From Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World by Melissa Spoelstra

In Week 5, "Quitting the Blame Game: Personal Responsibility," Melissa reminds us that when we are tempted to blame God for hard or painful things in life, we need to remember His character and trust His goodness—especially when we don’t understand our circumstances.

In this video segment, she encourages us to stop before we place the blame:

On Day 2 of Week 5, Melissa speaks to us about "Finding a Target."

God put two choices before His people—life or death. He instructed His people, and when they got off course, He sent His prophets to repeat the message. Since sin entered the world, God’s message has been the same: “Turn from your sins and turn to me.” Both John the Baptist (Luke 3:3) and Jesus (Matthew 4:17) came preaching this message.

It’s easy to look at the people of Judah and think they were crazy not to follow and love God. After all, they had been given clear instructions, they had the warnings of the prophets calling them to repent, and they even had the example of their neighbors in Israel, who were reaping the consequences of their own sin. (Israel, the Northern Kingdom, had gone into captivity one hundred years before Babylon invaded Judah.) Yet in Jeremiah 3:6-10, we see God telling the people of Judah that they didn’t learn from the sins of Israel. Though they had the law and the prophets, they chose not to heed the warnings and to stubbornly “eat the bitter fruit of living their own way” (Proverbs 1:31).

Are we so different? Who do you blame when life gets rough? Human nature calls out, “It’s not my fault! 
If only I had a great marriage . . .
If only my kids behaved like so and so’s kids . . . 
If only I had more money . . .
If only my friends supported me . . . 
If only I was appreciated at work . . .”

No matter where we choose to place the blame, the truth is that we need to get honest about our own failures. Are we loving God, walking in His ways and following His commands as laid out in Deuteronomy? Do our prayer lives reflect it? Do our financial choices show that God is our priority? Do we regularly serve others and share our faith? Does our heart break for the things that break God’s heart? Could it be that the problem lies within us?

Let’s take inventory of what we have today:
• Clear instructions on how to live from the complete Word of God.
• Access to great preaching, teaching, and Bible studies through our local churches and Christian media.
• Examples of many who have chosen not to walk with God and are eating the bitter fruit of their choices.
• Examples of many others who are living radically for Christ.

If anything, I believe we could be held more accountable than the people of Jeremiah’s day because of the opportunity we have to know and study the truth. We have God’s Word in its entirety, as well as the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us in applying it. It’s time to stop blaming others for our problems, take a good look at our own sin, and begin to walk the road of repentance. We can’t change anyone else, but we can allow God to change us.

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