TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- JEREMIAH 4:19-6:14
Jeremiah is in anguish. This is not a happy time in the history of God’s covenant people. Judah failed to heed the warnings of God’s prophets and failed to learn from the example of the northern kingdom’s defeat by the Assyrians. Soon the armies of Babylon would destroy the southern kingdom of Judah.
Jeremiah 4:22 22 “For My people are foolish, they know Me not; They are stupid children and have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they do not know.”
The utter destruction that would come upon Jerusalem is described in Jeremiah 4:23 with the same Hebrew phrase found in Genesis 1:2, “without form and void.”
Jeremiah 4:23 23 I looked on the earth, and behold, it was formless and void; And to the heavens, and they had no light.
Jeremiah 4:24 24 I looked on the mountains, and behold, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro.
The prediction of the violent earthquake reminds us of Isaiah’s prophecy and the apostle John’s prophecies of future shakings in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 6, 8, 11 and 16).
Isaiah 24:19 19 The earth is broken asunder, the earth is split through, the earth is shaken violently.
Although the judgment is severe, God promises that He “will not execute complete destruction” (4:27; 5:10, 18; 30:11; 46:28). In God’s wrath, He remembers mercy! (Habakkuk 3:2)
Jeremiah often uses the image of a prostitute when describing God’s people turning to other nations for help. Although she dresses herself up to attract other nations as lovers, the other nations will fail her and seek to destroy her (4:30).
The result of her infidelity will be painful consequences likened unto hard labor, a woman experiencing great travail in childbirth, an image that Jeremiah often uses in his preaching (Jeremiah 4:31; 6:24;13:21;22:23;3:6; 48:41; 49:22; 50:43).
Jeremiah will be a ‘seer’ as God shows him pictures. He will also be an ‘actor’. Jeremiah will be called by God to deliver ‘prophetic actions’. He will perform approximately 10 mini-dramas in the book.
The first one is described in Jeremiah 5, verses 1-6. Jeremiah is called to search the city for a righteous man, asking whether the person practices justice and truth. “Do your eyes look for truth?” Jeremiah goes to the poor and does not find one righteous man. (This reminds us of Abraham’s intercession for Sodom; Genesis 18:22-33). He surmises that their disinterest in righteousness and truth is due to ignorance of God’s law. They refuse to take correction or repent.
Jeremiah then goes to the noble, the great, and the reportedly wise men of the city. These know the ways of the Lord and His ordinances. They cannot plead ignorance. Yet they have broken off the yoke of the Lord. In their desire to be free from the revelation of God’s righteousness with its constraints, they run free, only to be devoured by wild beasts, such as the lion, leopard, and wolf. What a drama!
The Lord makes it clear that He will not pardon the unrepentant but will bring punishment (Jeremiah 5:7-9).
The Word of the Lord in Jeremiah’s mouth is likened to a fire (Jeremiah 5:14; 23:29) that consumes all that is condemnable in God’s sight.
Jeremiah has this to say about the false comfort offered by the apostate religious teachers:
Jeremiah 5:30-31 30 “An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?”
The people love the false comfort of the false prophets! Yet their end is destruction. These false preachers fail to proclaim the holiness of God, the fatal disease of sin in the heart of man, and the reality of God’s wrathful judgment upon sin, from which Christ has come to save us. And the people love it so!
Proverbs 14:12 12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
In Jeremiah Chapter 6, God sounds His prophetic trumpet, warning the people of Benjamin and Judah (the southern kingdom) that the Babylonians are coming. God is actually summoning the Babylonians to “war against Jerusalem” (6:4-5).
The Lord directs the Babylonians to conduct a siege warfare surrounding the city, cutting it off from supplies. He tells them what to do (6:4-6, 11-12) and why He is doing it (6:10, 13-15).
Jeremiah 6:14-15 14 “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace. 15 “Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore, they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be cast down,” says the LORD.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – COLOSSIANS 1:21-2:7;
Paul continues to describe the glories of Christ:
- He is the head of the body (1:18a).
- He is the head of the new creation, the first born from the dead, alive forevermore (1:18b).
- The fullness of the godhead dwells in Him bodily (1:19).
Paul completes the list of 7 of Christ’s accomplishments:
- He created all things (1:16).
- He has reconciled all things to Himself (1:20a, c).
- He has established peace through His atoning work, in which He shed His blood on the cross (1:20b).
- He reconciled rebels, such as ourselves, to God, by putting the old sin nature to death on the cross. Those who were formerly alienated from him, hostile in mind, and engaged in evil deeds can be born again with a new nature that is pleasing to God- the Indwelling Spirit of Christ (1:21).
