Old Testament: Jeremiah 1:1-2:30
Jeremiah 1:1-2:30 God’s Crybaby
We start a new book of prophecy today. (You’re saying, “Yeaaaaaa!!!) Jeremiah is my namesake. His name means “Yah (God) Exalts.” He is known as the “weeping prophet.” He is a whiner. Like me. I am a whiner.
Interestingly, or not, my call to ministry is from Jeremiah, “Listen and give heed, do not be haughty, For the LORD has spoken. Give glory to the LORD your God, Before He brings darkness And before your feet stumble On the dusky mountains, And while you are hoping for light He makes it into deep darkness, [And] turns [it] into gloom. But if you will not listen to it, My soul will sob in secret for [such] pride; And my eyes will bitterly weep And flow down with tears, Because the flock of the LORD has been taken captive” (Jer. 13:15-17). Jeremiah’s “call to ministry” is recounted in chapter 1.
Poor Jeremiah was not allowed to get married (no jokes! cf. Jer. 16:1-4). He never won anyone over . . . at all! No one. He was rejected by his fellow Israelites (cf. Jer. 11:18-12; 12:6; 18:18). He was even beaten and put in stocks (Jer. 20:1-3). I’ll bet he was forgotten on Prophet’s Appreciation Day! He was also charged with being a traitor (Jer. 37:16).
McGee calls him a “crybaby” but he says he means it in a positive sense. And Rodney Dangerfield thought he didn’t get any respect!
Chap. 1 This the account of Jeremiah’s call to ministry. He was called while young and thought he was too young. God disagrees (v. 6). He might have been a teenager or early twenties. The almond in verse 11-12 signifies that God is “awake” and watching to make sure His Word is fulfilled. The word for almond is similar to the word for “watching” in Hebrew and the almond tree was dubbed the “awake tree.” God was watching and Jeremiah was to wake people up. Babylon was coming to take them all away!
Chap. 2:1-30 Israel had forsaken life and turned to idols. These were her two downfalls (v. 13). Jeremiah uses several comparisons to try to get Israel’s attention. Judah, the southern kingdom, is like an animal that is not yoked like it should be (v. 20), a wild vine instead of the vine of God (v.21), a stain that won’t come out (v. 22) and an untamed animal (v. 23-24). Her idol worship and consequent sexual immorality are compared to a lady-camel in heat. Can anyone say Dale Carnegie?
New Testament: Philippians 4:1-23
Philippians 4:1-23 Content Of Contentment
This chapter is remarkably rich. Many of the verses should be committed to memory like verses 4, 6-7, 8-9, 11, 13 and 19. You won’t regret it, they are so practical.
Even in the best of fellowships there can be some friction. Paul would like to see two of the women get along who apparently had some kind of riff that wasn’t that serious but Paul, being like a pastor, was concerned. He enlists the aid of an unknown person as well as Clement to settle the dispute (vv. 2-3). He was confident that those who had their names written in the “book of life” (v. 3) would be able to work things out.
We used to sing a song based on Phil. 4:4 all the time. It had the same lyric over and over again. This is a case where that’s a good thing. After all, Paul said he was going to say it again!
Congregants should be “gentle” to each other (v. 5).
These next verses are spectacular. Believers shouldn’t worry about anything at all (cf. Matt. 6:34). I am a very bad worrier. But I have an excuse. I read the King James Version which says, “Be anxious for nothing.” So I have been anxious for nothing at all, all the time. I’m going to have to work on that. If God is God (and He is!) and He loves us, why would we worry about anything? I have to keep reminding myself of that and as I get older and look back on my life, I can see how obvious that is (see my blog on the Idiot Rule.
Instead of worrying, we are supposed to ask God for whatever we need. (See recent blog on giving thanks: Ugh!)
The result of asking God for what we need and then being thankful, is the peace of God which will dissipate our worries and keep us close to Jesus.
Here’s what we’re supposed to have running through our sanctified brains: stuff that is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good repute (“gracious,” RSV), anything excellent or praiseworthy. Ut oh. That leaves out a lot of things in 2014, doesn’t it? Then we should imitate Paul (v. 9 , cf. 1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3: 17, 4:9; 2 Thess. 3:8–9; 1 Tim. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:10–11; also Heb. 13:7; 1 Pet. 5:3). Paul had peace and if we live like him, we will have peace, too.
