October 23, 2021

Jeremiah 42:1–44:23

In Jeremiah 42 the people come to him and ask him to seek the LORD, to pray for guidance on their behalf. Should they stay in Jerusalem, or go to Egypt? They sure seem sincere as they approach Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 42:2b–3 (NKJV) “Please, let our petition be acceptable to you, and pray for us to the LORD your God, for all this remnant (since we are left but a few of many, as you can see), 3 that the LORD your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do.”

So Jeremiah seeks the LORD on their behalf, and returns to them with the answer. The LORD revealed to the people that if they remained in Jerusalem, there would be nothing to fear, God was with them, He would protect and provide (Jeremiah 42:11). Jeremiah also made it clear that if they fled to Egypt, they would die by the very things they feared, by the sword, famine, and pestilence.

It’s at this point that their true colors come out. The people never really intended to do God’s will, they only wanted Him to bless the plans they’d already made. Jeremiah knew it, and called them out:

Jeremiah 42:20–21 (NKJV) “For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God, and according to all that the LORD your God says, so declare to us and we will do it.’ 21 And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, or anything which He has sent you by me.”

Isn’t it interesting how some people are willing to do whatever God commands them to do, as long as it doesn’t conflict with their plans, or go against their will? If God commands me to eat pizza, I’m good with that, but if He commands me to eat veggies, now that’s a different story!

In Jeremiah 43 the people defiantly go to Egypt and take Jeremiah with them by force.  They brought the death-sentence upon themselves (Jeremiah 43:11). The people were by no means safe in Egypt; Jeremiah predicted the day the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar would come and strike the land of Egypt, and set up his throne upon these massive stones that Jeremiah had set. People can run, but they cannot hide from God (see Revelation 6:15-17).

Pastor Chuck Smith, “In 1886, British archaeologist, Professor Flinders Petrie, discovered the palace of Pharaoh in Tahpanhes, Egypt. Under the pavement stones in front of the palace, he uncovered these huge rocks that Jeremiah placed there as a sign to the people.”

In Jeremiah 44 our hearts break to see that the people did not learn their lesson. God had judged Jerusalem for the way they had turned away from Him in order to serve other gods…and here they are are continuing in their sin.

Jeremiah 44:5 (NKJV) “But they did not listen or incline their ear to turn from their wickedness, to burn no incense to other gods.”

Jeremiah 44:10–11 (NKJV) “They have not been humbled, to this day, nor have they feared; they have not walked in My law or in My statutes that I set before you and your fathers. 11 ‘Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will set My face against you for catastrophe and for cutting off all Judah.’’”

The Jews in Egypt even burned incense to the “Queen of heaven.” This is probably in reference to Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love and fertility. Nowadays the Catholic church burns incense (prays) to Mary; they refer to her as the mother of God, and see her as the Queen of Heaven. It’s the same lie and demonic spirit we see in Jeremiah.

It’s tragic to read their reasoning in worshipping the “Queen of Heaven,” that while they burnt incense to her they were “well off,” and when they stopped burning her incense and pouring out drink offerings to her, they lacked and were consumed. Since when did the truth of who God is become dependent upon our personal circumstances? Keep in mind he devil is able to make people rich and powerful. He even offered kingdoms to Christ (Matthew 4:8-9).

All this ungodly garbage was the very reason the Babylonians had conquered Jerusalem – it was an absolute tragedy…but it’s a greater tragedy that these Jews in Egypt simply would not learn their lesson.

2 Timothy 2:1-21

We now enter in to what very well may be my favorite chapter of my favorite book of the Bible. I think I could camp out all day on 2 Timothy 2:1, how we are to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus…and here’s Paul, writing this to his “son” in the faith…his final letter before his departure.

Be strong in the G-R-A-C-E – God’s Reward At Christ’s Expense, God’s unequivocal and unmerited favor; we don’t deserve it, we cannot earn it, and yet He lavishes it upon us every single day of our lives. Paul wrote in Romans 5:20 that where sin abounds, grace abounds MUCH MORE! Let’s be strong in that grace. Let’s be good at using His grace, without abusing His grace. Let’s let God’s grace thoroughly convince us that we are forgiven of our sin, but at the same time we are not to continue in sin (Romans 6:1-2). Let’s even let God’s grace change us.

Paul tells Timothy to let God’s grace make him strong as a son, strong as a teacher and mentor, to mentor other men who will pour into others, and others, and others. Strong as a soldier enduring hardship in the war. Strong as an athlete training to win, dedicated to competing according to the rules. Strong as a hardworking farmer who eventually enjoys the crops, and even strong as a thinker so that God would grant him understanding in all things (2 Timothy 2:7).

Paul tells Timothy to always remember the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (how He gutted the grave, defeated death, conquered the coffin (2 Timothy 2:8). This message must always be preached, even though it will be opposed every step of the way. This is why Paul was facing death at this point in time (2 Timothy 2:9), but the truth is, he’d been persecuted for the past 30 years. The ministry is definitely challenging, there are innumerable sacrifices to be made, there is mental, emotional and spiritual suffering that comes with it, but we are to be obedient and go forward enthusiastically, for the Lord our God and the sake of the elect (those who will be saved and built up) (2 Timothy 2:10).

The “faithful saying” found in 2 Timothy 2:11-13 was probably an early Christian saying – maybe even a song.

Timothy’s job as a pastor has a lot to do with preaching, teaching, and reminding the people the truth of God’s Word. It’s sad to see pastors bringing in other material into the pulpit, they want to fill the pews when our only job is to fill the pulpit with God’s Word. Next thing you know arguments arise, and no one is being built up in the Word – some are even being ruined!

Timothy was to work hard at rightly interpreting and preaching the Scriptures – he had to have a heart for God’s approval and not man’s! Timothy was to turn away from the foolishness that tries to find its way into the church. Paul shares with Timothy that those lies only increase to more ungodliness, and spread like a disease among the disciples – Hymenaeus and Philetus were an example of this. No doubt there was a time when these guys were right-on, but now they had turned away.

There’s so much to glean as Christians and ministers. Who knows if a person is truly saved? God  does (2 Timothy 2:19). If you say you’re a Christian, stop sinning (2 Timothy 2:19). Let’s get right with God so He can fully and completely use our lives (2 Timothy 2:20-21). 

Psalms 92:1–93:5

Psalm 92 was a song for the Sabbath Day. The list of things to do is very appropriate, from sun-up ’til sun-down.

Give thanks to the LORD, sing praises to His name, declare His lovingkindness in the morning, God’s faithfulness every night (Psalm 92:1-2).

The Psalmist was a musician, able to play multiple instruments, but even if you’re not gifted in this way, you do have a voice, and a heart you can use to bless the Lord. Sing to Him with the choice of your voice.

The Psalmist acknowledged that God was the one who made him glad, he was even confident in his triumph (Psalm 92:4). He also knew the wicked would be defeated, destroyed forever…no doubt about it.

Do I know all these things? Am I aware of the innumerable reasons I have to praise God for the past, present, and future?

If you’re a Christian, you have a wonderful name/title, not only connected to Christ but anointed with the Spirit of God. Christ means “Anointed one.” We are “anointed ones,” (1 John 2:20). We can even echo the words of the Psalmist, “I have been anointed with fresh oil.” (Psalm 92:10)

To “flourish” (Psalm 92:12) means to “grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.” The environment God speaks of is the house of the LORD, the courts of God, the Temple back then…today it’s church. Even when we age, we will still bear fruit (moral and ministry) fresh and flourishing…to do what? Enjoy my retirement? Put it in cruise control? Rock back and forth on a chair? No – to declare!

Psalm 92:15 (NKJV) “To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Psalm 93 is a Psalm reminding us that the LORD is on the throne, and that throne is established. Since His throne is established, the earth is established (under His rule) and it cannot (I cannot) be moved.

The enemy will rise up against us like a flood, but the LORD is mightier than the enemy; God will have His way, and grant His children the victory!

Isaiah 59:19 (NKJV) “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.”

Does it encourage you to know in Christ you win, that God has defeated ALL of your enemies and work everything out for good?

Proverbs 26:3-5

Proverbs 26:3 (NKJV) “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool’s back.”

Why a whip? Why a rod? Often necessary for the back of fools, applied only with the hopes of eventual brokenness 

The best way to the learn life’s lessons is by reading God’s Word. Another way to learn is from the mistakes of others. The third way to learn is from our own mistakes (this is where the rod of God comes in). May we “learn” from one of these three ways…but tragically there are some who never learn.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “… so a fool needs to be controlled by a rod (physical punishment) because he does not respond to appeals to his intellect (cf. 10:13; 14:3; 19:29).”

Proverbs 10:13 (NKJV) “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding.”

Proverbs 19:29 (NKJV) “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and beatings for the backs of fools.”

 (See also Psalm 32:8-9)

Proverbs 26:4-5 (NKJV) “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.”

The Scriptures tell us that there is a time to be silent, and there is a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7 – we must be Spirit led).

The Spirit will give us discernment at times NOT to answer (v. 4), this person is unreasonable.

The Spirit will lead us if we ARE to answer (v. 5) for sometimes it’s necessary for their own good.

“These two sayings belong together; they complement each other. Their point is that one should not be drawn down to a fool’s level (v. 4) but at times he must use the fool’s language to refute the fool so he does not become conceited (v. 5; cf. vv. 12, 16). Wisdom is needed to determine when to apply verse 4 and when to apply verse 5. The Jewish Talmud suggests that verse 4 pertains to foolish comments that can be ignored and that verse 5 refers to erroneous ideas that must be corrected.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

October 22, 2021

Jeremiah 39:1–41:18

The day finally came, in 586 B.C. the Babylonian penetrated the city of Jerusalem, completely conquering the city. If you want to get an idea of the heartache, you can read ahead, in the book of Lamentations, also written by Jeremiah.

Three people stand out in Jeremiah 39: Zedekiah, Jeremiah, and Ebed-Melech.

