Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Tender Twig

August 31: Ezekiel 16-17

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, propound a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel; 3 say, Thus says the Lord God: A great eagle with great wings and long pinions, rich in plumage of many colors, came to Lebanon and took the top of the cedar. 4 He broke off the topmost of its young twigs and carried it to a land of trade and set it in a city of merchants. 5 Then he took of the seed of the land and planted it in fertile soil. He placed it beside abundant waters. He set it like a willow twig, 6 and it sprouted and became a low spreading vine, and its branches turned toward him, and its roots remained where it stood. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out boughs.

7 “And there was another great eagle with great wings and much plumage, and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him and shot forth its branches toward him from the bed where it was planted, that he might water it. 8 It had been planted on good soil by abundant waters, that it might produce branches and bear fruit and become a noble vine.

22 Thus says the Lord God: “I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. 23 On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.”
Ezekiel 171-8 & 22-24

A Tender Twig

We are given a riddle in today's reading from Ezekiel 17; I have not included the entire chapter, but you may want to take the time to read it. In this riddle a great and lofty eagle came to Lebanon and took a tender twig from the top of a cedar tree. This twig was transported a land of trade and merchants. The eagle then took another tender twig from the top of the cedar and planted it by the water where it flourished, and turned its vines toward him.

However, there was another great eagle with beautiful plumage, and this vine which was planted in its own land bent its roots and turned its vines toward this other eagle. The question is then asked, "Will this vine prosper?"

What can all of this mean? This story is just a recap of the events we have been reading; the first eagle was Nebuchadnezzar who came to Lebanon (Jerusalem) and transported most of the people to his own country of trade. He then planted a second tree in Judah (Zedekiah) and proclaimed him to be the new King of Judah. Did Zedekiah and the people remain true to Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon? No, they did not! In a short time they turned their eyes to the king of Egypt for help; was Egypt able to protect them from the Babylonians? Just as in this story, they, along with Egypt, were powerless before Nebuchadnezzar.

Now, look to the very last paragraph of Ezekiel 17 (verses 22-24). What is God's response to this riddle?

“I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar."

Who is powerful enough to stand before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Neither Nebuchadnezzar or any man from then until the end of time is able to stand before the Lord of Hosts. Even Satan and all of his angels will one day bow before our God and give glory to Him.

My favorite sentence in this entire chapter is found at the very end of verse 24:

"I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it."

There it is--from the annals of the Old Testament God proclaims His faithfulness to His people. As Christians, we are part of the fruits of a tender twig planted by Christ. The time will come when all men will acknowledge God and know who He is.

And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish.

What in our entire lives can matter more than this? Our very souls hang on that question!

He is the Lord; He has spoken, and He will do it!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Hunt for Souls!

August 30: Ezekiel 13-15

17 “And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own minds. Prophesy against them 18 and say, Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the women who sew magic bands upon all wrists, and make veils for the heads of persons of every stature, in the hunt for souls! Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people and keep your own souls alive? 19 You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, putting to death souls who should not die and keeping alive souls who should not live, by your lying to my people, who listen to lies.

20 “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against your magic bands with which you hunt the souls like birds, and I will tear them from your arms, and I will let the souls whom you hunt go free, the souls like birds. 21 Your veils also I will tear off and deliver my people out of your hand, and they shall be no more in your hand as prey, and you shall know that I am the Lord. 22 Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not grieved him, and you have encouraged the wicked, that he should not turn from his evil way to save his life, 23 therefore you shall no more see false visions nor practice divination. I will deliver my people out of your hand. And you shall know that I am the Lord.”
Ezekiel 13:17-23

The Hunt for Souls

Are you part of the hunt for souls? What is Ezekiel talking about in these verses, and how could this ever affect us in the 21st century?

And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own minds.

Think about the many circumstances in the Old Testament when false prophets would prophecy good when God had appointed evil to come upon the people. What effect did this have on the people of the land? First, it lulled the people into a false complacency, and turned them away from God. Second, instead of preparing for the evil to come, they "danced in the streets" and were left defenseless when the enemy finally did come.

Third people were being lost eternally in this "hunt for souls." Who would you choose to follow? Would you follow the prophets of doom who told you of a God who was angry with your sin, or would you choose a god who you believed would protect you no matter what you did?

Will you hunt down souls belonging to my people and keep your own souls alive? You have profaned me among my people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, putting to death souls who should not die and keeping alive souls who should not live, by your lying to my people, who listen to lies.

What a hopeless situation! But, does this sound familiar to you? Do we have false prophets in our day who are a part of the hunt for souls?

That is the real question that you must answer! Who do you follow? Are you caught up in the world and the things of the world so much that you can not see the real truth? In our days of "political correctness" and "choice," evil has been redefined and given a nice pleasing name.

