Thought for the Week - 11th FebruaryPastor Gareth Watkins
Jeremiah 4: 19-22
My heart, my heart—I writhe in pain!
My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still.
For I have heard the blast of enemy trumpets
and the roar of their battle cries.
Waves of destruction roll over the land,
until it lies in complete desolation.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed;
in a moment my shelters are crushed.
How long must I see the battle flags
and hear the trumpets of war?
“My people are foolish
and do not know me,” says the Lord.
“They are stupid children
who have no understanding.
They are clever enough at doing wrong,
but they have no idea how to do right!”
Imagine how God feels about a people that He blesses, restores and brings life to, who turn away. A people who He sent His son for. A people who turn to other gods. A people who refuse to allow a cistern to contain His Holy Spirit, because they’re filled with their own desires and purposes.
In the verses above, God is speaking through the prophet Jeremiah. We see the heart of God and how He feels when the people are hard to Him, when they’re turning away from Him and refusing Him. God is not a far off God. He feels it.
In Psalm 119: 53 we read:
because they reject your instructions.
In Psalm 119: 136 we read:
because people disobey your instructions.
We don’t think of God’s feeling towards our sins, our hard hearts, our rebellion, and our lack of desire. We don’t think how God Himself feels towards His people, His church at large, towards the people that He loves so very, very deeply. So deeply that He would send His son to die for us. We don’t think enough towards the wonders of God and who He is.
Yet, in revivals, it’s common for people to feel the heart of God. If we read the stories of revival, we see it common place for preachers to be speaking to crowds of thousands. They preached throughout the day – 2pm, 6pm, 10pm. Even at 1am in the morning, there would be miners and villagers sat in their pews with tears running down their faces, still gripped with the presence and feeling of God’s heart for them. God Himself puts out the feeling of His own heart through the Holy Spirit, so the people can feel something of eternity. They experienced a strong agony – the heart of God for the lost, for those who have turned away from Him, for those who have hard hearts.
How much we neglect the heart of God and the thought towards God, our heavenly Father.
Finney wrote that “a great many parental prayers never rise above the yearnings of parental tenderness. And that is the reason why so many prayers are not heard, and why so many pious, praying parents have ungodly children”. Why is he saying it? Because they’re not considering the heart of God in a true fashion. What they are doing is praying for their children out of love and tenderness for them, but what about the fact they’re dishonouring God? Even where children dishonour God and rebel against Him, their parents still continue to pray tender prayers for God to bless them. Finney is saying to get into the fact there is a heart of God that is being wounded by the dishonour and the lack of respect that we as parents have for Him, and that we’re passing that on to the next generation.
God, the Spirit of God, us, and our spirit should all be connected in truth. There must not be a breaking in our part where we become untruthful to God by saying something nice that doesn’t say it as it is, but says a nice word that skims over the top of the circumstance. There needs to be truth in all these things. Otherwise we will have children who are away from God. And we will have parents who pray for their children and no result will come.
For a Christian, dishonouring God is a perverse position. Why would you thank God for His salvation, why would you thank God for sending His son to die on the cross, and then go and dishonour Him afterwards? Do we dishonour God in our lives? Do we dishonour God by the way we speak or the way we act? Dishonouring God produces an effect in life and it produces effects in eternity, where God says rivers of tears gush from my eyes because you disobey my instructions.
Is this our God who becomes furious (Psalm 119: 53) and His tears come out like rivers (Psalm 119: 136)? We read “I writhe in pain! My heart pounds within me! I cannot be still” (Jeremiah 4: 19-22). Is that God, or is that someone else that we’ve never read of in our bible?
This is how God feels towards us when we’re not walking with Him, when our hearts are hard and matted down, and when we’re not allowing the fruitful life He wants to bring.
In revival times, that brought in spiritual places an agony, or mourning. Some people in the revival were in agony for days and weeks. They describe the salvation of souls, when the souls come, almost like having a child. Where there’s a great pain on them – a wrenching of their very being – until these souls come through. People like Rees Howells were people who knew how to intercede and knew that agony of the soul, but for the nation. What an agony that must have been!
These people have an agony over souls and the nation. This is a different realm altogether, with a God who’s interested and pouring His tears out for the people that have been lost in anguish. Sometimes we need to think of who God is in that way. God is our loving, heavenly Father. He concerns Himself over us. We are dishonouring Him through various things, such as platitudes and easy speech. God knows.
We know the concern God has for us if we dishonour Him and won’t allow Him to break up the fallow ground. What can we do? In James 5: 16 we read:
We have a position where there may or may not be fruitfulness in our lives, where there may or may not be fruitfulness in our churches, where we cannot get past the first sin of ingratitude, as Finney described it. What can we do about it?
We can ask God to break up our fallow ground, and that righteousness will come. We can pray that God will come in great power and produce wonderful results. We need to be in a place where we’re not dishonouring God, and we’re looking to God to produce wonderful results in us, our children, our homes and our churches.
John Knox was a leader of the reformation and founder of the Scottish Presbyterian church. He was in such agony over the deliverance of his country that he couldn’t sleep. He wrote that without prayer, a minister would do little good. If you read the history of it, Queen Mary – a devout catholic – was frightened of this man who was in the agony of prayer.
Why was this powerful woman frightened of this man in prayer? Why did Churchill write to Rees Howells for the prayers he was offering up? Because “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results”.
Would you do it? Would you consider where you stand before God? Would you break up any fallow ground that might be in you? Would you consider if you’ve been dishonouring God? Would you consider if you’d neglected the things of God, if you’ve been hurting God? Would you pray for God to move in your life, that He would produce wonderful results?
Would you humble yourself and pray that God would heal our land?