July 6, 2013

Today you should read: Jeremiah 4:19-31

What comes to your mind when you think of America? For many of us we think this is a land of freedom, capitalism, opportunity, etc. There are a million words that we could think of to describe our country. From God’s perspective, however, today’s passage maybe a more accurate account of where we are heading and where God’s heart is for us. Like Israel, God gave us a land of plenty and abundant blessings. We were founded as a country under the rule and governance of God and His word, but, like Israel we have strayed far from those roots and now we resemble the Israel that Jeremiah saw and lamented over. We have taken God’s blessings and protection for granted and, sadly, I believe we are heading for the same fate as that of Israel. Our country is breaking the heart of God every day by our practices and our motives. Everyday people wake up with hearts motives of making money for greed’s sake or finding the next pleasure to satisfy their own need. We worship idols of success, sports, glamour, fame, money, sex, drugs, music, etc. I believe we have a list of idols far greater and more entrenched in our society than that of Israel in its day. People in America today give more of their time, attention, money and loyalty to these idols than ever before and we are on the cusp of paying dearly for it.

So here are two questions to ponder today:

  1. Where is your heart?

Is your heart near to God or is it torn between God and other things? Here’s one for you: When UK is playing basketball, what is more important to you, the game or your relationship with Jesus?

  1. Is your heart broken for your country?

Jeremiah looked around and saw what was happening to Israel and his heart was broken for his countrymen. In fact, He wrote an entire book about it, called Lamentations. Jeremiah was concerned for those around him that they were suffering for their sins. Many of us are either; A) worried about our church and family and don’t care about those outside of it B) glad they are being punished, “serves them right” or C) Worried about ourselves and how we can be okay and taken care of. These are not a reflection of God’s heart. He is not willing that any should perish but that all would come to a saving knowledge of Him and we should share that heart with Him.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

July 5, 2013

Today you should read: Jeremiah 4:1-18

I recently heard a friend of mine use this analogy: “Repentance is like two sides of a coin.”

What he meant was this: if you saw a coin sitting on the ground and George Washington was visible, you’d think it was a quarter. But if you picked it up and flipped it over and saw that it was blank or maybe misprinted, you might think it was a prank coin. Or maybe if you looked closer at it and realized it was the wrong material or consistency, you would believe it was a fake. So how can you know that it is a real quarter? Simple: both sides would be real. You would see President Washington on one side and one of our 50 states on the other. It would be made of precious material, and it could be used for trade or purchases.

For the Christian, repentance is essential, but it has two sides. On the one hand, repentance is when we turn away from our sinful ways. It’s where we leave our old life behind. But that’s not it. You see, there is another side. Genuine repentance must also include forward motion. We turn from sin and run to Christ! We leave our old life and walk in our new one. So how can we tell if a Christian is genuine? You see both sides: a hatred for sin and a love for Jesus.

If this makes sense to you, it may help you grasp the content of Jeremiah 4. God doesn’t simply want Israel to leave behind her idols; He also wants her heart. He wants Israel to pursue Him and embrace what is good. Does that mean hating what is evil? Of course, but that’s not all. The Israelites must draw near to God as they leave behind their empty idolatry. If not, they would end up trading in one form of idolatry for another.

Friends, I have one simple question for you to chew on today in light of this chapter and these concepts:

Are both sides of true repentance evident in your life?

If not, what makes you think you are saved? If it’s just leaving your old life, then your “repentance” might only be behavior modification. Let me put it this way: just because you stopped cussing and partying doesn’t mean you are a true Christ-follower. That’s only one side of the coin. When you left behind your old habits, did you run to Christ? What’s behind you is the one side — your old life. What’s in front of you is the other — your new life in Christ. That’s the mark of a genuine Christian. Leave your sin, love Jesus.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

Posted by: Todd Thomas

July 4, 2013

Today you should read: Jeremiah 3

Today you should read: Jeremiah 3

Have you ever walked right into the middle of a conversation and had no idea what the people were talking about but it sounded bad? The book of Jeremiah can feel that way at times  if you are unsure of the context.

Jeremiah was written during the age of King Josiah in Judah through the fall of Jerusalem (2 Kings 22-25). During this time both Judah and Israel had turned their backs on God to the worship of Idols. There are a few things that we can learn about God’s heart from this passage:

1. God hates the worship of other God’s (v.1-9). He compares it to adultery between a husband and a wife. God desires an intimate relationship with his people. When we create idols in the place of God it is as bad as a husband committing adultery against his wife. It breaks the heart of God and kindles his wrath.

2. God finds halfhearted worship worse than complete rebellion (10). Judah made some attempt at repenting under the rule of King Josiah. His heart for the Lord  is even described in 2 Kings 23;  yet, Josiah seemed to be alone. After he was killed, Judah returned to her idol worshipping ways. Also, by verse 10 we can see that Judah’s heart was not fully for the Lord. God is not interested in our religion or our appearance of righteousness, he judges  our hearts.

3. God offers salvation through repentance (12-25). God calls Israel back and foreshadows of her restoration to come. God promises to raise up good shepherds to watch over his people and to lead them in righteousness. The only price tag was to repent. God is a loving and merciful God and he always offers salvation through the judgment of our sin.

Today we have the New Covenant, beyond what those who lived in Israel had in the day of Jeremiah. However, salvation is the Lord’s in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. In the Old Testament they would need to offer the sacrifice according to the law. Our sacrifice has already been made through Jesus. All we have to do today is to believe the Good News of the Gospel: Jesus came and lived as a perfect man and  willingly laid down his life to take the wrath of God on our behalf and then defeat death by rising three days later. Freedom comes when you and I confess our sin, admit it for what it is, and put on the righteousness of God through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:1-5

Posted by: Chad Wiles

July 3, 2013

Today you should read: Jeremiah 2:14-37

The book of Jeremiah is all about Israel’s sin of disobedience – and God’s call to repentance.  Jeremiah is a powerful prophet – who calls God’s people back to Him.

As we learned yesterday, the Lord presents His case against His people.

I remember how eager you were to please me as a young bride long ago, how you loved me and followed me even through the barren wilderness.  In those days Israel was holy to the Lord, the first of his children. (2:2-3)

Therefore, I will bring my case against you,” says the Lord… (2:9)

Sounds a lot like the church of Ephesus…

But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.  Revelation 2:2-5

They did two deadly things…

For my people have done two evil things:

1)  They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water.

2)  And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! [tried to find fulfillment elsewhere] (v.13)

Today’s reading tells us the results of Israel’s sin.  Sin always has consequences.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.  Galatians 6:7

  • Israel became slaves (v.14)
  • The wealth was plundered (v.14)
  • The land and towns were destroyed (v.15)
  • Their enemies marched in against them (.16)

Their sin brought all of this on them…

And you have brought this upon yourselves by rebelling against the Lord your God, even though he was leading you on the way!  Your wickedness will bring its own punishment.  Your turning from me will shame you.  You will see what an evil, bitter thing it is to abandon the Lord your God and not to fear him. (v. 17, 19)

God said they have forgotten Him (v.21b), and acted like an unfaithful wife.  James talks about this in chapter 4…

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. (James 4:4)

How have you abandoned and forgotten God?  How have you committed spiritual adultery – not honoring your commitment to Him alone?  Repent – the words of Jeremiah still ring true today.

Posted by: Tim Parsons