Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Friday, 26 Oct 18:
1. Jeremiah 42:6 – “…we will obey the voice of the Lord our God….” A right perspective on God leaves no debate about obedience. No sane person would consider disobeying the KING of Kings.
2. Jeremiah 42:6 – “Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.” God’s view of what is “good” or “bad” is far different than our view. As Romans 8:28 explains, “For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans goes on to say, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29) According to God’s word, when we are in fellowship with God, He uses all circumstances for good purposes beyond our understanding and to conform us to the image of His Son. If we allow circumstances or our actions hinder our fellowship with Him, failing to trust Him, to obey Him, and to remain joyful (though not necessarily happy), we only hinder God’s blessings in our lives. We might think when we get what we want it is good, and when we don’t it is bad, but if what we want is not what He wants, we misinterpret the circumstances, misinterpret God’s ways, and set ourselves for unnecessary pain. No one wants to go through hard times, but often hard times are what are needed to glorify God and conform us to the image of Christ. This is why the Bible tells us to rejoice in trials, tribulations, and suffering (Matt 5:12; Luke 6:23; 1 Pet 4:13; James 1:2; Rom 5:3; 1 Thes 1:6).
3. Jeremiah 42:11 — “Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid.”
– One major theme in the Bible is that fear of man more than fear of God will lead to terrible sin. This fear of man comes in many forms and is an incredible temptation. For most people, it is peer pressure or social pressure that creates the most temptation, wanting to keep peace with the crowd rather than peace with God, or wanting to be approved by others rather than approved by God. For others the primary temptation might be fear of authority figures, believing their fate to be in the hands of the authorities rather than in the hands of God. Key is trusting and obeying God above all else — “No king but King Jesus!”
– We have put too much stock in government. We talk more about politicians than we do about Jesus Christ.
4. Jeremiah 42:13-17 – “But if you say, ‘…we will go to the land of Egypt, where we shall not see war or hear the sound of the trumpet or be hungry for bread, and we will dwell there,’ then hear the word of the Lord, …the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die.” There is always a risk of syncretism, the blending of false worldly beliefs with God’s truth in order to “get along” or have “unity” with those around us; this is compromise that threatens our holiness. Purity is more important than unity. In the US, Christianity has been compromised for sake of the American Dream. We are very careful not to offend with the truth, and we adopt what seems to work in this world rather than what God commands in order to enjoy the comfort and riches of our pleasure-seeking society. This security is an illusion. Security only comes from fidelity to God.
5. Jeremiah 42:13-22 — “But if… then.” It is very popular in churches to preach on “The promises of God,” but rarely do the preachers point out that most of God’s promises are conditional. God will respond to you in a certain way “if” you respond to Him in a certain way. The way is love and obedience. God is not simply your genie in a bottle, here to give you gifts and empower you to get all you want out of life. We are here to love Him, serve Him, and glorify Him — this is what we were created to do. When we fulfill our purpose we are blessed as promised.
6. Jeremiah 42:19-22 – “The Lord has said to you…, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ …you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord our God, and whatever the Lord our God says declare to us and we will do it.’ …but you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God…. Now therefore know for a certainty that you shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence in the place where you desire to go to live.” The people said they wanted to follow the Lord, but they went to the world for their provision, comfort, and security. They prayed but didn’t obey. They trusted in government over God. This mistake had short-term payoff but ultimately cost them everything.
7. Jeremiah 43:2 — “Azariah… and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, ‘You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you….'”
– Azariah’s fatal decision was that he did not believe God’s prophet. Why? One, because the prophet said what Azariah didn’t want to hear. Two, he did not trust Jeremiah because he did not have a right relationship with either God or Jeremiah. Knowing who to trust and from whom to receive biblical counsel is critical. Who can you trust to advise you solely from God’s word? And when this godly, trusted advisor does counsel you, are you willing to listen and do what the Bible tells you to do?
– When people don’t like what God had to say they invent their own version of the truth to justify their disobedience. They will then violently defend their flawed, sinful positions. God’s word stands no matter what popular public opinion says.
8. Proverbs 26:4, 8 – “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself…. Like one who binds the stone in the sling is one who gives honor to a fool.” There is a danger of becoming like who you challenge. How we respond to sinners often reveals the sin within our own hearts.
9. Proverbs 26:7 — “Like a lame man’s legs, which hang useless, is a proverb in the mouth of fools.” Fools often know the word but won’t do the word. They may claim to be Christian but are guided by their own fears/desires and the teachings of the world rather than Him.
10. Proverbs 26:12 — “Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Fools think they know better than God’s word.
11. Proverbs 26:18-20 — “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!’ For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” The Bible holds you accountable for careless words and careless dealings which impact others’ lives in a negative way. How we influence other people’s lives is nothing to be taken lightly.
12. 2 John 1:1 — “The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth…” There is no love apart from the Truth.
13. 2 John 1:3 — “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.” Grace, mercy, and peace can only come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, and only in both truth and love. Again, there is no love apart from the truth. This is wholly contrary from what the world says.
14. 2 John 1:3 — “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.” Your level of grace, mercy, and peace reveals how close you are to Jesus.
15. 2 John 1:4-11 – “I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father…. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it…. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”
– “I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.” Knowing the truth isn’t enough. We must “walk” in the truth with peace and joy out of love. If you are obeying but it is difficult for you, you still have a love problem.
– “And now I ask you… that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.” Once again, love requires obedience to God’s commands.
– “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves…. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” Which of our leaders in America proclaim the Gospel above all else? Christians often get excited about leaders who never mention Jesus or His Gospel but proclaim a message of salvation through human effort and achievement. The seemingly good message that doesn’t point to Christ is ultimately deception. Remember, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching [the Gospel], do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.” Don’t fall into the trap of moralism. How many times will you proclaim Jesus Christ today?
– John was known as the ‘Apostle of Love.’ Notice how adamant John is about the requirement for obedience in love. This is in stark contrast to the world today which sees calls to obedience as somehow ‘unloving.’ Notice also how the ‘Apostle of Love’ has no tolerance for those who teach anything other than Christ and obedience to him. Why? Because to ‘tolerate’ false teachings and sinful practices is to make one culpable for the eternal demise of others and to dishonor God. No, true Christians are not always tolerant – they can’t be while remaining in love.
– Love and obedience are inseparable. Where you are not obeying, you are unloving.
– “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.” As discussed previously, this isn’t just a verbal confession, it is a life confession proclaimed by actions. If you don’t live for Jesus, you are anti-Christ, regardless of what you say. If you are not physically gathering with Jesus, you are scattering.
– “Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” Abiding in the teaching is obeying the teaching. Don’t hang out with fake Christians who Jesus calls hypocrites, the Greek word for actors.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 26 Oct 18: Demonstrate your love today through obedience, joy, grace, mercy and peace. (2 John 1)