And Another Thing…

Hosea 5-9

susan mon

Monday, April 10

Have you ever experienced this?

Your parents are lecturing you about something you’ve done wrong.  Really laying into you.  It seems to go on and on and on.  Finally, they pause and take a breath and you think they’re done.  But instead, they start in again with a new wave of, “And another thing…!”

In chapters 4-6, we see God get riled up.  He’s mad.  He is laying it all out in phrases like:

  • You ignored the law of your God
  • You exchanged glory for disgrace
  • Your deeds do not permit you to return to God
  • You’ve moved boundary stones. (I love this phrase, would be an interesting one to dig into)
  • Your love is like a mist…here one minute, gone the next.
  • God has withdrawn from you.

Yeah, He’s mad.

Then He pauses, takes a breath, and starts the second round, where he lays out the consequences of all of this (9:7-9):

The days of punishment are coming,
    the days of reckoning are at hand.
    Let Israel know this.
Because your sins are so many
    and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
    the inspired person a maniac.
The prophet, along with my God,
    is the watchman over Ephraim,
yet snares await him on all his paths,
    and hostility in the house of his God.
They have sunk deep into corruption,
    as in the days of Gibeah.
God will remember their wickedness
    and punish them for their sins.

Don’t miss these phrases:

  • Punishment is coming.
  • The days of reckoning are at hand.
  • God will remember.
  • Punish them for their sins.

We are so fortunate that, because of Jesus, we don’t have to have our sins remembered by God.  They can be wiped away.  Forgiven here and now.  That doesn’t let us off the hook, though.  Jesus calls us to continued repentance and obedient living.

But what wonderful news that we get to choose if our parental lecture ends with punishment or forgiveness.  When does THAT ever happen?

-Susan Landry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He’s Not Finished With You Yet

Jeremiah 46-49

Jer 46

Tuesday, March 14

These four chapters chronicle how Nebuchadnezzar and his armies defeated many different nations. It’s easy to get lost in all the war talk, but there is a little gem near the beginning of this passage on which I want to focus today. Check out chapter 46, verses 27-28 (from The Message):
“But you, dear Jacob my servant, you have nothing to fear.

    Israel, there’s no need to worry.
Look up! I’ll save you from that far country,
    I’ll get your children out of the land of exile.
Things are going to be normal again for Jacob,
    safe and secure, smooth sailing.
Yes, dear Jacob my servant, you have nothing to fear.
    Depend on it, I’m on your side.
I’ll finish off all the godless nations
    among which I’ve scattered you,
But I won’t finish you off.
    I have more work left to do on you.
I’ll punish you, but fairly.
    No, I’m not finished with you yet.”

Israel was God’s chosen people, and their future looked uncertain. However, God would not let their whole race perish! He still had great plans for Israel, and many prophecies to fulfill through them (SPOILER ALERT: including the birth of His Son, Jesus!). God is giving a reminder to his beloved children Israel that he’s got their back. Yes, he reminds them that they will be punished (fairly), but he clarifies to them, “I’m not finished with you yet.”

Even though these words were spoken to Israel and not specifically to us (though as believers in Christ we have been grafted into God’s family), I still like to take that promise to heart and remember that God is not finished with us yet. He wants to work in and through us to accomplish his will! I don’t know about you, but I want to leave a legacy for God – I don’t want the work he’s done in and through me to ever be finished! I want to teach others about God and his grace so they can grow to know and serve Him too, and therefore continue the work of spreading the gospel. I don’t have to be famous (in fact, as an introvert, I would prefer NOT to be famous!), but I want to leave a legacy from this life that will continue to grow God’s Kingdom long after I am gone… don’t you?
Philippians 1:6 – “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 
Pray and consider how you will leave a legacy. We are all called to be missionaries everywhere we go, every day in every way – at home, school, work, community, and beyond. Ask God to show you in what ways He is “not finished with you yet” so you can serve him every day in every way with your whole heart!
-Rachel Cain
(Photo Credit: http://www.quotescodex.com/p.php?author=jeremiah+46:27)

Reminded

Jeremiah 5-8

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Tuesday, February 28

In chapters 5-6 we see God punishing His people for their sins.  He continues to have their blessings taken from them.  They never thought God would punish them instead they believed he would do nothing (5:12).

