Old Testament: Jeremiah 14:11-16:15
Jeremiah 14:11-16:15 Get Back To Where You Once Belonged
Jeremiah continues to prophesy judgment for Judah.
Chap. 14:11-22 Jeremiah warns of false prophets. The sword in verse 18 is the Lord’s even though it comes through the enemy’s army. God can even use evil to his own purposes. He uses false prophets to test our commitment to him (cf. 1 Kings 13). Our ears must be attuned to Him (cf. John 10:26).
Chap. 15 The Lord had decided the fate of Judah already. Judgment is coming even if Moses and Samuel were to intercede for the people, God was going to bring devastation (vv. 2-3). Mannaseh, the evil king of Judah, had brought on the judgment through his idolatry (cf. 2 Kings 23:26; 24:3). Jeremiah wishes he hadn’t been born to see all this happening (v. 10) but the Lord comforted him (v. 11).
Jeremiah “ate” God’s words as did Ezekiel and John after him (cf. Ezek. 2:8, 3:1-3; Rev. 10:9). Eating God’s words is symbolic of accepting and learning what God has to say. When we digest and assimilate God’s word, it becomes a part of us.
Is Jeremiah schizophrenic? No, but he is human. He is saying at one moment how God’s words fill him with joy (v. 16) and in the next moment is whining like a baby (v. 18) about his incurable wound and pain. God seems to be rather harsh by telling him to quit bellyaching. Yahweh actually threatened to take Jeremiah’s ministry away! (v. 19). But then He comforts Jeremiah again in vv. 20-21 by saying his enemies will not defeat him and that He will deliver him.
Chap. 16:1-15 Jeremiah is forbidden by Yahweh to have a wife or children. The reason is it would not be good to have a family in such a day and time (cf. 1 Cor. 7:9, 28 where Paul believed he lived in a similar time).
In the midst of the message of judgment and destruction, the Lord promises to bring all Israel back to prosperity in the land (vv. 14-15). God always places a rainbow at the end of a storm. Though Israel may be scattered and taken away to Babylon, they will be preserved and restored by Yahweh. By the way, this hasn’t happened yet. There will be a literal fulfillment and a future for Israel.
New Testament: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13
1 Thessalonians 2:9-3:13 Pride And Joy
Paul exhorts the Thessalonians as if they were his own natural children (v. 11) in hopes that they would live lives worthy of God who had drawn them to eternal life with Him (v. 12). Paul and his cohorts had sustained themselves so they wouldn’t be a burden to the Thessalonians (v. 9). They also set themselves up as a standard of righteous behavior to them (v. 10).
The Word of God is exactly that though God may have used men as the instruments of His communication (v. 13). Living lives worthy of God and consistent with the Word oftentimes may result in persecution (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12). We should not be surprised and follow the model of other believers as the Thessalonians had been encouraged by the examples of other churches (v. 14). God will allow men to commit as many sins as they would like during their lifetimes but will be punished accordingly (vv. 15-16).
Paul had been taken away from the Thessalonians though he later tried to see them again (cf. Acts 17:1-9 for the story of Paul being removed from Thessalonica). Satan kept him from it (v. 18). The Thessalonians are Paul’s pride and joy (vv. 19-20).
Chapter three recounts the visit of Timothy to Thessalonica to encourage the believers there. Paul had been removed from the town and had warned the church there that he would no doubt suffer persecution (v. 4). With a pastor’s heart, he had to send Timothy to make sure the believers were doing alright and progressing in their faith (v. 5). He was afraid Satan had tempted them from the straight and narrow path (cf. Matt. 7:13).
Timothy assured Paul that the Thessalonians were growing in love and faith as they should have been and that they were also wanting to see Paul as badly as he wanted to see them (v. 6). The news of their growth was a comfort to Paul and his fellow-ministers (v. 7) in the midst of their pain. When Paul’s team heard about the Thessalonians, they felt like they had accomplished something (v. 8). Notice how Paul again emphasizes thanksgiving in verse 9. It is a favorite theme of his in this epistle and all his epistles (cf. 1 Thess. 1:2, 2:13, 3:9 and 5:18). Paul is a great prayer warrior, praying that he can teach them again to plug any holes in their thinking and doctrine (v. 10). He continues to hold out hope that he can visit them (v. 11) and prays that their love would increase even more for each other (v. 12). Paul’s prayer is that God would purify them to be ready when Jesus returns with His host of believers (cf. 4:14).
Psalm 80:1-19 The Vine Shouldn’t Fall Far From The Vine A Lament Psalm by Asaph
Proverbs 25:1-5 Eat Like A King
Some of King Hezekiah’s official secretaries copied a bunch of Solomon’s sayings from one scroll to another one (v. 1). Hezekiah reigned over both segments of Israel, north and south, between 715 and 686 B.C. (2 Kings 16:20- 20:21). He trusted the Lord and greatly influenced the kingdom spiritually. The sayings his men copied were grouped together by theme.
What do you do when two Scriptures conflict? Do you give up the faith? You shouldn’t. What should you do? You should dig deeper! That’s what you should do!
Jesus said a disciple would “abide” in His Word (John 8:31 ASV). That means you soak it all up. Then you will truly be a follower of His.
If you want to get closer and closer to Him, you will learn the entire Bible. You will grow as a Christian as you feed your head (cf. Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18). Verse 2 indicates that as you learn the Word, you will be like spiritual royalty. You will be a like a “king.”
For example, let’s say that you read 1 Samuel 13:1 that says in the NASB that Saul reigned for forty-two years over Israel. In Acts 13:21 it says that Saul was king over Israel for forty years! The NIV says the same thing. So does the HCSB and NLT. But the RSV, KJV and ESV say Saul reigned two years in I Samuel but in the New Testament it says he was king for forty years. The King James says Saul reigned for two years in the OT but forty years in the NT. The NET says that Saul was king for forty years in both 1 Samuel and Acts. What a mess!
So what should you do? Pitch your faith? Give up? Actually, what you could do is dig deeper! Act like a king, like spiritual royalty. You will receive a blessing. There are several ways to solve this conundrum. I guarantee you will learn a lot when you come across things like this but I can guarantee you that the Bible is trustworthy. I will also promise you that you will learn a lot when you study things like this in the Bible.
A person in Christ has a big heart or should (v. 3). He should eat the Word (cf. Ezek. 3:3; Rev. 10:9-10) as a king with a big appetite. When you consume the Word, you can find the most important morsels as if you are separating pure silver from dross (v. 4). Of course, there is no dross or anything worthless in the Word but some things are more important or relevant than other things. One of my favorite teachers in school used to say that the “main things are plain things and the plain things are the main things.” That is how you find the silver. Find the main things.
When you consume huge amounts of spiritual food over the years, you will live like a king. And you won’t want to hang out with people who dabble in wickedness (cf. 2 Cor. 15:33; 1 Cor. 5:9-11; 2 Thess. 3:14 2 John 10-11).
Choose Life: Scripture: Jeremiah 15:19c NASB “Shut Up And Speak!”
” . . . You are to influence them, not let them influence you!” Jeremiah 15:19c The Living Bible
Do you ever feel like you are being battered by the world and unbelievers? Maybe even fellow-Christians assault you when you take a stand for the Lord.
Jeremiah had the same problem. Notice how The Living Bible brings out the force of verse 19, “The Lord replied: ‘Stop this foolishness and talk some sense! Only if you return to trusting me will I let you continue as my spokesman. You are to influence them, not let them influence you.'”
A fellow pastor shared these verses out the Living Bible with me years ago and they were very helpful in the ministry. A loving pastor can have the expectancy that his flock will love and appreciate him. But sometimes if he is giving out the word of God in its entirety, people can think he is harsh or unloving. It is an encouragement to see that Jeremiah had the same problems and insecurities as ministers throughout the ages. A pastor today must stand strong and influence his flock, not let himself be bowled over by bullies.
God just tells him to “buck up” and quit complaining. The key is that Jeremiah must understand that the people are to conform to God’s standards as Jeremiah has preached it to them. He is not to capitulate to them. A loving pastor must resist the tendency to be a “man-pleaser” (cf. yesterday’s blog: Face Up).
What a great lesson for pastors today! We have an entire movement in our day that has all but destroyed the contemporary church. Pastors are being encouraged to descend to the level of fleshy believers or even non-believers. It is more important than ever in these last days to take a stand for the Lord and the principles of His Word.
When you are assaulted for holding to God’s standards, remember the story of Jeremiah and how the Lord told him to quit whining and influence others. Don’t let others bring you down to their level when you are doing the right thing. Let them bend to you!
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
I just read a blog on how churches have become market-driven. They cater to families with money by the way they put their services together and design their Sunday Schools. What about singles or minorities or the poor? Is there any wonder that our country is in the state it’s in when the churches are in the state they’re in?
What can you do to alert your church to be more Biblically-driven and less culture-driven. It may be a losing battle but look at what Yahweh told Jeremiah in our passage today.
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: Get Back To Where You Once Belonged