TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- JEREMIAH 2:31-4:18.

We continue to read the prophetic messages that the Lord commanded Jeremiah to deliver to Israel and Judah:

Jeremiah 3:12 12 “Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not be angry forever.

The Lord offered mercy to the northern kingdom if they would repent.

First, “Faithless Israel” must acknowledge their guilt (3:13). If they would do so, God would reward them by giving them faithful shepherds (pastors). (This is a good verse for “Pastors Appreciation Month”)

The people of the southern kingdom of Judah might have looked down upon “Faithless Israel,” imagining that they themselves would never fall to such corruption as the northern kingdom of Israel. But Jeremiah had to proclaim that Judah was an “unfaithful sister” and more treacherous than the idol-worshiping northern kingdom!

God has the future restored and united Israel in view when he says:

Jeremiah 3:17-18 17  “At that time they will call Jerusalem ‘The Throne of the LORD,’ and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of the LORD; nor will they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. 18 In those days the house of Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers as an inheritance.

This promise has yet to be fulfilled, but we wait for it- the kingdom of God.

God graciously calls His people to repentance, saying: “Return!” (3:11, 14, 22; 4:1)

Although Jeremiah is speaking specifically to Israel (4:1-3) and Judah (4:4- 18f), Chapter 4 has a warning that is applicable for all believers: We need to keep a ‘self-watch’, break up the fallow ground, and commit our own hearts to the Lord, lest they become cold, dull, and unreceptive to the good seed of God’s Word (4:3-4).

Jeremiah bemoans the condition of Judah’s priests and prophets! They are undiscerning of the imminent danger of their disobedience towards God. He sends out a warning and reminder that it is their own sin that has brought this judgment upon them.

Jeremiah 4:18 18 “Your ways and your deeds Have brought these things to you. This is your evil. How bitter! How it has touched your heart!” 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – COLOSSIANS 1:1-20

Today we start reading Paul’s letters to the Colossians. In these short chapters, we are presented with “The Colossal Christ!” Paul was aware of the grievous wolves (false teachers) that would prey upon the churches in Asia Minor (Acts 20:29). Colossae and churches in the Lycas Valley were being deceived by those that denied the deity of Christ and belittled His redemptive work on the cross.

The mystery religions of the Gnostics who claimed ‘superior knowledge’ and ‘superior mystical experiences’ caused believers to look away from Christ or see Him as ‘an emanation from God’ or merely an ‘enlightened one’, one of many angelic mediators between God and men.

Epaphras brought news to Paul of the genuine conversions that had taken place in Colossae as a result of their faith in the gospel that had been preached to them (Colossian 1:3-8).

Paul’s prayer request for the believers in Colossae is a good one for us to remember as we pray for our own churches.

He asks God to fill them with the knowledge of His will and the ability to understand how to apply that knowledge (1:9). He prays that this knowledge would be translated into fruitful ministry as they are mobilized to serve with endurance and patience (1:10-11). Paul acknowledges that any fruitfulness on their part must be the result of their abiding in the Holy Spirit’s power.  He reminds them that nothing less than the power of God could rescue them from the dominion of darkness.

 Paul prays with thanksgiving. He expresses thanks six times in this letter. He mingles his thanksgiving with a sevenfold revelation of the person of Christ and a sevenfold declaration of the work He accomplished.

THE SEVEN-FOLD REVELATION OF THE PERSON OF CHRIST

  1. He is the Son of God (v.13)
  2. He is the redeemer (v. 14)
  3. He is the visible representation of the invisible God (v.15)
  4. He is the mighty creator of all things (v.16)
  5. He is the eternal God (Exodus 3:14; Col 1:16)
  6. He is the sustainer of the universe (Col 1:17)
  7. He is the head of the church (1:18)

Verse 15 through 20 describe the PREEMINENCE OF CHRIST:

 Colossians 1:15-20 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19  For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20  and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

The term ‘firstborn’ refers to status. Jesus reigns supreme over all creation. King David was the last born in his family, yet he reigned over his family as the ‘firstborn’. Notice this reference to David in Psalm 89:

Psalm 89:27 27 “I also shall make him (David, see verse 20) My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

You can spot a cult when they refuse to give Christ the preeminence. Many recognize Christ as prominent, but not preeminent. As Christians, we recognize Jesus as God the Son, the second person of the Trinity. Jesus was a monotheist, yet He willingly received worship (Matthew 28:9). 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALM 76:1-12

This is quite a contrast from the prophecies we read in Jeremiah about the spiritual adulteries of Israel and Judah.  In this Psalm, the writer declares that “God is known in Judah and his name is great in Israel” (76:1).

The God of the Bible is not conjured up by human imagination.

We learn that God is to be feared. He is every superlative imaginable, resplendent with light, more majestic than the mountains rich with game.  He has the first and last word. Even the wrath of man will praise Him (Psalm 76:10). For in His Sovereignty, what others may mean for evil, God will use for good (See Genesis 50:0; Romans 8:28). He rules over all! 

TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 24:21-22

Proverbs 24:21-22 21  My son, fear the LORD and the king; Do not associate with those who are given to change, 22  For their calamity will rise suddenly, And who knows the ruin that comes from both of them? 

It is one thing to be flexible. Life is full of change, and we must be ready to roll with the punches. However, there are those who are ‘given to change’ rather than ‘given to the Lordship of Christ’.  They are governed by whim rather than God’s Word. Their calamity and ruin are inevitable.

PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – PHILIPPINES

The Philippines has not yet achieved its economic and political potential. The nation has natural resources, democratic roots, and a well-educated population. But governments routinely fail to address serious economic and social issues that limit development. Half the population live in poverty. Tropical storms, floods, and landslides destroy lives and homes, especially in slums. Most farmers do not own land. High levels of corruption are scandalous, especially in Asia’s most Christianized nation! Pray for the Fellowship of Christians in Government, which promotes biblical standards among Christian public servants.

PRAYER: O Lord, it is true. You have the whole world in Your hands! You reign over all and are working out Your redemptive purposes in ways that will bring You glory. We are grateful for the revelation of Your Son, Who is not just prominent in our faith, but preeminent. Through Him we can see You, know You and draw near to You.  Help us this day to bring glory to Your Name as we submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit, declaring and demonstrating Your great love, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.