Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 25 October 18:
1. Jeremiah 40:3 – “The Lord has brought it about, and has done as he said. Because you sinned against the Lord and did not obey his voice, this thing has come upon you.” God often punishes sin by orchestrating circumstances against the sinner. The unbeliever will not accept this idea.
2. Jeremiah 40:4 – “Now, behold, I release you today from the chains on your hands. If it seems good to you to come with me to Babylon, come, and I will look after you well, but if it seems wrong to you to come with me to Babylon, do not come. See, the whole land is before you; go wherever you think it good and right to go.” Ironically, Jeremiah gained freedom of choice under Babylon after Judah had put him in prison.
3. Jeremiah 40:5-7 – “’If you remain, then return to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, whom the king of Babylon appointed governor of the cities of Judah, and dwell with him among the people. Or go wherever you think it right to go.’ When all the captains of the forces in the open country and their men heard that the king of Babylon had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam governor in the land and had committed to him men, women, and children, those of the poorest of the land who had not been taken into exile to Babylon.’ So the captain of the guard gave him an allowance of food and a present, and let him go. Then Jeremiah went to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah, and lived with him among the people who were left in the land.” Under the worst circumstances, God can still deliver his faithful from total destruction and can orchestrate circumstances to provide for them and comfort them.
4. Jeremiah 40:10-12 – “’As for me, I will dwell at Mizpah, to represent you before the Chaldeans who will come to us. But as for you, gather wine and summer fruits and oil, and store them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.’ Likewise, when all the Judeans who were in Moab and among the Ammonites and in Edom and in other lands heard that the king of Babylon had left a remnant in Judah and had appointed Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, as governor over them, then all the Judeans returned from all the places to which they had been driven and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah. And they gathered wine and summer fruits in great abundance.” God’s people, for thousands of years, have had to learn to live under foreign, ungodly rule.
5. Jeremiah 40:10-41:7 — People often think that their schemes and plots can control history without realizing God remains in control and no plan prevails over His. Succeeding generations often refuse to learn the right lessons from God’s work in history, which is “His-story.”
6. Jeremiah 41:8-9, 18 – “But there were ten men among them who said to Ishmael, ‘Do not put us to death, for we have stores of wheat, barley, oil, and honey hidden in the fields.’ So he refrained and did not put them to death with their companions. Now the cistern into which Ishmael had thrown all the bodies of the men whom he had struck down along with Gedaliah was the large cistern that King Asa had made for defense against Baasha king of Israel; Ishmael the son of Nethaniah filled it with the slain…. because of the Chaldeans. For they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.” Fear of people rather than fear of God is often, unfortunately, the primary motivator for most people’s actions despite God’s stern warning against fearing man.
7. Proverbs 25:11-12, 15, 18 – “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear…. With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone…. A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a war club, or a sword, or a sharp arrow.” Your words have a powerful impact on your environment and on people within your environment. Your words shape the outcome of events and influence the hearts of others. Your words will either make things better or worse, reconcile or further divide, build up or tear down, energize others or deenergize others. Knowledge is not enough; you must transmit knowledge in a way that can be well received by the listener; you must understand your audience and have a sense of timing and effectiveness. You must be salt and light, but too much light can be blinding, and too much salt can ruin the flavor. Impersonal communication is often unloving, regardless the content. God is very concerned about how you speak and how you listen.
8. Proverbs 25:19-20 – “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips. Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda.” God wants you to learn who to trust and who not to trust.
9. 1 John 5:1-5 – “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
– True believers believe in Jesus, the kind of belief that trusts and follows.
– The product and evidence of our love is obedience. Truly loving others requires genuine love for God and obedience to his commands. We know that sin (all wrongdoing) is not only an offense to God but also hurts others. Though “the Son of God has come and has given us understanding,” and though, through Jesus, we have “overcome the world,” no one loves perfectly, and, therefore we still sin. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us (1 John 1:8-10).” As we grow in faith and love, our obedience increases. Jesus loved perfectly and was wholly (holy) obedient to the Father. In fact, he said that he did nothing unless the Father commanded him. My sin reveals to me the true condition of my heart and reveals where I have not completely surrendered. Holiness is a journey following the path of God’s Word: “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:9-11).” Our spiritual growth process as we walk in the Light is described in Proverbs 4:18: “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”
– Many people are quick to say that they believe Jesus is the Son of God, but their actions don’t reveal it. The reality of Jesus changes everything in a person’s life, driving them to radical love and obedience. The true believer overcomes the temptations, worries, fears, and trappings of the world. They aren’t perfect, but they are being perfected every day in evident ways. God’s people love other Christians. God’s people believe that Jesus is the Son of God, The KING of Kings, and they follow their King, not just from a sense of duty, but from wholehearted love. The mark of genuine love is willing obedience to God’s commands. All acts of love conform to God’s commands. Sinful relationships are by definition unloving regardless of how the world defines them.
– The prerequisite for love and godliness is faith in Jesus Christ and rebirth through him (see John 3 for the requirement to be born again). The way we love others is to “love God and obey his commands.” I hope that the modern church will relearn this vital relationship between love and obedience. God’s commands reflect God’s perfect character, perfect will, and perfect love; they reveal the way to apply or live out love which Jesus Christ perfectly demonstrated for us, ultimately on the cross. The God who IS love has given us the commands of love that we may learn the ways of true love, learning as children to walk as Jesus walked in perfect love. John points out that as we grow in love, God’s commands become less burdensome for us because we become more aligned with them in love – we desire to obey God because we no longer have to resist our unloving hearts. By definition, ANYTHING we say or do that is contrary to God’s commands is unloving, hateful, murderous, even blasphemous (against God). How can you examine yourself to assess how loving you are? Joyful obedience to Jesus Christ is the test of love – “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” What is the greatest way to love others? Love and obey God, pointing the way to Jesus Christ.
10. 1 John 5:12 — “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Again, many, many Christians are substituting the Gospel message with moralism, ethics, and charity. The Bible is clear that we are to minister to the needs of others, but in the name of Jesus with the Gospel as our message. How urgently are you sharing the Gospel of Jesus with those who do not have the Son? How many times will you proclaim Jesus Christ today?
11. 1 John 5:14 – “If we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” The Bible doesn’t say ‘if we ask anything, He hears us,’ rather it says, “If we ask anything according to His will.” God does not support or resource what isn’t within His will. If you want what God wants, you will get what you want.
12. 1 John 5:18 – “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning.” Salvation changes your whole life. When you truly put your faith in Jesus, you are never the same again. What does your behavior say to others about your God?
13. 1 John 5:21 — “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Don’t prioritize anything over Jesus and His commands. Your success today is measured in how faithfully you follow and serve Him out of your love for Him.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 25 Oct 18: Today, pray, but seek to pray within God’s will and not your own will. Pray first for the heart and mind of Jesus. (1 John 5:14)