King Zedekiah tried to escape, but was overtaken in the plains of Jericho, where the Babylonian army captured him, pronounced judgment upon him, slaughtered his sons before him, and gouged out his eyes so that the last thing he saw, was violent death of his family. If only Zedekiah had listened to the Word of God as spoken through Jeremiah!

Jeremiah, however, was spared. The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar was moved by the King of kings, and Jeremiah was taken from the court of the prison and entrusted into the care of Gedaliah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar made governor over the people who remained (2 Kings 25:22).

And then there’s Ebed-Melech. His life was also spared. You might remember that Ebed-Melech was the vessel God used to save Jeremiah from death (we read that back in chapter 38). God favored Ebed-Melech, and gives us the reason for that:

Jeremiah 39:18 (NKJV) “‘For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,’ says the LORD.”

Three people highlighted, one severely judged, one suffered for a season but was ultimately spared, and one’s life was lengthened, because he trusted in God and cared for God’s prophet (Jeremiah).

In Jeremiah 40 Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard of Babylon granted Jeremiah his freedom. He was free to join him, and be taken care of by him in Babylon, or he was free to stay in Jerusalem with the appointed Governor, Gedaliah.

It’s interesting to me that even Nebuzaradan was aware of why Jerusalem had been judged:

Jeremiah 40:2–3 (NKJV) “And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah and said to him: ‘The LORD your God has pronounced this doom on this place. 3 Now the LORD has brought it, and has done just as He said. Because you people have sinned against the LORD, and not obeyed His voice, therefore this thing has come upon you.’”

Here’s a foreign soldier with more spiritual sensitivity than almost all the people of God back then. I hope we take this to heart, “God said it, that settles it,” He will prosper the obedient, and He will punish the disobedient! (Matthew 7:24-27; Galatians 6:7-8)

Jeremiah chose to stay in Jerusalem, to support Governor Gedaliah. Others began to gather as well from many places, God was starting to do a new work. Gedaliah was well aware of God’s will in yielding to the Babylonians, but he lacked discernment regarding Ishmael. Gedaliah was too trusting. Johanan tried to warn him but he would not heed the warning:

Jeremiah 40:13–14 (NKJV) “Moreover Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces that were in the fields came to Gedaliah at Mizpah, 14 and said to him, ‘Do you certainly know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to murder you?’ But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam did not believe them.”

A couple of things to consider. First of all, the enemy is ALWAYS against the Jews, coming against God’s people and does not want them to regroup, or prosper in any way. Secondly, and this seems to be a recurring theme in Jeremiah, we MUST heed the warnings! God warns us, prophets warn us, people like Johanan warn us. Will we listen?

“A friend is one who warns you.” – Ancient Proverb

In Jeremiah 41 Ishmael carries out his wicked plan. Apparently he’s part of the royal family (Jeremiah 41:1) and is loyal to King Zedekiah. He sees those in Mizpah as traitors and therefore deals treacherously with them. I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes it’s difficult to discern what to do, or who’s in the right. But what I’ve learned in life is to sincerely seek the Lord in these matters. If we’re in tune with Him, we’ll be in tune with each other. Ishmael wasn’t in tune with God, he was of his father the devil who was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).

Warren Wiersbe summarized the situation well, “Was Gedaliah a bit naive? Did he have too much faith in human nature? Perhaps…he should at least have taken precautions to protect his life. Ishmael was loyal to Zedekiah (Jeremiah 41:1) and rejected the rule of the governor. His love for the fallen king was greater than his love for God, others, and the nation. He was more concerned about revenge than righteousness. What could have been a peaceful transition became a civil war—all because of one man’s wickedness.”

Thank God Johanan rescued a remnant, but now they’re not sure what to do. Should they run to Egypt? Or should they stay in the land? In the next chapter we’ll see the story unfold.

2 Timothy 1:1-18

We now begin what very well might be my favorite book in the Bible. 2 Timothy was Paul’s last letter, his swan song written right before his execution. In this letter we’ll see how Paul shares his heart, his care for the church, his passion for the purity of the gospel, and especially his love and concern for Timothy his son in the faith.

Paul begins by thanking the God whom he served and by letting Timothy know that he prayed for him, night and day. Paul had this deep desire to see Timothy before he died. Apparently the last time they parted, tears were flowing down the eyes of his spiritual son, and one last meeting would bring Paul joy.

As Paul considers Timothy, he has nothing but fond memories. He goes back to the early days (Acts 16) Paul knew Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and his mother Eunice, how they possessed a genuine faith, and it was something they passed along to Timothy as well (2 Timothy 3:15). Sometimes you see it more clearly in certain Christians, there’s no doubt about it, they’re legit, they’re real, there’s a genuine faith.

Building on his call to salvation Paul next deals with Timothy’s call to service. Timothy appears to be a bit timid, even fearful, but if he’s going to be the one to whom Paul passes the baton, that’s absolutely unacceptable! Paul’s letter would largely be an encouragement to Timothy to stir up the gift of God that was in him; to fan that flame into a raging fire for the glory of God. Timothy, “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

If only we all would take this to heart – we must not be fazed by or function in fear, we can’t make decisions because we’re afraid of him, or her, or this, or that, we need to keep God in the equation. We have God’s love and His power. He’s given us a sound mind, let’s be mentally strong and fortified. I’ll be the first to tell you, the mind is a battlefield; it’s crucial to win those battles in the mind.

Paul commands Timothy not to be ashamed or afraid, but to be willing to suffer for the gospel, not that we have a martyr’s syndrome, but we must answer this call of Christ on our lives. 

I’ve always loved the way 2 Timothy 1:9 reminds us that this calling is not because we’ve earned it or worked our way up the spiritual ladder, it’s only because of God’s gracious purpose for our lives…something given to us before time began (see also Jeremiah 1:5).

That plan was set in motion when Jesus came (appeared) abolished death (I like that) and brought everlasting life to light through the gospel – a gospel that Paul was appointed to preach and teach, and for which he suffered. Paul, however, was not ashamed and he didn’t regret his labor of love, because he knew the Lord, and he knew this gospel was true for himself as well.

Paul calls Timothy to hold fast and tight to the truth of this Gospel, that the people and the ministry, could only be protected and directed by the Holy Spirit. It’s heartbreaking to read how all those in Asia had turned away from Paul (they didn’t want to suffer). It’s beautiful to read about Onesiphorus who vigorously searched for Paul in his Roman prison, found him, and often refreshed him. Paul prays for blessings upon his family and that God would greatly reward him on the Day of Rewards, for his true and practical love.

Keep the faith my friend; let your love for the Lord and others be obedient and practical…one day Jesus will reward you.

Psalms 90:1–91:16

Psalm 90 is identified as a Psalm of Moses – and  I love the way it refers to him as, “the man of God.”

Moses may have written this when the brunt of the judgment of Kadesh Barnea was being felt the worst. Although the LORD was their dwelling place in all generations, the nation was now feeling the sentence for their sins. Israel’s wandering in the wilderness was a four-decade funeral march. Moses described these years as “evil” in Psalm 90:15.

Moses prayed for God to reestablish Israel – the work of God’s hands.

Moses asked God to teach them something critical in life:

Psalm 90:12 (NKJV) “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Have we grasped this teaching? We tend to number our years, but it would be better to number our days, to enjoy, appreciate, and live each day for the glory of God. No one has tomorrow guaranteed (James 4:13-14).

Moses prays for God to “return,” that God would satisfy them and make them glad. 

God answer the prayer of Moses, and under the leadership of Joshua, the nation entered in to the Promised Land.

Moses closed the Psalm with a beautiful prayer:

Psalm 90:17 (NKJV) “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.”

Psalm 91 is a “classic” Psalm depicting God’s Divine protection as we abide (rest) under the shadow of His wings.

Warren Wiersbe wrote this about Psalm 91, “The theme is security: God preserves those who abide in Him and love Him. These promises are not for people who run to the Lord only in times of danger but for those who dwell in His presence (Psalm 91:1) and make the Holy of Holies their habitation (Psalm 91:9).”

We have nothing to fear, and we are reminded of the “invincible principal,” that no evil can touch us unless God allows it, and if He does, He will use it for our good (Genesis 50:20).

A while back I taught this Psalm at a different church, and after a service a dear sister came up and told me that Psalm 91:1 is her 9-1-1. If you’re ever afraid or in danger, remember, you’re in God’s hands and He has set His love on you (Psalm 91:14) – just call and claim Psalm 91:1.

God’s promise to protect us from pestilence is a great passage to remember in these days of Covid.

Psalm 91:9–10 (NKJV) “Because you have made the LORD, who is my refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place, 10 No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”

Proverbs 26:1-2

Proverbs 26:1 (NKJV) “As snow in summer and rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool.”

Giving honor to a fool is not fitting, it’s inappropriate, wrong, and even damaging. Often times we put athletes and celebrities on pedestals and give them accolades and trophies, next thing you know our children and all society begins to follow in their footsteps.

If it’s something we do, honoring the dishonorable, we’ll experience a decay in society. We will suffer the consequences.

Proverbs 26:8 (NKJV) “Like one who binds a stone in a sling is he who gives honor to a fool.”

That stone will come back to bonk us on our own heads.

And then we have the other end of the spectrum:

Proverbs 26:2 (NKJV) “Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The unpredictable, fluttering nature of a bird’s flight demonstrates a person’s inability to place a curse on another who does not deserve it.”

Balaam discover this truth in:

Numbers 23:8 (NKJV) “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?

This is the blessing we have as God’s children – no one can curse us, for in Christ, the curse has been reversed (Galatians 3:13).

Deuteronomy 23:4–5 (NKJV) “They hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5 Nevertheless the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

October 21, 2021

Jeremiah 37:1–38:28

Zedekiah reigned as king of Jerusalem from 597-586 B.C. It was during his tenure that Jerusalem would be conquered by the Babylonians. Jeremiah did everything he could to warn the people, and bring them back to God, but no one listened.

King Zedekiah did send delegates to Jeremiah, to inquire of him, and ask for prayer. Perhaps the king was hoping that the Egyptians would defeat the Babylonians, who had lifted their siege to engage them in warfare, but it wouldn’t happen. Jeremiah gave God’s Word:

Jeremiah 37:7–8 (NKJV) “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Thus you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: ‘Behold, Pharaoh’s army which has come up to help you will return to Egypt, to their own land. 8 And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire.’’”

When the Babylonians left to deal with the Egyptians, Jeremiah left Jerusalem for personal business, to take claim his property in the land of Benjamin. Irijah the son of Shelemiah spotted him; he accused him of defecting to the Chaldeans, and proceeded to seize Jeremiah, beat him and throw him into prison.

Jeremiah 37:15-16 describes the prison as being in or under the house of Jonathan the scribe, but it also uses the words “dungeons” and “cells.” Jeremiah was probably placed in underground cisterns, cold, dark, and isolated for “many days.” Keep in mind, Jeremiah is now in his sixties.

Jeremiah was a VERY unpopular prophet, so the king visited him secretly. Zedekiah inquired again, and again Jeremiah pronounced judgment upon Jerusalem. In spite of the fact that he was imprisoned, his message did not change, not even to save his life. Jeremiah requested that he not return to the cisterns, lest he die. King Zedekiah obliged.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “Granting Jeremiah’s request, Zedekiah had him transferred from the underground vaulted cistern to the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace (Jeremiah 32:2). Here Zedekiah could better protect Jeremiah from his enemies-though Zedekiah was a weak-willed protector (Jeremiah 38:4–10).”

Warren Wiersbe brings up a good point, “Zedekiah wanted the intercession of the man of God but not the instruction of the Word of God. He never should have separated the two (John 15:7; Acts 6:4). He wanted God to be his servant and deliver the city, but he was not willing to be God’s servant and obey the Word. Do you ask God for help only in emergencies, or do you seek His direction each day?”

In Jeremiah 38 the princes get wind of Jeremiah’s exhortation, that the city to surrender to the Babylonian, so they seize the prophet and bring him to the king. They accuse Jeremiah of being against the Jews:

Jeremiah 38:4 (NKJV) “Therefore the princes said to the king, ‘Please, let this man be put to death, for thus he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.’”

These men are oblivious to the fact that Jeremiah’s words were their only hope for survival, he didn’t seek their destruction but their salvation!

King Zedekiah was extremely weak. He gave Jeremiah into the hands of these foolish men who cast him into a miry pit to die. But God used Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian officer to rescue Jeremiah.

It’s actually pretty pathetic, but King Zedekiah, AGAIN inquires of Jeremiah, who aptly responds:

Jeremiah 38:15 (NKJV) “Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, ‘If I declare it to you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you advice, you will not listen to me.’”

What a tragic place to be, religious enough to want to hear God’s truth, but warped enough to despise the messenger and disobey God.

If the people resisted God’s chastening, they would die, the city would be burned, the women would be ravished, the children dashed to pieces. If the people surrendered to God’s chastening through Babylon then they would be spared much of the heartache. Ultimately, the king was not a king, he was afraid to do the right thing, he was afraid for anyone to even know that he’d had this conversation with Jeremiah…and he paid the price…so did the people. 

What a contrast between Jeremiah and Zedekiah. Jeremiah had the courage to obey God, Zedekiah didn’t. Jeremiah had a relationship with the Lord, he heard His voice, he was compelled to live and give God’s Word – Zedekiah on the other hand only had an anemic form of superficial and damnable religion.

1 Timothy 6:1-21

There were sixty-million slaves in the Roman world back then. Paul challenges those who were Christians to be faithful workers. Nowadays the exhortation would apply to employees. Paul reminds us to work so hard that our employers would be blessed by our witness, and if your boss is a believer, don’t slack and become a Christian-kick-back, instead serve them all the more because of the fact that now a believer benefits from your hard work.

There will always be those whose teachings are contradictory, so Paul warns Timothy not to consent. It’s tragic to consider the terrible traits of these false teachers listed in 1 Timothy 6:4-5 – proud, ignorant, arrogant, carnal, and covetous men who taught that godliness was a means of gain. I can’t help but think of the health, wealth, and prosperity teachers today – the men and women (usually on TV) getting filthy rich off of the people. One day God will judge them for the way they fleeced the flock.

What we find in life is that the rich person is actually the godly person clothed with contentment. Recently I read a refreshing testimony:

“I admired their complete contentment, with nothing of the material realm. All they needed was a box of raisins and some oats and they were ready to minister for God anywhere they were called. It was so beautiful, their simplicity of faith and trust in Jesus.” – Pastor Chuck Smith reflecting on hippies who came to know Christ.

All we really need is food and clothing; Jesus promised that our Father would always provide that, so we have nothing to worry about (Matthew 6:25-33).

If we ever come to a place where we desire to be rich (lottery ticket purchasers beware) we fall into temptation, and become vulnerable to the snares of Satan, these are harmful lusts. It’s sad to see that many disciples have drowned in those types of troubled waters. Paul warns and informs us that the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, from which some have even strayed from the faith.

Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NLT) “Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!”

Don’t follow after money, on the contrary follow after Jesus, seek the character of Christ. We must fight the good fight of faith till the day we see the Lord in glory. We must hold fast to our confession of Christ, and pastors must keep these commandments before the congregations in light of Jesus’ imminent return, He really is the King of kings!

Jesus’ confession before Pilate (1 Timothy 6:13) was His affirmative answer to Pilate’s question ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ (see Matthew 27:11, Mark 15:2, Luke 23:3, John 18:33- 37)

One day (and it sure seems soon) Jesus will appear and we will see Him in ALL of His glory! (1 Timothy 6:15-16)

Earlier, Paul dealt with those who long to be rich, he now addresses those who are already rich. He tells Timothy to command them not to trust in uncertain riches (tomorrow it can all turn to dust) – NO! We are to trust in the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. The rich are to be rich in good works, willing to share with those less fortunate and thereby laying up treasures that are eternal

Timothy…pastors, guard these things as a faithful shepherd would, for false teachers propagating false doctrine are tragically leading people astray.

Psalm 89:38-52

At the time of the writing of this Psalm, Israel was in the middle of God’s severe discipline. The Psalmist uses strong and heartbreaking words.

Israel had been cast off, abhorred, ruined, cast down to the ground, covered with shame. The Psalmist felt as if God was furious with His people and had renounced His covenant.

It’s important to remember that God DOES discipline His children. We will reap what we’ve sown. Not that all heartache is due to sin, but for Israel, this was the case at this time in history.

Friends, we must learn from them, even from their mistakes which we have recorded in Scripture. Often times when God disciplines us, we blame it on God, when in all reality, we’ve brought it upon ourselves. We need to remember the spiritual laws of sowing and reaping!

Galatians 6:7–8 (NKJV) “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”

The Psalmist is wise in his closing in prayer, a plea for mercy. Just the fact that he’s talking to God means so much, especially the way he praises the Lord in the middle of the pain.

Psalm 89:52 (NKJV) “Blessed be the LORD forevermore! Amen and Amen.”

Can we say that in the middle of all we’re going through? Let’s praise Him by faith!

Proverbs 25:28

Proverbs 25:28 (NKJV) “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.”

A city without walls, would be a city that is vulnerable to any attack, it’s for that reason this city is “broken down.” This is us, without the power of the Holy Spirit who gives us self-control (Galatians 5:23).

Have you ever seen it? Someone who can’t control their tongue? They lash out at everyone.

Have you ever seen it? Someone who can’t control their temper? They’re like a time-bomb just waiting to “go off.”

Presented in a more positive light the flip side is over in: 

Proverbs 16:32 (NKJV) He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. 

May God give us the grace and even the will-power, to let Jesus rule over our lives!

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

October 20, 2021

Jeremiah 35:1–36:32

Imagine Jeremiah the Prophet inviting you into the Temple and placing wine right in front of you, enticing you to drink. For some, this would be a tough temptation, but the Rechabites did not succumb. They were strong in their convictions instilled by their ancestor, Jonadab the son of Rechab. They were commended by the LORD.

Warren Wiersbe said this about the Rechabites, “The founder of the Rechabite family had assisted Jehu in removing Baal worship from the land (2 Kings 10:15–17), so they had a godly heritage. When the Babylonian army moved in, the Rechabites had to abandon their nomadic way of life and enter Jerusalem for safety. They abandoned their tents, but they did not abandon their standards.”

God used the Rechabites as an illustration of obedience – if they could obey the words of their human ancestor, why wouldn’t the Jews obey the Lord their God? The Jews would be punished, and the Rechabites would be rewarded (Jeremiah 35:17-19).

In Jeremiah 36 the prophet is confined, unable to go into the House of the LORD, so he has his assistant Baruch take a scroll and write on it all the words of warning from the LORD, as spoken through Jeremiah. Jeremiah then instructed Baruch to read the words in the presence of the people at the Temple. It’s the fifth year of the reign of Jehoiakim, so it’s right around 603 B.C., the final blow of Babylon is still 17 years away. As Baruch reads, Michaiah, the son of Gemariah hears the message and brings Baruch to read the Word in the presence of the princes of the land (Jeremiah 36:11-12). The princes of the land heard the Word and brought it to King Jehoiakim who rejected God’s Word to the point that he burned the scroll in the fire!

Jeremiah finds out; not a problem, he simply rewrites the words of warning, doom, and gloom and adds a bit to it, that King Jehoiakim would be die, his family would be judged, and his kingly lineage would be obliterated.

Throughout the ages there have been many movements to literally burn Bibles. People throughout the ages have basically done the same thing by not obeying the Bible, God’s Word. But God’s Word cannot be destroyed, it will ALL come to pass!

Luke 16:17 (NKJV) “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fail.”

Luke 21:33 (NKJV) “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”

Psalm 119:89 (NKJV) “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.”

Isaac Taylor, “The deathless Book has survived three great dangers: the negligence of its friends; the false systems built upon it; the warfare of those who have hated it.”

1 Timothy 5:1-25

Paul continues his instruction to young Timothy who finds himself in a variety of ministry “situations”. As a young pastor he was not to personally rebuke an older man or woman harshly, but to encourage them respectfully, as a father or mother. He was to treat the young ladies as sisters which is very important. Tragically nowadays we see many pastors fall into sexual sin. If only they took Paul’s words to heart and viewed the younger ladies in the congregation for what they are, sisters in Christ.

