Tuesday, October 3, 2017

October 3: Jeremiah 1 – 2:30; Psalm 75; Proverbs 24:17-20; Philippians 4



Overview

            Jeremiah: The words of the Lord to Jeremiah in the reign of Josiah and Jehoiakim and until the 11th year of Zedekiah when Babylon took Jerusalem. The Lord told Jeremiah that before he formed him in the womb, he set Jeremiah aside to be a prophet. Jeremiah thought he was too young but the Lord told him he must go where is sent and speak what he is told and not be afraid because the Lord is with him. The Lord touched his lips and told him his word were in his mouth to destroy and build up kingdoms.
            The Lord gave him a vision of an almond branch signifying that he will make sure his word is accomplished. Jeremiah had another vision of a boiling pot, which the Lord said was the nations of the north that he was calling to destroy Jerusalem and Judah in judgment for their idol worship. Jeremiah would have to get to work telling them but not to be dismayed. The people of Jerusalem would try to stop him but the Lord would protect him.
            The Lord told Jeremiah to tell Jerusalem to remember the devotion they had to him in their youth following him in the wilderness. Israel was holy and whoever came against them had disaster. And to all Israel the Lord asks why they left him and went after idols. He brought them out of Egypt and through the wilderness into the abundant land. But they defiled the land. The priest, shepherds, and prophets turned away from the Lord. Therefore, the Lord will oppose them. Not even in pagan nations had anyone changed their gods but Israel has. Not only did they forsake the Lord of living water but made their own gods that can’t hold water.
            Israel has become a slave and prey. Egypt has made the land a waste because Israel left the Lord. The Lord asks why they are going to Egypt for help or Assyria. All this evil will come upon them. The Lord reminds them that long ago he broke their servant bonds but they would not serve him. Instead they worshiped idols all over the land. They have degenerated and their sin is before him even though they try to cleanse themselves with soap. They lie about going after Baals. They hopelessly go after these strange gods like a donkey in heat.
            The king and his officials, priest, and prophet all have bowed before idols. Can these idols save them out of their trouble? All the Lord’s punishment appears to be in vain.
            Psalm: Asaph says we thank and praise God for he is near and for his deeds. He speaks for the Lord in saying that God upholds all things and judges, especially judging the proud and boastful. Asaph says that the Lord judges by lifting up or putting down people. He punishes the wicked. Asaph will declare and praise the God of Jacob forever. The wicked will be cut down but the righteous will lifted up.
            Proverbs: If you see your enemy killed, don’t rejoice over them because the Lord may see your attitude and turn on you instead.
            Don’t worry about what wicked people do or envy them because they have no eternal future.
            Philippians: Considering what Paul has written, he enjoins his beloved Philippians to stand firm. He asks Euodia and Syntyche to get along and asks his friend to intervene. They both served to spread the gospel along with Clement and the other workers who are in God’s book of life.
            He tells them to rejoice in the Lord and let everyone see their gentleness because the Lord is always near. There is no need to worry or be anxious when they pray with thanksgiving. Then God’s peace in Jesus will guard their hearts and minds. Instead of the worries, they should think about all sorts of good things. They should practice what they learned and saw in Paul and God’s peace will be with them.
            He rejoiced that the Philippians were able to send him help. Paul learned to be content with what he had, much or little. The secret of this contentment is knowing he can do all things through Christ who gives him strength. Their provision was very kind and he remembers that when he was just starting they were the only ones who were supporting him. He isn’t seeking a gift but wants to see the Lord bless them for their giving. The gifts they sent by Epaphroditus was a fragrant offering to God. He asks the Lord to supply all their needs by the riches of Jesus and to the glory of God the Father.
            Paul sends greetings to all Jesus’ saints. Those with Paul, especially those in Caesar’s household, greet them. May they have the grace of the Lord Jesus in their spirit.

What Stood Out

            Jeremiah: “But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them” (Jer 1:17).    
            Psalm: “When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm” (Ps 75:3 NIV).
            Proverbs: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him” (Prov 24:17-18).
            Philippians: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8).

