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February 2019

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Books for the Journey:

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I found Jeremiah really tough to get through. So much bad news delivered by poor Jeremiah and so many stiff-necked people. Thanks be to God for the promises of the future, but to face that kind of judgment is hard to read about--never mind withstand. And now Lamentations??? Anyone else finding it hard to stick with all of these hard sayings???

I did have a rambling of questions as I closed Jeremiah as it pertains to Evil-Merodach showing this kindness to King Jahoiachin. I could not help for wondering his motives behind it. Has it ever been speculated as to why he released him and treated him this well? Some of the questions that fired off automatically were (1) Was he genuinly respectful in acknowledging J as a king, maybe due to J being at the end of his life and wanting to give him a king's exit? (2) Was he placing emphasis on J's fate being in Evil-Merodach's hands, placing himself in a position as though a god? (3) Was it a psychological warfare effort as it pertains to the rest of the captives? (4) Was it knowing the prophecy of Jeramiah and thinking if he did this he would get Baylon off the hook?

The thing that rung through my head and heart was the damaging consequences from one's disobedience and sin. Everything one generation worked for destroyed because of another generation's infidelities. I think about today's generation, and not one particular ethnicity, but the whole, including believers (myself). This book definitely adds to the list of recent revelation that are causing me to examine myself soberly and realistically at how if I don't repent, actively of my junk, and walk in true worship and obedience, everything that my ancestor and heroes worked for as well s the inheritance that is to be left for my children's children can be destroyed and go down the drain. As I, myself, am at one of those crossroads in my journey where I know I am being called to to step up and into a black and white relationship with my Lord, as hard as it is to have look soberly into my life and devotion to Him, it was refreshing to read "For the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever." He is good. I have tasted that goodness before so I recognize it. It is relieving to be reminded of His mercy and how it does endure forever. Pray for your brother please.

Jeremiah 51:54-52:34

Jeremiah is one of my favorite books and I am sad to see our readings come to an end. My love of Jeremiah has been a growing process. The first time I read through this book way back in 1985 I just read it with no clue or understanding what it was about. I had mad a decision to read the entire Bible and I had set my face toward that end whether I understood what I was reading or not and I certainly didn’t understand Jeremiah. My motivation for my continuation for reading through the Bible came from three sources: 1) my desire to never again allow anyone to interpret or explain the scriptures to me because of being around multitudes of people who twisted scripture for their sick purposes; (2 & 3) an explosive encounter with a passage in Isaiah and Galatians during my first journey through the Bible. The two encounters would leave me a wash in tears, cleansing me as I realized the god I had created in my head because of being in a spiritually abusive church and family, was not the True God.

Reading the Bible can be like chewing wood, an analogy I’ve used countless times. Yet, when one gets a revelation, an understanding that was never seen or experienced before in just one verse or sentence, the remainder of the Book becomes like a piece of land that has buried diamonds. As long as one is willing to put the work in, put the shoulder, and back into finding each valuable gem, then the process of searching takes on a completely new meaning. Jeremiah began coming alive to me in my tenth year of going through the Bible but that first new encounter was scary. I shuddered at the destruction and became confused trying to figure out who was talking to whom and through whom.

Anything built on a lie will collapse and Jeremiah gives proof of that. What becomes scary for us is when we realize that what is surrounding us, what is supporting us is a lie and we decide we would rather not change. When our loved ones won’t change when we have thought about changing and we procrastinate in effecting the change that is needed because they won’t come with us. We at first pray for God’s Mercy to take effect, but Mercy is a gift and is at the behest of the giver. After awhile when we still haven’t changed we then tell God He has to accepts us the way we are because, after all, “God you’re God and I want you too.” The Bottom Line is this: Anything outside of God is a BIG FAT LIE. Us believing that lie will not make it Truth, it is still a BIG FAT LIE.

Jeremiah is a case study in destruction: the underpinnings that lead to collapse. Jeremiah takes always all the excuses we have created for ourselves for not effecting change. We cannot say that God never gave us a warning or lovingly called to us to STOP IT and GET OUT, God’s mercies are clearly evident in the book.

Jeremiah also shows us that God, in a box (Arc of the Covenant) our out of the box is still God. He shows us that despite our big or small buildings where we go to worship, God can choose to vacate the premises before, after and during destruction and He still remains God. Our building projects, our skill in designing beautiful sanctuaries and stain glass windows, parking lots that can hold thousands of cars so their occupants can enter a big or small building to worship, does not mean God is in the midst—God cannot be contained or boxed by man.

What scares us when we read Jeremiah is the realization that we cannot control God.

Thoughtfully...,

Often thru the years I hear and see things I know work well for people to think about God and be redirected to Him but sometimes I wonder.