The church was to honor widows who were really widows; this must have carried the idea of somehow providing assistance for them, even to the point of “taking them into the number,” or putting them on a list of those who needed benevolence (1 Timothy 5:9). 

If the widow had a child who could take care of her, this responsibility would first fall on the child’s shoulders. This flows perfectly with the commandment to honor our father and mother. This code of conduct is so deep, that 1 Timothy 5:8 reveals that if a child refuses to take care of their parents, such a person has “denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

If a widow did NOT have children to help her, the church would consider taking her “in” – IF – she met certain qualifications. 1 Timothy 5:10 says that she must be well reported for good works, had been a faithful mother, if she had opened her house up for people to stay when they traveled, washed the saints feet, and relieved the afflicted – in other words – she had to be a dear Christian sister who had lived the life of a servant. If she met those qualifications, and had no children to help her, the church was called to take care of her…and what a blessing she would be! Paul points out in 1 Timothy 5:5 that such women are prayer warriors, trusting in God, continuing in supplications night and day!

As a pastor, I’ll be the first to testify that such women are vital to any ministry! You may remember the example of such a lovely lady in: 

Luke 2:36–37 (NKJV) “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”

Anna is a great example, even though Paul would preferred that younger widows marry, bear children, and manage the household, for  her natural desires might get the best of her.

Paul closes the chapter with guidelines for pastors in the church. It’s okay to pay him remuneration, if he labors in the Word and faithfully leads.

If someone makes an accusation against an elder, don’t receive it without two or three witnesses, remember the enemy is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). If an elder is sinning, it’s best to bring it out in the open and rebuke him in the presence of the other elders. Paul charged Timothy solemnly to live these things out – to make sure he didn’t show partiality. As a church, we are not to ordain anyone hastily, lest we share in their sins. Timothy had some stomach issues and the water would only aggravate it – Paul suggested he drink wine instead (but keep in mind that the wine back then was eight times weaker than it is today). 1 Timothy 5:24-25 reveals the fact that we don’t always know the  sins or the good works in the lives of others (context refers to leaders). One day…it will all be out in the open.

Psalm 89:14-37

The Psalmist knows well the Davidic Covenant, how David was a gift from God to Israel, anointed and appointed to lead His people to victory.

In 1 Chronicles 17 we have recorded an important conversation that takes place, when David told Nathan that he wanted to build a house for God (a Temple). The prophet Nathan gave him the green light and told him to do all that was in his heart…but then we have a different conversation chronicled, between Nathan and the LORD. The LORD informed Nathan that David was not to be the one who would build Him a house (his son Solomon would). On the contrary, God would build David a “house.” And herein lies the promise of  kings as David’s descendants, and ultimately the Messiah would come through his lineage.

Ethan the Ezrahite, the writer of this Psalm, reminded God of his covenant with David, to beat down Israel’s foes, to be merciful, to keep this covenant to discipline – yes, but not forsake the people.

We’ll see as we finish this Psalm next time that Israel is in a period of punishment; Ethan is asking God to remember His promise, but Ethan (and Israel) also needed to know that ultimately, this Davidic Covenant finds its fulfillment – not in earthly kings, but in the King of kings, Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 25:25-27

Proverbs 25:25 (NKJV) “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country.”

Many of us are weary. We could sure use some good news – especially from a far country, perhaps a mission’s update.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “In Bible times news traveled slowly; thus long periods of anxious waiting usually followed the departure of a loved one or friend to a distant land.”

Another way to see this news from a “far country” can even be the good news we hear from heaven (see Hebrews 11:9-10, 13-16).

Proverbs 25:26 (NKJV) “A righteous man who falters before the wicked is like a murky spring and a polluted well.”

Most bible teachers interpret this passage to refer to a Godly man or woman, who falls into sin and the watching world witnesses it all…it’s as if a pure well has been tainted; hence their excuse NOT to drink from that well.

Net Notes, “The verb מָט (mat) means “to give way; to move.” This probably refers to the integrity of the righteous being lost—comparing it to moving [off course]. T. T. Perowne writes, “To see a righteous man moved from his steadfastness through fear or favor in the presence of the wicked is as disheartening as to find the stream turbid and defiled at which you were longing to quench your thirst”

There is another view, however, and that would include power struggles, people jockeying for positions, and even rigged elections.

Expositor’s, “The comparison is with the righteous person who “gives way” (lit., “is moved”) before the wicked. This verse has often been interpreted to refer to the integrity of the righteous being lost. But the line may refer to the loss of social standing and position by plots of the wicked. For the righteous to so fall indicates that the world is out of joint.”

Proverbs 25:27 (NKJV) “It is not good to eat much honey; so to seek one’s own glory is not glory.”

Too much sweets can lead to weight-gain, diabetes, and many other medical complications, and to seek our own glory is devilish, it’s what led to Lucifer’s fall (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28).

God help us to never, ever touch the glory – it all belongs to God!

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

October 19, 2021

Jeremiah 33:1–34:22

In Jeremiah 33 we have the future judgment of Judah (1-5) and restoration of all Israel (6-13); we have a prophecy of Jesus (14-16), and the permanence of God’s covenant with the Jews (17-25).

Jeremiah 33:3 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible;

Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV) “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

The LORD challenged Jeremiah, and us, to call to Him. If we sincerely pray, He will show us great and mighty things which we do not know – in Jeremiah’s case it was things about the future.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “God challenged the prophet to call to Him for understanding. God promised to answer by revealing great and unsearchable things. The word for “unsearchable” (beṣūrôṯ) means something that is made inaccessible by fortifying it or enclosing it. It is used to describe heavily fortified cities (cf. Num. 13:28; Deuteronomy 3:5; 28:52; Ezekiel 21:20). God’s plans for the future are inaccessible to ordinary people. Only God can unlock the secrets of the future, and He offered this knowledge to Jeremiah. God would share with Jeremiah ‘things’ the prophet did not know or understand about Israel’s future.”

It was revealed to Jeremiah that God would judge Judah – severely, but He would also restore Israel – completely. This would bring unparalleled joy to Jerusalem, leading to the “sacrifice of praise” (Jeremiah 33:11; Hebrews 13:15).

Jeremiah next writes about the day, the age, when Israel will finally receive Jesus as their Messiah. This happens midway through the Tribulation Period, will carry on into the Millennial Kingdom, and then into heaven forever and ever.

Jesus is my favorite “Branch” of Government, He is that Branch of Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:15; Isaiah 11:1). Jesus is the LORD our Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:16) who redeemed us on the cross of Calvary:

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Romans 3:21–22a (NKJV) “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.”

God would honor the covenant He made with Abraham and David, something Jeremiah highlights in verses 17-25, and summarized in the following verses:

Jeremiah 33:19–22 (NKJV) “And the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 20 ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘If you can break My covenant with the day and My covenant with the night, so that there will not be day and night in their season, 21 then My covenant may also be broken with David My servant, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and with the Levites, the priests, My ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, nor the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the descendants of David My servant and the Levites who minister to Me.’’”

In Jeremiah 34 the prophet brings a word to King Zedekiah and to the people of Judah who reformed for a season, but then went back to their old ways.

The Babylonians would judge the city and capture the king. Jeremiah informed him that he would live, but we read the awful suffering that King Zedekiah had to experience because of his sin and unwillingness to yield to the word of God through Jeremiah:

2 Kings 25:7 (NLT) “They made Zedekiah watch as they slaughtered his sons. Then they gouged out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.”

The Babylonians attacked Jerusalem in three different sieges. In what was probably the second siege, certain citizens of Jerusalem turned from their evil ways, they no doubt reasoned that if they were “good,” God would have mercy upon them…so they let their Jewish slaves go free. This is what God had commanded them to do in His Word (Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12). But then, when the Babylonians returned to their land and the imminent danger seemed to subside, they turned around and profaned God’s name, they once again brought their slaves back to bondage.

Jeremiah pronounced judgment upon these people:

Jeremiah 34:17 (NKJV) “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother and every one to his neighbor. Behold, I proclaim liberty to you,’ says the LORD ‘to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine! And I will deliver you to trouble among all the kingdoms of the earth.”

The Lord promised them, Babylon would be used to judge these hypocritical people, God would bring the Chaldeans back to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 34:22) and those who had returned to their vomit (their old wicked ways) would die.

Another warning to me, to us, He’s a holy God, and His Word should ALWAYS be obeyed, not just in what we perceive to be the “dangerous” days.

1 Timothy 4:1-16

Paul begins chapter 4 with some heartbreaking prophecies that Timothy needed to be aware of as a pastor – that some would depart from the faith, listening to the lies of Lucifer and all of his demons.

What a terrible place to be when one’s conscience is seared and they have absolutely no conviction. The pendulum swings to extremes. It can range from hedonism all the way to asceticism, where they forbade Christians to marry. My heart goes out to the nuns and priests of the Catholic church, the whole concept of celibacy has no Biblical merit whatsoever – what a tragedy this has turned out to be.

“Commanding to abstain from foods…” Paul mentions the self-imposed dietary prohibitions in the book of Colossians as well (Colossians 2:21), “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle…” That’s not Christianity! I like what Sandy Adams said, “These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”

We need to be so careful.

Paul tells Timothy to instruct the brethren in these things and if he did, he would be fulfilling his call to protect the flock from bondage – it would be good for the flock and even nourishing to him – it’s good doctrine we are to CAREFULLY follow (1 Timothy 4:6).

We are to exercise ourselves towards godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). The Greek word translated exercise is “gymnazo” from where we derive our English word “gymnasium.” It’s there we train, we do those spiritual calisthenics, work hard, and discipline ourselves to be godly – to be like Jesus. Physical exercise has its benefits, but it pales infinitely in comparison to the benefits of exercising spiritually; this life is temporal, a vapor, in comparison to the next life which is eternal.