Insight

            Jeremiah: God told Jeremiah that he had been selected as a prophet even before he was born and that he had to do as the Lord said (Jer 1:5-6). The way it reads, it appears that Jeremiah didn’t have a choice. However, in Jeremiah 1:17, it is evident that does have a choice. He can either do what the Lord called him to do or he would suffer the consequences of his disobedience.
            We are also in the same position as Jeremiah. The Lord has called us before our birth and set us aside for some specific purpose in his kingdom (Eph 1:4, 2:10). We can ask the question of whether or not we have a choice to be saved in the first place and argue about free will versus divine choice or we can do what the Lord told Jeremiah. We can get up and get about the business of spreading the gospel. We have our marching orders from Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations and his promise that he will be with us just as the Lord promised Jeremiah (Matt 28:19-20). When we obey, we will be his witness and have the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
            Psalm: Is your earth quaking? Does all the destruction and madness around you cause you to lose hope? If so, then your hope is in the wrong place. The Lord says that when everything around you is shaking, he is still holding the pillars firm (Ps 75:3). We can’t make sense of why the Lord allows hurricanes to devastate and kill or why he allows a madman to do shoot into crowds. If we know that he is just as the Psalm says (Ps 75:2), we can trust him to make all things work out according to his plan. That kind of trust doesn’t come overnight. It comes from knowing about his wonderous deeds (Ps 75:1). It comes from recognizing our need for a Savior and knowing that Jesus’ horrendous death on a cross accomplished much more than we can understand. If the death of God’s own Son brought us redemption, righteousness, and holiness, then God can use these other disasters for purposes we can’t understand. Trust in the Lord and don’t lean on your own understanding (Prov 3:5).
            Proverbs: The Lord sent Assyria and Babylon against Israel and Judah because of their sins. He then punished these nations because they did more than they should and their attitudes were sinful. When other nations rejoiced to see Israel and Judah fall, God paid them back for their attitude. In the same way, we should be very careful about saying that disasters are God’s punishment upon people and their sins. In the Old Testament, the prophets heard from God and it was written in his word. We are assured that when a people were punished by God, it was known through the prophets and we have been told. The prophets were reliable. Their prophecies came true.
            Today, we have people who call themselves prophet and will pronounce a disaster as God’s judgment. However, some of these “prophets” have also predicted other events that haven’t come true. We should not listen to them. We shouldn’t gloat over the misfortune of our worst enemies or declare it is God’s judgment or we may find ourselves in trouble with the Lord.
            Philippians: Are you a worrier? I know a lot of people who are. I don’t worry but I can start thinking about a situation and try to plan all kinds of things to do to take care of it. Then I get to a point and find myself back at the beginning and doing it all over. Worry is just like that so maybe I am prone to worry. But the solution to this is found in Philippians 4:6-9.
            Be thankful. Instead of rehashing all the junk that causes worry, start thinking about all the blessings we have in Christ. We can start with salvation and that we have an eternal home with him. We can start thinking about all sorts of good and excellent thing. We have a never exhausting list of things to thank God for. It could be the beauty of a sunset, the flowers in a garden, the food we have, the air we breathe, the people in our lives, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, or any of the millions and millions of other things that we have or that God has provided so that we can live and breathe on this earth until we are called home. If we are trying to solve a problem and keep going over it, we need to recognize it, stop, and think about some of these wonderful things God has provided. If we need to do something then we do it like Jeremiah. If that something is in the future, we trust God that it will work out and don’t rehash it. We move our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit on to being thankful and thinking about these good things. Then we’ll have peace that the world knows nothing about.

Application

             God has a purpose for me. If he didn’t I wouldn’t be here. All of us who belong to Jesus have the same purpose and that is to tell others about their opportunity to be reconciled to God through Jesus (2 Cor 5:17-21). I need to be better at that and not dwell on the problems of the world because Jesus has it all under control.

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