One bumper sticker reads, “When all else fails, read the directions.” Many of us have proved that true–whether we were trying to put together a toy or baking a cake. But the principle of reading directions also applies when it comes to navigating through life. Sometimes we suffer needlessly because we fail to come to God until we have exhausted all other resources. This pattern played out repeatedly in the history of ancient Israel, especially when judges ruled. The people would ignore God and worship lifeless idols that could do them no good. God would permit their enemies to overrun and oppress them. In their misery, they would cry out to God; and God–in mercy– would appoint a strong leader to liberate them. This cycle took place repeatedly. On one occasion, their enemies were oppressing them mercilessly. They cried to God. God reminded them that He had delivered them seven times from seven different nations. God said, “I will not rescue you anymore. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen!” They kept pleading, but God would not deliver them until they destroyed their idols and served Him. Even then, God did so because of His promise to Abraham. God hears our prayers when we follow His directions–when we turn from our sins and rely on His Son’s merit. God hears us because Jesus paid for our sins and intercedes on our behalf.
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