Emotions are a funny thing. We all know what they are, but where do they come from? They seem to flow from the core of your being, from deep down inside. And if you’ve developed the pattern of denying or hiding your feelings, you’ll lose the very sense of who you really are—who God created you to be. Don’t believe me? Consider the prophet Jeremiah.
When you read the Old Testament book of Lamentations, which Jeremiah wrote, you’ll see that you have nothing to fear about bringing even your most raw or maybe what you think are embarrassing emotions to God.
Jeremiah was intensely honest in sharing his broken heart with God. But what follows his grief? When Jeremiah finished his grieving, he turned to God to seek forgiveness. The book ends with a question of remorse: ‘Are you angry with us still?’ the prophet asks. Have you ever asked that question? Behind this question is Jeremiah’s humility, coupled with his hope that God will start the process toward reconciliation and forgiveness. Jeremiah knew God’s heart, so he knew that God would forgive. If you truly repent of your sin, you can be sure that God will forgive you too—no matter how great your sins and failures. You need to come humbly before him and place your life in his strong, gentle hands.
God called Isaiah to be a prophet. His ministry extended for more than forty years. All we know about this prophet indicates that he was one of the greatest people of his time. His name means, ‘The Lord is salvation.’ This meaning is especially appropriate since he speaks throughout his book of God’s gracious promises of comfort and deliverance for his people. His book is a masterpiece, suggesting that Isaiah possessed considerable intelligence and education. But that’s not all; Isaiah was also a husband and a father.
So what can modern men learn from this prophet of old? Although Isaiah had many gifts, his success was primarily a result of his humility and faithfulness to God’s will for his life. When God called him, Isaiah had an overwhelming sense of his own sinfulness. He started where all men need to start: He admitted his sin and sought God for cleansing and renewal. Then, when God revealed his will for Isaiah, the prophet pursued God’s plan with determination. He spoke and lived out God’s will for him despite the opposition he faced. As a result, God used him to confront his people with their sin and to comfort his people as they faced a painful future. Through his words and life, Isaiah has blazed a trail for the spiritual growth of all men.
If you’re a man, you’re called to lead well’to lead well you need to begin with humility and faith.
All of us have felt the tug of an old habit or former way of life. And I’m sure you’ve known the frustration it creates as you long for the familiar, even though it may be destructive or may lead you outside God’s will. At times, the challenge may seem too hard. Your old life beckons, tempting you with familiar sources of comfort.
Did you know that many Jewish Christians of the first century thought about returning to the Jewish faith? Some of Jesus’ teachings didn’t seem to line up with the teachings of the Jewish rabbis. Was Jesus really the Messiah? Did following him mean they had to give up their old, familiar forms of worship? Would it be wrong to go back to their old beliefs and traditions? Did it make sense to follow this new way when it led to harsh persecution?
The writer of the book of Hebrews addressed these concerns of the Jewish Christians. In this book, they are encouraged to hold onto their faith, to encourage one another and to look forward to Jesus’ return.
What old habits are haunting you? Addiction? Lust? Anger? Spiritual renewal requires that you seek God, surrender your life to Jesus Christ, and follow his ways. From time to time, you will almost certainly feel a temptation to return to your former ways of life. But God is more than able to help you overcome and empower you to grow.