Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 10-11:23; Colossians 3:18-4:18; Psalm 78:56-72; Proverbs 24:28-29
When God created the nation of ancient Israel He had told them not to act like the pagan nations around them (Jeremiah 10:4). These nations followed useless gods that were a burden while being no help at all (Jeremiah 10:5). Similarly the modern-day gods of western culture such as money, career, fame, etc are a burden to us. We become slaves to them, working to maintain them. They do nothing for us. Having any such gods is stupid and foolish (Jeremiah 10:8, 14).
In Jeremiah 10:17 the prophet speaks with certainty that Judah will be destroyed. There was no turning back now. Destruction was coming and God wanted people to be ready. It would be in their best interests to simply pack their bags and accept their fate rather than fight it. Fighting against the Babylonians would only make matters much worse. It was actually better to surrender. Of course, this has clear implications for us today. We can’t fight God. The wise course of action is to surrender.
Much of the responsibility for the destruction of Judah fell upon the leaders (Jeremiah 10:21). They did not lead the people according to the wisdom of God but according to human wisdom which failed miserably. In the United States today we have leaders in government, business, and education who likewise rely on their own intelligence rather than seeking counsel from God. Their decisions have failed terribly as evidenced by the myriad financial, social, and moral problems we face. Without turning back to God – which I think is unlikely – our fate will be the same as Judah’s.
Jeremiah injects an interesting prayer of his own in Jeremiah 10:24. In it he wisely asks for correction. This is a great prayer. We should be willing to be corrected by God. If we are open to it He will change us in a gentle loving way. But if we resist then at some point He will correct using more harsh tactics. That is something we don’t want.
Just like a human parent who starts off with gentle reminders to their child to pick up their toys or clean their room, God will start off with gentle reminders to us about our behavior. If the child ignores his parent the parent’s voice gets louder and the punishment for not obeying gets harsher. The same is true with God.
God understands that all of us are children, prone to sin. It is not our sin itself that brings discipline. It is our refusal to obey God and correct it (Jeremiah 11:8).
In the ancient world each city had its own god (Jeremiah 11:13). We’ve read examples of this in the Old Testament all year. In the United States its almost as if each person has their own god. In our culture we erroneously believe that we can each have our own truth and create our own path to heaven. Just like city-specific gods, this way of thinking is false.
Sadly anyone who tries to point this out is often subjected to ridicule or worse, as Jeremiah was (Jeremiah 11:19). Since I’ve started writing this blog I’ve received numerous hate emails and even death threats. When you try to spread God’s message it just goes with the territory.
A characteristic of a Christian is obedience to those in authority. Being under someone’s authority does not imply inferiority. It simply means that we carry out another person’s vision. This is exactly what Jesus did when He went to the cross. He carried out God’s plan for dealing with the sins of humanity.
In Colossians 3:17-25 God reminds us that each of us finds ourselves in some sort of subordinate role in life and we should obey the directions of those we report to. But since our leaders are human God gives them some instructions too. They are not to treat others harshly but are to lead as God would lead.
The bottom line is that no matter what we are doing we are doing it for God and we should conduct ourselves accordingly (Colossians 3:23 – 4:1).
A Christian’s prayer life should be marked by devotion – we must practice the art of prayer. It can be hard to be motivated to pray so we need to be devoted to it. When praying we should not simply rattle off a list of requests. We should also be thankful (Colossians 4:2).
But we can’t just spend our life in prayer with God. We have to live amongst other people too. Notice that Paul tells us to live wisely (Colossians 4:5) and that this command comes after he tells us how to pray. We cannot live an effective life in this world without first having a strong relationship with God through prayer.
In the early days of Christianity people met in each other’s homes (Colossians 4:15). Today we tend to meet in big buildings with hundreds of others. While this is good for teaching, it is not so good for creating personal relationships and for helping others. So many church have “home groups” where a dozen or so believers meet to pray and study God’s word.
The Bible contains 13 of Paul’s letters to churches. But apparently he wrote more that are lost (Colossians 4:16).
God will pay everyone back for the wrongs they have done (Proverbs 24:29). Trying to do it ourselves is just one way Satan convinces us to waste our time.
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