OCTOBER 23 – TODAY’S READING FROM THE ONE YEAR BIBLE- JEREMIAH 42:1-44:23; 2 TIMOTHY 2:1-21; PSALMS 92:1-93:5; PROVERBS 26:3-5;
TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- JEREMIAH 42:1-44:23;
You would have thought that the indisputable fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecies would have convinced everyone that he was a true prophet of God. But no. They ask for his counsel but refuse to heed it.
“Pray that the Lord your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do”, they ask (Jeremiah 42:3).
When Jeremiah tells them that they are to remain in the land of Judah and not go to Egypt, they reject his counsel and accuse him of telling lies (43:2). They insist on going to Egypt and returning to their idol worship.
Jeremiah 44:16-17 16 “As for the message that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we are not going to listen to you! 17 “But rather we will certainly carry out every word that has proceeded from our mouths, by burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, just as we ourselves, our forefathers, our kings, and our princes did in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; for then we had plenty of food and were well off and saw no misfortune.
How deceived they were! They imagined that they were being blessed by worshiping their idols, not realizing that they were putting themselves under a curse.
The fate of this surviving remnant who turn to Egypt for refuge rather than heeding the Word of the Lord they begged Jeremiah to bring to them, is a massive tragedy.
Throughout the Bible, we are called to trust the Lord with our whole hearts. These people promised to do the will of God, but when they hear it declared, they refuse to obey, preferring to trust worldly wisdom, natural strength, and deceitful political alliances. They are hearers only. The New Testament Book of James refers to these types of people as being double-minded and unstable in all their ways (James 1:5-8).
Are you eager to know the will of the Lord? Are you willing to do His will? Jesus said that this kind of single-mindedness is necessary in order to accurately discern His truth.
John 7:17 17 “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself.
The Judean remnant disobey the word of the Lord, trusting Egypt as their refuge. The result is a disaster. Jeremiah and Baruch are forced to go with them. For them to have gone voluntarily would have violated the prophecies that the Lord had given (Jeremiah 32:6-15; 40:1-6; 42:13-18).
The surviving remnant of Judah arrives at Tahpanhes, on the eastern boundary of the Nile Delta in Egypt.
Once they are in Egypt, God calls Jeremiah to another prophetic action. He is to bury large stones at the entrance to Pharaoh’s palace, predicting that Nebuchadnezzar will conquer Egypt and build his palace on that spot. Jeremiah also predicts that Nebuchadnezzar will destroy the temples of the Egyptian gods (43:12-13).
Because there is no record in the Bible itself of the Babylonians invading Egypt, critics have long questioned this passage. However, a cuneiform tablet has been found and translated that describes Babylon’s invasion of Egypt in Nebuchadnezzar’s 37th year, 569 or 568 B.C. In addition, memorial tribute texts now in the Louvre in Paris describe an invasion of Egypt by northerners, making it clear that this prophesied conquest took place as prophesied by Jeremiah in Chapters 43 and 44 and by Ezekiel (in Ezekiel 29).
Chapter 44 contains Jeremiah’s last message chronologically. It has been dated 580 B.C. because the dispersion throughout Egypt described in verses 1 and 2 would have taken some time.
The Jews become ensnared with the idolatrous practices of Egypt, although their worship of foreign deities was nothing new. This must have been heart breaking to Jeremiah who had for so long preached against idolatry in Judah. The Jews in Egypt enter into the worship of Astarte, Ishtar, the goddess of fertility. The women made vows of devotion to the Queen of Heaven with the full consent of their husbands and offered up cakes with the image of the Astarte on them, reportedly the image of the full moon.
Jeremiah continues to be the weeping prophet whose words go unheeded. He tells it like it is:
Jeremiah 44:23 23 “Because you have burned sacrifices and have sinned against the LORD and not obeyed the voice of the LORD or walked in His law, His statutes or His testimonies, therefore this calamity has befallen you, as it has this day.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 2 TIMOTHY 2:1-21
Paul is passing on his final words to his protégé, Timothy. He reminds Timothy of the worthiness of the cause and the sufficiency of God’s supply. It is tough to be a minister of the gospel in times of persecution.
2 Timothy 2:1 1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
Paul reminds Timothy of his calling. He is to fulfill the Lord’s Great Commission by making disciples:
2 Timothy 2:2 2 The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
He is to select those who are faithful, reliable, available, and teachable. He is to pass on the foundational truths he has received from the apostle Paul to men who will be faithful to pass it on to others.
Notice that there are four generations in this charge: 1. Paul 2. Timothy 3. Faithful men, and 4. The others they will be teaching and will pass it on.
Paul explains that we need a ‘wartime mentality’ describing the Christ-follower as a soldier. (2 Tim 2:2-5). We need ‘a strict discipline’, like that of a competing athlete (2 Tim 2:5). We need to work hard in this present season, whatever it may be. If we plant, water, and tend to the harvest, there will be a great reward at the return of Christ (2 Tim 2:6).
In Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians, when he is ministering with his team of Silas and Timothy and the many who were holding fast to the faith, he referred to the gospel as ‘our gospel’. Now he is alone in prison, and he is clutching to the very source of his life and strength. This is ‘my gospel’ (2 Timothy 2:8).
Paul is suffering being confined in chains but confesses that God’s Word is not chained! (2:9). God’s Word is still at work.
Paul makes it very clear that this is not ‘the best life now.’ If we endure (suffering with Him), we will also reign with Him (in the future)! He has the hope of the kingdom. He also knows the danger of apostasy. If we disown Him, He will also disown us.
