Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

Month: July 2018 (Page 1 of 7)

Illustrations From The Prophet

August 1 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 13-15 and Psalms 31

In the Old Testament, Prophets were often told to do things as object lessons in support of the prophetic word God had asked them to speak. These picture illustrations probably meant more to the general population than did all the long prophetic sermons these men would deliver. The “linen belt” in Chapter 13 is one such illustration. – “Take the belt you bought and are wearing around your waist, and go now to Perath and hide it there in a crevice in the rocks.’ So I went and hid it at Perath, as the LORD told me. Many days later the LORD said to me, ‘Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.’ So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless.” (Jeremiah 13:4-7)

Priests always used linen when they were going to enter the presence of the Lord. It was considered the “holy” clothe in the Old Testament because it had properties of “breathing” and did not irritate the skin. Jeremiah wrapped one of these around his waist and declared that this was how God dealt previously with His people – considering them “holy” and wrapping them close to Himself. The belt however was not washed, and after some time became very dirty. The prophet then told the people that they too had not been “washed”, the cleansing that comes from repentance and turning their hearts faithfully to the Lord.

Next Jeremiah took the belt off and placed it out into the elements – in a crag in a rock where birds and little creatures could have at it – where the dirt, rain, wind, dust, and perhaps snow and mold could disintegrate, discolor and putrefy the belt till it was “ruined and completely useless”. Because of their own spiritual neglect, these people received the message that they too were being rejected by the Lord and would be ruined.

Throughout these doom and gloom prophecies we get the impression that all these things were happening to Israel because they continued to be obstinate and did not repent. We know enough of the character of God to know that if God can forgive Nineveh, he could certainly have forgiven Israel and not brought about the judgment that was prophesied. What was the problem then? It was the false prophets! They were all “prophesying” peace – peace – all is well – don’t sweat it – God is happy with us. Only one man was speaking the truth but no one would listen because of the “noise” being made by the false prophets.
In our day too, there are many “voices” that are not telling it like it is. People are distracted from God’s concern and heartache because they continually listen to voices that only want to satisfy the hearers. This is why we should keep ourselves in the Word of God and why we should learn to “turn off” voices that lead us off the path and purposes of God. Refuse to fill your minds with only the things that seem to feed your ego and lustful desires. Make sure you have a steady intake of the real heart of God.

Questions:

1. Name some other Biblical illustrations that Old Testament prophets used to illustrate a message from God.
2. Give an example of how God has spoken to you personally through an illustration.

The Customs Of The Peoples

July 31 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 10-12 and Psalms 31

Chapter 10 of Jeremiah paints a great picture of what God thinks (and what we should think) about the “gods” of this world – “For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.” (Jeremiah 10:3-5)

To this day, millions of people are enslaved in the worship of these “gods”. They cook for them, carry them, kiss them, rub their bellies, set them up in “shrine” rooms in their homes or restaurants, burn incense to them, dress them up, talk to them and in all other ways imaginable make fools of themselves. Why? Because they believe that there is power in the man-made god or a man-made religious philosophy. Indeed there are evil spirits behind the idolatrous images that people set up and worship, but CHRISTIANS SHOULD NEVER FEAR OR BE ALARMED by the so-called power of these gods for there is no life in them and we ought never to fear spirits because we have THE HOLY SPIRIT. Many Christians concern themselves with these things – some even fearing evil spirits or the people who would “curse” them. Do not fear these things – and never expose yourselves to things that would stir fear up in you (horror movies or sci-fi books that are designed to make you feel powerless and insignificant). Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. You are not powerless! You are not insignificant! You have been given power now that the Holy Spirit has come upon you. (Acts 1:8) As Winston Churchill once said during the Second World War – “the only thing to fear is fear itself”. Let me add my bit to this. Have great respect for what God thinks and what God’s opinion is. Never fear anything else – ever again. Think, for a moment of the young man, David, who faced the outrageously fearsome Goliath. Within himself, he was not a warrior, but he had confidence in a big, big God. Remember Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6-10 – “So he said to me, ‘This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!’ Then the word of the LORD came to me: ‘The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Here was a man facing tremendous obstacles and yet having the confidence that he was more than able because of the power of the Lord. There is no place for fear when facing the gods or philosophies of this world – we need to foster confidence in God Almighty.

Questions:

1. Give an example from Scripture of people who feared and therefore failed.
2. Give an example from your own life where you needed to remind yourself to not fear in the face of difficulty.

