“RETURN TO ME.” God repeated this plea over and over when His children turned away from Him. He told them that He would not be angry with them if they would only acknowledge their sin against Him (Jeremiah 3:12,13). He promised to heal them if they would return to Him (v. 22). Perhaps the saddest words of all regarding Israel are found in Jeremiah 3:7. “And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return” (emphasis mine).
Are you worried about someone who has yet to return? Have you spent hours pleading and praying? God understands. Remember, He loves the soul of the wayward even more than we do.
Excerpts from the book RETURN TO ME due out in February:
From chapter five, “Keep Praying”–
Prayer is the ultimate litmus test because it is colored by our attitude. The command to pray in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is sandwiched between the commands to rejoice and be thankful. We’re to have a joyful, prayerful, thankful mentality, especially when working with others, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (v. 18). It’s too easy to get caught up in the exact opposite. Perhaps we feel unable to rejoice because we are filled with anxiety or discouragement. After praying endlessly for someone without seeing any “results,” it’s tempting to think God no longer hears or cares. And instead of being thankful, we become resentful. What can we do? Rejoice, pray, give thanks anyway.
From chapter six, “Let Go of the Guilt”–
“The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20). This entire chapter in Ezekiel is about some confusion the Israelites had about sons bearing the guilt of their fathers and vice versa. God wanted them to understand that each one will be held accountable for his own actions, and his alone. Notice also, “When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity…shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (v. 24). The Lord concludes with “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways” (v. 30). Just as children cannot stand in judgment on the basis of their parents’ goodness, parents will not stand in judgment on the basis of their grown children’s waywardness.
Chapter seven is entitled “Warn the Wanderer” and deals with what our responsibility is and what our responsibility is not as we reach out to the wayward. It also covers our objectives, what we hope to accomplish with the warnings. Excerpt from chapter seven–
The Israelites thought their punishment would be brief. Their hearts remained hard because they couldn’t believe God would allow them to remain in captivity. After all, they were His people and He loved them. Jeremiah, also writing to the Israelites in Babylonian captivity, pointed out their delusion. He told them to build houses, plant gardens, marry, and have children because they had seventy years of captivity ahead of them (Jeremiah 29:5,6, 10). But why did the Israelites believe, in the first place, that God would be easy on them? Because they were deceived by false prophets who simply told them what they wanted to hear (Jeremiah 29:8,9). How frightening to think that there are those who will tell our wayward loved ones what they want to hear! They will offer false peace. The wayward may relax, convinced that God just wants them to be happy, that His grace covers everything. We must warn the wanderer that there are those whose teaching leads to destruction, whether intentionally or not (2 Peter 2:1,2).
This concludes the excerpts I’ll be sharing from the book. Thank you to all who have offered your encouragement! And to those who have requested prayers for your wayward loved ones, know that I will continue praying for them and for you.