thorn in the flesh, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Abba Father, You are sovereign! I am so convicted by this teaching! I am so unworthy of Your love and repent of my sin. Heal me, O Lord! I can’t live even a moment without the power of the Holy Spirit to guide me! I am nothing without You! I am overwhelmed as I, again, acknowledge the depth of the pain that You and Jesus Christ suffered in order to redeem me! I cry out as Your servant David did to create a clean heart in me and renew a steadfast spirit within me! (Psalm 51:10) All of this I pray in the name above every name, the name before which every knee will bow and declare His Lordship, the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen and amen.
This post has been written collaboratively between Esher and Rayah. Like Paul, our prayer is that you will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and walk in His ways to bring glory to the Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, the One and only. Be blessed in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ this day!