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Don’t rip your clothes to show your sorrow. Instead, turn back to me with broken hearts. I am merciful, kind, and caring. I don’t easily lose my temper, and I don’t like to punish. Joel 2:13 (CEV)

When I was in about sixth grade a couple of friends of mine decided to have an overnight campout in one of the guys backyard. The tent was only big enough for two guys but they said I could hang out with them if I wanted to sleep under the stars. I went home and asked permission from my mom. Problem was, she said no. I could go back to play, but had to be home by dark.

I never went home that night. I lied to my friends about the pseudo permission I received and had an absolutely miserable time. They didn’t know it of course. I kept it well hidden as we played cards, sat around the campfire and told stories.

I slept under the stars that night with nothing but my light jacket. I assured my friends it was by my choice to sleep that way. I was cold. I was scared. Every little sound awakened me from a fitful slumber.

The odd part was, I was within eyesight of home. Just a short walk to a warm bed. In spite of that I was determined to do things my way. Even when I saw my dad drive by at about dusk I ignored the guilt and pain associated with knowing I was wrong! I took the long way home late the next morning. I was hungry, cold, tired and guilty. When I got home the next morning I was grounded for my actions. Both of my parents reminded me of the rules and assured me of their love, but that didn’t change the consequences.

You may be living the same way today. You are determined to live life your way. You know what God requires. You know the path you should take. You know that what you are doing is displeasing to God. You may even do as I did that night and try to convince yourself that everything is fine and life is good.

When you do things your way and leave God out there is an emptiness that nothing can fill. Relationships won’t fill it. Religion won’t fill it. Money, toys and social status won’t fill it. The only thing that will fill that emptiness is living for Jesus.

The prophet Joel wrote to a stubborn, rebellious people. People who’d seen God work many times but refused to follow him. Through the prophet God sends the people ofIsraelthe same lesson he sends us. ‘Come home. Get serious about life and living. I don’t want your rituals. I want your heart. I don’t want words. I want a passionate relationship with you. I’m patient. I understand your plight. I won’t lose my temper with you.’

PRAYER: Father God I have tried so many things to fill this void in my life. I confess that I am afraid to come home to you. I’m so used to people responding to my failures with anger and hostility I expect the same from you. Thank you for your patience, love, mercy and grace. Forgive me for being stubborn. Empower me to live for you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” 2 Chronicles 16:9

After Solomon was King of Israel, the country was divided by civil war into two nations, Israel and Judah. Although these two nations were of the same ancestry, they fought continuously. One day Asa, king of Judah heard that the King of Israel was planning to take some of Judah’s land and perhaps attack.

Asa went to the temple, but not to pray. He went to the temple to take some of the gold and silver that belonged to God and use it to pay off a neighboring king to help defend Judah from Israel. God spoke to Asa through a prophet. In effect, God’s words went something like this.

“Asa, don’t you know that I am sitting here in heaven looking over the entire world just looking for people who need my help? Don’t you realize that I want nothing more than to help you in the battles of life? Haven’t you figured out yet that I’m waiting here for you to ask for help? Yet you still go to other kings, other places to get your protection. From now on you will be subject to those around you and you will face many struggles.

Now, one would think that Asa would have listened to the prophet and confessed his lack of trust in God, but that wasn’t the case. Asa became angry with the prophet and with God. He threw the prophet in prison and tortured him.

Years later, Asa got a serious disease. Once again he refused to ask God for help in healing him and he eventually died.

The tragic story of Asa is played out everyday by people here on earth. We may think that God isn’t interested in our ‘small problems’. I was talking with a woman one day who was telling me her problems. I asked if she’d prayed about it and her response was, “He’s got plenty of bigger problems in the world to deal with. He can’t be bothered by me.” The sad thing was, she really believed that and sometimes we do to.

We may be like a stubborn child who refuses a parent’s help to get dressed. Even though we may struggle with life’s problems we are convinced that if we just try harder we will be able to conquer what ever it is that is troubling us. We may change jobs, or end relationships, or blame others all in an effort to get through this journey called life. We’d never admit it, but in a sense we are saying to God, “I know how to do this better than you. Step aside and see how it’s done!”

Regardless of what you are going through today, realize this. Your Heavenly Father is like an eagle soaring high above the earth, watching your every move and seeing what lies ahead. He not only sees your struggle, He sees your heart. He is waiting for you to let go and trust Him. He may allow you to go through consequences and pain to make you stronger, but He will never leave you alone if you call on Him and walk in relationship with Him.

Your Heavenly Father longs to be involved in every decision of your life because of His great love for you. Invite Him to walk the path of life with you.

PRAYER: Father God. I confess to you that there are many times I have taken matters into my own hands and never even thought of asking for your help. I praise you for the lesson of Asa and the reality that you are watching my every move and know my heart and desires. Right now I’m struggling with life and with consequences of my own choices. Forgive me from forgetting you and empower me with your Spirit to walk in such close relationship with you that you are involved in every decision of my life. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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