Chillings Assessment

July 30 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 7-9 and Psalms 30

Chapter 7 is chilling in its assessment of religious people who do not live out their confession of faith. They go to the temple; they offer sin offerings and fellowship offerings and they say in their hearts that because they have done these things they will be “safe”. The problem is that they then go out and LIVE contrary to what they did and said in their worship. “Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, ‘We are safe’, safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 7:9-11)

He watches me too – The Spirit of God watches over me with great jealousy so that I can be kept from sin and keep turning my heart back to Jesus. Let’s not get all confused about this. If you are born again of the Spirit of God, you will want to do right and to live a life of integrity. Its religious people who have not been born of the Spirit that God is addressing here. Just because people attend Church does not mean they know Jesus. Hypocrites are those who know about the Lord and give assent to Him but have not experienced the miracle of new birth and therefore continue to live in sin.

On another note, Chapter 8:21-22 reads, “Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me. Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?” The “balm” Jeremiah is speaking of is actually sap or resin from a Balsam tree that was used as a healing ointment in Old Testament times. Gilead is a “type” of the modern day Church. To properly understand this verse then, we have to read, “Is there no healing in the Church?” This is what Church needs to be – a place of healing for people’s emotions, spirits and bodies. When people come into Church let it never be said that we were too busy about our own affairs to care for them and see them healed.

Ezekiel 47:12 “Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

Malachi 4:2 “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.”

Questions:

1. Give an example of a time when you felt God’s “jealous” love keeping you from sin.
2. Give an example of how The Church can be a place of healing.

God’s Emotions

July 29 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 4-6 and Psalms 29

God’s emotions of anguish, horror, and anger are brought out so well in these Chapters:

“Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done — burn with no one to quench it.” (Jeremiah 4:4)
“O Jerusalem, wash the evil from your heart and be saved. How long will you harbor wicked thoughts?” (Jeremiah 4:14)
Can you feel the pain and anger of the Lord as He ponders the state of the nation of Israel, the Church of the Old Testament?Does God pay attention to the spiritual state of His Church – or of our individual lives? Here’s what God says – “Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry – my people are fools; they do not know me. They are senseless children; they have no understanding. They are skilled in doing evil; they know not how to do good.” (Jeremiah 4:19&22)

Not only is God painfully aware of how we live and of the motives of our heart but He has tremendous emotion regarding the issue – “Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! – declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 7:11) The Lord exhibits great sadness when unfaithfulness reigns but equal gladness when He witnesses faithfulness and right living.

The other thing to remember in all this is that God watches – not just the Church but the nations as well. Righteousness exalts a nation but sin destroys it from within. God will honor an entire group of people or a nation if they take a stand for things that are right and good. He will bless a nation that watches out for the poor and the oppressed. He will increase a nation that is willing to make a stand against crime, wickedness and corruption. As is so clearly indicated cover to cover in the Bible, the opposite is true as well. God will allow destruction to come to a nation that is corrupt and wicked.

Should we be praying for our nation and our governing leaders? Prayer truly is our most powerful weapon in defense of our nation and in promotion of God’s work.

Questions:

1. Give another Bible example of God being extremely emotional.
2. Give an example from your own life where you took a stand for something good and God honored you.

Predestined To Good Works

July 28 – Today’s Readings – Jeremiah 1-3 and Psalms 28

We find here a beautiful introduction to this prophetic penman, and the book named after him. Jeremiah was obviously a very young man when God called him and commissioned him – “Ah, Sovereign LORD’, I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” (Jeremiah1:6)

He was told – “do not be afraid of them, (the people) for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:8)

God told him that the message he was to share would “uproot and tear down, – destroy and overthrow, – build and plant.” Words – (especially inspired Words from the Lord), have the incredible power of doing just that. When listening to an anointed preacher, you may feel stripped bare before the Lord at times, only to be rebuilt and reaffirmed. Remember, this entire book was written as God’s message to a people who had been taken captive and were in exile because of their unfaithfulness. They were living in Babylon as a dispossessed, enslaved nation.

Out from the shambles of this moral and physical disaster, God affirmed a young man, Jeremiah – “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 1:5)

Pause and think about what has just been spoken. You are not just a product of your biological mother and father. You are in fact a well thought out, created being with a purpose attached to your life before you were conceived! God even gave Jeremiah a life ministry before he was born. The only thing missing from the realization of this dream was for Jeremiah to say “yes” to God.

Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Here’s the kicker – the only thing missing from the realization of God’s dream for your life is for YOU to say yes to God. You were predestined and created to do good works for God. God already has those good works ready to go. We need to learn to listen to the voice of the Spirit so that when one of our assignments from God comes, we can be quick to accomplish it. Otherwise some of the works we were predestined to do for God may go undone!

Questions:

1. How does it make you feel to know you were predestined to good works since before you were even born?
2. Make a short list of “good works” you feel you are still supposed to be involved in. (Hint – What is Our Heavenly Father Busy Doing)
3. What “other activities” will have to be dropped from your schedule so that these good works can be accomplished?

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