It is not politically correct to believe the Bible, and murder in the form of abortions is running rampant in the entire world by calling it "choice" instead of taking an innocent life. Yes, the hunt for souls continues in our present time.

So, who will win? What does God say in Ezekiel 13:22-23?

"Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not grieved him, and you have encouraged the wicked, that he should not turn from his evil way to save his life, therefore you shall no more see false visions nor practice divination. I will deliver my people out of your hand. And you shall know that I am the Lord.”

Who owns your soul? Are you sure?

Pray today that your heart and soul is firmly fixed upon the Lord!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, August 29, 2008

One Heart

August 29: Ezekiel 9-12

14 And the word of the Lord came to me: 15 “Son of man, your brothers, even your brothers, your kinsmen, the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those of whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the Lord; to us this land is given for a possession.’ 16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a while in the countries where they have gone.’ 17 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.’ 18 And when they come there, they will remove from it all its detestable things and all its abominations. 19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 21 But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord God.”
Ezekiel 11:10, 11b-12a, 14-21

One Heart

If you have read very many of my devotions, you know that I often speak of Christianity as being a religion of the heart. We may often paint our outward appearance in beautiful colors, but in the end our true heart will come out in our actions. Luke 6:45 states it this way:

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Arguments, dissension, disagreements, strife, backbiting, tension--can you think of any more synonyms which aptly display the reality of life all around us? Our leaders often speak of world peace, but where is peace in all of this?

Such was the case in Ezekiel's day; the leaders encouraged the people to go far away from the Lord. "This land is ours, not God's!" they cried to the people. Such rebellion was the cause of their being dispersed to the nations around them.

But, our God is a gracious God, filled with compassion, as we see in verses 16-20 shown above. He promises that the time will come when He will again gather the Jewish people from out of the nations to return to Jerusalem. And then what?

19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

The Jewish people have returned to their own land and declared themselves a nation in 1948. Just as that part of the prophecy has been fulfilled, so will verses 19 and 20 be fulfilled as well. The time will come when all Christians will truly have one heart; instead of conflict and quarreling in the church, we will finally see eternal unity in Christ.

In some ways I think that this spirit of one heart and one mind will be one of the greatest miracles ever!

Go ahead and dust off your outward appearance, but remember, the most important thing is your heart. Will you be numbered with those who will have one heart with Christ?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

An End!

August 28: Ezekiel 5-8

1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “And you, O son of man, thus says the Lord God to the land of Israel: An end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land. 3 Now the end is upon you, and I will send my anger upon you; I will judge you according to your ways, and I will punish you for all your abominations. 4 And my eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity, but I will punish you for your ways, while your abominations are in your midst. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

10 “Behold, the day! Behold, it comes! Your doom has come; the rod has blossomed; pride has budded. 11 Violence has grown up into a rod of wickedness. None of them shall remain, nor their abundance, nor their wealth; neither shall there be preeminence among them. 12 The time has come; the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice, nor the seller mourn, for wrath is upon all their multitude. 13 For the seller shall not return to what he has sold, while they live. For the vision concerns all their multitude; it shall not turn back; and because of his iniquity, none can maintain his life.
Ezekiel 7:1-4 & 10-13

An End!

An End! Doomsday! Now that is something we really do not like to talk about, is it? Why should things end? Why should there ever be a doomsday? Things are not really that bad, are they?

For a moment, transport yourself back to the Garden of Eden, where God walked and fellowshiped with Adam and Eve. What must the world have been like then? Now bring yourself back to the present. Do you notice anything different?

The difficulty is that we are continually comparing ourselves with other people, but we should, instead, be comparing ourselves to God! All of this was predictable, you know; the moment Adam and Eve sinned (as would we if we had been in their place), doomsday became a sure thing.

Satan has done a very good job of deceiving the world--even Christians--into believing that judgment day will never come. If we truly believed that God was coming back today or tomorrow to judge the world, would we act any differently?

That was the problem of the Jewish nation; they became consumed with the world around them and forgot God. We need to fall before God today and pray that we will not make the same mistake. Christ will return, and that return is imminent!

Make no mistake, there will be an end. The question is, will you be ready?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Call of Ezekiel

August 27: Ezekiel 1-4

1 And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.” 2 And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. 4 The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ 5 And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. 7 And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house.

16 And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: 17 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.
Ezekiel 2:1-7 & 16-19

Call of Ezekiel

Ezekiel is a rather unusual book, filled with imagery that is difficult to understand. Rather than to delve into the meaning of that imagery (like the "wheels" mention in chapter 1), I will take a more devotional approach. In today's passage I would like to focus on the call of Ezekiel.

God often spoke to the prophets, often by dreams or visions; in the case of Ezekiel God's Words were clear. Ezekiel was to go to the people of Israel and, in essence, present the Gospel; whether or not the people listened, God's intent for Ezekiel was clear.

In verses 16-19, God further warns Ezekiel that if he does not go to the house of Israel they will die for their sins, but God will require their blood at Ezekiel's hand.

18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

As I pondered this, I wondered if we realize how serious it is if we do not share the Gospel with those around us. That sharing may come in the form of actually going to them and speaking with them, but it also includes our actions before them. Do they see Christ in the way we talk and in the choices we make?

God told Ezekiel to go to the house of Israel and to not fear the response of the people.

And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them. 6 And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house.

Fear! How many things do we fail to do because of our fear of the reaction of those around us? We must consider our calling before the Lord. Why did God put us on this earth? As Christians is our purpose to amass wealth and seek success and pleasure in this life? It is not wrong to be wealthy or successful, and it is not wrong to enjoy the things God has given to us, but what is uppermost in our mind? Do we really care about the lost around us? Do we use our wealth and success to spread the Gospel? Do we love the Lord our God above everything else?

As you ponder the call of Ezekiel, think of God's call to you. Pray that you would faithfully spend your time on this earth doing all you can to spread the Gospel of Christ.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Wrapped in Anger

August 26: Lamentations 3:37-5:22

40 Let us test and examine our ways,and return to the Lord!
41 Let us lift up our hearts and hands
to God in heaven:
42 “We have transgressed and rebelled,
and you have not forgiven.

43 “You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,
killing without pity;
44 you have wrapped yourself with a cloud
so that no prayer can pass through.
Lamentations 3:40-44

19 But you, O Lord, reign forever;
your throne endures to all generations.
20 Why do you forget us forever,
why do you forsake us for so many days?
21 Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!
Renew our days as of old—
22 unless you have utterly rejected us,
and you remain exceedingly angry with us.
Lamentations 5:19-22

Wrapped in Anger

Is it true? Can there really come a time when God will not listen to us--a time when God will be wrapped in anger and will pursue us? The Israelites did not think so; they believed that because they were His chosen people He would never turn away from them.

It seems so obvious when we look over these Bible passages that the Israelites really deserved what happened to them. Do we do the same thing? Do we become so assured of God's love and faithfulness to us that we believe we could do anything and He would never forsake us?

It is a very fine line, is it not? We are assured of God's love and faithfulness to us as His children, but one must ask what kind of children we are if we have no qualms about leaving this God we love to go and serve the gods of the nations around us. That is really where the problem lies, is it not?

I do believe that God's love never fails, and that His faithfulness to His people will never end. The real question is not one of God's actions, but rather, one of our own actions! Are we truly Christians? Can a true believer turn aside and maliciously treat the Word of God as though the commandments are optional? Do we believe God must love us, even if we continually reject Him?

Works do not save us; only the blood of Christ is sufficient to pay the debts of our sins. However, as true believers we hate our sin and desire to do the things that are pleasing to Christ. Along with our salvation comes a nature that loves and desires to serve God completely.

What cold words are spoken by Jeremiah in chapter 5; not only was God wrapped in anger, but He also utterly rejected the people of Judah.

That should bring fear to our hearts. Matthew 10:28 (NKJV) tells us,

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

By God's grace examine your hearts this day; pray for God to strengthen you and deepen your love and faith in Him.

God Bless You,
Linda

Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, August 25, 2008

New Every Morning!

August 25: Lamentations 1:1-3:36

Judah has gone into exile because of affliction
and hard servitude;
she dwells now among the nations,
but finds no resting place;
her pursuers have all overtaken her
in the midst of her distress.
Lamentations 1:3

19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:19-26

New Every Morning

In Lamentations we begin to understand why Jeremiah is often called the weeping prophet. In chapter 1, verse 16, he says,

“For these things I weep;
my eyes flow with tears;
for a comforter is far from me,
one to revive my spirit;
my children are desolate,
for the enemy has prevailed.”

Judah had gone into exile among the nations, but for her there was no resting place. Yet in the middle of Jeremiah's tears, he did not forget the faithfulness of the Lord.

How easy is that? What happens to us in the middle of great affliction? Do we remember God's faithfulness to us, or do we rail against the affliction that has come upon us and rail against God who did not prevent it?

Lamentations 3:22 reminds us, The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. Some Hebrew texts translate this sentence, Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, we are not cut off.

Judah was captured, but not cut off. Christians can be influenced by the devil and his angels, but they cannot be overcome by them. In recognition of this, Jeremiah penned these words in Lamentations 3, made more familiar by the song, "Great is Thy Faithfulness,"

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”


Is the Lord your portion? Do you hope in Him? If so, then you will truly understand these verses of hope and truth.

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord
.


Now is the time to seek the Lord; Isaiah said in chapter 55, verse 6, "Seek the LORD while he may be found;call upon him while he is near."

Great is Your faithfulness, Oh Lord God!

