TODAY'S WORD FOR Thursday, August 17, 2017:
To relapse into bad habits; sinful behavior or undesirable activities; the abandoning of religious principles or practices.
Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me, declares the Lord, the Lord almighty. Jeremiah 2:19
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I John 1:9.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE:
A backslider is a person who made a decision to follow Christ but then relapsed into bad habits that God considers sin. A backslider will soon fall victim to the consequences of his or her sins and will soon start to fully abandon his or her spiritual beliefs.
Backsliding brought on the downfall of Israel. God sent the prophet Jeremiah to confront the people of Judah with their sins and to warn them of the coming destruction of their nation if they did not repent. In Jeremiah 7:23-24, Jeremiah reminds them of God’s command to them to “obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you that it may go well with you.” But they did not listen or pay attention. Instead they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward not forward.
When we do not listen to God and pay attention to what He tells us, we will become backsliders just like the Israelites. Instead of going forward with the Lord, we will go backward following our evil desires. Jeremiah warned the people to repent and return to God or they would be punished. The Israelites did not repent and Jerusalem was destroyed.
When we think of a Biblical example of a backslider we think of Jonah. God had told Jonah to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to the Assyrians. He fled because he did not want this assignment. Jonah was fleeing on a ship and then in a storm he was thrown overboard by the crew because they were certain he was the cause of their trouble with the storm.
Jonah was swallowed up, as the scriptures tell us, by a big fish. We assume that this was a whale. Jonah, the scriptures tell us was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights. To say the least he was being “rewarded” for his backsliding.
Backsliding may seem like a small thing which we excuse by saying, “what harm could it be?” When we turn away from God we are the ones who are harmed. Sometimes the consequence is severe, as Jonah learned.
In Jonah 2:1-9 there is a very vivid and clear report of what Jonah then did while inside the fish. He cried out to God asking for forgiveness and God heard him. In his prayer to God from the belly of the whale he said, “I will sacrifice to You with a voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation comes from the Lord.”
The Lord then spoke to the fish, the scripture says, and the fish vomited up Jonah onto dry land. Once again, the Lord said to Jonah that he must go to Nineveh and “preach the message I tell you.”
This time Jonah was quick to obey. He went to Nineveh and cried out to the people that in 40 days Nineveh would be overthrown unless the people repented. The people of Nineveh responded and believed in God and God did not destroy them.
God gave Jonah a second chance. He backslid and paid a severe penalty, but when he was at his lowest point he prayed to God. God heard his prayer and responded by giving him a second chance and Jonah obeyed God and went to Nineveh with the message that God wanted them to hear.
In the verse we have written above, we are reminded that when one backslides and falls out of a relationship with God, that if one confesses his sin, God is faithful and just to forgive and to cleanse one from all unrighteousness. God loves us and wants us to serve Him. We really do serve a wonderful and patient God.
Our memory verse this week is found in Romans 10:17.
So then faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.
Help me today not to backslide away from my relationship with You. Keep me from relapsing into bad habits or sinful behavior that brings dishonor to You. May those that are not following You see that I am following Jesus and living in obedience to what He commands me.
These Family Devotional thoughts are written by Dr. Ken Phillips, Executive Director of America's Hunger
Solution, and his wife Dottie. Ken has had ministry positions
with The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, World Vision, Youth For Christ, World Opportunities International,
and World Bible Society. He also has consulted for more than 30 Christian ministries in management and stewardship
development. They have published a book called No Problems Only Situations that discusses the journey of their family.
Ken and Dottie have been married for 60 years, and have 6 children, 20 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. Their
second book, TODAY'S WORD, includes 365 daily
devotionals and is now available for only $10.
Ken & Dottie Phillips
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