Words Matter

Jeremiah 1-2; Psalm 90-91

This past Saturday women (and some men) gathered in front of the US Capital in Washington, DC and in state capitals across the United States to protest for women’s rights to choose to abort their unwanted babies.  One of the signs held up said “Rage, Rage Against the Denial of Your Rights”.

That’s a dangerous way to begin today’s devotions.  Some of you are likely offended or possibly even angry at me for what I wrote.  I referred to them as unwanted “babies” and not “fetuses” or “products of conception.”  Words matter.  If a person says “illegal aliens” referring to those who cross the border without proper documentation and not “undocumented aliens” we know that they have an opinion about the status of those who have entered the country.  “Illegal” sounds like a bad thing, like someone has broken a law and might be punished, whereas “Undocumented” sounds like some innocent mistake or a government slip up.  I forgot my hall pass on my way to the bathroom and so I’m undocumented.  That’s different than bringing a gun to school or taking drugs at school.  Those activities are illegal and should be punished somehow, but crossing over the border without proper authorization, that shouldn’t be illegal, right? (If your sarcasm detector is now going off then it’s working properly)

Words matter, whether you say “illegal” or “undocumented” or whether you say “unborn or pre-born baby” or “product of conception.”  If I refer to a “product of conception” that a woman has a right to dispose of, that’s no big deal.  But if I say that it’s a human baby that is alive and waiting to exit her mother’s womb, and that we are killing that baby, that sounds pretty awful.  No one wants to think about killing babies.  No one should have the right to kill babies, but every woman should have a right to dispose of an inconvenient or unwanted ‘product of conception”.

Words matter.  Jeremiah 1 wasn’t written specifically to address the issue of human life, and yet Jeremiah’s inspired words, given to him by God, are worthy of reflection and application to our context today. 

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

    before you were born I set you apart;

    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”- Jeremiah 1:4-5

Here, God is calling Jeremiah to be his prophetic voice to the people of Israel.  Jeremiah is an integral part of God’s plan to prophecy against His people Israel for their worship of other gods.  Before Jeremiah was even born, God had a plan for his life.  While Jeremiah was still in his mother’s womb, God set Jeremiah apart to be a prophet.  This is such a rich passage and we could reflect on it a hundred different ways.  It speaks about God and his omniscience (that’s a technical term that means God knows everything).  God is able to peer into the future and see that this tiny little cluster of cells which carries in it the DNA for a male human person who  probably has brown eyes, brown hair and olive skin, will grow up to be able to speak for God 20 or 30 years in the future and be a key part of God’s plan.

This little tiny cluster of cells in that young Jewish woman’s womb would  one day be born, grow up  and go in the name of God to confront an entire nation with its rebellion against God.  

“My people have committed two sins:

They have forsaken me,

    the spring of living water,

and have dug their own cisterns,

    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”- Jeremiah 2:13

It was this tiny pre-born human, who God would use to condemn his people because: “On your clothes is found  the lifeblood of the innocent poor.”- Jeremiah 2:34

God condemns Israel because her clothes are stained with the blood of the innocent and the helpless.  Again, in the context Jeremiah is not referring specifically to pre-born babies who have been unjustly murdered (aborted).  However, in our present context, those words have a clear application.  Who are the most innocent and helpless human beings in the world today?  It is the pre-born humans whose Mother’s don’t want to allow  them to live.  As thousands gather around the country to rage at the prospect of some states seeking to bring greater justice and defend the defenseless we must ask ourselves “How in the world did we get here?”

When God called Jeremiah it was to take a courageous stand against a wicked and corrupt nation.  Is God calling His people today to take a courageous stand?  I think so.

“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.” -Jeremiahs 1:17-19

If you, like Jeremiah, accept the call to speak faithfully for God against the current culture of death, and in doing so invite the rage of those who don’t want their right to murder unwanted pre-born human babies, then put Psalm 91 in your back pocket and carry it with you wherever you go: 

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

    my God, in whom I trust.”-Psalm 91:1-2

The Lord be with you.

Jeff Fletcher

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com hereJeremiah 1-2 and Psalm 90-91

Only do Not Rebel

Numbers 13-14 and Psalm 44-45

Here we are to chapter 13, and we get to read one of the “fun” stories throughout the book.  Today, we get to read a handful of spies checking out a chunk of land, and it kind of reminds me of a present-day James Bond movie.  The story starts off with Moses sending out 12 spies to check out the land of Canaan.  If we remember from Genesis, the land of Canaan was the land that God promised to Abraham and his descendants.  Therefore, it’s the land that rightfully belongs to the Israelites.  Since they were saved from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites have been making their way back to the Promised Land.  Now they were so close. Before they were ready to enter the Promised Land though, they wanted to receive some intel on the land, and that’s where the 12 spies come into play.