Amen, so shall it be!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Portion of Jacob

August 24: Jeremiah 51-52

5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
by their God, the Lord of hosts,
but the land of the Chaldeans is full of guilt
against the Holy One of Israel.

15 “It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
16 When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
17 Every man is stupid and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols,
for his images are false,
and there is no breath in them.
18 They are worthless, a work of delusion;
at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
19 Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob,
for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the Lord of hosts is his name.
Jeremiah 51:5, 15-19

The Portion of Jacob

As we come to the last two chapters of Jeremiah, God again proclaims His love and protection of the Israelites. So who is the Portion of Jacob?

15 “It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
16 When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses
.


I love these passages which cause us to stare right into the eyes of God! We must never forget who God is!

*He made the earth by His power.
*He established the world by His wisdom.
*He stretched out the heavens by His understanding.
*His voice brings a tumult of waters in the heavens.
*He makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
*He makes lightning for the rain.
*He brings wind from His storehouses.

But then, who is man?

Every man is stupid and without knowledge.

Again, who is the Portion of Jacob?

Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob,
for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the Lord of hosts is his name
.

Jeremiah 51:19

Do you desire knowledge, wisdom, and understanding? Where do you go? Will colleges and universities truly give you knowledge, wisdom, and understanding? Only in Christ can we have true knowledge; we can learn much from academia, but without the knowledge of Christ, it is all meaningless.

Are you a spiritual descendant of Jacob? Is God your Portion? These are questions that must be asked, because at the end of time only Jacob's children will be ushered into the kingdom of heaven to live forever with the Lord. No matter what the situation look like now, that victory has already been won!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lost Sheep

August 23: Jeremiah 49-50

For who is like me? Who will summon me? What shepherd can stand before me?
Jeremiah 49:19b

4 “In those days and in that time, declares the Lord, the people of Israel and the people of Judah shall come together, weeping as they come, and they shall seek the Lord their God. 5 They shall ask the way to Zion, with faces turned toward it, saying, ‘Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will never be forgotten.’

6 “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray, turning them away on the mountains. From mountain to hill they have gone. They have forgotten their fold. 7 All who found them have devoured them, and their enemies have said, ‘We are not guilty, for they have sinned against the Lord, their habitation of righteousness, the Lord, the hope of their fathers.’

17 “Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones. 18 Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing punishment on the king of Babylon and his land, as I punished the king of Assyria. 19 I will restore Israel to his pasture, and he shall feed on Carmel and in Bashan, and his desire shall be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and in Gilead. 20 In those days and in that time, declares the Lord, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none, and sin in Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.

33 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah with them. All who took them captive have held them fast; they refuse to let them go. 34 Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.
Jeremiah 50:4-6, 17-20 & 33-34

Lost Sheep

In today's reading God is pronouncing judgement upon all of the nations who have mistreated His people. In the middle of the judgments, the theme of God coming to the aid of His lost sheep keeps reappearing. Even though He allowed them to be disciplined for a time by the nations surrounding them, now judgment is falling upon those same nations, while Israel is being recovered by the Lord.

Look at the pronouncement God makes both in Jeremiah 49:29 and then again in Jeremiah 50:44:

For who is like me? Who will summon me? What shepherd can stand before me?

Indeed, what ruler (shepherd) can stand before God? As evil seems to grow like a cancer throughout the entire world, can evil rulers stand before God? God allows their sin for a time, but the time will come when He will bring judgment against them, especially those who mistreat His people.

Who is your shepherd? Are you willing to trust your very soul to follow the false shepherds of this day who have no fear of God, but trust completely in themselves?

In John 10 Jesus tells his disciples that He is the good Shepherd; His sheep hear His voice and follow Him.

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
John 10:3b-4

What does Jesus provide for His sheep?

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 10:10b-11

So, again I ask, Who is your shepherd? Will your shepherd care enough about you that he will lay down his life for you? No wonder God proclaimed these words through Jeremiah, the prophet.

19 I will restore Israel to his pasture, and he shall feed on Carmel and in Bashan, and his desire shall be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and in Gilead. 20 In those days and in that time, declares the Lord, iniquity shall be sought in Israel, and there shall be none, and sin in Judah, and none shall be found, for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.

Christians are bought with a price; their chief Shepherd has laid down His life for His sheep. Will He then forget those whom He has purchased with His own blood? I think not! Go to Christ, the only true Shepherd, and He will save you now.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Above the World

August 22: Jeremiah 46-48

27 “But fear not, O Jacob my servant,
nor be dismayed, O Israel,
for behold, I will save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid.
28 Fear not, O Jacob my servant,
declares the Lord,
for I am with you.
I will make a full end of all the nations
to which I have driven you,
but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.”
Jeremiah 46:27-28

Above the World

Jeremiah is sometimes called the prophet of doom, and today's reading certainly bears that out. Through Jeremiah, God calls for judgment on Egypt, judgment on the Philistines, and judgment on Moab. Tucked right in between the judgments against Egypt and the Philistines are the verses shown above.

Remember, in yesterdays reading, we left the remnant from Judah in the land of Egypt; God told them that he would bring judgment against the land of Egypt, and they would not be safe there.

In many ways, I think we Christians are much like the remnant of Judah; the difference, however, is that "Egypt" surrounds us. We are not called to leave the world or the land in which we live, but rather, we are called to live above the world. Like the remnant, God often sends discipline to us when we cross that boundary.

Yet, God always remembers his people! Look at Jeremiah 46:28:

But fear not, O Jacob my servant,
nor be dismayed, O Israel,
for behold, I will save you from far away,
and your offspring from the land of their captivity.
Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease,
and none shall make him afraid
.


God's purpose in disciplining his children is always to bring them back to Him, unlike the judgment God brings upon the peoples of the world who turn against Him. We call it grace! Though nothing in us deserves the salvation of God, He sent His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to purchase a people for Himself by shedding His own blood in just payment of our sins.

Life is filled with troubles, but as Christians, we look forward to that time of quiet and ease when we will dwell in heaven forever with the Lord. Pray today that as a Christian being surrounded by "Egypt," God would give you grace to live above the world.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Return to Egypt

August 21: Jeremiah 41-45

1 Then all the commanders of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah and Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near 2 and said to Jeremiah the prophet, “Let our plea for mercy come before you, and pray to the Lord your God for us, for all this remnant—because we are left with but a few, as your eyes see us— 3 that the Lord your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do.” . . . . 5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”

7 At the end of ten days the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah. 8 Then he summoned Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces who were with him, and all the people from the least to the greatest, 9 and said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to whom you sent me to present your plea for mercy before him: 10 If you will remain in this land, then I will build you up and not pull you down; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I relent of the disaster that I did to you. 11 Do not fear the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid. Do not fear him, declares the Lord, for I am with you, to save you and to deliver you from his hand. 12 I will grant you mercy, that he may have mercy on you and let you remain in your own land. . . . Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: If you set your faces to enter Egypt and go to live there, 16 then the sword that you fear shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine of which you are afraid shall follow close after you to Egypt, and there you shall die. 17 All the men who set their faces to go to Egypt to live there shall die by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence. They shall have no remnant or survivor from the disaster that I will bring upon them.
Jeremiah 42:1-3, 5-12 & 15b-17

1 When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the Lord their God, with which the Lord their God had sent him to them, 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there,’ . . . . 4 So Johanan the son of Kareah and all the commanders of the forces and all the people did not obey the voice of the Lord, to remain in the land of Judah. . . . 7 And they came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of the Lord. And they arrived at Tahpanhes.
Jeremiah 43:1-2, 4 & 7

Return to Egypt

The land was devastated, the enemy had overtaken the land, and only a small remnant of Judeans remained. Not knowing what to do, the people came to Jeremiah seeking the will of the Lord. Should they remain in the land and face the ire of the Chaldeans, or should they flee to Egypt for safety?

5 Then they said to Jeremiah, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act according to all the word with which the Lord your God sends you to us. 6 Whether it is good or bad, we will obey the voice of the Lord our God to whom we are sending you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the Lord our God.”

It is right to seek the Lord when we are confronted by a crossroad in life, but when we receive an answer from the Lord, how do we respond?

Unfortunately, in spite of all they had been through, the remnant in the land did not learn a thing! God had brought judgment upon Judah because of their rebellion against Him. One would think that this would be uppermost in their minds, as they considered the advice of the Lord.

After ten days, God spoke to Jeremiah assuring the remnant of their safety if they remained in the land of Judah; however, if they followed their inclination to return to Egypt, they would bring upon themselves the fury of the Lord.

So, how did they respond?

When Jeremiah finished speaking to all the people all these words of the Lord their God, with which the Lord their God had sent him to them, 2 Azariah the son of Hoshaiah and Johanan the son of Kareah and all the insolent men said to Jeremiah, “You are telling a lie. The Lord our God did not send you to say, ‘Do not go to Egypt to live there.’"

Before we become too judgmental, we must think of our own relationship with the Lord. How quickly are we ready to leave everything and follow the Lord, especially when He is leading in the direction we do not want to go?

We are often faced with this dilemma. Living in the midst of an evil and rebellious generation, we are often tempted to slide along with the crowd rather than to take that step of faith which leads us away from the popular opinion. What do we decide? Do we return to Egypt and a life of sin against God, or do we take the less traveled road of obedience to Him?

