Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 30 October 18:
1. Jeremiah 51:1 — “Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon,” God moves the hearts of people for His purposes. He is the only one who can change the mind of the people around you that you deal with.
2. Jeremiah 51:5 – “For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of hosts, but the land of the Chaldeans is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel.” The Holy God cannot stand sin but is willing to forgive it.
3. Jeremiah 51:7—“Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, making all the earth drunken; the nations drank of her wine; therefore the nations went mad.” God used Babylon to discipline Israel, then God disciplined Babylon. Failure in life is often being successful in the wrong things. Babylon experienced apparent success on a path to destruction.
4. Jeremiah 51:8, 9 – “Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken; wail for her! Take balm for her pain; perhaps she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she was not healed. Forsake her, and let us go each to his own country, for her judgment has reached up to heaven and has been lifted up even to the skies.” God felt compassion for the people He judged.
5. Jeremiah 51:11 – “Sharpen the arrows! Take up the shields!” The Lord stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon was to destroy it as the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple. God controls foreign policy.
6. Jeremiah 51:16 – “When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.” The Creator never stops controlling His creation. It is insanity for the created creature to believe (s)he can manipulate the Creator, define Him, completely understand Him, or ignore Him.
7. Jeremiah 51:17-19 – “Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment they shall perish. Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the Lord of hosts is his name.” Substitutes for God will come and go and have no real power. They are an illusion. God is the only real Power, and He never changes. The Creator will destroy all substitutes for Him.
8. Jeremiah 51:20-23 – “You are my hammer and weapon of war: with you I break nations in pieces; with you I destroy kingdoms; with you I break in pieces the horse and his rider; with you I break in pieces the chariot and the charioteer; with you I break in pieces man and woman; with you I break in pieces the old man and the youth; with you I break in pieces the young man and the young woman; with you I break in pieces the shepherd and his flock; with you I break in pieces the farmer and his team; with you I break in pieces governors and commanders.” God chooses small people and His remnant to achieve His purposes in history, revealing the foolishness of man’s pride. God does not honor the pride of men.
9. Jeremiah 51:26 – “No stone shall be taken from you for a corner and no stone for a foundation, but you shall be a perpetual waste, declares the Lord.” God’s judgement has eternal consequences.
10. Jeremiah 51:31-34 – “One runner runs to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to tell the king of Babylon that his city is taken on every side; the fords have been seized, the marshes are burned with fire, and the soldiers are in panic. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time when it is trodden; yet a little while and the time of her harvest will come. Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me; he has crushed me; he has made me an empty vessel; he has swallowed me like a monster; he has filled his stomach with my delicacies; he has rinsed me out.” Even while they were in captivity, God took care of His people by influencing the hearts of the captors.
11. Jeremiah 51:47 – “Therefore, behold, the days are coming when I will punish the images of Babylon; her whole land shall be put to shame, and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.” God’s invitation competes with the invitation of substitutes for God for the loyalty of God’s people. Today, it’s the Gospel or the American Dream.
12. Jeremiah 51:50 – “You who have escaped from the sword, go, do not stand still! Remember the Lord from far away, and let Jerusalem come into your mind.” God’s invitation demands an immediate response.
13. Proverbs 30:2 — “Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man.” The first step to understanding is to understand that you don’t understand. Human intellect is so very limited; it can’t take you very far. However, God reveals things to you that you could never understand on your own or through all the teaching the world has to offer. A prerequisite to acquiring wisdom is acknowledging your ignorance, your sinfulness, and your total dependence on God.
14. Proverbs 30:3 – “I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.” Wisdom is knowledge rightly applied. You cannot apply knowledge rightly without the direction of the Holy Spirit who puts things in context with the big picture that you can never see.
15. Proverbs 30:5, 6 – “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Walking in God’s word keeps you within the will of God even though you don’t fully understand what is happening or the “why” behind what is happening. We tend to add to God’s word or to complicate it because we really don’t want it to say what is clearly says. We tend to put conditions on it: “Who really is my neighbor? Under what conditions do I really have to forgive? Times have changed, and this doesn’t mean the same thing anymore.” The Bible warns that God’s word is unchanging, and you must obey it to remain in God’s will and to have wisdom. And Jesus told you in last week’s readings that you cannot really understand God’s word or obey it without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit which comes through salvation.
16. Proverbs 30:8, 9 – “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Sin, all sin, is to reject the Lord and profane His name. We take it so very lightly, but God does not. Sin always starts with desires that become bigger in our life, more important, and more influential than God. Even desires that are, in the right application, good, such as the desire to eat, can become sin when they start to control us and lead us to depart from God’s will. When the God-given desire to eat becomes gluttony, we are caught in sin and need to recognize the remove the idol we have created.
17. Proverbs 30:10-23 – After the writer of Proverbs 30 proclaims in verses eight and nine the requirement to maintain God as your highest desire, honoring Him as KING, obeying Him, and rejecting competing desires, he describes the attributes of those who lack proper humility and are self-serving rather than disciples. They are slanderers (v 10), disrespectful (v11), self-righteous (v12), arrogant (v13), sharp-tongued (v14), greedy (v14), never satisfied (v15-16), disobedient (v17), unpredictably driven by human passions (18-19), callously deceptive (v20), and unfit for service (v21-23).
18. Proverbs 30:24-31 – The writer transitions from the traits of the sinful fool in verses 10-23 to traits of wisdom which are grounded in discipline and unity.
19. Proverbs 30:32 – “If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth.” Sin is selfishness. Sin is placing yourself, your desires, ahead of God which is unthinkable cosmic treason. The writing is calling you to repentance. Even those sins you know you commit that you consider “small” are not small if you consider what they mean – “God says, ‘no’, but I say ‘yes.’” Consider today where you still knowingly dishonor God, repent, and receive His forgiveness.
20. Jude 1, 2 – “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”
– Jude introduces himself first as “a servant of Jesus Christ.” How do you introduce yourself?
– Mercy, peace, and love come only from God.
– The mark of a person truly walking with Jesus is ever-increasing mercy, peace, and love — it is not additive, it is exponential.
21. Jude 4 — “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
– A teaching can creep into the church that allows grace to be used an excuse to do what you want to do. Grace is not a license for disobedience or immorality, nor does it mean that God will overlook such behavior. Grace is not freedom to sin; it is freedom from sin. Jude was compelled to warn the church against those within the church who make light of sin in the name of ‘grace’.
– It would appear that, as is the case today, Jude had observed many in the church using grace as an excuse to live sinful lives, surrendering to their wicked desires rather than to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jude describes them as no better than animals and warns that they will not escape God’s judgment. Though they claimed to be Christians, their actions revealed that in fact they were “devoid of the Spirit.” Jude exhorts the church to persevere: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” Essentially he is saying, “Love the sinner, and hate the sin; influence without being influenced.” Again, it is interesting that, during this time before the fall of Rome, Jude specifically refers to the sin of homosexuality as Paul does in Romans 1. When was the last time you heard someone preach against homosexuality, adultery, promiscuity, etc?
– Jude reminds us that, while under grace, we cannot reject authority (8) and simply act as unreasoning animals (10) “who follow mere natural instincts” rather than the Spirit (19). Instead, Jude commands “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life (20, 21).” While we wait for the mercy of Jesus, we are to continue to pursue holiness and obedience. In our pursuit, we are to hate sin while showing Christ-like mercy to sinners (22, 23) – Love involves revealing the truth of sin:
— “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer (Romans 12:9-12).”
22. Jude 8, 19 — “Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones…. It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” Those who call themselves Christians yet continue in sin, proclaiming ‘grace’ all the while, are in actuality denying the Lordship of the Savior, rejecting His authority, blaspheming His Holy Name, and perverting the Grace that comes through the Blood of Jesus – they are, in fact, devoid of the Spirit. Such Christians are divisive, countering the ministry of reconciliation.
23. Jude 8 — “Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.” Sin is always a rejection of God’s authority over your life and a discrediting of His holiness. The “Christian” who continues in sin is really rejecting the authority of Christ, living out blaspheme.
24. Jude 10, 11 – “But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.” Jude describes the “carnal Christian” as spiritless animals who act on animal instincts rather than being controlled by the Spirit. They are like Cain who lacked self-control which comes from the Spirt. When you sin, you blaspheme God — how serious is that?
25. Jude 12, 13 — “These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.”
– Selfish Christians are hidden destroyers, claiming to be leaders but only lifting themselves up and drawing attention to themselves rather than God; they may claim to be alive, but in their selfishness and self-centeredness, they are really dead.
– The disobedient Christian is worthless and destructive.
26. Jude 16 — “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.”
– Constant complainers who take sides are revealing their self-centeredness and ungodliness. Jesus gave us a mission of reconciliation, uniting other to God and to each other, not dividing. Do you know a church-goer who always seems to have a complaint, who always seems to be dissatisfied? Hopefully, that someone is not you. Hopefully, in your selflessness, you can influence that constant critic to reconcile to Jesus and to others. Again, read John 17.
27. Jude 18 — “’In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’ It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” Scoffers who cause divisions do not have the Spirit or are at least quenching the Spirit. Scoffers scoff because they want to pursue their own passions.
28. Jude 19 – “It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” Worldly people cause divisions, the Spirit unites people in Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ, there can be no real unity. Many will seek unity around some idol, like a political party or an organization, but this is doomed and antichrist.
29. Jude 20-23 — “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”
– We must be uniters in a world full of dividers; we must be peacemakers in a world full of unpeaceable people. We must bring order in a world of disorder; we must bring light in a world of darkness. We must love in a hateful world. However this requires much prayer and requires the leading of the Holy Spirit rather than merely intellect. It is dangerous business to snatch others out of the fire. Don’t be complacent in your efforts to do so or attempt to do it in your own power.
– You don’t snatch people from a fire by standing in it with them.
30. Jude 24 – “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling….” Only Jesus can keep you from stumbling. You cannot stand on your own.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 30 Oct 18: Be a positive uniter today, remembering that ultimately there is no unity unless people are uniting first with Jesus. Don’t try to create a false unity, uniting around and idol such as the nation, a business, a teacher, a pastor, a church, morals, ethical standards, bright ideas, etc. Reconcile people to Jesus, and they will naturally unite with each other too. Your mission is to reconcile others to Jesus. (2 Cor 5:18, 19). Also re-read John 17. (Jude)