Dude – shut up!

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Jeremiah 18:20 Is evil a recompense for good? Yet they have dug a pit for my life. Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them. 21 Therefore give their children over to famine; hurl them out to the power of the sword, let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men meet death by pestilence, their youths be slain by the sword in battle. 22 May a cry be heard from their houses, when you bring the marauder suddenly upon them! For they have dug a pit to catch me, and laid snares for my feet. 23 Yet you, O Lord, know all their plotting to kill me. Do not forgive their iniquity, do not blot out their sin from your sight. Let them be tripped up before you; deal with them while you are angry.

Jeremiah is not happy. He has prayed for the Lord to have mercy on the people and what do they do to Jeremiah in return? They plot evil against him. To be fair, if I were one in Jeremiah’s presence hearing about God’s coming judgment… over and over and over… I’d probably want him to stop too. Dude – shut up! We heard you the first 50 times! But since they would not listen to Jeremiah, God keeps sending him with messages of doom.

There is no question that Jeremiah was an extraordinary man of God but this passage also reminds me that he was human. He’d had enough of the threats from people who’d had enough of him. This passage does not show him in the best light, but it’s a part of Jeremiah that I can understand. Lord give me grace to reign it in when someone has gotten on my last nerve. Amen.

 

Eternal truths and context…

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1 Timothy 2:I desire, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument; also that the women should dress themselves modestly and decently in suitable clothing, not with their hair braided, or with gold, pearls, or expensive clothes, 10 but with good works, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. 12 I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing, provided they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

Many elements of scripture are eternal truths. This is not. Paul begins v.8 with, “I desire…”. Then v.12 “I permit…”. Paul isn’t arguing that God has declared it should be this way. He’s giving practical guidance to a young leader in a time and culture very different from ours. Context is key. Always.

Lord God in heaven, thank you that we understand roles of men and women differently today than in the early days of Christianity. I don’t know what the Church would do without women leaders. The witness of the gospel would surely be diminished. Amen.

Praying for the political class…

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1 Timothy 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.

Paul is writing to his young protege Timothy, offering instruction on how to lead. Interesting how he urges Timothy to pray for everyone, but especially “kings and all who are in high position, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life…”. Notice Paul doesn’t say Timothy should pray for those in authority so that THEY may lead a quiet and peaceable life, but that WE may lead a quiet and peaceable life. I expect a key source of persecution of the early church came from the authorities. To pray for them was to pray for the church.

Today, more than ever, we need to pray for people in high positions, particularly in government. Lord Jesus, give wisdom to all leaders, especially those in the political class who are so deeply divided right now. When they live in peace, we live in peace. Amen.

Joy!

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Psalm 100: 1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Reading through the Moravian Daily Texts, which has been taking us through the major prophets of the Old Testament, has been a bit of a slog for a while. It get wearisome reading God’s judgment of Israel over. And over. And over.

But today we have this psalm, a psalm of pure joy. Yes! Today I’m asking the Lord to give me joy in my spirit. Lord, let it be so. Amen.

A living example to others…

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2 Thessalonians 3:Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate.

Paul mentions the word “imitate” twice in this passage. How were Christians supposed to live in community? Do what Paul did. Giving people a flesh and blood example is such an important tool in shaping people, which Paul understood very well. I do my best to offer a good example but I know I regularly fall short. There is no such thing as a perfect example, but that’s okay. Sometimes what people need is not a perfect example, but a living example – one that sometimes gets it right and sometimes gets it wrong. Now that I can do!

Lord most of us reading this post are leaders in one capacity or another. Give us grace to live as a solid example to others, and come to our aid when fail to do so. Amen.

God chose you…

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2 Thessalonians: 13 But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

This one verse has a lot of meaning, but I’m particularly drawn to “because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation…”. Who did the choosing? God did the choosing. This was most certainly true with me. I wasn’t looking for the Lord when the Lord found me. And the Lord continues to find me, to track me dawn when I wander off – which is often. He is the shepherd that doesn’t give up on this lost sheep. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness.

Idol worship…

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Psalm 97:7 All worshipers of images are put to shame, those who make their boast in worthless idols; all gods bow down before him.

As we’ve been reading through the psalms and the prophets the issue of idolatry comes up again and again. The Israelites would fail to live according to the laws and statutes of God which resulted in God withdrawing protection and provision. When they realized God was not responding to their pleas they would turn to other gods – like the peoples around them did. These would be idols made with human hands and then worshipped. That did not improve things with God – at all. So there would be a downward spiral.

When I hear people teach about idolatry in our day they often talk about things we put ahead of God in our lives: pleasure, money, work, whatever. That is indeed a form of idolatry but, in my mind at least, it falls short of creating a statue – a literal idol – and worshipping it.

That said, I don’t think I’ve ever been as desperate as the Israelites were on the occasions when foreign armies threatened to wipe them out. Or famine threatened to starve them. That has not been my experience, not even close. So I wonder if I have it in me to worship a literal idol when under extreme desperation. I hope not, but one never knows. Lord, give me grace to turn to you no matter what. Amen.