Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 10 October 18:
1. Jeremiah 8:5 — “Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding?” Continually repeating sin signals a lack of genuine repentance and true fellowship with God.
2. Jeremiah 8:6 — “I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turns to his own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle.” A person who is not guided by the Spirit is much like a senseless animal, goaded by an evil master, oblivious to the demise that awaits them.
3. Jeremiah 8:6 — “I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil.” The prayers of an unrepentant sinner are not effective, not because God can’t hear them but because He doesn’t honor them.
4. Jeremiah 8:7 — “Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD.” All of God’s earthly Creatures obey God and server their created purpose except people. People were created to love and serve God, but mankind has rebelled and subjected all of creation to the consequences of disorder and sin. God has given us His written word, further revealed by the embodiment of His perfect word in Jesus, along with the Counsel of the Holy Spirit, yet, we can’t seem to even find the time to read His word that we would even understand how to fulfill our earthly purpose. If we don’t even know what God’s word requires, how can we possibly serve Him? If God’s commands revealed in His word are not priority in our lives, we will not serve Him, and we have reckoned Him something less than God — this is cosmic treason.
5. Jeremiah 8:8 — “How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie..” You don’t really know God and don’t really have wisdom if you don’t obey God. To know God’s word and then disobey God’s word is far worse than having never known God’s word, and far worse still is teaching others to disobey God through your example of sin. Jesus said, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:1, 2)
6. Jeremiah 8:9 — “The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?”
– Proper respect for God and His word is the foundation of wisdom. Those who obey God’s word in love are wise. Many people are searching for some higher truth, endeavoring for more education, or seeking some special revelation beyond God’s written word, but they have rejected the most basic truths of God revealed in the Bible. For many Christians, the issue is not in the knowing, it is in the doing. If they would faithfully obey what they already know, they would be ready to receive more, and they would be on the path of wisdom and godliness. God’s word is easy to understand but hard to follow because the issue is not with the head, it is with the heart. The Biblical scholar, the academic, the mystic, the inspirational orator, they are no match for the simple, humble, obedient follower of Jesus who likely goes unnoticed by most.
– Any “wisdom” that deviates from the word of God is, in fact, a lie and sin. Contrary, to what Jeremiah prophesied against, 1 Peter calls us to live up to our calling as Priests. That’s right, you are a priest:
— 1 Peter 2: 4, 5 — As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
— 1 Peter 2: 9-12 — But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
– If you have ever asked “What does God want me to do with my life?” you need not ask anymore – as a Priest, “proclaim the excellence of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
7. Jeremiah 8:12 — “Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown.” We don’t even realize how calloused our hearts have become and how desensitized we have become to sin. What is shocking is what is no longer shocking to us.
8. Jeremiah 8:14, 15 — “Let us go into the fortified cities and perish there, for the Lord our God has doomed us to perish and has given us poisoned water to drink, because we have sinned against the Lord. We looked for peace, but no good came; for a time of healing, but behold, terror.” The sinner will perish in his false security.
9. Jeremiah 9:1 — “Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!”
– A true prophet speaks from a heart of overwhelming compassion and concern for the sinner.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — Jeremiah was invited by God to be a weeping prophet. His call came during turbulent, agonizing times as his society suffered from pervasive moral and spiritual decay. The nation of Judah had turned so far from God that it was soon to face His fierce judgment. This was not a time for merrymaking but for weeping. God looked for someone He could mold into the kind of prophet needed for such a bleak time. He found Jeremiah. The cost to Jeremiah was intense; he sacrificed much of the freedom of his youth in order to be God’s messenger. He forfeited family and reputation. He endured misunderstanding, ridicule, and persecution. He was imprisoned and mocked by those to whom he had come to warn of God’s impending judgment. Satan will try to convince you that obedience carries much too high a price, but he will never tell you the cost of not obeying God. If you are to be used in God’s service you must expect to make adjustments in your life. Can you measure the distance between the throne room of heaven and a cattle shed in Bethlehem? How far is it from the Lordship of the universe to the cross? Don’t be deceived into thinking there is no cost involved in obedience. What adjustments is God asking you to make? Will you face the hardships and opposition that will come when you align your life with God’s will? Jeremiah had the deep satisfaction of knowing he was a faithful and beloved servant of God. Your reward will be the same when you choose to fully obey Christ, regardless of the cost.
10. Jeremiah 9:4-6 — “Let everyone beware of his neighbor, and put no trust in any brother, for every brother is a deceiver, and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer. Everyone deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth; they have taught their tongue to speak lies; they weary themselves committing iniquity. Heaping oppression upon oppression, and deceit upon deceit, they refuse to know me, declares the LORD.” Without God all relationships are doomed. Without God, society is doomed. God is love. God is the only source of love. Love is the foundation of trust. All relationships are based on trust. Where God is absent, love is absent, trust is unwarranted, and relationships are unstable at their foundations. A divided nation is full of people with divided hearts.
11. Jeremiah 9:13, 14 — “They have forsaken my law that I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice or walked in accord with it, but have stubbornly followed their own hearts… as their fathers taught them.” Your heart is inclined to selfishness; it is in your nature and has been taught to you since your childhood. God’s word reveals to you the difference between your natural inclinations and the will of God, and God’s word reveals our total dependence on the grace of God through Jesus as well as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, which is Jesus. As you walk in God’s word, you slowly develop a Christ-like character.
12. Jeremiah 9:23, 24 — “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’” What is the measure of your success? It is truly knowing God and conformity to Christ in love and righteousness. All of your earthly accomplishments that aren’t inspired by love for God and that are truly intended to glorify God will be used by God for His purposes, but don’t bring credit to your life.
