The leafy fig tree. It highlights the power of faith–the strength to do much and more. But I still think about the tree’s leaves–an outward appearance of health, yet it was fruitless. Appearances deceive.
Most of all, they hurt themselves, to their own shame. Jeremiah 7:19 NLT.
How many times had God’s people been warned and corrected? Only if, only if–“stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; 6 only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols.” Jeremiah 7:5-6 NLT.
In Jeremiah 7:8-11 NLT, there’s an assumption that just because the Temple was in their midst they’d be safe, despite their ongoing and intentional sin.
8 “‘Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! 9 Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, 10 and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, “We are safe!”—only to go right back to all those evils again? 11 Don’t you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken!”
In Matthew, Jesus clears out the Temple with similar words:
12 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. 13 He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” Matthew 21:12-13 NLT.
When the Lord’s Spirit is in me, this body of mine is a temple. I bear his name as a follower of Christ. A child of God. I don’t think God expects me to be perfect, but I do think he wants me to trust him. When I obey him, it shows that I trust him. I believe he does want good for me. Lord, I need to remember I can trust you! I really do want to obey you. Sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s such a struggle. Help me.
22 When I led your ancestors out of Egypt, it was not burnt offerings and sacrifices I wanted from them. 23 This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’
I read about Caleb in Joshua 14:6-9 NLT.
Caleb said to Joshua, “Remember what the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, about you and me when we were at Kadesh-barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh-barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, 8 but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the Promised Land. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. 9 So that day Moses solemnly promised me, ‘The land of Canaan on which you were just walking will be your grant of land and that of your descendants forever, because you wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God.’
God isn’t impressed by wealth or might or any outward appearances of success. I have to remind myself of this a lot–because these are the things that impress the world, not my Lord.
No, my God wants reverence and my hope in him.
10 He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse
or in human might.
11 No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him,
those who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11 NLT
Lord, when it comes to following you and obeying you, I don’t want to fake it. But I see that I’ve been faking it in my struggle to forgive. I can trust you. I don’t need to be angry and hold on to past wounds. You’ve got me. You’ve got this. I can put my hope in you and let go of it. The past is vapor anyway. Even if it is as recent as June. I pray that I would follow you, wholeheartedly. Thank you for your continued work in shaping my heart.