A Scary Word

1 Corinthians 2

June 3

Here at the Oregon church we have really been focusing on evangelistic outreach. No other word puts quite the fear in the heart of a Christian like the world evangelism. There are many anxieties that come with the idea of evangelism: sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. There is the fear of rejection. There is the worry that you might look foolish. There is maybe a concern that you won’t say the right things. Maybe there’s a worry that you don’t know enough about the Bible and therefore you aren’t qualified to reach out to people about Jesus and the kingdom. There is just a lot of worry that goes into it.


A lot of the fear and anxiety that comes from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people is that we can make it about us. Look above at what was said about the fear of sharing the gospel: every fear and anxiety that was mentioned about sharing the gospel is because we focus on how it affects us. We make it about our rejection, or our feelings or our knowledge. God has made the gospel so simple and yet we can be so afraid of it. And when I say we are afraid, I’m talking about me too. Just because I’m a pastor doesn’t mean that I don’t have fear and anxiety about sharing the gospel. You don’t need a PhD in theology to share the gospel with people. You don’t need to have a deep understanding of Levitical dietary laws, or a complete understanding of ancient Greek. The gospel was made understandable so that no matter who we talk to they can grasp it. We tend to make it more complicated than it has to be.


Paul makes this very point in 1 Corinthians 2. He says: “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).


Paul was an extremely well educated man. He was well studied and well read. He knew the Hebrew Bible in profound detail. He was someone that could have really made the gospel presentation more complicated than it should have been. But instead of making a mess of things he says to the Corinthian church that he didn’t come with lofty speech or wisdom. He decided to know nothing besides Christ and him crucified. What Christ accomplished on the cross is of chief importance. Christ died as a substitute for you and me and he rose on the third day. He did this so that one day we can be in the kingdom of God forever. The components of the gospel are easy to remember this way: the kingdom, the cross and the resurrection. The other doctrines of the Bible are important but only believing the gospel is what saves us. The good news of the kingdom of God and our entrance being purchased by the death and resurrection of Jesus is what matters above all else.


Paul continues in the section by saying that we don’t use lofty wisdom and persuasive arguments in order that we aren’t relying on the wisdom of man. Wisdom is important, but ultimately the best and truest wisdom comes from God. The gospel is simple in order that we can fully rely on the power of God to work through us to share to those around us. God is saving the world through His gospel and we should want to be a part of that.


We don’t need to make the gospel more complicated than it is. The simple message of the death and resurrection of Jesus purchasing our gift of eternal life if we believe in him is as easy as it gets. Sharing the gospel doesn’t have to be scary either. It comes from the concern and urgency of wanting people to be in God’s kingdom. It comes from the outpour of our lives as a demonstration of the saving power of God working wondrously through us. Let’s choose to know nothing but Christ and him crucified and share that to a hurt and broken world. Let’s be the people that God works through to reconcile His creation back to Himself.

-Nathan Massie


Application:

  1. To remember that the gospel has been made simple so that we can share with everyone: the kingdom, the cross and the resurrection.
  2. To realize that God is the one who is working through us to share the gospel to the world. It’s His power and not our wisdom that makes the gospel effective.
  3. To realize that the gospel is the power of God and it is of chief importance since believing the gospel is what saves us.
  4. To pray about our anxieties and fears about sharing the gospel and to ask God to give us the strength to share even when we are afraid.
  5. To recognize that when we share the gospel we are making an eternal difference in the life of the hearer.

There is No Difference

Romans 10

May 26

One of my favorite childhood stories is The Sneetches by Dr. Suess.  It tells the tale of two groups of the same fictional creature that are cliqued together by the presence and the absence of a green star on their bellies.  Those with the stars participate in exclusive events, while those without are excluded. More conflict follows, and you’ll love how it ends — But don’t take my word for it. Be warned there may be spoilers ahead.

Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. – Romans 10:3-4

Christian of the 21st century have the tendency to be the star-bellied sneetches, or the modern-day pharisitical Jews. We are really good at identifying each other through our branding, participating in exclusive events together, and making sure others know they are not on the same level as us. We believe through family heritage, denominational existence, or culture perpetuations that we have increased in value and rarity like a fine wine. By comparison, we may look at others struggling with more physically or mentally identifiable sin, rolling in the hot mess of their struggles, and working through the consequences of poor choices, and keep them on the outskirts because they are a little too rough around the edges. Be informed. We all are the same sinful species.

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him – Romans 10:12

Again I say, woe to you, Christian.  You may be in a different position, but it is like comparing one steaming pile of muck to another. We are rotting stacks of stench that stink, stank, and stunk.  Polishing one pile of manure doesn’t make it more appealing than the pile to the left or right. However, one thing is true.  With age, compost makes some pretty fertile soil. In this process of breaking down, we come to terms with who we really are in Jesus Christ and can grow the seed of the Kingdom of God.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. – Romans 10:9-10

Our eyes shouldn’t be focused inward on our marshmallow roast, but rather outward, leading others to the saving conversations about the grace of Jesus Christ. There are so many who already know Christ but are ashamed to try to live more abundantly because of the odor their life is currently putting off.  It is good to remind them you’re a decaying mess too.  Love like Jesus. The bigger the trash-fire, the greater the compassion, cause Lord knows we need it too.  The same creatures with the same Lord.

-Aaron Winner

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What stood out to you most in today’s chapter and devotion?
  2. Have you ever been guilty of a “better than…” attitude? Is that a good way to attract more people to become followers of Jesus? How can you improve?
  3. How pretty are your feet? Re-read Romans 10:12-15. How and where can you take the good news beyond your saved little circle/clique to the hurting world who is just like you?

His Perfect Plan

Romans 5

May 21

Romans 5 is the chapter to flip to anytime you or someone you know finds yourself questioning how the whole world could possibly be saved through the sacrifice of one man. Why is this the way God chose to go about doing things? What makes this plan the best one? Romans chapter 5 makes much of this clear. One man’s righteousness justified the sins of every man, because this was the most powerful act of love God could have demonstrated. 

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8

The world being saved through one man also brings God’s plan full circle, as sin was brought into the world through one man, and so the world will be justified by the sacrifice of one man.

“Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:18-19

God’s act of love was not conditional; it was not a result of anything we did or could ever do to deserve it. Christ died while we were still sinners, so that we, as sinners, may be justified and partake in the promise of the Kingdom, when God brings His world back to eternal divine perfection. 

-Isabella Osborn

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why was God’s intervention necessary in order for us to have a real relationship with Him?
  2. Would it be hard for you to to make the kind of sacrifice God made for us?
  3. How would you describe the poetic nature of God’s plan, from the Adam to the Christ; from being inescapably doomed to being set free?

Hopelessly Lost – Until…

Romans 3

May 19

In continuation from chapter 2, Romans chapter 3 describes the dire predicament we, the human race, find ourselves in. We are hopelessly lost, together guilty of every evil. And not one of us is truly good. Not one of us is righteous, not one of us deserves to be saved. 

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” Romans 3:20

These verses are pretty devastating. Ever since Romans 1:18, Paul has been making it clear that this world is in a gruesome state of being. Jews and Gentiles alike, we all are held accountable for our actions, and we all fail miserably at living up to God’s standards.

 But then comes the good part. The system God put in place doesn’t require us to earn anything. We couldn’t possibly earn the gift of salvation on our own. That’s why it’s a gift. Salvation and a relationship with our Father is not something we get for being good – no one on earth is “good,” not by God’s definition. 

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-25

This is such a powerful verse. Jesus is the only way to righteousness, eternal life, and ultimately, God. And we can only accept Christ (and God’s gift He gives to us through Christ) by faith. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And in Acts 4:12, Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, declares, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 1 Timothy 2:5 also lays it out pretty clearly, saying, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” The list goes on and on. God clarifies in abundance throughout His word that as messed up as we are, He wants us to be saved, and Jesus is the way He’s given us to receive salvation. It’s not by our own goodness or worthiness, for none of us are good or worthy. 

