The Fireproof Truth

August 30, 2019 at 10:52 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapter 36 shows us the origins of the scroll which would one day become the Book of Jeremiah as we know it.

And it came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which he had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book.

Jeremiah 36:1-4

Jeremiah was imprisoned and could not go into the Temple, so he had Baruch go read the scroll at the Temple during an offical fast, when the Temple would be very crowded. Word started getting around, and several government officals heard about it. This was clear evidence that Jeremiah had been right all along about the Babylonian invasion, and that the false prophets had been wrong. Some of the officials and scribes were afraid for Jeremiah’s sake (and rightly so), and were favorable to him, but, obviously, the most powerful officials were against him, and word ultimately got to the king.

So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll: and he took it out of Elishama the scribe’s chamber. And Jehudi read it in the ears of the king, and in the ears of all the princes which stood beside the king. Now the king sat in the winterhouse in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.

Jeremiah 36:21-23

When people can’t stand to hear the Word of God they will sometimes try to refute it, sometimes try to ignore it, and sometimes try to hide from it. Here, the king tried to destroy it, but trying to destroy the Word of God is a hopeless endeavour.

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

Isaiah 40:8

Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.

Jeremiah 36:24

This is in contrast to King Josiah’s reaction when the Book of the Law was found the Temple during his time as king. When that happened everyone trembled. Now Josiah’s son and his officials did not tremble at all – even as God’s Word was rejected and burned.

Nevertheless Elnathan and Delaiah and Gemariah had made intercession to the king that he would not burn the roll: but he would not hear them.

Jeremiah 36:25

The king would have proabably had both Jeremiah and Baruch killed at that point, or at least beaten and thrown into prison again, but God supernaturally hid Jeremiah, and then proved that His everlasting Word could not be destroyed.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast?

Jeremiah 36:27-29

It was the defiant earthly king, not God’s Word, that would be destroyed.

Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.

Jeremiah 36:32

This scroll is what most likely became Chapters 1-25 of the Book of Jeremiah. When Baruch rewrote it he added the part about the king burning the first scroll and some other prophecies that were yet to come to pass.

There is not a ton of humor in the Book of Jeremiah, and, although King Zedekiah, the final king of Judah at the time of the Babylonian conquest, is not someone at whom we should laugh – being alternately tragic, pitiable, frustrating, and even confusing – there is a certain ludicrous aspect to his behavior in his final days on the throne as it related to Jeremiah.

Chapter 37 begins in or around 588 B.C.

And king Zedekiah the son of Josiah reigned instead of Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, whom Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon made king in the land of Judah. But neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the words of the Lord, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 37:1-2

That King Zedekiah and his servants did not want to hear the Word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah has been well established at this point in the Book.

And Zedekiah the king sent Jehucal the son of Shelemiah and Zephaniah the son of Maaseiah the priest to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Pray now unto the Lord our God for us.

Jeremiah 37:3

They rejected him as a prophet, but they demanded that he ask God to rescue them. This would be like refusing to listen to the person who keeps telling you that breaking the law is going to land you in trouble with the police, and then calling him at 3:00 a.m. and demanding that he come bail you out of jail!

Now Jeremiah came in and went out among the people: for they had not put him into prison.

Jeremiah 37:4

Thus saith the Lord; Deceive not yourselves, saying, The Chaldeans shall surely depart from us: for they shall not depart. For though ye had smitten the whole army of the Chaldeans that fight against you, and there remained but wounded men among them, yet should they rise up every man in his tent, and burn this city with fire.

Jeremiah 37:9-10

Jeremiah had been told not to bother praying, so he responded to Zedekiah’s demands with more preaching. His point was that even if the Chaldeans were all wounded and bleeding out, they still defeat Zedekiah’s troops and burn the city, because, even though they didn’t know it, they were on a mission from God.

At this point Jeremiah decided to go home to check on his kinfolks.

Then Jeremiah went forth out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to separate himself thence in the midst of the people. And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans. Then said Jeremiah, It is false; I fall not away to the Chaldeans. But he hearkened not to him: so Irijah took Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes.