The reason for Paul’s letter apart from encouraging their joy, was to thank the Philippians for their generous gift (vv. 10-20). He wanted to assure them that he appreciated their gift without making it seem he was hitting them up for more (v. 14). Since he didn’t worry about anything (v. 6), he could trust God for everything he needed and be content (v. 11, 19). In trusting God, Paul had learned to get along whether he had a lot or not (v. 12). He knew how to depend on God’s power for his strength in any circumstance (v. 13).
Paul ends by commending the Philippians for being the first and, at one point, only church to give to him (v. 15). They had supported him financially more than once when he was in Thessalonica (v. 16). As a minister, it is always best to remember that our priority is to see others grow in the Lord and not just care about how much they give. When pastoring a church, I never wanted to know much about the individual giving. Whenever I get a personal gift, I always remind myself to thank God for the character of the spiritual life of the giver before I rejoice in the gift itself (vv. 17-18). That allows me to be thankful for any size gift. The widow gave all she had and it was only about a penny (cf. Mark 12:41-44).
We may like to claim Phil. 4:19 as a promise but we should note that the promise was for the Philippians who were gracious givers who strained to give God as much as they possibly could.
Paul closes by asking that God be glorified (v. 20) and that all the “saints,” that is believers, be given greeting. “Saint” was the term for believers in the New Testament, not because they had done any special miracles but just because God saw them as perfect and holy in Christ. As we saw in chapter 2, they still had to “work out” their salvation, practically, in their lives. But God saw them, “positionally,” as perfect in Christ. Isn’t that wonderful. Remind yourself in the morning as you get up that God sees you as perfect. What an impetus to living a holy life for Him!
That is grace, unmerited favor, “something for nothing,” when we get what we don’t deserve. My favorite definition of grace is “no expectations for acceptance.” Of course, we have to trust Christ. God does expect that but afterwards we are accepted no matter what. That grace is deep down in our “spirit” (v. 23) through the indwelling Holy Spirit (cf. Rom. 8:9, 11).
Psalm 75:1-10 Self-Promotion A Thanksgiving Psalm by Asaph . . . probably
Proverbs 24:17-20 No Wick For Wicked
I think verses 17 and 18 are some of the best advice given in all of Scripture. The reason is because I think many of us are naturally spiteful.
These verses say that if someone you don’t like is disgraced, defeated, or has a loss and it makes you happy, there’s something wrong with you. And God doesn’t like it. So He says that if you act like that, he will bless that poor scoundrel (v. 18). Just because of your poor attitude!
So what is the moral of these verses? If something bad has happened to someone you don’t like, don’t allow yourself to be happy about it (v. 17). Of course, your enemy will still be defeated and down and out. But, hey, that shouldn’t be your motive!
On the other hand, verses 19 and 20 tell us that we don’t need to fear bullies (v. 19, cf. Ps. 73, All You Need Is Yah). From God’s perspective, which is all that matters, bad people have no future. Well, that’s not quite accurate but it’s not a good future, if you get my meaning.
The wick of the wicked will be snuffed (v. 20). Like eternally.
Choose Life: Scripture: Philippians 4:4 NASB “Re-joice And Re-joice”
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4 NASB
Rejoice. Rejoice. Rejoice. Rejoice. There. I said it even twice as many times as Paul did.
There is a verse in 1Thessalonians that says we should pray “without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). What does that mean? I think it means we should have an attitude of prayer all day long, keeping an ear out to God.
What does it mean to “rejoice always”? It means to always have an attitude of being happy in the Lord all day long.
The purpose of the “Choose Life” posts is to be uplifting. What is more uplifting that to remind everyone to have an attitude of rejoicing?
See how much you can praise God and rejoice today, always giving thanks for everything (Eph. 5:20).
Challenge yourself today to rejoice as much as you can all day long.
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
How much can you praise God in a day? What can you do to praise the Lord today? Sing a hymn or spiritual song? Write out some verses that praise the Lord. Psalms is a good place to find those. Psalm 150, the last psalm, is a good place to start. Can you look out at nature and praise the Lord? Listen to good music? Eat a special meal? Eat an ordinary meal but just take time to enjoy it? How many ways can you come up with today to praise the Lord? Can you turn praising the Lord into a habit?
The purpose of the Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: God’s Crybaby