“Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand].” 2 Timothy 3:12 [AMP]-> me:Yesterday and today my reading was 2 Timothy 3:10-17. Two areas of this passage stand out to me. Verse 12 (the one for today) and verses 16 & 17 -> “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” [ESV] Put these 3 verses together and you have a glimpse in what it means to walk in way of a Christian in Fellowship with his Savior. There are more awesome verses in this passage but I am struck by what it being said -> 1) If I am not under persecution by the world, then I am not doing something right. I cannot shy away from sharing who I am in Christ. 2) When I study, recite, and meditate on God’s word, I am hearing His voice. Paul says it is profitable — it always produces a return. It will gains in teaching, reproofing, correction, and righteousness. It will make me complete and at the ready to launch into God’s work when called upon. This is powerful! So what is the cost again? Persecution through devotion and dedication to knowing God’s word….I mean, come on…I know from experience that God is so faithful to show up in my heart and life when I pursue Him this way. I just need to be reminded….how?….that’s right, by reading God’s word…like today. 🙂
“…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?
“Be astonished and appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked and shrivel up with horror, says the Lord [at the behavior of the people]. For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters, and they have hewn for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns which cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:12-13 [AMP] -> me: Sorry folks, Jeremiah is going to be a tough book to go through. Jeremiah gets to be the bearer of the message of God to His people that they will suffer judgement for their behavior. ‘Forsake’ means to abandon, renounce, or give up on something. They have turned their back on the One who holds the ability to provide for all of the people’s needs; both material and spiritual. A provision that never can be lost…but they instead build cisterns (holes in the ground that would be lined with plaster) to hold water. The problem is that their human weakness has produced broken cisterns which will leak all of the water they try to fill the cisterns with -> futility. Our family has seen first hand the provision of God to provide every thing, spiritual, emotional, and material through His faithfulness this last year. YET, we must stay vigilant not to let complacency slip in. We must stay in pursuit of Him, in constant leaning into His grace and mercy. Relying on what only He can provide; anything else is abandonment and destined for failure.
“Thus says the Lord: “What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They did not say, Where is the Lord who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’” Jeremiah 2:5-6 -> me: As I was reading this passage over the last 2 days the main phrase that caught me was “Where is the Lord…?”. The people of Israel had turned their backs so completely that He was not Who they even thought about when things were going wrong. The perfect and holy God that loved them so much had been traded for ‘The Nothing’ and they therefore became nothing. This is so sad and scary that a people who saw a holy and perfect God deliver them out of Egypt just leaves Him by the wayside as they worshipped Canaanite gods. BUT, isn’t this just how I can become? I have the ability to get so wrapped up in my surroundings of life, career, and family life that days can pass and trouble can come and is the Lord the first One I turn to?? Sometimes…no…I try to solve the issue myself not even asking where God was in all of it. The point here is – I am so thankful for God’s Word where He shows me the ugly parts of myself through the audacity of the behavior His chosen people.
“Israel was holy to the Lord, the first-fruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 2:3 -> me: In the 2 verses preceding, God, through Jeremiah, talks about how He remembered Israel’s love for Him and willingness to follow God anywhere He led them; even into the desert (uncharted territory). Israel was the first set of chosen people God set aside for Himself…we, through Jesus are the second, grafted into the branch of Israel. Anyone who came up against Israel suffered disastrous consequences. As a child of the King being chosen by Him, following Him where ever He leads us, and loving Him to the point of wanting to learn everything we can about Him (like a groom for his bride to be) to get closer to Him Who chose us; I have nothing to fear…anything that rises up to attempt to harm me will be dealt a disastrous blow. As I read in chapter 1, these are God’s words about His chosen first-fruits, Israel – being that I have been grafted into the vine of Israel, I should expect the same words to apply to me. So the application is – Am I following God where ever He leads? Do I love Him like I love my wife, wanting to know Him and understand Him in every way?