The 12 spies spent 40 days away checking out the land of Canaan.  At the end of the 40 days, they reported to Moses and the Israelites.  All twelve of their reports were similar in the fact that they all agreed the land was good!  The land was flowing with milk and honey – better than some manna and quail.  However, 10 of the 12 spies said that they should not go take the land because it was well defended, as the cities were large and well-fortified.  The other 2 spies, Joshua and Caleb, said that they should go for it because they have the X-factor, God.  What great faith demonstrated by Joshua and Caleb!

The Israelites ultimately listen to the 10 spies unfortunately.  This was very displeasing to God, as they didn’t have faith that He could deliver to them the land that he promised them.  Therefore, God said he was going to strike down the Israelites right then and there, but Moses interceded for them.  God compromised with Moses, and instead of striking them down, God decided that he wouldn’t allow anyone over 20 years old to enter the Promised Land other than Caleb and Joshua.  Spoiler alert, this is precisely why the census at the beginning of the 40 years was about the same as the end of the 40 years.  There would have been a lot of dying and a lot of reproducing at the same time.

At first the Israelites didn’t want to go in the Promised Land when God promised it to them.  However, when God said they couldn’t enter the land, they decided to take matters in their own hand and attempt to enter the land.  You guessed it, that attempt did not go very smoothly for those who tried.

Let’s learn from the example of the Israelites here.  When the Israelites displayed a lack of faith, they were severely punished by God.  Then, when God told them not to enter the land of Canaan, they did that exact thing!  Because of their disobedience, the people who attempted to enter were killed.  Rather than going against God’s direction and will like the Israelites, let’s humbly submit to God and His will for us.  Trust me, it will totally pay off if you follow God rather than rebel against God.

I hope you all enjoy the rest of the book of Numbers, as there are some interesting stories waiting for you all!  Remember, the book is not as boring as the title would suggest.

A note from Psalms:

“For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me,” Psalm 44:6.

The Israelites would have been well off if they considered this verse when they attempted to go to Canaan against God’s direction.  We may not put our trust in a bow or sword; however, it’s very tempting to put our trust in our money and possessions.  When we put our trust in our possessions, we will only be disappointed.  In fact, we will only not be disappointed if we put our trust in God!

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Numbers 13-14 and Psalm 44-45

Be Transformed

Romans Chapter 12 

 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

This!

 

These are some of the wisest words that Paul shares in Romans.  And that is saying a lot.

 

“In view of God’s mercy.”

After the abundance of mercy that God has shown us, we should desire to please him and properly worship Him.  So how do we do that?  By offering our bodies as sacrifices to God by being HOLY and PLEASING to Him.

 

How do we know what holy and pleasing looks like to God?  By renewing our minds in God’s word.  Paul lays it all out right there for us.  Isn’t this easy?

 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world.”

This warns us that the world’s system – the popular culture and manner of thinking that is in rebellion against God – will try to conform us to its ungodly pattern, and that process must be resisted.  And yet, many of us find ourselves being conformed to the world all the time.  It sneaks up on you sometimes.  Is our mouth just as foul as our coworkers?  Do we covet the latest ‘thing?’  Has your position on the sin of homosexuality moved?  Is viewing pornography ‘no big deal?’  Do you seek revenge against someone if they have wronged you?  (That one is addressed later in this same chapter.)

 

How do we know if these things are wrong or not?  By being transformed by the renewing of our minds.  This is the OPPOSITE of being conformed to the world.  Our minds start out being ruled by feelings, rooted in the flesh.  At that point we look just like the world.  But we need to have a source of truth – God’s world – that tells us what is right or wrong, despite what our feelings tell us.  Feelings lie.  The world lies.  But God’s word never will.

 

We can only be transformed in our minds by becoming more and more familiar with what God’s Word says.  Do you really stand out from the world?  As a Christian, you should.  The transformation you experience, from your old way of thinking and acting, should be as complete as Bumblebee or Optimus Prime from the Transformers movies when they transform from vehicle form to robot form.

 

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Finally, Paul is not calling us to be completely separate from the world, but instead to not be like the world.  We need to stand out in the world in such a way that we attract attention, and hopefully then draw others to God.  If we completely separate ourselves from the world, changing the lives of unbelievers would be impossible.

 

Greg Landry