(I am glad it is God by His Spirit who directs and applies the Word of God individually to each one of our lives. The reason is I can really confuse things easily)

But So often I see things like a sound bite or a attention grapping title I worry if I am seeking to interpret God at times and His will for me..., and not simply Trust and Obey.

I see things and read things...even experience one or two...where my reading makes no sense...my understanding doesn't fit...my mind is left we wandering and as unlikely as all that is....somehow when simply letting God be in charge....he makes that Crooked Piece of the puzzle fit the missing picture I am assembling on the table of my life.

Wierd...,

So sometimes I am taken back by the ideas of "Be all you can be" for God Messages I happen to hear or read.

I thank God that again he can use that to apply to someone who needs a "shot in the arm" to make thier vocation and avocation for an opportunity to serve thier Lord.

Me, well I get a little ansy when I try to put my world around me into God's will for me. Seems like it's alot more like Jerusalem of Old with judgement coming then New Jerusalem we have yet to see.

For me, to know Him and really in many ways suffering the fellowship of his suffering FOR knowing him seems to be His Will for me.

I really hope for all of us we aren't like Jerusalem and don't have some Jeremiah's running around warning our Gov't or Leaders that we need to go another direction.

I would rather His Will for us all is not so much to lead or to do as to Know Him. To Know God.

Seems like most of Jeremiah was to warn and to write it down then Hide and wait on the Lord.

I know many of my Brothers and Sisters in the Lord enjoy a wider sphere of influence and in affluent circles do politics, sports, ministry, every aspect of life under the sun, but I wish really we all were a little more ready with open arms and hearts in a personal way to be ready to help when the disasters hit people's lives....then ready to send and rebuild relief.

I know when I am devastated...My God comes to me where I am...and holds and helps me...sometimes miraculously (those are cool) and sometimes practically (still miraculously when I see HOW it happened)

I think for me Knowing Him is what I daily seek more of...and finding Him even in Jerusalems destruction and instruction,

as well as in world disasters and inviting someone into my home....

is really enough...more than enough for me to try to grasp.

Know that the Lord is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Just me rambling...,

Jeremiah 51 (ESV)
55
For the LORD is laying Babylon waste and stilling her mighty voice.
56
for a destroyer has come upon her, upon Babylon;
for the LORD is a God of recompense; He will surely repay.
61
And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: "When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words,
62
and say, 'O LORD, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate forever.'

NOTE:
God ALWAYS fulfills His Word—in contrast to the “public relations” that people give God today. All of the accusations that God is unfaithful or all of the honest questions about where is God when there is suffering will be fully answered: the LORD is a God of recompense; He will surely repay.

Note that the Lord instructed Jeremiah to say to Seraiah to speak out loud words that God will fulfill His Word. There is something powerful about our words—they act like a seal. It is like signing for a package from UPS when it comes to the door. When we sign—when we speak—we affirm something is true and we receive it.

Titus 3 (ESV)
1
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work,
2
to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
3
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
4
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared,
5
he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
6
whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
7
so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

NOTE:
We are submissive to authority as unto the Lord—as much as possible, when their orders do not go against the Lord’s Word. We are to be eager and enthusiastic—as unto the Lord!

We are to speak evil of no one and be gentle, and work diligently to show “perfect courtesy” to all people.

I like that phrase: “perfect courtesy”. Not just being lazy, but WORK TO PERFECT RESPECT for others.

WE SHOW GRACE because WE HAVE BEEN SAVED BY GRACE.

ALSO NOTE verse 7:
so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

BY GRACE, WE ARE JUSTIFIED (declared righteous)!
THEN, we are called to go the next step: TO BECOME HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE CERTAIN GUARANTEED HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE.

The fact that it states, “that….we MIGHT become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” seems to indicate that we can fall short of the FULLNESS OF our inheritance in Christ while on earth.

In light of this, I like this verse:

Ephesians 3 (Amplified)
16
May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].

MAY WE EXPERIENCE THE FULLNESS OF WHAT GOD HAS FOR US TODAY FULLY GIVING OURSELVES TO HIM!

To paraphrase D.L. Moody:
“The world has yet to see what God will do through a man totally yielded to Him.”

Vance

My impression, reading Jeremiah this year amidst a financial crisis and a political season marked by almost unprecedented division, is that he is speaking directly to us now today. We are getting what we deserve in fleeing from God and no one can say they were not warned.

Re. Titus 3:1, I struggle with with the questions Mike poses. How indeed can one "do good" while simultaneously submitting to and obeying the decrees of a government bent on pursuing objectively unjust and/or immoral ends?

The "give to Caesar / give to God" bit helps, but I can still think of a million situations in which the two are in direct conflict. (Nazi Germany and conscripted military service there spring immediately to mind, but there are countless other examples.) How does one "do good" when one is compelled by government force to do bad during one's waking hours?

I'm "all in" for Christ no matter what, but Titus 3:1 still confuses me...

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