God had a problem with those in Jeremiah’s time. Even their leaders were giving people a false assurance about their relationships with God and the sinfulness of their behavior. And when the Prophet and others tried to speak the truth, it was a reproach to them.
Many today are more concerned about being politically correct and not offending anyone than with speaking the truth. While we are to speak the truth in love, we are still to speak the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable or unpopular.
Sadly, even many of our leaders have compromised the truth. While we can’t fully understand all the motives, it seems that selling books and filling their churches is more important. Even whole denominations have twisted truths about God’s love made them half-truths.
And from our New Testament reading, how did the Apostle Paul pray and do you pray like he prayed? Could his prayers become a model for your own?
Jeremiah 5 & 6
When the Truth Becomes a Reproach
Jeremiah 5 & 6:
“Though they say, ‘As the LORD lives,’ surely they swear falsely” (Jer. 5.2).
Sadly, there are many people who attend church, may even be involved in ministry, and who say all the right things. Their conversation is peppered with “praise the Lord” and other “Christian-ese,” but they swear falsely.
When they toss around God’s name merely to look spiritual, they are, actually, using the Lord’s name in vain. And “… are foolish for they do not know the way of the Lord …” (5.4). Jesus said it this way;
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matt. 15.8).
May God help us to avoid that kind of hypocrisy in our own lives.
God’s Truth is a Reproach to Them
The last two verses of chapter 5:
30 “An astonishing and horrible thing
Has been committed in the land:
31 The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so.
But what will you do in the end?
And in chapter 6, Jeremiah said:
10 To whom shall I speak and give warning,
That they may hear?
Indeed their ear is uncircumcised,
And they cannot give heed.
Behold, the word of the LORD is a reproach to them;
They have no delight in it. (6.10)
What a picture of our world! Just watch those who are “pro-choice” or “gay activists” on a talk show with a Christian. Or try to have a discussion with someone who supports policy which is in opposition to God’s Word. Their “ears” seem unable to even understand what you are saying. They are blind to the truths of God’s Word. In fact, “the Word of the Lord is a reproach to them”!
And to make it worse …
“Peace, Peace” When There Is No Peace
Those who should be calling us back to repentance are not.
13 “Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them,
Everyone is given to covetousness;
And from the prophet even to the priest,
Everyone deals falsely. (6.13)
In Jeremiah’s day even the priests and prophets were corrupt and no longer able to understand or hear the voice of God.
They were “given to covetousness …” Money isn’t the only thing to be coveted. Today many so-called religious leaders covet fame or popularity, invitations to talk shows and public events, selling books and filling their churches, more than the truths of God.
I am not saying that appearing on TV or having a big church or writing a best-selling book is wrong. But we shouldn’t downplay the clear commands of Scripture or teach less than the full council of God, to achieve that end.
And what about pastors and even whole denominations who say “God loves everyone and if you’re gay, it’s because God made you that way.” They take a truth that God loved the world enough to send His Son to die for our sins (Jn. 3.16) and turn it into a half-truth, by forgetting that He also rose from the dead so that we, too, could have “newness of life” (Rom. 6.4) and not remain in our sin!
14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly,
Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’
When there is no peace. (6.13-14)
Paul warned the Corinthians and all believers:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6.9-11).
These false prophets who say, “‘Peace, peace,’ where there is no peace,” give people a false assurance concerning their position with God.
While a genuine believer can struggle with sinful desires, there should be conviction and a desire to turn away from sin. In other words, we may be able to sin, but we shouldn’t be able to do so without experiencing the guilt and shame of knowing we’re not living in a way that is pleasing to God.
But a person who has given himself over to a sinful lifestyle should not think he or she will inherit the kingdom of God. If we truly love and care about them, we won’t want to gloss over the sin by saying “‘Peace, peace,’ where there is no peace.”
We are called to speak the truth of God in love (Eph. 5.15), but we are still called to speak the truth, even when it is uncomfortable and unpopular, because one day we will all “stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive the things done in the body, according to what he had done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5.10).
“So you, son of man: I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from My mouth and warn them for Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul” (Ezek. 33.7-9).
We are watchman called to sound the alarm. What kind of watchman are you?
Today’s Other Readings:
Our Unchangeable God
Verse 2, “… the truth of the Lord endures forever.”
What was true in Old Testament times is just as true today.
“I am the Lord and I change not” (Mal. 3.6).
A Fool’s Wrath
Verse 3, “A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but a fool’s wrath is heavier than both of them.”
A fool is one who rejects the truth of God. Anyone who has stood up for the truth has probably seen this verse in action.
What Do Your Prayers Look Like?
This chapter contains one of the four great prayers of the Apostle Paul:
9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (vss. 9-10).
In Ephesians 1.17-19 he prayed:
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.
In Ephesians 3.16-19 he prayed:
16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
And in Philippians 1.9-11 he prayed:
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment,10 that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, 11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
These and other prayers and passages of Scripture can be great models for our own prayers. There’s great power in praying God’s Word, because when we do, we’re praying His perfect will. God, through the prophet Isaiah, said:
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it (Is. 55.10-11).
How do you pray? Do you ever pray the Scripture back to God? Do you find yourself praying for spiritual growth or is your focus mostly on other things?
While it’s not wrong to pray for health, finances, or other material blessings, Paul’s primary concern was the spiritual well-being of those for whom he prayed. How might God be calling you to pray more like Paul?
For more on praying the Scriptures, read this week’s Mondays @ Soul Survival post, “Praying through the Bible.”
What About You?
Do you speak the truth in love or are you more concerned about being politically correct and not offending anyone? Even as our culture and laws change, we are called to be salt and light to a lost and dying world. Salt sometimes stings and light will be hated by those in darkness, but God will give us the grace to do what He has called us to do.
And what about prayer, do you pray like Paul prayed with an emphasis on spiritual well-being, fruit and growth or is your focus on material or physical things?
Here’s what is coming up in the next few days. We’ll talk about itching ears, false worship, the queen of heaven, the danger of “following our hearts,” witchcraft, Halloween and conscience issues, among other things.
Be sure to sign up so you won’t miss any of these upcoming posts.
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