Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 17 October 18:
1. Jeremiah 23:1 — “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” Many ‘spiritual’ and political leaders who claim to know the way only lead people astray and to destruction. These leaders who are not unified with God only lead followers to disunity and further separation from God. Any leader who doesn’t overtly point to Christ (no matter the justification) is a false leader. Jesus is not only “The Way, The Truth, and The Life” for spiritual matters, He is the only way for all the practical issues of life, including politics – all issues are foundationally spiritual issues. If you are not using your influence to guide people to Jesus, you are using your influence to guide people away from Jesus.
2. Jeremiah 23:4 – “I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.” Leaders are responsible for the accountability of every member of the flock. Who is now missing from your church congregation? Why? Who among your family is not saved? Who has God placed in your life, giving you the responsibility to minister to them? How are they doing tonight? Find the missing sheep, and relieve those who are afraid or dismayed.
3. Jeremiah 23:5, 6 — “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’” Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the only truly good shepherd. A leader that is not constantly pointing at Him (rather than self, party, church, denomination, or organization) is misleading, pointing to another means of ‘salvation’ or peace. Yes, God gives certain authorities and responsibilities to people and institutions, but He gives special authority to His ambassadors, priests, and saints – Christians. Follow Jesus and proclaim Jesus. You haven’t been called by God to be an ambassador to anything or anyone other than Jesus.
4. Jeremiah 23:9, 10 – “Concerning the prophets: ….the land is full of adulterers…. Their course is evil, and their might is not right…. they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil…. Don’t listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” The adulterous teachers blend the teachings of God with worldly wisdom (syncretism), and they attach ‘spirituality’ to popular belief systems. They dilute the word of God to make it “acceptable” to the populace under the guise of “seeker sensitive evangelism.” They are very careful not to use words like “repent” and “sin,” and they use the name “Jesus” very sparingly as not to overwhelm or offend. They allow God’s people to become dependent on worldly institutions and point towards “good people” for hope rather than Jesus Christ alone. They talk about “morals, values, and ethics” rather than the Commands of God, and they seek to generate unity in ideas, programs, charities, for sake of societal stability, rather than seeking unity in the One True God. They proclaim “wisdom from the ages” rather than God’s word and offer peace to those who reject God’s’ word. These hopes are vain according to the Bible. Again, we are Ambassadors for Christ and Christ alone, not organizations or ideals. It is time for Christians to stand for Christ and nothing else. Don’t muddy the waters.
5. Jeremiah 23:11 — “’Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil,’ declares the Lord.” An ungodly nation has ungodly pastors with an outer shell of godliness (whitewashed tombs) who preach the word for prophet and morph it to appeal to an ungodly people.
6. Jeremiah 23:16-19 — “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? Behold, the storm of the Lord!’”
– It is striking that as the Nation seems to unravel into moral chaos at an unbelievably rapid rate, the sermons delivered from pulpits across the country remain mostly unchanged and unaffected. Again, the pastors of an ungodly nation preach what people want to hear. In our nation, things seem to go from bad to worse. Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned both in the Old Testament and New Testament today as a warning and as “an example of what is going to happen.” (2 Peter 2:6) Who is paying attention?
7. Jeremiah 23:20 — “The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he has executed and accomplished the intents of his heart. In the latter days you will understand it clearly.” When we stand in judgment before God, our organizations, parties, denominations, programs, policies, projects, charities, events, and activities that did not directly, overtly, and boldly point to Christ and His commands will all seem so incredibly foolish. God has given us His word that we might understand what really matters before being surprised by judgment. We have been given the task of going throughout the world making disciples, teaching them to OBEY all the God has commanded, nothing less than that. Sometimes obedience to God’s clear and simple word doesn’t seem to make sense from our perspective. Sometimes pure obedience to God alone will be judged by the world as fanatical, judgmental, and simple-minded. However, “in the latter days, you will understand it clearly.”
8. Jeremiah 23:22 – “But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds.” A theme repeated for emphasis — godly leaders only proclaim His words, not what seems right in their own eyes or what seems right to the majority (see Judges – they did what seem right in their own eyes).
9. Jeremiah 23:28, 29 – “Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” God allows deceitful leaders compete in the marketplace of ideas with His true ambassadors, and He allows people to choose who they will trust and follow.
10. Jeremiah 23:28 — “Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully.” So many people are seeking a greater revelation, a special revelation, or a fresh approach to God’s word, but so few know, proclaim, and obey God’s clearly written word. When was the last time you heard a preacher preach these words from the Bible: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done…. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them”? (Romans 1:26-32)
11. Jeremiah 24 – God will separate His people from the rest when it is time, blessing them and punishing those who rejected Him.
12. Jeremiah 24:5-7 — “I will regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I have sent away from this place to the land of the Chaldeans. I will set my eyes on them for good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up, and not tear them down; I will plant them, and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know 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.” God can use adversity to bring you back to Him. God is looking for a wholehearted follower, and He will remove your idols that cause you to have a divided heart. The ‘good’ things you cherish in life more than God, that influence your behavior more than your commitment to God are really ‘bad’ because they distract you from Jesus. God may have to tear down your idols.
13. Proverbs 17:1, 4, 9, 11, 14, 19-20, 23: God wants you to be an agent of peace, not anger and fighting. It is hard to share Jesus with someone you are fighting with over a fleeting issue.
14. Proverbs 17:1 – “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.” God wants you to live in quiet and peace rather than self-induced chaos and stress. Better to have less in peace and quiet than to wear yourself out trying to do everything.
15. Proverbs 17:10 – “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” Wise people are self-examining and self-correcting.
16. Proverbs 17:14 – “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.” If you get in a fight with someone, you have usually failed somewhere long before the fight. Learn to identify and correct “the beginning of strife.”
17. Proverbs 17:16 – “Why should a fool have money in his hand to buy wisdom when he has no sense?” Wisdom cannot be bought. Unlike knowledge, wisdom cannot simply be taught in a classroom. Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied from an understanding of God’s will. Wisdom requires a heart that is aligned with God’s heart. This is cultivated over a lifetime. There is not shortcut to wisdom and no secular version of true wisdom.
18. Proverbs 17:24 – “The discerning sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth.” Wisdom must be your life’s pursuit ahead of knowledge, riches, and happiness. It must be for daily focus.
19. 2 Pet 2:1, 3, 14 — But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you…. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories…. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!
– Wow! Both Jeremiah and 2 Peter have much to say today about false prophets and teachers – “shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” They lead the people into adultery (disobedience and the acceptance of disobedience) and they tell them that it is ok. They say the God approves of what God hates. They make light of sin as if God doesn’t really care. They claim to speak for God while rejecting His Word. They claim to have dreams and visions that did not come from God but rather from their own sinful desires. They tell the sinners what they want to hear and justify sin so that sinners won’t feel guilty for sinning. 2 Peter 2:18-22 says, “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for ‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’ If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.’” This is the message I hear preached often that says that “grace” is a license to sin – “God knows that I am a sinner and accepts me for who I am.” We are to “escape the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
20. 2 Peter 2:3 — “And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” People who tell others what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear about Jesus are acting selfishly, seeking personal comfort, security, or gain. An unselfish person is willing to leave their comfort zone for the sake of others. False teachers pervert the truth in order to build a following and gain something for themselves, even if that something is only personal satisfaction, feeling good about their own apparent righteousness. God shares the glory with no man.
21. 2 Peter 2:5 — “He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness.” Noah was a herald of righteousness because He only preached God’s message, a message accepted by no one. To the world, Noah was an utter fool. Few leaders seek to be a fool for Christ.
22. 2 Peter 2:5-10 — “He did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.” Lot was a righteous man, tormented in his heart by the perversion of his nation, which included rampant homosexuality, but Lot apparently did nothing to influence the culture around him and had become so connected with that culture that the angels had to actually force him out of the city before destroying it. Having assimilated into that ungodly land, he lost his wife and his in-laws, and his daughters were also trapped in perversion. How assimilated are you in our culture that is moving farther and farther away from God? How might the culture be causing you to compromise your purity and squelch your proclamation of the Gospel? What impact are you allowing to ungodly culture have on your children? What impact are you having on the ungodly culture?
23. 2 Peter 2:6 – “…if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.” See the comments above on Jeremiah 23:16-19.
24. 2 Peter 2:9, 10 — “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.” We have adapted our laws to accommodate defiling passions, despising the authority of God. God will deal with that.
25. 2 Peter 2:10 — “Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones.” Isn’t this the norm in society today?
26. 2 Peter 2:12 — “But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction.” Those who quench the Spirit and allow the flesh to rule are no different than animals, denying their spiritual image of God.
27. 2 Peter 2:18 — “For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.” Have you noticed how loud and boastful the ungodly are?
28. 2 Peter 2:19 — “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” Our current sexual, humanist revolution which is overtaking our nation is proclaimed in the name of freedom while placing more and more people into bondage. Many are celebrating freedom from laws which once maintained a higher moral order in our society, not realizing that this freedom from law and order only serves to enslave more and more people to destructively sinful lifestyles. Popular opinion and social morality is doesn’t nullify God’s commands.
29. 2 Peter 2:20 — “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” Many justify their worldly compromise by proclaiming ‘freedom through grace,’ but if they have asked for forgiveness for their sins through the blood of Jesus Christ and then continue in that sin, they not only trample on the blood of Christ, they also having nothing left to hold them back from the destructiveness of sin. They have denied the love of Christ through their willful disobedience, and without the motivator of love, nothing will stop their downward spiral. 2 Peter 2 goes on to say, “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: ‘The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.’” What hope is left for the person who proclaims Jesus and yet continues in willful sin? There is no such thing as ‘cheap grace.’ Grace came at the price of the blood of Jesus and, for that, we should tremble at the thought of disobey Him.
30. 2 Peter 2:21 — “For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.” Pray that God shows mercy on the nation that once proudly proclaimed, “No king but King Jesus,” and “In God We Trust.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 17 Oct 18: Today, ask yourself how you might have compromised your purity due to the influence of the culture in which you live. Consider what you will watch or listen to for entertainment today. Does it make light of the sin God abhors and for which Christ paid the penalty? Consider how clear your message of the Gospel is as an Ambassador for Christ in this corrupt society. Are you holding back? Why? (see 2 Peter 2)