Bible Readers

With Pastor Dave Roussel

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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?

Spirit-Filled

July 27 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 14-16 and Psalms 27

Chapter 14 clearly indicates how Churches ought to be functioning in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This means that individuals within the Church need to “step up” and function in The Spirit and that all Spirit-filled Christians should be encouraged in this direction.

What did the apostle Paul have to say about this? – “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.” (1Corinthians 14:26)

This is how a “normal” Church service should be. We should have to put a halt to “prophecy” because too many people want to use the microphone. We should all come ready to edify the Church and we certainly should be praying in the Spirit to build up our faith. How do I know this? – The Apostle Jude says – “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.” (Jude 20)

Paul exhorts – “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.” (1Corinthians 14:15) – “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself,” (1Corinthians 14:4) – “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.” (1 Corinthians 14:18)

By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul instructs that we should be speaking, praying and singing in the Spirit. This kind of “tongues” is simply a prayer language – people speaking to God, not to other people. There is also an utterance of tongues that can be used to address the Church. Tongues + Interpretation has similarities to Prophecy. Prophecy is the “speaking” gift that Paul encourages in the Church because the Church can easily understand it and be blessed.

In our Church, we use a microphone so that members can address the assembly and so everyone can be heard because “everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” (1Corinthians 14:3) The outcome then is that we build ourselves up by speaking in tongues and we build THE CHURCH up by prophesying. What place then do the other spiritual gifts hold? Wouldn’t it be exciting if we all began using gifts of Healing, Miracles, Faith, Wisdom, Knowledge and Distinguishing between spirits within the Church and – OUTSIDE THE CHURCH Walls? You would not be able to contain the crowds if we began to “eagerly desire spiritual gifts”. (1Corinthians 14:1)

Questions:

1. When was the last time you functioned in one of the “spiritual gifts” Paul refers to?
2. Tell about it.

Chaos or Decency

July 26 – Today’s Readings – 1Corinthians 11-13 and Psalms 26

The reason Paul’s teaching sometimes seems difficult for us is that we don’t connect his instruction with the context and time frame it was written in. In this section, Paul was trying to bring order into a Church were chaos ruled. He spoke to them about “dress code” and outward appearance of the men and women in the Church because the way they dressing had great significance. If a woman dressed and looked a certain way, she was advertising herself as a sexually provocative woman or a prostitute. If a man behaved or dressed a certain way, he was saying that he was effeminate. If men or women spoke out of turn in Church services, the entire gathering would become chaotic and this atmosphere would dishonour the Lord. These seemingly insignificant issues were causing problems in the church, and Paul needed to say something so that this assembly could better reflect the glory of God.

Leaving first century customs, dress code and culture aside, we can certainly draw parallels to our present day. We too can make a very clear statement about our attitudes towards life and the things of God by how we present ourselves. Our attitudes, appearance and speech give those who come in contact with us an impression of what a Christian is or is not. As individuals we are unique – we have a certain appearance – we speak with a certain accent or dialect – we may even dress in a unique manner according to our age group or customs of our culture. We also understand that the outward appearance of a man or woman is not nearly as significant as the inward appearance – (the heart). When people meet us, they should come away with the knowledge that there is something very beautiful on the inside of us – the presence of God. Moreover, the Holy Spirit also instructs us individually about our outward appearance. If you wore the colours and “uniform” of a gang member when you came to Christ, it wouldn’t be long before you changed your clothes in honour of your relationship to Christ. If you where a “tough guy” in leathers and chains when you came to Christ, you probably would alter your looks so that people would not fear you anymore but rather be drawn to Christ. The inside of us becomes like Christ and the outward man follows suit.

Communion must have been quite a spectacle in Corinth before Paul straightened the church out. Some people seemed to be bringing picnic lunches complete with lots of booze and having a “binge feast” before the Lord, while their fellow Church members went hungry. Paul told them they were doing more harm than good and that their “communion” was not communion at all. He even went so far as to say that if they were not “recognizing the body of Christ” – and that there would be increased sickness and even death among them because of it. He went on to tell them that collectively, they were the body of Christ. In order to have a proper communion service, all members of the body had to be honoured. Paul caps off this teaching by emphasizing that love for God and love for one another is what really holds a Church together – not the spiritual gymnastics this church seemed so proud of.

Questions:

1. Do we have other “dress codes” in our society that represent rebellion to God or certain sinful lifestyles?
2. What should a Christian “look like” in order to reflect Jesus and relate to the world around us? (Hint – What did Jesus look like? What did the Pharisees look like?)

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