Is the Bible enough to help us live life in our complex world? Is it enough when we’re faced with difficult issues like abuse, neglect, addiction, and sickness? What does it mean when we say God’s Word is inerrant and sufficient and what does it have to do with you and the problems you face?
Also read about how God spared His servants from a fiery furnace, how He caused a prideful man to live like a brute animal, how He removes power from kings and leaders and gives it to whomever He wills, and how a fool allows his emotions to rule him. Continue reading →
Do you believe Jesus is coming back soon? Does your life reflect that belief? How should you live in light of that truth?
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. Continue reading →
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?
“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)
Verse 21, “… if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.”
I touched on this a couple of days ago when I talked about how we are all legalists at heart. We are so prone to believe that if we are somehow just good enough, we can be right with God. So often when you ask people why they think they will go to heaven, they will say “because I’m a pretty good person.”
But Romans tells us, “there is none righteous, no not one” (Rom. 3.10). We cannot be right with God on our own. As Jesus told us in John 3, we must be born again by the Spirit of God. We must accept Christ’s sacrifice and payment for our sin.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2.8-9).
We are saved by grace through faith in the Son and what He did for us. Ephesians 2.10 tells us that a changed life will produce good works, but they cannot make us righteous. Instead, good works flow from our righteousness in Him.
Just as we are saved by grace, we are kept by the same grace.
Jesus said in John 10:
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
In Romans 8, Paul said:
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And in Ephesians 1:
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
While it is not a license to sin (Rom. 6.1-2), our eternal security is sure because it’s not based on our ability to hang on to it. It’s based on His promises, His power, and His grace.
Verse 14, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?”
As human beings, we are able to withstand great physical and circumstantial difficulties. And as believers, who better understand how to respond to those difficulties, all the more so.
But when we lose hope (Prov. 13.12) or are undergoing spiritual pressure, even lesser problems can seem too much to bear.
Spiritual pressure can be the enemy’s attempt to get us to quit when we are walking in obedience or stepping out in faith. That’s one reason why Scripture tells us to encourage one another (1 Thess. 5.11) and why we are not to forsake coming together with other believers, including church attendance and fellowship. Hebrews 10.23-25:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Sometimes that pressure comes from other people, either believers or unbelievers. When it does, it’s important that we respond in Christlike ways:
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, “VengeanceisMine, I will repay,” 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.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We can meditate on and follow Jesus’ example:
22 “Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Pet. 2.22-23).
Spiritual pressure can also come from God Himself as He deals with us regarding sin. Continue reading →
A fool has no heart for wisdom because wisdom is truth and knowledge applied in a godly way. Only the Spirit of God can provide that ability, but the good news is, for those who belong to Him, the wisdom we need is ours for the asking!
Verse 16, “Why is there in the hand of a fool the purchase price of wisdom, since he has no heart for it?”
People with the ability to “buy” wisdom have always surrounded themselves with advisers. The Pharaoh’s of Egypt had their wise men, as did the Babylonian and other pagan kings. The Jewish kings also had their advisers. In modern times even criminals and kingpins have their lawyers and accountants.
In reality, it’s impossible to “buy” wisdom even if we have the “purchase price.” We may be able to buy information, but we need God’s Spirit and His wisdom to apply it in wise and godly ways.
But the good news is, when we have the Spirit of God because we belong to Him, the wisdom we need is ours for the asking (Jas. 1.5).
Fools, however, are not interested in genuine wisdom, only their own opinions (Prov. 18.2). In fact, Proverbs 23.9 says they despise it. This is the attitude of many in our relative, “my truth is what I believe it is” culture.
The description of the temple is beautiful and amazing to me. Many believe that, even now, preparations are being made to rebuild it, which Scripture tells us will happen as part of the events of the last days. At that time the Jews will resume temple worship.
What an exciting time in which we live. It’s quite possible that our generation will see the return of Jesus for His church (the Rapture) and we are, even now, seeing many of the events leading up to that time (Matt. 24.36).
Because of Your Temple …
As I read verse 29, “Because of Your temple at Jerusalem, kings will bring presents to You,” it reminded me of part of Solomon’s prayer in 1 Kings 8.60-61, “that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.”
The “presents” in Psalm 68 represent giving honor to the King, in this case the “King of kings,” Jesus Christ. Today we are the temple in which the Spirit of God dwells. Just as the magnificence of Solomon’s Temple was to cause people to see the awesome God for whom it was built, so today, others should see and give honor to our King because of our lives.
For His Glory
Here is, as John MacArthur puts it, “the climactic and most dramatic sign in this Gospel.” One of my favorite verses in this passage is verse 4 when Jesus said,
“… This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
How does God want to use our sicknesses and infirmities today? Even though He does not always heal us or raise the dead, at least not in this life, He still intends it for His glory. And He has promised that His glory and our good are connected (Rom. 8.28-29)!
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.
The future, it’s full of promise, but often mixed with uncertainty. Should I marry this person? Does he or she really love me? Is this the right job? Could my spouse be cheating on me? The temptation to want to know what the future holds can be huge. But what does God say about knowing the future or seeking information about things God has not revealed?
And what about your heart? Do you have a wise heart? Are you teachable? Do you listen to godly counsel? Or do you first make up your own mind and then look for justification to believe and do what you desire? What does it means, “What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies”? See today’s Proverbs reading.
Fortune Tellers, Palm Readers, and Other False Prophets
Chapter 13, verses 1-4 talk about the false prophets who predict things that come to pass. So many people assume that such a person must be from God, even though he or she says and does things that contradict biblical truth. Verse 3 says:
“… you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
There are still people out there today, claiming they can predict the future or they can tell you if your husband is cheating or give you a message from a deceased family member. They may even claim to believe in God. James 2.19 says, “… Even the demons believe—and tremble!” And in Matthew 8 when Jesus met two demon possessed men, the demons cried out, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”
You can believe in God and not be of God. We are told to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5.11). And Deuteronomy 18.10-12 says:
10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.
What’s the condition of your heart toward God and His Word? Has the truth really penetrated and taken root? Are things that don’t matter for eternity preventing real spiritual growth? Is the seed bearing fruit?
The Parable of the Sower is perhaps the most important of Jesus’ parables. Jesus Himself said:
“Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables?” (v. 13).
In it Jesus talks about four kinds of soils and relates them to the receptivity of our hearts to the gospel and God’s Word.
What kind of soil is your heart?
Is it the hard, often trod, wayside where it’s hard for truth to take root? Have you allowed the birds to come and snatch away the seeds because they never penetrated the soil?
Is it rocky ground? Do you let trouble and persecution keep the seed from growing and taking root? Are you more worried about what others might think?
Maybe the ground of your heart is crowded with thorns and thistles that use up the energy you need to become fruitful. Have you let the cares of this world (worry and anxiety) the deceitfulness of riches (always trying to get ahead) or the desires for other things (wanting what you want) to choke the Word so it bears little fruit?
Or are you good ground, someone who accepts the Word, believes it, trusts in it and allows it to bear much fruit? Praying that you are!
Chapter 16 covers the Day of Atonement. This was to be done annually because no matter how detailed the law for specific sins and sacrifices, there were continual sins of the heart and life, known and unknown, which were not covered. And it had to be done every year because the blood of bulls and goats didn’t do away with sin. It only covered it temporarily.
Only the blood of Christ can do away with our sin permanently and allow us to have fellowship with God. Jesus was temporarily separated from God the Father when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matt. 27.46), so that we could be united with Him permanently. Continue reading →