Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Jeremiah

Study 33 – Jeremiah 49:34-50:46

1.      God’s people are restored because the Lord made a promise to use them to be a blessing to the nations. God keeps His promises. The exile in Babylon was only necessary to bring about repentance from the nations of Israel and Judah. Once repentance had been achieved God could mold the clay of His people into the vessel that He wanted it to become.

2.      Babylon was merely a pawn in the hands of the Lord. Babylon could not be brought into the covenant because Babylon clung to her false gods. Jeremiah singles out Bel and Marduke when he prophecies against Babylon. The Lord is Almighty. He uses whomever He wills in order to accomplish His purposes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Jeremiah

Study 32 – Jeremiah 49:1-33

1.      The Ammonites had committed genocide against the nation of Israel (Amos 1:13).   The Ammonites had placed their trust in their walls and in their riches. Her punishment was for her cities to become mounds of ruin. In other words, what she relied on would crumble in a heap.

2.      The judgment against Edom (the descendants of Esau) is so severe because God chose to use Jacob and Esau to demonstrate the complete disconnect that there exists between the righteous and the unrighteous. Esau sold his birthright! He does not belong. The write of Hebrews labels Esau as ‘godless’ Hebrews 12:16. Jacob on the other hand, who was not perfect, but named a deceiver, was extended grace. The Lord extends mercy and grace on whom He wills. To live outside of the grace and mercy of God is to be under His wrath with no hope of deliverance. It is only His mercy and grace that can deliver us and it is not of ourselves.

3.      The wrath of God is destined to come against all of those that oppose the people of God. While the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ lives in exile in the land at the moment. The day will come when we will enter into our eternal reward and the wrath of God will punish the nations that attempted to thwart the work of His kingdom.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Jeremiah

Study 27 – Jeremiah 39 – 41

1.      Jeremiah told Ebed-Melech that in spite of the coming destruction of Jerusalem, Ebed-Melech would be kept safe. This promise was made because in pleading for the release of Jeremiah from the pit, Ebed-Melech was demonstrating his trust in the Lord.  Ebed-Melech put action to his faith and went out on a limb to secure the release of Jeremiah. That action led to his protection in the most difficult of circumstances. The Lord always honors steps of faith on the part of His children.

2.      The heathen army officer’s comments make clear that the warnings of Jeremiah were not muffled or garbled, but had been sounded clearly enough for non-believers to understand the message. God is calling for such a clear message today. As in the days of Jeremiah, the unbelievers hear the message more clearly than many claiming to be a part of the people of God. There is a respect for conviction and truth even among non-believers, but there is no respect for hypocrisy.

3.      Gedaliah was trying a little too hard to be ‘diverse.’ In his attempts at diversity in this newly forming kingdom he failed to realize that not everyone had the same dreams. His naivety led to his death and ultimately the death of many others. In our quest for openness and acceptance we must walk the fine line between not labeling everyone an enemy while also understanding that not everyone will accept our friendship, no matter how genuine we are in extending the offer.

Study 28 – Jeremiah 42 and 43

1.      God told the people that they were to continue to live like refugees in their own land under the direct subjection of their Babylonian occupiers. They were told that if they did not give into their fears that they would prosper and that if they instead chose to seek refuge in Egypt that they would be destroyed. They chose Egypt much in the same ways that many that had crossed the Red Sea wanted to go back to Egypt rather than continue to journey through the wilderness with God as their only guide. Jeremiah prophesied that a return to Egypt would mean certain destruction.

2.      In the case of seeking the counsel of Jeremiah, and in the case of seeking a Word from the Lord today, people often times go to God with an agenda and with a promise to obey Him only if they received the message that they truly want to hear. No one wants to be told that they are just going to have to stay put and endure hardship for several years. Everybody is seeking a quick fix and will quickly move on down the road when not given the answer that they want.

3.      Jeremiah did not let his circumstances dictate his faith! What a tremendous lesson for us all. Faith is more about ‘enduring’ than about ‘receiving’; it is more concerned with ‘sacrifice’ than with ‘reward.’ Jeremiah had learned this secret whereas the stubborn people of Israel and Judah had a long way to go.

