Changing Focus

Today’s Daily Reading: Jeremiah 45-46 & 1 Peter 5

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 45 – Self-Promotion

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up… And do you seek great things for yourself?'” – Jeremiah 45:4-5

As the nation teeters on the brink of collapse, Jeremiah is given a prophetic message for one man, Baruch. Baruch was an assistant to Jeremiah. One of his main roles was that of a scribe. He was responsible for writing down Jeremiah’s messages in book form and delivering them to the kings. We have every reason to believe that Baruch served Jeremiah, and the Lord, faithfully. But even faithful men are in need of correction from time to time. Often Christian service goes unnoticed, especially when we are in a support role in ministry. We might… Read More

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 46 – Armed and Dangerous

“Order the buckler and shield,
And draw near to battle!
Harness the horses,
And mount up, you horsemen!
Stand forth with your helmets,
Polish the spears,
Put on the armor!” – Jeremiah 46:3-4

As the forces of Egypt prepared to go to battle with Babylon, Jeremiah describes the battle scene. He paints a picture of soldiers with weapons in hand and clad with armor. His battle scene has been repeated countless times over in human history, as one force prepares to defend itself against another. I cannot help but notice a few similarities to the battle we face as believers. First, it is critical that we…Read More 

 

New Testament Reading: 1 Peter 5 – Throw It All Away

“. . .casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7 

Cares, concerns, worries, and anxiety are all relatively synonymous terms. They speak of the things in life that fill us with fear, rob us of peace, overwhelm us, and stress us out. There are numerous things that create this kind of anxiety; some of them are real and others irrational, but all of them seem to have the same effect upon us…Read More

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What Are You Doing?

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 43-44

Jeremiah 43: Self-Willed

“So Johanan the son of Kareah, all the captains of the forces, and all the people would not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah.” – Jeremiah 43:4

After the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar’s forces, the inhabitants of Judah began to look to Egypt as a place of refuge. Jeremiah warned them that fleeing to Pharaoh would result in further death and destruction. The same people who refused to listen when the prophet told them to willingly go to Babylon, are the people who are now fleeing to Egypt. On the one hand, the Word of God told them to go, on the other…Read More

Jeremiah 44: Self-Inflicted

“Now therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel:‘Why do you commit this great evil against yourselves…” – Jeremiah 44:7

God warned the people not to flee to Egypt for help. He knew the Babylonians would soon defeat Egypt and any who were In allegiance with her. Despite these warnings, many of the people chose to depart from Jerusalem and Judah, making their way to Egypt. When questioned by Jeremiah as to why they chose to disobey the clear commands of God, they responded that life was easier when they worshipped the “queen of heaven.” The real reason they fled the commands of the Lord was they wanted to worship other things… Read More

New Testament Reading: 1 Peter 4

1 Peter 4: The End Is Near

“But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another.” – 1 Peter 4:7-10

Peter gives a series of exhortations, all predicated upon the fact that the end is near. When the Bible refers to the end of all things, it does so, not out of fear or despair, but out of joy and anticipation. For the believer, the end of all things means Christ will call His church home, and ultimately return to set up His earthly kingdom, where He will reign and rule in righteousness… Read More

Ready and Willing?

TODAY’S DAILY BIBLE READING

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 41 –  Gamer Over

“But Ishmael the son of Nethaniah escaped from Johanan with eight men and went to the Ammonites.”  – Jeremiah 41:15

After conquering Judah and Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah governor over the people. He allowed many of the Jews to remain in the land, and gavethem certain freedoms regarding their worship. Soon, those who had fled from Jerusalem… Read More

 

Jeremiah 42: Ready And Willing

“Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God…” – Jeremiah 42:6

A few years back I attended a men’s conference where this verse was shared during a worship session. Like most, I was encouraged by the sentiment of it, until I recalled the context. You see, as beautiful as the verse is, it is declared by a group of people who have no real intention of doing what the Lord says. The verse might better read, “we will obey as long as the Lord tells us what we want to hear… Read More

New Testament Reading: 1 Peter 3

1 Peter 3: Answers

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” – 1 Peter 3:15

Shortly after coming to Christ, I was driving down PCH in Southern California and found myself stuck at one of the many red lights, waiting for the arrow to turn green so I could continue to my destination. It was a summer day, and since my car did not have AC, my windows were rolled down. A car pulled up next to me and the driver called out to get my attention. I had never seen him before, and to my knowledge have never seen him since, but what he said…Read More

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Jeremiah 39 and 40: Seek Counsel

 

Jeremiah 39: Competition

“’For I will surely deliver you, and you shall not fall by the sword; but your life shall be as a prize to you, because you have put your trust in Me,’ says the Lord.” – Jeremiah 39:18

This promise was first given to a man from North Africa named Ebed-Melech. He was told that his life was like a prize, because he had put his trust in the Lord. It is quite common in Scripture for our lives to be compared to a competition. The New Testament compares the Christian life to a walk, a run, a race, a fight and even a battle. Jeremiah reminds us of one key ingredient of our training, if we want to win… Read More

Jeremiah 40: Seek Counsel

“But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, ‘You shall not do this thing, for you speak falsely concerning Ishmael.'” – Jeremiah 40:16

Nothing in the text gives us any real clear insight into the spiritual condition of Gedaliah. He may not have been a believer at all, or may have been a believer who simply failed to take the warning he received to the Lord. Whatever the case, his story reminds me of the failure to take things to the Lord.Had the governor taken this warning seriously, gotten alone with God or sought counsel from the prophet, Read More

 

Do The Wicked Prosper? 

Jeremiah 12:1-2
“​ Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper?”

Jeremiah’s question interests me because it seem to be the opposite of what God is accused of today. How many times have we heard someone ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The inference is that good, innocent even righteous people are being mistreated by a vengeful and unfair God. Jeremiah had a different perspective, he saw God as a righteous judge and realized that men were sinners. This led him to wonder why it was that wicked people were prospering.

In any situation in life, if we are going to effectively problem solve we have to accuratly diagnose the problem. If a doctor misdiagnosis a person he will also fail to prescribe the proper treatment. If a mechanic misdiagnosis the problem with the engine he will replace the wrong part and if we continue to place blame on God for the wicked actions of men we will never really find a cure. When we backslide and get involved in things God specifically tells us to avoid we cannot then turn and ask why God has allowed this to happen to us. We must take responsibility for wandering from the Lord and into harmful things. The way of escape will be found when we turn from our wanderings and begin again to follow closely after Christ.

Sometimes it is difficult to trust the Lord because we see others who have chosen not to follow Christ going through life without many of the difficulties we are struggling through. If you feel that way, you are not alone. The psalmist wrote that it was the carefree lifestyle of the wicked that caused him to question the value of trusting in the Lord. All that changed for him when he looked passed the immediate and considered their end. Jesus explained that there are only two roads in life. One leads to eternal life, the other to judgment. The question is not how difficult the roads might be, but where they are ultimately taking us. Instead of being discouraged by the hardships you are currently facing, look to the end of the road and the glory that awaits all who trust in Christ.

Jim

Get Out Of Jail

Jeremiah 52:31

“Now it came to pass in the thirty- seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach, King of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin, King of Judah and brought him out of prison.”

Jehoiachin, the last King of Judah, will forever be known as the one sitting on the throne when the nation fell. The collapse was not entirely his fault, although his wickedness did play a part. While very few details are preserved regarding his actual reign, we are told that after 37 years in prison, he was suddenly released and treated favorably. Jeremiah does not give an explanation of the details leading up to his release, but as Scripture unfolds, we can uncover the heavenly reasons behind it.

Thirty-three years after Jehoiachin was released, Cyrus, King of Persia, allowed Israel to return to Jerusalem to repatriate the land and rebuild the Temple. The remnant that returned was led by Zerubbabel, who would serve as their governor and liaison between Israel and Persia. Zerrubabel was the grandson of Jehoiachin. That means, although imprisoned for 37 years, God still had a plan for Jehoiachin’s life. Although he failed as a king, he seems to have succeeded as a grandfather, by raising a son, who in turn, would raise a son, who would serve the Lord.

Zerrubabel would become a great leader in Israel. His ministry would combine the gifts of Moses, who led Israel into the land, and Solomon who built the first temple. In the midst of great opposition, he would find great victory.

None of us should aspire to take the route of Jehoiachin; a wicked life that results in bondage should never be our aspiration. However, if we have traveled a road that has cost us our freedom, and perhaps even our family’s, it is not too late to get off that road and determine, from this point forward, we will live for the Christ and His kingdom. It may be, in the time you have left, the Lord may use you to influence those who will influence the nations.

Pastor Jim

 

Not Forsaken 

Jeremiah 51:5

“For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”

As Jeremiah writes this, Jerusalem is smoldering in the rubble of its own destruction. Babylonian forces have taken the people captive, burned the city to the ground, and set up their own government to rule over Israel. Since the cause of Judah’s fall was their stubborn rebellion against the Word of the Lord, it would seem logical to conclude that God had forsaken His people. Jeremiah declares that those who are in covenant relationship with God, will not be utterly forsaken, even when we have sinned against Him.

Obviously, sin is damaging and has long lasting effects upon our lives. The children of Israel experienced this first hand, as they were defeated in battle, taken captive, and became strangers in a foreign land for seventy years. The same will be true of us. A man who is unfaithful to his wife and family, may destroy his marriage and lose the trust of his children. A person who is  dishonest at work, may lose his job and find it very difficult to support his family. But a child of God, no matter how hard he falls, will not be forsaken.

Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

The promise that God will never leave us should keep us close to Him, not living on the edges as far away as possible, while maintaining a relationship with God. This promise should drive us closer and closer to the one who loves us with an everlasting love. This truth should motivate us to cry our for mercy, and allow ourselves to be washed in His amazing grace.

No matter what you have done, His mercy is new every morning, and your relationship with Him can be restored.

Pastor Jim