“Let us lift up our hearts along with our hands to God in the heavens […]”
Is God your best friend?
Jehovah God wants us to reach out to him in heartfelt prayer. (Ps. 65:2)
But it might be difficult to open up to someone we cannot see or physically listen to.
Even if we cannot find the right words, if we continuously try to reach out to God in prayer, he understands what we are trying to say. (Rom. 8:26,27)
God is not just looking for routine acts of worship or words.
He wants us to “lift up our hearts along with our hands.”
This indicates sincere motivation coupled with good deeds.
Perhaps in the past we have been guilty of loving God half-heartedly, afraid of giving more than we were already giving to his service. (Re. 3:16)
Or perhaps we have even been guilty of being double-hearted, verbally committing to something while we secretly resolved not to carry it through. (Matt. 15:7,8)
How comforting it is to know that if we repent, reexamine our lives, and seek God again with all our heart, he will forgive us and be our friend. (Jer. 29:12,13)
In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, most became obstinate in their behavior while others just pretended to repent, and this hurt Jehovah. (Jer. 3:10; 8:6)
Let us make sure every day that what we are doing in God’s service is motivated by whole-hearted love for him and we can trust that he will do his part. (Ps. 10:17; Ps. 119:145)
“Perhaps when those of the house of Judah hear of all the calamity that I intend to bring on them, they may turn back from their evil ways, so that I may forgive their error and their sin.”
Jehovah God looks to forgive those who have offended him. (Isa. 55:7)
He sees everyone’s heart and does not give up hope that these people can change. (2 Pet. 3:9)
Likewise, we should not hold on to a grudge or seize the opportunity to get even with someone who has offended us. (Ro. 12:17-19)
Nor should we rejoice when they suffer due to their own imperfections or to unrelated circumstances. (Prov. 24:17,18)
However, God’s pardon is not unconditional.
He forgives those who “turn back from their evil ways.”
Since we cannot see what lies in the heart of our fellow man, it is best to leave the judging to God, remaining hopeful that wrongdoers will become spiritually conscious before it is too late.
“[…] ‘You will search for me with all your heart. And I will let you find me,’ declares Jehovah.”
How do we show God we are sincerely searching for him?
One way is through heartfelt prayer.
“Make me know your ways, O Jehovah; Teach me your paths.” (Ps. 25:4)
Like the psalmist, we need to display humility and recognize we need God’s guidance.
Jehovah invites even those who have strayed from him to come back to him.
“If you search for Jehovah your God from there, you will certainly find him, if you inquire for him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in great distress and all these things have happened to you in later times, then you will return to Jehovah your God and listen to his voice. For Jehovah your God is a merciful God. He will not desert you […]” (De. 4:29-31)
But it is not enough to recognize our own sins. (La. 3:41,42)
Seeking Jehovah implies learning about his personality: what God likes and dislikes and then conforming to his standards. (Je. 31:34)
To find God, we must try to imitate his mercy, ridding ourselves of feelings of hatred toward those who have wronged us. (Mt. 6:12)
Then God allows us to find his peace and a solid hope for the future. (Jer. 29:11,12)
“‘You would not listen to me,’ declares Jehovah. ‘Instead you offended me with the work of your hands, to your own calamity.’”
When someone decides to take it upon him or herself to oppose God’s written will, they are doing so to their own detriment.
The day comes when God ‘makes his voice heard,’ and he will personally pass judgment on everyone of us. (Jer. 25:30,31)
But God does not come like a merciless executioner.
Jehovah is now teaching us and guiding us through his written word for our own benefit. (Isa. 48:17,18)
Like Jeremiah, our resolve to obey God may subject us to temporary persecution and suffering, but we faithfully continue to share God’s message knowing he gives even the evildoer a chance to repent. (Jer. 26:3,13,15)
Nevertheless, the day will come when God will realize his vision of justice. (Hab. 2:3,4)
It is not as one religious leader proclaimed- that God’s mercy “never runs out.”
Jehovah is a judge of justice and action; not an indulging authority figure who is only bluffing.
“The windstorm of Jehovah will burst out in fury;
Like a whirling tempest it will whirl down on the head of the wicked.”
In the prophet’s day, the kings and elders were corrupting justice for selfish gain. (Jer. 22:13; 23:1,2,10,11)
We should not let ourselves be consumed by wrathful anger when injustice seems to prevail, because God promises to ultimately bring the wicked to justice.
When God’s justice strikes down, it can be compared to a hurricane.
Can anyone stand in God’s way?
But there is calm in the eye of a hurricane.
If we learn to stand in ‘God’s inner circle’ by repenting and paying attention to his Word, we will be safe and at peace when that day comes. (Jer. 23:5,22)
“Correct me, O Jehovah, with judgment,
But not in your anger, that you may not reduce me to nothing.”
We all need to be corrected from time to time, either by someone at work, or if we are younger, by our parents or teachers, or we may be counseled by a mature, caring friend.
It is human nature to initially be embarrassed and even to resist the correction.
Jehovah corrected his People through his prophets.
We do not have modern-day prophets, but we can read God’s recorded thoughts in his written Word, and find God’s counsel under prayer through Bible reading.
To accept God’s correction, we need to humbly recognize that, despite having freedom of choice, it is not in our best interest to act independently of God. (Jer. 10:23)
It is easier to accept correction as soon as we realize we are doing something wrong, without needing to wait for someone to blatantly point out our mistakes to us.
But if it comes to that, and we are privately or publicly reproved, let us remember that Jehovah takes the time to discipline those whom he loves and wants to keep by his side.
Everyone needs to be refined by God’s love and he expects you to keep trying. (Heb. 12:5,6)
As one brother put it, it is better to accept correction now than to ‘be reduced to nothing’ on God’s Judgment Day.
“Instead of peace, I had great bitterness; But in your fondness for me, You preserved me from the pit of destruction […]”
God’s will for each one of us is that we may have a fundamental understanding of his loving kindness. (1 Ti. 2:3,4)
He is fond of those trying to obey him and does not want anyone to die. (2 Pe. 3:9)
Although Jehovah God does not miraculously extend the life of all his servants, as he did in King Hezekiah’s case, we can all experience the strength infused by our faith in everlasting life. (Ps. 37:29; Is. 38:1-5; Da. 3:17,18; Acts 7:54-60; Ro. 14:7,8)
The real “pit of destruction” all of God’s servants are saved from represents the hopeless and despairing state of ignoring his will.
Said ignorance could ultimately lead to the destruction of our very souls. (John 3:36)
Those who are faithful are spared said despair even during trying times.
We find strength in God’s words, just like Hezekiah did, and know that regardless of what happens, we will ultimately be restored to life (Is. 38:16)