Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lamentations 1 - Much Grief

The temple has been destroyed. The people dispersed. There is much grief, thus the name Lamentations for this book of poetry.

No where in this poem is Babylon or Nebuchadnezzar mentioned by name. God is given credit for the destruction and the exile.

“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?
    Look around and see.
Is any suffering like my suffering
    that was inflicted on me,
that the Lord brought on me
    in the day of his fierce anger?" (Lam 1:12 NIV)

Is there anything that God does not see? Is there anything that He cannot do? His chosen ones have turned their backs on Him; seeking their own glory rather than His; now weeping for what once was and for what could have been.

May God help us to always seek His face so that we might know peace in His land.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Jeremiah 52 - In and Out of Exile and Captivity

We have come to the end of the Book of Jeremiah with Chapter 52. Chapter 52 is basically an encapsulated history of the Babylonian Captivity to ensure that we and all who read or hear Jeremiah understand that the Word of the LORD prophesied through Jeremiah was fulfilled. It is a remembering of their history.

It is good to remember the history of the children of Abraham, so that we do not repeat it. Sadly, I think we do continue to repeat it. We follow in the footsteps of Abraham's children, into the wilderness of sin. As we are  strengthened by the hardships, we return to the LORD and to the promised land. And... once, safe in the land, we take for granted the LORD, our God, and back to the wilderness, in exile, we go.

"When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath." (Deut 4:30-31 NIV)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Jeremiah 51 - Climbing Towers or Ladders

Jeremiah continues prophesying the destruction of Babylon. Babylon will fall!

Just a little (very little) history: Babylon had its beginnings as a small town which grew to a city state. She is considered by many to be the site of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1) Babylon indeed fell. Her ruins can be found in southern Iraq (although there are those who say they are someplace in Syria).

This city state continued to aspire to rise to the heavens. No, they did not attempt to build another tower reaching the heavens like the tower of Babel. They attempted to aspire to the heavens by being their owns god and the god of people of other peoples. They attempted to put themselves before God, which no one can. Sure, we can try. We can worship false gods. We can attempt to be our own gods. But, it is impossible to be God. We are not Him. We can attempt to be Him; but, we will not succeed. We are not God. We will fall as surely as Babylon fell.

Doesn't matter how well we fortify our homes, our cities, our states... those who desire and aspire to reach the heavens and replace God will fall. One, day they will fall. But, for those who receive the living God who is not in a far off place which we have to climb ladders or mountains or towers to reach; those who receive the living God who lowered Himself in that He came down to earth to live among us and die for us; those who receive Him, will live eternal life in His Kingdom, in His presence.

Those who aspire to climb that tower or ladder will miss the very presence of God, the Spirit of Christ, among us, even now.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Jeremiah 50 - Babylon/False Shepherds Destroyed

Babylon is about finished. God is about to destroy her and His people will turn their faces, once again, to the LORD and to the land that He has given them; to the covenant that He has made with them. They were once lost, living in exile; because of their hard-heartedness and eagerness to follow false god, false shepherds. But, now God will destroy those false shepherds who led them out of the land He had given them.

“My people have been lost sheep;
    their shepherds have led them astray
    and caused them to roam on the mountains.
They wandered over mountain and hill
    and forgot their own resting place.
Whoever found them devoured them;
    their enemies said, ‘We are not guilty,
for they sinned against the Lord, their verdant pasture,
    the Lord, the hope of their ancestors.’" (Jer 50:6-7 NIV)

No more! Those who say that they are not guilty, that they have no sin; those who have scattered the flock will fall. Babylon will fall! The wolves in sheep clothing will fall! The Good Shepherd, Himself, will lead the remnant home.

“Israel is a scattered flock
    that lions have chased away.
The first to devour them
    was the king of Assyria;
the last to crush their bones
    was Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.”

Therefore this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:

"I will punish the king of Babylon and his land
    as I punished the king of Assyria.
But I will bring Israel back to their own pasture,
    and they will graze on Carmel and Bashan;
their appetite will be satisfied
    on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead.
In those days, at that time,”
    declares the Lord,
“search will be made for Israel’s guilt,
    but there will be none,
and for the sins of Judah,
    but none will be found,

for I will forgive the remnant I spare." (Jer 50:17-20)
There are many false shepherds out there. Beware! And, follow in the way that the LORD has prepared for you. "The LORD is our Shepherd, we shall not want. He makes us to lie down in green pastures. He leads us beside still water. He restores our soul..." (Psalm 23)
God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Jeremiah 49 - Listen, Learn, Be Restored!

The LORD has a message for the Ammonites, for Edom, Damascus, Kadar, Hazor, and Elam. They will all face consequences for their unfaithfulness. Some will learn from the consequences and be restored. Others will not.

The LORD has a message for all people. Listen to Him. Learn from Him and be restored. Live life according to the will of God and you will truly live life!

God's Peace - Pr. J 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jeremiah 48 - Moab To Fall and Rise Again

Moab is under fire... The cause of their impending destruction:

“We have heard of Moab’s pride—
    how great is her arrogance!—
of her insolence, her pride, her conceit
    and the haughtiness of her heart.
I know her insolence but it is futile,”
declares the Lord." (Jer 48:29-30 NIV)

Moab, like so many others, had turned their backs on God, worship false idols, worshipping themselves, and they were proud of it. They could do it without God.

Real stinking thinking going on there. And, they will suffer the consequences. They will be punished; yet, the LORD has good news for them, as well. After all this, He says:
“Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab
    in days to come,”
declares the Lord.
Here ends the judgment on Moab." (Jer 48:47)

The LORD works in such mysterious way. Sometimes those ways seem harsh; but, in the end it is for the good of His people. After we have trod through the refining fires, we will know God and we will desire to worship and serve Him.

May God grant each of us the desire to love and serve Him with our whole hearts and minds and souls.

God's Peace - Pr. J.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jeremiah 47 - As Relentless As A Tsunami

"The word of the Lord that came to the prophet Jeremiah concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh attacked Gaza:
Thus says the Lord:
See, waters are rising out of the north
    and shall become an overflowing torrent;
they shall overflow the land and all that fills it,
    the city and those who live in it.
People shall cry out,
    and all the inhabitants of the land shall wail.
At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions,
    at the clatter of his chariots, at the rumbling of their wheels,
parents do not turn back for children,
    so feeble are their hands." (Jer 47:1-3 NIV)

The word of the LORD is promising destruction to the Philistines. He will send an army like an overflowing torrent of water. They shall overflow the land; all that fills it, the city, and those who live in it. People shall cry out, and all inhabitants of the land shall wail.

We have seen the destruction of tsunamis. There is nothing that can stop or even slow down the wall of water as it destroys everything in its place. The LORD has promised to destroy the enemy of His children and nothing can save them. He will send an army from the north to put an end to their attacks on others.

What the LORD sends out, nothing can stop, nothing can slow it down, except that the LORD, Himself, will change His mind. There are no magical incantations, no offerings, no false gods, no works of man's hands that can change the flow of the tide once the LORD has ordained it.

This last week we had confirmation classes at Zion for our Junior High Youth. We talked about God calling and ordaining His people. I reminded them. with a smile on my face and a shocked look on most of theirs, that when God calls you to service, He will keep calling no matter how long it takes for you to say, yes. May as well stop saying no to God now; because, sooner or later you will listen and follow. It is much easier to say yes to God when you are young than fighting against it 'till you are old when you will turn and say yes, anyway. God calls whom He will call. He will ordain whom He will ordain. What He promises will come to pass.

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and succeed in the thing for which I sent it."  (Isaiah 55:10-11)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jeremiah 46 - I Will Not Make An End Of You!

"As for you, have no fear, my servant Jacob,
says the Lord,
    for I am with you.
I will make an end of all the nations
    among which I have banished you,
    but I will not make an end of you!
I will chastise you in just measure,
    and I will by no means leave you unpunished." (Jer 46:28 NIV)

Have no fear, for the LORD is with you. He will chastise you as a good Father chastises his children who have gone astray, but He will not leave you. He will not make an end of you. He will be with you always.

Every now and then I have these recurring dreams about a government take-over, including last night. No, the people don't rebel and take over the government. The people allow the government to take over every aspect of their lives. We allow the government to micro-manage the lives of everyone, everywhere. The government chooses who will eat and what and they will eat; they will dictate who works what jobs; who will get what health care and who is not fruitful enough to live; when, where and who we can worship. All this will be done on a merit system depending on how loyal we are to powers that be. How will the government monitor all these things of every individual? With the radically moving and changing electronic age, it will not be a problem. How much do we let others know about us via our computers and GPS systems and all the other ways they have access into individual lives?  

Now, I know that these dreams stem from having read and studied with too those who have some fantastic interpretations of a coming apocalypse according to scripture; with those who take the Book of John's Revelation literally. But, the ideas have been planted in my mind and they rear their heads in dreams every now and then. When I am fully awake, I am able to lean on the promises of God; no matter what happens; even if I chastise you, I will not make an end of you. Have no fear, the LORD is with you.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, August 23, 2013

Jeremiah 45 - Give Your Life To The LORD For Your Own Sake!

"And you, do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for I am going to bring disaster upon all flesh, says the Lord; but I will give you your life as a prize of war in every place to which you may go.” (Jer 45:5 NIV)

Most often, the prophets warn us about seeking false gods, of worshipping ourselves; but, at the same time we are reminded that if we follow in His way, we will be blessed. We will be given our lives! We will live and live abundantly for all eternity, in His presence, in His Kingdom! Thanks be to God!

I cannot even count the times I have warned others that they were falling off the path and heading for disaster. A majority of the time, I am not listened to. Once more my plea is that you would give your life to the LORD that it might go well with you in the land that He has given you, in the Kingdom, where His Son, our LORD and Savior, reigns.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jeremiah 44 - Denying/Rejecting God's Mercy

Do not mistake God's mercy for blessings of false idols. He endured the sins of the remnant for long enough as they worshipped their false idols. And, now they are willfully turning their backs on Him saying: "We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the LordWe will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine." (Jer 44:16-18 NIV)

God's own people, the little remnant that God allowed to remain in Jerusalem and care for the temple; care for the land, have decided instead that they will give up their inheritance. They will go to Egypt; and they will worship this false goddess. They have chosen to ignore God's blessings. Rather than give Him the glory; they will give thanks to and glorify this "queen of heaven."

And... they will be lost.... The LORD will not stand for His people turning away from Him in this manner. He will send Nebuchadnezzar to Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar will overthrow them. The people who were once God's people, who worshipped in His temple, will not be able to return to the home they turned their backs on.

Do not, I pray, turn your backs on the LORD, our Maker and Redeemer. Return to Him, giving Him (and no other) glory for all that He has done.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Jeremiah 43 - Trust The LORD - Call On His Name

OK! So, the remnant still refuses to hear the words the LORD their God had given to them through Jeremiah! Humankind is a pretty hard-headed lot. God's own people hadn't been able to keep themselves from evil or harm so far; so, they're pretty convinced Egypt is going to be able to save them.

What about the remnant today? Are we listening any better? In whom do we really put our trust? Is it God? Or, are we just like everyone else thinking that our governments will keep us safe? Do we put our faith in governments who are actually made up of people who, no matter how good their intentions, end up putting their own bias', their own welfare, before the welfare of the people, as a whole (even if they are elected by the people)?

God's not happy about the decision of the remnant to move to Egypt so that they might be safe from the Babylonians. He warns them: "In Tahpanhes the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “While the Jews are watching, take some large stones with you and bury them in clay in the brick pavement at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes. Then say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will send for my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and I will set his throne over these stones I have buried here; he will spread his royal canopy above them. He will come and attack Egypt, bringing death to those destined for death, captivity to those destined for captivity, and the sword to those destined for the sword. He will set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt; he will burn their temples and take their gods captive. As a shepherd picks his garment clean of lice, so he will pick Egypt clean and depart. There in the temple of the sun in Egypt he will demolish the sacred pillars and will burn down the temples of the gods of Egypt.’” (Jer 43:8-13 NIV)

The remnant will not escape. They cannot run to Egypt to be saved. We will not be saved by trusting in Pharaoh's and Kings to save us. There is only one God. "And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, even among the survivors whom the LORD calls." (Joel 2:32)

"And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Act 2:21)

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

It has always amazed me; but, I have been amazed all over again this past week as I have read stories of the faith of those who are being persecuted in eastern countries, particularly this week the Coptic Christians in Egypt. They continue to call on the name of the LORD, trusting in Him to be with them always, no matter what the circumstances of the world around them may be. They do not run. They stand on His promises even as their places of worship are burned. They call upon His name, even as their lives are threatened.

Let us give thanks to God for the remnant who listens and follows in the way of the LORD.

God's Peace - Pr. J


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Jeremiah 42 - Remnant

The remnant has gotten much smaller and they are afraid. They are afraid that somehow they, too, will be deported to Babylon as captives. Johanan, the army officer, who freed them from Ishmael's captivity, is thinking that if they all flee to Egypt they will be safe.

Jeremiah advises against this. The promise of God is that if they will stay put in the land that He has given them, He will protect them. He will bless them.

There are times when we feel that the remnant is much smaller than it appears on the surface. Do not despair. Stand firm, trusting in the LORD. Trust that the gifts that God has given you are sufficient for your life. Trust that He will save you. Trust that the LORD is with you as you proclaim the Good News of His Kingdom. It is as simple as that.

Trust in the LORD's direction for you. Trust Him and you will truly live life in the land that He has promised and given you.

Thanks be to God! God's peace - Pr. J

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jeremiah 41 - Senseless Civil Wars

Senseless killing! This is one of those stories that just baffles me. Ishmael goes to Mizpah, sits down to eat dinner with Gedaliah (the one whom the king of Babylon had appointed as governor over the people left in the land after the exile) and kills Gedaliah and everyone with Gedaliah. He then takes the rest of the people (those whom Babylon had left in the land) captive and sets out for the Ammonites. Johanan and his men hear of it and go get these people from Ishmael. They are happy to see Johanan. Ishmael escapes. But, now those people who had been Ishmael's captives are afraid of the Babylonians because Ishmael had killed Gedaliah. Nobody wins!

It reminds me of the many civil uprisings that happen around our world, even today. One uprising after another. For what? What was Ishmael doing trying to enslave his own people? Why? Power? Ego? What? Why do rulers insist on enslaving their own people? Subjugating them to laws that are not fairly balanced for all people? I don't get it. I do get people rebelling when they are the subject of cruel and inhumane laws of the land. But, I don't get why others want to subjugate and persecute them in the first place. Lots of uprisings and wars could be done away with or avoided if we could just learn to respect others a little bit. I suppose it comes down to that same old sin wherein we choose other gods before the one true God; and, often that other god we choose is ourselves.

I cannot help but wonder, this morning, who is winning in Egypt? I suspect no one. Everyone is suffering. May God help the Egyptian people to figure out a way to end the persecution and bloodshed of their own people.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jeremiah 40 - Fear Divides

Jeremiah doesn't do any prophesying in this chapter. We find him bound in chains. The Nebuzaradan commander frees him and gives him a choice. Go to Babylon and he will take care of Jeremiah or stay with the remnant. Jeremiah chooses to stay with the remnant.

Meanwhile, Gedaliah has been left in charge of the remnant in the Yehud province. But, not all of the God's people are pleased with this turn of events. Most of their people have just been carried off as prisoners to a foreign country and some of those who have been left behind are plotting to kill Gedaliah. Gedaliah doesn't believe it! He cannot believe that Ishmael, son of Nethaniah, would try to destroy him and ultimately divide and scatter the rest of the remnant. Politics!

It has been a difficult morning as I have been considering the plight of and praying for the Coptic Christians in Egypt this morning. At least 40 Christian churches were destroyed this week. Politics! Even Religion! So much turmoil! What causes it all! Could it be the fear of losing what one has had? Maybe, anger over the recent changes in the country? Could it be the fear of change? It just kind of baffles me that when things don't go our way, rather than face and address the situation appropriately, we sometimes attack, not the one(s) who is actually at the root of the problem, but the one who we don't care for, but is closer and more vulnerable. As individuals, we do it all the time. The problem is too big for us to handle alone, so we attack anyone and anything that irritates us. We end up attacking the symptom not the problem. Kind of reminds me of a few doctors... That is just what some of the remnant are about to do. They are frustrated and angry over the deportation of their people to Babylon. They can't stand up to Nebuchadnezzar's forces so they will attack Gedaliah, one of their own, who has been placed in charge of them.

Doesn't make sense to me to attack the symptom when the cause overwhelms us.

Doesn't make sense to me to not trust the LORD to see us through the disasters that come upon us and to give us the strength and courage to endure. Seems like God's people in Jeremiah's day were really having a hard time learning this. Seems to me that they will probably be bringing more trouble to themselves. May God help us to avoid all troubles by listening to His Word and doing His will.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jeremiah 39 - I Will Rescue You!

