Repent, Persevere, LIVE!

Revelation 2

Thursday, November 17, 2022

In Revelation 2, John is tasked by the Son of Man to begin writing to the seven churches. This chapter specifically details what should be written to the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, and Thyatira. All of these churches share a commonality of starting strong and then waning in righteousness over time. To Ephesus, the Son of Man comments on how they started strong, with perseverance and a low tolerance for evil. However, they have strayed from their faith, and so Jesus warns them to repent, or they will have their lampstand removed. In Revelation 1 it was discussed that the lampstands represented the churches, therefore the church would cease to exist. Furthermore, in repenting they are promised to be able to eat from the tree of life in the Kingdom.

The second church, Smyrna, has a fate that is full of tribulation. They have persevered through poverty and blasphemy against them, and Jesus remarks that the Devil would test them by having them thrown into prison. However, if they remain faithful, then they would receive the “crown of life.” He further remarks that “he who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” This situation seems fairly awful, but when you put thought into it, this situation is represented by the world that we currently live in anyways. Sin and suffering are rampant, yet, we are promised the crown of life by persevering and overcoming. This message is purely to enforce steadiness in faith.

The third church, Pergamum, shares commonality with the situation described in the first church. They remained steadfast at first, but now there is heavy straying from their original path. Teachings of false gods, eating idol sacrifices, and general acts of immorality have become practices among some members of the church. Jesus warns that those who walk this path will have “war waged against them” personally. From the being who has a double-edged sword protruding from his mouth, that’s definitely not a message that I would take lightly. However, this can be avoided if they repent, and they in return will receive mana, a white stone, and a new name that only they will know.

The fourth church, Thyatira, has had a congregation that has been led astray by a woman named Jezebel. Now, this woman is not the same Jezebel from the Old Testament, but she is enabling people to practice extremely immoral practices as a false prophetess. The Lord commented that He gave her a chance to repent, but she steadfastly refused to do so. However, those who follow her have been given a chance now to repent, or else they will suffer pestilence alongside the false prophetess. And like the other churches, if they hold fast and overcome, then they will receive the morning star and will be given authority to rule over nations.

All of these messages have two similar messages that can be generalized and applied. The first message is that all of these churches are going through tribulation and external influence, and have been led astray. However, they all have time to repent. This is familiar, though, as every day we will struggle with the external pressures of sin and can very easily be led astray. However, Jesus has made it clear that everyone has a chance at forgiveness upon repentance, even someone as corrupt as the false prophetess influencing the people of the church in Thyatira. The second similar case in these messages is the reward for persevering. This is the same message that Jesus and his apostles have spread since the gospel and throughout the New Testament: the good news for those who hold fast and persevere. Sin is very easy to fall into, but staying on the righteous path is much more favorable considering the reward that awaits.

And so, let us take these messages to the four churches discussed so far and apply them to our lives, let this be like a message to us. Whatever sins we have committed; they are already known as the Lord knows our hearts and minds. This is referenced in Revelation 2:23. Therefore, our time left gives us a window of opportunity to repent of them, and live as righteously as we possibly can. In the end, true victory is on the side of the righteous.

-Colby Leggitt

Reflection Questions:

1. Smyrna specifically is tasked with remaining faithful until death. How can we ensure for ourselves that we are likewise holding steadfast throughout our lives?

2. The Son of Man has offered repentance to everybody mentioned who is living in sin in this chapter. How can we hold these messages in our minds when interacting with those who are deeply entrenched in sin?

3. Does it make sense that these churches have such devastating issues yet Jesus still holds the star of their angel in his right hand? Why?

Continue in Him

1 John 2

Sunday, October 16, 2022   

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.”

That is how this chapter starts off.  Good plan, more easily said than done.  Thankfully, John doesn’t stop writing here.

“But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

If you are reading this, you probably already know it.  You have read it before – in this chapter, or elsewhere in the Bible.  But isn’t that a good reminder?  We are not perfect, but thankfully, we have an advocate. 

This whole chapter is full of “good reminders.”  And John presents them in little different ways.

In verses 12-14 he went about it in a positive way.  Instead of saying don’t forget this, don’t slip back into your old ways, he turns it to the positive and says “you are strong” and “you have overcome the evil one.”

He approaches it from the other side too in the next verse saying “Do not love the world…”

But throughout the chapter, I am drawn back to the positive affirmations that he writes to his audience.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth

24 As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—eternal life.

28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

Good instruction can come from both telling people what not to do, but also telling people what to do, and telling them to keep doing the good they are doing.  It is an encouragement as well as a reminder, and that sticks with me today as I write this.

~Stephanie Fletcher

Reflection Questions

  1. Reread 1 John 2 looking specifically for the things John tells us to do, as well as those things we are not to do. Which instructions do you find easiest to follow? Where do you need a little push in the right direction to keep yourself on the right path – or off of the wrong path?
  2. What do you think our “advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” sees you doing and would tell you to keep doing? What will you do today to keep doing that! How will you ‘continue in him’?

Godless Chatter

2 Timothy 2

Monday, September 12, 2022

As a Special Education teacher, I usually chose to eat lunch in my classroom – not only so I could complete my work early and head for home the very second my duty hours concluded, but also to avoid all the gossip that was rampant in the teacher’s lounge. (There was much unwholesome chitchat among the teachers about problematic students and challenging parents, and I tried to avoid it; I would be lying if I said I had never joined in, but I tried to stay away also to avoid the temptation to gossip.) However, when my Special Education team decided through testing, observation, and collaboration that a certain student had progressed sufficiently and therefore no longer qualified for intervention services, his mother sought legal action to force the school district to continue his therapies. This led to innumerable meetings among his intervention team, which included oodles of hours to complain whenever the parent was not present. Though many of the staff’s grievances against her were legitimate, it was a very toxic and negative environment. I was especially disgusted by the way in which the atmosphere suddenly changed to small-talk chatter through seemingly-friendly smiles once the mother entered – the very same person who had been the source of much degrading talk just a moment before. Worst of all, whenever I was around such hostility, I felt that it negatively impacted my ability to be the loving, kind, student-focused teacher I wanted to be. It drained my energy, my love, my joy, my focus. 

Though I’m more than a decade removed from the teacher’s lounge now, I’ve discovered another rampant source of dissentive arguments: social media. I’ve learned the hard way that it is nearly impossible to change the mind of someone via a FaceBook thread, and that otherwise-kind folks can be exceptionally harsh and judgemental when they’re behind a screen rather than face-to-face. Most likely some of you have noticed this sad reality as well. 

In 2 Timothy 2:15-17,22-24, Paul reminds Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene… Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful…” Paul adds that this kind of quarrelsome, godless chatter is from the devil. 

We have a higher calling as followers of Jesus, and especially as leaders, to watch our mouths. We must conduct ourselves in such a way that there is nothing of which to be ashamed, living according to biblical principles. As representatives of Jesus, if we are engaging in negative talk, we are distracting from the message of Christ and even tearing down the body of Christ. Such behavior also takes away our joy and our focus on the task God has set before us. Though the sinful natures in us might want to join in with the crowd, we are called to flee those desires and instead seek after “righteousness, faith, and love” as we are “kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”

In the earlier verses of this chapter (3-9), Paul is reminding Timothy to work hard and keep focused on the goal of serving his Savior. He compares this suffering and dedication to the steadfastness of a soldier, the drive of an athlete, the persistence of a farmer, and ultimately, the dedication of Jesus Christ. Though Paul is in chains, he reminds Timothy that the Word of God is NOT chained – the Good News still needs to be shared! Soldiers, athletes, farmers all have to work very hard to reach their goals. They can’t afford to be distracted by foolish talk, and neither can Timothy be chained to negative chatter or anything else that holds him back from fulfilling his calling. It is important for all of us to keep focused on the goal of serving Jesus in each decision and action, whether big or seemingly small. 

-Rachel Cain

Reflection questions: 

Think about your break room conversations or your social media behavior… would people know by your actions that you are a follower of Jesus? 

What are the “evil desires of youth” from which God has set you free?

What kinds of things do you need to stay away from or spend more time doing  in order to better focus on the work God has in store for you?

All New!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Ephesians 4

One of the most important things a teacher does at the beginning of the school year is establish and practice procedures and routines. From how to enter and exit a classroom, to how to hand in paperwork, to technology expectations, and even knowing how to interact with partners and small groups – these procedures, when done with consistency and proficiency, will create a positive and inclusive classroom environment. 

One would think that a high school teacher wouldn’t have to spend time on such things, but even sixteen year olds need a reminder every now and then about when it is and when it is not an appropriate time to ask to use the restroom. 

But when these kinds of procedures are practiced throughout a school, it builds a culture of excellence. The standards for behavior and academic performance are raised and students find themselves meeting those expectations. 

As I read through Ephesians chapter four, I recognize Paul explaining to the Ephesian believers what a holy lifestyle should look like; what kind of behaviors are acceptable and the kinds of behaviors that are not – especially when it comes to their attitudes and speech. 

Being a believer in Christ should be reflected in how we think about and present ourselves. We no longer engage in unholy behaviors – that’s the old self. The new self is transformed to be righteous and holy. And this should be evident in our day-to-day interactions with others. 

Paul also explains that as a member of God’s family, we each play an important role. When we collaborate with one another amazing things take place for the sake of the Gospel. 

It is important to note that living a holy lifestyle takes intentional effort – it doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it. Much like a classroom teacher spends significant time at the beginning of the school year establishing procedures, regular reminders are key to maintaining a smooth-running classroom. Likewise, if we intend on continuing to grow up spiritually, we also need regular reminders of what a mature believer says and does. This is why the study of scripture and community fellowship is so valuable. As we associate with like-minded believers we are encouraged to continue putting on the new self and working towards becoming the person God has designed us to be, righteous and holy.

-Bethany Ligon

Application Questions

  1. Looking at Ephesians 4 again, what “old self” attitudes, actions, or mindsets does Paul tell the believers to get rid of. In your own “old self”, what have you been (or are currently, or ought to be) working on removing?
  2. Describe the “new self”.
  3. Looking at your own life, what percentage are you “New Self” – are you still walking around in “old self” socks? What will it take to boost that “new self” percentage higher?

So Many Questions

1 Corinthians 6

June 7

Paul is full of questions.  Should you go to court against your neighbor?  Is it possible that you are capable of judging in even a small court?  Can you not as brothers in Christ decide your own lawsuits against one another?  Is it not better to be cheated or wronged?  These are just a few questions you will discover in this chapter.  Paul was just getting started when he asked: (9) “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”  Now, unrighteous covers a lot of territory.  Self-examination is encouraged for each of us. Are you ready?  Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, and those who are effeminate will not inherit the kingdom of God. But wait there’s more behaviors that are pointed out.  Thievery, or covetous, that’s a given already covered in the 10 Commandments. Should I keep going?  Drunkards, revilers, or swindlers are excluded from the kingdom too. I had to look revilers up in the dictionary. I am sure I used to know its meaning, but my memory failed me today. A reviler is someone who is verbally abusive, criticizing in anger.                                         

Here comes the good part.  Paul reminds them that some have turned away from evil and have been washed, sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus and in the Spirit of God.  How wonderful to be redeemed!                 

There are several other important points that Paul goes on to make in chapter 6 and they shouldn’t be missed.  For instance, you can eat whatever you want, but is it healthy for you.  A carton of ice cream (butter pecan) is legal to eat in one sitting, but it would not be the right thing for anyone.    Paul goes on to say that the same is true in other aspects of an individual’s life.  As Christians, we are to flee immorality.  Joining with a prostitute makes you one with her.  We are to be in one spirit with the Lord.  Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you.  Remember, in Christ we have been bought with a price and we are to glorify God in our body.

-Bob Collier

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What were some of the questions Paul asked the church at Corinth?
  2. Can you think of some life actions unacceptable to God that are not mentioned in this chapter?
  3. What will you pray about today?
  4. Knowing what you read today, what needs changing in your life?    

