“Truth has Perished”

Jeremiah 7-9

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In this world we come across many lies on a daily basis. Through misleading advertising, exaggerated and twisted news stories, social media, and what the masses say, we are introduced to many forms of dishonesty. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to think or what to believe. This can also take a somewhat dangerous turn when we start to believe the lies we are told. Sometimes the truth makes us uncomfortable. Therefore, it is easier to accept the lies and trust in that which makes life and our decisions a little simpler. We begin to trust in deceptive talk.

This is a topic that is written about in Jeremiah chapter 7. The LORD tells Jeremiah to relay to the people that they should not trust in deceptive words. God says that such words are worthless. The actions that believing in such nonsense bring about not only pulls us away from God, but also brings shame upon ourselves.

Sometimes we may view our faith as an entre that we order from a restaurant. We read the menu and instead of accepting the dish as it is, we decide we need to tweak it. We want it to fit our taste and what we want. So, we ask the waiter or waitress to leave the onions off the burger. We may even ask that instead of a beef patty, could it be replaced with a chicken patty? And maybe instead of a bun, we ask for lettuce. We also ask to substitute the fries for a baked potato. At the end of our ordering process, our entre looks completely different. Instead of a burger with fries, we have chicken with a salad and baked potato.

It is easy for us to treat the Bible in the same way. We may like this passage and this one, but not that one. So, we keep what we like and ignore what makes us uncomfortable. We then begin to believe this deception that we have told ourselves and that perhaps others have told us as well. The world might even tell us what we should and shouldn’t believe in the Bible. This is what the people of Israel did as well. They began to forget the ways of the LORD. They did what they wanted and what suited them. They still would go to the temple, though, and say that they were safe there. They wanted God to bless them, but they didn’t want to put in any effort. They believed the other nations and followed the gods of those people. They allowed themselves to be deceived and misled.

Let us take this as a lesson. We can learn from the mistakes of the people in this passage. We have to actively search for the truth. We can dig into scripture. We can, as written in Proverbs 7:3, write it on the tablets of heart. Through doing this we can determine what is true and right. We can avoid believing in the worthless words of deceit.

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible passage, Jeremiah 7-9, can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+7-9&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 10-13 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

At the Crossroads

Jeremiah 4-6

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Imagine that you are on vacation. You are searching for a special restaurant that you wanted to visit while in the area. However, you get lost and come to a crossroads. You don’t know which way to go.  There are two clear options that you have. You can either look for guidance from your GPS or you could ask a local. The other option is relying on yourself to figure out the way even though you are at a loss.

There are many lessons that are taken out of Jeremiah 4-6, but perhaps the one that stands out the most is found in chapter 6. In verse 16 it talks of standing at the crossroads. It says that we should seek the ancient paths when at the crossroads of life. We need to seek the guidance offered to us.

There are many crossroads in life such as the one in the vacation example. However, the crossroads are sometimes not as material as the one in the example. The crossroads we face are not necessarily physical. Many times, they are mental and spiritual ones. Sometimes we feel lost and we do not know where to go next. We don’t know what decision to make, where we should go, or even if we should take that job, or go to that college. Life is full of decisions.

In these times of uncertainty, though, we do not have to find the right way on our own. God is there and if we seek him, he will lead us. He will direct our steps. If we go it on our own, more than likely we will take a wrong turn. We will end up feeling more lost and confused than we did in the beginning. If we rely on ourselves and our sense of direction in an area that is foreign to us, we could get in trouble. We could follow a road that would take us into the bad part of town or to a place where the bridge is out.

However, if we ask for guidance; if we seek the ancient ways, as Jeremiah calls it, we will be set in the right direction. The locals and the GPS have wisdom and perspective that we do not.

How do we seek these ancient ways? Reading the Bible, digging into that Word, and prayer is a great way to seek this guidance. I have come across many so-called crossroads. Some of them more confusing than others. These crossroads included times when I didn’t know where I should work, if I should serve in a certain mission field or not, what I should study in college, and figuring out how I should react in certain situations. I would always feel confused in these situations, but when I remembered to pray, it seemed to come into perspective. That guidance and comparing the aspects of the situation to the stories in the Bible helps me to make these decisions. By seeking the counsel of the LORD, I was able to know which way to go when brought to the crossroads. Prayer is a powerful tool that we have graciously been given access. So let us use what has been made available to us.

 

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible passage, Jeremiah 4-6 , can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+4-6&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 7-9 as we continue our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Called and Used by the Generous God

Jeremiah 1-3

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These first 3 chapters of Jeremiah have several applications for the reader. In the beginning of this book, we learn about the calling of Jeremiah. Before Jeremiah was even born, the Lord set him aside to be a prophet. God wanted to use Jeremiah to fulfill this calling. Jeremiah at first believed himself incapable of such a thing. But the LORD said he would be with Jeremiah. He would not only guide him; he would also protect him. Jeremiah then trusted God and began this work.

