Old Testament: Jeremiah 12:1-14:10
Jeremiah continues to prophesy judgment for Judah.
Chap. 12 Jeremiah asked the same question David asked in Ps. 37, why do evil people prosper? There’s a story told about a man in New York City sitting on the bench in Central Park. He’s just lost his job, his wife has left him and his whole life has been devastated. A voice comes out of the bushes and says, “Cheer Up! Things could be worse!” So he cheered up and sure enough, things got worse. That is verse 5. If Jeremiah can’t keep up with the footmen, how can he keep up with the king of Babylon and their armies. Judgment was coming and things would get worse.
Chap. 13 My call to ministry is from this chapter, or rather the confirmation of my call to ministry. The college minister at a large church in Atlanta told me I should ask that God confirm my call by giving me a Scripture. I thought that was odd, having put my charismatic background behind me. But that night as I was relating the story to my wife, I flipped my Bible open on my bed and verses 15 and 16 in my NIV Bible seemed to rise a few inches above the page. “Hear and pay attention,
do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills.” Then verse 17, “If you do not listen, I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears, because the Lord ’s flock will be taken captive.” Then again in verse 18 (b), “Where is the flock that was entrusted to you, the sheep of which you boasted?”
Ut, oh. I figured I’d better pay attention! The college minister told me that I would need a verse to drop back on when things got tough so I wouldn’t drop out of the ministry. Those Scriptures sure fit the bill! Amazing that it mentions a flock. Of course, in context this text is speaking about Jeremiah warning Judah but to me it meant God had a flock somewhere for me. I’ve had to remind myself many times that God has called me and I’d better not forsake it. These kinds of things do not happen every day for me. They are rare occurrences but God can speak personally to us this way and others if we remain under the authority the plain sense of Scripture and always submit to that first.
Verse 23 is a well-known verse. The Ethiopians cannot change their dark skin, the leopard can not change the color of its spots, neither can Judah change her sinful ways.
Chap. 14:1-10 Jeremiah prophesies a drought. The drought is symbolic of the spiritual drought in the land. Judah has forsaken the fountain of life (cf. Ps. 36:9).
New Testament: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:8
1 Thessalonians 1:1-2:8 The Nannies
Thessalonica was the second place Paul had preached in Europe after Philippi (cf. Acts 17:1-10). Connecting the dots from Acts 18:1, 5 and 1 Thes. 3:6-7, we can surmise that Paul wrote the two Thessalonian epistles from Corinth. The purpose was to once again defend himself against the attack of false teachers, to encourage the believers to be steadfast in persecution, and to explain what happens to believers who die. The foremost passage on the “Rapture,” or the “catching up of the church to Heaven” is found in chapter five.
Paul begins, as usual, by giving thanks for the Thessalonians (v. 2, cf. Rom. 1:8; 1 Cor. 1:4; Eph. 1:16; Phil. 1:3; Col. 1:3; et. al.). The Thessalonians had become “imitators” of Paul and his cohorts (cf. 1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1). The Thessalonians were an example to all the churches all over Greece and surrounding areas (vv. 7-10). Jesus will save us from the wrath to come (v. 10). This is one of Paul’s themes in this letter.
The second chapter begins by Paul saying he hoped the Thessalonians were still moving ahead in their Christian lives (v. 1). He reminds them that he himself had experienced persecution as an encouragement and model to them (v. 2). They were acting for personal gain (v. 3) but they were “entrusted” with the gospel by God (v. 4a). They weren’t so concerned with what men thought of them as with what God thought of them (v. 4b). They didn’t use any Dale Carnegie or sales techniques to win over the Thessalonians (v. 5) or impress them. They could’ve asserted their authority as apostles but didn’t (v. 6). They cared for the Thessalonians just like a nanny would (v. 7). They would’ve given their lives for the Thessalonians, they loved them so much (v. 8).
Psalm 79:1-13 Horrific Things To Good People? A Lament Psalm by Asaph
Proverbs 24:30-34 Broke Down And Busted
This is good advice for a young person which is just what Solomon is writing in Proverbs. Of course, it’s good advice for anyone at any age!
This is a short little story about Solomon trekking around his kingdom. He gazed upon a field that was owned by a lazy guy. It caused him to cogitate about that man’s circumstances.
See how many things you can observe from this passage. By the way, that is the best way to study Scripture. Continue to cogitate and observe how much you can notice about any passage you want to learn. Solomon discovered much from this slothful man (v. 32). As Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”
Solomon saw that the field was filled with weeds (v. 30-31). The man hadn’t taken care of his stone wall either (v. 31c). The indolent man would not have enough to eat since he hadn’t tended his field. He might have been in danger from enemies since he hadn’t protected himself by mending his wall.
As a result of his indigence (v. 33), the man was poor and without (v. 34a). His situation was the same as if he had been accosted by thieves or men with guns (v. 34b).
How do you think this man fared spirituality? Do you think he kept up with Bible reading and prayer?
(Answer: probably not! You can apply this passage spiritually, too.)
Choose Life: Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:4 NASB “Face Up!”
” . . . but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4 NASB
There was a Christian rock group years ago that sang a song about being “God pleasers” and not being “men pleasers.” They laid it right out on the line. They didn’t pull any punches. Blam! Crash! There it was. Don’t be a man pleaser, be a God pleaser. Perhaps that’s the way to communicate it. Right in our face. Why?
Well, why don’t we “witness” to Christ more? What stops us? Is it because we are “men pleasers”? We are afraid of what people think of us? I think so. We are more afraid of losing “face” than we are concerned about pleasing God. Sad but true.
One way around the problem is J. Vernon McGee’s method. He says we should pray for an opening in a conversation. See if the other person we’re talking to asks a question or shares something about their struggle with finding God. That’s not a bad way to approach things. Certainly, we don’t want to “buttonhole’ people and wrestle them to the ground to make them hear the Roman Road or a gospel presentation.
Charles Stanley actually advises giving the gospel to someone if we are depressed because it will cheer us up! But don’t wait to be depressed.
“Face up” to your fears and pray for an opportunity to share Jesus with someone today.
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
I used to compare giving the gospel to being a running back like O.J. Simpson. Well, then I had to come up with another running back. Emmitt Smith? Walter Payton? Ottis Anderson? You choose. How is giving the gospel like being a running back? The best running back will tell you they are successful because of their offensive line opening up holes for them to run through. God is our offensive line. He will open up holes in conversation for us to run through. But we have to be listening and looking for the opening.
We might only be able to mention the name Jesus. That might be too dangerous in some instances. Maybe we can only mention something like “Bible” or “Church” and then go from there. Maybe there isn’t an opening. Maybe we can just pray. That might be enough. But are we even looking for holes in the line and praying for others? The time is short. This is not a time to be irresponsible with the great treasure God has given us.
The purpose of 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: Can You Take This Call?