Today's One Year Bible Reading

Jeremiah

6:16  "Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, [NASB: ancient paths where the good way is] and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that's not the road we want!' Wow, this year we have been looking at the ancient paths, both of Judaism and the true Gospel teachings of Jesus and Paul, and we have found miraculous and abundant rest in those paths, have we not? But at the same time, as we share these paths with those around us, offering LIFE, we find that people say they don't want that road because it is not the road they are familiar with.

6:21 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: "I will put obstacles in my people's path..." One thing I love as I learn about God's sovereignty is how He takes responsibility for all happenings. For me, this breeds trust! I need to know that God is truly in control before I will entrust my life in His care.

6:27-28 "Jeremiah, I have made you a tester of metals, that you may determine the quality of my people. They are the worst kind of rebel, full of slander." Who do you think these people (God's people) in this passage slander? That would be God! How do they slander Him? They do no accurately portray Him as the all-powerful, good, loving God that He is, whether in word or deed. Because of this, the people of the world do not hear about Him as they should—they have no idea who He really is!

7:8-10 "‘Don't be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It's a lie! Do you really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here and stand before me in my Temple and chant, "We are safe!"—only to go right back to all those evils again? I see a powerful truth in these words today. First of all, we are now the Temple of God through Jesus. But many believers today have corrupted grace by believing that we will never have to be held accountable for our sins. That is not what Jesus taught. As I read through these verses, I realize that I am guilty of breaking every one of them! Thankfully, God has convicted me of my sin in these areas in recent years and I am taking steps to right my wrongs. But it requires constant vigilance and humility!

How do we steal? "Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you... (James 5:4)." How have we withheld pay for the laborers (missionaries and evangelists)? "Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, `How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings." Malachi 3:8

How do we murder? "You have heard that the law of Moses says, 'Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.' But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!" Matt. 5:21-22

How do we commit adultery? "Behind closed doors, you have set up your idols and worship them instead of me. This is adultery, for you are loving these idols instead of loving me. You have climbed right into bed with these detestable gods." Isaiah 57:8

How do we worship Baal? "Don't be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry." Col. 3:5

None of this is to beat us down, but only to exhort us all to take a careful look at ways we have not obeyed God that we are not even aware of. These things hinder our relationship with Him, and they set us up for problems later in the coming judgment when we are held accountable for the way we lived our lives. So many Christians think that we will only be judged for our good works (I believed that until this year) but Jesus clearly teaches that we believers will be held accountable for much more: how we treat others, if we take care of "the least of these," and how we managed His money for a few examples. We must think about these things, because they are the same sins He was so angry at His people Israel over. We don't even realize how susceptible we are to the very same sins. We become so blind and hardened in our own sins, but it doesn't mean they are not there. It is a very sober and serious calling to be one of God's own servants!

7:11 Don't you yourselves admit that this Temple, which bears my name, has become a den of thieves? Surely I see all the evil going on there. I, the Lord, have spoken! Jesus spoke these very words so it is a Messianic prophecy.

7:18 No wonder I am so angry! Watch how the children gather wood and the fathers build sacrificial fires. See how the women knead dough and make cakes to offer to the Queen of Heaven. Notice that the passage portrays all the family members engaged in idol worship! I didn't realize until a while back that Catholics refer to Mary as the "Queen of Heaven.

I am not against Catholics as people, but I definitely see that so much of our own paganism and idolatry in the church today are a result of the same throughout RC history and carried along into the present RCC church even through the Reformation into the Protestantism. For RCC, revering Mary is one of their practices steeped in paganism. Back in the Torah we looked into the Babylonian Queen of Heaven and how the Catholics appear to have brought her along under the guise of Mary. From one site:

"The Queen of Heaven that all Catholics serve and worship, is the SAME abominable Queen of Heaven found in ancient Babylon.  The Catholic Church is a conglomerate of false religions--from Dagon, the half man/half fish god of the Philistines, to the Babylonian Queen of Heaven."

7:27 "Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond." If you haven't noticed, one of my spiritual gifts is prophecy or "truth-telling." I cannot help this, it is the gift God has impassioned me with. But as I attempt to declare certain truths from the Bible that I see today's believers need to hear and take seriously, I find that they turn a deaf ear to me. In fact, most of the time, you cannot even tell if the words sunk in. Now, having said all of this, as a truth-teller I am a prime target for hypocrisy in my own life. And believe me, there are plenty of times and areas where God convicts me of hypocrisy. But as I try to live an honest life and to be teachable and humble in my ministry, my own failures must not keep me from declaring truths. And I am always praying that the hearers will want to listen so that they can draw closer to LIFE and drink of Living Water. This is always my prayer for myself as well. I have not arrived, but I must still point out the truth as God leads. It is a very dangerous calling!

7:31 They have built pagan shrines at Topheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! Hey! This is Gehenna! Remember the word translators swapped out for "hell" in the Gospels? This is the garbage dump. And notice that these people were sacrificing their babies in fire and God says He would never command or even think such a thing. Hmmm... Perhaps the reason why Jesus talked about bodies being burned in Gehenna was because it was their just payment for burning their sons and daughters there. The Israelites knew what they had done, and perhaps Jesus was bringing this shameful thing to their remembrance and letting them know the same would happen to them for doing it to their children!

7:32 So beware, for the time is coming," says the Lord, "when that garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter. They will bury the bodies in Topheth until there is no more room for them. Remember this was a finite, earthly place of burning trash and that the inhabitants of Jerusalem saw the fulfillment of this prophecy in AD 70 when over a million Jews died in the siege and were burned in Gehenna. Jesus also says He will do the same to anyone in the Millennial Kingdom who is willfully rebellious against His rule.

"Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind." Isaiah 66:24

Colossians

2:8 Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. This sort of thing tried to happen to me yesterday at a hotel in Denver. I ran into someone I know who is a philosophy teacher at a religious college and he tried to convince me that I cannot understand or obtain knowledge of spiritual things without a qualified instructor (read: "priest" or "pope" or "philosophy instructor"). This man was so full of "high sounding nonsense from human thinking" that I wanted to ralph right there in the hotel dining area. However, I maintained control and smiled politely all the while as he explained that lay people like me cannot understand or interpret the Bible, and that the Scriptures are not adequate for revelation about God. But he did it all in 12 syllable words, so how is a layperson supposed to understand him anyhow? You got me!

2:11-12 When you came to Christ, you were "circumcised," but not by a physical procedure. Christ performed a spiritual circumcision—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. By now, you know that I believe that the "death now" of believers in this age is a "second death" of sorts. I was thinking this week how Jesus said to Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3)." How can a person be born again unless he is first dead to the old carnal life? Verse 20 says, "You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world."

Psalm

78:1-2 O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past... So much of the OT and the teaching of Jesus were hidden and even in parables. But now the Spirit is revealing to His people what it all means! And we have discovered so much of this understanding this year together. I can't wait to see what we continue to unearth now that we have so many more tools. Breaking through into hidden truth is much like chipping away at a dam. One day, the dam wall that holds back the water weakens, and one is caught in the FLOOD! It's like the more truth that is uncovered, the faster it comes!