Tag Archives: Messiah

Our Need for a Savior ~ Jeremiah 16:1 – 17:18

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.  ~ Jeremiah 17:5-6

Many Christians today do not like to talk about the wrath of God. They don’t like to acknowledge that God judges human behavior and has set consequences for sins. We must understand this truth: without God’s wrath and absent sin’s eternal consequence there is no need for a Savior. When we understand the holy wrath of God and the fact that each and every one of us has earned nothing more than His wrath because of our sin, the good news of the Gospel rings loud and clear!

Think of it this way: if you are not thirsty and somebody offers you a glass of water chances are you’ll reject the glass of water, or perhaps you’ll drink some of it out of some sense of obligation. No big deal, right? But when you’re thirsty, really thirsty, that glass of water is the most precious gift somebody can offer you. We have to know what it’s like to be thirsty to really appreciate the water and we must understand the breadth and reach of God’s righteous wrath before we truly appreciate our need for the Gospel.

Throughout the book of Jeremiah, God is pouring out His wrath on Israel because they have rejected Him. Israel’s seeking after false gods is a sin that we all commit. The false gods in my life include riches and materialism. They include a set of priorities that are not properly arranged. I am in prayer over this and I ask God to change me and change my life to glorify and serve Him first and foremost.

Take heart: even as God pours out His wrath He offers a promise:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord 
and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters 
which spreads out its roots by the river, 
and will not fear when heat comes; 
But its leaf will be green, 
and will not be anxious in the year of drought, 
nor will cease from yielding fruit. ~ Jeremiah 17:7-8

I used to worry about the future, but I don’t any more. My future is bright. No, I don’t have a crystal ball or special powers to see what lies ahead. I am not confident in the prospects of a fat retirement account or a winning lottery ticket. Those things offer nothing. No, I have something far greater. I have the Lord. I have God’s Word. God’s Word is without error; it is eternally true. God’s Word is the one solid foundation upon which to build this life. It is available to me, and it is available to you. Place your trust in God. Open His Word. Read it. Study it. Ask God to help you live by it, and watch what He does with your life!

Ponder this: In what have I placed my hope? Do those things distract my attention from God’s Word?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, as I read Jeremiah I become very conscious of my own sin. Forgive me, Lord, and help me to live a life of repentance. Show me when I err and help me place my trust in You and You alone for my salvation that comes only through Your Son, Jesus Christ. It is in His name I pray, AMEN.

Protection for the Godly ~ Jeremiah 14:1 – 15:21

“I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the Lord.” ~ Jeremiah 15:20

God continues to pour out His anger against Israel for rejecting Him and chasing after foreign gods. As He spells out the consequences for Israel’s sin, Jeremiah asks the Lord about prophecies being spoken – prophecies that contradict what God is saying through Jeremiah, “But I said, ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’” (14:13) I can only imagine the level of persecution Jeremiah was enduring. Here he is, rightfully prophesying God’s anger to Israel; certainly a prophesy that the people do not want to hear. In the other ear are false prophets reassuring the people that all is well.

What is God’s response? He assures Jeremiah that these prophets are not prophesying in God’s name; He did not send them. Their words are worthless. “Then the Lord said to me, ‘The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds.’” (14:14) God goes on to tell Jeremiah about the consequences that await such false prophets and the people who abide by their words.

Because he alone is standing on God’s Word, Jeremiah is a loner, rejected by the people and even threatened physically. In chapter 15, Jeremiah asks God “Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? You are to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails.” (15:18) God reassures Jeremiah that He will restore him if he repents. God will protect him: “I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,’ declares the Lord.” (15:20) With a promise like that, surely Jeremiah was reassured and strengthened to continue standing firmly on God’s Word.

Our national discourse is rife with false prophets dispensing false teachings, and people within and outside the church are lapping them up like so many thirsty dogs. Christians who stand firmly on God’s Word are openly persecuted. The aim of the enemy, of course, is to silence us. As Jeremiah prophesied God’s Truth to Israel he was faced with a people that rejected God’s Word in exchange for the empty promises of false prophets speaking with no basis in Godly authority. His life was threatened, and here God promises to protect him.

Ponder this: Instead of giving in to persecution and being silenced, we too can stand firmly on God’s promise. Jesus said: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) That is good news indeed! Let us stand firmly upon God’s Word, faithfully resting in the knowledge and truth that this battle has already been won!

My Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, my heart aches for those who speak falsely and those who so eagerly lap up their false teachings. Awaken your church, Lord, and awaken our country. Strengthen those who speak the truth and lead us back to You through faithful preachers and teachers. Let me be a witness to Your eternal truth according to Your will. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

No Longer Unclean ~ Acts 10:8-23

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” ~ Acts 10:15

English: Peter's vision of a sheet with animal...

English: Peter’s vision of a sheet with animals, from Acts 10; illustration from Henry Davenport Northrop, “Treasures of the Bible,” published 1894 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Peter, a Jew by birth, was about to be visited by Cornelius’ messengers – all Gentiles. The messengers would ask Peter to go with them to meet with Cornelius, also a Gentile, so that Peter could explain the Gospel to him. Commentaries offer a dual meaning to the vision Peter had – hungry and awaiting his lunch, Peter goes onto the roof to pray. As he prays, God gives him a vision of a sheet lowered from heaven containing various animals and creatures. “Kill and eat”, the Lord tells Peter, who responds that he has never eaten anything impure or unclean. The Lord tells Peter not to call anything impure that God has made clean.

As Peter was pondering the meaning of the vision, God answered his questions with the appearance of the Gentile messengers sent by Cornelius. Peter knew that God wanted him to go with them to declare the Gospel to Cornelius. God had not only delivered His promised Messiah to Israel, but He was extending that promise to the entire world and, in this situation, Peter was to participate. Remember Jesus’ words to His disciples recorded in Acts 1:8? “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” God’s plan to save the world through Jesus was indeed coming to fruition.

Commentaries also suggest that God, through this vision, abrogated Mosaic laws declaring certain animals unclean and therefore forbade their consumption. One could certainly draw that conclusion – Peter was hungry, a kosher meal was most certainly being prepared for him, and God sends this vision telling Peter that God considers these creatures also worthy and fit for human consumption. Gentiles already consumed such things; perhaps this was just one way of building the proverbial bridge between Jewish and Gentile tradition.

Through Jesus, God has freed us to enjoy His creation fully. He also wants us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with everyone. God loves each and every one of us; even those who currently deny Him. We should love them, too; the greatest demonstration of such love is sharing the Good News of the Gospel.

Ponder this: People who need to hear the Good News cross my path daily. Who are they? Do I love them enough to share the Gospel with them?

My prayer for today: Father, please equip me with the wisdom and knowledge to appropriately consume that which You have given me; and give me the desire, courage, and opportunity to share Your Gospel with those around me who need to hear it. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

Whom Do I Serve?

Devotion on Acts 1:1-11

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus’ words recorded in Acts 1:8.

These are the last recorded words of our Lord before he was taken up to heaven. They are powerful words that reveal God’s ultimate plan for the Messiah to save all the peoples of the world “to the ends of the earth.”

Prior to His final statement, Jesus said something else: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Acts 1:4b-5. We live in a society that wants everything “now”. We are impatient and demanding. God often tells us to wait – wait for His timing, His purpose, His place, His blessing. When we trust God by obeying His command to wait, we are reminded that His timing and purpose are perfect and we, as a willing vessel, are an important part of His plan.

By now the disciples surely realize that Jesus’ ministry had not ended with His death on the cross. It was really just beginning, and they were chosen to be His first ambassadors to a post-resurrection world. The ambassadorship that started with Jesus’ disciples continues today with each of us. We all have a place in this world – a place in which we interact daily with people who need the hope that only faith in the Lord can provide.

Ponder this: What kind of ambassador am I? Whom do I represent? When people encounter me, do they see Jesus?

My prayer for today: Heavenly Father, Thank you for the privilege of serving You. Keep me ever mindful of my attitude and approach to those around me, that I may be an ambassador that truly glorifies You. Should I be provided the opportunity to share my faith, give me the words that point directly to you. In Jesus’ name – AMEN.

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