The alternative is to live like the people in Jeremiah’s time who needed God’s rod of judgment, as we will see in our Old Testament reading. As we dig deeper into Psalm 119, we will see how knowing and contemplating God’s Word can help us steer clear of sin and grow in our understanding of God and His will.
Jeremiah 21 & 22
1 Thessalonians 5.1-28
9 Ways to Live like Jesus is Coming Back
9 ways to live like Jesus is coming back
2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
Jesus is coming back both for His church and to judge the whole earth. He is coming “like a thief in the night,” but as believers, who know His Word, we shouldn’t be caught off guard. Instead, we should live every day like we believe Jesus is coming back soon:
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
The remainder of the chapter spells out some ways we are to do that:
1. By respecting our pastors and elders and submitting to their authority (v. 12).
Hebrews 13.17 says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.”
Incidentally, October is “Pastor’s Appreciation Month.” Is there some way you could show appreciation to your Pastor? A meal? A card? A word of encouragement?
2. By being faithful in our relationships to our brothers and sisters in Christ (v.14).
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”
Sometimes we need to encourage one another. Other times we need to gently rebuke one another.
3. By not returning evil for evil, but by giving a blessing instead (v. 15). Romans 12:
17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord.20 Therefore
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”[b]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
4. By rejoicing in the blessings of God and being thankful (vvs. 16, 18).
5. By being faithful in prayer (v. 17).
6. By not quenching the Spirit through unrepentant, willful sin (v. 19).
7. By heeding God’s Word (v. 20).
8. By testing all things and making God’s Word our standard (v. 21).
9. And by abstaining from every form of evil (v. 22).
Jesus is coming back. It could be soon. Are you living like you believe it?
Today’s Other Readings:
A Rod for a Fool’s Back
Some time has passed and the Jews have failed to heed God’s warnings through Jeremiah, but now the invaders are approaching. Skirmishes are already being fought outside the city, and the people will soon be driven back into the city itself.
Now that things are desperate, the King sends a messenger to Jeremiah asking him to intercede for them. God answers by telling them that they are not just fighting the Babylonians, but they have made themselves enemies of God Himself!
Many of us go through times in our lives, too, where we reject God’s truth, then when we get into trouble we cry out, “Oh God, help me! If You get me out of this mess, I’ll never do it again!”
Sometimes, God in His mercy relents, even when He knows our motives are less than pure, but in the case of the Jews in Jeremiah’s time, He had demonstrated His mercy and patience over and over, and had determined it was time for judgment.
And, sometimes, because He loves us, He allows us to experience the consequences of our choices, too.
“A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool’s back” (Prov. 26.3).
In other words, a fool only understands consequences. God knows us perfectly. He knows just what is required to grow us and change us.
Better to cry out to God now and ask Him to search our hearts, reveal our motives, and show us the areas where we need to grow and change, so we can repent and make those changes instead of waiting until God has to use a “rod” to get our attention.
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3.19).
That I Might Not Sin Against You
The psalmist poses the question in verse 9, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” and then answers, “By taking heed according to Your word.” In verse 10 he says, “… let me not wander from Your commandments!” What a great prayer.
And in verse 11 we see the importance of memorizing Scripture:
“Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.”
One way that God keeps us from “wandering” is by bringing His Word to our remembrance, but we must first hide it in our hearts or there’s nothing for Him to bring to mind!
Our time in God’s Word should not stop with reading:
I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways (v. 15).
We need to meditate on His Word, think deeply about it. Contemplate what it means and how it applies to our lives. We can do that throughout the day if we memorize key verses, especially in those areas where God is at work in our lives.
Let’s say, for example, God has been nudging you toward better use of your time (as He frequently is with me). You might memorize Ephesians 5.15-16:
See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
Think about each phrase. Look up key words. Contemplate what it means in your life. Seek forgiveness for your failures and ask for His help to walk in obedience.
Praise—a Blessing and a Curse
“He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him.”
Praise is both a blessing and a curse, both for the giver and for the receiver. Praise given in moderation and sincerity is a good thing. But praise given by a hypocrite for his own self-serving motives will eventually prove to be a curse to him. Praise can also be a curse to the receiver if it tempts him to get puffed up with pride. We must ultimately give all the glory to God where it rightfully belongs.
Getting ready for 2017
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in. As an incentive, I’ll be giving away one daily Bible to someone who signs up between now and October 31st and another one to someone who leaves a comment between now and then.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. (Why not email or call them right now?) Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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