Ponder that thought as you face this day. Pray that God will give you strength of mind and strength of character to turn away from the ways of the world and to follow Christ alone.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quietly Wait for Trouble

August 20: Habakkuk 1-3

2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he?
Habakkuk 1:2

16 I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
Habakkuk 3:16-19

Quietly Wait for Trouble

Habakkuk begins this book with two complaints against God. First, he asked why God did not answer his prayers for help, and second, he asked why God would use a wicked nation to swallow up a more righteous nation. God explains to Habakkuk that though He may use a wicked nation to punish the righteous, the end of that wicked nation will be total destruction.

Now we understand a little more clearly why Habakkuk could quietly wait for trouble. What a rich testimony of faith is found in chapter 3, verses 17-19. How is your faith? It is easy to trust in the Lord when everything is going well, but what happens when trouble comes? When our fig tree does not blossom, all of our crops fail, and all of our livestock dies, can we say with Habakkuk,

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation
.


Now that is true faith! Read through Habakkuk 3:17-19 once more and ponder these verses as you go about this day. May God, the Lord, be your strength as you quietly wait for trouble.

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places
.


God Bless You,
Linda

All Scripture is from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Seventy Years

August 19: 2 Kings 24-25 & 2 Chronicles 36

17 Therefore he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged. He gave them all into his hand. 18 And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. 19 And they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem and burned all its palaces with fire and destroyed all its precious vessels. 20 He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 23 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’”

2 Chronicles 36:17-23

Seventy Years

2 Chronicles 36 ends with a summary of the end of the reign of the Judean kings; the captivity of Judah; and the decree of Cyrus, king of Persia, at the end of the seventy years of captivity for Judah. As Jeremiah had prophesied, so God had brought everything to pass.

This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste.
Jeremiah 25:11-12

As God had said, the Judeans remained in captivity for seventy years, after which time God punished the Chaldeans by bringing in the Persians to conquer them. I would like to focus on the last verse of 2 Chronicles 36:

“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.'"

What an interesting verse! God spoke to Cyrus, a heathen king, charging him to send back some Judeans to rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. Does God only work through Christians? Does God only move Christians to do His will?

God created this world, and though He has given Satan much power, the rule of the world has never left His hands. Just ponder that thought as you go about the duties of this day. God fulfilled His Word; the Judeans were in captivity for seventy years to the very day.

God is righteous and just, and is able to bring to pass every single word that He has promised even to the very day! And, as Christians, this God is our God. That should lift your hearts!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Very Sad Day!

August 18: Jeremiah 38-40, Psalm 74 & Psalm 79

14 King Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah the prophet and received him at the third entrance of the temple of the Lord. The king said to Jeremiah, “I will ask you a question; hide nothing from me.” 15 Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “If I tell you, will you not surely put me to death? And if I give you counsel, you will not listen to me.” 16 Then King Zedekiah swore secretly to Jeremiah, “As the Lord lives, who made our souls, I will not put you to death or deliver you into the hand of these men who seek your life.”

17 Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. 18 But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand.” 19 King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest I be handed over to them and they deal cruelly with me.” 20 Jeremiah said, “You shall not be given to them. Obey now the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared. 21 But if you refuse to surrender . . .

23 All your wives and your sons shall be led out to the Chaldeans, and you yourself shall not escape from their hand, but shall be seized by the king of Babylon, and this city shall be burned with fire.”
Jeremiah 38:14-21a & 23

A Very Sad Day!

Treason! That is the charge the men of the court brought against Jeremiah; in their own words: “Let this man be put to death, for he is weakening the hands of the soldiers who are left in this city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of this people, but their harm.” (Hebrews 38:4)

For his "sin" of treason, Jeremiah was lowered into a cistern until his feet stuck in the mud; by the time the king heard of this and commanded him to be brought up out of the mire, he was so stuck that it took 30 men to pull him back out! I know that God has a special place in heaven for Godly saints like Jeremiah.

King Zedekiah is an interesting study--always trying to play both sides of the fence. He certainly did not want to be accused of treason, but he really did want to know what the Lord was saying to Jeremiah. After the king promised that he would protect him, Jeremiah spoke the words of the Lord. Even up to the very end, God was still allowing Zedekiah an opportunity to save the city; what a gracious God! Stubborn until the end, however, the king refused to obey the voice of the Lord.

What a very sad day! For almost 2 years the king of Babylon besieged Jerusalem; finally a breach was made in the city. Though the king of Judah and his officials escaped, the Chaldeans caught up with them in the Jordan valley.

Asaph, in Psalm 74 mourned for the fall of Judah and longed for the day of God's deliverance.

5 How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
6 Pour out your anger on the nations
that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms
that do not call upon your name!
7 For they have devoured Jacob
and laid waste his habitation.

Are we like King Zedekiah? Are we more concerned with the opinions of the people around us rather than our obedience before God? What a tragedy! We are so prone to lay hold of the things around us which we can see, rather than lay claim to the power and might of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What a very sad day for King Zedekiah--he waited too long! It reminds me of the words of Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 55:6 & 7:

"Seek the LORD while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scripture is from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Stand by Me

August 17: Jeremiah 35-37

5 Then I set before the Rechabites pitchers full of wine, and cups, and I said to them, “Drink wine.” 6 But they answered, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, ‘You shall not drink wine, neither you nor your sons forever. 7 You shall not build a house; you shall not sow seed; you shall not plant or have a vineyard; but you shall live in tents all your days, that you may live many days in the land where you sojourn.’ 8 We have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, to drink no wine all our days, ourselves, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, 9 and not to build houses to dwell in. We have no vineyard or field or seed, 10 but we have lived in tents and have obeyed and done all that Jonadab our father commanded us.

14 The command that Jonadab the son of Rechab gave to his sons, to drink no wine, has been kept, and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their father's command. I have spoken to you persistently, but you have not listened to me. 15 I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to me. 16 The sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me.

18 But to the house of the Rechabites Jeremiah said, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Because you have obeyed the command of Jonadab your father and kept all his precepts and done all that he commanded you, 19 therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Jonadab the son of Rechab shall never lack a man to stand before me.”
Jeremiah 35:5-10, 14-16 & 18-19

Stand by Me

Take the time to read the entire passage for today's Bible reading; I am only covering the first chapter in this devotional. Jeremiah 36 and 37 cover another very fascinating story of the burning of the scroll by King Jehoikim.

The Rechabites were an unusual people who, like the Kenites (Moses' father-in-law was a Kenite), lived in tents. [Their father, Jonadab aided the Israelite King Jehu in ridding the land of the Baal worship.] What is most interesting is their total obedience of their father's wishes, and that is exactly the illustration that God uses in Jeremiah 35.

God commanded Jeremiah to bring the Rechabites into the house of the Lord and offer them wine to drink, knowing that their father had prohibited drinking wine or building houses and settling in one place. The Rechabites, however, refused the wine, choosing to continue their obedience to their father's wishes.

So, what exactly is the issue here? Are we dealing with a passage that tells us not to drink wine? No, we are not; if you use this passage to support such a view you are totally misrepresenting this passage. The real issue here is obedience.

God continually commanded the people through many prophets to return to Him; Israel would not obey and were subsequently captured by the Syrians. Now, it is Judah's turn! When you read the rest of today's passage, you realize that God beseeched them again and again to repent of their sins and obey Him. Judah, however, followed in the path of Israel by refusing to leave their foreign gods.

The hardest thing to teach our children is obedience? Why is that? You do not have to look very far to find the answer; the hardest thing for we Christians is to obey Christ! What can we do?

Take time out of each day to spend with the Lord; read and meditate upon His Word and then speak to Him. Pray that God will give you the grace to live every moment of your life in obedience to His command, "Stand by Me!"

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

I Will Restore!

August 16: Jeremiah 32-34

16 “After I had given the deed of purchase to Baruch the son of Neriah, I prayed to the Lord, saying: 17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. 18 You show steadfast love to thousands, but you repay the guilt of fathers to their children after them, O great and mighty God, whose name is the Lord of hosts, 19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the children of man, rewarding each one according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds. 20 You have shown signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, and to this day in Israel and among all mankind, and have made a name for yourself, as at this day. 21 You brought your people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs and wonders, with a strong hand and outstretched arm, and with great terror. 22 And you gave them this land, which you swore to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey. 23 And they entered and took possession of it. But they did not obey your voice or walk in your law. They did nothing of all you commanded them to do. Therefore you have made all this disaster come upon them. 24 Behold, the siege mounds have come up to the city to take it, and because of sword and famine and pestilence the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans who are fighting against it. What you spoke has come to pass, and behold, you see it. 25 Yet you, O Lord God, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses”—though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans.’”

26 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

42 “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. . . . 44 Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negev; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”
Jeremiah 32:16-26, 42 & 44

I Will Restore

Who cannot identify with Jeremiah in today's Bible reading? How many times do we go to the Lord and say, "I do not understand!"?

God told Jeremiah to buy the field that his uncle would be coming to offer to him; Jeremiah was perplexed. Yet you, O Lord God, have said to me, “Buy the field for money and get witnesses”—though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans."

Why would God tell Jeremiah to buy a field that would not be his anyway once the Chaldeans took over the land? Don't you love the answer from God in verses 26 & 27?

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

How little is our faith? Even the prophets of old wrestled with their faith, just as we often do today. In answer to Jeremiah, God explained that the Israelites would again come back to their land and would again buy and sell property. He said in verse 44, "I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”

Every single promise that God made, He already has or will fulfill; He does not make empty promises. For the Christian what a great comfort that is. Even though the "Chaldeans" of our life may surround us on every side, and may even overtake us temporarily, God will restore our land and grant to us eternal life and peace.

That always makes a good story ending, doesn't it? But, this is not just a story; this is truth!

Pray that you would live today in the peace and security of knowing God's promises to you as a Christian will be fulfilled completely.

What a great God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Friday, August 15, 2008

In Your Heart

August 15: Jeremiah 30-31

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34

In Your Heart

In our passage today, God is again speaking of the judgment against Israel and Judah due to their sins, and then a time of peace when He will restore them again to a time of renewed fellowship with Him. God makes a very interesting statement in verse 33.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

What does this mean? God says that He will put His law within them and write it on their hearts. Where do we get our conscience? How do we inwardly know that murder is wrong? Is their a law above all of the laws of the lands?

Though this passage is written to Israel and Judah, there is still a corollary to all people today. God has written His law in your heart! Unlike the animals around you, God has given you a conscience so that you would innately know right from wrong.

Therefore, we must think carefully about the laws of our countries! Anything can be made into a law, but does that mean the laws of the land can over rule God's law written on our hearts? More specifically, does that mean that the laws of the land can over rule the direct commandments God has given to all people in His Word?

Unfortunately, through sin, we can dull that law that is written in our hearts, until it is pushed so far back that we do not even feel our conscience. That is exactly where Israel and Judah found themselves!

God is a merciful God, ready to forgive a truly humble heart. Go to Christ, cry out to Him for forgiveness, for He has paid the debt of sin. Pray, too, that your life as a Christian would be totally dedicated to the Lord, and that your conscience would not be hindered by continued sin in your life.

What is in your heart?

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It is a Lie!

August 14: Jeremiah 26-29

8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.

10 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Jeremiah 29:8-14

It is a Lie!

In our passage today we are confronted with lying prophets who spoke the words the people wanted to hear rather than speaking the words of the Lord.

God told Jeremiah to make a yoke to put around his neck, illustrating the yoke of the Babylonians around the neck of Judah. 70 years they would be under the rule of Babylon; this was not what the Israelites wanted to hear. Then, along came Hananiah the prophet declaring to the people that the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar would be broken from their necks in two years. After Hananiah broke the yoke off Jeremiah's neck, God said to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 28:13,

“Go, tell Hananiah, ‘Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars, but you have made in their place bars of iron."

15 And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the Lord.’”

17 In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.
Jeremiah 28:15-17

Again, the primary audience for today's reading is the Israelites, but secondarily we need to heed the same advice.

8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9 for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the Lord.

As you read these verses from Jeremiah 29, what application can you make to your own life today? Were all the prophets true prophets? Are all pastors true pastors? The responsibility is always yours to compare what you hear with the Word of God. Does your pastor speak only those words which he feels the congregation wants to hear--words that will make them feel good about themselves but do not convict them of their sin or challenge them to live a faithful life before God? Or is your pastor a faithful preacher of the Word, speaking clearly the truths of the Word even if he knows his words may offend some in the congregation?

The lying prophets were punished by the Lord, but so were the people who listened to them! What a responsibility we have today to know the Word of God, and to walk closely with our God, so that we may discern between words of truth and words of falsehood!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Woe to the Shepherds

August 13: Jeremiah 23-25

1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. 2 Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. 3 Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. 4 I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the Lord.

5 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Jeremiah 23:1-6


Woe to the Shepherds

As we walk through the book of Jeremiah, we find that the text is loaded with double meaning. Primarily, our passage for today centers on the disobedience of the Israelites, the resulting judgment of God, and the promise of Christ's return to rule as the Righteous Branch.

Because much of the prophecies written in the Old Testament have not yet come to pass, we often dismiss them as unimportant to us, especially to those of us who are Gentiles and have been grafted in to God's holy people. We could not make a more tragic mistake! It is these very passages and the warnings associated with their coming to pass, that cause us to realize that these events are not very far in the future.

But, what is the other meaning? Who are the shepherds? Jeremiah is speaking here of those responsible for instructing the people in the Word of God, showing them the way to salvation through Christ, and encouraging them to walk in faithful obedience to the Lord. Primarily this means the pastors God has put over His flocks, but it also carries over to everyone who is in an authoritative position, such as parents.

Does your pastor teach from the Word of God? Does your pastor believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God given to us to show us the way of salvation and to instruct us in the way we should live? Does your pastor believe the Bible is literal?

In this day, we must ask these questions; we are responsible for ourselves and our families, making sure we are hearing the truth. If you answered "no" to any of the questions above, find a church that believes the Bible. Did you know that the most important factor you should use in finding a good church is the preaching ministry?

Woe to the false shepherds, and woe to those under the good shepherds who refuse to hear the Word of God. It has been a long time since Christ lived on this earth, making it hard to believe that His coming is so near. Like the false shepherds, and the people who refused to hear the truth, do not allow yourself to be lulled into complacency!

God Bless You,
Linda

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.