Monday, May 10, 2021

Buffaloes and Butterflies

 Disclaimer:  this covers typical marital situations.  Not necessarily extreme situations.

I.  Why Your hubby is such a clod.

(1)  He's human - Rom. 3:23 - therefore seriously flawed

(2) He's a male human - Gen. 1:27 therefore every cell in his body is different.  Including BRAIN CELLS!!! 
Note:  This is by God's Design!!

(3)  He's ignorant - does NOT mean stupid!!!
It means untrained, unlearned, uneducated in (A) the opposite sex (differences)
                                                                    (B)  marriage   Example:  requirements for license? 

(4)  He's forgetful - acting in a manner that pleases a butterfly .... on one hand CAN be learned,
                                         However, will never come naturally!!

(5)  He's confused - because butterfly language, logic, thinking, feeling .... just doesn't make sense to him!!

 II.  Why your wife is such a nag   Prov. 27:15-16, 21:19

(1)  She's human - Rom. 3:23 - therefore seriously flawed   Rom. 3:23 is NOT gender specific

(2)  She's a female human - Gen. 1:27
Gen. 22:21-23 - Adam knew this was different BUT knew it was for him!!
Every cell is different - including BRAIN CELLS!!  God designed us to be different and still fit!

(3)  She's ignorant - though more apt to research and learn.  Nevertheless, where is this taught from a Biblical perspective?

(4)  She's forgetful - because living daily in Buffalo mode will NEVER come natural to her!!

(5)  She's confused - Buffalo language, logic, thinking just doesn't make sense to her!

ADD:

(6)  Both - hurt - let downs, disappointments, things said and done in anger, slights, accusations, etc.

On one hand, we can heal from wounds, BUT (1) they tend to accumulate and (2) especially in the absence of apology and forgiveness!

NOTE:  The differences are not going away.  God wired them in to us.
The differences are not teh problem!!!!  (they existed in Eden!!)

The Problem = dealing with differences in a Sinful Manner!!!!

III.  Is there any hope? 

Hope is found in:

(1)  Salvation - conversion - new heart, new perspective - 2 Cor. 5:17

(2)  God's Word(s) - wisdom, truth, correction, instruction

(3)  Additional education - (1) about yourself first, then (2) about spouse

(4)  "establishing good will" 

(5)  Consistent effort - and .. it's worth the effort .. for you, and yours!!

 Touchstone verse for the series:   Prov. 14:1

 Closing Scripture:  Psm. 25:4-5

Monday, May 3, 2021

Leftovers! From Jeremiah

(things we haven't had time to touch on)

Jeremiah preached at a very difficult time.  - 40 years without success.  Was discouraging and disappointing.

I)  .....Concerning Sin - Jer. 17:9
Jeremiah said a lot about sing .. this verse sums it up!  Sin = anything contrary to God's will - by commission or omission.  Jeremiah predicted the exile to Babylon. 
"heart" = problem then and now - Rom. 3:23  All problems stem from someone or someones refusing to do God's will!
Compare  Judges 21:25.  IF is no universal moral code .. THEN that's OK.  BUT Scripture says:
(1) there IS a universal moral code  
(2) we are obligated to it
(3) to defy it is detrimental .... to individual, to nation
Question:  What should "the righteous" (Christians, believers) do when the nation rushes to sin? 
Answer:  live righteously!  Examples:  Daniel, Paul

II)  ....Concerning discipleship, ministry, services    
Look at Jesus' words to this - Matt. 16:24-25
Point = following Christ NOT for weak willed people!  - is for people who are willing to commit!
NOW... God's word to Jeremiah ... Jer. 12:5 - I will give you everything you need, not everything you want.

III)  ...Concerning motivation to serve - Jer. 20:7-9
Can't always feel motivated
Can give attention to 'lack of feelings' - 2 Tim. 1:6-7
Question:  How to fan into flame?
Answer:  Pay attention to the fire!!! 

IV)  ....Concerning Judgment - Chapters 46 - 51
Point = the wicked will be used by God
But ... they will still answer for their wickedness!!  Example:  Babylon.  They attacked Israel and took the people into exile for all the wrong reasons.
Jer. 50:1-3, 18, 31, 51:24, 56 - the Lord will repay in full.

New Testament parallel - 2 Tim. 2:20-21 - Example:  you can be used as a flower pot or a chamber pot, but God will use you.

V) ...Concerning grief, sorrow - "Laments" = funeral songs
On one hand, is OK to grieve, cry ("Jesus wept" at Lazarus' grave)
However, remember .. the God that allows grief today is the God who brought joy yesterday and  tomorrow!!

Example:  The Lament - Lam. 3:1-9
The conclusion = Lam. 3:19-24

Summary:
In Jeremiah we see....
I)  God is a loving God  (He weeps over His people)
II)  God is a righteous God (He judges sin ... rightly!)
III)  God is the Omnipotent God  (He can bring about BOTH ... judgment and mercy!)  Perfect judgment and perfect mercy at the same time.

Therefore:  He is WORTHY of worship!!! 


Closing scripture:  Lam. 3:25-26, 31-32

Monday, April 26, 2021

Jeremiah's Discontent

Preached for 40 years - no response.  Totally ignored.  Jeremiah was very despised and hated by the people.  They viewed him as a traitor.

Jer. 12:1-3, 15:10, 15:17-18, 20:7-8

Why so dissatisfied? 
Some reasons:

(1)  His Call - was of a priestly family.  Didn't wan to be a prophet.  Especially a prophet of DOOM!  Was Despised, persecuted.  Jer. 1:18-19

(2)  The outcome of his ministry - didn't repent!!  Went into Exile!!

(3)  So, his (personal) performance?  preach 40 years and rejected 40 years.  Would 40 years of failure affect one's self-esteem?

(4)  God's (apparent) lack of intervention - ie.  in lives of the wicked .. therefore, the innocent suffer!!!

(5)  His people - stubborn, insensitive to the Holy Spirit, unmoved.  He loved his people, his nation.
Add:
(6)  Not allowed to marry!! - no wife, kids, family, home

(7)  Social outcast = priest and prophet, yet not allowed to enter the TEMPLE compound!  (Jer. 36:5) - ordered by the King and the Priest
Should have been admired and respected ... but was despised!!

