Where’s our Linen Belt?

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In Jeremiah 13:1 the Lord instructs Jeremiah, “Go buy a linen belt and put it around your waist, but do not let it touch the water.”  Now isn’t that kind of a strange request? Put on a linen belt but hey, don’t get it wet. Maybe because linen is a type of material that when wet will squeeze the daylights out of Jeremiah or become really itchy like wool. After all it was considered an “intimate” garment. It was worn like our underwear. But on the other hand maybe not. Maybe He had some other reason.

Jeremiah does as he’s told and then the Lord tells him to take the belt off and go bury it in Perath. Jeremiah had to be wondering what in the world is the Lord doing! First He has Jeremiah put the belt on, then take it off, and then go hide it! What? But Jeremiah again does as he’s told and carries the belt to Perath and buries it. Now you have to wonder what Jeremiah is thinking on his treak to Perath.

As the days pass Jeremiah forgets about it and goes about his business when the Lord shows up again some time later and says, “Hey Jer. go get the belt you buried.” (my translation) He goes all the way back to Perath and digs up the belt only to find it is ruined and absolutely useless! Now what? Jeremiah must be really wondering if the Lord has imbibed on a little too much wine.

God knows what Jeremiah is thinking so explains as Jeremiah stands holding the ruined and dirty belt looking puzzled, I’m sure.  “In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah (Let’s replace that with America) and the great pride of Jerusalem. (America) These wicked people, who refuse to listen to My words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt – completely useless!” (v.10)

Ohhh that had to be back then. We don’t serve other gods! Is that what you’re thinking? What about the god that we place above our family and children that we leave at 6:00 or 7:00  every morning to go to? The job! What about the god of being independant and “I can’t have this kid! It will interfere with my plans?” What about the god of lust, for the same sex or for my neighbors wife or husband? The love of money? The need to be better than the Jones? Oh America, we have a whole bunch of god’s and sadly the gods of the world have attracted us so much and so fervently that we are turning our back on the one True God. The Almighty God that created heaven and earth and everything in it.

God told Jeremiah, “For as a belt is bound around a man’s waist, so I have bound the whole house of Israel (America) to me,’ to be My people for My renown and praise and honor. But they have not listened.” (v.11)

God has called the Jewish people His people for many, many years but He has called the gentiles, too. (That’s non-Jewish people) He has offered the same redemption and the same blessings as He offered, and still offers, the Jewish people to us. He took America under His wings because we are a Nation under God. We looked to Him, we prayed, we sought His wisdom, and even made our Constitution from His decrees.

He had His linen belt around our waist, holding us close, but we have removed that belt and thrown it in the dirt, replacing it with pride! Pride has thrown prayer out of schools, “Gay Pride,” “We don’t need the Ten Commandments,” “It’s my body,” say the name of Jesus and see how mouths start screaming, we have elected government officials that say they are a Christian and in the same breath condemn and mock Christ followers, and the list goes on. Until America wakes up we are as dirty and as useless as the belt Jeremiah dug up and the Lord cast aside!

America may be pushing God out of the picture but God still loves us in spite of our stupidity and has been sending His warnings; Katrina, 9-11, earthquakes, Sunami’s, AIDS, Ebola, ISIS!

“But they have not listened.”  

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Blessings to you.

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Can Light Penetrate a Black Heart?

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My child sized heart pumped fiercely as I ran away. Fear filled me. I felt like the devil himself was close behind breathing down my neck. “If he catches me I’ll never survive.” I scream out, “Jesus save me” but He didn’t appear at my door. (I thought He would come to my house and save me from the abuse.)

That’s when the devil got his foothold. The anger at God for rejecting my plea intertwined with the fear. The roots of disappointment and a lack of understanding was transformed into a bitterness that grew deeper. With each injustice, betrayal, hurtful word, and rejection another black spot replaced what God created. Hatred filled spaces unknown within a normal pulsating heart that was created to love. Instead of the red blood of Christ filling a beautiful, pumping pink organ, the enemies blackness was trying to fill it to the brim.

