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Archive for April, 2009|Monthly archive page

Passing on what you know (thoughts from 2 Timothy)

In Uncategorized on April 29, 2009 at 7:56 pm

This morning I read through 2 Timothy and was surprised to find that one of Paul’s major messages to Timothy has to do with passing on sound teaching. As I came to the end of the book it started to make more sense: Paul believes his life will end soon.

In verse 13 Paul tells Timothy, “what you heard from me, keep as a pattern of sound teaching.” (1:13) Then in 2:2 – “And the things you have heard from me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.”

As I was reading through the book, for me the key word in what Paul is saying became and remained, “entrust.”

Later Paul tells Timothy to “preach the word…with careful instruction”, etc and then finishes by telling him, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (4:3-4)

At different times in history, we see a greater turning to and away from sound teaching. I wonder if the greater trend has been turning away (after all, we’re told that things will get worse and worse until the end). I’m not sure. It does seem like recently, even within my own meager lifetime of 24 years, that there’s been a very drastic and widespread trend of turning away to things that tickle our natural ears, of things that confirm the things that bubble up from parts of us that tend in a direction away from God. So, what should we do as Christians who do have the truth?

We entrust it. One way to put into practice in our own world what Paul suggests to Timothy to do is by mentoring. That word can sound a bit daunting, but my interest in it here (and I think what it really means anyway – in whole or in part) has to do with entrusting. If everything around us is getting blurrier, as the spectrum of what’s acceptable becomes larger and larger, then each of us, more than ever, need pass on truth to those around us, especially the people who are younger than us who will continue to live and form the next generation of our world.

My own interest in ‘entrusting’ primarily concerns the bible. I have a suspicion that most people these days – even Christians – don’t really know what the bible says. They might know some things about it, which is good. It’s especially important that we know what’s clear and true – especially if things will get worse and worse, and muddier and muddier.

Sometimes I take this issue to an extreme in my mind. Just as some places in the world are without bibles, or maybe only have a few that they share among each other (due to persecution), what if we who live in America or other free countries find ourselves without bibles someday? Would we remember what the bible teaches?

I’ve travelled to one place like this – where there is persecution. I saw how believers there were often full of faith, which challenged me. But I also saw that there was often a lack of mature teachers. Believers just didn’t know about certain things and were stunted in certain areas of spiritual growth.

It’s so important that we equip ourselves by learning more and more of what’s true, and it’s equally important that we “entrust” those around us with it. This is one thing that will help us to hold fast to God in the midst of, as Paul says, “myths.”

The challenge I pose to myself is this:

1. Read the bible more. Soak it in and understand the spirit and content of what I’m reading. Read it whatever way and amount that I need to for it to soak into me and be retained. Read everything – not just the New Testament, or Pslams. Not just the easy or fun parts. 1 and 2nd Kings are great books and teach a lot about who God is!

2. Find who God has put around me for me to entrust in. We don’t have to take on the whole world. The church is a body, and God knows what each part can handle. Like a good administrator, he has a plan for equipping and entrusting. 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The Cure for Youth (Thoughts From 1 Timothy)

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2009 at 6:46 pm

11Command and teach these things. 12Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 11-16

God has been teaching me about these verses for the past year or so, maybe more. I didn’t know that until recently, when I was reading 1 Timothy. This instruction of Paul’s really did seem to leap from the page: “set an example.” That’s the key! (I thought).

I’m in the stage of life where I’m just setting out; still in the process of navigating God’s direction for me. So, I’ve been working through the very interesting journey of discovering who I am, how God wants to use who I am, and how to get to that place of being used. What jumped out at me in Timothy deals mostly with the last of these. I’ve struggled with each area, but it’s that one that’s been the most painful and confusing. Well, they’ve all been pretty painful and confusing, as learning and changing will be – but it really wasn’t until I read the “example” verse that I could make any sense of it at all. (If I really have!)

Paul writes (among other things) to encourage Timothy because he’s young and perhaps has been looked down on. Paul’s answer and solution for Timothy is that he should “set an example.” Specifically, he should “set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (He goes on, but I’ll stop here for now).

My natural human response would not have taken this route, but instead demand to be noticed. Paul tells Timothy that he will be seen for what he is (despite his age) by showing who he is. He’s to show everyone his metal by following God in such a way that he could be known as a paragon of following Christ. After all, following Christ is the point anyway.

Paul clarifies:

15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

What Paul is talking about when he says “these matters” comes just before. They are the public reading of scripture, preaching, teaching and Timothy’s gift. He’s saying, “Timothy, keep working in the things you know you’re supposed to be working in.” I imagine Paul knew how difficult what Timothy was doing was. He’s encouraging him to stick with the same things he had known to do or had been instructed to do originally, and not let circumstances discourage him, confuse him or change his mind. (One of my pastors recently said something similar: “don’t forget in the dark what God has spoken to you in the light). Notice that Paul says by persevering he will save himself and his hearers. Pretty important.

Basically Paul is instructing Timothy to stop thinking about what everyone around him is saying or thinking of him. He’s telling him not to focus on their approval or fight for it. Instead, he tells Timothy to grow in who he is. To seek to grow in who he is. To watch himself closely, to be diligent, to give himself wholly to them – so that everyone will see his progress. By focusing on his walk with God, Timothy will become more and more like him and be able to continue moving toward God in his own life, and also properly instruct the people under his care, so that they can continue to move toward God in their own lives as well.

This is a roundabout route according to the world. People are taught to strive for position. The bible teaches that a tree is known by its fruit – which means that whatever example we set shows who we are, whether we belong to and are running more and more toward God. This is of ultimate importance and the thing that, as Christians, we know is of the ultimate importance in judging whether someone is qualified to be in a certain role. Here, Paul tells Timothy to show everyone that he’s is really truly God’s. By this, everyone will come to respect him, despite his age, knowing that age is not the thing that qualifies.

This is a challenge – to the person in Timothy’s position and to the people that choose to accept or reject him. I’ve found that I’ve been in both positions, and both continue to refine my the reactions of habit and flesh away. It’s helpful to remember that each of us answers to God for ourselves alone. I think Paul’s reminding Timothy of this too – he tells his persevering will save himself and his hearers. Each of us sees only small part of things. I want to learn how to see and do my part well, to be satisfied and happy to “set an example”, and to learn to see others as God sees and knows them and say ‘yes’ to how God is exalting them to exalt himself. 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When God Chooses

In Christianity on April 21, 2009 at 9:53 pm

I’ve recently been learning about what it means to have God’s favor. It’s a bit different than I expected.

The other night I opened up my bible to Romans, Chapter 9, where Paul talks about who Israel is. He tells us that Israel is not the biological children of Abraham (to prove, if this were the case Abraham’s offspring would be reckoned through Ishmael). Instead, Israel is the children of God’s promise, that is, the children of his promised son, Isaac. (9:6-9)

Paul goes on to teach us about what Paul calls “God’s purpose in election.” (9:11) He says that though Jacob and Esau were even twins and of the same mother and father (unlike Isaac and Ishmael), and Esau was born first, God’s plan was the “the older would serve the younger…’Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (9:12-13)

The point that God’s making here, says Paul, is that he chooses who he chooses. Jacob, Isaac and so on, didn’t claim God’s favor on their lives because of anything they had done. As Paul says, God distinguishes between Jacob and Esau “before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad.” (9:11) So, it is made clear to all of us that God’s purpose for is is “not by works but by him who calls.” (9:12)

This is comforting. When we ask God why he blesses us (perhaps fearing he will stop blessing us someday), or when we fear that God’s blessing is leaving us, or isn’t there, or has never been there, we can stop and remember that God’s calling is unfathomable. It’s not by our choice or effort, it’s just because it is. I love how circular God’s argument is – and that, for him, a circular argument works because he’s God. Using something God said in Exodus, Paul explains how God is just (which is what we’re worrying about when we fear our works won’t measure up to receive God’s favor): “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” (9:14-15)

If God has mercy on us and turns our hearts to him then we partake in the promise God made to Abraham. He has chosen us.  We are in his promise, so we can stop trying to please him and know that he has chosen to be pleased with us. (I wonder if this is another image of Christ and the church:  husbands and wives should continue to be for each other (even if they are not always emotionally happy with each other) in the same way that Jesus has chosen to be for everyone God has chosen for him, to the point of sacrificing the most that is humanly possible.)

Knowing these things frees us up to actually follow God.

A few mornings ago as I woke up I felt the like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. This isn’t new to me; it’s something I struggle with periodically. That morning I suddenly realized that I could trust God with that weight. And, if I’m not being weighed down by things that aren’t actually on my shoulders, I can carry the loads that Jesus has actually put there. I will actually be able to follow him.

If we believe God has irrevocably chosen us, just because he has chosen that he will have mercy on us (as Paul explains in Romans 9:16-24) then the weight of our world is on him. He’s carrying our broader scale life and our ultimate destiny. So, we can just confront what each day presents, and find that it is appropriately small.

I’ve just been learning this, and I’m still in the process of practicing it. I know each of us has different areas where we struggle. I struggle with feeling the weight of huge long term things (and also am good at seeing things that way); others may struggle with looking at the details and forgetting the direction they’re going in (and be great at arranging all the details so that someone else’s long-term plan is possible). So, find how these ideas fit into your life and who you are. 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A helpful quote

In Christianity on April 17, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Just want to share a helpful quote from a book I’m reading by Elisabeth Elliot. She’s talking about how rules and order can increase originality. What’s helpful to me is knowing that God is always drawing me to be more precisely who he’s made me to be – which involves constraints. Among other things, it involves saying ‘yes’ to some things and ‘no’ to others. Here’s the quote from Elisabeth Elliot as she speaks about “divine restraint”:

“A river flowing through a chasm, walled in by high rock moves with a rush of concentrated strength which dissipates the moment it reaches the flat plan”

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The inside is bigger than the outside

In Christianity on April 17, 2009 at 11:20 am

Today I was reading in Matthew 9. One after another Jesus heals people. I knew Jesus healed a lot of people while he was on earth, but today when I read it seemed to me like he was just doing so much. Two things came out of this realization.

1. Jesus asks each of a question: “Do you believe I am able to do this?” He asks this question of two blind men. (Mat 9:28) There are many communal things in this life, where we work together with other people, and we feel like our lives are tied in with theirs. But this question is something we each have to answer alone. We have to do so honestly, and no one else can answer for us. What struck me today was that this question also is the one that decides who we become and what our lives look like. Which leads into number two.

2. As I continue to grow older I’m surprised and pleased to find that I become more like myself and less like other people. This means I may seem strange sometime – but everyone should seem strange sometimes. It shows that we’re each ourselves, different from everyone else. As this strageness is exposed we learn from eachother and become more aware that God designed us as his body, to work together and be (for ourselves and for each other) what no one else can be. In Matthew 9:18-26 we hear a story of a daughter who has just died and her father (a ruler) who comes to Jesus saying, “My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.” (9:18) Jesus goes with him and finds a noisy mourning crowd gathered at his home. Jesus tells them, “Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.” (9:24) Then it says, ” But they laughed at him.” (9:24)

I’m not sure what Jesus meant when he said the girl was asleep, not dead. He was entering a situation that seemed final. Everything looked a certain way. The people believed the girl was dead, they believed in the processes of the world, and had no room for believe in something else – unlike the girl’s father. What struck me was that they laughed at him. That line might have been less impactful to me if it said “But they disagreed”, or something along those lines. Laughing in this situation show more disdain and even shows the people might think Jesus is a little crazy.

But Jesus believes. He has faith in God’s ability to work. I think there’s a line in The Sound of Music that goes something like, “You have to find your life.” Maria tells Captain Von Trapp that it’s what the Reverand Mother told her when she was afraid to face her love for him, and everything that would mean. Something similar to that line comes to mind here. “You have to say ‘yes’ to your life.”

Which means that you will look very unique. Which is precisely what I’m loving and thanking God for. He’s taking me through a process of finding out who I am – as I’m sure he wants to do for each one of us! I’m thanking him that he’s been taking me through confusion and difficulties so that I can stumble around in order to find the true path.

When Jesus asks the blind men if they believe he’s able to do this, their response of ‘yes’ is asking for something huge. Can you imagine what it would be like to be suddenly cured of blindness? They’re asking for something that is crazy to hope for. But it all depends on your perspective.

Jesus gives them back who they are. Who they were created to be, and who they would have been in a world where sin doesn’t mess things up. It’s of primary importance that Jesus asks whether they have faith in him. This is what he came for. He came so that people would believe in him and find life. So what’s the next step? It’s finding out what that life is.

That’s why it’s crazy and not crazy at the same time. It’s the life you are supposed to have; it’s what’s true, and good; it’s what’s of God – the very being we long for and that feels like home. But it’s also so different from anything else we have here. That’s why the crowd laughes at Jesus. He’s busy doing God’s work – very busy! Healing all sorts of people from all sorts of things, including death! And that’s his focus. Not the crowds around him. He focuses on each person and asks them if they believe – to be healed, but also ultimately to experience the life he has for them. (I bet those people remembered his real love and power when they hear about his being crucified and then coming back to life).

In the same way that Jesus focuses and pursues the life God the Father has called him to, and asks us if we too believe and want to share in that. Each of us has to say ‘yes’ and step onto that strange and unknown (but good and right feeling) path of the possible impossible, or say ‘no’ and be among those who just don’t see and laugh at Jesus, right before he’s able to do what they say he can’t.

If we say ‘yes’ to belief and therefore to God’s plan of realigning us with who we really are, I think we’ll find that we look more and more like ourselves, and less and less like anything else around us. That will mean that we’ll be in Jesus’ shoes sometimes and be the one that everyone’s laughing at – because they can’t see the normal and true reality of something unseen to purely human eyes and minds.

As I do get to know the normal reality of myself, I experience myself as more and more supernatural. It’s because I’m more than I would have hoped for – because God is more than I’ve hope for or imagined. He keeps showing himself bigger and better. It really is like there are universes opening before me that I’ve never seen. Maybe that’s what Psalm 138 means when it says: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (139:14) I am a work of God’s and as I see how wonderfully I’m made I begin to see more and more how wonderful and vast everything he made is. I being to suspect that each thing is deeper than I’ve yet seen, because I’ve experienced my own depth and know, as I’ve already found, that there’s much more there still to explore, and more than I yet imagine.

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Water the disciples

In Christianity on April 11, 2009 at 9:08 pm

The verse “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Mat 10:16) was on my mind today, so I searched for it on biblegateway.com and found out that it’s in Matthew, Chapter 10. The entire chapter surprised me, and I began to realized that there is a lot of meat in it, some of which I often hear talked about in a way I’m not comfortable with.

Matthew 10 has to do with belief. Other ways of defining the theme might be:  “us and them” or “choose your side” or “you’re on a side, so show it.” (As in James 2:18 – “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”)

Today I want to talk about verses 40-42 which include the well-know verse that people quote as: if you give someone even a glass of water you’ll be rewarded; or sometimes: if you give someone even a glass of water in my name you’ll be rewarded. This is used to explain why it’s good, period, to do charity work. They are saying: Anyone can help people, and should, and even if they’re not acknowledging Jesus when they do it, he’ll still reward them and is glad they’re helping. And perhaps there’s some truth to that, but its not what the verses area saying.

Let’s look at what the verse actually says: And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” Jesus promises a reward because the water-giver gives it to Jesus’ disciple, not because the water is given.

The verse before confirms it:

  • “Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward…”
  • “…anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward.”

What’s the point? It’s what all of Matthew 10 is about: belief. When you give water to a disciple, or receive a righteous man or a prophet because he’s one of those things, in that moment you’re saying, ” I believe that there is such a thing as righteousness (and therefore also that it’s possible to be unrighteous)” or “I believe that Jesus is real and he speaks to us through prophets” or “I affirm your following of Jesus and out of respect to him, etc. I will serve you with even this small thing of a glass of water.”

Jesus sums it up: “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Mat 10:40)

In a way, these verses aren’t about serving each other. They’re about saying what you believe in and what you’re living for. Just as a prophet or righteous man is rewarded for his faith in God to enable him to prophesy or be righteous, Jesus recognizes the same faith is at work when you welcome one of those prophets or righteous men. And we’re rewarded for our faith and it’s being acted out – whether that means prophesying or welcome a prophet.

What can we draw from this new reading of these verses? For one, it’s good to serve other believers, welcome them into our home, etc. because they’re doing God’s work. If we do this we’ll increase whatever other people in our churches are doing, as well as encouraging them and ourselves. And, Jesus particularly notices it.

Sometimes serving other Christians because of the work they’re doing, and with a mind to advance it can fall by the wayside, but Jesus says it’s a very real and profitable part of being a Christian and acting out your faith in him (which pleases him, other Christians, and probably yourself). 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Dearness (not the thrifty kind)

In Uncategorized on April 9, 2009 at 12:11 am

I read this verse in Jeremiah the other day:

Does a maiden forget her jewelry,
a bride her wedding ornaments?
Yet my people have forgotten me,
days without number.

It struck me that a bride’s wedding ornaments are probably something really dear and special to her. I wasn’t sure exactly what the people of the time would have understood on hearing this, but I started thinking about my friends who’ve gotten married, and the special arranging of jewelry, etc that they go through in preparation for their wedding and on the wedding day itself. It’s a really special time of celebration for something that God treasures deeply – so much so that our life in eternity will begin with the church’s wedding to Jesus. Pretty amazing.

This passage really gave me pause and spoke to my heart about how God views the relationship that he wants his people to have with him. He refers to jewelry owned by a young girl (the maiden) and by a bride. He didn’t talk about warriors accoutrements, or wealth or something else. To describe how our hearts should be toward him, he talks about jewelry that’s very dear and special to the heart of a girl or young woman. He refers to the way the feminine heart treasures these things; he speaks of a particularly deep kind of treasuring. With it comes devotion, love, promise, uniqueness, specialness and much more. Think about the way a little girl treasures things she loves and finds beautiful. And this is just the beginning.

The word that came to my mind to describe these feelings was “dearness.” I haven’t thought long about whether that’s the right word, but it’s the one that came to me in that moment. In that moment, to me, something that is “dear” is something that you keep close to you. It’s a treasure, but not just one that gives you wealth or fame. It’s something that your heart treasures, even if no one else would find it beautiful – in the way that a young girl treasures her first pieces of jewelry that speak of the future beauty of womanhood.

I’m going to start trying to apply this idea more to my life. I’m going to practice remembering that God chose to speak of how our regard should be for him in these terms – as dear, precious and deeply and personally beautiful. My relationship with him is something that’s all mine that I can hold close to me where no one can see it.

Let’s bring this verse from Romans into the same context:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39)

At our noon prayer and worship time on Tuesday afternoon Jesus reminded me of this idea, and it had a particular sense of dearness to it. While the Romans verse means a number of things, I’ve understood it anew in this context. No one can take Jesus away from me. I’ll always have him, and be able to deeply treasure and cherish him. He’s in a safe place deep inside of me that no one can touch. 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“Why do bad things happen if God is good?” An answer from Jeremiah.

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2009 at 2:16 am

I was reading in Jeremiah today, a book that I’m guessing is not the first one most people read in the bible. It has a reputation of being sort of dismal.

The beginning is one of my favorites. God tells Jeremiah that he’s always planned for him to be a Prophet to Israel, even since Jeremiah was in his mother’s womb. (Another sign that God sees fetuses as people!) I love how God teaches Jeremiah how to listen to him and how to speak, and how he warns him of hard times ahead, and that the people he’s going to speak to will fight him and won’t even listen to what he says – but he’s going to speak anyway, so that the guilt will be on the heads of the people who’ve heard, not on God. (Jer 7:27) God tells Jeremiah: “I have made you a tester of metals and my people the ore, that you may observe and test their ways.” (Jer 6:27)

What struck me in Jeremiah today was how much the entire book is an answer to to the question, “why do bad things happen if God is good?”. Lovingly and tenderly, God speaks of his desire that his people would turn back to him and acknowledge him, instead of plunging themselves into foolishness, idolatry and more.

Here’s the passage that helped me showed me the crux of the book:

but let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:24)

God says that he is: kind, just and righteous. He is asking that his people know him as he is, and this is how he says they should know him. You might want to read through some of Jeremiah to understand how out of context this verse seems. To help you get an idea, the verse before is:  Say, “This is what the LORD declares: ” ‘The dead bodies of men will lie like refuse on the open field, like cut grain behind the reaper, with no one to gather them.’ ” And that’s pretty much the feel of the book at first glance.

In reality, there are three recurring themes that move in and out of each other throughout the book – to teach God’s people how to live in peace and security. Here they are:

1. Israel abandons God.

  • “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” (Jer 2:13) (Similar to Isaiah 50:10-11)
  • 3 This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts….”(Jer 4:3-4)
  • Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD. (Jer 8:7)
  • The children gather wood, the fathers light the fire, and the women knead the dough and make cakes of bread for the Queen of Heaven. (Jer 7:18)

2. God’s instructions and warnings

  • “Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty. (Jer 2:9)
  • 27 They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’ and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’ 28 Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah. (Jer 2:27-28)
  • 16 This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’17 I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’
  • 23 This is what the LORD says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches 24 but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD. (Jer 9:23-24)

3. The result

  • 12 What man is wise enough to understand this? Who has been instructed by the LORD and can explain it? Why has the land been ruined and laid waste like a desert that no one can cross?13 The LORD said, “It is because they have forsaken my law, which I set before them; they have not obeyed me or followed my law. (Jer 9:12-13)
  • For more examples of the result, just read through the book of Jeremiah. I think the main focus of the book is God, so I don’t want to add a lot of examples of the bad things that come from turning away from God.

To end and repeat: I’ve been really glad to learn more about the book of Jeremiah. It’s shown me very clearly God’s love for his people and the results that sin has had on this world. It’s sin, not God, that causes all the bad we see around us. I’d also like to point out that the people that God talks to (through Jeremiah) are often accused of thinking themselves Godly and criticising everyone else they think is ungodly (here’s just one example). As the example points out specifically, just because we go to church doesn’t mean we’re safe from what God talks about through Jeremiah. We have to live our lives, each day, seeking God and allowing him to refine us, to reject the bad and increase the good. I heard someone put this as “hating sin” and I think that’s a pretty good way to look at it. Let’s work harder and more seriously at putting sin in our lives to death.

Oops…just want to clarify: if something bad happens to you it doesn’t mean that it’s because you sinned! What I’m talking about here, and what I think Jeremiah is about, is a general pattern of sin and chosen turning away from God. A rejecting of him. 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