(8)  after final deportation, carried off to Egypt against his will  ... to die there!  His last words, writings = Book of Lamentations"
This is not a stage of Jeremiah's life ... this IS the story of His LIFE!!

So... Is there reason for discontent?  dissatisfaction?  disappointment?

Jeremiah was not alone in this!  Compare:  Moses, Elijah, Job, John the Baptist, Apostle Paul ..
Some will say "accept Christ, follow God and life will be full, satisfying, No discontent!!"  That's nonsense!!!

In light of Jeremiah and others ... a more Biblical view says:

#1. Expect disappointment
We = fallen creatures, seriously flawed, prone to sin, living in a fallen world  (ie people and environment)
with no reasonable expectation of perfection (getting better) (before heaven!!)

#2.  Accept (some) disappointment
This is not pessimistic surrender .. without attempt to change, improve the situation.
But .. (1) disappointments will come
and    (2)  Not ALL DISCONTENT = Sinful!! (wrong!)
Example:  Jesus was without sin, yet ... Mark 9:14-19

If we = created for perfection .. then there should be discontent!  "Godly Discontent!"  "Holy Dissatisfaction!"
Matt. 5:3, 4, 6
Question:  What about Heb. 13:5
Part of the answer = Heb. 13:5 is speaking of "things", stuff.  Beatitudes speaking of Spiritual State!
Note:  how often we = opposite!!  ie: discontent with our stuff, satisfied with our Spiritual Condition
(Never find Jeremiah complaining about his 'stuff'- material things.)

#3,  Don't let disappointment RULE
Jeremiah was very dissatisfied.  But -  he served Faithfully for more than 40 years!!  Don't have to be fulfilled to lead the Christian life, serve the Lord.
We can do Christian Life and Christian Ministry without being satisfied - example:  Mother Teresa.  Claimed she walked in the dark night of the soul.
Eph. 5:18 - "filled" = Controlled by .. "Is this true only of alcohol?"  Refers to anything that is contrary to the Holy Spirit.  substances, ideas, etc.

#4.  Learn to deal with discontent - Phil. 4:10-13
Paul saying ..."I never experience dis-satisfaction"  OR  "I've learned NOT to let my feelings rule!"
Dissatisfaction = a Fact of life .. it needn't be a LIFESTYLE!!  - Who's your Lord??

#5.  Don't harbor discontent  (feed it, nurture it, dwell on it!!)
Question:
  Was Jeremiah dwelling on issues, or dumping the issues (on God) - ex.  Biblical Laments = 1/3 of the Psalms.   The News Media is feeding people discontent, discouragement, despair, etc,

Biblical example:  Ecclesiastes:  the story = search for fullness, satisfaction, contentment ..
                                         the conclusion, the summary = Eccles. 12:13

My take, paraphrase on this = "be content with discontentment", "be satisfied with dissatisfaction"
Fix what you can, be content with the rest

#6.  Also .. Expect Joy!    Psm. 42:5, 11 - it's not lie all of life is bad
Verses = the chorus to the Lament!!
"the world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings!"

Many things can bring about contentment or discontentment... But...
#7.  Dont' neglect the primary hole in your soul (that only Christ can fill)
Those who fill that hole .. will find .. satisfaction, contentment, fullness, peace, Joy

With Christ = more opportunity for joy in this life and the certainty of fullness (total satisfaction, contentment) in the next life!  Rev. 21:1-5

Closing Scripture:  John 16:33


Monday, April 19, 2021

The OTHER Voices (Jeremiah's Opposition)

 Jeremiah preached 40 years to the nation of Judah - 1st. messages = to repent and return to God or were going into exile.  Last messages changed to say "repent and return to God.  BUT, too late to avoid exile."

When you stand for God's word, will have opposition to that belief.
The false prophets, priests, people in power telling the people:

#1.  "no harm will come to us" - Jer. 5:12 - (this = before the first deportation), because --
(1)  we're the chosen people  (this is also Jeremiah's city, His temple)
(2)  Jeremiah is a  crotchety old prophet - doom and gloom

Lord's response = Jer. 14:13-14 - prophesying lies in my name
                            Jer. 5:20-21 - not open to the Word, to the Spirit

#2.  "Jeremiah is seeking the nation's ruin" - Jer. 38:4 - (is absurd - NO Jew wanted that!!!)

#3.  "this is just a temporary setback" - Jer. 27:16 - this = AFTER the 1st. deportation!

Lord's response = Jer. 27:19-22
Compare with Jeremiah's letter to the Exiles - Jer. 29:4-10 - settle down, build house, have families, etc.  Will be 70 years, not 2 years.

#4.  "people who preach these things should be silenced" - Jer. 11:19 - (common to the prophets!)  Matt. 23:37 - only held in high esteem after the fact.

Lord's response = Jer. 11:21-23

OBSERVATIONS - From then and FOR NOW!  with application both National and Personal!

(1)  People (generally) don't take God's Word seriously
example:  then = discovery of Law in the temple (Josiah)
example:  now = Bible reading stats - STATS from 2020

How often do American adults read from the Bible?
4 or more times a week? - 3%
once a week? - 9%
once a month? - 9%
once or twice a year? - 11%"
Never - 34%
(not all categories are recorded here - hence less than 100%)

Summary:  only 12% or American adults claim to read the Bible - weekly!
                 only 21% claim to read it monthly!

Gallup Poll - 2014
Bible = actual word of God to be taken literally -- 28%

Bible is the inspired Word of God but not everything in it to be taken literally - 47%

Bible is ancient book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man - 21%

(4% - no opinion)

Hence (consequently)
(2)  People (generally) don't take sin seriously.
it follows:  if don't take His revealed will seriously, THEN won't take sin seriously!!
Christians are very prone to this.  Tend to measure sin according to what you think.

But,
(3)  God's Word will stand whether you take it seriously or not!
Most didn't believe Jeremiah's words.  What did that change??
Chapter 36 - Jehoiakim burns the scrolls of Jeremiah.  What did that change?  Destroying and denying doesn't change anything.  Truth is truth, and God's Word will stand.
Example:  Bumper sticker ' "God said it, I believe it, that settles it".  Take out the middle.  "God said it, that settles it!" 