As one final note to think about today, this ↑ does not in any way contradict what the last couple of chapters have expressed. In order to accept this gift, we also have to live in accordance with God’s word. Obedience displays both our appreciation and acceptance. Constant disobedience and rejection of God, neglecting the whole repentance part, only stores up His wrath for the day of judgement (Romans 2:3-11). It is such a joy to be loved by a God who so tremendously desires to have a relationship with His children, and provides an amazingly in-depth book of guidelines to receive His promises and live both now and forever in fellowship with Him.

Discussion Questions:

  1. As discussed in verses 5-8, how does our unrighteousness show the righteousness of God?
  2. Is the idea that evil is justified if it brings about good a biblical idea? What would Paul’s response be? 
  3. If the gift of grace is free, then why must we accept it and live for a purpose greater than ourselves?

The Saving Blood of the Lamb

Exodus 12

February 11

It’s a beautiful thing to read of the Israelites’ obedience regarding the Passover meal and God’s subsequent command to continue observing it through the generations and to teach their children about the significance of it.

24 “Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26 And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27 then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” 

It is a powerful story of salvation and it is worth telling and celebrating. I love that we as Christians can mirror this celebration of God’s beautiful provision of salvation through the observance of Communion. The salvation at the original Passover was temporary and specific and only pertained to being shielded from that particular plague of death at that specific point in time. Thanks be to God that the salvation offered through the Passover Lamb Jesus Christ is not limited to a specific group of people in a specific time in history. It is a free gift with an eternal reward that is open to all of mankind who choose it. 

While God’s provision for salvation is so beautiful and worthy of celebration, we would be remiss if we did not recognize those who fall in the shadows outside of God’s protection of salvation. I can’t help but imagine what a terrifying time it was for the Egyptians as the angel of death struck the households that were not protected by the blood of the Passover lamb. Verses 29-30 give us a glimpse of the sounds of that night,

29 At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

As I read that passage and experienced compassion for those not covered by the blood, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the pressing urgency there is to reach out to those today who are not covered by the blood of the ultimate Passover Lamb Jesus Christ. As the Israelites were instructed about how to avert sorrow and disaster being brought upon their household by covering their doorposts with blood, we need to help others find the way to salvation by being covered with the blood of Jesus. 

May we be challenged to revisit the story of the Passover with a new set of eyes and a heart full of compassion for those who need to hear the greatest story ever told.

-Kristy Cisneros

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Do you feel a sense of urgency for the lost? If so, pray to God to instruct you on how to increase your effectiveness in reaching others. If not, pray to God that He will change your heart in this regard and give you a newfound sense of urgency and compassion for the lost.
  2. The Israelites were saved from what by the blood of the Passover lamb? Describe as fully as you can. Christians are saved from what by the blood of Jesus? Describe as fully as you can.
  3. How can we make sure we are covered by the blood of the Lamb? How will we make sure we – and our children – do not forget? Who do we know who is not covered by the blood of Jesus?

Tomorrow – Exodus 14

How to Get Eternal Life

Matthew 19

January 19

“And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”(Matt.19:26)

This is a verse we hear as encouragement incredibly often. From hearing someone reference it, to seeing it posted on social media. But until recently, I hadn’t dug into the meaning behind this verse. 

This verse comes from the story of the rich young ruler- a story I had heard before, but never knew it’s correlation to Matt. 19:26. A young man approached Jesus and asked him what he must do to be saved. Jesus responds with, “Keep the Commandments”. After this, he asked Jesus which ones are the most important and Jesus responds with, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother and you shall love your neighbor as yourself”(Matt.19:18, 19)

The man says he’s done all these things but he is still lacking, and asks what he must do, and Jesus responds to him by saying, “Give up your wealth.”

The man is much grieved by this, and Jesus tell his disciples that it is nearly impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom. They ask, “Then how can one enter?”  To which Jesus responded,

  “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

I believe this deeper understanding in context gives the verse a completely different connotation. It is that we are sinners, we are broken , and we are not worthy of the kingdom; but with God, and his amazing glory, we may enter.

-Julia Simon

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How does wealth and material possessions get in the way of our relationship with God and even our salvation, or entrance into eternal life? What did the rich young ruler love most? What does Jesus say we ought to love? (in this passage and any others)
  2. Besides wealth and things money buys, what else can get in the way? Is there anything you are holding onto too tightly, making it more important to you than entering the Kingdom of God?
  3. What is impossible for people? Does this mean we should give up and not try to follow the commandments? What is possible for God? Does this mean everyone will enter eternal life regardless of what they have loved? Why or why not?
  4. The disciples had given up much to follow Jesus and Jesus said they would be rewarded. What have you already given up? What might God be asking you to give up?

See Clearly

Matthew 7

January 7

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1 – NIV) Its a loaded statement. We don’t like to feel judged and told that we are wrong, so we won’t judge and tell other people they are wrong. And so this single verse is used to justify, and even demand, blind acceptance of others and all their deeds. You are free to be gay – I have no right to judge. You are free to have the right to an abortion – I have no right to judge. You are free to believe you are a woman when God made you a man – I have no right to judge. You are free to hook up with anyone anytime you want – I have no right to judge. And that is what some would have us believe a good Christian should do. Let them be them and accept them for it. Their way is just as good as my way.

Only trouble is – the rest of this passage continues.

“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2 – NIV) If you use a yard stick to measure yourself but a meter stick to measure others, they will always be coming up short. It is not a fair and right judgment or measure. It is skewed in your favor to make others look less than. They just don’t measure up to your greatness.

Here’s a little true story example – I have been known to be put out and upset when someone I am waiting for is running late. How could they inconvenience me by not operating more according to my clock and my time schedule? Only trouble is, yesterday I was caught by a train (it happens here in northern Indiana – the crossroads of America) and I didn’t show up exactly when someone else was expecting me, but of course my tardiness was excusable, because it wasn’t my fault, I didn’t know a train was going to be coming, etc…. It is not my right to condemn, chastise, be upset with others if I am not willing to be measured in the same way. Late is late. And, in actuality, it’s not my clock or their clock that really matters anyway – but what does God’s clock or measuring stick or word say? That is what matters.

The passage continues, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the PLANK in your own eye?…You hypocrite, FIRST take the plank out of your own eye, AND THEN you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3, 5 – NIV). If a brother has a speck in his eye and there was something loving you could do to help him get that irritating, painful thing out, wouldn’t you want to? Wouldn’t God want you to? But, how much help could I be in this delicate operation if my own eye has a beam sticking out of it? I can’t see clearly to help others out of sin when I am swimming in it myself. That sin in my own life is first priority. I must deal with it. Get rid of it. It may hurt like crazy to pull that beam out – but until I do, my usefulness to help guide and correct others is gone. Pull it out. Heal. See Clearly. Then, I can help others, with the same word of God, same guidelines, same measuring stick and same mercy and compassion that saved me.

It is very true I am not the judge and the jury. God is and He will share that job with His Son. But I DO have a responsibility to watch myself closely, to hold myself accountable to the Word of God, and to be very aware of what is happening around me – including the sin that so easily entangles.

All paths are not created equal. Some – the narrow ones that not many people are willing to stay on – lead to life. Others – the wide, easy, popular ones where the majority are – leads to destruction. It would be foolish of me to not be judging which path I am on at all times. See clearly the two paths.

We are told, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15). This will require VERY keen eyesight and insight. We will have to be wise in judging what may at first seem right and true but in fact is cleverly disguised, dangerous, deadly lies which are leading many down the wrong path. Watch out! See clearly those who are deceiving and being deceived. Blind acceptance will take you somewhere you do not want to go.

Make sure you are not sitting in the house of the foolish builder as the wind picks up. Many in that house have heard the word of God. They may profess Christianity and call him Lord and even seek to serve him. But they are not acting any different from the world. They are not doing the will of God. They have grown comfortable with the plank in their eye. They have befriended the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They have failed to put Jesus’ words into practice. They are on the wide path approaching the wide gate that leads to destruction.

Get out and move to the house of the wise builder before the downpour comes! Hear Jesus and listen. Do what he says. Take the plank out of your eye. See clearly. Help your brother take the speck out of his. Don’t make friends with the wolf just because he dressed up like a sheep.

See clearly. All paths are not the same. All houses will not stand. All choices are not okay. All churches will not be saved. Some will lead to life. Some will lead to death. Use the same measuring stick – God’s Word and the teachings of Jesus. And put it into practice! See clearly. Judge roads and gates and houses and wolves wisely. Your life truly depends on this.

-Marcia Railton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What was the difference between the wise and foolish builder? What fate awaited each? How can you put into practice the words of Jesus from Matthew 7 today?
  2. When we were introduced to John the Baptist and to Jesus we were told what they were preaching – see Matthew 3:2 and 4:17 to remember. Are any lessons from Matthew 7 connected to this preaching theme? If so, how?
  3. Is it easier for you to see your own sins or the sins of others? What advice does Jesus give? Pray to see clearly your own sins first so you can deal with them.
  4. How do you feel when you read Matthew 7:21-23? How does it relate to the rest of the chapter? How can we live now to avoid hearing these words from Jesus?

The Whole Counsel of God

Psalm 119 Part 5 (verses 153-176)

Psalm 119 is a beautiful testimony to the words of God. The psalmist meant to refer to the Torah, the first five books, called books of the Law.

But is that ALL that the psalmist spoke about?

The psalmist referred to what he believed were the words of God, but that is because he only regarded the first five as God’s revealed word. However, the church has come to recognize more than that. First, we believe God revealed himself to Moses in the Torah, and that through a lengthy editing process we have those first five books in their form today. However, other books, books of history, like Joshua and Ruth, were also recognized as being inspired by God. Note how that sentence was worded. It was not that “the church claimed they were inspired” or “the church or councils chose them for the Bible.” The church and church councils only recognized the inspiration already in the text. We saw it in the books of the prophets like Isaiah and Malachi, in the apocalypse of Daniel, and even in the Psalmists own words of 119! Later, we would recognize God’s voice in the writings of Paul, in the Gospels, in other letters, including the letters of Peter, John, and the apocalypse given to John. 

These 66 books compose the Scriptures, in both Old and New Testaments. When we read Psalm 119 and the psalmist’s passion for, meditation on, and memorization of scripture, for us this covers ALL these books. The psalmist was this passionate about Leviticus, how much more should our soul sing when reading the Gospel account of the salvation of humanity! How much more should we rejoice in committing to memory the words of the Word of God, Jesus Christ. (John 1)

Read Psalm 119 (or, hopefully, re-read it!) and focus on what we have seen over the past few days:

As you read Psalm 119, see the artistry of one who so deeply loved God’s words, and allow it to show you the beauty of God’s scripture from Genesis to Revelation. 

As you read Psalm 119, praise God for the fact that he would reveal himself in the scripture and how much more he would reveal himself through his beloved Son Jesus Christ. 

As you read Psalm 119, recognize the Torah’s important role in beginning the Revelation of God to his people, and may it propel you to continue to walk in God’s way through the life and teachings of the fulfillment of the Torah in Jesus. 

As you read Psalm 119, pray, meditate and memorize God’s words so that they may be a lamp unto your feet and a light to your path, and that you might keep your way pure. 

As you reads Psalm 119, may you fall in love with the words of God, the Word of God, and ultimately, with the God who loves you. 

-Jake Ballard

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway.com here – Ezekiel 33-34 and Psalm 119:153-176

Remember

2 Peter 3

Have you ever played any memory or matching games? Our family likes to watch Braingames, where they discuss different scenarios that “trick the mind.” Some will use colors that play tricks on the brain, others will use shapes to make you think a longer line is actually shorter, still others will show you tricks to better remember something. 