All thru 5-6 they receive punishment but not destruction (5:18).  God has promised He will not leave them but He is a good Father who disciples His children.  Are you in the midst of discipline?  Do you need to recognize the wakeup call God is sending?

Homes lost and fields destroyed in Jeremiah might look like relationships damaged and hurt feelings in your life today.  Take inventory of what God is doing in your life.  You might be neglecting Him and He wants to get your attention.

Jeremiah chapters 7 & 8 begins Jeremiah’s first temple sermon (vs.2) (another is found in chapter 26 that I am sure you will hear about later).  God was fed up and starts to name the sins against him (vs. 6,19), especially at His temple becoming a den of thieves (vs.11).  The whole point of this message is that even if they would repent now God would keep the conquerors from coming (3,7).  They must reject the lies such as the false hope that peace is certain, based on the reasoning that the LORD would never bring destruction on His own temple (vs.4).  They must turn from their sins (3,5,9) and end their hypocrisy.

Is their something you are involved in that if you stopped now you could still be okay?  Do you recognize the dangers in continuing in your sins?  The longer you wait the worse it becomes.  Repent today.

-Andy Cisneros

(Photo credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/07032016/)

Broken Down

Jeremiah 3-4

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Monday, February 27

In Chapters 3-4  Jeremiah wanted a spiritual turnaround for sinful, wasteful lives.  He pictured this as a plowing of ground, formerly hard and unproductive because of weeds, in order to make it useful for sowing.

 

Chapters 3-4 are a description of God sending enemies to break up and punish the sinful people who are not seeing their sin.

God sent armies that were powerful like lions and took away blessings that they no longer recognized from God.

This is actually mercy from God so that these people will not die in their sin but recognize how far they have turned from God.

 

Do you recognize when God is trying to bring you back?

Are their things that you see as hardships that maybe can be useful to your spiritual life?

– Andy Cisneros

(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/jeremiah-3-and-4/)

Called and Committed

Jeremiah 1-3

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Sunday, February 26

Israel started off well with the LORD, but her early devotion puttered as she turned to other gods. In today’s passage the LORD lays a charge against Israel. Despite their hopeful beginnings Israel turned away from Him. The warning for us in this is not to let our early love for God grow cold.

Jeremiah has been called by the LORD at an early age in Chapter 1.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”.

What has God called you to do?

 

In chapter 2 he is given the message he must preach.

2 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, This is what the LORD says,

“I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

3 Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest. All who ate of it incurred guilt; disaster came upon them, declares the LORD.” (Jer 2.1-3)

‘The devotion of your youth’, ‘Your love as a bride’. The history of the relationship between the LORD and Israel starts off with the pleasant honeymoon period. An early time of following the LORD in the wilderness, perhaps on the way to Sinai.

However with the shift in gender, Israel is addressed as a female to start then male at the end, comes a shift in how their marriage has turned south. A substantial part of the remainder of the passage describes how their relationship soured after a good start.

4 Hear the word of God, O house of Jacob, and all the clans of the house of Israel. 5 This is what the LORD says:

“What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went so far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless?

6 They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?’

7 And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination.

8 The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the shepherds transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal and went after things that do not profit. (Jer 2.4-8)

 

The message has turned into a series of charges and complaints the LORD has directed at Israel. Israel turned away from God after all the good He had done for them.

They went after the worthless and became worthless themselves. What do you pursue in life?

The LORD keeps stating they did not ask where he was. They did not seek him out even after all he had done for them in leading them through the wilderness, bringing them in to the promised land and providing for them.

All levels of their society had turned away from the LORD. None knew him including the priests, the shepherds and the prophets. They sought other religions.

9 “Therefore I still contend with you, declares the LORD, and with your children’s children I will contend.

10 For cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see, or send to Kedar and examine with care; see if there has been such a thing.

11 Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.

12 Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD,

13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jer 2.9-13)

The LORD promises he will contend with Israel and their children for several generations because of how they have rejected him.

‘Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods?’ The LORD charges Israel with apostasy. They have abandoned him for false gods. The Baals.

What do you glory in? What is your glory?

