singing in church July 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Jeremiah 7:1-9:15; 9:22-10:16; 26

Sunday Christians

We are glad when people come to church on Sundays. We think they are moral, perhaps even spiritual, but we would be surprised at how many are really not true committed believers. Jesus said “small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it,” (Matthew 7:13, NIV). We hope that the people in our congregation have found the narrow road that leads to eternal life through Jesus (John 14:6) and that they seek a deeper commitment to him, but we know that there are people who come to church for other reasons, some of which are self- serving. Going to church, giving money to churches or other philanthropic organizations, and wearing crosses are like good luck charms to them. They believe that if they do these things they will not be harmed; God is obligated to protect them. They are like Israel and Judah - people with stubborn hearts and deceptive minds. Furthermore, they are delusional.

Again and again God sent prophets to the people of Israel and Judah, but they would not listen. Now Judah was in peril of being conquered by Babylon and taken away from their land as her sister nation, Israel.

This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Reform your ways and your actions, and I will let you live in this place. Do not trust in deceptive words and say, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD!’ [In other words the people were saying that God would not destroy Jerusalem because his temple was residing there]

If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the alien, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your forefathers forever and ever.

Even now if you will turn away from your idols and worship me only and obey my words I will let you stay in your inherited land forever.

But look, you are trusting in deceptive words that are worthless. Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, ‘We are safe’-- safe to do all these detestable things? Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD,” (Jeremiah 7:3-11, NIV).

Despite the prophet's warnings, Judah would not listen. They were stubborn-hearted. They deceived themselves into believing that if they just came to the temple and offered burnt sacrifices in ceremonial obedience to the Law of God, they would still be entitled to his blessings. But God says, “‘Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in all the ways I command you, that it may go well with you,’” (Jeremiah 7:23, NIV).

Like Judah, have we deceived ourselves into thinking that giving token allegiance to God is enough, and that God does not see what we are doing in our private lives? God sees what we do all the time. A personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ is required for favor with Him. He offers us forgiveness, peace, spiritual life and blessings (more...). Our works will show whether we know him or not (Matthew 25:31-46).

It was not only the common people who were deceiving themselves; false prophets, priests and scribes also joined in the deception and delusion.

“How can you say, ‘We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,’ when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?

…Prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. They dress the [spiritual] wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.

Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when they are punished, says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 8:8, 10b-12, NIV)

Because of Judah’s unrepentant heart, therefore, God would punish them as he did Israel. The abandonment and destruction of the city of Shiloh, a previous earthly residence of God during the times of Samuel and David, was given as an example of their deluded confidence in the temple of God in Jerusalem.

Not only did the people of Judah deceive themselves into believing that God would protect them; they also deluded themselves into believing that other man-made gods could save them from Babylonian destruction. They probably thought: Why put all our eggs in one basket? We need all the help we can get! However, when Babylon would come they would destroy the idols and the temple. Then they would cry, “Where is our God?” (Jeremiah 8:19a, 20) This is another thing that many people still do today. When in trouble they will seek deliverance from any source. When God does not deliver, however, they, too, ask, where is God? Like Judah, it is often because of our sins that judgment comes upon us. We must respond to God’s gracious appeals while we still have time. “… the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath,” (Jeremiah 10:10, NIV). Why not commit ourselves to the only true God who can save? (more...)

The reaction of the prophet Jeremiah to the calamity he prophesied was weeping and wailing for his people, for he and his people would be destroyed and taken from their land. This should be the reaction of anyone who preaches about judgment to come; he should do it with tears and pleadings.

The reaction of the people to Jeremiah’s message, however, was not repentance but wrath. “…the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, ‘You must die!’(Jeremiah 26:8, NIV). Most people do not like messages of judgment; they only want messages of peace and prosperity. A message of peace and prosperity in certain circumstances, however, would be deceptive. Preachers must preach the truth, and so should the rest of us.

Fortunately for Jeremiah, God protected him. When given a chance to give his defense, Jeremiah explained,

The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you, (Jeremiah 26:12b-13, NIV).

With judgment there is mercy if we will only listen and obey.

Lessons to live by:

  • Spiritual Life is a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a religion (more...). Do not delude yourself into thinking that because you go to church on Sunday and give religious service or offerings that God is obligated to protect and bless you.
  • People with stubborn hearts and deceptive minds are not only deceived, they are delusional
  • God sees what we do all the time.
  • Do not believe lies and so delude yourself; believe the truth.
  • God gets no pleasure from punishing his people. With judgment there is mercy if we will only listen and obey.
  • Let’s not seek idols and lucky charms for salvation. Let’s commit ourselves to the only true God who can save.
  • Be truly spiritual. Worship the LORD with a fully committed heart.

Today’s Bible memory verses: Jeremiah 9:23-24

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.” (NIV)

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