(4)  Sin will do its destructive work whether you take it seriously or not  example = the exile
This applies ... individually, nationally
Jer. 5:30-31 - God's Word WILL challenge your behavior, lifestyle, assumptions, beliefs, opinions...
Question:  will you side with TRUE prophets?  or with False prophets?
2 Tim. 4:1-5 - What Jeremiah was preaching then, now Paul telling to Timothy.  Human tendency comes back around.

Closing Scripture:  Rom. 12:2


Monday, April 12, 2021

Jeremiah Buys a Field

 I.)  The Setting:  Jerusalem under seige (1 1/2 - 2 1/2 years) - Babylonians surround the city and sacking outlying towns.

II.)  Jeremiah's situation:  been preaching roughly 40 years!  Message started out "Repent and Return or else."
Message Now = "repent and return to the Lord, BUT too late to avoid exile!"

Therefore:  He's been:
(1) accused of treason, sedition - Jer. 38:4 - accused of turning his people against the nation,
even heresy!  Jer. 26:11

(2)  put in stocks, publicly humiliated - Jer. 20:1-2 - very public area

(3)  his scrolls burned BY the King! - Jer. 36:22-23

(4)  beaten and imprisonee - Jer. 37:16 - (dungeon = below ground/no light)

(5)  lowered into a cistern - Jer. 38:6 - sank into the mud - now can't prophecy

Today's text ... he is rescued from the cistern and placed "under house arrest" in the courtyard of the royal guard (stockade) 

This is where the story begins:  Jer. 32:1-2, 6-29, 36-44 (understand - Anathoth totally under Babylonian control)

Question:  the tone of Vs. 25?  IF = awe, confusion, amazement, wonder.... etc, Then: 

#1)  This is Jeremiah being human
"prophet" does not cancel "human" (fallen, frail)
Compare:  Moses ... post Exodus
                  Elijah ... post Mt. Carmel
  John the Baptist... post Jesus' miracles - "are you really the one".
IF this happened to them, what can we expect from you and me? - Mark 9:24

Salvation does not erase (frail) humanity!
Confidence in Christ does not lead to perfection (in this life)

#2.  This is Jeremiah being honest
A.  with himselfAdmitting to imperfect faith
B.  with God not afraid to air complaints, confusion, disappointments, etc. 
Compare: Moses, Elijah, Job
Compare the Laments. Roughly 1/3 of Psalms are laments  - Psm. 13:1-2 - people being honest with God.
Note:  this is not irreverance!!  Is great reverance in the midst of problems, tragedy, etc.  God corrects, but never condemns.

But... #3.  This is Jeremiah ACTING in faith! - internal struggles vs.external obedience - does exactly what told to do.  Compare Heb. 11:1-2 with list of Actions that follow!!! Is no reference to how they felt, just what they did!   By in large, the prophets were doing what they were supposed to do in public, questioning God in private.

#4.  This is Jeremiah modeling the faith ... for us!  A visible example for us to follow!

SOME OBSERVATIONS FROM THIS:

(1)  Your faith will never be perfect (in this life - post conversion) - you are human

(2)  That doesn't mean it's ineffective.

(3)  Tehre is no need to deny your (faith) imperfections.

(4)  There is no need to flaunt them either!!!  Note:  prophet's complaints with God vs. in Public!!
Example:  antinomians - against the law.  Believed doesn't make any difference what we do.

(5)  Having doubts doesn't make you less Christian.

(6)  But... having doubts doesn't excuse sinful behavior.  We know we're supposed to do what we're supposed to do.

(7)  Ultimately ... your faith is measured by your actions, not your feelings.  "faith" only found 1 time in the Old Testament.  "faithful", or "faithfulness" - all over the place

Closing Scripture:  2 Tim. 4:3-5

                   

Monday, April 5, 2021

Death and Resurrection of Christ

 The two most important events of the Christian faith!

(1)  The death of Christ - as a substitutionary sacrifice resulting in opportunity for forgiveness, reconciliation, eternal life.
(2)  The Resurrection of Christ - (a) a historical event
                                                  (b) a physical body
                                                  (c) into a glorified state - (not subject to physical limitations)  Rose to never die again.  This is what He grants to us some day.

Question:  What does this mean for you and I today??
    We don't just celebrate an event!  We celebrate as beneficiaries of that event! - today!!
Compare to 4th. of July.  We don't just celebrate what happened in 1776, but what that means for us right now.

Let's start with what the Resurrection says  (declares, proves ...)

The Resurrection says: 
#1.  Jesus is Lord 
(early Christians' statement of faith)  This was their creed.   And not just A Lord, but THE Lord!!!  Matt. 28:18 - ALL authority!
Might look around and say "Really?  Then why suffering?  death from disease? evil?  war? etc., etc."
ANSWER  = (1)  He IS Lord  (proven by the resurrection)
             and   (2)  He will assert that Lordship .... in due time!!  When He returns! 
Question:  Have you Accepted His AS YOUR PERSONAL LORD????

#2.  Jesus has God's approval
On one hand, Jesus did many miracles ...
But, dead men don't do miracles!! - Rom. 1:2-4

So.... believe in GOD ... but not sure about Jesus?
Note:  the Resurrection = God's Ultimate stamp of approval!!!

POINT:  The Resurrection declares (1)  Jesus is Lord    (2)  Jesus has God's approval

Therefore  #3.  You can trust Jesus' words
(God wouldn't approve a Liar or a Lunatic!)

This means  (A)  you can trust His words of comfort and encouragement ...
examples:  "lo, I am with you always...." "I'll never leave or forsake...."

But also can trust His words concerning:  (expressing)
(A)  the need for reconciliation  (example:  Bridge illustration) - John 3:16-18

(B)  the means of reconciliation .. - John 14:6 - (very unpopular in the U.S. right now)

and, (C)  the (unpleasant) words of condemnation - Matt. 25:41

AND
(4)  You can trust Jesus (the person
This is more than trusting words of a dead Savior.  Don't just trust His words, but trust Him personally.
This = trusting a  LIVING and Present Savior!! - He rose to make the clear declaration.

(5)  You can face death without fear!!

fear of dying (the act, the process) vs. the fear of death (state) - so.. 1 Cor. 15:55
This = a taunt!! = "hey death... bring it on!!")

For the Christian... yeah!!! I'm going to die  (physically), BUT ... it won't result in separation and it won't be forever.  Rev. 1:17-18

The Resurrection also delcares:

(6)  You can face the judgment without fear
on one hand, we'll all answer before God
However, Christians can stand without fear!  

