Jeremiah 1:1-2:30; Philippians 4:1-23;
Psalm 75:1-10; Proverbs 24:17-20
I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world.
~God Jeremiah 1:5
~God Jeremiah 1:5
Jeremiah is called to give a very harsh message to the people of Judah. He is sad and depressed for much of his ministry. With no converts from his preaching, Jeremiah is called to a difficult task. Jeremiah experiences beatings, being put in stocks, hatred, imprisonment, and being charged as a traitor. He attempts to quit the ministry, but God will not let him (Jer. 20:9). He is forbidden to get married because of the terrible times in which he lives (Jer. 16:1-4). In all of this, he is faithful to the task for which he was created. God does not make mistakes. Jeremiah's suffering is within God's will.
In this first chapter of Jeremiah we see God's call on Jeremiah's life and his commission to preach. He was called at the age of 20 years. He felt too young for the task, but God would not allow him to back out. God makes it clear that even before Jeremiah was in his mother's womb, God had planned in advance that Jeremiah would be created for this purpose. Wow. Talk about a purpose driven life!! God touches Jeremiah's mouth (this reminds me of Isaiah having his lips touched with burning coals) and puts the words into him. God encourages Jeremiah to not be afraid because God is going to be with him and take care of him. Do you see that God is going to lead this man into many sorrows? Do you realize that God leads you into many sorrows also? This is part of our existence on a fallen planet. We should learn from Jeremiah's life story.
The first thing God shows Jeremiah in a vision in order to commission him is an almond branch that has budded. The almond tree was the first tree to bloom in Spring. It is a sign of things to come. Jeremiah is going to be a person who is an alarm clock of things to come. Jeremiah will be the person who tells the people to wake up and smell the coffee! Their captivity is nigh.
Next, Jeremiah sees a pot of boiling water that is tipping from the north. Babylon, which is in the north, is going to swoop down and attack Jerusalem.
Jeremiah is required to go and tell the people of Judah that God remembers when Israel was like a young bride who followed God (her husband) into the wilderness. It was a honeymoon existence where God fought for Israel against her enemies. God is perplexed that his bride so quickly found other lovers. Having given his bride a fruitful and bountiful land, He is shocked that His people have turned from their faithful God to worship worthless idols. They have done two evil things (vs. 13). They have forsaken God, who is the fountain of living water (remember Jesus telling the Samaritan woman that he is a fountain of living water?), and they have dug cracked cisterns that can't even hold water (idols).
Do you run to other things rather than God when life gets tough? Do you rely on drugs or alcohol to ease your distress? Do you try to solve problems by going to psychics or horoscopes? Who do you turn to in sorrow? Are you cheating on God?
Unlike Jeremiah, the Apostle Paul has sorrows and trials, but he also has wonderful relationships with the people who have converted to faith in Christ. The Philippians are part of Paul's joy and reward for his hard work on behalf of God.
We see that women like Euodia and Syntychex are integral parts of the church in Philippi. Paul calls them to stop fighting and start working in unity as a team. Paul calls them to not worry about anything, but instead replace worrying with praying. Jesus was our best example of this, especially in the Garden of Gethsemane. This is the key to having peace that surpasses human understanding. Do you practice praying about everything? You should. It will make you a more peaceful person. Stop worrying!
Paul gives practical advise when he tells his dear friends in Philippi to fix their thoughts on things that are true, honorable, right, lovely, pure, admirable, excellent, and worthy of praise. This is a discipline that will change your life if you practice it. It is a technique that Jesus used. It is how we renew our minds. We see this practiced in the Psalms as the psalmist works through his problems and concerns. Eventually, the psalm turns to praise and reflecting on the characteristics of God. This is thinking about what is true and honorable.
Try to practice this renewing of your mind this week.
The Philippian church is the only church that ever gave Paul any financial help. As you know, Paul was a tent maker. This is how he made his living, but as a teacher of God's word Paul could have collected money from the various churches just for teaching. It takes many hours of study and preparation to teach others. This is a worthy calling that is worthy of pay.
Paul concludes by sending greeting from the Christians who work in Caesar's palace. How wonderful to know that in pagan Rome God was having an impact through the faithful life of an imprisoned preacher.
How are you impacting your community with the Good News?
Read this psalm with the admonition of the Apostle Paul to "fix our thoughts" in mind.
We are not to rejoice when our enemies fall. Let God have vengeance and feel the anger. Also, don't envy the wicked. Their light will be snuffed out in the end. Destruction is their future.
What did you learn today? Please share.