Who Can Change a Leopard’s Spots? God Can!

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 10 – 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 10 – 12Psalms 81 – 85Proverbs 17)

Scripture Memory for July – John 3:1 – 21

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23)

The context of this passage, and the Book of Jeremiah as a whole, is the impending judgment that is facing Judah and Jerusalem because of their sin. They had gotten totally out of control: God had sent prophets to them; God had sent judgment to them; but they did not get the message. They were too far gone. God was about to do something very big in and to Jerusalem. The Babylonians were about to invade. It would be perhaps the worst calamity to hit the people of God. However, the good news is that the judgment that would come would be the very thing that would cause the people of God to repent: to change their spots. The people seemed powerless to change on their own; but through the loving hand of judgment from God, the leopard would indeed have his spots changed.

Sometimes, I get so very frustrated with myself, particularly my inability to get victory over some of the recurring sins in my life. I am utterly powerless, it seems, to win the battle. However, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”; and through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and through the loving correction of my Heavenly Father, my spots can also be removed. I can’t change my spots, but God can. Do you need a spot remover? God can do it. Yield to Him. Open your heart up and be willing to allow God to make the necessary changes in your life.

God can and will remove our spots, but there are some things that we can do to help God as He cleanses away the stain of sin from our life:

1  We first must acknowledge the fact that we have spots. We need to allow God to completely examine us and show us where the spots are in our life. We cannot withhold any area of our life. He must be able to thoroughly inspect us, and we must agree with His assessment. If He sees a spot, we must agree that it is indeed a spot.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – (1 John 1:9)

2  We must next be willing to submit ourselves to God’s cure for our spot problem. God may bring us through an uncomfortable process in order to accomplish His will. Trust Him. He knows what He is doing. He is the Great Physician. He knows just how deep to cut. He knows just how much we can handle. He may bring in some people to help Him. He may use a pastor or other counselor to help you as He works on you.

3  We must also be willing to continue down a prescribed path that will keep the spots from coming back in the future. We must stay in fellowship with God. We must daily spend time with Him through His Word and through prayer. He will keep His eye on us, and He will be able to quickly “spot” any new blemishes that may be coming to the surface.

Note – I must be careful to add that, if we are saved, God already sees us positionally as spotless, because He views us through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” – (Psalm 103:12)

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – (Isaiah 1:18)

“Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” – (Romans 4:7 & 8 )


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Closed Eyes, Closed Ears, and Closed Mouths

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 7 – 9; Psalms 76 – 80; Proverbs 16)

Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?” – (Jeremiah 7:17)

But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.” – (Jeremiah 7:23 – 24)

“But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.” – (Jeremiah 7:28 )

I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.” – (Jeremiah 8:6)

“And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.” – (Jeremiah 9:5)

“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” – (Matthew 13:15)

As I was reading this passage of Scripture this morning, I could not help but think about how the condition of Judah in Jeremiah’s day parallels the condition of our nation. America is in trouble today. She has charted a course of rebellion against the God Who gave her all of the prosperity, provision, and prosperity that she enjoys today. But as judgement was imminent for the people of Judah in Jeremiah’s day, I must sound the warning here that judgment is also right around the corner for America. We are an immoral and idolatrous nation. We have thrown God under the bus, and few seem to care.

I noticed in these chapters that God said that the people of Judah could not see how far away from Him that they had gotten. It is no different for us today. I am not sure why we are blind to our condition, but we are. Perhaps it is because the corruption has been gradual, over a period of many years, slow enough that we don’t realize that serious error is taking place. Consider what we are today compared to what we were when this nation was founded. We were a moral nation made up predominantly of Christians that feared the Lord. We preached and believed the Bible, and based our laws and government upon the principles contained in the Word of God. Today, we can’t even mention the Bible without getting in trouble; and it seems that our society is going out its way to promote the violation of God’s Law. And we don’t see it, at least very few do.

We also have turned a deaf ear to the few prophets out there that are trying to shout out the warning. God’s Word is being ignored, not only by our culture, but unfortunately also by many Christians. We truly have gotten to the point to where we have “…a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”.