Now, that doesn’t give us a green light to abuse our bodies. Listen to the wisdom of Warren Wiersbe, “Certainly we ought to care for our bodies, and exercise is a part of that care. Our bodies are God’s temples, to be used for His glory (1 Corinthians 6:19–20), and His tools for His service (Romans 12:1–2). But bodily exercise benefits us only during this life; godly exercise is profitable now and for eternity. Paul did not ask Timothy to choose between the two; I think God expects us to practice both. A healthy body can be used of God, but we must major on holiness.”

Paul simply wants his son in the faith, his protégé Timothy to grow. This was a faithful saying in the early church, it was worthy of all acceptance, and this is what Paul labored in and suffered for – it was all about the living God, the Savior of the world. Paul calls Timothy to teach these things to the people.

In the culture of that day Timothy was considered young, but that didn’t stop Paul from calling him to be an example – TO THE CHRISTIANS – in word, conduct, love, passion, faith, and purity.

Timothy was charged to be in the Word, to read it, challenge others with it, to make sure they were strong doctrinally. Timothy was not to neglect the gift he’d been given when they prayed and prophesied over him. We read something similar in:

2 Timothy 1:6, (NKJV) “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 

I wonder how many ministers fall short because they’re not stirring up that gift? I must always search my heart!

Timothy was to meditate on these things, he was to read it over and over and over again. His progress was to be evident to all! He was to take heed to the truth, for his salvation and the salvation of others, would be impacted – not that our salvation is dependent upon people, but it is certainly influenced by the faithfulness of pastors.

Psalm 89:1-13

Psalm 89 was written during days of Israel’s defeat (Psalm 89:38-45). The Psalm begins in faith but sadly goes on to question God’s faithfulness (we’ll see that in tomorrow’s text).

The Psalmist reminded God of His covenant with David, but the Psalmist misinterpreted it to be a line that would be fulfilled through human kings, when in all reality, it would be fulfilled in the King of kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s commendable to read Ethan’s heart to sing of the mercies of the LORD – forever (Psalm 89:1) and how he would use his mouth, not only to sing, but to preach on God’s faithfulness.

Ethan acknowledged that there was no one like the LORD – and I’m blessed with the way he acknowledges that only God is able to rule over the raging sea – over the waves when they rise (did you think of Jesus when you read Psalm 89:9? See Matthew 8:24-27).

Ethan acknowledged – it’s all God’s, made by Him, there’s none like Him, the Maker of the north and the south, the heavens and the earth!

Ethan was upbeat and personified even the mountains rejoicing (Tabor and Hermon) at God’s creation.

Let’s do the same, let’s rejoice today – in creation and redemption – for no matter what the circumstances my be, God is faithful, He will keep His promises, fulfill His Word, and work all things together for good.

Proverbs 25:23-24

Proverbs 25:23 (NKJV) “The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue an angry countenance.”

You can feel and even see the effects of the wind blowing in those clouds that will produce rain. So the “southern” winds of Satan – things like slander and gossip bring forth an angry face. Or, as the NLT puts it:

Proverbs 25:23 (NLT) “As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!”

It’s not just a Proverb for information, it’s a Proverb for transformation – praying that God convicts us and helps us NOT to gossip!

Proverbs 25:24 (NKJV) “It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.”

We have the exact same words – verbatim – in Proverbs 21:9, no doubt repeated for emphasis!

A word to women? Don’t be contentious!

A warning to men? Be careful who you marry – and make sure to tend to your wife!

Charles Bridges, “It cannot be but a miserable thing to behold that yet they are of necessity compelled to live together, which yet cannot be in quiet together. But many bring this bitter trouble on themselves. They never seek God’s help in their momentous choice. The wife is not asked for from the Lord, and so does not come from Him, and so does not bring any of His favors with her.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

October 18, 2021

Jeremiah 31:27–32:44

It’s tough to follow sometimes, as Jeremiah goes from judgment, to mercy and grace beyond measure, and then back to judgment again in the remainder of chapter 31.

The Jews had a maxim:

Jeremiah 31:29 (NKJV) “…the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”

In other words, the children were suffering for their parent’s sins. But God set them straight.

Jeremiah 29:30 (NKJV) “But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.”

We can’t blame it on our parents, or ancestors, every person must assume personal responsibility!

Jeremiah 31:31-34 is a powerful prophecy of the New Covenant that God would make with Israel – and not only Israel, but with any and all who would be willing to enter in. Jesus spoke of this New Covenant (Luke 22:20) and it’s something the writer to the Hebrews mentioned frequently (Hebrews 8:8, 13; 9:15; 12:24). This covenant would not be written on tablets of stone, but on the tablets of our hearts. This covenant would not be temporary and according to the law, but it would be eternal and according to faith.

In Jeremiah 31:35-37 we hear the Creator God telling us that just as the moon, the sun, the stars, and the waves are all within this “covenant” of creation, so also is Israel in this special covenant of redemption, this nation will remain!

Jeremiah 32 might be summarized in one verse:

Jeremiah 32:42 (NKJV) “For thus says the LORD: ‘Just as I have brought all this great calamity on this people, so I will bring on them all the good that I have promised them.’”

Again, and again we hear God’s Word of judgment for the abominations of the nation, and that Babylon would be God’s instrument of judgment – so we also see woven within the very “sentences” the amazing grace of how Israel would return to the land  and eventually return to the Lord.

Jeremiah 32 finds the prophet locked up in prison. It’s the fourth year of the reign of Judah’s final king, Zedekiah, before the judgment of Babylon upon Jerusalem. Jeremiah has been imprisoned for telling the truth, that they would not escape the hand of the Chaldeans.

And then something interesting happens. Jeremiah’s cousin, Hanamel comes to visit him in prison, letting him know about family property that was for sale, was Jeremiah interested? Jeremiah knew that this was the LORD who had already told him about the proposition of property. As Jeremiah buys the friend for seventeen shekels of silver it would be another vivid lesson for everyone to see (the word would spread of Jeremiah’s purchase) that God would indeed bring the people back to the land.

Jeremiah 32:15 (NKJV) “For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.’”

As you carefully read through Jeremiah 32:16-23 you realize how this man knew God in an accurate and personal way, how God is all-powerful, abounding in love, and yet perfectly holy. How God had worked on behalf of the children of Israel, granting them the land, and yet they did not live lives of gratitude – they did not love God in return. Jeremiah was keenly cognizant of who God is and the heartless history of Israel. He knew extreme judgment was coming, followed by amazing grace. Jeremiah prayed all this, and God answered in the affirmative.

Jeremiah 32:26–27 (NKJV) “Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, 27 ‘Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?’”

God would indeed, keep His promise, and bring this nation back to the land, back to Him, because there’s nothing too hard for the LORD!

What God has done and will do for Israel, may be something you need in your life personally, or maybe it’s a loved one or a prodigal you’re praying for. Nothing is too hard for God. There may be days of disappointment and even discipline, but keep praying, keep waiting on the Lord. Notice the work He’s about to do:

Jeremiah 32:37–41 (NKJV) “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. 38 They shall be My people, and I will be their God; 39 then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. 41 Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.”

1 Timothy 3:1-16

The call to the position of a bishop (pastor, shepherd, overseer) is a call to genuine holiness. If the leaders aren’t right with God, where will they lead the people? Jesus told us in Matthew 10:24-25 that a disciple will inevitably end up like his teacher. We can never lead anyone farther than we’ve gone, and it’s for that reason, we pastors have a heavy responsibility to follow hard after our Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course we notice that this calling is a calling of character-first; as a matter of fact, the only skill required in this list of sixteen things, is that he must be able to teach. I have a hunch that often times, when we do a search for pastors, we sacrifice the other traits at the altar of the fact that this guy might be a good teacher – we need to be so careful! There are fifteen other things mentioned in this passage alone. Paul tells Timothy that it’s perfectly fine to want to be a pastor, but we must aspire to be a blameless example to the flock and  lead our family well. I like what Sandy Adams said, “The first place to live the Christian life is at home. If your Christianity does not work at home, don’t try to export it.”

To be blameless means that no accusation will stick. In my opinion the “husband of one wife” means that any divorce while being a Christian, disqualifies him from ever being a pastor. To be temperate speaks of the fruit of self-control. Sober-minded points to the fact that he is Biblically wise, he prays and thinks things through. He lives the life, he’s a people-person, able to teach, not a drinker of alcohol, not violent, not greedy for money or the things money can buy; gentle, easy to get along with, not an arguer, not covetous; he’s content, he leads his house well as a loving leader with godly influence (Paul makes sense, if the guy can’t manage his house well, neither will he be able to manage the church). A pastor can’t be a novice for a number of reasons – to really see one’s character takes time – but Paul points to the fact that the man might get prideful, because he sped past the others…we need to be patient in the appointment of pastors.

Paul also gives the qualifications for deacons; this is a sphere of Christian service that differs from that of a pastor, you get a “visual” of this in Acts 6:1-7. Deacons are simply servants; they’re not necessarily called to teach or counsel per se, they might serve tables, they have time to do more menial tasks, administrative aspects of ministry – really anything that has to do with serving the Lord and His people that differ from that of a pastor. We notice in the passage in Acts 6 and here in 1 Timothy 3 that even the most menial aspects of ministry require ministers that are holy.

Should we give people the title of Pastor or Deacon? It appears so, but we must not get caught up in the title. I like to tell people that we’re not into titles, but we are into tasks! I’ll never forget the day I became a husband, a father, a pastor. These were titles that I previously did not possess…but now I do. It’s important to know my God-given roles and responsibilities, I must not bear the title, unless I’m willing to do the task.

Paul wrote this letter in case he was delayed in coming to them, instructing them on how they should conduct themselves in the church. In one sense, the church is the house of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth!

What an awesome summary 1 Timothy 3:16 is, of the mission and ministry of Jesus…God was manifested in the flesh (John 1:1, 14).

Psalm 88:1-18

We’re not sure on the exact background to this Psalm, but it’s one of the few Psalms that doesn’t end on a good note.

Reading this Psalm takes me back to the physical ailments, prayers, and complaints of Job.