Jeremiah 37:12-14

As he was leaving the city he was recognized as somebody who advocated surrender to Babylon, and he was arrested on charges of desertion. These were completely false charges, for nobody in the land was more loyal to his nation than Jeremiah.

Wherefore the princes were wroth with Jeremiah, and smote him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe: for they had made that the prison.

Jeremiah 37:15

When Jeremiah was entered into the dungeon, and into the cabins, and Jeremiah had remained there many days; Then Zedekiah the king sent, and took him out: and the king asked him secretly in his house, and said, Is there any word from the Lord? And Jeremiah said, There is: for, said he, thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.

Jeremiah 37:16-17 (emphasis added)

When the king asked Jeremiah, “Is there any word from the Lord?” I wonder if Jeremiah thought, “SERIOUSLY??! Is there a Word from the Lord?! Let me see… I’ve only been proclaiming it openly for 25 years!” What a contrast! The king – afraid of his own counselors and advisors, sneaking in to see the man of God, hoping for some self-serving false prophecies – while Jeremiah, with everything to lose, just continues to faithfully repeat his true message.

A good lesson for us to take from this is: Learn the Word of God. Stand on the Word of God. Apply the Word of God in every season and circumstance – even when it seems like everbody wants to hear something else, or at least wants you to water it down.

Where to Find Courage

August 28, 2019 at 11:28 am | Posted in Joshua, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast.

Joshua 1:1-4

Moses had been used by God to lead God’s people out of bondage in Egypt. He had led them through the Red Sea. When their disobedience had caused God send them wandering into the wilderness rather than entering into the promised land, Moses had led them in the wilderness – always subject to God’s guidance, protection, and provision. All of the Israelites who had come out of Egypt and gone into the wilderness for 40 years had died – except for three: Moses himself, Joshua, and Caleb.

Joshua had been Moses’s chief military general, his close friend, and a loyal helper. When loyalty among the people had been in short supply, Joshua was the exception. He loved Moses, and, although Joshua was no longer the young man he had been when the people left Egypt, he still looked up to, and admired, Moses. Perhaps you have or have had a spiritual mentor or even sort of a hero like this in your life.

Now Moses died, too, leaving Joshua to lead in his place. How this must have devastated Joshua! Of course, God’s plans are not dependent upon even the greatest of human beings, and Joshua, although I’m sure he FELT alone, was far from BEING alone. God gave Joshua a tremendous promise.

I hope as you read this that you have been born again. If you have, then this is a promise for you, too, and it is a promise that we all desperately need, whether we realize it or not:

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Joshua 1:5 (emphasis added)

This promise alone would enable Joshua to do what the Lord was about to command him to do. The land across the Jordan River was not uninhabited. Spies had previously gone there to scout the terrain, and they brought back reports. Tribes and nations of warlike people lived there: Hittites and Hivites and Jebusites and Cannanites and parasites and mosquito bites and tighty whites and all sorts of less-than-friendly people. Some of them were huge warriors, giant in stature, living in walled and fortified cities designed to defeat and annihilate anyone who would challenge them. Joshua would need the promise God gave him in Verse 5 in order to do what God commanded him to do in Verse 6:

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

Joshua 1:6

Courage is often misunderstood. We contrast courage with fear and we believe they are opposites, but they are not. Courage does not cancel out fear, nor vice versa. Fear must be present for courage to exist. Fear is the sine qua non of courage. The Bible does not condemn the existence of reasonable feelings of fear, but it does exhort us to find the courage to OVERCOME fear. The Bible does not promise us the absence of fearful circumstances, but it does encourage us to act in faith despite our fear, rather than responding with paralysis or retreat.

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

Joshua 1:6 (emphasis added)

1. The first place to find courage is in the promises of God.

What God has decreed will come to pass. He is not only faithful in character – which makes it impossible to for Him to lie and break His Word – but He has the omnipotent power to perform what He has promised.

There failed not ought of any good thing which the LORD had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

Joshua 21:45

And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof.

Joshua 23:14

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

I Thessalonians 5:24

Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

Jeremiah 1:12

The Lord stands outside of time at the place of promise and at the place of fulfillment. He comprehensively and minutely supervises His promises so that they come to pass perfectly in His impeccable timing and through His brilliantly organized, ordered, and executed circumstances. By remembering and believing in the demonstrated trustworthiness of God, you will find courage to overcome fear.

2. The second place to find courage is in obedience to the Lord’s commands.

Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Joshua 1:7-8 (emphasis added)

We tend to think of God’s commands of righteousness as burdensome and fearful things – as though they are given to us as a trap, so that, when we inevitably stumble into disobedience, God can rejoice in shaming or punishing us. This is not accurate, though. God’s commands are given to us for our safety and comfort. They are the commands of a loving Father, not a cruel and sadistic taskmaster.

But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Joshua 22:5 (emphasis added)

O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.

Psalm 119:97-98

God’s love and care for us are not at odds with His desire for our obedience and submission to Him. Our obedience and submission glorify Him, yes, but they are objectively the best things for us, too. We were expressly created to glorify Him, and, in doing so, we find our greatest fulfillment and freedom. Obedience to the commands given by God to you in the Bible will assure you that God loves you, and will give you the courage to overcome the fear that the world tries to use against you when it tells you that sometimes you just HAVE to cheat and disobey God to escape trouble or to prosper.

3. The third place to find courage is in the presence of the Lord even in our trials.

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Joshua 1:9 (emphasis added)

Joshua had lost Moses. Moses would not – could not – be with him any longer “withsoever he would goest.” No human being can give you the assurance of constant loyalty, consistency, or steadfastness, but God can – and He does. The promise of Jesus that so many of us like to claim (Hebrews 13:5) does not mean that He will start out with us, then forget about us for a while, and then come rushing back just in the nick of time (although it may seem that way from our sinful, lack-of-faith perspective). No, this is a promise to attach us to Himself permanently and to be there in the midst of our worst trials and troubles.

You will experience no greater pain or shame than what He experienced in the Cross, and He is able to comfort you and fortify you so that you can continue to trust Him through absolutely anything.

Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:34-39

When you feel fear, don’t try to deny it. Don’t opt for some distraction. Don’t give up and retreat. And don’t let the devil intimidate you into paralysis and inaction. Be courageous and strong by:

1. Remembering the strength of God’s promises;
2. Remembering that God has given you an assignment that is worthy of obedience;
3. Remembering that God is with you and will not forsake you.

Why Read Other Books?

August 26, 2019 at 10:57 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: I read my Bible. What does it matter if I read other books or not?

Answer: I agree that if you are only going to read one book, read the Bible. That’s the most important book. However, one reason adults – especially Christian adults – should read other things, too, is that the ability to read is a great gift from God, and a great way to acquire information and knowledge about areas where the Bible gives principles, but might not go into a lot of detail. Also, I’m concerned about our brains. The part of your brain intended for reading comprehension will get atrophied (like a muscle that never gets any exercise) if it is not used. The result will be a decreased ability to understand concepts, to apply information or knowledge to circumstances (wisdom), a poor vocabulary, and a failure to be able to properly explain what you are trying to say when it might be important.

Also, I’m concerned about how social media and television have come to replace reading. These activities are far more mentally passive, and they don’t use the same part of your brain. Also, they are addictive in a bad way. According to studies, when you get attention on social media or achieve a goal on a video game or app, your brain releases dopamine which creates a sensation of pleasure. However, you soon develop a higher tolerance level, and you need to feed the unconscious craving for dopamine more and more, so you spend an inordinate amount of (mostly wasted) time playing silly games or checking your status for “likes,” hoping to keep your dopamine receptor engaged. It’s just not mentally healthy the way reading is.

D.L. Moody: S.W.I.M. Deeper in Grace

August 23, 2019 at 8:47 am | Posted in II Corinthians, Quotes | 1 Comment
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There is plenty of grace. Many Christians, if they have grace enough to keep them from outward sin, seem to be perfectly satisfied; they do not press on to get fullness of grace, so as to be ready for God’s work. Many are satisfied to go into the stream of grace ankle deep, when God wants them to swim in it.

D.L. Moody, Soveregin Grace: Its Source, Its Nature, and Its Effects

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

II Corinthians 9:8

How to Defeat Anxiety

August 21, 2019 at 12:11 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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Fear is related to anxiety, and specifically the worrying that goes hand in hand with anxiety. Contentment is the remedy for anxiety. Here are some methods for defeating anxiety:

1. Recognize that God knows your circumstances.

And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Luke 12:22-28

2. Love God and love people.

And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luke 12:29-34

Love people and not things. Use things, but do not love things. If you love people, you will use things. If you love things, you will use people.

3. Shift your worry to watchfulness.

And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

Luke 12:39-40

It’s easier to be busy and productive when we believe there is a limited time to work.

4. Apply the Bible to what you see around you.

Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky and of the earth; but how is it that ye do not discern this time?

Luke 12:56

Measure every experience and circumstance against God’s Word. Do not “let go and let God.” Hold fast to what you believe and wrestle (respectfully) with God.

Luke 13 deals with theodicy. Theodicy refers to the problem of evil. Evil is in the world because of sin, but God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent. He knows about all evil. Wherever suffering is taking place, He is there. He has the power to stop suffering. He is always good. So, here’s how theodicy is usually worded: If God is all good, why is there suffering in the world? There is suffering in the world because people are sinful, but if God is all good AND all powerful, why doesn’t He stop the suffering? The mistake here is that the wrong question is being asked. The question is not, if God is all good and all powerful, why is there suffering? The question is, why does a good God Who is all powerful allow anything good to happen to anyone at all?

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

Luke 13:1

Maybe some secret Roman agents had done this, or maybe it was just a sneak attack slaughter – an unprovoked terrorist attack, an incident of sheer evil.

And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Luke 13:2-3

The question was not why God allowed the Romans to massacre the Gallileans; it was why hasn’t He allowed them to massacre you?

Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Luke 13:4-5

When something evil happens, God allows it in part to remind people of the urgency of the need for repentance.

Hard Sayings

August 19, 2019 at 11:35 am | Posted in John | 2 Comments
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Jesus miraculously produced enough bread and fish to feed 5000 men, plus women and children (a crowd that could have easily ranged from 10,000 to 20,000 people). His disciples had gathered up the leftovers, and Jesus Himself had evaded the throng of overzealous patriots who wanted to crown Him king whether He was ready for it or not (John 6:15). How did Jesus “thin the herd,” so to speak, separating mere spectators and political fanatics from His true followers, and ultimately from His inner circle of twelve (John 6:67)? He did it by saying some “hard sayings.” Do you love Jesus enough to hear some of the tougher truths about Who He is and what it means to really believe on Him and follow Him?

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 6:35

Jesus identified Himself with a form of the Old Testament name for God: The I AM (Ego Eimi), sometimes written as YHWH (Yahweh), a name which references His aseity – His self-existence, His BEING (rather than becoming), His pre-existent eternality, His immutability, His infinitude, His glory, His holiness, His perfection. This was not a claim by Jesus to be a mere representative of God, a missionary of God, a prophet of God, a child of God in a figurative sense, an angel or an archangel, but a claim to be truly God.

This would not only be a “hard saying” (John 6:60), but a “too-hard” saying for most – not necessarily hard to understand, but hard to accept.

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

John 6:41-42

They “knew” the origin of Jesus of Nazareth. They thought they knew His backstory – His “nativity,” but not His real Nativity. This was not a prince or a nobleman or the son of a wealthy influential merchant or businessman or politician – not even the son of a priest or a scribe. This was the poor son of a simple carpenter from the most disreputable hick town in Galilee… here with a message from Heaven!? Maybe here with some power from Heaven? Maybe here with some special Heavenly insight into spiritual truth? Maybe. But “came down from Heaven?” No – unacceptable.

Jesus did not try to soft-peddle this truth; He emphasized it: John 6:33, 38, 41-42, 50-51, 58. That statement, “I AM”, is a hard saying. The statement, “I came down from Heaven,” is a hard saying. Here is another:

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

John 6:37

All those whom the Father gives to the Son SHALL come to Him. Will all men come to the Son? No. Will there be some given to the Son who do not come to the Son? No. “I will in no wise cast out” is an example of a literary device called “litotes.” Here are a couple of other examples of litotes in the Bible:

But Paul said, I am a man which am a Jew of Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and, I beseech thee, suffer me to speak unto the people.

Acts 21:39

But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

I Corinthians 15:10

You may have heard these modern examples of litotes: “She’s not hard to look at” (said about a beautiful woman); “Einstein was no dummy” (because he was considered a genius). A litotes is a negative statement that is made to emphasize the opposite. Jesus will not cast out ANY of those whom the Father gives to Him, but can some of them (not being “cast out”) still somehow be lost? Not according to Jesus:

And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:39-40 (emphasis added)

“Hard sayings” can cause dejection, abandonment, or anger. Here, as was the case with the original “bread” (manna), they caused murmuring.

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

John 6:41

By this point the conversation/discourse had probably moved into the synagogue.

Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.

John 6:43

Jesus responded to murmuring at hard truth with reinforced truth:

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44 (emphasis added)

NO MAN CAN.” Unless the Father DRAWS him. This drawing means to compel. It is not mere wooing, enticement, or even invitation or argumentation.

Praying for the School Equipment

August 16, 2019 at 1:09 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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I was recently asked to pray a back-to-school prayer for students, parents, teachers, and staff:

Our Father, we ask You to sanctify us with Your Truth as we prepare for a new school year, recognizing that Your Word is Truth. Please equip us through Your revealed Word, and help us not to rely on vain imaginations.

Equip us to witness, to disciple other believers, to counsel with those who have questions or are facing difficult circumstances.

Equip us to love and serve each other and all those you place in our paths. Equip us to worship You, to understand and apply Scripture. Make us walk in Truth, both generally, and in all the various details that apply to the classrooms and our homes.

Please equip us to stand against Satan, and to hold fast to sound doctrine.

In the name of Christ Jesus our Lord I pray. Amen.

Dissembling Hearts

August 12, 2019 at 10:29 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapter 40 marks the transition from the pre-exilic to the post-exilic period in Israel’s history. Nebuchadnezzar, for reasons that are not fully revealed to us, ordered that Jermiah be treated kindly. However, through some mistake, Jeremiah wound up being placed in chains with the other people who were being taken captive, and transported to Ramah, sort of a staging area for the final deportation to Babylon.

The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon.

Jeremiah 40:1

The captain of the Babylonian guard recognized that this was contrary to Nebuchadnezzar’s orders, and gave Jeremiah a choice between going to Babylon and living a fairly comfortable life under Nebuchadnezzar’s protection, or remaining behind, trying to carve out a life in the ruins, with the people who were remaining in Jerusalem.

And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go.

Jeremiah 40:4

Of course, for Jeremiah, it had never been about personal survival, nor did he really have a vested interest in making sure that Jerusalem itself remained inhabited. For him, it had always been about the people’s repentance and turning back to God. God’s people in Babylon would have other prophets, such as Ezekiel and Daniel, to minister to them. Jeremiah probably sensed that he would be more needed if he stayed in Jerusalem.

Then went Jeremiah unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and dwelt with him among the people that were left in the land.

Jeremiah 40:6

Gedaliah’s family had a connection with Jeremiah throughout his ministry. Nebuchadnezzar saw fit to appoint him as governor over the ruined city of Jerusalem. He seems to have been level-headed and wise concerning his counsel to the people at the outset of the Babylonian occupation. Knowing that there would be no wheat harvest, he made sure they would harvest the summer fruits and grapes.

Even all the Jews returned out of all places whither they were driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah, unto Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruits very much.

Jeremiah 40:12

His problems started, though, when the Ammonites, one of the conspirator-nations in the old plot against Babylon, used a man name Ishmael to plot the assassination of Gedaliah. Johanan, one of his loyal officers, discovered this plot, and offered to kill Ishmael before Ishmael could kill Gedaliah.