 

The glory of Israel is the LORD himself.But they have exchanged their glory for worthless images (Rom 1.23). Images and false gods that can do nothing for them. That serve no practical purpose.

14 “Is Israel a slave? Is he a homeborn servant? Why then has he become a prey?

15 The lions have roared against him; they have roared loudly. They have made his land a waste; his cities are in ruins, without inhabitant.

16 Moreover, the men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have shaved the crown of your head.

17 Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the LORD your God, when he led you in the way?

18 And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what do you gain by going to Assyria to drink the waters of the Euphrates?

19 Your evil will mock you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord GOD of hosts. (Jer 2.14-19)

Israel, once protected by the LORD, has now became the target of more powerful nations. They brought this upon themselves because they abandoned the LORD.

Sin becomes their own punishment. God hands them over into it.

20 “For long ago I broke your yoke and burst your bonds; but you said, ‘I will not serve.’ Yes, on every high hill and under every green tree you bowed down like a harlot.

21 Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?

22 Though you wash yourself with lye and use much soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me, declares the Lord GOD.

23 How can you say, ‘I am not unclean, I have not gone after the Baals’? Look at your way in the valley; know what you have done— a restless young camel running here and there,

24 a wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust? None who seek her need weary themselves; in her month they will find her.

25 Keep your feet from going unshod and your throat from thirst. But you said, ‘It is hopeless, for I have loved foreigners, and after them I will go.’ (Jer 2.20-25)

The LORD delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. Now they have turned to other gods and refuse to worship the one true God.

The LORD planted them a ‘choice vine’. But they have become ‘degenerate’ and ‘wild’. The people of Israel try to wash themselves, but their washing is not one of the heart. They are not truly repentant. Consequently the ‘stain of their guilt is still before the LORD’.

How does one become truly clean and free of guilt before the LORD?

 

Some in Israel have attempted to deny God’s charge of going after the Baals. The LORD has seen their lust for the other gods. Wandering around seeking gods other than the LORD.

26 “As a thief is shamed when caught, so the house of Israel shall be shamed: they, their kings, their officials, their priests, and their prophets,

27 who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ and to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ For they have turned their back to me, and not their face. But in the time of their trouble they say, ‘Arise and save us!’

28 But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble; for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah. (Jer 2.26-28)

Israel has been caught out in her apostasy. The LORD has given them birth, he is their true father and creator. But they have turned their backs on him.

The LORD mocks them – ‘But where are your gods that you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you, in your time of trouble.‘

The point is that the gods they have chosen over the LORD can do nothing. They cannot save. Only the LORD can save them and they have abandoned him.

29  “Why do you fight with me? You have all transgressed against me, declares the LORD.

30 In vain have I struck your children; they took no correction; your own sword devoured your prophets like a hungry lion.

31 And you, O generation, behold the word of the LORD. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land of thick darkness? Why then do my people say, ‘We are free, we will come no more to you’?

32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. (Jer 2.29-32)

Despite all this the people ‘contend’ with the LORD and charge him with wrong because they are being besieged by stronger nations. They have no argument. The LORD is righteous and they are guilty.

Israel, the LORD’s bride, has forgotten the husband of her youth for a long time.

33 “How well you direct your course to seek love! So that even to wicked women you have taught your ways.

34 Also on your skirts is found the lifeblood of the guiltless poor; you did not find them breaking in. Yet in spite of all these things

35 you say, ‘I am innocent; surely his anger has turned from me.’ Behold, I will bring you to judgment for saying, ‘I have not sinned.’

36 How much you go about, changing your way! You shall be put to shame by Egypt as you were put to shame by Assyria.

37 From it too you will come away with your hands on your head, for the LORD has rejected those in whom you trust, and you will not prosper by them. (Jer 2.33-37)

The LORD lists a number of the other sins. They teach women to be adulteress’ and they spill the blood of the poor. Despite all this they do not acknowledge their guilt. They say they have not sinned.

If you have sin in your life, don’t deny it. Confess it before the LORD and ask for forgiveness.

The LORD predicts they will be put to shame by Egypt and Assyria: their allies they trusted to protect them. Even under their protection they will be conquered and led away with the hands on their heads.

What is God trying to tell you through Jeremiah?  Is their sin that has kept you away from God?  Are you chasing after the wrong things?

God has called you but are you committed?

-Andy Cisneros

Andy Cisneros pastors at Timberland Bible Church in northern Indiana.  A graduate of Atlanta Bible College, he is also very active with missions, The UP Project, FUEL and Family Camp and any way he can serve others.  He loves sharing home and ministry with his lovely wife and their two talented kids.

(Photo Credit: http://biblia.com/bible/esv/Jer%202.13

2 Things You Always Have – No Matter the Circumstance

Job 9 – 12

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Friday, December 16

In yesterday’s reading and today’s portion of the book we find Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to visit him. The trio sit with Job in silence for seven days out of respect for his mourning. On the seventh day, Job speaks, beginning a conversation in which each of the four men shares his thoughts on Job’s afflictions in LONG, poetic statements.

 

To summarize, Job curses the day he was born, comparing life and death to light and darkness. He wishes that his birth had been shrouded in darkness and longs to have never been born. All his bemoaning only seems to intensify his misery. Eliphaz responds that Job, who has comforted other people, now shows that he never really understood their pain. Eliphaz believes that Job’s agony must be due to some sin Job has committed, and he urges Job to seek God’s favor. Bildad and Zophar agree that Job must have committed evil to offend God’s justice and argue that he should strive to exhibit more blameless behavior. Bildad surmises that Job’s children brought their deaths upon themselves. Even worse, Zophar implies that whatever wrong Job has done probably deserves greater punishment than what he has received.

 

The one thing I wish in reading the story of Job is that God had actually given Job reasons that made sense to Job. He never did. He simply said, “I am here and I am God and you aren’t.” What I do know from personal experience and from scripture is that God has settled His love for me, regardless of my circumstances. There is no injustice, grief, pain or loss that could ever take away the love that He displayed for me, a hopeless sinner, in giving His Son as my sacrifice. Regardless of what you have lost, as believers in Christ there are two things we always have. You still have Jesus and you still have a choice. Cling to both until God brings you to a peaceful rest.

-Julie Driskill

 

 

What Causes the People to Perish? (2 Kings 21-23)

Saturday, November 12

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Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, is the next king of Judah.  And he does not take after his father.  Manasseh built pagan altars in the Lord’s temple and even sacrificed his own son in the fire to Molek – a pagan practice to a foreign false god.  Judah did more evil under Manasseh than the nations that were removed from the land before God established Judah (2 Kings 21:9).  God is not pleased and he foretells a coming “cleansing” of the land: “I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will …give them into the the hands of enemies.” (2 Kings 21:13,14).

Manasseh’s son, Amon, is the next wicked ruler.  He is assassinated.  His assassinators are then assassinated and his 8 year old son, Josiah, is given the crown.  It seems a certain recipe for disaster – civil unrest, kingly assassinations, violence, the son and grandson of some of the worst kings is handed the kingship at the age of 8.  However, somehow, with all these strikes against him, Josiah rises above his past and current circumstances.  It appears he has the benefit of some godly advisors, for we learn, “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord… not turning aside to the right or to the left.” (2 Kings 22:2).  Eighteen years into his reign he commissions the cleaning of the temple.  A most valuable treasure is found – the forgotten, neglected, Book of the Law.  When it is read to Josiah he tears his robes, humbles himself and seeks the Lord for he sees how far the people had strayed from God’s will as well as realizing that punishment was getting closer.  Josiah leaps to action.  He calls together all of Judah and reads the holy words to them.  He calls for the people to repent and renew their covenant to the Almighty.  He jumps into action, purging Judah of idolatry and replacing it with the worship of the One True God.

Without God’s Word the people perish – both then and now.  In many communities and lives today God’s Word is forgotten, neglected, absent, dusty.  People are busy serving themselves and false gods.  They will be caught completely unprepared for the “cleansing” that will come.  How can you respond like Josiah?  After reading God’s words – who will you share them with?  How will you jump into action seeking to purge idolatry (in your own life first) and to then replace it with sincere and pleasing  worship of God Almighty?

Seek Him – Seek His Word – And Do it

Marcia Railton