- He did this to present us before God, holy and blameless and beyond reproach.
- He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His Son (1:13).
- He redeemed us, forgiving our sins (1:14).
The apostle Paul has a burden for the churches in the Lycus Valley, such as Hierapolis, Colossae, and Laodicea. The church of Laodicea and Hierapolis were most likely founded by some of Paul’s converts while Paul was staying at Ephesus.
Acts 19:10 10 This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
These churches were being deceived by the false teachers of Gnosticism. They saw Jesus as ‘an emanation from God’, an enlightened being, like an angel, having an appearance of a body, but not one like ours. The Gnostics advertised ‘spiritual experiences’ and ‘higher levels’ of ‘secret knowledge’, called ‘mysteries’. These were only accessible to those who were properly initiated into their cult.
Paul declares that the true mystery of God is fully disclosed in Christ!
In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!
The best antidote against false teaching is familiarity with the true teaching. Money-handlers are trained to recognize false currency by handling the genuine.
Paul sums up the mission statement of a fervent disciple-maker:
Colossians 1:28-29 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
May this also be said of us!
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALMS 77:1-20
Is Jesus your ‘song in the night’? Is He your meditation?
The reality of who God is and what He has accomplished in His Son will disperse the clouds of confusion and doubt.
Psalm 77:12-15 12 I will meditate on all Your work and muse on Your deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is holy; What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples. 15 You have by Your power redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.
God’s ways are beyond our knowing, like the ships in the sea who leave no path or footprints.
Psalm 77:19 19 Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.
Nevertheless, He is a faithful guide, and His Word can be trusted.
The Lord is our leader. Yet, the Psalmist acknowledges that He often uses human beings as instruments to lead us.
Psalm 77:20 20 You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 24:23-25
Proverbs 24:23-25 23 These also are sayings of the wise. To show partiality in judgment is not good. 24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him; 25 But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.
These proverbs call for integrity in the halls of justice. To show partiality is not right. To disregard the wicked, and call them innocent, makes justice a sham and brings corrupt judges into disrepute. The standards of justice must be upheld in human courts. Those who make righteous judgments will be richly blessed.
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – POLAND
Republic of Poland
Area: 312,683 sq. km
Central European plain with Baltic coastline.
Population: 38,038,094 Annual Growth: -0.08%
Official language: Polish Languages: 20 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
Evangelical Christians have always been a very small minority, but some positive development is evident. Unfortunately, the growth immediately following Communism’s fall was replaced by relative stagnation in the new millennium.
a) Evangelical unity is progressing well from the divisions of years past, but genuine cooperation is still new territory for most churches. The Polish Evangelical Alliance now represents over 90% of evangelicals. Pray for the ministry of the Polish Ecumenical Council which brings together many Christian groups outside of the Roman Catholic Church. Pray that the Holy Spirit may bring reconciliation, fellowship and unity of vision in Jesus’ name.
b) The multiplication of foreign sects and religions brings confusion. Jehovah’s Witnesses outnumber evangelicals two to one. Pagan, Wicca and especially New Age groups steadily gain followers, with many practitioners comfortably combining these with Catholicism. Pray for the defeat of every ideological assault on biblical truth and a demonstration of the power and lordship of Jesus Christ.
c) The large Polish diaspora consists of millions who live and work elsewhere in Europe, particularly in the UK (peaking at up to one million). Of these, a large number are exposed to the gospel in a new way and in a more open environment. Pray for their responsiveness and for host cultures to take the opportunity to reach out to them.
Bible training for church leaders, a much-needed ministry, developed quickly but has recently fallen off the pace. There are about 25 Protestant institutions ranging from seminary level to part-time or correspondence Bible schools. The current shortfall in students could spell trouble for several of these schools as well as intensify the current lack of evangelical leadership. Well-trained, experienced pastors are in short supply, and many who complete their studies leave Poland for other lands. Pray for a new surge of students and for biblical faithfulness, spiritual power and missions vision to be hallmarks of graduates’ ministry.
PRAYER: O Faithful God! You have been faithful to warn us, correct us, chastise us, save us and lead us! You have spoken to us through the prophets. You have inspired us with the words of the Psalmist. You have made known to us Your full thought in the person of Your Son, the Living Word. We are so grateful for all that He is and all that He has done on our behalf. He has salvaged us so that we can appear before you as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach, if we continue in the faith. Help us to stay true, by steadfastly cleaving to the hope of the gospel. Empower us by Your Holy Spirit to warn everyone we meet, teach everyone we can, all that we know about You, encouraging all to come to a mature expression of the One Whose image is being restored in us. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.