"But I will rescue you on that day, declares the Lord; you will not be given into the hands of those you fear. I will save you; you will not fall by the sword but will escape with your life, because you trust in me, declares the Lord." (Jer 39:17-18 NIV)

You will escape, because you put your trust in me. That was the LORD's message to  Ebed-Melek as Jerusalem was being seized by the Babylonians. King Zedekiah did not escape; even though he tried to run. His sons were caught and killed as well as all the nobles of Egypt. But, this man, Ebed-Melek, was to be saved because of his faithfulness, in that when Jeremiah was put into the cistern by the nobles, Ebed-Melek helped to effect his release from that prospective death. Ebed-Melek would be saved because he trusted in the LORD and was willing to stick his own neck out to do God's will.

We are reminded, in today's reading, that we are saved by faith. We are saved because we trust that God has saved us through Jesus Christ, our LORD.

Jerusalem has been seized. It was surely a dark hour. But, even in this darkness, the light of God's grace shines. "But Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard left behind in the land of Judah some of the poor people, who owned nothing; and at that time he gave them vineyards and fields." (vs 10)

The poor people, Ebed-Melek were granted grace in these very dark times. These unknown people, out there somewhere on the fringe, that no one paid much attention to, and had no one to truly trust, but God, were saved and even blessed.

"I will rescue you, declares the Lord; because you trust in me, declares the Lord"

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, August 16, 2013

Jeremiah 38 - Listen and Live

Apparently Jeremiah's preaching is having an effect on King Zedekiah. The officials wants him dead and lower him into a cistern to die. But, Zedekiah hears of it and rescues him. He not only rescues him, he has a private meeting with him wherein he listens to Jeremiah's advise on what he should do in order to live. Jeremiah informs him that if he is to live, he must surrender to the Babylonians

Just because we don't always like someone's advice; just because the end result of someone advice isn't exactly how we would have our future, doesn't mean that we shouldn't listen. It doesn't mean we shouldn't follow that advise. Zedekiah seems (at least in this chapter) to have enough sense to at least listen. We will see in the following chapters what he chose to do: whether to follow Jeremiah's advice and live or ignore it and suffer and die.

Many kings and their kingdoms; many men, women, and children, have fallen for refusing to listen and taking sound advice. Listen to the word of the LORD. Listen to Him and follow in the way that He would have you go.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jeremiah 37 - Light After Darkness

Jeremiah is thrown into prison for preaching the word of God. Of course, he is arrested under the pretext that he is a traitor. He was not.

This seems to be a not so uncommon an occurrence when the truth is told. The enemy will do what it can to make it look like you have done something wrong other than speak the truth. It might be your neighbor or even a family member who will falsely accuse you. It might even be your own government. The fact that you are speaking the truth so that the people might be saved will be overlooked and you may end up being branded a criminal, even a traitor. You may be imprisoned.

But, that is the chance truth-tellers must take in order to help their neighbors; in order to save them. Jeremiah was put into prison for speaking the truth. Jesus was put to death for proclaiming it. Not everyone wants to hear the truth and come out into the light. Not everyone wants to be released from the bondage of darkness. They would prefer to drag the rest of the world into their own dark little world. But, remember this when someone drags you into deep, dark dungeons: "...weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5b NIV). There is light after darkness....

"Light after Darkness," a hymn for this morning written by Frances R. Havergal, in 1879:

Light after darkness, gain after loss,
Strength after weakness, crown after cross;
Sweet after bitter, hope after fears,
Home after wandering, praise after tears.
Sheaves after sowing, sun after rain,
Sight after mystery, peace after pain;
Joy after sorrow, calm after blast,
Rest after weariness, sweet rest at last.
Near after distant, gleam after gloom,
Love after loneliness, life after tomb;
After long agony, rapture of bliss,
Right was the pathway, leading to this.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Jeremiah 36 - Proclaim God's Word

One way or another, the people will hear the word of the LORD. They didn't listen to Jeremiah. He was restricted from the temple because of his preaching. Now, he has Baruch write down his sermons and bring them to the temple to read. Baruch is questioned. Are these not Jeremiah's sermons? Baruch is advised that he and Jeremiah ought to get out of town and hide as this will be reported to the king. It surely was. The king burns the scroll containing the word of the LORD and puts out a warrant for Baruch and Jeremiah. But, even as the LORD has hidden them, Jeremiah and Baruch write yet another scroll with the word of the LORD on it so that all may hear and turn to God.