Study 29 – Jeremiah 44 and 45

1.      Jeremiah’s message never changed. “Stop the idolatry!” “Serve the Living God!” “Stop trusting the nations and start trusting the Almighty God.!” His message never changed and the response of the people never changed. The message of Jeremiah continued to fall on deaf ears. The people preferred the God’s of occupying nations and the countries in which they lived in exile to the God that brought them out of Egypt in the first place.

2.      We make a big mistake when we base the blessing of God on what is currently or recently happening in our lives. God is not on our timetable! We must be careful to judge spirituality and the blessing of God based on one’s faithfulness to God’s Word and not based upon the material blessings that they enjoy.

3.      The message is basically this:
"Stop complaining about things not turning out well for you.
Don't you realize that the very nation that I brought out of Egypt and built up in this land has been destroyed. If I can lose a nation, surely you can handle going through some stuff.”

Study 30 – Jeremiah 46 and 47

1.      The Lord uses whatever means necessary to achieve His perfect will. He would, of course, prefer to use His chosen people, but when those people become obstinate and refuse to be an instrument in His hand; He will chose another to accomplish His purpose.

2.      Egypt is described as a ‘beautiful heifer,’ ‘a dense forest,’ and likened to a bountiful field. All of these images of power are tormented by the smallest of enemies. The heifer is chased by the fly, the forest is felled by an ax, and the field is devoured by the locust. Egypt is described as extremely powerful and very well prepared, yet even the most powerful and most well prepared can be defeated by the smallest enemies when they are determined and exploit the weaknesses of the powerful.

Study 31 – Jeremiah 48

1.      Verses 1 – 10:  “Put salt on Moab, for she will be laid waste; her towns will become
desolate, with no one to live in them.”  -- Jeremiah 48:9 (Key verse)

Verses 11-20:  Moab has had it easy up to this point. Unlike other nations she has not been challenged – now the challenge will come. The ease and the finery of Moab will be undone.

Verses 21:-27: Moab will become an object of ridicule

Verses 28 – 39:  The pride and arrogance of Moab will change from shouts of joy while treading out wine to shouts of agony. The party is over for Moab.

Verses 40 – 47:  There is no escape – “Whoever flees from the terror will fall into a pit, whoever climbs out of the pit will be caught in a snare; for I will bring upon Moab the year of her punishment.”

2.  Moab has not went through any trials. Moab had not been tested. The nation is described as wine left on its dregs, not poured from one jar to another. When we are not tested we become stagnant and are like wine that is covered with a skim of dregs that have floated to the top. It is the testing of our faith that purifies us and makes us useful in the hands of the Lord. We should not run from trial, but instead we should realize that it is in the time of trial that we are made fit for the service of the Lord. We are said to have ‘spoiled’ our children if we give them everything that they want. We cannot be left to our own devices, we must be tested. It is the testing of our faith that keeps us from becoming spoiled brats that are not fit for service in His kingdom.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Jeremiah

Study 26 – Jeremiah 37 and 38

1.      God will go to whatever means necessary in order to fulfill His promises to His people. At times that will mean that we will go through some very difficult times in order to be protected from even more severe circumstances.

2.      I think that only Jeremiah can make the call as to whether or not the physical sufferings were equal to or greater than the verbal assaults. I am sure that they both were painful to go through. Nonetheless, Jeremiah continued to obey the Lord and did not back away from the Word that God had called him to deliver.
3.  Zedekiah was only interested in himself. Jeremiah was only a pawn in his hand.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Jeremiah

Study 24 – Jeremiah 35

1.      Jeremiah invited the Recabites to drink wine which would be a violation of the oath that they had taken with their founder Jonadab.  When they refused to violate their oath Jeremiah was told to tell the nation of Israel that the Recabites were more careful about following the oath with Jonadab than the nations of Israel were with following the covenant they had with the Living God.

2.      As the preacher, I am well aware that very few pay attention to the Word of the Lord. Unfortunately, the need for endless repetition of God’s commands continues from Jeremiah’s day until now with very few people paying any attention to the Word of the Lord. Instead, each one continues to do what they see as right in their own eyes.

3.      The Recabites lived the lives of temporary residents. As Christians we should recognize the temporary nature of our stay on earth and not become so enveloped in the things of this world.

Study 26 – Jeremiah 36

1.      In Jeremiah 26, Jeremiah actually stood in the Temple courts to deliver the message rather than having Baruch read a dictated message. His message in Jeremiah 26 was immediately received with anger and a death threat while in Jeremiah 36 those that initially hear the message are cautious concerning what they have heard and instead of calling for the death of Jeremiah, they instruct Baruch to go and find Jeremiah and go into hiding with him. The outcome was similar in that the King rejected the message.

2.      It appears that the hearts of the officials had been softened by the previous words of Jeremiah and the enemies that they saw gathering at the gates. It appears they were hoping that the King would heed the words of the prophet Jeremiah. The King could have seen an end to the invasion of Babylon at that very moment had he listened to the words of Jeremiah. Instead he chose to burn the scroll of the prophet and sealed his own doom.

3.      The officials instructed Baruch and Jeremiah to hide themselves, but verse 26 reminds us that it was the Lord that hid them. When we hide ourselves in the Lord no one can ever find us, but when we hide ourselves in our own power, we will most assuredly be discovered.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Jeremiah

Study 20 – Jeremiah 30:1 – 31:26

1.      The Lord promises that their children will return to the land. This promise comes with the command to plant crops and rebuild so the promise is seen as something of permanence. He also promises the destruction of their enemies.

2.      Judah and Israel returned to the land and enjoyed an extended time of relative peace until 70 AD. Jerusalem became a central hub of activity in that part of the world and saw the building of the magnificent Temple built by King Herod.

3.      The death, burial and resurrection of Christ brings all that repent out of their exile in sin and into a place of spiritual life and prosperity. He takes us out of the darkness and into the light.

Study 21 – Jeremiah 31:27-40

1.      In spite of the fact that the people of God had continually broken their covenant with the Lord Almighty; He offers them the opportunity at another covenant that will be transmitted by the power of the Spirit rather than by Words carved on stone.

2.      This new covenant will be written on their minds and on their hearts. It will be a covenant that will extend to all people and will be one in which the Spirit of God will transmit the message directly into the hearts of man.

3.      God points to His omnipotence as a guarantee to uphold His end of the covenant. As surely as He cannot fail, neither can He fail to keep the New Covenant. The sun will always shine, the waves will always crash on the beach, the stars will always shine, and God will never fail!

Study 22 – Jeremiah 32 and 33

1.      Jeremiah immediately obeyed God’s command that he purchase his uncles property, but he also thought that it didn’t make since due to the fact that the Babylonians had already besieged the city of Jerusalem. After purchasing the property Jeremiah prayed that his investment would not be for naught. God responds by assuring Jeremiah that He will restore Judah and Israel and that once again Jerusalem would be a vibrant city to which the world would turn. The purchase of land under such circumstances was a step of faith on the part of Jeremiah. and a sign to all of those that witnessed the transaction of God’s promises.

2.      Jeremiah 33 promises that there will always be a King and a priest before God. This promise is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah and our Great High Priest.

Study 23 – Jeremiah 34

1.      While Nebuchadnezzar truly did possess great military strength, that strength was nothing compared to the strength of the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Ultimately, God was in control of both the fate of Judah and the fate of Babylon.

2. During the Year of Jubilee all slaves were to be set free. Apparently this command had been broken for some time. God was pleased that Zedekiah had repented of this sin by freeing the slaves, but his subsequent re-enslavement of these Hebrews was more than God could bear. God would have preferred that Zedekiah would have not repented at all than to have realized his error and to have jumped headlong back into it again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Jeremiah 27 - 29

Study 18 – Jeremiah 27 and 28

1.      God had Jeremiah make a wooden yoke and wear it around his own neck as an illustrated sermon of the necessity of the five kings to submit to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar the kind of Babylon. God basically tells these five kings that He alone is ruler over all and that nothing takes place without His permission.

2.      Jeremiah condemned the prophets for speaking what the people wanted to hear and what would make them popular rather than speaking the Word of the Lord.

3.      They both claimed to represent the Lord  and they both acknowledged the superiority of the Lord over the nation of Babylon. However, Hananiah proclaimed a swift return of what Babylon had carried off while Jeremiah proclaimed that Babylon would carry off even more. Jeremiah acknowledged that he wished that the word of Hananiah would come to pass, but never the less, he had to speak the word of the Lord and that very word was contrary to the word from Hananiah. Jeremiah draws a figurative line in the sand when he says, “the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true  (Jeremiah 28:9). By making this statement, Jeremiah is saying, “May God judge between you and I.” Unfortunately, there are very few men of God in our day that will stand up to false prophets and make such statements.

Study 19 – Jeremiah 29

1.      The Lord wanted the exiles to prepare for a 70 year stay in exile. He called for them to live at peace in the cities into which they were carried and to pray for those cities. He also warned that the remaining puppet regime in Jerusalem would likewise be carried off into exile. The words for the exiles were ones of compassion while the word for those still in Jerusalem was one of stern rebuke. He promised a future filled with hope for the exiles and a future of plague for those that remained.

2.      Our restoration is dependent upon our repentance and our seeking the face of the Lord in prayer.

3.      Jeremiah mentions: Ahab son of Kolaiah, Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, and Shemaiah the Nehelamite.  He denounced all three of them for prophesying falsely and he prophesied their demise.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Jeremiah 26

Study 17 – Jeremiah 26

1.      God wants to give Judah an opportunity to repent because He does not want to destroy them.

2.      Jesus, likewise, took His message to the temple courts. It was in those courts that the priests began to plot against Him. Jeremiah, Uriah, and the early apostles were all called to take the gospel into hostile territory. We, likewise, are called to do the same. Christians are promised heavenly rewards, but we are also promised earthly persecutions. The question is, “Are we willing to take up our cross and follow the examples of Christ and the early disciples?”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Matthew

Study 46 – Matthew 27:32-50

  1. Jesus suffered in every way. Physically – He was beaten, forced to begin the journey carrying His own cross, He was nailed through the hands and feet. Emotionally – He was publically humiliated before the Sanhedrin as well as before Pilate and the crowd gathered at Pilate’s palace, He was stripped of all of His clothing and placed on public display like a common thief. Spiritually – He felt the sins of the world upon Him and the absence of the presence of the Father as He turned His face from the one that became sin for us.

  2. If Jesus were to have saved Himself from the cross He would have failed to live up to who He was. In seeking to save Himself, He would have lost everything that He was. He could not deny the will of the Father. God did not intervene because it was for this very purpose that the Son was sent. When Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us, that must have been the most horrific moment of His existence. He had previously not known what it was like not to fill the fullness of the presence of the Father in His life. Now, at His most physically and emotionally challenging moment, that precious presence was gone. The beating, the nails, the crown of thorns, were no match for the pain of separation from  the presence of the Father.

 Study 47 – Matthew 27:51-66

  1. The tearing of the curtain meant that Jesus had walked in to the presence of the throne room of God offering His own blood as a sacrifice for the sins of the world! Death no longer would have a grip on the people of God. The resurrection of many holy people from Jerusalem was a foreshadow of the final resurrection of all believers.
  2. Joseph of Arimathea is described by Luke as one that did not go along with the judgment against Jesus and one who was ‘waiting for the Kingdom of God’.  It is not as if Joseph had went along with any of this. This was just the first time that He was actually able to do something about the events that were happening around him. The magnitude of spices that Joseph used to wrap the body of Jesus is indication of His burial as a King! Cf. John 19:38-39.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Matthew

Study 45 – Matthew 27:15-31

  1. The world chooses leaders differently than God chooses them. The world looks for leaders that make sweeping bold statements and portray an attitude of strength while the Lord elevates those that walk softly and in humility. The problem in choosing leaders after the pattern of the world is that you end up with a leader that cannot deliver and you reject those leaders that have the blessings of God and all of His power behind them.
  2. Pilate tried to get the Jews to deal with it themselves; he tried to get the people to choose to release Jesus over Barabbas; and he tried to wash his hands of the entire matter.

