Jeremiah 4-6, Psalm 15
When I was younger growing up in the Episcopal Church, I wanted to be like the adults who didn't have to look at the book when they said the various prayers, like the Nicene Creed, the Apostle's Creed, the Responsorials, etc. I figured they were strong in their religion because they knew it by heart. I was really impressed when I noticed some singing certain songs without using the Hymnal. Like a machine I went to church until I received my confirmation. During the short sermon, my mind often wandered. Many of my patients, when I speak to them about the things of Christ, let me know that they go to church on a regular basis or infrequently. They use church attendance as their measuring stick of whether or not they are right with God. Recently, I spoke to a patient who seemed not interested in deepening her relationship with God, by getting into His Word, but stated that she was shocked that her friend didn't even bother to baptize her child. This is the false sense of security that most "Christians" find themselves in. I wanted to make it through confirmation because then I entered the "club". I felt then I was "good" in God's eyes. The furthest thing from my mind was developing a true relationship with God. Like many others, I had been inoculated. I had a small enough dose of religion to keep me immune from getting any closer to Him.
Listen to the what the prophet said in Jeremiah 4:4, "Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, And take away the foreskins of your hearts, You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, Lest My fury come forth like fire, And burn so that no one can quench it, Because of the evil of your doings." Paul in his letter to the Romans, said in 2:28-29, "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." The people of Judah felt safe in their religion. They felt immune from outside attack, falsely believing they had done the necessary things to be in God's club of protection. Speaking of the coming day when their nation would be taken captive by the Babylonians, we read in Jeremiah 4:9, "And it shall come to pass in that day" says the Lord, "That the heart of the king shall perish, And the heart of the princes; The priests shall be astonished, And the prophets shall wonder." The prophets referred to here were the false prophets. Completely disillusioned by their "goodness" we read in Jeremiah 4:31, "For I have heard a voice as of a woman in labor, The anguish as of her who brings forth her first child, The voice of the daughter of Zion bewailing herself; She spreads her hands, saying, 'Woe is me now, for my soul is weary Because of murderers!' " We read in Jeremiah 6:20, "For what purpose to Me Comes frankincense from Sheba, And sweet cane from a far country? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, Nor your sacrifices sweet to Me."
The people of Judah chose to ignore the warnings of all of their prophets. Steeped in the safety of their nation and feeling protected by their outward display of religiosity, they felt impervious to any enemy. But destruction did in fact come. How many in our nation are lulled into complacency also with a false sense of security. We live in the most powerful nation in the world. Do any of us actually believe that means anything if God chooses to judge us? Do we really believe that God will overlook the terrible sins that are being committed within our borders? Do we actually think that we don't deserve to be judged because we think that despite the evil allowed in our nation, we're not as bad as other nations? Any student of the Bible has to recognize that there is no real mention of our nation concerning the end times. We are either rendered irrelevant, no longer exist, etc. I would love to believe that there will be a massive revival and that during the Rapture so many of us are taken as to render us weak and defenseless. But this is the problem with everyone feeling that they are "pretty good" and that they belong to the right denominational club. Individually, despite not being in a true relationship with Jesus Christ, they feel protected from judgment since they have underwent the necessary rituals, drop a few coins in the collection plate, and attend church on occasion. Our only hope is revival. The only hope for our friends, family, co-workers is that they open their eyes to the true state of their soul before it is too late. Our only protection is from a true relationship not religion.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: