1) Every day will be a new devotional. I have enough devotionals for every day for three years
2) Also as I can, I'll be posting on my new political blog (see bottom of page).
Some other housecleaning:
A) If you'd like to just get new postings sent to your email, just submit your address in the box on the left just below. There's just one possible downside, though. Occasionally I'll add a music video at the end that's relevant to the devotional, and you won't get them in the email sent to you. If I add a video though, I'll make sure to mention in the posting, so you'll know to come to the site to see it if you'd like.
B) I actually finished writing new blog posting for the TAWG at the end of 2016. So what I'm doing now is at the beginning of every month, I'll move the earliest month from 3 years ago ahead so that a "new" posting appears every day. That's why you won't find any postings for January 2014, for example.
C) When I started this Blog, I was using the 1984 edition of the NIV, and that’s what I linked to on the Biblegateway site. However, in 2011 Zondervan updated its edition and thus reworded a lot of the NIV translation. Therefore, all the links which went to the 1984 edition now redirect to the 2011 edition, which often has slightly different wording. Thus, part of my editing process has been to update my Scripture quotes in my postings. But I might have missed some, in which case you might see my quote in the posting as a little different from what comes up when you click on my citation link, since that redirects to the 2011 edition on the Biblegateway site. It's a good thing that we realize that the work of translation never ends, but it can be a kind of a pain on a site like this. If you see any difference in verbiage between my quote and what shows up as a link on the Biblegateway site, or if you hover over a link and it has "NIV1984" at the end of it, please notify me and I'll correct it.
D) I can't believe I have to say this, but here goes. At the end of every posting is a suggested short prayer that has to do with what we discussed. This is actually what I've prayed when I finished writing it. In no way am I asking you to pray the exact verbiage of my suggested prayer. It's just a springboard for your own prayer, nothing more. Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of praying rote prayers written by someone else. As with everything else I do here, to the degree it helps, great; to the degree it doesn't, chunk it.
As always, thank you so much for reading, even if it's to read one post. God bless.
If you know anything about Jeremiah, you might've heard that his nickname is “The Weeping Prophet.” It’s pretty ironic, don’t you think, that the prophet most well-known for the harshest pronouncements of doom would also be well-known for crying over the targets of his rebukes? I’d like to spend a little time on that concept.
Please keep in mind how Jeremiah was treated by his compatriots. The popularity of the prophets never was very high. But as you might expect, Jeremiah’s popularity was inversely proportional to the negativity of his message. The man who strokes the ego of his audience is going to attract a crowd. How do you think they react to the man who tells them that God is really angry at them and that judgment is imminent? They jeered him, they ostracized him, they slandered him, they arrested him and there was worse to come.
And what was his reaction? Tears. He knew very well what the future held for them, and he shed tears for them.
And why? Well, I suppose a huge part of it was because he identified with them. They were his people, his relatives, his own flesh and blood. Do you have a relative who drives you crazy, but you put up with it because of blood relations?
But I think there’s more to this. Remember who inspired the prophets? Peter tells us that they “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” They had a special intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit which most people never had and never will have. He spoke through them. You ever hear the phrase “From your mouth to God’s ear”? This was literally the reverse: From God’s mouth to their ear. Literally a prophet is a “mouth,” remember? He revealed things to them which he didn’t reveal to anyone else, and they spoke what they heard.
I really believe that there was more than human compassion at work here. In that intimacy with the Holy Spirit, Jeremiah was weeping God’s tears. I’ve mentioned these passages plenty of times, but they bear repeating: He’s not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. He wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. As surely as he lives, God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but that he turn from his ways and live. As we discussed before, we need to keep this in mind—Behind the sternest warnings lie a Father’s heart who’s reaching out to lost sinners.
So here come the tough questions: Are we in tune with his heart? Does it bother us that people are lost and are heading into an eternity without Christ? Do we weep over peoples’ rebellion, or do we smugly watch with a judgmental attitude?
My friend, if I believed in salvation by works, then I could understand a judgmental attitude. I could understand looking at sinners and being prideful. But I don’t. I believe that I’m saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. I believe that it took the blood of Jesus to purchase my forgiveness. I believe that I deserve nothing from God except judgment, and he's shown me nothing but grace and mercy and forgiveness.
So how can I be so callous?
Father God, please tune my heart to yours. As you’ve shown me mercy and grace and forgiveness, may that overflow into a burning desire to share the wealth. And a contempt for pride. And tears.
What sins really tick God off? Hopefully you know that he takes all sin a lot more seriously than we do, but you should also know that he takes some sins more seriously than others. There are well-meaning Christians out there who teach that the Lord counts all sins equally, but this really doesn’t jibe with what Scripture teaches. I won’t get into the evidence, but if you’re interested, here are some passages.
So what really gets his blood boiling, so to speak? Well, Jesus seems to take an extremely dim view of anyone messing with children, for example. But something else that really seems to get him angry is false teachers, or anyone who leads someone else away from humanity’s Redeemer. As you merely skim the book of Jeremiah you see multiple warnings and threats about this. At issue here are the nations surrounding Israel who led it away from the Lord. It’s not bad enough that they’re rebelling against the Judge of the Universe. No, they’re not content unless they’re leading others astray. That’s why James warns against even desiring to become a teacher, because you’re responsible for not only yourself (as all of us are) but also for the spiritual condition of all your listeners. God holds anyone who claims to be a teacher to a higher standard.
That’s why today’s passage gave me pause when I was reading Jeremiah in preparation for the blog. At first it’s pretty similar to most of the book: He’s pronouncing judgment on his rebellious, stubborn, sinful people. But as the Puritans said, judgment is his “strange” work. He’s not willing that any should perish, so after he’s punished them, he’s going to bring them back as a people. He’ll have compassion on them and bring them back to their own inheritance, and—most importantly—back to himself.
And yes, apparently this includes those who led others astray: “[If] they learn well the ways of my people and swear by my name, saying, ‘As surely as the Lord lives’—even as they once taught my people to swear by Baal—then they will be established among my people.”
Let me make this clear. On the basis of God’s word, anyone this side of the Great Divide can come to Christ and repent. Here's a song by Carolyn Arends called "Love Is Always There," which makes that point beautifully.
As Carolyn Arends put it,
“Until this life is over
there is no point of no return
'Cause everywhere you turn
His love is always there”
There’s only one unpardonable sin, and even teaching a false gospel isn’t it. But there’s always bad news on the flip side of the Good News. If any of the nations didn’t listen to God’s revelation to them, there would be consequences. That’s how it is with choices: They come with consequences.
And as it is with nations, so it is with individual people.
Father God, when I think about the people who might listen to what I say and to what I write, it frightens me. May every word I speak or write draw everyone who listens or reads closer to you, and not further away. I beg you.