Heman was on the verge of death, near the grave, in the lowest pits; he felt God’s wrath and affliction heavy upon him. Even his friends were far away in every respect:

Psalm 88:8 (NKJV) “You have put away my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an abomination to them; I am shut up, and I cannot get out.”

I sigh as I consider the many who felt this way (and still do today) in the hospital, on oxygen, or on a ventilator, in this season of Covid.

Heman prays that God would hear him. In spite of the fact that he saw no relief in sight, he kept praying. He called and cried out daily to the LORD (Psalm 88:9).

His entire life was apparently tough, even from his youth (Psalm 88:15), but he just kept praying:

Psalm 88:13 (NKJV) “But to You I have cried out, O LORD, and in the morning my prayer comes before You.

This is a heartbreaking Psalm to read, but we know that there are many out there who feel this way. May they do as Heman did – keep praying, my friend, let’s keep praying and never lose heart (Luke 18:1).

Proverbs 25:20-22

Proverbs 25:20 (NKJV) “Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather, and like vinegar on soda, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.”

It’s cold, but they take away your coat?

You’re looking forward to a carbonated drink, but it’s flat, when you needed that carbonation to help you with your upset stomach. Bummer.

Neither are helpful or good. They didn’t have coca-cola back then, so this is most likely a reference to a sodium carbonate which was found naturally in Egypt, but neutralized with vinegar.

Proverbs 25:20 (NLT) “Singing cheerful songs to a person with a heavy heart is like taking someone’s coat in cold weather or pouring vinegar in a wound.

Obviously, these would be insensitive and inappropriate songs.

Proverbs 25:21-22 (NKJV) “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; 22 For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

Amplified Notes, “This is not to be understood as a revengeful act intended to embarrass its victim, but just the opposite. The picture is that of the high priest (Leviticus 16:12) who, on the Day of Atonement, took his censer and filled it with “coals of fire” from off the altar of burnt offering, and then put incense on the coals to create a pleasing, sweet-smelling fragrance. The cloud or smoke of the incense covered the mercy seat and was acceptable to God for atonement.”

In Romans 12:19-20 Paul quotes this Proverb and adds the following:

Romans 12:21 (NKJV) “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Pray for your enemy, love them, be nice to them, you might make a friend and even win them to the Lord!

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

October 17, 2021

Jeremiah 30:1–31:26

Here we have God’s instructions to Jeremiah to actually write these things down (Jeremiah 30:1), and once again we have that message in reference to the regathering of the Jews to their homeland. This has happened multiple times throughout the ages, but the two epic occurrences were after the Babylonian conquest, and in 1948 when Israel was born-again as a nation.

Jeremiah elaborates on the fact that God HAD to discipline His people. Their affliction was incurable, their wound was severe. The only way they had any hope of getting right with God, was the chastening of God – hence the Babylonians. But all along, God was with His people:

Jeremiah 30:11 (NKJV) “‘For I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to save you; though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.’”

All other nations will be judged by God, but one day Jesus will rule from Jerusalem, the capital of the world. As we read through the Scriptures we realize that God has special plans for Israel, this is why we should all bow to the King of Israel, King Jesus, now; and why we should bless and support this nation (Genesis 12:3).

In Jeremiah 31 the prophet continues to speak of the “salvation” of Israel’s remnant, God’s mercy on Ephraim, and the future prosperity of Judah. It won’t simply be a geographical work of God in bringing the people back to the land, it will be a spiritual work of God in bringing the people back to Himself. The day will come when Israel opens their hearts to the love of God:

Jeremiah 31:3 (NKJV) “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.’”

God would rebuild His peopled their land, there would be builders, planters, watchmen, singers, a great throng would return (Jeremiah 31:8). God would not only bring them back to walk with Him, He would even help the lame to walk like Him (Jeremiah 31:8-9).

He really is the Great, Good, and Chief Shepherd.

Jeremiah 31:10 (NKJV) “Hear the word of the LORD, O nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd does his flock.’”

In this section of Jeremiah we read frequently of the LORD’s goodness, how souls will be like well-watered gardens, people of all ages will dance, their mourning will turn to joy, God Himself would comfort them (Jeremiah 31:12-13). Even the priests would be blessed and satisfied with God’s goodness.

Jeremiah 31:15 speaks of tragedies among God’s people, close to the days of Jeremiah, but also in reference to days that were far off, when the children were killed by King Herod at the birth of Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:17-18).

But God would have mercy, there was hope for their future, their children would come back to their own border.

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “God called on the captives to set up road signs and guideposts as they traveled to Babylon (Jeremiah 31:21) and to remember the road they would take. They would need this information during His promised restoration so they could return to their towns. This time of promised restoration will be so remarkable that it will be as if God will create a new thing on earth.”

Jeremiah 31:22 has many opinions on its interpretation, I lean towards the idea of Israel (symbolic of the woman) encompassing, surrounding, or should I say “pursuing” the LORD. Back then a woman would not pursue a man to marry, but here we see something “new” symbolized in the nation of Israel.

After all the heartache…God would save, satiate, and satisfy His people. Just as He does with us. Have you come to Him? I pray you would know His love for you today, my friend, no matter what you’re going through.

Jeremiah 31:25 (NKJV) “For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.”

1 Timothy 2:1-15

As Paul begins to share the basic conduct of the body of Christ in the “church of God” (see also 3:15) he begins first of all with the men, that they would lead the way in prayers, supplications, and intercessions for all people, and all leaders, that they would all be saved, which would spill over into a quiet, godly, and peaceable life. Nowadays it’s hard enough just to get men to church, much less bringing them to that place of paving the way through prayer, but we must not give up – this is God’s code of conduct for the Christian church.

Believe it or not, there are some out there in Christendom who don’t believe that God wants “all men to be saved,” as we read so clearly here in 1 Timothy 2:4. Beware of such teachings often named after men (in this case Calvinism). The Bible explicitly teaches us that God wants all people to be saved, He is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

There are also those out there who believe that there are many ways to heaven, and yet the Bible clearly teaches that there is only one way (1 Timothy 2:5). There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus (see also John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Some people get offended at this truth, but I’m just grateful that God has provided a way! When Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane He asked His Father to let this cup pass, if there was any other way to get to heaven, Jesus would not have had to die – but there wasn’t any other way. Jesus therefore died for our sins, He gave Himself a ransom for all and hence, Paul’s call to be a preacher and teacher of this truth.

I get blessed when I see the men praying as described in 1 Timothy 2:8 – lifting up their hands to God, but Paul mentions the fact that those hands should be holy; that we shouldn’t be angry men, or doubting men. It’s obvious, in a simple reading of this chapter, however, that we should be praying men…O Lord, please help us.

Paul moves on to the sisters, it’s okay to fix yourselves up to be attractive (for your husband), but be careful not to dress to the point of being seductive. There is to be a beautiful modesty for the godly Christian woman. When she attends church service, she isn’t to call across the aisle, asking her husband questions, she’s to learn silently, quietly (in those days the men and women sat separately). As far as Pastors and Teachers go – in the public assembly – the Scriptures clearly declare that women are not to hold those positions over men. This doesn’t mean men are any better, it’s just our role and responsibility to lead in the home and at church. This was the order of creation, and yet when you look back to Eve’s deception in the Garden of Eden, things started out on the wrong foot. 

Blessed is that woman who values her role as a homemaker – I can’t think of anything more important in the entire universe, than being the primary one to influence our children to godliness! This doesn’t mean women can’t work, or serve at church – over the years I would honestly say that the ladies have been the backbone to every church body I’ve been a part of. Their faithfulness, prayers, godliness, and genuine loveliness have been instrumental and even fundamental in all my years as a Christian. I pray that both men and women would answer their respective callings in life.

Psalm 87:1-7

This Psalm is all about the city of Jerusalem, specifically this place called Zion, ultimately symbolizing our future home in heaven one day, the city of God.

Her foundations are holy, the LORD loves her gates – more than all other dwellings, glorious things are spoken of Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-27).

Some people brag about the city of their birth (Psalm 87:4) but to be born in Jerusalem, to be born from above, is the only location that really matters.

John 3:3 (NKJV) “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”

When we’re born again we’re registered in heaven (Hebrews 12:23).

Psalm 87:6 (NKJV) “The LORD will record, when He registers the peoples: ‘This one was born there.’ Selah”

Proverbs 25:18-19

Proverbs 25:18 (NKJV) “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow.”

We’ve learned over the years and through the Proverbs that words can be deadly weapons; those comments can be emotionally and internally “violent.”

Proverbs 25:18 (NLT) Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.

This Proverb definitely applies to casual conversation, but the context speaks more of lies in formal court. Other translations speak of testifying.

Proverbs 25:19 (NKJV) “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth and a foot out of joint.”

Contrast this unfaithful man to the faithful man in 

Proverbs 25:13 (NKJV) “Like the cold of snow in time of harvest Is a faithful messenger to those who send him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters.”

But it’s not isolated to a man with a message, it’s applicable to anyone with an assignment.

It’s one thing if it’s a task in easy times, but other times it’s a time of trouble – will we be reliable then?

Proverbs 25:19 (NLT) Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

October 16, 2021

Jeremiah 28:1–29:32

Jeremiah gives us the “date” – it was the fourth year, in the fifth month of the reign of Zedekiah. In our calendar, that brings us to 593 B.C. 

Hananiah the “prophet” was spreading a message of peace, saying that the people of the captivity, King Jeconiah, and the vessels from the Temple would all return within the space of two years.

Jeremiah hadn’t heard THAT message from the Lord – and initially he doesn’t say too much, other than an “amen.” If Hananiah’s words came to pass, he would be a prophet of the Lord (Jeremiah 28:6, 9).

Hananiah took his message a step further, however, and removed the wooden yoke from the shoulders of Jeremiah and broke it in front of everyone:

Jeremiah 28:11 (NKJV) “And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘Even so I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.’’ And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.”

