Archive for October, 2019

What does it cost? (Jeremiah 16-17)

October 31, 2019

 on the mountains in the open country. Your wealth and all your treasures I will give for spoil as the price of your high places for sin throughout all your territory. Jeremiah 17:3

When I read Jeremiah 16-17, the follow words come rushing into my mind: “Israel was about to pay a high price for low living.”

Jesus challenged His listeners to do the following: “Count the cost,” Luke 14:28.

I wonder, if you and I daily take the time to count the cost of what we are striving for in life.  When God spoke to Jeremiah, the people were about to pay the highest of prices for what they were enjoying.

First, what were they enjoying?  They were enjoying pagan worship, sexual pleasure in ungodly ways, the riches of God without even giving thanks to God.  They were enjoying the blessings of the sabbath without even considering God and they were following the path laid out for them by their deceptive hearts which directed them to follow an evil will.

Second, what did it cost Israel to enjoy such things?  It cost them their families, their heritage, their homeland, and their future.

Brothers and sisters, this was a price far too high to pay.

As I reflect on this truth, I can not help but compare this to our day.  I wonder if the people of our nation take time to consider the cost for what we are doing today?

As a pastor I am praying the following for our nation:  Father break the power of sin and open the eyes of all Americans to see the evil in their hearts.  Father change our hearts. Give us new hearts that desire to take in the living water given by your Son Jesus Christ. Lead us Father to places of true worship with a desire to set aside one day each week to worship you as you are worthy.

Brothers and sisters, I know Jesus is our answer (John 7:37-38).  I know Jesus is coming again (Joel 2:12-13) and I know Jesus is all I need in every season of life (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

Oh that our land would count the cost and follow the one who paid it all so that we could be free!!!

You against the world (Jeremiah 15)

October 30, 2019

“21 I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
    and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.” Jeremiah 15:21

It is always hard to figure out what someone is thinking in any given situation.  I have so many times gotten it wrong because I could not possibly know all that brought a person to their decisions.

As I try to get into Jeremiah’s mind, reading chapter 15, I realize this is God’s Word revealed to us through the Holy Spirit.  This morning it seemed in my heart that Jeremiah must have felt he was standing against his world.

We see his complaint beginning in Vs: 10.  It had to be tough.  The people cursed the very mention of his name (Vs:11).  Take a moment and consider this, Jeremiah was not an evil man taking advantage of the poor.  This was God’s man delivering God’s Word.  The people hated him for it.

As I write I wonder who will read this.  I cannot possible figure out even remotely what each of you face in a day.  I cannot possible feel your hurts, fears, or struggles.  I cannot fathom your questions, fatigue, or even your anger.  But I serve the same God Jeremiah did.

This same God is speaking to you as He did Jeremiah.  God both challenged and encouraged Jeremiah in all he was going through.  Let God’s Words to Him be His Words to you today:

God says, I challenge you speak My Word over your circumstances, Vs: 19.  I challenge you to understand that I have made you for such a time as this.  I will see you through, Vs: 20.  Do not give up, slow down, or stop.  I am with you, you will prevail, Vs: 20.

God says, I encourage you to sense my presence with you.  I am there even when you do not know it.  As the wind blows so do I blow upon you peace.  Let me fight your battles.  God says, I will redeem everything in my time. Trust me!

Brothers and sisters, I cannot get into Jeremiahs head and I cannot get into yours.  However God can.  Today receive His Word, “In the world you will have tribulation.  Take heart I have overcome the world.”  Today, walk in His Word and claim His Word over every thing you are facing.

Tears (Jeremiah 13-14)

October 29, 2019

But if you will not listen,
    my soul will weep in secret for your pride;
my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears,
    because the Lord‘s flock has been taken captive. Jeremiah 13:17

Is there anyone who reads this, who is wiping the tears while you read?  I believe, as Jeremiah writes these words he was wiping the tears from his eyes and maybe from the scroll he was writing on.

You ask, why was he crying?  Maybe the better question might be, are we crying?  Anyone that really knows me, knows I cry freely.  My kids always make fun of my crying.  There was once a time when I asked God to take away the tears from my soul.  Those were the most miserable six months of my life.  I was so glad when God forgave me for such a foolish prayer.

Jeremiah cried because God was about to judge His chosen people for their sin.  Brothers and sisters, you and I have a reason to cry.  I believe judgment is coming against our nation unless we turn around.

Jeremiah pleads with his nation to turn back to God. Unashamedly Jeremiah said, unless you repent my soul will weep.  What did he mean by, “my soul will weep?”  Was this just an emotional response?  This was far more than an emotional response, Jeremiah was broken in his soul for his people.  Yes, he did shed tears through his eyes, but the spring from which the fountain flowed was his soul.

I wonder, does the Lord shed tears for humanity? We know from John 11:35 that Jesus wept for his friend.  I believe the Scriptures teach us of God’s soul being broken for you and I.

Brothers and sisters, if God cries out for us, should we not also be crying out to Him for the souls of our fellow man?

David cried out for his people in II Samuel 23.  Jesus cried out for Israel in Matthew 9:35-38.  Even from the cross He cried out for us.

This very day, I have reason to cry to God for this land and for these our fellow friends and neighbors.

Let me challenge you on this Tuesday to take time to pray and to take time to consider the plight of the people in this world.  May the Lord lead you and I to tears in our souls.

When someone has tears in their soul, it moves them to accomplish the task of sharing Christ with those they are crying for!!!  II Cor. 5:20 “Tho Christ were pleading through us!”

Whose Listening? (Jeremiah 11-12)

October 28, 2019

16 And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ even as they taught my people to swear by Baal, then they shall be built up in the midst of my people. 17 But if any nation will not listen, then I will utterly pluck it up and destroy it, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 12:16-17

As I turned on the news, I knew what I was about to see.  I knew there would be at least 2 people debating each other, if not more.  The typical scene is of both people talking over each other with neither attempting to listen.  Certainly I understand that everyone has opinions, but my question is, how will we arrive at the truth if no one is listening?

In Jeremiah 11, it was obvious, the nation was not listening to God. God said; “cursed be the man who does not hear the words of this covenant.” This nations hearing problem led to her obeying problem.  God has persistently (11:7) spoke to Israel, but she was not listening.  The voices of other gods had caught her attention (11:10).

Now that destruction was coming, Israel cries out for help (11:14-16).  But all her talk was useless because God was not listening.

Brothers and sisters, when a nation or an individual is bent on disrespecting God and living in unrighteousness, that nation or individual is headed toward the sure wrath of God.  God’s wrath begins with God turning over the person to their own opinions (Rom. 1:24).  This is surly the path to destruction, “the whole land is made desolate, but no man laid it to heart,” (12:11).

Here is honestly, the only reason our nation still exists is because of the mercy of God (Rom. 2:4) in delaying wrath giving us day after day to repent.  Question, what should you and I be doing in a day when everyone is talking and no one is listening?

  1. We must listen and obey God, James 1:21.
  2.  We must speak the Truth of God’s Word, Rom. 10:17; II Tim. 2:24-25.
  3. We must with love and kindness consistently pray for those in the darkness, I Tim. 2:8.
  4. We must push back the darkness, I Peter 3:15.

God has not changed, for those who listen and obey, liberation comes!!! Let us listen and obey this very day.

Washing my Idol (Jeremiah 10)

October 25, 2019

Their idols[b] are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
    and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
    for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
    for they cannot do evil,
    neither is it in them to do good.” Jeremiah 10:5

It was a gift like no other.  My parents gave me a new red Chevy pickup when I turned eighteen.  I remember the first few years I had the pickup.  I washed it, what now seems like, every day.  I kept the inside spotless, and I think I even occasionally talked with it.

So, here is my question:  Was my truck an idol?

Someone has defined an idol as anything we place above God in worship, adoration, or service.

In Jeremiah 10, we find a description of Israel’s idols:  They were creatures of human hands.  They had no real life.  They had to be carried by the very men who created them.

In Vs: 5 Jeremiah puts idols in their place.  We are not to fear them and we are not to offer them undeserved praise.

Jeremiah teaches us about the God we should praise:  He is great, all-powerful, the all-knowing God. He is from everlasting to everlasting,. He is the creator of all things and He controls all things.

As I read Jeremiah 10, I looked back to my past.  I have to admit, the truck was a god in my young life.  But as I repent and reflect I realize it was God who provided the truck for me, it was God who made it last so very long, it was God who directed my steps all along the way and even now God is directing my every step (Vs: 23).

Here are three prayers I offered God this morning:

  1. Lord, I praise you for being the one wise King.
  2. Lord, correct me by removing all idols from my life.
  3. Lord, turn people away from idols and lead them to serve you.

May this be our story today:

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

A heart-broken Leader (Jeremiah 9)

October 24, 2019

Oh that my head were waters,
    and my eyes a fountain of tears,
that I might weep day and night
    for the slain of the daughter of my people! Jeremiah 9:1

I can still remember the scene of the aftermath of 9/11/2001.  Edged in my mind are many pictures from that tragic time in our nations history.  One picture stands out above the rest.  It was the picture of our then president, George W. Bush standing in the rubble of the fallen World Trade Centers, speaking to the rescue personnel.

In some ways this is how I see Jeremiah as he speaks to his people who were facing the wrath of God. Judgment was coming because the nation left God no choice but to judge them (9:9).  A journey through Vs: 2-8 lists for us the many sins of the people.  Each and every day the people lived in evil and they lived to do evil.

I wonder, how would you respond if you lived in such a society?  Well, you do not have to think about your answer very long because this is the society you and I live in today.  I honestly find myself some days weeping as did Jeremiah.

One might ask, how should a Christian respond to such evil in society?  Jeremiah gives us the answer in this chapter:

23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

There are two responses we are pointed too:

  1.  You and I are to be a people who pray for our nation.

We pray that our nation would hear from God.  We pray that our nation would repent of her sins and that she would obey the Word of the Lord. We pray that our nation would begin to worship the one true and living God.

2. You and I are to be a light to our nation.

His light shines through us the brightest when we are practicing steadfast love, justice, and righteousness. Our God delights in such living.

Now, I do not know if you and I will face the devastation that Israel did, but there is one thing I know, I want to let my light shine in the darkness.  I pray for each who read this today, Father shine your light through each and every follower of You.

The wintertime of one’s soul (Jeremiah 8)

October 23, 2019

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended,
    and we are not saved.” Jeremiah 8:20

In days of summer people eagerly look forward to their days.  In the summer there are picnics, trips to the lake or the beach, and there are longer daylight hours to enjoy the evenings together.

If you are a farmer the summer months are filled with cultivation of the crops planted in the spring.  For the farmer summer is all about the anticipation of the harvest in the fall.

The nation of Israel had sown seeds of unrighteousness (from the least to the greatest).  God speaking of these people said, “They were in perpetual back-slidding,” Vs: 5.

As Jeremiah considers his people’s state, he hears the approaching hoofbeats of the conquering army.  His nation was coming to the wintertime of their souls.

Brothers and sisters, where are we as a nation today?  What does the future hold?  I am afraid the words of Jeremiah are applying to our day, “The harvest is past, the summer has end, and we are not saved.”

As Israel approached her wintertime, she could only say, what have we done?

This morning I want to point out three thoughts to consider:

I. This morning I am touched by God’s goodness to our nation and to me personally.  I am even more touched when I think of where I am headed (John 14:3).  But at the same time:

II.  This morning I am terrified by what is ahead for our world, II Peter 3:11-13.  Our world is facing the fruit of her deeds, Gal. 6:7.

III. This morning I will take my stand in lifting up the name of Jesus among all the nations of the world, Matt. 28:18-20.

Brothers and sisters, as you have considered these thoughts, what will your response be? Will it be retreat, refusal to engage the world, or all-forward for the hope of Christ for the nations?

The words of Daniel 12:3 encourage me this day:

 And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above;[a] and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

Voices in my heart (Jeremiah 7)

October 22, 2019

23 But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. Jeremiah 7:23-24

Sleep escaped me last night as I seemed to fight all night long the voices that were coming into my heart.  The question I had to answer was this: Which voice would I obey?

It is clear to the reader of Jeremiah seven that God was speaking into Jeremiah’s heart.  The prophet is obedient to the voice of God in his heart.  He is commanded by God to go to the gates of the temple and to speak to all who entered through the gates (7:3-5).

His message was simple: Amend your ways and deeds.

Take a moment and focus on what Jeremiah said: “amend your ways and deeds.”

As Jeremiah writes In chapter 7 we read of Israel’s ways, she was listening to deceptive words.  As Jeremiah writes we see a listing of Israel’s deeds: she was unjust, prejudice, mistreating the poor and handicapped, murdering children, worshipping other gods, and pretending to worship God.

Here is the point:  Because Israel’s ways were wrong, it only followed that her deeds would be also be wrong.

Thankfully this was not God’s last word to the heart of Israel.  God said, “obey His voice and walk in His ways,” Vs: 23.

Sadly, the people listened to the voices of evil in their hearts.   They would not obey God and they stiffened their hearts.  They went back instead of forward, Vs: 24.

Brothers and sisters, sleepless nights will come to your life, but those nights do not have to be unproductive, if you obey the voice of the Lord.

It was our Lord, Luke 22:42, who agonized in the Garden on the night of His betrayal.  His heart was obedient, He said: “thy will be done oh Lord.” It was Paul who agonized in the night in the city of Troaz, Acts 16:9-10.  When God spoke, his heart was obedient, “immediately he sought to do God’s will.”

This day I prepare myself to profit from my sleepless night.  I am ready to do God’s will. I believe so are you.

Producing Fruit (Jeremiah 6)

October 21, 2019

Hear, O earth; behold, I am bringing disaster upon this people,
    the fruit of their devices,
because they have not paid attention to my words;
    and as for my law, they have rejected it. Jeremiah 6:19

For the past month I have been enjoying the fruit of those who grow apples in North Georgia. Even as I write this there is an apply by me waiting to be eaten.  The apples have been sweet, fresh, and just the right size.  I can give a testimony of their producing good fruit.

Our Lord Jesus spoke about fruit in Matt. 7:17 “Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”

According to Jeremiah, Israel had become a diseased tree.  One asks, how did this happen?  According to 2:11 “She changed Gods…” In Chapter 5:11 Jeremiah wrote, “She loved idols and sins of every kind.”

Now God says, you have sown evil seeds, you have cultivated evil seeds, and now it was harvest time (6:19). Disaster was fruit becoming ripe on the trees of their spiritual lives.

Question: was there any way to change the outcome?

God answer was yes.   Notice 6:16

Thus says the Lord:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
    and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
    and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

If Israel would repent (cut down the diseased trees of sin) and turn from her rebellion, God would reconcile her to Himself.  If she would seek the good  way (fruit of righteousness), God would spare here.  Sadly history records, she would not.

As I look at the apple to my right, I realize the farmer did his work correctly and God did His work correctly, producing a fruit that is a blessing.

When it comes to my life and your life, I wonder do others see the fruit of our lives as a blessing?  According to Paul’s teaching in Galatians 5:13-26, all Christians have two sources of seeds to plant in life.  We have the seeds of the flesh and the seeds of the Holy Spirit.

The fruit of our lives gives forth evidence of which seeds we are producing (Gal. 6:7-8).  This day I want to sow seeds of righteousness so that I can bear the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

By doing so, you and I offer fruit this world needs.

 

An Important Question (Jeremiah 5)

October 18, 2019

   …but what will you do when the end comes? Jeremiah 5:31

There have been many important questions in the history of the world.  Here are a few to consider:

  • Where did God come from?
  • Who is God?
  • How did we get here?
  • What is our purpose in life?

As Jeremiah continues to minister as a prophet among his people it is clear he has asked some important questions and has received God’s answers.  Jeremiah’s message to his people is compared to a fire that was consuming the people who were compared to wood (Vs: 14).

In Jeremiah 5, God challenges the prophet to investigate both the rich and poor and everyone in between to see if there are any who are righteous, but none could be found.  They were all alike.  God concludes, “How can I pardon you?”

The people did not believe what Jeremiah was saying, (Vs:12). However, despite what they believed God was about to judge them with an army who had death in every tip of their arrows (Vs: 16).

Even the rains ceased to fall and the crops ceased to produce.  It was their sin that kept God’s blessings far from them (Vs:26).

With all of this happening, the obvious question must have been, when will the end come?  The end did come for Israel when the armies of the enemy came.  Multitudes were killed, maimed, enslaved, and carried into captivity.

Brothers and sisters, this leads me to another question: When will our end come?  And what will happen when it comes?

Jesus has our answer:  Matt. 24:29-31

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

What will happen at the end of the world?

There will be devastation in the world and there will be destruction upon the people of the world.  Only God’s people will be gathered to Heaven.

So, what should our response be?

  1. I am thankful for God’s kindness to me.  I am ready for the end.
  2. I am mindful of my call.  I am to prepare people for the end.
  3. I am thoughtful to show God’s kindness to all around me.  This could be someone’s very last day.