Scarecrows Don't Offer Peace of Mind

Scripture:

Jeremiah 10:2-7 (NLT)

2This is what the LORD says: “Do not act like other nations who try to read their future in the stars. Do not be afraid of their predictions, even though other nations are terrified by them. 3Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree and carve an idol. 4They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over. 5There stands their god like a helpless scarecrow in a garden! It cannot speak, and it needs to be carried because it cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good.”

6LORD, there is no one like you! For you are great, and your name is full of power. 7Who would not fear you, O King of nations? That title belongs to you alone! Among all the wise people of the earth and in all the kingdoms of the world, there is no one like you.

Jeremiah 10:23-24 (NLT)

23I know, LORD, that a person’s life is not his own. No one is able to plan his own course. 24So correct me, LORD, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die.

Jeremiah 11:1-5 (NLT)

1The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2“Remind the people of Judah and Jerusalem about the terms of their covenant with me. 3Say to them, ‘this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Cursed is anyone who does not obey the terms of my covenant! 4For I said to your ancestors when I brought them out of slavery in Egypt, “If you obey me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God.” 5I said this so I could keep my promise to your ancestors to give you a land flowing with milk and honey—the land you live in today.’”

Then I replied, “So be it, LORD!”

John 14:1 (NLT)

1“Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me.

John 14:15-21 (NLT)

15“If you love me, obey my commandments…18…I will not abandon you as orphans—I will come to you…21Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me. And because they love me, my Father will love them, and I will love them. And I will reveal myself to each one of them.”

John 14:27 (NLT)

27“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn’t like the peace the world gives. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Observations:

Jeremiah talks about the idols of the people. being no more powerful than a scarecrow in the garden. That is funny. He says that they can’t be powerful if they have to be nailed down to keep the wind from blowing them over — or they have to be carried around. That is hillarious! Of course they aren’t powerful.

That is like our cars and trucks. We buy them all for the wrong reasons. We buy them to give us status and prestige. How powerful can these things be if we have to shelter them in the garage to protect them from the elements, or from thieves? How powerful can these tokens of metal be if we think that a few scratches will diminish our worth?

Or how about our houses? Are they really just a shelter from the weather — or are they more than that? Or our clothes, jewelry, education, — or any other toy or token we have? Aren’t they really just described in Jeremiah as pieces of metal shaped into objects that have no real power?

Isn’t god the only one with real power. Didn’t He create the Universe and everything in it? Isn’t God the one who makes the wind blow and the seas stay within their boundaries? Isn’t God the one who brings breath to my body and who lives within me? Isn’t god the one who loves me, cares for me, and brings understanding to my life?

It cracked me up when Jeremiah says to God, “Be gentle with me.” I’ve said that a bunch of times — and only recently have I decided to let go of that phrase. I trust God enough to know that He is gentle with me. Like someone holding their pet bird, or cat, or gerbil — God is very gentle, even tender with me. That is cool. But at least I know that I’m not the first, or only one to ever utter that phrase.

Jeremiah reminds the people of their covenant with Him. and for the first time, I see Jesus refering to the covenant in John 14. He says that if they trust in the Father, they can trust in Him too. But He says, if you really do trust me, and love me, you should show it through your actions. If you love Him, keep His commandments.

I believe this is the heart of the Adventist message. This is why we get so passionate about commandment keeping. We don’t understand how people can say they love God, but then they discount His commandments. It is an interesting paradox, really.

A friend recently commented on how other churches can teach absolute devotion to God, but then teach that obedience really isn’t an issue. This puts them in a conundrum that can’t be solved. They ask people for obedience and holiness, but then tell them that some commandments don’t matter. This is a dichotomy that some people can’t solve — even if they don’t consciously ponder it, they are left in a state of mediocrity. Either we keep the commandments, or we don’t. How can it be somewhere in the middle?

I guess the issue is holiness. Do we have a covenant with God, or do we not? Is God looking to us to represent Him and His character? Does He have a covenant with us — are we called to holiness? If so, then how can we diminish that?

In return for our obedience, we are promised a life of peace. Jesus says he will give us the gift of “peace of mind and heart.” Not like the world gives, but beyond that.

That’s what I want.

Application:

Once again, I see how important it is to put my trust in God and Him alone. There is no other way. Not my truck, my stereo, my computer, my wife, my house, my friends — or any other thing. God alone is able to bring peace of mind — through His confidence.

When I am in step with Him, my doubts and insecurities go away. I know that He will take care of my issues. I know that He has my best interests in mind. I know that He knows me better than I know myself and that He loves me more than I love myself.

It is only when I distance myself from Him that I start feeling puny, insecure, and stressed.

So, easy solution, stay connected to Him!

Prayer:

Father God, help me to remain connected with you. I easily get distracted, busy, and painfully seperate. It is often a gradual slipping away — but the end always results in a loss of peace. Please God, teach me to stay by your side at all times. Teach me to seek you when I am tempted to be distracted. Teach me to be obedient so that I don’t feel guilty or lazy or uncomfortable in your presence.

Thanks God for your love and grace when I do stray. Keep my eyes on you — at all costs!

Thanks, gw

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