Tag Archives: judgment

August 24; Getting Away With It

Jeremiah 43-44; Psalms 71 and 116

The people heard Jeremiah’s message from God – and they rejected it! They called the prophet a liar, and promised to go on living just the way they were living. In fact, they said that when they worshiped idols in the past, they’d had “plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm.” They went so far as to say that trouble started only when they’d stopped worshiping their pretend gods.

What they chose to forget were the many times God had sent prophets to warn them, sent plagues or famine to get their attention. Their memory was selective, “We had it good without God.”

We all know there are people who have rejected God as blatantly as these ancient Jews rejected Him. And we are witness to the fact that God doesn’t zap them dead the minute they utter the words, “We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord.” (Jeremiah 44:17)

Many non-believers, enemies of God, prosper in this world. But don’t think for a moment God or some higher power or the universe is blessing them for their sin. Jeremiah tells us in verses 21-22 that God is not unaware of what they are doing. He tells us God endures their sin for a time.

Why? Why would God sit back and let people be wicked? Well the answer is, He doesn’t. God doesn’t sit back – ever. If wicked people prosper it is because God is patiently throwing out roadblocks, conviction, signs, messages, hardship, unrest, whatever… in order to help those people choose Him. You can’t know how God is working in anyone’s heart.

I’m glad the organizers of the NIV One Year Chronological Bible include the two psalms in today’s scripture. This is the testimony God wants every man, woman, and child to have for themselves: God is gracious, God is good, God is righteous, He protects, He gives hope, and He is worthy of praise. And I believe the Bible tells us God will keep working in the hearts of even the most vile offenders, until they die.

But Jeremiah also tells us there is a time when judgment comes. Just because wicked people seem to prosper, doesn’t mean they are getting away with anything. One day they will have to account for their choices. In Jeremiah’s day that involved disasters, sword and famine. But the ultimate judgment is so much worse. It’s eternal.

So, dear Christian, don’t get caught up wondering why wicked people aren’t suffering. God is working. Trust Him. They aren’t getting away with anything. That fact should cause us to grieve for them, to pray for them, and to allow God to use us to save them.

 

 

August 5; On Fire

Jeremiah 22:24-23:8, 49:1-33; 2 Kings 24:10-17; Obadiah 1:1-21

I will confess I was a bit down yesterday after my time in God’s Word, thinking about the persecution of believers in our world, and what that means for the future of the sweet children in my life. I pray that they will be grounded in the Truth of Scripture, believers in Jesus, and His through His precious blood and the repentance of sin. I pray they will be strong to face whatever the future holds.

I read the passages for today and, honestly, my mind kept wandering. I got to the end of it and realized I hadn’t gotten a thing out of it. So I prayed and asked God to speak to me as I read it a second time.

Sigh. There is a lot of destruction and judgment in these verses. Is that what God wants to say to me again today? I wasn’t sure I could handle another day of gloom and doom.

And, because I’ve made a 10 day commitment to keep my commentaries on the shelf, I started to read these passages a third time. This time I prayed, “God, if you are wanting me to address your fierce judgment again I will. But if there is something else you want me to see, I want to see it.

“Jesus,” He seemed to say.

There it was. Jeremiah 23:5-6. Jesus, the righteous Branch, wise, and just. The One who will protect His children. The Lord our Redeemer! Thank you, Lord, for reminding me there is hope. His name is Jesus.

Then, in Obadiah 1:15-18 I heard God speak of that hope. The day of the Lord is near. There will be deliverance – AND IT WILL BE HOLY.

God’s children will receive our inheritance: eternity with Jesus. And not one of those who reject Him will survive. Not one.

So, yes. Things are heating up in the world. Satan is on a roll. But we who know the Savior have hope. Nothing that snake can do needs to cause us fear, because God is on our side. Jesus will destroy His enemies.

It occurs to me there are two ways God eliminates His enemies. One is death – physical and eternal. But that’s not His first choice to destroy His enemies.

The other way God eliminates His enemies is by making them His children. When they repent of sin and accept His grace, they are enemies no more! That’s His plan. That’s why Jesus died. That’s what He did for me and you who were once His enemies. He saved us and made us His beloved.

So, dear Christian, let’s be that fire Obadiah spoke of. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to set us ablaze with passion and love and boldness. Let’s defeat Satan by leading people to Jesus. Let’s do our part to turn God’s enemies into His children.

Because if we don’t, none of them will survive.

July 31; Time To Check Your Heart

Jeremiah 8:4-9:15, 22-10:26, 26:1-24

I often hear people lament the condition of the world based on what is happening in the US. “God must be coming back soon because Americans have legalized gay marriages,” when the truth is, we aren’t the first country to do that. We aren’t the first country to be “post-Christian.” For some reason, we believe God doesn’t think other countries quite as important as the good old USA.

I hate to break it to us, but it isn’t all about America. Jeremiah reminded me of that this morning. In fact, the prophet reminded me it isn’t about nations at all. It’s not about Congress, or school boards, or Parliament, or police states. It’s about uncircumcised hearts.

It’s about me. It’s about you. It’s about individuals who reject God’s law, who worship pretend gods, who are their own gods.

There are great things happening in Jesus’ name in countries all over this world. Why? Because one man and one woman at a time are giving their hearts to the Lord. Do you think that matters in God’s economy, or does He cancel out that particular work of the Holy Spirit because Americans are rejecting Him?

As I was reading in Jeremiah today, reading about Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Israel, God seemed to remind me nations are not entities unto themselves. Jesus didn’t die to save Mexico, or Israel, or Ethiopia, or the United States of America. Jesus died to save individuals. Nations are made up of people whose hearts are either given to God or to Satan.

Jeremiah 9:25 says, “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh.”

So, dear one, it’s time to check your heart. It’s time for me to check mine. That’s the heart I am responsible for, that’s the heart that will usher me into heaven or hell.

So the next time we are praying for our country and the world, let me suggest we check our heart’s condition before our Holy God. God can’t heal a nation until He heals each of us.

 

 

 

July 28; Trusting The One We Fear

Nahum; 2 Kings 23:1-28; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19

Nahum reminds us that God is to be feared… and trusted. Feared because His judgment is harsh and inflexible. Trusted because He never places judgment on anyone who doesn’t deserve it. What is sin for you is sin for me.

And the wages of sin is death. He’s pretty upfront about that.

But here’s what else Nahum says about God: He is slow to anger.

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” (1:7)

Yes, God protects His honor and holiness with jealous zeal. Yes, there are devastating consequences for those who don’t play by His rules. But don’t get stuck there. Because the same jealous and avenging God took on Himself His own wrath, His own death penalty so you and I wouldn’t have to.

You might think God isn’t fair, and you would be right. It wasn’t fair that Jesus took your sins to the cross. He never committed even one sin. Yet our Savior endured the cross, didn’t give a second thought about the shame – for love of you!

Yes, the Creator God, Almighty, All-knowing, Eternal and Holy, is a God to be feared. You can look at Jesus’ death on the cross and get an idea how serious God is about sin, and what it cost His Son to take the punishment you deserve.

Look at the cross. That should be you up there. If that doesn’t make you fearful, I don’t know what will.

Then look into the face of your Savior, and know He can be trusted:

If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness. (I John 1:9; emphasis mine)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24; emphasis mine)

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us(Romans 5:8; emphasis mine)

We have reason to fear God. And we have every reason to trust the One we fear, when we are His children through the blood of Jesus.

July 24; What You Believe About God

Zephaniah 1-3; 2 Chronicles 34:4-7; Jeremiah 1:1-19

Last night our Bible study centered around the creation account in Genesis 1. What you believe about this first chapter in the Bible will determine what you believe about God. It’s that important. Do you believe Him or not? Did He speak the universe, our world into existence, or did He give us some clues in His Word, expecting us to figure out the truth?

Our teacher also discussed the subtle, and the overt attacks on the only thing created in God’s image: you! Satan hates God, and in turn, anything that reminds Him of God. And you, my friend, are the image of God staring Satan in the face. That snake would love nothing more than to take you down with him.

You, and your children. Don’t think your kids aren’t under attack. Whether it’s the friendly guide at the museum during the class outing who mentions in passing that the earth is millions of years old, as though that were fact, or the reading teacher who assigns “A Tale of Two Daddies: (which Goodreads touts as “sweet, simple, charismatic, and realistic… a kid-friendly book…), or a cartoon on TV that portrays characters as witches, gay, disobedient, smarter than the grown-up, all of which are attacks on the image of God. Please don’t blow off the seriousness of the attacks. Kids are learning.

Now, we Christians can wring our hands and worry about the direction this world is going. Or we can do what God has us here to do: speak up! It’s not enough to live a good life, to love everybody (which in our world too often implies acceptance, tolerance, live-and-let-live).

It’s not enough to give food to the hungry and expect them to figure out simply from your act of kindness that Jesus died to save them. Friend, you’d better be talking about the Truth. How will they know unless they are told? (Romans 10:14)

This world is on a downhill spiral. The forces of evil will tell you that’s a good thing, that we’ve become enlightened, freed from the constraints of religion, the masters of our own universes, powerful, worthy, good. But if you believe God, you can’t believe the evil.

God tells us there will be hell to pay:

I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdom and to pour out my wrath on them – all my fierce anger. the whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger. (3:8b)

God tells us His judgment is coming. But no one has to die. If you believe the Bible, you know Jesus already did that. We need only to repent of sin, and accept His forgiveness. We might know that, but our loved ones need to know that, too. They need to be told. And maybe more than once.

Here is what is important: God has told us this world is not going to last forever. Jesus is coming back, and life as we know it will end. For those who don’t know Him it will be worse than anything Hollywood can put on a screen.

However, concerning those who believe God, who are His children through the blood of Jesus, He says:

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (3:16-17)

Don’t you want to experience that instead of the outpouring of God’s wrath? Don’t you want that for your children, too? Look around, there are people you love, people whom God loves, who need to hear the truth.

What do you believe about God? What you believe about God has everything to do with what you are going to do today.

 

 

 

Amos; The Day of the Lord

Years ago, the church I was affiliated with adopted the slogan, “Bring Back the King.” Amos tells us why that just might be dangerous thinking.

We Christians know without a doubt that we will live in heaven for eternity. For some, that assurance spurs them on to tell others so that they can have the same assurance through the blood of Jesus. For others, that sense of security creates a complacency. And that is what God addresses through Amos.

I don’t want to debate end-times events here, because there are differing opinions based on the same Scripture, and that’s not what God has laid on my heart today. But I think God is addressing one such opinion through Amos. I know many believe that God will rapture the Church before things get really bad here on planet Earth. Others believe the Church will go through the great suffering before the rapture. But often, when people talk about the pre-tribulation rapture, it is usually said with thanksgiving, and a sigh of relief. “Whew! We’re gonna dodge that bullet. Praise the Lord.”

Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light – pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? (6:18-20)

If the Church is raptured before a time of great suffering, and you’re ok with that – shame on you. Have you no compassion for the multitudes of people for whom Jesus died, but still don’t know Him, who will die in their sins and suffer eternity in hell?

“Oh,” some will say, “people will still get saved after we’re gone.” Does believing that give you an excuse to throw up your hands, and pray for the Day of the Lord while staring at your phone, trying to get to the next level on that all-important game you are playing?

God has a lot more to say through the shepherd/prophet Amos about judgment and sin, about restoration and grace. But God is speaking to me today about my own level of concern for lost people. Because judgment is coming, and we deserve it.

I don’t know when Jesus will return. I don’t know if the world will experience that great suffering the Bible talks about with or without the Church in its midst. But personally, I’m not going to pray for “The Day of the Lord,” or to “Bring Back the King” and not do everything I can while I am still able, to go, make disciples, share the good news of Jesus Christ before it’s too late.

Because Jesus is not willing that anyone die without Him. I shouldn’t be, either.

Joel; Only One Exit

A new trend these days is the “Escape Room.” These fun houses are popping up everywhere. Have you tried it? I confess I have not, although I think it sounds like fun. You and a few friends are locked in a room together. The clock is ticking, and you must find and follow the clues that will eventually open the door before time runs out. Of course, you are in no real danger. It’s you against the clock. But I can imagine the adrenaline rush as time ticks down.

I thought about that today as I read the book of Joel this morning. God is being very explicit as He inspires Joel to describe what was ahead for His disobedient children. Judgment is coming. It’s inevitable. And it’s ugly.

But within this book are the clues that can open the exit door:

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart…” (2:12)

God goes on and tells His people to fast, weep, repent, because God is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.” (2:13)

Someone has said you can’t flee from God’s judgment, except by fleeing to Him.

I hope you’ll read Joel today. It’s only three chapters. Hear God tell you that sin will be judged, and the consequences are devastating. Then hear Him tell you He’d much rather pour out His Spirit on you, to shower you with Living Water, and pardon your sins once and forever.

If you’ve never admitted you are a sinner, asked God to forgive you, and turned from your former way of life, I pray you’ll do that today. Judgment is coming. That’s a fact. And there is only one exit door.

His name is Jesus.