In Matthew 24:10-14 Jesus tells his followers: "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

Whatever it takes... speak it; write it; send it in letters; post in on the lamp post; or even the door to the church; Facebook it; tweet it; but, get the word out. Proclaim the gospel of the kingdom as a testimony to the whole world, to all people. Just as in Jeremiah's day, you may well be persecuted for speaking the truth. You may end up in hiding for awhile. Luther did. There are faithful children of God in this world, even today, who are even put to death for the proclamation of the Good News. Kings really don't like having another kingdom proclaimed. Whatever it takes, proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God for all who believe, through Jesus Christ, our LORD.

Jeremiah attempted to get the word out by use of the law; but, we have a message that is not one of impending doom. It is a message of grace. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16) That is, eternal life in the Kingdom of God where we live completely, totally, in His presence.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Jeremiah 35 - Faithful As A Rekabite?

Jeremiah is still trying to get the people to change their ways. He is still trying to get them to listen to the LORD and follow in the way that He would have them go.

The Rekabites are used as an example of obedience and faithfulness. This family had been instructed, by their forefather, Jehonadab son of Rekab, never to drink wine, never to build homes for themselves; never to farm; rather, they were to live as nomads in tents and they would continue to live in the land for generations to come serving the LORD. These Rekabites actually listened. Even when Jeremiah tempted them with wine, they refused to drink. They did everything that they had been instructed to do by their forefather and the LORD promised that "Jehonadab son of Rekab will never fail to have a descendant to serve me.” (Jer 35:19)

On the other hand, the rest of the people remained hard-hearted and chose to do what they wanted to do and rejected the way of the LORD, their God, who had delivered them from the hands of Egypt. They rejected Him and would return to captivity.

I'm thinking that Jeremiah's attempts at changing the hearts and minds of these people with threats are going to end up pretty fruitless. Only the LORD can soften their hearts and it will be that they will not be softened until they spend some more time in the wilderness, in exile, in captivity.

I hope that we can all learn from the history of our forefathers... We shouldn't have to be threatened to get us to have faithful hearts. After all, look what the LORD has done for us... delivered us from the bondage of sin, by the precious blood of His own Son.

So why is it that some will be faithful to the way in which they should go and others will not? May God help us to be more like the Rekabites: faithful in the way that we should go.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, August 12, 2013

Jeremiah 34 - Which Freedom Will You Choose?

A slightly different concept of freedom is found in chapter 34 of Jeremiah.

 “Therefore this is what the Lord says: You have not obeyed me; you have not proclaimed freedom to your own people. So I now proclaim ‘freedom’ for you, declares the Lord—‘freedom’ to fall by the sword, plague and famine. I will make you abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth." (Jer 34:17 NIV)

God had instructed His people to set their slaves free. At first, they agreed. But, then they changed their minds and forced them back into slavery. They broke the covenant that had been made with God. They would not set the people free. But, God will. He will free His people from the covenant. They can live on their own, making their own way. They will live without the blessings that He would give to them.

If we don't want to listen to God; if we don't want to do His will; then we are free to be free from the covenant that God made with us. We don't have to seek His face. But, what we will get instead is His back and that is not a good or pleasant thing. We can be free to serve other gods; to serve ourselves. But, it would behoove us to ask ourselves is that the direction we really want to go in?

"Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves. Abraham Lincoln 

"There are two freedoms – the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought." Charles Kingsley

"While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions." Stephen Covey

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Jeremiah 33 - Good and Bad

The word that comes to Jeremiah in today's reading reminds me of a word that came to Isaiah (45:7 NIV)  "I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things."