The end result of not seeing, and not being willing to hear, has cause the third step in the downward slide: we have silenced many of the voices that are attempting to shout out the warning. The preachers have, for the most part, given up preaching against sin because the people simply do not want to hear it. Unfortunately, the only way that God will be able to turn us back to Him is through judgment. I am not hoping for judgment, but I know that it will wake many people up, and turn them back to God. I hope, however, that even before the judgment comes there will still be a few eyes out there that still see, and a few ears out there that are still listening to the voice of God, and a few mouths that will still speak for the Lord regardless of consequences that may come.


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Fallow Ground

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text)

(Second Milers also read – Acts 4 – 6Psalms 71 – 75Proverbs 15)

Scripture Memory for July – John 3:1 – 21

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 18:3 & 46

Read two older posts from this passage – “The Old Paths” and “Catching Men”

“If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove. And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory. For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.” – (Jeremiah 4:1-4)

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” – (Hosea 10:12)

My thought this morning concerns the phrase “break up your fallow ground”, which is found here in our passage from Jeremiah, and also in the Book of Hosea. Both passages use the phrase in the same context – revival. God told the people of Israel that if they were going to get back into a right relationship with them, they would have to break up, or cultivate, their hearts. The word “fallow” is defined as being unproductive or uncultivated. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the land is worthless, or without potential. It simply means that it is not being used for what it was intended to be used for, and was not fulfilling it’s potential.

I want to make a few observations this morning about what has to be done to fallow ground in order to make it productive, and then compare those things to what has to be done to the heart of the child of God in order to make him “meet for the master’s use”.

1  It must be smashed or broken – Unproductive ground is usually very hard. In our church parking lot, we have an overflow area that is not paved, but is covered with gravel. Recently, I was attempting drive a stake down through this ground, and almost could not do it, because the soil there became almost like concrete. Nothing but a few of the heartiest varieties of weeds can grow in that overflow lot because the ground is simply too hard. If it were ever to be used for the purpose of growing plants, the ground would have to be cultivated, or broken up. The same is true for the Christian. In order for us to be used of God, we must first be broken, or humbled by God. Pride causes us to harden ourselves. A hard-headed, and hard-hearted Christian is not teachable, and cannot be molded by God. The Holy Spirit cannot control someone who will not yield themselves to the will of God.

2  It must be sifted – If you have ever travelled in mountainous areas, you may have noticed that along the perimeters of any gardens or farms there is usually a pile of rocks. Those rocks were once in the field and had to be removed in order to cultivate the soil. The parable of the sower in the New Testament teaches us that things do not grow well in rocky soil. The rocks have to be removed. Also weeds and parasites need to be removed because they will harm the plant, or eventually starve the plants of the nutrients that they need to survive. So it is with the Christian who is seeking the Lord. He needs to remove the things from his life that are hindering his walk with God.

3  It needs to be saturated – Soil that is going to grow healthy plants needs to first be seeded, and then it needs to be watered. I am told that right now about two-thirds of our nation is experiencing drought conditions. This lack of water will hinder the quantity and quality of the harvest, and will drive up the costs of our food. Lots of water is essential to the growth of healthy crops. Our lives need to be saturated with some things in order to grow. We need to saturated ourselves in the Word of God, and in the fellowship of other believers in the local church.

How about it Christian? Is there any fallow ground that needs to be broken us in your life? God wants the very best for you. He wants to produce abundant and healthy fruit through your life that will in turn help to edify the lives of others; but first you must yield control of your life to Him. Let Him cultivate the soil of your heart, and then seed it and saturate with the Word of God so that you can be a blessing to the people around you.


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“I Will Not Make A Full End Of Thee”

Today’s Passages – Jeremiah 46 – 48; Proverbs 26

(Second Milers also read – Romans 10 – 13; Memorize – Philippians 4:6)

“Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished.” (Jeremiah 46 – 48)

The Book of Jeremiah is book of judgment: most of it dealing with the coming captivity for the people of Judah in the land of Babylon. However, these three chapters that we have read today deal with the judgment that God had prepared for three nations: Egypt, the land of the Philistines, and Moab. All three of these nations have had a bad history with God’s people Israel. For most of history these nations have been bitter enemies of the people of God. God would not spare these nations when he judged them: they would not receive the mercy that Judah and Israel would receive. Notice in the above verse that God says (regarding His people) that He would correct them “in measure”, but he would not make a full end.

