Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Notes, Lessons, & Observations from Jeremiah 4

I'm still reading through Jeremiah. There are "cheerier" books of the Bible to read. :)

Still, being only four chapters into this book, I cannot escape a less-than-comfortable thought: there seems to be much the same between Israel during Jeremiah's day and today in the United States.


If one has a reasonably robust devotional life, which inevitably involves being in God's Word regularly, it should not be a surprise that much of this nation (and world) has departed from God and His way. Despite this utter and complete lack for seeking to hold to His standard, there is a deluded sense of ethical and moral superiority wrapped around every politically correct, and new age philosophy that we hear and see everyday.


On one hand you have godly men and women urging us to turn away from the "idols" of this materialistic and self-centered culture, warning of the dire consequences of pursuing our own ways in everything. And on the other, you have another set of "spiritual leaders" and philosophical gurus proclaiming every "peace, love, tolerance, & oneness" message possible.
If any message of change accompanies the popular mantras of today, it's that we should turn away from those very things that God's Word tells us to pursue.

So, when I read the following passage, a little light went off in my head:


"In that day, declares the LORD, courage shall fail both king and officials. The priests shall be appalled and the prophets astounded."

Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD, surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, 'It shall be well with you,' whereas the sword has reached their very life." (Jeremiah 4:9-10)

Amid every distressing and worrisome event in this world, people are seeking to hear that they're doing the right thing, they're pursuing the right things, and that everything is going to be alright in the end. They want to have their ears "tickled". And the people get what they want...
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Such is what happened with ancient Israel. They had turned from God's way, they had turned to the false gods of the people around them, they pursued the things of the world, all while practicing much "religiosity". With their lips they praised God, but their hearts were far from Him (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8); all things that we see so prevalent today in America.

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Oh! that we might turn from our evils ways and run to the foot of the Cross. That we might seek forgiveness in the arms of the One that does not wish for any to perish, but that we might all find Eternal Life in His Son.

Oh! that we might stop promising 'peace' and 'goodness' from the same mouths that claim that homosexuality isn't a sin, but an "acceptable lifestyle", and that killing thousands of our unborn children every day isn't murder, but is a "woman's right", or that pornography isn't destroying our families and communities, but that it's "free speech".


"For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.

Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown," says the LORD.

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.'
(Jeremiah 6:13-16)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Knowing...

  1. How can I KNOW that I really KNOW God?
  2. How can I KNOW that I have eternal life?
  3. How can I KNOW that I'm "saved"?
Post found here:
http://wayne.johnston.googlepages.com/knowing

Sunday, October 4, 2009

When Sinners Say I Do...

A few months back now, my wife and I had begun attending a book study at our church. It was during the summer, and we all know that it's rare thing if you can manage to keep a regular schedule in those summer months, as everyone has "get-togethers", birthday parties, or whatever during those good weather weekends. So, we kept having to skip our weekly meeting, until we just decided that we couldn't keep showing up every two weeks, having missed too much from the previous weeks.

Anyway, I recently picked up this book again. It is titled When Sinners Say I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage, authored by Dave Harvey. I liked the few chapters we were able to read this summer, so now with cooler weather and more hours indoors I wanted to finish it (especially since I may only have a few more weeks with any free reading time left).

So far, there are two major concepts that have really had a convicting effect on my own heart. The first one is addressed pretty early in the book: each person in the marriage must understand and confess that they, being a sinner, are the biggest problem in their marriage. Our human nature is so adept at seeing and pointing out the sin in our spouses life, all the while ignoring the sin within our own life. And skipping over this first crucial realization, as with our response to the gospel itself, is detrimental to the entire point of this book. What good is a solution if we are blind to the true problem?

I find this to be a refreshing change from other "Christian" books on marriage. As with most secular approaches to this topic, the focus tends to be on how we can best deal with "our spouse sinning against us". That is a reality, others will sin against us. However, little to no time is spent developing that very important point that we are sinners too - not just other people.

As Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:15, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost." This is the Apostle Paul admitting that he is the "chief of sinners". Our pastor put it something like this, "If someone asked for all the sinners to form a line, Paul would work his way to the front of it because he understands that he is the biggest sinner of them all".

As Christians, it is vitally important in any relationship that we have an accurate and clear picture of our own sinful condition first. We must primarily consider and evaluate our own motives and actions in each situation, rather than jumping all over the other person because of a perceived transgression on their part.

The second thing that has really sent my mind reeling is the application of a passage in Luke 6. I've read this passage before, but to have it set against my marriage and to see it applied to the dynamics of the day-to-day relationship between a husband and wife... it's been a real eye-opener.

Luke 6:27-36

"But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.

Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.

If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.

If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

Luke 6:27-36

The author addresses the first response that many people have to their initial introduction of this passage to their marital relationship, "But my spouse is not my enemy! No one marries their enemy." If it isn't already clear, and it wasn't to me at first either, Jesus is setting the bar higher than we're looking. We're looking for an application to help us with arguments about leaving the toilet seat up, or doing some household task, but He has set the bar much higher. In addressing how we are to treat our enemies, (returning good for evil and showing the same mercy that is shown to us daily by Our Father), Jesus shows us how we are to treat everyone.

As with everything Our Lord has revealed to us through His Word, this is "earth shattering". This is one of the core tenets of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It turns our worldview on it's ear, and it's 180-degrees from what the world teaches us. From childhood we are told that we "deserve" to be treated better; we're told that we have to stand up for our rights, and to always "look out for number 1". Jesus turns that upside-down and shows us by example how the children of God are not like this world system. I am filled with hope and joy at the thought of applying the gospel more fully to our marriage (and soon to our little family of three) and seeing the glory of God being displayed as He continues perfecting us in all things through His Son and by His Spirit.

I'm only up to chapter six in this book and I'll try to remember to share more later as I close in on the end, or maybe after I finish. If anyone is interested in reading this book too, let me know and I'll send you a copy.