Why, O LORD, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. Isaiah 63:17
Wandering from the ways of God creates a hardness of heart within us. This condition has at least two negative manifestations. The first is the tendency of those who choose to ignore sin problems or their own lack of spiritual growth because they have placed an unhealthy dependence on a previously performed spiritual commitment or religious act. In the Old Testament, there was an assumption that because someone was a child of Abraham, he or she was right with God. In the Church today, believers might proclaim they are righteous by virtue of baptism and believing right things about God. Such misdirected confidence in religious tradition causes a failure to recognize the inherent danger to the soul when one wanders from the ways of God.
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The second manifestation has to do with the effort required to come back to God when one has wandered or become lukewarm. This kind of hard-heartedness can cause us to question if obedience is really worth the effort. “If I can make it to heaven without praying much, reading my Bible, witnessing, tithing, really drawing near to God…then why bother with spiritual growth?” Such rebellion resists the things of God and causes us to wander further away from Him. The outward activities, or their lack, are just a sign of an inward heart condition that has lost reverence for God.
Father, forgive me for failing to give my full attention to what concerns You. I don’t want my heart to harden in a position away from You. Soften my heart! Make me attentive to Your Spirit and Your Word. Help me to run with perseverance the race marked out for me.
–Adapted from HeartCry for Revival devotional 2011 by David Butts, author of Asleep in the Land of Nod. This resource is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount on the book.
Praise God for being the God of “burning bushes,” calling you to respond and serve where he leads (Ex. 3:2). Thank God for revealing to you his call to service, and for your affirming response. Confess your deafness, blindness, hardheartedness, and excuses that keep you from hearing and responding to God’s call (3:6, 11, 13). Commit yourself to being aware of God’s presence every day and listening to his call to service, no matter how humbling that service may be. Ask him to give you a positive attitude in carrying out his call.
Pray that you be hospitable, loving what is good, self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined, holding firmly to the truth (Titus 1:8), thus growing God’s kingdom on the inside.
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