Then Johanan the son of Kareah spake to Gedaliah in Mizpah secretly saying, Let me go, I pray thee, and I will slay Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no man shall know it: wherefore should he slay thee, that all the Jews which are gathered unto thee should be scattered, and the remnant in Judah perish? But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said unto Johanan the son of Kareah, Thou shalt not do this thing: for thou speakest falsely of Ishmael.

Jeremiah 40:15-16

Gedaliah did not believe him, and this ultimately would turn out to be his downfall.

Now it came to pass in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah the son of Elishama, of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men with him, came unto Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah. Then arose Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and the ten men that were with him, and smote Gedaliah the son of Ahikam the son of Shaphan with the sword, and slew him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land.

Jeremiah 41:1-2

Johanan’s warning proved to be correct.

But when Johanan the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, Then they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon.

Jeremiah 41:11-12

Johanan rescued the captives of Ishmael, although Ishmael escaped. The people were glad not to be taken to Ammon, but there was a potential problem with going back to Jerusalem.

Because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had slain Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, whom the king of Babylon made governor in the land.

Jeremiah 41:18

Ishmael had killed Nebuchadnezzar’s appointed governor, Gedaliah, and some of the soldiers that were with him. Johanan feared the reprisals of the Babylonians, who might just decide that it wasn’t worth it having to deal with these Jews and their attempts at treachery, and he thought going to Egypt might be another alternative, so they decided to go see Jeremiah, and to ask him to get a word from God about what they should do.

And said unto Jeremiah the prophet, Let, we beseech thee, our supplication be accepted before thee, and pray for us unto the LORD thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are left but a few of many, as thine eyes do behold us:) That the LORD thy God may shew us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do.

Jeremiah 42:2-3

Jeremiah wanted to help them, so he agreed that he would talk to the Lord on their behalf, but he warned them that, whatever God gave him, that’s what they would get from him – nothing held back. In response, they made a big show out of swearing that, if God would deign to give them instructions, they would surely be faithful to follow them.

Here is what God told Jeremiah to tell them:

And said unto them, Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; If ye will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down, and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you. Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the LORD: for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand.

Jeremiah 42:9-11

Of course, God knew it was unlikely that they would do what He told them to do, so He also sent a warning about what would happen if they didn’t, and, of course (remember, these were the “bad figs”), they broke their promise, and decided they would take their chances in Egypt. God’s people, in times of trouble in the Old Testament, seemed to have a weird, almost fetishistic fascination with Egypt, which is why Egypt is a picture of what the “world” is to New Testament Christians.

For ye dissembled in your hearts, when ye sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and according unto all that the LORD our God shall say, so declare unto us, and we will do it. And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you. Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn.

Jeremiah 42:20-22

Maintaining a Clean and Sensitive Conscience

August 7, 2019 at 1:44 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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In II Corinthians we find the Apostle Paul having come through a series of crises, including the problem of having to see that one of the church members at Corinth – possibly a leader – was properly disciplined. HOWEVER:

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12

As Paul often did, he was able to look within himself to find the strength and the encouragement not to give up. For, unlike many people, when Paul looked within himself he found God empowering him, reassuring him, and comforting him. When we “look” outward, we must use our eyes or at least our physical senses, but with what do we look inward? Our conscience.

Con = with; science = knowledge (to know). Our conscience is not really Jiminy Cricket (from Pinocchio) or the little angel that sits on your shoulder countering a little devil that wants you to do something naughty. The conscience is what we “know with.” It is given by God to every person so that everyone innately knows there is a moral law and moral Lawgiver. It does give us a sense of approval when we do what is right, and it does accuse us or give us a sense of guilt when we do wrong. Even lost people are aware of a sense of right and wrong – objectively. These ideas may be reinforced or corroded by society or experience, but they are hardwired into the human nature (as part of being stamped with the image of God). If a person tells you that right and wrong are subjective or the product of evolution, he or she will quickly fall into severe inconsistency the moment someone snatches her purse or steals his wallet. He/she will quickly become concerned for selfish reasons, but also offended at recognized injustice. No sane person hesitates to call what happened in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or cases of child abuse “evil.”

