Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 7 October 18:
1. Jeremiah 1:5 — “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” God had a plan for you before you were even born. When, where, and how you were born was providential. As with so many we read about in the Bible, you might have been born into unfortunate conditions, but consider Romans 8:28. John 9 tells the story of a man who was born blind and had spent his life as a beggar. The disciples question Jesus on whose sin was responsible for this man’s terrible fate. Jesus explains, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Jesus miraculously heals this man who ends up proclaiming truth to the Pharisees, glorifying God, and becoming an important part of God’s eternal word. You are special to God. Likewise, God cares about every unborn child and views them as equally valuable as anyone else, as evidenced in Exodus 21:22-25, where God’s law establishes the penalty for causing the death of an unborn child — “life for life.” Christians have a responsibility to protect the defenseless unborn.
– Psalm 139:13-16 – 13 — For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
– Jeremiah 29:11 — For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
– Psalm 82:3-4 — Give justice to the weak and the fatherless…. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
– Proverbs 31:8-9 — Open your mouth for the mute….
– Proverbs 24:11-12 — Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, ‘Behold, we did not know this,’ does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work?
2. Jeremiah 1:7, 8 — “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.” God will take you out of your comfort zone and empower you to do what you couldn’t normally do because He wants to show both you and the world what He can do, not what you can do. He wants to bring glory to Himself, not to you.
3. Jeremiah 1:7, 8 — “…and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,” You have nothing to worry about if God has sent you; you have everything to worry about if He hasn’t.
4. Jeremiah 1:9 — “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” God gave you His word to share with others. Proclaim Jesus, not morality; and use His words, not your own words.
5. Jeremiah 2:1 — “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride.” The Bible continually describes our relationship with God like a marriage and our sin like adultery. We tend to downplay our sin, but God doesn’t. When we downplay our sin, we downplay our grace, and we harden our hearts to the love of God. Are you still ‘Amazed by Grace’?
6. Jeremiah 2:2 – From Henry T. Blackaby — Even when our hearts grow cold toward God and our devotion to Him weakens, His love remains steadfast. We may forget God, but He remembers us. God was concerned because the people of Judah had allowed their hearts to drift far from Him. In a powerful moment, God shared His heart with His people, recalling what it was like when they first began loving Him. He remembered how they had loved Him, as a new bride loves her husband, with excitement and enthusiasm for the future. He recalled the kindness they had expressed as they willingly followed Him wherever He led them. God reminded them of the love they had once had for Him, so that the memory might rekindle feelings of devotion and their hearts might return to Him. If you do not guard our heart, you will grow cold in your love for Christ. A time may come when He approaches you and reminds you what your relationship was once like. Do you recollect the joy that permeated your life when you first became a Christian? Do you recall the youthful commitments you made to Him, pledging to do anything He told you to do? Do you remember the thrill you experienced each time you came to understand a new dimension of His nature? Spiritual memory is important. You may not realize how far you have drifted from God until you contrast the love you are expressing to Him now with that of earlier days. God has not changed. He is the same Person you gave your heart to when you became a Christian (Mal. 3:6-7). If your love for God is not as intense as it once was, return to Him. He will restore the intimate fellowship you once shared with Him.
7. Jeremiah 2:3 – “Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the Lord.” How do loving, protective parents act when strangers mistreat their children? How will God treat those who mistreat you? God watches over His children. Leave it to God to deal with those who mistreat you.
Jeremiah 2:6 – “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, no man dwells?’” From Henry T. Blackaby — Christianity is an intimate, growing relationship with the person of Jesus Christ. It is not a set of doctrines to believe, habits to practice, or sins to avoid. Every activity God commands is intended to enhance His love relationship with His people. God designed worship for us to see Him in His glory and to respond appropriately; for many it has degenerated into “religion,” one more meeting to attend out of habit. God established the sacrificial system so that we, His people, could express our love to Him; but we often diminish our gifts to our Lord into futile attempts to appease Him and to pacify our guilty conscience. God gave us prayer so we could have conversation with Him, but we often distort this by “saying prayers” and hurrying off without ever listening to what is on our Father’s heart. God instituted His commandments as a protection for those He loves, but the commandments can become a pathway to legalism rather than an avenue for a relationship with our Father in which He protects us from harm. Religious activity apart from fellowship with God is empty ritual. The people of Jeremiah’s day were satisfied to have the ritual without the manifest presence of God. They became so comfortable with their “religion” that they didn’t even notice God’s absence. Is it possible to pray, to attend a worship service, or to give an offering yet not to experience the presence of God? It certainly is possible! And that has been the sad commentary on many a Christian experience. Don’t settle for a religious life that lacks a vital relationship to Jesus Christ. When God is present, the difference will be obvious.
8. Jeremiah 2:8 — “The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me.” Nations fall when the political leaders and the religious leaders stop fearing, honoring, and glorifying God. We tend to point the finger at politicians for our national decline. What about the pastors and priests? By the way, the Bible says that all Christians have the responsibilities of a priest. When the priests (Christians) transgress against God in disobedience, the salt loses its saltiness, and the light grows dim; the world decays and grows dark.
