Don’t Withhold the Cure

Jeremiah 9-10 and Psalms 99-101

The Old Testament prophets who spoke for God, including Jeremiah, were entrusted with preaching a lot of doom and gloom. Because God’s children had strayed from his commands, judgment would be coming and the people needed to know. I loved Jeff Fletcher’s illustration in his devotion yesterday of a doctor who could be charged with malpractice if he knew the sick condition of a patient’s insides and knew how to fix it and what changes the patient would need to make in order to cure the potentially deadly ailment, and said nothing. This would be like the Christian who sees the broken sinful world and pretends everything is okay. Don’t withhold the cure.

Jeremiah paints a very vivid picture of a world that is not okay. Chapter 9 opens with the prophet mourning the sinfulness of God’s people. He would love nothing more than to pack up and go to a desert retreat where he could get away from and forget this crowd of unfaithful people. Can you relate? But, rather than abandoning the people in their sin, Jeremiah continues passionately speaking truth for God, over and over, even though his words often seem to fall on deaf ears. He still must speak and write and hold out the cure to these wayward people.

God has had it, too. He aptly describes the situation this way:

“It is not by truth that they triumph in the land. They go from one sin to another; they do not acknowledge me,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:3b NIV)

and again, “They have taught their tongues to lie; they weary themselves with sining. You live in the midst of deception; in their deceit they refuse to acknowledge me,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:6 NIV)

It sounds to me like God and Jeremiah are describing the sad state of affairs in 2021. So many lies and deceptions abound when attempting to justify and explain and even celebrate sin and sinful lifestyles that fester and grow when individuals and nations and societies have turned their backs on God.

It is as though God is left without a choice. “What else can I do because of the sin of my people?” (Jeremiah 9:7 NIV) “‘Should I not punish them for this?’ declares the LORD. ‘Should I not avenge myself on such a nation as this?’ ” (Jeremiah 9:9 NIV). God had drawn up the rules long ago with blessings promised to those who followed and curses to those who stubbornly disobeyed. Many chances had been given. Prophets had been sent to remind the people of the deadly disease and of the cure – repentance, turning away from sin and turning back to God. But these were a very stubborn people who took delight in continuing in their sin and lies and more sin and more lies.

God had given mercy. God had given reminders. God had given prophets. God had stretched out the cure. But, to no avail. So, God says – it is time. It is time to teach your daughters how to wail – death and destruction is coming. (Jeremiah 9:20,21).

Towards the end of chapter 9 an interesting section seems almost out of place…

 This is what the Lord says:

“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
    or the strong boast of their strength
    or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV)

Perhaps it was written more for us who would be reading Jeremiah centuries later, to remind us of the choice we have. And, the great opportunity we have to boast about our God, our Creator, Our YHWH. He created the cure. His Son is the cure that was not yet available in Jeremiah’s day. Sin is the same and comes with the same consequences – death. People today need to know about the cure. They don’t need to hear you bragging about your dinner, your kids, your car, your job, your grades, your house, your ______ (on social media or at the checkout line). They need to know about the LORD our God who exercises kindness AND justice and always righteousness. The Psalms passages today have some great examples of boasting about our God while holding out the cure. How can you hold out the cure today to a nation and world that is unknowingly in the stages of the deadly disease of disobedience?

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Jeremiah 9-10 and Psalms 99-101

The Goal

Psalm 24

Psalm 24 1 NIV

I think the ultimate goal of Christianity is to have a relationship with God. I think this is ultimately the goals of our lives as well if you believe in God. I once heard Pastor Vince Finnegan, Sean’s dad, say that as long as he had his relationship with God nothing else really mattered. He said this years ago and it has still stuck with me to this day. This is crazy because despite my ability to intensely focus on things there are days that I would forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my body.

Back to my point I wanted to open up by reminding you what is the point of our lives.

No one starts out running marathons by just running a marathon or hiking really huge mountains by just going and doing it. You have to start out by training for a marathon or hiking smaller mountains. You need to build endurance to complete formidable tasks. The cost of admission for hiking that larger mountain or running that marathon is rigorous training before hand. If you only do half of the marathon training, you probably won’t be able to run the whole marathon. That’s generally just a rule of life.

The real life long question for me is how can I draw closer to God and I think Ps. 24 lays out a way in which we can do that. You should go ahead and read it all the way through right now then we will talk about it some more.

I love the way this Psalm opens and I think it is super appropriate for what David is going to ask in verse 2 as well. David opens up the Psalm by acknowledging and praising God for his creation. He says that the earth is the Lord’s and all who dwell in it. If you read yesterday’s devo you know I love the idea that all I am and all I have is God’s. “I deserve nothing and I have been given everything” is probably my favorite saying and David’s opening lines feed directly into that. The reason I think it is so appropriate that David opens the Psalm like this is because he is acknowledging the greatness of God. He is acknowledging that we really haven’t done anything and don’t really deserve anything from God.

Verse 3 is the focal point of this psalm. David says “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?”. This isn’t just talking about standing on a hill or standing in God’s holy place just to stand there. And to clarify no one is worthy. Well, except Jesus. Jesus is always the exception and the answer. Haha.

Back to what I was saying before I distracted myself. David isn’t only saying this to proclaim God’s greatness. Ascending the hill of the Lord and entering his holy place are ways in which we can draw close to God. Psst… remember the opening paragraph. So, whatever comes next may be pretty important for us.

Verse 4 says “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, and doesn’t lift up his soul to what is false?” Remember what I was saying earlier about the cost of admission? Here it is. The disappointing part is that even if we cover the cost of admission we still need God’s help to cover the rest of it but that’s in the next verse. So, what do you think clean hands and a pure heart is? I think I can probably define it but I’m gonna take the easy way out with this one and say being like Jesus. Remember the answer is ALWAYS Jesus. So, to define living like Jesus is much easier for me; it’s living a life where from my heart my actions reflect love of God and his people. I just don’t see Jesus getting angry because he had to help another person because his actions where overflowing from a pure heart. The goal here is becoming more like Jesus.

I love the way that David phrases this second part ‘don’t lift up your soul to what is false.’ It speaks of something so true. Anything that we look to for satisfaction from, other than God, is false. We can give it life and make it out to be true but it will not satisfy.

In verse 5 it says that, “He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” It says here that we will receive righteousness from the Lord as well. God is even supplying righteousness in the areas in which we are lacking in order to draw close to him.

Verse 6 gets to the heart of what we have been talking about here. God is looking for those people who will seek his face and draw close to him.

I pray that God will help me to draw closer to Him by cleansing my hands and purifying my heart and helping change my heart. That my actions would be an out pouring of my heart and I could become holy as he is holy and draw closer to him.

Bonus Material: If you wanted to read another Psalm similar to this one Psalm 15 is great as well.

 

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+1-2%2C+15%2C+22-24%2C+47%2C+68&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 89, 96, 100, 101, 105 & 132 as we continue with the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan