Called to Worship – Issue #16
by Phil Mershon
The terms of God’s covenant with Israel could not be clearer: obey God’s commandments and you will be blessed; disobey and you will be cursed. More specifically, you will either gain or be denied the presence of God based on your covenant fidelity. In other words, God will stop listening to your voice if you choose sin and disobedience (Jer. 11:14).
In Jeremiah’s day, idolatry was rampant. Israel was chasing after a pantheon of foreign gods, forgetting their covenant vows. So, when Hilkiah discovered the Law in 2 Kings 22-23 and Josiah instituted religious reformation, there were many upset priests. What? You would think the Levites would rejoice, but many of them had wandered away from the LORD and were now content making their living through idol worship. A return to the LORD would require them to change everything, giving up their power and control.
That’s how it is with sin. It can become very comfortable until brought into the light of God’s word. Repentance is easy when sin is casual. But when God confronts deeply held patterns of sin and relating, we often fight it—not seeing the incredible mercy that God would keep pursuing us, in spite of our infidelity.
Recently I sinned against my wife by putting my desires over her earnest request. She needed my strength and I showed my weakness. The evidence of my sin’s impact was clear. My need for repentance was great. But my heart resisted the offer of mercy, choosing a momentary illusion of power and self-righteousness. I know being restored to my wife and God is of far greater value than any temporary pleasures. Why would I resist? Because I value power over surrender. I want to be in control and not relinquish my rights to God. Sounds like the priests of Israel!
This is absurd!
The joys of the Gospel are blinding like the sun and yet I cling to a dying flashlight while spelunking through the caves of my own desires. God offers the inheritance rights of eternal sonship, but I prefer to eat slop with the pigs. God declares me righteous based on the perfect sacrifice of his son, but I often despise what this requires. God asks nothing of me except to believe on the finished work of Christ. He even provides the power to turn from sin through the work of the Holy Spirit. I am so blind.
Prayer of surrender
Dear Lord, forgive my pride and arrogance. Expose my apathy toward righteousness and your Kingdom. Open my eyes to see the beauty of the Gospel (I’m forgiven and sin’s power has been broken). Open my ears to hear your voice (you declare your covenantal love, though I’m a covenant breaker). Open my heart to embrace and cherish the truth of the Gospel (I cannot do anything to lose your love). Open my mind to understand and treasure your Word (it offers words of life, not death). I pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.
Some songs to consider:
Lincoln Brewster’s Surrender
Reuben Morgan’s I Give You My Heart
What about you?