“Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” Psalms 34:11-14 [ESV] -> me: Last night (while the girls were watching a show in the other room) Marianne and sat in the office and watch the various news outlets cover the protests that had become riots and looting. My heart is heavy for the family of George Floyd who not only have to deal with the death of their loved one over and over again as the media plays the video, but also to see the violence brought on by a few who have an agenda that is not aligned with their plight. We found ourselves wondering what we can do and this passage has helped me put feet to my helplessness. Let’s start with the middle of this passage -> Everyone wants a good life and many days in it. The rest of the passage tells us how to attain it. 1) Fear of the Lord: The person who disregards the safety of another human being or respect for property, does not know or has lost the fear of God. 2) Watch what you say and guard your heart. James (in James 2:26) tells us that when we let our mouths run afoul, we have deceived our heart. 3) Repent! Turning away from evil is doing a 180 degree turn from whatever it was that you were doing that is sinful. 4) Do good! Doing good brings peace. 5) Not only should we seek peace and be we should run after it. This is a total turn from what isn’t peace! So, I can’t tell what you should do specifically other than ‘Fear God’, ‘Guard your mouth’, ‘Repent of your sin’, ‘Do things for others’, and finally ‘Pursue peace’! What better way to pursue peace than to bring others into the knowledge of Jesus and God’s gift through Him!
“But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.” Jeremiah 11:20 -> me: Its not often that you hear someone in the bible (a prophet no less) call on God for vengeance. So, I wanted to pull this apart a bit. 1) Jeremiah is not executing the vengeance himself. He is calling on the Most Just to execute justice. 2) The people who were after him, trying to stop his preaching of God’s Words, were the people from his own home town (not unlike the people in Jesus’ home town persecuted Him). 3) Jeremiah is attempting to use the position he is in (God calling on him and his obedience to that call) to add weight to his ask. Does this mean we can pray for revenge against our enemies? We are told in Romans 12:14, 19–20 to bless instead of curse, just as Jesus forgave his enemies (Luke 23:34). This is our primary task. But at the same time, we may commend our own or other cases of injustice to God, trusting that he is the righteous Judge who will bring righteousness and justice in the end.
“But the Lord is the true God and the God of truth (the God Who is Truth). He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations are not able to bear His indignation.” Jeremiah 10:10 [AMP] -> me: This is the God I follow and love! I really like how the amplified uses both ‘true God’ and ‘God of truth’. In this chapter Jeremiah and the Lord are talking about how the idols that the Children of Israel worship are but carved wood adorned with jewels and yet have no power. The skilled workers who make these are idols are said to be ‘senseless and foolish’. Following on yesterday’s Quiet Time, we can be those skilled workers at generating and promoting useless and senseless idols that we believe will bring us happiness; money, things, family, friends, and even service can be well crafted and look pretty adorned with effort and accomplishment but it is still an idol in regard to the God Who is Truth, the Living God, God the King, and the God of Wrath. I must constantly check my heart and motives when I strive for happiness and contentment from anything other than the God Who saved me from myself, from sin, and from death. He is the only One deserving of my worship.
Some of you who happen upon my little blog here might see that I have had some gaps in my posts lately. Well, that is because we received Brooklyn (9 months old today) back into our home 4 weeks ago. This little chicken has brought such joy to our family but it has been quite an adjustment. We are so blessed and God has been so faithful to not only show Himself to us but also has grown our faith through the trials and answers to prayer we have sought. Our whole family thanks you for your prayers and support as we have run this course. There is so much more that God has ahead!
“Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise and skillful person glory and boast in his wisdom and skill; let not the mighty and powerful person glory and boast in his strength and power; let not the person who is rich [in physical gratification and earthly wealth] glory and boast in his [temporal satisfactions and earthly] riches; but let him who glories glory in this: that he understands and knows Me [personally and practically, directly discerning and recognizing My character], that I am the Lord, Who practices loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24 [AMP] -> me: The person who looks at their own achievements, boasts in their own wisdom, and marvels at their own strength and power are destined for a mindset that no longer sees God for Who He is. When I see the people in my life who have fallen away, I can say that this set of attributes regularly defines them. Just like the children of Israel, we can become blind and deaf to the Lord because of our own pride and self-worth. It is a viscous spiral that builds on itself if we allow these thoughts to take hold in our hearts. I must stay vigilant; a watchman over not only my own heart but by being the accountability partner my bothers and sisters need.