I thank God that He loves me unconditionally and that, even though there are times when He needs to correct me and chasten me, He never stops loving me. We know that there is a principle throughout the Bible of reaping and sowing; but I know that God has not caused me to reap in judgment to the same degree what I sowed in disobedience. On the other hand, I have reaped far more blessing than I deserve. God has been very good to me: He loves me, even when I am not very lovable. I am His child: I came in through the door, Jesus Christ; and God will never kick me out of the house. It’s mind boggling; but I am not complaining. People who do not know God misunderstand this unconditional love: they claim that it sounds like a license to sin. However, his unconditional love for me has constrained me, and His grace has taught me to deny ungodliness. When I think about His love, I want to sin less and serve more.

I thank God for His correction; but even more, I thank God that no matter how bad I am, He never stops loving me!


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The Safest Place On Earth

Today’s Passages  – Jeremiah 41 – 45; Proverbs 25

(Second Milers also read – Romans 6 – 9; Memorize – Philippians 4:6)

But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God, Saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell: And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.”(Jeremiah 42: 13 – 16)

I remember years ago, when I was serving God as a youth director for Lighthouse Baptist Church in Gloucester City, NJ, we used to go soul winning in the city of Camden. Now Camden was a rough town in those days, ranking at the top of the list in many crime categories. At first, we were scared to death to go in there; but God taught me a valuable lesson in those days: if it was His will to serve in Camden, then I was safer there than if I was in Beverly Hills or Palm Springs. Why, because with the will of God comes protection as well as provision. We never did have one problem while we were soul winning there; and we spent  lot of time in that city visiting our bus routes, etc.

The passages that we read today in Jeremiah remind me of those days in Camden. At this time Jerusalem was a rough place. Most of the inhabitants were already taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon. No doubt there must have been a great fear of further oppression from the Babylonians. However, God promised the remnant in Judah and Jerusalem that if they would stay there and serve Him, He would protect them and prosper them. Unfortunately, the remnant did not listen. Instead, they decided to move to a place that was without war and famine: a place of wealth, culture, and prosperity. The only problem was that it went against the will of God. Guess what happened? All of the things that they feared about Jerusalem, happened to them in Egypt. They should have stayed in the place of God’s will.

Where is the will of God for you? It may not seem like the best place on earth to other men, but it is the place where you will thrive. Sometimes parents are reluctant to allow their children to become missionaries, because they fear for their safety on the foreign field; but they are safer there in the will of God than in the best place in America out of the will of God.  Are you where God wants you, doing what God wants you to do? Surrender your will to His; lean not unto your own understanding; and He will prosper you and protect you.


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Call Unto God

Today’s Passages -Jeremiah 33 – 36; Proverbs 23

(Second Milers also read – Acts 27 – Romans 1; Memorize – Philippians 4:6)

I will be posting Junior Camp pictures on this website throughout the week. Place your cursor over the picture on the top right of this page, and then advance via the arrows at the bottom of the frame.

Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3)

There are so many wonderful truths in the passages that we have read today that I had a hard time deciding which one to write about. For instance, while reading chapter 35, my attention was drawn to the account of the Rechabites, who were faithful servants to the their father, Jonadab, and also to the Lord. It would benefit you greatly to do a little study on this family. (See last year’s post, “Who Are the Rechabites?” – http://pastorerickson.com/?p=1060.) I was also interested in chapter 36, where Jehudi, a servant of the king of Judah, actually took a knife and cut out the Word of God and burned it in the fire. There is a lot that we could say about that, and many parallels can be made to what the world and some Christians are doing to the Word of God.

I finally elected, however, to write about Jeremiah 33:3. This verse is certainly one of the more familiar verses in the Bible, which has provided much encouragement and comfort to the people of God for millennia. In it’s immediate context this verse is written to the people of Judah through the prophet Jeremiah. The city of Jerusalem and the entire land of Judah was being devastated by the armies of Babylon; but God showed them from this passage that there was yet hope, and that He would restore the land to her former glory. In verse 15, there is a wonderful prophecy concerning the “Branch”, who is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who would come and set up a righteous kingdom.

In a broader application of this passage, all Christians can be encouraged by this wonderful truth. God wants His children to call upon Him; and He will answer us. This is one of the many wonderful prayer promises in the Bible. I have listed some other prayer promises in the “Scripture Memory” section of this website. Prayer happens to be our Scripture memory theme for the month of August. It is a glorious thought to realize that we have a God that wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him. He loves us and He desires to bless us, and show us some things; just as an earthly father desires to show things to a child that he loves. What a wonderful God we serve.

Do you have a burden today? Call unto God. Are you in need of direction? Call unto God. God wants to encourage us and direct us as we serve Him.


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A Good Investment

Today’s Passages – Jeremiah 30 – 32; Proverbs 22

(Second Milers also read – Acts 24 – 26; Memorize Philippians 4:6)

“So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the LORD, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.” – (Jeremiah 32:8)

“Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:” – (Jeremiah 32:37)

In chapter 32 of the Book of Jeremiah there is a very interesting story. Jeremiah the prophet is in jail; the nation of Israel is in a complete mess; the Babylonians have already taken a good number of the citizens of Israel into captivity; and the final invasion by Nebuchadnezzar into the land is imminent. You would not think that this would be a good time to be purchasing real estate in the land of Israel. However, God had told Jeremiah, who in turn told the people, that though things were going to be horrible for a number of years, God was going to give the people of Israel their land back; and He was going to prosper them once again. Of course, this is one of those dual purpose prophecies: it was fulfilled back in this Old Testament period, but it will ultimately be fulfilled when Christ returns.

The bottom line is that Jeremiah had enough faith in the Word of God to invest his money in a piece of land that was at that time worthless. He knew that God would do what He said that he would do, and that someday the property would be very valuable. I don’t know how much land is worth in Israel today; but I know this: someday it will be priceless because Christ will make Israel the capital of His World government. I am putting my money on Israel, and on God. He will do what He says He will do. You can bank on it.


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Who Can You Trust?

 

Today’s Passages – Jeremiah 26 – 29; Proverbs 21

(Second Milers also read – Acts 21 – 23; Memorize Philippians 4:6)

“The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.” – (Jeremiah 28:9)

“Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie.” – (Jeremiah 28:15)

“Send to all them of the captivity, saying, Thus saith the LORD concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite; Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie:” – (Jeremiah 29:3)

In chapters 28 and 29, we see two false prophets that were preaching to Israel, refuting what the true prophet, Jeremiah, had been telling them. In chapter 28 we see Hananiah who was telling the people of Israel that God had told him that their problems with Babylon were only temporary: that God was going to rescue them in two years from the captivity that they were enduring. When Jeremiah first heard what this man had to say, he was skepticle yet optimistic. He hoped that what this man was saying was true, but he was careful to warn the people standing by that this man could be a false prophet. His suspicions were confirmed when later God revealed to him the truth about Hananiah. He was a false prophet. He was lying to the people and the peace that he was promising would not come to pass.

In chapter 29, there is another man, Shemiah the Nehelamite, that was also lying to the people. Jeremiah also exposed this man for the fraud that he was. It must have been difficult for the people, however,  to discern who was telling them the truth.  Jeremiah told them how they could know in verse 9 of chapter 28. They could determine whether a person was a false prophet or not simply by examining the proof of his claims. If what he predicted became true, he was a true prophet; but if what he said did not come to pass exactly as he said he would, he should never be trusted again.

Today it is a lot easier for us to tell whether a preacher is telling us the truth. We have the Word of God, and we know that the Bible is truth. If a preacher is telling us something that is contrary to the teaching of the Bible, we know that that person is a false prophet. Recently there was a man on the radio that was forecasting a date for the return of the Lord. He had already done this back in the 90’s and was wrong then also. A lot of people were deceived by what this man told them. Some had even sold all their possessions and had given the money to this man so that he could spread his lies further. However, if they had just read their Bibles they would have known that “of that day and hour knoweth no man”. We can only know the truth through the Word of God. Don’t take any man’s word for it. Search the Scriptures to make sure that what the preacher is preaching lines up with the Bible and is in fact the truth. You cannot completely trust any man, but you can trust the Word of God. There are a lot of false prophets out there, some within the church and some outside of the church; but you can know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free.


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The Potter’s House

Today’s Passages – Jeremiah 18 – 22; Proverbs 19

(Second Milers also read – Acts 15 – 17; Memorize John 15:7)

Click on this link to view last year’s post, “A Burning Fire” from this passage  http://pastorerickson.com/?p=1030

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” – (Jeremiah 18:3-6)

I love this passage of Scripture. The immediate context of this passage is about Israel. God was basically telling Israel (more specifically the northern kingdom,  Judah) that though they had blown it and become “marred”, they could be “made again” into another vessel that would give honor and glory to the Lord. Our God is a God of second (and third, and fourth …) chances.

The broader interpretation that we can apply to our lives is that God can also re-mold us. We are also marred people born with a nature that is useless to God. However God can re-make us into “new creatures” through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of God. This can only come through the new birth. Consider the following verses:

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – (John 3:3)

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)

I am excited that God is continuously re-shaping my life into something that He can use for His glory. I am a long way away from the finished product, but I look a whole better than when He found me. Praise the Lord!

It gets even better. While I am being worked on by the Lord, He lets me help Him work on some others. I get to minister the Word of God to the people of God, which is a big part of God’s transformation process. That’s a weird thought isn’t it? God uses marred vessels to help transform other marred vessels.

PS – one more unrelated thought from Jeremiah 22:

“Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” – (Jeremiah 22:28-30)

If you study the genealogical record of the Lord Jesus from Matthew 1 and Luke 3, you will find that this man Coniah (Jechonia or Jechonias) is listed in Matthew’s list but not Luke’s. The reason for this is simple. Matthew traces the legal lineage of Christ through his adopted father Joseph. Luke’s gospel traces the biological lineage through His mother, Mary. Jesus was the “seed” of Mary, but not the seed of Joseph. Jeremiah prophesied long ago in this passage that anybody that descended biologically from Jechonia would be “disqualified” from being the King of Israel. Any of Joseph’s biological children were disqualified; but Jesus was not Joseph’s biological child. Mary was Jesus’ biological mother, but Mary did not descend from Jechonias. Study it out. It is amazing how accurate our Scripture is.


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Planted by the Waters

Today’s Passages -Jeremiah 14 – 17; Proverbs 18

(Second Milers also read – Acts 12 – 14; Memorize John 15:7)

“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” – (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Do these verses sound familiar? They bear a striking resemblance to the 1st Psalm:

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” – (Psalm 1:1-6)

These two passages should be studied together, much like the way we would compare an account from the life of Jesus from two different gospel accounts. By comparing Scripture with Scripture and looking at both of them together we can get a more complete picture. The first parallel that I would like to point out is that we cant see that if a person trusts the Lord he will not be influenced by the ungodly, but rather will be soaking up the Word of God. The tree that is spoken about here has deep roots that tap into a source of water; and even during the dry seasons this tree is nourished because it has a continuous source of water. This is a wonderful picture of a Christian who is continuously abiding in the Word of God. When life presents its droughts and trials, this man still flourishes because he has the Bible as his source of spiritual nutrition and strength. Oh how important it is for us to spend time with Lord tapped into His Word, which will refresh our souls and give us the wisdom and strength we need to survive this barren world that we live in.

Notice also how both of these passages make reference to being fruitful. The passage from Jeremiah especially assures us that the fruitfulness will continue even during a drought. People often say that there is not much that a child of God can do in this post-Christian culture that we are living in. They say that we are living in the end times, and that nobody wants to hear the Truth anymore. They encourage us to just wait out the return of the Lord. This passage teaches us that we can be fruitful even during the spiritual droughts. I will agree that the times that we are living in are certainly difficult, but I believe with all of my heart that if we will abide in Christ, He will produce fruit in our lives. People will be saved as a result of the Word of God flowing from our mouths and lives.

Are you like the tree pictured above? Is the Word of God a continuous source of refreshment and nourishment to your life? Why don’t we decide that we will henceforth spend a little less time in the ungodly sources of counsel that come from our televisions and computers, and tap into the Source of strength and wisdom: The Word of God.


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God Can Change a Leopard’s Spots – and Yours too

Today’s Passages – Jeremiah 10 – 13; Proverbs 17

(Second Milers also read – Acts 9 – 11; Memorize John 15:7)

Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 10 – 13

“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23)

The context of this passage, and the Book of Jeremiah as a whole, is the impending judgment that is facing Judah and Jerusalem because of their sin. They had gotten totally out of control: God had sent prophets to them; God had sent judgment to them; but they did not get the message. They were too far gone. God was about to do something very big in and to Jerusalem. The Babylonians were about to invade. It would be perhaps the worst calamity to hit the people of God. However, the good news is that the judgment that would come would be the very thing that would cause the people of God to repent: to change their spots. The people seemed powerless to change on their own; but through the loving hand of judgment from God, the leopard would indeed have his spots changed.

Sometimes, I get so very frustrated with myself, particularly my inability to get victory over some of the recurring sins in my life. I am utterly powerless, it seems, to win the battle. However, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me”; and through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and through the loving correction of my Heavenly Father, my spots can also be removed. I can’t change my spots, but God can. Do you need a spot remover? God can do it. Yield to Him. Open your heart up and be willing to allow God to make the necessary changes in your life.

God can and will remove our spots, but there are some things that we can do to help God as He cleanses away the stain of sin from our life:

1  We first must acknowledge the fact that we have spots. We need to allow God to completely examine us and show us where the spots are in our life. We cannot withhold any area of our life. He must be able to thoroughly inspect us, and we must agree with His assessment. If He sees a spot, we must agree that it is indeed a spot.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – (1 John 1:9)

2  We must next be willing to submit ourselves to God’s cure for our spot problem. God may bring us through an uncomfortable process in order to accomplish His will. Trust Him. He knows what He is doing. He is the Great Physician. He knows just how deep to cut. He knows just how much we can handle. He may bring in some people to help Him. He may use a pastor or other counselor to help you as He works on you.

3  We must also be willing to continue down a prescribed path that will keep the spots from coming back in the future. We must stay in fellowship with God. We must daily spend time with Him through His Word and through prayer. He will keep His eye on us, and He will be able to quickly “spot” any new blemishes that may be coming to the surface.


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To God Be the Glory!

Today’s Passages – Jeremiah 7 -9; Proverbs 16

(Second Milers also read – Acts 6 – 8; Memorize John 15:7)

“Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.” – (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

These verses jumped out at me while I was doing my devotions this morning. God says that we are not to glory in our own wisdom, strength, or wealth; but rather, we are to glory in the fact that we know God, and, more importantly, that He knows and loves us. The three assets that God mentions in verse 23 are the three things that can make a person swell up with pride. I remember when I was growing up in school that it seemed that kids that were popular were either very smart, very strong and athletic, or very rich. I always envied people that was blessed in one or more of these areas. Every once in a while there would be somebody that possessed all three. At the time I thought that those people were very lucky. However, if you think about it, being gifted or blessed in one of these areas can be a real stumbling-block. Think about it. People who seem to have it all when it comes to gifts and abilities tend to rely upon themselves rather than trust in God.

God wants us to depend and glory in Him. All that we have we have received from Him. We brought nothing with us when we entered the world. Everything that we possess was given to us, including our talents and abilities. Why should we be proud of them? What we should be excited about, however, is that we are the children of God.

I am reminded of a passage in the New Testament that carries with it the same thought as this one in Jeremiah:

“Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” – (Luke 10:20)

In this passage Jesus tells the disciples to not get too excited about what God may do through you, but rather get excited about the fact that you are God’s child, and that you have a relationship with Him. We are really just tools in the hands of and awesome God. When we see a beautiful house, we don’t get excited about the hammer or saw that may have been used in the process; but we do give honor to the builder. God is the One who gives us our gifts, and He is the one that places us in positions where we can be used of Him. If you are rich, use your money for the Lord’s work. If you are strong, get in the Lord’s army and serve Him as a soul winner. If you are wise, use your wisdom to counsel God’s people or to teach the Word of God. But remember, don’t glory in the gifts that God gives you, glory in Him. Don’t steal any of God’s glory.


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The Old Paths

Today’s Passages – Jeremiah 4 – 6; Proverbs 15

(Second Milers also read – Acts 3 – 5; Memorize – John 15:7)

“Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” – (Jeremiah 6:16)

Independent Baptist preachers can often be heard using the phrase “old-fashioned”. We refer to our churches, our congregational singing, our method of soul winning, and even our King James Bible as being old-fashioned. We consider it a complement to be considered old-fashioned in many aspects of our worship and service for the Lord. But I want to clarify a few things about the why I like being old-fashioned about a lot of things. First of all, I do not believe that just because something is old that it is necessarily good, and I do not think that all new things are necessarily bad. I enjoy using all of the latest technological gizmos that make our lives easier and more enjoyable today.  When I refer to something being old-fashioned I am usually referring to the wholesome, Biblical traditions and methods of our past that do not need to be changed. I like our old-fashioned Bible. I enjoy singing the old-fashioned hymns from the hymnbook. I have seen many people get saved through the old-fashioned method of soul winning. I am glad my wife and daughters are old-fashioned in their modest dress. The old paths didn’t need to be changed. I have often said, “if it ain’t broke – don’t fix it”.

In our passage, God is telling the people of Judah, through the prophet Jeremiah, to return to a time when they were closer to the Lord. In the old days they were a nation that refused the evil that surrounded them on every side, and they stood for the truth of the Word of God. They worshipped the Lord in spirit and in truth, and they obeyed the precepts of the Law. As a result of their relationship with God they were a greatly blessed nation, and God prospered them mightily, and protected them against any nation that would seek to harm them. But the prosperity that they enjoyed caused them to stray away from their God. They had become a very idolatrous and immoral nation. God wanted back on the old path.

The same thing can be said about our nation. We were once a nation that stood for the Truth. Our culture was filled with people that worshipped and served the Lord. God blessed our nation with a prosperity unequalled in the history of the world; but as it was with Israel, so it is with us. Our prosperity has spoiled us, and we have become an ungrateful people who have bitten the Hand that was feeding us. We need to get back on the old path.


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Turn Around

Today’s Passages are – Jeremiah 1 – 3; Proverbs 14

(Second Milers also read – John 21 – Acts 2; Memorize  – John 15:7)

Before I share the my main thought from the Scripture this morning, I just wanted to point out from the passage that the writer, Jeremiah, was a hand made child of God that was uniquely designed by Him to be a prophet to Israel and Judah. (see Jeremiah 1:4 – 6) God has also made you and and I, and wants to use us in a special way to fellowship with Him,  glorify Him, and fulfill His plan for the ages. We are not here by accident. We were specially created the way we are on purpose, and for a purpose.

Now for today’s main thought:

“They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:1)

Throughout the history of Israel, the people of God have gone through periods where they would fall away from God. Here in this passage the word “backsliding” is used seven times. Here in this passage Jeremiah is pleading with the backsliding people of Israel to come back to the Lord. Our God is awesome! Who else but God would love these people  and keep taking them back, even though they would turn against Him over and over. He never gives up on His children. I must confess that I have a tough time forgiving people in the same way that God has forgiven me. I want to write people off; but God is not like me. He continues to reach out to those who have forsaken Him. Notice what God required of the people in order for them to come back into a right relationship with Him:

“Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the LORD thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed my voice, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 3:13)

Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:” (Jeremiah 3:14)

God says that if the people would acknowledge their sin, and then turn, He would take them back. Turning means that they would put away all of the things that they were doing that God was displeased with. This is a pretty good definition of repentance, which involves more than just acknowledging.

The people of God today could follow this same simple formula in order to come back to their God. We must acknowledge where we have gone wrong. It may not be some deep sin or rebellion. It may be just apathy, coldness, or laziness. Then we have to confess it to God and turn away from it. God loves us deeply and wants more than anything for us to be in love with Him. If you have “slidden” away from God, return again to the Lord.


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