We tend to forget things easily, as a result we have found that it is easier to remember if we recap our tasks at the end of a conversation or email. Our family emails will usually end with a bullet point list of the main points of the email. We have even begun doing this with some of the emails we send to those outside of our family as well. 

The third chapter of 2 Peter is kind of a bulleted list reminding his readers of the main points he has brought to their attention. He reminds his readers of the the importance of the words spoken by the prophets and the commandments of the Lord. This is the foremost reminder that he gives seeking for his readers to focus their lives on these. He says mockers will come and they will ask, “Is your Lord ever actually going to return?” If you have been a Christian for very long you have probably been asked a similar question, or even thought about similar questions yourself. Peter reminds us that God operates outside of our understanding of time. What seems like a long time to us is like a day to Him. He also reminds us that the apparent delay is not so much slowness as it is patiently waiting for as many as will to come to repentance and form a relationship of hope and love with our Lord. 

Remembering these things should cause us to think of the kind of person we should be. We should be people that are consistently looking for opportunities to further His Kingdom work and bring others to Christ. We should be living holy and godly lives while keeping our eyes on the things of God rather than the things of this world. I will never forget the many times I have heard Dr. Joe Martin proclaiming, “ITS ALL GONNA BURN” as he talks about the earthly things he dreams of (his Toyota Tundra). We all have material possessions that we hold dear and that we dream of one day having, the fact of the matter is that ITS ALL GONNA BURN and that’s okay! When it burns at the coming day of the Lord we will receive eternal life. We will be in the presence of our LORD and His Son! We will be seeing the new heaven and new earth! There is NOTHING in this creation that can compare with how amazing that will be!

REMEMBER:

  • The words spoken by the prophets. (Verse 2)
  • The commandment of the Lord and Savior. (Verse 2)
  • Mockers will come with their mocking. (Verse 3)
  • God is patient, NOT slow. (Verses 8 & 9)
  • Its all gonna burn! (Verse 12 & Dr. Joe)
  • We are awaiting something FAR BETTER!!! (Verse 13)
  • Be diligent in your faith and actions. (Verse 14)
  • Grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord. (Verse 18)

-Bill Dunn

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Ezekiel 13-14 and 2 Peter 3

Not Forsaken

Jeremiah 51 & 52

As a junior high teacher, there have been a couple of times when a student’s behavior warranted their removal from the classroom, even after multiple redirections and warnings. The school administrator would assign a consequence, such as on-campus suspension for one to three days, and then the student would return to reintegrate back into our class community.

While this scenario isn’t a perfect analogy to what we read in Jeremiah chapters 51 and 52, it has a few similarities.

Throughout generations, Israel had been warned over and over about what would be the consequences if they failed to be obedient to God’s decrees. And yet the kings over God’s people and the people themselves rebelled, they did evil in the eyes of the LORD. And God cannot tolerate sin. There had to be consequences. 

So God allowed Babylon to capture Israel. God allowed for His dwelling place, the temple built by Solomon, to be ransacked and destroyed. This was the consequence of decades of disobedience. 

But throughout this time, God never stopped loving His people. He longed to see them be restored. And so He made a way. The very kingdom that had caused destruction to Israel, would eventually face its own consequences and be brought down by its enemies. God’s people would be released from captivity. 

What we read in Jeremiah 51 and 52, describes what no doubt was a rough patch for Israel, to put it mildly. And it even foretells what it might be like during the time leading up to Christ’s second coming.

But we can also read it through the lens of how God must deal with us as individuals. Because He is the Holy One of Israel, there must be consequences to our sin. We are destined to be separated, exiled, from Him because our sin and His holiness cannot coexist. But God longs to be in a relationship with us. And so God provides for a way, through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, for this relationship to be restored. So even though our lives are “full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel”, we will not be “forsaken by our God, the LORD Almighty”.

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 51-52 and James 4

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