Come Back

Amos 5

Sunday, November 6, 2022

For the last three years I have been in the retail industry. Working with the public, you are exposed to a wide variety of people. Ever heard of people watching? That’s when you literally just observe people for fun, whether at a shop or restaurant, because the state of our society can be so entertaining. However, it can be disheartening to a Christian. The way people talk and conduct themselves, and especially the way people treat each other, is really hard to watch. Let’s look at today’s scripture.

In Amos 5 we are greeted by a funeral song. Now, music has always been a huge part of my life. From Frank Sinatra to Dr. Dre, my appreciation of music is quite eclectic. Imagine my joy when I hear the chapter I get to write about is Amos 5! It reads, “ ‘The virgin Israel has fallen, never to rise again! She lies abandoned on the ground, with no one to help her up.’ The Sovereign Lord says: ‘When a city sends a thousand men to battle, only a hundred will return. When a town sends a hundred, only ten will come back alive.’ ” This is a warning from the prophet Amos to the people of Israel to provide another chance before facing the judgment of God. The sin they needed to repent from in this case was idolatry, and the imagery of the men dying in battle was to foreshadow the eventual tool God had planned to use to remove this sin, an invasion at the hands of the Babylonian empire. 

In verse 4 it reads, “Now this is what the Lord says to the family of Israel: ‘Come back to me and live!’ ” And that’s the amazing thing about the grace of God, is that’s all it takes. If the Israelites had simply put their false gods aside, they would have not (eventually) been punished.

Let’s pull it all together. You hear all the time from people that modern times are “so awful” and “that nothing like this has ever happened”. But that is plainly false! The sins of man have always been abhorrent, but “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent…” (Numbers 23:19, NASB 1995), that means that when God said “Come to me and live” he MEANT that and will ALWAYS mean that.

-John Evans

Reflection Questions

  1. Read Amos 5 and list all the things God saw the Israelites doing that He was warning them against continuing. Also list what God wanted them to do instead. Which of these actions and attitudes do you see today in society? In God’s church? In yourself?
  2. What warning do we need today?
  3. What does it look like to Come Back to God? How will you Come Back to Him? How will you help another to Come Back to Him?

Want to Get Rich?

1 Timothy 6

(Today’s devotion will be on 1 Timothy 6. Tomorrow we will jump back to 1 Timothy 5. Thanks for being flexible with us!)

Friday, September 9, 2022

 “Hey Jesse are you going to buy a lottery ticket?” A group of my coworkers had been talking about the jackpot because the lottery had reached over a billion dollars. The conversation that followed that question was followed with speculation of what the group of us would buy or what we would do with the money. Many, if not all, said they would have quit their jobs and bought extravagant things. Some even said they would invest it and be smart with the money. And some said they would give most of it away and keep enough to live on for the rest of their life. My answer to the question was “No, I mean of course it would be nice to have that money but I know I would probably spend all of it and end up in debt, broke, or dead.”

I think the lottery is a good example of what the world reaches for but doesn’t understand. Money may be able to buy you a boat, a cool new car, house, vacation, or whatever. However those things are only temporary and don’t satisfy the one thing we all strive to achieve in our lives. CONTENTMENT. No, not fugitives selling wintergreen lifesavers out of a tent, but contentment. The understanding of knowing what you have right now is enough. Just read what Paul in 1 Timothy 5:6-9 says “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

Money is not bad, however if you aren’t content without it, what makes you think you will be content with it? I can tell you from experience you won’t be,  unless you are trying to attain only to godliness first. Then everything else ordinarily falls into place and we become content. Something I struggle with, and I am sure you do as well, everyday. The understanding that God takes care of His people when they are seeking him is scattered all throughout the Bible. My favorite example and probably most prominent is Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of god and his righteousness, and all these things shall be handed unto you.” (I recommend reading the whole chapter to get the gist of what “all these things” Jesus is speaking about. No the lottery isn’t one of those things.) Seeking God is where we find our ultimate contentment. With him we don’t have to worry about plunging ourselves into ruin and destruction as many of the past lottery winners have done. Instead, we live our lives knowing we are content.

-Jesse Allen

Application Questions

  1. What do you think Paul meant when he said, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)?
  2. How does your contentment rank? Without ‘getting’ any more – how can you boost your contentment level with what you have right now?
  3. Explain how the Love of Money can be the root of all kinds of evil. Have you seen an example of this?