13. Proverbs 10:5 – “He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.” You build wealth when you don’t need it for the days ahead when you will need it. Likewise, you should build your spiritual strength for the days you will really need it. If you don’t build in advance, you won’t be prepared for the rainy days.
14. Proverbs 10:8 – “The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.” Some people want to say what they think; but wise people want to hear what God has to say about a matter. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. Trust in God, not in your own understanding.
15. 1 Peter 2:2, 3 — “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” A real encounter with God leaves you craving more, never fully satisfied.
16. 1 Peter 2:5 — “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.”
– You are a stone that can’t fulfill its purpose unless it is connected and oriented to the Cornerstone (Jesus) and unless it is also connected tightly to the other stones (fellow Christians). The isolated Christian who is not united with the church is also not joined with the Cornerstone of Jesus, regardless of what they might tell themselves. We learn to love Jesus more and more primarily through family and the church. No temple stone is independently special but rather gains value with the others. Every stone in the temple has its unique place, and they are all required for the integrity of the building. A stone that is missing or out of place is a sore sight to the architect.
17. 1 Peter 2:6 — “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious.” Unity is only possible when all of the stones are aligned with and connected to the Cornerstone, Jesus. Today, many people seek unity — unity in principles, ideas, culture, creed, nationality, etc., in order to achieve peace, but true unity can only be achieved around the Person of Jesus Christ (see John 17), and apart from Jesus, there can be no peace.
18. 1 Peter 2:8 — “They stumble because they disobey the word.” Don’t let anyone tell you that obedience to the word has been nullified by grace. Grace doesn’t cancel God’s word but rather empowers you, for the first time, to truly obey it in love rather than seeking to justify yourself through prideful obedience or self-justified disobedience. In fact, if you pursue obedience pridefully, you have already disobeyed the Great Commandment and the First Commandment.
19. 1 Peter 2:9 — “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
– You are a priest on earth. Are you a good priest, or do you still think that is someone else’s job? Priests may benefit from more education, but seminary is not a prerequisite to fulfill your calling from God.
– The Bible redefines race. Do you see yourself as part of the Christian race? Do you see yourself as a priest? Do you, first and foremost, identify yourself as part of the ‘holy nation’? Do you see your primary calling on earth as proclaiming “the excellencies of him who called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light”? Are you united with the people of God? Do you see Christians as ‘your people’, regardless of man-made social stratifications? If not, why not? God has called you to “seek first the Kingdom.” God’s Kingdom is now. Today, in Jeremiah, God says, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23) Likewise, Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) Do you not understand that eternal life does not start when you die but rather started the moment you first knew Jesus? Do you not understand that the Kingdom of God is, in part, His people on earth awaiting for the triumphant return of Jesus from the Kingdom of Heaven to reign on a new earth with his servants?
— 2 Peter 3:13 — But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
— Revelation 21:1-4 — Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
— 2 Timothy 2:12 — if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us;
— Revelation 20:6 — Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
– From Henry T. Blackaby — If you are a Christian, you are a priest, chosen by God. As a member of the royal priesthood you have constant access to the King. If there is ever a need in your life, you don’t have to find an intermediary or enlist another priest in order to gain a hearing from the King. Your position as a royal priest allows you direct access. This privilege describes your position as a priest. However, priests also have a function. It is the responsibility of a priest to work within a priesthood. Scripture does not promote the practice of individual priests, each with a separate ministry. Rather, priests function together (Lev. 9:1). An unbiblical sense of individualism can isolate you from functioning within God’s royal priesthood as He intended. The priest represents God to the people, but he also takes the people’s concerns to God. Is there someone around you who desperately needs the intercession of one of God’s priests? Perhaps someone will only come to know God by seeing Him in your life. Our world hungers for an expression of Christ as He really is, living out His life through His people. It is dangerous to put our job above our calling by God. We are called to be priests first, and to hold a job second. When we get these out of order, everyone around us is denied access to the Father through us. God may have called you into a secular job as a vocation, but more importantly He has appointed you to be one of His royal priests.
20. 1 Pet 2:10-12 — “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people…. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”
– Again, our nationality is Christian; our race is Christian. Our national mission is the proclaim Christ. We are strangers and ambassadors to earthy kingdoms.
– How you act either brings credit to God or discredits God. How terrible is it to misrepresent the God you were made to serve and to reveal to others?
21. 1 Peter 2:17 — “Honor everyone.” Honor who? Everyone. This is not hard to understand.
22. 1 Peter 2:19 — “For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” When we suffer maltreatment from the unjust, we demonstrate the grace of God which is the foundation of our salvation. Don’t resent persecution but consider it an act of worship and an opportunity to fellowship with Jesus.
23. 1 Peter 2:22-24 — “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” Jesus said that if we truly wanted to know Him, to “come after” Him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. This means we remain pure and obedient through life’s trials, and that we trust God with our fate through persecution, retuning only love, mercy, and grace to those who mistreat us, always pointing the offender to Jesus. Your goal for an offensive person is to show them Jesus with true love in your heart. Jesus is our example, and we must always remember as we are being persecuted that Jesus died on a cross for us though we did not deserve and though we had not even repented yet but rather remained in our sin. It is one thing for someone to dishonor you; it is quite another thing for you to dishonor the Creator of the Universe, the LORD Almighty, something you have done time and time again and continue to do. Jesus died on a cross for you. Are you more deserving of justice than Jesus? How can you demand justice for yourself while relying on mercy and grace from God? Think deeply on this today, and “live” by grace by showing grace.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 Oct 18: See number 23 above.