Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 27 October 18:
1. Jeremiah 44:5 – “But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods.” God doesn’t accept idols in your life, things that you allow to detract from your wholehearted devotion to God. These things aren’t little statues for most people. The Bible says, “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord….” (1 Samuel 15:23) “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (Colossians 3:5) “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14)
2. Jeremiah 44:7, 11-12 – “And now thus says the Lord God of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and child, from the midst of Judah, leaving you no remnant?’ Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will set my face against you for harm, to cut off all Judah. I will take the remnant of Judah who have set their faces to come to the land of Egypt to live, and they shall all be consumed. In the land of Egypt they shall fall; by the sword and by famine they shall be consumed. From the least to the greatest, they shall die by the sword and by famine, and they shall become an oath, a horror, a curse, and a taunt.” To depart from God after discipline is to face judgment.
3. Jeremiah 44:10 — “They have not humbled themselves even to this day, nor have they feared, nor walked in my law and my statutes that I set before you and before your fathers….”
– Humility and fear of the Lord lead to obedience. Disobedience is a lack of both humility and fear of the Lord and is a rejection of the Sovereignty of God – this is the highest of all possible treasons. God is patient, but God will humble the proud, particularly those who claim the name of Christ yet play loose with sin. Humility, reverence, and obedience — only the humble will follow Jesus Christ.
– Sin is a pride problem. It is always placing yourself higher than God, at least at that moment. For example, holding back forgiveness from someone is saying that you deserve more justice than Jesus, who gave His life for sinners. You may not have considered that even the sin of fear is the product of pride. Pride demands control, and fear is a response to a sense of a loss of control. Fear is the opposite of faith, and some will have faith in self (pride), which proves inadequate, while others will place their faith in God (real faith, surrender, confidence in Him). When the idol of self proves false, fear enters into the picture. Humble faith in God, however, never proves false. Those with faith in Jesus also have hope – faith projected forward to the future. Those without faith and hope have a void in their soul that they try to fill with more self, attempting to strengthen their faith in self. So, they try to build upon the lie of self-sufficiency. They get more money, more education, more “friends,” more awards, etc. However, the fear that can never replace hope only grows because inside people know that the bigger the house built on a foundation of sand, the more catastrophic the collapse. The Bible says, that humility comes before honor, that pride comes before the fall, that without faith it is impossible to please God, that we must build our house on the rock of Jesus, that we must seek the Kingdom of God rather than our own kingdoms. Learn from the Bible and truly place all your faith in God and not in your own abilities or anything else.
4. Jeremiah 44:15 – “Then all the men who knew that their wives had made offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah….” Both men and women lead a nation to sin; both men and women can be mighty witnesses for Jesus.
5. Jeremiah 44:18 – “But since we left off making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.” Israel gave substitutes for God credit for what God had done.
6. Jeremiah 44:21 — “As for the offerings that you offered in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your officials, and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them? Did it not come into his mind?” Just because God has yet to judge our nation for the sins we have committed, doesn’t mean He isn’t going to. His delay reflects His patience as He waits for repentance. But God doesn’t wait endlessly.
7. Jeremiah 44:22 – “Therefore your land has become a desolation and a waste and a curse, without inhabitant, as it is this day.” Many scoff at the idea that a nation’s sins are the cause of the crisis it experiences. However, throughout the Bible, God punishes nations through wars, famine, disease, natural disasters, economic collapse, bad leadership, etc. God is in complete control.
8. Jeremiah 44:26 – “Therefore hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who dwell in the land of Egypt: Behold, I have sworn by my great name, says the Lord, that my name shall no more be invoked by the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, ‘As the Lord God lives.’” God swears an oath to Himself because He is Everything, with nothing higher. God’s promises are sure.
9. Jeremiah 44:29 – “This shall be the sign to you, declares the Lord, that I will punish you in this place, in order that you may know that my words will surely stand against you for harm,” God carries out the judgment about which He warns.