This does not mean with indifference or comfort, but without fear of condemnation!! Rom. 8:1 - will be OK of you are His.

(7)  If you have not yet made Jesus your personal Savior and Lord ... you (most definitely) should!!!
This is more than "believe" with head  (the demons believe)
It means accept, receive, embrace .. with head, heart, and hands!!

"whosoever will MAY come!!"  Rev. 22:17

The Resurrection declares  (1) Jesus is Lord
                             and      (2)  God is good - He cares and sent His Son to make all this possible!

Closing Scripture:  Heb. 13:20-21

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Lord's Supper Worship Service

 Intro:  1 Cor. 11:23-26

We celebrate the Lord's Supper to:

      I)  Remember - what He's done for us.

     II)  Proclaim ... (1)  Your belief in His death  AS a substitutionary sacrifice - 2 Cor. 5:21
                               (2)  Your participation in His death.  ie:  "I believe Hi is a substitutionary sacrifice FOR ME!
             and so ...  "I've accepted Him as my Personal Savior and Lord!!

So, on one hand, the Lord's Supper is a very Personal observance but it is traditionally observed in a congregational setting!! 
So.... it expresses your belief in
                           (3)  The Unity of Believers - Eph. 4:3-6 - we may NOT sing in harmony... BUT we all sing the same song!!

LORD'S SUPPER OBSERVANCE

Isa. 53:1-7, 10, 12
1 Pet. 2:24-25

Hymn - "O Sacred Head"

Matt. 26:26 

John 6:47-56, 60-69

Hymn - "There Is a Fountain"

Matt. 26:27-28

Matt. 26:30

Closing Hymn - "Crown Him"

Closing Scripture:  Num. 6:24-26
                           

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Lord's Supper

 (We are interrupting Jeremiah for the Easter Season)

2 Primary Events of Christianity = Christ's Death and Christ's Resurrection = our focus for the next 2 weeks.

In conjunction with His death, we celebrate the Lord's Supper

The Lord's Supper:  origin = "The LAST Supper" - and the origin of the "Last Supper" = Passover - story found in Exodus chap. 11 thru 13.
The Lord's Supper is unique to Christianity.  First took place on the evening that He was betrayed and before His death the next day.   It came out of the Passover.

SETTING:  the tribes of Israel in bondage in Egypt.  Moses sent to deliver them.  Were 10 plagues to convince Pharaoh.  The last plague was "Plague on the 1st. born" - Ex. 11:1, 4-6, 12:1-3, 5-7, 12-14, 23-27
Passover was an ordinance - a ritual God had commanded them to keep.

The exodus happened as predicted:  Therefore, celebrated annually by the Jews.  So..... Jesus and his disciples - Matt. 26:17, 26-28

At His last Passover, Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper for us.

After the Resurrection, the disciples recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of the Passover lamb.  - He WAS the Passover Lamb.

In other words, what the original Passover did for God's people in bondage (Egypt), so the Cross did for God's people in bondage to Sin!  1 Cor. 5:7

PARALLELS:

A lamb without blemish .... slain for their deliverance
Jesus without sin ... crucified for our deliverance - Matt. 1:21 - Jesus = "the Lord saves"
In other words, the 1st. Passover = literal, historic event .. that SAVED God's people from physical bondage  (Egypt) .. was a Fore-shadowing (a visible prophecy) of a literal, historical event that saves God's people from Spiritual bondage.   1 Pet. 2:24

So ... Paul - 1 Cor. 5:7

(Early) Christians began to celebrate this NEW, True (fulfilled) Passover .. with a ritual observance called ... The Lord's Supper     

1 Cor. 11:23-26 - Three main things out of this passage:

text says:  #1.  do this" - (1 of 2 "church ordinances" - ie.  rites or rituals instructed by Christ  (baptism and Lord's Supper)   These intended to demonstrate a believer's faith)

#2.  "do this in remembrance of Me"

#3.  do this to "proclaim the Lord's death" - that He died for our sins. 
Lord's Supper = picture:  (1)  body broken    (2)  blood poured out    (3)  my association with that

so.... the church has always kept this command by celebrating the Lord's Supper  (communion)

Our Lord's Supper Service  (at OBC)

Why we do it  (1)  in obedience    (2)  in remembrance   (3)  to proclaim His death ... also to renew vows to serve Him

When do we do it = Sunday before Easter, which is as near to Passover time as can get on a Sunday. 
Passover = 1st. full moon of Spring.  Easter = Sunday after Passover

How do we do it = gather, group-up worship.  Pass bread.   Pass wine.  

Who should do it = believers!  so you decide for yourself and direct, instruct the kids!

1 more parallel between Passover then and our faith today!    ie:  they were not saved by the lamb, nor by the blood of the lamb.  But by applying the blood of the Lamb!

Compare to accepting, recognizing Jesus as your only Savior, and your living Lord!  

So.... 1 Cor. 11:27-28 (the manner in which you take the Lord's Supper.  Should be with humility, repentance, sorrow, thankfulness, etc.

 

Closing Scripture:  1 Tim. 1:15-17

Monday, March 15, 2021

Back to the Potter's House

Jer. 18:1-6

2 things are clear: 
#1)  God Spoke to Jeremiah - ie:   "word of the Lord came to Jeremiah saying,",  "this is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord", "the Lord said to me.....", etc. - was common to all the prophets

Question:  How did God speak to him??   audible?  inner voice and impression? dreams and visions?  - ALL 
Answer:  don't know (nothing is stated absolutely)  ..BUT ... is confirmation by fulfilled prophecy!  (one of the tests of a prophet)

#2)  God spoke to the people THROUGH Jeremiah
example:  Jer. 2:1-3 - who's speaking?  Jeremiah or the LORD?  Both!!
ie:
God is delivering His message THROUGH audible voice of Jeremiah!! 
This = common to the Prophets!  hence;  2 Chron. 36:15 - (through His messengers)

Question:  Does God still speak to His people?  today?  IF so ... How?  in what way??

(Note:  I feel unqualified and inadequate in addressing this  (how God speaks to you?)
However, it should be addressed AND I'll try to present a Biblical view!!!

First we'll look at the WASM  (how God spoke then)
Then we'll look at the ISM  (how God speaks NOW)

The WASM - how God spoke then.

(1)  God spoke TO the people THROUGH Jeremiah  (we've established that)

(2)  Though they didn't hear the VOICE of God, they did hear the MESSAGE of God.  (is an important distinction) - Jer. 7:1-2, 12-13
On one hand, God was not speaking to them in an audible voice.  However, He was communicating His message TO them!!!  (through the prophets) 

(3)  The people didn't have to hear a VOICE to hear the MESSAGE!  Jer. 36:1-3
The written word carried the same weight as the prophet's voice!

(4)  The MINISTRY of the Holy Spirit was the same THEN as it is NOW!    ie:  to convict, convince, comfort, correct, challenge, chastise, encourage, enable, explain, clarify...

Question:  could God have spoken audibly to each person in Israel in Jeremiah's day???  Yes.

Question:  then why didn't He??  Don't know!  But... in His wisdom and purpose He chose NOT to!!

THE ISM - Does God speak to His people today?  (you and me?)

Answer: - #1).  Yes - example:  John 10:27 - traditional view = call to salvation

#2)  Yes ... AND (possibly) in a greater way (today) - Heb. 1:1-2 - through Jesus Christ and the written Word (carries the same authority as the spoken Word)
example:  Peter - "we have the word of prophets made more sure!!

#3)  Yes ... AND  now we have the indwelling Holy Spirit!  1 Cor. 2:9-10

YES!!! He Still Speaks!!!  BUT.... does that mean 2 way conversations about daily concerns?  ie;  marriage, money, kids, weather, crops and herds, job, career, school, etc.

Consider
#1)  He speaks Primarily through His Word in Conjuction with His Holy Spirit.

#2.  IN SCRIPTURE .. conversations that are personal, audible, specific are (almost) always about CALLING, MINISTRY, KINGDOM WORK....
ie:  don't find Jeremiah saying "looks like a good crop this year" and God responding "expect market prices to be good, too..."

SUMMARY!  

Am NOT saying you shouldn't pry about these things.
Am NOT saying God doesn't CARE about these things
Am NOT saying He won't respond (converse) about these things

Just saying .. THAT'S NOT the NORM!!  IN Biblical record!  In the (average) Christian experience!

So you shouldn't feel left out, like a 2nd. class Christian if you dont' experience this! 
AND you shouldn't feel that God is not Speaking to you!!
Have you ever felt (sensed...) God's love? concern? comfort? encouragement? conviction? challenge? chastisement? Ever been informed? enlightened? advised? impressed? inspired? touched? moved? drawn? wooed? experienced enlightenment, clarification, confirmation?

POINT = IF YES THEN He has communicated His message to you Regardless if you've "heard His voice" -
2 Pet. 1:3

The Primary means of communicating will be THROUGH His word ... in Conjunction with the Holy Spirit.

The Primary MESSAGE will be .... Accept Christ
                                                      Follow Christ
                                                      Serve Christ - ... regardless of whether or not you ever "hear His voice".

The term "dark night of the soul" came out of this not hearing the voice of God.   Examples:  Job, Mother Teresa

Closing Scripture:  Rev. 3:20

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Message of the Potter's House

 Jeremiah's Timeline:

Josiah    Jeremiah's Call    1st. Deportation   2nd Deportation   3rd. Deportation        Jeremiah dies in Egypt

640 BC    627 BC               603 BC                 597 BC                 586 BC
                     |    24 years         |      6 yrs.              |    11 years            |
                                           Dan. Deprtd      Ezek. depted.             city destroyed, temple destroyed, etc.

Question:  Where do the messages of Jeremiah fit in?
Answer:  some are identifiable - examples:  Jer. 21:1, 26:1, 27:1

However, some are not identifiable!  Example:  today's text

The book of Jeremiah is not in chronological order.  Can't know for sure where messages fit.

BUT -- this message doesn't need an exact time to find the meaning and application!
Nor do we need exact time to find lessons of application to us today!
Jer. 18:1-12 - message came to Jeremiah from the Lord for his people

So... lessons we find in this text that can be found in multiple Bible texts!!

I)  God is Sovereign - He is ALL Mighty.  Over nations, over individuals
Hab. 1:1-6 - prophesying to same people about the same time.
Daniel 4:28-32 - went in 1st. exile - Daniel interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream 

II)  God is Patient  (long-suffering) - with nations, with individuals
Israel had 209 years to turn back to Him, Judah had an additional 136 years.
2 Pet. 3:9

III)  (But....) God is NOT a permissive Grandfather - unconditional love does not mean all behavior is acceptable!

There came  a point where He said "these people WILL go into Exile - don't pray for them"!!
Question:  what about the faithful in the city?
Answer:  (1)  "sins of the fathers" = your sins affect other people!
              (2)  there is sometimes opportunity to avoid the trauma of others' punishment - Jer. 21:8-10

IV)  God gives many warnings
Covenant promises, written word, prophets' messages - 2 Chron. 36:15-17
Plus the convicting work of the Holy Spirit!  (none will stand @ judgment and say they didn't have adequate opportunity!!)

V)  God will (eventually, in His time) ACT on those warnings.  (they are not idle threats!!)
may be active judgment
may be withdrawn Presence  
Either way = punishment and discipline!!
May be letting you have your way!!!   - Rom. 1:28

However,
VI)  God sometimes repents (relents)
Definition:  "Repent" here does not mean sorry for or turn from sin!   Rather = a change of course or action!
Jer. 18:7-10 = grue of Nation, Individual - example:  Jonah and Nineveh
"God is patient, not wanting anyone to perish!!"

VII)  God still speaks - God spoke to Jeremiah, spoke to the people through Jeremiah
As He spoke, warned, called then, SO He speaks, warns, calls NOW!

As some heard, some ignored, some rejected then, so, some hear, some ignore, some reject NOW!!

As individuals had a choice THEN, SO we (you) have a choice NOW!!


