Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 23 October 18:
1. Jeremiah 36:3 – “It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the disaster that I intend to do to them, so that everyone may turn from his evil way, and that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” God wanted Jeremiah to preach the truth about Israel’s sin in order to give them a chance to repent. The truth was to be proclaimed for the sake of love. God sovereignly gives us the freedom to choose. Our choices do not alter His perfect plan, but we still bear the burden of choice.
2. Jeremiah 36:5 – “And Jeremiah ordered Baruch, saying, ‘I am banned from going to the house of the Lord, 6 so you are to go.’” There came a time when God’s word was not allowed to be proclaimed in the ‘church,’ only what suited the government. Religious and political leaders may prevent true followers of Christ from speaking the truth because the leaders reject the truth and are threatened by the truth. Nevertheless, we should look for opportunities to speak the truth anyway.
3. Jeremiah 36:23, 24 – “As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. Yet neither the king nor any of his servants who heard all these words was afraid, nor did they tear their garments.”
– Ignoring God’s word or refusing to accept it doesn’t change God’s word, it only changes the one who rejects it, further hardening the heart and sealing the hearer/reader’s fate.
– Powerful leaders can show complete contempt for God and think nothing of it, demonstrating incredible arrogance and bringing great judgment upon themselves and those who would follow them.
4. Jeremiah 36:26 – “but the Lord hid them.” The officials warned Baruch and Jeremiah to hide, which they did, but the Bible says also that “the Lord hid them.” Success comes from the Lord, not from our actions, but we must first be willing to do our part, and we must be responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
5. Jeremiah 37:3 – “King Zedekiah sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah, and Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, ‘Please pray for us to the Lord our God.’” Ironically, king Zedekiah defied God’s word yet hoped that God would still show mercy to him and bless him. One cannot expect God to bless sin.
6. Jeremiah 37:15 – “And the officials were enraged at Jeremiah, and they beat him and imprisoned him in the house of Jonathan the secretary, for it had been made a prison.” Jeremiah’s faithfulness to God and his refusal to keep God’s word to himself earned him a beating from the king. He was a successful prophet. How do you measure success?
7. Jeremiah 37:7-20 – The people had to decide between trusting God or the powerful armies of Egypt. It takes faith to believe the promises of God that cannot be seen in the face of tangible evidence that would seem to contradict God’s word.
8. Proverbs 23:17 – “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.”
– Don’t be influenced by the teachings of the world which seem to bring success to the ungodly. Their apparent success is a hollow deception. Trust and obey God.
– Envy is another form of fear of man, and it is disloyalty to God. We see what other are getting through ungodliness, and we want what they have more than what God has given us. We start to question (subconsciously) whether or not God is going to take care of us or is treating us fairly, and in our perceived relative deprivation, we “God to Egypt”. Abandoning (spiritually) our King.
9. Proverbs 23:20, 21 — “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty.”
– Drunkards and gluttons lack self-control. Christians are empowered by the Holy Spirit to have self-control, to live disciplined, holy lives.
– Some research suggests that the Christian population in America is more obese than the rest of the population. What does the Bible say about that?
10. 1 John 3:3 – “And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” Those who really love Jesus pursue purity as an act of love and worship. How you endeavor to purify yourself reveals what sort of faith, hope, and love you really have.
11. 1 John 3:4 – “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” From Henry T. Blackaby – “It is a dangerous thing to live your life without a spiritual “plumb line,” or standard, by which you determine right from wrong. God’s Word is that plumb line. Spiritual laws, like physical laws, are meant to protect you, not restrict you. You may exercise your freedom to challenge the laws of electricity, but to do so can bring you death. Likewise, you will not break God’s laws, they will break you. God established absolute moral and spiritual laws that we are free to ignore, but we do so at our own peril. These laws are timeless. Culture does not supersede them. Circumstances do not abrogate them. God’s laws are eternal, and they will save you from death if you follow them. You may feel that God’s laws restrict and bind you. On the contrary, God’s Word protects you from death (Rom. 6:23). For example, when God said that you are not to commit adultery, He wanted to free you to experience the fullest pleasure of a marriage relationship. Furthermore, He knew the devastating heartache that would come to you, your spouse, your children, your relatives, your friends, and your church family if you broke this law. How important the laws of God are for your life! Without them, you would be robbed of the delights God has in store for you. Sin is choosing a standard other than God’s law on which to base your life. If you are measuring your life by that of your neighbors, or society at large, then you are basing your life on lawlessness, and lawlessness is sin.”