10. Jeremiah 45:5 – “And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go.” God does not want you to seek personal success or power in order to build for yourself a personal kingdom as a replacement for The Kingdom. God will not allow you to put yourself on a throne rather than honoring God on His Throne.
11. Jeremiah 46 — God controls the fortunes of all nations.
12. Jeremiah 46:8-10 — Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge. He said, ‘I will rise, I will cover the earth, I will destroy cities and their inhabitants.’ Advance, O horses, and rage, O chariots! Let the warriors go out: men of Cush and Put who handle the shield, men of Lud, skilled in handling the bow. That day is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes. The sword shall devour and be sated and drink its fill of their blood. For the Lord God of hosts holds a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.” God destroys the proud expectations of the world’s most powerful leaders.
13. Jeremiah 46:12 – “The nations have heard of your shame.” For those who lack humility, God will bring shame, to prove their pride a lie and potentially drive them to humility.
14. Jeremiah 46:28 – “Fear not, O Jacob my servant, declares the Lord, for I am with you.” God continually calls us to put an end to a life of fear by trusting in Him rather than self or anything else. If your faith is in God, you cannot fear because you trust that the God who loves you is in complete control and will only respond to you out of perfect love, giving you only the very best. Faith inspires you to see past the appearance of things to the reality of things. Things may appear to be bad, but to the Christian, all things are good.
15. Jeremiah 46:28 – “Fear not… declares the Lord, for I am with you…. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.” Don’t be scared of God’s discipline. It doesn’t mean God is abandoning you, on the contrary, He is giving you what is best for you. Like a loving parent does with a child, He must punish you to perfect you. Have faith through discipline, and draw closer to Jesus, not farther away. Remain obedient through discipline and return to humble submission. Don’t despise God’s discipline but be thankful and grow in your love and appreciation for your Father who seeks to bring you to the place where you can have the fullness of joy.
16. Proverbs 27:6 — “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Honest words from true friends are for your benefit, provided to you unselfishly; words from fake friends are for their benefit, provided to you selfishly.
17. Proverbs 27:17 — “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” True friends challenge you and support you to make you better, to help you get closer to Jesus. A true friend doesn’t want anything to stand between you and Jesus. If your friends aren’t in a partnership with you to get closer and closer to Jesus, you need better friends.
18. Proverbs 27:23-27 – “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? When the grass is gone and the new growth appears and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered, the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field. There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls.” While others are focused on obtaining wealth, comfort, and pleasure in the here and now, focus on building wealth generating capacity for the long haul. Don’t be satisfied with produce, seek what produces the produce, seek production capacity.
19. Psalm 125:1 – “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” There is a clear theme in today’s readings – humility, faith, hope, trust, obedience, love.
20. Psalm 125:3 — “For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.” When the wicked lead a nation, the righteous are tempted to sin. The ungodly should not be allowed to lead.
21. Psalm 125:5 – “Peace be upon Israel!” You will never have peace in life until you have faith, hope, and love. Summary: Humility comes before honor, and pride before the fall. Fear is the product of pride. Faith comes from humility. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith surrenders all to God and trusts God rather than self or any other idol. Faith walks in obedience and the greatest command to obey is love. It takes faith to love because it takes faith to be vulnerable in love and to suffer in love. Faith trusts God through the suffering for a greater blessing than can be imagined today. Faith, hope, and love bring peace as we become one with the Father and the Son. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The goal is not goodness or blessings, the goal is Jesus. Your goal today is to humbly follow Jesus, trusting and obeying Him. Don’t let anything distract you today.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 27 Oct 18: Today, seek to understand your fears from the perspective of your pride, your trust in self rather than Jesus, your focus on self rather than Jesus and others. Discover your hidden pride and pray for greater humility. Put your trust in Jesus and grow in faith, hope, and love. The greatest of these is love. Consider how well you are loving God and others today. Realize that your unloving words and deeds have their root in fear, pride, and selfishness. Pray that God will help you truly search your heart and remove your selfish pride. Recognize your pride, but don’t stare at it. Rather, keep your eyes on Jesus. Follow Him today, only Him. (see today’s readings)