Eternal Perspective

Philippians 1

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Philippians 1:10 – For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

Perspective is everything. As a junior high school science teacher, I got to teach students about galaxies within the universe and molecules and atoms; from the macro to the micro and everything in between. And what we learned is that depending on your perspective, your observations and conclusions may vary. 

It’s very easy (at least for me) to get wrapped up in the business of each day. Which means I sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. What I appreciate about this specific letter from Paul to the church in Philippi, is that it’s a wonderful reminder to keep the most important things at the forefront of our thinking at all times. 

When we view life with an eternal perspective, instead of a right here, right now point of view, we are able to consider what really matters. Life becomes less about grabbing drive through dinner after a long day of work and more about being pleasant to the fast food worker. It becomes more about continuing to give to your family even though you’re exhausted from making tough decisions earlier in the day. It becomes more about being grateful and expressing joy because you’re making a difference in the lives of others. 

When we live with an eternal perspective it becomes easier to give even when we don’t feel like we have much to offer. It becomes more important to meet up with your neighbor to extend assistance for a need that they have when you understand the potential impact it might bring. It becomes a joy to worship, a pleasure to study Scripture, and a relief to rest in the shadow of our Rock when we are mindful that nothing is more important than seeking Him through whom all blessings flow. 

May today be your reminder to take some time to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

-Bethany Ligon

Application Questions

  1. What is most important to you?
  2. How does your life show what is most important to you?
  3. What situations cause you to forget your eternal perspective? How can you renew your dedication to the eternal perspective?

God Did All This

Acts 17

May 5

Paul starts out in Acts chapter 17 arriving in Thessalonica and speaking in the synagogues for 3 Sabbaths. He proclaims that Jesus needed to suffer and be raised from the dead. The Jews corner Paul and he is forced to leave the city after paying the officials. Paul and Silas depart for Berea. The Berean Jews listen to him and study to see if what he is saying is true and many of them believed. The Jews from Thessalonica find out Paul is in Berea and come after him there.

Paul is immediately sent away by the brothers in Berea and Paul arrives in Athens. Paul doesn’t take a break while in Athens. Paul seeing the city full of idols almost can’t help himself. Paul starts going into the marketplace and reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue and preaching to them about Jesus resurrected. They bring Paul to the Areopagus, a court of philosophy, and Paul launches into one of the most cultured speeches or sermons in the New Testament.

Paul starts out with the general declaration that God has made everything in v.24. God doesn’t live in a temple, made of human hands. He instead dwells within all of us. This is in abstraction to all the gods of Athens who needed a temple, a place for them to dwell. Our God when a house is built for him it was only supposed to represent God’s presence with his nation, Israel. It was a symbol for his people.

Paul makes his third statement about God’s sovereignty in v. 25. He doesn’t need us to serve him. For there is nothing that he needs from us that he can’t do for himself.  He instead involves us and allows us to serve him for our own good. Our service to God is a matter of grace from God to us. It is letting us love him back. We are like children using the money mommy gave us to buy something for daddy.

Paul then makes a statement about the whole world’s dependence on God. He says that God gives to us life, breath and everything. Life: many of you may think of this as coming from your mom and dad; but as at least some of you may know, pregnancy is a miracle in and of itself. Either way God gave you your life. Have you had any enjoyment in it? Praise God because he gave it to you. Breath: God has provided you the air in your lungs right now and all the air you have ever used. He gave you the air you used to praise him and the air you used to sin against him. Everything: Everything you have ever interacted with – like that piece of cake or your mama. He made all that as well.

Verse 26 says that God providentially gave to each a time and a place. Verse 27 Tells us exactly why he did this. He gave us our time, place, life, breath, and everything that we have and everyone we love that we would SEEK Him and FIND Him. This statement is so significant if we look at it from Paul’s audience’s perspective. God made everything and gave everything, that we would find Him. He did it, so it would point us to Him.

The good things that he gives to non-Christians and the good things he gave to us, when we didn’t love him, were all done for us that we would seek and find Him.

We are going to skip down to verse 30. Paul tells us he has overlooked our ignorance and is telling them to repent and that he will judge the world by a righteous man. Paul then says that we have assurance of this because Christ was raised from the dead.

This is the third time in this chapter Paul talks about Christ’s resurrection. Christ’s resurrection is paramount to the Christian faith. If Christ isn’t raised we have nothing. His resurrection gives us Christ in us and God in Christ and therefore God in all of us. By his resurrection, not just his death, we are justified (Romans 4.25).

-Daniel Wall

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How can you be more mindful of all that God has made and done for you today?
  2. How will you seek Him?
  3. Who do you know who still needs to hear about and know the “unknown God”? How can you introduce them?
  4. What does Christ’s resurrection mean to you?

Be Like Josiah

2 Chronicles 34

March 23

The one thing I always remember about today’s story of King Josiah is his age. Verse one tells us he was eight years old when he became king. Certainly noteworthy. But, what I never stopped to think about much before was what happened in the chapter just prior. His father had not humbled himself before God, did evil, and ended up assassinated by his own officials leaving Josiah to become king. Josiah came into power under those circumstances,  after years of the reigns of his father and grandfather who did not honor or obey God.  So, young Josiah comes into kingship during difficult times, and verse 3 tells us that at the age of 16 Josiah began to “seek the God of his father David. ” Thankfully, we are never too young, too old, or in too bad of circumstances to seek God.

Four years later at the age of twenty, he begins a big clean up project in Judah. The enemies Judah fought in yesterday’s reading appear to have been infiltrating the lives of God’s chosen people over the years. Some of the sinful customs they adopted were altars to Baal, idols, sacred poles or trees  used to worship a pagan goddess Asherah, and sacrifices (including ones of children Ezekiel tells us) to idols. Basically, they just acted like the people around them, completely disregarding what God called them to do and be.

Verses 8-13 highlight King Josiah’s efforts to repair and purify the temple that had fallen into shambles during the time of the disobedient kings. During this process, a priest stumbled across something exciting in the temple which was the “Book of the Law given through Moses”.  This book is also known as the Torah or the Pentateuch and is made up of the first 5 books of our Bible. The priest’s secretary took it to the king and read it in his hearing.  What a different time where Bibles  weren’t available on hundreds of apps, online, or printed across the world. Who knows when or if Josiah had heard these words last? Regardless, once he heard them, he was affected. He tore his robes and mourned for how far they had strayed from God’s desire for them.

Josiah wanted his people to know who they were and what they were called to be. He wanted them to experience not just guilt for all the wrong, but also the blessings coming from walking alongside a loving God. Verse 30 tells us he read from the Book of the Law to “all the people from the least to the greatest”.  God’s word isn’t just for pastors, priests, and the privileged. It is for everyone and we know from Hebrews 4:12 that it is living, active, and sharper than a two edged sword!

This passage reminds me of a friend of ours who loves God’s word and clearly seeks to apply it and obey it in his life. Though he grew up attending church and in a home with parents who believed in God, he said he never internalized it or cared about it whatsoever. He could “talk the Churchese language”, and said his parents and everyone at church told him he was “saved at 6”, though he quite passionately differs with that mindset saying he was not, because it meant nothing to him. Once on his own, he pursued his own interests/gain, and what would likely be considered normal/worldly success to those around him, but without a personal relationship with God playing any role in his life. After ~20 years of this “American individualistic lifestyle”, he said one day at work a coworker set a Bible on his desk. He picked it up, thumbed through it, started to read, and said it changed him instantly lighting a fire in him wanting to know more and know God. He says this entirely changed the course of his life, later impacting the family he has now. He often references the story of Josiah, and I love to watch him talk to people with such excitement for God’s word and living a life of obedience to it. It kind of amuses me to watch “Christian” people seem almost like, “Um, yeah, that’s nice that you like God and His word….” but you can tell….they are almost mystified by him and his Josiah-like attitudes. He has been a convicting blessing in our lives and we love to do Bible study with him and fellowship with his family.   How long has it been since we’ve been excited or grateful to read it? Excited to find it sitting in the same spot we left it last . . . .? Willing to actually do what it says? Because Josiah did not stop with reading it. He followed, removed sinful practices, renewed covenants, and obeyed His word.

Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors. (2 Chronicles v. 34)

-Jennifer Hall

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. After reading the chapter describe in your own words what Josiah did. What characteristics do you see in Josiah that you admire?
  2. What pagan, anti-God practices and ideas or centers for idolatry are found in your community? While you likely lack the authority King Josiah had to tear them down physically, how can you make a godly stand against them? What has crept into your own home and family life that God would be happy to see purged? Are you willing to do a deep cleaning of your home (calendar and heart) to remove ungodly influences?
  3. How do you rate your love of God’s Scriptures? What does it convict you of? How do you share it with others? How does it affect your decisions and actions? What can you do to increase your love for God’s word?
  4. Who did Josiah work with and in what supporting roles? Who is on your team as you work for God? How do you support others who are seeking God?

To Worry or Not to Worry

Matthew 6

January 6

What do you find yourself worrying about?

Finances, relationships, life decisions like which college or what job will fit you best, what people think of you or your family, pandemics, what your test result will be (covid test, spelling test, pregnancy test, SAT test, etc…), who will play with you at recess, the health of your parent, your child, your grandparent, your pet or yourself, how you will pay your bills, if your clothes are fashionable, global warming, flights and travel plans (or the lack thereof), government instability, natural disasters, and the list goes on. And on. And on.

There is a lot we can worry about. And the last two years hasn’t helped our worry levels. Anxiety is on the rise across all ages, but hitting young people especially hard. How can we help protect ourselves and our kids from the damage done by worry?

Worry does not change what will happen or what has already happened. (Though so often we waste much time worrying about what never happens at all.)

Worry does not change how well or how poorly we will respond to what does happen.

Worry does steal our thankfulness.

Worry does make us feel bad – and has a proven strong link to depression.

Worry does strip our focus off of God and His goodness and love and righteousness.

Can we agree that worry isn’t helpful? That we will be better off spending as little time as possible stuck in a worry cycle? So what do we do when we catch ourselves (or one dear to us) catching a ride on the worry train?

Yesterday I read a suggestion to limit yourself to a specific 5-15 minutes a day to worry. If you catch yourself worrying any other time of the day tell yourself it is not the time to worry now, but you will do that at the prescribed worry time (say, 6:10-6:20 pm). Interesting idea I have not tried yet.

But, I can tell you what HAS worked for me, and my family and friends, over and over again. Three times in the last three days I have heard and experienced the overwhelming power of turning to God in His Scriptures to combat our worry and anxiety.

A dear friend was worried about a new job possibility that appeared to be a closing door. She wisely decided to put a hold on her worried thoughts and instead took the time to write out her Bible passage for the day which happened to be about new beginnings. And when she was done – the phone rang with some positive information about the job.

My husband was stuck in a hotel overseas concerned about not receiving a negative covid test result so he could begin work he had been sent to do. It appeared there was nothing to do but wait and worry. Until, he decided to use the time instead to do the last 2 days of Bible reading and devotions. When he was done – the email came with the negative results and he got to work.

I was struggling with a decision that was weighing heavily on me for the past two months. But Monday was my deadline. I needed to contact my boss to let them know if I was going to pursue a job opportunity with them or not. I was worried about making the best decision and what it would mean for me and my family and those I would (or wouldn’t) encounter at work. I was struggling to know what I wanted..and what God wanted. Early Monday morning I was preparing the devotion on John the Baptist from Matthew 3 but wanted to check on some background information so turned to Luke 1. And, there was my answer as clear as could be, repeated twice in Luke 1:41-44. The letter has been written and peace has been growing while the worry has been wiped away. God sent the answer to my worry when I was in His Word. I know I didn’t give a lot of details, but ask me later and I can fill in the rest of the story but the important part is that in God’s Word the worry disappeared.

It sounds almost like magic. But, it’s not. It’s God at work. And God at work beats me at worry any day! And it happens again and again. My son has a great story about finding peace in his college decision when he was faithful in his Bible reading. Two generations earlier my mom has a similar story of the same peace discovered in scripture regarding a previously worrisome huge move and new job for her young family.

Often the answer and peace doesn’t come the same day. When our youngest was in elementary school she struggled with worry – especially at night. She would lie in bed long past bedtime thinking of what might go wrong the next day or the next year. Together we created some posters of Philippians 4:4-9 and stuck them to the wall by her bed. Here’s verses 4-7, but you might want to look up 8-9 as well and you can make a beautiful poster for your bedside, too.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

It didn’t happen overnight, but she read and re-read those words every night. She put those Scriptures deep into her memory and into her heart. She turned to God in prayer and petition with thanksgiving. Under those circumstances worry had no chance to thrive. Over time her worry shrank and her peace grew and she slept soundly. She still does.

There is a lot we CAN worry about. And the worry can mess with our mind, diminish our health, steal our sleep, damage our relationships and take us deeper into depression and further away from God’s will for us. Or, we can SEEK HIM. Open the Bible He’s given to you where He reveals Himself and His answers for life and peace. Seek Him in prayer, just as Jesus taught. We can rest in peace knowing God is at work. He is feeding the birds. He is growing the lilies of the field. He is supplying answers. He is giving peace. That doesn’t mean that every day will be easy and no troubles will come. It just means that God is still there in those trials. He still has a plan. He still loves. He still guides. He still provides. He is still right. He still has a Kingdom like no other coming around the bend. Seek Him, His Kingdom, His righteousness. Rest easy knowing it’s gonna be alright. God is at work so I don’t have to worry.

-Marcia Railton

Reflection and Discussion Questions

  1. What did you used to worry about that you don’t worry about any more? What changed? Are you worried about something now? Do you think you will also be worried about it next year? 10 years from now? In the Kingdom? How could seeking God’s kingdom help take care of a worry problem?
  2. Describe an environment in which worry grows. Describe an environment in which worry can not thrive. Which environment do you want to live in? What steps can you include today to start changing your daily schedule and environment to reduce worry?
  3. Philippians 4:4-9 says prayer helps replace anxiety. In Matthew 6 the Lord’s Prayer, fasting, and teaching on our treasures all accompany Jesus’ teaching on worry. What can we learn about prayer from these passages? What pieces do you see in the Lord’s Prayer? Any aspects of Jesus’ prayer that you feel your prayer life could use more of? If so, practice adding those into your prayers today.
  4. How can you use the lessons of prayer and not worrying to help someone else today? Who?

2022 Seek Grow Love

Bible Reading Plan

We are happy to announce a NEW Bible reading plan for SeekGrowLove readers in 2022!

We are going to intentionally slow down and each day focus on just ONE Bible chapter. Through the year we will cover every chapter of the New Testament (reading one gospel in each season) and 105 chapters highlighting the best of the Old Testament, with at least one chapter from each of the books. Much thanks to Bob Jones, Old Testament instructor at Atlanta Bible College, for his invaluable help in selecting the Old Testament chapters we have included.

Print and share the printable reading plan attached below.  Since we are intentionally slowing down and focusing on just one chapter a day it is a great time for new readers (individuals, families, youth groups, Sunday School classes, etc…).  Readers will receive daily email devotions based on that day’s Bible chapter if they sign up as a subscriber at https://seekgrowlove.com/. Seek Grow Love can also be found and liked on facebook to read the devotions there.

An addition this year will be reflection and discussion questions at the end of every devotion which will help us further connect to God and His Scriptures on a personal level. Working through these questions can be very useful for personal contemplation or journaling. Also, they may be used within a mentor relationship or amongst accountability partners. Pray about who God may be prompting you to invite on a journey with you into His Word and His heart. And do you have kids at home – or church kids on your heart? With one chapter a day and discussion questions that can be used during family devotions or by a young person working through God’s word, this is a great opportunity to challenge yourself, your family, your youth class, your accountability partner to SeekGrowLove!

Seek the LORD and Live

Amos 5-6

Amos. A prophet to Israel in a difficult time. Amos introduces himself as a mere shepherd rather than as a prophet–and God still used him to deliver a mighty message to His people. His words still ring loud for us today:

Seek me and live. (Amos 5:4b)

Every culture, every civilization, and every era of history has given false promises about where to find life to the full.

Seek the LORD and live (Amos 5:6).

God uses Amos to tell His people over and over again: life is only found in Him.

The God who made the stars, brings each passing day and night, and moves each and every tide of the ocean waves– the LORD is his name! (Amos 5:8).

We have a great God, who is glorious and mighty beyond comparison. He is a beacon of goodness, and if we seek him, we can pass that onto others. A major theme of Amos is a call to pursue justice and righteousness.  Verse 14 says “seek good, not evil, that you may live.”

What does the LORD require of us? Church traditions?  Heartless obedience? Quite the opposite. God tells us in verses 22-23 that the sacrifices, songs, and festivals mean nothing without– you guessed it– justice and righteousness. Treat your neighbors justly, and live rightly.

How do we know what justice and righteousness even look like? Where do we go? 

Seek the LORD, that we may live!

-Levi Salyers

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Amos 5-6 and Revelation 3

Seek and Find

Jeremiah 29 & 30 and Hebrews 6

Have your parents ever planned a big surprise for the family. Maybe a big trip that everyone is excited about and looking forward to. They will do whatever is possible to make it happen. My mother would always say “Lord’s willing” on the off chance that something unforeseen would happen. With God, we don’t have to worry because if he says something will happen, it WILL happen. The Israelites should know this by now, but just like us, sometimes it’s hard to get things through to them.

Jeremiah 29 is a letter from Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon. We all know Jeremiah 29:11, it’s on lots of items from shirts to artwork, because it has a great message, but continue to read on, the whole passage is just as meaningful. It’s like a love poem written to His children. It starts in verse 10 when He tell them he will bring them back after 70 years, just like He promised. Jeremiah 29: 11-14 says “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will let Myself be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.”

Even after all that happened and the fact that they had followed after other gods, the one true God had not given up on His people and He had good plans ahead for them. They just needed to trust Him. We need to all learn to lean on and trust God during the times when we may feel like we are exiled and in captivity. God has good plans for His children. But we have to do our part, it says that we need to call on Him, seek Him, and search for Him with all of our heart. If we do that, He says “I will let Myself be found by you.” He is going to restore them and bring them back to their promised land. These chapters deal with the future prosperity of Israel that God has promised them. In Jeremiah 30:24b it says “Until He has performed, and until He has accomplished the intent of His heart; in the latter days you will understand this.”

We can rest assured that God’s promises will happen, just as He has said, and one of His promises is that He will give us a hope and a future. In Hebrews 6, we learn of better things that are ahead for all believers, we have assurance of our hope of salvation.  It tells us that Abraham waited for the promise of God to be fulfilled just like we must and it tells us to be imitators of those who persevered through faith and patience who will inherit the promises.  Jesus has gone before us as the first fruits of those resurrected to eternal life and is in heaven acting as our high priest. A better day is coming for all of us when Jesus returns to this earth to set up his Father’s kingdom.

-Sherry Alcumbrack

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 29 & 30 and Hebrews 6

The United States of Gomorrah

Jeremiah 23-24 and Hebrews 3

After all of the doom and gloom we’ve read so far in Jeremiah, in 23: 5-6 we read a promise of the coming messiah,  “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.”

This is clearly a promise of Jesus, the heir to David’s throne.  Notice in particular the name attributed to the messiah here, “The Lord our Righteousness.”  This was especially important because the people of Judah were wicked.  They needed some external righteousness, because they weren’t righteous themselves.

In fact, in Jeremiah 23: 14 we read, “And among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen something horrible.  They commit adultery and live a lie.  They strengthen the hands of evildoers so that no one turns from his wickedness.  They are all like Sodom to me, the people of Jerusalem are like Gamorrah.”

The very people who were supposed to be the most righteous, and who were supposed to be pointing others to God, were living a lie.  I don’t know if the adultery was physical adultery or spiritual adultery, but either way, they weren’t living the Godly lives they tried to portray.  They were living a lie.  We would call them hypocrites.  And not only that, they were promoting sin in the land so that the people were as bad as Gomorrah in God’s eyes.

When I look around at churches in our country, I see whole denominations who claim to be Christian, actively promoting wickedness.  As I look at our country as a whole, I can’t help but see many parallels to Judah in Jeremiah’s day.  We seem to be the United States of Gomorrah.  In fact, our wickedness is getting so bad that it seems like God either has to punish our nation or He will need to apologize to Judah for punishing them.  Because it seems like we are just as bad.

Today’s reading in Hebrews ties right in.  In Hebrews 3:12-13, we read, “See to it brothers that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

Hebrews 3 goes on to give the example of the Israelites whom Moses led out of Egypt.  When they rebelled against God, their bodies were strewn across the desert.  (They couldn’t rest on their laurels.)

And this brings us to our application for today.  

Fortunately, we aren’t justified before God because of our own righteousness – because we could never measure up on our own.  It is by grace we are saved, through faith.  Faith in “The Lord, our Righteousness.”  And that faith will produce works.

Just like Jeremiah was grieved by the sin that surrounded him, if we are in tune with God, we will be grieved by the sin that surrounds us.  It is imperative that we turn wholeheartedly to God.  And it is critical that we don’t turn away.  And because we are surrounded by such wickedness, we must actively encourage fellow believers to seek God wholeheartedly too.  And if we have lived a God-centered life so far, we can’t rest on our laurels.

“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”

-Steve Mattison

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Jeremiah 23-24 and Hebrews 3

%d bloggers like this: