Love Came Down with Choice

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought nor will cease from yielding fruit. [1]

paul the famerWhen my husband and I opened an organic vegetable farm, my favourite plants were the Ever-bearing strawberries, because like their name, they just kept producing juicy red fruit as long as the climate cooperated and the land remained hydrated. Despite our busy schedule, often when the staff left for the day, the kids and I would  head out to the field, squat down low in that warm dirt and feast.  Picking those juicy berries was a delicious pause, a holy selah after a production packed day.  With fingers stained pink and bellies full, I would herd our young children into the farmhouse for bath and bed, heart full, always thankful for the gift of that sweet fruit on a summer’s eve.

God’s plan for Israel and for us, His kids, is that we live ever-bearing, always having the goods, a nation of plenty for those in need, that we would bear fruit of the goodness of our Father through the life we have to offer.

Yet like those berries out in the field, our production depends directly on our Source.

In the book of Jeremiah, Judah had done the unthinkable: they had sought alternate sources of provision and resources through Baal worship.  God’s chosen sought mass idolatry and pierced God’s heart. Using a soiled linen belt, wrecked by mold, and useless, God illustrated through Jeremiah how severe Judah’s choices will impact their future:

This evil people, who refuse to hear My words, who follow the dictates of their hearts, and walk after other gods to serve them and worship them, shall be just like this sash which is profitable for nothing. For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah to cling to Me,’ says the Lord, ‘that they may become My people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they would not hear.’[2]

2014-08-22 18.11.15God’s plan was that we live in a sweet relationship with Him, for renown, praise and glory to God, but Judah would have none of this.  The nation’s countryside was plagued with shrines to pagan gods, high wicked secret corners where offerings of food, coin and sexual acts were offered to bribe the “gods” for wealth, fertility and favour.  In the city, these same people brought sacrifices to God’s temple in Jerusalem.

As Judah’s heart strayed far from God, immorality polluted the land, defiled the homes and mocked their covenant with Jehovah God.  The leaders, longing to live in fat splendor were cultivating disaster through their choices. Hear God cry through Jeremiah:

I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable…My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.(3)

Judah had forgotten their Source, the Lord Jehoveh.

On the farm, when your well runs dry, everything stops functioning until that issue is addressed.  One summer, my husband operated a cow/calf beef operation and our well dried up.  Every other need became secondary to the daily demand of water. Regardless of work, crops or family, Paul’s only priority was to get those cattle water or he would lose his herd. Without water, cattle stampede, causing all kinds of destruction and injury to cattle, property and causes a direct loss of profit.

Water is crucial for all aspects of life, but especially farm production.

Niagara Rainbow FallsWhen the people of Judah quit seeking God for provision and relationship, in foolishness seeking demonic idol worship to get the needed rain for their land, they despised the artesian well, the constant flow of love, protection, kindness and provision by God to His people. Judah was attempting to catch a few drops with self-made broken rain barrels when God offered unlimited flow in all areas of their lives, if only they would be monogamous in their devotion.

When heat came that August, those same Ever-bearing strawberries shriveled up red brown, like pellets, as hot winds blew over our land.  Despite the irrigation tapes, the berry crops was destroyed within days. Once dehydrated, those berries quit producing, just as Judah, in forsaking God, lived barren and would soon be dispersed by the invading armies of Babylon for their choice.

Dead to God, the nation languished in sin. God told Jeremiah to head to a potter’s house. Using reworked clay as his illustration, God begs:

“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel! The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. [4]

God, Creator of the heavens and earth, deeply loved Judah. Yet He was powerless to stop their choices. Like a father frantically waving a child back closer to the shore who had waded far past his safety, God’s cries to Judah, “Come back! Hear My voice! Get away from those idols!” were carried away by winds of pride and sin. Judah, deaf to God, pursued their destruction, sin upon sin, choice upon foolish choice.

In 588 B.C., Jerusalem was invaded by the Babylonian army. The temple was razed, the nobility executed, and Judah was exiled to Babylon for seventy years, a nation broken by their own sin.

Hundreds of years later, a lone Man stood up in the temple and offered Himself as the Source to all who would choose Him:

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

All we have to do is make the Choice.  We are designed by God  to live abundantly saturated, hydrated by His Living water, His Spirit, to bear His fruit, like a warm land full of juicy berries to those in need, as we show off the goodness of our Father who loves us.

2013-09-16 16.42.31Everything begins with His Son.Judah was offered a sweet deal:  You worship Me and I bless You, but they wouldn’t accept God’s offer and paid for it.  The offer still stands.

Who is Your Source?

Let’s pray:  Lord Jesus, we come to You, that rivers of living water may flow from within us, that we may bear fruit and bless the nations even as we declare the goodness of our Father God. Holy Spirit, lead us into all truth.  Keep our hearts far from idols of self-sufficiency and independence.  Father God, for the sake of Your heart, for the sake of the nations, forgive us. We declare you are our only Source and as Your children, may we be Ever-bearing by Your Power and Your Grace through Your Spirit.  Amen.

This Week’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 5-20

Next Week’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 21-40

Study Questions:

  1. Judah couldn’t trust God and sought other options.  What do other options to faith and surrender look like?  What is the short term and long-term outcomes of choosing other options?
  2.  Idolatry rarely looks like blood sacrifices on a high hill these days.  What does idol worship look like in daily life here on Earth these days?  How does familiarity keep us from recognizing the idols?
  3. God’s first command is:  You shall have no other idols before Me for I am a jealous God.  Why does God insist on monogamy in our love relationship?  What are the real time benefits of daily surrender and trust in relationship?
  4. Jesus offered us ongoing flow of God through Him.  How does choosing Christ bring us the Spirit?  Why is that important?
  5. We are designed, like Abraham, to be a blessing.  How does knowing our Source impact our blessing capacity?
[1]The New King James Version. 1982 (Je 17:9-13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[2]The New King James Version. 1982 (Je 13:10-11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[3]The New King James Version. 1982 (Je 2:7, 13). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[4]The New King James Version. 1982 (Je 18:5-10). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.                            [5] The New Kings James Version. 1982 (John 7:37-39). Nashville:  Thomas Nelson.