11 March 2009

On Taking Correction – 3.11.09

Jeremiah 8:4-6 Moreover thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; Shall they fall, and not arise? shall he turn away, and not return? Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.

Jeremiah is one of my favorite Bible characters. He prophesied during the final days of the kingdom of Judah. The nation had long ago forsaken their God and His law, and the consequences for doing so were just about to fall. Before the end of Jeremiah's ministry, the nation was taken captive into Babylon.

The sad thing is that it didn't have to be that way. As we read through the Old Testament and watch God's chosen people drift further and further away from Him, we also read of how God in His grace and in His mercy sent His prophets to warn the people and urge them to repent so His judgment would not have to fall.

Problem was 2 Chronicles 36:16 But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.

Now, I hope you won't misunderstand what I'm about to say, but I believe we as Christians must understand this. I believe that God anticipates our failures and our shortcomings. I don't think the fact that we fall flat on our faces – often – takes Him at all by surprise. Psalm 103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

Yes, He hates sin. Yes, He must deal with sin in your life and in my life. But know that God is not sitting up in heaven with a lightning bolt ready waiting to strike it down in your direction should you happen to step out of line. He knows you are going to step out of line, and He'll definitely chasten you for it. But like He did with Israel, what He's going to do FIRST is give you some space to REPENT.

He's going to send some correction through His word, through His Holy Spirit, through your pastor, through your parents, through a Christian friend. He's going to give you an opportunity – many opportunities – to get your shortcomings straightened out and to make things right.

Why was Judah's backsliding perpetual? Why did they sink deeper and deeper into sin – to the point of no return? Why did God's judgment fall upon them in the harshest of ways? Because in their pride, they refused to repent. They simply could not – rather they would not – take correction.

Brother, sister, God knows you're not perfect. He's commanded you to work at it, and He expects you to involve yourself in the process. But He knows that you're human. He knows that you're going to fall. That's not an excuse to sin. That's a good reason to humble yourself and decide that you need correction, and when God sends it, you're going to respond the right way. Proverbs 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again...

The number one factor in your Christian growth will be your ability to properly take correction. Bro. James made that statement in a sermon he preached on Cain not long ago (click here to listen), and I believe he nailed it. God knows we're not perfect. The sooner we recognize that and quit excusing that and allow Him to help us remedy that, the better off we'll be.

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