Sunday, October 9, 2011

October 9- The Linen Belt

October 9, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Jeremiah 12:1-14:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-28;
Psalm 79:1-13; Proverbs 24:30-34

A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, 
as long as you're looking down, you can't see something that's above you.  
~C.S. Lewis

Jeremiah 12:1-14:10

When I was a young girl, my mother bought me a deep blue velvet dress.  It was my favorite dress and for a long time, I insisted on wearing it everyday. She would try to coax me into wearing something clean and fresh, but I would refuse. I was probably four years old. I don't know what ever happened to that little dress, but if it was in my possession right now, it would be deteriorating and showing signs of wearing out.  Today, God uses a deteriorating linen belt to show Jeremiah that He intends to wear out the pride of Judah.

As our reading begins, Jeremiah comes before the Lord to plead a case for justice.  He wants to know why the wicked seem to prosper on earth. They don't love God and yet they seem so happy. Jeremiah wishes that God would slaughter the hypocrites.  God warns Jeremiah that even his family has turned against him.  God also divulges that He intends to punish the hypocrites and rebels.

There is an interesting turn in verses 14-17 of chapter 12 where God explains that He will punish Judah, then punish the godless nation that He used to punish Judah, and then He will eventually draw Israel back to Himself and also draw people from all of the godless nations to Himself.  This is a peek into the future with God restoring His fellowship with all people groups on the earth.  Remember, this story is the story of a Creator reconciling Himself with His creation through His Son.

In chapter 13, God uses an illustration to teach a principle.  He tells Jeremiah to buy a linen belt and wear it.  He then tells Jeremiah to put the belt between some rocks on the shore of the Euphrates River.  Later, after some time has passed, Jeremiah is told to go retrieve the belt.  When he gets it, the belt is useless.  It is decayed and mildewed. God uses this physical picture to tell Jeremiah that He is going to rot away the pride of Judah and Jerusalem by having them go into captivity. 

God does not abide with pride.  This is a good lesson for you and me to learn.  We will see that this is a lesson that Job learns.  God is the person to be honored.  He is to be glorified.  Because of their pride and rebellion against God, Judah (the Southern Kingdom) is going to be humbled through captivity.  Are there situations in your life where God has had to humble you through life circumstances in order to get you to turn back to Him.  He is willing to let you suffer for a time in order to restore a relationship with you. 

Does pride rule your life or are you willing to be humble?  Does God have to wear you out to wear down your pride? What is the linen belt in your life that God is going to wear down?

1 Thessalonians 1:1-28

This is the first epistle written by the Apostle Paul in either 52 or 53 AD.  You will note that in his epistles to the Gentile churches, Paul is trying to make sure that these new believers have a good grasp of who Jesus Christ is.  This particular letter is filled with information about Christ's second coming.  Does it surprise you that people who have just become Christians are being taught doctrine about the end times?  Many churches today never teach about future events, as if the congregation cannot handle these deeper issues.  That is not how the Apostle Paul felt.  He wanted all pertinent information available to people who had trusted in the work of Christ. We will be looking at these teachings as we read the two wonderful letters to the people in Thessalonica.

This church was smack in the center of the Roman Empire.  It was fifty miles west of Philippi.  It was first called Therma, because there are hot springs in the area. This church was established on Paul's second missionary journey. Paul first went to Philippi and from there went to Thessalonica to form a church.  He was with them for approximately one month according to Acts 17. The letters to the Thessalonians are in response to questions that arose after Paul left to go to other cities.

One theme that runs through these letters is that Christ's return is imminent.  When certain Thessalonians died prior to Christ's return, questions arose as to their eternal destiny.  These questions are addressed in the epistles to the Thessalonians.

Paul mentions in his greeting that he and his companions pray for them and they think about how they are continually anticipating the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 2). Paul confirms that God chose them to be his people.  Remember, this is a Jewish man (from God's chosen people group) telling a group of Gentiles that they are God's chosen people, too. When the Thessalonians became Christians, it caused a great uproar and persecution broke out.  Paul was run out of town, as a result.  Paul mentions the suffering they (the Thessalonian church people) have endured and commends them for suffering for Christ. Their suffering is a testimony to all of Greece. Paul mentions that their faith in Christ's second coming is a witness to the world.

Being a person of pure motives is important to Paul.  He reminds the church that he did not pretend to be their friend so that they would give money to his ministry. Instead, he nurtured them like a mother nurtures her children. Not only did he give them Good News about Christ coming for the Gentile people of the world, he gave them a message that guarantees them eternal life!

Are you knowledgeable about the second coming of Christ?  Could you describe future events to a new believer?  Do you know ministries for Christ that just seem to be about finding ways to get your money?

Psalm 79:1-13

Here is a cry to God when enemies are being used to wear the pride out of you.  Here is the cry that God was trying to produce through the suffering!

Proverbs 24:30-34

Poverty pounces on lazy people.  Watch what happens with a little folding of the hands...

What did you notice as you read today?  Did you learn anything?  Please share.


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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