Thursday, January 29, 2015

Who Does God Choose?

The obvious answer to the question, "Who does God choose" is whoever he wants! Today Paul is dealing with the anguish he has over his Jewish brothers, who have received the covenants given to Abraham and the promise of the Messiah through David. But Paul reckons that just because some has descended from a Jewish lineage does not mean they are children of the promise. He uses the example of Rebekah's twins, Jacob and Esau. God chose Jacob to be the child of the promise and rejected Esau before they were born.

This beckons the question to the Roman Christians is God unjust? Then he quotes from Exodus 33:19 the verse, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion". Importantly it does not depend on human effort or desire, but God's mercy. Later, he will say in the chapter that some Jews chose to obey the Law rather than to believe on the promises by faith in Jesus. That is why Jesus became the stumbling block for the Jewish nation. Later it will say that in order to show His mercy God had to prepare objects of wrath. How else would someone know mercy, if they didn't know what they have mercy from.

So how does this affect our mission as a church? Some will say, "If it is all by God's decision then why do we have to do anything?" But many other passages teach us that it is our job to preach the Gospel and make disciples of Christ. Some will receive the Good News of Jesus by faith, and some will reject it thinking they have a better way to control their own salvation. As it is said without faith it is impossible to please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

We know faith in Christ is a gift God chooses to give us. It is not our job to figure out who God has called and who will reject the Gospel. All we can do is to proclaim the Gospel in its purity, and what God has done for us in sending His only Son. Our prayer is that our children are children of the promise and raise them to know God's grace in Christ. In baptism parents makes this promise in the Lutheran church for the raising of their children in the faith,

"To live with them among God's faithful people,
bring them to the word of God and the holy supper,
teach them the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments,
place in their hands the holy scriptures,
and nurture them in faith and prayer."

So at the end of the day we know God chooses us and has mercy on us. Our response is to life by faith trusting in God's promises and sharing the Good News with others in word and deed. It is not our job to figure out who God has chosen.

God’s Sovereign Choice
6 It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7 Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 8 In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. 9 For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” 10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. 11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: 12 not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses,

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Other Readings: Psalm 111, Deuteronomy 3:23-29

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Asking For Wisdom?

Today's Proverbs passage from chapter 8 is titled, "Wisdom's Call". Like a lot of other passages in Proverbs, it "personifies" wisdom as if it were a human character. Wisdom is usually personified as a female using the terms "she" and "her". In doing this it makes wisdom more personal as it counsels and guides us, and answers us when we call. This is backed by what the New Testament says in James 1:5 when it says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you."

The Proverbs give the incalculable nature of the riches that wisdom brings. By choosing wisdom it is more valuable than silver, gold and rubies. It will bring wealth and prosperity and satisfy the desires of your heart. And, it is available to all people, including kings, princes and rulers. Again we see the personification of wisdom when the passage says, "I love those who love me, and those who seek me will find me."

We don't often talk about wisdom in the church, mainly because of the mysterious nature of it. Or, perhaps passages like this are too abstract for us. But yet everyday we make decisions. And the question is do we seek God's wisdom, or our own? Or, maybe even someone else's? I've always loved hearing the phrase, "wisdom is seeing things from God's perspective." So where does wisdom come from, how do we obtain it? The obvious answer is by asking for it, which is certainly true. But we know wisdom is always guided by God's Word. Meaning if wisdom is telling you to do something totally contrary to God's Word, you should probably question it's source. We know also wisdom is guided by the Holy Spirit, which guides us into all truth and comes alongside of us to direct our path.

So do you have a big decision today that you are unsure of? Why don't you ask God for wisdom? As you do be led by God's Word and the Holy Spirit, and you will certainly be led down the right path! Here is what wisdom promises you,

"With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
and making their treasuries full."

Proverbs 8:1-21
Wisdom’s Call
8 Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
2 At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3 beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
4 “To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
5 You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it.
6 Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right.
7 My mouth speaks what is true,
for my lips detest wickedness.
8 All the words of my mouth are just;
none of them is crooked or perverse.
9 To the discerning all of them are right;
they are upright to those who have found knowledge.
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
11 for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
14 Counsel and sound judgment are mine;
I have insight, I have power.
15 By me kings reign
and rulers issue decrees that are just;
16 by me princes govern,
and nobles—all who rule on earth.
17 I love those who love me,
and those who seek me find me.
18 With me are riches and honor,
enduring wealth and prosperity.
19 My fruit is better than fine gold;
what I yield surpasses choice silver.
20 I walk in the way of righteousness,
along the paths of justice,
21 bestowing a rich inheritance on those who love me
and making their treasuries full.

Other passages for today: Psalm 46, Mark 3:13-19

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bad into Good!

Today we have the touching story of Jacob, son of Abraham and Issac, being united with his beloved son Joseph. Due to God's hand being upon Joseph, he was put in charge by the Pharoah of Egypt of everything in Egypt. When Joseph's brothers come back a second time to reunite with him, Joseph weeps when he sees his brother Benjamin. They had gone back to get the youngest brother Benjamin, upon Joseph's request. Joseph and Benjamin are the two sons born to Rachel, Jacob's wife.

Jacob was reluctant to let Benjamin go because he had already thought he had lost Joseph and didn't want to lose both. But Judah, the oldest brother, steps in and says, "if I do not bring him back I will personally take responsibility for him the rest of my life. Eventually Jacob will return to reunite with his sons Joseph and Benjamin. He blesses Joseph with a double portion of inheritance for his two sons Ephraim and Manessah, who were born to him in Egypt.

Eventually Jesus will come from the line of Judah, which will be the area in which they settle and Jesus is born. Judah certainly represented himself in a manner fitting with Jesus by saying he would give his life in exchange for the younger son. Even though Judah is the fourth born son, the blessing of a great nation is given to him. Joseph was also a picture of Jesus. He brought Jew and Gentile (Egypt) together. Though his brothers rejected him, God meant it for good for the saving of many lives. When his brothers repent he has mercy and compassion on them, and weeps at their reconciliation. This is the same way God feels when one person repents and turns to Him.

This story shows us many things about how God works. First, he uses a variety of people to accomplish his purposes. If and when they stray and make bad decisions, our God is a God of second chances. Though Joseph and Judah were prior to Jesus they demonstrated character like Him. They gave self sacrifice for others and saw that what people meant for evil, God could use for good, including the saving of many lives. In essence this is the Gospel. God loves us and saves us despite our bad choices and reconciles us as the family of God. Jesus God's Son is reunited with His Father in heaven at his right hand, after accomplishing the salvation for all people. This is summarized in Romans when Paul's says, "While we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us." What we meant for bad, God used for good, including the saving of many lives!

As you reflect on your life, you might remember the various ways and the various people God has used to bring you to himself through the Son. For this we can give thanks and see how God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.


Psalm 46
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth.[b] A song.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Genesis 45:25-46:7
25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

Jacob Goes to Egypt
46 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. 3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.” 5 Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. 6 So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. 7 Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.

Acts 5:33-42
33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Take it to The Lord in Prayer!

Today in Psalm 46 we have two verses that are worth memorizing. Verse 1, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble." And verse 10, "Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." So often we turn to ourselves for refuge and strength. Sometimes we don't realize God is an "ever present" help in time of need. We think things have to be really bad in order to qualify for what we can take to God. But as the old hymn "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" goes,

"What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!"

Notice it says a couple of things, "everything to God in prayer". God has given us a vehicle or a means to communicate all of our sins and griefs through prayer. Prayer is talking to God guided by the Holy Spirit. We see when Jesus had anything difficult to bear in life, he took it to His Father in prayer. Sometimes all night he prayed to His Father. Then it says, "O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry "everything" to God in prayer." I wonder how much pain we go through unnecessarily, because we don't go to prayer early enough and often enough. Even if it is emotional pain or spiritually wandering. And finally, we "forfeit" or give up peace. The opposite of peace is anxiety. Anxiety can be debilitating if it is not addressed. And one of the ways we can address it is to go to God in prayer.

And this leads me to our second verse, "Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted in the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." What I believe this is saying is, "Slow down, take a deep breath, remember who is in charge here. I am with you, so you need not fear!" Usually what makes us most anxious is when we feel like something is out of our control. But the reality is we are not in control, but God is. That is why he wants us to be still and "know" he is God. To "know" in the Hebrew sense, was a deep knowledge based on experience and intimacy. So letting God control our lives leads to greater knowledge and intimacy with the One Jesus calls "Abba Father", which is the same as saying "daddy" in our context today.

