Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 16 October 21:
Jeremiah 31:33-34 — “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Our readings in Jeremiah today tell a remarkable story of corporate sin, punishment, conviction, repentance, mercy, grace, revival, reconciliation, love, and joy – a story of salvation that reflects how God works in the lives of people and communities. Every generation has their teachers and ‘prophets’ who attempt to downplay sin and offer alternatives or shortcuts to real salvation that don’t involve punishment, genuine repentance, the need for forgiveness (which only God can provide), total surrender to God, and a new life in Christ. Claiming to speak on behalf of God, Shemaiah preached a blasphemous yet popular message of ‘shortcut salvation’ that minimized the wrath of God. Not Jeremiah.
Jeremiah proclaimed God’s wrath and punishment, “because they did not pay attention to my words, declares the Lord, that I persistently sent to you by my servants the prophets…. they have committed adultery… they have spoken in my name lying words.” Jeremiah describes the “incurable hurt… because your guilt is great, because your sins are flagrant.” However, Jeremiah also describes healing and reconciliation that can only come from God — “For thus says the Lord: I will visit you…. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore…. With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back.” God always takes the initiative, visits, opens the door, and enables reconciliation; those who seek Him and genuinely call upon Him with weeping and wholeheartedness will be received by Him, and He will “lead them back.”
Jeremiah prophesied of a day when God’s people would truly ‘know the Lord’ and would have the “law within them, and… on their hearts.” This ‘New Covenant’ is provided through Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ alone. Without Jesus Christ, there is no forgiveness of sins and no Holy Spirit power to overcome the power of sin. This fundamental truth is regularly denied today, even by people who would call themselves ‘Christian.’ Many churches which make every effort to avoid labelling anything sin, have countered Jesus’ message of “Repent!” and consequently minimalized the Good News of the Gospel. Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) To know him is to love him; to love him is to trust Him; and to trust Him is to obey Him — “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
- James 4:8-10 — Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
- Matthew 5:3-9 — “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
- 2 Chronicles 7:14 — If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
- 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.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 October 21: “But they made light of it.” (Matthew 22:5, KJV) Don’t make like of sin, and don’t make light of amazing grace, salvation from the wrath of God through the blood of Jesus Christ, Christ alone.
- Colossians 1:9-14 — And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Ephesians 5:1-21 — Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.