Imaginations of the Heart

November 5, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

In Jeremiah Chapter 9 the prophet continued his lament, specifically related to the treacherous dealings among the people. They believed they had left God at the Temple and were free to live according to their own Godless standards. They became duplicitous – experts at being two-faced for gain.

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.

Jeremiah 9:1-2

Jeremiah was experiencing the kind of weeping – almost a complete emotional breakdown – that made him want to just get away from it all. You can probably relate, but that was never an option for him.

Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother: for every brother will utterly supplant, and every neighbour will walk with slanders.

Jeremiah 9:4

How sad for a preacher to have to warn his people not to trust anyone or believe anyone!

And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.

Jeremiah 9:5

It’s not that they were lazy and wouldn’t work hard, but, rather, that all their energy was given over to lying and deceit and evil schemes, as though those were good things to pursue and upon which to expend energy.

Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.

Jeremiah 9:8 (emphasis added)

Do not get the impression that lies are harmless things. Here, they are compared to weapons – deadly arrows – and notice how they reveal that the evil heart is the source of lying. The arrows come from the heart, because a trap has been concocted in the heart. You and I might release a lie or some gossip, and find, like an arrow, it can not be called back once it has been shot.

And the LORD saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein; But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:

Jeremiah 9:13-14

God did not here blame the pagans for introducing idols to His people. He blamed the people themselves, whose hearts, rather than surrendering to the Covenant laws, “imagined” their own plans and followed after the idols that their idol-producing hearts had manufactured.

Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.

Jeremiah 9:15

Because of their gullibility, God would make their punishment fit their crime. They were so quick spew forth lies that now they would be just as quick to drink the poison that God would offer them.

There is a break in the narrative of this oracle, where God had Jeremiah give one of his most important teachings, helping us to understand something of the nature of God and men.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

Jeremiah 9:23

What do we have that has not been given to us? Wisdom? No. Might? No. Wealth? No. Our intelligence, our strength, and all our material possessions and blessings come from God. Therefore, it makes no sense to “glory” – to boast or be proud – in any of these things. Pride is perhaps the most dangerous sin because it makes us think more highly of ourselves than of God and of others. There is something in us that wants to glory – to make a big deal out of something – and here God tells us where that desire MUST find its outlet if we are to please Him

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:24

We must try to understand God with our mind and know Him with our heart. Intimate fellowship and relationship with God can only come through Christ. We will be neither truly loving, nor truly kind, compared to God – or apart from God. We will not make the right decisions about our own lives, nor will we be able to help anyone else the way that God could help them. This is why the kindest and most effective thing we can do for people is to try to get them to God. On our own we will not live rightly because our so-called “righteousness” apart from Him is really filthy rags. Our only hope is to put on God’s righteousness, having been declared righteous by Him in Christ.

Clear Calls for Christians: Point Upward

September 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , ,

As Christians:

I. We are called to Pure Upgrade.
II. We are called to Proper Unity.
and
III. We are called to Point Upward.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

I Corinthians 1:26

We are called to recognize our weakness, our foolishness, and our lack of nobility, and to still believe and act as though this message from our King and Redeemer will confound the mighty.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:27

We are called to believe and act as though the message will conquer the world. We are called to admit that we do not deserve to be loved and helped by this King. God calls the weak and the foolish, not because He has a weak spot for the helpless, not because it’s His fault that we are like that, not because He has to take what He can get. No, the primary reason He uses the weak and the foolish is to show off His glory.

That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I Corinthians 1:29

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

We are called to preach and live the Gospel, and – when it works – to point straight upward.

Why I’m Not Proud to be an American

January 16, 2013 at 11:45 am | Posted in Jeremiah, Uncategorized | 13 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I was born in America, and most of the time I love it here. I suppose it’s possible that one day, when I don’t have anything better to do, I will sit in front of my computer all day and post conspiracy theories about the government on Facebook, and make pointed jabs at the President, and publish funny photos and links to nasty diatribes about whoever the currently elected officials are. But let me go on record right now as saying that I hope to avoid that if I can. Despite all the problems with our politicians and our political system, I can’t think of any place I would rather live (except Heaven, of course.)

But here’s the deal: I didn’t choose to be an American. It just so happened that God arranged it so I would be born here. I didn’t have to work hard to earn my citizenship. I didn’t have to swim across a river, sail across an ocean, hike through a forest, or even pass a written exam. Being American – like everything else in my life – is a blessing I did not deserve.

Just now, my favorite search engine counted the word “pride” 46 times in my King James Bible, and, the best I can tell, it’s always a bad thing. “Proud” is in there 47 times, “haughty” 10, and “puffed up” 6. Have you ever done a Biblical word study on how God feels about pride? It might knock the wind out of your sails.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise [man] glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty [man] glory in his might, let not the rich [man] glory in his riches:

Jeremiah 9:23

If even the wise, the mighty, and the rich are not supposed to boast about their accomplishments, achievements, or advancements, then how in the world can I be “proud” of the nation in which I happen to live? Look, I’m not the theological language police, but I would like to see all of us Christians clean up our vocabulary a little bit. When our kids get good grades, do well in sports, or perform well at a recital, my wife and I try to say that we’re “thankful” for them. That seems much more God-glorifying than saying we’re “proud” of them. I feel the same way about America. I am not proud to be an American, but I am thankful to the Lord that He made me one. And if you really feel like you just have to express pride about something, try this one on for size:

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I [am] the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these [things] I delight, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:24

Servant Movers (Commitment)

November 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

When we talk about someone in a position of leadership in Christian ministry, I prefer the term “servant leader.” This is far from original, but I believe it is apt, because the New Testament paradigm for leading is to lead while, through, and by serving others. The Lord Jesus led by serving, and He was the greatest Servant Leader of all time.

Although we put an emphasis on serving, we must not deny the “leading,” either, and “leading” means “moving.”

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

Romans 5:3-4

Biblical patience is more than just a willingness to wait. It contains the concept of “perseverance,” and perseverance is evidenced by commitment. When we persevere in our commitments, we gain the right kind of “experience” and we develop the right kind of character. Our character then governs our conduct.

“Leading” implies that people are following, and leading and following imply that we are going somewhere – or at least that we are moving. “Church” is not just a place to come sit. It should be a place to come serve. After salvation, regular attendance at church is very important, but it should not be the end of your journey. Instead, it should be the place where we meet to restock, to refresh, to prepare, and to train for our journey. A local assembly of believers (a “church“) must be moving. If people in our churches are not going or growing, we who claim to be servant leaders must bear a great deal of the responsibility for failing to lead.

Qualifications of New Testament servant leaders include commitment, character, and conduct. We think of someone who is easily able to influence others or who tends to attract loyal followers as someone who has “charisma,” and this word is actually the Greek word translated as “gifts” in several New Testament Bible verses. I would argue that while the “gifts” of ministry given by God to leaders are certainly important, commitment is just as (and possibly even more) important than the gifts themselves. Gifts by their very definition are things “given.” In other words, they are not earned.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:

Jeremiah 9:23

Too much focusing on our “gifts” over and above our commitment can lead to boasting in our own “giftedness.” If we are not to boast on our gifts, then on what are we to boast?

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:24

What do we have that is any good at all that didn’t come from God? Gifts will attract followers to the gift-receiver, but Godliness will attract followers to the Gift-Giver. Therefore, being Godly is more important than being gifted. Godliness comes from being committed. Servant leaders are servants who are moving. People can’t follow someone who is going nowhere, doing nothing. That’s not leading.

Next time, I will say more about character and conduct.

High and Mighty

January 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Isaiah | 13 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6, emphasis added

Here are three points to consider as we rejoice that this Child Who was born and this Son Who was given shall be called the Mighty God:

1. The proclamation of His might

2. The promise of His might

3. The preeminence of His might

His name shall be called The mighty God. Isaiah 9:6 is not saying that one day Jesus will be The mighty God. He has always been The mighty God. Jesus was not a created being. He and the Father and the Holy Ghost have always been one God in three Persons. No one can fully explain this, but it is true. Isaiah 9:6 is saying that He will be called The mighty God.

1. The proclamation of Jesus as The mighty God.

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

Titus 2:13

The King James Version is about the only version that has it right: “The mighty God.” At His glorious appearing, His people will see the fulfillment of their Savior Jesus Christ – and THE great God – that they are One.

2. The promise of His might

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

Romans 14:11-12

This Child, this Son of the Most High, is The mighty God. His might reaches over everything in this world and beyond. He places His hand on a table of stone and no man can pry it up. He raises His arm – in judgment or in love – and no man can pull it down. He rules and reigns in Heaven and in Earth and in hell. He will do with you as He pleases and one day You will stand before Him in judgment or to give an account. He is, He always has been, He always will be, and HE SHALL BE CALLED: The mighty God.

3. The preeminence of His might

This word “might” in the Hebrew is gibbowr. It has a connotation of reckless bravery – like a hunter or a soldier or a hero who runs into a dangerous situation with no thought for his own safety because he is invincible. It is used in the Bible of a few men, but not in the same way it is used by God to describe His own might.

Alexander the Great is one illustration. Daniel 11:3 describes him as a mighty king, but Jeremiah 9:23 says that the worldly wise should not glory in their wisdom; the worldly rich should not glory in their riches; and the worldly mighty should not glory in their might. Alexander was 33, a young man, when reportedly he wept because he had no worlds left to conquer. Then a tiny virus entered his body – and he died of a fever. The “mightiest” man of all time turned out to be nothing more than animated dust compared to the One who is truly The mighty God.

Do you hold some human being in high regard? Are you trusting your own “might?” Your health, your wealth, your wisdom? Or is your trust in the The mighty God?

He shall be called wonderful – but He shall be called wonderful by the power of His might. He shall be called Counsellor – with a capital C – because His might is such that He needed to take counsel of no man. He shall be called The everlasting Father – because His might will never diminish or be overcome. This is a great comfort to His children and a great dread to His enemies – because there is no changing of the guard. We can depend on His promises. He is mighty enough to carry them out and enforce them. Revelation Chapters 12 and 19 state that He will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

The mighty God is mighty to rule – and mighty to save. If He is your Savior you should find comfort and motivation to serve Him.

Anybody Can Be Profane

May 6, 2010 at 10:25 am | Posted in Genesis | 11 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Genesis 24 explains how Isaac and Rebekah wound up married:
A Match Made in Heaven Part 1
A Match Made in Heaven Part 2

Maybe when you were in junior high school teachers would warn students against “P.D.A.” This meant they didn’t want kids hugging and kissing in the hallways. You could make the argument that “public displays of affection” were not a good idea in Bible times, either.

And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.

Genesis 26:6-12

Isaac seems to have had a significantly different personality from Abraham. Abraham was more a man of action; Isaac was contemplative.

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming.

Genesis 24:63

In modern Christianity, we need more Isaacs. They are a little strange, but they have a great desire to know God. Who you are before God is more important than what you can do for God. We must be careful of our motives. If I say that I want to serve God and be used of Him in a great way, is it because I really want to make a name for myself? Is it because I want a reward? Is it because I secretly think God “needs” help? I think Isaac would have made a good theologian. We need theologians. Isaac wanted to know God.

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

My wife doesn’t love me, I can assure you, for what I can buy for her (and it’s a good thing, because I’m broke!) She doesn’t love me because of what I can do for her. What would please her is to think that I am devoting my life to getting to know her more intimately. It’s somewhat of a crude analogy, but that is how God wants to feel about us.

Isaac valued God, but contrast the view of his son, Esau:

And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 25:29-34

Esau sold his birthright cheaply. He sold it for fleshly satisfaction. Esau was capable of doing many things for God: hunting, fighting, caring for his father. But he didn’t care about being something for God. He didn’t care about being a man with a hunger to know God. He hungered for a little pot of beans more than he hungered for God.

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Proverbs 23:19

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

Proverbs 23:23

Don’t sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the immediate.

And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Genesis 25:27-28

Jacob was more like Isaac, but Isaac liked Esau better. He probably lived vicariously through him. Rebekah loved Jacob better. It’s a shame when families are divided. Children will look for opportunities to cause division. That’s one reason why it’s so important for parents to support each other.

In Genesis Chapter 25 we see some similarities between Isaac and Abraham. Both had to wait to have their first child. Both were men of prayer.

And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Genesis 25:21

Abraham quickly learned that his first son, Ishmael, would not receive God’s inheritance. Isaac and Rebekah found out the same thing, but their first-born couldn’t just be sent away. In fact, he came out with his little brother holding on to his heel.

And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

Genesis 25:24-26

Esau means hairy. Edom means red. Isaac admired Esau’s abilities and courage, but ignored his worldliness.

I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.

Malachi 1:2-3

The shocking thing for most people is that God hated Esau. However, when you truly understand the Gospel, you begin to be more amazed that God loved Jacob.

Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

Hebrews 12:16

Profane is the opposite of sanctified, and, in some ways, the opposite of holy. “Holy” means “different from everybody else.” “Profane” means just like everything else: common or ordinary or “vulgar.”

The More You See, the Better You Look

December 1, 2009 at 10:42 am | Posted in Acts, Biblical Eyesight | 17 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In Acts Chapter 22 the Apostle Paul is telling the story of how he went from being the lost, hell-bound Saul of Tarsus, to being the saved, Heaven-bound man of God. Having been struck blind on the road to Damascus by the overwhelming glory of Christ Jesus Himself, Paul is taken to a devout Jewish man named Ananias. We pick up the story in Verse 13:

…Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.

Acts 22:13-15 (emphasis added)

In these three verses there are five references to the gift of sight. Saul had received a great gift from the Lord – the ability to see again. However, that gift was not given just for the purpose of being a gift. It was a gift given for a reason. The reason was so that Saul could see the Just One, Jesus Christ, and then tell others about Him, and so that others might see Him, too.

Eyesight is one of the greatest earthly gifts of God there is. However, we have an amazing ability to receive earthly gifts from God, and then make those gifts, rather the Giver of those gifts, the objects of our attention, affection, and even adoration.

The same can be said of spiritual gifts. Have you been given the gift of being able to be forgiving? Then, rejoice! But do not think of yourself as an expert on forgiveness, and revel in pride over how forgiving you can be. Think of forgiveness as a gift given to help you understand how much it cost God, and how much He must have loved you, to forgive you. Forgiveness is a gift that removes a barrier so that you can see God better!

Have you been given the gift of victory over sin to the extent where you are able to live a more pure and holy life? Then, rejoice! But do not think of yourself as an authority on personal purity and holy living. Think of purity and holiness as a gift which allows you into the intimate presence of the Pure and Holy God, so that you may see Him better! (Matthew 5:8)

Have you been given the gift of spiritual insight? Then, rejoice! But do not rejoice that you have become the person that people seek out when they have spiritual questions or problems, and do not expect the praise or compensation of men when you are able to help them. Instead, think of spiritual insight as a way to better know God!

Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:23-24


Entries and comments feeds.