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.
(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!!)
  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.

(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!


(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

(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