Life continued with struggles and the bitterness against man and God continued to grow. God’s light would try to penetrate my darkening heart but with snarled lips and vehement words God was rejected. “If there’s a God then why……..?” “Don’t talk to me about this so-called loving God!” was spewed out from a heart filled with pain, rejection, bitterness, and a hatred so deep it seemed no light could penetrate. God would step in but the door was quickly slammed shut.

God is a persistent God! He never gives up pursuing the lost. He didn’t give up then and He hasn’t now. He continued to chase me down and at my lowest point was standing there to pick me up. I accepted Him and He taught me much. With much love and patience He began healing the heart wounds from all the years of hurt and betrayal and gradually I learned who I am in Him. The blackening of my heart began turning grey. Some of the black spots of evil dissipated. But with a news report I learned it was still filled with hatred. The roots of hatred and bitterness still ran deep. I desperately needed surgery! The kind only Christ can do.

God’s light broke through the darkness within a dream. In the dream the flames within the cage roared about the body of man while ISIS stood watching with vile, wicked grins and slapping each other on the back for a job well done, I screamed out, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” It wasn’t the man being burned alive, it was me! Just before I awoke, I glared at the evil men and said, “If Mohammed was here I would spit in his face!” I awoke suddenly with my chest filled so full of hatred that I thought I was having a heart attack.

The hatred grew within me until I thought my chest would burst. I prayed in English, I prayed in tongues, I asked God what was happening to me. At one point I felt I wanted to jump out of bed and scream at the top of my lungs. I didn’t because it would wake the whole subdivision. I couldn’t move. The chest pain continued until I thought my chest would explode right there in my bed. I prayed some more. I rebuked the devil to no avail.

Confusion swirled around in my head, “Was I feeling what Christ must feel?” I told the Lord I know He loves those people but, “Forgive me, I want them to suffer every scream, every cry for help, every pleading agonized breath and feel every pain that every person and every child felt, for all of eternity in hell!”

My chest grew, the hatred increased. It was vile, it was ugly. I could barely breath. I could taste the wickedness of it. I prayed some more. I cried out for understanding and even threw out the fact that Jesus got mad and threw tables around the Temple. “I can’t ask You to forgive them because You will if they ask, but they won’t!” And, “I won’t pray their heart be changed! They are Satan’s incarnates! That’s like transforming Satan’s heart! It ain’t going to happen!” My thoughts whirled around like a balloon skittering around a room when suddenly released of its air. One minute I was thinking like Jesus might want me to and the next I was lashing out with hatred.

I don’t know how long I spewed the vile hatred I felt for what is going on in this world. The evil that surrounds us all. I confessed, I quoted a couple of scriptures, I did everything I could to try to rationalize and try to understand what was happening to me. Had I not been wide awake I would have thought I was in the middle of a horrible nightmare.

Suddenly a thought dropped into the midst of all the praying, all the arguing and expounding on why I should hate these people,“You have hurt people, too.” That shut my mouth for a moment but then of course my first response was, “I haven’t chopped off anyone’s head! I’ve burned no-one alive! I’m not robbing and stealing and raping!” Then the realization took hold, I have hurt people with my words, some deliberately and some not. I have rejected others, and above all, I rejected God and His Son for many years.

The pain in my chest began to slowly dissipate as that realization took hold. A calming began to replace the pain of hatred. It seemed as though my chest was deflating slowly and as that realization of my own sin penetrated my heart I realized that maybe, just maybe, it was my heart that needed to be changed.

There was no glowing translucent light filling the room. No angels appeared in white robes. No heavenly choir songs rang out from heaven. There was only a hushed silence as I whispered, “Is it my heart that needs changing, Lord?” The pain suddenly vanished! I was left limp and exhausted.

Many of us have prayed, “Search my heart O’Lord.” He takes that seriously and in my case He used the evil of ISIS on a T.V. newscast to reveal the depth of hatred in my heart and not only to expose it and make me aware of its depth but to taste the vile bitterness of it. “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I was hating the sinner as well as the sin.

We’ve all suffered pain of some sort. We all have areas of hurt. There are no pure hearts in humanity and He’s still working on mine. By His grace I am saved, not perfect.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.”

Ps. 139:23

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Blessings to you.