God spoke to Jeremiah again and told him that the wooden yoke would be replaced with an iron yoke – Hananiah had NOT been sent by the LORD. Jeremiah pronounced the punishment to Hananiah for prophesying falsely – he would die that year. Sure enough, two months later Hananiah was dead. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

In Jeremiah 29 he begins with a copy of the letter that he sent to the captives in Babylon. Jeremiah encourages the people to settle down in the land, build houses, plant gardens, eat their fruit, even seek the peace of that place – that foreign city they were living in. God wanted the people to prosper in the foreign land that they may continue to multiply.

Jeremiah 29:10 (NKJV) “For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.”

The false prophets were telling the people it would be a short period of time – the false prophets were completely contradicting the Word of the Lord. Jeremiah pronounced judgment upon these wolves in sheep’s clothing, men like Ahab, and Zedekiah would be burned by the king; Shemaiah would have no descendants, and not live to see the good that God had planned for His people.

And O, what wonderful plans He had! God had good plans of peace for His people. Jeremiah sent this word, not only to tell them it would be a seven decades, but to encourage them, God was not done with them…and He’s not done with us either my friend. You also can takes this word to heart, even if you feel like you’re bound in Babylon:

Jeremiah 29:11–13 (NKJV) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

1 Timothy 1:1-20

We now begin what are often referred to as the Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy as well as Titus). Paul is writing to the men to whom he would be “passing the baton.” Timothy was pastoring in Ephesus, and from the internal evidence of the letters, he and Titus were not only pastors, but they were also pastor’s pastors. They were to appoint elders (pastors) in every city (1 Timothy 3:1; Titus 1:5). Being a pastor is a heavy responsibility, a holy calling that can only be done by God’s grace, His Holy Spirit, and by taking heed to His Holy Word. I thank God for the entirety of the Bible, but especially the pastoral epistles!

Paul urged Timothy to stay in Ephesus and make sure that they teach no other doctrine than what he had taught them. He also warned Timothy not to get side-tracked with fables and endless genealogies – things which only end in arguments rather than building each other up in the faith. “Timothy – stick to the truth of God’s Word!” Manny, do the same!

Paul reminds us that the purpose of his charge and God’s Word is love, true love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith (what a good checklist to search my heart for). Do these things describe me?

Tragically there were already some who had turned aside to idle talk; they exalted themselves to be teachers in the church and yet they didn’t even understand God’s law. Ultimately, the law (the Old Testament code of conduct, civil, and ceremonial) was good to govern Jewish affairs and point to Jesus, but it never had the power to save a single soul. The law could point out sin, but it didn’t provide the power to cleanse us from sin or help us overcome it – only Jesus could do that. He was the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:24). Many times we find “teachers” in the church who want to go back to the law or some form of legalism – Paul fought this tooth and nail, and he wanted Timothy to fight it as well.

Paul had been truly called by God, he was a trophy of grace. Paul formerly had been a blasphemer of Jesus, a persecutor, a violent, arrogant murderer (imagine that). But because he did it ignorantly (1 Timothy 1:13) and would one day prove to be faithful (1 Timothy 1:12) God lavished Paul with amazing grace. Maybe Paul brings this up at this point in order to remind Timothy of Paul’s personal call from Jesus Himself. 

Paul’s growth in humility can be seen in the way he describes himself over the years – he’s not worthy to be an Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9), he’s the least of the saints (Ephesians 3:8), and here we see he’s the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). This grace is a revelation to all of us that God can save and use anyone He chooses. Praise God (and not Paul) (1 Timothy 1:17).

Paul goes back to his charge, his challenge, his command to Timothy – to protect the flock as a good and faithful shepherd is called to do. Remember Timothy, it’s a war! Timothy had been prophetically and personally called by God – he knew it. He was to stay the course and not suffer shipwreck as others beside him had. Timothy would have to deal with people like this in the ministry – Paul had to deliver Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan (excommunicate them from the church) – his hope was that ultimately they would learn and return to Christ (see also 2 Timothy 2:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5:4-5).

Psalm 86:1-17

This is another one of those Psalms when David was on the run.

David’s most significant times of running were when King Saul hunted him down, and during his son Absalom’s insurrection. In both cases, generally speaking, David was not to be blamed, but I thought it was interesting that David still prayed for forgiveness – something God is ready and willing to do for us:

Psalm 86:5 (NKJV) “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.”

One thing I’ve learned about my own life, is even in those times when I might feel like I’ve done nothing wrong, I still need to lean on God’s grace and ask Him to wash me of my sin – for no man is sinless.

David declares the holiness of God – there’s none like Him (Psalm 86:10).

David asks the LORD to work within him; he gives us some great things to request:

Psalm 86:11 (NKJV) “Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”

Teach me Your way, Your Word, O LORD. Unite my heart so that it’s not divided in any way, may it be ALL yours!

The mob was after him (Psalm 86:14) they hated him (Psalm 86:17) but God would save him.

I have a hunch that God’s salvation is graciously connected to David’s prayers and his constant cries to God for help.

Proverbs 25:17

Proverbs 25:17 (NKJV) “Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house, lest he become weary of you and hate you.”

Proverbs 25:17 (NLT) “Don’t visit your neighbors too often, or you will wear out your welcome.”

It’s funny, I feel this way about going over other people’s houses, but not about them coming over ours. It would be really hard for our neighbors to wear out their welcome…but if the Scriptures tell us it is a possibility, we need to take it to heart.

God help us to be wise and sensitive to the Holy Spirit!

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

October 15, 2021

Jeremiah 26:1–27:22

Once again the Lord commanded Jeremiah to go to the Temple and deliver His message to the people who were there – he was not to diminish a word. It was a simple, yet heavy message of warning intended to turn the hearts of the people back to God.

Jeremiah 26:4–6 (NKJV) “And you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, 5 to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), 6 then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.’’”

Shiloh was the city where the Tabernacle was located earlier in Israel’s history. It was a city where the LORD placed His name – but He forsook that city because of Israel’s sin.

We read in:

Psalm 78:60 (NKJV) “So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent He had placed among men.”

Jeremiah 7:12 (NKJV) “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.”

Jeremiah had warned the people on this matter many times:

Jeremiah 7:14 (NKJV) “Therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.”

When the people heard the words of Jeremiah they seized him and sought to put him to death. Jeremiah’s “defense” was simple. He explained to them the fact that the LORD had sent him. He explained to them that it wasn’t simply a message of doom and gloom, it was a message of hope – IF – they amended their ways, IF they made a choice to obey the voice of the LORD. He also explained to them that if they killed him, they would be killing innocent blood.

At that time, advocates rose up on behalf of Jeremiah. Certain elders pointed to the prophet Micah and King Hezekiah. Micah issued a  similar message of warning, but Hezekiah didn’t hold it against him, King Hezekiah took the message to heart, he feared the Lord and spared the city.

Compare that to the practice of the current king, King Jehoiakim who was so evil that he extradited a prophet from the land of Egypt and had him put to death. Jeremiah had reason for concern. 

The words of this elder were certainly true of them then, and to any of us now, who are not open to God’s rebuke:

Jeremiah 26:19b (NKJV) “…but we are doing great evil against ourselves.”

We only have ourselves to blame.

In Jeremiah 27 we have more visual lessons, this time for the nations of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Tyre, that God was raising up the nation of Babylon to rule the world, and anyone who refused to surrender willingly, would be punished with the sword, famine, and pestilence.

Jeremiah warned the people not to listen to the lies of the false prophets:

Jeremiah 27:9–11 (NLT) “Do not listen to your false prophets, fortune-tellers, interpreters of dreams, mediums, and sorcerers who say, ‘The king of Babylon will not conquer you.’ 10 They are all liars, and their lies will lead to your being driven out of your land. I will drive you out and send you far away to die. 11 But the people of any nation that submits to the king of Babylon will be allowed to stay in their own country to farm the land as usual. I, the LORD, have spoken!’”

Jeremiah spoke this warning to King Jehoiakim as well as Zedekiah. 

Tragically the people did not listen to Jeremiah. Babylon had already plundered the city twice. Jeremiah prophesied that Babylon would come again, siege the city and carry away all the valuables of the temple that remained.

And yet, in the midst of wrath, God remembered mercy…and after seventy years of captivity the vessels would be restored to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 27:22).

God’s amazing grace – how He gives us promises to hold on to even in periods of punishment.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

Paul’s prayer is that the Word of God would spread and be honored, just as it had been with the Thessalonians. Remember what we read back in: 

1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV) “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”

Do I still see the Bible that way? Am I reading this with the understanding that this is God’s Word? If not, let’s get back to reverence for God’s Word (Psalm 138:2; Isaiah 66:2).

Paul also asks the church to pray for their protection from wicked men – men who wanted them dead. Imagine living in that danger every day of your life.

It’s interesting how Paul then turns the tables and promises protection for the Thessalonians, based upon the fact that the Lord is faithful, who would establish them and guard them from the evil one. Thank You Lord!

Paul prays for protection, he also prays for direction (2 Thessalonians 3:5) that God would direct their hearts to love like God and have the patience of Christ. A while back I was listening to an old song that asks God to rid themselves of all but love. Isn’t that what it’s all about? All the law and all of life hang on the two commandments of love, to love God and everyone else! (Matthew 22:36-40; Acts 13:22).

But what about those so-called brothers who were leeching off of the rest of the congregation? Apparently there were some among the Thessalonians who didn’t want to work; in doing so they were walking disorderly.

Warren Wiersbe strikes a wise balance, he said, “Those who cannot work must be cared for by others, but those who will not work must be disciplined.” For some reason we’ve come to think of hard work as bad and yet Dorothy Sayers said, “Work is not primarily a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do…”

Henry Halley explains the background, “The idle (2 Thessalonians 3:6- 15) were lazy people who took advantage of the charitable disposition of the church (see 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10) and used the expectation of the immediate appearance of the Lord as an excuse for abandoning their ordinary occupations. They claimed the right to be supported by the members in the church who were well off. Paul was an ardent advocate of charity toward those who were really in need, and he spent a good deal of time collecting gifts of money for the poor. But he spared no words in condemning the able-bodied who could work but would not. In these verses he positively forbids the church to support such people—he even commands the church not to associate with them.”

When Paul was there in Thessalonica he worked hard, he labored day and night, he and his companions paid for their own food, so that they could be an example and not a burden to any. The command to the able-bodied person is simple, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). 

And then there’s the word of encouragement and closing prayer for the “obedient” brethren

2 Thessalonians 3:13 (NKJV) “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NKJV) “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Psalm 85:1-13

This Psalm seems to have been written after the exile – Israel has returned to the land (Psalm 85:1) her iniquity has been forgiven (Psalm 85:2). But they still find themselves in dire straits – there was a need of restoration for the nation (Psalm 85:4).

It’s one thing to have land, to have a building, to have a “church,” but that’s not the same as being in right relationship with God. Survival is different than revival.

Psalm 85:6 (NKJV) “Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?”

Do you ever long for more? The power of the Holy Spirit leading to a passion for God? He is willing to bless us in that way, if we are wanting and willing to ask. (Luke 11:13)

At the intersections of mercy and truth, and righteousness and peace, God brings it all together for the benefit of the people – it’s the kiss of God upon His children. It would one day be demonstrated on a cross of love that would be able to bless all who believe.

Proverbs 25:16

Proverbs 25:16 (NKJV) “Have you found honey? Eat only as much as you need, lest you be filled with it and vomit.”

Proverbs 25:16 (NLT) “Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!

Have you ever done that? Ate too much and threw it all up? I’ll never forget, when I was in Jr. High I ate one of those extra-big bags of Taco flavor Doritos and I paid the price – I vomitted it all up in the middle of the night.

Every morning I put a teaspoon of honey in my coffee. If I put ten teaspoons it would probably taste better, but I now know better.

Everything in moderation.

This can be a passing problem for some people, or a major issue for others. Have you ever heard of the 7 deadly sins? The list consists of pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath, sloth, and gluttony. This Proverb highlights that last word, “gluttony.”

Sometimes we have a hard time knowing when enough is enough.

Derek Kidner, “A parable of the fatal difference between healthy appetite and greed. Since Eden, man has wanted the last ounce out of life, as though beyond God’s ‘enough’ lay ecstasy, not nausea.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

October 14, 2021

Jeremiah 23:21–25:38

In those critical days, there were messengers who were “running” as if they had a message from God, but God had not spoken to them, God had not sent them. If they had been sent by God they would have stood in His counsel, listened to Him, and been instruments of instruction and protection for the people. This is the mission for every pastor, preacher, and even every Christian, let’s be able so say, “that which I received from the Lord, I’ve given to you” (1 Corinthians 11:23; 15:23).

What a difference those who actually are sent by God can make!

Jeremiah 23:22 (NLT) “If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds.”

Our Creator is close – beyond words, He hears and sees everything! We cannot hide from the One who fills Heaven and earth (Jeremiah 23:23-24; Hebrews 4:13). These prophets somehow thought they could get away with their reckless ministry, they shared the dictates of their own hearts, their own dreams, their own opinions – yet God did not send them. These prophets perverted the words of the living God (Jeremiah 23:36). The leaders led the people astray – so God’s judgment upon Jerusalem was inevitable.

Jeremiah 23:39 (NKJV) “therefore behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you and forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and will cast you out of My presence.”

Pastors, preachers, and people who claim to speak in the name of the Lord, who say, “The Lord told me…” better beware.

We are warned in:

James 3:1 (NKJV) “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

The fig tree is representative of the nation of Israel. In Jeremiah 24 we have the vision of the two baskets of figs set before the temple of the Lord. One basket had good figs, ripe and ready to eat; the other basket had bad figs, which could not be eaten. 

The good figs represented the people who would be spared, taken away to Babylon, and yet protected while they were there. These good figs represented those who would return to the land. When they returned God would do a deep work in them. We read:

Jeremiah 24:7 (NKJV) “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.”

And that’s the key isn’t it? Let’s bear good fruit my friend, and if we ever drift away, in any way, let’s return to God with our whole heart!

But King Zedekia, his princes, and the “residue” of Jerusalem, the rebellious who resisted the will of God would be completely consumed – they were the bad figs. How horrible the future of those who reject God’s Word!

“What life does to us depends on what life finds in us.”

~ Warren Wiersbe

Warren Wiersbe said, “What life does to us depends on what life finds in us. The godly remnant experienced good things from God during the exile, but the ungodly citizens were consumed by trouble. The godly remnant made the best of a bad situation because they trusted the Lord (Romans 8:28).”

In Jeremiah 25 we are introduced to the 70-year prophecy of captivity for the Jews. 

Halley’s Bible Handbook, “This was in the early part of Jehoiakim’s reign (Jeremiah 25:1), about 604 B.C. The remarkable thing is that the exact duration of Babylonia’s rule is foretold (Jeremiah 25:11-14; 29:10; 2 Chronicles 36:21; Ezra 1:1; Daniel 9:2; Zechariah 7:5). An amazing prophecy. There was no possible way for Jeremiah to know this, except by direct revelation from God.”

Jeremiah had been warning the people for 23 years and he was not the only one…but the people refused to repent, they would not listen to the Lord.

Something interesting to note is that the prophet Daniel would later read this prophecy and was able to determine the imminent return of the people to the land. We read in:

Daniel 9:2 (NKJV) “in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”

When Daniel understood that the end of the captivity was at hand, he began to pray – he prayed Bible. We should do the same. Even though we don’t know the day, the hour, or even the year, we can see the season.

Jeremiah also mentions the judgment of Babylon and even the judgment of the whole wide world. One day God will bring His just judgment on “all the inhabitants of the earth” (Jeremiah 25:29-30). 

A special warning is given to the shepherds (Jeremiah 25:34-36) that the Good, Chief, and Great Shepherd is on His way, like a lion who has left his lair.

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

The Thessalonians were tempted to be “shaken-up-and-out” by the tribulations they were experiencing due to a lying letter they’d received. Paul wrote to assure them, that they had not missed the rapture and they were not experiencing the Great Tribulation Period.

The falling away mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 may be speaking of a great apostasy (the Greek word is apostasia) when the church departs from the faith. It may also be in reference to the rapture of the church. As Pastor Chuck Smith writes, “…the word can refer to the departure of the saints, the rapture of the church. The Day of the Lord will not take place until there is first a departure, such as when the church departs to be with the Lord.” Either way, Paul lets the Thessalonians know that certain events had to take place to usher in the Tribulation Period and the eventual Coming of Christ.

The falling away had to take place first (Rapture of the Church or apostasy).

The Anti-Christ had to be revealed. This son of perdition will exalt himself, declaring himself to be God as he sits in the future Jewish Temple (this is called the Abomination of Desolation spoken of in Daniel 12:11; Matthew 24:15 and Mark 13:14).

The mystery of lawlessness is already at work, the only thing holding the Anti-Christ back is the work of the Holy Spirit in the church (this is He who now restrains), but when the rapture takes place, the times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled, the church will be taken out of the way. The Holy Spirit will then be poured out on the Jews (Romans 11:25).

The Anti-Christ will eventually be defeated by the coming of Christ, His mere word and presence will defeat the devil, but not after Satan takes many souls with him. When Satan comes in the form of the Anti-Christ he will seduce many with his signs and lying wonders. 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 seem to indicate that those who understand the Gospel beforehand, and reject it, will not be able to believe during the Tribulation Period. The reason this is such a heavy warning is because there are some people who know the truth today, but choose not to live that truth, they plan to get right after the rapture takes place – but according to this passage it’s not possible, for GOD will be the one sending them that strong delusion. Today is the day of salvation, don’t gamble with eternity. If you refuse to live for the Lord now, what makes you think you’ll be able to die for the Lord then?

Paul was much more optimistic for the Thessalonians, he was grateful to God for their genuine conversion and sanctification in that they were chosen by God and they chose to believe. Did you notice the balance between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility? Paul exhorts them (and us) to stand firm in the truth we’ve been taught (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Paul closes the chapter with another prayer (we saw that at the end of chapter 1 and we’ll see it again at the end of the letter). He invokes the Father and the Son who love them and have graciously given them comfort and hope, to once again comfort their hearts personally, and establish them eternally. Every pastor’s prayer.

Psalm 84:1-12

The Psalmist apparently had been away from Jerusalem and the Temple for an extended period of time – he may have been unable to attend the required feasts, he felt distant, and shares his heart. To him, this was way beyond merely missing church attendance, he wanted to reconnect with his Creator.

Psalm 84:2 (NKJV) “My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.”

Imagine the love and longing he had for the Lord, to the point that he said one single day in God’s courts is better than a thousand elsewhere! (Psalm 84:10). That he’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of God, than to have that so-called “fun” in the tents of wickedness. And what a beautiful promise he shares with us to hold tightly to:

Psalm 84:11b (NKJV) “…No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”

Another motivation for holiness!

Before we leave this Psalm it’s helpful to note the three “beatitudes” we see within it:

In Psalm 84:4 the declaration is how blessed are those who dwell in God’s house – perhaps in reference to the Priests and Levites. Did they know how privileged they were?

In Psalm 84:5 the declaration is how blessed is the man whose strength is in God, whose heart is set on pilgrimage. No doubt the pilgrimage he’s referring to is the wonderful journey to Jerusalem…when that’s our heart, God will be our strength!

In Psalm 84:12 the declaration is how blessed is the man who trusts in God. As we travel through life our trust will be tested, may we have that firm belief in the ability and reliability of the Lord our God!

As has been said by many, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”

“The more we depend on God, the more dependable we find that He is.”

Proverbs 25:15

Proverbs 25:15 (NKJV) “By long forbearance a ruler is persuaded, and a gentle tongue breaks a bone.”

Proverbs 25:15 (NLT) “Patience can persuade a prince, and soft speech can break bones.

It’s a combination of patience and gentleness that often times convinces princes and paupers, kings and kids.”

Don’t allow the enemy to cause you to be hasty or blow your witness.

NET Notes, “The idea of breaking a bone uses the hardest and most firm part of the body in contrast to the ‘softness of the tongue.’ Both are figurative, forming a comparison. A gentle speech can break down any stiff opposition.”

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

I want to know Christ more, and make Him known…