Our faith may waver, but Jesus is a Savior for our wavering faith; He cannot disown Himself. He is able to save us to the uttermost.
How can we be workmen who need not be ashamed? — By being careful how we handle the Word of truth (2 Tim 2:15).
Who were Hymenaeus and Philetus? They were those who said that believers were misinterpreting the gospel promise that we shall receive glorified bodies when Christ returns. They said the resurrection promised was not to be taken literally but was merely symbolic, representing a spiritual resurrection.
Paul reminds Timothy that our choices matter. Our responses to God’s grace can play a part in determining how God will use us in the future.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 92:1-93:5
It is good to praise the Lord throughout the day! The Lord made us to be musical instruments. We are to make music, whether we have musical instruments or not!
The Psalmist writes about what inspires his songs: His deeds, the works of His hands, His profound thoughts, His victory over every enemy, and the way He causes His people to grow and flourish like the majestic trees of the Middle East.
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree; they will grow like a cedar planted in the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 92:12) They are like palm trees that stand tall and live long. They are like the cedars that grow to 120 feet in height and are up to 30 feet in circumference. They are strong, solid trees that cannot be toppled by the winds of adversity.
This song is a tribute to the Supremacy of God over all things!
Psalm 93 honors the Lord’s kingship over all the earth. His rule is from all eternity. He is Lord over the seas, which is a metaphor for the nations. Though the nations rise up like floods, the Lord is mightier!
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy and reflect His covenant commitment to His people. His glory is to fill His house and be reflected in the holiness of His people.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 26:3-5;
Proverbs 26:3-5 3 A whip is for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the back of fools. 4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will also be like him. 5 Answer a fool as his folly deserves, That he not be wise in his own eyes.
A fool must be disciplined, sometimes by force. A fool can be as stubborn as a donkey or as unruly as a horse.
Be careful how you engage with foolish people. The one who responds to a fool can appear to be a fool. Don’t descend to their level of thought. In some cases, you are to ignore their comments, and at other times in is appropriate to offer correction, lest they continue in their self-deception.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – SERBIA
(from Operation World and Prayercast.com)
Republic of Serbia
Captured sixty times and destroyed thirty-eight times, Serbia’s beautiful capital city Belgrade exemplifies the war and civil unrest that the Balkan peninsula has undergone over the past two millennia. A landlocked nation within the Balkan state, Serbia also includes two autonomous provinces: Vojvodina and Kosovo. Serbia’s geography consists of flatlands in the north, forested hills in the middle, and mountains in the south, with the Danube River passing through the capital city of Belgrade.
Forty-five years of Communism, inclusion in Yugoslavia, and the devastating Balkan wars that followed have all left Serbia with a bitter legacy and a desperate economy. The recent global economic crisis and the effects of war have led to high unemployment rates. A past littered with what most of the world perceives as ethno-religious hatred and cleansing haunt Serbia even today.
For most Serbians, ethnicity and religion go hand-in-hand. Primarily Orthodox (73%), 80% of the population claim Christianity. Over half of these would see their faith as cultural and part of their ethnic identity, leading to rampant nominalism. The Serbian Orthodox Church has suppressed other churches, often in a totalitarian fashion. Non-Serbian Orthodox churches are increasingly attacked, Muslim/Christian relations remain tense, and hostility against Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists is also prevalent. Protestantism has had a history of influence on Hungarian and Slovak minorities, but its impact on Serbs has been minimal, with only about half of the local believers being ethnically Serbs. But despite deep divisions within the faith community and difficult cultural hurdles, a tiny but growing body of evangelical believers is attempting to overcome ethnic division by worshipping together in unity.
Area: 88,147 sq. km
Landlocked Balkan state. Serbia has two autonomous provinces, Vojvodina in the north and Kosovo in the south.
Population: 7,771,633 Annual Growth: -0.22%
HDI Rank: 67 of 182 (UN Human Development Reports 2009)
Official language: Serbian Languages: 21 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Here is a Prayercast for Serbia: https://prayercast.com/serbia.html
Challenges for Prayer
Outreach challenges. Pray specifically for:
a) Compassionate ministry to war refugees from the former Yugoslavia – millions were uprooted and became refugees or internally displaced. Few have returned to their original homes due to further balkanization of ethnic groups. Inevitably, trauma and disillusionment will open hearts to sensitive Christian ministry. Many organizations, indigenous and foreign (Bread of Life, Eurovangelism, MCC), share Jesus’ love through practical aid – and they see responsiveness.
b) Young people are the most responsive, having seen the destruction wrought by their parent’s generation.
i Children. CEF and others actively reach out to children and train national Christians to do the same.
ii Students. EUS(IFES) has groups on most campuses in Belgrade, Nis, and Novi Sad. There is a vision to extend ministry to other areas for student witness. Camps, conferences, and seminars train and equip Christians to share the good news effectively. Alpha and Omega is the publishing arm of EUS.
iii Addicts. A growing trend. Through shelters and Christ-centered rehabilitation, Teen Challenge Serbia ministers to young men and women suffering from drug abuse.
PRAYER: Lord, You have said that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. Forgive us for those times we have asked for Your counsel but then not heeded it. We realize that true believers will be heeders. We ask that You inspire us and direct us to fulfill the Great Commission. Help us to disciple those who will be faithful, available, and teachable, and will also be able to teach others. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
- Pastor David