Closing Scripture:  Psm. 95:6-8


Monday, March 1, 2021

Jeremiah's Primary Message (continued)

Timeline review:  (see last week's post)

Jeremiah's Primary message - expanded from last week:

1)  You've been unfaithful - (expressed in idolatry, spiritual adultery)  message to a people group

2)  You must return (not just in pretense) - TO Yahweh and His law(s)
                                                           with heart as well as hands - 

3)  IF Not....you will go into exile .Jeremiah preaching to Judah
As Israel and Assyria ... So Judah and Babylon

Sometime in Jeremiah's ministry ... add.....
4)  it's too late to turn - NOT too late to repent, turn to God, be forgiven ..., BUT too late to avoid the punishment of the exile!

Text - God's Divorce - Jer. 3:6-14, Jer. 4:1-2, 4-9 - the warning
Josiah was the last good king, and he was a very, very good king.  But, people didn't repent.  Just made a pretense of worshiping Yahweh.

Are 2 recurring themes in Jeremiah:

#1.  Punishment  (judgment on the nation) 

#2.  Restoration - this is not God in a vengeful rage, this = God disciplining His people ... for good!!   zjrt. 29:10-14  Jeremiah = prophet of doom and a prophet of hope.

Question Any parallel to us (as a nation)?  ie:  USA today?
On one hand, we are not God's chosen people  (as was Israel)
However, Biblical promises have eternal significance and can often be generally applied!!!

So... 

COMPARISON:

JEREMIAH'S DAY (and nation)                              OUR DAY (and nation)

Idolatry                                                                    secularism - not a denial of God but granting Him no                                                                                        special place, recognition (intentional failure to recognize)

Child sacrifice to secure 'god's favor'                         abortion - for convenience

Sabbath commerce                                                   Sabbath indifference (neglect)  ie:  to God's day

rampant immorality                                                    rising immorality across the nation

little concern for the poor                                           some concern for the poor

no Godly leaders (after Josiah)                                   some Godly leaders

generations of spiritual decline                                    beginnings of spiritual decline
Ex;  IS = 200 yrs  Judah = 350 yrs.

A few believers (Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach,           many believers
Abednigo, Ezekiel, etc.)

So.... on one hand, we are not now where they were (then).  However, it would be foolish to disregard the parallels!!

A suggestion ... (my thought... )

There is a larger group of undecided and uncommitted people than there are believers/followers, or non-believers/hostile to the faith!

Therefore, where should we focus?  John 4:35 - talking about souls.  has that changed? 

That's national application .. what about personal application?

#1.  A nation is only as faithful as its people.   

#2.  You will not be judged by what America does but by what you do.  

#3.  Self-judgment reduces the need for God's judgment.  1 Cor. 11;31

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 67:1-4

 



Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Jeremiah's Message

I.  This is a message to God's people (not pagans)
So...are parallels to Christians today?  relevance to Christians today?  Us, as individuals.  Us as a nation.

II.  The primary sin of Israel was Unfaithfulness!  (toward God, made manifest in Idolatry)
The text indicates Idolatry!!!  But - underlying idolatry = unfaithfulness!  Which = biblically portrayed as Spiritual Adultery!
God and Israel had entered into a Covenant (agreement) which = (1)  a solemn agreement (contract)
                                                                                                   (2)  an exclusive relationship
"I'll be your God;  you'll be my people".  Was a very serious thing they had entered into. 
To violate this covenant = infidelity/unfaithfulness, spiritual adultery 
Example:  compare to the marriage covenant

POINT = THE SIN (1st and foremost) = Unfaithfulness.. which led to idolatry  (manifest self as idolatry, the visible evidence of unfaithfulness.)

III.  The Primary message of Jeremiah was "Return to Me" -
Example:  1st. word = "no other gods before me"
               2nd. word = "no graven images"
"return to ME and ME ONLY!"  (I'll accept, receive)  example:  the Prodigal Son

Text:  Jer. 2:1-3-5 - LORD = God apart from all other gods

Question: Since idolatry is NOT a problem today, (in SE Oklahoma) and since the text refers to Israel ... then, what is the relevance??  Application to us today?  

#1.  You needn't have idolatry to have unfaithfulness (when you fail to love Him as you should)
Compare church at Ephesus - Rev. 2:2-5 - On one hand this is not spiritual adultery, however, = slipping, drifting away - Heb. 2:1

#2.  On one hand, God loves His people unconditionally, however, their Behavior Matters!
Affects your life, the people around you, the future state.  The way you acts makes a big difference.
How did the early church change the world????  (1)  their doctrine, (2)  their behavior  

#3.  This is not God turning His back on His people.... This is God being faithful!!!  to Himself!  His word!  His laws, His purpose, His righteousness  And to His people!!!  Prov. 3:11-12  (expanded in Heb. 12)  God is not into raising brats, spoiled kids

#4.  Seeking freedom from God's laws (restrictions, restraints) does not result in freedom.  Example:  Adam and Eve.
On one hand, you are given the right to choose
However, NOT with impunity!!  ie.  exemption frm punishment or consequence 
God's boundaries are for our good!! 

#5.  Refusal to admit to sin is the height of self-deception.  refusal to admit doesn't make you free from it.
Jer. 2:35, 1 John 1:8.  So.... 2 Cor. 13:5 = (1) saved?  or (2)  walking in the faith?

#6.  Scripture, the prophets, (Jeremiah) .. call for more than "consider your ways".  It's a call to consider your ways in the light of God's Word.  - Jer. 2:4-5  "... what the Lord says"

#7.  God is long suffering.  If you will return .. He will accept you;  receive you back. 
Example:  Prodigal Son
This = true of our nation
This = true of the individual people of our nation.
This = true of me and you!

Closing:  Prov. 14:12

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

When the Law is Lost

 1000 BC - David is on the throne - Kingdom Rise

931 BC - Rehoboam comes to power - Kingdom Split.  Jeroboam immediately institutes idolatry in the north (Israel) - Calf worship

722 BC - Israel Falls - conquered by Assyria

586 BC - Judah Falls - conquered by Babylonians, exiled into Babylon for 70 years

Our story (Jeremiah prophesying) - from 621 BC to 586 BC  = 35 years.

