Click here for today’s reading http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah%2023-25&version=NIV
CHAPTER 23 — We start right out of the gate on this reading with “WOE, to the SHEPHERDS who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares The Lord…..” According to http://www.blueletterbible.org the use of the Word “SHEPHERDs” in this verse is literally “to feed, care for, watch over”; however figuratively it has additional meaning which is “to govern, rule, of a prince.” God is speaking through Jeremiah TO THE LEADERS (in any capacity….a home, a church, a business, a city, a state, a nation, or the world, etc.) In reading this for today, I could not help but think about the significance of yesterday’s date (September 11, 2013) exactly 12 years ago. THAT was a HUGE moment in our nation’s history….the FIRST time an attack had been made on our home soil!! Was God WARNING us of something? Was God trying to get out attention. Statistics show that on September 12, 2001 and for the next three months followed ……the attendance in our nation’s churches was the largest it had been in MANY years. Unfortunately, people forgot WHO they went to for comfort and peace and within six months church attendance was back down where it had been. So are we as a nation any different than Judah was? IMHO…..it is no “accident” that all the discussion around Syria is happening on and around this same exact time. SO, again….as a non-scholar of the Bible….I ask….is God trying to get our nation’s attention….WARNING us….to TURN BACK TO HIM??? I’d love to hear what God is speaking to your heart.
God does not take the roles of leaders lightly. They will be held accountable at a higher level if they have led people astray…not just politically but in any capacity of leadership. Certainly makes me think twice and pray harder concerning my personal leadership roles. Again…..another HUGE reminder of our need to PRAY CONTINUALLY for and over our leaders. Leaders can often feel alone in the positions. It can be a stressful position because of the decisions that they must make that impact many others.
A huge part of our reading today was on false prophets. And false prophets are alive and well in our “modern” world today…..BIG PROBLEM!!! ANY leader who gives a message that does not line up with the word of God is a FALSE PROPHET!! THINK BACK to Eve in the Garden of Eden……the serpent was bending the truth juuuuuuuust enough to get her thinking ….”ummmmm…..now would God REALLY want to deprive me?” BUT what did she rely on? She did NOT return to God and ask HIM (I mean HE WAS RIGHT THERE!!!) You know whatI mean???? She and Adam spoke with God DAILY…MOMENT BY MOMENT yet she did not GO TO HIM and ASK HIM. She reasoned it out herself (rut row.) In Judah’s time and TODAY….. the false prophets are NO different. Some appear to speak with scripture or famous quotes but unfortunately the messages do NOT line up in God’s WORD. God’s Word is often “watered down” to make everyone feel good about themselves, rather than studying the REAL WORD. Don’t get me wrong…God has MANY beautiful Words for us that are good and uplifting. HE TELLS US HE loves us deeply and those are TRUTH and GOOD. However, many take PARTS of a Scripture and don’t tell the entire TRUTH. Anything other than God’s Word is someone’s opinion and opinions are like…..well they are like armpits (bet you didn’t think I was going to use that part of the anatomy….<<<smile>>>.) Everyone has armpits and they all stink at some point in the day. Know what I mean??? Some church leaders subtly twist the Word just enough to make it seem like truth, but it comes out totally opposite of what God’s Word has to say. What is the bottom line? READ God’s Word daily…ASK HIM to show you what HE wants you to know…..KNOW HIS word so well that you KNOW a FALSE prophet or doctrine when you hear it. WE are not the judge and jury but we must ask ourselves if the message we heard at church, on TV, at a Christian conference lines up with God’s Word. If it does not line up with God’s Word you must wonder who the king of THEIR heart is…..and will you be influenced by THEIR heart or by God’s Word??? If you want more on this look back at Deuteronomy 18.
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD,
“when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
and do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah will be saved
and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
The LORD Our Righteousness.
Do you see JESUS in these verses? Jeremiah KNOWS that the Messiah is soon to come. No one else can shepherd this flock. Even the prophets and priests are godless, preaching a false Prophecy to gain followers and avoid the TRUTH.
The verse that really stuck me in this chapter was verse 3: ”And I will gather the REMNANT of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.” EVEN in amid ALL HIS people were doing wrong HE still showed HIS love for them. HE STILL would have a REMNANT and HE would bring them back!! AND HE began this bring back in the OT, but a powerful prophecy was fulfilled in our modern times… when Israel became a state in 1948. WOW!!
CHAPTER 24 — AFTER the King of Judah, the officials, the skilled workers, and the artisans were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Lord showed Jeremiah two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the Lord. One basket is good and while the other is bad to eat. The good basket refers to the exiles in Babylonian, God knew that getting them there, their hearts would respond. IF they had remained in the land with all their own ways, prosperity, idols, and comforts of home then their hearts would remain spoiled and rotten. BUT when God disciplines, (HE disciplines those HE loves), when HE loves us enough to capture us, to make us sit still and seek Him, THEN HE can mold us (because we are open to HIM at this point) into the piece of pottery that seems best to HIM (refer back to chapter 18.)
My favorite verse from this chapter was verse 7: ”And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”
Did you notice the word GIVE….. HE will GIVE us a heart to KNOW HIM!! That prophecy came to pass when Jesus died on the cross for us, was resurrected from the dead, and then sent the Holy Spirit to come dwell INSIDE OF US!! WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN GOD’S HEART….. and that is the ONLY way we are assured of change. HE dwells inside of us and our hearts CAN be changed ….if we will LISTEN to HIS WORD and LISTEN to the tugs on our hearts….the dreams HE plants within us…the guidance HE gives us through HIS still small voice which is often highlighted straight off the page from HIS Word into our hearts.
CHAPTER 25 — Jeremiah predicted the 70 years of captivity in 605 B.C. This was the first year Nebuchadnezzar came to power. THIS PROPHECY was given 20 (TWENTY) years BEFORE it began!!!!! Jeremiah was painfully detailed about the captivity because of what God had him share. Jeremiah was preaching and warning people about the pain that would come upon them for 23 years BEFORE it happened. Do you see God’s patience here? Do you see how God REALLY wanted HIS people WARNED so they COULD change their hearts and their ways and TURN BACK TO HIM. Don’t you JUST KNOW people turned the other way when they saw him coming?? Can’t you imagine what they did and said— “Oh man….. here comes Jeremiah…..I can see him at the top of the hill…let’s get OUT of here so we don’t have to listen to his negative attitude…always telling us God is not pleased with us, Judah is headed for destruction….what a downer that dude is….RUN!!”
God is continually peeling away the layers and opening the eyes of my heart …. where do I get my advice…who do I respect…. what do I eat… why do I do things…. and the bottom line is EVERYthing must be about HIm and to His glory……NOT ABOUT ME….but HIM. I don’t know about you but this is a continual learning process for me. There are still days I wake up on “the wrong side of the bed” and for some reason it takes me most of the day to realize and I say to myself….”HELLO…..why am I DETERMINED to attempt to do things MY way today? SNAP OUT OF IT…. sit down with the one how loves ME and let HIM lead.” I am by nature a “doer.” There is still this part of me that thinks I have to DO rather than simple BE who HE made me. In BEING who HE made us to Be, yes, there are things we must do for HIM. However, there is great peace that comes from BEING in HIS will and doing HIS will rather than simply DOING things to mark them off the “to do list.” I hope that made sense and I praise God that HE is molding me and shaping me and transforming me more and more into HIS image…..one baby step at a time.
I pray each of you reading are growing in HIS love and in HIS Word and in HIS ways. He loves us so deeply and HE knows that the ONLY way we can be truly filled with HIS joy and truth is to read HIs Word, gain strength and wisdom from HIM, and do the things HE sets upon our hearts for HIM…….and then there is peace and great joy.
Sharing HIS love,