It is difficult for many people to understand that sometimes those bad things that happen to us, happen with God's knowledge and even approval. Sometimes, they have to happen for our good.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Rom 8:28)

“Give thanks to the Lord Almighty,
    for the Lord is good;
    his love endures forever.” (Jer 33:11)

On a more personal note... I apologize for not being able to keep up with this daily study while on vacation. Vacations are very tiring for me... The traffic wears me down and it wears Howard out, as well. He is on his way back to work this morning; rather, than seeing a Dr. as he should. Before we left, he was not real excited about the fact that I insisted on pulling the bike trailer to camp in on our vacation, just in case one of the Harleys broke down. He had wanted to purchase or lease a motor home. It was fortunate that we pulled the toy hauler, as he got very sick on the way home and could not drive the bike any further. He did better once he got out of the sun and was able to drive the truck for me. God has a plan for everything. We would do well to listen to His urgings. I am hoping that God's plan includes selling the Adult Foster Care that Howard manages so when he does get sick, he has the time to take care of himself. We will see what it is that God purposes.

In the meantime, we give thanks to God that the trip was enjoyable (other than Howard not feeling up to par) and we all made it back safely.

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Jeremiah 32 - God Calls Us Out Of The Wilderness To Come Home

The LORD promises to call His people home.  I am sitting in a Day's Inn. It has taken me about thirty minutes to log on to wifi. The last three days of blogs were done in advance. For the last three days I have had no wifi and the phone connection was pretty sporadic. We were camping in the wilderness of the Black Hills at Custer National Park, SD. Very beautiful place. It was bike week... Not a good time to head to southern South Dakota for relaxation.

The LORD promises to call His people home. I am ready to go home. He has given me a beautiful and peaceful place to exist on earth. I will try to avoid leaving that place. As I told many of you before I left, I consider vacations more work than work. South Dakota is beautiful, but as "Dorothy" from Kansas said, "There's no place like home." Until the LORD calls me home, I am happy to live in the wilderness He has allotted me.

God's Peace - Pr. J

P.S. I will try to post again tomorrow - depends where we are and how much time I have.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jeremiah 31 - Old & New Covenants

More good news! The people will be restored. They will be reconciled to the land that God has given them. But, even more importantly they will be reconciled to God.

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
    though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people." (Jer 31:31-33 NIV)

God's people broke the old covenant (contract) that they had with Him. Essentially, they attempted to divorce Him and marry others. They went chasing after false idols. Still, God loves them and wants them to be restored to Him. This prophecy was written for those in exile at the time, but it also pertains to us and any future generations that might follow. He desires that we be reconciled to Him in a loving relationship. He desires to be our God and that we should be His people. Under the old covenant we cannot be restored. But, in His mercy, He sent His only begotten Son to be the new covenant with and for us. Thanks be to God! We are restored and reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, our LORD!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Jeremiah 30 - Good News

So far, Jeremiah has been preaching a lot of warnings, very dire warnings. Today, we have a break and hear a message of good news; good news to bring comfort to the exiled children of God. It is not necessarily good news, though, for the enemies of God's people.

"The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess,’ says the Lord.” (Jer 30:3 NIV)

It is such good news that the LORD instructs Jeremiah to write it down so that the children of those who are exiled will have hope in the promised day of their reconciliation with their home land. The book that we know to contain the word of God and His will for us does have its share of warnings and prophecies for those who would follow their own way. But, it is full of good news for those who would take the time to hear.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."  (Rom 8:27-29)

God's Peace - Pr. J

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jeremiah 29 - The LORD Has A Plan

The prophet Jeremiah and the false prophet Shemaiah are sending letters between Jerusalem and Babylon. Shemaiah continues to lie about what the LORD says and seeks to do harm to Jeremiah. Jeremiah advises the people who have been exiled to Babylon to settle down and help the city in which they live to prosper for in doing so they too will prosper and in seventy years their families will return to Jerusalem. Shemaiah on the other hand does not offer such wisdom. He gives the people false hope in telling them they only have two years in Babylon and then they will return. If they listen to him, they will be wasting some very precious gifts, not the least of them being years of their time as they do nothing but rebel. Jeremiah promises that the LORD says because Shemaiah persists in preaching rebellion against the LORD; in witnessing falsely to the will of God, that he and his descendants will suffer.

It is sometimes very difficult to accept the LORD's will. Very often, His will is not what we would desire for ourselves. But know this:

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to 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 will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”" (Jer 29:11-14 NIV)

Take that leap of faith and trust that no matter what you are going through today, the LORD has a plan for you and it is a very good plan - the best!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Jeremiah 28 - Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire!

Liar, Liar, pants on fire!

No, that is not what Jeremiah said in response to the prophet Hananiah's prophecy that the LORD will break the yoke of Babylon in two years. "He said, “Amen! May the Lord do so! May the Lord fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the Lord’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon." (Jer 28:6 NIV) Jeremiah would have liked that prophecy to occur, but he knew better. He knew because he, himself, had heard the word of God concerning the exile.

Hananiah tries to convince the people that Jeremiah is the one who is wrong. He takes the wooden yoke, that Jeremiah has been wearing as a warning to the people of their bondage to Babylon, and breaks it. Hananiah says, “This is what the Lord says: ‘In the same way I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon off the neck of all the nations within two years.’” (Jer 28:11)

Bad news... Lying about what God says is not a good thing, for sure!

"Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies. Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die, because you have preached rebellion against the Lord.’”
In the seventh month of that same year, Hananiah the prophet died." (Jer 28:15-17)

It's really not a good idea to be saying "Thus says the LORD" if the LORD hasn't said it.

"Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Do not add to his words,    or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar." (Prov 30:5-6)

God's Peace be with you! Pr. J

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Jeremiah 27 - Nebuchadnezzar; The Servant of God

"Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him.  All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him." (Jeremiah 27:6-7 NIV)

We all have those days when we just can't figure out why our enemies prevail; when we beg God to intervene. Can you imagine what God's people thought when they heard Jeremiah's prophecy concerning Nebuchadnezzar being the servant of God? I'm thinking, it probably would have been pretty hard to believe Jeremiah and much easier to believe the false prophets. Of course, many of God's people have already been exiled to Babylon, so maybe they should be listening a whole lot closer to Jeremiah.

But, God has a plan and that plan includes restoring His people in the long run. Nebuchadnezzar has been chosen by God to help in that plan. The people have been yoked, for a very long time, to their false idols. Now, they will learn what it really means to be yoked by something, by someone, who is not God Almighty. They will learn this and turn to the LORD. They will then return to the land promised them.

Sometimes, hardships, may not be so much about our enemies persecuting us. Sometimes, they just might be about our LORD softening our hearts toward Him, as well as others.

May God bless your day as you go about serving the One God with an abundance of joy!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Friday, August 2, 2013

Jeremiah 26 - Don't Kill The Messenger

Don't kill the messenger. If you don't like the message that the LORD is trying to get you to hear and understand, it will not help to persecute or kill the messenger. God is not going to change His mind when He asks you to repent; unless of course, you repent.

Jeremiah proclaims the warning from the courtyard of the LORD's house. The priests, the prophets, and the people are not happy! For some reason they think that if they kill the messenger the message will no longer be valid. If the messenger is killed, then the false prophets can continue to preach their propaganda to please those itching ears and make everyone happy. At least, that seems to be the premise. But, that's not the way it works with God. He will find another messenger and yet another.

The message that Jesus proclaimed was pretty straightforward. “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”" (Mark 1:14-15 NIV see also Matt 4:17)

It was the same message that John, Jesus' forerunner, had proclaimed. What happened to the two of them? They were both put to death, but the message did not change. Jesus instructions to his followers was to go out and proclaim this very same message - the Kingdom of God. That is exactly what they did.  For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. St. Paul, "...proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!" (Acts 28:30-31) Tradition tells us that Paul was eventually beheaded for the message he bore to the world. But, all those persecutions and executions did not stop the message from being delivered.

The message does not change, just because you kill the messenger.

Keep on proclaiming the Kingdom, through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

God's Peace - Pr. J

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jeremiah 25 - Cup Of God's Wrath

The nations are to drink from the cup of God's wrath. This is God's command to Jeremiah: make them drink of the cup. They will not be spared. They will not go unpunished.

Drink from this cup... Sound familiar to you?

How about on the night in which he was betrayed...

   "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
   Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
   Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
   He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”" (Matt 26:36-42 NIV)

Jesus was willing to drink from this the cup of God's wrath for us. He was willing to suffer the penalty for our sins. He was willing to die so that we might be spared. His disciples were not strong enough to even be able to stay awake and watch and pray, let alone pay the penalty for their own sins. We are not. So out of mercy, God interceded on our behalf, sending His only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ, to take the charges and the guilt of our sin upon Himself.

As you read Jeremiah 25 today, give thanks to God that His mercy and grace has been extended to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

God's Peace - Pr. J