August 2011
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Is God Obligated?

A friend sent me photographs of 20 beautiful churches in the world. Located as far apart as Iceland and India, each of them is architecturally unique.

The most beautiful place of worship in Jeremiah’s day was the temple in Jerusalem, which King Josiah had recently repaired and restored (2 Chron. 34–35). The people were fixated on the magnificent building (Jer. 7:4), and they foolishly thought that having the temple there meant that God would protect them from their enemies.

Instead, Jeremiah pointed out the sin in their lives (vv.3,9-10). God is not impressed by beautiful buildings constructed in His name if there is no inward beauty in the hearts of those who go there. He is not interested in an outward legalistic worship that is not matched by inward holiness. And it is wrong to think that God protects people just because of the religious things they do.

Just because we’re reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshiping with other believers doesn’t mean that God is somehow then obligated to do something for us. He cannot be manipulated. The purpose of those external activities is to develop our relationship with the Lord and to help us live differently than those in the world around us.

  Lord, help me to remember that You are most interested in an obedient heart. Change me when I think You’re obligated to me because of my religious acts of worship or service. Give me a pure heart. Amen.  
  Remember—God cannot and will not be manipulated.