The conscience is what we “know with,” but it can become calloused and less sensitive – and dirty – which dulls our inward sense of right and wrong. Therefore, it is important to keep our conscience sensitive and clean.

And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void to offence toward God, and toward men.

Acts 24:16

1. Simplicity will help to keep your conscience clean and sensitive.

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12

Your ministry in the name of Jesus Christ does not have to be overly complex, nor do all of your evangelistic witnessing enounters: “I was lost and Jesus saved me. I want Him to save you too.”

Sin complicates our lives, when the Lord would be more honored if we kept things simple. Manipulative bait and switch strategies, duplicity, and scheming are techniques sometimes used to attempt to bring people to Jesus, but they do not honor Him the way the simplicity of the Gospel does, and they cause us to forget that He is really the Savior – the One Who seeks and saves, and the One Who speaks and reveals unvarnished truth.

For we write none other things unto you, that what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are our’s in the day of the Lord Jesus.

II Corinthians 1:13-14

2. Submission to God’s will helps to keep your conscience clean and sensitive.

And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit; And to pass by you into Macedonia, and to come again out of Macedonia unto you, and of you to be brought on my way toward Judaea. When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay?

II Corinthians 1:15-17

The church members at Corinth were upset that Paul’s plans had changed, but he had not carelessly or willfully changed his plans or broken any promises. Circumstances had forced his schedule to change. He had qualified his stated commitment with the understanding that he would do what he planned to do, “Lord willing.”

For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

I Corinthians 16:7

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

James 4:13-16

Saying that we intend to do somthing, “Lord willing,” should not be superstition. It should be a serious recognition that God is sovereignly in control of all circumstances, and does not consult with our schedule when carrying out His eternal decrees.

When I therefore was thus minded, did I use lightness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yea yea, and nay nay? But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

II Corinthians 1:17-20

3. The Holy Spirit helps to keep your conscience clean and sensitive.

The Holy Spirit will give us the proper motive if we are faced with the need to change our plans. Only He gives us the assurance that we truly belong to God.

Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

II Corinthians 1:21-22

Only the Holy Spirit can motivate us to serve others with pure motives.

Moreover I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you I came not as yet unto Corinth. Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

II Corinthians 1:23-24

For by faith we stand, but we stand leaning on Him. By faith we try to keep our consciences clean and sensitive, and we lean fully on the Lord.

voice of conscience

A Marvelous Work?

August 5, 2019 at 10:38 am | Posted in Isaiah, Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: In Isaiah 29:14 the marvelous work that God promised to do for His people seems to be something bad, instead of something good like revival. Why would we want something bad, or what am I missing?

Answer: The word “marvelous” is a little tricky because in modern English it typically means something that is delightful, or “wonderful” in a positive sense. In the Bible it can mean that, too, but its literal meaning has to do with something that causes people to stop dead in their tracks and “marvel” at something. To stand silently still and gaze with amazement. Or to gasp with surprise that something so extraordinary is happening. So, depending on the context, it can be something marvelously beneficial and joyful (Psalm 17:7), or it can mean something marvelously horrific (Daniel 11:36). And, yes, you are correct that the “marvelous” thing God is saying that He will do in Isaiah 29 is that He will bring judgment and destruction upon the people of Jerusalem because of their spiritual hypocrisy and their failure to heed the warnings of His prophets. The “marvelous” thing about it is the extreme nature of it. God would use Godless heathen nations and armies to punish His Own people and to destroy His holy city (29:1-9)! He would even take away their ability to hear and understand His Own Word (29:18), and their ability to see the truth (29:11)! It would be horrendously marvelous, not happily marvelous. So, in that sense, I would like to experience a spiritual revival in my heart, home, church family, community, and nation that would PREVENT this type of “marvelous” work, not the continued apathy and hypocrisy which would bring it to pass. I think that may be what you are getting at with your question.

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