Hard words, poor decisions, good decisions

Today’s faithful daily read is Jeremiah 26 and Romans 6:15-23

Oh what a scene we see before us today in Jeremiah! Faithful Jeremiah proclaims the word of God to Judah and lays a choice before them, repent and live or continue in stubbornness and reap the consequences. In my experience, hard words tend to have one of two effects on me – either in humility I receive them and weigh them against my heart or alternatively I harden my heart further, dig in my heels and reject any notion that I need to change. To Judah’s peril the ‘priests and prophets’ pursue the latter path, seizing Jeremiah and proclaiming ‘You shall die!’

For me this passage shows draws out two things.

  • The contrasting responses of God’s ‘people’. The ‘officials of Judah’ and ‘all the people‘ (v8) are incensed and demand Jeremiah’s death when challenged about their sin, however ‘some of the elders’ and ‘all the people’ (v16) then defend Jeremiah as he is dragged before the assembly. It appears ‘all the people‘ flip flop in response to winsome arguments? Perhaps each crowd was comprised of different people? At any rate, we do see two kinds of responses to Jeremiah’s words.
  • The faithfulness of Jeremiah to the word of God – even at the likely cost of his own life ‘…behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you…’ (vs 14). Jeremiah does not sway and repeats his call to ‘.. reform your ways and your actions and obey the Lord your God

In dealing with this passage I am reminded again of the need for humble and continual repentance – especially when challenged about my sin – and also of the need to hold fast to the word of God, no matter the consequences. Furthermore, perhaps like the Berean’s I should diligently search the scriptures for myself for truth rather than being swayed easily by winsome arguments (Acts 17:11)

In our reading from Romans, Paul exhorts believers to live under grace – not as slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. He contrasts the benefits of being ‘slaves to God’ (v22)… resulting in holiness and eternal life …compared with being slaves of sin…resulting in death. The chapter concludes with a verse well worth memorizing

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank you Jesus for releasing us from the wages of sin and giving the gift of eternal life through your death on the cross! May our lives reflect your glory!

[Originally posted on 26/10/2015 by stevebowdz]

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Hard words, poor decisions, good decisions

Today’s faithful daily read is Jeremiah 26 and Romans 6:15-23

Oh what a scene we see before us today in Jeremiah! Faithful Jeremiah proclaims the word of God to Judah and lays a choice before them, repent and live or continue in stubbornness and reap the consequences. In my experience, hard words tend to have one of two effects on me – either in humility I receive them and weigh them against my heart or alternatively I harden my heart further, dig in my heels and reject any notion that I need to change. To Judah’s peril the ‘priests and prophets’ pursue the latter path, seizing Jeremiah and proclaiming ‘You shall die!’

For me this passage shows draws out two things.

  • The contrasting responses of God’s ‘people’. The ‘officials of Judah’ and ‘all the people‘ (v8) are incensed and demand Jeremiah’s death when challenged about their sin, however ‘some of the elders’ and ‘all the people’ (v16) then defend Jeremiah as he is dragged before the assembly. It appears ‘all the people‘ flip flop in response to winsome arguments? Perhaps each crowd was comprised of different people? At any rate, we do see two kinds of responses to Jeremiah’s words.
  • The faithfulness of Jeremiah to the word of God – even at the likely cost of his own life ‘…behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you…’ (vs 14). Jeremiah does not sway and repeats his call to ‘.. reform your ways and your actions and obey the Lord your God

In dealing with this passage I am reminded again of the need for humble and continual repentance – especially when challenged about my sin – and also of the need to hold fast to the word of God, no matter the consequences. Furthermore, perhaps like the Berean’s I should diligently search the scriptures for myself for truth rather than being swayed easily by winsome arguments (Acts 17:11)

In our reading from Romans, Paul exhorts believers to live under grace – not as slaves to sin but slaves to righteousness. He contrasts the benefits of being ‘slaves to God’ (v22)… resulting in holiness and eternal life …compared with being slaves of sin…resulting in death. The chapter concludes with a verse well worth memorizing

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thank you Jesus for releasing us from the wages of sin and giving the gift of eternal life through your death on the cross! May our lives reflect your glory!

Romans, religions and right-standing before God

What can I say as we step into the book of Romans? Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (one of my heroes of preaching) spent enough years preaching through Romans to open with his first sermon in the series being devoted to the first word alone.. “Paul”! This book has changed my life, captured my vision of theology, inspired me on the love of God, broken down and then rebuilt my picture of who I am as a Christian and generally fascinated me for upwards of 15 years.

I love the power of God I see in it, I’m challenged by the strength of its language towards me before I knew Jesus and blown away at the passion of God to redeem me and make me right before Him through the death and resurrection of Jesus. I turn here all the time to reground my faith, to make sense of baptism, to see the world afresh through the eyes of God himself.

Oh.. and I’m a little blown away by the man who wrote this letter to a mixed church of Romans and Jews who were struggling to work out how to relate and dividing on matters that Paul says are decidedly secondary. Lloyd-Jones speaks of this book as “logic on fire” and if you’re willing to read carefully I hope that you’ll see and feel a little of that fire. You’ll notice that Paul’s style is to assume he’s in a conversation with someone who disagrees with him and who he’s trying to answer to win them over to the good news that he’s found in Jesus alone. As an ex-Pharisee, Paul is uniquely placed to ‘get’ the argument of the Jews and to encourage the hearts of the Gentiles.. it really is a treat.

With all of that said, I hope that this morning you don’t just have a case of spiritual indigestion. By this I mean that you’ve been fed so much fine food that you’re in that awkward part where it’s a little uncomfortable.. I pray that God will have gotten out the holy highlighter and touched your heart with a challenge as you read.

Amongst the blog post that could have been several pages long I’ve chosen just these few verses:

“What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.  10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;”” (Romans 3:9-10 NIV)

The good news of the gospel starts with a level playing field.. the bad news that everyone sins. There’s no one who has right standing before God. That’s sobering and challenging and goes immediately to the heart of our old ‘religion’ whether we’re a muslim or a regular secular humanist. We used to say, “I’m basically OK, God (if He exists) must see that I’m a pretty regular bloke.” NO. You are regular – just like everyone else you’re in sin and God’s enemy.

Sounds pretty rough.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:21-24 NIV)

We live in the glorious “but now” and I pray and hope that your hearts may be filled with joy as we read about the free gift by faith that makes those far away into the children of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Buckle up – it’s a wonderful ride.

Yours praising God for his grace and rejoicing in this wonderful word from His servant Paul.

Stuart.