Do Do

Romans 7

May 22

As someone who is trending towards 40, I realize there is still some time to grow up.  I am not a lost cause.  However, the longer I teach middle school, the further delayed my coming of age may be.  I still laugh at a lot of immature things.  Body noises. People falling.  General potty humor.   But nothing quite gets me like a “do do.”  I remember sitting in an interview for an open position at my school, intently listening, taking notes, giving confirming head nods, and then out of nowhere came “do do.”  “I am very aware that I do do…”  Every muscle in my body clinched to remain professional.  I hid my smile with my hand, furrowed my brow, and increased the quantity of affirming head shakes. I was no longer listening, only trying to hide the fight going on within.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  Romans 7:15-18

In a similar way, Paul makes it clear in Romans 7 that our body and mind aren’t always on the same page.  In our innermost being, we desire the things of God.  We desire to be holy.  We desire to know His will for our life. We want to ponder, study, and worship.  Unfortunately, what we desire and how we act follow different paths. We don’t do the things of God, but we “do do” the things that grasp for the attention of our immature faith, paving our way to fiery judgment with good intentions.

So why are we like this? We are not slaves of sin, but we are very much subject to the circumstance and condition we find ourselves, living in this present evil age.  We are sinners, living amongst other sinners, in a sinful world; it’s what comes to us naturally.  If we try to fight the battle alone, no matter how valiantly we fight or resiliently we hold the line, we will ultimately crash and burn.  It takes the man, Christ Jesus, who fought against sin and came out victorious bringing death to its knees.  We must ask and allow him to intercede and succeed in all areas of our lives, but especially in the places we leave ourselves vulnerable.  He must be Lord of our screens, and our pride, and our money, and our idols, and our drinks, and of all our vices.

Bind yourself to Him. Cling to the cross of our Savior. Until Jesus returns, temptation will surround us, but praise be to our Heavenly Father, it is Christ who lives within us.  Don’t do it any other way. Do do what he says. Bear your cross, increase Christ, and cultivate a mature faith. In turn we will have actions that match the greatest ponderings, pinings, and pursuits of the heart that is completely submitted to God.

-Aaron Winner

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Choose one area of your life in which you know what you want to do in order to be pleasing to God, but you (often) find you do something else instead. How can you bump up your fight against this temptation? How can you make Jesus the Lord of even this area of your life?
  2. Reading through Romans 7, what verse would be a good one for you to post in a significant location and work on memorizing to bring to mind when faced with what you will do – and not do?

Be Careful that You Don’t Fall

2 Samuel 11

March 11

The story of David and Bathsheba is probably familiar to most of us.  King David, described elsewhere as a “man after God’s own heart”, had a little too much time on his hands while his army was away fighting.  One evening, he got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of his palace; and from his roof, he saw a beautiful woman taking a bath.  I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 10:12, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

You might be tempted to stop right there and ask what this beautiful woman was doing taking a bath in public. Wasn’t she inviting unwanted attention? Presumably, she was in her own fenced backyard, and nobody could see her unless someone was on the roof of the palace next door – and who would be walking around on a roof?  Regardless, she isn’t the real topic of the story, David is.

The fact remains that David took a long look at her.  David lusted after her.  David violated one of the 10 commandments: “Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife…”.   Lust is a trap, especially for men – even for a “man after God’s own heart”.  David should have stopped right there, confessed, and asked God for forgiveness.  Instead, he asked one of his servants who she was.  He was definitely showing too much interest.

Once he found out that she was the wife of Uriah, one of his bodyguards, and the granddaughter of Ahithophel, his chief advisor, he certainly should have walked away.  But she was gorgeous, so instead, he invited her over and slept with her.  David violated another of the 10 commandments: “Don’t commit adultery” – and the punishment for this one was supposed to be death.

When David found out that Bathsheba was pregnant, he recalled her husband from the battle so he could go home – to try to hide the fact that David was the father.  But Uriah didn’t cooperate; he didn’t go home.  Ultimately, David then schemed to have Uriah put on the front line of the battle, and have everyone else withdraw, so Uriah was killed.  And so he violated another of the 10 commandments: “Don’t kill”.

David seemed to successfully hide all of this until after the son was born.  But God sent Nathan, the prophet, to confront David.  Nathan told David that God was going to discipline David, according to his sins.  

David wrote Psalm 51 after Nathan confronted him about his adultery with Bathsheba.  In this psalm, we find in verse 1, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.”  In verses 11-12, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your Salvation…”  David’s heart was broken, he confessed, and was reconciled to God.

The discipline came a little later.  During Absalom’s rebellion, Absalom slept with 10 of David’s concubines in public;  David’s daughter Tamar was raped by her half brother Amnon; four of David’s sons died: this baby, Amnon, Absolam, and Adonijah; and David had problems for the rest of his life.  God forgave David’s sins, but David still had to live with the consequences of his sins.

God’s discipline isn’t punishment handed out by an angry God bent on vengeance, it’s difficulty allowed by a loving Father who wants to see his children develop godly character.  Otherwise, it would be too easy to just accept and live with sin, and God loves us too much to let that happen without a fight.

This brings us to our application for us today.

Do you consider yourself to be Godly?  If so, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”  If you don’t consider yourself to be Godly, what do you think your long-term future (eternity) looks like?  Isn’t today the best time to solve that problem?

Look at the progression in David’s life.  A glance, lust, adultery, then murder.  Are there places in your own life where you are at that “glance” stage?  The “lust” stage?  Further down the path (to destruction)?  Wherever you find yourself, don’t continue down the path of sin.  Turn around.

Was David’s wild fling worth it?  Absolutely not!  Is the pleasure of your sins worth it?  It never is!  I’m reminded of Hebrews 11:25-26, where we’re told that Moses “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time… because he was looking ahead to his reward.”  Are you strong enough to forgo “the pleasures of sin for a short time” and instead look ahead to your reward?  If not, ask God to help you.

And when you do sin, don’t just try to hide it.  Remember 1 John 1:9, where God promises, “If we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  It was only after David’s confession that he was reconciled with God.  The same is true for us.

You may be tempted in similar ways as David, or you may be tempted in other ways, but you will be tempted.  1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds us, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.  And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

-Steve Mattison

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. In your own experience, have you ever observed (or are currently in) the downward spiral of sin where one sin leads to another? Where would have been the best place to stop? How? How do you turn around now – look at David’s example (Psalm 51 is a beautiful place to start).
  2. To avoid the painful and long lasting consequences of sin in your own life how can you build your resolve to forego the “pleasures of sin” which last a short time? What can you do now to help yourself stand strong when you are tempted? What can you do when you are right in the the middle of a strong temptation? How can you help others stand firm against their temptations?
  3. Like David, sometimes we need our sin pointed out to us before we reach a point of confession. Read 2 Samuel 12. Have you ever needed a Nathan to help you see your own sin? Pray to see your own sin clearly. Then confess it. Have you thanked those who have helped you see your sin. Then, as David said in Psalm 51 – with a pure heart he could, “Then…teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.”

Why the Fear of God?

Exodus 20

February 13

God, as we know, is all powerful. He freed the people from a land of slavery. (Exodus 20:2) God is a loving God, but he can be a jealous god. (Exodus 20:5). He can show us just how powerful he is. (Exodus 20:5-7,25-26) When I was younger, I was always confused by the saying “Fear God”. As I got older I have come to better understand this. We aren’t to fear God like we are the devil, but we are to fear him because we know His strength and power. We are supposed to fear Him so that it keeps us from sinning.

He has shown us and told us what we are to do and not to do. We are to honor our mother and father. We are not to commit murder. We are not to commit adultery. We are not to steal or give false testimony against our neighbor. These are just a few of the commandments. In order to follow these God wants us to fear His power and in a way fear disappointing him. He is our Father in heaven. It’s the same fear we should have for our earthly parents. Exodus 20 is a great chapter because it shows us all the things we should do to please God.

-Genesis Dylewski

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Look closely at the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). How would you describe each commandment in your own words? Now consider, why do you think God included each of these commandments?
  2. What is the overall subject of the first 4 commandments? And of the last 6? Which do you generally find more challenging – having a good relationship with God or having good relationships with people? While recognizing the importance of all 10, choose one commandment from the first 4 and one commandment from the last 6 to focus on this week. How will you better align your thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions with these commandments?
  3. Can you think of a time the fear of God kept you from sinning? Explain. Can you think of a time you should have feared God more? Explain. How can you work on developing a healthy fear of the LORD?