“…this command I gave them: Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I command you, that it may be well with you.’” Jeremiah 7:23 -> Because of my faith in God’s Son, I am counted in God’s people and He is my God. The second part of this verse is where the application lies -> “Walk in all the ways that I commanded you, that it may be well with you”. God knows what is best for me and that is to be dependent and tied to Him in a way that guides everything that I do. There is nothing I can do to earn God’s favor; it has already been given to me as a gift through His Son; but, as I glorify God by walking an upright and righteous life, then my heart will be in the place the Lord has intended it to be. Colossians 1:10 says it best – “That you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God.” I am so thankful to the Lord for His word. Even in the most dire of passages like Jeremiah, God shows His loving character and desire to be close to His people…but He cannot live amongst sin; so as my flesh becomes more self-sufficient, I marginalize God’s influence and protective hand in my life.
“Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, look and take note! Search her squares to see if you can find a man, one who does justice and seeks truth, that I may pardon her. Though they say, “As the LORD lives,” yet they swear falsely.” Jeremiah 5:1-2 -> me: What two things breed contempt and sin? -> Complacency and Doubt. When do God’s people have the highest propensity to fall away from Him? 2 situations come to mind – 1) When things are going great and we have no need of God to come through for us; our walk becomes more religion than relationship. 2) When things are going bad and we doubt the presence of God in our situation or we doubt His love for us. For the children of Israel it was the former. They had become comfortable in their own work and existence. They had slowly slipped down a slope that lulled them into a lack of perspective of a Holy and Just God. As creatures of sin and self-sufficiency, we can find ourselves in the exact same spot. We go to church (or watch online) but its just to keep up appearances or to check a box. We say spiritual things like “I’ll pray for you” and not follow through. This was the people of Israel…and look at the mindset of God as He was instructing Jeremiah on what to tell Israel and Judah about His coming wrath. It is time for a spiritual check: What is the heart behind my ministry? Is my mind consistently dwelling on discerning the will and purposes of God in my life? Am I leading my family with Grace, Truth, and Love? Where is my treasure?
Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the Lord. Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.” Jeremiah 3:12-14 -> me: A bright spot in the despair of Jeremiah! When I read this today, I saw confirmation in what I do in almost every time of prayer; I pray the gospel over myself and then confess specific sin before the Lord asking for His forgiveness and mercy. This passage helps me see that God is ever loving and wishes to have us back into the fold of His protection…a place that He knows is the best for us. Thank you Lord God, for once again showing me that there is nothing that can keep me from You when I return in humble repentance.
“The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” Titus 3:8 -> me: Lots of reading this week but no posts. I have been contemplating a pause on Jeremiah because it is just so depressing…but I am going to stick it out. I know the Lord will reveal to me what I need to hear during this time through this book. However, today I was looking for a verse that addressed social causes and happened upon this one in Titus. This whole passage is about being careful to devote yourself solely to good works and comes right into play with our current sermon series in Galatians. Too often I see good Christians caught up in political causes and they see this as a spiritual work they are doing to achieve change. While this is noble, we must be careful. We are aliens in a world that is not our home but I do believe we have a responsibility to use our numbers to affect change where possible…to assert our Christian beliefs through prayer and then voting. In some cases this may mean signing a signature petition to at least get a measure on an official ballot. Its about the motivation of our heart and giving glory to God in all that we do. When it comes to our political systems, we must be careful and pragmatic; basing our actions on practical execution rather than theoretical desired outcomes…maintaining a selfless, humble, and meek countenance as we get involved. As Paul so eloquently states here in Titus that we stand in front of a watching world – we need to reflect the actions of Christ here on earth before we are taken home.
“For though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, yet your iniquity and guilt are still [upon you; you are] spotted, dirty, and stained before Me, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 2:22 [AMP] -> me: I love this picture; the simple illustration that there is nothing we can do to remove our iniquities. When we accept Jesus our iniquity and guilt are upon Him and His death (sacrifice) purged that sin from us and God as far as the east is from the west…to be known no more. It really begs the question – why isn’t everyone running to Jesus?