January 14, 2018
Jeremiah 2: 1-6
God created us to have a personal relationship with Him. The people of God in Jeremiah’s time had stopped the question, “Where is the Lord?” (v6) Their relationship with the Lord had changed from a relationship to a ritual on their part. We must be careful that we do not fall into the same temptation and allow our spiritual lives to fall into a stagnant state of ritualism.
1 The Problem
Henry Blackaby says, “Christianity is an intimate, growing relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.” It is not a set of doctrines to believe, habits to practice, or just certain sins to avoid. Every activity God desires and commands from us is intended to enhance His love relationship with His people. We are not to make our relationship with God just a ritual practice in our lives. A ritual means, of or relating to rites according to social custom or religious law, an established form for a ceremony, a system of rites, a ceremonial act or action, and a formal and customarily repeated act or series of acts. A person who is conformed to ritualism is a person who displays excessive devotion to the ritual and not the One the ritual should be revealing. We must be careful not to just go through the motions of worship and service to God without experiencing God in the process.
Do you sometimes just go through the motions of church or religion without preparation, excitement, and anticipation of personally experiencing the glory of God? This often leaves one to experience a feeling of meaninglessness and emptiness.
2 The Privilege
God designed worship for us to see Him in His glory and to respond appropriately; for many it has degenerated in to religion, just one more meeting to attend out of habit. God established the sacrificial system so that we, his people, could express our love and appreciation to Him; but we often diminish our gifts to our Lord into futile attempts to appease Him and to pacify our guilty conscience. God gave us the privilege of prayer so we could have conversation with Him, but we often distort this privilege by saying prayers for our needs and hurrying off without ever listening to what is on our Heavenly Father’s heart. God gave us His commandments as a protection for those He loves, but the commandments can become a pathway to legalism rather than an avenue for a relationship with our Father in which he guides us through the journey of life.
Do you cherish the privilege and daily opportunities to relate and share with those you love? Is God number one on your cherished list? If not why not?
What keeps you from exercising your God given privileges?
3 The Presence
Religious activity apart from fellowship with God is empty ritual. The people of Jeremiah’s day were satisfied to have the ritual without the manifest presence of God. The word manifest means to be clearly seen and experienced. They became so comfortable with their religion that they did not even notice the absence of God. They even stopped asking the question, “Where is the Lord who brought us from the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness?” (v6) Is it possible to pray, to attend a worship service, or to give an offering yet not experience the presence of God? I believe it is certainly possible and happens often! And that has been the sad commentary on Many a Christian experience. Do not settle for religious life that lacks a vital relationship with Jesus Christ. When God is present, the difference will be obvious and the world will know! Praise the Lord for His Glorious and Awesome presence in our lives and church! Tell God this week that you will not settle for anything less!