Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 12-14:10; 1 Thessalonians 1-2:8; Psalm 79:1-13; Proverbs 24:30-34
Jeremiah asks a common question believers have in Jeremiah 12:1-5 and that is “Why does God allow people who care nothing for Him to prosper so much?”. But notice that God doesn’t answer this question. Instead God gives Jeremiah a pep talk which is what he really needed.
We can tell from God’s response that Jeremiah was overwhelmed by the evil people in his life and was tired of being treated poorly despite his good intentions (Jeremiah 12:3). God wanted Jeremiah to know that his situation, as bad as it was, was only going to get worse (Jeremiah 12:5-6) because God had abandoned Judah (Jeremiah 12:7). God wanted Jeremiah not to be focused on these evil people and their seeming prosperity but to prepare himself for the more difficult days ahead.
Christians today can relate to this. We see people with no faith in God succeeding while we are ridiculed. But the truth is things are only going to get worse in this world and if we don’t learn to focus on God instead of these people we won’t be able to endure what is to come.
Few verses predict the fate of the United States more clearly than Jeremiah 12:17. We may think we are special but we are not. We may think God does not exist, but He does. The fact is if we don’t turn ourselves around and come back to God, cartographers will redrawing a world without the United States.
Many people can quote at least a few verses from the Bible thinking they know their meaning but they are very often misunderstanding what God is actually saying (Jeremiah 13:12). God’s thoughts are deeper than ours so to truly understand what He is saying and how to apply it we need to study the Bible in-depth.
Just before the Babylonian invasion Judah was in “twilight”, metaphorically speaking. Their future was dark and getting darker. God warned them to return to Him before the last light faded because after that it would be too late to “see” (Jeremiah 13:16). I don’t quite think it is “twilight” time for the Untied States yet. But it is certainly late-afternoon.
One affect of the sin of Judah was that their economy not only slowed down but came to a halt (Jeremiah 14:2). Theirs was an agricultural economy so God held back rain. Our economy is more diverse but that will not stop God from destroying it. In our case he can use people’s greed as happened in the 2008 housing collapse.
God commands us to take care of His creation. But one thing we don’t realize is that our sin harms not only ourselves but the entire natural world (Jeremiah 14:5-6). Its not enough to plant trees and recycle. To really help the environment we need to sin less.
Today we begin reading the first of two of Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonika, Greece. Paul visited this town and started a church there on his second missionary journey:
As was customary for Paul, he lets his readers know that he always gave thanks to God for them and prayed for them constantly (1 Thessalonians 1:2). This is a good idea. We should be praying for other believers – thanking God for revealing His truth to them and asking Him to continually strengthen their faith, love, and hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
The moment before I became a believer I was 100% sure the Bible was 100% false. When I did become a believer it was a sudden, powerful experience brought on by the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5). I didn’t know all there was to know (and still don’t) but I was certain that God’s word was true. The Bible became like a treasure hunt. I knew there was great stuff in there – I just had to get into it to find it.
After they were taught the Gospel and believed the Thessalonians grew spiritually by imitating Paul (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Its important for new believers to have someone they can look to as an example. But notice that the Thessalonians then became an example for others (1 Thessalonians 1:7). Its not enough to believe and change our own behavior. We need to find others to tell and act as an example to them.
Paul had been imprisoned and beaten in Philippi just before coming to Thessalonika, (1 Thessalonians 2:2) yet that did not stop him from continuing to tell others about Jesus. In fact, he was run out of Thessalonika after just 3 weeks (Acts 17:1-10). Where ever the Gospel is spoken there will be hostility. We have to just keep letting people know of God’s great love for them. Even though most will reject the message some will believe. And that makes it all worth while.
The way to eliminate poverty in one’s life is to work harder. While some people may need assistance to get through a tough time, this should be temporary. The longer such assistance goes on the more likely a person will rely on it. As a result what was supposed to help matters only makes the situation worse (Proverbs 24:33-34).
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