Abandoned Inheritance

Lamentations 1 & 2

Whenever I see a post on my social newsfeed that features images of abandoned buildings, especially amusement parks, I go ahead and click on it to scroll through the photos. I am always intrigued with what I see: carousels with missing horses; buildings with broken window panes; rusted park rides; overgrown weeds winding their way through what used to be “Main Street”. 

To think that these amusement parks used to be the location of families creating memories, friends laughing with one another, people being thrilled have now turned into deserted playgrounds creates a sadness over what used to be.

As I read through the first two chapters of Lamentations, I get a similar feeling of sadness because I cannot help but think about how Jerusalem was described at its apex of prosperity. If you have a few extra minutes, go back and read 1 Kings 10. King Solomon had completed building the temple and his palaces and in this chapter it states that silver was considered of little value (1 Kings 10:21). God’s people truly were experiencing the Promised Land, the land overflowing with milk and honey. If there were a time in history to visit, this would be it!

And 400-ish years later, Jerusalem falls and its inhabitants are taken into captivity in Babylon. God’s Presence literally left the building and the city, as well as its walls, are left to erode.  

As Believers, you and I are filled with God’s Spirit. We are meant to be thriving and living life abundantly. Sure we have seasons of struggle, but overall, we get to experience God’s blessings NOW and have an even greater hope for eternity. Think of it like the days of Solomon where prosperity rules.

Let’s learn the lesson from these two chapters in Lamentations. Let us not find ourselves losing our inheritance due to disobedience. Let us not become like an abandoned place that is left to devastation. Instead, let us focus on being diligent with our studies of Scripture and allowing God to be ruler of our lives.

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Lamentations 1 & 2 and James 5

Enter into My Rest

Jeremiah 25-26 and Hebrews 4

In Chapter 25 & 26 of Jeremiah, he continues prophesying to the people of Judah about what is going to happen to them. It sounds to me like he is getting a little irritated with them. Have you ever heard “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times” from your parents? He says that he has been talking to them for 23 years but they will not listen to him. Not only has he been talking to them but God has sent prophets to them for years and they refuse to listen. He is telling them that they have a choice to make. He says in Chapter 25:5&6 “Turn now, each of you, from your evil ways and your evil practices, and you can stay in the land the Lord gave to you and your ancestors for ever and ever. Do not follow other gods to serve and worship them; do not arouse my anger with what your hands have made. Then I will not harm you.” God has always given us a choice, which is to choose good or evil, the choice is ours. But he is hoping that we choose to turn from evil and do good, and if we do, he will always forgive us.  But on the flip side, he says, if the children of Judah refuse to listen they will go through hard times and captivity that will last for years.

The prophet Jeremiah could have lied to the Judean people like the other prophets during that time and told them what they wanted to hear, and his life would have gone easier (perhaps for a time), but he did the hard thing and he obeyed God and told them what God wanted them to hear. The people did not like what they heard and they wanted to kill Jeremiah. He put his trust in God knowing that he might be killed. He trusted God with his life and trusted that what God purposed in his life would happen. He says in 26:14-15 “But as for me, behold, I am in your hands; do with me as is good and right in your sight. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city and its inhabitants; for truly the Lord has sent me to you to speak all these words so that you hear them.” He knows what Paul tells us in Acts 5:29b “We must obey God rather than men.”

Hebrews 4 seems to go hand in hand with the chapters in Jeremiah. The Israelites before them, and then the children of Judah were not able to enter into God’s rest because of their disobedience. We are invited to live our lives in such a way that we will be allowed to live in God’s rest. The children of Judah needed prophets and priests to help them to have a relationship with God, but we do not have to go to the synagogue to have our sins forgiven or go to the town square to listen to the prophets. It says in Hebrews in verses 14-16 “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let’s hold firmly to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need.” God’s rest is a life that is filled with the knowledge that God is in control and we will trust Him no matter what hardships we may go through. If we would like to enter into God’s rest, all we have to do is accept the salvation that God has provided to us through Jesus and we are free to enter into God’s rest for eternity.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 25-26 and Hebrews 4

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