Today’s Bible Reading: Jeremiah 31:27-32:44; 1 Timothy 3:1-16; Psalm 88:1-18; Proverbs 25:20-22
One of the most significant announcements of Jeremiah was that of the new covenant (i.e. testament/agreement/contract) that God was going to make in the future (Jeremiah 31:34). The old covenant was characterized by a set of written rules that people were supposed to follow. But they didn’t because they couldn’t.
However, the new covenant would be internal (Jeremiah 31:33). This covenant would be driven by God’s grace and would be marked by a change in people’s hearts which would alter not only their outward behavior but their behavioral desires. Secondly, in this new covenant God would completely forgive sins once and for all (Jeremiah 31:34).
Of course, this new covenant was ushered in when Jesus died on the cross, taking on the punishment all humanity deserved for their sins. This is the time period we live in now. At the moment a person believes in Jesus and is born-again he receives God’s forgiveness of his sins – past, present, and future – and God places the Holy Spirit in that believer to guide him through the rest of his life.
2,600 years ago Jeremiah was imprisoned by his own government for speaking God’s truth (Jeremiah 32:3). Today Christians are being treated similarly. A bakery in Oregon recently shut down after bullying from the gay community after it refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. A photographer was found guilty for refusing to take photos of a gay wedding. We live in a world where people ignore God’s word in lieu of their own rules. Anyone who does not conform is ridiculed (at best) or charged as a criminal (at worst). Certainly the day is coming where speaking God’s word – such as in a blog – will put someone in jail just like Jeremiah. People love their sin and won’t tolerate anyone trying to take it away from them.
Just as God has promised years before, Babylon had come and was now laying siege to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 32:24). Here is another specific prophecy that came true. Some will dismiss it since the Bible is confirming its own prophecy. Fair enough. But several museums around the world – including the British Museum and the Louvre – contain myriad artifacts confirming this, and other, Biblical events thereby providing independent confirmation of the fulfillment of this, and other, prophecy.
Another specific prophecy which has come true is the Jews have come back to their land, just as God said would happen 2,600 years ago (Jeremiah 32:37). After Israel and Judah fell to Assyria and Babylon, respectively, Jews were dispersed all around the globe. In 1948 Israel was reborn as a nation and ever since Jews have been migrating back to their homeland – an undeniable fulfillment of a very clear and specific prophecy.
However, not all of this prophecy has been fulfilled. At this point the Jewish people have returned to their land but their hearts have not yet returned to God (Jeremiah 32:38-40). This will not be completed until Jesus returns and rules the earth for 1,000 years from Jerusalem. The future will be pretty exciting, huh?
God does not allow just anyone who wants to be a leader to be one. There is no such thing as a “natural-born leader” in God’s view. To be a leader in a church a man must be living a life that is characterized by self-control, wisdom, and hospitality among other things (1 Timothy 3:2-12).
Such a man must be married (1 Timothy 3:4). The husband is tasked with being the leader of his household. This requires him to lead daily and continuously thereby honing his skills as a leader. He can then bring these skills into his position as a leader within the church.
its interesting that after describing the character of human leaders Paul writes about Jesus (1 Timothy 3:16). Jesus personified all these character traits. It is God’s goal for us to be conformed to the image of Jesus – to become just like Him (Romans 8:29).
The way we become better people is not through religion (e.g. the old covenant) or attending a self-help seminar but through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
The author of Psalm 88 is in deep despair. His life is very difficult even though he had prayed about his situation. Yet, even though he has not yet been delivered from his circumstances he continued to seek God (Psalm 88:1, 9). God doesn’t always answer prayers when we want. Sometimes we have to go through difficult circumstances in order to become better people. This is a very biblical concept. Even Jesus had to go to the cross and suffer pain and humiliation before He could live in eternal glory.
God often leads us through a valley before taking us to the mountaintop. But, sadly, many people refuse to believe in God for this very reason. They only want a God who will be like a genie in a bottle – granting every single wish they have. But God does not work this way. He is interested in building our character and getting everything we want when we want it cannot do that.
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