We can learn a lesson from this. Sometimes it is easy to doubt ourselves and believe that we are incapable of something. We may think that God couldn’t use us because of x, y, and z. In reality, though, it is not by our strength or ability that we serve the LORD. It is rather him working through us. So, by doubting ourselves, we are doubting the ability of the LORD to work through us. Jeremiah also did not believe himself capable of being called, but nonetheless he was. The LORD called many sinners such as David, Jonah, Paul, and countless others. So, do not doubt yourself. The LORD is capable of calling you and through him, you are capable of answering that call.

Another interesting thing found in these three chapters is the fact that God warned the people of their ways. He did not make them guess. Sometimes when we are upset with someone, we think that the offending party should be able to figure out why we are upset with them. God did not do this. He used Jeremiah to tell them what they were doing and what they needed to do. If I really think about this, I think of how generous and caring this act is. Even though the Israelites were completely in the wrong and should know what it was they were doing, God still communicated with them. He did not keep them in the dark even though they were ignoring him.

It is interesting also that it seems like the main thing that God is asking of the Israelites in these chapters is for their repentance. Through Jeremiah, he tells them that they should not continue on in their ways as though they are doing no wrong. They should acknowledge what they are doing and repent. They needed to accept that they were wrong.

It can be hard though to admit when we are wrong. By doing this our pride is injured and we have to humble ourselves. It is far easier to keep doing what we were doing and act like we are in the clear. This, however, is not right. We need to admit when we are wrong. Through doing so, we can grow and mature.

 

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+1-3&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 4-6 as we continue on our journey through God’s Word with the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Growing Sin

Zephaniah 1-3

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The book of Zephaniah is quite short, but it is full of descriptive language. It recounts the vision given to Zephaniah in the time of King Josiah’s reign. This prophecy paints a colorful picture of the price that must be paid for sin.

Sin is not something that we can pretend has never happened. If we deliberately continue living a life filled with sin, it will eventually catch up with us. To maybe understand this a bit better, I was reminded of our physical wear and tear. For those that play sports or enjoy physical activity, you may know that these pastimes can result in injury. The injury may start out as a minor sprain or cut, but we keep going rather than caring for this injury. It is inconvenient to allow something that seems so minor to hold us back from doing what we want. So eventually this minor sprain gets worse or that unattended cut gets infected. Slowly something that was in our grasp to fix becomes a bigger problem.

Sin is also like this. At first, we may stray a bit as a mistake, but then we slowly get lured in. “What difference will it make if I do this one more time”, we may ask ourselves. But slowly the minor problem turns into something bigger as we continue to turn our backs on God. Slowly this sin, whatever it may be, will eat at us. We will have to face the consequences that sin has left in its wake.

Just like in Zephaniah, one day, the LORD will eradicate the sin of this world. It will be good to one day be in a world without sin or pain. And thankfully, God has given us the possibility to be reconciled to him. We do not have to allow sin to rule our life. We can turn to God and he will help us fight temptation. We just must trust in him. In chapter 2 of Zephaniah, God summoned Judah to repent. He did not want these people to be lost to their sin. He wanted them to turn to him, so that they could be sheltered. He gave them a chance as he has given us one. He wants us to take refuge in the shelter he has lovingly offered.

Just as a government wishes for its citizens to abide by the law, the LORD wishes for us to turn to him. However, when those citizens rebel against those guiding principles, they must face the consequences of their actions. We, however, must make the choice to live for him. We must enter that shelter that our heavenly Father provides.

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=zephaniah+1-3&version=NIV

Tomorrow we begin the book of Jeremiah (chapters 1-3) as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Take Action

2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-45

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Josiah was only eight years old when he became king, yet he still did what was right. This was unlike many of the other kings that ruled in Jerusalem. We are told in these chapters that this young and inexperienced king did what was right in the eyes of the LORD.

It is amazing how zealous King Josiah was. He was truly grieved when he discovered, from the reading of the Book of Law, how far his people had strayed. He tore his clothes and audibly wept. I feel like this should inspire modern day Christians. It seems as though evil has become an ordinary thing that we see happen every day. We have news stories of murders, burglaries, and other reports of violence and suffering flash across our phones on a daily basis. Does this evil pain us the way the evil of Jerusalem pained Josiah? Or have we grown numb to this constant occurrence?

Not only did this pain Josiah, it also sparked a change. King Josiah did something with this revelation. He tore down the high places and idols built to glorify and worship false gods. He sought to destroy the things in Jerusalem that went against the LORD. He completed this quest with passion. He wanted Jerusalem to again turn to the LORD.

This should also inspire us. It is one step to see what is happening, but it is another to take action. What are we doing to combat the darkness? There is so much pain in this world. How are we being proactive?  It is easy to become complacent, but we must aspire to do all that we can as Josiah did. Josiah is an example of someone that truly sought the LORD.

Because of Josiah’s heart and his commitment, the LORD promised him that he would not see the destruction of Jerusalem. Josiah, however, was eventually killed in battle. This came about, though, because he did not heed the warning which God had sent him. We need to constantly look to the LORD and seek him as Josiah tried to do during his reign.

