The Folly of Insolent Men

[originally posted by glennblackley on 14 November 2015]

Insolent – showing a rude and arrogant lack of respect

Todays reading comes from Jeremiah 43.

It would not be a pleasant thing to be told to your face that you are a liar by a hostile audience, but that is the reaction Jeremiah receives in response to the message that he delivers from the Lord (refer back to Jeremiah 42).

It was a message that the prominent leaders Azariah and Johanan and “all the insolent men” did not want to hear. The accusations fly.

As a servant of God, Jeremiah wasn’t the first to receive such treatment and he won’t be the last. David is another who also faced the oppression of the insolent (refer Psalm 54:3 and Psalm 86:15).

In this instance, the insolent men win the day and in verse 4 we are told:

So Johanan son of Kareah and all the army officers and all the people disobeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land of Judah.

This is a tragic verse – the descendants of Isaac and Jacob choose to return to Egypt as a defeated, hopeless remnant nearly 900 years after their liberation from it and poor Jeremiah and Baruch are dragged along with them.

As KD posted yesterday – “obedience results in blessing; disobedience results in punishment.”

The punishment for this disobedience that they will receive is acted out when they arrive at Pharaoh’s palace in another of Jeremiah’s visual prophecies (v8-13). They won’t escape the might of Nebuchadnezzar’s armies there either – death, captivity, and destruction await.

While the temple of the sun in Egypt will be demolished (v13), in 1 Corinthians 3, Paul urges his readers to act maturely and lay aside their petty divisions in order to build up God’s temple.  Insolence/arrogance has no place in the church as Paul writes:

18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness”, 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

 

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Romans 16: 25-27

Jeremiah 40, Romans 16


 Romans 16:25-27  (New International Version)

25 Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, 26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.


This wonderful ending to Romans proclaims the glory that is due to God, and due to him for two principle reasons – that he has ability to save (v25-26), and that he is incomparably wise (v27).

That he has ability to save is incontrovertible. Paul provides layers of argument.

God, working through the gospel (which Paul “proclaim[s] about Jesus Christ”) is the one who establishes and strengthens believers in their faith. The gospel is already in existence,“hidden for long ages”; it already exists in God’s divine scheme, and it is revealed (through the writings of the prophets) only when God decides to reveal it. Once revealed – now – the mystery is mystery no more, and the good news of Jesus Christ is open, out there, for all, Jew and Gentile alike, garnering obedience through faith. For all this, he should be glorified.

That he is incomparably wise is certain, and for this also he should be glorified. Glorify him that he is unique. Glorify him that he is wise. Glorify him that Jesus Christ is wisdom incarnate. Glorify him forever!
[Originally posted on 11/11/2015 by Helen and Roger Lewis.]

Trust God and His Word

Jeremiah 39

Trust God and His Word

For the three men particularly mentioned in this chapter the message is plain: trust God and his word.

The word that God spoke to Zedekiah through Jeremiah, a word he chose not to follow, came truly and bitterly to pass. He ignored the warnings and paid a terrible price.

Jeremiah was preserved for he staked his life on the truth of what God said.

Ebed-melech was rewarded for his trust in God

A simple lesson: Trust God and His Word

Romans 15:22-33

Man Proposes: God Disposes

Paul was passionate about his God given mission. He very much wished to visit Rome to assist in the strengthening of the lives of those for whom he prayed unceasingly (1:9-12) and for whom he felt a deep obligation.

He also wanted to visit the Jerusalem saints with the gifts he had collected from the Gentile Churches. He wished them to acknowledge the work of God in those who were once no people but who were now, in Christ, one people in God’s New Covenant people along with their Old Covenant brothers and sister who were now in Christ.

He sought the prayers of his friends in Rome for the fruition of his plans. Well, we know he did make it to Rome but not quite in the way he may have anticipated. as the Acts of the Apostles tells us. We do not know if he ever made it to Spain.

We properly make our plans and hold them before God in prayer but the outcome lies in God’s will not ours.

[Originally posted on 10/11/2015 by episcopos1.]

Dark Days are Testing

Jeremiah 38

Dark Days are Testing

The people who appear in this chapter are all of them part of the drama of a City under the threat of imminent destruction. The tensions, anxieties, and fears consequent on such a situation are all on display.

Those who wanted to hold out against the Babylonians, who thought the Egyptians might prove to be their saviours, and who, as a result, labelled Jeremiah as a traitor where calling for his blood. An embattled king felt powerless before those advocates of resistance and weakly acquiesced to their demands. However a believing and courageous Cushite engineered Jeremiah’s deliverance and made it possible for the King to hear Jeremiah in private. Sadly either unbelief, timidity or fear rendered God’s word from the mouth of Jeremiah unfruitful in the life of the king. The consequences would be devastating.

Life presents us all with circumstances that are testing and difficult. That is where character is tested, shaped, and demonstrated. Let us pray that the God of all grace will make each us equal to whatever the circumstances may be that we are called to negotiate along life’s road.

Romans 15:8:13

A Controlling Passion

Paul had a controlling passion born out of his conversion and commission. He had come to see that that in Jesus God was being faithful to his promises to bless the nations through Abraham and his descendants. God’s people were to be a Jew/ Gentile people. That was God’s intention from the beginning.

Two things are represented here.

First, in the life of the church in Rome Paul would have Jews and Gentiles welcome and love each other as children in the one family of the Messiah. If those who think that Romans was written to deal with animosity between those two ethnic groups are correct, then these words are a pastoral appeal built on the theological foundation he has set out in the earlier chapters.

Second, Paul’s calling as an emissary of the gospel of the kingdom pushes him to seek to go with that message to places where it has not been heard.

Perhaps we can take both of those commitments to our own hearts: to ensure that the life of our church reflects the unity and love that Christ died to produce in his people, and that we too have a passion to see the truth of God go where it is not known or not understood.

[Originally posted on 9/11/2015 by episcopos1.]

THE BAR IS HIGH!

Jeremiah 37.    

The book of Jeremiah is not written in sequence – we have met King Zedekiah before!    Zedekiah had been left in charge of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar when Nebuchadnezzar first took exiles away to Babylon, but after some years he became full of his own importance, ignoring Jeremiah’s warnings from God.  He began making decisions to suit himself and to defy the Babylonians.  He was bolstered by the hope of Egyptian help, which proved to be not forthcoming.  He is told through Jeremiah that this would not happen (v6-8). The Babylonian return for the destruction of he city of Jerusalem is predetermined by God and proclaimed by Jeremiah.  (V9-10)

Faithful Jeremiah again suffers – he’s misunderstood.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             –                                            – he’s disbelieved.                                                                                                                       – and now imprisonment !

Zedekiah, however, secretly wanted to know God’s purpose and so turned in private to Jeremiah, knowing that in he past Jeremiah had brought to other Israelite kings the true word of God.   Even though, as we have been reading in previous chapters, this was discounted in favour of false prophets who proclaimed peace!  God’s directions and warnings were ignored.

God’s ways cannot ultimately be ignored.

Two people stand out for us today – Jeremiah, faithful in spite of physical mistreatment and disregard and – Zedekiah, privately seeking God’s prophetic word even though tomorrow we’ll find, like Pilate, he was unwilling to stand for right against the crowd.  Wait for it!

 

Romans 14:19 – 15:7

Towards the end of this wonderful letter to the Roman church comes a huge challenge for the believers in Christ!

14:19 we are to do things that promote unity (among believers)

14:21 we must be sensitive to what others believe and not offend them, because faith in Christ is what REALLY MATTERS.

15:1 we are not to please ourselves

15:7 we must accept one another (in the same way that Christ has accepted us)

However we were again challenged by v3 & 5

– to have the same attitude of mind towards each other as Christ Jesus had!

Is that possible for ordinary people??  It is a challenge to measure our attitude to and behaviour towards others, not by the standards around us, or even those in the church, but by Jesus Christ.  This is how God will be glorified. v6

Well, we don’t know about you, but this is a perspective that demands a reality check!  God help us to   ‘be as Christ to you’ not just when we are singing The  Servant Song in church but in every encounter Monday – Saturday.  It is God’s command, are we willing?

[Originally posted on 7/11/2015 by pesmart.]

Risky Business

Rom 14:1-12

Another tricky passage. We are not to judge other Christians for minor differences in belief. You can be vegetarian or not, it does not matter. You can observe holy days to a greater or lesser extent, it does not matter. What is tricky is how far we can extend this moratorium on religious practices. Sing or pray standing up or sitting down? Appoint ministers for a fixed term or tenure for life? Baptise infants or only adults? Sprinkle or full immersion? Unfortunately there are many different denominations of Christian churches that separate themselves on these sorts of differences.

What this passage does seem to say here is that it is the person who insists on the rule whose faith is weak. If your faith is strong you will tend to be eclectic in attitude towards rules and traditions. I attended a service at a conservative church recently where the music was played on an organ and the songs were drawn from the Anglican hymnbook. The passage in Romans would suggest that the person of strong faith should not have any problem if that is the way that the particular congregation chooses to worship. Not all congregations have to be progressive in their choice of worship style. The tricky part is how far can we extend this. Does it matter if we ordain women or not? Is it anyone’s business if an individual or the church for that matter invests in companies that own breweries, poker machines or tobacco products, or does it not matter? We could go further into moral dilemmas facing our communities.

 

So there are situations where we cannot take away a clear rule for how to behave in similar circumstances. The fact is that life is a risky business and sometimes we will have to take risks. Pay attention to God’s word and focus on keeping our own behavior righteous, and do not be judgmental of our fellow Christians if they do not adopt the same lifestyle as we do.

[Originally posted on 28 March 2017 by fisherator.]

Never debt free

Jer 35.  Rom 13

A proper recognition of God involves obedience to Him. Jeremiah contrasts the obedience of Jonadab’s descendants to an oath of abstaining from wine, and not building houses, to Israel’s disobedience to  God, who had spoken to them again and again. Israel were inattentive and disobedient; outwardly following religious observances, but in their hearts disregarding God. Don’t serve God with your lips but not your heart.

Paul calls the Roman believers  to submit  to pagan authorities, and pay their taxes. They were to recognize God’s authority through these structures. Pay these debts.

But the debt you can’t pay off is the ongoing debt to love one another – both believers and those who are not – all those who are unsympathetic, incompatible,  proud, self centered – whether they are in church or never enter the place. Love is concerned for their best, their salvation, their needs being met.

Do you have that kind of love? – a love that puts others before yourself? That is submissive to God’s commands. Without Jesus in your heart, without His Spirit in your life, you can’t produce this love. This is the kind of love that Jesus showed for us; dying on the cross for our salvation. Only God can give you a selfless love for others as His Spirit changes us from within. Be ‘clothed’ in Jesus. For apart from Jesus dwelling within, we can never be free  from the chains of selfishness and indifference.

Will others see Jesus’ love in your life today?

[Originally posted on 5/11/2015 by Phil G.]