    What a person chooses to do with Christ is the most important question in the history of mankind?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Study 44 -- Matthew 27:1-14

Study 44 – Matthew 27:1-14

  1. It is impossible to reject Christ and escape judgment. The guilt of that rejection cannot be cleansed by simply saying, “oops, my bad, I shouldn’t have done that.” Once the deed has been done, there is no escaping the consequence of rejecting the Messiah. A Christian may be tempted to deny Christ as Peter did, but to reject Him is another story. The writer of Hebrews tells us that if we know Christ and then reject Him we can’t come back because it is like crucifying Him all over again (Heb. 6:6). So, yes, we can deny the power of Christ, but we can’t reject it. Peter’s repentance was accepted, the repentance of Judas was not

  2. I find it interesting that Jesus was more defensive before the Sanhedrin than before Pilate. Jesus knew better than to caste His pearls before swine, but He also knew that the Sanhedrin needed to be rebuked for leading Israel astray. Far too often the Church in America spends too much time yelling at the world for doing what the world is supposed to do while keeping totally silent when it comes to the poor behavior of the Church. We need to follow the lead of Christ in this regard.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Matthew

Study 42 – Matthew 26:30-56

  1. Jesus knew everything that was about to happen and was still willing to go through it if that was what the Father desired. We need to be like Christ when it comes to doing the will of God. It is important to note that Jesus didn’t particularly enjoy going through everything that was happening, but He was willing. That is what the Father asks of us as well. He doesn’t expect us to go through trials with a smile on our face as if nothing is wrong and everything is going along absolutely wonderful. What He does desire is that we have a willingness to endure hardship if it means that His perfect will may be accomplished as a result.

  2. I think that the greatest agony of Jesus was the realization that He would have to endure all of the hardship alone. The disciples were not going to be able to bring Him comfort – they were going to desert Him.

  3. The disciples had willing spirits, but weak flesh. Their weak flesh would be strengthened to match their strong spirits during the many years of persecution that lay ahead. One of the greatest verses in this passage is in Matthew 26:32 “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” He says this immediately after saying that they were all going to desert Him! He knew that they were going to fail Him, but He promised them that He would not fail them. Jesus promised that He would restore them in Galilee! What a wonderful savior!

Study 43 – Matthew 26:57-75

  1. Jesus answered the question that would get Him killed while Peter wrongly answered the question that would get him in hot water with the world. However, Peter was no Judas. Peter’s denial did not jeopardize the life of Christ – it jeopardized the eternal life of Peter.

  2. The trial of Jesus was a hoax and He knew it. He was not about to needlessly incriminate Himself, but neither was He going to perjure Himself. He was going to answer honestly no matter what kind of trouble it placed Him into, but He was not going to volunteer too much information either. Normally a defense attorney never wants his client to take the stand and testify on his own behalf. There was no such risk in Jesus representing Himself.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Search The Scriptures -- Matthew 24:32 - 25:13

Study 38 – Matthew 24:32 – 25:13

  1. The return of the Lord is as certain as the changing of the season, the timing of His return is not as certain. No one knows, not even Christ, when that return will be. Our response, therefore, should not be to try to estimate the proximity of His return or to find indications of its approaching in the headlines of the CNN. The response of the Church should be one of being about the business of the Kingdom until His inevitable return occurs.

  2. We need to make sure that we are servants of Christ for the long haul. The wise Christian is the one that prepares himself for the immediate return of Christ, but will be ready if He does not return in their lifetime. We need to conduct the business of the Kingdom using the same wisdom.