TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- JEREMIAH 10:1-11:23
Jeremiah warns God’s people to beware their fascination with “the ways of the nations”. The apostle John will remind believers to “love not the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
There are plenty of worthless customs that we should beware of and avoid- “signs in the sky” (10:2), superstitions and horoscopes, burning incense to idols, good luck charms, and emblems that signify false deities.
“Like a scarecrow in a melon patch”, the idols of this world are lifeless, unintelligent and uselessly ineffective. In contrast, the Lord is mighty and worthy to be feared.
Jeremiah mocks the idols of men (10:3-15) and contrasts them with the mighty God who is the Maker of all things.
He warns Judah of the imminent siege warfare (Jer 10:17-22).
Jeremiah cites this truth as he prays,
Jeremiah 10:23 23 I know, O LORD, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.
In Chapter 11, Jeremiah reminds them that the curses of the Mosaic covenant (Deut 28) will soon be falling upon them (11:1-13).
Jeremiah 11:10-11 10 “They have turned back to the iniquities of their ancestors who refused to hear My words, and they have gone after other gods to serve them; the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers.” 11 Therefore thus says the LORD, “Behold I am bringing disaster on them which they will not be able to escape; though they will cry to Me, yet I will not listen to them.”
For the second time, God commands Jeremiah not to pray for His people (Jer 11:14). The time has come for God to dispense justice. God was still calling them to repent. But prayers. At this point would not prevent the coming judgment.
The people of Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth wanted to kill him (Jer 11:21). His preaching was threatening their idol business. They thought the message of judgment was depressive and not characteristic of their image of God. They thought that Jeremiah’s ministry showed disrespect for the religious and political establishment of his day. Jeremiah was calling them to recognize their sins, turn from their sins, and return to God.
The preaching of the gospel is offensive because it confronts self-righteousness, exposes sin, and challenges the hearer with the reality of the Day of Judgment as well as the mercy of God displayed in the cross.
The Lord promises that He will deal with Jeremiah’s enemies ‘in the year of his punishment’ (Jer 11:23).
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – COLOSSIANS 3:18-4:18
We continue to read about the outworking of the indwelling of Christ in the life of the believer. The gospel realities will affect family relationships. Everything is different “in the Lord”. Believers are admonished to live as unto the Lord in the power of the Lord. The love of God is the new governing law.
Husbands and wives must be forgiving and speak the truth in love. They are not to keep a record of wrongs and become embittered towards one another.
Dads need to be careful not to overcorrect their children, lest they discourage and exasperate them, or literally, ‘take the life out of them’.
Employees should consider their attitude in service. Instead of begrudging a boss who is insensitive and demanding, render your service as unto the Lord in a way that is pleasing to Him! Ultimately, you work for the Lord and will receive a reward from Him.
We are not to be vengeful. We are assured that vengeance belongs to the Lord. He who does wrong will reap the consequences. Employers should be fair, treating their employees as they would want to be treated.
The final portion of Paul’s letter to the Colossians opens a window into Paul’s prayer life. He has genuine affection for the people in the Lycus Valley and their churches.
Notice what Paul prays for: “Open doors for the gospel”; “clear communication of God’s message”; and “making the most of every opportunity”.
He also expresses gratitude for his team members: Tychicus, Onesimus, the runaway slave who became a leader in the church at Colossae, his fellow-prisoner Aristarchus, John Mark, who once caused Paul much distress on an earlier mission trip and now serves once-again as a trusted coworker, Epaphras, Luke, and Nympha, the house group leader.
He sends this personal message which must have been an encouragement to Archippus (and should encourage us!)
Colossians 4:17 17 Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS – PSALMS 78:56-72
Israel is described as a deceitful bow. It is an unreliable instrument! The arrows it shoots never go where they are supposed to! It makes no difference what arrow they use, the bow itself is faulty. The problem is ‘idolatrous sin in the heart’. In their rebellion, they turned away from their God-given target of bringing glory to His Name. Instead they turned to idols, and it affects everything they aim to do.
As a result of their unfaithfulness, God withdrew His presence from the tabernacle of Shiloh and sent the ark into captivity.
Consider these sad judgments:
Psalm 78:63-64 63 Fire devoured His young men, and His virgins had no wedding songs. 64 His priests fell by the sword, And His widows could not weep.
After the period of Judges, God raised up King David from the tribe of Judah, a man after His own heart, prefiguring the Messiah, the Greater and Truer Shepherd-King.
Psalm 78:72 72 So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS – PROVERBS 24:28-29
Proverbs 24:28-29 28 Do not be a witness against your neighbor without cause, and do not deceive with your lips. 29 Do not say, “Thus I shall do to him as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.”
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – PUERTO RICO
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Area: 9,104 sq km
Greater Antilles, between Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands.
Population: 3,998,010 Annual Growth: 0.43%
Capital: San Juan
Official language: Spanish; English Languages: 13 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
The issue of Puerto Rico’s political identity divided the nation in the past. Independence, US statehood or the current arrangement of commonwealth are all options, but most people now seem content with the status quo. Many are concerned with the increasing Americanization of government. The biggest problem may be, however, the high levels of corruption that plague local government. Pray for wise governance that works for the best interests of the islands’ inhabitants.
Puerto Rico is traditionally Catholic, but evangelicals have grown steadily from 0.1% in 1900 to 25.2 % in 2010, with some claiming even higher. A strong majority of evangelicals are renewalist in theology. A host of small indigenous groups, mostly neo-Pentecostal and charismatic, accounts for the majority of denominations and churches, and this is where most growth is currently happening. There is also a large charismatic movement in the Catholic Church, which is otherwise in marked decline. Sadly, the churches make little impact on the many social needs of the nation.
PRAYER: Lord, our hearts are idol-making factories. We pray that You will help us keep our eyes and hearts fixed on You! Your Word is Life to us! Fill us with Your Spirit and the knowledge of Your will. Empower us to walk in ways that are pleasing to You! Help us to learn from those who have gone before us. In all our ways we acknowledge You. Keep us from being deceitful bows. May we be accurately calibrated instruments in Your hand that will prove to be reliable in hitting Your desired target! In Jesus’ Name! Amen