Review:  2 Kings 22:1-13 - Vs. 8 - is probably the book of Deuteronomy.   This followed by:
(1)  great reform (13 years) - greatest reforms Israel had ever seen
(2)  Josiah's death - at age 39
(3)  4 "evil" kings (Josiah's 3 sons, 1 grandson)
(4)  Jerusalem and temple destroyed
(5)  Judah into Exile

Question:  How did all this happen?  in light of Deut. 14:2?  To a people - chosen to reveal and represent God to a lost world?
                -- given the law and Prophets  (God's Revelation)
               - to guide, instruct, order life, establish nation

Answer 1 MAJOR FACTOR.  2 Kings 22:8 - High Priest didn't even know it existed.  This is not misplaced!!  It = ignored leading to unknown to unpracticed  (people ignorant of its content and unconcerned for the loss)

So... the handbook of the Kingdom, the Record of the Covenants, history of election and establishment in the Promised Land, self revelation of God and His will ... LOST!!  And nobody notices?  cares?  seeks?  They accidentally found it.  Had neglected and ignored the Law!

Question:  How could this nation (with this attitude) expect to retain it's place in God's favor???  When they ignored and didn't even recognize that the blessings (favor) were gone.

Note:  Ex. 19:3-6 - "IF...."
       Amos 3:2 - "therefore..."

Without knowledge of or concern for God's law, Israel slipped into: 

(1)  Idolatry - which = spiritual adultery - ie:  the violation of an exclusive relationship

(2)  Syncretism = blending of religious beliefs and practices.  Didn't abandon Yahweh.  = added to, took from prescribed worship forms, laws
Why other gods???  (1)  pagan gods made NO moral demands
                               (2)  they often encouraged sinful behavior - ie:  fertility gods, god of wine, etc.
Yahweh has moral guidelines for his people.

(3) Ignorance - Hosea 4:6 = Self imposed ignorance!! - not the inability to know, but the choice NOT to know.

Before "application to us" - the "Ism".  

Note:  "THE LAW"
Mosaic Law = Ceremonial - Civil - Moral

(1)  We are NOT obligated to Their ceremonial/civil laws
(ceremonial laws fulfilled in Christ, civil - for their culture and time.)

(2)  We ARE obligated to the Moral laws (which = eternal, unchanging)
so.....

(3)  these Moral Laws  (God's laws) should shape and direct OUR Worship and our Civil Laws!!

In other words, IF we shape our 'ceremonial practices' (worship) AND our 'civil laws' APART from God's MORAL Law(s), THEN we are doing exactly wheat they did!!!

Example:  From Solomon's death to the fall = 345 years.  from 1776 to today = 245 years.

Some Observations:  

#1 - Ignorance of God's law(s) is ignorance of God.  He has revealed Himself (His character) and His will in His laws.  (not only in the Mosaic Law but throughout Scripture - ex. Sermon on the Mount)   

#2 - God's law is compromised when we ''add to" or "take from" it.  Deut. 4:2,  Rev. 22:18-19 - if do, are compromising His law.

#3.  Civil law created apart from God's law (moral) is faulty law.  like a body without a skeleton.  We are not supposed to make laws.  We are supposed to discover God's laws.

#4.  Worship apart from Knowledge is faulty worshipincomplete at best.  heretical at worst - John 4:19-24 - woman at the well.
On one hand, sincerity matters - God looks on the heart.  However, sincerity is not a substitute for truth!  We in the US are without excuse!

#5.  A nation's knowledge of God cannot exceed the people's knowledge of God. 
On one hand, not called to be a prophet
However, ARE called to be "salt" - Matt. 5:13  "if salt loses it's saltiness...."??

You are called to Make an Eternal Difference!  How will you do that... without knowing God's Law(s)?  Judgment will begin with the house of God.

Closing:  Matt. 5:13-16



Monday, January 25, 2021

In the Days of Jeremiah

 Some historical context in which he preached:

Hezekiah reigned before Manasseh and was a good king.

King Manasseh - 2 Kings. 21:1-6 - (55 years)

King Amon - 2 Kings 21:19-22 - (2 years)

So.... 57 years of "Evil  (sin, rebellion against God)... in the eyes of the Lord" - (which = according to God!)

Enter Josiah - 2 Kings 22:1-2    Jeremiah called in the 13th. year of Josiah  (King = 21 years old.)

Today's story begins in 18th. year of Josiah  (King = 26 years old)

So..... this good King (Josiah) had been on the throne 18 years and prophet Jeremiah has been preaching 5 years when the story begins.

2 Kings 22:3-20, 23:1-15, 21-25   (note:  the King had never heard the Law read before)

So... after 31 years of Rule (by Josiah) + 13 years reform work +18 years of preaching (by Jeremiah)....

(1)  Josiah dies in battle ... at the age of 39

(2)  Judah (nations) goes right back where they were under Manasseh!!!  Josiah's godliness  & reform didn't turn the Nation, people, his own sons!!

What follows = 5 evil rulers over 23 years ending with destruction of Jerusalem, temple and 70 years of exile!

THAT = the Story/ the History - the WASM  

Anything here for us?  today?  an ISM!!

#1.  Leadership matters  Israel (northern 10 tribes) went down faster and fell 150 years earlier!!
Israel had 19 kings over 200 years --  none good!!
Judah - had 20 kings over 350 years ... 8 good and 12 bad.

#2.  Great leadership does not guarantee a great nation.  Wasn't that Josiah did "too little too late", rather was just TOO LATE!!!

#3.  Religious reform is not necessarily HEART reform.
josiah changed LAWS - was 13 years with absolute authority and radical reform!!  But, he couldn't change HEARTS   (even his sons!)

#4  The need is NOT to return to the old ways, but to return to the LORD! 
Not a national decision but an individual decision!!!   Revival happens one life at a time!

#5.  A nation can go too far - example:  Huldah - 2 Kings 22:16, Jer. 7:16, 14:11-12

However,
#6.  A nation can also turn - Jer. 18:7-8  Example:  Nineveh
On one hand there is room for grief/sorrow  (Lamentations)
However, there is also room for hope!!  (Lamentations)

BUT for the believer .. is never a place for DESPAIR!!  We're not allowed that.

Because,
#7.  Even in the worst case scenario ... God can bring great good out of great evil!  Example:  the Exile - 70 years.  Cured Israel of idolatry.   The Cross.

Rev. 13:5-10 - What's God doing??   Answer:  Something (ultimately) GOOD!!

Monday, January 18, 2021

God's Call

Three subjects:

I)  The Prophet's Call - (Jeremiah and others)

II)  The Vocational Call - ("call to special ministry")

III)  The Christian Call - (which = applicable to all of us!)

 

I)  The Prophet's Call  Jer. 1:4-10 - God's word came to Him!!  Vs. 10 - nations rise and fall just as he prophecied.  Jeremiah was universal prophet.  

Note:  #1:  God is the Caller - (the initiator) - call = audible?  strong impression? 
The prophets' calls were (a) all similar
                             yet    (b) all unique - personal
examples:  Moses & bush, Isaiah & temple, Ezekiel by river - called to prophecy in Babylon

           #2.  The Call was a Summons (which is more than an invitation/request)  It was a Clear, Authoritative call... TO a particular work, task, ministry, people  (example:  Jonah to Nineveh) - Jonah 1:1-2
Note:  the prophet may doubt his ability to perform or persevere .. often with great reluctance, BUT never seem to doubt the Call!!  (example:  Jonah - was a whiny, whimpering prophet, but absolutely certain of the call.)

         #3  With the call comes Provision - (the means, ability) which = God Himself!! - Jer. 1:8

Note:  prophets approached the task with humility ... aware that they were INCAPABLE & UNWORTHY - example:  Paul - 1 Cor. 2:3  However, they speak with confidence and Authority!! - example:  Jonah, Moses before Pharaoh, etc.

        #4.  The Prophet has a choice - Jer. 1;5  Question:  God's Sovereignty OR man's Free Will?  or  BOTH!!
An all powerful, all knowing God can say "I'm gonna form Jeremiah, and he'll be my prophet ... by his own free will" - example:  Middle Knowledge

 

II.  The Vocational Call (call to special service)

      #1  God is the Caller (initiator)

     #2  He Summons to a Specific task - specific task, ministry, office place, people

     #3  With the call comes Provision - (which = Himself)

 

III.  The Christian's Call  ie:  (every man's call)

       #1  God is the Caller  - 1 Cor. 1:9, 1 Pet. 2:9, Rom. 8:28  He is the initiator

       #2  The Call is (still) a Summons
ie:  invitation, request ... DRAWING, WOOING - Rev. 22:17
But ... it is more than that because if refused has great consequences!!

Question:  What are we called to?  Salvation?  Eternal life? Reconciliation? new birth? forgiveness of sins?
Answer: = (A)  called to Christ!! in whom will find salvation, eternal life, etc.   Ex.  Matt. 11:28
                (B)  Called to Christ as SAVIOR and LORD -
         therefore called to obedience, discipleship, service, ministry - all under Lordship

      #3  With the Call comes Provision - (which = Christ Himself!  - Holy Spirit in you!)
So... Phil. 4:13   2 Pet. 1:3

     #4  You have a choice
On one hand, you don't have to answer the call
However, great consequences for refusal

Monday, January 11, 2021

Remaining Faithful in Difficult Times - Introduction to Jeremiah

 (1)  The man - Jer. 1:1-3 - from Anathoth 9 2-3 miles north of Jerusalem) son of a priest (no record of him practicing in the priesthood, called in "13th. year of Josiah" - (626 BC) at the age of around 20?  Preached through the reign of 1 good king (Josiah) and 5 bad ones.


(2)  The times - On one hand, the reformation attempts of good King Josiah
                        However, Josiah preceded by 57 years of evil kings AND followed by All Bad Kings... until the exile!!

Israel (the 10 northern tribes) = exiled in 722 BC, 100 years before Jeremiah's call.  Now Judah = deep into idolatry and syncretism  (ie:  Yahweh not abandoned but watered down!!)

(3)  The Ministry = called to confront Kings and Commoners alike.  Spent 40 years as a "despised patriot" before the exile.  Repeatedly accused of false prophecy, treason, and sedition!

No record of any converts, disciples, or impact.  (though he had a faithful secretary, scribe - Baruch)
No family life to comfort, console him - Jer. 16:1-4

Tradition = stoned to death in Egypt (by Egyptians)

4)  The personality
Sensitive
... to God, sin of the nation, rejection by God's people  - "a man of sorrow"
Yet ... courageous ... cursed, threatened, beaten, imprisoned .. and stood firm!!

Because of the stories, experiences, etc ... we know more about the personality of Jeremiah than any other prophet!

(5)  The content (of the book)
A.  Historically based  (therefore understanding the times unlocks the book!)
B.  NOT chronologically ordered!  (because was gathered and compiled at a later date??  in topical order?

So... on one hand, can be difficult to read and understand
However, content = rich, relevant, rewarding!!

(6)  Our study will NOT be verse by verse, chapter by chapter .. (we'll hop around and skip a lot of passages)

7)  Today's focus from Jeremiah - Remaining Faithful in Difficult Times  

The WASM ... Jeremiah remained faithful through 40+ years of difficult ministry!!
On one hand, he stumbled ... a lot  because was human and a seriously flawed human!
However, he always returned faithfully to ... his God, his calling, duty, people....

The ISM - (ie: application for us, today!!)
You and I are NOT called to the office of Prophet...
Nevertheless we are called .. to Serve, to be faithful .. to God, our duties, people

AND though we (like Jeremiah) = seriously flawed individuals .. we can, nevertheless be FAITHFUL in the midst of - difficultied, opposition, personal weakness!

What can we lear FROM Jeremiah ... about OURSELVES?

Jeremiah was.....
(1)  Reluctant ... but obedient!  - Jer. 1:6, 6:10-11
compare Moses, Gideon, Peter - "follow me, feed my sheep"

(2)  Unflinching in his message - Jer. 26:1-2, 4-11  Rev. 22:18-19  Deut. 4:2

Yet...(3)  Compassionate toward his people - referred to as "the weeping prophet". 
On one hand, "prophet" - speaking God's word, however, "weeping" as he does so!!
Compare:  Jesus - Matt. 23:37  Luke 19:41

(4)  Prone to despair ... yet persevering! - Jer. 20:7-9
Had strong feelings, emotions, objections!! But......

(5)  Apparently ineffective ... yet faithful to his duty, (ministry, calling) 
Note:  "apparently" ineffective does not mean actually ineffective  - reference:  Isa. 55:10-11

(6)  Reverent toward God.... yet honest with God - Jer. 12:1, 15:17-18
in a real, honest, active, practical relationship with God
which = disagreement leading to conflict!   But .... contrast DISAGREEMENT with REBELLION!!
Jer. 1:8