12. 1 John 3:5-10 — “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3 closely mirrors 1 John 2. It is almost as if he is saying the same thing twice, this time in a different way. First, he drives home to essentiality of obedience, holiness, and righteousness in the life of a Christian, and then he immediately turns to ‘love’ as the ultimate test of obedience – he digs in deep into the heart as if he has anticipated the listener who would start counting off their ‘good deeds’ and ‘works of service’ in their heads while denying the truth of their self-centeredness, anger, bitterness, envy, greed, lust, and pride. He has to say it twice because he knows too well our nature. In both chapters, John challenges the ‘desires’ that drive the outward activities, and dares us to be honest with what is in our hearts. (1 John 2:16; 1 John 3:21) In both chapters, John reminds us that we cannot walk both in selfishness and with Christ – we must die of ourselves and be selfless. From the perspective of love (rather than pride or fear) he returns to the importance of making your faith tangible in this world – “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18) Genuine love comes from “a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5) Those who desire a “pure heart” must “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” — two action verbs that involve running at max effort, not lightly or half-heartedly. (2 Timothy 2:22) Those who desire a good conscience must live in humility, repentance, and confession before the Lord, constantly living out 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” John makes a VERY important point here: “you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.” (1 John 2:26) In Christ, you have become the ‘priest’ and the Holy Spirit within you reveals truth to you, convicts you, and teaches you. (1 Peter 2:9, Rev 5:10) While others might be used by God to convict you, the issues of your heart are between you and God and must be dealt with solely between the two of you. No one else knows your heart but God. “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” (Ephesians 4:30) What has the Holy Spirit revealed about the condition of your heart that must be confessed (as in 1 John 1:9) today?
13. 1 John 3:6 – “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” More thoughts from Henry T. Blackaby – “The Bible makes two things clear about sin. First, living a lifestyle of sin indicates that you are not walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, regardless of what you say about your spiritual condition. You cannot regularly spend time studying and meditating on God’s word, praying and walking in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and persist in sin. Second, if you do not hate sin the way God does, then you do not truly know Him. There are those who continue in their sin yet insist that they love God and belong to Him. John makes it clear: If you have a lifestyle of sin, you have not seen Him and do not know Him. You may have prayed a “sinner’s prayer,” or made a commitment in your church, or been baptized, but the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life is that you are defeating sin. This does not mean that you will never sin, but it does mean that you refuse to make sin a lifestyle and you immediately seek forgiveness when you sin (1 John 1:10). It means that you are opposed to sin, as God is, and you allow the Holy Spirit to eradicate every trace of sin in your life. It means that when you sin, you immediately confess it and repent of it and do whatever is necessary to avoid repeating your sin. If you find yourself falling into sinful habits or not grieving over your sin as you once did, this indicates that you are not abiding in Christ. Return to Him in repentance; restore your fellowship with Him, and you will once again experience victory over your sin.”
14. 1 John 3:7-10 — “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” Children act like their parents. Your actions reveal whose child you really are. Proverbs 20 says it like this: “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” (Proverbs 20:11) These words cannot be more clear, but people still seem to find creative ways to explain them away. When was the last time you heard a sermon preached on these verses? Again, the expectation of the early church was that Christians would live righteous, holy, and pure lives, rarely sinning.
15. 1 John 3:16 – “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Christian love is selfless. Jesus said that the first step to “coming after” Him was to deny self. Compare 1 John 3:16 with the well know verse, John 3:16.
16. 1 John 3:17 — “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” Are you ready to give everything up to love God and others unconditionally?
17. 1 John 3:18 – “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” Talk is cheap. Jesus said that His true followers worship the Father “in spirit and in truth.” What you do reveals what you really believe and who you really love.
18. 1 John 3:22 – “Whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.” When you want what God wants, you will get what you want. The secret to answered prayers is the pray in the will of the Father. Prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us. Keep praying and watch God shape your desires more and more to His desires.
19. 1 John 3:23, 24 — “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”
– God’s command of love does not negate all of His other commands but rather covers them as they are a perfect reflection of His love and His will. This is why John begins this chapter by reminding us that “sin is lawlessness.” Love does not condone lawlessness which only dishonors and destroys.
– Again, the Bible is not complicated or hard to understand – to abide in God is to obey His commands. Today John is only repeating what he learned from Jesus: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:4-11)
– “…whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother (1 John 3:4-10).” John points out that sin is the product of selfishness (self-worship, idolatry) which is the opposite of love, stands in the way of love, and is actually hateful and murderous. Contrarily, love is selfless and obedient unto death as exemplified by Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. John tells us, as children, don’t wallow in guilt over the sins you know you have committed because you have been forgiven, just stop being deceived, stop making excuses, and grow up to be like Jesus – “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 23 Oct 18: Practice purity and selflessness today. (1 John 3:3-16)