God’s patience will run out
Scripture reading for October 21st: Jeremiah 50-51, 2nd Peter 3
2nd Peter 3: 8-10 “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”
God is loving and compassionate, slow to anger and patient in working for salvation of each person and nation. God gives time to repent and sends His messengers and Word. But Peter also warned the Church not to take God’s love and patience as an indication that He was not just and would not bring recompense for those doing evil. Peter warned that the Day of the Lord would come like a thief with sudden destruction. God would punish evil and unrepentant people and would ultimately cleanse the heavens and the earth by the fire of His wrath against sin. This is cause for self-examination and renewed dedication to Christ Jesus and flight from the fallen world system that is under God’s judgment. It is also time to be about God’s business of saving the lost while His patience waits.
2nd Peter 3:11-13 “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to His promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your great patience and compassion for lost mankind. Thank You for sending Jesus Christ at just the right time to redeem us by His blood. Thank You for sending Your Church with a Gospel of grace and warnings of the coming Day of the Lord and Your just anger and wrath against sin. Use me today to spread the Gospel and proclaim Your call to escape the coming wrath.
Jeremiah 51:5-6 “For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of Hosts, but the land of the Chaldeans is full of guilt against the Holy One of Israel. “Flee from the midst of Babylon; let every one save his life! Be not cut off in her punishment, for this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance, the repayment He is rendering her.”
Beware: Deception in the Church
Scripture reading for October 20th: Jeremiah 47-49, Psalm 80, 2nd Peter 2
2nd Peter 2:1-3 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master Who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”
Peter’s final letter to the Church contained warning similar to other apostles and Jesus and even the prophets of Old Testament times. False teachers and false prophets would arise among God’s people and seek to draw believers away from Christ. They would encourage greed and sensuality and bring disrepute on true believers living in the way of Truth. These deceivers would preach and teach heresies–teachings that divide and cause strife–rather than bringing love and unity and peace. Peter cited examples in Scripture of God’s judgment on the sensual world in the case of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah. He cited Balaam as a false prophet motivated by greed instead of truth. Swift destruction awaits those deceiving and being deceived if they don’t repent.
Psalm 80:17-19 “But let Your hand be on the Man of Your right hand, the Son of Man Who You have made strong for Yourself. Then we shall not turn back from You; give us life, and we will call upon Your Name! Restore us, O Lord God of Hosts! Let Your face shine, that we may be saved!”
Prayer: Father God, we live in deceptive times with many voices seeking to influence us that are not from You. Fill me and Your Church with the Holy Spirit and gifts of discerning of spirits. Use me to warn and be a prophetic voice to this generation concerning the present dangers of deception and idolatry. Restore us, O Lord God of Hosts! Let Your face shine on us for we trust only in You!
Jeremiah 48:6-8 “Flee! Save yourselves! You will become like a juniper in the desert! For because you trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken; and Chemosh shall go into exile with his priests and his officials. The destroyer shall come upon every city and no city shall escape; the valley shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the Lord has spoken.”
Living in exile!
Scripture reading for October 19th: Jeremiah 43, 44, 46, 2nd Peter 1
2nd Peter 1: 14-19 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He Who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on Him as Father Who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Our journey on earth is likened by Peter as living in exile from our true home in the holy presence of God. Holiness is the character of God the Father and Jesus Christ as well as the Holy Spirit. The word for ‘holy’ means ‘set apart’ and God is truly set apart from all other beings. His holiness and perfection allow Him to judge impartially each person made in His image and called His ‘children’. He knows all things past, present and future. These sobering truths should motivate us to live in holy reverence and separation to God Who loved us enough to redeem us from our sin and rebellion through the blood of Jesus Christ. God raised Jesus from the dead and revealed Him as God the Son to all who look to Him in faith.
2nd Peter 1:20-21 “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but wad made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
Prayer: Holy Father, I am in awe and holy respect for You and Your holiness and loving plans to save and redeem Your people and even to restore them from captivity that they brought upon themselves by disobedience. As I live in exile from my eternal holy home with You, set me apart daily to be holy and to live in reverence and hope, knowing that You will soon return to fulfill all prophetic promises!
Jeremiah 46:27 “But fear not, O Jacob My servant, nor be dismayed, O Israel, for behold, I will save you from far away, and your offspring from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return and have quiet and ease, and none shall make him afraid.”
Clothe yourselves with humility
Scripture reading for October 18th: Obadiah, Jeremiah 40-42, Psalm 147, 1st Peter 5
1st Peter 5: 5-10 “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt you, casting all your cares on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, Who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Peter closes this short letter with a call to humility and watchfulness. We have an adversary, the devil, who seeks to destroy us and consume us. We must resist him with a firm resolve to trust God. Our Great God is mighty to save and abundant in power and He delights when His children humbly cast all their cares upon Him. Suffering may be part of the experience here on our earthly walk, but God’s grace will sustain us and in the end, He will restore us and strengthen us with the fullness of our salvation–eternal life in the presence of His glory!
Psalm 147:5-6 “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure. The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked to the ground.”
Prayer: Father God, You alone have all power, dominion and authority. I humbly submit to Your authority and to those you place over me in government and Your Church. Thank You for answering prayers and giving directions to Your people for their eternal good. Forgive those who reject Your Word, to their own destruction. Lift up Your humble people and have mercy on the proud and wicked through the Gospel.
Jeremiah 42:19-21 “The Lord has said to you, O remnant of Judah, ‘Do not go to Egypt.’ Know for a certainty that I have warned you this day that you have gone astray at the cost of your lives. For you sent me to the Lord your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the Lord our God, and whatever the Lord our God says declare to us and we will do it. And I have this day declared it to you, but you have not obeyed the voice of the Lord your God in anything that He sent me to tell you.”
Good stewards of God’s grace
Scripture reading for October 17th: Lamentations, Psalm 137, 1st Peter 4
1st Peter 4: 7-11 “The end of all things is at hand, therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
God’s people have endured suffering in many different times in their history. Peter encourages the Church of Jesus Christ to remain self-controlled and sober-minded as the end of time approaches that they might pray effectively. Love for God and others must mark their lives and hospitality should be shown to fellow believers and godly service to all who are hurting and in need. Peter shares that this is the stewardship of God’s grace that is to flow through believers by the Holy Spirit and bring God glory. We are to be steadfast in love and show mercy in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah’s song of lament cited here is an example of self-control and godly thinking in a difficult time.
Lamentations 3:20-23 “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning and great is Your faithfulness.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness and new mercies each morning. Your unfailing and everlasting love gives me blessed hope in this difficult time. Fill me with the Holy Spirit today to use the gifts and talents You have provided me to serve You and others. Beholding Your glory and giving You glory is all my heart longs for in Your heavenly kingdom. May Your will be done on earth as in heaven!
Psalm 137:5-6 “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.”
Radical love in action!
Scripture reading for October 13th: Jeremiah 38, 39, 52, 1st Peter 2
1st Peter 2: 18-23 “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in His steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; When He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him Who judges justly.”
Peter encouraged submission to all authorities, even those who were abusive or unjust. Suffering is part of following Jesus Christ. Our Lord set the example for us in His trial, death and resurrection. God looks upon His people suffering unjustly as an act of grace towards those mistreating them. God’s goodness leads people to repentance. Jesus Christ suffered unjustly for our sins and prayed for forgiveness for those so mistreating Him. Because of this, He ransomed all who will in faith look to Him. Peter wanted believers to follow in that example to see God’s enemies saved if possible. This is radical love in action.
1st Peter 2:24 “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.”
Prayer: Father God, I struggle to fully submit to unrighteous authority. Forgive me of my sin of pride and teach me the way of the cross and Jesus Christ My Lord. Help me to learn from those in Scripture who also suffered unjustly under rebellious authority yet remained true to God and His Word. Use me to show Your amazing grace to those needing redemption and Your healing for their souls.
Jeremiah 38:6 “So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud.” (Response of king Zedekiah to Jeremiah’s Word from the Lord.)
Ransomed by Christ’s blood!
Scripture reading for October 12th: Jeremiah 30-33, 1st Peter 1
1st Peter 1: 17-21 “And if you call on Him as Father Who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, Who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.”
Peter, one of Jesus’ inner circle of apostles, wrote two letters to the Church reminding them of basic truths and calling the Church of Jesus Christ to faith and obedience and holiness in preparation for Christ’s return. Although good deeds are an important evidence of saving faith, Peter reminded the believers of their initial salvation. They had been born again when they responded in faith to the Word of God preached by the apostles and other believers. The Word brought new life and Truth. The ransom for their souls was paid by Jesus Christ when He died and shed His blood to redeem all under sentence of death because of sin. Our faith and hope are anchored in Jesus Christ, the living, abiding Word of God.
1st Peter 1:22-23 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God. . .”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for new birth in my life through the living Word of God. Thank You for paying the ransom to buy my freedom and for gathering me into Your family and keeping me as the Good Shepherd You are. Fill me afresh with the Holy Spirit and let Your amazing love flow through me towards brothers and sisters and those You desire to add to Your family. I will proclaim Your love to all!
Jeremiah 31:10-11 “”Hear the Word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands far away; say, ‘He Who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’ For the Lord has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.”
Steadfast and patient till Jesus comes!
Scripture reading for October 11th: Jeremiah 37, 21, 34, Psalm 79, James 5
James 5: 7-11 “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”
James concludes his short letter with a call for patience and steadfastness while the believers waited for the coming of the Lord and Judge! He pointed to farmers for an example as they sowed their seed in faith, they must wait for the early and late rains to bring the crop to maturity before the fruit of the earth can be harvested. In the same way, believers must guard their hearts and be steadfast through the trials of life and God working in the hearts of people to soften them and bring forth precious fruit of repentance and faith. The prophets also stood as examples. James sited Job as an example of patience in suffering and how God restored him double. Jeremiah also remained steadfast in spite of persecution, death threats and imprisonment faithfully delivering God’s Word to His people in spite of resistance.
Psalm 79: 4-5, 11 ” We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. How long, O Lord? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire?” . . . “But we Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will give thanks to You forever; from generation to generation will will recount Your praise.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for these words of encouragement to remain steadfast in the face of trials or suffering. We are thankful for the examples You gave us in the prophets of old and apostles of Jesus and in Jesus Himself. We look forward to the coming of our Lord and the great reward of eternal life in His presence forever and ever!
Jeremiah 37:16-17 “When Jeremiah had come to the dungeon cells and remained there many days, King Zedekiah sent for him and received him. The king questioned him secretly in his house and said, “Is there any Word from the Lord?” Jeremiah said, “There is.” Then he said, “You shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.””
God gives us more grace
Scripture reading for October 10th: Jeremiah 27, 28, 29, 24, James 4
James 4: 4-8 “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that He has made to dwell in us”? But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
James passionately warned the believers about their need for holy separation from the world around them. God is a jealous Lover and wants our full devotion. This requires us to humbly submit to God and draw near to Him as an act of our will. We must resist the devil and his attempts to tempt and seduce us. James promises that as we humbly draw near to God that God will come nearer to us as well. God will give us all the grace we need to stand firm and to live a life bringing glory to Him and adding souls to His kingdom. As we pray and seek His will and the welfare of those around us, we find our needs met as well.
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
Prayer: Father God, thank You for grace to live effectively and with holy separation in a hostile world. Help me to remember that You place me where You desire and use me as You will to accomplish Your purposes. I humbly pray daily, “Not my will, but Yours be done!” Grant me opportunities to share the Gospel and seek the welfare of those needing Your grace. Yours is the kingdom and glory forever!
Jeremiah 29:4-7 “”Thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.””
The untamed tongue
Scripture reading for October 7th: Jeremiah 25, 35, 36, 45, Psalm 133, James 3
James 3: 6-10 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. For the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”
James understood from Jesus and from God’s holy Word the importance of unity. Jesus had prayed for unity, that His people would be one with He and the Father. By their love and unity and obedience, all men would be able to know that they were Jesus’ disciples. But James understood the tongue as well. Our tongue is connected to our hearts. Our flesh and its desires and passions cause the tongue to act like fire. A mean or hateful word spoken can set a whole family, city, or church or nation on fire. God’s people must allow the Holy Spirit to bridle their tongues and anoint hearts with Christ’s love and compassion. They must make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit and bond of peace through the anointing of the Spirit.
Psalm 133:1-2 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes.”
Prayer: Father God, I know the truth of my tongue’s unruly nature and thank You for Your mercy and forgiveness when I have spoken out of my flesh, frustration, or anger. Fill me with the Holy Spirit of God that my tongue might bless You and those to whom I am speaking. Let my words and my heart be acceptable in Your sight, bringing unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace.
Jeremiah 35:15-16 “I have sent you all My servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ But you did not incline your ear or listen to Me. The sons of Recab have kept the command that their father gave them, but this people has not obeyed me.”