WEEK 42, Day 4, Thursday, 18 October 2018

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Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 18 October 18:

1. Jeremiah 25:3 — “The word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened.”

– For about 40 years, Jeremiah, ‘The Weeping Prophet’ faithfully and persistently prophesied against his nation, contrary to the other prophets of his time, and at the expense of his own comfort and security. In today’s readings, Jeremiah was on year 23. He countered his government, the church, and the culture. Who are we not listening to today? Who is the Jeremiah of our generation? How long would you faithfully proclaim God’s word in a hostile environment without any apparent results? Do you need results or confirmation to be faithful? Jeremiah did His job as an Ambassador. How others responded to Him was not Jeremiah’s responsibility. Have you persistently proclaimed God’s word?

– Today, God’s word is more available than any other time in human history, but less and less do people seem to care about it. Even within the Christian church, research polls reveal that a very small percentage of Christians have actually read the whole Bible; far fewer study it and apply it intentionally. You cannot know what you have not heard, and you certainly can’t obey what you haven’t heard. However, ultimately the issue is a heart issue rather than a knowledge issue. If there is no desire to know God’s word, a desire which comes from the heart, there is no hope for wisdom.

2. Jeremiah 25:34 — “Wail, you shepherds, and cry out, and roll in ashes, you lords of the flock, for the days of your slaughter and dispersion have come, and you shall fall like a choice vessel.” There are two types of sorrow: the sorrow of repentance, being truly sorry for having done wrong with a heart to never do wrong again; and the sorrow of punishment, being sorry for receiving the pain of discipline and judgment. The people who do not experience the sorrow of repentance will only cry out and mourn when judgment falls upon them. Today is the day for repentance and surrender to God, but this is not the message of most ‘shepherds’ within our communities. Sometimes, the positive message is not the right message, but no one wants to hear the hard message.

3. Jeremiah 26:2, 3 — “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the Lord all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds.”

– Jeremiah was sent to ‘worshippers’ who were about to face the judgment of God because they did not really honor Him as God in their deeds. God had to encourage Jeremiah not to “hold back a word” because this was a message no one wanted to hear, a message that would not be received well; but God intended to give them a chance to repent anyway. Perhaps, Jeremiah was the only one in his day proclaiming this message — the pastors, priests, and gurus of the day certainly weren’t. Even if you go to a Bible-based church, it is possible to preach a message from the Bible that is out of place for the current situation, preaching a message of peace and joy when it should really be a message of woe and repentance.

– “It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds.” People have a choice and a chance to obey or not obey.

4. Jeremiah 26:14 — “But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you.” Again, Jeremiah was willing to proclaim God’s word regardless the consequences, and he never stopped preaching.

5. Jeremiah 26:11 — “Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, ‘This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.’” Much like Jesus was persecuted by the Pharisees, Jeremiah was persecuted by the religious leaders of his day. Jeremiah was essentially accused of being unpatriotic or politically incorrect because he preached the word of God. Today, God’s word is becoming more and more politically incorrect, placing the Christian in a moral dilemma. Many respond to this division of ideas by remaining silent in order to preserve the ‘peace’, abrogating their life mission of being Christ’s ambassador. What will you do?

6. Jeremiah 26:16 — “Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, ‘This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.’” A nation needs leaders, not just theologians, who are willing to listen to God and to call for a national fear of the Lord.

7. Proverbs 18:1 – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Christians are not loners. Isolation and individualism is selfishness and unloving. Our mission is all about relationships. God brings people together in unity.

8. Proverbs 18:9 – “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” We are to do our work for God, not for men or money. How you work reveals who/what you are working for as well as what you think about God and the honor due him. What does your work reveal?

9. Proverbs 18:13 – “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”

– Christians don’t interrupt.

– This is one of the most basic rules of listening, communication, and relationship building. If you are thinking about what you are going to say while the other person is talking, you are also breaking this rule.

10. 2 Peter 3:3, 4 — “Scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?'” Do you know any scoffers today?

11. 2 Peter 3:9, 10 — “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” God’s patience will not last forever, and there will be no warning when it comes. God’s timing is perfect. Only the Father knows the time of the End as he patiently provides mercy and salvation to sinners who would perish eternally without. Meanwhile, God has commanded us to preach the Gospel and make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all of His commands.

12. 2 Peter 3:11 – “A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his imagination.” From Henry T. Blackaby — When God told Abraham He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham’s life was immediately and radically affected. Noah could not carry on business as usual once he knew what God was planning for his generation. Knowing that God is preparing judgment brings a sobering reality to Christians, helping us recognize what is eternally significant and what is not. Peter cautions us that a catastrophic time of judgment is coming. On the day of the Lord there will be a great noise, and the elements will melt with a fervent heat. On that day, he warns, the earth will be consumed. Peter assures us that this is not mere speculation; it is certain and imminent. He then asks the crucial question that applies to each generation: “What kind of persons ought you to be?” With judgment pending for us and countless millions of people facing destruction, how should we live our lives? Many Christians attach great value to temporal things. Hobbies and possessions consume us, leaving little time or energy to invest in what is eternal. More than anyone else, Christians should be sensitive to the times in which we live. We should walk so closely with God that if He were preparing to bring judgment upon people, we could warn those in imminent peril. Since Christ has been long-suffering in His return so that no one might perish (2 Pet. 3:9), should we not invest our effort in building God’s eternal kingdom? Should there not be an urgency about us to complete the tasks that God gives us?

13. 2 Peter 3:14 — “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” Are you diligently pursuing purity, holiness, and peace with God as you eagerly await His return?

14. 2 Peter 3:17, 18 — “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

– Grace is not freedom to live lawlessly. Grace affords you the opportunity to pursue and even higher degree of obedience which is motivated by genuine love rather than fear or duty. Many view salvation as freedom to sin without fear of punishment. However, this is a misguided, selfish, and false view of Grace. The one who has been saved from God’s wrath through the blood of His son desires above all else not to continue in the very sins for which Jesus suffered — this is unthinkable. How could anyone be so flippant with such sacrifice of love from God Himself? Peter warns not to get trapped by this false teaching or by the practices of lawless ‘Christians.’

– A popular teaching today suggests that grace renders the Law obsolete. Gods warns us against lawlessness. Grace frees us and empowers us to grow in obedience which is the natural response of love for Jesus. The more we know Jesus, the more obedient we are, and the more we grow spiritually.

“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 18 Oct 18: Today, make this your focus: “Be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.” (2 Peter 3:14)

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