I don't know about you, but I tend to worry a lot. Over the years I have quoted to myself Psalm 46:10 a lot. Don't pass up the opportunity today to, "Be Still and know He is God today!" Don't forfeit the peace that is yours in Christ, who sits at the right of God and intercedes for us. Don't delay take it to The Lord in prayer!

Psalm 46
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. According to alamoth. A song.

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Genesis 12:1-9
The Call of Abram
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Concerning Change of Status
17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Worthy to Suffer for the Name!

We see again today that those who bring the Word of The Lord will not always be welcomed warmly We see the prophet Jeremiah lamenting the day he was born due to the persecution from his own people. He has reached the end of the rope. He is as we say, "done". Jeremiah is doing what true prophets do, he is speaking God's Word. In this case the false prophets are telling the kings what they want to hear. But Jeremiah has quite a different message. He is fearless in speaking what God has told him.

We see Jesus is a true prophet as well. He says, "Woe to you Choraxin and Bethsaida. If the miracles that were performed for you were for Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago." This is in the context of sending out the 72 disciples two by two ahead of him to the towns he had not gone too yet. And he tells them if they are not welcomed in any town, to dust their feet off as a warning of judgment to that town. Then he says whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.

I think one of the key principles here is that when someone rejects you for being a Christian, they are not so much rejecting you as the Christ in you. When the apostles are before the Sanhedrin for doing the same miracles as Jesus did, they were flogged and beaten but listen to their response. It says, "41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name." What a great attitude that they turn suffering into being counted worthy to suffer for Jesus. When you suffer for your faith how do you respond? I know sometimes I say, "why me Lord?" But the disciples looked at it differently. They responded by saying, "Why not me!"

Psalm 62:5-12
5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”

Jeremiah 20:14-18
14 Cursed be the day I was born!
May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
15 Cursed be the man who brought my father the news,
who made him very glad, saying,
“A child is born to you—a son!”
16 May that man be like the towns
the Lord overthrew without pity.
May he hear wailing in the morning,
a battle cry at noon.
17 For he did not kill me in the womb,
with my mother as my grave,
her womb enlarged forever.
18 Why did I ever come out of the womb
to see trouble and sorrow
and to end my days in shame?

Luke 10:13-16
13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. 16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dealing with Scoffers!

Today's readings remind us that as we step out in response to God's calling in our lives, there will often be resistance. In all three cases today with David, Jeremiah and Peter they faced severe opposition in their obedience to God. David's psalm reminds us that God is His Rock and his salvation, therefore he will not be deterred. Because God is his fortress he will not be shaken.

As Jeremiah is faithful to prophesy the Lord's words to the people of Judah regarding their eventual destruction, it is not received well. In fact, he is mocked, ridiculed and insulted all day long. But he is so committed to His call in spite of this that he says if I were not to mention His name, it would be like a burning fire in his heart that he could not put out. It is a fire in his bones he cannot keep in. He is compelled like the apostle Paul to preach the Word in season and our of season.

Finally, we have the apostle Peter writing to the early believers urging them to not get caught up in the prevailing philosophy of those around them. He calls those who espouse this philosophy "scoffers", who scoff at the words of the Gospel by saying where is this Jesus who was supposed to return soon? They reason that since Jesus hasn't come back yet, they might as well just follow their evil desires. He reminds them in the day of Noah, they also scoffed at him saying, "when are those floods going to come"? While that judgment came by water, Peter prophesies that the final judgment will come by fire. In fact, in our Creed which we recite in church we say, "And He will come back to judge the living and the dead."

These 3 men of God remind us that is often difficult to live out God's will in an increasingly anti-Christian society. For those who follow Jesus, he tells us to not be surprised when fiery trial come upon us. These trials test our faith, but also strengthen our faith. Fortunately God has given us His Holy Spirit to strengthen and fortify us for such trials and temptations. As we rely on the Holy Spirit's power in our lives we can represent God and Jesus and be a light in the darkness. When we suffer for being a believer, we participate in Jesus' sufferings and become more like him. Let us be encouraged by these three men of God and all the saints that have gone on before us who boldly lived for the cause of Christ and are enjoying their reward in heaven.


Psalm 62:5-12
5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God,
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”

Jeremiah 20:7-13
Jeremiah’s Complaint
7 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous
and probe the heart and mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for to you I have committed my cause.u
13 Sing to the Lord!
Give praise to the Lord!
He rescues the life of the needy
from the hands of the wicked.

2 Peter 3:1-7
The Day of the Lord
3 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. 2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. 3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Who or What Do You Trust?

In today's passages we see the difference between a man who trusted in God for all things, and two nations that have left God and received the consequences for their idolatry. David says though your riches increase, do not put your hope in them. He says it is all in vain and the low born and high born both live but a breath.

Then, we see the "weeping prophet" Jeremiah, who was sent to the people of Israel. They had fallen and began offering sacrifices to the pagan gods like Baal. They had even gone to the point of sacrificing their children to foreign gods, which is something the One true God would have never require. That alone showed how far they had fallen from the teaching of The Lord. As a consequence God would allow Babylon to come and conquer them and take away all that God had blessed them with. It's as if God said if you don't want my protection and want to worship another god, I will allow the nations I have protected you from to overtake you.

Then, in Revelation, Babylon is mentioned again. Scholars are divided over whether this represents a literal Babylon, or is representative of a culture that has placed all it's trust in riches and commercial gain. In chapter 17, Babylon is represented as the prostitute who sits on the beast, representing all the nations and kings who have committed adulteries with her. This adultery could be more metaphorical for substituting false gods and cheating on the One true God.

So the question becomes what do we at the end of the day, put our trust in? If we are trusting in the way of the world, eventually God will give us over to what we really want. If we want riches and immorality, we will receive our reward here, but one day there will be an accounting for all we have done on this earth. And ultimately a sinful life will come back to haunt us in this life as well. As King David says, "power belongs to you, God, and with you is unfailing love. You reward everyone to what they have done."

David also says, "trust in Him at all times you people, pour your hearts out to him, for God is our refuge." When we are challenged with trusting God, he wants us to reach out to him and pour out our doubts and concerns. It is the challenging times when we have a hard time trusting God. But within this process our faith and trust grows and we make God alone our refuge. Trusting in God at all times will give us hope and peace today, and true riches in the life to come.

Psalm 62:5-12
5 Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
6 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
9 Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.

Jeremiah 19
19 This is what the Lord says: “Go and buy a clay jar from a potter. Take along some of the elders of the people and of the priests 2 and go out to the Valley of Ben Hinnom, near the entrance of the Potsherd Gate. There proclaim the words I tell you, 3 and say, ‘Hear the word of the Lord, you kings of Judah and people of Jerusalem. This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Listen! I am going to bring a disaster on this place that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 4 For they have forsaken me and made this a place of foreign gods; they have burned incense in it to gods that neither they nor their ancestors nor the kings of Judah ever knew, and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent. 5 They have built the high places of Baal to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I did not command or mention, nor did it enter my mind. 6 So beware, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when people will no longer call this place Topheth or the Valley of Ben Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. 7 “‘In this place I will ruin the plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will make them fall by the sword before their enemies, at the hands of those who want to kill them, and I will give their carcasses as food to the birds and the wild animals. 8 I will devastate this city and make it an object of horror and scorn; all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff because of all its wounds. 9 I will make them eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh because their enemies will press the siege so hard against them to destroy them.’ 10 “Then break the jar while those who go with you are watching, 11 and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired. They will bury the dead in Topheth until there is no more room. 12 This is what I will do to this place and to those who live here, declares the Lord. I will make this city like Topheth. 13 The houses in Jerusalem and those of the kings of Judah will be defiled like this place, Topheth—all the houses where they burned incense on the roofs to all the starry hosts and poured out drink offerings to other gods.’” 14 Jeremiah then returned from Topheth, where the Lord had sent him to prophesy, and stood in the court of the Lord’s temple and said to all the people, 15 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘Listen! I am going to bring on this city and all the villages around it every disaster I pronounced against them, because they were stiff-necked and would not listen to my words.’”

Revelation 18:11-20
11 “The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves. 14 “They will say, ‘The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your luxury and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ 15 The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16 and cry out:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17 In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!’
“Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18 When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, ‘Was there ever a city like this great city?’ 19 They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:

“‘Woe! Woe to you, great city,
where all who had ships on the sea
became rich through her wealth!
In one hour she has been brought to ruin!’
20 “Rejoice over her, you heavens!
Rejoice, you people of God!
Rejoice, apostles and prophets!
For God has judged her
with the judgment she imposed on you.”