9. Jeremiah 2:13 — “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Much of America has replaced God with secular humanism, a “cistern” philosophy that replaces hope in God with hope in an “enlightened” man. Too often, Christians, rather than proclaiming Jesus, proclaim a “Christian lifestyle” of morality and good deeds. Rarely will a Christian use the Name of Jesus in normal conversation, even more rarely the word repent. Our approach cannot hold water.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — There should never be “dry spells” in the Christian life. God said that He would be like an artesian well in the life of a believer. Artesian wells bubbled forth with a cold, fresh, never-ending supply of water from the depths of the earth, quenching any thirst and always satisfying. This is the picture of the spiritual refreshment that belongs to the person in whom the Holy Spirit resides. Have you ever heard people say they are experiencing a dry spell in their Christian life? What are they saying? Are they saying that the Lord ran out of water? It should never cross your mind that the fountain of living waters residing within you should ever be reduced to a trickle. You don’t need to run all over the country trying to find sources of spiritual refreshment. Conferences, retreats, and books can all bring encouragement, but if you are a Christian, the source of living water already resides within you. Have you exchanged the living fountain for man-made cisterns that cannot hold water? Why would you exchange an artesian well for a broken water tank? Artesian wells do not dry up. Broken cisterns do. If you are experiencing spiritual dryness right now, is it because you have been attempting to find your source of spiritual refreshment from man-made sources, which will fail you every time? Jesus extended an invitation to you when He said: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). Have you been refreshed by the living water only Jesus can provide?
10. Jeremiah 2:20 — “For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a whore.” In one sense, the sinful Christian is worse than the pagan because He has been forgiven, freed, and empowered and yet chooses spiritual adultery against the perfectly loving, faithful God – all this before a watching world.
11. Jeremiah 3:6-11 – Unrepentant people influence others to rebel and to remain unrepentant.
12. Jeremiah 3:12 – “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.’” God’s mercy and love give you reason and opportunity to repent. People are without excuse.
13. Jeremiah 3:15 — “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.” If a nation returns to the LORD, God will give them good political and religious leaders. Leaders are appointed by God, and He gives to glorify Himself.
14. Proverbs 7:2 — “Keep my commandments and live.” God pleads with people to obey Him, in part, for their benefit. Why choose to suffer needlessly?
15. Proverbs 7:6, 7 — “For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple.” God’s truth is revealed every day in the lives of people around you if you are paying attention and viewing life from the perspective of God’s word. Likewise, your life should reveal to others the truth of God’s mercy, grace, love, and holiness.
16. Psalm 117:1, 2 – “Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples! For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 117 is the shortest Psalm in the Bible and is also the middle chapter of the Bible – short, succinct, powerful! Are you exited to praise the Lord this morning? It is all about perspective, your perspective on God and His love.
17. Psalm 118:5, 6, 14, 15, 17-24 – “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me…? The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous… I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord. The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” How wonderful that we have received the salvation of which the Psalmist could only prophesy! Now, how should be live? “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by… the builders, which has become the cornerstone (Acts 4:11).”
18. Palm 118:9 – “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”
– During a period of political rivalry, it is important to explain to people that the hope of the nation is God, not politicians. No matter who is elected, how strong the economy is, or how strong the military is, nothing can protect the nation that isn’t protected by God. National defense is best achieved through repentance and revival.
– Jeremiah answered God’s call to prophesy against his own government. His faithfulness to God appeared to be treason to his earthly king, and he was imprisoned, persecuted, and exiled; yet Jeremiah pleaded with his country to follow God’s ways, not the politicians. Jeremiah was just a young man who initially lacked confidence, but God said to him, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord…. Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah was not called to act under his own wisdom, strength, talent and skill; he was called to act under the power and authority of God. Under the authority of God, Jeremiah was “set… over nations and over kingdoms… to overthrow.” Likewise, Jesus gave us the Great Commission to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you;” and Jesus placed these two bookends on that commission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Like Jeremiah, we, as a ‘priestly kingdom’, have been set over the nations by the authority of the KING of kings and through his power, not ours. The Ancient Prophets had a glimpse of us long before we existed – “Then the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which delay not for a man nor wait for the children of man. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among the flocks of sheep, which, when it goes through, treads down and tears in pieces, and there is none to deliver. Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off.” (Micah 5:7-9) Like Jeremiah, using weapons that are not of this world (not of flesh), we are called to “destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) It is a global insurgency as we transform hearts across the planet, destroying “arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and [taking] every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Our message as Christ’s ambassadors is the same as it has always been — “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) Are you ready to join in the Great Victory? Or will you be like the tens of thousands who walked away from Gideon’s Army in the face of seemingly impossible odds only to miss out on the incredible experience of the power of God at work? God is inviting us to be a part of what only He can do, to step in faith, knowing that our power is wholly insufficient (the definition of faith). This is what Jesus did with the disciples when he sent them out to heal – “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.” However, when they proved unable to heal (despite the power and authority given to them), Jesus explained the problem — “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?… Because of your little faith [you could not heal]. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (see Matthew 17) If we fail to rise up like lions, it is not because we lack the authority and Holy Spirit power; it is because we lack the faith. Faith grows every time to take another step in faith. Through baby steps, we eventually learn to stride.
19. Psalm 118:18 – “The Lord has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.” God disciplines but never gives you what you really deserve, which is death, eternal death. Don’t despise the Lord’s discipline, which is the loving Father’s way of maturing you and conforming you to the image of His Son, Jesus.
20. Psalm 118:19 – “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.” Only God can open the gates of righteousness to you; give thanks for the grace you have received in Jesus.
21. Psalm 118:22 – “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Again, this is Jesus.
22. Psalm 118:29 – “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Salvation should make you rejoice every day.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 7 Oct 18: Dedicate today to giving thanks for all that God has done for you, and proclaim His love and faithfulness to as many as you can today.