Gary W. Ritter
(Jeremiah 17-19; 1 Timothy 6)
There is a way of blessing and a way of cursing. What we do in life will reflect this reality. Do we wake up to the fact that God has put eternity into our hearts, and that we are to search Him out to find it? Or do we reject the evidence God richly provides and disdain His good gifts so as to follow our own path? Although the Lord has made Himself readily available to all, the uncomfortable fact is that most people in this world refuse to receive Him. It’s just as Jesus said in Matthew 7:13 (NIV) that we should:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”
What is it about this wide gate and broad road that are so appealing? How do we find that narrow gate?
At the core of these questions is what Jeremiah 17:9-10 declares:
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart
and test the mind,
to give every man according to his ways,
according to the fruit of his deeds.”
It all goes back to the issue of sin. The iniquity that is resident in the DNA of each one of us makes the heart a liar to its owner. The worldly advice of, “Follow your heart,” is probably not very sound. It will deceive you into thinking something bad is good. By itself, the heart doesn’t have a moral standard. Feelings that come from the heart can be dishonest and illusory. Why is the heart deemed sick? Because its ills are wicked and incurable. No one can even perceive the depths of the evil within it.
That is, no one but God. He alone is able to see into every heart and to determine the character of every man. Because He knows the end from the beginning, He can bless those whom He knows will follow Him and curse those who refuse that privilege. In fact, Jeremiah 17:5 tells us:
Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.”
God is very clear. When we choose not to seek Him and believe His promises; rather, we embrace the ways of the world, this is anathema to God. It is abhorrent to Him; hateful, repugnant, an abomination; evil in every way. Is it any wonder that a man who trusts in the ways of man rather than of God is accursed?
Ah, but what of someone who makes the conscious decision to revere, trust, and worship the God of the Bible through His Son, Jesus Christ? What a difference! See this contrast in Jeremiah 17:7-8:
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Major points are repeated in Scripture, whether discussing blessings or curses. Here, Jeremiah is effectively echoing Psalm 1:1-4:
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
How do we attain this blessed situation in our lives? From the Old Testament perspective Jeremiah 17:14 puts it succinctly. All one must do is call out:
Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
save me, and I shall be saved,
for you are my praise.
In New Testament language, the Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 10:9-10:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
There’s the heart again. If we truly give our heart to the Lord, He will make it right. No longer will we walk in deceit when we’ve surrendered our heart to God. When He is our Savior and Lord, we are blessed. What a rich and glorious inheritance that is!
As I’ve mentioned in the Author Note of previous articles, the Lord put it on my heart this year to write a daily essay relating to my practice of Reading Through the Bible in a Year. Last year, that resulted in my producing the Awaken Bible Study Notes, a 4-volume set correlating with each quarter’s readings. This year in my writings, truly through the grace of God, I’m producing the 4-volume Awaken Bible Commentary and Reflections series. Volume 1, which covers January – March (Genesis 1 – Judges 5; Matthew 1 – Luke 7), is now available on Amazon in both paper and Kindle e-book formats at this link:
If these daily writings have been a blessing to you, I hope that you’ll acquire this first book and the subsequent ones as I finish editing them. My intent in all I write is to bring God the glory and to make His people think. As in the Study Notes from last year, the Commentary and Reflections delve into the prophetic and supernatural nature of God’s Word, a combination you simply won’t find elsewhere. They attempt to show the parallels to our times and the peril from the past when God’s people turn away from Him and His commands. Scripture is very much a blueprint for today.
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and prolific author. His Whirlwind Series comprises three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is a Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has written many other Christian thrillers that will challenge you, and which you can learn about at his website: www.GaryRitter.com. Recently, Gary wrote a novella for the new Kindle Vella platform called Tribulation Rising: Seal Judgments – The Coming Apocalypse. This seven-part short work can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z462WD. You can also watch Gary’s video Bible teachings on Rumble at his Awaken Bible Prophecy channel: https://rumble.com/c/c-783217.