Therefore, let us allow the things we see to inspire us to also seek change. Let us, as Christians, be a city on a hill and reach out to the hungry, wounded, and lost. Even opening the door for someone or buying someone’s coffee in the drive-thru behind us can make another person’s day. This life can seem difficult at times, so let us be a light that keeps the creeping darkness at bay in the lives of many people. Josiah did not only grieve for the state of Jerusalem, he took action to better it. In the same way we should not be satisfied with only grieving for our world. We too, like Josiah, should seek to be the difference that we wish to see in this world.

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+22-23%3B+2+Chronicles+34-35&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Zephaniah 1-3 as we continue our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

A Price to Pay

Nahum 1-3

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These three chapters make up the entire book of Nahum. At the beginning of this book we are told that it is the vision Nahum was given. This vision prophesied the downfall of the wicked city of Nineveh.  The language in this book is very vivid and paints a terrifying picture of the price that those in Nineveh were to pay.

God had been patient with Nineveh, but as Chapter 1 (v.3) reads, “The LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.” The people of Nineveh had for too long relished in the ways of the flesh. The LORD could no longer tolerate the filth that they spread.

If you may recall, this is not the first time that we are introduced to the people of Nineveh in the Old Testament. A previous book, Jonah, describes how the people of Nineveh had before turned against the LORD. Eventually Jonah made it to Nineveh and told them of what God planned to do because of their wickedness. The people of Nineveh repented of their ways and the LORD preserved them. However, in Nahum, we learn that the people of Nineveh had again turned from the LORD.

An interesting part of this event is how it would have been in the grasp of the people of Nineveh to avoid such a fate. Chapter 1 even talks of how we can look to the LORD in times of trouble. It tells of his goodness and his care for those that trust in him. If only the people of Nineveh had continued to turn to the LORD rather than to sin.

Sometimes, though, it can be easier to turn away from the LORD. When we turn toward him, there are many tempting things of the flesh that we have to turn away from. Taking part in these sinful acts is not usually difficult on our part. It is easy to sin. However, the consequences that follow that sin are usually never easy. Our sin creates many issues for us in life.

This can be paralleled to how we use our time on a daily basis. Watching another episode of our favorite show on Netflix may be easier than getting work done, but in the long run, which one counts? Watching tv may feel good in the moment, but as we look back on our day, we will feel less accomplished and possibly even stressed because we may feel behind on our work. If we had worked hard at the start, we would have avoided the stress and been left with a feeling of accomplishment.

So, if we initially put in the effort to turn to the Lord and trust in him, he will be our refuge. We will be able to avoid some of the heartache and discipline that would have followed us if we took the easy way out and fell into temptation. That does not mean, though, that if we follow the Lord, we will avoid all kinds of trouble. On the contrary, there will always be storms that we face in this life. If we turn to the Lord, though, we will have a rock to stand firm on during these storms. We will not be blown away by the heavy winds.

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Nahum+1-3&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35 as we continue the story of God’s people in the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

The Problem with Pride

2 Chronicles 32-33

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There are many lessons that we can learn from reading these chapters in the Bible. One of these lessons is that a proud heart can cause much trouble. For both Hezekiah and Manasseh this was an issue. Hezekiah did not want to credit the LORD, while Manasseh disregarded the LORD.

It is easy for us too to fall into this. There are times where we pray for guidance. However, once we receive the guidance we asked for, we neglect to go back to God and we just continue with our lives. We do not take the time to acknowledge the LORD’s hand in what was done and we do not do so until we feel we are again in need of him. It is easy for us to forget what he has done. The reality too, is that sometimes we like to think that we found the answers on our own. However, we would not have been capable of finding such answers without God. This situation is similar to Hezekiah when he allowed his heart to be proud and did not credit God with the successes of Jerusalem. He wanted to receive the glory that was owed to the LORD.

Other times, though, we may be able to better relate to Manasseh. During these times, we may be in outright rebellion toward God as Manasseh was. We want to do what we want. We may feel as though we do not need to listen to God because we are proud and think that we know best. We may say, “I know what I am doing.” That is until we receive a wake-up call and realize that we were not so wise in our thoughts and actions. We come to understand that we didn’t have a clue as to what we were doing. What a humbling experience this can be for our proud hearts!

This actually reminds me of a time when I was packing for a several month stent of studying abroad in Ireland. I had limited space, so I was trying to pack as lightly as possible. Because of this, I disregarded my mother’s advice to pack a small towel. I thought I was being smart. I will just get a towel when I get over there. “I know what I am doing”, I thought. This disregard for guidance offered to me by someone older and wiser than me resulted in me having to use a t-shirt as a towel for several days. Turns out that securing a towel in an unfamiliar country is not always so easy.

While this example is small in comparison, I think it shows how easily we can turn to ourselves rather than to others, and more specifically God. Even though the downfall of both Hezekiah and Manasseh were great, God forgave them when they repented. Because of the love our God has for us and the sacrifice of his son on the cross, we have the ability to be reconciled to him. That truly is something to be thankful for.

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Chronicles+32-33&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Nahum 1-3 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan